For Now and Forever
EPISODE #98 (Wednesday,
THE CALLISON HOME - LIVING ROOM
"Reginald, are you sure you want to wait and get dressed at the church?" Charles Callison asked as he paced around the living room. "Maybe you should just get ready here and..."
"No, I'm waiting until we get there," Reginald Callison replied as he came down the stairs carrying the large garment bag. "I don't want to risk doing anything that might ruin my tuxedo. If this day isn't absolutely perfect, my clothes included, Jillian will kill me."
"Ah, haven't even said the 'I do's and you're already henpecked, I see!" chided Trevor Callison as he grinned smugly and rocked back and forth on his heels. "I can only image what you'll be like after the wedding."
"Oh, you just wait, little brother," Reginald laughed. "Your day is coming eventually and I'm going to remind you of that."
"Boys, we can discuss this after the wedding," Charles spoke up as he attempted to herd his sons toward the door. "Right now, we've got to get to the church." Not exactly paying attention to what he was doing, he opened the door and turned to leave, only to find himself face to face with Francis Callison, his estranged wife. "F-Francis!"
"Hello, dear," she smiled and stepped into the room, followed by her mother and daughter. "I hope you don't mind, but I thought it would be a wonderful idea if we all went to the church as a family."
Trevor and Reginald immediately exchanged knowing glances. Perhaps this wedding was just the thing to bring the entire family together after all!
SPRINGHILL MANOR - FOYER
Stephanie Lake hurriedly pulled on her coat as she raced down the stairs and towards the front door. She just had to make it to the church in time. There were important things that she'd put off for entirely too long.
Just as she reached the foot of the stairs, the door swung open and in walked Dane Manchester. Not expecting their sudden meeting, Stephanie froze in her tracks. She'd intended to stay as far away from him as she could during her stay at the manor, but now she realized that that was going to be easier said than done.
"What the devil are you doing here?" he questioned with an angry glare.
"I...um...well..." she stammered, unsure of what to say. She'd been rather surprised, to say the least, when Sara had informed her that Dane wasn't aware that she was moving into the house. Stephanie had hoped that Sara would tell him before she managed to run into him, but she clearly realized that that wouldn't be the case. "I was just leaving."
"You better believe you were just leaving!" he snapped as his jaw tightened. "After everything you've done, I can't believe you're stupid enough to come within fifty feet of Sara!"
"Everything I've done?" She eyed him incredulously.
How dare he! He was the one who'd been intent on splitting up Reginald and Jillian so that he could reunite with Jillian. He was the one who'd forced her into continuing with their nefarious schemes long after Stephanie had decided to give up on Reginald! Yet he was still trying to make it seem like everything had been her idea! It was almost as if he'd told the lie so many times that he'd even started to believe it himself.
"Now, wait a second!" Stephanie snapped as she glared at him angrily. "Don't you even try to blame all of that on me. I admit that I did some pretty rotten things, but you were up to your eyeballs, too! Don't even try to act like you were an innocent victim in all of that mess!"
"Poor, poor Stephanie," he sighed with a shake of his head. "Still sadly deluded, I see. No one bought your story then and no one buys it now." He smirked slightly. "I've still got Sara---and this wonderful house, I might add---while you've wound up with nothing." He glanced down and noticed the newspaper that was tucked under her arm. "What's this?"
"Oh, it's...um...nothing..." she stammered as she tried to turn away so that he couldn't see the headline.
However, he was much too swift for her and he reached out and snatched it away. "Callison-Stokes Wedding Set for Today," he read aloud. "Ah! So I see, now. You're all in a huff because your dear, precious Reginald is going to be lost to you forever."
"You don't know what you're talking about," she muttered in a tone full of annoyance. "Whatever I had with him was over a long time ago. I should have realized that then. In fact, I would have realized that if it hadn't been for Momma and...and you!"
"Poor Paddy," Dane sighed with a shake of his head. "I guess he really is a sucker. He thinks you've changed but you're still trying to blame everyone else for your problems and mistakes. He'll be so disappointed."
"You leave Paddy out of this!"
"I'm just glad that Sara managed to see you for what you really are."
