Previously in Picket Fences…

Connie has been weaseling her way into Angela’s comfortable Benicia life and threatening to out her past to her friends and loved ones. Connie learned about the upcoming F.A.C.T. fundraiser and has been scheming a plot around the event. Meanwhile, Payton and Xavier have just escaped a harrowing experience involving nefarious men who are also interested in the F.A.C.T. fundraiser.

As the sun kisses the beautiful waves of the Benicia bay signaling the start of a new day, Angela is awakened by the sun’s rays hitting her face and feeling Bruce close to her. “If all mornings could start like this,” she thinks to herself, but she knows this feeling wouldn’t last; she had been summoned to meet with Connie this morning via text last night. She would find out Connie’s intentions for the fundraiser and, knowing Connie, it had to be something fiendish.

Angela is not the only one in the Wingate home with anxiety; Payton is still trying to put the pieces together from last night without having much to go on. He looks forward to lunch with Xavier to process the events of last night. Payton picks up the phone to call Xavier and after a series of attempts, Payton sends a text that reads, “please don’t flake on me.” He takes a second to soak in the sun coming through the window before heading to the shower.  

Angela arrives at Connie’s home, a house she remembers well. Angela gives Mark Chambers, her colleague and friend, a call. “I’m going to be a little late…I have an errand to run,” she says, trying to hide the stress in her voice. As Angela walks up the path to the door, she can feel the anxiety in her body; she takes a brief pause and a breath before ringing the bell. She knows it’s game time and that her opponent is unscrupulous; she’s willing to deploy any weapon at her disposal. Angela rings the bell and only a few seconds pass before she can see Connie through the custom stained-glass door.

“I’m so glad you could make it… and on time. I’d expect nothing less,” Connie says, letting Angela in like a spider trapping a fly. “I hope you like what I’ve done to the place. We’re going to be out on the terrace.” Angela hears the door close behind her. “Here we go,” she thinks to herself. Hearing a news report on the TV in the background about a fire beginning to swell nearby, she can’t help but think, “How fitting, I’ve just walked into hell.” The two women have a seat at the table. “Would you like something drink?” Connie asks, smiling. “Just tell me why I’m here, why you’re here,” Angela says, getting irritated. “I have come up with a way for you to pay back all the money you stole from me in Chicago.” Connie says as she hands her a list of names she invited to attend the fundraiser. “I think you will be pleased with the projected amount donated to F.A.C.T., minus… my commission,” she smiles, crossing her legs and taking a sip from her glass of iced tea. Reading the list, Angela notices an unsettling pattern. “These are criminals from our old client list,” Angela states. “You’ve created what looks like a criminal convention.” “You could call it that… I prefer to say I’m creating a dynamic and diverse networking space for like-minded individuals… And now that Madalyn has asked me to be part of the board, the money is going to roll in,” Connie boasts. In shock, Angela replies, “On the board… you’re joking. When did you two become such good friends?” Angela fires back with confusion. “Really Angela, you should nurture your friendships,” Connie replies.

Angela glares at Connie; if looks could kill, Connie would be dead on the spot. “How do you plan to explain to the board why you have these people paying $20K per table when that’s more than the event has ever made in a single night? How does this plan of yours even work?” Angela asks. “It’s quite simple. The frequent attendees to this event will give their regular donation as usual, the people on my list will give me $20K, ten of which I’ll keep, while the other ten goes to F.A.C.T. The beauty of it is, no one will question money since it’s going to hungry children,” Connie says looking at the view and basking in the glory of her great plan. “And exactly how do we explain this, Connie? How do we explain the influx of this money? Tell me.” Connie stands up and Angela follows suit. “Not my problem, that’s for you to figure out. Now, I think it is time for you to get to work,” Connie says. “Look, we are not talking about pawns in a chess game or any of the lives you use as currency in the running of your own life. We are talking about Benicia; good people that don’t want any trouble, and what you’re planning could do real damage,” Angela says in one breath. “Then perhaps you need to look in the mirror, this started with you,” Connie states in a serious tone. Taking a pause and a breath, Connie continues, “You owe me… you left me holding the bag in Chicago then cut and ran because you suddenly grew a moral connection and couldn’t take nature of our business anymore. And you used my money to do it! And that money had strings.” The two women stand looking face to face, each knowing this will not end well. “Like I said, it’s time for you to leave. I’ll let you find your way to the door,” Connie says, adding with a smirk, “After all, I’m sure you’re familiar with this house.”