APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM
"Here, have some hot
cocoa," Patterson Monroe said softly as he walked into the room and handed
Stephanie Lake the steaming cup.
She took it from him and then
took a long sip before curling herself up into a ball on the sofa.
"I...I just can't believe
it," she muttered shakily. "She's...gone."
"I know, Steph. I
know." He sat down next to her and gently wrapped his arm around her
and began to stroke her hair. "I can't believe it, myself."
"This is...all m-my
fault." She lowered her head as she tried to choke back her
tears. "If I hadn't told what she did to Mr.
Callison, none of this
would ever have happened. I'd still have...my mother."
"Honey, you can't think
like that." He carefully held her head against his shoulder as she
sobbed softly. "None of this is your fault."
"Yes, it is! If
I'd...if I'd just kept my big trap shut, my mother would still be alive!
If it hadn't been for me, than none of this would have happened!"
Seeing her emotional state,
Patterson bit his lip and began to grow slightly uncomfortable. If anyone
should bear the brunt of the blame, it should be him. After all, he was
the one who'd pressured her into telling the truth about what she'd learned
concerning her mother's drugging of Charles Callison.
"I...I killed my own
mother as surely as if I were the one who'd stabbed her! In fact, I did stab
her...right in the back!"
"Stephanie, it's going to
be okay. I promise you that everything's going to be okay." He
held her tightly in his arms and slowly rocked her back and forth in hopes of
somehow easing her sense of grief and burden. "I know what you're
going through. I know this is tragic and I know this is rough, but it's
going to pass with time. I know that doesn't mean much now, but..."
me! You don't know anything about..." No sooner than the words
were half-way out of her mouth, she immediately realized what she'd said and
quickly bit her lip. "O-oh, Patterson, I'm so sorry! I...I
"It's okay," he
sighed. "I don't...talk about it much so it's kind of easy to
forget. But...I do know what you're going through. It really hasn't
been that long ago that I lost my own parents in that plane crash. I
know exactly what you're feeling. I suffered through enormous amounts of
guilt for quite a while."
looked up and eyed him curiously. "Why did you feel guilty?
They died in an accident. They weren't savagely murdered like...like..."
"True, the circumstances
are different, but...I just couldn't get over the idea that if I'd only been on
that plane with them, I might have been able to do something to save them.
If only I'd been there."
"Oh, Paddy, if you'd been
on that plane, you would have died with them." Stephanie looked
deeply into his eyes and tried to imagine her life without him. That
thought nearly sent her into a panic. She'd grown to rely on him so much
that she didn't know what she'd do if she didn't have him in her life.
"And...and what would...Todd do without you?"
"I know you're
right. It took me a long time to come to terms with that, but I know in my
heart that I was kept off of that plane for a reason." He pulled her
into his arms again and rested his cheek on her head. "Gee, who would
ever have thought that we, of all people, would have so much in common."
looked up at him curiously.
orphans." He let out a weary sigh. "When it comes down to
it, in many ways we're both exactly alike."
alike!" Stephanie shouted as she pushed her way out of his arms and bolted
from the couch. "You are a kind a decent human being and
"Honey, don't do this to
"If it hadn't been for
me, she'd still be alive!" She turned her back to him, unable to deal
with the enormous guilt over what she'd done. "If it weren't for me,
none of this would have happened!"
As Patterson sat in silence,
his heart broke for her. He remembered the pain of loosing his parents all
too well and he physically hurt for her to have to go through the same
thing. How could he get her to see that revealing the truth about her
mother's actions hadn't caused her death? How could he convince her that
she wasn't responsible?