"You listen to me, Dane Manchester," Stephanie began as her eyes narrowed menacingly, "you might have Sara flimflammed. You might have conned her into thinking that you're a great guy, but I know better! You better not do anything to hurt her or I'll...I'll..."
"You'll what?" He stared at her with cocky self-assuredness.
She paused for a moment, her knowledge about his cheating on his college entrance exam right on the tip of her tongue. However, she took a deep breath to calm herself and held back that revelation. There was no need to show her trump card---at least not yet!
"I'll make sure you regret it," she replied calmly and then exhaled slowly. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have things to do." Without saying another word, she spun around on her heel and stormed out the door, letting it slam loudly behind her.
With a wicked chuckle, Dane shook his head and sighed. Patterson was really getting more than her bargained for with that one! Silently, Dane wondered how long it would be before Stephanie's prim and proper act began to wear off and Patterson was able to see her for the lying, manipulative girl she was.
As he began to push thoughts of Stephanie Lake out of his head, Dane glanced down at the newspaper that he was still holding in his hands and eyed the picture of Jillian Stokes carefully. He'd been so preoccupied with his newfound wealth and Sara's nagging---not to mention his little fling with Kitty Benedict---that he'd nearly forgotten about Jillian's upcoming wedding. He hadn't even realized that it was today!
Dane's eyes narrowed as he focused on the picture and he let out a deep sigh. Poor Jillian, marrying that dolt Reginald. Why couldn't she have listened to reason all of those months ago? Why didn't she just dump that sap and come back to him like he'd asked her to. As an intense looked covered his face, Dane glanced down at his watch and noted the time. Maybe it wasn't too late. Maybe he could still talk some sense into her.
Tucking the newspaper neatly under his arm, he turned and headed for the door, never even bothering to let his wife know that he'd returned home from his late night out.
ALBANYVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT - MAIN SQUAD ROOM
"Okay, Rawlings, why don't you explain exactly what you're talking about," Detective Jim Fitzpatrick said firmly as he eyed the slimy reporter carefully. "What waitress? Who is she?"
"You mean you don't know all about her?" Larry Rawlings asked with a look of false surprise and smugness. "I would have thought that Albanyville's finest would be right on top of this case." He paused and lit a cigarette and took a length draw.
"Just stop with the song and dance, Rawlings," Officer Russ Leeds broke in as he moved closer to the desk and joined in with Jim and his intense stare. "What waitress?"
"Why should I tell you schmucks anything?" Larry asked with a smirk. "Why should I help you? You haven't been exactly forthcoming with me about any information you might have. What's the trade off?"
"What makes you think that there's gonna be a trade off?" Jim asked as he felt his face flush with annoyance. "I would think it should be your civic duty to bring a criminal to justice. If this witness proves to be as important as you're implying that she is, I would think that you'd want to help the police in any way that you can!"
"Duty shmuty," Larry laughed. "I'm in it for the story." He paused and cocked an eyebrow as a grin spread across his face. "Now, I might be persuaded to spill the beans. Of course, there would have to be a few conditions."
"Conditions?" Jim's jaw tightened and his teeth clinched.
He had no intention of being indebted to the likes of Larry Rawlings. However, they were more than a little stymied by the Lake murder, primarily due to the perpetual silence of their prime suspect. Of course, they didn't believe for a minute that Reginald Callison was the guilty party. He had to be covering for someone. Unfortunately, you couldn't make an arrest or get a conviction based on suspicion and intuition alone. They needed facts and those facts had proved to be all too evasive.
"What's your price and we'll talk," Jim relented with a sigh.
"You can't be serious!" Russ exclaimed with a look of shock. "You're not actually going to make a deal with this lowlife!"
"Hey!" Larry snapped angrily. "If you want my help, you need to show a little respect!"
"Russ, trust me, I understand what you're trying to say," Jim muttered in an aside to the fellow officer, "but we don't have much else to go on. Maybe this witness he claims to have might be the clue we need. Let's at least play along with him and hear him out. If it's all a wash and a scam just to weasel us out of a story, we'll just cut him off at the knees and he won't get a thing from us."
"Well..." Russ furrowed his brow as he thought. "If you say so."
