For Now and Forever
Episode #148 (Monday,
THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - MAIN BALLROOM
"You're nervous, aren't you?" Burt Lamont asked his new bride Janet Lamont.
"Just a little," she laughed, the butterflies inside her stomach doing somersaults.
"I know both our families are going to be a little surprised when we tell them we eloped to Davenport, but I think they'll understand." He pulled her into his arms and held her tightly. "They know how much we love one another."
"I know, but...."
"You're worried about what your mother's going to say," he nodded, fully believing that he knew the source of her anxiety. "Listen, knowing her, she's going to be a bit upset that she's not going to get to throw another big wedding like she did for Jillian, but shell realize that a big affair like that isn't what you wanted. She might not completely like it, at first, but she'll be fine."
"Yes," Janet sighed and looked away from him. "My mother."
However, it wasn't the reaction of Janet's mother that she was ultimately worried about -- it was the reaction of her older sister Judith. Janet was well aware of how opposed Judith was to her and Burt being in love, let alone the mere idea of them getting married. After all, Judith had been in love with Burt first and had insisted that, if not for Janet, she and Burt truly stood a chance of recapturing that long-ago love.
And then there was the baby -- Judith's baby by Burt. Of course, Judith had lost the baby after a tragic fall down a flight of stairs that Janet, temporarily out of her mind with rage and fury, had caused. Thankfully, Judith's memory of the true events of that night were hazy at worst and non-existent at best, but that had been gradually changing over the past few months. Slowly, Judith had been remembering bits and pieces of that night and had grown to have strong suspicions that Janet knew far more than she was admitting to.
No, it wasn't her mother's reaction that Janet feared -- it was Judith's. And if the truth about that night ever came out, Janet wasn't sure whether the band of gold around her finger was strong enough to keep everything she'd struggled so hard for from falling apart.
THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - TERRACE
Maggie Callison stood at the railing of the terrace and looked out upon the nighttime skyline of Albanyville. From where she was standing, at the top of one of the tallest buildings in town, she could see practically everything -- the Blue River, the twinkling lights of the town, even the city of Riverside in the distance. But as the warm summer breeze blew against her face, her thoughts were not of the breathtaking view, but of things of a much more personal nature.
Randy Lamont had kissed her only a few days before and it had been everything that she could ever have dreamed that a kiss could be. However, he hadn't spoken to her since and it was that fact that troubled her. Perhaps it had all been a mistake. After all, Randy was seeing Maggie's best friend Eliza Campbell -- quite seriously, in fact, to hear Eliza tell it. Because of that, Maggie couldn't help but feel like an absolute heel. But Randy's kiss had awakened feelings in her that she'd never realized had existed. Oh, true, deep down they'd always been there and had been for quite a while, but Maggie had never let herself even think about them let alone act on them. But now that they'd actually kissed....
"Mags!" came the boisterous voice of her date Stanley Fitzpatrick from the doorway behind her. "What in the world are you doing out here?"
"Just...taking in the view," she muttered, not even bothering to turn around to face him.
"A geez, Mags, you really shoulda been inside! There's so much money being thrown about in pledges for the new hospital ward that it's making my head spin. Mrs. Linford pledged $10,000! Can you believe that?"
"And my mother matched that pledge," Eliza announced, coming through the doors behind Stanley with Randy trailing along behind her. "Isn't that so spectacular? $10,000! Randy, didn't you find that impressive?"
With the mention of Randy's name, Maggie spun around to face them, her eyes making immediate contact with his. No words were spoken between them, but none were needed.
"Randy? Did you hear what I said?" Sensing something between him and Maggie, she quickly grabbed hold of his arm and held on tightly.
"Um...yes..." Randy stammered, pulling his eyes away from Maggie. "It was impressive."
"And then your father matched those pledges, too!" Stanley announced.
"He did?" Maggie's eyes grew wide. She'd known that her father had already made a rather sizable donation to the new children's ward and hadn't expected him to make another one.
"Eliza, I never knew your parents had that much money," Stanley commented.
"Neither did I, actually," she confessed. "But I guess that we're just as well-off as both the Callisons and Stokeses."
"I...guess." Randy awkwardly looked down at his feet. All of this talk about money and wealth was making him uncomfortable.
"Eliza! Eliza! Come here!" her mother Corinne Campbell called out through the open doorway. "Artie from the Daily Post wants to take some picture of you, me, and your father!"
"Oh, alright," she grimaced, not exactly overly enthusiastic about having to leave Randy and Maggie to go deal with "picture-time." "Now, you just stay here and I'll be back in a minute." The stern look she threw at Stanley revealed to him that what she said was more of a direct order to him rather than a casual statement to the group.
