Previously on Montecito: The court case for Robert Williams has begun and Beth takes the stand for the prosecution; Noah provides some support for Beth; Ava and Beth reconnect and attend Josh and Jace’s going-away party; Roman Clark makes a startling discovery about Claire McKellar.
Does Roman Clark reopen the past by seeking out Claire?Click To Reveal Results
Cameron Mansion, Montecito Hills
Kim Cameron set down the jug of iced tea, completing the table setting. She had already placed water glasses and the platter of fruit kabobs she’d picked up at the grocery store earlier that morning. She nodded with satisfaction at her display. Welcoming and friendly.
Kim was going to do something she hadn’t done in quite some time – entertain. It wasn’t because she didn’t enjoy being the hostess. When she was still Mrs. Tom Cameron, her home was known for having quite the parties, often lasting into the wee hours of the morning. This didn’t change even after the children came along. Tom and Kim made sure the nannies were on the clock until the next day, taking care of the girls so they could be free of adult responsibilities as long as there were guests in the house. Since the divorce, however, her parties hadn’t been quite so grand. And since her daughter announced her unexpected pregnancy, they suddenly got a lot smaller and even less frequent.
It wasn’t the pregnancy that bothered Kim so much. There were ways to deal with that. It was all the questions that came along with the pregnancy. Questions that Kim didn’t have the answers to, mostly because Nicole wouldn’t say who the father was. Of course, this is the first question out of everyone’s mouth. If not that, then “When are you due?”, which is really just a way of turning back the months and figuring out who Nicole was dating at the time. The problem, however, is that Nicole was dating Noah at the time and she claims he is not the father. So, that leads to questions of who she was cheating on Noah with. Nicole vehemently denies this whole scenario, simply stating she met someone right after breaking up with Noah.
Kim didn’t buy it.
But, Kim was a good actress and her disappointment in her daughter’s predicament was well hidden from both her girls. She kept a neutral face throughout the whole discussion and managed to not scold or blurt out her true thoughts which were, “How the hell does anyone get pregnant by accident in this day and age? Contraception is practically falling from the sky for heaven’s sake! Do you realize how much you’ve just changed your future?” And of course, the most heartbreaking reality, I’m too young to be a grandmother! No. Those comments stayed in her vault. If she’d let even half of what she truly thought out, Nicole was liable to take off and go live with her father. Kim would shave her hair off before she’d allow Tom the chance to swoop in and save the day. Especially after cutting off her alimony and slashing the girl’s allowances. Besides, Kim had already figured out a solution.
“Who’s coming over?” asked Kate, setting down her things and reaching for the kabob with the largest strawberry on the end.
“Claire McKellar,” said Kim, slapping her daughter’s hand away from the fruit.
“Claire McKellar? As in the could-have-been-the-next-dead-wife of Robert Williams?”
“Yep. The one and only.”
“Why? I didn’t know you two were friends,” said Kate as she peered into the fridge looking for an apple.
“We’re not. But by the end of today, we will be.”
“By the end of today?” Kate closed the fridge and leaned against it, staring at her mother with suspicion. “What are you up to, mother?”
“I’m an actress, Kate. What do you think I’m up to?” Kim rolled her eyes and rested her hands on her hips. “I’m looking for a role, obviously. Possibly the role of the year. And if the role won’t come to me, I will bring it to the producers myself!”
Kim looked at her watch. 1:30 pm. Shit, she’d be here any minute.
“Mother, I’m surprised!” smiled Kate slyly.
“Yes. Surprised I didn’t think of if it first,” laughed Kate.
“You still have time to work on your skills darling.” Kate smiled, reaching out and pinching her daughter’s cheek playfully. “One day, grasshopper. One day. But now you have to go. I don’t want you distracting me.” Kim pushed her daughter towards the back door just as the doorbell rang.
“Okay, okay,” said Kate reaching for her keys and raising her hands in surrender.
