THE STOKES MANSION - FOYER

76 Mapleton Way"Look, you just can't show up here!" Fred barked angrily as he tried to shield Sammy from view.  "What if anyone saw you?  Have you lost your mind?"

"Look, Doc, I needed to talk to ya," Sammy explained, "and as soon as I heard that you'd gotten back from your little trip..."

"We can't do this here," Fred muttered nervously and then glanced back over his shoulder to see if anyone was about to step into the foyer.  After taking a deep breath of resignation, he pushed Sammy back out through the door and quietly shut it behind them.  "Now, what is so damned important?  I told your boss that I could get him the money within the month.  There were just a few little details that I had to work out and..."

"I knows what you said, Doc."

"You tell him that everything is going exactly like I planned it."  Fred grabbed Sammy's arm and lead him further away from the door.  "I've got a few more weeks left before the deadline and..."

"Deadline's been moved up," Sammy interrupted.  "The boss told me that your time's up."

"W-what?"  Fred's eyes grew wide with shock and worry.  "He...can't do that!  He said he'd give me another month!"

"Hey, I don't make the rules," Sammy shrugged.  "He said that he'd given you enough time as it was and now it was time to pay up---one way or another."

Dr. Fred Rutherford"But...but..."  Fred swallowed hard and glanced back at the door and then began to rub his chin and he tried to think clearly despite his panic.  "Look, I'm about to come into a large sum of money.  I've got everything set up, but it's just not ready yet and..."

"The boss gave me clear orders," Sammy responded sternly as he again began to reach into his pocket.

"No!  Don't!"  Fred immediately lunged from Sammy and grabbed his hand tightly.  However, he was shocked and confused to discover that it was holding only a cigarette case.  "W-what?  But I...thought..."

"What's wrong with you?" Sammy asked angrily as he jerked himself away.  "Ain't a guy allowed to have a smoke?"

"I-I'm sorry," Fred stammered.  "I...I thought that you w-were going to..."

"The boss is dead," Sammy announced bluntly.

"W-what?  How?"

"Not important," Sammy shrugged and turned away from Fred.  "He's dead.  Not much else to tell."

"S-so...does that mean...?"

"He told me before he died that your time had run out," Sammy continued, completely ignoring the question.  "I know he gave you a month, but he was tired of your games.  He said I was supposed to show you that he wasn't one to double cross."

Fred eyed Sammy carefully, both fully aware of and slightly confused by what he was saying.  Had Sammy's boss ordered Fred's hit?  Is that why Sammy was there?  But, if so, why was he toying with him?  Why hadn't Sammy already done the horrible dead?

Sammy Benedict"Ah, don't just stand there all bug-eyed," Sammy laughed heartily as he lit his cigarette.  "Look, Doc, I like you---against my better judgment, I might add.  Like I said, the boss is dead.  What would be the point in doin' you in?"

"Y-you're not going to..."

"Nah," Sammy shook his head.  "And don't worry.  The boss had me destroy his files right before he died so there's nothing on paper that can ever be used to trace you back to him.  Guess that means that you're a free man."

"But what about you?" Fred asked curiously, still suspicious.  "You know all about your boss's dealings.  Who's to say that you're not going to...."

"I told you that I liked ya!  What more do you want?"  Sammy took a long drag off of his cigarette.  "Besides, I'm gettin' outta town.  Even with the boss's death, it's still a little too hot around here for me, if you get my drift."

"Well...I...." Fred stammered.  "Thanks."

As Sammy began his long walk down the driveway to his car that was parked around the corner, just out of sight, Fred turned and headed back for the house.  A satisfied smile spread across his lips, he reached for the doorknob.  Now that his debt was null and void, whatever money he would get out of Leticia would be his and his alone.  That realization made him happier than he'd been in quite a while.


THE SUNSET HOTEL - RM. 336

The Sunset Hotel"I can't believe that you managed to get away from your family," Jillian cooed softly as she rested her head on Reginald's shoulder while he twirled her around the room to the strains of Bing Crosby's latest record as it played on the radio.  "I know that today was a big day for them."

"It wasn't easy," Reginald Callison smiled and pulled her tighter into his arms.  "I almost didn't want to leave.  It's so good to have this entire mess over.  Mom's cleared of murder and now we can all put this horrible ordeal behind us."

"I guess that Janet's testimony really came through, didn't it?"

"Um, well..."  His voice trailed off and he pulled away slightly.

"Reginald?"  She looked up at him curiously, immediately aware that something wasn't quite right.  "What is it?  It was her testimony that proved your mother's innocence, wasn't it?"

