Episode #365

Previously ...
- Diane received a letter from a lawyer, claiming that Alex stole his manuscript from another writer. Alex vowed to her that he had been set up.
- Trevor and Alex shared some tense moments at Molly and Brent's wedding, but Alex remained firm about not giving in if he can't trust Trevor.
- Tim admitted to Bill that he knows about Claire and Ryan's relationship.


The coffee house is alive with activity this evening. Patrons cluster on sofas and around tables, sharing conversations and the odd game of chess. The steady murmur of lively chatter fills the establishment, drowned out only partially by the pair of young men performing with acoustic guitars at the back of the shop.

Alex Marshall sits quietly at a small table, his hands wrapped around the mug of coffee for which he has no appetite. He can't bring himself to focus on much of anything.

His attentions wanders, indiscriminate in its lack of focus, jerking instinctively every time someone new enters the building. Only when Trevor Brooks walks through the front door does Alex snap to attention.

Trevor spots him immediately and, despite the crowd, makes a beeline for Alex. He slides into a chair before speaking.

"I came as fast as I could," Trevor says.

His first words and their tone are of extreme interest to Alex, and a current doubt stings his senses.

Finally, brushing that aside as best he can, Alex asks, "Is this supposed to be some kind of joke, or is it revenge?"

Trevor hesitates, finally responding with a question of his own: "What is this about? You call and ask me to meet you right away, after you blow me off for weeks, and when I rush over here, you get all cryptic. I'm supposed to be the one who's joking?"

He stands, and the doubt nags at Alex like an insistent child tugging on his hand. But the facts are all he has, and any trust between him and Trevor was blown to smithereens long ago.

"You're the only person who had a copy," Alex says.

Trevor looms above the table. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"The letter that was sent to my publisher, allegedly from a lawyer, saying that I ripped off my novel from someone else."

Trevor is silent, but Alex cannot gauge whether his shock is legitimate.

"No one besides me, Jason's sister, and the people who work at Vision have ever had a copy of the manuscript," Alex says. "Aside from you."

More silence on Trevor's part.

"What is this, Trevor, your way of getting back at me for being mad at you? This is going to ruin my career before it even starts! I need the truth, and I need it now."


A beeper sounds, and Tim Fisher turns quickly to ascertain its source. There are so many timers and appliances in use that it takes him a moment to trace the noise to the oven's timer.

He hobbles toward the oven, bracing against the counter for support and glad that he is even able to do this much. Trying to negotiate that wheelchair in his parents' kitchen would be a nightmare, and this is something he wants to do on his own, without anyone's assistance.

He peers into the oven and, after determining that they are done, removes the chicken breasts. He is closing the oven when his father walks into the room.

"How's it coming?" Bill asks as he fastens his tie.

"I haven't burned or blown up anything yet, so we're ahead of the game."

"I'm sure Claire will appreciate this regardless."

Tim leans against the counter. "It isn't much, but she's taken such good care of me, I'd like to give her a night when she can relax and let me do the work."

"No one ever objected to coming home to a hot meal."

"It'll be nice to have a few hours to ourselves--no kids, no anyone. Not that we don't appreciate you and Mom ..."

"I understand," Bill says. "It'll be a nice surprise for Claire. Besides, your mom and I have this party to go to." His tone is familiar to Tim: diplomatic, maybe even resigned, but with enough of an edge to allow his true feelings to shine through.

"You sound less than thrilled," Tim says.

"It isn't my favorite group of people, but your mom really likes Virginia, so I can handle a few hours."

"It'll be nice to have the house to ourselves. I wish that we could get a place of our own, but--"

"Tim. One thing at a time."

"I know," Tim says, though he doesn't view it quite the same way. Claire deserves so much better than he is able to give her right now.

"Keep your chin up. You and Claire have some rebuilding to do, that's all."

"But she already did her rebuilding. She mourned, she accepted that I was gone, and she moved on."

"Listen: don't worry about Claire," Bill says, "and don't worry about Ryan, either. Whatever they had is a thing of the past."


Claire Fisher steps out of the nurses' lounge and starts down the long corridor toward the elevators. Today's shift has drained every ounce of energy from her, it seems, and she can think of nothing more pleasant than being away from this building for the next two days.

Without even realizing it, she launches into a mental rundown of the things that she needs to accomplish on her days off. They have to pick up a present for the birthday party that Travis is going to ... the laundry has to be done ...

All of that sails out of her mind as soon as she turns the corner to the elevator.

"What are you doing here?" she asks.

"I need to see you," Ryan Moriani says. "What do you have going on tonight?"

"I don't know." She glances around, a strange guilt pounding in her chest. "Ryan, you shouldn't be here."

"I need to see you," he repeats. "That's why I'm kidnapping you." He scrambles to add, "And I mean that in the least stalkerish way possible."

Despite her initial instinct to be annoyed, she can't help but notice how cute he looks when he says that, a boyishness showing through his hardened visage.

"Please," he says, "come with me. Just for a little while--a couple hours, that's it. I was thinking it could be like, you know ..." But he lingers over the end of his statement; his hesitance makes Claire think that he knows what he wants to say but isn't sure if he should say it.

"A what?" she asks at last.

He bumbles for another moment before saying, "A last date. I guess."

"A last date?" She feels a smile working at the corners of her mouth.

"Yeah. Some time to hang out together--that's it, I promise." He goes quiet for a second, then: "I miss you."

She thinks immediately of Tim, of the quiet evening that they could spend together. But they have the next two days, and it's been so long since she did something spontaneous.

She realizes that her mind has made itself up and is merely waiting for her to rationalize the decision to an appropriate degree.

"Just a couple of hours," she says.


"I still don't think it was very good," Lauren Brooks says, "and you're not changing my mind."

"You just didn't get it," Jason Fisher responds, holding open the door of the coffee house and then trailing Lauren inside.

"I don't see what there is to get. It was a lot of shooting and chasing."

"It's not your type of movie," Jason says, and Lauren can picture him behind her, shaking his head as if mourning a loss that she cannot possibly grasp.

"Hey, I was a trooper. I went with you, I didn't complain during the movie ..."

"I know. You can pick what we see next time." There is a sweetness to his words, barely detectable, that lets Lauren know how much he appreciates her going with him.

They stop their bickering and taken in the crowded scene before them. It's no surprise--Cassie's is packed most nights. But they are on a very specific mission now, and the line at the counter doesn't offer them much hope of success.

"They'd better not be out of those brownies," Lauren says. "I've been craving one all day."

The couple slides into the line, which moves much faster than Lauren expected. She is scanning the pastry counter for the object of her desire when Jason distracts her.

"Hey, look." He points somewhere into the crowd, and it takes Lauren a moment to follow his finger to its intended target.

"I didn't know they were back on speaking terms," Lauren says as she observes her brother and Alex. "Should we go say hi?"

"I'd say now would be a bad time."

Trevor is on his feet, Alex seated at the table. Jason seems to be right: the conversation is anything but a friendly little chat.

"'Speaking terms' might be kind of a stretch," Jason says.

Lauren is about to respond when she hears the familiar chime of her cell phone. Glancing at the caller ID, she debates letting it go to voicemail, but then again, it could be important ...

"Hello?" The question barely makes it out of her mouth before it is drowned by a torrent of words--wild, slurred, frantic.

"You can't call anyone else?" she asks, doing her best to keep her voice down despite the noisy atmosphere.

The response is another frenzy, a desperate reiteration of the initial plea. After a few more exchanges, Lauren realizes that the decision has been made for her.

"Fine, I'm on my way. I'll call you back in a minute." She hangs up and turns to Jason. "I'm really sorry, but something big just came up--"

"Oh, go ahead," he says, a gracious smile on his face. "Sure you can live without that brownie?"

"Guess I'm gonna have to."

"Everything okay?"

She bats away his concern with a flick of the head and a quick "Yeah." Planting a quick kiss on him, she says, "I'll call you later."

"All right. And hey--thanks for sitting through that movie."

He is so genuine that it hurts her to rush out without explanation, but she doesn't have much choice. As she steps out of the coffee house and fumbles in her bag for her keys, she curses Josh Taylor under her breath.


Trevor's palms press down hard as he leans over the table. His eyes burn with something indecipherable, and Alex regards the stare as a challenge of sorts. He returns it accordingly, wondering if, at any second, Trevor will crack.

"I don't know what the hell is going on," Trevor says, his jaw tight, "but I didn't have anything to do with it--and the fact that you think I could ..."

He trails off, and now Alex recognizes his expression as a mix of anger and sadness. He cannot, however, tell which of the two is more powerful.

"I'm sorry," he says finally. He didn't want to think that Trevor did this, but knowing that he had a copy of the manuscript ... It made a sad sort of sense during Alex's initial panic and struggle for an explanation.

"I had to find out," Alex continues. "I have to figure out what this is all about."

"You could've, like, asked me without flat-out accusing me." Trevor lifts his hands and backs away from the table. "Good luck sorting this mess out. I hope you get it cleaned up so you can have a nice, happy life and leave me the hell alone."

Alex wants to protest, but nothing that comes to mind seems adequate in light of what he's done. It doesn't matter, because Trevor wastes no time in blowing away from him and out of the coffeehouse. Alex is so consumed with staring into his untouched coffee that he doesn't notice Jason approaching him.

"Is everything okay?"

With a start, Alex looks up to see his friend. "What are you doing here?"

"Been stalking you for fun." Jason settles into the other chair. "No, Lauren and I just caught a movie, but she had to run. Seriously, you doing okay?"

Sighing, Alex launches into an explanation of what happened at Vision and how he asked Trevor to meet him here, with less-than-stellar results.

"You thought Trevor did this?" Jason asks, looking as if he expects Alex to bust out in laughter at any moment and tell him that he was just kidding.

"He's the only person who had the manuscript. Unless you think your sister pocketed a copy so that she could cause trouble later."

"Sarah has her moments," Jason says, "but she's not that whacked-out. I'll tell you who is, though."

But he doesn't have to, because it hits Alex like a semi truck. Of course.


Is Alex's mistake the last straw for his chances with Trevor?
Why did Lauren rush out when Josh called her?
And what will come of Claire and Ryan's "date"?
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