For Now and Forever
EPISODE #116 (Monday,
KITTY'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM
"By the time were done, we're all gonna be richer than we could ever imagine." Sammy Benedict grinned slyly
And that was exactly what Naomi Jackson was counting on. When Sammy had come to her months earlier in New York, she'd nearly slammed the door in his face. However, no matter what animosity existed between them, she could still be vulnerable to him. As big as her dreams were, his were bigger and he was just slick enough to know how to achieve them. His plan to use her baby---their baby, a fact that he still refused to accept---to get their hands on the Preston estate had seemed like an easy one at the time. Now, however, she was beginning to realize that it was much more complicated than she'd first thought.
Suddenly, there was another knock at the door.
"W-who's that?" Naomi asked nervously as she nearly jumped out of her skin.
"Sammy, I didn't know we were expecting someone else," Kitty Benedict spoke up as she rushed over to his side.
"We're not," he muttered and quickly reached for his gun. "Quick, get her outta sight. We can't let anybody see her here or..."
Too late. Before Sammy could say another word, the door swung open.
"Oh, god," Naomi gasped as she felt her heart begin to pound loudly inside her chest.
"I thought that I'd find you here," the unexpected visitor smiled slyly.
"L-look, I can...e-explain," Naomi stammered as she looked into the eyes of Joyce Preston.
SPRINGHILL MANOR - LIBRARY
"Don't worry," Detective Jim Fitzpatrick said as he carefully wrapped the cufflink that might belong to Stephen Lake in a handkerchief and put it into his pocket, "we'll do everything we can to find Miss Lake. The best thing for all of you to do, right now, is just wait."
"Wait?" Patterson Monroe asked incredulously. "Do you seriously think that any of us are going to just sit around here on our hands and wait for you to do something?"
"That's exactly what I think and that's exactly what you're going to do!" Jim responded firmly. "Look, if Stephen Lake is really alive and is responsible for his daughter's disappearance and...well, other things, then this could become very dangerous. You should leave the police work to the police. Now, if you'll excuse us, we need to get back to the station so we can work on our investigation." Jim motioned for Officer Russ Leeds to follow as he turned and headed for the door before turning to address the group again. "Don't go out and do anything foolish. Leave this to the police."
As the front closed behind Jim and Russ, Patterson's jaw tightened and a look of clear determination covered his face.
"If they think that I'm just going to sit around here on my hands while they look for Stephanie, they're out of their minds!" Patterson spoke up. "Do they expect me to believe that they're going to make finding her a top priority?"
"Paddy, I know that they're going to do everything that they can," Sara Manchester responded soothingly as she walked over to him and gently placed her hand on his shoulder. "I'm sure that they're not going to take a missing person lightly."
"This isn't just a missing person," Patterson reminded. "This is clearly a kidnapping! I don't...think that they see this as being as serious as it is."
"Paddy, we have no reason to think that Stephanie was kidnapped by her father," Dane Manchester laughed as he tried to lessen the tension in the room. "True, it's just unbelievable that the man is alive after all these years, but it's not outside the realm of possibility that she just went away with him. She's always worshiped the man and..."
"Do you still honestly expect me to believe that she just left town with saying a word to anyone?"
"This is Stephanie we're talking about," Dane reminded. "You know how she can be."
"Yes, I do," Patterson sighed. "And I know that she wouldn't have just disappeared without saying anything to me! I refuse to stand by and let the police make their feeble attempts to find her. Remember, this is the same police department that's convinced that Francis Callison, of all people, killed Stephanie's mother!"
"Paddy, just calm down."
"I will not calm down!" he snapped. "I want Stephanie found and I want her home. If anything were to happen to her, I don't know what I...what...I..." Patterson let out a weary sigh of frustration as he hung his head and fought back his fears.
"I know you're a good friend to her," Sara said softly as she exchanged a knowing glance with her husband. "That means a lot to her, but she wouldn't want you to..."
