The Gardens Restaurant"Darling, I'm sorry I took so long," Dr. Fred Rutherford said as he returned to join Leticia Stokes at their table.  "It took more time than I thought it would."

"That's okay," Leticia smiled warmly.  "Sometimes these things just can't be helped.  So, how's your patient?"

"Patient?"  He looked at her curiously, unsure of what she was talking about.  Suddenly, he remembered the excuse that he'd previously given for his absence.  "Oh, yes!  He's doing fine.  A little cantankerous, but he'll be all right."

"That's good to hear."  She paused and took a sip of her wine.  "Do you know how much I admire you and men like you?"

"Admire me?"

"Yes.  You're a doctor.  You save people's lives."  Leticia paused and looked down at her plate, feeling genuinely humbled in his presence.  "I'm...only some silly socialite who has nothing better to do with her time than play games of bridge and attend charity fund raisers."

Dr. Fred Rutherford"Well, you just stop talking like that this instant!" Fred ordered as he took her hand into his.  "Has Nelson belittled you and your opinions so often that he's made you doubt your own worth?  Leticia, darling, you are one of the most wonderful women that I've ever met in my entire life.  You're beautiful and you're intelligent and..."

"And all of that pales in comparison to the work that you do."

"So, are you saying that you want to go to medical school and become a doctor?"  He cocked an eyebrow as he posed the question.

"Of course not, silly!" she laughed.  "I'm not...cut out for medicine.  I'm just saying that nothing that I've done even stands up to the work that you do."

"That's where you're wrong."  Fred grinned warmly and leaned across the table to look at her intently.  "You're a mother.  From what I've seen of your daughters, you've done a wonderful job raising them.  They are all fine young women.  In my opinion, the job of being a mother is the most important job that a woman can have.  You're a success in ways that I could never imagine."

"You're...too kind," she blushed and lowered her head.  "I am very proud of my girls---even Judith."  With a smile, Leticia paused and again looked up at him.  "So, what about that dance you promised me?"

"It would be my pleasure," he nodded and then rose from his seat to take her hand into his and lead her from her chair and onto the dance floor.

As they glided around the floor to the music, Fred pulled her tightly into his arms and kissed her tenderly on the cheek.  Although she smiled warmly because of the kiss and rested her head against his shoulder, he could quickly tell that something was on her mind.  Something troubling had invaded her thoughts.

"What's wrong?" Fred asked as he pulled away from her slightly and gazed down into her eyes.  "I hope that kiss wasn't...out of line."

"Oh, no.  Not at all," Leticia smiled weakly.  "In fact, I rather enjoyed it."


"I'm...sorry," she blushed and then let out a weary sigh.  "It's just that...well...this is the first time that I've been out dancing in a man's arms since...well..."

"Nelson?" he nodded instinctively.  "He's who's on your mind, isn't he?"

"Yes," she sighed.  "I'm...sorry.  You've done nothing but be sweet and wonderful and I...can't get him out of my head."

"That's understandable," he replied softly.  "After all, he is your husband."  A fact that Fred was less than thrilled with.

Leticia Stokes"But it's not what you think."  Leticia lifted her hand to carefully stroke his cheek.  "Just being here with you---in your arms---makes me think about exactly what kind of disaster my life with Nelson has become.  It makes me realize exactly how much I've missed out on."

"Leticia, darling, you deserve so much better than Nelson Stokes.  You deserve a man who can love you and respect you and treat you like the divine woman that you are."

"T-thank you for believing that."  She smiled at him again and then slowly began to walk back to the table with Fred close behind.  "But I...I'm not sure that I deserve all of that.  I'm...not sure that I deserve better than Nelson.  After all, he does have his good points in spite of..."  She stopped mid-sentence and bit her lip.  Here she was going on and on about her estranged husband when she was out with another man.  She suddenly felt very, very foolish.  "I'm...sorry.  I shouldn't be going on about him like this.  It's not fair to you and..."

"No, darling, you're not being fair to yourself," Fred said sternly.  "You do deserve better than him!  Why can't you see that?"

"I...I..." Leticia stammered as she awkwardly looked away.  "I've completely ruined your wonderful evening.  I'm sorry."  She paused and took a deep breath.  "Maybe you should just...take me home."

"All right," he nodded, unable to hide his disappointment.  "If that's what you really want."

"I...think it would be for the best."

