Episode #349

Previously ...
- Sandy pushed Courtney and Dylan to take their final pairs skating test.
- Katherine remained cold to Nick after learning that he was the reason for her mansion being burned down.
- Matt's reunion with his brother, Jake, went as horribly as Sarah feared it might.
- A despondent Matt had too much to drink, so Jennie drove him home. His emotional state plummeted, and Jennie's attempts to reinforce his confidence led to a heated kiss--and more.


It is still dark outside when Matt Gray wakes up. He is immediately thankful for the lack of shining light. As soon as his eyes open, he is aware of the throbbing in his head and the sticky dryness in his throat. Clamping his eyes shut, he recounts the beers he had last night, as if it might be possible to rationalize this hangover away.

Oh, God.

The headache intensifies as his memory kicks in. No way. He remembers Jennie bringing him back here, talking to him, rubbing his shoulders ... kissing him ...

He rolls over quickly, pain echoing in his head, but finds that he is alone in the bed. Thank God. It must've stopped there. He pulls his eyelids tightly together.

Seconds later, though, he hears movement in the bathroom. The toilet flushing. The sink running. He hears the door open, but he can't look.

Jennie Burkle's voice is enthusiastic and much too loud. "Morning!"

Matt has to force himself to turn his head. He looks at her through one eye, over his shoulder. One of his t-shirts hangs loosely over her small frame.

"Hi," he croaks.

"You must not be feeling very well," she says, climbing onto the bed. Perched on her hands and knees, she looks him over, as if she might be seconds away from discovering the miracle solution to his hangover.

"Do you want some coffee?" she asks. "Or water?"

Instinctively Matt shakes his head. "Nah, I'm fine."

The pounding continues, and he lets his head melt back down into the pillow. He feels Jennie's weight shifting on the bed. She snuggles up behind him and rests her cheek against his shoulder blade.

"I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did," she says.

He lets out a low grunt. It is the easiest way he can think of right now to avoid having an in-depth conversation.

Jennie's arm hooks around his side, pulling them closer together.

"I mean, that was really--that was really nice, Matt." Her voice grows quieter as she adds, "You know, I'm not ... very experienced."

Matt clenches his eyelids even tighter, trying to force the throbbing out of his brain, but he gets the impression that the real headache is just beginning.


Sarah Fisher knocks loudly on the door to Room 416. She shifts her weight from one foot to the other and back again as she awaits an answer. Her fingers curl around her cell phone, as if anticipating another call, determined not to miss this one.

"Sarah, it's Jake. Didn't wanna wake you up by calling your home line. There's really no point to me sticking around, so I booked a flight back to Philly for Mia and me. Thanks for trying to make this happen, but the timing just wasn't right ... Maybe it never will be. Anyway, thanks again, and I'll be in touch. Tell Tori that Uncle Jake loves her."

The message was waiting on Sarah's cell when she awoke this morning. She tried to call Jake and stop him, but unsurprisingly, he hasn't answered his phone. She should have gotten Mia's number, but it hadn't seemed necessary earlier. Now she hopes she isn't too late.

She hears footsteps and a click from inside the room, and the door opens. Jake is dressed in a Philadelphia Eagles sweatshirt and jeans, his hair still wet from the shower. He knows exactly why she is here and doesn't even give her the chance to plead her case.

"Sorry for taking off so suddenly," he says, "but I'm not gonna hang around here and wait for Matt to ease up."

"Maybe a good night's sleep helped clear his mind. That was a lot to spring on him all at once yesterday."

Jake shakes his head. "My brother's changed a lot less than I thought he might've in all these years. He's not magically gonna be receptive to me today."

He turns and heads back into the room, where a suitcase lies open on the bed. As Jake resumes packing, Sarah leans against the wall, watching him, trying to figure out what she can say to keep him from leaving.

"I see you tracked us down," says a voice from the doorway. Sarah turns to see Mia Davich entering the room, suitcase in hand.

"I found Jake's message just in time," Sarah says, "but it doesn't look like it's gonna do any good."