After Eliza breezed back into the main ballroom, the remaining threesome stood in silence, neither Randy nor Maggie knowing quite what to say to each other and Stanley acutely aware of the obvious silence.
"Well, isn't anyone gonna saying something?" Stanley finally asked.
"You just did," Maggie muttered, turning her back to them so that she could face the Albanyville skyline yet again.
"That's not what I mean!"
"Stanley, I think I'm thirsty," she spoke up. "Go inside and get me some punch."
"Maybe you should go with me."
"No, I want to stay out here and look at the stars." And be alone with Randy.
"Stanley, please go get me some punch!" Maggie snapped.
"Oh, alright, Mags," Stanley relented with a slumping of his shoulders before he shuffled off back inside.
Now alone on the terrace, both Randy and Maggie stood in silence, neither one of them looking at the other. Although they longed to reach out to each other, a difficult wall of silence existed between them.
Things had been so much simpler when they were just close friends. They could talk. They could laugh. They could confide in one another. The kiss had changed all of that. Things were much different now and they both knew it.
And neither one of them knew quite what to do or say next.
THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - MAIN BALLROOM
"All right, everyone, gather 'round!" Burt Lamont called out with a wave of his arms as he tried to corral the various members of both his and his wife Janet's families. "Charles, Francis -- you, too, Dr. Rutherford." As Reginald and Jillian Callison moved closer, Judith Linford came into Burt's line of sight. "You, too, Judith," he said rather cordially.
"What is it, dear, what's going on?" Leticia Rutherford asked her daughter Janet. "Burt's making it sound like you two have some sort of announcement to make."
"That's exactly what's going on," Janet Lamont beamed as she took her new husband's arm. "We have a big announcement to make."
"An...announcement?" A knot began to form in the pit of Judith's stomach as her eyes darted back and forth from Burt to Janet. "What kind of...announcement?"
"Oh, waiter!" Burt grabbed the first tuxedo clad worker he could find. "Please, a glass of champagne for everyone."
"My, my, Burt, this must be quite the announcement if you're handing out champagne." Charles Callison turned to look at his wife with curiosity, but Francis could only shake her head. She had no idea what was going on, either.
"Alright, then," Burt smiled as the last of the glasses were handed out.
Pausing for a moment, he looked at each and every person gathered around -- his aunt and uncle Charles and Francis; cousins Reginald and Trevor; Janet's mother Leticia and Leticia's husband Fred; and Leticia's sisters Judith and Jillian. His eyes lingered on Judith the longest out of anxiety concerning her reaction to the news. The only people missing were his brother Randy and his other cousin Maggie. Where could they be? That question only hung inside his mind for a moment. The moment was at hand and he couldn't take the time to find them. It would break the momentum. Of course, Randy already knew the news, but they'd have to fill Maggie in later.
"Burt, Janet, why all the suspense?" Jillian asked with excitement. "Tell us! Tell us the big news!"
"Well...." Burt began slowly, glancing over to Janet who was on his arm. "The night of your wedding to Reginald, I asked Janet to marry me." A round of "ahs" and "ohs" sprang forth from the group. "And she did the supreme joy of saying 'yes.'"
"That's wonderful!" Jillian exclaimed as she flew into her sister's arms, giving her a congratulatory kiss on the cheek.
Even though she was all smiles, Janet was aware that Judith's eyes were locked on her, burrowing a furious hole through her.
"Congratulations, Burt," Charles said, extending his hand to his nephew. "This is fantastic news!"
"Wait!" Burt threw up his hands, silencing everyone. "That's not the announcement."
"Oh...don't...tell me...." Judith felt her heart jump up into her throat. She felt like she was going to be sick. Surely, that simpleton Janet hadn't convinced Burt into....
"We eloped!" Janet blurted out, unable to wait for Burt to reveal the news. "Just a few days ago. We realized that we couldn't wait and went to Davenport."
Judith felt the color drain from her face.
"Eloped?" Leticia was in clear and obvious shock. "But, Janet, certainly you wanted a big wedding! I mean, it's tradition in this family that weddings are a huge event and we've got to plan and prepare and...."
"Just marrying your daughter was a huge enough event for me," Burt smiled. "And, besides, Janet knew that you've just finished all the work for Reginald and Jillian's wedding and didn't want to force you into going to all that trouble again."
"Well, it's not like she would have been holding a gun to my head!"
"I know that, Mother," Janet laughed. "But this is what I wanted -- just a simple wedding with me and Burt. I can't tell you how deliriously happy I am."
