Episode #386

Previously ...
- Brian, upset over his broken plans with Kelsey, visited Diane, who was reeling from Tim's rejection. She threw herself at Brian, who was unable to resist.
- Tim counseled Jason not to let someone as good as Lauren get away.
- Lauren gave Josh a ride home from work when Scotty failed to pick him up as planned.
- The man arrested for buying drugs at Objection turned out to be Scotty Young. Brent learned from the detectives on the case that the operation had been brought down by an inside source.
- Nick called Ryan in a panic after hearing of the Objection arrests. Ryan expressed horror, but when the call ended, he congratulated himself for a job well done.


A blinding flash of morning sunlight is the first thing that meets Brian Hamilton's eyes. He groans and rolls over, and it is only then that he notices the unfamiliar bed. The events of last night come rushing back to him: having his plans with Kelsey derailed ... coming to see Diane to sulk ... her advances, so confident, that he found impossible to resist.

A million emotions follow on the heels of his recollection, each competing for his foremost attention. But all of them are put on hold as he realizes that the bed is empty beside him. He experiences a flash of panic even as he decides that Diane wouldn't leave him alone in her place without reason.

He spots the note on the nightstand a moment later. Her trademark cursive script, as distinctive as the woman herself, is spread over a yellow Post-It note.

Brian stretches his bare torso across the bed and grabs the note. He reads it once hurriedly, then again to be certain that he read it correctly.

I had to run early to get Sam to daycare--I have that meeting this morning. Take your time getting up--come into the office whenever you're ready.

No signature, no innuendoes about what happened last night, nothing. She's probably embarrassed, Brian realizes as he gets out of bed. It isn't often that Diane shows any vulnerability, let alone as much as she did last night. He finds his clothes on the floor, apparently having been moved from the living room while he was asleep.

He picks up his clothes but pauses when he catches sight of himself in the full-length mirror. He stares at his naked reflection; in the light of day, no matter what rationalizations he made last night, the truth is clear. He cheated on Kelsey. A wave of sickness twists his stomach.

But what happened between him and Diane: it was inevitable. He has always wanted it to happen. He can admit that now. And as happy as he has been and might have been in the future with Kelsey, the depth of feeling is no match for what he shares with Diane.

Still, he has never considered himself someone who would be unfaithful. It is with a heavy heart and an uneasy stomach that he dresses and plans what he knows he must do today.


Jason Fisher cradles his laptop between his knees and chest. He had an exhausting, very early morning at the rink, and he wants nothing more than to spend a few hours on the couch with mindless television and some breakfast. He reaches for another chunk of his blueberry muffin as he clicks to the next webpage.

When he hears movement from the back of the apartment, followed by approaching footsteps, his first instinct is to cover the computer screen somehow. But there is no need for that, he tells himself, and so he continues browsing the site as Alex Marshall enters the room.

"Back from the rink already?" Alex asks. He goes into the kitchen and emerges with a bottle of water. His hair skews in a thousand different directions, still wild from sleep.

"We had such an early lesson," Jason says, throwing his head backward to emphasize how torturous it was. "I have to go back and teach this afternoon, but I'm doing absolutely nothing 'til then."

Alex plops down onto the loveseat. He watches a few seconds of the Real World rerun and then glances over at Jason; immediately he notices what is on his roommate's screen.

"Whoa!" Alex says. "I know I've been busy lately, but I didn't think I'd miss anything this big." He scoots closer to Jason. "Are you and Lauren ..."

"I'm just looking. Just starting to look." Jason looks over the rings displayed on his monitor, but they all basically look the same. "I don't even know anything about this stuff, so I figured some research would be a good idea."

"But you are thinking of proposing?"

Jason shrugs. "Yeah. I mean, we need to talk about it first. But yeah, I am. Tim said some stuff last night that got me thinking about what I want out of life and all that. And if everything is so good with Lauren, why not now? We wouldn't have to get married right away ..."

Alex completes the thought: "... but it would be nice to have the security of the next step."

"Exactly. I still have no idea about this ring crap, though."

Laughing, Alex shakes his head. "Me neither. But if there's anything I can do to help, let me know. You know I want to see you and Lauren happy."

Excitement spreads over Alex's face. Jason knows that his friend is genuinely happy for him, and he finds Alex's approval very reassuring as he starts down this frightening new path.


Lauren Brooks spots Josh Taylor coming toward her cubicle when he is still fifty or so feet away. He looks unrested and worn, and it leads Lauren to wonder what he got up to after she gave him that ride home from the office last night.

"Hey," he says when he reaches her. His scratchy voice supports her deduction about his activities last night: whatever they were, sleep was not included on the list.

"I see you're not so overworked that you can't go out and party in the middle of the week," she comments.

Josh is quick to shake his head, as if he anticipated this line of conversation from her. "Can I talk to you for a minute? In private?"

Partly intrigued and partly annoyed, Lauren follows him to an empty conference room down the hall. Josh closes the door before addressing her.

"Thanks again for the lift," he says. "Guess where Scotty was."


"Jail! Not even, like, the drunk tank. Actual jail."

"Why? What happened?"

Josh hesitates before explaining, "He got caught buying coke."

The news takes a moment to penetrate Lauren's consciousness. Getting arrested for buying drugs is something that happens in the movies, not in real life, as far as she is concerned.

"We're gonna hear about it pretty soon," Josh adds. "It happened at the Objection store--the ring was operating through there."

"How? You can't mean Camille Lemieux is some kind of drug lord--"

"No, but a couple of the employees were in on it. It sounds like someone tipped off the cops and Scotty happened to be involved in that specific deal." He goes quiet and tries in vain to rub the weariness from his eyes. "After I went down there and saw him, my brother started reading me the riot act."