Kim closed the back door behind Kate, watching her daughter retreat to the garage. She drew in a deep breath and exhaled slowly, plastering on her best smile and headed for the door. Kim had never spent any time with Claire alone before. She’d really only seen her at a few functions as they didn’t seem to travel with the same crowd. This is why Kim was surprised at how easy it was to get Claire to come over. She just had to make sure Claire felt comfortable and safe...and that she was in a sharing mood. Kim looked back at the table and wondered if wine would have been a better choice. No, it’s too early. That would seem tacky.
Kim walked past the mirror hanging in the entrance and stopped a brief moment to examine her features one more time. With the right hair color, a new bob hairdo, and some blue contact lenses, I would be a perfect Claire.
“Hi, Claire, I’m so glad you could make it!” announced Kim rather grandly. She tried to keep her smile warm and inviting.
“Thanks for the invite. I can’t tell you how nice it was to get your call. It seems I’ve become somewhat of a pariah since this whole mess began,” shrugged Caire, following Kim into the kitchen.
“Well, you know how people can be,” sympathized Kim, indicating for Claire to take a seat at the large kitchen table. Kim figured the casual kitchen atmosphere would help Claire feel more comfortable.
“No, actually. I don’t think you know what people are truly like until they are tested,” said Claire, taking the seat Kim indicated. “People I thought were my friends have dropped off the face of the earth. People I thought I could trust, I’m not so sure about anymore.”
This was easier than Kim had expected. She thought it would take at least thirty minutes of idle chit chat to get Claire into a ‘safe friend zone’ where she would feel like Kim could be trusted. Then after investing some time, a shopping trip, getting a manicure - then maybe Claire would begin to really open up. This was too easy. Claire was so desperate to talk to someone she was opening up right now!
Kim had a feeling that her trust had been broken by someone other than her so-called friends. But who? Was she talking about her soon to be convicted husband? Was she referring to her backstabbing daughter?
Don’t ask - let her tell you.
Kim leaned in conspiratorially. “That’s so true!” she agreed. “As soon as rumors start, it’s often the people you hold closest that turn on you. It’s how the press get their dirt. They never ask your neighbors questions! No, they go after your hairdresser, your esthetician, your friends, your hired help.” Kim nodded knowingly as though she’d been dealing with scandals her whole life as an actress. “That’s why I don’t let anyone in the house that isn’t family.” Kim reached over the table and patted Claire’s hand affectionately. “And friends that can be trusted, of course,” she added.
“How do you do that? What about the people who work for you?” asked Claire.
“I got rid of them ages ago. Half the rumors were coming from them, I swear. One day I was dating this person, the next day I was dating that one.” Kim rolled her eyes, as though the whole thing was so trivial. “So I got rid of them. It’s been so much calmer since then,” lied Kim. The reality was she had no money to pay her staff since the alimony dried up, but she wasn’t about to let Claire know that.
“Smart.” Claire nodded.
“Oh don’t get me wrong. There are days when I wish I could bring back that magic laundry basket.”
“Magic laundry basket?” asked Claire. She took a sip of the iced tea Kim had placed on the table.
“Yes. You know, the basket you’d throw dirty things into and two days later it would magically show up clean and neatly folded in your drawer, waiting for you.”
Both women laughed aloud. Claire felt a weight lift off her chest. It felt good to laugh again.
“You know, it wasn’t that long ago that I was the only laundry fairy in our tiny apartment,” smiled Claire.
“What? No! You didn’t always have money?” asked Kim, genuinely surprised. She knew that Claire had married up but not to that degree. She shuddered at the image of a tiny, cluttered apartment she conjured in her head.
“No. I didn’t come from money. I was a single parent for the most part. Jim was always away and money was always tight. Jim was my first husband and Beth’s father. When he finally left for good he didn’t bother sending any child support. So it was all up to me,” sighed Claire. She was sure this was the first time she’s spoken of her old life to anyone in Montecito. Normally guarded, Claire was too tired to care anymore. She was tired of not talking. Tired of hiding. Tired of all the demands and rules of what she could and couldn’t say coming from her husband and now the lawyer, David Moore. And then there was Beth. Claire had had enough of the tiptoeing they did around each other. Of every conversation turning into a fight.
Kim closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. “Well, Nicole will soon find out for herself what that’s like,” said Kim, knowing that Nicole’s unfortunate circumstance could work in her favor. It would put Claire in a position of giving advice to someone else, which she probably needed to do.
Claire looked up at Kim in surprise. She didn’t think Kim would even mention Nicole’s predicament, let alone so casually. Even through all the chaos of the trial, the gossip surrounding Nicole’s pregnancy had reached Claire. She thought for a moment before responding delicately, “It’ll be tough, for sure. But she has a good network of people who will help her and she won’t have to worry about whether or not there’s enough food to last the week. She’ll have bad days and she’ll be exhausted, but she’ll always have you there to help her through it all,” smiled Claire.“Is she nervous at all?”
“Not as nervous as I am for her. She’s blissfully ignorant of what’s coming,” said Kim. “These girls think the biggest problem that comes with having a baby is finding a matching outfit. Like it’s an accessory!” Kim shook her head. “They have no idea how much work they are. I don’t think she’s even been around a baby, to be honest. She won’t even know how to change a diaper,” said Kim, knowing full well she herself probably didn’t change more than a diaper or two with either of her children. But this was not the kind of thing she could divulge to a woman who was her own laundry fairy until marrying Robert. How sad.
“Oh,” said Claire, quite sure Beth was not this naive. “Won’t she have a nanny to help?”
“Yes, I’m sure Tom will insist on it. But even with a nanny, parenting isn’t easy,” replied Kim.
This was good. Very good. But Kim didn’t want to dwell on Nicole’s situation. She needed Claire to get back to her own feelings.
“Have you been finding the press overbearing? I can help you with that, you know,” Kim offered.
“Yes! I can’t stand them! They’re constantly photographing, I don’t know what, mind you. How many photos could one need of me walking into the house? Or walking into the courtroom? Honestly, I’m just walking - one foot in front of the other! One photo should suffice!”
“I know! It’s crazy right?” agreed Kim, secretly wishing she could relate to Claire’s paparazzi problem. She reached out and took a fruit kabob, hoping that would signal to Claire she could help herself. Kim thought about how she could lead Claire into a deeper conversation. Something that would give her more insight into the character of Claire McKellar.
Claire watched as Kim plucked a blueberry off the spit and popped it into her mouth. She seemed so kind and genuine. How could this woman be the mother of that temperamental Nicole? Although, once Claire really thought about it, she had to recognize that mothers can’t control what their daughters say or do. She should know.
“You know, all this is just getting to be too much,” confided Claire as a tear rolled down her cheek.
Kim snatched a napkin and passed it to Claire.
There it was.
The fly was in the web and not even struggling.
Roman Clark’s Townhome, Montecito Suburbs
It had been several days since Roman Clark saw his beloved Claire on the newscast, but he still couldn’t get her out of his thoughts. She consumed him. Was she doing okay? Did she need someone to talk to? To lean on? Should he go visit her? Would she even recognize him? Worse, would she laugh at him and send him on his way?
Roman shook his head, trying desperately to erase the worries that plagued his brain. He chuckled as the image of his favorite childhood toy came to mind - a red etch-a-sketch. If only he could shake his head like that old toy and erase all that was written there.
Roman picked up the old photo and studied Claire’s beautiful face and those eyes he had loved. He sighed. He could see the resemblance between Claire and Beth now, and it was all in those eyes. How did I miss that? Is that why I was so angry at her all the time? Because she reminded me, subconsciously, of the only woman I’ve ever truly loved? Of the only one to rip my heart out of my chest and stomp it all to pieces? Because I was never good enough, was I?
Roman cursed softly and began pacing the room. What the hell am I thinking? I can’t go see Claire! Why would I? So that she can take the last shred of my heart, and dignity for that matter, and shit all over it?
No thank you!
Roman threw down the photo and went in search of a good Merlot. He perused his wine collection slowly, pulling out a bottle here and there to examine the label more closely. Just the sight of all those bottles carefully lined up in the rack made him smile. He had quite the collection now and he enjoyed this little ritual. Picking the perfect wine to match his mood. Roman sifted through all the choices, nothing really piquing his interest. Finally, he reached down to the bottom row, in the far left corner and pulled out the bottle.
