SUNSET ROOM - FOYER
Callison! Mrs. Callison!" Stephanie called out as she attempted to
catch up with Francis. "Please, wait!"
Hearing her name, Francis
stopped in her tracks as she reached the elevator. Her eyes still clouded
with tears, she turned to see who had been calling her. First catching
sight of the manager, she quickly called him over so she could retrieve her
Jasper, get my coat for me please," she ordered urgently. "I've
decided that I won't be staying, after all."
ma'am," Jasper St. John nodded politely, "but I was so hoping you'd
stay. With that Lake woman running the show, it's almost been like a three
ringed circus. Your presence has helped to add a touch of class and grace
to an evening already marred with the smudgy fingerprints of that vile
"T-thank you for your
kind words, Jasper," she smiled weakly, "but I really can't stay here
any longer. Please tell my mother and
Dr. Rutherford that I've taken
ill...nothing serious...and that I've gone up to the penthouse to retire for the
"Yes, ma'am," he
nodded again as he helped her on with her coat and then quickly breezed off in
search of Francis' mother and date.
Callison, wait!" Stephanie again called out as she finally reached
her. "Please, you can't leave because..."
Francis sighed with a scowl, "I see your mother has resorted to sending her
own daughter to take care of her dirty work now. Is there any limit to the
depths to which that woman will sink?"
"No, Mrs. Callison, you don't
"Oh, I understand very
well," Francis spat as she turned her back to Stephanie and repeatedly
pressed the button for the elevator. "They say that everyone has a
purpose in life. It's my guess that your mother's main purpose in life is
to make my life a living hell! Now, she's got you following along right in
"Would you please
just listen to me?" Stephanie begged as she tried to fight back her own
tears. "I'm not here because Momma wants me to be! I'm here on
"Hasn't your family done
enough damage?" Francis questioned angrily as she kept pushing the button
over and over, quickly growing impatient. "You completely ruined my son's engagement party with your vile antics and your mother seems determined to
turn this family affair into a side show featuring her prized daughter as the
"Would you just listen!"
Stephanie snapped as she reached out to grab Francis' sleeve.
Feeling Stephanie's hand on
her arm, Francis jerked herself backwards as her eyes filled with fire and
hatred. "Don't you ever touch me!" she spat.
"Don't you or your wicked mother ever come near me
"My mother's wrong!"
Stephanie said sternly as she tried to look Francis dead in the eyes.
"Everything that's happened...everything that's she's done has been
stammered as a look of confusion spread across her face. "W-what are
you talking about? You...you sound like you're saying you don't agree with
what your mother's doing."
"That's because I
"I...think you need to
"That's what I'm trying
to do if you would just listen to me!" Stephanie stopped and took
several deep breaths to calm herself down as she waited to make sure that she
had Francis' full attention. "It all happened the night of the
engagement party...the night you found Mr. Callison and my mother
"T-that was probably the
worst night of my entire life," Francis muttered as she hung her head, the
memory almost too painful to bear. "That was the night my
entire life feel apart."
"My mother has no
business being with your husband! He doesn't love her. He
loves you! She's only gotten his mind so twisted and confused that
he only thinks he loves her and it's been going on ever since that
understand," Francis sighed as she gently rubbed her temple as if to help
her process what she was being told. "Why...are you telling me
matter." Stephanie's head dropped as she remembered the painful argument
with her mother. "What does matter is that if my mother hadn't
done what she did that night, you and your husband would still be
together. None of the last few months would ever have
"I'm certain that
Annabelle pulled some vile tricks," Francis spoke up angrily, "but it
was my husband's choice to betray our marriage! It was his choice
to destroy everything that we'd worked so hard for for so many years!"
"That's what I'm
trying to say!" Stephanie reached out for her again and grabbed her
by the arms. This time, Francis didn't pull away. "It wasn't
his choice! In fact, he had no choice in the matter at all!
What you saw that night isn't really what you saw! Even your
husband doesn't realize what really happened!"
Francis stood in silence and
stared Stephanie in the eyes. What could she be talking about? Why
didn't Charles have a choice? Exactly how far had Annabelle gone to
wreck her marriage? She wasn't entirely sure of the answers, but she was
finally ready to listen to everything Stephanie had to say.