Episode #366

Previously ...
- In the middle of a date with Jason, Lauren received a frantic call from Josh. She excused herself to go meet him.
- Alex confronted Trevor, suspecting that Trevor had set it up to look as though Alex stole his novel from another writer. Trevor claimed not to know anything about the situation and was horrified that Alex would think him capable of such a stunt.
- While Tim prepared a surprise dinner for Claire, Ryan asked her to go on a "last date" with him--and she accepted.


Silence looms victorious before Alex Marshall. There are no sounds from inside the apartment, no indications of movement or life in there.

He stands in the hallway outside Dylan Carrington's apartment, a hallway into which Alex hoped he would never have to set foot again. He is only doing so out of pure necessity: he is certain that Dylan is behind this whole mess. Somehow, he must have gotten his hands on a copy of Alex's manuscript; he certainly had the access, months ago, if he were thinking ahead.

Wouldn't put it past him, Alex thinks, as he raises his hand for another useless knock on Dylan's door.

There is a sound from the other end of the hallway, and Alex turns to see a young woman, around his age, with hair dyed jet-black and pulled back into what must be the bun's wicked stepsister. As she comes closer, Alex notices the silver ring in her lip.

"Hey, uh, excuse me," he says, "the guy who lives here--have you seen him lately?"

"No more of this crap, please," the girl says, her voice darkened by cigarette smoke.


"No more of the yelling. It's freakin' annoying."

Alex narrows his gaze. "What yelling? I'm sorry, I--"

"That guy. Dylan or whatever. He was out here screaming at some other guy a little while ago. Gave me a freakin' headache."

"The other guy," Alex says, doing his best to seem gentle, "was he tall? Brown hair?"

"Yeah ..."

"All right. Okay. Thanks."

Eyeing him suspiciously, the girl ducks into one of the other apartments. Alex rolls his cell phone over in the palm of his hand. None of his attempts to call Dylan have received an answer, and he knows that another try isn't going to change that.

Suddenly, the phone comes to life in his hand. The digital chirping makes Alex's breath catch in his throat.

Recognizing the number, he answers quickly. "Hello?"

"Alex," Diane Bishop says. "I've got news for you."

"I'm doing my best to figure this whole thing out. I think I know who--"

"It doesn't matter."


"The lawyer just called," Diane says. "Apparently his client decided to withdraw the accusation."

"That doesn't make any sense. Why would he--"

"I don't have a damn clue, but you'd better thank your lucky stars. The publication is back on."

His brain struggles to process the information. "So that's it?"

"That's it. Go get some rest, kiddo."

They wrap up the conversation, but Alex moves in a haze of numbness. The crisis is over--as quickly as it began. How is this even possible?


Lauren Brooks pulls her car to the curb and surveys the neighborhood. She searches for clues to where this party might be taking place, but none present themselves. No blasting music, no crowd of smokers on a front porch, nothing. She picks up her cell phone to call Josh, though it's a wonder she even got here at all, considering the borderline-incoherent directions he gave her.

Before she can dial his number, though, he emerges from a light blue house. She unlocks her door and steps out of the car to announce her presence.

His face lights up--too much, as if she's presenting him with the first scrap of food he's had in weeks--when he sees her.

"Holy shit, thanks for coming," he says, rushing over to her. His gait is stilted, unsteady, his legs threatening to crumble at any second.

"It's fine." She rests her hands on the open car door. "Let's go."

Josh stops in front of her. "Thank you so much for coming to get me. Seriously. I mean it."

"I know."

"You're awesome. I'm so sorry you had to drive all the way out here."

"Josh, it's fine. Get in the car."

"You rock," he says, his tongue lingering on the end of the word as if it's something precious that he can't bring himself to relinquish. Lauren sees that his blue eyes, wider than usual, have a glassy sheen to them.

She gets back in the car, hoping that he will follow her lead. "Come on, Josh. Let me take you home."

He stands there for a few more seconds, totally motionless, and then breaks for the other side of the car. Lauren opens the passenger-side door from the inside, and Josh scrambles into the car. She starts the engine and barely makes it off the block before he gets going again.

"I'm really sorry about this," he says, his expression so serious that he might as well be telling her that he killed her mother.

She doesn't bother to tell him that it's okay this time.

"There wasn't anyone else you could call?" she asks, irritated by the way that he is staring and waiting for her to respond.

"Scotty ditched me. He went off with these dudes to get food and he wouldn't answer his phone. And I don't think my bro would like seeing me this way."

"Probably not." She has to admit that a coworker, even one you'd recently ticked off, would be a better option than the police commander. "What about Courtney?"

"She's mad at me." He goes quiet for a moment--probably lost in the memory of whatever caused their rift. "I'm an asshole, huh?"

The question catches her off-guard, and she takes a few seconds to control her reaction. But by then, too much time has passed, and the silence is glaring.

"Not like it's a big secret," he says, the words sounding somehow too large for his mouth.

Lauren keeps her eyes on the road and says, "You could be more sensitive sometimes."

"I know. I know. I just--look, I'm sorry I made that crack about Alex, and your brother--"

"You've got to learn to watch your mouth."

"I'm trying. I'll try harder." He slumps in the passenger seat, staring straight ahead, and sounds even more somber when he speaks again. "I'm really sorry, you've gotta believe me."

She just nods, unsure how else to respond.

"You're so awesome. I was such a jackass, and then as soon as I called you for help, you came over and got me. Everybody else ditched me, but you came and got me."

"What are you on, exactly?" she asks, shooting a quick glance at him.

"Nothing weird. I mean--I just got really high. More than I wanted to." More quiet, and then: "Are you mad that I got high?"

"Josh, you're an adult. You can do whatever you want."

They fall back into silence, and Lauren directs the car back toward the main part of town. She is just, finally, starting to get comfortable when Josh breaks the spell.

"You're awesome," he says yet again. But this time he reaches over and rests his hand against her cheek.

Lauren sighs and waits for him to move his hand. When he does, she simply asks, "Now how do I get to your house?"


"Still no answer?"

"Nope." Tim Fisher sets down the portable phone on the kitchen table and looks to his father. "It's not like Claire to miss call after call."

"Maybe she got held up at the hospital," Bill offers. "It wouldn't be the first time that she had to take on an extra shift at the last minute."

"She would've called to let me know," Tim says, though he realizes that might not have been possible, especially if there were some major emergency at the hospital. But he still can't shake the feeling of dread that has been with him for the last half an hour.

Bill, dressed to head out for the evening, steps fully into the kitchen. "How's the dinner coming?"

"Fine, except it's going to get cold if she doesn't get home soon. Jeez, I sound like some bitter housewife."

The comment elicits a smile from Bill, but his demeanor turns serious again very quickly. "Don't worry too much. There are a thousand possible explanations."

Silently, Tim returns to the counter, where half of a tomato awaits chopping. He picks up the knife but pauses.

"You don't think Ryan might've gotten to her, do you?" he asks.

He can see that Bill is torn. Tim tries to banish the thought, but it is far too persistent.

"Do you think he's a threat?" Bill asks, as if waiting for a lead. "You know that Claire loves you--"

"I don't doubt that. But Ryan is dangerous."

Sighing, Bill says, "A lot has changed since you went missing, Tim."

"The past didn't change. The Ryan Moriani that I remember was dangerous. Claire didn't trust him as far as she could throw him! I don't know what exactly happened to change that, but it didn't override everything that had come before."

Bill nods slowly, a silent acknowledgement of the thoughts that he has kept to himself since patching things up with Paula and vowing to accept Ryan into the family fold.

"There are a thousand possible reasons for Claire being late," Bill says.

With a grimace, Tim gets to work chopping the tomato. When Paula appears in the kitchen a moment later, affixing her earrings, he doesn't even turn to look at her. He can't.

"I thought Claire was supposed to be home by now," she says.

"She was." Tim's next slice is harder than necessary, and the knife collides loudly with the cutting board.

"Is everything all right?" Paula asks, looking to her husband.

Bill assuages her concerns and leads her out of the kitchen, but before he goes, he shares a final sympathetic look with his eldest son.

