Episode #381

Previously ...
- After finding proof that Jennie lied about when and where she received her bruise, Sarah and Matt convinced her to drop the charges against Matt.
- Some close moments gave Tim hope for his relationship with Claire, but their disagreement over Ryan turned the evening sour.
- Tim received word that Dr. Domingo accepted the plea bargain and named the person who paid to keep Tim at the clinic: Nick!


The restaurant is uncharacteristically empty for an evening. At Matt's request, Bill has closed the place for the night, so that the entire Fisher clan--and a few essential others--can gather for a celebratory dinner. Several tables have been pushed together to create one long stretch of dining table near the center of the restaurant.

Right now, however, only a few of the seats are occupied. Everyone is here: Sarah and Matt; Jake and Mia; Bill and Paula; Claire; and the other Fisher siblings, along with their significant others. The three grandchildren take advantage of the open space by running around as much as possible.

At one end of the table, Tim sits with Molly and Brent. He does his best not to stare too much at Claire and Ryan, who stand off to the side engaged in conversation. However, he can't help the occasional glance.

Molly, who is in the midst of recounting a tale about her and Brent's recent attempt at crib-shopping, lets her story fade into a pause and then asks, "Tim, do you want to go outside for a few minutes?"

"No, I'm fine," her brother responds, though he doesn't look fine. "I'm just trying to accept the fact that I was wrong. I was so sure Ryan had something to do with Domingo."

"Nick makes a lot of sense, though," Brent says. Molly can see her husband's reluctance to admit anything that might cast Ryan in a positive light, but after Dr. Domingo's statement to the police about Nick being the one who kept Tim at his clinic, Brent really has no choice.

"He even said that Nick was the only person he ever dealt with in regards to your care," Molly adds. "Tim, I know you want to believe the worst about Ryan, and I can't blame you for that, but he did prove himself to be a much better guy than we originally thought during the time you were gone."

She tries to ignore the disapproving scowl from her husband.

With a sigh, however, Brent admits, "It does help a few things fit together. If Stan somehow caught wind of what Nick was up to, it would explain why he had that information on him when we found his body. And it might explain how he wound up dead."

Tim has to agree. With a shake of her glass, Molly jingles her remaining ice cubes.

"I'm going to get another soda," she says. "Do either of you want anything?" The men decline, and she goes.

Brent catches Tim glancing at Claire and Ryan again.

"I know what you're thinking."

Tim hesitates to respond until he determines that he and Brent are on the same page. Then he says, "None of this really proves that Ryan wasn't involved."

"I know. But if he was, you can bet his bastard of a father will waste no time in ratting him out." Brent checks his watch. "And I'm willing to bet that it might not be a long wait at all."


The sound of glasses clanking together reverberates through the ornate dining room. The four women bring the cocktails to their lined, lipsticked mouths, relishing the first sip in a moment of tranquil quiet. All but one of them, that is.

"Dar, please, slow down," Katherine Moriani admonishes her friend. "We don't need you passing out under the table before the main course is served again!"

The heavyset woman sets down her glass and glowers at Katherine. "Please! Booze is one of the few pleasures that a divorcee has to look forward to."

"And shopping," Marj chimes in.

"Not when your ex is as stingy with the alimony as Harold is," Dar says, throwing back another gulp of her cocktail.

Marj is undaunted. "There's always sex." The comment receives a sharp glare from Dar.

"You really should get one of those poolboys," Tenille suggests.

A beep from the kitchen interrupts before Dar has the chance to leap from her seat and throttle one or all of the other ladies.

"That's our dinner," Katherine says. Rotating in her chair, she bellows, "Nick, would you be a dear and fetch the eggplant parmesan from the oven?"

There is no indication of a response until, thirty seconds later, Nick straggles into the dining room.

"Don't forget the garlic bread in the warming drawer and the salad in the refrigerator," Katherine tells him. Grumbling his acceptance of her orders, Nick disappears into the kitchen.

"Katherine, darling, you are so lucky to have him," Marj says. "He truly is a godsend."

Katherine shifts, almost imperceptibly, in her seat. "Yes, Nick is ... really something."

