For Now and Forever
EPISODE #131 (Monday,
THE CALLISON HOME - TERRACE
Janet Stokes's lower lip trembled slightly as she thought about her role in the loss of Judith and Burt's child and of how she'd struggled for months to keep it a secret. True, for the longest time she hadn't remembered what had actually happened that night, but once she had, she knew it would be something that Burt could never forgive her for. However, Janet hated keeping secrets from Burt. After all, secrets had been what had caused them the most trouble.
She thought about Charles Callison's toast concerning new beginnings. Maybe this night would be a new beginning for Burt and Janet, as well. Maybe it was time to finally tell Burt the truth and weather the fallout from it. If he truly loved her as much as he said -- and Janet believed that he did -- he'd be able to understand and, in time, forgive her. However, Burt sounded more urgent in his need to tell her something. The truth had waited for months. It could wait a few moments more.
"All right," she said as she gazed deeply into his eyes. "What is it? What do you want tell me?"
"Well, actually...." Burt Lamont smiled slyly and slipped his hand into his pocket. "It's something that I want to ask you. See, this wedding of new beginnings got me thinking."
Janet cocked her head slightly as she tried to figure out what Burt was talking about. Her questions were answered in moments as he pulled a tiny velvet box out of his pocket and held it out in front of her.
"I love you, Janet Stokes," he said softly and then pulled the box open to reveal a beautiful, delicate diamond ring. "Will you marry me?"
THE CALLISON HOME - MAIN FOYER - SECOND FLOOR LANDING
"Get off me!" Joyce Preston cried out in disgust as she held a collapsed Judith Linford in her arms. "Do you hear me, you witch? I said, 'get off!'" She stopped for a moment and waited for a response from Judith, but when only silence came, Joyce immediately grew alarmed. "Judith? Judith? Are you...all right?"
"I...um...oh...." Judith stammered as she slowly regained consciousness and struggled to focus her eyes and regain her footing. "I...must have...fainted."
"Always have to put on your best dramatic show, don't you?" Joyce eyed her rival carefully as she brushed out the skirt of her gown and tired to compose herself.
Judith, meanwhile, staggered over to the railing and grabbed onto it firmly in an attempt to steady herself.
"Are you sure you're all right?" Joyce asked again. "You're looking a little green."
"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were worried about me."
"The only thing I'm worried about is that something will happen to you before I get my chance to make you pay for everything you've done to me." Joyce walked up behind Judith and leaned closer so that she could speak directly into her ear. "That would take all the fun out of it."
"I-I'm sure it would," Judith muttered, only half listening to her.
"If I were you, I'd watch my step. You just never know when your time is going to come."
"I won't let you do this! I won't let you ruin my life like you've always tried to ruin my life!"
"No, you...really don't." Judith's eyes glazed over with confused anger as she stared down at the partiers and looked for two guests in particular.
"Well, it's been lovely catching up on old times with you, dear," Joyce laughed, "but I really need to get back to my family." She headed for the stairs, but before she took the first step, she turned towards Judith one last time. "Just remember what I said. Your time is coming."
As Joyce descended the staircase, Judith's mind quickly moved onto other things. Joyce and her inane threats meant nothing to Judith, at the moment. She had more pressing things to take care of. Namely finding Burt and Janet. There were a few things that she needed to ask her dear sister about the night she fell.
THE CALLISON HOME - TERRACE
"M-marry you?" Janet gasped in shock. "You're...asking me to marry you?"
"I think that's what I said," Burt laughed with amusement. "Janet, dear, I love you so much. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Would you do me the honor of agreeing to be my wife?"
"Oh, darling, yes! Yes, I'll marry you." She flew into his arms and kissed him long and tenderly. "You have no idea how long I've wanted to hear that question. I...think that I've loved you almost from the moment I met you."
"I feel the same way." He took her hand into his and carefully slipped the ring onto her finger. "Today is truly the start of new beginnings. Not only with Reginald and Jillian, but it's going to be a new beginning for us, as well."
"Yes, it is, isn't it?" She held out her hand and admired the diamond ring on her finger as it sparkled in the moonlight.
"We're going to put everything that's happened in the past and move on." He wrapped his arms around her tightly and pulled her close. "Judith can't touch us, now. That horrible ordeal you went through with Gordon Scott is a thing of the past. We can let all of that go and focus on what really matters -- us. I love you and nothing is ever going to change that."
As she felt his arms around her, Janet smiled. However, her smile quickly faded when she thought about how the past couldn't be left behind quite so easily. There was still something that she was keeping from him -- something that she didn't want to tell him, but knew that she had to. But not now.
Burt had professed his love and proposed marriage to her. She couldn't just blurt out that she was the one responsible for the loss of his child with Judith. She couldn't tell him that, in a brief moment where she'd gone out of her head, she'd pushed her own sister down the stairs. She finally had everything that she'd ever dreamed of. Telling Burt the truth would destroy him -- and her. No, she couldn't tell him. Not now. Not ever.
