LADY J'S JAZZ CLUB

Lady J's Jazz Club"So, spill it," Naomi Jackson said as she sat in her seat and leaned back against the edge of the bar.  "How did you wind up here in Albanyville?  It's a long way from New York."

"I could ask you the same thing."  Tyke Harris paused and took a lengthy sip of his drink.  "You never struck me as the small town type of girl before.  Weren't you the one who ran around dreaming of having your name up in lights and all the money in the world?"

"I have my reasons for being here."

"Like?"

She fidgeted in her seat, uncomfortable with his questions.  Finally, after a long hesitation, she began to explain.  "My family's here.  My mamma and my brother."

"You never seemed like the family type, either."  He looked at her suspiciously.  He was certain that there was something that she wasn't saying.

"Things change," she explained quickly.  "I...had a baby.  Babies make you change your priorities."

"A baby?  You?"  He leaned back in his seat and exhaled slowly, clearly in shock.  "Now, I'd heard a few rumors going around before you left New York that you'd gotten yourself in a bit of trouble, but I didn't believe it."

"Well, it was true."  Naomi refused to look at him, hoping for a drastic change of topic to spare her from being forced to reveal too many details.

Tyke Harris"Weren't you seeing that lowlife Benedict who always hung around the club?"

"Yes, I was seeing him."  Her tone was cold as she remembered Sammy Benedict and the taint he'd put on her life.  "But that was over a long time ago.  I was stupid for ever being involved with him."

"He's not...."

"No!" she replied, almost too quickly.  "Sammy isn't the father of my baby.  What an ugly thought.  My baby's father is...someone else.  Someone you don't know.  He's...dead."

"I'm...sorry, Naomi."  Tyke said softly as he reached over to take her hand.  "It must be difficult to try to raise a child on your own.  I guess it makes sense that you'd go back to your family at a time like this."

"Now, enough about me."  She squirmed in her seat.  Even though she was confident that he would believe her lie, there was still a hint of fear that she'd come off less than convincing.  Tyke had always been able to see through her.  "Are you going to tell me what you're doing here or do I have to drag it out of you?"

"It's like I said before.  The club back in New York closed down.  Me and the boys needed a gig.  The owner of this place saw us perform once and called and offered us a job."

"I guess lady luck was smiling on you."

"You don't even know the half of it, doll."  He smiled slyly and paused to take another drink, knowing the inevitable questions that his comment would bring.

"Okay, what aren't you telling me?  What else is going on?"

"Well, you know how me and the boys like to play a few hands of poker after the show to wind down?"

Naomi Jackson"Yeah, so?"

"The owner of this place decided to join in one night and play along."  Tyke grinned broadly as he rose to his feet.  "He clearly didn't know that poker is my game."  He extended his arms wide and slowly began to walk around the club.  "That's why all of this is now mine."

"W-what?"

"I'm the new owner of Lady J's!"

"Oh, Tyke, that's wonderful!"  Naomi jumped up off of her bar stood and flew into his arms to give him a congratulatory hug.  "I know how you've always wanted a club of your own!"

"I'm convinced that this has all been fate.  Me coming to Albanyville, winning this club, and now seeing you here."

"What do you mean?"  She took a couple of steps back from him and eyed him curiously.

"Don't you see?  You're here.  I'm here.  I've got a club."  He smiled broadly.  "I need a singer, Naomi, and you're the best there is."

"I...I'm sorry, but...."

"But what?  Ah, c'mon, doll, you know you want to do it!"

"I....can't," she explained awkwardly.  "That part of my life was...over a long time ago."  She looked away from him as her voice softened.  "I don't sing, anymore."

"What?  A great voice like that and....  Why not?  What happened?"

"It's just not for me, anymore."  Naomi fought to keep her voice from cracking as she choked back tears.  After taking a deep breath, her tone suddenly brightened and she put on a happier expression.  "Well, Tyke, it really was good seeing you again.  I hate to catch up and run, but I've got a full day ahead of me.  I hope we get to keep in touch."

"Me, too."

"I'll...see ya around."

And as Naomi quickly hurried out of the club, Tyke stood and watched her carefully.  In spite of the act that she'd clearly been putting on for his benefit, he knew that there was something going on.  But what?


GOOD HOPE CHURCH - CHAPEL

Good Hope Church"Jillian?  Jillian!" Reginald called out as he held her in his arms.  "Jillian, speak to me!"

"I...oh....um...." she stammered weakly as she tried to will her eyes to focus.  "W-what happened?"