A seemingly inconsequential Cabernet Sauvignon. However, on the label, in faded black sharpie, was written ‘For you, my love. Claire.’
Roman dropped crossed-legged on the floor, cradling the bottle in his hands and the years melted away. He was back in his old crappy apartment and he could see Claire’s face as she handed the bottle to him from behind her back. She was so excited to give it to him, and she had watched his face as he read the words of endearment on the bottle. To anyone else, it was just a typical note from a girlfriend, but for Roman and Claire, it was something entirely else.
It was the first time that Claire had said she loved Roman. She was in love with him, Roman Clark!
“Claire! Do you mean it?” he had asked, staring dumbfoundedly at the bottle in his hands.
“Yes! Silly! Of course, I do! I love you, Roman!” She rushed into his arms and kissed him.
Roman looked down at the bottle now and wiped the thick layer of dust away. He traced the words Claire wrote with his finger. “Yes, I’m good enough for her! In fact, I’m better than that idiot Williams! Not only is he a sub-par math professor, he’s a murdering son of a bitch! I’m Dean Roman Clark of Montecito College, for God’s sake! I’ve made something of myself and I certainly haven’t had to kill anyone to get here! Claire will see that! She’ll probably come running straight into my arms, crying, wanting me to take care of her, even go to court with her to hear Robert’s verdict!” Roman laughed and stood to look for his keys. He was going to see Claire right now.
Roman was practically giddy as he drove to the Williams mansion up in Montecito Hills. While he hadn’t much need to venture into this neighborhood before, the GPS on his older model Volvo wouldn’t fail him. All the way to Claire’s, Roman fantasized several scenarios, all of which ended with Claire sobbing on his shoulder.
He pulled up the opulent drive and nearly lost his nerve. “Jesus, that’s a big house!” Roman muttered, turning off his ignition. His Volvo had the audacity to sputter a little as the engine shut off, like it too was intimidated by the estate. He stepped out of the car and knocked resolutely on the door.
Beth, who had heard the car pull up in the drive from her bedroom, stood to see who it was. She still couldn’t shake the feeling that Robert would be pulling up, getting off scot free and coming to strangle her. However, as she took in the unmistakable sight of Dean Clark at her house, Beth might have actually welcomed Robert. “What the hell?”
Beth leapt for the door and took the stairs two at a time. She raced to the front door just as she heard Clark’s fat little fist knocking on it. She ripped open the door and stepped outside to face the startled Clark.
“What the hell are you doing here? At my house?” Beth whispered furiously, shutting the door behind her. She crossed her arms and waited.
Clark gasped. Shit. Beth.
He hadn’t even considered the possibility of running into her. He had been so focused on seeing Claire that he actually forgot about Beth. He searched for something to say when they both were distracted by the sound of another car coming up the drive.
Both Beth and Clark drew in a sharp breath, but for completely different reasons.
“You have to leave, now! I’ll come meet you at your office!” Beth desperately hissed.
“No, you don’t understand. I’m not here to see you, I’m here to see-” Roman paused, turning toward Claire, who had just stepped out of her car.
Claire stood there, frozen, one hand bracing on the open car door. Roman? Her eyes darted between Beth and Roman. Her heart raced as she tried to figure out what was going on. Why was he here?
Oh God! Does he know?
Claire gasped and her knees buckled.
Beth and Roman rushed to Claire’s side and half carried her into the house. They walked her into the empty kitchen and sat her in a chair. Beth hurriedly grabbed a glass of water and placed it in her mother's shaky hands. “Drink!” Beth ordered. “Should I call an ambulance?”
“No, no, goodness. Beth, it’s okay. I was just startled by Roman. I haven’t seen him for years.” She managed a small smile and glanced shyly up at Roman. He was standing awkwardly in the doorway of the kitchen, as if he were afraid to even enter the room.