"So, did you enjoy yourself today?" Randy Lamont asked as he walked down the path carrying the picnic basket, Eliza Campbell at his side. "Even in spite of the heat?"
"Not even 100º temperatures can ruin a day when it's spent with you," she sighed dreamily. "But, I have to ask, did you enjoy yourself?" She stopped and turned to look at him. "You've acted rather pre-occupied all day."
"Pre-occupied?" He looked at her with apprehension and then let out a weary sigh before falling back against a tree. "That's probably a good word for it. I'm...sorry. I didn't mean to put a damper on your day out."
"Randy, you didn't put a damper on anything!"
"Yes, I did," he muttered. "You planned this big picnic out at the lake today and I was nothing more than a wet blanket."
"So...." She eyed him nervously as she bit her lip. "What's been on your mind all day?" Truthfully, she wasn't sure she even wanted to know the answer, but she felt it was the right thing to ask.
"Burt," he confessed and hung his head. "Burt and this whole wedding today."
It wasn't the answer Eliza was expecting and that cause her to heave a sigh of relief. She'd firmly suspected that Randy's head had been consumed with thoughts of Maggie Callison. Of course, Eliza was certain that Randy would never have admitted that.
"Randy, why does this wedding have you so upset? I don't...understand."
"Don't you see? The more Burt gets drawn into the lives of the Callisons, the more he changes. He doesn't want to admit it, but I can see it."
"Changes?" She paused as she tried to understand what he was saying. "I'm not sure I know what you mean."
"Look, all my life, my family never had anything," he began to explain as he stood with his is back to her, almost as if he were embarrassed about the details he was about to reveal. "Growing up in Kentucky, we lived hand to mouth. It got even worse when Pa took off. Then Ma got sick and...well...Burt had to work to support the entire family. I think...he always resented that."
"I'm sure he didn't! Granted, I don't know your brother very well, but he's always seeming like a very responsible man to me. I'm sure he worked to support you, not because he had to, but because he wanted to. He loves his family."
"Maybe saying that he resented us was a bad choice of words." He paused as he tried to think of the best way to vocalize his feelings. "He resented our lot in life -- not just his own. He resented the fact that, due to a cruel twist of fate, we weren't one of the privileged."
"Do you...feel that kind of resentment?"
"I'm not sure," he confessed honestly. "But Burt worked very hard to keep our heads above water. I don't care what kind of job it was, Burt did it if it meant that we had a roof over our heads and food on the table. The way things are, nowadays, that wasn't always easy. In fact, that's one reason we came here to Albanyville. He needed work and got a job at the Callison Stables."
"And you see how fine everything's turned out."
"Fine? You think this is all fine?" he snapped. "I didn't know it when we moved here, but the Callisons are the reason our lives were always so difficult. They ran my mother out of town, years ago, when she was expecting Burt. If it hadn't been for that, things would have much different for us."
"You're right about that," Eliza agreed. "If your mother had stayed in Albanyville, she would never have met your father and you would never have been born."
"Well...that's true, but...." He sat down on a rock and gazed out across the lake towards the glimmering lights of the new Callison home in the distance. "Burt getting mixed up with them is bad news."
"But they're his family!"
"I'm his family!" Randy's jaw tightened. Why couldn't she understand what he was talking about. Why couldn't she see?
"So...do your feelings about the Callisons change your opinions of Maggie?" Eliza hated bringing her up, but considering the direction of the conversation, it was a question on her mind.
"I usually forget that Maggie's a Callison," he sighed. "She's a really nice girl, but...well...she can be a bit of a snob when she wants to be. I guess when you get down to it, they're all the same, but...I try not to think about that with her. Maybe she's the exception."
"Maybe not," Eliza muttered, more to herself than to him.
"What did you say?"
"I...um...don't you think you're overreacting just a bit? Some of your resentment makes sense because of your mother, but these aren't the same Callisons. Wasn't Mr. Callison only a boy when all of that happened?"
"Yes, but..." He kept his eyes focused on the lights of the Callison house across the lake in the distance. "Eliza, I just can't put my finger on why, but I've got a bad feeling about all of this."
"A bad feeling?"
"Yes. I can't explain it, but...well...I'm just afraid that nothing good is gonna come out of this association with the Callisons and their world. Nothing good at all."
THE CALLISON HOME - LIVING ROOM
"What a fabulous party!" Dr. Fred Rutherford exclaimed as danced with his wife, Leticia. "The Callisons sure know how to put together a great evening."
"Yes, they do," she replied. "I don't think I could have planned a better reception myself." She paused and looked around the room. "Now, I wonder where Francis went. I feel so rude that we've barely even said anything to her or Charles since we got here."
"I...um..." He fidgeted nervously as he thought about his past relationship with Francis Callison -- a relationship that his new wife didn't quite know the extent of. "They're probably busy making sure everything runs smoothly."
"Well, I at least need to see if they need any help with anything." She slowly began to make her way off the dance floor in search of Francis. "After all, her son did marry my daughter. That makes us practically family, ourselves."