"A good friend?" Patterson laughed awkwardly. "Yes, a good friend. Stephanie and I are...good friends and that's why I refuse to just sit around here and wait for something to happen to her."
"W-what are you talking about?" Sara asked, growing increasingly worried. "What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to go out and find her myself!"
"Paddy, how do you think you're going to do that?" Dane questioned. "If the police don't seem very sure of where to start, how do you expect to..."
"I...I don't know," he sighed as he shook his head, "but I'm not going to just sit around doing nothing. I'm going to find Stephanie and I'm going to bring her home---exactly where she's supposed to be."
ALBANYVILLE HIGH SCHOOL
"Eliza, I'm not sure about this," Stanley Fitzpatrick sighed with a shake of his head. "Do you really think this is gonna work?"
"I'm positive," Eliza Campbell grinned broadly. "You just do exactly like I told you to and everything is going to happen exactly like I said it would."
"Ah, gee, Eliza, I'm gonna get punched!" He shook his head with nervous worry as he pondered all of the negative outcomes of her plan. "You know how Mags can be!"
"I know exactly how Maggie can be," she sighed. "That's why this has to work. I don't need some false friend trying to hang all over my boyfriend." She froze when she caught a glimpse of Maggie Callison walking down the hallway. "Now, quick, get over by your locker. Here she comes. I've got to get outta here so you can work your magic."
"Ah, gee," he muttered and frowned. No matter how strongly she protested to the contrary, he was certain that Eliza's little plan was going to backfire.
"Hello, Stanley," Maggie spoke up half-heartedly as she reached her locker which was just a few over from his.
"Oh, hi, Mags!" he beamed as he quickly shut his locker door before walking over to her. "How did you do on that English quiz?"
"I got a 'B'," she muttered in response as she rummaged through her locker for her books for her next class, not even bothering to look at him.
"That's great!" Stanley exclaimed and leaned against the locker next to hers to look at her nervously. "Um...Mags, I...just wanted to thank you again for...giving me another chance. I know that I shouldn't have stood you up for the dance, but I was sick and..."
"I know," she sighed. "You were sick and couldn't help it. I understand. There's no reason for you to keep apologizing about it over and over and over."
"I know but...well...we were getting kinda serious---well, we could have been---and I...well..."
"Stanley, just spit it out!" Maggie snapped, her patience starting to wear thin. "What are you trying to say?"
"Well, I..." He paused and swallowed hard as his nervousness began to take over. He'd never exactly been the type to be overtly forward with girls, so what Eliza was asking him to do was more than a little difficult for him. "Would you like to go to the movies with me on Saturday night? I mean, as a real date date?"
"Stanley, I don't know," she sighed wearily. "With everything that I've got going on at home, I..."
"Oh, but, Mags, a movie is exactly what you need!" he insisted. "It would be good to take your mind off of things. The new Shirley Temple movie is playing at the Alhambra."
"Please?" He stuck out his bottom lip and gave his best pitiful look. If he couldn't get genuine excitement out of her, he could at least play on her pity.
"Oh, all right," she relented after realizing that there was no way to turn him down without having him go on and on about the movie. It was just easier for her to say "yes."
"Ah, great!" he exclaimed. "You're gonna have the best time. I promise you!"
And, with that, he grabbed her and pulled her to him so that he could give her an overly affectionate kiss on the lips. Naturally, Maggie was taken quite off guard and wasn't sure about how to react.
Meanwhile, guess who should "happen" to be strolling down the hallway? Randy Lamont, stack of books in one arm and Eliza hanging onto the other.
"Well, well, well," Eliza chuckled at the sight of Stanley and Maggie. "Would you just look at that!"
"Y-yeah, it's...Stanley and Maggie," Randy replied uncomfortably as he tried to keep his true awkwardness over their public embrace hidden. "I...um...don't think that we should b-bother them right now."
