Episode #376

Previously ...
- Sarah was devastated when she figured out that Julian was setting up his wife to appear unfaithful so that he could obtain a divorce more easily. She told him off, but her professional spirit was shaken, and she worried about being able to clear Matt of the rape charges.
- Tim and Diane shared a bonding moment after she assured him that, despite his troubles with Claire, everything will turn out all right for him.


Dusk has begun to cast its shadow over King's Bay, and dark wisps streak across the blue evening sky. The impending dark seems only fitting to Tim Fisher. As he closes the passenger-side door of Diane Bishop's car, he wonders again if this is the wisest way to go about this.

Diane locks the car and joins him on the sidewalk. With only a glance at him, she says, "We're here. We might as well do it." Sensing his continued doubt, she adds, "Come on, don't tell me I just wasted all that gas. You know how expensive that crap is."

"It's a good thing I didn't come alone, then, because I would've turned around 10 or 20 times by now."

"I'm nothing if not stubborn. I've got plenty of it to share."

With a light laugh, Tim begins to approach the front door. Diane falls into step beside him, a wordless dare at his side. No backing out now.

If it were up to Tim, he wouldn't be here at all. Once the birthday party died down, he and Diane got to talking; he was pleased to find out that she didn't tell him that his suspicions about Ryan are ridiculous or try to discourage him from uncovering the truth about his disappearance. By the time she suggested that Tim take a hands-on approach--and even offered to accompany him--Tim was so invigorated that he couldn't help but spring into action.

But now, standing at Nick Moriani's door, he cannot shake the nagging sense that this might be a bad idea.

An instant later, he is left without a choice. The door opens, and Nick's scowling face presents itself. He appraises them for several seconds before speaking.

"May I help you?" he finally asks.

Tim feels Diane's elbow prodding him in the ribs. "Mr. Moriani," he says, "don't tell me you don't recognize me." Still no reaction. "Tim Fisher."

"Ah, yes." Nick's cool visage holds as he evaluates Tim. "I don't believe that I've met your friend, though."

"Diane Bishop," she says, extending her hand in the same cool, professional manner that Tim has observed so many times. It occurs to him how different she seems from the woman with whom he spent the last twenty minutes in the car.

"What can I do for you?" Nick asks. He strikes Tim as remarkably, even appallingly, composed, a far cry from the aggression that Tim expected.

While he contemplates a revised course of action, Diane doesn't miss a beat.

"Mr. Moriani," she says, "we hope you can spare a few minutes. We have an offer that we think you'll find very beneficial."


The Fishers' home sits in rest now, but it wears the battle scars of the day's birthday party: Travis's new toys and other acquisitions have spread themselves all over the living room, and the decorations, now reduced to clutter, linger about the dining room. Now that the main event has concluded, the family has gathered in the living room to relax.

Bill and Jason are in the midst of a renewed debate over the new Star Wars movie that they took the kids to see when the doorbell rings. Brent, who is seated on the arm of the sofa nearest to the front door, rises and tells everyone else to stay put.

"Hey, guys," he says as he lets Sarah and Matt into the house.

"You're just in time for coffee!" Paula calls out. "Would you both like some?"

"Decaf?" Sarah asks. Her mother confirms that it is, so both Sarah and Matt agree to have some. Paula makes her way to the kitchen to prepare it.

Sarah surveys the room. Molly, Claire, and Jason sit on the sofa; Bill occupies the loveseat alone, thanks to Paula's momentary departure; and Ryan has planted himself on the stairs.

"Where are the kids?" Sarah asks, at the same time wondering where Diane and Tim are. She put Diane in charge of Tori for the afternoon ...

"They're playing upstairs," Ryan says, gesturing upward toward the telltale noise. "Diane asked if we'd keep an eye on Samantha and Victoria for a little while."

"She and Tim said they had to go take care of something," Molly adds.

"Oh, all right." Sarah turns to Brent. "Can I talk to you for a sec? I have something to run by you."

Brent agrees, and as they move to the side, Sarah worries about leaving Matt alone with everyone else. He knows that she told them all about the arrest--and her firm belief that Jennie is lying--and she can only imagine how uncomfortable and under scrutiny he must feel right now. But she wants to discuss this privately with Brent, so Matt will have to hold his own for a few minutes.

"What's going on?" Brent asks.

"I got a call today," she tells him, "and I think it's something that will prove Matt's innocence."


As Sarah steps off into a corner to talk with Brent, Matt's uneasiness swells. He has never felt anything but welcomed by the Fishers, but in light of his current predicament, setting foot in their home seems inappropriate. He would prefer not to have to face anyone until this whole thing blows over--if it blows over.

He can tell that the others are uncomfortable, too. A blanket of uncertainty has smothered whatever conversation was going on before he and Sarah came in. He is about to excuse himself to go check on his daughter upstairs when Bill addresses him.

"Matt," the older man says, rising from his seat, "would you mind giving me a hand with something out in the yard?"

"Sure, no problem." Matt hurries to join Bill outside, though he is well aware that both Jason and Ryan, quite able-bodied, are also present.

The project turns out to be nothing more than moving a pile of freshly cut branches, and it takes the men only two armfuls apiece to move them to the waste bin.

"Thanks for your help," Bill says. He pauses before adding, "I figured you wouldn't mind getting out of that room."

"Bill, look. I've been meaning to talk to you. You have no idea how sorry I am about this mess, but I promise, it's all ..."

"A misunderstanding?"

Matt is about to nod, but instead he answers, "No. Not even. Nothing happened."

"I hope that's the truth."

"It is. Jennie, she--she's desperate for attention."

"If that's the case, I hope it comes out as soon as possible," Bill says. "For your sake, and for my daughter and granddaughter."

His lips pursed tightly, Matt nods in understanding. Any apology he could possibly produce wouldn't be enough to express how sorry he is for getting Sarah caught up in this.

Bill's tone changes when he speaks again. "But for the time being ..."

"What?" This doesn't sound good.

"I'm going to have to put you on leave from the restaurant. Paid, of course. I can't very well ask Jennie not to come in, and I can't afford any kind of controversy."

Matt stifles his protests; he knows that Bill is right. Even so, it feels strangely like an admission of guilt--or at least a concession to Jennie.

"Yeah, of course," he says, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his jeans.


Rather than seeming intrigued, Nick appears amused, as if puzzled by what these two could possibly have to offer him. He cocks his head and almost suppresses his smirk.

Tim senses that Diane is about to elbow him again and speaks up. "I'm sure you're aware that the circumstances of my disappearance are a little mysterious, to put it mildly."

"From what I gathered, everyone seemed fairly confident that you were, shall we say, no longer among the living," Nick says. "Beyond that, I can't say--"

"I think you can. I think you have plenty to say, actually." The strength of his own voice surprises Tim. Seeing this man stand so smugly before him, he feels his determination swell: he will find out who made him disappear, and why. "My last memory, before I woke up in Vermont, is of hiding on a pier, listening to a meeting that you were supposed to attend."

Nick offers no sign of a response, his face now stony.

"I doubt that you want some of the things I overheard to get back to the police," Tim says.

"Nick! I thought I told you to bring me my slippers!" The indignant female voice comes from somewhere within the house, and a moment later, its source arrives at the foot of the stairs with a huff. Tim recognizes the red-haired lady as Andy's mother, Katherine.

"Oh, I didn't realize we had visitors." Katherine brushes back a few wild strands of hair and joins her husband at the door.

"Mrs. Moriani, I'm Tim Fisher," he says. "I'm a friend of your son's."

The woman lights up. "Is that so? What brings you by?"

"Actually, my friend and I have some business to discuss with your husband."

Katherine edges her way in front of Nick, and Tim notices that, this time, Moriani cannot conceal his irritation.

"Oh, really? Any business of Nick's is business of mine," Katherine says, leaning in conspiratorially.