"You passed out.  Are you all right?  Should we call a doctor?"

Janet Stokes"Here," Janet Stokes spoke up urgently as she handed Reginald the glass of water she'd quickly slipped out to retrieve.  "Maybe this will help."

He carefully held the glass for Jillian so that she could take several long sips.

"I'm...fine," she insisted and then shakily attempted to stand under her own power.

"Are you sure?"

"I'm sure," she nodded before taking a deep breath and smiling.  "It must be nerves and this unbearable heat."

"If you're not feeling well, we could always postpone," Reverend Rutledge explained.  "There's no need to...."

"We will not postpone anything!" she snapped flatly, her strength quickly returning.  "We've already had one postponement too many."

"Jillian, darling, are you sure?"

"Reginald, the only thing I've ever wanted is to be your wife."  She smiled warmly at him and lifted her hand to touch him lightly on the cheek.  "I don't think I'd be able to stand it if I had to wait any longer."

"All right, then," he sighed, both pleased with her decision, yet concerned about her sudden collapse.  "Let's get married."

"Very well," Reverend Rutledge nodded and then motioned to the crowd of guests that everything was fine.  After regaining his composure and the demeanor needed for the ceremony, her turned to Jillian and continued.  "Do you, Jillian...."

"I said 'wait,' Reverend," she spoke up with as much determination as before.  She couldn't help but laugh because of the naturally confused expressions on everyone's face.  Her lightheartedness instantly relieved the natural tension that her interruption had caused.  "I know that this is slightly unusual, but there are a few things I'd like to say."

"Very well, then, Jillian," Reverend Rutledge smiled.

Reginald CallisonJillian StokesTurning to look deeply into Reginald's eyes, she fought back her tears of joy and began to speak.  "Darling, we've had a rough time of it this past year, haven't we?  So many things to overcome and get through."  Without thinking, she glanced past him and in the direction of Stephanie who stood silently by Patterson's side, and then past him to Dane who seemed to be staring a hole through her.  "But we did get through them.  Just you and me -- together.  And just like Reverend Rutledge said, that's how it's going to be from now on.  I love you with all of my heart.  More than I ever thought I could love a man.  Any other couple with a lesser love than ours would have just given up and thrown in the towel after the year we've had, but not us.  Our love and devotion got us through and will continue to see us through -- no matter what difficulties fate might throw in our way.  And as we travel down this road of life, I know that I'll be able to weather anything because of you.  You and your love are like a bright promise of hope and I promise to love you and cherish you all the days of our lives."

Reginald sniffled and fought back a tear, nearly overcome by the emotions that Jillian's words had stirred in him.  "I...I don't know what to say."

"You've already said everything.  You said 'I love you,' and 'I do.'"

"But you haven't," Reverend Rutledge spoke up with a gentle laugh.  "Do you, Jillian Marie Stokes, take this man, Reginald Charles Callison, to be your lawfully wedded husband?  To love, honor, and cherish; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; as long as you both shall live?"

"I do."

She turned to look at Reginald again as he took her hand into his.

Rev. George Rutledge"These rings that you're going to exchange are a symbol of your unending love for one another and of the commitment that you're making.  A perfect circle.  Never ending and never broken.  As you exchange rings, repeat after me.  With this ring, I thee wed."

"With this ring, I thee wed," they said together in unison.

Pleased that the first half of his job was over, Reverend Rutledge turned toward the second couple and smiled.  He began to speak, but quickly caught himself and laughed.  "Now, you wouldn't, by any chance, feel the urgent need to say something, would you?"

"As a matter of fact, I do!" Stephanie smiled broadly and then laughed when she realized what she'd said.

Regaining the spirit of the moment, she turned to Patterson.  She hadn't planned on saying anything outside of the typical ceremony, but Jillian's words had moved her to speak.  That and the fact that she just couldn't let Jillian out do her.

"Paddy, if someone would have told me a year ago that I'd be standing here with you today, I would have thought they'd lost their minds.  After all, what would a person like you see in a person like me.  I was so lost and mixed up and confused and I...well...I did some pretty rotten things.  But none of that mattered to you.  Of course, you didn't condone some of the things that I did.  In fact, it was just the opposite.  But, even so, you saw through them.  You saw through the me that everyone else saw and tried to see the real me -- the better me.  Paddy, you became my guiding light.  No matter what secret storm I was going through, you were constantly by my side, reeling me in when I went too far and holding me up when I'd let myself get too down.  You see the best in me even when I can't see it and you make me want to be a better person.  Of course, you seem to have that effect on everybody.  I'd feel lucky enough just to count you as my friend, but you became so much more than that.  You're my love.  My heart.  Everything in this life that I've ever wanted.  I...I can't stand here and promise you that I'll never do something foolish or say the wrong things.  That's just not me.  I think you know that.  No, actually, I know you know that.  And you love me anyway.  So, I'm just going to stand here and promise you this -- no matter what happens in our lives, I'll always love you.  For now and forever."

