SPRINGHILL MANOR - FOYER
"What in the world could I possibly
have to say to you about Sara?"
Dane asked as he eyed
"Well..." She let a sly
smile cross her lips before she moved even closer to him and touched him gently on
the arm. "I'm not blind, Dane. Or deaf, for that matter.
I can see and hear what's going on. I can tell that you and Sara are
"That is none of your business!"
is my daughter and that makes it every bit my
business." Joyce softened her tone and paused for a moment to give
herself time to decided on the best choice of words. "Thornton was
also my husband. And I...I don't know if I can ever forgive Sara for what
"What do you mean?" He
looked at her with much interest.
"Now, granted, Sara didn't know who I
was or who Thornton was," she looked away with fake apprehension, "but
I still can't get over how she just threw herself at my husband! I
can't...forgive her for ruining my marriage and convincing Thornton to leave his
entire estate to both of you. That is an estate that should be rightfully
mine! I was his wife, not Sara." She paused again and reached
out to touch Dane tenderly on the shoulder. "And...to see what she's
doing to you breaks my heart. It's obvious that you love my daughter very
much. But...but she doesn't deserve that love. Oh, Dane, you deserve
so much more than Sara is willing to give you. She's such a selfish and
Dane stood in silence as he evaluated
Joyce's words. Although he found her tone and the "facts" that
she delivered to be quite agreeable with his one assessments of his wife, he was
still unsure about his mother-in-law's motivations. Where was she going
with this conversation? Exactly what was she up to?
"You seem to hold a rather low opinion
of your daughter," he commented as he watched her reactions closely,
"especially since you seem so intent on rebuilding a relationship with her
after all of these years."
"Oh, I do want a relationship
with her!" Joyce exclaimed. "I love my daughter! That's
why...I have to do everything I can to teach her a lesson. I have to make
sure that she learns that she can't just use people to get what she wants with a
reckless disregard to other people's feelings." Her eyes narrowed and
her voice lowered to a whisper. "Like how she blackmailed you into
"She told you about that?"
Dane's eyes grew wide from shock.
"Well, not exactly," she blushed
with feigned embarrassment. "Like I said before, I have ears. I
hear things. It didn't take much effort to piece together the details
surrounding your marriage."
"And...what exactly are you
proposing? Surely you haven't cornered me just to tell me how awful you
think Sara is for what she's done." He lifted his hand to his chin
and rubbed it as he thought. "You mentioned something about teaching
her a lesson?"
"Exactly," Joyce smiled.
"You see, her ill-gotten inheritance places her in a position where she
believes that she has been give a great power. Because of her scheming,
she has this house and all of the money and everything that goes along with
"I have the exact same things,
Joyce," he reminded. "Your husband left everything to both
"Ah, yes, he did," she
nodded. "But, remember, you only have what you do because of
Sara. I'm sure that she knows that, as well." She paused for
effect. "And I'm also sure that she isn't about to let you forget
that. In a sense, she owns you because, without her, you'd have
"No one 'owns' me!" Dane snapped
angrily. "Especially not Sara!"
"I had assumed that that would be your
attitude." Joyce casually turned to make sure that no one was around
who might overhear their conversation. "You see, what I'm about to
propose will teach Sara a very good lesson and it will ensure that you will be
the one who controls her and not the other way around."
"Go on," he nodded with much
interest, "I'm listening."
"If you and I work together and play
our cards right, we can separate Sara from all of her ill-gotten gains. We
can take every penny of my husband's estate away from her and..."
"And where would the money go?"
"To us, of course," Joyce
smiled. "Look, the estate is rightfully mine since he was my
husband. However, I've come to appreciate you a great deal. You're very good for my daughter. But...well, you need to be the one in
control. You are the husband, after all."
"This all just seems highly
unethical." He stepped away from her in apprehension. It all
just sounded so unseemly.
"It's for her own good!" Joyce
asserted. "Once she's left with nothing and you have control over her
share of the estate, she'll be forced to submit to your every whim. She'll
have no authority to make any decisions on her own. Therefore, she'll have
no ability to make a mockery of you. Your marriage will once again be
under your control."
"I...I don't know," Dane muttered
as he thought carefully about her proposition. The entire scheme sounded
so distasteful. However, the expected outcome definitely appealed to
him. Sara would finally be forced to take her proper place as his
wife. She would have to do as he wanted and he would have the freedom to
do as he pleased. Also, it would be a nice little payback for being forced
into a marriage that he didn't want. As he carefully weighed the pros and
cons, Dane decided that he couldn't make an immediate decision. This was
most definitely something that needed careful consideration. But, still,
it all sounded so appealing....