Beth, who of course knew everything about Roman and Claire, that this man was indeed her biological father, had to fake shock at the statement. “You know Dean Clark?” she asked, hoping to sound confused. Unfortunately, what came out was really disgust. Beth could barely breathe as she slowly registered the reality that she was standing in the kitchen with both her parents.
Clark cleared his throat, started to answer, but then thought better of it. He had no idea what Claire wanted to reveal to her daughter about their past.
“Dean Clark?” Claire asked. “You’re the dean of Montecito College? Wow! Roman, congratulations!” Claire smiled at him. She tried to analyze every aspect of his expression and demeanor, trying to find some clue as to why he was here. What does he want?
Roman relaxed slightly. “Yeah, can you believe it? Me? You look great Claire! Really. Now that I see you face to face, you haven’t changed a bit. The years have been good to you.”
Claire too began to relax. Roman didn’t seem angry or outraged. She closed her eyes briefly, taking in a deep breath. He doesn’t know that he’s Beth’s father. Claire opened her eyes again and smiled. She took in his appearance, the added pounds created a little paunch that hung over his belt, the lines around his eyes, the dark circles under them, the thinning hair. But, Claire, polite as ever, said, “You look great as well!”
“Ha, now I know that’s not true, but thanks.” He returned the smile.
Beth cleared her throat impatiently, wanting to keep up appearances. “I hate to break up this little reunion, or whatever it is, but can someone please tell me what is going on?” While she really didn’t want a truthful answer from her mother, she did want to understand at least the relationship between the two.
“Well, honey, remember the best friend I was telling you about, the one that I became involved with many years ago, but then I left him for your father?” Claire asked, recalling the conversation she and Beth had only last semester.
“Yeah.” Beth nodded slowly. “You were talking about Dean Clark? He’s your Stu?”
“You were talking about me?” Roman asked. “I think about you every day,” he added quietly.
“Oh my God!” Beth began to pace the kitchen. “I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. I don’t need to hear any more of this.” Beth quickly left the kitchen, got to the hall and realized that wasn’t far enough. She ran for her purse and left the house.
Claire turned back to Roman. “I’m sorry about that. She can be-” Claire fumbled for the right word, “feisty.”
Roman snorted. “Yeah, that’s one word for it.”
“You think about me every day? I’m really sorry, Roman. I’ve been regretting how our relationship ended, how I ended it. I was horrible!”
“You’ve been regretting how you ended it, or that you ended it?” Roman waited with bated breath. The answer would mean everything.
“Honestly, I don’t know. But I am glad you’re here now. And, unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m guessing that you heard about me or saw me on the news? That’s how you knew I’d returned to Montecito?”
Clark chuckled and sat down at the table with Claire. “Yeah, I saw you on the news the other day. Small world. You are Professor Robert Williams’s wife and Beth McKellar’s mother! I didn’t realize the connection until I caught a glimpse of a news clip the other day. Why didn’t you come see me when you moved back?” Roman asked, a little afraid of her answer.
“I didn’t realize that you were even still living here! I never paid much attention when Robert or Beth talked about school. I think they both muttered something about some Dean Clark, but honestly, I never even imagined that the Clark they were talking about was you! I thought you were you going to be a lawyer? What happened to that?”
“It just didn’t work out,” replied Roman curtly. He didn’t want to get into the whole thing about supporting his sister and needing to just get a job. He sort of fell into being Dean. As prestigious as it sounded, it didn’t pay as well as a lawyer would have. Or be as fulfilling.
“Yeah, I get that. A lot of things just didn’t work out for me either. As you can see. So, are you married? Kids?”
Claire grimaced at the regret in Roman’s voice. “Well, I’m glad you are here, Roman.”
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Montecito
Nicole sat nervously in the ultrasound waiting area for her name to be called. She was distractedly rubbing her belly when she looked around the room at the other women. Most were obviously pregnant and all were much older than her. Nicole could feel their judging eyes staring at her as they waited. They would glance up curiously from their phones or their magazine and furrow their brows in condescension. Ha! How could they be judging me? These women, with their swollen faces and swollen ankles shoved into ugly shoes? She looked down at her own dainty ankles still sporting her stylish Louboutins.
