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Appisode 12: The Verdict

Kim Cameron befriends Claire McKellar with an ulterior motive; Roman Clark visits his past love; Nicole goes for her first ultrasound and finds out the sex of her baby; Kim pushes for adoption.

What does the technician reveal? Is Nicole having a boy or a girl?

Click To Reveal Results
IT'S A GIRL!
60%
IT'S A BOY!
40%

Cameron Mansion, Montecito

“How cute is this?” squealed Kate, holding up a baby girl’s floral knit dress with matching bloomers. “Seriously, don’t you just love it?”

Nicole looked up from the list she was making and smiled. “So cute! The shoes you bought yesterday will match that perfectly!”

“I know, that’s what I thought when I saw it. I’m so glad you are having a girl! The shopping possibilities are endless!” Kate folded the dress up and put it back in the bag. “What are you working on?”

“My shower list. I want to make sure no one is left out.” Nicole began counting the names she’d already written and stopped when she reached twenty-four. “I’m not sure where you were thinking of having it, but it’s a pretty long list already and I’m not even halfway.”

“Don’t worry about space. We can always find a place that will accommodate. And if we can’t because of the time crunch, we can always have it here. We’ve hosted bigger parties than that, for God’s sake! I’m sure we can pull off a baby shower! Worse case scenario, mom can ask her new best friend Claire McKellar if she would let us use their gorgeous backyard. Our’s could use a little work.”

Nicole stared in disbelief.

“Mom’s what?”

“Mom’s new best friend. The two of them have buddied up and now they’re going for coffee together, getting pedicures together - inseparable,” reported Kate.

“You’re joking,” said Nicole, dropping her pencil.

“Nope. I warned mom that if she’s not careful, they’re going to turn into the next Thelma and Louise,” she giggled.

“I don’t get it. When did this start?” A tight knot formed in the pit of Nicole’s stomach as her mind began to race. Does she know something? No - how would she have found out? Is she trying to get to Robert through Claire? No. Maybe. No. This was a little too close for comfort.

Kate, oblivious to Nicole’s inner turmoil continued, “Not that long ago. I came into the kitchen and mom was setting the table for Claire to come over. I couldn’t figure it out either, but then mom let out what she was up to,” replied Kate, moving the shopping bag onto the floor and sat in the now vacant chair.

“Aaaaand?” asked Nicole. “What is she up to?”

“She’s wanting to get inside Claire’s head. She thinks there’ll be a movie deal one day and she wants to be ready to take on the role of Claire McKellar. Actually, I think she’s wanting to pitch the idea to a director. Brilliant, right?”

Nicole was speechless. What kind of movie would this be? What if it came out that Robert was the father?   Nicole was currently living in a  protective little bubble, but with enough poking about, it  was likely to pop.

Kate felt deflated with Nicole’s nonresponse. She thought she had brought a juicy bit of information to the table, but Nicole seemed unimpressed.

“Anyway, as I was saying, worse case scenario, we can use the Williams’s mansion.”

Nicole shook her head. “No. I’d rather not. I’ll take some people off the list if I have to.”

“Don’t be silly. You’re not doing that,” Kate argued.

“Doing what?” asked a slightly sweaty Kim Cameron, walking into the kitchen in  gym attire to refill her water bottle.

“Nicole is drafting up a guest list for her baby shower, but we’re not sure about the venue,” began Kate.

“A baby shower? Isn’t this a little premature?” asked Kim.

“Mom, she’s keeping the baby. Get over it already,” replied Kate, rolling her eyes. She was tired of hearing the keep it or give it away arguments that had plagued the house since the ultrasound. “Anyway, I was telling her that if we needed to, we could always ask your new BFF, Claire McKellar.”

Kim sighed, realizing without Kate’s support she was getting nowhere on the adoption front.

“That’s a great idea! Claire needs a distraction and I need to get into that house. She’s always coming here or meeting me somewhere,” said Kim wiping her brow with the back of her hand.

“No. I don’t want to do that,” said Nicole firmly.

“Why not?” asked Kate

“Because...because….” Nicole’s mouth went dry. What could she say? Because it’s too weird having the shower hosted by the father’s current wife. Because being in the house will only remind Nicole of all the times she had been with Robert. Nicole’s mind spun trying to think of an acceptable reason she could use.

“Because what?” asked Kate.

