MANSION - LIVING ROOM
Dr. Rutherford---I mean,
Fred---I guess that all that's left to say is 'congratulations'," Burt
Lamont smiled as he walked over to him and extended his hand. "I have
to agree this is all, well, rather unexpected, but I hope for only the best for
you and your new wife."
"And I'll second that,"
Mark Linford spoke up as he, too, shook the doctor's hand while giving Burt an
uncomfortable glance. "Welcome to the family. You'll just have
to ignore my wife. She can be a little...well..."
"Well, that's not exactly the
word I was searching for," Mark laughed, "but it'll do."
"Dr. Rutherford," Janet
Stokes spoke up as she, too, approached him.
"Please, Janet, call me
'Fred'," he smiled warmly. "After all, I am...well...your
step-father, now. There's no need to be quite so formal."
"All right, Fred," she
blushed. "I just...wanted to say that I support both you and my
mother. I just want you both to be very happy."
"And that's all I want,
too," Fred nodded and then leaned in to give Janet a brief peck on the
Meanwhile, across the room,
Stokes had pulled her mother aside. Although everyone else seemed to be
full of congratulations and good wishes, there were still a few questions that
she felt needed answers.
"Mother, are you...sure about
this?" Jillian asked in a voice just above a whisper. "This is so
sudden. I didn't even...know that you and Dr. Rutherford had gotten so
close, let alone were considering marriage."
"Well, too be honest, it was
rather unexpected for me, too," Leticia confessed privately before
carefully putting her hand on her daughter's arm and guiding her even further
away from the others. "I hadn't...planned on marrying Fred. It
Jillian eyed her mother curiously,
not completely understanding what she was trying to say. "Mother,
marriages don't 'just happen'. They're not just some kind of accident that
you wind up in when you're not paying attention."
"No, that's true. I agree
with you." Leticia looked away as if she were embarrassed by what she
was about to reveal. "But, in this case, that's exactly what
"I...I don't understand."
"Jillian, I'm telling you this
because I know that you're probably the most level headed one of the
girls." Leticia paused and bit her lip before taking a deep
breath. "And I want you to promise me that you won't say anything
about this to either one of your sisters. Especially Judith."
"A-all right," Jillian
nodded, more worried and confused than before. "What is it?
What do you have to tell me?"
"What I'm trying to say is that
I barely even remember the wedding ceremony," Leticia confessed.
"Fred and I had gone out to dinner and he...well, he was being quite
romantic. I had a few glasses of wine with dinner and...well, I'm
embarrassed to say this, but I had a little too much to drink and..."
"Oh, Mother! No!"
"We were talking about love and
romance and marriage," Leticia continued calmly. "Fred told me
that he loved me and wanted to marry me. Of course, I told him that it was
too soon and I couldn't even think about such an important step like that, but I
told him that I was open to the possibilities. I guess that, well, before
the night was over, I'd had just enough to drink that I realized that I was more
open than I thought I was."
"Mother, you married him
because you were drunk and didn't know what you were doing?" Jillian
gasped in shock. "Oh, Mother! We can fix this and..."
"No, dear," Leticia sighed
with a shake of her head. "I admit that if it hadn't been for the
wine, I probably would not have married him in New York, but..."
"But the wine is not the reason
I married Fred. It only helped me to let go of some of my own
"Mother, you were clearly not
in your right mind!" Jillian grabbed her mother's arm in an attempt
to force her to listen. "We can get this marriage annulled. It
would be a simple matter of having Mark draw up the papers. You're
certainly not ready to just jump into another marriage! You were
right. It's just too soon and..."
"No, Jillian," Leticia
said firmly. "I admit that if I hadn't been drinking, I
probably---no, definitely---wouldn't have married Fred so impetuously,
"But what, Mother?"
"But I did. I married
Fred. I married him of my own free will." She paused and took a
deep breath. "The wine only allowed me the freedom to follow through
on my own feelings. It enabled me to do what I wanted to do. If I
hadn't wanted to marry Fred, no amount of wine would have made me do it."
Jillian shook her head slightly,
still in shock over her mother's revelation and gently rubbed her temple as if
she were trying to force the news to sink in. "So...are you trying to
say that you're in love with Fred? Did you marry him because you love
smiled. "I love Fred. Well, at least I think I'm in love with
"Mother! Thinking you're
in love with someone is not enough of a reason to marry someone!"
"Jillian, it's done! Fred
and I are married and we're going to stay married." Leticia looked
directly into her daughter's eyes. "Now, I'm trusting you to keep
what I told you between us. You cannot tell your sisters about the
circumstances surrounding my wedding to Fred. Janet has enough going right
now and Judith...well, you know how she can be."
"Not a word!"
what are you two talking about over there?" Fred asked with a smile as he
walked over to them.
darling," Leticia replied softly. "Just girl talk."
"Ah, I see. Well, why
don't we all continue this conversation over dinner? A big celebration in
honor of your mother's wedding."
"Oh, that would be
wonderful!" Leticia exclaimed. "I just need to go upstairs and
freshen up a bit. That plane ride nearly wore me out."
"I'll come with you,"
Janet said as she followed her mother to the stairs.
"I'm...going to have to
decline," Jillian spoke up remorsefully. "I've already made
plans with Reginald. I'm sorry."
"No, that's more than all
right," Leticia nodded with a smile. "After everything you two
have had to deal with over the last few months, you both deserve to finally have
some time together without the specter of a murder hanging over your
heads. You go and have fun!" She paused and then grinned
slyly. "And finally set a date for this wedding!"
"We will, Mother," Jillian
laughed. "Trust me. We will."
"Now, while Leticia and Janet
are upstairs getting ready, why don't I fix you a drink, Fred?" Mark asked
as he walked over to the bar. "You, too, Burt."
like that, Mark. Thank you very much."
Burt and Fred began to follow Mark
just as the doorbell rang.
"You two start without
me," Fred spoke up. "I'll get the door and I'll be right
With quick strides, Fred headed for
the front door with a sly grin on his face. Although Judith's reaction to
his marriage to Leticia was less than stellar, it had been the reaction that
he'd expected. However, the glowing reception he'd received from the rest of
the family had come as a pleasant surprise. Maybe everything was going to
work out even better than he'd planned.
However, as he swung the door open,
he realized that there were still a few things left that could cause him a lot
are you doing here?" he asked nervously in hushed tones. "How
can you even think about showing up here? What are you trying to do?
Ruin everything that I'm working on?"
"I don't care 'bout none of
that," Sammy Benedict said with a glare. "I needed to see you
and I figured that this is where you'd be." He paused and reached
into his jacket. "There're some things we need to get straight and we
need to do it now."