THE LAKE APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM

800 W. Rose St. Apt #3"S-Sara!" Stephanie stammered awkwardly as she slowly backed away from the door.  "What...are you doing here?  I thought...that you'd already moved all of your stuff out after the wedding when you moved in with Dane and..."

"I did," Sara replied softly and rather tentatively as she glanced nervously around the room.  "I'm...not here because of that."

"Well..."  Stephanie eyed her curiously.  She and Sara hadn't really spoken in months.  In fact, Sara had almost completely cut her out of her life.  What could she possibly want to see her about?  "C-come in."

Sara slowly moved further into the room as Stephanie shut the door before turning to walk over to the couch.

"I'm...sure this isn't really a social visit," Stephanie finally spoke, "but...would you like some...coffee?  Or some tea?"

"Um...no," Sara muttered and looked away.  "I'm fine.  T-thank you, though."  She paused and took a deep breath to calm her own nervousness.  "Look, Steph, I just wanted to...well..."  She paused again.  "I wanted to tell you that I know how difficult things have been for you after...well...what happened to Annabelle."

"Of course things have been difficult," Stephanie admitted as she hung her head.  "My mother's dead---murdered.  I'm...an orphan now.  I have no parents and..."  She hesitated and choked back a tear.  "I h-have no...family."

Sara Manchester"Stephanie..."  Sara exhaled slowly and then cautiously reached over and took her cousin's hand.  "You...still have family.  I'm your cousin.  We're family."

"Sara, you won't even speak to me," Stephanie reminded.  "At Momma's memorial service, you wouldn't even look at me!  I've told you that...that I'm sorry about what happened with Dane.  I'm sorry about everything that happened at Reginald and Jillian's party and..."

"Can we...please not go into that now?"  Sara looked away in discomfort.  Her visit was difficult enough for her without having to be reminded of the conflicts that had existed between them.  "I don't know...if I can ever forgive you for w-what you did, but..."

"But?"

"Well, we're still family and..."  Sara exhaled slowly.  This was a lot more difficult for her to do than she thought it was going to be.  "No matter what's happened between us, you're still family and I still care about you.  I just...wanted to see how you were doing."

"I'm...okay," Stephanie sighed.  "I admit that it's been difficult, but...well, I'm fine."

"Steph..."  Sara looked up at her and eyed her closely.  She could tell that her cousin was trying to put on a brave face for her benefit, but Sara was more aware of the truth of the situation than Stephanie realized.  "I...I know about your financial troubles.  I know that...well...with Aunt Annabelle gone, you don't have the money to...well...take care of some things."

"I'll be fine."

"Stephanie, I know what's going on."  Sara squeezed Stephanie's hand.  "I just wanted to stop by and see if you were okay, but I ran into Mr. Purvis in the hallway and...well..."  She paused and bit her lip.  "He told me that you're behind on the rent and that if you don't pay up by the end of the week then he'll have no choice but to evict you."

Stephanie Lake"Oh, I see now!" Stephanie snapped.  "You've just come here to gloat!  You've got that big house to live in and I'm about to be out on the street and you just want to gloat about how now you have everything and I have nothing!"

"Stephanie, that's not it!"  Sara clinched her teeth tightly.  Why did Stephanie have to make this so difficult?  What Sara was about to say was hard enough for her as it was without Stephanie making it harder.

"Then why are you really here?"  Stephanie stared at her with a mixture of curiosity and uneasiness.

"Stephanie, I...well..."  Sara bit her lip again.  "I hadn't planned on this, but...well...you are family in spite of everything that's happened and...well..."

"What is it?  What are you trying to say?"

"I...well, no matter what's happened between us, you're still family and..."  Could Sara really do it?  Would she be making a mistake?  "I can't have my family living on the street.  I want you to...move into Springhill Manor with me.  At least until you can get back on your feet."

"Me?  Move into your house?"  Stephanie's jaw dropped from shock and she let out a sharp gasp.  "With you and...and Dane?"

Sara's invitation had come as a total surprise.  It was the last thing that Stephanie had ever expected and now, faced with the prospect of living with both Sara and Dane, she wasn't quite sure what to say. 


THE STOKES MANSION - TERRACE

76 Mapleton WayStanding alone as the biting winter wind whipped in off of the lake, Janet Stokes hugged herself tightly and shivered.  However, she was shaking more from fear than from the cold.  A myriad of images and memories were flooding her head---images she could neither explain nor control.

"I won't let you do this!  I won't let you ruin my life like you've always tried to ruin my life!"

"There's nothing you can do about it."

Why were these images coming to her?  What did they all mean?

A searing pain tore through her head and she winced from the pressure.  Suddenly, the pain subsided and she began to see things clearly.  She saw Judith at the top of the stairs, a look of victory and triumph covering her face.  She saw herself lunging for Judith.  She saw Judith fall.  She heard Judith scream.

"Oh, my god," Janet muttered as her hand flew up to cover her mouth.  "Oh, my god!"

"Janet?" came Burt's voice from the doorway.  "Janet, are you all right?"