Stephanie LakePatterson Monroe"Patterson, would you like to say something?"  Reverend Rutledge cocked an eyebrow and waited for a response.

"Just this," he smiled.  "Stephanie, I love your fire and your spark and your love of life and that love has taken me away to another world that I never thought I'd find.  You are the best of everything that I've ever wanted and I promise you that will never change."

He turned back to the minister and smiled, signaling that he was done.  With a nod of recognition, Reverend Rutledge continued with the formal part of the ceremony.

"Do, you, Patterson Arthur Monroe, take this woman, Stephanie Elaine Lake, to be your lawfully wedded wife?  To love, honor, and cherish; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live?"

"I do."

"And do you, Stephanie Elaine Lake, take this man, Patterson Arthur Monroe, to be your lawfully wedded husband?  To love, honor, and cherish; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; for as long as you both shall live?"

"I most certainly do."

Patterson heaved a huge sigh of relief as he reach out and took Stephanie's hand.  The most difficult part of the ceremony was over.  It wouldn't be long now.

"These rings that you're going to exchange are a symbol of your unending love for one another and of the commitment that you're making.  A perfect circle.  Never ending and never broken.  As you exchange rings, repeat after me.  With this ring, I thee wed."

"With this ring, I thee wed," they said together in unison.

Reverend Rutledge took a deep breath and smiled as he looked at both of the happy couples.

"And now, by the power vested in me by our Heavenly Father and this state, I now pronounce you husbands and wives.  Gentlemen, you may kiss your brides."


GOOD HOPE CHURCH - VESTIBULE - A LITTLE LATER

Good Hope Church"Oh, I'm so happy for you both," Francis Callison exclaimed as he hugged both her son and new daughter-in-law.  "You had me worried for a moment."

"I think I was just as worried, Mom," Reginald laughed and then turned to Jillian.  "Are you sure you're all right?  When you fainted, my heart almost stopped."

"I'm fine, " she replied and kissed him on the cheek.  "Like I said, it was just wedding day jitters combined with the heat."

"So is that what the delay was?  Jitters?" Charles Callison asked.  "I think everyone was a little worried that something had happened that would cancel the wedding."

"Most definitely jitters," Jillian laughed.  "But not mine.  Stephanie was in a little panic about everything."

Maggie Callison"I knew that she was the one responsible!" Maggie Callison spoke up, self-satisfied that she'd been the one to accurately deduce the reasons for the delay.

Mary Albany"That'll be enough, Maggie," Mary Albany chastised firmly.  "Whatever the reason it took so long, the wedding happened and that's all that matters."

"Nana, you're exactly right," Reginald nodded as he pulled Jillian tighter.  "The only thing in the word that matters is that I have the most wonderful, beautiful, and loving wife in the world."

"Your wife," Jillian sighed.  "I really like the sound of that."

"Now, I know that there are a lot more people who want to give you their best wishes and congratulations," Charles spoke up, "but I've got cars waiting right outside to take everyone to the reception.  We can all talk then."

Reginald Callison"You know, Dad, you and Mom have been awfully mysterious about this reception."  Reginald raised an eyebrow and eyed both of his parents curiously.  "What's the big secret?  It is going to be at The Grand Sunset Room, isn't it?"

"Not exactly."

Jillian Stokes Callison"I don't understand."  Jillian shook her head slightly as she tried to comprehend what was being said.  "If it's not going to be there, then where...?"

"I know!" Maggie spoke up, beaming with the satisfaction of knowing a secret.

"Maggie!  I said 'settle down!'"  Mary flashed her granddaughter another stern look.

Charles Callison"Okay, Dad, what's going on?"  Reginald looked from his father to his mother and back again as he ran through a million different scenarios inside his head.  "What aren't you telling me?  What's the big secret?"

Francis Callison"Let's just say that your mother and I have a big announcement," Charles smiled broadly.  "An announcement that's going to affect everyone in this family -- especially you and your new wife."



 


TOMORROW

A moving episode.




 


produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions