For Now and Forever
EPISODE #118 (Wednesday,
CALLISON PUBLICATIONS - DOUGLAS'S OFFICE
"I thought that you'd be able to understand how important this is," Detective Jim Fitzpatrick said as he took the envelope from Douglas Davis and then stared at it intently. Written on it in Annabelle Lake's own handwriting were the words "To my darling daughter." After taking a deep breath, he spoke again. "Well, let's see what's in here."
Jim ripped the envelope open and discovered that it contained a letter. As he furrowed his brow, he slipped it out and carefully unfolded it before inhaling deeply. With a look of determination, he began to read...
THE DAILY POST - REGINALD'S OFFICE
"Well, June is out of the question," Jillian Stokes sighed as she sat on the edge of her fiancé Reginald Callison's desk and flipped through the pages of the calendar. "That's when the trial starts. Although it would be wonderful to be a June bride."
"I know that you're eager for us to reschedule the wedding," Reginald spoke up as he gently put his hand on her shoulder, "but maybe we should wait until after the trial. We don't know how long it's going to last or what's going to happen."
"Maybe you're right," she nodded, clearly crestfallen that she would have to wait even longer for them to get married. "But I...just can't help wanting something set in stone. June would have been perfect. School will be over and I'll have gotten my associate's degree in art history and..."
"Associate's degree?" He furrowed his brow as he thought about what she'd said. "I thought that you were going for your bachelor's degree."
"Well, I was," she replied, "but I realized that I'm not really going to need it to be a wife and a mother. I already have enough credits and have taken all of the required classes. An associate's degree is fine."
"A wife and...mother?" A look of panic quickly covered Reginald's face as her words began to sink in. "Jillian, you're not trying to tell me that you're...but it's too soon!"
"No, silly," she laughed warmly and then lightly stroked his cheek. "I'm talking about when we do have a baby. We are going to have one eventually, dear."
"Oh...um...right." He paused and let out a sigh of relief much to Jillian's amusement.
"And that reminds me," she spoke up and quickly reached for the package that was on the edge of the desk. "I really need to stop by Lorraine's and drop off this baby gift. I feel horrible that I haven't been able to organize a proper baby shower. I mean, what with everything that's been going on with your mother and then my father's..." Her voice caught in her throat; the word nearly too much to say.
"I know, honey, I know," Reginald said soothingly as he came up behind her are tenderly rubbed her back. "This is all going to be over eventually and then there's going to be nothing but clear skies ahead for all of us."
"Darling, I want to believe that. Really I do." She turned around and gazed lovingly into his eyes. "But, I just can't get this feeling out of my head that..."
Suddenly, the office door swung open and Patterson Monroe hurried into the room.
"I hope I'm not interrupting anything," he spoke up. "Your secretary told me to just come on in."
"You're not interrupting anything, Paddy," Reginald smiled as he quickly went to greet his friend. "How have you been? Considering everything that's been going on, I haven't had a chance to catch up with you, lately."
"I...know," Patterson stammered awkwardly. "There's even more going on than you realize. In fact, that's...why I'm here. Reginald, this isn't exactly a social visit."
"Paddy, are you all right?" Jillian asked with concern. "You look like something's troubling you. What's the matter?"
"It's...Stephanie," Patterson confessed as he hung his head. Jillian immediately winced at the mention of the name. "She's...in trouble and I...need your help, Reginald."
"Paddy, you're my best friend and all, but I really don't think that I have any interest in anything that involves Stephanie Lake." Reginald folded his arms tightly across his chest and quickly glanced in Jillian's direction, noticing her discomfort. "You know better than anyone else what she's done to us and I..."
"I know, I know," Patterson responded with a shake of his head. "I really don't have any business coming to you with this, but you're the only person I know that I think can help me and...well...you are my friend and..."
"I...I think I need to go run that errand I was talking about," Jillian spoke up as she quickly slipped on her jacket and tucked the package underneath her arm before giving Reginald a quick peck on the cheek and heading for the door. "Sweetheart, I'll talk to you later."
"I didn't mean to run her off," Patterson sighed after Jillian had hurried out of the office. "I know that Stephanie did some pretty terrible things to both of you, but this is very important."
"Okay, Paddy, what is it," Reginald sighed reluctantly. "What's Stephanie done, now, that's gotten you all upset?"
"Reginald, she's disappeared," Patterson confessed.
"Or, probably more accurately, she's been kidnapped."
"Kidnapped?" Reginald's eyes grew wide from shock. "By whom?"
"Her father," Patterson replied flatly.
"But, I..." Reginald's voice trailed off as his mind tried to process what he was hearing. "But, I thought that Stephanie's father was dead."
"That's what everyone thought!" Patterson shook his head, still in disbelief over what was happening, and sunk down into a chair. "Until the police discovered evidence proving that he might really be alive."
"Evidence?" Reginald eyed him curiously as his keen reporter's instincts took over. "What evidence?"
"A cufflink at Dane and Sara's that she swears belongs to Stephen Lake." Patterson paused briefly and bit his lip as he looked up at Reginald. Should he tell him the rest? Should he voice his own suspicions and risk raising Reginald's hopes?
"Go on, Paddy," Reginald urged as he moved closer, not wanting to miss a word. "You act like there's something else---something you're not saying."
"There...is," he confessed. "There's even more convincing proof that her father is alive." He hesitated again, but forced himself to continue. "Sara saw him."
"Sara saw Stephen Lake with her own eyes. It was..." Patterson stopped, unsure about whether he should continue, but quickly realized that if he had any hope of convincing Reginald to help him, he had to explain his suspicions. "Sara saw him at The Grand Sunset Room---the night that Annabelle was killed."
"Oh, my god," Reginald gasped as he slowly leaned back against his desk. His keen reporter's mind immediately began to kick into gear and the connection between the two events became clear. "You're not saying that the police think that Stephanie's father had anything to do with Annabelle's murder, are you?"
"Well, officially, the police aren't saying anything," Patterson confessed, "but the impression that I got from them is that they were considering the possibility. I mean, don't you find it odd that Stephanie's father---a man that everyone thought was dead---miraculously returned to life and was spotted the exact same night that his wife was mysteriously murdered? And now his daughter has suddenly disappeared? This is too unbelievable to just be some giant coincidence."
"I agree," Reginald nodded and then carefully rubbed his chin as he considered the possibilities. "But, really, even if Stephen Lake were there the night that Annabelle died, there's no way he could have done it. Granted, he might very well be responsible for Stephanie's disappearance, but I don't see how he could have had anything to do with Annabelle's murder."
"Reginald! It's obvious!" Patterson eyed him with astonishment. Surely Reginald, of all people, could see the connection. "Stephen Lake killed his wife and then kidnapped his own daughter. Think about it. Everyone thought he was dead. Nobody would ever have suspected him."
"Paddy, I understand that you're worried about Stephanie, but maybe that's clouding your judgment just a little. Remember, I was there. I saw my mother coming out of the lounge. She says that she left Annabelle very much alive, but when I went into the lounge, Annabelle was dead. That waitress that was there didn't see anybody else go in between the time that my mother left and I went in. There's no way that he could have killed her."
"You...almost sound like you think that your mother actually did it." Patterson eyed him with a mixture of suspicion and worry. "Certainly, you don't..."
"I don't know," Reginald confessed as he hung his head in embarrassment. "Honestly, I don't know what to believe. In my heart, I know that my mother couldn't have done such a horrible thing, but...well...I am a newspaper man. I deal with facts and evidence and...well...I just can't get past the evidence that I've seen. There is just no way that anyone else could have gotten into that lounge."
"And as far as Stephanie goes, for all we know---and if her father really is alive---she just packed up and ran off with him. Paddy, you know how she is. She only thinks about herself. The fact that you and Sara would be worried to death about her wouldn't even have entered her mind."
"But, what if?" Patterson questioned urgently as he tried to force Reginald to understand what he was saying. "What if I'm right? What if Stephen Lake really did kill his wife and kidnapped Stephanie?"
"Then that...would be a horrible, horrible thing," Reginald agreed as he tried to consider the possibilities. "I mean, the fact that he faked his own death and then came back only to kill his wife is frightening enough to consider, but...well...that he kidnapped his own daughter?"
"If it is true, then Stephanie could be in serious danger," Patterson continued. "If her father really did kill Annabelle, then that proves that he's capable of murder. I honestly don't think that Stephanie would willingly run away with him if she knew that. That means that he took her by force. That means that she could be in real danger."
"That's a lot of assuming, Paddy." Reginald slowly shook his head, still overwhelmed by Patterson's reasoning. "Besides, I don't know what you expect me to do. Unless I have some good, solid proof that Stephen Lake could have killed his wife, I can't even take that theory seriously. There's no way he could have gotten into that room."
Patterson paused and furrowed his brow as he thought deeply. Suddenly, his eyes grew wide with realization.
"No way he could have gotten into that room, huh?" Patterson smiled confidently. "Come on, Reginald, I've got an idea. And if it turns out that I'm right, you're going to thank me."
CALLISON PUBLICATIONS - DOUGLAS'S OFFICE
THE DAVIS HOME - LIVING ROOM
"Oh, it's absolutely darling!" Lorraine Davis exclaimed as she held up the soft receiving blanket for inspection. "You shouldn't have."
"I wish that I'd had time to do more," Jillian sighed as she shook her head. "I really wanted to give you a proper baby shower, but with everything that's been going on..."
"I know that this has to be...difficult for you and your family," Lorraine said softly as she reached over to give Jillian's hand a gentle, yet reassuring, squeeze. "Douglas lost his own mother just a few months ago and...well...I know that even though he's trying to put up a strong front, he's still affected by it."
"This was just so sudden," Jillian muttered as she looked away to hide her rising emotions. "I was...just with my father the night...of the accident and..."
"I'm sorry. I really shouldn't have brought it up."
"No, it's okay," Jillian smiled weakly as she turned around to face Lorraine again. "I really do appreciate your concern for my family."
"Well, let's talk about something happier." Lorraine realized that a change in subject was desperately needed in order to lift the dark cloud that had quickly descended on their conversation. "Have you and Reginald set another wedding date?"
"It's funny that you should mention that. Actually, we were just discussing it earlier. I'd really love to get married in June, but...."
"The trial," Lorraine nodded, immediately realizing that she'd brought up yet another uncomfortable subject. "Honey, I know that everything's going to work out fine. Douglas is doing everything that he can to prove that Reginald's mother couldn't have killed Annabelle. I have complete faith in my husband. If anyone can prove her innocence, he can."
"I know," Jillian muttered softly as she began to feel as if the dark clouds that had been surrounding her for months were starting to close in. "I have complete faith in Douglas, but...well...I'm not sure that I have complete faith in whatever jury is selected."
"Jillian, you and Reginald have to have faith," Lorraine insisted firmly as she carefully rose from her seat on the sofa and walked towards the kitchen. "In troubled times like these, it's the only thing that you've really got to hold onto. Can I get you some coffee?"
"Yes, please. I'd like that very much," Jillian smiled as Lorraine moved into the kitchen leaving her alone with her thoughts. As she stared down at her hands, she slowly began to twist her engagement ring around her finger. So many bad things had happened to keep her from marrying Reginald. Why did it all seem like some kind of omen of even worse things to come?
"Oh!" Lorraine cried out from the kitchen, immediately startling Jillian and pulling her from her troubled thoughts. The cry was quickly followed by a loud crash.
"Lorraine!" Jillian called out as she bolted from her seat and raced into the kitchen. "Lorraine, are you all right?" To her horror, Jillian found her friend in a crumpled heap on the floor clutching her stomach. "Oh, my lord! Is it...?"
"T-the baby," Lorraine muttered weakly as she winced from the pain. "It's the baby."
THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - LOUNGE
"Honestly, I have no idea what the two of you could be looking for," Jasper St. John said as he carefully watched Reginald and Patterson while they diligently searched the room. "The police finished here months ago and we've completely cleaned everything since then. I'm sure that even if the police had missed something, there's nothing left for you to find."
"Jasper, just let us be the judge of that," Reginald said firmly as he carefully inspected the area where he'd found Annabelle's body. "Now, let's see. She was lying right here." He turned and looked in the direction of the doorway. "I came in there and saw her. I crossed over and...saw the scarf..."
"Reginald, I'm sorry," Patterson spoke up. "I guess that there really isn't anything left here for us to find. I've brought you on a wild goose chase."
