Outside Fox Rivers blue stone and razor wire walls, cameras, reporters and picketers have gathered.
"Once again Fox River is surrounded by picketers protesting the death penalty as all avenues by Lincoln Burrows legal team have been exhausted and the death sentence is once again scheduled to be carried out within 48 hours." Samantha Wilhem, a local reporter begins her nightly report as in the background amongst the lights and shouting, a young, blonde woman wanders back and forth, looking lost, dishevelled, tears streaming down her face. The woman turns away from the prison walls and her eyes lock onto the camera from behind the reporter. With sudden determination the young woman rushes towards the reporter, pulling a piece of paper from her pocket, but is stopped in her tracks by the reporters' assistant.
"Where do you think your going?"
"I just…I need to speak to Ms Wilhem…" The young woman replies in an Australian Accent.
"I don't think so, sweetheart…"
"I'm Lincoln Burrows wife."
"…No-one gets… What did you say? Do you have proof?"
The girl hands the crumpled paper to man. As he reads, his face lights up.
"Is this real?" He asks the girl, with disbelief.
"Yes. Please you have to help me! My name is Ella Beaumont-Burrows. The guards won't let me inside…" Ella's voice trails off into a sob as tears begin to cloud vision again.
"I'll do more than help you sweetheart, if you're willing to go on air right now, and give us the exclusive." Ella could tell this man thought he'd hit the jackpot. She nods and wipes her cheek.
"Don't do that. Tears add drama. There's a good girl. Come with me. Hurry!" The man hands her the wedding licence and drags her towards the reporter.
"Stand here until I wave you in. Then get nice and close to Samantha and when she asks you about proof hold that licence up nice and high so the camera can zoom in." The man rushes off and whispers into the reporters' ear.
"Breaking news in the Lincoln Burrows execution. A young woman claiming to be Lincoln's wife has been refused entry to the prison to see Burrows."
The man waves Ella towards the reporter.
"Here we have Ella Beaumont-Burrows the woman making these claims. Mrs Burrow, do you have proof of your claim?"
Ella nods, and holds up the wedding licence as the cameraman zooms in. The reporter continues.
"Mrs Burrows is it true that you have been refused entry to see your husband?"
"Yes. The guards won't even listen to me. I've been trying all night."
"But, Mrs Burrows why haven't you tried to see your husband before now?"
"I found out one week ago what was happening from a private detective and have only just arrived back in the country. I was in Australia. I have been desperately being trying to see him but no-one will help me."
"How long have you been out of the country?"
"Eleven months. Lincoln was supposed to be on a flight to Australia the day after police arrested him for murder…" Ella began sobbing. "I know him. He wouldn't kill anyone. He was going to move to Australia. We were going to start a family. He had a job, a baby on the way and a new life waiting for him when he arrived. Why would he throw that all away?" Ella wipes her tears away. "He wouldn't. I love him. I just want to be with him. He doesn't even know I'm here. He doesn't even know…" She turns away, her voice brakes and trails off into sobs.
"What doesn't Lincoln know, Ella?" The reporter asks, her fake concern obviously a cover for reckless curiosity and an instinct for a story.
"Ella, please tell me?" Samantha pleads, while gently turning Ella back to face the camera.
"He doesn't know that our baby died!" Ella blurts out, her face twisting in agony she puts her head in her hands and begins to cry.
The reporter turns away from Ella and faces into the camera.
"Just to repeat breaking news…"
Ella turns and steps a few feet away from the reporter, out of sight of the camera. That show should get her inside, which is a start.
Inside the Wardens' office, Pope listens to the local news as he tidies up for the night. The coverage of the commotion outside the walls begins and he stops to watch.
"Damn!" He exclaims to himself. He rushes over to the phone and calls the guards at the gates.
"The girl claiming to be Burrows wife."
The guard on the other end interrupts him.
"Don't worry sir, we sent that crank away."
"You idiots she is with that damn reporter, Samantha Wilhem right now. And she has a Wedding licence with Burrows name on it. Find her and get her in here. NOW!"
Ella sees the guard coming long before he reaches her. She slumps her shoulders and makes sure she appears distraught, burying her face in her hands again. The guard approaches.
"Mrs Burrows. If you could come with me please."
Ella looks up through fresh tears and replies "Its Beaumont-Burrows."
"My apologies, ma'am. This way please."
Ella allows the guard to guide her by the arm though the gates, under the big blue stone archway, that leads into the prison.
Ella tucks the reporter's card deep into her jeans pocket, knowing it will be useful. The guard leads Ella into a building, full of desks and small administrative looking rooms, down the hall towards a waiting room and a secretary's desk.
"Please wait here." The guard motions for Ella to sit, knocks on a door at the far end of the room and disappears through it. She wanders close to the couch but does not sit. Instead she hovers close, slowly pacing with her hand to her mouth, chewing at the nail on her index finger. She hates people who chew their nails but she knows there are cameras in the room.
An older man, with slightly greying hair, appears in the door as the guard exits the room and heads down the hall they have just come through.
"Please Mrs Beaumont-Burrows come in. I am the Warden of Fox River." Ella follows the warden into the room as he continues. "Please forgive my guards for turning you away before. There is a lot of confusion with the protesters and as you can understand we cannot afford to let just anyone onto the premises."
Please have a seat." The warden gestures towards a chair as he sits behind a big mahogany desk.
"Please, I just want to see my husband."
"Yes of course. As you can appreciate, this is an unusual situation. I will try to organise for you to see him as soon as possible, but…" The warden hesitates. "It's a delicate situation…"
"I understand. You would like to see proof, right?"
"Yes, I'm sorry but protocol…"
Ella interrupts and produces the Wedding licence.
"It's okay. I understand your position. I don't want to cause you any problems." Ella gives the warden a weak, sad half smile. The warden returns the smile, picks up the licence, places his glasses on with the other hand and reads the paper thoroughly. Ella studies the room, noting the other door to her right, the books on the shelf behind to warden and the items on his desk. She catches the wardens' gaze as he looks up from the page.
"If I could ask you to wait outside, Mrs Beaumont-Burrows. I'll see what I can do for you."
"Please call me Ella."
She replies as the warden begins to lead her out of his office.
"Ella I will have to make some phone calls. So it may take some time."
"I've got all the time in the world. It's Lincoln that doesn't."
"I will do my best to organise for you to see him straight away."
"Thank-you, you have no idea what this means to me. To both of us."
The warden disappears back into his office and closes the door. Ella knew the appearance of an unknown wife of a death-row inmate only hours before his execution was big news and it would be bad publicity if she wasn't permitted to see her him.
The plan was progessing flawlessly. She only hoped Michael had a chance to update Lincoln on the plan.
The warden reappears in the doorway half an hour later.
"Ella, I have arranged for you to see Lincoln in one of the conjugal rooms, to allow you some privacy. The guards will of course be outside the door, but it's the best I could do."
"It's more than enough. Thank-you."
Ella flashes a sweet smile at the warden as he leads her into his office and out the second door into another corridor.
They arrive outside the conjugal room, where one of two guards lets the warden know Burrows is waiting inside. The warden opens the room and Ella follows him inside. Ella knows this is the moment. Either Lincoln knows of the plan and will play along, or she will have to bluff her way through.
From the moment her eyes meet Lincolns', she knows he doesn't know anything about the plan. She rushes past the warden, throws her arms around Lincolns' neck and kisses him passionately. Ella can see the look of surprise on Lincolns face and hopes the guards and the warden aren't looking too closely. Ella breaks away from the kiss and quickly hugs Lincoln. This gives her a chance to whisper into his ear. She knows she has to be quiet and concise in what she tells him and hope he hears enough to know to play along.
"Michael sent me. I'm Ella, your wife. Play along. Get them to leave the room. Ask about our baby."
She releases him, and ignoring the guards and the warden behind her, starts to sob.
"Oh Link, I've missed you so much. I didn't know what happened to you."
Ella hugs Lincoln again and repeats "Ask about our baby, now."
"I've missed you too. I'm so happy you're here." He releases the hug and asks. "The baby?"
Immediately Ella starts to cry. She knows how this display of overwhelming grief will make the guards and warden uncomfortable and leave the room. She throws her arms around Link and buries her face in his chest. She feels him nodding to the men behind her and through her sobs hears the door close. She pulls away and wipes her eyes. Ella gives Lincoln a barely perceivable smile, and sits on the bed.
"Nice job. Now down to business I guess."
She pats the spot next to her signalling Link to sit.
"Okay we haven't got much time, so I'll give you the cliff-notes and if there's time I'll fill in the gaps. Plus we will have to find a way to talk to Michael and let him know how the plan has changed."
Lincoln warily sits on the bed, leaning against the wall a distance away from Ella.
"We have to keep up the façade, or I'll be out on my arse." Ella gives Lincoln a quick smile as she swiftly moves and sits straddling his lap. Link is obviously surprised and shocked at this strange girls' boldness. Ella seems not to notice as she gently brushes the back of her hand against his cheek, and runs it down his arm until she finds his hand. She picks his hand up and intertwines her fingers in his. She kisses the back of his hand, looks into his eyes and kisses him. She pulls back knowing he is struggling to comprehend what is happening.
"Listen I know this is hard but you have to act like you're in love with me. Pretend I'm your lawyer friend if it helps." Lincoln frowns at her, and she knows he's not impressed. She backs off and tries a different approach. "Maybe we should start from the beginning. Hi."
"Hi" Lincoln replies reluctantly.
"I'm Ella Beaumont-Burrows. I will be playing the part of your young wife."
"And how is this supposed to get me out of here." Link growls in confusion, trying to push her aside. Ella grabs Lincoln by the thumb and twists it back causing him to squirm in pain. She looks into his eyes and he sees a sudden coldness. Suddenly he becomes unsure of who he is in the room with. She lets go, her eyes no longer threatening, and gently presses her lips to his.
"Link, sweetie-pie, you have to calm down, now is the time to pay attention. All will be revealed, but for now you need to know enough to get us by." She leans back and gives Link the sweetest, kindest smile he has ever seen.
"I know you want to know how I came to be involved but for now we have to bring you up to speed. Part 1 of our lives together- How we met"
"Are we just going to make it up?" Link asks, obviously tiring of trying to figure things out.
"Nope. There's a whole pre-written story that Michael and I know by heart, and you're going to learn tonight. Each story has to be the same to keep anyone from getting suspicious. The will be a quiz after I've finished so I suggest you pay attention."
Ella's eyes twinkle as she affectionately gives Link's shaved head a playful rub.
"I do love my man to have a close shave. Now to the story: It was a Thursday night, my Birthday in fact. August 6th. I didn't want to do anything special but my friends dragged me out to our local, the Cats Cradle."
"I know that bar. I used to go there all the time."
"I know. Most of the details will be based on the truth as much as possible to make it easier to keep our story straight, but it's the little details that matter so listen up. Anyway, you were there with a mate, playing pool. You were totally bogarting the only pool table in the pub and it was driving me nuts. I love playing pool and every birthday my friends and I drink tequila shots while we play. They wouldn't let me have any tequila until we were playing, so I was stuck drinking beer."
Ella screwed up her face and for the first time Link smiled, looking entertained. "Not a birthday drink at all. So I got quite drunk, some might say a little too much so, and stumbled over to confront you. After all you were denying me my shots."
"Never get between a girl and her birthday shots." Link jokes, obviously beginning to enjoy the story.
"Exactly. So I came over and told you off. Well of course you and your mate just laughed at this crazy drunk girl, which made me even crazier. Finally, I challenged you to a game to see who got to use the table for the rest of the night. Of course you accepted, thinking it would be an easy win. We played and teased each other, while my friends bought shot after shot of tequila. I won."
"Now that's not the truth is it?" Link teases Ella.
"Yes it is! I wouldn't lie to you about how we met!" She laughs. "Now stop interrupting."
"Sorry please go on." Link continues to listen and is surprised by how much he is enjoying to company of this quirky, possibly crazy girl.
"Anyway everyone left and we were alone. You let me win the next three games, which I knew you were doing, so I invited you to do one last shot and lick some salt of my chest as a consolation for losing. After that we went back to your place- and that is how we met!"
"It's an entertaining story. Probably not one you'd tell your grandchildren." Link replies.
"I think it's a great story. Very generic. Meeting in a seedy bar and hooking up. Part 2 of our story- The rest. We were together for two months before I accidentally got pregnant. When I told you I was surprised at how excited you were. Saying it was your chance to be a good father, and LJ would have a little brother or sister. We got married a week later, Michael was your best man. We made plans to move back to Australia were I had organised a job for you. I left a month later to tell my parents. That was two days before your arrest. Here's the best bit. I'm rich, tonnes of money. When you dropped me at the airport and as the first boarding call sounded for my flight you confessed you owed this guy 70 grand so I wrote out a cheque. You never cashed it but…"
"You have the cheque butt."
"Exactly!" Ella smiles, then gets serious. "Before you ask, I have a documents guy who whipped it up. Any forensic tests will say it was written on that day. Now your motive for killing the vice-presidents brother has gone. You had the money, all you had to do was cash it. I told you that you had to go to the police and warn them this guy was in danger. But you said you couldn't. That you would go to the garage and warn him on the night you were supposed to kill him. Here's the good bit, you took a gun because you thought it might be dangerous. As you approached the car you saw the guy slumped against the steering wheel and drew the gun. The following day you were due to fly to Australia to meet my family. The actual cheque is missing along with a lot of the evidence in you case seems to be, but the plane ticket has mysteriously turned up in your old apartment at the back of the cupboard."
"All this new evidence, the cheque butt and the ticket are all fake?" Link frowns.
"Technically, yes. But only Michael, you and I know it. And they are flawless. Even the best in the world couldn't tell they weren't real. Link, don't worry, I'm a professional. I have all the bases covered. Believe me it took some time and a lot of greasing the wheels, but the airport have records of the ticket in your name, the signature on the wedding licence is yours, even the ink and paper can be dated back to the days before your arrest. You just have to have a little faith."
Link looks at Ella as she says this.
"What?" Ella asks.
"It's just something Michael and I say."
"Speaking of Michael do you get to talk to him? I need him to know that the actress I paid for this job ran out with the money and I have taken her place." Link frowns again. "Don't worry, she left before she learned any of the details. It's only important because she was your preferred brunette and I'm a blonde. So if he gets asked to describe your wife before he knows we've swapped he'll get it wrong then we're screwed."
"We have chapel tomorrow first thing."
"Good. Tell him Oz had to change players at the last minute."
"Michael will now what it means. Now for the quiz. I hope you were paying attention. Would you prefer positive or negative reinforcement?" Ella's eyes sparkle as she asks this question.
"What do you mean?" Link asks, looking a little worried.
"Well I can slap you up and down this room until you get the details right or we could do something a little more fun for positive reinforcement."
"What did you have in mind?"
Ella leans forward and whispers in Lincolns' ear.
"I'll go for the positive reinforcement."
"I thought you might. The first button is a freebie, you have to earn the rest." Ella says as she undoes the top button on her white linen shirt.
The warden approaches the door to the conjugal room.
"I think its time Burrows is returned to his cell." The warden looks at his watch, 11:45pm.
"Yes sir, the guards unlock the door and the warden enters the room. He stops just inside the door and sees the girl sitting on top of Burrows, kissing him with her shirt unbuttoned.
Ella hears the warden and turns around, clutching her shirt closed and mimicking the wardens' obvious embarrassment, even though she's not embarrassed at all.
"I'm sorry to interrupt." The warden says looking away.
"That's okay." Ella turns her back on the warden, gives Lincoln a cheeky grin and begins to button up her shirt. She stands up and moves a step away from Lincoln, loosely crossing her arms across her chest and purposely not meeting the wardens gaze. Lincoln studies her, fascinated by how quickly she can change from one personality to another.
"Lincoln, its time for you to go back to your cell for the night." The warden motions for Lincoln to stand. Ella steps between them and begs the warden.
"Please can't we stay? I know it's a lot to ask but we haven't seen or spoken to each other in months." Her voice showing just enough desperation and her eyes welling with tears. She steps back and grips Lincoln's hand tightly in both hands.
"Ella, I understand you would like more time, but I have already broken the rules for you tonight."
Tears roll down Ella's cheek.
"I understand." She turns to Lincoln. "I love you." He brushes her tears away with the back of his hand, pulls her to his chest and kisses her on the top of her head.
"It's okay. Please don't cry."
Ella sobs louder, and hears the warden shifting his weight behind her, an obvious sign he's indecisive. She looks up into Lincolns' eyes.
"I don't want to go."
"I know, I know." Link strokes her soft blonde hair, and wipes away another tear. He pulls her close again and she buries her head into his chest. Link gives the warden what he hopes is a pleading look. The wardens' expression softens. He hates to see a woman cry.
"Maybe we could organise for you to stay, but only for tonight. You will have to leave before chapel in the morning."
Ella looks up.
"Thank-you." She breaks away from Lincolns' arms, walks over to the warden and hugs him. "Thank-you." She whispers in the wardens' ear. She can tell this sign of affection is making him uncomfortable and a waits an extra second before she lets go. She walks back over to Lincoln, takes his hand again, turns to the warden and smiles sweetly, while wiping away another tear.
"Thank-you, sir." Lincoln says to the warden as he leaves the room.
"If you need anything the guards will be outside the door." The warden replies as he closes the door and locks it.
"I can't believe he let you stay." Lincoln says in disbelief.
"I knew he would. His profile says he hates to see women cry." Ella smiles, winks at Link and plonks back down on the bed. "Now where were we?"