"All right, Rawlings, you tell us what you know and if it's worth it, I'll personally give you and The Examiner the exclusive story," Jim sighed reluctantly as he returned his focus to the persistent reporter. "But only if it's worth it. If this is all some kind of a con than no dice."
"Oh, this is worth it, all right," Larry grinned. "And trust me. Once you hear what really happened that night, you'll be thanking me later."
Jim shot Russ an uncomfortable look. The last person he wanted to be working with on the Lake murder case was Larry Rawlings, but what choice did they have? For Larry's sake, he better not be bluffing.
THE CALLISON HOME - LIVING ROOM
"F-Francis!" Charles stammered with surprise, "w-what are you doing here? I wasn't...expecting to see you until the wedding."
"Weren't you listening?" she replied with a smile. "I said that I thought we should go to the church as a family. All of us."
"I...I think that's a wonderful idea!" he exclaimed and then turned to glance at Reginald and Trevor who were standing behind him and trying to suppress their own joy. "It's been...so long since we've all been together as a family."
"Now, is everyone ready?" Mary Albany asked as she walked over to Reginald and carefully patted his head to flatten a strand of stray hair.
"Just about, Nana," Reginald laughed and then glanced down at his watch only to find that he'd forgotten to put it on. "I've just got to go upstairs and get my watch. I wouldn't want to be late to the alter."
"You better believe you wouldn't!" Mary called out as Reginald raced back up the stairs.
"Hey, squirt," Trevor smiled as he playfully punched Maggie in the arm. "If you'd been here earlier, you could have had some of Hannah's blueberry muffins for breakfast."
"Would you stop!" Maggie cried out as she grabbed her arm and quickly moved away. "Why do big brothers always have to be so annoying?"
"It's a fringe benefit," he chuckled. "That's what you get for being the baby."
"I am not a baby!" Maggie said flatly as she folded her arms defiantly across her chest and stuck her bottom lip out in a pout.
"Okay, okay," Mary sighed with a roll of her eyes. "I swear, put you two together and you both might as well be in diapers again."
"Come on, let's all go into the kitchen and see if Hannah has any of those muffins left," Mary smiled and carefully herded them out of the room as she subtly glanced over her shoulder at Charles and Francis. She knew that this would give the estranged couple some much needed time alone.
As Mary, Trevor, and Maggie left the room, Charles and Francis looked awkwardly at one another, neither knowing exactly what to say. Finally, after many moments, one of them spoke.
"I...I'm glad that you're here," Charles smiled. "This means so much to...to Reginald."
"Weddings are about love and family," Francis commented. "It's only right that we go to the church as a family to celebrate our son's wedding. What other choice could there have been?"
"It's...been so long since we've all been here like this. You, me, the kids..." He glanced down at the floor to avoid his wife's eyes and clasped his hands together in an attempt to keep them from shaking. He was surprised that he nearly felt as nervous as Reginald surely did! It was almost as if he and Francis were still in that young love stage from their youth.
"I know," she sighed. "I've...I've missed it. This house, you...." She, too, looked away, enjoying the moment yet uncomfortable all at the same time.
"Do you remember our wedding day?"
"Do I remember?" She let out a warm laugh. "I remember it like it was yesterday. A girl's wedding day isn't something she's likely to forget."
"I remember standing at the alter and seeing you start your walk down the isle," Charles paused to look at her and, suddenly, time rolled back and she seemed to look just as she had on that day. "You took my breath away. You were the most beautiful girl I'd ever laid eyes on. You...you still are."
"Oh, Charles." Her hand flew up to her cheek to cover her resulting blush and turned away to hide her embarrassment. "That was...so long ago. We're both much older now and..."
"You'll always be that young girl walking towards me down that isle, Francis. You could be a hundred years old and you'd still look just like you looked to me that day." Without thinking, he lifted his hand to gently touch her on the cheek and he turned her head so that she was facing him again. "Francis, darling, I...I..."
"Yes, Charles?" she muttered as she felt her heart beat faster and her breath catch in her throat.
"Francis, I..." He leaned in closer, the intensity of the moment and of their memories flooding over them. His lips brushed hers and she felt a warm feeling wash over her body. She didn't pull away.
"Okay, I've got my watch and I'm finally ready to go to the church," Reginald called out as he hurried down the stairs, interrupting the tender moment between his parents. Quickly seeing the resulting flustered awkwardness between them, he knew something was up. "Um...did I...interrupt something?"
"Oh, no, not at all dear," Francis covered as she turned away in hopes of regaining her composure. "We were just...um..."
"We were just talking about our own wedding day," Charles spoke up in an attempt to cover for her clear awkwardness.
"I see," Reginald muttered with a sly smile as his eyes darted from his father to his mother. "Well, that was the last Callison wedding---until now."
"And if we don't get you to the church on time to get ready, our wedding will still be that last Callison wedding!" Francis laughed as she finally turned to face him. "Mother! Kids! We've got to go to the church!"
As Mary, Trevor, and Maggie hurried back into the room, Charles again turned to face his wife and smiled. There was now a certain unspoken warmth between them that had been missing for far too long. Maybe this wedding would bring the family together. Maybe, finally, everything that had gone wrong would again be set right.
ALBANYVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT - INTERVIEW ROOM A
"So, this is the young lady you were telling us about?" Jim asked as Larry escorted Stella Wagner into the room.
"Yes," Larry nodded carefully. "This is the witness you boys should have found on your own."
"Be that as it may..." Jim let out a sigh and rolled his eyes. "Miss, why don't you begin by telling us exactly what you saw that night." He paused to motion for Russ to hurry over with a note pad and pencil so that he could take down every word that Stella said.
"Um...well...like I told Mr. Rawlings," she began tentatively as she glanced over at the reporter, "My name's Stella Wagner and I'm a waitress at Joe's Cafe. But...well...sometimes I pick up other waitressing jobs to help pay the bills. You know that times are tough and, well, sometimes money's tight and..."
"Yes, I understand," Jim nodded and then glanced over to see Larry's smug expression. "Just have a seat over here and just tell us exactly what you saw that night at the Callison party. Remember, this is on the record and an official statement."
"I...I understand," she muttered nervously as she sat down in the chair by the desk. "Well, I was working in The Grand Sunset Room---serving cocktails to all of those ritzy people---and it had been a long night. I was really tired and my feet were killin' me. Anyway, I was due to get a break and, well, I was kinda watchin' the clock." She paused for a moment and looked up at Detective Fitzpatrick. "This isn't gonna take long, is it? My boss is gonna be awfully sore if I have to miss too much work today. I missed two days last week because of that nasty flu that's been goin' around and I can't really afford to miss much more and..."
"This won't take long at all, Miss Wagner," Jim smiled. "All you have to do is tell us what you saw and you can go right back to work."
"O-okay," she sighed and then began her story again. "Like I said, I was tired and gettin' ready to take a break so I was watchin' the clock. That's when I saw that woman go into the lounge and..."
"Woman?" Russ furrowed his brow as he looked up from his notes. "What woman was this?"
"The woman who went into the lounge!" Stella rolled her eyes in annoyance.
"Um...right," Jim leaned closer and eyed Stella carefully. "Miss Wagner, exactly where were you when you saw this woman?"
"I was...um...right next to the lounge. That's when I saw the woman go in. Of course, I didn't think much about it until I heard the most awful shouting going on."
"Shouting? From inside the lounge?" Jim listened to her every word intently.
"Y-yes," she nodded. "I saw the woman go into the lounge and then I heard shouting. You know, like an augment."
"Do you know what the argument was about? Did you hear what was being said?"
"N-no. I...I couldn't hear exactly what was going on because of the music. The orchestra was playing so loud that I couldn't really make out what they were saying, but...well...I could tell that they were arguing."
"And how long was this woman in the room with Mrs. Lake?" Russ asked as he paused in his writing to look up at her intently.
"Oh, I'd say...maybe 15 minutes. They were really goin' at it. I heard screamin' and yellin' and then it just stopped and got very quiet."
"What do you mean?"
"Just like I said. They were fightin' real loud, like, and then it just stopped. It was right after it got quiet that I saw the woman run out of the lounge. Sure, I thought it was rather odd at the time, but I didn't have any reason to think that anything had happened."