Nicole looked over to her mother, who was rapidly returning some kind of email or text, probably about a job. Nicole’s ultrasound was merely an interruption in her day, not a first look at her grandbaby! Nicole chuckled at the thought. Her mother - a grandma!
“Nicole Cameron?” called a nurse, looking down at a file in her hands.
Nicole and her mother stood and followed the nurse into the room.
“Here you go, change into this gown and someone will be with you shortly.” The nurse handed Nicole the garment and shut the door softly behind her. Kim sat down in a chair and continued with her email to her agent, Samantha. She was debriefing her on her ideas for playing Claire McKellar.
Nicole turned her back to her mother, still reluctant to showcase her enlarged belly. She quickly changed, and then hopped up onto the examination table. She readjusted the bottom of her gown to cover her knees and crossed her feet at her ankles.
Nicole sighed impatiently and Kim looked up at the sound. She laughed. “Why do you still have your heels on? You look ridiculous!”
“I’m not removing my Louboutins! While they can make me wear this hideous gown, I can, at least, have the shoes to distract from this whole embarrassing outfit!” She crossed her arms, preparing to fight.
Kim opened her mouth to protest further, but was interrupted by a young technician who looked not much older than her daughter.
“Good morning, I will be performing your ultrasound today.” The young woman glanced efficiently through the file, confirmed some details with Nicole, mainly that she was Nicole, and her birthdate.
Nicole wondered if that last question was standard protocol, to ensure the correct images would be placed in the correct file, or if she was just being nosy.
As the cold ointment was rubbed on Nicole’s belly she felt her heart begin to race. What if something is wrong with the baby? If it’s deformed or something? She had gone at least a month or so not knowing she was pregnant drinking and eating whatever she wanted. She tried to slow her breathing and she studied the technician carefully, looking for any signs of shock or sympathy at what she was looking at on the sonogram machine. Nicole began to study the image forming on the screen and gasped. “Oh my God, it’s deformed! I knew it! It doesn’t even look like a baby! What’s wrong with it?”
The tech laughed, “No, no, everything’s fine! It’s not looking deformed at all, I’m just trying to catch a clear picture of this little guy on the screen, there’s no sitting still with this one!”
“Guy? It’s a boy?” Nicole asked.
“Oh, no, I don’t know actually. I call all the babies little guys, sorry. If he or she would stop moving so much, I can probably get a clear picture of what it is. Did you want to know if it’s a boy or girl?” she asked.
Before Nicole could respond, Kim jumped up and said, “Yes!”
“Yes? You want to know?” asked Nicole, surprised at the interest Kim was now showing. She had seemed alarmingly disinterested in the whole thing, treating it as though Nicole had merely a kidney stone or something. Something that needed medical attention, but would quickly be resolved.
“Of course, sweetheart. Knowing whether it’s a boy or girl will be very important to the adoptive parents. They will be able to get onboard quicker, and take care of some of these extra costs. Insurance doesn’t cover everything you know, it’s quite expensive to-”
“Adoption?” yelled Nicole. “You think I’m going to give this baby up for adoption?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Nicole. Of course you are giving this baby up for adoption. What? Did you think you think you were going to keep it? You’re only 19 years old for God’s sake!”
“So what if I’m only 19! Haven’t you seen Teen Moms? If those idiots can do it, I certainly can!”
Nicole ignored her mother and returned her focus back to the technician. “Yes, I would like to know whether it’s a boy or girl so I can begin to decorate the nursery.”
Kim threw her hands up in the air. “Not in my house!”
Dammit. Kim realized she just gave Tom the very thing she was trying to avoid. The opportunity to use his money to save the day and make himself the hero while she became the monster mom.
The technician returned her gaze back to the machine and tried to keep a straight face. She’d have a great story to tell the others at break time. “Okay, I’ve got a good clear picture. Are you sure you want to know?”
“Positive,” replied Nicole.
What does the technician reveal? Is Nicole having a boy or a girl?
If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.