For Now and Forever
EPISODE #130 (Friday,
THE CALLISON HOME - MAIN FOYER
"Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please?" Charles Callison spoke up as he stood on the second floor landing, overlooking the crowd of guests, and tapped his champagne glass. "Your attention, please!"
Slowly, the assorted chatter that had filled the home began to die down and all eyes looked upward towards where Charles was standing. With a broad smile, he looked down to survey the crowd of family and friends.
"First of all, on behalf of me and my wife," he paused to take Francis Callison's hand and lead her to his side, "I'd like to welcome each and every one of you into our new home. More importantly, however, is the reason that we've gathered here tonight -- to celebrate and honor the marriages of two very special couples."
A warm round of applause immediately broke out, causing him to nod in appreciation and pride before raising his hands to, again, silence the crowd.
"Today has been a day about new beginnings, not only for the newlyweds, but for this family, as well." He lifted his champagne glass into the air. "And for those reasons, I'd like to propose a toast!"
"To my oldest son, Reginald, and his new bride, Jillian," Charles began his toast as he looked down at the couple who stood directly below him, "I wish you a long life and a marriage full of as much love and devotion as your mother and I have shared. Jillian, from the moment Reginald brought you into our lives, I knew that you were the one he'd marry. I've always thought of you as a second daughter and I know that if your father were able to be with us today, he couldn't be any prouder of you than I am."
His words brought tears to Jillian's eyes as she thought about her late father and the opposition he'd voiced about her marriage to Reginald and his eventual acceptance before his death.
"I would also like to toast the other happy couple in the room." He held his glass high and turned to find Patterson and Stephanie in the crowd. "Patterson, your father was one of my closest friends and I've always considered your family a part of my family. I wish that your mother and father could be alive to see what a fine young man you've become. And, Stephanie, you've come to mean a great deal to this family over the past few months. I confess that, in the past, we didn't always see you in the best light, but that didn't stop you from doing what you thought was right. We owe you a great deal of thanks for making today the day of celebration that it is."
Stephanie bowed her head humbly, but felt her chest swell with a sense of pride and vindication.
"And I should also add that your...." He hesitated for a moment and quickly glanced in Francis's direction before giving her hand a gentle squeeze. "Your mother would be prouder of you today than you can ever know. The one thing she always wanted for you was the best and you've found that in Patterson."
Stephanie looked over at her new husband who stood, beaming, by her side and gave him a quick and loving kiss.
"I'd also like to toast my wonderful wife." He turned in Francis's direction and smiled. "She's the love of my life and the most wonderful wife and mother a man could ever hope for. I only hope that one day I can be worthy of her love and devotion."
"You already are, dear." She raised her hand to gently stroke his cheek as she fought back tears of joy.
"Today is truly a day of new beginnings for all of us," he continued, his glass still raised high. "My wish, not only for the newlyweds, but also for each and every one of you here today, is that you use this day to begin anew. Tell that special someone how much they mean to you. Tell your wives, your children, your friends and neighbors. Make today the start of your own personal legacy of love and honor that will last forever."
"Here! Here!" came the jubilant cry from the crowd as they all lifted their glasses in toast. "Here! Here!"
THE CAMPBELL HOME - LIVING ROOM
Corinne Campbell sat at her desk, staring blankly at the pages of notes and plans that she'd been working on concerning the upcoming 4th of July hospital fundraiser. However, despite the work that still needed to be done, she couldn't think of anything else other than her husband, Talbot.
As she strummed her fingers on the top of the desk, she felt her face flush with anger. How could he run around with that horrible Linford woman? How could he do this to her and their family?
Of course, Talbot had repeatedly denied that there'd been anything inappropriate going on between him and Judith Linford. He'd continued to insist that they'd only had a "professional" relationship that had developed into a "friendship." However, Corinne didn't buy any of it for a minute. No matter what he'd said or how strongly he'd tried to deny it, she was certain that he was having an affair with Judith. After all, what other reason could there possibly be for his increasingly late hours at the hospital and his seeming indifference towards her?