"Actually, no," he confessed with a sigh and then walked over to the bar to pour them both a drink.  "It seems that the D.A. had a field day with her mental history.  He called her an 'unreliable witness' and said that 'anything that she claimed to remember should be discounted as false and prefabricated'.  The judge was...inclined to believe him."

"Well, if it wasn't Janet's testimony, than who..."  She furrowed her brow slightly as her mind began to race through all the possibilities.  Suddenly, her eyes grew wide with shock and realization.  "It wasn't..."

"Stephanie," he nodded as he handed her a drink.  "It seems that before her father died, he told her how he'd killed her mother."

"She was the big mystery witness?"

Reginald CallisonReginald nodded silently and then took a long sip of his drink.  "She came forward with the information while she was in the hospital recovering from her abduction.  She...wanted to testify to what her father had told her so that Mom's name would be cleared.  Paddy knew what kind of publicity this entire mess has generated and asked Father to have the courtroom cleared for her benefit.  She told the judge everything.  I guess that testimony from the daughter of the victim against her own father in behalf of the woman charged with the crime was rather convincing.  The D.A. had no choice but to drop all charges once he realized that there was no way a jury would be able to find Mom guilty considering Stephanie's testimony of her father's confession."

"This is just too...unbelievable."  Jillian sat down on the edge of the bed, clearly stunned by the news.  "Stephanie Lake, of all people, did the right thing?"

"Yes, I know," he laughed awkwardly as he sat down next to her and wrapped his arm around her.  "I wouldn't have believed it either if I hadn't witnessed it first hand, but I was there."  He took a deep breath and swallowed hard.  "I hate to say it, but my family really owes her a lot."

"Maybe Paddy's right about her after all," Jillian muttered, almost to herself.  "Maybe she has changed."

"Stephanie?  Changed?"  Reginald laughed with amusement.  "I don't think she'll ever change.  One good deed doesn't erase everything that she tried to do to you and me.  So, she had a fit of conscience.  Or maybe Paddy managed to talk her into it, somehow.  A leopard just doesn't change it's spots.  It'll take more than just this to convince me that she's made some grand transformation."

"But, Reginald..." she paused for a moment and bit her lip as she looked up at him.  "This isn't the only good deed that she's done, lately.  Remember, when the police thought that you'd killed Annabelle, she came forward with that witness who saw someone else go into the lounge and..."

"And that witness identified my mother!" he reminded bluntly.

"Well..."  Jillian winced slightly.  "Granted, it wasn't the best thing that could have happened, but she was trying to help."

"Don't tell me that you've turned into a cheerleader for Stephanie!"

"I wouldn't exactly put it like that," Jillian responded with a shake of her head.  "I don't see myself ever becoming best friends with her or anything, but...well...maybe Patterson really has had an influence on her.  He does bring out the best in people and...well...there's something that I never really told you."

Reginald looked at her intently and nodded, signaling for her to continue.

"Well, you remember our wedding?" she began carefully.  "Actually, our almost wedding?"

"How could I forget!" he grumbled.

"Anyway, before the ceremony started, Stephanie paid me a little unexpected visit in the bride's room and..."

"She what?" he barked angrily.  "I swear if that little witch did anything to..."

"Honey, would you just listen to me?"  Jillian grabbed onto his arm in an attempt to calm him down.  "She wanted to see me so that she could apologize."

"W-what?"

"She said that she was sorry for everything that she did to come between us and that she realized that we loved one another and belonged together."  She paused and took a deep breath and waited for the stunned reaction she knew he was going to have.

"Surely, you don't think she was serious, do you?"

Jillian Stokes"At first, I was convinced it was just another one of her games," Jillian confessed, "but she seemed so sincere and so...well...remorseful.  I think she really was being honest with me.  Maybe she has changed.  It would make sense since Paddy seems to be in love with her."

"Paddy seems to have lost his mind, too!"  Reginald shook his head in disbelief.  "Next thing I know, you're going to tell me that you want to invite her to the wedding."

"Well..."

"You can't be serious!  After everything that she's done?"

"That's exactly why," she explained calmly.  "She's really come through for your family and...well...she seems genuine in her attempts to put whatever bad things happened in the past behind her.  Maybe we should do the same thing.  Maybe we should just let go of the past and move on.  Inviting Stephanie might just be the thing to show the fates that we're not afraid of them.  Besides, you know Paddy's going to want to bring her and..."