"Not so fast, Paddy," Reginald muttered and then tapped his chin as a million possible scenarios ran through his head. "We're all convinced that no one else came into the lounge after my mother left and before I came in. That waitress was by the doors the entire time and swears that she didn't see anyone else come in. Mother insists that Annabelle was still alive and kicking when she left, so..." He furrowed his brow and rested his chin in his hand. "Jasper, is there any other way to get into this room?"
"Oh, no, Mr. Callison!" Jasper replied firmly. "The police asked me the same thing that night. The only entrance to this room from the ballroom is through those doors."
"But, what about..." Patterson spoke up as a thought began to formulate inside his head. "Is there a way in from the terrace?"
"The terrace?" Reginald asked as he turned to eye his friend curiously. "That only runs along the building outside the main ballroom. Why do you want to know about the terrace?"
"Because when Sara saw Stephen Lake, she saw him coming in from the terrace," Patterson explained. "From the time frame she gave, it was right before she and Dane left the party and that was right before Stephanie found you with Annabelle's body."
"I understand the theory, Paddy," Reginald nodded, "but..."
"Oh, no one could have gotten in here from the terrace," Jasper interrupted with conviction. "We always keep those doors locked when this room isn't in use and it wasn't being used the night of that party."
"Doors?" Reginald quickly turned to face Jasper. "Do you mean that the terrace actually runs outside this room?"
"No, not the same terrace," Jasper laughed as if amused by the foolishness of the assumption. "It's a completely separate terrace, but we always keep those doors locked."
"Could you show us those doors, Mr. St. John?" Patterson asked.
"Certainly," Jasper replied as he motioned for them to follow him across the room towards a large set of chintz drapes. "They're right over here."
Patterson and Reginald quickly turned to eye one another with shock and realization. The doors were completely hidden by the drapes that seemed to match and blend in with the decor of the room. In fact, if the room were dimly lit, it might be possible that no one would even know that they were there.
Jasper swiftly pulled the drapes open to reveal the large set of doors that, certainly enough, led to the terrace. With a smug grin, he reached for the door knob. "You see, gentlemen, we keep these doors..." He stopped mid-sentence as his face froze with an expression of shock and embarrassment. The doors were not locked! In fact, when he turned the knob, they swung open with ease.
"Well, I'll be," Reginald spoke up as he quickly glanced in Patterson's direction. "Always locked, you say?"
"I...um...well..." Jasper stammered awkwardly. "They're supposed to be locked! We only unlock them so that they can be used when the lounge is in use."
"Have there been any functions in the lounge since the night of that party?" Reginald questioned.
"No. None." Jasper still had a look of shock plastered on his face. "Actually, business has been rather slow, lately. We haven't used this room for months."
"I'd like to have a look at the terrace, if you don't mind," Patterson said as he slowly walked closer to the doors.
"Oh, yes, of course," Jasper muttered. "Please, just help..." He was interrupted by the shrill ring of the telephone that sat on the bar of the lounge. "If you'll excuse me, gentlemen."
Reginald and Patterson nodded in unison and slowly stepped out onto the terrace to have a better look.
"I don't know what we're expecting to find," Reginald sighed. "If there ever was any kind of evidence here, surely it's..."
"Mr. Callison!" Jasper called out as he raced through the doors. "It's your office on the phone. They said it was urgent."
"Paddy, I'll be back in just a moment."
"Mr. Monroe, surely you don't think that someone could have gotten into the room from out here," Jasper said as he watched Patterson closely. "Why, we're over 25 floors up!"
"I don't know," Patterson muttered with a shake of his head. "I just don't know what to think."
"Paddy, I hate to cut this short," Reginald said as he hurried back onto the terrace, "but something's come up and I..." He paused as he wondered if he should reveal the true nature of the emergency. "Well, I've got to go. I'm leaving you in charge of things, for now. If you find anything that might prove that someone else could have gotten into that room and killed Annabelle, I want to be the first to know about it."
"You got it, chief," Patterson replied with a grin as he gave a mock salute.
As Reginald hurried back through the doors and out of the lounge leaving Patterson and Jasper alone on the terrace, Patterson leaned forward against the railing and looked out upon the city of Albanyville with solid determination.
"I'm close to figuring this out," he muttered to himself. "I can feel it. I can also feel that you're out there, somewhere, Steph. Don't worry. I'll find you. I'll find you and I'll bring you home---exactly where you belong."