"As you wish, my fair lady," Fred smiled as he carefully led her out of the restaurant.  However, his smiles hid his own disappointment and frustration.  

He'd been certain that he was making significant progress in his wooing of Leticia Stokes.  Unfortunately, it seemed that the draw of her past with Nelson---no matter their current situation---was much stronger than he'd previously thought.  It was now perfectly clear that Leticia would be a much harder target than he'd originally thought.


The Wishing Well Soda ShoppeMaggie Callison pulled off her scarf as she walked through the door of the soda shop and sighed wearily.  The last thing that she'd wanted to do was meet for sundaes with Eliza Campbell and Stanley Fitzpatrick.  However, when Eliza called, she was so insistent that Maggie just couldn't say "no"---even though she'd desperately wanted to.

As she walked across the room and to a table, she immediately spotted Randy Lamont who was sitting alone and sipping on a malt.  Eliza hadn't mentioned that Randy was going to be joining them.  Of course, Maggie realized that her best friend was prone to more than a few surprises.

"Hi, Randy, funny seeing you here---again," Maggie laughed as she walked up to his table.  "I thought that you said that you were going home."

"," he muttered as he rested his chin in his hand.  "I went home for dinner, but...I just didn't feel like sitting at home so I came back here.  I'm just killing time, basically."

Maggie Callison"So, you mean you're not here to meet Eliza?"  Maggie eyed him curiously.

"No, why would I..."  Randy furrowed his brow as he tried to understand what she was saying.  "Oh, no.  You don't mean that you're meeting her here, do you?"

"Yep," she nodded.  "Eliza and Stanley, in fact."  She made a face and eyed him curiously.  "You don't sound all that excited with the prospect of seeing her.  I would think that you'd be tickled to see your girlfriend."

"Eliza is not my girlfriend!" he responded flatly.  "She's just...well..."  In fact, he wasn't exactly sure about what he should call her.

"Well, you two are dating aren't you?"

"Yes," he sighed.  "If that's what you want to call it, but...well...I think that rumors concerning our romance have been greatly exaggerated."

"I see."

"I mean, I'm not in love with her or anything like that, but...well..."  Randy furrowed his brow as he tried to think about how to express the nature of his relationship with Eliza.

"Well what?"  Maggie eyed him curiously.  She'd never been able to fully understand what was going on between him and Eliza.  Sure, they'd been dating quite regularly since the Fall Dance, but she'd always gotten the impression that he wasn't as active in the relationship as Eliza seemed to claim.

Randy Lamont"I'm going out with Eliza because...well..."  He paused and bit his lip as he looked at Maggie.  "Let's just say that I'm really interested in someone else, but...well...I don't think she's really interested in me."

"What?" Maggie gasped.  "If you're interested in someone else, why in the world are you going out with Eliza?  I don't...think that's exactly fair."

"Well, I..."  Randy blushed slightly from embarrassment.  "There's really nothing else to do and...well...she really doesn't know how to take a subtle hint and I...well...really don't want to hurt her feelings by being know?"

"I...think I understand," she nodded and then narrowed her eyes so that she could inspect him closely.  "So, who's this other girl that you're interested in?"

"Other girl?"  Randy's eyes grew wide when he realized that he'd been cornered.  "'s girl at school."

"O-oh," Maggie muttered and then hung her head.  "I see.  Just some girl at school."

"Um...yeah," he sighed.

Just then, Eliza Campbell and Stanley Fitzpatrick walked in and she immediately caught sight of Maggie and Randy sitting together and deeply involved in conversation.  Eliza's face promptly turned a deep crimson as she felt her blood begin to boil.

Eliza Campbell"Would you look at that!" she snapped to Stanley as she grabbed him tightly by the arm and pulled him out of sight so that they could spy on Maggie and Randy in secret.  "Look at them all cuddled up together in that booth!"

"Well, I'll be," Stanley muttered as he kept his eyes locked on them.  "But, I thought that Randy was your boyfriend."

"He is!"  Eliza's jaw tightened as she felt her face flush with anger.  "And she's supposed to be my best friend.  Apparently, I was wrong about that!"

"Ah, Eliza, don't get all bent out of shape.  Maybe it's not what it looks like.  Maybe you're just seeing things wrong."

"Gee, you're seeing the exact thing that I'm seeing," she reminded bluntly. "Why don't you tell me what you see!"