"Call me if anything comes up," Bill says before following Paula.


The navy cloak of night rests peacefully over King's Bay, and even though the air bites with a sharper chill than she might prefer, Claire Fisher is at ease on the crisp lawn of the deserted golf course.

"I can't believe you remembered," she says, twirling the plastic champagne flute between her fingers.

"Please. How could I forget?" Ryan Moriani beams as he relives the memory, the same one that has flooded Claire's senses ever since he led her onto the golf course. "It was really our first date. I'd never forget that."

"I don't know if I'd go so far as to call it a date. More like two kids with a stolen bottle of wine and a beach blanket trespassing on private property."

"I suppose I couldn't help making things a little classier this time," Ryan says. "Remember Harbor Boulevard?"

"Of course." She smiles, relishing the waves of nostalgia.

He sips at his own champagne and stares up, out, at the broad sky. "Never could have predicted it would turn out like this, huh?"

"Not even close." She pauses, overcome by thoughts and yet somehow at a loss for words.

"Thanks for coming with me tonight," he says. "It means a lot, just to be able to spend this time with you."

She nods. Still no words.

"I know that you've chosen to be with Tim. I understand that." He glances down at the blanket beneath them and then back at Claire. "I have a question."

Despite herself, she looks away. "What?"

"Do you miss being with me? Is it as easy as you're making it look?"

She traces her finger over the blanket's stitching, back and forth, for a long time before answering. "It isn't easy," she says at last. "Of course it isn't easy."

"But that's it?"

"What's it?"

"The end of the story. You choose to be with Tim, so you bury all these feelings forever? How can you do that?"

She sips on the champagne, not so much because she wants as to buy time. "Tim is my husband. I promised to be with him for the rest of my life. Nothing should change that."

"Nothing should change that," Ryan says, "but that doesn't mean it can't. Or hasn't."

Claire wonders again, more strongly than she has all evening, if it was a bad idea to come out here with Ryan.

"So we do this forever? We go on with this charade for the rest of our lives?" he asks. "Claire ... can you really do that?"


Alex strides toward the front door as if he knows exactly what he is going to say and do when he gets there--but, in fact, he hasn't got the slightest clue. This is all moving too quickly. The real threat might be over, now that the plagiarism allegation has been dropped, but he still feels as driven as he has all day.

He rings the doorbell with a nervous finger, his heart thumping like an unending bassline against the inside of his chest. He can hear it in his ears, feel it in his throat, and he wonders if he might have this all wrong.

No. He can't. And besides, Trevor deserves an apology. The way that Alex accused him earlier was cruel.

The door opens, and Alex sees surprise on Lauren's face as she takes in the sight of him.

"Is your brother here?" Alex asks without even greeting her.

"No. I don't know where he is. I haven't seen him all day."

"You're sure he's not here?"

"If you're asking if he's avoiding you, I really don't know," Lauren says. "Jason and I saw you guys at Cassie's. Things didn't look so friendly."

"I know. That's why I need to see him."

Lauren is poised to respond when another voice cuts in.

"Is it Scotty?" the male voice yells out. It grows louder as its owner approaches, and a second later, Josh comes into sight, looking dissheveled.

"Oh. Hey, Alex," he says. He wanders into the living room and drops down onto the sofa.

Catching Alex's suspicious expression, Lauren is quick to explain, "He needed someone to pick him up from a party, but we was making me nuts trying to give me directions to his place, so I just brought him back here and had him call his roommate to come get him."

"Oh." Alex decides not to pursue the subject any further. "Hey, if Trevor comes home ..."

"He's not answering his phone?"

"I wanted to come by without warning him, so I haven't actually called him yet," Alex says. "I figured he'd avoid me otherwise."

Lauren casts a glance back at Josh and then asks, "Is everything all right?"

"Yeah--I mean, he's fine. I just have to talk to him."

"Well, if he comes back, I'll tell him--"

"Wait." Alex begins to dart away, pausing only long enough to tell her, "I bet I know exactly where he is."


Will Alex be able to make things right with Trevor?
Is Claire really in control of her situation?
What will happen when Tim finds out where his wife is?
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