Episode #414

Previously ...
- Trevor left for New York to do a photoshoot, or so he told Alex and Lauren.
- Claire and Molly ran into Nick outside the auction. He made a veiled threat to Claire about Travis.
- The bidding for Jason went too high for Courtney to keep up. Lauren watched with interest, though, and later bid on--and won--Josh.
- The auction appeared to be a success until Nick burst onstage and claimed that Ryan was swindling Katherine and would be keeping the money himself. Katherine's guests were outraged, even as Ryan denied the charge.


Outrage and disbelief ripple through the hall, bouncing from table to table until the entire place is abuzz with muttered commentary. Some guests rise to their feet, as if to signal that they are so disgusted that they cannot remain here for another moment. Others shake their heads sadly, pitying the mess that Nick Moriani has made of the entire night.

Onstage, Brent Taylor and Tim Fisher grab hold of Nick, but he easily breaks free of them.

"Get your hands off me!" Nick protests as he shakes them off.

"Haven't you done enough damage?" Brent asks. Upon receiving a self-satisfied smirk in response, he adds, "I ought to take you down to the station."

"On what grounds? Being mean?"

The second that it takes Brent to hesitate over a response is enough for Nick to move toward the exit. "Have a nice night, everyone!" he calls to the crowd onstage, which includes his soon-to-be ex-wife.

"Please, everyone, if you'll allow me to explain," Ryan Moriani says into the microphone, though it does nothing to quiet the room full of perturbed guests. "My father is only trying to cause trouble--"

Katherine takes the microphone from him. "There's no reason to allow this unpleasantness to ruin the night," she announces, though it sounds more like a plea. "We still have one bachelor to auction off..."

But the guests are on their feet now, mingling, gathering their things. Several clusters of people head for the exit.

At one particular table, none of the guests have moved from their seats. They sit in a daze, shocked into silence.

Paula Fisher's eye catches Claire's, and they share a long moment of eye contact before Claire blurts out, "Ryan wouldn't do that. He wouldn't think of stealing the money."

"Of course not," Paula says, and her confidence in Ryan helps to put Claire at ease.

"We should have said something," Molly Taylor says to Claire. Claire looks uncertain, perhaps a bit guilty.

"Said something about what?" Bill Fisher asks.

Molly and Claire exchange conspiratorial looks before Molly explains, "We ran into Nick earlier. Outside."

"After Ryan threw him out of here?" Paula asks.

Claire nods. "We didn't want to worry anyone..."

"He'd have found a way to cause trouble, one way or another," Bill says. "He was determined to ruin tonight for Ryan and Katherine."

"Please, stay and enjoy the night," Katherine urges people, but they sweep right past her.

Even the occupants of the front-and-center table, where Katherine herself was seated, appear ready to evacuate. She hurries over to them.

"Ladies, please," she says, but Tenille, Marj, and Dar continue gathering their things. "You know what awful things Nick is capable of."

"You should be ashamed of yourself," Tenille says, her voice deep and authoritative.

Marj clucks her agreement: "This is disgraceful and unacceptable."

"The things that Nick alleged--they aren't true!" Now Katherine makes no attempt to conceal her pleading. "The money really is going to charity. You have to believe me."

"Oh, we believe you," Tenille says.

Katherine brightens. "Good! Then please, stay, and we'll--"

But Marj grabs a glass and stops Katherine mid-word by pitching its contents right in her face. Katherine gasps, liquor dripping from her face.

"Marj!" Dar exclaims.

Marj turns to their red-haired friend. "She deserved it!"

"Perhaps," Dar says, snatching the glass, "but I was going to finish that drink before we left!"

"We should have known better," Marj says, turning her attention back to Katherine, "than to put any faith in an event that you put together! Who called all these people and insisted that they come here tonight, only to have it all turn into some tawdry circus? We can't stake our reputations on a sinking ship like yours, Katherine."

Katherine stands there, mouth gaping and face soaked, as the trio blows past her and out of the hall.


Alex Marshall and Courtney Chase stand by their table uncertainly. Many of the tables around them are now empty, but there are still enough people in the hall--including the Fishers, who comprise most of the people they know here--to make them feel that walking out would be inappropriate.

They are hovering by the table, trying not to talk too loudly about the debacle that just ensued, when Jason Fisher comes over to join them.

"So, how awkward was that?" he asks with a conspiratorial grin.

Courtney and Alex react precisely as he expected they would: excited to have someone else with whom to discuss the auction-gone-awry.

"You don't think Ryan was really planning to keep all the money himself, do you?" Courtney asks.

Jason's response is surprisingly confident: "No. He really wanted this to go well. For Katherine and all."

"Sorry we couldn't rescue you," Alex says, in reference to having been outbid by Tenille when Jason was on the auction block. "The bidding got a little steep."

"It's okay. Besides," Jason says, "the one upside of this whole thing blowing up might be that I don't have to go on that date, after all."

"It's a shame that Nick ruined the whole night," Courtney says.