“Because , I think it’s too soon. I’ve just started talking to Ava and I don’t want her to think I was just trying to get her house for an event.” Nicole looked from Kate to Kim. Did they buy it?

Kim nodded. “True, that may be how they see it. Honestly, I don’t want to mess this up. Find a venue or cut down the list.”

Nicole looked down at her list, not wanting to make eye contact with either one. She pretended to go over the names again, touching the tip of her pencil to each one, but her mind wasn’t on the list, the baby or the venue. She was thinking about her last words with Robert. Maybe it was her hormones acting up, but she was feeling awful about how they left  things. Awful about how disappointed he was. She wanted to go back and fix it all, but she didn’t even know where to start. She closed her eyes and made a silent wish. Let him be not guilty.

~~~   

 

Williams Mansion, Montecito Hills

Ava walked slowly down the stairs to the kitchen, yawning as she went. She hadn’t had a good night sleep since coming home from Europe. There was just too much on her mind.

“Good morning, Ava,” said Claire, looking up from her coffee and the tablet in front of her.

“Morning, Claire,” replied Ava, eyeing the headline on Claire’s tablet. “You’re not reading that garbage, are you? I can’t even stand to go online or turn on a TV anymore! The only safe thing is Netflix!” She walked to the coffee pot and poured herself a cup before sitting down at the table next to Claire.

“How are you doing, honey? I know how hard this must be for you,” Claire said softly.

“I don’t even know how to answer that. I’m a mess! I don’t know how you do it, Claire!” Ava shook her head and studied her stepmother as if the answer was in her eyes somehow. “I mean, how can you stand by him? How can you believe him?”

“You don’t?” Claire asked incredulously, spilling her coffee a little as she all but dropped the cup on the table.

“Honestly, I don’t know. I want to believe that he’s innocent, because if he’s guilty, then that means-” Ava’s voice broke. She couldn’t even verbalize her worst fear out loud - that her own father, the man she loved, who raised her, killed her mother. “But I have this nagging doubt in my mind, and all that evidence. . . and all the lies he told!” Ava looked intently at Claire. “How do you support him? What makes you believe him? Because I really want to believe him and then maybe my head will stop exploding!” The desperation in her voice was unmistakable.

“Oh sweetheart!” Claire reached across the table and covered Ava’s hand with her own. “I just focus on the man that I know. I know Robert, and he loves me. He would never do what they are saying! You need to focus on that too! I just ignore all that other stuff, there must be a reasonable explanation and when Robert comes home, I’m sure he will explain it to us.”

“I just don’t know if I can do that, Claire. I keep seeing my mom’s face and I just don’t know. But, what if he doesn’t come home? What then?”

“He is coming home,” Claire replied defiantly.

“Yeah, but what if he doesn’t?”

“We will figure it out, Ava. We’re a family, and we will figure this out together. You, me and Beth will figure it out. We are going to stick together.”

Ava blew out a breath. “You mean it? Cause you and Beth are the only family I have left. I’ve never been that close to my grandparents, on either side, and since my mom died we’ve pretty much-lost contact.”

“Oh honey, of course. We are your family now and we will face whatever happens together. I know I will never replace your mother, but you are a daughter to me. I mean it!”

Ava half laughed and half sobbed at that. “Thanks, Claire.”

~~~

 

Dorm Rooms, Montecito Campus

“Can I borrow your laptop?” Beth asked as a way of greeting Stu.

“Hello to you too,” replied Stu. He yawned as Beth breezed by him. “Help yourself.” He flopped back down on his bed, still not fully awake.

Beth found his laptop discarded on the floor by the bed. She fired it up and maneuvered a spot beside the prone Stu. She adjusted one of the pillows to support her back. Stu groaned as the move jostled him.

Beth quickly found the footage she was looking for. On the way over she had caught a partial sound bite about Robert’s case.  Beth loaded the video and increased the volume on Stu’s computer.

“The jury continues to be in deliberation and there is still no verdict,” Greg Davis, the newscaster reported.

Beth sighed in relief. While she wanted Robert to be convicted, she wasn’t sure she was ready to actually hear the verdict. What if he wasn’t found guilty?

Stu raised his head and said, “I thought you didn’t want to watch any of the news on Robert?”

“I know, but I caught something about a verdict on the radio, and so I had to find out if the jury had made a decision.” She went back to the video now.

