THE DAILY POST - REGINALD'S OFFICE

The Offices of Callison Publications"Reginald, are you finally ready to tell me what really happened the night Annabelle was murdered?" Douglas Davis asked as he slowly paced around the office.  "I have to know exactly what happened if I'm going to work up any kind of case!"

"There's nothing to tell," Reginald Callison muttered softly from his seated position behind his desk.  "Besides, the police have yet to formally charge me with anything.  Until that happens, there's really no case for you to work on."

"Look, you know as well as I do that, considering everything the police know so far, it's only a matter of time."  Why did Reginald have to run verbal circles around him?  Why couldn't he just tell him what really happened?  "You were found over her body with the murder weapon in your hand!  How the hell do you think that looks?"

"I really don't have any idea, nor do I care.  There's nothing to tell.  Why can't you and my father understand that?"  Reginald strummed his fingers impatiently on the desk.  He didn't see any need in the constant meetings with Douglas that his father had arraigned.  Surely they must know that he wasn't about to say any more than he'd already said.  What was the point of forcing the issue?

Douglas Davis"Because the police could charge you with murder!"  Douglas stopped and raked his hands through his hair in an attempt to ease his own tension.  "Don't you see how serious this really is?  For all we know, the police are merely waiting to nail down their case before they formally charge you.  In case you've forgotten, your wedding to Jillian is less than two weeks away!  Surely you don't want something like a murder charge hanging over your head!"

"I've already told you that there is nothing to tell," Reginald snapped as he jumped up from his seat and walked around to the front of his desk.  "Besides, I don't know how in the world that Annabelle Lake and what happened to her has anything to do with my wedding to Jillian."

Douglas let out a frustrated groan and buried his face in his hands.  They were going around in circles---circles clearly drawn by Reginald himself.

"It has everything to do with it!  You certainly can't expect to marry Jillian if you're charged with murder!  Surely you don't want to force Jillian to marry you inside a jail cell!"

Reginald Callison"I don't want to force Jillian to do anything."  Reginald slumped back against his desk and let out a sigh as his demeanor began to soften.  "Look, Douglas, I've said everything that I have to say about this.  Why don't you and Father just let me handle this.  I know what I'm doing."

"Do you really?"

"Yes, I do," Reginald muttered with a nod of his head.  "And, trust me, what I'm doing is best for everyone involved.  Don't question me about it.  Just trust me."

Douglas eyed him suspiciously.  Reginald certainly sounded overly sure of himself.  What exactly was he up to?  Douglas wasn't sure, but that uncertainty made him very uncomfortable.  Although he couldn't explain it, Reginald's tone made him convinced that there was much more hanging in the balance than anyone could possibly realize.


SPRINGHILL MANOR - FOYER

54 Spring Lake Dr."What in the world could I possibly have to say to you about Sara?" Dane asked as he eyed Joyce suspiciously.

"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 having problems..."

"That is none of your business!"

"Sara 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 she's done."

"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 ungrateful child!"

Dane ManchesterDane 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 marriage..."

"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 it."

"I have the exact same things, Joyce," he reminded.  "Your husband left everything to both of us!"

"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 nothing!"

"No one 'owns' me!" Dane snapped angrily.  "Especially not Sara!"

Joyce Preston"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....


THE STOKES MANSION - DINING ROOM

76 Mapleton Way"Judith, I don't think that you have anything to say that I'd care to hear," Burt responded as he bit his lip with worry over Janet.

"But...Burt..." Judith said hesitantly, "I just...wanted to talk about...our baby."  As her eyes began to mist over with tears, she looked away as if to hide her own emotions.  "Dr. Campbell said it would help with my recovery if I were to talk about the baby with its father.  Of course, he assumed that I would discussing things with Mark, but considering the truth of the matter...."

"Oh, all right," he sighed, truly touched by her display of uncomfortable emotions.  "I...know that the past few months have been horrible for you.  I can't tell you that I can understand the pain you must feel for loosing a child that you'd carried for so long and..."

"I would expect that you would understand better than anyone!" she snapped.  "This was your baby, too!  You lost a child just as much as I lost a child---our child!  Don't you even care about that?"

"Oh course, I care," he muttered as he gently put his hands on her shoulders in an effort to calm her.  "Of course I mourn the loss of that baby.  Surely you don't think that I prayed for it to turn out like this."  He hesitated for a moment.  "But...maybe this has just worked out for the best.  Maybe this was just God's way of showing us that that baby didn't belong in this world---with us as parents."

Judith Stokes Linford"You think that the death of our baby was for the best?"  She recoiled in horror and outrage.  "How can you say such a thing?  How can you stand there and seemingly rejoice over the death of our baby!"

"Judith, that's not what I'm doing!"  He let out a weary sigh.  She sure could take the smallest statement and twist it around into a great wrong.  "Look, you know as well as I do that that baby would have caused no end of heartbreak...for both of us!  What kind of twisted home life would that baby have been subjected to?  All I'm trying to say is that maybe God was trying to spare the baby, and us, from a disastrous situation."

"Our baby was not a disaster!" she shouted as her face flushed with anger.  "How can you be so cold?  How can you be so unfeeling?  Even if you have nothing but disdain and contempt for me---not that I believe that, mind you---how can you display such contempt for your own child?  Our child!"

"Judith, I am not discussing this with you!" Burt snapped as he unsuccessfully tried to remain calm.  "It's clear that you can't---or won't---talk about this rationally.  You don't know how to do anything rationally!  You want to go on about how off her rocker Janet is; but, when it comes down to it, you're the one who's living in a fantasy world!  You're the one who has the problem dealing with reality!"

Overcome with mournful rage, Judith delivered a solid slap across his face.  How dare he belittle her feelings?  How dare he speak of their child and their love with such contempt?

Burt Lamont"I'm done talking about this with you," he muttered as his hand flew up to his stinging cheek and he fought to contain his own anger.  "The woman I love is in a very emotional state right now and she needs me."

"I need you!"

"Find someone else to need!"

And with those words, Burt spun around and stormed away, leaving Judith fighting back anger and tears.  He couldn't think about that now.  He had to find Janet and make sure that she was okay.

As he stepped through the French doors and out onto the terrace, he found a shivering and sobbing Janet standing quietly in the snow.  Her emotional appearance disturbed him greatly.

"J-Janet," he spoke up tentatively.  "Janet, are you all right?"  He paused for a moment for an answer, but none came.  "Janet, darling, please come inside.  It's freezing out here.  You're going to catch your death of cold."

"D-death," Janet muttered, almost as if she were talking to herself.

"Janet, please come inside."  He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her in an attempt to keep her warm.

Janet Stokes"Oh, Burt!  The baby!"  She turned around to face him as icy tears streamed down her face.

"I know that the loss of Judith's baby has been difficult for your entire family," he said softly as he tried to be as vaguely understanding as possible.  "I mean, Judith can be difficult enough under normal circumstances.  This was just a horrible tragedy.  Of course, you---as loving and sympathetic as you can be---would have the most trouble dealing with such a terrible thing."

"No, Burt!" she spoke up, her voice cracking from emotion.  "The baby!"

"Darling, what...are you trying to say?"  He searched her eyes for some clue as to what was going on inside her head.  "What about the baby?"

"Your baby!" she sobbed, clearly in deep emotional pain.  "I remember!  It was your baby!"



 


TOMORROW

Trevor catches Dane and Grace together...




 


produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

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