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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Lighthouse Park

Kay sat on a bench in the park, looking up to the stars, tears streaming down her face. Why was it that no one seemed to care about her? Miguel had his Charity, and now that she was gone, he was out somewhere with Elizabeth Crane. She had been somewhat intrigued by Bradley Hotchkiss, but it turned out that all he cared about was Elizabeth as well.
"What's so bad about me?" she asked with a sniffle, rubbing at her eyes.
A rustle behind her caused her to leap to her feet, alarmed, "Who's there?"

Nervous but curious at the same time, Kay moved in the direction of the noise. She stopped as she saw Ivy Crane wandering forlornly down one of the paths.
"Just her," Kay sighed and turned to head back to her bench. That was when she noticed two shadowy figures trailing behind Ivy.
"Who is that…"
As they passed under a light, the figures became obvious. Joshua and Bradley Hotchkiss. They were tiptoeing after Ivy Crane with evil grins plastered to their faces.
Kay sighed. She wanted nothing to do with Bradley Hotchkiss, not after the way he'd humiliated her at the party. As she turned to head away, she tripped over a branch and fell flat on her face.
"OOF!"
Bradley and Joshua exchanged glances. Ivy, hearing the noise, turned and spotted them, her eyes widening in horror before she bolted down the path, far, far away. Joshua took off in pursuit, but Bradley headed into the foliage, intent on discovering the source of the noise.
He found Kay sitting in the dirt, rubbing her ankle and wincing in pain.
"Hey," he said softly, crouching down beside her.
Kay glared at him, "What do you want?"

Bradley shrugged innocently, "I can't be concerned about you?"
"Why don’t you go look for Elizabeth?"
"Because I don't WANT to look for Elizabeth. I couldn't care less about Elizabeth."
Kay rolled her eyes, "Oh please. Spare me."
"I'm telling the truth," Bradley insisted, "My family expects either me or Joshua to date Elizabeth simply for the financial merger. But I really couldn't care less about her. When I saw you at the party, I…"
"You what?" Kay asked curiously.
"I was entranced," Bradley whispered, all traces of his evil façade gone, "You are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen."
Kay couldn't help but smile, in spite of her anger, "Really?"
"And I really hope that it wasn't me that made you cry like that," he touched her face, where a tear rolled down her cheek slowly.
Kay attempted once more to smile at him, "You mean that?"
Bradley puffed up his chest, "I am the most open and blunt person you will ever meet. And I'll let you in on a little secret…I HATE Elizabeth Crane."
Kay grinned, "Me too."
"Then we're even," Bradley smiled.
Kay shrugged, "I guess so."
"So you'll let me buy you a cup of coffee?"
Kay smiled as he held out his hand, helping her up.
"I'd like that," she said with a nod, as they headed back down the path.




Ivy breathed a sigh of relief as she saw Joshua Hotchkiss turn in a different direction and run towards a separate section of the park. She had had quite enough of those boys for one day. With a huff, she sat down by her and Sam's special rock, touching it reverently.
"Oh Sam…" she whispered, trailing her hand along the smooth stone, "Some day we'll be together…"
Perhaps it was force of habit, or perhaps it was her hopefulness getting the better of her, but Ivy found herself moving the loose stone over, knowing in her heart that Sam wouldn't have written to her, and yet still wishing…
Her breath caught in her throat as she looked down into the small space. A small folded slip of paper was carefully placed inside.
"Sam…" she was unable to contain her elation, reaching down with trembling fingers to pick up the note.

As she slowly, lovingly, unfolded the note, her mind ran through various scenarios that she would like to see happen. Perhaps Sam was writing to tell her that he was leaving Grace…or perhaps he just wanted an affair. Either way, she would be all too happy to oblige. With excitement pooling over in her eyes, she looked down at the note and began to read.

"What the—" Ivy blinked in surprise as she looked down at the words written on the paper. "Dear Amanda…AMANDA?!" Ivy scanned down the written words to the name that was signed at the bottom. "With all my love, NOAH BENNETT?!"
Ivy shook her head slowly. This was not happening. This was not happening. This could NOT be happening. And then she did the only thing she could truly be expected to do.
She fainted.




Lopez-Fitzgerald House

Paloma sighed as she strolled into the living room of her family's house, only to be greeted by the sight of Luis and Sheridan curled up on the couch, side by side, arms wrapped tightly around one another.
"Isn't that just adorable," she muttered, moving on towards her room. William was still on her mind. That damn rebel just wouldn't leave her alone…now he had somehow wiggled his way into her brain and wouldn't leave.
"Grrrrrrrr," Paloma stomped into Luis' room, which had become hers for the time being. She briefly considered calling Sara, and then figured that a midnight call to complain about some guy she didn't even LIKE was a bit extreme.
"Damn you, William Crane," she growled as she flopped down on the bed, hugging a pillow, "Damn you for bothering me so much that I can't help but think about you."
Then, as she stared up at the ceiling, thoughts running through her head, she finally drifted off into a fitful sleep.




Crane Mansion

"All right," Amanda whispered as she and Noah crept into the mansion, "Elaborate on this grand scheme of yours."
"Well, I think that we should—"
"OH MY GOD!" Amanda screamed.
Noah leapt back, startled, "What is it?"
She switched on the light, her blue eyes wide with fear. Noah followed her gaze and gasped.
Julian Crane was sprawled on the floor, his eyes staring sightlessly up at the ceiling.




Crane Mansion

Amanda bolted inside, dropping her pocketbook on the ground and crouching at her father's side.
"Father?" she shook him desperately, "FATHER!"
Noah stood, frozen, in the doorway, "What happened? Did he have a heart attack?"
Amanda shook her head, biting back tears as she felt for a pulse, "I don't know."
Noah ran towards the living room, grabbing the phone off the table and hurriedly dialing 911.
"Tell them to hurry!" Amanda yelled, still crouched at Julian's side.
Noah hung up the phone and hurried back over to where Amanda was, "The ambulance is on its way."
He paused as something caught his eye, "What's this?" Noah stooped over to pick up a few shards of porcelain on the ground.
"It looks like a plate broke…" Amanda was confused. She glanced down and furrowed her brow in confusion as she saw a fork clutched in Julian's stiff hand.
Noah bent over and examined some crumbs on the floor, "Oh god."
"What is it?" Amanda's voice was shaking as she hovered over Julian's prone form.
"This," Noah held up a smushed up piece of cake, "Is my mother's tomato soup cake."

Amanda blinked, "That CAKE did this to him?!"
"What's going on?" Amanda and Noah glanced up to see Stephanie standing innocently before them, having just emerged from the living room.
"Father…" Amanda's voice cracked, "The ambulance is on its way."
Stephanie leaned against the door, "Wonder what happened to him," she said idly.
Amanda suddenly narrowed her eyes, "Stephanie, how long have you been home?"
She shrugged, "I dunno…a few hours."
"I hear the sirens," Noah piped up from the doorway.
Amanda nodded and then looked over to her sister again, but Stephanie had disappeared.




Lighthouse Park

A ringing noise awoke Ivy from a wonderful illusion where she was dancing in a grand ballroom with Sam, his arms wrapped around her.
"Sam…" she murmured, slowly becoming conscious of the hard ground underneath her. She coughed as grass tickled her nose and slowly opened her eyes, only to come face to face with a chipmunk, who was staring at her curiously.
"AHHHHHH!" Ivy squealed in surprise, startling the chipmunk away. Finally becoming aware of the persistent ringing, she reached into her pocket and pulled out her cell phone, sitting up blearily.
"Hello?"
"Mother, this is William."
Ivy groaned and rubbed her head, "What is it?"
"Mother, Father is in the hospital."
"He's WHAT?! Why?"
William sounded distraught, "He's in a coma…getting his stomach pumped."
"Dear lord, did he finally drink too much brandy for that feeble mind of his to handle?"
William coughed, "Um…no. Seems he ingested a toxic piece of Grace Bennett's tomato soup cake."

Ivy blinked, "WHY would he eat that?!"
"Mother, just because I am a rebel doesn't mean that I have all the answers. Just hurry to the hospital before they disconnect the life support."
"He's on LIFE SUPPORT?!"
"Mother, it's serious! Now get down here!"
Ivy stood, stunned, as William hung up on the other end. Then she turned and wobbled towards the exit of the park.




Lopez-Fitzgerald House

"Paloma, get up and get dressed, we're going to the hospital," Luis said loudly from the doorway, rousing Paloma from a peaceful sleep.
"Hmmph," she murmured, burrowing further under the covers, not quite ready to leave her dream.
"PALOMA!"
She shot straight up in the air, "WHAT?!"
"Sheridan's brother is in the hospital, and we're going there right now."
"I thought you hated Julian Crane," Paloma sounded baffled.
Luis shrugged his shoulders, "That doesn't matter right now. He might die, and I have to get Sheridan over there. Now COME ON."
Paloma harrumphed and slid out of bed, stomping over to her suitcase and yanking out a shirt and a pair of jeans. Luis nodded at her and closed the door, heading back into the living room.

"Well Stephanie," Paloma muttered as she yanked on the jeans, "I guess you won, after all. But damn you for having this interrupt the most WONDERFUL dream…"
She paused briefly to think back to the dream, which was still fresh in her memory. She and William weren't fighting…they were kissing…and kissing, and kissing….
"PALOMA!" Luis yelled through the door, "Are you ready?!"
Snapping out of her daze and whacking herself in the forehead with the heel of her hand for thinking such ridiculous thoughts, Paloma headed out the door.




Harmony Hospital

Eve stood grimly outside the door to the intensive care unit, watching as Ivy Crane hurried up, looking as if she had just woken up. Blades of grass stuck out of her tousled blond hair, and a smudge of dirt was on one cheek.
"Ivy—" she attempted.
"Is he alive?" Was all Ivy said, breezing past Eve and into the room. She paused with shock at the sight of Julian lying on the bed, looking pale, a tube down his throat. His heart monitor beeped steadily, and the only sign of life was the squiggly green line.
"Ivy—" Eve tried again, "I ran a toxicological exam…it wasn't an allergic reaction to the tomato soup cake as we all thought in the beginning."
Ivy glanced from her comatose husband to the woman she had spent so many months torturing, "Then what was it?"
Eve coughed, "He was…well…He was poisoned."
"Poisoned?!" Ivy squeaked in shock, "Who on earth would poison Julian?!"
Eve coughed, "Let's be serious, Ivy."

Ivy shrugged helplessly, plopping down in a small chair next to where Julian was lying. She briefly considered taking his hand, but then decided that while their relationship had been improving somewhat over the past few days, she was not about to engage in a public display of affection. Even if he WAS dying. Ivy sighed to herself. The thought of Julian dying was inconceivable to her. She loathed and despised the man, but she had, in her own way, come to love him, even if the love she so secretly held in her heart was nothing like the love she had shared with Sam. Despite what she told Eve about how Sam was all she'd ever wanted, she could not imagine waking up every morning without Julian there to bug the hell out of her, or to amuse her with some other outlandish action.
"Ivy, about this poisoning—" Eve's voice was dead serious.
Ivy finally caught the undercurrent to Eve's statement, "You don't think that I would poison him!"
"You've made it known on many occasions how much you despise Julian—"
"But I wouldn't want to KILL him!" Ivy was horrified, "Surely you don't think that I could—"
Eve held up her hands, "All right, Ivy, I believe you. But the police are going to look into this, and—"
"I know who did it," Amanda spoke up from the corner of the room.

The eldest Crane female stepped forward, her mascara running down her cheeks with her tears. She wiped at her eyes with a determined look, gritting her teeth as she looked out at Eve and Ivy.
"Stephanie was home," Amanda said with a defeated sigh.
Ivy covered her mouth with her hand, "Good god, I thought she was over that!"
"Apparently not."
Ivy, feeling faint, put her hands out to lean against the hospital bed, "Elizabeth was supposed to be keeping an eye on her!"
Amanda shrugged, "I haven't seen Elizabeth for a while."
"Neither have I," William piped up, looking terrified underneath that baseball cap.
"Just WHAT are you talking about?!" Eve finally demanded.
Ivy heaved a huge sigh and glanced back down at the bed at Julian, before looking back up to Eve. With a deep breath, she said in a rush, "My youngest daughter Stephanie is a homicidal maniac who has made it her life's goal to murder Julian."
Eve blinked in surprise.

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