Shortly he returns with their food, balancing the items carefully in his arms.

"Don't let the bread get crushed," Katherine says, careful to keep her tone soft in front of the other ladies.

Nick sets out the items one by one. "It's fine."

"Just making sure."

"Now if you'll excuse me," he says to the group, "I'll be getting back to my book."

"Thank you, darling!" Dar calls after him, rising out of her chair just a touch.

The women fawn over the food as it is served and begin their meal in peace. Only minutes later, however, comes the sharp chime of the doorbell.

"Nick! Doorbell!" Katherine cries. Her husband's huffing and puffing is audible as he makes his way from the den, through the foyer, and to the front door.

For a few minutes, indistinct voices can be heard, though the conversation is indecipherable. But during a lull in the dinner conversation, a string of words makes its way to Katherine's ears, and panic floods her system:

"Nick Moriani, you have the right to remain silent ..."


"Can I have everyone's attention?"

With that call, the heads of everyone gathered turn to look at Matt.

"There are a couple things I want to say before dinner is served," he says. The guests settle into chairs and lean against the wall as they grant him their attention.

"As you all know, I've been through a pretty rough experience lately," he goes on. "Even though I knew I was innocent, there were times that I thought I should give up, because there was nothing else I could do."

Sarah, who is seated nearby, pulls Victoria up onto her lap. She is so grateful that Matt didn't give up or play into Jennie's game; she doesn't know what she would do without him in her life.

"I owe a lot to the people who didn't give up on me," Matt says, "especially my brother, who wouldn't let me shut him out, no matter how thick-headed I was about it." A chuckle ripples through the listeners. Sarah notices that Mia squeezes Jake's hand as they listen to Matt.

"And Sarah." Matt pauses to lock eyes with her, and she flushes as she feels all attention turn her way. "Sarah knew that there had to be some way to prove that I was innocent, and there was no stopping her until she found it. I don't think I can ever let her know how thankful I am for that."

He pauses again, and they share a moment all to themselves, even with all these people around them.

"What I'm trying to say," he continues, "is that some really great things can come out of a really bad situation. For me, it was a lesson about never taking for granted the people who really important." He reaches down to pat his daughter on the head, and she giggles. "Sarah, we've wasted enough time."

She watches as his hand creeps into the pocket of his jacket. "I need you in my life. You've believed in me like no one else ever has, and you've taught me to believe in myself."

Sarah's whole body begins tingling as Matt sinks down onto one knee, seemingly in slow motion and yet not slowly enough for her to relish this moment for as long as she would like.

He pulls out the black box and, with his honest, caring eyes holding her in their embrace, he stares up at her.

"Sarah, in front of our family and friends, I'm asking: Will you be my wife?"

Tori giggles again, although this time, it is more of an excited squeal. Sarah feels her head nodding before she even knows it.

"Yes. Of course. Yes."

Matt takes hold of her hand and slips the ring onto her finger. Tori reaches out to touch it, so Matt lets their daughter slide it the rest of the way down Sarah's finger. And with this ring on her hand, her daughter in her lap, the man of her dreams before her, and their family and friends applauding all around, Sarah can't imagine life being any more perfect than it is right at this instant.


Katherine's senses spring to full alertness as the rest of the familiar verse becomes distinguishable: "Anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law ..."

"What's the matter, dear?" Tenille asks. A scan of her face, as well as those of the two other women, assures Katherine that they have not picked up on what is taking place in the foyer.

"If you ladies would excuse me ..." She quickly rises and hurries out, taking care to close the French doors to the dining room as she goes.

Although it is what the audio version of the situation told her to expect, the scene at the front door strikes Katherine as surreal. A pair of uniformed police officers flank her husband, whose hands are pulled together behind his back--no doubt in handcuffs.

"What's going on here?" she demands.

"These dolts are dragging me to the station on some bogus kidnapping charge," Nick says.

"I can't imagine you doing something like that!"

Nick scowls at her. "You know I didn't have anything to do with Tim Fisher's disappearance. Even Tim Fisher knows it!"