"Do you know what time this all happened?" Russ asked with much interest.
"It was about 11:30," Stella replied with much certainty.
"You sound pretty sure of that."
"I told you, I was watchin' the clock because of my break."
"So..." Jim slowly paced around the room, cradling his chin in his hand as he thought. "The mystery woman went into the lounge at approximately 11:30. From 11:30 to approximately 11:45, this woman had an argument with Annabelle Lake and at approximately 11:45 you saw the woman run out of the lounge. Is that correct?"
"Y-yes," she nodded.
"When did you see Reginald Callison go in?" Jim asked as he focused his eyes on Stella.
"It was a few minutes after that, maybe 10 or 15 minutes."
"And how long was he in there?"
"Oh, not long at all!" Stella's eyes moved from Jim to Russ and then to Larry. "He was only in there for a few minutes when I saw Stephanie Lake go into the room. That's when...well...I guess you know the rest."
"So, if Callison didn't go into the lounge until at least 11:45...well, let's say 11:50 just to give the other woman time to leave and him time to go in..." Jim paused as he tried to sort the facts out in his head. "And the police were called to the scene at approximately midnight... Hmmm...Lake's daughter must have gone the the lounge right after Callison."
"That's what I'm trying to say!" she exclaimed. "There wasn't enough time! Mr. Callison couldn't have done it! It had to be that other woman!"
Jim nodded in vague agreement and turned to glance at Russ who was waiting for him to take the lead.
"Do you know who the other woman was?" Jim asked.
"N-no, I...didn't get a good look at her."
"Rawlings, I thought you said that she could identify the woman!" Russ snapped as he glared at Larry.
"I can identify her!" she assured strongly. "Of course, I didn't get a good look at her face, but I saw exactly what she was wearing. I clearly remember what she looked like---especially that beautiful scarf!"
"Yes! The woman who went into the lounge was wearing this gorgeous scarf. It was so striking that it really stuck in my mind. I saw one just like it at Lerner's back before Christmas and I just fell in love with it. I wanted to buy it for myself, but I just couldn't afford it. That's why when I saw the woman wearing it, I noticed it right away."
"Could you describe the scarf, Miss Wagner?" Russ asked.
"Oh, in detail!" Stella let out a sigh, smiled, and bit her lip. "It was one of those lush silk scarves. I...I'm sure it was imported. It had this gorgeous gold trim and the stunning floral pattern. The flowers were golden and the scarf's background was black. Of course, there were so many gold flowers on it that it almost completely covered the background. And...and the gold flowers weren't really shiny gold like the trim, they were more of just a golden yellow."
"I see," Jim nodded.
As Stella continued with her disruption, Larry was struck by how familiar that pattern she was describing sounded. He was certain the he had seen something similar. But where?
"Well, well, well, Did you decide to return to the scene of your crime?"
"What are you doing here, Rawlings? Trying to dig up some good dirt for that rag you call a newspaper?"
"Don't sound so bitter, Callison, if The Post really wanted to report the truth, you could have scooped us on this one. Not my fault that you want to keep your lily white reputation or that you want to keep your readers in the dark."
That's it! That's where he remembered that pattern from! The night he'd gone to investigate the scene of Annabelle Lake's murder he'd found Reginald Callison already there. He hadn't thought much about it at the time, but he clearly remembered Reginald shoving something in his pocket. He'd only caught just a glimpse of what it was, but now, after hearing Stella's description, Larry realized that it had been the scarf that she had seen!
"You know, boys," Larry spoke up with a grin, "I've seen that scarf myself."
"You have?" Jim turned to eyed Larry curiously.
"Yes," he nodded. "And when I saw it, it was in the possession of Reginald Callison."
Jim quickly looked in Russ' direction who was visibly shocked by the news. Without saying a word, both men realized that they were just about to break the murder investigation wide open.
THE STOKES MANSION - LIVING ROOM
"Okay, is everyone ready?" Leticia Stokes asked as she hurried around the room. "We've got to get to the church so that Jillian can finish getting ready and there's still so much that I have to do and..."
