Where Drama Meets Love

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S05E01: V (Writer’s Cut)

Episode: S05E01, V (Writer’s Cut)
Premiere date: 10 February 2019
Written by: Scott Andrews
Special guest stars: Sophia Bush; Mariska Hargitay
Warning: This episode contains explicit language

PROLOGUE

The warming air gathers around the quiet morning of Liberty City, New York. As the sun rises on the day, the silence deafens and the hustle of the city begins to pick up, as residents begin to go on about their day, and the looming expectations are about to set a new dawn on those privileged and not so privileged.

THE JOHNSON ESTATE
721 SAN QUENTIN AVENUE
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948

As her day begins, a very well put together Logan Johnson makes her way down her staircase, whisking her blonde hair behind her ear. Walking through her foyer into her kitchen, Logan picks up an isolated coffee cup that is sitting on the sparkling granite counter, and immediately pours herself a cup of boiling hot water into the cup, and follows up by placing a tea bag and lemon into it. Settling into her kitchen island, Logan picks up her iPad and immediately begins to look over private documents before beginning her day.

As she settles more into her tea, a steady knock is heard at her front door. Stopping from her morning routine, Logan casually makes her way towards her front door; as the knocking continues to persist and is as steady as ever, Logan exclaims in irritation, “I’m coming!” Clearly ignoring her comments, the knocking continues to happen harder and louder than ever. “Jesus Christ, I said I was…” Logan begins to state, before hesitating as she opens the door, “Coming.”

“Finally, I didn’t think you were going to answer,” Donna says in a sigh of relief. Still quite annoyed, Logan barks, “I was in the kitchen and said I was coming.” “Yes, and yet, it still took you forever and a day to move your ass.” “What are you doing here, Donna? We have plans to meet in an hour.” “Yes, and I decided to change those plans because I didn’t want you backing out.”

Closing her front door and leading her sister back into the kitchen, Logan questions, “Why would I back out? Today is the day that Johnson Industries goes public, and we agreed this is what the company needed to get back on its feet and become the company that Julian always thought it was worth becoming.” “I know you Logan,” Donna responds as she begins to make her own cup of coffee with Logan’s Keurig maker. “And I know you were initially against taking the company public.” “Yes I was, but you and Jennifer helped convince me that it was worth doing. Especially if I wanted the company to thrive once again.” Taking a brief pause, Donna then questions, “Speaking of Jennifer, have you spoken of her?” “No,” Logan responds, taking a sip from her steaming coffee. “I have not spoken to her. I don’t even know if she’s going to show up this morning.”

Holding onto her cup of coffee, Donna warmly suggests, “It isn’t too late to back out.” “Are you the one second guessing this decision,” Logan counter-asks. “No. But I know how much the company meant to you and to Julian, and how much he meant to you, and that the anniversary of his death is coming up, so I am sure that is weighing heavily on your heart.” “You’re right, he did love me and I loved him. We meant a lot to each other, but you’re also wrong, this is not weighing heavily on my heart. But it will if we don’t get going and take this company public.”

Finishing their morning drinks, the two sisters grab their daily needs and immediately exit the estate, before making their way to Donna’s town car awaiting their arrival, and upon their entrance, the car drives away from the estate and into the heart of the city.

Sitting in the vehicle, Donna questions one final time, “Are you sure you want to do this?” “No,” Logan quietly responds, before continuing: “But it is the right decision, so there’s no turning back.” As she assures her sister that the decision is final, Logan turns to peer out of her window, while lightly pressing her lips together in a tense manner, such as to suggest some kind of internal self-doubt.

LIBERTY CITY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
350 JEFFERSON STREET
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948

A relatively quiet morning at the hospital, the elevator doors open to the main waiting arena of the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, with Jamie Spencer exiting the elevator, holding a tray of coffees and breakfast materials. Making her way to one of the rooms, she is immediately stopped by one of the on-staff nurses, who remarks, “Miss, you have to… oh, Mrs. Spencer, I did not realize it was you.” Turning around, Jamie responds, “It’s alright, Tiffany. And please, call me Jamie.”

Turning her head back to the room, Jamie quietly asks, “Has there been any kind of change?” “Nothing to report. He is still in the same state he’s been for a while now,” the nurse responds in a warm tone. “Thank you, Tiffany.”