"Well, I guess he's finally done it," Reginald mumbled under his breath, but not so much as to keep Jillian from overhearing.
"What?" she asked, turning to him. "What do you mean by that? Surely, you're happy for them."
"He's bent over backwards to ingratiate himself into this family and now he's managed to push himself into yours."
"Reginald! He's your cousin!" Jillian was stunned by his attitude. "He's your flesh and blood. And he loves Janet. He hasn't pushed his way into any place he hasn't been wanted or rightfully belonged."
"Well, he might be a Callison by his shear good fortune of blood," he responded, a look of coldness covering his face, "but I guarantee you he doesn't belong. He doesn't belong in this family and he never will. And he most certainly doesn't belong in yours."
Meanwhile, just a few steps away, everyone was offering the newlyweds their congratulations. Everyone except for one.
"Janet, I want a word with you." Judith grabbed her sister's arm firmly and nearly drug her away from the group. "What the hell do you think you're trying to do?"
"Judith, I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Oh, you most certainly do!" Judith dug her nails into Janet's arm and gave it a solid twist, eliciting the painful wince that she'd intended. "How did you do it? How did you trick Burt into marrying you?"
"I didn't trick Burt into doing anything!" Janet yanked her arm away, pushing Judith backward in the process. "When are you going to accept that Burt loves me? He doesn't love you. He'll never love you!"
"You've brainwashed him! That's what you've done! You've filled his head with all sorts of nasty lies about me to turn him against me!"
"I've done nothing of the sort." Janet stood up straight and tall, her confidence and security strengthened by the wedding band on her finger. "I'm Burt's wife. Not you and you never will be."
"We'll see about that," Judith muttered, angry yet momentarily defeated before turning on her heel and storming off. "We'll just see about that."
THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - FOYER
"The ballroom looks amazing!" Joyce Preston exclaimed as she stepped off of the elevator behind her daughter Sara Manchester and son-in-law Dane Manchester. "The hospital really has done a fantastic job on tonight. Why, it's almost as grand as Nigel's fundraiser."
"Momma, please," Sara grumbled, "can we not talk about that tonight? I'd just as soon forget that night ever happened."
"Sara, that was a very important night for my father," Dane reminded. "And, besides, I'm glad that my parents finally had a chance to meet you."
"Why? So we can accept once and for all that they hate me?"
"They don't hate you, honey," he laughed, giving her a hug. "They just want what's best for me, that's all. They've always wanted that."
"And they obviously don't think I'm it!"
"Sara!" Trevor Callison waved at her as he left the side of his family and hurried across the room. "Sara, I'm glad you're here. I've been meaning to stop by the house to see you for days now."
"Trevor, what is it?" Sara asked, concerned by the tone in his voice. "It sounds important."
"Well, yes, in a way." Trevor turned to Dane. "Could I borrow your wife for a few minutes to talk business?"
"Business? What kind of business?" Dane eyed Trevor suspiciously.
"Oh, just some publishing stuff about Thornton Preston."
"Dane, it's okay," Sara smiled, slightly amused that her husband seemed a tad jealous. "You and Momma go have a drink and I'll talk to Trevor for a bit and I'll join you in a few minutes."
"Okay," Dane muttered, his eyes locked on Trevor. "But don't take too long."
As Dane and Joyce walked away, Trevor made sure that he had Sara's full attention. "Now, I know this is a bit unusual considering that I really don't have much to do with the publishing part of the company. I'm more of a journalist, after all."
"Well, what is it? What about Mr. Preston?"
"From what I understand, your step-father still had quite a large collection of unpublished manuscripts when he died," Trevor began to explain. "And based on the terms of his contract with Callison Publications, we have the publishing rights to those manuscripts. However, considering the way his estate was worked out, you have control of his unpublished works because of your inheritance."
"To put it as simply as possible, we have the right to publish any of his unpublished works, but you have to be the one to allow the publication because you're the one in control of the estate. And considering our friendship, my father wants me to convince you to publish those novels."
"Ah, I see," Sara smiled. "Your father wants you to charm me into handing over the manuscripts. Well, I don't think you'll have to do that much charming."
"So, you'll agree?"
"Of course," she laughed. "Actually, since I haven't been taking classes, I've been stuck in that house all day long for weeks, now, and I've been going over Mr. Preston's manuscripts. Now, I'm not even close to being a literary critic, but I think quite a few of them are very good. But even so, I don't think any of them are anywhere near close to being ready for publishing. There's still a lot of editing and clean-up work to do on them. I'm sure that's why he hadn't turned them over to your father himself before he died."
