INSIDE THE WOODCUTTER'S COTTAGE AT MAISON BLANCHE:
Even as the pain grew sharper and increased in intensity with every breath, Sami’s squinting eyes remained locked with E.J.’s as his calm, inviting face and soothing voice of encouragement offered reassuring warmth despite the frightening prospect she found herself in giving birth before the expected due date and in a strange place. Never did he stop staring at her and smiling almost to the point that it would have made her blush with self-consciousness if her face wasn’t already flushed from the ordeal.
Eventually though her concentration would be broken with the faint noise of someone else in the room that she would remember was Lexie and she would hear E.J.’s voice speak to this person in a much more serious tone than when he whispered to her.
Sami didn’t know what they were saying, but noticed E.J. turn his head nervously toward the window as they could hear a loud crash. Suddenly, she remembered the smoke and the flames and whispering something about a diary before everything went dark.
“My mother,” she whispered as a tear streamed down her cheek.
E.J. impulsively bent down and kissed the tear away.
“She’ll be all right,” E.J. insisted. “Everything will be all right.”
Sami was unconvinced and began panicking, even as E.J. lovingly stroked her hair and resumed attempting to help her breathe. Lexie hovered nearby with ominous warnings she whispered in his ear about Sami’s dangerous blood pressure levels and it became more of a struggle to coax Sami to breathe through her sobs. E.J. began to be consumed with worry even as he tried his best to keep up the brave face for Sami.
“Samantha, I know you are worried for your mother and I am, too, my darling,” E.J. said. “But right now this baby needs you, HIS mother, to breathe with me so we can bring him into this world.”
He paused as his lip quivered with fear that he could lose his family before ever truly having the right to consider them that.
“I need you, Samantha,” E.J. sighed.
Sami had never seen E.J. more vulnerable in that moment as she looked up at him and he turned his head and the shadows cast by the moonlight betrayed a single tear streaming down his cheek.
To E.J.’s surprise, Sami reached for his face to pull him toward her and she kissed the tear away just as she had his before she resumed breathing steadily as the sobs melted away.
But just as Lexie told E.J. it was time for Sami to start pushing, a loud thumping noise could be heard at the door followed by the sound of someone seeming to try to ram into it to break it down.
“Sami! E.J.! Open up! I know you’re in there!” a crazed man yelled.
“What in the world?” Lexie asked.
“Lucas,” E.J. muttered bitterly.
“Lucas?” Sami asked delirious with pain and not remembering her husband.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart,” E.J. said kissing her on the forehead. “I’ll take care of this and be right back before you know it. In the meantime, just do what Lexie says and you’ll be O.K.”
Sami writhed in pain, but did as Lexie instructed her pushing as hard as she could at the same time E.J. tended to the door.
Lucas was startled as he lunged toward the door in another attempt to ram it when to his surprise the door flung open at him sending him backward to fall on the ground.
E.J. stepped outside and shut the door behind him and blocked it with his large, though slender frame.
“I need to see Sami! What have you done to her? I need to talk to her, to see she’s all right,” Lucas yelled in somewhat garbled speech that E.J. thought must have been distorted by his earlier drinking or an excessive amount of smoke inhalation or both.
“That’s fine, Lucas, but what Samantha needs and what her baby needs is not some crazed idiot yelling in her face as she is trying to give birth when her blood pressure is already at dangerous levels,” E.J. said rationally.
“She’s having the baby?” Lucas said stupidly.
“Yes,” E.J. said. “And that is stressful enough without you making an appearance at the birth and injecting all of your drama about me and her into this so if you ever cared about Samantha at all I suggest you leave and I promise you that we’ll all resolve this like adults after Samantha and the baby are healthy and rested and this whole ordeal is over.”
“Oh, I’m gonna resolve this all right,” Lucas snickered as he tried to sidestep E.J. and make a run for the door. “Sami! I’m coming for you!”
Before E.J. could think about what he was doing, his right hand clenched into a fist, he bent his elbow back and then swung his forearm forward connecting to Lucas’s jaw with a fierce uppercut. Lucas’s eyes rolled back in his head and he fell to the ground in a heap.
“Why didn’t I do this a long time ago?” E.J. laughed to himself as he shook off the tingling in his hand and stepped back inside the cottage.
OUTSIDE MAISON BLANCHE:
“Don’t go, Tony,” Anna said caressing his face as tears welled up in her eyes. “Marlena is already in there. And John. And Lucas. And Roman. Their lives are all in danger because of your vain attempts to save that sick, old man. And I am not going to let that monster have one more person potentially lose their life because of his evil and manipulation. Especially not when that person could be you.”
As Tony looked on Anna’s face he was shocked to find no trace of anger or judgment for the horrible things he’d done, but pity. He couldn’t understand how she could pity him. At least not until he realized it was because she still loved him, and his eyes too began to well up with tears as he placed his hand over hers.
“Oh, Anna, what have I done?” Tony said as he felt his hardened heart begin to melt as if some spell Stefano had cast over him all these years to keep him wicked and bitter and alone just faded away with one touch from his true love.
“Yes, Tony, what have you done?” Kate screamed, shattering Tony’s moment of melancholic reflection and replacing it with shame. “Where the hell is my son?”
“I don’t know,” Tony said honestly. “He wasn’t with me when the fire started. Apparently he was upset about Sami’s closeness to E.J. and started drinking and in inebriated clumsiness knocked over some candles igniting the blaze.”
Anna raised one eyebrow askew as that bit about the booze seemed to confirm the gossip she had heard about her ex-son-in-law, but said nothing.
“Well what does it matter how the fire started?” Kate shrieked defensively.
“I’m truly sorry, Kate,” Tony whispered before bolting toward the mansion.
But just as he was about to reach for the door inside, the building began groaning and seemed to teeter unable to support its own weight.
“Tony look out!” Anna screamed.
While Tony covered his face with his forearm in shock, Anna raced up to him and pulled him back before the flaming debris falling off the collapsing structure could strike them.
The four of them watched the flames rage and then fade until the fire began to burn itself out having consumed practically the entire mansion. While the rubble smoldered, they sat in shocked silence aside from the quiet weeping coming from Kate.
“Lucas is gone,” Kate said crying. “My son is dead. Oh why did you have to bring him here, Celeste?”
Celeste frowned. She now realized that her tarot reading anticipating a fool to trigger the tower’s destruction would not have come true had she not played a role in bringing Lucas to Maison Blanche. But still, something told her Lucas was not among the dead.
“Kate, I’m sorry, but we don’t even know what happened to him,” Celeste said. “Maybe he followed Sami out to the woodcutter’s cottage.”
“You think it’s possible?” Kate said sniffling.
Kate removed her high heel pumps and began running across the grounds of the mansion back toward the cottage. Tony, Anna and Celeste followed behind her but at a more leisurely pace as they lacked Kate’s optimistic urgency.
Trailing behind her the distance of about a football field they still heard Kate scream loud and clear when she came across the slumping figure in front of the cottage door.
“Lucas, can you hear me?” Kate asked lighting patting his cheek. “Lucas. Are you there?”
Lucas started to rouse from his unconsciousness just as Tony, Anna and Celeste made their way up to the cottage.
“Oh Lucas, you’re alive! Thank God!” Kate cried. “Was it the smoke that knocked you unconscious?”
“No… it was… uhhhh… it was a… fist,” Lucas groaned as he sat up, rubbing his chin.
Just then a cloud moved from in front of the moon allowing the bright light to show Lucas’s face more clearly in the darkness of the night and Kate finally noticed the bruise developing along Lucas’s jaw.
“Listen, Tony, I can’t take any more of this,” Kate turned to him and said furiously. “I want out of Mythic. Now. And if you want to keep me from pressing charges for what your crazy family did to my son or going to the SEC with what I know about your family’s creative accounting practices then I suggest you pay double what our shares are worth when you buy out our stock in the company.”
“You want me to buy out both of you?” Tony asked.
“Oh so if I left Mythic you were still planning on keeping Lucas as an executive vice president?” Kate scoffed.
Tony looked at the still dazed and confused idiot still rubbing his face and realized while the stock buyout would be extremely costly it would definitely be worth it to no longer have to worry about Lucas’s drinking and unprofessional behavior slowing down the company.
“Well, no, I guess not,” Tony said with a sigh.
“Then it’s settled,” Kate insisted. “I’ll be in touch with you so you know where you can wire the money. Come on Lucas, we need to get out of here so we can call Billie. The last time I talked to her she said they are opening a New York branch of Countess Wilhelmina soon and I bet she would give it to us to run if we asked.”
Lucas nodded, still aloof and in shock at all that had happened that night, but he allowed himself to be escorted by his mother across the grounds and toward Kate's rental car before the two of them left behind Maison Blanche and their lives in Salem for good.