""  He furrowed his brow and glanced from Eliza to the other couple and back again.  "Ah, gee.  I'll never get Mags interested in going out with me again now!"

"W-what?" she gasped in shock.  "What are you talking about?"

"Look!" Stanley exclaimed as he motioned in the direction of Maggie and Randy.  "How am I supposed to compete with him?  Look at him!  There's no way she'd chose me over him."

"You don't have any competition!" Eliza reminded firmly.  "Randy's my boyfriend.  Remember?"

StanleyStanley furrowed his brow and glanced towards the other couple and then back to Eliza.  For someone who was supposed to be Eliza's boyfriend, he sure looked quite cozy with Maggie.

"Are you sure?" he questioned suspiciously.

"Yes!" she insisted flatly.  "And I refuse to let that fair weathered so called 'best friend' of mine worm her way between us!"  Eliza paused and pursed her lips as she thought.

"W-what are you going to do?"

"I have an idea!" she exclaimed slyly.  "And you're going to help me."

"I am?"

"Yep," she nodded.  "And in return, I'm going to make sure that Maggie winds up going steady with you.  All you have to do is keep her away from Randy."

"Ah, gee whiz!  Thanks, Eliza!" Stanley exclaimed with excitement.

"Oh, trust me," she grinned.  "It's my pleasure."


Sunset Hotel, Penthouse A"Hello?" Francis Callison called out as she pushed open the front door and stepped into the apartment.  "MotherMaggie?"  She sat down her heavy bags and furrowed her brow as she waited for an answer.  "Dorothea?"  As she let out a weary sigh, Francis immediately realized that she was alone.

Leaving her bags in the foyer, she walked into the living room and sat down on the sofa.  For the past few nights, she'd been staying at the home of her estranged husband, but now she had decided to return to the penthouse suite that she shared with her mother and daughter so that she could sort out her feelings.

Although she and Charles had proclaimed their undying love for one another and he'd asked her to make her return to the family home a permanent one, Francis still wasn't completely sure that that would be the best thing.  True, she loved her husband dearly and was committed towards them working through the mistakes of the past, but she wasn't entirely convinced that picking up and moving back in so soon after their reunion was the best thing for her at that time.  Of course, the few nights that she had spent in the family home with Charles---with him sleeping in the guest room, naturally---had proven to be the most enjoyable and contented nights that she'd had in months.  However, it was just too soon.  They'd gone through too much together---and because of each other---to just expect things to return to normal over night.

As she slumped back onto the sofa, Francis' head swirled with conflicting thoughts and opinions.  She longed for her family to be whole again.  She longed for those blissful days of contentment that she'd had before Annabelle Lake began to work her wicked influence in their lives.  However, although her heart was leading her home, her head was telling her to move slowly.  She'd just been too hurt by actions of the past to just dive right back in---no matter how much she desperately wanted to.

Francis CallisonQuickly growing tired of the loudness of her own thoughts, Francis rose from the sofa and walked across the room to turn on the radio.  Perhaps a good evening drama series or maybe a musical program would take her mind off of her husband and the troubles in their lives.  Unfortunately, that was not to be.

"And in other Albanyville news," the announcer's voice came from the radio, "The district attorney today announced his plans to officially charge Francis Callison in the murder of Annabelle Lake.  Callison---longtime Albanyville resident and prominent citizen---was arrested just days ago as part of the police's investigation of the first murder in Albanyville in 30 years.  Although the police refuse to release details about their investigation, the district attorney reveals that he believes that their case is a strong one and a conviction is certain.  Callison is the wife of..."

"Oh, I...can't listen to...this," Francis said shakily as she quickly switched off the radio.  Unfortunately, the announcer's words began to echo inside her head.

"A conviction is certain..."

Overcome with emotion about the dire crisis with which she was faced, Francis tried to fight back her tears, but the stress had become too great and she crumpled to the floor and sobbed.  She'd spent too many long hours trying to be strong---strong for her husband and strong for her children---but now the dam had broken.  She was going to be tried and convicted for a crime she didn't commit.  How could she even consider reuniting her family only to be pulled away from them again?

The ringing of the doorbell drug Francis out of her troubled thoughts and she struggled to compose herself before going to see who her unexpected visitor was.  As she rose to her feet, she took several long breaths in an attempt to calm her nerves and pulled out a handkerchief so that she could blot her eyes.

"I'm...coming," she called out as she took another deep breath and headed towards the door.