"Then, perhaps we can work on getting those books ready together? Maybe set up a publishing schedule? A new Thornton Preston novel every, say, six months or so?"
"I'd like that," Sara nodded. "Like I said, I've really had nothing to occupy my time," other than refereeing Dane, her mother, and Naomi, "and I'm pretty bored out of my mind. I'd like to work with you on this. It'll give me something to do and I think it'll be a nice challenge."
"Great!" Trevor exclaimed, impetuously kissing her on the cheek. "My dad's gonna be so relieved. I think he was a little worried that you wouldn't agree to this. What if I call you tomorrow and we'll set up a time where we can both get together and look at those manuscripts together?"
"Sounds good to me."
Meanwhile, not even five feet away, Joyce was doing her best to eavesdrop on the conversation while struggling to remain hidden behind a large potted plant. She's made a flimsy excuse to leave Dane's side because she wanted to know what Trevor wanted to discuss with Sara. Now that she knew, Joyce was livid -- they were going to publish Thornton's books -- books that Joyce knew she should've had the rights to, not her ungrateful daughter. Now Sara was set to scam even more money out of Joyce's late husband -- money that by every right should have been Joyce's! Well, Joyce wasn't about to see that happen and knew that she had to step up her plans with Naomi.
THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - TERRACE
"Well, aren't you going to say something?" Maggie finally asked, turning to face Randy. "Or are we just going to stand out here all night long in silence?"
"There's not much to say, actually," Randy muttered, refusing to look at her.
"Not much to say?" Her eyes grew wide with disbelief. "After what happened? There's plenty to say!"
"I...I guess you're right," he agreed. "I've...I've been meaning to talk to you about that."
"You have?" She moved several steps closer to him. "I...I haven't heard from you in days, now. I thought...that you'd at least call or...or come by the house."
"I want to. Really I did."
"Maggie, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I did what I did that night." Randy looked down at his feet, unable to look her in the eyes.
"W-what?" She felt her heart drop. "What do you mean 'sorry?'"
"I should never have kissed you. I was out of line. It should never have happened."
"No, Maggie," he sighed. "You're with Stanley and I'm with Eliza and she's your best friend. We're friends and I took advantage of that friendship and closeness. I took advantage of you and I feel horrible about it."
"Randy, no!" She grabbed him by his arm, prompting him to finally look up at her. "You didn't take advantage of me. I...I wanted that kiss. To be honest, I've wanted it for a long time."
"You...did?" He looked deeply into her eyes, slipping into the intensity of the moment, but quickly caught himself. "But...it wasn't right. It should never have happened. I should never have done that to Eliza."
"Oh, Randy, you don't love her!"
"Well...no, I don't," he confessed.
"Why are you even with her, then?"
"Look, Maggie, I know Eliza can be a handful and she can get on a person's nerves and she can be unbearable and annoying at times, but...well...deep down she's a really nice girl. You know that. If she weren't, I know you wouldn't be friends with her."
"Do you want to see Eliza hurt?"
"Well, no, but...."
"And what about Stanley? He worships the ground you walk on." Randy took several steps backwards, putting distance between himself and Maggie.
"Unfortunately," she grumbled.
"Honestly, I don't know what this...this thing is between us. Maybe it's just a really nice friendship that I've gotten jumbled up in my head because of Burt and Janet." He paused and took a deep breath. "Maybe...maybe we just shouldn't spend so much time together until I can sort all of this stuff out in my head. Maybe we just shouldn't see one another."
"Randy, no." Maggie reached out to grab his arm, but he stepped away again, putting himself just out of reach.
"There you two are!" Eliza said as she breezed through the doors leading from the main ballroom. "What are you two still doing out here?" Her eyes moved from Randy to Maggie. She was quick to realize that she'd interrupted something -- just in time, she hoped. "Oh, Randy, they're playing some wonderful music. Please come inside and dance with me."
"I'm coming, Eliza." Randy's eyes connected with Maggie's. "I'm sorry," he mouthed to her silently before turning to follow Eliza back inside.
Now alone on the terrace, Maggie felt her knees begin to shake and she struggled to fight back her tears. This wasn't the way it was supposed to happen. This wasn't the way it was supposed to work out. She's struggled for so long to fight and ignore how she really felt about Randy, but his kiss had ended all of that. Despite what Randy had said, now that she'd been confronted by her true feelings for him, how could Maggie forget that they ever existed?
THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - MAIN BALLROOM
"Janet, I'm so happy for you and Burt," Jillian said as she hugged her older sister. "I hope you two are as happy as Reginald and I are."
"You're not upset that we eloped?" Janet bit her lower lip, nervous that the news of her sudden marriage wouldn't fit into her family's ideas of wedding planning.
"Upset? Not at all! Honey, if this is how you and Burt wanted to do it, then it's absolutely fine. Besides, who cares what I think?"
"Do you think Mother's disappointed?" Janet glanced over at Leticia who was talking and laughing with Charles, Francis, and Burt.
"I'm sure she is. You know how she is about these types of things." Jillian's gaze followed Janet's just as Fred walked up behind their mother and put his hand on her shoulder. "But considering how she came back from New York a few months ago with the news that she'd eloped with Fred, she really doesn't have much room to say anything."
Realizing that Jillian had a very valid point, both Jillian and Janet broke up into laughter.
Meanwhile, just a few steps away, Reginald walked over to Burt who was in mid-conversation with his new in-laws.
"Burt, if you have a moment, I'd like to have a word with you," Reginald said with a firm urgency that instantly let Burt know that what Reginald wanted to discuss was very urgent.
"All right," Burt nodded before excusing himself from his present conversations. He followed Reginald across the room, well out of earshot of anyone else in the family. "Okay, Reginald, what is it? You made this sound important."
"It's very important." Reginald responded, full of an almost businesslike seriousness.
"I...have a feeling that this isn't about congratulating me on my marriage."
"Far from it." Reginald's eyes narrowed as he looked at Burt. It was almost as if he were examining him under a microscope -- every hair, every fiber, every pore. His gaze was intense and it made Burt very uncomfortable.
"I take it that you don't approve?"
Burt treaded lightly into the conversation. For months he'd been aware of some sort of tension between him and Reginald. Of course, nothing too overt had been said, but Burt had always gotten the feeling that Reginald didn't like him -- practically resented him. Burt had found it odd because, at one point, they'd gotten along rather well. In fact, they'd been darn near friendly. But since the announcement that Burt was really the son of Reginald's long-dead uncle Landon, Reginald's demeanor towards Burt had been down right chilly.
"How did you do it?" Reginald began, his arms folded tightly cross his chest. "How did you manage to so easily convince Janet into marrying you?"
"I asked her," Burt replied flatly. "Isn't that the customary way of doing things? Down on one knee, ring held out.... Isn't that how you proposed to Jillian?"
"That's not what I'm talking about."
"Then perhaps you better fill me in." Burt felt his blood pressure begin to rise. He definitely didn't like the direction their conversation was headed and wasn't sure he liked what he was sure that his cousin was insinuating.
"This was all rather sudden, don't you think?" Reginald began to slowly pace around Burt, practically walking a full circle around him. "No one even knew the two of you were engaged. But, then again, we all know how impressionable and vulnerable Janet can be. I'm sure it wasn't hard for you to talk her into running off to Davenport."
"For your information, Janet's the one who convinced me to elope. I wasn't sure it was the right thing to do because I know how much her mother would have wanted to throw another big wedding, but Janet insisted. How could I have said 'no?'"
"Well, however you managed to pull it off, you really did it, didn't you?"
"You just waltzed into this town a nobody -- just some guy who picked up his downtrodden family and moved in to take care of a stable of horses." Reginald stood still directly in front of Burt and stared at him. "Then, suddenly, you're a Callison -- Landon's son. And then you're wooing and romancing one of the heirs to the East Coast's largest textile companies. Now that you've married Janet, you're a member of two of the most prominent families in this town. You haven't just climbed the social ladder, you've run right up it!"
"How dare you try to insinuate that I'm using Janet! Besides, I'm every bit a part of the Callison family as you are. I'm a Callison by blood! You've seen the documentation! You've seen the reports and records that your own father's private detective found!"
"Documents and files and records can be altered and falsified to say whatever you want them to." Reginald moved closer to Burt, getting practically nose to nose with him. "I don't give a damn what those records say! You're not part of this family and you never will be!" He jabbed his finger into Burt's face to punctuate his point.
"Get out of my face!" Burt spat. "I don't have to prove a damn thing to you! Your father accepts me! Janet loves me! Those are the only things that matter."
"So," Reginald chuckled heartily with an air of amusement, "you've worked so hard to land yourself in a rather cushy spot, haven't you. How much will it take?"
"You heard me." Reginald's jaw tightened. "How much will it take? I'm prepared to phone the bank first thing in the morning. Exactly how much money will it take to send you packing out of this town and out of our lives for good?"
TO BE CONTINUED
Fred is being watched.
For Now and Forever
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