After glancing at her watch to check the time, she realized that her husband had more than enough time to make it to the hospital -- if that's where he was going. A determined look covering her face, Corinne reached for the telephone and dialed the number to the hospital. After several long and annoying rings, the call connected.
"Albanyville General switchboard," the hospital operator said in a nasally voice that always grated on Corinne's nerves. "Your extension please?"
"Third floor nurses' station, please," Corinne replied ever so politely.
"Just a moment, please."
As she waited for the transfer, Corinne tapped her foot anxiously on the floor. If Talbot knew what was good for him, he'd better be at the hospital.
"Third floor," came the familiar voice on the other end of the line when the transfer finally went through. "Can I help you?"
"Fay! Just who I wanted to talk to."
"Corinne? What is it? What's wrong?" Nurse Fay Rutledge asked, immediately worried by her friend's tone.
"Is my husband there?"
"Well, yes," Fay replied. "He just came in a few minutes ago. He's not in a very good mood though, so I wouldn't disturb him if I were you. He just stormed right passed us without saying a word and went into his office and slammed the door."
"Good," Corinne muttered absently.
"Good? Good that he's upset about something?"
"No. Good that he's there." Corinne paused as a thought struck her. "Fay, by any chance is Judith Linford there? Have you seen her at the hospital today?"
"Of course not!" Fay laughed. "Don't you remember? It's been all over the society pages this week. Her sister's wedding was today. I'm sure she's too tied up with family things to even think about your husband."
"I find that highly unlikely," Corinne replied dryly. "If I know that woman like I think I do, she'll find some way to slither her way over for a clandestine meeting with Talbot."
"So, do you want me to keep an eye out for her?"
"Of course. And when you see her, I want you to phone me right away." Corinne leaned back in her chair as her eyes narrowed. "I'll be right there as fast as I can. If that high society tramp thinks she can get her hooks into my husband, she's sadly mistaken."
THE CALLISON HOME - STUDY
"Charles, I have to tell you that was a beautiful toast," Douglas Davis smiled as he walked up to his friend and employer and shook his hand. "But...."
"But what, Douglas?" Charles asked curiously before taking a sip of his champagne. "Don't you believe in the promise of new beginnings?"
"Of course, I do," Douglas laughed heartily as he swirled his bourbon and water around in its glass causing the ice cubes to clink against one another. "But you were acting like you were making Stephanie an unofficial member of the family. After everything her mother did, do you really think that's wise? I mean, how does your wife feel about all of this?"
"That girl went through a terrible ordeal. In spite of that, she came through for this family when we needed it. If it weren't for her, it's very possible that my wife would be locked away in a prison cell, right now, for something she didn't do."
"I know all of that, Charles, but...well...I can appreciate your feelings of gratitude towards Stephanie, but to welcome her with open arms? She is Annabelle's daughter and...."
"Douglas, I can appreciate your concerns but...well...that's not what I want to talk to you about." Charles flashed a knowing smile.
Douglas eyed Charles suspiciously. "Is there something going on that I should know about? What is it?"
"I'd intended on holding this off until Monday at the office, but...."
"Chamberlain submitted his retirement notice." Charles paused as he watched Douglas closely for some kind of reaction or an appearance of realization.
"We've been expecting that for quite a while, now. He's been talking about retiring for as long as I've known him."
"We've also decided on his replacement."
"I guess I'm finally going to have a boss other than you. Chamberlain really never got too involved in office business. We all divided up his work load and took care of everything for him. So, who's going to be my direct superior now?"
"I am." Charles smiled broadly as he waited for a light to come on.
Douglas furrowed his brow as he shook his head, not fully understanding what Charles was trying to say. "Well, ultimately, you're everyone's boss. You do own the company. I mean, who's my direct superior? Who's going to be in charge of the legal department?"
Charles smiled even broader and stuck out his hand. "You are. Congratulations."
"M-me? But, I...."