"Oh, I wasn't going to bother them!" she laughed. "I'm just tickled pink that everything is working out for them. I know that Maggie has wanted it to for some time."
"Most definitely!" Eliza's eyes darted from Stanley and Maggie to Randy. "In fact, just the other day she was telling me how much she really liked him and how she hoped that he'd ask her to go steady."
"Yes!" she exclaimed. "And, from the looks of things, he just asked her and she accepted! Isn't that wonderful?"
"Yeah, it's just...great," he mumbled.
"Speaking of going steady," she smiled slyly. "You know, we've been seeing one another for quite a while, now, and..."
"Yes, I know," he grumbled as he followed Eliza while she led him down another hallway, away from Stanley and Maggie.
"And, well..." She paused and bit her lip nervously. "I think it would be just wonderful if we could go steady. I mean, neither one of us is dating anyone else and it would be the next logical thing to happen and..."
"Us? Go steady?" Randy pulled away from her slightly and furrowed his brow as he looked at her.
"Yes. I know...that I'm probably being a little forward, but..." She hesitated and lowered her head in order to act embarrassed by her actions. "Well, since Stanley and Maggie are obviously going steady now, I'd...well...feel a little left out. I mean, I hope I'm not sounding selfish or anything, but..."
"N-no, you're not sounding selfish, but..."
"But?" Eliza popped her head up and eyed him curiously. "Oh, you're going to say "no," aren't you?" She threw her bottom lip out and began to pout pitifully.
"Well, I...no...I wasn't going to..."
"Really?" She nearly beamed with excitement. "So, does that mean that you will ask me to go steady?"
Randy looked at her intently as he tried to figure out what he was going to say. He really didn't want to go steady with her, but how could he tell her that without sending her into a hysterical fit? He knew exactly how high strung Eliza could be and was certain that her reaction would nearly be more than he could deal with.
KITTY'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM
"M-Mrs. Preston, I can...explain," Naomi stammered as she slowly began to back away from her. "I was just..."
"Just save your weak attempts at lying," Joyce laughed wickedly as she folded her arms across her chest and glared at her. "I know everything that's going on, so anything that you try to tell me is going to be a bold faced lie."
"How did you find me here?" Naomi asked. "Did you...follow me from the house?"
"I didn't have to," she replied. "I knew you'd be here."
"W-what do you mean? I...I was just coming to see an o-old friend and..."
"Ah, shuddup, Naomi," Sammy grumbled. "She already knows what's going on."
"W-what?" Naomi nervously glanced from Joyce to Sammy. "What do you mean?"
"Honestly, Sammy, when I told you to find some little money grabber with a brat, I thought that you would be a little...well...more selective," Joyce sighed with a roll of her eyes. "Couldn't you have done any better than this?"
"Hey!" Naomi spoke up, offended by her offhanded comment. As a look of realization swept over her face, her jaw dropped in shock. "You? You knew all along that I'd never met your husband let alone had an affair with him and that this...wasn't his son?"
"Knew?" Joyce laughed again. "Dear, who do you think is responsible for all of this? Certainly not him!" She pointed in Sammy's direction. "Why, he couldn't plan out a shopping list!"
"You really are a stupid girl," Joyce sighed with a shake of her head. "My daughter stole my rightful inheritance away from me. My husband's estate should have gone to me! You haven't seen her make any grand attempt to give me what's mine, have you?"
"Well, no, but..."
"But I can tell that Sara has a soft heart," Joyce continued. "And from the looks of her husband, she has a soft head, too. Certainly an innocent little baby could convince her to part with her dirty money. Since Thornton never had any children, I had to manufacture one." She paused and turned to shoot Sammy a hateful glare. "When I told you to find a money hungry girl with a baby to use, I didn't think you'd be stupid enough to grab some Negro girl. Oh, the thought of people thinking that he'd had an affair with her must have Thornton rolling over in his grave."