"I was hoping that I'd find you here," Fred smiled as she opened the door.  "May I...come in?"

"Oh, yes, of course," she replied with her own weak smile.  "Come...on in."  She led him into the living room and motioned for him to have a seat on the sofa before taking her own seat next to him.  "I wasn't...expecting to see you tonight."

"I'm really sorry for just stopping by like this unannounced," he explained.  "I just haven't had a chance to talk to you for a couple of days---the hospital keeps me busy, you know---and I wanted to see how you were holding up.  I just took a chance that you'd be here and not...well, at the house."

"Yes, I just came back here tonight, in fact."  Although she was speaking to Fred, her eyes remained focused on the radio across the room as the announcer's voice continued to echo inside her head.  "This has all been so...difficult and...well...I-I..."

"Darling, are you okay?" he asked with much concern as he gently took her into his arms.  "You look as if you're about to cry."

"Oh, I..." she muttered softly as she tried to choke back her tears.  "I just turned on the radio and heard...I heard a reporter talking"

"Don't you listen to a thing that those people are trying to say!"

"He...said that...that the district attorney believes that a conviction is...certain."  Francis paused and inhaled deeply as she tried to calm the queasy feeling that had taken hold of her stomach.  A conviction!  She was going to be tried and convicted of a murder she did not commit!

Dr. Fred Rutherford"Of course the district attorney said that," Fred tried to reason logically.  "He's got to appear as publicly positive about his case as he can---even if it has more holes in it than Swiss cheese."  He pulled her closer to him and reached down to give her hand a reassuring squeeze.  "No one in their right mind could possibly think that you murdered Annabelle."

"Do you really think so?"  She looked up at him with eyes filled with uncertainty.

"Oh course I do!"

"I...I'm not so sure," she sighed and then quickly looked away.  "I can I be convinced that a jury won't believe that I'm innocent when my own son doesn't?"

"W-what?"  His jaw dropped from shock.  "Francis, what the devil are you talking about?"

"Reginald," she confessed.  "Reginald thinks that I actually killed Annabelle."

"That son of yours is a fool!  Why, he should be hung from the rafters for even thinking such a thing!"  He pulled her even tighter and gently kissed her cheek.  "Don't you let a word that comes out of his mouth upset you.  I know that you didn't kill Annabelle.  You couldn't have killed Annabelle!  It's just!"

"Thank you, Fred," Francis smiled warmly as she found comfort in his arms.  "I...I needed to hear that.  I know family supports me, but I guess I just...needed to hear that from someone who didn't have to say it."

"Darling, I had to say it because it's true."  He looked at her intently and nodded as he spoke as if to reinforce his statement.  "I believe in you 100% and I completely support you."  He paused and took a deep breath.  "I know that this has all been unbelievably difficult for you---beyond words, actually---but I...well..."


"It's made me realize exactly how much you mean to me."

"I know what you mean," she nodded in agreement.  "Difficult times such as this force a person to realize how much the people closest to them truly mean.  You are a dear, dear friend, Fred."

"A friend?"  His face fell slightly in disappointment.  "I...I'd hoped that we'd become more than just friends, Francis."

"Oh, you know what I mean," she blushed slightly.  As she fought the urge to laugh at her embarrassment, a warm smile crossed her lips and she sighed softly before looking at him again.  "Thank you, Fred."

"For what?"

"For cheering me up just when I needed it.  Thank you for being so supportive of me."  She leaned over and rested her head on his shoulder.

"Dear, I will always be supportive of you," he said softly as he began to slowly stroke her hair, "and I will always stand by you.  In fact, I...I..."


"Francis, darling, I love you," Fred seemed to blurt out.  "I love you with all of my heart.  I love you more than I ever thought possible.  You are the most amazing woman than I've ever met in my entire life."

"Oh, Fred, I...I don't know what to say."  Francis slowly pulled away from him, more than a little taken off guard by his proclamation.

"Don't say anything just yet."  His voice quickly took on a more serious tone as he removed his arm from her shoulder and reached into his pocket.  "I...I wasn't planning on doing this right now,'ve always had such an effect on me that...well..."

"W-what are you doing?" she asked curiously.  "What are you trying to say?"

"What I'm trying to say is," he paused as he pulled the ring out of his pocket and held it out in front of Francis so that she could see, "Francis, darling, would you make me the happiest man in the world?  Would you marry me?"



Judith grows suspicious.


produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions