Stephanie’s trial was soon about to begin but she had been busy with focusing on other things. And it bothered Ridge. He was frustrated that nothing seemed to be happening to clear his mother, all while Stephanie didn’t look very worried. Ridge decided to take his mother aside and talk to her.
”What is it that was so urgent?” Stephanie asked her son as they entered the empty study where Thorne had been laying in for a couple of weeks.
”Have you heard anything from Russell Baxter?” Ridge asked. ”My lawyer? Nothing since before Christmas”.
”The trial is about to start and you haven’t heard from him?”
”He said he’d be in touch if any new information was given. He’s coming over tomorrow”.
”This doesn’t look good, does it?” Ridge finally asked what he had wanted to say for days. Ridge for a moment saw a look in his mother’s eyes that he had seen once before. When Ridge had confessed to shooting Grant Chambers.
”No, it doesn’t” Stephanie whispered and looked down. Ridge embraced her for a while before Stephanie told him she had a few things to take care of and left him alone in the study. Eric walked in soon thereafter.
”What was that about?” he asked.
”I think I just made her realize the seriousness”.
”Ridge…” Eric sighed.
”She has to realize, dad! She has to know the risks.”
”She does. But you know your mother. She doesn’t like showing vulnerability”.
”Some wouldn´t hurt”.
”Let her be, Ridge.”
”Fine!” Ridge said and left. Stephanie returned.
”Eric, are you going to the office this morning?”
”Yeah, I am on my way soon”.
”Can you give me a ride?”
”You´re going to the office?” Eric asked surprised.
”I thought I´d finish up some work while I have the time for it”.
”Sure” Eric said although he looked concerned.
Rick woke up and found that Shannon wasn’t in bed. He had slept in long this morning to have a day of relax with his girlfriend.
”Shannon?” he asked.
”Over here” Shannon replied from behind him. She was sitting at the desk going through a box with old letters.
”Still going through your mothers things?”
”No, this box is mine. I have saved letters and birthday cards from when I was a kid. I have a feeling I will find the answers I need in here. I know that handwriting in mom’s letter, I’ve seen it somewhere before. A long time ago.”
”How´s it going?”
”I am hopeful” she said as she picked up another old birthday card. One for her 10th birthday.
”I don´t think you should hope too much.”
”This is it!” Shannon said.
”It´s his handwriting…”
”You found the match?”
”Yes, this is it. But…?” Shannon looked puzzled.
”Whose handwriting is it?” Rick asked curiously.
”It’s Uncle Connor”.
”Connor?” Rick asked surprised and got up from the bed.
”Look” Shannon said and showed the old birthday card for Rick. Then she gave him the anonymous letter to her mother. Rick compared them.
”What do you think?”
”I’d say you’re right. This is a match” Rick said and handed back the letter and the card.
”But I don’t get it. Why would uncle Connor write an anonymous letter to my mother? They never got along at all”.
”Read the letter again” Rick told her.
Shannon read: ”I know we said we wouldn’t talk about this, but I felt like I had to. He wouldn’t understand but I know we did the right thing for him. I can see it in his eyes. I am leaving town for a while but don’t worry. I will not change my mind. I am almost grateful that I could help you. No one will ever find out the truth. They’re yours, now and forever.”
”HE wouldn’t understand… ‘He’ meaning who?” Rick asked.
”I assume it’s my father, but who knows. I can’t think of anyone else though.”
”You don’t have any other uncles?” Rick asked.
”Mom didn’t have any brothers, and dad only had Connor. Maybe it was a friend of their? Or mom or dad’s father?”
”My guess would be your father” Rick said.
”Yeah, mine too. You know, Connor left town when I was just a child. What could they have possibly been hiding from my father?”
”You don’t think they…” Rick started.
”An affair? I don’t think so. Mom and Connor didn’t even like each other. Besides, Connor was in love with your mother at the time, wasn’t he?”
”Yeah, you’re right. What about that last part. ‘They’re yours, now and forever’? What do you suppose that meant?”
”I haven’t a clue.”
”Then why don’t you call Connor and ask him?” Rick suggested.
”No. I’ll ask him in person.”
”Hey Logan” Ridge said as he walked into Brookes house. Brooke got up from the sofa where she had been laying reading a novel she had intended to read for months but not gotten to it yet.
”Ridge” Brooke greeted and kissed him. “What’s wrong?” she asked seeing a grim look in his eyes.
”It’s mother and this trial. It just seem so hopeless and she isn’t paying it any attention. I don’t know what to make of it”.
”What do you make of this then?” Brooke said and picked up a letter from the table and passed it over to him. Ridge read it through and looked up to her, puzzled.
”What’s this suppose to mean?” he asked.
”I’m being forced to testify against Stephanie in court by the prosecution” Brooke said.
”Why? Why would they request you to testify?”
”You know why, Ridge. Your mother and I have never gotten along, and everybody knows it. They obviously want me to come forward with some dirt on your mother to prove some point.”
”What do they want you to prove? What could it help their case?”
”I don’t know, Ridge. But they obviously feel I can help them in some way”.
”You intend to testify for them?” Ridge asked appalled.
”Ridge, I don’t have a choice in the matter”.
”Why don’t you call them and ask them what the hell it is they want from you?”
”They’ll get in touch with me soon enough. Look, I don’t know anything about Tim’s murder so it can’t be anything relevant about that. I’m sure it’s about our history together, and that is already public knowledge”.
”You’re probably right. But I don’t like this”.
”Neither do I. But I can’t possibly worsen Stephanie’s case more than she did herself”.
”Wait a second, you think my mother is guilty?” Ridge asked stunned.
”I don’t know Ridge… You have to admit that it sure looks like it”.
”No, my mother isn’t a murderer!”
”Ridge, your mother has a very hot temperament. If you had seen her attacking me in Big Bear…”
”No, I don’t care about that. She isn’t guilty. She has been set up, I am telling you”.
”By who? Who would go so far as to kill an innocent pool manager just to frame your mother for the murder?”
”Maybe it was Sheila” Ridge suggested.
”Sheila is in prison. There is no way she could plan a murder with someone without getting noticed.”
”And who’s to say Tim Cameron was innocent? Maybe someone wanted him dead and found a perfect way to get rid of him and put the blame on mother”.
”Ridge, listen to yourself! Look, your mother’s gun was used. How many people knew where she was hiding it? AND she had gunpowder residue on her hands. I know you don’t want to believe it, but I think you may have to consider the possibility. Maybe that’s why Stephanie isn’t fighting this as I know she would if she was wrongly accused.”
”No, No! You’re wrong! You’re wrong!” Ridge said in a highly raised voice and walked out of the house.
”Ridge!” Brooke called out but he slammed the door behind him. “Damn it!” Brooke hissed and slammed the palm of her hand on the table in frustration.
Felicia walked downstairs and found her aunt Pam at the breakfast table in the dining room.
”Good morning” Pam greeted.
”Good morning. Where are the others?” Felicia asked.
”Eric and Stephanie went to the office and Kristen I don’t know”.
”Oh this looks good!” Felicia smiled as she saw what Helen had cooked up for this morning.
”I may take Helen with me when I go back home” Pam smiled.
”I wouldn’t blame you. Had a rough night?” Felicia asked as she noticed her aunt looking tired.
”I always have problem sleeping in a new bed”
”I was up thinking about the trial. It’s starting soon and we have nothing to go on.”
”Sure seems difficult, doesn’t it? We’ll just have to keep hoping and praying the defence lawyer is as good as his reputation says he is”
”I feel hopeless knowing there is nothing I can do. It’s so frustrating.”
Pam started coughing as thought she couldn’t get enough air.
”How are you?” Felicia asked.
”Fine…” Pam said and coughed again. “I swallowed my juice in the wrong pipe” she finally said as the coughing had ended and she had cleared her throat a couple of times.
”It sounded like you were choking” Felicia said.
”I’m fine now. Thank you for the company. If you’ll excuse me, I have some errands I have to run now” Pam said as she got up and left. Felicia turned her head to watch her aunt leave with a questioned look on her face.
Eric was in his office trying to make the final changes to one of his designs when Megan buzzed him.
”There is a man here to see you, Russell Baxter a lawyer”.
”Send him in” Eric said and soon Russell walked into his office.
”Mr Baxter” Eric greeted and made a gesture for him to sit down by the conference table.
”I have just been visiting with your wife and we’ve gone through some details before the trial. Now I want to have a little word with you.”
”Sure, what is it?”
”As you know, this case is very difficult. The chance of winning with that we know today and the evidence is very small.”
”You’re not giving up, are you?”
”No, of course not. I just want you to be aware of the situation”.
”I am very aware of it” Eric assured Russell.
”Good, then maybe you can help me out here. You said you were here at the office talking to Stephanie the night of the murder. When did you leave?”
”A minute or two after her”
”Where were you heading?”
”To Ridge´s. That´s our son.”
”Yes, I know. Let me ask you this; how did you feel about your wife having an affair?”
”Where are you going with this?”
”I am just trying to paint up the picture. How did you feel about it?”
”I was angry”
”Both of them”
”Did you confront Tim Cameron after you had found out about the affair?”
”No, that was the last time I saw him”.
”What would you have done if you had seen him?”
”I honestly don’t know”
”Who has access to the house, except for you and your wife?”
”The children and their families, the maid, the gardener.”
”No one else?”
”So if someone were to get into the house, it would be one of the people you listed?”
”Yes. Why are you so curious about that?”
”Well, Stephanie´s gun was outside. The real killer obviously had access to your house in order to get in and get the gun”.
”You mean the killer is one of us in the family?” Eric asked offended and getting angry.
”That isn´t possible?” Russell asked.
”Of course it´s not. No one in my family murdered Tim Cameron. That is absurd”.
Shannon walked into Marone Industries and knocked at Massimo´s door. Massimo´s secretary tried to stop her, but Shannon walked inside.
”Excuse me?” Massimo asked.
”Shannon?” Connor was stunned as he turned around.
”Hi, how long is this meeting going on?” Shannon asked.
”Do you know this girl?” Massimo asked Connor.
”Yes, she’s my niece. Shannon, what are you doing here?”
”I need to talk to you. Your secretary said you were going on a business trip tonight, and I really needed to talk to you before that. Excuse me, Mr Marone, but do you mind cutting this meeting short. It’s really important.”
”You’ve got some nerve barging in here like that. I should call security to throw you out” Massimo said.
”Feel free to do so”
”Shannon, what is this all about?”
”This” Shannon said and held up the old letter. Connor tried keeping a good face.
”Mr Davis, I’ll fax the last of the papers over to you and you can go through them on the plane. You’re both excused” Massimo said. Shannon and Connor left the office.
”What was that?” Connor asked irritated as they had shut the door behind them.
”As I said, it’s really important. Come with me” Shannon said and walked over to Ridge’s office. She looked inside to check if it were empty and walked inside followed by Connor.
”I found this letter in my mom’s belongings. Can you tell me what it is and what it means?”
Connor took the letter and looked at the envelope. “I don’t know. An old love letter?”
”You’re lying to me. You wrote it.”
”Well, it looks like my handwriting” Connor said and took out the letter.
”What did you mean when you wrote it?”
Connor read through the letter carefully. “Oh, this… This is about the house”
”Yes, your old house”.
”Then how come the letter sounds so mysterious?”
”Because your father didn’t know”
”Didn’t know what?”
”That I borrowed you the money for it”
”You borrowed us money? Why didn’t my dad know about it?”
”Because your mother didn’t want him to know. He thinks the money was hers”.
”They were broke?”
”Yeah… I gave them the money to build a foundation with you kids.”
”You had enough money to give mom and dad a house? Weren’t you a law student?”
”Yes, but I had won some money on the lottery. That is why your mother came to me. She said she’d pay the money back when she could. It took a lot of degrading on her part, so I couldn’t say no. I wrote her this letter to tell her to keep the money.”
”So you really came through for us, huh?”
”I helped out”.
”Okay. Don’t I feel stupid. I thought it was some deep dark secret…”
”I think you’ve been hanging around the Forresters for too long”
”Yeah, maybe so. I’m so sorry about your meeting with Mr Marone”
”It’s okay. Just don’t let it happen again, or I will personally make the call to security” Connor joked.
”Can I have the letter back?”
”Um, sure” Connor smiled a little forced.
”Thanks, and good seeing you again” Shannon said and left the office. As she got back to the car, she looked at the letter again. “Let’s find out if your story is true or not, uncle” Shannon said to herself as she eyed the Marone building.
Stephanie sat in her office writing something as Lucinda knocked at the door and let herself inside. Stephanie looked up and didn’t know what to say. The kiss flashed through her head.
”I think we need to talk about what happened at Christmas” Lucinda said.
”There is nothing to discuss” Stephanie said without looking her into the eyes.
”I crossed the line”
”Yes you did”
”It wasn’t my intention. I just wanted you to understand that I am not after Eric.”
”I got that”
”And just because I am gay doesn’t mean I am after you either. I was just proving my point because you refused to let me explain”.
”But you’re uncomfortable”
”Yes, I am”
”Don’t be. Unless you felt something in the kiss”
Stephanie looked up shocked.
”I’m just joking. Look, I’d say we just forget that it ever happened. And maybe we can be friends now?”
”I like you. As a friend. And I think we could be very good friends if you’d just let go of what happened. What do you say? Friends?”
”I don’t know what to think. But fine. Friends”
Lucinda reached out her hand for a handshake. Stephanie hesitated for a second before she shook Lucinda’s hand on the new friendship. Lucinda smiled and soon they both started laughing.
A nurse was looking in on Thorne. His condition had been downgraded to stable and the doctor was just waiting for him to wake up. The operation had been a success and the fluid that had created a pressure was gone. As the nurse checked on the bandage around Thorne’s head, she heard a soft moan.
”Thorne?” she asked as she looked down on him. His pulse was rising as his hand moved. The nurse called out his name once more and Thorne responded with another moan, this one a bit louder than the one before.
”Good morning, Thorne. You’re in the hospital. You’ve been through an operation. I’m nurse Wendy. Can you talk?”
“Uuuhhh” Thorne moaned. His eyes were still closed, but his right hand moved.
”I’ll go get the doctor and tell him you’re waking up” she said and left the room. Thorne felt nauseous but finally opened up his eyes. It took a little while before he could see things clearly. But he was too tired to keep them open. He fell asleep again.
CJ and Bridget was in bed cuddling.
”You feel like getting up yet?”
”Why bother? It’s 7 p.m. Let’s call this turning in early” Bridget suggested.
”Works fine for me. Come here” CJ said and kissed her. He was interrupted when the phone started ringing.
”Damn that Alexander Graham Bell” CJ said as Bridget giggled.
”Answer the phone. I need to go to the bathroom”
CJ sat up in bed and picked up the phone.
”CJ? This is Deacon”
”What the hell do you want?” CJ asked annoyed.
”What I want? I want to strangle you”
”Don’t you dare hang up. I am at the hospital. You haven’t even been to see her. What kind of a person are you anyway?”
”Hold it. Who is in the hospital?”
”Dina, my sister, remember her? You were supposed to take her out, but you stood her up. Because of you, she was almost killed!”
”Why, what happened to her?” CJ asked worried.
”Her throat got sliced up by some damn mugger, that´s what happened”.
”Oh my god!” CJ expressed devastated.
”She will recover. And you can just thank your lucky stars for that, cause if she had been killed, you would have joined her.”
”Where is she now?”
”Don’t bother coming here. She will have nothing to do with you anymore” Deacon said and threw down the receiver on the other end. CJ hung up the phone and buried his face in his hands.
Eric, Stephanie, Ridge, Kristen, Felicia and Pam entered the courthouse after quickly passing all the reporters and photographers outside begging for comments. It was time for the trial to start. As the family walked into the courtroom, Russell met them up.
”Hi” he greeted. “Eric, you will have to leave when the opening statements begin. I will be calling you as a witness”.
”You are? Okay” Eric said.
”I think they’re beginning now” Stephanie told Eric.
”I’ll wait outside” he said before quickly giving his wife a comforting hug and left.
”Oh no…” Stephanie said as she turned around for the entrance. Kristen turned around and saw what had her mother squirm. Sally Spectra and Clarke Garrison walked into the courtroom in a flashy entrance in a famous Spectra mode.
”What are they doing here?” Kristen asked, as Ridge turned around.
”I´ll get rid of them” Ridge told his mom and sisters.
”Don´t let her get to you” Felicia instructed her mom.
”Sally, what do you think you´re doing?”
”I´m here as a concerned fellow citizen. This is an open court isn´t it?”
”You get out of here, now!” Ridge told her sharply.
”I don´t take orders from you, Ridge. If you want to cause a scene throwing us out, then go ahead. Otherwise can it!”
Ridge gave Sally a cold hard look before he backed off and went back to his family. Sally and Clarke proceeded to walk forward and found a seat behind the prosecution side.
”This is just too much” Stephanie said as she shot a cold look at Sally who just smiled back at the royal highness.
”All rise, the honorable judge Jane Whigham preside” the bailiff said and everyone stood up. A dark-haired older woman walked into the room and sat down. “You may be seated”.
Stephanie sat down next to Russell Baxter and his colleague. She looked to the other table and saw two men in suits looking very prepared. Russell had told her it was prosecutor Robert McCain, a man who seldom had lost a case and who only took on big cases. Next to him was his colleague Keith Carson.
”Superior court of the state of California for the county of Los Angeles Department No. 103. The people of the state of California, plaintiff, versus No. BA446109 Stephanie Frances Forrester, defendant. One count of murder in the first degree.
Mr McCain and Mr Carson for crown. Mr Baxter and Mrs Howard for accused.”
As they gave instructions and information how the trial would proceed, Stephanie started thinking about good times with her family. From when the children was small, and the last time their family was truly happy and carefree. She snapped out of it as Russell leaned towards her to whisper something to her.
”Will the defendant please rise? How do you plead?”
”Not guilty, your honor” Stephanie answered before sitting down again.
The judge turned to the prosecution. It was time for the opening statements. Robert McCain stood up and walked out on the floor.
”Thank you, your honor. Good morning ladies and gentlemen. You all know of Mrs Forrester. Rich, beautiful, head-strong businesswoman. The image of her as been created by the media. I ask you members of the jury to look past that. This is a woman, just like any other. She has flaws and problems just like any one of us. But she isn’t like any of us. Stephanie Forrester has taken another person’s life. We will prove to you how she did it and why she did it. The evidence against her are real, they’re facts. Facts that can’t be tainted or manipulated. Nor can they be ignored. My job will be to present you, the jury, with the evidence that speaks against the defendant. I will show you how the murder happened in detail as well as prove why it had to have been the defendant, Stephanie Forrester that pulled the trigger. As simple as that”. “Thank you”
”Thank you Mr McCain. Mr Baxter?”
”Thank you, your honor. Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Mr McCain, Mr Carson. Stephanie Forrester did not commit murder. The evidence that will be presented to you can be explained. There are many possible scenarios that could have happened at the Forrester estate, and I will try my best to lay them out for you. This isn’t an open and shut case. Many cases are no question about it. But then there are a few that seem simple, but aren´t. I want to raise the question “what if” and I think or hope that I have ammunition to accomplish that for you. This will be my job. Thank you for listening.”
”Thank you Mr Baxter. We will have a small recess before we start with the witnesses. At approximately 1 p.m. I will ask the prosecution to call their first witness to the stand. We´re adjourned.”
Brooke was pacing in her living room as she checked her watch again. Only 2 hours left before she would testify against Stephanie.
”Oh, Stephanie… I have your future in my hands. This time I direct the show for you.”