Picket Fences

Previously in Picket Fences…

The F.A.C.T. fundraiser is in full swing. Payton and Xavier have plans to leave the event early to snoop around Connie’s home in search of answers while everyone is distracted at the fundraiser.

“Well, well, well. Look at this. Who knew you two were an item?”

“I don’t know what you thought you saw, but you’re mistaken,” Xavier says. “I’m mistaken? So I didn’t just see you looking lovingly into Payton’s eyes right now? So this is why you couldn’t get rid of me fast enough… you left me at the table with your mother, the dragon woman,” Saraya says, folding her arms.

“So, here’s how this is going to go,” she continues, presenting an arrangement. “From this moment on, I’m officially your girlfriend, which means I have access to all the money that you have access to.”  “You’re blackmailing us?” Payton asks, shocked by the situation. “You could call it that. I like to call it a mutual agreement; I keep your secret and you two can keep having your moments…” She pauses. “But a part of me is hoping that you’ll prove me wrong, Xavier. A part of me is hoping that you’ll let love win; go out there and tell your mother right now and void our little agreement … But we all know that isn’t going to happen, right? Judging by the look on Payton’s face, I think he would want you to prove me wrong too. You know… I think my dinner is getting cold. I’ll see you back at the table, sweetheart,” she says, turning to leave the room.

The two young men look at each other for a second. “I’ll fix this,” Xavier says.

With the fundraiser underway, Bruce arrives dressed in a classic black tux to join Angela, as he enters the mansion, he is surveying the room to find his wife when he feels a tap on his arm.  “Bruce … Bruce Wingate?” He turns to see women he doesn’t recognize. “Hi, there, I’m sorry, do I know you?” he replies with a confused smile “I’m an old friend of your wife. I’m Connie …Connie Spalding. Angela and I go back a long way,” Connie says. Noticing the interaction, Angela makes haste to intercept the two and their conversation.

While checking on the guest count, Madalyn feels two hands on her shoulders.

It’s a feeling she hasn’t felt in a long while but is familiar. “Hank… you came,” she says as she looks him up and down in the tux she laid out for him. “You look beautiful … and you did all this?  … Wow,” he says, looking at his wife like he hasn’t seen her in a long time. “You look good, Hank,” she says. “I’m sorry I’m late I was…” She interrupts him, “No… no apologies tonight … Let’s just dance,” she says, loving but desperately not wanting to hear the lies he was about to tell. They pause and Hank takes Madalyn’s hand. “Let’s dance.”

Payton and Xavier, having made their escape from the fundraiser, pull up to Connie’s house; the awkward silence in the car is palpable.

“I will fix this,” Xavier repeats. “What exactly are you going to fix?” Payton says, staring at Xavier. “You know … I don’t want to talk about it,” he says looking at the house remembering the task at hand. Payton heads toward the house with Xavier not far behind. The two boys find themselves at the French doors behind the house. “Wait, how do you plan to get in without breaking the glass?” Xavier questions. Pulling a butter knife out of his pocket, Payton starts talking Xavier through the process while putting it to practice, “Well, you take the knife and slip it between the seam at the top and move the flush lock down, and at the bottom, you move the flush lock up, and the door should open.” Just as Payton describes, the door slowly swings open. Looking at the door in amazement, Xavier responds, “And just where did you learn that?”  “My mom and I got locked out of the house last summer,” Payton replies.

The two make their way through the darkened house with the light from their flashlight phone apps, eventually finding the office.

Payton starts to go through the desk and Xavier looks through file cabinets. Not finding anything in the files, he opens the armoire and is stunned by what he finds. “Payton … Payton I think you should look at this.” Payton looks up, pointing the light in Xavier’s direction. “What?” he asks. Then, the light hits the inside of the armoire and he sees it. Payton, frozen in shock, can only get out five words, “Momma, what did you do?”