"Mother, everything's going to be fine," Jillian Stokes sighed with a smile. "There's plenty of time and, besides, there's nothing that could possibly happen that could ruin this day."
"I just hope we can get this mess over and done with," Mark Linford grumbled as he took a sip of his martini. "Weddings make my skin crawl---especially my own!"
"Don't remind me," Judith Linford replied dryly. "Our wedding is probably one of the lowlights of my life!"
"Can you too please just stop bickering?" Leticia spoke up in annoyance. "This is Jillian's day and we don't need to ruin it."
"Mother, nothing can ruin this day!" Jillian smiled.
"Janet, are you all right?" Burt Lamont asked as he walked over to her and put his arm around her. "You're being awfully quiet."
"I'm...fine," she muttered softly as she struggled to avoid looking at him. "It's just that...well, I'm nervous for Jillian. She's waited so long for this that...I don't want anything to go wrong."
"It's so like you to be so concerned," Burt commented and then kissed her tenderly on the cheek. "That's one of the things that I love about you."
Janet closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her clear memories of the night Judith fell and lost her child were still weighing heavily on her mind. Weighing even heavier was her decision to keep her true roll in the "accident" a secret for fear that she might loose Burt forever. To keep such a horrible secret was wrong---she knew that---but she also knew that she didn't have a choice. If she were to be completely forthcoming about that tragic night, she knew that Burt would never be able to forgive her.
"Janet?" Burt spoke up, realizing that Janet had become lost in her own thoughts.
"I...I'm sorry," she murmured. "I was just...thinking about how wonderful it would be...to be a bride."
"Well, you never know," he grinned slyly. "It might happen sooner than you think."
"The only thing that would make this day even more special would be to have your father there," Leticia spoke up as she continued her pacing around the room. "However, considering his opinion of the entire thing, I realize that that would be highly unlikely."
"Well, Mother," Jillian sighed, "that's just going to be his mistake. I wish that Father could realize how much Reginald and I love one another and belong together, but I can't force him to change his mind. I can't force him to be there." She hesitated and bit her lip, full of sadness that her father wouldn't be present to escort her down the isle. In fact, Mark was filling in in that regard. "But...well...this is supposed to be a happy day. I can't...worry about Father and his silly prejudices. I won't let him cast a dark shadow on my day."
"As well you shouldn't!" Leticia agreed. "You shouldn't let any absurd thing that he has to say ruin your day!" She paused and looked around at her family and smiled. "Now, is everyone ready? We do have to get going so Jillian can finish getting herself together."
"Just a minute," Judith muttered as she paused in front of a mirror and carefully inspected her ensemble.
She smiled with the knowledge that she was very smartly dressed and---although the circumstances were quite tragic---was pleased that she finally had her figure back. However, there was something not quite right. As she eyed her reflection carefully, she realized that something was missing.
"I know!" she nodded. "Janet, do you still have that scarf that I loaned you?"
"S-scarf?" Janet questioned as she furrowed her brow in confusion. "What...scarf?"
"Oh, you know! The one you borrowed for that disastrous party for Burt." Judith rolled her eyes with a slight touch of amusement. "Those Callisons sure knew how to throw a party, didn't they?"
"Um...Judith, can we not talk about that now?" Jillian asked uncomfortably. "The last thing I want to be reminded of today is anything...about that."
"I understand," Judith smiled. "So, Janet, where's that scarf?"
"I...um...gave it back to you after the party. Remember?" Janet eyed her older sister carefully.
"No, you didn't, you twit!" Judith's jaw tightened. It was just like when they were younger. Janet was always borrowing Judith's things---often without asking---and then never giving them back. "I haven't seen that scarf since I loaned it to you for that party!"
"But...I..." Janet furrowed her brow and thought deeply. "I don't have it. I...I don't know where it could be if I didn't give it back to you."
"Oh, well," Judith sighed as she turned to look at her reflection again. "That scarf would set this outfit off so nicely, but I look fine enough without it." She paused and turned to check her appearance from different angles. "After all, that scarf isn't really all that important, anyway. It's just some rag I picked up at Lerner's."
TO BE CONTINUED
Jillian receives a pair of unexpected visitors.
For Now and Forever
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