Janet Stokes"Oh, Burt!" she cried as she turned and ran into his arms.  "I...I did it!  It's all my fault!  I...I..."

"It's okay," he said softly as he held her in his arms and gently stroked her hair.  "What happened between you and Gordon Scott was a long time ago.  You weren't...in your right might.  You'd succumbed to all of the pressure and the strain.  Too much had happened.  That woman has no business coming here like she did and stirring up the past."

"G-Gordon?" Janet muttered as she felt her lower lip begin to quiver.  "I...I..."

"Janet?"  Burt pulled away from her and looked at her curiously.  "That is what all of this is about, isn't it?  I know that it hasn't been easy for you to deal with the revelation that Judith's baby was mine and now Gordon Scott's wife shows up trying to bring up a lot of painful memories, but..."

"The baby," she sighed awkwardly as her eyes filled with tears.  "Your baby!"

"Yes, Janet.  We've already gone over all of that."

"Oh...Burt, I'm...I'm..."  She threw herself into his arms and held onto him tightly, almost afraid that, if she were to let him go, he'd be gone forever.

Burt Lamont"Janet?  What's going on?"

"Burt, I...I..."

At that moment, a clear realization came to Janet.  If Burt ever learned the truth---if he ever discovered her role in the loss of Judith's child---she would most certainly lose him forever.  She might as well just hand him over to Judith on a silver platter.  If Burt were to ever learn that Janet had been the direct cause of the death of his child with Judith, Janet would loose everything that had ever mattered to her in the entire world.  She knew that she'd loose Burt forever.

"Janet?"  He pulled back again and eyed her curiously.  "Are you...all right?"

"I...I'm fine," she finally muttered and then paused to take a deep breath.  "I'm just...upset about Joyce.  I never...expected to have to see her again.  It just brought up too many...painful memories."

"Well, there's nothing for you to worry about now," he sighed and again took her into his arms.  "I'm here to protect you from that horrible woman.  As long as we're together, I won't ever let anything happen to you ever again."

As Janet rested her head on Burt's shoulder, she took a deep breath and made a decision that would change the rest of her life.  She knew that she could never reveal the truth to Burt.  She couldn't risk losing the only source of true happiness that she'd ever had.  In that moment, she decided to do whatever to took to keep her role in Judith's fall a secret forever---no matter what.


THE GARDENS RESTAURANT

The Gardens Restaurant"This was such a wonderful idea!" Jillian Stokes exclaimed as she took a sip of her champagne.  "Lorraine, I just can't thank you enough for this!"

"Well, I thought it would be fun for all of us to get together," Lorraine Davis smiled warmly.  "After all, this will be our last chance to get together while you're still a single girl.  It's only a few days until the wedding."

"Oh, and I can't wait!"  Jillian let out a small giggle.  "I'm just surprised that you went to all the trouble to put this together."

"Well, after everything you've done for me," Lorraine smiled as she reached across the table to take Jillian's hand, "it's the least I could do.  If it weren't for you and your support, I would never have had the strength to marry Douglas.  You were right.  That was the best thing for me to do."

"I'm just glad that you're happy," Jillian nodded.  "I told you that everything would work out for the best."  She paused, leaned back in her seat, and looked at the table of girls who had gathered together in honor of her upcoming wedding.

Helen Van Dyne"This is just going to be the best wedding ever!" Helen Van Dyne exclaimed.  "I just can't believe that you haven't even shown me your dress!  I'm your maid of honor, for pete's sake!"

"I just want it to be a surprise," Jillian laughed.  "Trust me.  You're going to love it."  She glanced across the table at Grace Davis and smiled.  "I guess since I'm going to be married to Reginald, you and I are going to be almost like family, too, Grace."

"W-what do you mean?" Grace stammered, feeling rather awkward around Jillian and Helen.

"Well, you're seeing Trevor."  Jillian paused and grinned.  "I can only expect that it's a matter of time before there's another Callison wedding.  You and I could wind up sisters-in-law."

"Um...well...I..."  Grace nervously looked away.  The topic of her relationship with Trevor wasn't something that she felt comfortable going into.  "Trevor and I aren't really all that serious.  I...think it's a little soon for us to be discussing marriage."

"Oh, you know what I mean!"  Jillian reached across the table and patted Grace's hand.  "If you and Trevor get married, we'll be family, too."

Grace sunk down in her seat and bit her lip.  Why did she have to bring up Trevor?  Why did she just have to assume that they'd get married?  Why did Lorraine have to drag her to this silly luncheon?  Grace barely knew Jillian and didn't really know Helen at all.  Filled with anxiety, Grace twisted the linen napkin that lay in her lap and looked away.  She just didn't belong there with them.  In fact, she wasn't sure she belonged with Trevor.  How long would it be before he realized that and just cast her aside for someone more suitable for his class of people?

"Grace, are you all right?" Lorraine whispered as she eyed her curiously.  Her sister-in-law's uneasiness wasn't lost on her.

"I...I'm fine," Grace muttered softly.  "Just a little...out of place."