Naomi made a face and clinched her teeth at Joyce's comment but then took a deep breath. "But, why didn't you tell me that you knew? Why did you make me feel like I was going into this blind and all alone?"
"It's simple," Sammy spoke up. "You had to believe what you were doin'. We can't afford no mistakes if we're gonna get our hands on our share of the dough."
"And since that old bat Helga walks around the house with her ear pressed against every door, I couldn't afford to have you slip up and give me away," Joyce explained. "Lord knows she'd love any opportunity to ruin me."
"What about Dane?" Kitty interrupted. "Why did you want me to lure him into an affair with me if he's married to your daughter?"
"Let's just say that I need you to keep him occupied." Joyce paused for a moment and cocked an eyebrow as should considered exactly how much of her plan to reveal. After realizing that she shouldn't give too much away, she spoke again. "Let's just leave it at that. You just keep your little rendezvous with Dane going. Leave the rest to me."
"Hey, look, lady, I don't like how yer comin' in here and orderin' us around!" Sammy spoke up firmly. "I don't take no orders from no dame. I only take orders from da boss himself!"
"I'm in charge of this little operation, now," Joyce stated firmly. "You just forget all about him. I'm running the show."
Sammy furrowed his brow as he tried to understand what she was saying. "But...what about..."
"That man is no longer of any concern to us," Joyce said as she slowly began to pace around the room. "I'll handle things from now on. You just let me deal with him."
JOSEPH HAYNE RAINEY MEMORIAL NEGRO HOSPITAL -
"I'll be with you in just a moment," Dr. Calvin Jackson said as he carefully covered the receiver of the telephone with his hand and motioned for Ruby Thomas to come into the room. After a quick smile, he returned to his conversation. "Yes, doctor, I understand the severity of this case, but my patient...I see. Yes, I agree. Okay, well, let's set up an appointment for him next week at 3:30. Right. And you will notify me with the results of those tests, won't you? Very good. Thank you, doctor."
"I...I'm sorry that I'm a little early," Ruby spoke softly as she sat down in the chair beside his desk. "If you're busy and have things to do, we can..."
"Nonsense!" he laughed as he hung up the phone and turned his full attention to her. "I said that we were going to lunch. In fact, I've cleared my calendar for the rest of the day---just for you."
"You...really shouldn't have done that," she muttered with a slight blush. "I mean, you've got so many patients to attend to and..."
Calvin furrowed his brow and eyed her curiously. If he didn't know better, he'd almost be certain that she was trying to avoid him.
"You're not trying to back out of lunch, are you?"
"Oh, no! It's not that, it's just..." She flinched slightly and quickly looked away. "I know you're busy and..."
"Ruby, honey, I'm never too busy for you." He rose from his seat behind the desk and walked around to her before kneeling down beside her chair. "Are you all right? It seems like there's something on your mind."
"I'm fine," she replied, almost too quickly. "It's just that...well...I understand that your work is very important and..."
He shook his head and sighed as he continued to look at her. "Ruby, we haven't had a chance to spend much time together for days, now. I admit that work has kept me rather tied up. Is that what this is about? Are you feeling like I'm neglecting you?"
"No, it's not that."
"Darling, what is it?" Calvin reached over and took her hand so that he could press it tenderly to his lips. "It almost seems like you've been avoiding me. I mean, we were supposed to have that dinner a few days ago and you just left before I even knew you were there and..." He paused and furrowed his brow as a thought struck him. "Did Naomi say something to upset you?"
"No," Ruby replied softly and hung her head. "Naomi was...very nice to me. We just talked about you and your work and..." She hesitated before continuing and took a deep breath. "I...I really shouldn't have made you cancel the rest of your day just...for me."
"You didn't make me cancel anything!" he laughed. "I made the effort to make time for you because I wanted to. I enjoy being with you. I love you."
"I...um...well..." She swallowed hard and looked away from him. She just couldn't bear to look him in the eyes. "I really can't have lunch with you today. I've...got to get back to work. Ever since Mr. Stokes' death, the entire house has been in a tizzy and I've...got to be there for the family and..."