“We have Jennifer Baxter, lawyer, and our resident consultant for the trial to get her thoughts on what this means. Jennifer?”

“Thanks, Greg. Well, as I think I mentioned before, a long deliberation for a jury can only mean they are struggling to come up with a verdict. At this point, it could go either way. Robert Williams might very well be found not guilty. The longer they deliberate, the more likely that is.”

“What are your thoughts on this, Jennifer? You’ve sat through all the testimony. Did defense lawyer David Moore, who specializes in tax law, present a good enough case? You know that there has been a lot of speculation that Williams’s money and influence are enough to buy him a not-guilty verdict, regardless of Moore’s inexperience.

“Well, that’s certainly a possibility. But I have to say, David Moore did a surprisingly good job with the case. My feeling is that money did play a part in the defense, but not in the way you think. Moore must have had some high-level criminal attorney consulting on the case. Rumors are that the infamous Dustin Walker is working behind the scenes on this one.”

Greg laughed, “You mean Dustin Walker, the one whose clients always walk?”

“The one and only. And, if you recall, the final character witness for the defense, Joyce Scott - Robert’s first wife’s mother - was pretty compelling. When she took the stand and described how Robert pays for his ex-father-in-law to be in one of the top dementia care facilities in the country, it paints quite a different picture of Robert. If you recall, he was only married to his first wife for just over a year. And this news, that he’s been paying for this care facility for over twenty years, for a father-in-law that he only knew briefly, is an interesting turn of events. And that’s the mother of the alleged first victim. What the jury cannot ignore is that everyone seems to be supporting Robert, from his first mother-in-law to his current wife, to his daughter Ava Williams. If the only dissenter is a disgruntled stepdaughter, then the writing seems to be on the wall. Yes, there was certainly a lot of evidence against Williams, but again, it’s all circumstantial. What isn’t circumstantial is the compelling testimony of his supporters-”

“Yes, but what about Beth McKellar’s testimony, wasn’t that compelling?” interrupted Greg.

“Of course, she was very compelling. But I’m not sure it’s enough.”

Beth slammed the laptop shut, unable to listen to anymore. It was giving her heart palpitations. “I am moving in here if he’s found innocent, or we are getting an apartment off-campus. Or, I’m going to kill him and run away to some exotic island with no extradition to the United States. I can run Network from anywhere with decent wifi.”

“Let’s hold off on the murder plans, or moving plans, for now. Why don’t you call Jess? See what she has to say. Maybe she can make you feel better?” suggested Stu.

“Good idea! Get dressed.”

“Why do I need to get dressed for this phone call?” Stu muttered into his pillow.

“Because we are going down to the station. I need to see her face-to-face, to see if she’s telling the truth, or just lying to make me feel better.”

Stu groaned. “You’re lucky I love you.” He nudged her playfully on the bed before getting up to change.

Beth smiled affectionately and finally really looked at Stu. She now noted that he was shirtless, only wearing pajama bottoms. He reached for a discarded shirt on the floor, smelled it and then slipped it on. Stu then stripped to his underwear and went searching for a pair of shorts.

“Whoa, what are you doing?” Beth laughed at his exhibitionism.

“What? I’m proud of this body. You need something beautiful to make you smile. In fact, I can walk around naked, if that would help,” Stu teased.

“No! It’s okay, thank you, I’m good. You’re crazy!” Beth laughed, a little nervous that he might, in fact, drop his drawers. “Come on, let’s go.”

The drive to the station was made in comfortable silence. Stu snoozed while Beth drove. She became increasingly more agitated the closer she got to the police station. She hit Stu’s arm to wake him after she parked. “We’re here.”

Beth walked into the station and headed straight for Jess’s desk as if she owned the place. The officer at the front either recognized Beth and ignored her, or was simply incompetent. Either way, she was unaccosted as she breezed by.  

Jess looked up from a file, startled to see Beth standing in front of her desk. “Beth! What are you doing here? What’s wrong?”

“You tell me!”

“What do you mean? What happened?”

“Is that bastard going to get off?” Beth asked loudly, causing several heads to turn her way.

“Here, let’s go to one of the back rooms, we can talk freely there,” suggested Jess.

“Or Beth can yell freely there, you mean,” chuckled Stu. He looked shyly at Jess, still a little embarrassed that he had tried to hit on her. It was clear now that she was just doing her job, trying to investigate Robert.

