The Grand Sunset Room"Burt, I want a word with you," Mark Linford said sternly as he walked over to him.

"Hello, Mark," Janet smiled sweetly.  "I saw you from across the room earlier and I intended on saying 'hello', but I just didn't have the chance."  She quickly looked around and let out a worried sigh.  "I take it that you couldn't convince Judith to come?"

"No, she felt more like staying in tonight," Mark muttered as he kept his eyes focused on Burt.  "Staying home is all she feels like doing since...the accident."

Burt winced at the reference to Judith Linford's tumble down a flight of stairs that resulted in the loss of the baby she'd been carrying...Burt's baby!

"I feel so horrible for her," Janet responded.  "I just can't imagine the pain she's going through.  It must be so awful to loose a child."

MarkLinford"You have no idea what your sister and I have been going through," Mark nodded, still focused on Burt.  "But, Janet, if you'll excuse us, I need to speak with Burt in private."

Janet nodded as Mark led Burt off to a corner.  As she watched them walk away, she kept her eyes locked on them.  What in the world would Mark have to discuss with Burt?  Unless....  Her!  They were going to talk about her!  Janet was certain that she had to be the topic of their conversation.  Were they still dwelling on her disappearance after...after...  She furrowed her brow slightly as she thought.  She remembered running away but she couldn't remember why.  What had been so horrible as to cause her to run away from her family and the man that she loved?

She shook her head in confusion.  There were huge holes in her memory that she just couldn't explain.  She couldn't remember anything about the night she disappeared or the night that Judith fell, even though she knew that she was in the house at the time.  She'd racked her brain trying to remember, but she'd avoided telling anyone about her lapses in memory.  Surely they'd think she was loosing it again!  Surely they'd want to put her back into the hospital.  Janet refused to let that happen and worked on her own to fill in the blanks.  Maybe Mark and Burt were going to talk about her.  Maybe they knew something that she couldn't remember.  Desperate for some clue, she carefully slipped over to near where they were standing and began to listen....

"What's the meaning of this?" Burt asked in a low whisper as he eyed Mark with trepidation.  "What's going on?"

"I've been meaning to discuss this with you for some time, now, but I've put it off."  Mark chose his words carefully as he kept his eyes locked on Burt.  After a few moments, he took a deep breath and spoke again.  "Burt, I know the truth about Judith's baby."

"T-truth?"  Burt took a few steps backward, afraid of what was to come.  Did Mark really know the truth?

"Yes, I know that the baby Judith lost was actually yours and not mine."

Burt LamontThe revelation hung in the air for a moment as Burt's jaw dropped in shock.  Silently, Burt wondered how he should react.  Should he confess that he knew about the true paternity of the child?  Should he feign ignorance in the entire matter?

"I can tell from your shocked expression that this comes as news to you."  Mark lowered his voice and inspected Burt closely.  "Mainly, I want to insure that you don't have any plans on renewing your sordid relationship with my wife again."

"Mark, I can assure you that what Judith and I had is very much in the past.  You can imagine how stunned I am concerning Judith's baby."  Burt didn't have to think of how he should react; Mark willingly gave him an out.  "However, I love Janet very much.  The last thing on earth that I'd ever want is to see her hurt again."

"I like the sound of that," Mark muttered slyly.  "You see, now that you've miraculously discovered that you're a Callison, your social standing has been upped a bit.  You're no longer quite so beneath her."

"Who my family is has nothing..."

"Oh, doesn't it?"  Mark let out a thin laugh.  "It means everything to Judith.  If you'd known all along who you really were, she would have run away with you in an instant.  However, we all thought you were some pitiful bar hack.  She should never have condescended to speak to you let alone...."

"Now, wait a second!"  Burt was quickly beginning to grow angry.  "I am still the exact same person as I've always been, Callison or not!"

"For once, I have to agree with you.  I guess it's that old question of nature versus nurture."  Mark paused and made sure to look Burt right in the eyes to ensure that he understood him perfectly.  "In any case, I want to you leave Albanyville.  I want you to stay as far away from Judith as you can and never tell a soul the truth about that child.  As far as anyone will ever know, the baby that she lost was mine!"

"And...if I don't?"

"Then I'll be forced to tell poor, sweet Janet all about your past with her sister and the dead bastard child that you shared!"

Burt gasped in shock.  Surely Mark wouldn't do anything as horrendous as tell Janet the truth about the baby!  She'd suffered through so much in the past from the death of Gordon Scott as well as the discovery of his long over affair with her sister.  Burt was certain that the shocking truth of Judith's baby would be too much for her to bear.