"They can survive for one afternoon without you!"
"I...really have to go." And without saying another word, Ruby quickly rose from her seat and hurried out the door leaving a completely confused and worried Calvin in her wake.
As he rose from his kneeling position so that he could sit down in the chair, he shook his head as he thought about Ruby's completely unexpected and nearly unexplainable behavior. No matter what she'd tried to make him believe, he was certain that something was wrong. However, what that might be, he wasn't sure. Ever since that night that they were supposed to have had dinner, she'd been acting strangely---almost as if she were avoiding him.
Had Naomi said something to Ruby to upset her? Calvin couldn't be absolutely certain, be he knew how his sister could be. Naomi Jackson just didn't know when to shut up. With a firm resolve, he realized that he had to find out exactly what she had said to Ruby. Whatever was going on, he had a sinking feeling that Naomi was behind it.
THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
Maggie stormed through the door, a severe frown firmly plastered across her face, and threw her books down onto the floor before plopping herself down onto the sofa. How dare Stanley kiss her like that! The nerve of him! Of course, she'd agreed to go to the movies with him, but it wasn't like it was going to be a real date. He had no business kissing her---especially in front of the entire school!
As she let out a disgusted groan, she leaned forward and rested her chin in her hands. She had made a commitment to go to the movies with him, but after that, no more! There had to be some way that she could convince him that she didn't have any sort of romantic inclinations for him anymore.
"Oh, Maggie, there you are!" Francis Callison exclaimed as she cheerily breezed into the room. "I've been waiting for you to get home."
"Mom, you're in a unusually good mood," Maggie commented as she looked up at her. "Did...Mr. Davis manage to convince that judge that you couldn't be a murderer? Are they calling off the trial?"
"No, dear, it's not...that." Francis' joyous expression quickly began to fade as she was reminded of the horrible ordeal that was still yet to come. However, the true happiness of the day began to poke its way back through and a smile returned to her lips. "But I do have some wonderful news that I think is going to take your mind off of all of that. At least for a while."
"News?" Maggie eyed her curiously before glancing over to see the suitcases that were stacked neatly by the door. How could she have missed seeing those when she came in? Had she been too lost in her own thoughts about Stanley to have noticed? "Momma, are you...going somewhere?"
"We're both going somewhere," Francis smiled and then sat down next to her daughter on the sofa before taking Maggie's hands into hers. "Darling, we're going home."
"Home? W-what do you mean? We are home."
"No, Maggie," Francis corrected. "I mean we're going home---our home, not your Nana's."
Maggie leaned back onto the sofa as she tried to understand what her mother was saying. Their home? But that would have to mean...
"Oh, Momma!" Maggie exclaimed with a gasp. "Do you mean...that we're going home?"
"Yes, honey," Francis laughed. "That's just what I said."
"Do you mean with Daddy and Reginald and Trevor and Hannah?"
"Well, not Trevor. He's got his own apartment, now, you know. But, that's right. We're going home." Francis paused for a moment and inhaled deeply, savoring every moment of the news. "Your father and I...well...have realized how much we love one another and want to be together. We want our family to be whole again."
"Oh, Momma!" Maggie exclaimed again as she threw her arms around her mother. "That's just the best news that I think I've ever heard in my entire life. This day has suddenly turned into the greatest day ever!"
"Now, honey, you go into your room and pack your things," Francis directed as she rose from her seat and walked back towards the hallway. "I want this family all under one roof as soon as possible."
"Do you mean that I'm going to be...sleeping in my old room tonight?"
"That's exactly what I mean," Francis smiled. "We're finally going to be a family again---the Callison family." With an air of pride, she threw her shoulders back defiantly and took another deep breath. "And nothing is ever going to tear this family apart again."
TO BE CONTINUED
The police pay Douglas a visit.
For Now and Forever
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