THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - FOYER
you really happy?" Janet
Lamont asked as she took her husband Burt's hands into hers and looked up
into his eyes. "Do you regret eloping to Davenport?"
marrying you?" Burt
Lamont let out a bemused laugh. "That's something I will never
regret for as long as I live. Marrying you has made me the happiest man
who's ever lived."
"I just hope everyone else feels that way," she
muttered, Burt's hand clasped tightly in hers, as they stood at the doorway to
the main ballroom and looked at the crowd of guests. They'd only gotten
back to town a few hours earlier and had yet to announce their elopement to
either of their families.
"Are you nervous about what your
going to say?"
bit, yes," she nodded. "I know she's going to be disappointed
that she's not going to get to go all out with another big wedding like she did
for Jillian, but
our way was better, I think."
"Well, let's go spring the news on everyone," he
smiled and took her hand so that he could lead her into the room.
They quickly spotted her mother and step-father, Leticia
and Fred Rutherford,
and hurried over to them.
Burt!" Leticia exclaimed, her arms flung open to greet them. "I
know you said you were going out of town for a few days, but you could at least
have given me a little more information than that!"
"I know. I'm sorry, Mother," Janet blushed
and looked towards Burt. "But it was a secret."
think you two have been up to something," Fred chimed in. "Do
you two have some kind of news that you'd like to share with us?"
"Well, Dr. Rutherford, as a matter of
fact...." Burt glanced over at Janet and smiled broadly, barely able
to contain his excitement. "You see, Janet and I...."
"Ladies and Gentlemen!" Talbot
spoke up from the bandstand as he tapped on the microphone. "Ladies
and Gentlemen! Doctors and nurses! Esteemed guests! May I have
your attention please."
"We'll...we'll tell you later," Janet whispered
to her mother, not wanting to have to compete with Dr. Campbell's opening speech.
Leticia could only nod in reply and confusion.
"As most of you know," Talbot began as he looked
out upon the crowd of partiers, "I am Dr. Talbot Campbell, Chief of Staff
of Albanyville General Hospital, and I would like to thank each and every single
one of you for being here with us tonight. Not only are we here to
celebrate the birthday of our great nation, we're here to raise money for a very
worthwhile cause -- our hospital's brand new children's ward."
A round of applause sprang forth from the crowd.
"Thanks to your generous contributions and attendance
here tonight, I'm proud to announce that our hospital is well on its way to
building that new children's ward. In fact, we are already eighty-five
A louder round of applause.
because of that, I'd would like to especially thank our hospital's very own
Ladies Auxiliary because of their efforts to stage this benefit here
tonight. Without the tireless efforts of those ladies, tonight and all of
those accomplishments would never have been made possible."
Yet another round of applause.
"If I should be so brazen, I would like to single out
one member of the Auxiliary for special mention. Now, I'm sure this might
seem slightly biased, but we all truly owe a debt of gratitude to the Chairwoman
of the Ladies Auxiliary -- my very own wife Corinne
Talbot reached out to take Corinne's hand and motioned for
her to step onto the stage to say a few words. She feigned embarrassment,
but quickly relented and joined her husband at the microphone to bask in the
glory that was "her" night.
my darling husband," Corinne smiled and kissed him on the cheek before
turning her complete focus to the crowd. "As my husband, Dr. Campbell,
said, we have already raised eight-five percent of the total amount of money we
need to begin construction on our new children's ward. We are so close to
meeting our goals that it would be a shame to end this evening without reaching
them, don't you agree?"
A loud chorus of agreement responded.
"Then dig deep into those pockets, folks."
She stepped down from the stage and made her way through the crowd, making sure
to single out individual wealthy and influential guests. "You heard
me! Dig deep! Make tonight a true success! Do it for the
"I pledge another $500!" came a voice from the
back of the room.
"Me, too! Another $500!"
"Do you hear that, folks?" Corinne called
out. "Well, I know that the children hear that! Each and every
single child in need of medical attention in this town hears that!"
"I pledge $1,000!"
"A $1,000!" she gasped with excitement.
"Can anyone top that? Anyone?"
"I pledge $10,000," came a female voice from
just to the side of the stage.
The crowd fell into a hush of shock as everyone scrambled
to see exactly who had made such a grand contribution. Then, without
missing a beat, Judith
Linford gracefully ascended the steps up to the stage so that she could
stand by Talbot.
case no one heard me," Judith smirked, making sure to look down in
Corinne's direction, "I said that I would pledge $10,000 -- for the
"Judith, I can't believe this," Talbot
gasped. He was full of admiration and respect as he looked deeply into her
eyes. "This is just...such a grand gesture."
"Oh, Talbot, it's for the children -- little babies
like...like the one I lost." She bit her lip and turned away from him
in order to hide the sorrowful mist in her eyes.
Meanwhile, Corinne was livid. How dare that witch of
a woman use her foul money to make herself look better to Talbot! How dare
she step forward in a blatant attempt to steal her moment in the
spotlight! As he jaw tightened, Corinne stormed up the steps and onto the
stage and spun around to face the crowd.
"Yes. For the children!" she spoke
up. "And because this cause is a worthy one, my husband and I are also
pledging $10,000 to help build the new children's ward!"
"Corinne!" Talbot's jaw dropped in shock
and he swiftly grabbed her arm tightly and pulled her to him.
"Corinne, what the devil are you doing? We can't afford a pledge like
"Oh, of course we can, silly," she
laughed. "You're the Chief of Staff, after all. You make a good
"Not $10,000-to-charity good!" He shook
his head, still completely and utterly stunned by her actions.
"And Callison Publications will match those
Callison spoke up with a wave of his hand in the air.
As more and more people joined in -- all with amounts far
lower than the $10,000 mark -- Corinne was off and running, working the crowd
once again, as Talbot simply stood on stage, his mouth agape, quickly becoming
filled with worry about how in the world he was going to scrape together $10,000
to pay off Corinne's pledge to the hospital.