THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE
- FRANCIS'S BEDROOM
dear, what are you doing?" Mary Albany asked as she stood in the doorway
and watched her daughter packing. "Where are you going?"
"Mother, I'm going home," Francis
Callison beamed with joy and excitement. "I'm going home to my husband."
"W-what?" Mary asked in shock.
"When...did you decide this? This is...wonderful!"
"Oh, mother, I just knew that you'd think
so," Francis smiled as she rushed into Mary's arms and hugged her
tightly. "I don't think that I've ever been happier than I am right
"Does Maggie know, yet?"
"No, not yet," Francis replied.
"I'm going to tell her when she gets home from school. I know she's
going to be just as happy as I am."
"Does this...have anything to do with the
trial?" Mary was hesitant with her question, but it was a concern
that she had and felt that it needed to be asked. "I know that the
hearing didn't go well the other day, but..."
"No, it didn't go well," Francis sighed
and then returned to her task of packing. "The judge refused to
dismiss the case. He said that...the D.A. had enough evidence to warrant a
"Has Douglas told you about any specific
but he did tell me that the D.A. is wanting the trial to be as soon as
possible." Francis neatly folded a skirt and placed into her suitcase
before wearily sitting down on the edge of her bed. "It seems that the
D.A. is trying to get a judgeship and is trying to ruin the good Callison name
to do it. He doesn't want to wait for a long, drawn out affair.
Douglas mentioned that it could be as soon as June."
"June?" Mary gasped with shock as she
quickly slumped down onto the bed next to her daughter. "Oh,
dear. I was just sure that hearing would have turned out..."
"Mother, let's not worry about that
"Is this why you've decided to go
"Partly," Francis confessed.
"I know that the only way I can hope to make it through this is with the
love and support of my family---my husband and my children."
"Darling, don't move back in just for the
sense of security and support," Mary advised. "You know that I
want you and Charles to put your marriage back together more than anything in
the world, but it can only happen when you are finally ready to put Annabelle in
the past and..."
"Mother, I am ready," Francis
assured and reached over to take Mary's hand. "I'm not going home
because I need to, I'm going home because I want to. I love
Charles. You know that. At home with my husband is where I want to
glad to hear that," Mary smiled warmly but then took on a more solemn
expression. "It's just that...well...I've gotten so used to having
you and Maggie here. I know that children have to grow up and leave home
and start their own lives and families---you'll be finding that out soon enough
for yourself---but having you here...well...it's been almost like it was when
you were a little girl. It's felt good having my baby under my roof
"Well..." Francis grinned slyly
and bit her lip as an idea popped into her head. "You could come to
live with us. I know that the children would love to have you around and I
can always use that extra voice of reason with Maggie."
"Oh, dear, I couldn't!" Mary
laughed. "Granted, you and Charles have a wonderful home, but there
just wouldn't be room for all of us. I mean, Dorothea would have to come
with me and..."
"Mother, there's more news that I haven't
"Yes," Francis smiled.
"There'll be more than enough room for both you and Dorothea once we move
into the new house."
"New house?" Mary eyed her
daughter curiously. "What are you talking about?"
"Charles wants us to have a fresh
start. He wants us to put every horrible thing that's happened to us this
past year behind us," Francis explained. "To do that, he bought
us a house out by Spring Lake. Once we move in, there'll be more than
enough room for everyone."
"But what about your house?"
Mary asked, still in shock over the announcement. "Surely you're not
going to sell it! I thought that his father..."
"No, we're not selling the old house,"
Francis laughed. "It'll stay in the family. After all, Reginald
and Jillian will need a home of their own once they're married."
"Oh, darling, that's wonderful!"
"You should really see this house,"
Francis smiled. "It's beautiful. There's a large flower garden
in the back with a little gazebo and a path down to the lake where there's a
boat house and...well, you're just going to love it." She paused for
a moment as a realization struck her. "Now, don't say anything to
anyone about this. Charles wants to keep it a secret. He wants to
make a few changes to the new house and it's not ready for us to move into,
yet. He wants this all to be a surprise wedding gift to Reginald and
"Don't you worry," Mary laughed.
"I won't say a word. My lips are sealed!"
"Oh, mother, this is going to be a brand new
start for us." Francis sighed as she threw her arms around Mary
again. "I know that, no matter what, everything's going to be all
As she hugged her daughter tightly, Mary silently
prayed that she was right. However, she couldn't completely erase the
looming specter of her daughter's impending trial from her head. Was she
filling herself with false hope? Mary wasn't sure, but immediately
realized that false hope was better than no hope at all. She could only
pray that this just wasn't the calm before the storm.