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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Crane Mansion

"What do you MEAN Sheridan punched you?" Alistair demanded via speakerphone.
Julian pressed an ice pack to his jaw, which was swollen and bruised, "Ah mean thah Shewidan punched me!"
"Why in god's name did she do that? Did you get drunk and hit on her again?" Alistair yelled.
"NO!" Julian shouted back, "She…ah…fwownd owwwt abahht tha mosk."
"Julian, if you don't take that ice pack off of your jaw and start speaking normally, I am going to come over there an make certain that you never see the light of day again," Alistair threatened.
Julian sighed and pulled the ice pack away, wincing, "She found out about the mask."
"She WHAT?!"
"It wasn't my fault!" Julian whined, cringing away from the phone, "Ethan and William trashed my study and stumbled across the mask."
He looked around the demolished room with a sigh.
"Julian, you are truly an idiot."
And with that, Alistair hung up the phone.




Bennett House

"Oh great, you kids are home for dinner!" Grace said sweetly as the front door to her house opened and in walked Kay, Simone, Jessica, Reese, Charity, Miguel, and Elizabeth.
"Uh oh," Kay muttered under her breath.
"I made some pea soup pie!" Grace exclaimed, waving a gloppy green substance under Kay's nose.
Elizabeth fought hard not to gag as she questioned, "Pea soup pie?"
"Don't ask," Miguel told her with a grim expression.
Charity smiled at Grace, "Aww, Aunt Grace that was so sweet of you! Can I have a piece now?"
Reese glanced around at everyone's horrified expressions and then back at the pie. Finally he shrugged, "Well, I'm starved. I'll have a piece too."
Grace beamed and cut into the jiggling green mass.
"I'm not really hungry," Elizabeth said in a weak voice.
"I'll have none of that," Grace scolded, "No one in MY house is going to waste away from lack of food. I'll give you the biggest piece!"
Elizabeth sighed.
Kay let out a loud chortle.
"And Kay!" Grace continued cheerily, "You get a big piece too. I've noticed that you haven't been eating very much lately."
Kay groaned.
Elizabeth smirked.




Lopez-Fitzgerald Residence

Pilar sighed as she sat down to the dinner table. As usual, the only people home for dinner were herself and Theresa, and of course Whitney Russell, who spent more time there than at her own house.
"Where in god's name is Miguel…" she grumbled. It had been so long since she had seen her son that she had begun to forget what he looked like. At least she knew where Luis was!
"Mama," Theresa said with a huge grin, "I can't wait until I marry Ethan!"
Pilar and Whitney looked at each other and sighed.
"You can say it this time," Whitney offered.
Pilar sighed again, "Hija, you are NOT going to marry Ethan. He is going to marry Gwen, just like their families have planned."
"Yes I will! Fate is on my side!" Theresa persisted, "Since Gwen broke her ankle and postponed the wedding, it gives Ethan more time to realize his true feelings for me!"
Whitney groaned and began to eat the food that Pilar had cooked. Theresa simply gazed off into space with a dreamy expression on her face.




Stephanie fled from the home of the strange old lady and her scary doll, gasping for breath. This was the strangest thing she had ever seen, even surpassing the pen that had spoken to her one night in boarding school and urged her to stab her roommate. The pen the psychologist had assured her was only in her mind.
"THERE WAS NO TALKING DOLL!" Stephanie screamed out loud, more to reassure herself than to attract anyone's attention, but the door to the house next door opened up and out stepped a woman with short red hair, who was wearing a red checkered apron and was holding a plate with a hideous green substance on it.
"Talking doll?" the woman questioned in a light voice, "What talking doll?"
"Uh…" Stephanie glanced around for an escape route, "I…ah…was watching a scary movie the other day. I was just reassuring myself that it wasn't real."
"Aw," the woman smiled sweetly at her, "Well, that's all right. I think-"
Suddenly Elizabeth bolted out the door behind the woman, "STEPHANIE!"
Stephanie jumped, "Elizabeth? What are you doing here?"
"You two know each other?" Grace questioned.
"This is my younger sister Stephanie," Elizabeth explained, "Stephanie, this is Grace Bennett."
"Hi," Stephanie sighed.
"We'll be right back," Elizabeth said to Grace, and then grabbed her sister's arm and dragged her across the yard.

Once they were out of earshot, Elizabeth glared angrily at Stephanie, "What are you raving about?! A talking doll?"
Stephanie shrugged, "There's this crazy old lady who lives over there. I think her name is Tabitha. Anyhow, I was trying to practice…uh…my cake cutting skills on her doll, and the doll came to life and started poking me with a letter opener!"
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow, "The doll?"
"Yeah!"
"This sounds like the time back in boarding school when you raised such a big fuss about the talking pen telling you to kill that poor girl-"
"This was different from the pen!" Stephanie insisted, "The doll actually came to life!"
"Have you been taking your medication? Do you have ANY idea how upset Mother and Father would be to hear that you're hearing voices again? They worked SO hard to keep what you did out of the tabloids!"
Stephanie hung her head, "I know."
"Are we clear?"
"Yes, we're clear."
"Good," Elizabeth grabbed her sister's hand, "Now come inside and meet the Bennets. And while you're at it, eat some of this horrid stuff with me."
Stephanie sighed.




Crane Cottage

Sheridan sat on the couch, only half listening as Ivy attempted to explain what she knew about the Luis imposter. Her gaze, as well as most of her attention, was fixed on Luis as he stood by the window, looking out on the Crane Estate. He had not said much since Julian's inadvertent revelation in the Book Café, and she was beginning to fear that he wouldn't forgive her for not trusting him.
"Don’t you agree Sheridan?" Ivy asked.
Sheridan jumped, looking at her sister-in-law guiltily, "I'm sorry, what did you say?"
Ivy followed Sheridan's gaze and smiled, "I can take a hint. Go talk to him."
William poked Sheridan in the shoulder, "Go on."
Ethan stood silently off to the side.
They all stared expectantly at Sheridan.

Sheridan, not exactly happy at doing this with an audience, got up off the couch and walked slowly over to where Luis was standing.
Ivy suddenly remembered where she was, "William! Ethan! Let's leave them some privacy!"
She ushered her two sons out the door, leaving Sheridan and Luis alone.
Sheridan took a deep breath, "Luis-"
"You don't have to say anything," he told her softly.
"Yes, I do. I am SO sorry about everything that's happened since that night on the wharf. I treated you like crap when you had been nothing but good to me and-"
"I told you that you didn't have to say anything," he said with a little laugh, "I understand everything. You don't have to explain it to me."
"You're not angry?"
He shrugged, "Angry? Yes, I am. But not at you."
"But-"
Luis turned to face her, "But what? Your father and your brother hired someone to impersonate me and break us up. And their plan worked. You had no reason not to believe that it wasn't me saying those things about you, you saw me with your own two eyes."
"But-"
"Would you let me finish?" he said to her with a laugh, "Their plan didn't work as well as they'd hoped, Sheridan."
"It didn't?"
"Would we be doing this if it had?" he asked as he pulled her into a kiss.
When they broke away, Sheridan stared up at him with a big smile, "I think you're right."

Luis pretended to be shocked, "Is Sheridan Crane actually agreeing with me? I think I just had a heart attack-"
"Stop it," she swatted him playfully, "Come here."
And he did.




Crane Mansion

Ivy led William and Ethan back into the living room.
"Now," she said sternly, "Earlier, you two were fortunate that you stumbled across that mask, or you might have seriously hurt one another. And I am NOT leaving this room until you both explain to me what the hell you were doing!"
"We were fighting, Mother," Ethan said dully.
"I think she could figure that out," William shot back.
"STOP IT!" Ivy shouted, "I will NOT have you two arguing, do I make myself clear?"
It was Ethan that broke the silence following her outburst, "But Mother…you're neglecting me in favor of William. I thought I was your favorite!"
"Mothers aren't supposed to HAVE favorites," William grumbled, "They are supposed to love their children equally."
"BUT I'M MOTHER'S FAVORITE!" Ethan howled.
"And I am a rebel!"
They glared at each other.
Ivy heaved a long-suffering sigh, "Ethan, you're right. You have always been my favorite-"
Ethan shot a smug look in William's direction.
"BUT-" Ivy continued, "Lately, you have not been acting like the young man I've raised. You have been an arrogant, self righteous…Julian clone!"
Ethan looked taken aback.
"And William-" Ivy went on, "You are a rebel. And I haven't spent enough time with you these past few years. I am trying to right a wrong. And it appears that the quality time I've spent with you is working…you have been much more…considerate of other people. And while you are still a rebel, and I must continue to un-rebelize you, I believe that you have turned out quite well in other respects. AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ETHAN, BEFORE YOU EVEN SAY IT, THIS IS NOT CHIEF BENNETT'S FAULT!"
Ethan and William stared back at her in surprise.




Seascape Restaurant

Amanda stood in the lobby, wearing a sea green colored evening gown, her long blond hair flowing down her back. In spite of her flamboyant exterior and show of uninhibited enthusiasm, she was in fact, quite nervous about her date that night. She had dated casually over the years; mostly socialites that had been pre-packaged and served up to her by her parents. And yet there was no one that she had ever cared about enough to waste her time and energy on. Until now. Noah was different from the others…he didn't chase after her illusions of wealth and power. Instead, he seemed to enjoy her company, even if she sometimes did force it upon him. For the first time in her life, she was actually beginning to think that she cared about somebody…more than she ever had before.
"Hey," Noah was standing in front of her suddenly, a green colored carnation in his hand.
"Hi," Amanda said with a big smile, her nervousness forgotten at the sight of him, "Is this for me?" She plucked the flower from his hand.
He shrugged, "It looked lonely sitting in the florist all by itself."
She held it up to her dress, marveling at how the colors matched, "I guess you're psychic. How did you know to get green?"
He shrugged again, "Just seemed lonely, like I said. Must be fate."
Amanda shuddered.
"What?"
"Don't say fate," Amanda instructed him.
"Why not?"
She scowled, "Because my idiot brother has been calling me up at boarding school for MONTHS now to discuss his relationship problems, and they all include some crazy girl who is insisting that their love is 'fate.' And I think if I hear that word one more time I will go completely insane."
Noah grinned, "Fine. It's serendipity."
"You're impossible."

Noah took her arm and began to lead her towards her table, "I'm not impossible, I'm just difficult."
"Believe me, I know."
"Excuse me? And who was the one who decided that the best way to make introductions was to scarf down my breakfast?" Noah scoffed.
Amanda laughed, "I was hungry, all right? And you really didn't seem to mind."
"Trust me, after years of living with my mom's unusual cooking creations, even the leftover crumbs of a digested blueberry muffin look appetizing."
"See? It all worked out for the best."
Noah shook his head, "You are, in all likelihood, the strangest girl I have ever met."
"You say that as if it's a bad thing."
"It's not," he paused, "To be honest, I'm not exactly sure how to act around you."
Amanda took a huge bite of a roll that she plucked from the basket on the table, "That's easy. Act like yourself. You seem to be doing a fairly good job so far."
"What makes you say that?"
She laughed, "I'm still pursuing you, aren't I?"
His cheeks reddened slightly as he smiled at her, "I guess you are."
"Now the only thing we have to clear up is WHAT exactly is the matter with our parents!" Amanda exclaimed.

Noah nodded, "I'm telling you, my dad looked like he was going to have stroke and collapse right there on the ground."
"And my mother DID collapse on the ground," Amanda added.
"I don't know why-"
"Do you think they're having an affair?!" Amanda suddenly said eagerly.
Noah shook his head, "No way. Dad's hopelessly devoted to mom. He'd NEVER cheat on her."
Amanda scowled, "Well…maybe they have a secret past!"
"I've never heard anything about it-"
"That's why they call it SECRET," Amanda shook her head in amusement. "In any case, I think we should find out."
"How do you propose we do that?"
Amanda stared thoughtfully off into space before responding, "We do a little investigating. A few well-placed questions and well-timed eavesdropping sessions should do the trick."
"You really think there's something going on?"
Amanda grinned wickedly, "Only one way to find out!"
And with that the waiter arrived to take their orders, as they leaned eagerly across the table to discuss their plans.




Bennett Residence

"…So then this pen began to talk to me, and-"
Elizabeth clamped a hand over her sister's mouth, "She's recalling a nightmare she used to have when she was little."
Grace nodded and handed the younger girl another huge slice of pea soup pie. Stephanie cringed but managed a polite "thank you."
Jessica was eyeing her from across the table, before she finally spoke up, "You've been neglected by your family too?"
Grace simply smiled and continued cleaning up the table, humming to herself.
Stephanie nodded eagerly, "Oh yes. My family couldn't care less what I do, as long as it doesn't reach the tabloids."
"Would you believe I was tied up last night to a tree by an unknown assailant, my parents found me this morning, and they don't CARE?" Jessica exclaimed.
Stephanie shook her head sympathetically, "I know the feeling. A few years ago, this pen told me to kill my roommate, so I-"
"SO SHE decided to go to the doctor to see about her nightmares. Happens to a lot of kids," Elizabeth cut in, glaring at Stephanie.

Jessica shook her head, "My sister is evil and is constantly plotting against my cousin, and yet my parents don't notice. They think she's perfect. Of course…they neglect her too, which could be an explanation for her behavior."
"Did you ever find out who tied you up?"
Jessica shrugged, "Everyone says it was Charity. I guess she could have done it in her sleep…she does do strange things some time. But I wouldn't put it past my sister…"
Stephanie nodded.
"At least Reese was there to rescue me," Jessica smiled across the room at Reese, who was squinting at his tiny hand-held computer.
"You should date him," Stephanie said bluntly.
"Huh?" Jessica looked at her blankly, "He's Kay's boyfriend!"
Stephanie glanced over to where Kay was sitting with Simone, talking in hushed tones. Occasionally, the older girl threw a disgusted look in Reese's direction.
"Trust me," Stephanie grinned, "I don't think she'd mind."
Jessica shrugged.
Stephanie rubbed her hands together and grinned to herself, "I think I'll put operation "Plastic Surgery on Julian" on hold for a while. Looks like I've got myself another mission…"

"SAMMMMMM!" Grace suddenly howled, her high pitched making everyone in the room wince.
"She sounds like a dying sea lion," Elizabeth said to herself, chuckling, deciding that if, in fact, a dying sea lion made any noise at all, that was what it would sound like.
"SAMMMMMM!" Grace yowled again, already flinging open the door and embracing her uniform-clad husband.
Charity and Miguel watched the overtly sappy duo with big smiles on their faces, as they exchanged love-filled looks.
"Look at them!" Kay groaned, pointing towards her cousin with a disgusted noise, "She is SO not good for him!"
"Kay…don't even start. Haven't you done enough?" Simone sighed.
"I am not going to stop until Miguel is mine."
"Where have I heard this before?"
Elizabeth watched them both with a sly expression.

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