Lorraine DavisLorraine took a deep breath and silently wondered if it had been a good idea to include Grace in the afternoon.  It had seemed like a nice gesture at the time considering that Grace and Trevor were seriously involved.  Besides, Grace had seemed so distant since her mother's passing.  She barely seemed to want to go out of the house.  Lorraine was certain that a lively lunch with the girls would have cheered her spirits.  Now, however, she wasn't sure.

"And, from the way Paddy talks," Jillian continued, unaware of the distant thoughts of Lorraine and Grace, "we won't even have to worry about Stephanie trying to upset things like she did at our engagement party.  According to him, Steph seems to be shooting for sainthood!"  She laughed at her own comment.  

Stephanie Lake?  Sainthood?  That was the funniest thing she'd heard all week!  Sure, she was probably trying to stay on her best behavior to impress Patterson, but Jillian was certain that whatever good deeds that Stephanie was performing were nothing more than an act.  It would take a lot more than a few small gestures to convince Jillian that her one time rival had made a change for the better.

At the sound of Stephanie's name, Helen flinched slightly as she remembered their previous run-in.  Stephanie had revealed that she knew all about Helen's secret romance with Mark Linford, Jillian's own brother-in-law, and had threatened to tell all.  Maybe Clark had been right in his insistence that they carry on with their vendetta against her.  Maybe they could finally end Stephanie's threat to Jillian's happiness once and for all.  But, then again, maybe they were only stirring up more trouble than they could handle.  Maybe it was all something that was just better left alone.  However, Clark had insisted and Helen was certain that he wouldn't let her back out of their plans whether she wanted to or not.

"In fact," Jillian continued, "I'm going to declare my wedding day completely Stephanie and Dane free!  The last thing I want to have to deal with is those two!"

Grace DavisGrace winced at the mention of Dane's name.  Lorraine was quick to notice and looked at her curiously.  Silently, Lorraine began to wonder about exactly what had happened the night that Dane and Grace had been stuck in the snow storm.  She was becoming more certain that there was much more that Grace wasn't telling.

"Lets not...talk about Dane and Stephanie," Helen spoke up.  "Even mentioning them in the same breath as your wedding might be a jinx."

"Maybe you're right," Jillian sighed.  "Considering everything else that's going on, the last thing I need hanging over our heads is a jinx.  Reginald's got enough trouble as it is with the investigation into Annabelle's murder."  She hesitated for a moment and then shook her head.  "But, no, I'm not even going to allow myself to think of that, either.  This is going to be a happy day.  In fact, I think that being here at The Gardens is actually going to be good luck."

"What do you mean?" Lorraine looked at Jillian curiously.

"Well, after all, this is the place where Reginald proposed."  Jillian closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and smiled.  "In fact, I can remember it just like it was yesterday...."

"I have never met anyone like you in my entire life.  I have danced with some of the most prominent young men in New York society and even got proposed to a couple of times..."  She felt a catch in her throat when she realized she'd mentioned proposals.  She didn't want to feel like she was leading him in that direction.  Jillian didn't want Reginald to ask her to marry him because he felt like it was something he was supposed to do.  She wanted him to do it because he wanted to do it.  "I mean...no one could ever hold a candle to you.  You are the greatest love I've ever had."

"So you've loved others?"  He grinned wickedly as he teased her.  He leaned back in his chair as he watched her squirm a bit trying how to untie herself from her own words.  "How many others have there been?"

"One or two."  She smiled innocently as she realized exactly what he was doing.  He always enjoyed the more playful aspects of their relationship.  She remembered the time he had too much to drink and put ice down her dress.  She was so mad at him at the time, but she could never stay mad for long.  There were always so many more facets to Reginald that no one else ever saw.  No one but her.  He interrupted her memory by reaching across the table and taking her hand in his.

"Jillian, I love you like no one else in the world."  He rose from his chair knelt down beside her while he reached in his pocket.

"Reginald?"  Was this it?  Was this the moment?

He pulled a tiny satin box out and held it in front of her.  Slowly, he opened it to reveal the most beautiful princess cut diamond that she'd ever seen.  "Jillian Marie Stokes, will you do me the most gracious honor of agreeing to become my wife?"  Jillian felt the tears of joy begin to form as she held out her hand.

"Oh, yes, Reginald, yes!"

"This is going to be the most perfect wedding that this town has ever seen!" Helen exclaimed, nearly giddy with excitement as she pushed thoughts of Clark and Stephanie out of her head.  "You're going to be the most beautiful bride."

Jillian Stokes"And I'm going to have the most wonderful husband in the world," Jillian sighed.  "Mrs. Reginald Callison---Jillian Callison.  It has such a nice ring to it, doesn't it?"

"I know it's going to be a beautiful wedding," Lorraine nodded.

"Reginald and I are finally going to get the happy ending we've always wanted," Jillian smiled.  "And, for once, nothing and no one is going to be able to spoil it."



 


TOMORROW

Reginald and Jillian's wedding day begins.




 


produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions