When Jolene arrived back at her apartment and was about to go inside for the night, she discovered a problem; her key was missing. Frantically, she searched her pockets and every corner of the inside of her purse, but it was nowhere to be found. She closed her eyes and tried to think back to where it could be. Was it lost somewhere at the park during the carnival or did she drop it somewhere in the Arrendale's house? She knew she could get a spare key from the landlord until she could hopefully find her key the next day, but a chilling thought hit her.
"Oh no," she groaned. What if she dropped the key in Lawrence's office and he found it before she did? How could she explain to her employer what she was doing in his private office? There was only one thing she could do, go back and hope to God that she found it before he did.
With his younger two children tucked into bed and his eldest still at the concert, Lawrence Arrendale's house was unusually quiet. The activities of the evening had kept him busy enough that he hadn't had a chance to think about the significance of the day. Now, with no other distractions to occupy his mind, the thoughts he had kept at bay had pushed their way to the forefront of his mind. In quiet moments like these his thoughts would often drift towards Eileen, but especially more so on days like today when her presence was especially missed.
Not only was this Eileen's favorite time of year, but it was nearing their anniversary, not the anniversary of their wedding, the anniversary that everyone knew about, but the anniversary of their secret elopement that had always been their 'real' anniversary, just for the two of them. It was also the anniversary of the day that he had lost her.
Lawrence was startled by the sound of a knock on the door. He had been expecting Artie to be home from the concert soon, but he wouldn't have expected his son to knock. He relaxed a little when he saw Jolene on the other side of the door.
"Oh, Mr. Arrendale, I'm so sorry to bother you, but -"
"You must have missed your key," he said, picking up the missing item from the hall table.
Jolene froze in a panic. "Where did you find it?"
"In Lance's room when I was tucking him in for the night."
Jolene breathed a sign of relief, but then frowned in confusion. Of all of the places to be, Lance's room was the last place she would have thought it would have been. "But how?"
"I'm afraid he took it as a prank. I'm sorry for the trouble."
Jolene brushed off the apology. "I'm just glad it's found," she said. And she was especially glad that she didn't have to go through with her plan to send Lawrence upstairs to look for the key while she tried to sneak back into his office while he wasn't looking. "I was afraid I might have dropped it at the carnival."
"I'm glad that wasn't the case."
"Me too," she agreed. But she would have rather have lost it there than had it found in Lawrence's office. "Well, I'd better get home-"
Crisis averted, she was ready to get out of there as soon as possible, but she couldn't help noticing that Lawrence seemed particularly down. "Is everything alright? I hope you aren't too upset with Lance. I know he's just testing me. We're still getting used to each other, but I'm not giving up on him."
Lawrence managed a weak smile. "No, it's just been a long day."
"Oh, sure," she said agreeably. "I'll get out of your way then." She knew she should be eager to go, but something was holding her back and she made no move to leave. "I know how hard it is to lose someone that you care about. I know it's not the same, but I lost both of my parents when I was young and it was really hard."
"So did I," Lawrence replied, almost absently. "And it's really not the same."
Lawrence shook his head, suddenly realizing how rude he must have sounded. "I didn't mean to diminish your loss," he added hastily. "When I lost my parents, my life was turned upside down. I had no one, but I learned how to manage. Then, years later when I met Eileen, I found a part of myself I didn't even know I had been missing. She was everything I wasn't and now . . ." he trailed off, not knowing how to finish that thought and not sure if he could continue it if he knew how.
Jolene felt her heart swell with sympathy for the man who stood in front of her. She wanted to reach out and touch his arm, but she held back. When the door knob beside her clicked, she jumped back, startled.
"Hey . . ." Artie said slowly as he looked back and forth between his father and the nanny. He felt like he was walking in on something, but didn't know what. He wasn't sure he wanted to know. "Hi, Dad. Hi, Miss Jolene. I'm surprised you're still here."
"I just came back for my key," she said holding up the item. "Luckily your dad found it for me. Well, I'd better get going. I'll see you both tomorrow."
As Jolene left, Artie looked at his dad questioningly.
"It's late. You'd better get ready for bed."
Vanessa looked up from her book as her husband walked into the bedroom. "How was the concert?"
"Loud," Logan replied with a sigh as he started to undress for bed. "I must be getting old."
"You don't look it from my angle," she said, laying her book aside. Logan just winked at her as he continued getting ready for bed.
"Did the kids have a good time, at least?"
"Artie did. Jenn tried, but she wasn't in the mood."
"Poor girl," Vanessa sighed. "She's really missing her mom, isn't she? I thought Lana was really making progress this time."
"She was - she is, I think," Logan corrected. "I know she's really trying for Jenn's sake at least, but addiction can be tough to beat. I'm glad she's finally at the recovery center getting help for it. I know Jenn's disappointed that she couldn't talk to her this week like she'd hoped, but maybe next will be better."
"I hope so. Jenn's been so great through all of this. She's a strong kid and lucky to have an uncle like you."
"And a terrific aunt like you," Logan added pointedly as he climbed into his side of the bed. "I don't deserve all of the credit here. Besides, I think I probably had the easier job tonight. How long did it take you to get the other two settled down enough to go to bed?"
"Oh, awhile," Vanessa admitted. "They were pretty wound up from the carnival. I thought the event went very well, didn't you?"
"Yes, I did," he agreed.
"Alma looked very well," Vanessa remarked. "I think working must agree with her. She she looked happier than I've ever seen her. She was positively glowing."
"I don't think Ed is so happy about it."
"Oh, you don't?" Vanessa sounded surprised. "Well, I'm sure it must be a big adjustment after Alma being home all these years . . . I wonder how it would be for us if I decided to resume my career and went back into acting?"
"If that's what you wanted, I would support you. I wouldn't mind holding down the fort while you're pursuing your passions."
Vanessa leaned in closer and wrapped her arms around him. "I know you would do a great job of it too. You do so much around here for me and the kids already. I am so lucky to have you."
Logan returned her embrace and as he leaned in to kiss her, muttered, "No, I'm the lucky one."
As Vince, Jeremy, Maura, and Judith walked home from the concert together they were surprised to find Vince's former friends waiting for him at the corner next to the Stuart's house.
"Hey, V, got a minute?" Scott called out.
Vince hesitated. He didn't really want to stop to talk to them and the concern in Maura's eyes made him want to keep on walking, but realistically, he didn't see any other choice.
"Yeah," he said. "You go on without me," he said to Jeremy and Judith. "Go on in the house, Maura."
No one said a word until the Wiltons were across the park on the way to their house and Maura was inside.
"What's up?" Vince asked, trying to sound cool.
"We haven't seen you around in ages. I'm starting to wonder if you're going out of your way to avoid us."
"Nah," Vince scoffed. "I've just been busy with school and stuff. I don't really get out much anymore."
"You were out tonight."
"Just with my little sister and her friends. It was no big deal."
"Well, listen. You need to find a little time in your busy schedule, because I'm going need your help on a little something again."
Vince sighed. "I don't know, man," he said hesitatingly. He really did want to cut ties with his old friends and keep on a better track, but they weren't easy to just say no to. He tried to choose his words carefully and keep his tone light. "I really do have a lot going on and my mom's really been on my case. I can't risk getting in any trouble right now or I'm done for."
"Don't tell me you're trying to bail out on us," Scott said, leaning forward threateningly. "Because you know that you are in this just as much as any of us and if we go down, you're going down with us, whether you help us this time or not."
"I'm not going to rat you out, okay," Vince promised. He didn't want any trouble, but he had made up his mind that he had to stand his ground. "I just have other things I have to do with myself right now. You can still trust me. I won't say a word to anyone about anything, but from here on, I'm out. I'm sorry, but that's how it's got to be."
Scott shook his head from side to side. "That's not good enough. You're in too deep to bail out now and you're the only one who can do what we need you to do. You can't just leave us hanging like this, not after all we've been through."
Vince shrugged and started to back away. "I'm sorry, but I'm done. You'll have to find someone else."
"No, you don't get out of this so easily. If you won't help us this time, we'll make sure that you regret it."
"Are you threatening me?" Vince asked.
"That's not just a threat, but a promise. You're either with us all the way or you're against us. If I don't hear from you again by the end of the week I'll know where you stand and you'll see firsthand what we do to those who betray us." He made a motion to his buddies and they walked off into the darkness. Leaving Vince to walk to his house alone, wondering if he'd made the right decision.