Episode #387

Previously ...
- After his one-night stand with Diane, Brian met with Kelsey in order to come clean.
- Tim told Diane that perhaps he had been too hasty: he might be interested in exploring a relationship with her after all.
- Scotty was arrested during the drug bust at the Objection store. He and the other involved parties pointed their fingers at Nick as the mastermind.
- When Nick told him about the bust, Ryan reacted with horror--but in private, he was thrilled by the development.


Brian Hamilton looks at Kelsey Barker across the small table, her hair pulled back into a ponytail that highlights the youthful freshness that he enjoys so much about her.

"What do you mean, you're sorry about last night?" she asks. "I'm the one who had to cancel on you--"

"There was nothing you could do about that."

He sees Kelsey's confusion growing, and his stomach finds some new, painful ways to twist itself into knots. The words that he rehearsed during the car ride here now seem so hollow and inadequate.

"I'm not talking about our plans from last night," he says. If he can coax himself to the point of no return, then he will have no choice but to force out the rest. "I'm talking about ... after I left the store."

"What?" Her hands grip her coffee cup tightly, as if grateful for the certainty of its shape and warmth. "Why?"

"I did something really stupid."

Her body tenses visibly.

"I wanted last night to be special," he says, "and I was really--I was disappointed when our plans fell through. So I went to see Diane, and she was upset too, and we were drinking ..."

Awareness--reluctant but undeniable--spreads over her face, and for an instant Brian thinks that he might be spared from having to say the rest out loud. But then it becomes clear that Kelsey is hanging on his last statement, waiting for him to say something to prove her wrong.

The next part is infinitely more difficult than he expected it would be:

"I slept with Diane last night."

All of Kelsey's energy seems to melt away at once. Brian cannot bring himself to look at her, knowing that he is the sole cause of that ashen color and those humiliated eyes. He stares down at his empty hands instead.

"I had to tell you," he says. "I couldn't--Kelsey, you're too good a woman to lie to."

"But not good enough to keep you from cheating?"

"That's not what this is. Diane and I--" He stops himself; saying her name any more than necessary seems cruel. "It was possibly the stupidest thing I have ever done."


They lapse into silence. The relief that Brian thought he would feel after telling her is nowhere to be found.

"Have you wanted this to happen all along?" she asks suddenly.

"What? No! I never planned for it--"

"You and her, I mean. You wanted this to happen long before you even met me."

Brian cannot deny it, but he cannot bring himself to confirm it, either.

Kelsey shakes her head, and Brian recognizes the regret in her expression. He wants to tell her not to feel this way, that they have had some wonderful times together, but he knows that he has cast a nasty shadow over every one of those memories.

"Jason was right about you," she says, almost leaping to her feet. "I should have listened to him before I ever got involved with you." Without so much as a lingering, vicious stare, she picks up her coffee and roll and walks away.

Brian wonders if those are the last words that she will ever speak to him.


Claire Fisher enters her in-laws' kitchen to find a sea of magazines, photographs, and cards, spread over the kitchen table. Her sister-in-law sits among the clutter like a happy child on Christmas morning.

"Welcome to Wedding Central," Sarah greets her.

Claire surveys the scene. "Wow, you're really in the thick of it already!"

"We don't have much time."

"You've set a date?"

"Labor Day weekend!" Sarah announces. "We want to do it as soon as we can."

Taking a seat at the table, Claire says, "That is really fast! Wow."

"You're telling me. How are you with flowers? I can't make up my mind." With that, Sarah thrusts a catalogue at her. As she explains the various options, the doorbell rings.

"I've got it!" Paula's voice calls out from the living room. A minute later, she enters the kitchen--tailed by Ryan, who from what Claire can tell has already been alerted to her presence.

"Hey," he says, somewhat awkwardly, to both women. "I see this family is doing its part to keep the bridal industry afloat."

Sarah holds up an envelope. "Invitations are going out this afternoon. Mark your calendar--Labor Day weekend."