Diane shoots a glance directly at Nick before saying, "Then perhaps you could persuade your husband to accept our offer. It's very generous, actually."

Though Katherine opens her mouth, Nick cuts in. "Diana, is it?"


"Oh, yes. Diane, I'm afraid I didn't hear an offer so much as some sort of ... insinuation."

"That's because we didn't get the chance to finish," Tim says. He hesitates to continue, thanks to Katherine's presence.

Diane seems considerably less daunted. "Let's just say that Tim is willing to trade what he has," she says, "for what he wants--which is what you have."

"I'm afraid I have no idea what you're talking about," Nick says.

"We're sure that you do," Diane insists. "You could also check with your son. We're sure that he knows."

Realization dawns on Nick's face, and the smirk returns. "So this is about Ryan, then."

"Exactly," Tim says, relieved that the heart of the matter has been exposed. "If you can confirm that Ryan was aware of the situation all along, then I'd be so grateful that I would be willing to keep what I know to myself."

Katherine turns to Nick. "That sounds very agreeable. Right, dear?"

"Of course." Nick forces her out of the doorway. "Thank you both for coming by."

"Then you accept?" Diane asks.

"I'll do what I can." With that, Nick closes the door on them.

Tim waits until they are back in the car to speak, and when he does, it is in a rush of air. "I can't believe we actually did that! It was like something out of a movie."

"I told you to trust me," Diane says as she pulls the car away from the curb. "What'd you make of that wife of his? Deranged old bat?"

"I don't know. Something is definitely off with them." Glancing backward, Tim watches the Morianis' house fade into the distance. "But I'm more convinced than ever that Ryan and his father knew exactly what happened to me from the moment I disappeared--and if I'm right, Nick isn't going to think twice about selling out his son to save himself."


Out of the corner of her eye, Sarah watches as Bill leads Matt out of the house. She knows that her father cares about Matt and isn't holding the charges against him, and she hopes it will be a chance for Matt to realize that the Fishers support him.

She refocuses on Brent and explains, "Apparently there have been a fair number of 911 calls from the Burkles' house, and officers have had to go out there to check out potential domestic violence on a couple of occasions."

"Calls made by who? Jennie?"

"The mother, usually. Before she passed away. She never agreed to press charges, but there seems to have been a pretty significant pattern of the dad getting violent with her."

Brent looks troubled as he opens his mouth to speak. "Sarah, if no charges were filed, you don't really have much to work with."

"It establishes a pattern, though. I heard Jennie say that her father gave her that bruise. This supports that."

"There's no way that's going to fly in court," Brent says.

"It has to. Otherwise she's just going to say that I'm making up the thing about the bruise to cover for Matt--"

"Sarah, I'm just stating a fact. Don't bite my head off."

She backs down, and Brent's disappointment convinces her that maybe she is grasping at straws. It seemed like such a promising lead, but now ... nothing more than another dead end. Just like the disaster with Julian.

A laugh from the other side of the room grasps her attention. It is Jason, looking carefree as he talks with Molly.

"If it's a girl, you have to name it Elizabeth," Jason insists.

"Why Elizabeth?" Molly asks.

"Come on. Elizabeth Taylor! You have to!"

Molly breaks out in laughter, shaking her head. Brent, having overheard, joins in with his wife.

"It's official: you get no say in naming this baby!" Molly tells her younger brother.

"That's just the tip of the iceberg," Jason promises deviously. "I'm full of bad ideas."

Sarah stands back and watches them, so content. She steals a glance at Molly's growing belly, seemingly full of promise and possibility for the future. And meanwhile, all Sarah can think about is the fact that she and Matt might not even have a future.

Stop thinking like that, she scolds herself. You're going to find a way to make this work. There must be some way that she can get Jennie to admit the truth ...


Is Sarah in over her head with Matt's case?
Will Molly accept one of Jason's suggestions for the baby's name?
Will Nick provide the key to Tim's mystery?
Come discuss this episode in the Footprints Forum!

Next Episode