Jess smiled at Stu, glad that things weren’t too awkward between them. She was still getting used to this whole undercover thing herself. “Exactly.” She led them to a back office, which really was some kind of interrogation room. It had only a small rectangular table and two chairs on either side.

“Okay, so, is he getting off or what?” demanded Beth, crossing her arms and refusing to sit in the chair Jess offered.

“I don’t know, Beth,” Jess said carefully. She too had been wondering the same thing. “What brought this on?” She sat at the table and folded her hands together.

“The news! They are all saying that he’s getting off and I need to prepare myself if that’s going to happen! I need to know what you think. You’ve been there. What are the odds do you think?” Beth began to pace the small room.

“I can’t really say-”

“Of course, you can! What is your opinion? You’re a cop. You know the rules. What does your gut say?” Beth yelled, looking straight at Jess.

“Okay, well, my gut says he’s guilty! We presented a good case. He has not one but two dead wives, and a third complaining of similar health issues. That is more than a coincidence. Then there's the three life insurance policies on all of them. Money is a powerful motive. And, you found the antifreeze in the garage. It just would have been better if…” Jess trailed off.

“If what?” Beth persisted.

“If we had some physical evidence of antifreeze in the bodies. As you know, Robert cremated both his wives, so no chance of exhuming those bodies. And your mother-”

“Refused to be tested,” finished Beth.

“Yes, that complicates things. That, and all the support that Robert seems to have, with no one but you or me testifying against him. He’s squeaky clean. A stand-up citizen and with the majority of the jury being male, I’m not sure.”

“You mean, if Robert weren’t squeaky clean, that would help?” asked Stu. He broke out in a cold sweat. Should he tell them about Nicole? That Robert was sleeping with a student and in fact got her pregnant? Beth would kill him for keeping this silent. But his mom had promised to say something on the stand, but then, they never called her.

“Well, yeah, maybe, it definitely wouldn’t hurt,” replied Jess.

“Well-” began Stu, pausing to figure out how he could phrase this. Just blurt it out, I guess.

“But it’s too late anyways. The jury is already out, we can’t introduce any new evidence, even if we had some,” Jess cut him off.

Stu clamped his mouth shut and became very busy just looking at his hands. Jess, thankfully, was studying Beth rather than him.

A knock came at the door, making all three of them jump.

“Jess,” said Jeremy, “the jury came back with a verdict.

“Oh my God!” whispered Beth.

“Let’s go,” said Jess. “You and Stu can ride with us to the courthouse.”

“No, it’s okay. I want my car, in case I need to leave the country quickly.” Beth gave a half-hearted laugh. “Stu can drive my car.”

Stu nodded, reaching for the keys that were still in Beth’s hands. He then clasped her free hand in his own and squeezed.

“Okay, let’s get this over with,” Beth managed to say. She let Stu lead her out of the station and she felt like time was standing still. Everything was a blur. In no time at all they pulled up to the courthouse. Beth couldn’t see Jess anywhere and soon realized why. She must have pulled up to a back entrance, avoiding the growing crowd of cameras and onlookers.

“Shit, that’s a lot of people! Are you ready for this?” Stu asked, shutting off the ignition.

“No, but what choice do I have?”

Stu jumped out of the car and rushed to the other side, trying to reach Beth before all the reporters noticed she had driven up. Apparently, her old Honda was the perfect disguise. No one was even watching the couple as they stepped out into the parking lot.

Their luck didn’t last long, however.

As they approached the courthouse’s front steps, reporters suddenly started yelling Beth’s name, asking questions, looking for some kind of comment. Beth kept her head down, ignoring everything but Stu’s hand on her back, guiding her to the front door.

They finally made it through the throng and into the main hallway. Jess rushed over and took them to a private area, free from the press and the public. “Are you guys okay? I should have reminded you to come in through the back. I forgot that you haven’t been to any of the trial, except to testify, so you wouldn’t know of the entrance they granted the family access to.”

“It’s okay, I wasn’t really thinking about where to come in, to be honest. It doesn’t matter. Now I’m glad I’ve stayed away for most of the trial. That’s a gong show out there!”

“Are you sure you want to be here now?” Jess asked.

“Yes! I need to hear for myself what this verdict is. Either way, I need to hear it with my own ears.”

Jess assessed Beth for a moment, then nodded. “Okay, let’s go in.”