She doesn't find this especially surprising; as police commander, Brent has every right to worry about the things in which his brother might be involved.

Lauren chooses her words carefully: "Did you know?"

"No!" But as the force of Josh's initial reaction wears off, he adds, "I mean, I knew he was doing some stuff, but I had no idea he was buying that much. Or selling to so many people."

All of this is beyond Lauren's comprehension. This kind of thing doesn't happen in the world that she knows.

"I swear, I didn't know," Josh says. "I am not mixed up in this. I want you to know that."

Lauren manages a weak nod, but it does little to vanquish her doubts.


Ryan Moriani checks his reflection in the hallway mirror. He straightens his tie and, satisfied with the picture before him, picks up his briefcase. He opens the door and nearly plows into Brent Taylor, who is poised to knock.

"I wish you would've come to me about this," Brent says.

Ryan fixes a pointed stare on his brother-in-law. "Would you have trusted me?"

Without bothering to answer, Brent moves past Ryan and into the loft. Ryan remains at the open door.

"We arrested Nick again early this morning," Brent says. "This set of charges should add a lot of weight to the kidnapping case."

"That's what I hoped. He's not getting out on bail this time, is he?"

"No." Hands in his pants pockets, Brent takes a few meandering steps over the hardwood floor. "You know, Ryan, this was a risky stunt. Your father was running this operation for other people, and if they catch on that you were the one who ratted them out, they could come after you--or the people close to you."

The thought has troubled Ryan ever since he conceived the plan, and now he replies with inflated confidence, "As long as everything stays quiet, they won't know. There's no way. As far as anyone knows, I was working with Nick, and when everything blew up, I struck a deal just like however many other people involved in this."

Brent grunts, a sign that Ryan takes as a grudging admission that Ryan's logic makes sense. A moment later, though, he meets Ryan's eye with his own.

"How'd you know Nick was even involved in this?" Brent asks. "Unless you'd been involved yourself--"

"I never claimed to be an angel," Ryan responds as calmly as he can. "But it's been a long time since I had anything to do with Nick's business." Best to keep things vague, he figures.

The police commander is quiet for a long time, and despite Ryan's best efforts, he cannot read what Brent is thinking.

"Your family will appreciate this," Brent finally says, "especially if it helps put Nick away for a long time."

Ryan nods slowly. "That's exactly what I'm hoping."


Once her meeting is over, Diane Bishop returns to her office. She settles in at her desk and attempts to figure out her next task. The meeting ran much shorter than she expected it would, and today of all days she could have used the distraction.

She begins sifting through the mound of papers forming a protective layer over her desk, but she raises her head when she hears the knock on her door. Once she sees who it is, though, she looks right back down.

"Hey," Tim says. "Do you, uh, you have a few minutes?"

She glances at him just long enough to nod and then returns her attention to the papers. Tim takes a few slow steps into the room, but Diane waits for him to break the silence.

"About last night," he says. "I ... I feel really bad about rushing out of your place the way I did."

"Don't bother. I put you on the spot, you made a graceful exit before I had the chance to make an even bigger idiot of myself. End of story." She wishes he would leave. She has no appetite for social awkwardness, particularly today.

"That's the thing," he says after an uncomfortably long quiet spell. "Maybe it isn't. The end of the story, that is."

It is enough to make Diane drop her pen and lean back in the massive desk chair. She might be intrigued, but she isn't going to humiliate herself again. She waits for Tim to elaborate.

"I don't know how things are going to turn out with Claire and me," he says, "and I think I've made it clear that I'm not ready to throw in the towel as far as my marriage is concerned. But what you said last night--it got me thinking."

She feels that he has said enough now to merit at least a token response. "About what?"

"We've had some good times since I came back, you and I. Maybe there is something there that's worth ... exploring." He scans her for a reaction and hastens to add, "I understand if you think I'm out of line, but I thought you should know that last night was a knee-jerk reaction and--"

"Hold it."


Only now does Diane allow a smile to play across her lips. "How do you feel about dinner tonight?"


With a sweaty hand, Brian reaches for the coffee house's door. Making the phone call to Kelsey was hard enough; this part is going to be impossible. During the drive over, he must have flip-flopped fifty times over what he would say. As soon as he spots her, though, he knows that there is only one thing he can do.

Shaky legs carry him to the small table where she sits, nursing a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll. Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail, adding to her youthful appearance, and Brian's head fills with sharp admonishments: You piece of crap. How could you do this to her?

Kelsey's face brightens at the sight of him. "Hey! This is a nice surprise."

Brian mumbles something noncommittal and takes a seat across from her.

"Aren't you going to get anything?" she asks.

Realizing that would be a logical thing to do, Brian stands, but he pauses before taking his first step. He lowers himself back into the chair. "No, I'm fine."

"I definitely need the caffeine," she says. "I was at the store forever last night dealing with that mess."

"Did you figure out what was going on? Who was in on it and all that stuff?" he manages to ask.

"Two of the other employees, but they're pretty sure that's all. Camille is livid--this could ruin the company. But it explains why there were so many out-of-place customers coming in and out." She leans forward, elbows pressed onto the table. "I'm sorry about last night. I know you had made plans--"

He holds up a hand to stop her. "No, Kelsey. I'm the one who should be sorry about last night."


Will Brian confess all to Kelsey?
Do Tim and Diane have a future together?
Are Jason and Lauren headed for the altar?
Come to the Footprints Forum to talk about it all!

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