Opening the hospital room door, she is met by her mother and sister-in-law. “Good morning,” she quietly greets, as to not disturb the women. Turning to face her daughter, Shirley responds, “Good morning darling. I wasn’t expecting you to come back today.” “The same could be said for you. I brought some coffee and breakfast, as I felt like someone might be here. Otherwise, the nurses were going to be getting coffee and food they may not want.”

Placing her hand on Sarah’s shoulder in comfort, Jamie greets, “How are you doing, Sarah? Do you want some coffee?” “No,” Sarah absently answers. “I don’t want coffee. I don’t want breakfast. And I certainly don’t want to be here.”

“I understand that, but maybe it might be good for you to have even a little something,” Shirley interjects in concern. “You’ve been here almost every single day since the accident.” “And I will continue to be here every single day until I don’t need to be here anymore,” Sarah barks back in a fit of emotional distress. “I don’t get why he can’t just wake up and come back to us.”

Holding onto the patient’s hand, it is revealed to be that of Thomas. “I know that Sarah but Thomas wouldn’t want you to stop your life forever,” Jamie tries to comfort to her sister-in-law. “He would want you to be out there, going to work and making the most of your life.” “I know but what if he wakes up, a-a-and I’m not here? He needs to know that I have been here every single day, by his side, just like I vowed on our wedding day.”

As Sarah holds on tightly to her husband’s hand, a knock is heard at the door. As the door opens, Derek enters into the room. Jumped with the slightest bit of hope, Sarah states, “Derek, is there any change? Please tell me there’s some kind of change!” Keeping his stoic disposition, Derek responds, “No, there’s been no change, Sarah. I’m sorry, I know that’s not what you wanted to hear.”

Holding onto Thomas’ chart, Derek looks around the room and remarks, “I heard you guys were here this morning, and just thought I’d come in and see how you are all doing.” “We’re fine. Thank you,” Shirley responds. “Good. If there’s anything you guys need, please, feel free to have me paged.”

As Derek makes his exit from the room, Jamie quickly follows him and stops him in the hallway. “What the hell was that,” she questions in an annoyed tone. Taken aback, Derek responds, “What the hell was what? Me checking in on the patient I have been tending to?” “No, you coming in and pretending like nothing has happened. You’ve become so cold. It’s like I don’t even know who the hell you are anymore.”

“Maybe you don’t,” Derek coldly responds to Jamie.

As her eyes begin to well from Derek’s cold and impersonal response, Shirley makes a hasty exit from the hospital room, and interjects, “What is going on out there?” “Nothing,” they both respond in monotone voices. “Derek, we need to know the truth, what’s going to happen to Thomas. I need to know, he’s my son.”

“I really cannot divulge, it is too early,” Derek responds. “Tell us,” Sarah interjects, exiting the hospital room. “Tell us what’s going to happen to my husband. It isn’t too early, Daniel. It has been nearly three years, it’s time we got the truth.”

Taking a deep sigh in, Derek explains, “The damage Thomas sustained during the blizzard was severe. He was hypothermic; hitting his head on the ice rock caused a substantial amount of blood loss. Those two mixed together do not leave a positive outcome.” “Cut the bullshit,” Sarah demands. “Tell me if my husband is going to wake up.”

Taking a deep sigh in, Derek responds, “It is unlikely that Thomas will ever regain consciousness, and even if he did, it’s unlikely he will be able to function independently as an adult again.” Nearly collapsing from the news of her husband’s ill-fated future, Sarah falls into Shirley’s arms, who immediately comforts her daughter-in-law. “I am sincerely sorry,” Derek sympathizes.

Distancing herself from her mother and sister-in-law, Jamie immediately begins to call an unknown person. As the phone connects, Jamie communications, “Hey, it’s me. I need you to get into town, immediately. It’s important.”

SMITHSON RESIDENCE
937 SAN QUENTIN AVENUE
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948

Stepping into his living room, Dustin Smithson places a bowl of cereal on his coffee table and turns his television on to watch the morning news. As he leans back on his couch, he chomps on his cereal as the local news station lists off the daily news headlines, and weather conditions. As he continues to enjoy his morning of leisure, his phone lights up, alerting him of a new message on his phone. Placing his bowl back onto the coffee table, Dustin unlocks his phone screen, and sees that he has a text message from his son, Dillon.

As he begins to respond to his son’s text message, a knock is heard at his front door. Alerted by the knock, Dustin immediately puts his phone onto the table, and makes me his way to the front door. As he opens his front door, Chelsea Smithson greets him. “What are you doing here,” Dustin questions in an off-putting tone. Unimpressed with Dustin’s opening sentiments, Chelsea responds, “Hello to you, too, Dustin. Look, I know that I am the last person you want to see right now.” “You’ve got that right,” Dustin rudely interrupts, before Chelsea continues, “But this is very important. May I come in?”

Opening the door to extend an invitation to Chelsea, she enters into the place she once called home with Dustin. “It’s nice to see some things have not changed,” Chelsea reminisces. “Still eating your cereal at the television, watching your morning news.” “Yeah,” Dustin absently responds. “I’ve got to keep some things a bit consistent in my life. What is it you want that is so important?” Removing a document from her purse, she solemnly hands it to Dustin, who questions, “What is this?”

“It’s our final divorce documents,” Chelsea responds while placing her purse back onto her shoulder. Taken aback by what he’s been given, Dustin responds, “So this is really happening, huh?” “Yes, it’s really happening, Dustin.” “What happened to us? How did we get to this point?”

Taking a sigh in, Chelsea nods her head down, while running her right hand underneath her golden blonde hair and against the curve of her neck, to respond: “Nothing happened, Dustin. People change. Relationships change. And that’s the reality of the situation.” “I refuse to believe that,” Dustin desperately responds. “You have to. Holding onto a relationship that is not healthy and not meant to work is not going to help either of us to move on.”

As Chelsea fights back a wave of tears, Dustin moves in closely and attempts to hold her, only to be pushed back. “Don’t,” Chelsea pleas of her soon-to-be ex. Attempting to become emotionally distant, Dustin apologizes, “I’m sorry.” “I better get going,” Chelsea distantly responds. “Please make sure you sign the documents and send them off to your lawyer. Mine will be expecting them any time now.”

Gathering her belongings, Chelsea walks immediately towards the front door of what was once her own home. Stopping as her hand reaches the handle, she leaves, “I do wish you ever bit of luck in your life, Dustin. And I do not regret a single moment of our life together.” Watching his estranged wife leave the home they once shared together, Dustin immediately relapses into their wedding night, remembering the happier times they shared.

Standing in front of their family and friends, Dustin and Chelsea join hands as the minister begins to recite the wedding vows. “Repeat after me,” he instructs of the pair.

Minister: I, Chelsea, take you, Dustin
Chelsea (in repeat): I, Chelsea, take you Dustin
Dustin: For my lawful wedded wife. To have and to hold from this day forward
Chelsea: For better, for worse
Dustin: For richer, for poorer
Chelsea: In sickness and in health
Both: Until death do us part

“And, by the powers vested in me, by the state of New York, I now pronounce you husband and wife,” the minister announces. “You may kiss the bride.” As the minister states those magical words, Dustin embraces into a loving and passionate kiss, their first as husband and wife.

Outside of the front door, Chelsea herself remembers the memory of their wedding vows. Deep in the moment of the memory, a tear begins to fall from her eye; she bows her head, as she wipes the tear. Turning to face the door, for a brief moment, she contemplates returning into the home.

Stopping herself and her emotions, she turns back around. Straightening up her jacket, she poises herself and leaves the place she once called home, and the man she once called her husband, behind.

LIBERTY CITY COURTHOUSE, ROOM 204 (DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE)
1277 PALETO BOULEVARD
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948

On the quieting floor of the Liberty City Courthouse, inside of the main elevator, stands Hillary Davis on the phone. “Well, maybe you do not know whom you are talking to,” Hillary demands into the receiver of her cellphone. “I am Hillary Davis, Mayor of Liberty City, and I am not one who tolerates being jerked around like a cat chasing a string. If you do not deliver the proper documents I inquired with you about, you will be hearing from my attorney.”

As the elevator reaches the second floor, Hillary exits the elevator and immediately struts her way towards the door of the main offices of the District Attorney. Opening the door, she finds an empty waiting room. Disgusted, she stated out loud, “Ugh. You hire a secretary to help you out, and even they cannot do the job they were hired to do.” Opening the door to the D.A.’s office, she is startled by an unknown person sitting inside of the office. “And just who do you think we are,” she barks. “I’m Nicholas,” a deep and confident male voice responds. “Nicholas Robinson. Your current District Attorney.” “Nicholas Robinson? I was not expecting you for another week’s time for so,” Hillary takes herself back. “Well, I came early with the intent of making sure that I can be fully settled into my new position.”