Janet StokesMeanwhile, not far away, Janet strained to hear what they were talking about.  However, the music that was coming from the orchestra was drowning out a great deal of the conversation.  From her vantage point behind a large fern, she could clearly see that the discussion was an unpleasant one and she leaned in closer so that she could make out what they were saying.  What she managed to hear stunned her.

A look of confusion covered her face as she heard them discuss Judith's baby.  What about the baby?  Was Burt offering his condolences about the loss of the child?  Why was Mark acting so angry?  A large knot began to form in the pit of her stomach as the color began to drain from her face.  

In an instant, a collection of random, jarring memories began to flash inside her head--the staircase at the mansion...Judith's angry face...the sound of Judith's blood curdling scream...the sight of her sister tumbling head over heals down the stairs...

Janet immediately began to feel light headed and sick to her stomach.  What did it all mean?  Why was she having these visions?  Had she been there when Judith fell?  Had she seen it all?  As a sense of panic began to set in, Janet ran away.  It began to feel like the walls were closing in on her and she had to escape.

As she pushed her way through the crowd of guests, she searched for any place to hide.  Hide?  From what?  She wasn't sure, but she knew she had to get out of there.  The flashes of memory kept coming and they terrified her.  Oh god, what had she done?  Looking for a place to be alone so that she could collect herself, she saw the doors to the empty lounge and promptly ran for them.


The Grand Sunset Room"I just wish I knew where Aunt Annabelle was," Sara Manchester grumbled as she stood next to the buffet table and scowled.  "I just want to say 'good-bye' and get out of here."

"Why the rush?" her husband Dane asked cavalierly as he munched on an hors d'oeuvre.  "The night's still young!"  He turned to look at her slyly.  "Have you wished Stephanie a happy birthday, yet?"

"You know full well that I don't even want to be here let alone have to deal with her!" she snapped.  "I will never forgive her for trying to use you to get Jillian away from Reginald so that she could have him.  She has got to be the most self-centered..."

"Hey, hey, just calm down," he laughed and then took a sip of his cocktail.  "Look, if it will make you feel any better, as soon as we find Annabelle, I'll take you home."

She looked up at him and eyed him suspiciously.  "Why are you being so nice, all of a sudden?  You've been unbelievable short with me for months, but now you're being all gracious and charming."

Dane Manchester"Um...well..." he stammered, unsure as to how to respond.  As he paused to think of a reason, he caught sight of Trevor and Grace together on the dance floor and grinned with a sense of self-satisfaction.  Grace Davis was every bit as lovely as she'd always been.

"Dane?  Aren't you going to answer me?" Sara asked as she tapped her foot on the floor and folded her arms across her chest.  "Or are you just going to stare off into space for the rest of the night?  Honestly, I..."  She immediately froze as she followed the line of her husband's gaze a quickly noticed what had drawn his attention.  "Oh, don't tell me you're still toying with that!"

"What ever do you mean, dear?" he asked with a feigned innocent grin.

"Oh, don't think that I've forgotten you're little game with Grace Davis!  Remember, I know you better than anyone else.  I know all about you, Dane Manchester.  You promised me that you'd given up on this silly playboy routine after we got married!"

"That was long before your...shall we say 'dalliance' with Mr. Preston!"  He stared at her coldly.  How dare she criticize him for his own flirtations when she'd already done far, far worse?

"Honey, I've tried to tell you that there was nothing more than a working relationship between me and Mr. Preston," Sara sighed as she grabbed onto his arm in hopes that he would finally believe her.  "Nothing happened!  You are my husband and I love you.  I would never do anything to..."

"And why should I believe you?"

Sara Manchester"Because it's the truth!"

"Sara, it's the only thing that makes any sense!  Why else would he leave you his entire estate?"

"Us, Dane, us!  He left it to us!"  Why wouldn't he believe her?  Why was he so insistent on thinking that she'd been unfaithful to their vows?  "And he only did it to spite my mother!"

"That's another thing," he sighed with a roll of his eyes.  "Did you really have to ask that woman to move in with us?"

"Oh, Dane, she's my mother!  What else could I have done?"

"Whatever," he grumbled.  "Look, you're right.  Let's just forget about Annabelle and get out of here."  He tugged on her arm as he prepared to head for the door, but found her to be reluctant to follow.  "Sara?  I thought you wanted to leave."

