Episode #358

Previously ...
- Matt considered his night with Jennie a one-time slip-up, but Jennie seemed much more optimistic about it.
- After learning about Nick's involvement with the Esposito crime family, who confessed to having burned down the Fitch mansion, Katherine refused to soften toward her husband.
- Tim worked to settle back into his life, but the circumstances of his disappearance remained sketchy.


The afternoon lull has transformed into the dinner rush, and the restaurant's kitchen reflects this sharp upswing in activity. All around Matt Gray, the staff races here and there, amidst the sounds of sizzling, popping, and clanking.

Strangely enough, Matt has always enjoyed this part of the job. Being so busy allows him a chance to zone out and lose himself in the work. Besides, by the end of his shift, he'll be so exhausted that he will only have the energy to worry about catching the late edition of SportsCenter in bed.

But that peace will elude him tonight. He suppresses a groan as he looks up to find Jennie Burkle coming at him with an overly enthusiastic smile. Ever since their single night together, Matt has done his best to dodge her. He feels bad about it, but leading her on isn't going to get him anywhere.

"You're working late?" Jennie asks him.

"Yeah," Matt grunts, doing his best to keep his focus on the lively pan sizzling in front of him.

She flicks the end of her short, feathery blonde hair. "'Kay, well, I was wondering if you wanted to do something to unwind--catch a movie or get a drink, I dunno. But maybe some other night ..."

Matt offers a brief, noncommittal smile.

That should bring an end to it, but Jennie lingers. Matt can feel her presence hovering over him while he works, and when he looks up, she is watching him intently.

He forces out the words that he has been toying with for weeks: "Listen, I think there's something we need to talk about."

Jennie blinks, as if absorbing the pronouncement, and nods uncertainly.

"I'll meet you in the back hallway as soon as I finish this," he says.

"Okay ..."

She hangs around for another few seconds, but just as Matt is going to tell her to go, she turns and heads for the hallway.

Matt attempts to refocus on his cooking, wanting to get it over with so he can get this over with, but he knows his attention won't be whole until he takes care of this situation for good.


The house is quiet, and to the uninformed, it might even seem peaceful. To Nick Moriani, however, it is a beast lying in wait, saving its energy until the time is right for an explosion. As Nick descends the stairs, he can feel the tension growing thicker around him.

He makes his way into the living room, where Katherine has stationed herself with a warm glass of cider and a novel.

"Sorry to interrupt," Nick begins. It sounds like a ridiculous formality to him; a man greeting his wife in their home should not demand such niceties. But the last several weeks have proven that this is not a typical marriage or a happy home.

At first, he believed that the rift was only temporary. Yes, Katherine was angry when she learned about his connection to the Espositos and to the fire, but Nick did a skillful job of talking his way around the situation. He figured it would be a matter of days before the animosity subsided and things returned to normal.

That hasn't happened, though. Katherine has remained distant with him. The holidays came and went with all the usual dressings: the parties, the dinners, the formalwear. And the cold nights. When there was no one else around, Katherine would go about her business and force Nick to go about his. The conversation was scant, just enough to get by, with a tension hanging between them like a curtain that couldn't ever be drawn back or ripped down.

All that has continued past the holidays and into the present. Now, as Nick approaches his wife, he finds himself wondering how long this can go on. Forever? Is that what he's been sentenced to?

"I've been getting the month's bills in order," he says. His hands want to fold together, but Nick refuses to cave to the nervous habit.

She looks up from her novel, holding her page with her thumb. "Oh yes?"

"Yeah. I'd put the landscaper's bill on my Visa ..."

He hopes that will be sufficient information for her to pick up the slack in the conversation. After learning about the fire, Katherine decided that she didn't want to take any more risks, and so she cut his access to her accounts. Unfortunately, that's where most of the money is housed; Nick's personal accounts can't hold a candle to Katherine's assets.

"I'm afraid I don't understand why you're telling me this," Katherine says. Her eyes gleam ever so slightly, and Nick is sure that she knows exactly why he is sharing this with her.

"I was hoping you could write a check to cover the landscaper's costs."

Katherine lowers her book, as if considering the possibility. But when her lips move, it is not to speak. Instead, they part with a thunderous laugh.

She allows her laughter to trickle to its end before speaking: "You have to be kidding me."


The inhuman drone of the television fills the living room. Tim Fisher tries his hardest to focus on it, but a man can only take so many reruns of Law & Order.

When the doorbell rings, it is the chime of salvation. He has been waiting all afternoon for this visit. As nice as it is to be home, the sheer lack of activity is starting to drive him mad, and it becomes expotentially more disturbing when everyone is out during the day.

Tim directs his wheelchair toward the front door and opens it to find Brent Taylor waiting.

"Hey," Brent says, stepping inside the house. "How ya doing?"

"Could be worse." The steady buzz of Law & Order from the other room sticks to his ears, as hard as he tries to drown it out. "I take it the honeymoon was a success."

A smile crosses Brent's face. "Amazing. The coast was gorgeous, even with the nasty weather. Nothing but Molly and me and ..."

"That'll be enough," Tim says, holding up a hand. "That's my sister you're talking about."

"We had a great time. I couldn't have asked for a better honeymoon."

Tim leads the way back to the living room, where he promptly locates the remote and switches off the TV. The quiet in the air instantly refreshes him.

"How about you?" Brent asks. "How've you been feeling?"

"Better. A little bit each day. I tell you, I can't wait until the day I can shove this thing off a bridge." Tim slaps the wheelchair's handles.

"I'm sure you're getting a little stir-crazy."

"To put it mildly. I'm dying to do something, you know?"

Brent seats himself on the sofa. "One step at a time. You're back, you're getting healthy. Everything else will fall into place."

"That's what I keep telling myself," Tim says with a sigh. "So what's going on? What did you want to see me about?"

Clasping his hands together, Brent says, "Well, with the honeymoon being over, it's time for me to get back to work--and that means dealing with some very prominent loose ends."

Tim edges forward in his seat.

"I wanted to let you know," Brent explains, "what's going on with Salvatore Domingo--and Nick Moriani."


Matt pushes open the heavy steel door. The breeze from the hallway rushes at him, a welcome respite from the muggy, frantic air of the kitchen.

Jennie leans against the wall, her thin arms folded across her chest. She looks so vulnerable right now--and young. Remorse stabs at his stomach: she is young, and he never should've let things get as far as they did that night.

"Look, Jennie," he begins tentatively. "I know we--"

An electronic jingle interrupts him. With a start, Jennie reaches into the pocket of her jeans and pulls out her cell phone, a slender contraption with a pink cover.

"Sorry," she tells him as she holds the phone to her ear. "Hi, Dad."

Matt stuffs his hands in his pockets as he waits to continue.

Jennie's voice takes a sharp dive. "Dad, I'll take care of it when I come home--no, there's plenty of time."

Feeling uncomfortable, Matt pulls out his own cell phone and fiddles aimlessly with it. Anything to keep busy so that he can pretend he isn't overhearing Jennie's conversation.

"Don't worry about it. It'll get done," Jennie says into the phone, but it's more a defense than a reassurance.

She concludes the conversation with a few quick words and scattered phrases. When she ends the call, her eyes flash an embarrassed look at Matt. He sets his phone down on the nearby shelf and snaps to attention.

"Sorry about that," she says. "My dad ... he had asked me to do some cleaning, and--anyway, what were you saying?"

His resolve shattered, Matt lets out a sigh.

"I've got Tori for the next couple of days," he says, "so I'm gonna be pretty busy, that's all."

He hopes that she gets the hint, but the expression on her face suggests otherwise.

"All right. That's it?"

"Uh, yeah." Matt opens the door to the kitchen but pauses. "Better let you get home and do that cleaning."

Jennie's head bobs up and down heavily. "Guess so. See you later."

"Yeah," Matt says as he ducks back into the kitchen.


Nick stares at his wife in disbelief. Maybe if he stares long enough, she'll come to her senses.

"Oh, don't look so shocked," Katherine says.

Nick gathers himself sufficiently to say, "We made a joint decision to have that work done."

"Yes, on the home that you own. Now, I suppose if I owned it, I would pay for the work myself, but your friends did their own little job on my house, didn't they?"

This has nothing to do with the landscaping bill, or with Nick's Visa, so he follows her lead and changes course.

"Katherine, I had nothing to do with the fire. I can't control those people--they're vicious." He pauses, then adds softly, "I love you."

"Yes, well, this kind of 'love' is getting expensive," she says. "Besides, there were several cashmere sweaters I spotted on my last trip to Saks, and I'm sure the money would be better spent there."

"You're practically rolling in cashmere!" Nick snaps. "We can't go on like this forever."

She holds the cup of cider just below her face, and the steam rises from it to shroud her in an eerie fog.

"That's the thing, my dear: we can. We can go on like this for however long I wish." Her tone sharpens. "And I will not be made to look like a fool by going through some tawdry divorce."

"I hope it doesn't come to that--"

"It won't. Just remember who holds the cards now." She picks up her novel and returns her attention to it, effectively dismissing Nick. He recognizes the gesture; he has grown quite accustomed to it recently.

He retreats upstairs, back to his study, the problems clinging to him like a bad odor. If Katherine won't help him out ...


Tim waits with baited breath for what Brent has to say. Domingo has loomed in the back of Tim's mind for the past few months, a shadow that cannot be shaken. As much as he wants to focus on reclaiming the life that was taken from him for so long, he also needs to know why it was taken.

"He won't talk," Brent says. "He won't cop to even knowing who Moriani is."

"That doesn't make sense. Domingo had no reason for keeping me there. He didn't even know who I really was," Tim says.

"Exactly. And Stan Lincoln had Domingo's name--and Tom Clayton's--on him when he died. There's a connection there."

Tim's gaze narrows. "You don't think Stan ..."

"No. That would've been so far out of Stan's league." Brent shakes his head firmly. "We've been digging through Domingo's records. The costs for that clinic are astronomical. Those people pay to stay out of the mainstream medical system."

"Then there have to be financial records."

"It's all under the table, in cash. They've covered their tracks really well."

Tim's mind flashes back to the litany of reasons Claire and Andy had for wanting to stop Nick from marrying Katherine. The money was right up there.

"Why would Nick have done that?" Tim wonders aloud. "He barely knew me, let alone had reason to hate me so much--"

He cuts himself off mid-thought. His eyes flash to Brent, who he can tell is thinking the exact same thing.

"I don't know," Brent says quickly.

Tim contemplates telling him that he knows about Claire and Ryan, but the time doesn't feel right. Would Nick really have gone to such great lengths for his son?

The idea hangs in the air, unspoken, until Brent goes on.

"There is a connection," he says. "Domingo's in enough hot water with all the dirt we've uncovered about that clinic. It has to come out eventually."

"It has to," Tim echoes. The desperation in his voice surprises him.


What is the connection between Dr. Domingo and Nick?
Can Katherine keep Nick under her thumb indefinitely?
And does Jennie actually stand a chance with Matt?
Join in the discussion at the Footprints Forum!

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