Clutching her purse and walking towards Nicholas, Hillary rebuffs, “A position for which you are temporarily keeping until we can appoint a more permanent person for the job.” “Well, I am not that worried about that happening Miss..,” Nicholas responds, only to pause at not knowing his co-conversationalist’s name. “Hillary Davis,” Hillary firmly responds, “Mayor of Liberty City.” “So you’re the so-called black bitch of Liberty City,” Nicholas responds in the slightest tone of arrogance.

Unimpressed by Nicholas’ non-existence charm, Hillary rebuffs, “Well as the so-called black bitch of Liberty City, I am forewarning you to not get comfortable in that chair, because if I do have anything to say about it, you will not be there for very long.” Clearing his throat, Nicholas’ demeanor suddenly changes, to where he re-introduces, “Maybe we got off on the wrong foot. Might we start again?” Still unimpressed, Hillary responds, “I don’t see the good it’ll do, but I guess we could for the sake of the situation we’ve both been put into.”

Falling into a comfortably professional position in his chair, Nicholas inquires, “So, Ms. Davis, what is it I can do for you and Liberty City while I am in my position?” Pressing her lips to the slightest of tension, Hillary responds: “There are a lot of open-ended cases that there is pressure for our department to close, and to give closure to victims and their families.” “Of course. Is there any case that is at the top of the pile?” “Yes, there are a few select cases we must close, and by close, I mean put them to rest, once and for all.”

Pulling a handful of blue file folders, Hillary drops them down onto the desk, in front of Nicholas’ grasp. Piqued, with interest, Nichols picks up the first folder, and upon opening it, immediately is taken aback.

“This is the Theo Johnson rape case,” Nicholas states, before continuing, “I thought this was a sealed and done case?” Taking a seat, Hillary explains, “It was, or so we thought. The former District Attorney, before you, shut the case, stating that there was not enough evidence to prosecute anyone. But, there has been increased interest in this case, especially following the status of the victim.” “Status? Forgive me, Ms. Davis, but what is the status of Mr. Johnson,” Nicholas questions.

“Theo Johnson has made several inquiries about re-opening the case, as he believes there was some illicit behaviour where the investigation was concerned, and he is demanding we find his attacker and prosecute him, once and for all.” Leaning back in his chair, Nicholas responds, “Of course. I will get right on it, and I will make sure we find out the bastard who did this to a young man. I’ll get started right now.”

“Thank you, Mr. Robinson, and I will expect an update, promptly, the moment you have one,” Hillary coldly dictates as she heads for the door. “Of course, Ms. Davis and, again, nice to meet your acquaintance.”

LIBERTY CITY POLICE STATION
1256 PALETO BOULEVARD
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948

The hustle and bustle of the Liberty City Police Department is abnormally quiet, as paperwork can be heard being tossed around, and telephones ringing on multiple desks. As the clocks strikes, on the hour, Garrett Gregson makes his way through the main doors to the police station. Placing his jacket on the back of his chair, he immediately begins to check over the stack of mail and random paperwork welcoming him.

“Garrett,” a female voice says out loud. Turning his head right, Garrett lifts his head and see’s Lieutenant Beth Reynolds at the door of her office, peaking herself out of the ajar opening. Having caught his attention, Beth demands, “In my office, now,” while signally for him to join her in her office, with her index and middle fingers. Walking into the Lieutenant’s office, she states, “Shut the door and have a seat.”

Shutting the door to Beth’s office, Garrett hesitantly moves forward to sit in front of her desk. “I’m sorry if I seem a bit standoffish, but, I’m not understanding what it is I’ve done to be called into your office this morning,” Garrett remarks. Shuffling through the paperwork on her desk, Beth responds, “I’m sorry to worry you, Garrett, but this could not wait. As you are aware, this department has been under extreme scrutiny for years, and considering the re-building we’ve been attempting to do, there is a fine line of knowing who to trust, and who is not trustworthy.”

“Well,” Garrett momentarily interrupts, “I hope that I have proven my trust and loyalty to this department.” “Of course,” Beth responds, as she stands up from her seat. Becoming a bit more personable, Beth walks around to the front of her desk, leaning on the front of it, directly in front of Garrett, before stating: “That’s why I want to make you the lead detective in this department.”

“Lead? As in, the head?” Garrett questions in a state of shock. Warming her demeanor, Beth let’s out the slightest of a smile, and repeats, “Yes, as in the head. I know you’ve been very dedicated to your position here at the department, and that everyone here respects you, and your natural leadership assures me that this is the right decision, to bring this department back to its glory.”

Shaking their hands, Garrett extends his gratitude, “Thank you, Lieutenant, for this wonderful opportunity. I promise you that I will not let you down.” “I know you won’t, and please, call me Beth,” Beth reciprocates.

Just then, a study knock is heard at the door. “Come in,” Beth welcomes. Opening the door, a young female walks into the office, and greets: “Lieutenant Reynolds, I presume?” “Yes,” Beth responds, “How many I help you?” “Oh, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I was told you’d be expecting me today,” the female responds. “Oh yes, Ms. Bouchard, I presume?” “Yes, Lauren Bouchard.”

“You’ve come at the exact right time,” Beth states. “Ms. Lauren Bouchard, please let me introduce you to Mr. Garrett Gregson, lead detective here at the Liberty City Police Department.”

Shaking each other’s hands, the pair exchange warmly welcomed salutations. Making her way back around to the back of her desk, Beth dismisses, “Well, why don’t you two get acquainted. And Garrett, I’ll draw up the paperwork; you’ll need to sign it before the end of the day.”

“Of course, and thank you, again,” Garrett expresses as he and Lauren depart the Lieutenant’s office.

LIBERTY CITY TOWNHOUSES, TOWNHOUSE 1250
1250 WINDMILL AVENUE
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948

Sitting at the dining room table, Diane Newton switches back and forth from sipping her coffee, and looking over her legal documentations. Sitting across from her, her husband Adam scoops consistent spoonful helpings of cereal from his cereal bowl. Taking a brief break from eating, he asks, “What’s on your agenda today?”

Barely breaking her attention from her paperwork, Diane pushes her glasses back up onto her nose, and responds, “Just a couple of cases. Nothing major.” Feeling a bit ignored by his wife, Adam playfully responds, “Yeah and I just jumped on a bastard clown, screaming ‘Yahoo!’” “That’s nice,” Diane responds, before snapping out of her daze, “Wait, what?”

“Nothing,” Adam jokes, “Just thought I could break you away from the mass piles of paperwork that is consuming your breakfast.” Putting the paperwork in her hands down, and removing her glasses, she runs her hands over her face and apologizes, “Oh, I’m sorry. I guess I have been a bit preoccupied this morning.” “No, it’s fine. I just wanted to get some kind of rise out of you, because I know you’ve been really swamped with cases lately.”

Taking a sigh of brief relaxation, Diane responds, “Yes. Ever since Rebecca has taken a leave of absence, and the Mayor has yet to fill the District Attorney’s position, I’ve been a bit overbooked. And, unfortunately, it’s not very fair on you, now, is it?” Since Rebecca’s leave of absence, Diane’s workload has amassed twice in size, resulting in Diane’s recent change in demeanor.

In an attempt to empathize and taking his wife’s hand into his, Adam compassionately responds, “It’s not about what’s being fair, Diane. I knew what I signed up for when I married you.” “I know, but…” “But, what? There are no buts right now. I told you, I knew what I signed up for when we got married. I knew what could happen when you and Rebecca decided to open the firm. And right now we’re going to have to adjust to everything. We will get through it.”

“How did I get so lucky?” Diane questions. Feeling perplexed, Adam responds, “Lucky with what?” “With you? And our marriage?” “What can I say? I’m just that amazing,” Adam cockily responds, crafting a shit-eating grin on his face. Laughing at her husband’s tongue-in-cheeks behaviour, Diane comments, “I promise everything will be settled soon.”

As the pair begins to return to their morning routine, Diane questions, “So, how is Ava doing? I feel like I haven’t seen her in weeks.” “She has been busy at work. I guess with Johnson Industries’ IPO, things at the office have been quite hectic,” Adam responds. Feeling a bit confused, Diane inquires, “Johnson Industries? What does their IPO have to do with her job?” “Well, from what I can piece together, Ava’s boss has interest in Johnson shares. And she, I guess, has been there every step of the way.”