"You've done some fine work for this company, Douglas," Charles explained as he grasped Douglas's hand tightly, "and you've done some fine work for this family. I couldn't think of better hands to put my legal department in."
"I...I don't know what to say!"
Douglas almost felt like the wind had been knocked out of him. He'd known about Chamberlain's impending retirement for months and he'd known of the possibility that he'd be in line for the promotion -- he'd even dreamed about it -- but he'd never allowed himself to be overly confident about actually getting it.
"Well, don't say too much just yet," Charles explained as his expression quickly grew more serious. "Chamberlain couldn't have picked a worse time to retire and I rushed your promotion through because there's a big deal brewing."
"What kind of deal?" Douglas listened closely, waiting for more details.
"Are you familiar with Orin Macalister?"
"Macalister? Isn't he the writer who does all of those big adventure novels? He had one on the best seller's list last year. Army of None, I believe it was."
"Yes, that's him. To make a long story short, the publishing company he was signed to folded and he's now a free agent."
"How can a publisher go out of business when it's got a book on the best seller's list?" Douglas cocked his head slightly as he tried understand the reasoning.
"It's simple, really," Charles laughed. "Macalister was their only author that ever sold any books." He paused and took another sip of his drink. "I think that he'd be an excellent author to bring over to our ranks."
"And you want me to get him to sign on the dotted line."
"Exactly!" Charles reached out and put his hand firmly on Douglas's shoulder. "This is going to be a very important deal and that's why I'm putting my best man in charge of it."
Douglas inhaled deeply and thought about the myriad of new responsibilities that he was going to have. Signing a new author was going to be the least of his worries.
THE CALLISON HOME - MAIN FOYER - SECOND FLOOR
"Well, well, well," Joyce Preston said smugly as she arched her back and folded her arms tightly across her chest. "Look who we have here."
"What the hell are you doing here?" Judith Linford snapped angrily when she turned to see Joyce. "I thought that the Callisons had more class than to allow common riffraff in here."
"I'm the aunt of the bride," Joyce casually explained. "Well, one of brides, anyway." She sauntered over to the railing overlooking the main foyer and looked down at the guests who were mingling and socializing. "This has really turned into a grand affair, wouldn't you say?"
"It's definitely the wedding of the year," Judith responded coolly, not daring to take her eyes off of Joyce for a second lest her former rival take the opportunity to stab her in the back. "Of course, I should have known that you'd find some way to weasel your way in. You've always had a knack for turning up like a bad penny where you aren't wanted."
"You should talk!" Joyce let out a hearty laugh. "If I remember correctly, you're the one who turned up smack dab in the middle of my marriage -- you and your wretched sister."
"If you'll excuse me, I'm in no mood to rehash ancient history." Judith attempted to push past Joyce and head for the stairs. "I've done my best to avoiding dealing with you and I'm in no mood to start with you tonight."
"Oh, but I'm in just the right mood to deal with you, Judith dear." Joyce reached out and grabbed Judith's arm tightly, jerking her back. As her eyes blazed with fury, her voice lowered into a throaty rumble. "If you think I've forgotten everything that you and your sister did to me, your mistaken. Just because I've put thoughts of the both of you on the back burner doesn't mean that my plans for you aren't simmering."
"Let go of me!" Judith snapped and yanked her arm away. "I don't know where you've been and you might have something that's contagious."
"Too bad you didn't have that attitude with my husband."
"I was a fool for ever getting mixed up with that louse you were married to!"
"If Gordon was such a louse, why did you have an affair with him?"
"I was young and innocent," Judith explained calmly. "Not that it's any of your business."
"Innocent? You?" Joyce let out a wicked laugh. "Judith, darling, you haven't been innocent since you were in diapers!" She smiled slyly, knowing exactly the right buttons to push. "But, of course, Gordon eventually saw through you, too. Too bad he wasn't bright enough to see through Janet. If he had, he might still be alive, today. So, Judith, how did it feel to lose a man to your sister?"