Beth took a deep breath and walked through the heavy doors of the courtroom. Inside, the air changed. It was tense, thick and a little musty. Beth could smell all the old wood in the room and she was having difficulty breathing. She forced her feet forward, concentrating on one in front of the other.

Beth took in the many pairs of eyes that greeted as she moved slowly down the aisle. The room was already packed with so many people Beth didn’t recognize. She followed Jess forward and noted the sound of pencils scribbling furiously on notepads as she passed the area sectioned off for the press. There were just as many reporters inside as out. There were madly describing her entrance, no doubt, as she had been conspicuously absent throughout the whole trial. Beth finally saw her mother and Ava, already seated near the front - on the side of the defense. Beth stared angrily at the defense’s table. David Moore was seated there beside an empty chair and he was whispering something to her mother. Beth forced the bile back down her throat and continued forward.

To her surprise she caught sight of the back of Noah’s head, sitting on the prosecution side, a clear sign of support for Beth. He smiled as she walked by and her heart gave a weak flutter. Beth smiled and waved in return. She didn’t even notice Elise sitting on the other side of Noah, or the glare she aimed at Beth.

Finally, Beth was led to a seat directly behind the prosecutors table. She wrung her hands nervously as she sat, just trying to breathe.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Noah whispered to Elise.

“I can’t believe we are even sitting here, Noah,” Elise pouted. “It’s so beautiful out today, we should be at the beach or at the club lounging by the pool. Not here in this stuffy courtroom!”

“Elise, I told you, I need to support Beth.”

Elise just huffed. “I’ve had just about enough of Beth.

Noah groaned, but his attention was focused on Nicole, who had just walked in with Lux. He waved her over.

“What are you doing? You’re not actually invited your pregnant ex to sit with us, are you?” Elise asked.

“Yes, we’re still friends, and it’s not like it’s my baby anyways,” he whispered. The two approached them and Noah started to move over to make room. “Hi Nicole, Lux,” greeted Noah.

“Hey Noah, thanks, but I think we are are going to sit with Ava, you know, for support,” Nicole replied and then continued on without waiting for an answer.

Elise shook her head in disgust and looked at the time on her phone. “How long is this going to take? I’m bored.”

“I don’t know, Elise. As long as it takes!”

Elise huffed again and fidgeted in her seat. “Come on, this is taking forever. Beth won’t even know if we slipped out, she’s all the way at the front!” Elise pointed to the back of Beth’s head.

“No, I’m staying. I want to support my friend, and if you don’t get that, then I think you should leave.”

“Maybe I will. What you don’t get, Noah, is that if I leave, then we’re done. So either you walk out with me, or we’re finished.” Elise stood and crossed her arms, waiting.

“Then I guess we’re done. Goodbye, Elise.”

Elise’s face reddened. She let out a gasp but stood rooted, staring at Noah. She hadn’t planned on Noah choosing everyone else over her. He clearly was playing with her. The normally easygoing Noah had decided to flex his muscles and call her bluff. Elise wasn’t ready to back down.

“I can’t believe you’re doing this!” she whispered. “Get up, and let’s go!”

“No. I’m not going and we’re done, so I’m not sure why you’re still standing there,” replied Noah calmly.

There was nothing left to say and Elise shimmied out of the row and out the door.

Beth sat quietly, completely unaware of the drama occurring behind her. She was too focussed on the drama occurring right in front her. Beth’s eyes were glued to the side door, the one where Robert would be escorted through any moment.

“You doing okay?” asked Stu.

Beth just nodded silently. She drew in an involuntary gasp as Robert entered, their eyes meeting briefly as he walked in the room. Beth refused to avert her gaze and stared straight at him, hoping she was coming off confident and unafraid. She watched as he made his way to the table and shuddered in disgust as he turned back in his seat to kiss her mother.

“All rise for your Honorable Judge Stevens,” announced the bailiff.

“Holy shit!” muttered Stu, standing beside Beth.

“You may be seated,” said the bailiff after Judge Stevens took his seat.

After a few preliminary proceedings, all of which were a blur to Beth, she caught the phrase, “Jury, have you reached a verdict?”

A tall skinny man with glasses was standing and responded, “We have, Your Honor.”

Beth clasped Stu’s hand tighter.  

This is it.


What is the jury’s verdict? ​

You Decided

Click To Reveal Results

Guilty

96%

Not Guilty

4%

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~Toni Morrison

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