Jason nods. "I feel pretty bad for Katherine."

"That, too," she says, "but mainly I just wanted to see you go on that date! It would've been hilarious." She and Alex snicker, and even though he tries to act annoyed, Jason joins in, too.

"No sign of him," Tim says, turning back from the museum's front doors to relay the news to Brent. Nick's car isn't visible anywhere in the parking lot.

Brent thanks him for the report and heads back into the hall. As he goes, he passes Claire, who is on her way out.

"He's gone?" she calls out to Tim.

He turns again and seems to take a moment to compose himself at the sight of her.

"Yeah," he finally says. "I still can't believe he made a scene like that."

"I can," Claire says glumly. She crosses the foyer, arms folded over her chest. Her heels click against the floor. "We saw him out there, Molly and I. Right before the auction began."

"Why didn't you say anything?"

"I didn't want to bring anyone down, I guess. He wasn't doing anything, just--well, obviously he was."

Tim shakes his head with disgust. "What a sick bastard. It's like his main drive in life is making people miserable."

"He knows that he has nothing left to lose." She sighs. "He said something else, and I thought he might just be trying to get under my skin, but now I'm not so sure."

Tim's concern is immediate and intense. "What'd he say?"

"He made some comment about--" She hesitates, not wanting to vocalize it for fear of making it true. "--about Travis. About how it would be a shame if he were caught in the middle of all this."

Sarah leaves her table to walk over to the stage, where the bachelors are still milling about in silence, awkward support for Katherine. She slides up next to Matt and slips her arm around his.

"Hey there, studly."

"Hey," Matt says, his eyes widened in an expression that says it all: What a fiasco.

"I take it you're ready to get out of here," she says.

"I was ready before we even got here."

A flurry of big hair and sparkly fabric blows by and stops in front of them.

"Not so fast, my dear," Dar says. She touches a hand to Matt's chest. "We have a date to plan."

"You're still donating the money?" he asks.

"Why, of course! This night might have been a catastrophe, but I am most certainly not going to pass up a chance with a prime piece of beef."

Sarah and Matt look at each other, both shocked and amused.

Dar goes on without missing a beat: "If you'll just give me your telephone number..."

"Why don't you give us yours?" Sarah asks, batting her eyelashes innocently. "We'll get in touch with you to set things up."

Dar seems stunned by Sarah's intrusion. "I'd really rather--"

"Yeah, we'll be in touch," Matt says, putting an arm around Sarah.


"What do you guys say we get out of here?" Jason asks as he slips off his tuxedo jacket.

"Are you sure it's okay?" Alex asks, looking around. The place has cleared out quite a bit...

Jason doesn't seem nearly as concerned. "I think it's safe to say this thing is dead. And I'm starving. You guys wanna go get something to eat?"

"I could use something," Courtney says.

They both look to Alex, but he shakes his head uncertainly.

"I told Trevor that I'd give him a call when I got out of here," he says. "This way, I can call him before it's too late over there." The other two protest, but Alex stands his ground.

"Seriously, you guys go ahead," he says. "Just drop me off at the apartment on your way."

For a moment, it looks as though Jason won't give up so easily, but then he pats Alex on the shoulder. "Fine, fine, be all old and boring if you want."

Paula folds her hands together and wears a sympathetic expression as she approaches Ryan.

"None of us believe what Nick accused you of," she says, feeling the need to put her son at ease immediately.

"Thanks. It helps to hear that." He sighs. "Too bad I can't do anything to fix this for Katherine."

"I'm sure not everyone will cancel their donations."

"It's not the money that I'm worried about. She was so intent on using this night to restore her reputation with this crowd, and now..." He looks around the hall sadly. "I think they've had their fill of outrageous scandals from her. She'll just be a laughingstock to them."

"I'm so sorry about this," Paula says, at a loss for any other words.

As soon as the words leave Claire's mouth, Tim's whole being jolts into action.

"He said that?" His eyes zoom around the foyer and outside, and Claire has little doubt that, if he were to see Nick, he would throttle him on the spot.

"I don't know if it was supposed to be a threat or if he was just trying to get to me," she says. But her mild attempt at defusing the situation does not seem to have any effect upon Tim.

"Why would he mention Travis?" Tim asks.

"I don't know--"

"And I don't know why he held me captive for years, but he did that." The implication goes unspoken but is clear to both of them: perhaps Nick truly is mad enough to go after their son.

"We should tell Brent," Claire suggests.

"Yeah." Tim looks straight at her and, seemingly out of nowhere, adds, "Don't worry. Travis will be fine."

"Okay..." An eerie quiet settles over them, and Claire has to break it: "Jim called before. Thanks for meeting me in the middle with the custody stuff."

He shakes his head, looking ashamed. "Sorry that got so ugly. I was worried--"

She holds up a hand to stop him. "It's dealt with. I just want this to be as clean as possible."