"You really want to invite her?"  He eyed her closely, still not sure he was in favor of the idea.  "Well, I'll make a deal with you.  You invite Stephanie and I'll invite Dane."

"Oh, I don't think so!" she answered quickly.  "I don't want Dane Manchester within fifty feet of my wedding!  Have you lost your mind?  That's the most ridiculous idea I think I've ever heard!"

"Well, if you really want to laugh in the face of fate...."

Jillian let out a weary sigh of resignation and slouched forward, resting her chin in her hands.  "It would be a way to show him that, no matter what he's done or ever might do, we'll be together."

"And we can keep an eye on him," Reginald smiled slyly.

"Lord, Dane Manchester an invited guest at my wedding," she grumbled.

"Don't forget Stephanie!"  He grinned impishly.  "If you're really intent on putting everything in the past, you could make her a bride's maid."

"Don't press your luck!  I said that I wanted to laugh at fate, not tempt it."

"Speaking of weddings," Reginald muttered softly as he took the glass out of her hands and set it on the floor before nuzzling her neck tenderly, "you said something about a June wedding?  There's still time to..."

"Oh, I like the way you think, Mr. Callison," Jillian giggled warmly.

"And I like more than they way you think, soon-to-be Mrs. Callison."


THE GARDENS RESTAURANT - LADIES' ROOM

The Gardens Restaurant"What do you want from me?" Helen asked nervously as she hung her head, unable to meet Judith's stern glare.  "What horrible thing do you have planned for me as punishment?"

"Oh, dear, it's not for you," Judith grinned slyly.  "You see, my marriage has long outlived its usefulness.  More accurately, Mark has been a thorn in my side almost since we cut the wedding cake.  He's got this inane idea that we're moving back to New York."

"Yes, I know," Helen revealed.  "He told me.  He...wants me to transfer to a school there so that...."

"Typical," Judith sighed with a roll of her eyes.  "Always like Mark to plan ahead.  But, this time, I've got a surprise for him that I'm sure he would never have planned on."

"What...are you going to do?"

"It's very simple, really," Judith began to explain as she slowly began to pace around the room, almost like a vulture encircling its prey.  "I'm going to divorce him."

"W-what?  You can't...do that!  On what grounds?"

"You really are stupid, aren't you?"  Judith paused and looked Helen dead in the eye.  "Adultery, of course."

Helen Van Dyne"But...but..." Helen stammered in confusion.  "How am I supposed to help you with that?  What are you talking about?  Mark said that he knew that you'd had affairs, too!  You can't...."

"I can and I will!" Judith said firmly.  "And any outside relationships I may or may not have had are really none of your business.  If I'm not mistaken, the topic of conversation right now is your tawdry affair with my husband!"

"I can't do that!  If I testify against Mark, he'll hate me!"

"Oh, what a pity," Judith remarked dryly.  "If you don't help me, then I risk losing quite a bit of money to Mark in a divorce settlement."

"I won't do it!" Helen shouted angrily.  "I won't betray Mark so that you can save a few measly dollars!"

"You will do it."  Judith reached out and grabbed Helen's arm and gave it a tight squeeze.  "You're going to get up on that witness stand and testify to every sordid detail of your affair with my husband!"

"And if I don't?"

"I'll name you as a respondent in an alienation of affection suit."

"A...what?"

"It's simple.  I'll sue you for stealing my husband!"  Judith crossed her arms firmly across her chest and smiled smugly.

"Y-you can't!" Helen panicked.  "You've got...no proof!"

Judith Stokes Linford"I'm certain that I can convince your little friend to testify against you," Judith calmly replied.  "After all, there doesn't seem to be any love lost between you."  As she furrowed her brow, she lifted her well-manicured finger up to her chin in a display of mock exaggerated thought.  "Let's see.  Didn't Jillian tell me just the other day how your father was suffering from a heart condition?  I'm sure that I could get such a law suit in all the right society pages in California.  I'm certain that news about what his precious little girl has been up to wouldn't sit too well with him."

"You...wouldn't!  You wouldn't do something like that....would you?"  Helen began to slowly back away from Judith, fully realizing that she was a woman of her word.

"Oh, I would and I will!"

Helen exhaled slowly and thought over Judith's ultimatum.  Her father's love or Mark's?  Which was more important?  Her father was the obvious answer, but could she really risk losing Mark?  Could she betray the man that she loved with all of her heart?  Helen wasn't sure, but knew, full well, that Judith wasn't going to give her much time to make that decision.



 


TOMORROW

Judith gives Mark an ultimatum.




 


produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

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