"I...I do..." she stammered as she searched through the crowd of guests in hopes of catching a glimpse of the person she'd just spotted.  It couldn't be!  Could it?  No, that didn't make any sense.  What would they be doing here?  "I...I'm coming."  With a sudden sense of nervousness and worry, she quickly followed Dane to the foyer.


The Grand Sunset RoomStephanie Lake maneuvered her way through the assortment of guests as she wrung her hands nervously.  Where in the world could her mother be?  Stephanie just had to find her and tell her what she'd done.  Stephanie had told Francis Callison everything about what her mother had done to ensure that Charles Callison would succumb to her charms.  Now, however, Stephanie was feeling unbelievably guilty for betraying her mother.

As she craned her head to look for any sign of her mother, Stephanie let out a deep sigh.  She just knew that once the entire Callison family found out, there would most definitely be trouble.  She just had to find her and warn her so that she could be prepared for the fallout.

"Oh, J-Jasper," she stammered as she walked up to the maitre d' who was busy chatting with several partygoers, "h-have you seen my mother?"

Jasper St. John"Miss Lake," he smiled thinly, "what is it?  What can I do for you?"

"I asked you if you've seen my mother."  She glanced down at her hands that were clasped  tightly in front of her.  "I need to find her.  It's an emergency."

"Ah, yes, your mother."  He let out an exaggerated sigh and rolled his eyes.  "I try to see that woman as little as possible--no offense, dear girl.  She can be the most difficult of people and...."

"Yes, I know that!" Stephanie snapped before she could catch herself.  The events of the evening were beginning to wear on her and she was beginning to grow frightened about the ramifications of what she'd done.  "Just tell me if you've seen her!"

Jasper's lips narrowed into a thin slit as he eyed her coldly.  "The last time I saw your mother," he nearly spat, "was earlier in the evening.  I believe she was going into the lounge.  Of course, that was some time ago.  I haven't seen here since, thank god."

"Well, t-thank you," she nodded before allowing him to return to his conversation and turned to head for the lounge.  If that had been the last place she'd been seen, it should be the first place she should start to look.

Patterson Monroe"Stephanie!  There you are!" Patterson Monroe called out as he rushed over to her.  "I've been looking for you forever!  Where have you been?"

"I...I can't talk about it right now," she muttered as she stopped at his side, yet looked in the direction of the lounge.

"Well, okay," he smiled and took her hand.  "Would you like to dance?"

"Oh, Paddy, I'd love to, but...but..."  She bit her lip and looked away.  "I have to find my mother."

"Steph, honey, this sounds important."

Stephanie Lake"It is!  I...I..."  She swallowed hard and took a deep breath.  "I told Mrs. Callison everything about what my mother did at the engagement party."

"You did?"  Patterson's eyes grew wide with shock.  "W-why?  What made you tell her?  I thought you said that you couldn't...."

"Paddy, I can't talk about this right now!  I told Mrs. Callison everything and I have to find Momma and warn her!  I have to tell her what I've done so that she can be prepared."

"Well...would it help if I looked for her, too?"

"Oh, yes, Paddy!  That would mean so much to me!"  She threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly as she gave him a kiss on the cheek.  "You go look for her and I'll go look for here and whoever finds her can warn her about the Callisons."

"I'll do my best."  He nodded to her and turned to head into the crowd, stopping long enough to look back over his shoulder at her.  She seemed so worried.  Patterson knew that revealing the truth was the best thing in the long run, but he was seriously concerned about what betraying her mother would do to Stephanie.  With a slight shake of his head, he decided that that was something that could be dealt with later.  Right then, he had a job to take care of.  He had to find Annabelle.

As Patterson walked away, Stephanie turned and again headed for the lounge, pausing every few steps to turn and scan the crowd again.  When she reached the doors to the lounge, she inhaled deeply and reached out to push them open.  What she saw chilled her to the bone and stopped her dead in her tracks.

Annabelle LakeReginald Callison"O-oh, my god," she stammered as her body began to shake.  "O-oh, my god!"  She reached out for the frame of the door in order to steady herself as tears began to stream down her cheeks.  She stood speechless, unable to say another word.  She was clearly in shock from what she'd seen.  The scene in the room made her blood run cold.  It was the sight of her mother's cold, lifeless body sprawled out onto the floor in a pool of blood, and kneeling over her was none other than Reginald Callison


A murder mystery begins.

produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions