Episode 14: "On The Line"
Part One

Blount Building, Grayson Realties Office

"I can have you living under the overpasses of the interstate with just a snap of my fingers," Penelope Grayson's menacing gray eyes glowed with fury. "Don't forget that I own the very apartment complex you inhabit. You owe me five month's rent, and you have the audacity to try to pay me back with my own money! I should throw you off the top of this building right now, Parkherst."

Nina's bottom lip trembled as she struggled to hold back her tears. She knew the severity of the crime she had committed. She knew that she could lose everything if she didn't satisfy Penelope's every whim.

"But I'm not as heartless as you think, Parkherst," Penelope softened slightly. "I'm willing to give you a chance to, well, redeem yourself. Are you listening to me?"

Nina had no choice. She nodded her head quickly.

"You know Kendra Blake really well, am I right?"

"Yes, yes, I do," Nina responded immediately, a tinge of hope in her voice.

"Well, you're going to deliver to me an agreeable collection of converted investors from her company, all who are willing to purchase stock in our company after selling their share of Blake stock to me." She giggled deliriously. "Not only will I have taken her investors, I'll own a part of her company! Fabulous...genius...ahhh, me."

Nina's jaw dropped, an aghast look contorting her face.

"You will do this, or you're finished."

Nina hung her head, tears streaming down her cheeks, and submitted to Penelope's will.

Part Two

Outside the Blount Building

Jake pushed through the main door of the Blount Building lobby and stepped onto the sidewalk. Traffic on the sidewalk had increased at the same rate as the traffic of the street. Bustling by were those fortunate enough to leave work before rush hour. Who knows, Jake thought, I could be joining the ranks of these downtowners real soon.

"Jake! Jake!" A familiar voice called from behind. Jake turned around and smiled when he was greeted by Kendra's radiant smile. "Hi! I thought I saw you coming down the lobby escalator. I've been wanting to talk to you."

Jake couldn't hide his thrilled feelings, increasing the wattage in his smile. "Oh? In regards to?"

"Remember when I told you that I would try to get Blake Industries to join the ownership buying the Tempests next year? Well, it looks like it's all going to be definite! Now I know I should have had my public relations secretary contact you, but I thought I'd ask you myself." Kendra's eyes glowed with anticipation.

Jake was perturbed. "Ask me what?"

Kendra looked taken aback. "Well, I know you work for the sports section of the Tribune. I thought you would like to write the feature article on the investment, or purchase, or whatever. Well, will you?"

The pleading look in Kendra's eyes stabbed Jake painfully in his heart. "I can't, Kendra," Jake said sorrowfully. "I was laid off from the Tribune last week."

"Oh?" Kendra's cheeks flushed scarlet with embarrassment. "I'm so sorry, Jake. I had no idea." She laid a hand on his shoulder. "Are you doing all right?"

The pain subsided upon her touch and Jake felt instant relief. "Yeah, I'm great. Actually, that's why I'm here. I was just putting in an application and résumé for X-Tech."

Kendra smiled approvingly. "Well, you look great, I mean for someone who just lost their job. I mean, well," she stammered, laughing nervously. "You are so strong to bounce back like that." She beamed admiringly. "Well, I should be going. Good luck with X-Tech."

"Thanks, Kendra," Jake's heart fluttered. "See ya."

Kendra turned back to wave as she stepped off the curb. Her expensive powder blue Jimmy Choo stiletto heel slipped to catch itself between the metal bars of a drainage grate in the curb. She tugged her leg to dislodge the heel but it wouldn't budge.

"Do you need help?" Jake asked, concerned.

Kendra declined. "That's all right. I can manage." She yanked her leg one last time, snapping the heel off her shoe. Taken by surprise, Kendra was thrown into the middle of the street by the force of her own momentum.

"KENDRA!" Jake hollered, racing into the street and shoving Kendra to the other side of the road. Kendra fell backwards against the curb and looked back at Jake, who was left standing in the middle of the traffic. The driver of a large van, not expecting a pedestrian in the road, slammed on the brakes.

"JAAAAAKE!" Kendra screamed, reaching her hand out. Jake turned his head toward the direction of the van's screeching wheels as the van collided with him. The impact hurled Jake's body through the air. Kendra's bloodcurdling screams rang down the street but were not outdone by the sickening thud of Jake's body smashing against the pavement.

Kendra scrambled to her feet and raced to Jake's side. Tears cascading from her eyes, she couldn't bear the graphic position in which Jake's body was contorted. She screamed for help, "Someone call an ambulance!"

Part Three

Blount Building, Lana's Office, Fi-Lo Office Supply Company Executive Suite

"You told Adam and his parents that you didn't want to have children?" Lana repeated Stacia's words, flabbergasted. "You never told me that." She clutched the arms of her chair, leaning forward as if to hear Stacia better.

Stacia wished she had never revealed the notion to anyone. "Well, yes, but when Adam's mother started going on and on about how excited she was about having grandchildren, I couldn't let her believe something that's not going to happen..."

"But how could you tell them that? Did Adam know?" The news had trouble sinking into Lana's beliefs, and she questioned it defensively.

"Well..."Stacia reluctantly began. "We have never really discussed it before. Well, we might make a comment about it, but never actually delved into it in detail..."

"But you guys have been together for three years, and you've been planning to get married. I would have thought that the matter would have popped up for extensive discussion at least twice..." Lana trailed off when she noticed the tearful, distraught expression on Stacia's face. "I'm so sorry, sweetie. Has Adam talked to you since you had dinner with his parents?"

"No, but I'm afraid now. I think that this is going to split us apart for good." Stacia sobbed, allowing her tears to flow freely.

Lana's heart felt stung, wanting to reach out to her best female friend. She quickly rose from her chair, hurried to Stacia's side, and wrapped her arms around her. "Sweetie, sweetie, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said those things. Look, look," Lana pulled Stacia's head to focus on hers. Taking a deep breath, she continued," Sometimes we find ourselves trudging through life in ways that people think are unorthodox. But the mistakes that we make are the ones where we don't pursue our dreams, not live our lives the way we want to just because people think it's unorthodox. I mean, the best thing about choosing our own paths is that we learn for ourselves, and we can truly call it our journey. There's nothing wrong with your not wanting to have children. That's the choice you've made for yourself, and we'll respect your decision."

Stacia smiled weakly. "Thanks, Lana." But her strength weakened more and she bawled, "But I don't want to lose him." She sobbed, then wept, before whispering "I love him so much." Stacia's head hung sadly and Lana could feel her own eyes swelling.

"LANA!" Mae burst into Lana's office, panting, her eyes wide with fright.

"What is it, Mae?" Lana asked, both annoyed by Mae's intrusion and curious about Mae's fright.

Mae could hardly breathe. She managed to choke out. "It's Jake. There's been an accident. He's in the hospital."


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