As Ryan's surprise registers, Claire says, "I know, much sooner than I expected, too!"

"It's going to be on the beach, in a tiny area called Grayson's Cove," Paula chimes in.

Ryan looks even more surprised. "The beach?"

"Summer in the Northwest is basically August and September," Sarah says. "We're assured of decent weather that weekend."

"It's also close to Bill's restaurant, so we can hold the reception there," Paula adds.

"Nice way to skirt the issue of booking facilities." Ryan takes a seat at the end of the table, where the matrimonial maelstrom has not (yet) crept. "I'm glad all three of you are here. There's something I need to talk about with you."

The three women read the undertone of his voice and shift their attention fully to him.

"I haven't been completely honest with all of you," he says. "There's something that I've been keeping to myself, but now is the time to get it out in the open."

Claire notices the moment of eye contact between him and Sarah. Her heartbeat accelerates; this sounds serious.

"Sarah saw me doing something last night that I never intended for any of you to know about." He pauses until it becomes clear that Sarah did not report back to them. "I was meeting with Nick. About business."

Now Claire's heart goes into overdrive. After all the trust she has placed in Ryan--

"I've been working with Nick again," Ryan explains, "on some very illegal things."


Molly Taylor hesitates at the door when she sees that her boss is on the phone, but Camille Lemieux motions for her to come in and have a seat. Molly obliges. As she busies herself by studying her surroundings, she notices that Camille appears not to have slept at all last night--understandably so.

After several minutes filled with plenty of sighing and reassurances on Camille's end, the phone call concludes. The older woman closes her eyes for a lengthy moment; her usual flair is in short supply today.

"How are you holding up?" Molly asks.

"As well as can be expected," Camille answers in a ragged voice that sharply contrasts her words. "This is a catastrophe. Every single investor apparently feels the need to phone and berate me personally for being a criminal mastermind."

"I'm sorry this is happening."

"So am I. That damned Nick Moriani! There are a great number of things I might have expected from him, but using my shop as the front for a narcotics operation was not one of them." She sighs once more, her usual drama replaced by genuine fatigue. "This is going to ruin the company."

"No, it isn't," Molly says, though she has no way to be certain of that. "I wish you'd have called me last night. That way you wouldn't have had to deal with all of this by yourself."

Camille waves the issue away with her hand. "I didn't want to trouble you, what with the babies and all. At least not until I had some definite explanations."

"Brent got called away and didn't even tell me what was going on until this morning, after they'd arrested Nick."

Camille appears lost in thought, barely even present. Then, suddenly, she snaps back into focus.

"And that brother of yours!" she says. "If only he'd have come to me about this as soon as he found out--"

"I'm so sorry about that. He didn't say anything to me until this morning," Molly says. "The police told him that there had to be an actual crime observed in order to arrest anyone."

"This is a humiliation!"

Molly has no response, as much as she wants to defend Ryan, his course of action has placed the company in a very bad position.

"No matter what Ryan intended by exposing this scheme," Camille says, "he might have created a slew of new problems."


It doesn't seem right to go straight from his terrible encounter with Kelsey to the woman at the heart of the argument--breakup--whatever. The whole thing has Brian sick enough that he wants nothing more than to go home and spend the day in bed. But he has to go to work, and running into Diane there is inevitable, so he might as well get this out of the way.

And, even though he will not allow the thought to form clearly in his mind, perhaps his newfound closeness with Diane will help eradicate the disgust he feels over having done this to Kelsey.

He finds Diane at her desk, staring at her computer monitor and clicking the mouse with fury. He almost expected her to look different, somehow, in the wake of their encounter, as if having shared that experience with her might have unlocked some heretofore hidden part of her. But she looks the same as she always has: sleek suit; full, red lips; stylishly choppy, dark hair.

"Hey," he says. The word catches in his throat, and what comes out is a mere trace of his intended greeting.

Nevertheless, it gets Diane's attention. "Oh, you made it in."

"I wasn't really planning on skipping work for the day." He shuffles his feet, moving his weight from one to the other and back. "We should probably talk about what happened, huh?"

She glances at the monitor, then at Brian again, and pauses before a smile appears on her face. "Do we need to?"

Brian musters a shrug. In spite of his guilt about Kelsey, what he really wants to do right now is lock the door and repeat last night's festivities right here in Diane's office.

"It was fun," Diane says, "and, to tell the truth, a hell of a lot better than I ever expected it would be."

So she has thought about it! Brian thinks, and his spirits jump a little higher.

"So we got drunk and had some fun. We both needed it." She swivels her chair away from the computer screen. "Look, no one needs to be the wiser. I'll be happy for you, if you can be happy for me."

This is not at all how Brian envisioned this--especially in light of how aggressive she was last night.

"I told Kelsey!" he blurts out.

"You what? Are you demented?"

The words jockeying for release threaten to choke him, and he stammers, "I-I couldn't pretend it didn't happen. I can't marry her after that! And I thought ..."

He trails off, and finally Diane asks, "Thought what?"

Now he realizes why she doesn't look different to him this morning: because nothing is different. They didn't share anything at all--aside from drunken sex, that is.

"Nothing," he says, suddenly very antsy to be out of her presence.

"Guess who came to see me earlier?" She seems totally unfazed by all of this; Brian wonders how that is possible.

He feigns an ostensibly interested "Who?"

"Tim! He wanted me to know that he might've jumped the gun last night ... so we're having dinner tonight."

Seeing the smile stretched across her face and the giddiness--the smug giddiness--emanating from her, Brian can't help but think that this is all wrong. Horribly wrong, like a children's fairy tale twisted inside out.

"I need to go get some stuff done," he says, slipping out of her office without so much as a goodbye. As he pounds his way down the hallway, one thought dominates his mind: how can it be possible to wreck your entire life so quickly?


Ryan spots the panic on the women's faces and hastens to add, "A few months back, Nick proposed that I help him out with this new operation. I turned him down cold at the time, but when I realized that saying yes would give me access to all the details ..."

Understanding dawns over Sarah, but he can see that Claire and Paula are too stunned to read between the lines.

"So I agreed, with the intention of turning him in," he explains. "There was a bust last night--Nick was operating a drug ring out of Objection's store."

Paula gasps. "Does Molly know? And Camille?"

"I spoke to both of them this morning. I don't think Camille is thrilled with me--but this would've come out sooner or later, and at least this way we flushed it out and the police were aware of it." He makes sure to lock eyes with Claire and is relieved to see that she appears intrigued but not angry. "I approached the police when I got into this, made sure I would have immunity, and gave them details as I got them. I asked them to keep Brent out of the loop until the arrests were made."

"He had Objection employees working for him?" Sarah asks.

Ryan nods. "Two of them. They've both been arrested--and so has Nick."

"This should keep him in jail for a long time," Paula says, but the tail of the statement flags off like a question.

"Absolutely," Ryan says. "And that's a major reason I wanted to do this: to make sure that Nick pays for what he did to Tim." An appreciative murmur rises from the others; relief floods Ryan's system. If this doesn't prove to the Fishers that he has changed--that he is not the man that they once believed him to be--then nothing ever will.

The moment is short-lived, however: it is broken by the sound of someone entering the house and hurrying toward the kitchen.

"You guys aren't going to believe what I--"

Tim freezes at the entry to the kitchen as his eyes fall upon Ryan. Clearly he expected other family members to be present, but seeing his half-brother throws him for a loop. After an instant, however, Ryan's presence seems to please Tim.

"Thank God this can finally end." He sets his stare on Ryan and says, "The game is over."

Claire, Sarah, and Paula watch in total confusion.

"Ryan," Tim says, "I know exactly what you're up to, and you're not going to get away with it."


What does Tim know that the others don't?
What will Kelsey do now that she knows the truth?
Should Brian beg Kelsey to take him back?
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