"Yeah," he says, exhaling heavily. He looks at her, dressed in her finest, her features sharp and striking. Once again he sees the woman whom he married, not the enemy with whom he has been squabbling through attorneys for weeks.

A familiar wave of regret washes over him.



Jason leads the way as he, Courtney, and Alex navigate over toward his parents to say goodnight. He tries to keep his focus on the stage as they walk by the table of Willis Advertising folks, but Lauren seems to go out of her way to catch his eye as he passes.

"Hey," she says. Jason pauses, and Courtney and Alex stop awkwardly behind him.

"Hi," he finally says.

"You looked great up there."

"Thanks." He turns quickly to Courtney and Alex. "Come on, let's go."

Without another glance at Lauren, he leads the way over to where Paula and Bill are standing.

Ryan emerges from the hall intent upon finding Nick. If that bastard is still hanging around--

But he stops in his tracks, and all thoughts of his father fly from his mind, when he looks across the foyer and spots Claire. With Tim.

He knows that it shouldn't bother him. Their divorce is almost final, but they will always be bonded over Travis and Samantha. He made peace with that long ago. But there is something about them now--the way that they are angled toward one another, the softness in their expressions--that strikes a chord of alarm within him.

Try as he might to talk himself out of the uneasiness, it is not intellectual; it is emotional. But he puts on a calm front and approaches them.

"Hey," he says, touching a hand to Claire's shoulder. "We should get going."

"Oh. Of course." She seems startled. "Is Katherine all right?"

"As well as I'd expect her to be. The sooner we all clear out, the better."

Claire agrees and turns to Tim, who has backed away. Something about both of them changed as soon as he came over, Ryan notes.

"Have a good night," Claire says to Tim.

"You, too," Tim says, addressing both of them before he narrows his focus on Claire again. "And don't worry. It won't be a problem."

She looks a bit pained but nevertheless nods.

"Goodnight, Tim," Ryan says as he leads Claire away.



Katherine remains by the stage, amongst a thin web of supporters, even though much of the hall has cleared out. She finishes saying a weak goodnight to Paula and Bill, and she turns around with a heavy sigh--only to bump right into Brian Hamilton.

"Oh, I'm sorry," she says. She goes to move past him, keeping her eyes down, but then pauses. "Thank you for coming tonight, even if--"

"It was my pleasure," he says with a disarming smile. "I'm sorry about... what happened."

"I'm afraid that seems to be my given hand these days: disappointment and humiliation." She can hardly bring herself to look at the man on whom, not too long ago, she was bidding enthusiastically.

"It was out of your control. You can't blame yourself," Brian says.

"I suppose not," she responds glumly, "but plenty of these other people can. And will."

"Who cares what they think? You did something terrific tonight." Again he flashes that smile. "I'm sure none of these ladies will cancel their donations and forfeit their big dates, so at least you'll have earned some money for charity."

"I hope you're right."

"You're not planning on cancelling your date, are you?"

Finally, she has to crack the slightest smile. "No, I suppose not."

"Good," Brian says, and for the first time since Nick's intrusion, she feels a spark of positivity about the night.

Lauren is so engaged in conversation with two of her coworkers that she does not notice Josh Taylor come up behind her until he speaks.

"What was that all about?" he asks.

Lauren spins around, surprised, and laughs uncomfortably. Tempted though she is to play dumb, she knows exactly what he is talking about.

"It seemed like someone from our table should get in on the bidding," she says. "We only came here to support you, so it seemed fitting."

"Oh, so you were obligated to bid on me. Is that it?"

"Absolutely. Pure obligation and nothing else." But she finds herself responding to his familiar, cocky smile with a grin of her own.

"Then I guess we have a date to set up," Josh says.

"Yeah, yeah. Let's see if we can get through another week at work without me killing you first."


Courtney's car pulls up in front of Jason and Alex's apartment unit. The back door opens, and Alex steps out.

"Thanks for the ride," he says.

"Are you sure you don't wanna come out for some food?" Jason asks.

"Yeah, I'm good. You guys have fun. Thanks, though."

"Don't blame me when you're eating stale tortilla chips in the middle of the night!" Jason calls out before Alex closes the door.

As the car drives off, he approaches the stairs leading up to their apartment. He pulls his cell phone from his pocket and pushes a quick series of buttons to call Trevor. As familiar as their relationship has gotten, he still finds himself excited to talk to him after a few hours apart, and tonight is no exception.

He watches his feet climb the stairs as he listens to the ringing on the other end. After four rings, the call clicks through to Trevor's voicemail.

That's weird, Alex thinks as he listens to the recording. Maybe he fell asleep...

A beep sounds in his ear, and he is about to leave a message, when he reaches the top of the stairs and looks up. He nearly jumps back down the stairs in fright when he sees the figure standing, shrouded in the night's shadows, by his apartment door.

"Hey, Alex," Seth Ashby says.


What does Seth want with Alex?
Will Nick pay for all the trouble he has caused?
Will Katherine recover from this humiliation?
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