“That’s fantastic for her. I know she’s been enjoying working at CJ with Courtney and the other staff,” Diane compliments.

“Yes,” Adam agrees, while looking at his watch. “And, speaking of work, we should both get going if we don’t want to both be late, and instead of having no time because of work, we’re both unemployed and kill each other because of our constant company.”

Wiping his face, he leans in and kisses Diane goodbye. As he begins to leave the townhouse, Diane states, “See you tonight!” Adam smiles a warm smile, before leaving to begin his day. Settling back into her chair, Diane takes a brief moment to relax and take another sip of her coffee; looking at her watch, she gasps in horror at the time, quickly gathering her paper to leave and begin her own day.

CJ ENTERPRISES
1497 SAINTS BOULEVARD
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948

The mood is relatively subdued in the offices, with slight hustle and bustle from select employees, moving around with handfuls of folders filled with paperwork. Then, the sole elevator to the office’s floor dings, and as the doors open, a pair of female legs, dressed into loose-fitting black slacks exits the elevator. As the female’s heels make noise against the medium grey tile, she makes her way to her desk. Once at her desk, Ava Newton sits in her chair and is greeted by an endless array of phone calls.

Just as Ava settles into what could be seen as a busy day, the main elevator doors once again open, as another powerful female makes her way off of the elevator, stomping her way into the main office. Her arrival sends an immediate rush in the already hectic hustle and bustle of the office’s atmosphere. Immediately passing by those within the office, she makes her way past Ava’s desk, where Ava is sitting, hanging up a phone call.

As the mystery woman opens the door to the main office, she slams it shut. Moments later, over the on-desk intercom, a woman’s voice can be heard barking, “Ava, my office. Now.” Startled by the demand, Ava shuffles her work and immediately picks up her cell phone, a notepad and a manila folder, which is labeled “Classified” in bold, red letters.

Opening up the office door, she is greeted by Courtney Willis, sitting at her desk, looking over several confidential documents. “You wanted to see me,” Ava inquires. Barely lifting her attention from the documents, Courtney coldly responds, “Yes. Come on, please and sit.”

Closing the office door, Ava sits at a chair, distanced from Courtney’s desk. As she sits there, in uncomfortable silence, Courtney breaks the ice and questions, “Do we have an update on the Johnson deal happening today?” “Yes,” Ava promptly responses, as she shuffles through her materials, handing Courtney the Classified file. Ava continues, “The IPO is going to be happening at promptly 2:00 PM this afternoon, and there are many players in this that could be staking claim at the shares the company is releasing.”

Throwing her hair behind her shoulders, Courtney looks up and responds, “Well, then, I guess we have to make sure we are on top of this. This IPO could change CJ Enterprises’ future, and I refuse to sit back and watch this brilliant opportunity waste away.” As Ava notes her conversion with Courtney, she asks, “Do you still want me to keep your lunch meeting with marketing this afternoon?” “No, cancel it. And tell them we’ll reschedule for another time,” Courtney swiftly responds. Nodding in agreement, Ava agrees, “Of course. I will make sure to stay on top of it.”

“Knock knock,” a male voice introduces, while knocking on Courtney’s office door. As the door opens ajar, Jason Spencer pops his head in, and states: “Am I interrupting anything?” “Of course not,” Courtney warmly states, as her voice perks in a pleasant tone. “Hi baby,” she greets to him, while kissing him gently on the lips. He responds, “Hi to you, too.” Turning his attention to Ava, she greets her as well, “Morning to you, too, Ava.” “Morning,” Ava shyly smiles, before continuing: “Courtney, I’ll keep you up to date on everything involving the IPO this morning. And I will be sure to get that note to marketing concerning your lunch immediately.” “Thank you,” Courtney distantly responds, keeping her attention focused onto Jason’s presence. “That’ll be all for now, Ava. I’ll need you back here by 2:00 PM.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, did I interrupt a meeting or something.” Jason questions. Shaking her head in disapproval, Courtney wraps her warms around Jason’s neck and quietly responds, “Absolutely not.” The pair embraces each other in a passionate kiss, normally not accepted in a work setting, as Jason pulls Courtney into him, creating a moment of heated bliss between them.

Outside of the office, Ava leans up against the door, taken aback from Jason’s attention towards her, smitten by her boss’ lover.

LIBERTY CITY APARTMENTS, APT. 410
90 WINDMILL AVENUE
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948

As the brisk morning sun shines directly through the shaded windows of a quiet apartment, Natalie Smithson walks into the apartment’s living room parlor. Opening her blinds, she happily basks in the warmth the sun’s rays are projecting. Enjoying the brief momentary quiet, the immediate sound of stomping feet sound throughout the apartment.

“Mommy, mommy, mommy,” a young voice exclaims as its intensity grows stronger as the footsteps move closer. Shaken out of her own mind, Natalie turns around to see her young son, now seven years of age, standing behind her. “What is it, sweetie?” Natalie sweetly asks. “I can’t go today, I’m too sick,” the young boy responds, coughing a suspiciously unrealistic, forced cough. Laughing at his persistence, Natalie crouches down and says, “Nice try, big guy. But you know you’ve got to go today.”

“Why?” he asks. “Because, I am the parent and you are the child. C’mon, this has to be exciting. Your first day of second grade; you used to be used to start school, and now, you’re already acting like a teenager.” In the hopes of raising moral, Natalie boasts, “I mean, don’t you want to see all of your friends, in one place and you can play together at recess? Doesn’t that sound fun?” “I’ve played with them all summer,” the boy unsympathetically responds. “Well, now you can play with them for the school year. Mommy needs adult time. I love you, buddy, but sometimes you can be a handful.”

“What if the kids are mean to me?” the boy asks. Unsettled by her son’s question, Natalie holds his hands firmly in hers, and states: “I promise you, not a single kid is going to be mean to you. And, if by chance they are, then you just need to keep your head up and ignore them. You are Joshua John Smithson, and you are the greatest little boy…” “Big boy,” Joshua interrupts. “Sorry, forgive me. You are the greatest big boy a mother could ever hope to have, okay?”

“Okay mommy,” Joshua responds giving his mother the biggest hug around her neck. Hugging her son back, Natalie suggests, “Okay, then. Let’s get going to school, all right? You’re going to have a great day and once school is over, I’ll be there to pick you up and then we can come home, and have ourselves a night with just us two.” Excited by his mother’s words, Joshua grabs his backpack and Natalie helps him put it on.

“Okay, let’s go,” Natalie engages while holding out her hand to Joshua’s. As Joshua puts his hand into hers, they exit the apartment and immediately begin on their day of adventures together.

JOHNSON INDUSTRIES
464 UNION EAST DRIVE
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948

The hustle and bustle within the offices of Johnson Industries creates an immediate with the impending IPO launch for the company. As the bing of the elevator sets off, both doors open and both Logan and Donna exit the elevator, finally arriving at their destination. Walking immediately from the elevator and down the main office hallway, the sisters steadily walk in confidence heading towards their destination within the office.

Arriving at Conference Room 2, the two ladies briskly open the conference room door, to be greeted by multiple executives gathered around a long, glass-top table. “Good morning everyone,” Logan greets at she makes her way to the head of the table, removing her coat and shaking her head to brush her hair from against her face. As many of the executives extend their greetings back to both Logan and Donna, the sisters look at each other, before questioning, “Is everyone here this morning?”

“Not everyone,” a male executive responds. Taken aback, in quite a confused state, Donna responds, “Well, then who’s missing? We made it quite clear,” before being interrupted by the arrival of their youngest sister, Jennifer. “Well, aren’t we all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning. Quite the group of arrivals I must say,” Jennifer quips upon her late arrival.

Unimpressed by her lateness, Donna continues, “So glad you could make it here, Jen. However, I do not recall you being invited this morning.” “Well, didn’t we wake up on the bright-eyed and bushy tailed side of the bed this morning,” Jennifer quipped, laughing off Donna’s comments. Taking a seat at the table, she snipes, “And I don’t recall asking for permission to be at this meeting, Don. Last time I checked, this company was about family, and considering that we are still family, as unfortunate as that is, I should be here. Not to mention, my company is directly affected by this IPO, so I should have a first-hand look at what’s going on, should I not?”

Huffing and puffing, Donna’s irritation becomes immediately noticeable. In the hopes of diffusing the situation, Logan immediately steps in and calmly responds, “Of course it’s your right to be here, Jen. It’s just that we wanted everyone here by 2:00 PM this afternoon and we intended for a close door meetings, that’s all. You’re here now, and we couldn’t be happier that you’re here with us.”

As everyone settles into their seats at the conference table, Logan takes control of the meeting, and states, “Well, this is it everyone. We’ve been discussing this for months, and it’s been in the cards for quite some time. And, within several moments, everything changes for us here at Johnson. Our company will be going public and up on this screen, we will see in real-time how our shares are divided up. And, thankfully, we’re all doing this together as a collectively supportive family. So, thank you for being here, and let’s get to this.”

As the mood in the room turns quite tense, Logan picks up the conference room phone, and alerts on the other end, “It’s time. Thank you.” As the screen turns on, the in-live-time watch of Johnson Industries’ public shares is seen. Within moments of the opening of the IPO, the screen shuts down, signally a panic to everyone within the conference room. Seconds later, the phone rings and Logan picks it up. Speaking in short-length answers, Logan states, “Hello? Are you sure?” Slowly, in shock, Logan hangs up the phone. Inquiring, Donna asks, “What was that? What did they say?” Hesitant, Logan responds, “Nothing’s wrong. But the stock is gone.”

“Gone? What do you mean gone?”

“The stock sold. It’s done.”

Confused, Donna asks, “How is that even possible? They just went live. I don’t get how stock can sell that fast.”

Refusing to accept the outcome of the IPO, Donna picks up the phone. Once connected, she barks, “I need legal to look into this, immediately. And I want to be notified the moment any information is known. I don’t care how busy you guys are, this matter is of top importance. Do your damn job.”

Slamming the phone down, executives within the conference room begins to gather their belongings to exit the room. Exchanging worried pleasantries, one board member remarks to Logan, “Please make sure you keep up in the know of what’s going on. This could lead to an endless string of repercussions.” “Thank you, Doug, I’ll be sure to fill you in,” Logan responds.

Staying behind, Jennifer slowly collects herself and her belongings from the table, before opening the dialogue, “Well that was unexpected.”

“You are eating this up right now aren’t you,” Donna snipes. “Donna, don’t do that,” Logan pleads.

Laughing at her sisters, Jennifer responds, “No, no. Let her speak, Logan. She has her right to say what she has to say; we all know what happened between us. It is absolutely no secret, but let me tell you this: my company and my livelihood is at stake with this IPO, and I don’t like what just happened.” “And you think we do,” exclaimed Logan, in disbelief of her sister’s words of warning. “I don’t make it my business to think about what it is either of you are thinking of. My business, at the end of the day, is the protection of the hotel. That’s my livelihood, not this company. I am expecting you fix this. The both of you; otherwise, I will be requesting that Johnson either withdraw its financial support of the hotel or buy itself out.”

Silenced by their sister’s words, Jennifer continues to issue a stern warning, “If I were either of you, I’d be working overtime to ensure that shit does not hit the fan even more than it has. I have my plans to re-open the hotel soon, and I cannot do that if there are unknown investors in this company that could derail that. Fix it, immediately.”

Excusing herself coldly from the table, as Jennifer walks out of the conference room, she leaves with, “It was nice to see you both. I will be in touch shortly.”

As the door shuts, Logan and Donna exhale a deep sigh. “Well, that was uncalled for,” Donna barks. “She’s right, though,” Logan quietly responds, sending Donna into a shock reaction. “This is not what I was expecting. The stocks sold too fast, and it worries me that we are being targeted as a company. This could change the dynamic of Johnson, as we know it.”

Walking over to one of the picture-frame windows, Logan looks out on the hustle of Liberty City, as her eyes slightly welled with tears. “What have I just done,” she weakly states out loud, as she collapses her emotions into the palm of her hand.

1051 SENECA AVENUE
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948

As the sunlight continues to shine on the city of Liberty City, a sudden bitterness overcomes the air. This, added to the distilled nature of the abandoned estate settled at 1051 Seneca Avenue. Abandoned decades earlier by the former first family of Liberty City, the estate known as Bancorage, has been left unattended and often avoided by those within the city. As the swift whistle of winds interrupts the quiet, a black town car drives up to the gate of the estate.

Stopping, an anonymous male exits the exit and immediately opens up the gates. Returning to the car, the driver enters into the estate’s driveway, signally that for the first time in quite a while, Bancorage may once again be opened for business, and that a major change is coming to those living in Liberty City — a change which many may not be prepared for.