"I'm afraid I don't know anything at all," Katherine says, taunting him with her innocent inflection.

The sound of the French doors opening interrupts them. Katherine practically sprints back to them to obstruct the scene at the door.

Tenille peeks her head out. "Is everything all right out here?"

"Oh, yes, nothing to worry about," Katherine says, forcing a chuckle and shifting her weight to be sure that the view of the foyer is blocked. "Just some pesky neighborhood children. You know how these kids are, with the trick-or-treating and all that."

"In July?"

"Something about cookies and scouts. Go on back to your dinner--I'll be back in a moment myself."

With a shrug, Tenille ducks back inside, but before Katherine can pull the door closed, Nick's voice calls out.

"Katherine, I'm going to need you to bring the checkbook--"

"Nick, dear, we don't need that many cookies! They'll spoil your Atkins diet!"

A puzzled silence follows, but just as Katherine relaxes, Nick yells to her, "For bail! I'll have my lawyer phone you!"

The words draw Tenille's head, followed by the rest of her body, out of the dining room. She motions to the others, and Katherine finds herself chasing the trio out to the foyer.

"Ladies, this isn't what it--"

But they see Nick, with the officers, and their horrified expressions flash from him to Katherine.

"Just a misunderstanding," Nick assures the women as the officers escort him through the front door.

Katherine hurries to close the door, shaking her head. "I haven't the foggiest what that was about. I'm sure Nick will have it worked out in no time."

But her friends' smug grins tell Katherine that they are unconvinced.

"Even I'm better off than that!" Dar says as the three troop back to the dining room.

Katherine remains by the front door, arms folded as if to restrain the rage threatening to explode out of her. If Nick thinks he's going to get away with making a fool of Katherine Fitch, he has another thing coming.


In the wake of the grand announcement, the family crowds around Sarah to offer congratulations. Tim wraps his arms tightly around his youngest sister, and she returns the hug with equal force.

"I am thrilled for you," he says. "You deserve to be happy."

"I'm so glad that you could be here for this," Sarah says.

Eventually Tim moves out of the way to let others have their turns. Seeing his sister so joyous fills him with conflicting emotions. On one hand, there is hope that, if Sarah can get past the things she has gone through and be so utterly content, he will have cause to be the same way at some point; on the other is despair, because he can recall the days when he did feel that way, but they seem so far away that they might as well have come from another lifetime.

Claire stands to the side, observing the celebration with a cynical eye. She knows that she has felt the kind of pure, unadulterated joy that Sarah is feeling, but for the life of her, she cannot fathom how it is even possible.

She flinches at the feel of a hand on her shoulder but relaxes--only slightly--when she turns to find that it belongs to Ryan.

"They look really happy, don't they?" he asks, his gaze on the newly engaged couple.

"Yeah, they do." Claire's focus drifts from Sarah and Matt to Tim and then, finally, back to Ryan.

"Listen," he says, keeping his voice low, "after dinner, do you want to do something? Take a walk, even?" Seeing her hesitance, he adds, "I really miss spending time with you."

Claire steals another glance at Tim, who is blessedly distracted by conversation with Jason. As much as she tries to tell herself that she shouldn't, she feels guilty sharing even a word with Ryan in front of her husband.

"We could do that," she says. As much as she might want to simplify things by denying it, she misses him, too.

"I hope dinner's ready soon. I promised Alex that Lauren and I would go to his book release thingy," Jason is saying.

"Diane mentioned that was tonight," Tim manages to respond. He tries not to be too obvious in looking over at Claire and Ryan, but he isn't so sure that he succeeds.

Seeing them together, now that he knows Nick was responsible for his captivity, crushes him even harder than it has in the months since his return. True, he still isn't one hundred percent convinced of Ryan's innocence, but Domingo's confession makes it a lot more probable. And if Ryan really isn't as horrible as Tim has wanted to believe ... well, then, maybe there really is no chance for Tim and Claire ever again to be the way that Sarah and Matt are tonight.


Will Sarah finally have the wedding of her dreams?
Can Tim face a future without Claire?
What will Nick's arrest mean for Katherine, Ryan, and the Fishers?
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