"Um, yes it does, doesn't it." He carefully followed along behind her, intending to keep close tabs on any conversation she and Francis might have.
"Actually, now that I think of it, Francis and I really haven't spent that much time together since you and I married." She stopped and tried to remember the last time she and Francis had gotten together to discuss something other than wedding plans.
"You've both been very busy," Fred reminded. "Certainly she's been dealing with the aftermath of being cleared of murder, not to mention everything that she and Charles clearly had to do to make their move into this house a secret."
"I suppose you're right," she nodded. "Now that the wedding's over, the four of us will have to get together for dinner some night." She paused as an idea struck her. "I know! We'll invite them over for a small dinner party. Wouldn't that be wonderful?"
"I...um...yes, it would," he replied as he tried to summon up as much enthusiasm as he could manage. Fred knew, full well, that he couldn't allow Francis and his wife to compare too many notes. If Leticia were to find out that he'd proposed marriage to Francis -- and had been turned down -- right before he'd proposed marriage to her, it was bound to make her more than a little suspicious of his timing and motives. "We'll just have to do that one night." Seeing the Stokes family maid, Ruby Thomas, nearby, he quickly lifted his glass and began to tap it. "Ruby! Ruby! I've run dry. Fetch me another champagne, would you?"
"Fred!" Leticia snapped in a hushed and reserved tone.
"What?" He eyed her curiously, not understand why she was acting so upset. "Ruby's the maid and I need another drink. It's her job to take care of us, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is," Leticia agreed. "When she's working."
"She's here, isn't she?" He lifted his glass again and called out to her. "Ruby! Come here!"
"Yes, Dr. Rutherford?" Ruby asked as she walked over to him. "Is there something I can help you with?"
"It's about time," he sighed in annoyance. "I need another glass of champagne."
"Fred!" Leticia snapped again.
"What?" He looked at her again, still not understanding what she was trying to subtly tell him.
"Dr. Rutherford, I think you've made a mistake," Ruby carefully tried to explain. "You see, I'm not working."
"Of course, you are," he laughed heartily. "You're here, aren't you?"
"She's here as a guest," Dr. Calvin Jackson spoke up as he stepped up behind Ruby. "Just like I'm here as a guest. An invited guest."
"A...guest?" The color almost drained from his face and he quickly looked to his wife for confirmation which he immediately received with the subtle nodding of her head. "But....I...."
"You see, doctor, my mother has been the housekeeper for Reginald's grandmother for many years," Calvin began to explain. "I almost grew up with Reginald. The Callisons have always treated us like part of their family. We were invited to both the wedding and the reception."
"So, you see, Dr. Rutherford," Ruby continued as she tried to keep her annoyance and embarrassment in check, "I'm not working."
As Calvin and Ruby quickly walked away, a dumbfounded Fred turned to his wife for support and reinforcement. The only thing he saw was the look of sheer and utter embarrassment etched on her face.
THE CALLISON HOME - STUDY
As Burt and Janet walked back into the house from the terrace, Janet quickly took off her engagement ring and slipped it into her handbag. This immediately alarmed Burt and he was quick to question her actions.
"Why did you take it off?" he asked with concern. "I thought you wanted to marry me."
"Oh, I do!" she exclaimed. "It's just that...well...this is Jillian's day. I don't want to take anything away from her. There'll be plenty of time to announce our engagement later."
"I guess you're right," he smiled. "We have all the time in the world."
"There you are!" Judith spoke up as she quickly strode over to them. "I've been looking for you everywhere."
Janet held her handbag close to her chest and fought the urge to smile with satisfaction.
"What do you want, Judith?" Burt asked coolly and promptly took hold of Janet's hand.
"I just...well..." Her voice caught in her throat as her eyes darted back and forth between Burt and her sister. "There's something I need to ask Janet."
"No, Judith," Burt responded flatly as he stepped between the two sisters. "I will not have you upsetting Janet tonight. All you seem to want to do, lately, is cause trouble between us. Are you so torn up about the failure of your own marriage that you can't stand to see anyone else happy?"
"That's not what this is about!" Judith nervously wrung her hands as her eyes locked on Janet, nearly burning a hole through her. After a long silence, she took a deep breath and spoke again. "I need to ask you about the night I fell. The night I lost my baby." She looked at Burt. "Our baby."
"Judith, I won't have you doing this!" Burt barked angrily as he reached and grabbed her arm. "I won't have you upsetting Janet. Not tonight!"
"I'm not trying to upset anyone!" Judith yanked her arm away and pushed past Burt so that she could glare at Janet whose eyes were filled with fear. "I'm just...trying to get at the truth."
"The truth?" He turned and eyed her suspiciously, not sure of what she was referring to. "The truth about what?"
"The night I fell!" She slowly walked away from Burt and directly towards Janet, keeping her sister in her sights the entire time. Finally, she stood directly in front of Janet and glared at her angrily. "I remember."
TO BE CONTINUED
Janet tries to cover her tracks.
For Now and Forever
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