CALLISON PUBLICATIONS - DOUGLAS'S OFFICE
"My god," Jim gasped as Annabelle's words echoed inside his head. "She set him up. She set her own husband up knowing full well that he would be killed."
"I...just can't believe it," Douglas sighed as he sunk back into his chair. "I mean, I knew that she was rather cunning and conniving---her machinations against Charles and Francis Callison proved that---but to do something so dastardly? I'm just...in shock."
"But from everything that I've learned about Mrs. Lake, she was fiercely protective of her daughter. To me, it's not outside the realm of possibility that she could be capable of such a thing if it meant protecting her daughter from harm." Jim slowly began to pace around the room as he considered the new piece of evidence.
"And his body was never found," Douglas commented before reaching down to pick up the letter again so that he could reread her words. "Just like she wanted."
"But with no body, there's no proof that he really did die in that attack," Jim rationalized. "It's entirely possible that the man Sara Manchester saw the night of that party was indeed Stephen Lake."
"Stephen Lake? Alive?" Douglas shook his head, still reeling from shock.
"And I just thought of something," Jim spoke up carefully. "Surely, if the hit was made---or at least attempted---Mr. Lake would have realized what was going on. That letter clearly states that the only reason he was at the docks was to..."
"Meet Annabelle," Douglas nodded as he completed the detective's thought. "She would have been the only person who would have known where he would be."
"He somehow survived the hit and knew he'd been set up," Jim continued with his train of thought. "He knew that he'd been set up by his own wife to be murdered!"
"Sounds like plenty of motive for revenge, to me," Douglas commented with a smile. "Stephen Lake wanted revenge on Annabelle for trying to have him bumped off."
"Yeah, but why did it take so long? He's been presumed dead for years. Why did he wait?"
"Well, I can answer that one," Douglas explained. "Remember, this all happened while they were living in Chicago. After her husband was declared legally dead, Annabelle packed up Stephanie and moved to Albanyville to start over. What if it were simply a matter of him not being able to find her."
"True," Jim nodded. "Look, Mr. Davis, do you happen to have any of Mr. Lake's personal documents along with his wife's?"
"No, actually, I don't," Douglas sighed. "I never knew the man. I first met Annabelle when she was pulled out of the secretarial pool for me when I joined Callison Publications' legal team. She'd already been in town for quite a while before that." He paused and rubbed his chin as another thought struck him. "What about that fisherman that Annabelle mentioned in the letter? The witness to her husband's attack."
"Oh, yes, him," Jim sighed. "The report my department got from the Chicago police mentioned him. All it said what that he'd seen Mr. Lake attacked and shot on the docks by two men and then dumped into Lake Michigan. He identified Mr. Lake from photos of him that his wife had. Oddly enough, when the police went back to question him some months later in an attempt to tie the Lake murder to another mob connected case, the guy had simply disappeared. From what I gathered from the report, the Chicago police deduced that he'd been rubbed out by the mob because he'd seen Lake's murder."
"Interesting," Douglas muttered. "Just out of curiosity, did that report tell you the fisherman's name?"
"Yes, actually, it did." Jim eyed him curiously, unsure of where the conversation was going. "I remember it clearly, in fact. It was a Mr. Samuel Benedict. Not that it does us any good. Like I said, the guy just disappeared."
The conversation halted as Douglas' intercom began to buzz.
"Myrtle, I thought that I asked you not to disturb me," Douglas said as he pressed down on the intercom button.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Davis," Myrtle replied, "but you have a phone call. It's Miss Jillian Stokes. She said it was urgent."
"I'm sorry, detective," Douglas sighed as he picked up the telephone receiver and pressed it to his ear. "Jillian, it's Douglas, what's wrong?" His eyes grew wide with shock and concern. "Are you...sure? I...um...yes. I'll...be right there."
"Mr. Davis, is there something wrong?" Jim asked with concern.
"I'm sorry, detective, but I really have to leave," Douglas quickly explained as he bolted from his chair and grabbed his coat. "It's my wife."
"I...hope there's nothing wrong."
"Oh, nothing's wrong," Douglas smiled broadly. "She's having a baby!"
TO BE CONTINUED
Lorraine gives birth!
For Now and Forever
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