"You listen to me, you witch, if you think I'm going to just let bygones be bygones, you can forget it." She stepped closer to Judith so that their faces were only inches apart. "Gordon was a wonderful, decent man who's only shortcomings were stupidity and vulnerability to manipulative girls. No matter what you or your sister thought you had with him, he loved me. Do you hear me? Me!"
"You've lost your mind!"
"No, you've lost your mind if you think I'm going to turn the other cheek and let you get away with everything you've done to me!" Joyce stepped even closer to Judith, causing Judith to take a couple of steps backward to keep her distance. "I swear to you, Judith, that I'm going to make you pay for everything you've done. Do you hear me?"
"Get away from me!" Judith shouted angrily, taking yet another step backward.
"It might be tomorrow. It might be next week. It might be next year, but I'll make sure that you get everything that's coming to you!"
Judith, growing increasingly uncomfortable because of Joyce's wild ravings, took another step backwards. However, she didn't realize how close to the stairs she actually was. She was startled when her heel slipped off of the top step and the shock caused her to grow dizzy.
"No! You're just trying to keep me and Burt apart! Just like you tried to keep me and Gordon apart! You're not happy unless everyone else is as miserable as you are! Well, I'm not going to let you! I won't let you do this! I won't let you ruin my life like you've always tried to ruin my life!"
However, Joyce was even more shocked when Judith, out of fear of losing her balance, threw herself forward and then collapsed into a dead faint right into Joyce's arms.
THE CALLISON HOME - TERRACE
"It's a beautiful night, isn't it?" Burt Lamont smiled as he wrapped his arms around Janet Stokes and stared out towards the lake. "It's still a bit humid, but it's not nearly as hot as it was this afternoon."
"Those nice breezes off the lake help quite a bit," she commented as she enjoyed the comfort and security of his arms.
"Have I told you how beautiful you looked today?" He leaned down and rubbed his cheek against her pale blonde hair. "When I saw you coming down that aisle, you took my breath away."
"Oh, Burt," she giggled lightly, "you really know how to sweet-talk a girl."
"It's more than sweet-talk, Janet." His tone grew serious as he turned her around so that she was facing him. "It's the truth. Sweetheart, you've made me feel things that I never thought I could feel. I love you more than I thought I could ever love anyone."
As soon as the impulsive question was out of her mouth, she winced while it hung in the air. Why did she have to bring up her older sister? Why did she have to remind him of a past that was better left forgotten and buried.
"Listen to me; whatever stupidity I might have had were she's concerned ended a long time ago before I ever came to Albanyville." He looked right into her eyes as he tried to drive his point home. "There's no comparison between the two of you. I love you, not Judith."
"I wish we could forget about that," he muttered with a sigh and then took a couple of steps backwards so that he could wearily lean against a table. "Janet, you have to believe me. There hasn't been anything between me and Judith in a long time. I was...a fool for ever getting involved with her in the first place and...."
"I know that." She walked over to him and placed her hand lightly on his cheek. "But we...can't ignore the fact that she was carrying your child and...."
"That baby's dead," he muttered in a tone so cold that it nearly startled Janet. "There's nothing that any of us can do about that now. Besides, even if she hadn't lost the baby, that wouldn't have changed anything. It wouldn't have caused me to love you any less."
"Oh, Burt," she sighed and then wrapped her arms around him tightly. "I love you so much. Probably more than you even know."
"I think I know," he smiled. "But let's not talk about any of that, now. Let's forget all about Judith and whatever twisted games she likes to play. None of it matters now."
"But...." Janet's voice trailed off and she bit her lip and looked away from him. "Burt, there's...something I need to tell you -- something I should have told you months ago, but...."
"That's funny," he smiled warmly, "because there's actually something that I wanted to say to you, too."
Janet looked up at him with great curiosity. What could he possibly have to say to her that he hadn't said before? Her 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 that 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...." He 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?"
TO BE CONTINUED
Janet's dream is about to come true, but could Judith turn it into a nightmare?
For Now and Forever
©2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions