Episode #325

Previously ...
- Nick received a disturbing phone call and set out to find Ryan.
- At the conclusion of the fashion show, Brent joined Molly onstage and professed his love. She finally accepted that they can be together and have a public relationship.
- Witnessing Molly and Brent together sent Sarah into a fit. When Matt took her outside to calm her, he urged her to look toward the future and planned to spring a surprise on her--but she beat him to the punch by suggesting that they elope.

9:46 PM

"You're a song written by the hand of God ... don't get me wrong, this might sound to you a bit odd ..."

Molly Fisher locks her hands around the back of Brent Taylor's neck. She can feel his palms resting on her hips, gently pulling her closer to him. Their bodies move side to side, slowly, in time with the Shakira song that is playing over the hall's speaker system.

Brent's voice breaks with a chuckle as he says, "I'm glad you didn't scream or push me off the stage or anything."

"The thought crossed my mind," Molly says. "But, you know, making a scene wouldn't have been too good for my career, so ..."

"Lucky for me you had to pretend you wanted me up there with you, or that could've been pretty embarrassing."

Molly takes a deep breath and rests her head against his shoulder. She's missed this kind of closeness, much more than she has allowed herself to admit, over the last several weeks. But the sense of security that she feels now is enough to convince her that accepting Brent onstage beside her was the right thing to do.

"When we were standing up there, after you gave me the flowers," she says, "I had this moment of realization. It was like everything had finally come together. I was onstage, doing the job I've always dreamed of doing, and I had my family in the audience supporting me and the man I love by my side. I didn't--I don't--need anything else."

"I hope Sarah reacts okay. I hated to do something like that in front of her, but it needed to happen. Once and for all, we needed to be together in front of everyone like this. No turning back."

Molly whispers the phrase to herself, trying to get used to it. "No turning back."

They continue dancing in silence, content to be so close. When Molly lifts her head from Brent's shoulder, she sees Bill approaching them.

She braces herself for some kind of lecture, and she can feel Brent tense up when he catches sight of Bill, too.

But instead of reprimanding them, Bill puts an hand on each of their shoulders and leans in close to them.

"I just wanted to tell you two," he says, "that I'm happy for you. Paula and I both are."

Brent looks at Bill, slightly dumbfounded, and simply responds, "Thanks."

Bill continues speaking in a hushed voice. "We understand how hard this has to be for you and how much you've both tried not to make a big deal of it. And if you want to be together, then ... good for you."

Molly tries to process this. Her parents are actually supporting her and Brent?

"Thanks, Dad," she says, moving her hands away from Brent momentarily to give her father a tight hug.

Bill hugs her back and then smiles, walking off to let them continue dancing.

They join back together, moving to the music, its calm beat a musical reflection of their own peacefulness.

"When my friends are gone, when the party's over ... we will still belong to each other ..."

9:49 PM

Ryan Moriani follows his adoptive father to a corner of the hall. They choose a spot that, considering the music and all the general hubbub, should be out of anyone's earshot, but is not so far removed from the party that it looks conspicuous.

"This'd better be good," Ryan says. He speaks through gritted teeth, which serves the dual purpose of restraining the volume of his voice and concealing his annoyance at having to deal with Nick from any potential onlookers.

"This is anything but good." Nick leans in closer, glances around to make sure that no one will overhear him, and then says, "Joey Esposito was arrested this afternoon."

Ryan's initial reaction is to fire off some flippant response, just to show how disinterested he is in the news. But then the full weight of the implications hits him like a brick to the chest, and his muscles seize up.

"For what?" he asks.

"Does it matter? One crack leads to another, and before you know it, the whole dam falls apart." Nick's gaze hardens on Ryan. "I thought you should know. There isn't much else to say right now."

"Is he here? I mean, in King's Bay? Because that means--"

"No, Chicago," Nick says, nodding. He understands what has Ryan even more concerned. "Brent Taylor has nothing to do with this."

Ryan lets out a sigh of relief, but it isn't particularly fulfilling. Eliminating one complication from a seemingly endless stack is hardly reason to breathe easy.

"He'd better not talk," Ryan says, his eyes shifting from one side to the other to scope out the people around them. No one seems at all interested in their private conversation.

"If he has any regard for his own life, he won't. But that group has never been especially intelligent."

Nick's hand closes over his mouth and mustache. "Just remember, Ryan. You might have chosen to distance yourself from all this, but it's still out there. People know your name, what you've been involved with ... You can't just cut those ties. So be alert."

The sinking sensation that has been threatening Ryan's stomach finally comes to fruition, and a wave of nausea sweeps over his body. He glances back at Paula and Claire, engaged in conversation, oblivious to what is going on between him and Nick.

This can't happen. Not now.

"There you are, darling," comes an intrusive, sickeningly positive voice, snapping Ryan from the nightmare that has begun to cloud his head.

Katherine cozies up to Nick as she continues, "I was wondering where you'd gotten to. And Ryan, how are you?"

"I'm, uh," he chokes, eyes locking with Nick's in a moment of panic, "I'm fine. Just great."

9:50 PM

Claire Fisher props the martini glass delicately between two fingers.

"I'm trying to believe that Tim would be all right with this," she says to Paula.

"He would be, Claire. He wanted nothing more than for you to be happy. And if he can't be here with you, then I don't think he would deny you the chance to be with someone else. Tim wasn't that sort of person."

"No, of course he wasn't." There wasn't anything Tim wanted more than for her, Travis, and Samantha to be safe, healthy, and happy. Claire has never doubted that, and aside from her initial period of grief, she hasn't doubted that he would want her to find someone to share the rest of her life with.

"But Ryan isn't just any man," she adds. "When Tim died, I was trying to have Ryan and Nick thrown in jail. He wanted me to stay away from Ryan at all costs--" She cuts herself off. There is no need to dive back into this set of memories now, when everyone is celebrating and when she has some alcohol in her system. What's done is done.

"And a lot has changed since then. Tim knows that. He's been watching over all of us. The Ryan that we know today is very different from the man Tim wanted you to stay away from."

Paula manages to maintain the same calming tone that she always uses in these sorts of situations, and Claire briefly wonders if she'll ever reach that level of rationality.

"I know," Claire says. "I just have to have faith in that. I'm trying."

A smile tugs at the corners of Paula's lips. "You know, maybe I'm a bit impartial, since I want so badly for the two of you to be happy ... but you seem so drawn to each other, even against all these odds. I think that means something."

Claire takes a sip of the martini. "I think so, too."

But her eye, which has been wandering over to look at Ryan throughout this conversation, now focuses on him, engaged in what looks like serious conversation with Nick.

"I just wish I could be certain about that," she says, more to herself than to Paula.

"So do I," Paula admits, "but we have to trust him. Just because he and Nick are talking doesn't mean that there's anything unsavory going on."

"No. Of course not." Claire forces herself to pull her gaze away from the two men. "Just have to have some faith, right?"

"Right," Paula says, resting a warm hand on Claire's bare arm.

They have only a brief moment of peace before Sarah comes tearing through the French doors that lead out to the terrace. Both of them see it, and they hesitate only an instant before hurrying over to see what is wrong.

9:52 PM

Molly folds her arms in front of her as watches Sarah with their mother and Claire. Though the temperature in the hall is surely the same as it has been all night, a chill has suddenly swept over her.

"Hey, Donna Karan, snap out of it."

With a start, Molly turns to find Jason at her side.

"You okay?" he asks. "Where's Brent?"

"He got a call and had to take off. Something from work."

She can feel Jason's gaze evaluating her, trying to gauge her mood. "You upset because he had to take off?" he asks.

"No, no. It was important." Try as she might, Molly cannot remove her eyes from her sister, who across the hall is in the midst of an absolute fit. Paula and Claire's efforts appear to be doing little to suppress it.

"Don't let Sarah ruin your night," Jason says, now observing with her. "She will get over this eventually."

"I know. I mean, I hope so. It just seems so callous to be saying that she'll 'get over it.'"

"It's not callous. Yeah, it's good that you're concerned about how she's reacting. We all know you and Brent aren't, like, trying to hurt her. But this has gone on for a really long time, Molly."

"You're telling me."

"I think everyone sees that this thing between you and Brent is more than a phase or some passing crush," Jason says. "Eventually, Sarah has to accept that, too."

Molly takes a long drag of the muggy indoor air through her nose and lets it out slowly through her mouth. She forces herself to stop watching Sarah and turns to face her younger brother.

"You think things will ever just, you know, be normal?" she asks.

Jason cracks a grin. "I don't think we do 'normal,' sis. Which is cool, 'cause it keeps things interesting and all."

"I think I've had enough 'interesting' to last a lifetime."

"It'll calm down," he says, more confidently than he probably has a right to. "Now you and Brent can start being together like a regular couple. That will make a difference."

"I hope so."

"It will. And besides, Sarah has Matt, and they're really happy together. That's gonna help her move on, I'm sure of it."

10:33 PM

"Matt, open the door!" Sarah shouts, giving her fist a break from pounding. "Please!"

She is about to give up when the door whips open. Matt stands before her, the collar and cuffs of his tuxedo shirt undone, the tie hanging loosely around his neck.

"Be quiet," he says. "You're gonna bother the neighbors."

"Then let me inside so we can talk about this."

"There's nothing to talk about, Sarah. I don't think there's anything we can say at this point that--"

She decides to take advantage of the opportunity and hurries past him, into the apartment. He gapes at her, open-mouthed, and starts shaking his head.

"Do you not get why I'm upset?" he asks, his tone condescending, as if she legitimately might be too dense to grasp the situation fully.

"Of course I do!" She shuts the door and, for some reason, locks it, as well. "And I'm sorry. That's not how I meant for it to sound."

"Then what did you mean? 'Hey, look, Molly and Brent are together, so let's go get married.' Do you have any idea what that sounds like?"

She stares at him, trying to get him to be rational, but his eyes just burn back into hers.

"I want to be with you," she says, pronouncing every syllable clearly. "That's why I want to marry you."

He turns his back to her, walks over and picks up the tuxedo jacket that is slung over the back of the couch. "I wanna believe that. And I do, I guess, at least partly. But are we ever gonna get past this garbage?"

"Hey, I'm sorry, it's kind of difficult watching my sister and my ex-husband getting all lovey-dovey!"

"Why? Answer that question for me, Sarah. Why is it so damn difficult?" He doesn't wait for a response, doesn't even give her the chance. "For all I know, you wanna marry me for a million reasons that have nothing to do with me--getting back at Molly, showing Brent you've moved on, trying to one-up them. I don't wanna be a part of that."

She wants to bridge the space between them, but her feet stick in place, unwilling to move her any closer to him. She stands, frozen, by the door.

"I want to marry you because I love you."

He turns his head back toward her, as if he's going to say something, but then stops.

"You can't doubt that," she says. "You know I mean it."

"I don't know what to believe right now. I'm just--" He reaches inside the jacket. "I'm sick of this Molly and Brent shit hanging over every goddamn thing we do."

He pulls his hand out of the jacket, and she can tell that he is clutching something. She strains to get a closer look.

No way. It can't be.

"Matt, I am so sorry," she says. "The last thing I wanted was for you to get hurt by all this. It's not fair--"

"Damn right, it's not fair!"

He spins back around to face her, and she gets a good glimpse of the little box in his hand. Oh God.

"I'm not doing this anymore," he says, getting closer to her. "I can't. So get out of my apartment and go work on the next step of your little revenge plan, okay?"

She can't take her eyes off the box. "I don't have a revenge plan, Matt! That's not what this is about."

"Coulda fooled me." He opens the door, yanks it open, and steps aside.

Sarah tries to hold eye contact with him, to see if he'll break or soften somehow, but his expression stays the same--stony, unflinching.

She steps through the door, back outside into the now-chilly night air. She turns to look back at him, hoping that maybe, maybe he will ease up, let her explain, but all she sees is the door closing in her face.

SUNDAY, JUNE 13, 2004
1:41 AM

Sarah slumps deeper into Diane's leather sofa. The light green material of her dress bunches up around her body.

"I am such an idiot," she says for what has to be the tenth time since she arrived.

"You are not an idiot," Diane says as she crosses the room with two cups of decaf coffee. She hands one to Sarah, who simply holds it in her hands. She doesn't appear even to consider drinking it.

"How did I screw this up so badly?"

Diane sips her own coffee and walks over to the sliding glass door, the curtain drawn over it.

"You didn't know he was going to propose tonight," Diane says. "And your parents didn't help by suddenly being so supportive of Molly and Brent."

"Yeah. I was ... I don't know, annoyed, I guess. She gets praised for having an affair with my ex-husband. What the hell?"

"I know. It sucks, Sarah, and I'm sorry."

When Diane turns around, she finds Sarah staring straight ahead, her gaze unfocused but almost eerie in its intensity.

"I've lost him for good. I had him, and I screwed it up completely."

"Well, I'm here for you," Diane says as she crosses the room again and drops down beside Sarah on the sofa. "I'll help you out however I can."

"Thanks," Sarah says quietly. She finally takes a sip of the coffee, and they fall into silence.


Can Sarah patch things up with Matt?
Should Claire and Paula be concerned about Ryan's involvement with Nick?
Visit the Footprints Forum to join in the discussion about this episode!

Next Episode