Jill Coleridge:
Will She Win the Case But Lose Her Heart?
Soap Opera Serials Magazine, September 1976
by J.M. Fitzmartin
Article Provided By Wanda

Women envy Jill Coleridge. With her long, swinging brunette hair, luminous skin and blue eyes, men's heads turn as she walks down the street. She was born well-off and when her late father's will was probated she became downright rich. Because of her natural intelligence and determination, she was one of a handful of women law school graduates. Her subsequent practice as Riverside Hospital's number-one attorney is the envy of her peers. But this is one book you can't tell by it's cover, for underneath Jill's facade of beauty and success lives a young woman devastated by life's disappointments.

Her lover Frank Ryan has returned to his wife and once again he has succumbed to Delia's child-woman qualities. It was Jill who insisted that they end their three-year affair. Frank's election as city councilman had hung in balance as Delia threatened to make public the truth of his adulterous affair. Sacrificing her own feelings for Frank's career, Jill turned him away when he tried to see her. She avoided him when she stopped by Ryan's Bar to seek comfort from Maeve and Johnny.

Jill tried not to think of her problems. She busied herself with the law, hoping to find in the dry pages of Blackstone a substitute for the memory of Frank's caresses.

Seneca Beaulac had been accused of first degree murder for disconnecting the respirator that kept his hopelessly ill wife Nell alive. Defending him was Jill. The intricacies of the difficult case kept her working night and day.

Dr. Beaulac was a most reluctant client. He wanted to plead guilty to the charge and take his medicine in prison. But Jill convinced him it was his moral duty to fight for his freedom, if only for the memory of his wife. But while Jill labored over law books, Seneca did everything to sabotage his own defense. Only Jill's quiet, persuasive arguments gave him the confidence to fight it out in court.

From the very beginning there was more than a lawyer-client relationship for Jill and Seneca. She felt a debt of gratitude to Dr. Beaulac for the comfort he gave her when her dad died. Denied Frank's soothing embrace then, she had accepted Seneca's solace instead. She felt an immediate warmth toward the hot-tempered doctor and began to revise her opinion of him.

Now she stood before the judge, pleading for his very life. The D.A. had assembled a powerful case against him, primarily the tempestuous marital history of Nell and Seneca. Jill based her defense on the notion that Seneca's disconnecting of the respirator was not murder, but an ultimate act of love. The prosecution was out to prove he had finally rid himself of a wife he had not wanted for years.

Jill was not scared off, though. With each prosecution witness, Jill mounted a cross-examination that quickly demolished incriminating testimony. Even when the State's ace witness Dr. Harriet Hill admitted that she and Seneca had traveled together to San Francisco for a medical convention, Jill was able to prove the innocence of the trip. And while the D.A. forced Harriet, a comely former co-worker of Seneca's from his years in Minneapolis, to admit she was still infatuated with
Seneca, Jill got the fact that they had never been intimate on the record. Slowly, Jill recreated the marriage of Seneca and Nell, reminding the jury that when Nell discovered the gravity of her illness, she had forced Seneca to promise before witnesses that he would not let her linger as a vegetable.

The more she labors for Seneca's cause the more she grows to respect him. Jill has discovered that beneath the blustering surface of the fiery physician he is a brilliant, yet lonely man. His late wife was unable to withstand his dominating personality and frequently fled from his suffocating demands. But Jill is strong and she enjoys the give and take of verbal combat with Seneca. Each new day in court, each night spent preparing for the next day's questioning draw them closer together. For the first time in his life Seneca is truly alone. He does not even have his work to sustain him as the hospital was forced to suspend his duties and the State is seeking to rescind his practitioner's license. Now he has only Jill; for the first time in his life he needs someone.

As she labors in Seneca's cause, her keen mind grilling witness after witness and bolstering the defense, Jill marvels at the speed in which Frank's image fades from her mind. She secretly congratulates herself for finding the law a substitute for his love and wonders if this is what makes her wake up cheery each morning for the first time in months.

Two losers at love, the bond between Seneca and Jill has gone beyond a professional arrangement. Jill believes that if the jury goes easy on Seneca she will gain a double-edged victory: she would have freed him from the threat of jail and also freed her heart from the bondage of love for Frank Ryan. What she does not suspect, however, is that she may have committed her heart to Seneca Beaulac.

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