Jake continues transferring folded clothing from the dresser to his suitcase. "It's not that I don't wanna make some headway with Matt. But he's not gonna let it happen, and I'm not gonna hang around here begging him to."

Sarah is about to protest when she feels Mia's hand on her shoulder. She turns her head, and Mia leans closer to her.

"I'll keep working on him," Mia says. "But he needs some time to cool off."

"Thanks," Sarah says, trying to resign herself to the fact that Jake's visit was a colossal disaster. If anything, she made things worse between herself and Matt, and she reopened sensitive wounds that Matt apparently has no intention of mending.

"Listen," Jake says. He takes an envelope from the nightstand and hands it to Sarah. "I'd appreciate it if you could give this to my brother. I want him to read it. Maybe he'll--I dunno, take it to heart. It's worth a shot."

Sarah tucks the envelope into her purse. "It is, yeah. I'll be sure to give it to him."

Jake pauses long enough to look Sarah in the eye.

"I really do appreciate you trying to make this work," he says. "I hope you have more luck patching things up with Matt than I have."


The morning practice session is even busier than usual, thanks to the test that will be taking place in a few hours. Skaters dart around as they attempt last-minute corrections, and coaches stand by the boards, calling out instructions.

Courtney Chase steps out of her flying camel spin and hurries to the wall before she is run over. Dylan Carrington joins her a moment later.

"This is nuts," Dylan says as he surveys the whirlwind of activity. "We'll be lucky if we even get anything accomplished."

"I'm just glad we're not testing today. Trying to warm up out here would make me more nervous than usual."

Courtney's gaze travels down the ice, where Jason Fisher and Kelsey Barker are setting up for their throw triple Salchow. She has been watching them out of the corner of her eye the entire session, and their practice appears to be pretty solid.

Noticing where her focus is, Dylan comments, "They're totally gonna pass today. They've been skating really well."

"Yeah." Courtney folds her arms in front of her chest. She doesn't like the idea that Jason is going to pass his senior pairs test before her, but there is no way she and Dylan would be ready to test today. Their program has been coming along nicely, and by next month, it should be more than ready for the test. But that knowledge doesn't make it any easier to watch Jason and Kelsey executing moves that are sure to pass the test this afternoon.

They watch as Kelsey springs into the air, assisted by Jason. Her slender body twists one, two, three times and descends. She comes down a little too closely to Jason, though, and the exit is clumsy.

"Do it again! With intensity!" Sandy James shouts from the side of the ice. She looks stressed, though Courtney would expect no less from the woman who has coached her for more than fifteen years. Sandy approaches every test and every competition as if it were the most important one of her skater or team's career.

"Come on, let's try the combination spin," Dylan says, snapping Courtney from her daze. He is clearly less interested in Jason and Kelsey's progress than she is.

Even the tone of Dylan's voice annoys her these days, but she forces herself to take a deep breath and calm down. One more month, and she'll never have to deal with him again. But she can't risk a rift before they pass their test.

She skates back out to center ice, weaving around Kelsey and Jason as they approach their lift again, and links up with Dylan for the spin.


Nick Moriani is a man on a mission as he strides down the stairs. The house has been freezing all morning, and even the wool sweater that Katherine purchased for him several weeks ago isn't enough to ward off the cold. He makes his way to the thermostat and, shaking his head at the ridiculously low setting, adjusts it to a more comfortable temperature.

He enters the dining room, where he finds his wife peering into an open case of fine silverware.

"Have you been playing with the thermostat?" Nick asks.

"It was a bit warm last night. I must've forgotten to adjust it when I came down this morning." Katherine's tone suggests that she couldn't care less.

Nick decides not to pursue the argument. He can't afford to make things worse with petty squabbles. Noting her crisp pantsuit and more-than-ample jewelry, he asks, "What's the occasion?"

"I'm having some of the ladies over for a luncheon," Katherine says. "Lola is making a ham." She pulls several pieces of silverware from the case and places them on the table.

"Can I help with anything?"

She doesn't even hesitate in responding. "I can manage by myself."

Nick watches as she moves around the table, distributing the pieces accordingly.

"Who are you having over?" he asks.

Katherine allows a moment to pass before she answers, as if to make him wonder whether she will even bother acknowledging the question.

"Tenille, Marj, Dar," she says. "A few others. I felt that it was my turn to host something, and since we won't be having any sort of holiday party this year--"

"You're more than welcome to throw a party, Katherine."

She shoots him a cold stare. "As much as I'd love to, I would really rather not subject my friends to being shot or burned to a crisp. Until you tell me with absolute certainty that none of those are possibilities, I would prefer to avoid high-profile events."

He isn't sure how to respond to that. Instead, he crosses to the other side of the table and reaches out for the stack of dishes.

"I can take those," he says.

Katherine grabs the dishes and yanks them away from him. "I can handle them just fine."

She circles the table, setting out the dishes one-by-one. Nick is sure that each one clunks down on the table a little more heavily than the one before it.

"Please, let me help," he says, this time reaching for the salad plates.

Her focus remains down on the table.

"Katherine, I don't want to go on like this. This isn't a marriage. You'll never know how sorry I am for the things that happened, but you have to believe that I had nothing to do with them."

Still not looking up at him, she says, "Until you can offer me proof of that, I'm afraid I can't allow myself to believe it."

He knows that he shouldn't push any harder, but her resistance has sent his frustration to a boiling point. He blurts out, "What, then? Do you want a divorce?"

"I'm not going to be known as the foolish old widow who had the wool pulled over her eyes by some slick operator," she says, laying out the final pieces of flatware. "For the time being, you live your life, and I'll live my mine."


"Obviously you have other matters to concern yourself with. I suggest that you focus on those."

Before Nick can offer any sort of protest, Katherine breezes out of the room without a single glance backward.


Matt is ready to leap out of the car as soon as Jennie pulls to a stop in the restaurant's parking lot. His truck is where he parked it when he arrived at work yesterday, and he wants nothing more than to be free of this mess.

"Thanks for the ride," he says as he reaches for the door handle. He offers Jennie a quick look, but it is met by a broad smile.

He considers ignoring it, at least for the time being, but as soon as the door pops open, he realizes he can't do that.

"Hey, Jennie," he begins, unsure of how to do this. "I appreciate you getting me home last night, and giving me a ride this morning ..."

As he considers his next words, simultaneously trying to choose his words carefully and get this over with as quickly as possible, a shrill ringing cuts into the air. Jennie grabs her purse and digs as the ringing continues.

"Dammit," she mutters, but a moment later, she has the cell phone in her hand.

"Hello? ... I'm on my way." Matt can make out a distant male voice on the other end, though he can't decipher the words. "I stayed at a friend's." Jennie pauses, and her expression grows more disturbed. "Yeah, I'll be home soon. I'm in the car." Another pause and a frown. "Dad, calm down. ... I'm sorry. I'll see you in a couple minutes."

She ends the call and drops the phone back into her purse.

"Sorry," she says, again looking at Matt. "That was my dad. I forgot to call him last night."

His momentum lost, Matt asks, "You live with your parents?"

"Just my dad. My mom passed away a couple years ago."

"Sorry to hear that," he manages. The mood has changed, too much for him to continue what he wanted to say to her. It can wait, he figures as he opens the door.

"Thanks again for the ride," he says as he steps out of the car.

"No problem. You're working tonight, right?"


"Guess I'll see you then." Her smile broadens. "Hope you feel better. Bye, Matt."

"Bye," he says, shielding his eyes from the morning sun. He closes the door, and a moment later, Jennie drives off. Matt walks slowly toward his truck, watching the beat-up Toyota clatter out of the parking lot.

But her hopeful smile keeps flashing through his head. My God, Matt thinks as he unlocks the truck. What have I gotten myself into?


Will Matt be able to let Jennie down easily?
What did you think about Katherine's declaration to Nick?
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