THE SUNSET HOTEL -
MARY'S PENTHOUSE - MAGGIE'S BEDROOM
well, no, Stanley, I don't still hold the Fall Dance against you," Maggie
said sweetly as she tried her best to use her most polite voice.
"Well, if you were sick, you were sick. It just couldn't be
helped." She quickly glanced over to Eliza who was sitting cross
legged in the middle of the bed, her chin resting in her hands and her elbows
propped up on her knees, carefully and eagerly listening to every word.
Maggie scowled with annoyance. How dare Eliza force her into talking to
"Go on!" Eliza said
with an urgent whisper. "Tell him you want to give him another
chance! Tell him you want to let him make up for not taking you to the
"Would you shut up!"
Maggie snapped as her hand flew over the receive to shield Stanley from her
aside to Eliza. "I don't even want to talk to him let
alone.... Yes, Stanley? No, I'm still here. Well, we
lost the phones for a little while earlier, but everything's fine, now.
Yes, I know. This silly Illinois weather." She laughed warmly,
the tone clearly in contrast to the angry look on her face.
would you quit talking about the stupid weather!" Eliza grumbled with a
shake of her head. "Ask him! Ask him to The Well!"
Maggie clinched her teeth and
fired her best friend another angry look.
muttered into the phone as she tried to divide her attention between her
conversation with Stanley and Eliza's irritating cheerleading.
"Oh! That. That's just Eliza. She's spending the
night. Um...well, yes, I know."
Although Eliza couldn't hear
the remark that Stanley had made, the genuine giggle that it brought from Maggie
made her both curious and exasperated. "Maggie! What did he
quickly replied as she fought the urge to roll her eyes.
Maggie began hesitantly. "Well, I was just...well...wondering if,
maybe, you'd like to join us at The Well after school sometime. You know,
get a soda or something. Um...yes, that would be neat."
"What did he say?"
understand." As Maggie tried to listen to Stanley on the other end of
the line, she waved her hand frantically in an attempt to shut Eliza up.
"Well, goodnight then. Bye, Stanley."
just got to tell me! What did he say?"
"His dad came into the
room and he had to hang up," Maggie sighed weakly as she carefully placed
the receiver back onto its cradle."
"I mean about The
"Oh, he said he'd love
to," Maggie grumbled.
"Well, you don't seem too
happy about it!" Eliza looked at her curiously, not quite sure what
to make out of her mood. Suddenly, the room flooded with light as the door
it's entirely too late for you two to be up gossiping," Maggie's mother
Francis Callison said sternly as she poked her head into the room.
"Now get under those covers and get to sleep. Just because school is
cancelled for tomorrow doesn't mean you've got a license to stay up all
Maggie sighed, both annoyed and thankful for the intrusion.
"Now, I want you both
tucked in and off to sleep before I...." Francis' demands were cut
off by the delicate ringing of the door bell. "Oh, now who in the
world could that be at this hour? Now, like I said, both of you get
As Francis shut the door
behind her, she pulled her robe tightly closed and strode quickly to the front
door. "Y-yes?" she asked as she cautiously pulled the door open.
Francis, I hope you'll forgive me for stopping by so late," Dr. Fred
Rutherford said warmly as he stepped into the apartment, "but I just
happened to be out and I just wanted to check on you."
"How sweet of you,"
she smiled as she led him into the living room. "I hope you'll
forgive my state of dress. I wasn't exactly expecting company."
"Francis, darling, no apologies
are needed. Well, unless they're from me for showing up at an ungodly
"Fred, you should never
feel the need to apologize for coming over." Francis motioned for
Fred to sit down on the sofa. "If you'd like, I can put a pot of
coffee on. Or maybe some hot tea?"
"Oh, no. Don't go
to any trouble on my account," he smiled with a twinkle in his eye.
"Well, at least let me
get dressed so that I can be a little more presentable." She tugged
awkwardly at her robe in an attempt to cover the nightgown underneath.
"Francis, my dear, you've
never looked more lovely."
"Fred, you say the most
flattering things." She let a smile cover her face as she slowly
began to relax and went to join him on the sofa. "So, to what do I
owe the pleasure of this visit?"
"Truthfully, I just
wanted to see how you were doing," his voice grew softer and more
serious, "considering Annabelle's death, and all."
"I can honestly tell you
that this has all been quite a shock for us." She looked away in
discomfort. She'd spent entirely too much time, lately, obsessing over
Annabelle Lake and her tainted legacy. "It's amazing that, even
through death, that horrible woman can continue to disrupt our lives."
"I...heard about Reginald." Fred spoke cautiously. He knew that the subject of
Charles and Annabelle was a sensitive one and needed to be handled
delicately. "I'm sure that there's no way any sane person could
believe that he could possible be responsible for what happened to that
"I would...like to think
so, but...." Francis inhaled deeply as she thought able the latest
crisis to befall her family. "Well, experience has taught me that you
just can't second guess life and all of its surprises---both good and
"That's...one of the
reasons I came to see you." He eyed her intently as he carefully
began to formulate his words. "I must admit that this visit isn't
quite a selfless as I've led you to believe. In fact, it might be
considered rather self-serving."
"W-what do you
happened at the party, it's pretty much common knowledge how Annabelle Lake
managed to weasel herself in between you and your husband. The drugging, I
mean." Of course, it was still a closely guarded secret, now known
only to Fred himself, what role that he had, in fact, played in the drugging of
"That she could stoop so
low...could be so desperate!" Francis shook her head
vigorously, still amazed by the extremity of Annabelle's actions.
"Francis, I just wanted
to know how...well...." He reached out and grabbed her hand and gave
it a tight squeeze. "Since you now know that your husband's betrayal
wasn't completely of his own choosing, how does that affect the state of your
marriage? Does knowing the truth change your feelings for him? And,
if so, where does that leave me and what's been developing between us?"
Francis stared at him
blankly. Those exact same questions had been bouncing around inside the
back of her own head for some time. However, they had never been put in
such a succinct, verbal fashion. Now faced with those questions and the
requirement to answer them, she was left completely dumbfounded and utterly
unsure of how she felt and of what to say.