Episode #415

Previously ...
- Nick ruined the bachelor auction by falsely announcing that Ryan was planning to keep the money for himself rather than give it to charity.
- Claire told Tim that Nick had made a threat about Travis.
- Ryan was unsettled to see Claire sharing a close moment with Tim.
- Trevor traveled to New York for a modeling job... or so he told Alex.
- Alex arrived home from the auction to find Seth Ashby waiting outside his apartment.


"All right, in the car," Sarah Gray says as she herds her daughter into the running Jeep. Matt waits in the front seat, looking back expectantly at Tori, who seems to have no intention of going home or going to sleep anytime soon.

"We aren't done with our movie," the young girl says, folding her arms as she looks up at her mom.

Diane and Tim stand nearby with Samantha. She nods solemnly, as if making a case for why her cousin has to stick around.

"Herbie: Fully Loaded? You've seen that movie fifteen times," Sarah says. "Get in the car."

"C'mon, kiddo," Matt calls out from the car. "We're all tired."

Tori shrugs. "I'm not."

Matt widens his eyes at her. "In the car."

She remains defiant for another moment, then gives up and climbs into the backseat. Sarah shuts the door behind her, as if to prevent her from changing her mind.

"Thanks for letting them hang out here," Sarah says, leaning in to hug Diane and then her brother.

"No problem. The house isn't destroyed, the babysitter's still alive..." Diane sighs. "I hope she settles down enough to go to bed soon."

"Wanna trade?" Sarah asks as she looks at Samantha.

Tim squats down to fold his arms around his daughter. "No, we're pretty happy with this one, I'd say. What do you think, Diane?"

"Hmm... I suppose so." She makes a face at Samantha, then hugs Sarah again. "Thanks for the ride."

As Matt drives his family off into the night, Diane turns to Tim. "You okay?" she asks.

Tim's eyes are unmistakably glassy, his mind somewhere else, even as he attempts to shake it off.

"Yeah," he says abruptly. "Yeah, I'm fine. Ready to get out of these dress clothes?"


Alex Marshall nearly falls backward down the stairs out of shock at the sight of Seth Ashby waiting, in the dark, beside his apartment door. He closes his cell phone without leaving a message for Trevor and tries to steady himself.

"Sorry if I scared you," Seth says.

Alex doesn't even know where to begin. "What are you doing here?" he asks, still not convinced that this is real. Running into Seth in Portland was strange enough; having Seth in this place where he has built a new life and home is another level of weirdness entirely.

"I got in touch with your publisher, and they wouldn't tell me where you lived, so I looked you up, and--"

"I mean why."

"I needed to see you," Seth says. He sounds breathless, as if he's just run a marathon. "I've been waiting here for hours, hoping you'd show up tonight."

"If you're here to yell at me about the book--"

Seth grabs him by the shoulders. "That's not it. That's not why I'm here at all."


Katherine Fitch's footsteps reverberate through the foyer. She walks with purpose, with a renewed determination, as she crosses out of the building to the parking lot.

Her eyes scan the area with the precision of a radar, and it takes them only a moment to locate their target.

"Not so fast!" she calls out as she sets off across the parking lot in pursuit of her wayward husband. She catches up to him easily, long before he reaches his car, and snaps a hand over his shoulder.

She spins him around and lets loose a tirade right in his face: "Is there no end to the damage you will cause? I cannot believe that I was fooled for an instant into thinking that you were anything but a vile, heartless criminal!"

She delivers a firm slap. It cracks across his face, and her hand stings with satisfaction.

But when Nick turns back to her, he looks unaffected. Amused, even.

He opens his mouth, but instead of speaking, he lets out a monstrous laugh. It echoes all around Katherine, consuming her, and soon she recognizes others' laughs mixed in with Nick's.

She swivels from left to right and back again. They are all around: Tenille, Dar, Marj, everyone whom she hoped to impress tonight. Their laughter synchs perfectly with Nick's, filling the world with the most awful noise that Katherine has ever heard.

She looks back to Nick. "Stop!" she cries. "Please! Stop!"

When she swings around again, hoping to reason with her trio of alleged friends, she finds all three taking perfectly timed steps toward her. Before she can protest, each of the three women lifts her hand, showing a full martini glass.

Katherine screams--she knows what is coming. But that is not enough to stop their terrifying choreography. The laughs around her grow louder, more ominous, as the three women splash their drinks in her face in a perfectly choreographed move.

Suddenly the laughter stops, and there is nothing but quiet.

Katherine shoots upright. Her breathing is heavy, ragged, and it takes her a lengthy moment to realize that she is no longer at the museum, but back at the hotel, in bed.

The scene might have all been a dream, but the emotions are not. She seethes with rage as she recounts, for the millionth time, the horrifying events of the night.

That bastard, she thinks, now wide awake. I will never let him get the best of me.


Diane emerges from the spacious walk-in closet in her nightwear--a flimsy black nightgown that leaves little to the imagination. As she removes her sizable earrings, Tim comes into the bedroom.

"She's asleep?" Diane asks.

"Yep." Tim sits down on the bed and removes his dress shoes.

"That wasn't so bad." She puts away the earrings and goes to what has become her side of the bed in recent months. "She really is a good kid."

Tim nods, but there is something vacant about it. "Yeah. She is."

Diane tentatively gets under the covers. She studies Tim and, after he sits there for several seconds without even moving, asks, "Are you sure everything's okay?"

He doesn't respond for a long moment, doesn't even acknowledge the question. Then, all at once, he shoots to his feet.

"It will be," he says, reaching and jamming his feet back into his shoes.

Diane sits up in the bed. "What are you doing?"

"I have to take care of something," Tim says. "I won't be long."


The luxury sedan cruises through the darkness, navigating the nighttime streets with precision. Inside, Ryan Moriani and Claire Fisher lean back against their seats, exhausted from an evening of high action and higher drama.

"I can't wait to get to bed and end this night," Claire says with a heavy sigh.

"You're telling me." Ryan goes quiet, and the radio takes over again. Then, without warning, Ryan slams a hand hard into the steering wheel.

"What?" Claire asks, startled.

Ryan shakes his head. "I can't believe my father did that. Everything was going so well."

"I'm so sorry it turned into such a mess."

"He's causing trouble for the sake of causing trouble now. He knows he has nothing to lose."

"Do you think that's all it is?" Claire asks tentatively.

Ryan turns to look at her. "What else would it be?"

She is slow in responding. "I have no idea," she finally says, "but when Molly and I ran into him outside, he said something... he made a comment that I don't know how to take."

"What'd he say?" Ryan asks, now full of alarm.

"He mentioned Travis. How it would be a shame if he were caught in the middle of all this trouble. Something like that."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I told Tim," she says, but immediately she seems to realize that this was the wrong answer. "I didn't want to worry you. I figured he was just making empty threats to get to people--"

"Regardless, I wish you'd told me earlier." Ryan goes quiet and focuses on the road, but there is an intensity about him that Claire cannot ignore.



Alex flips on the light, and the apartment comes to life. Seth follows awkwardly behind him, hands buried in his pockets, looking as though he regrets coming here so impulsively now that he actually has to face the reality of it.

"I just feel really badly about how things went," Seth says, seemingly out of nowhere. "I went to your signing to talk to you, not to... I don't even know."

Alex has no idea how to react. When he saw Seth in Portland and learned that he was engaged, he felt a sense of victory: he'd moved on, he had his writing and Trevor and a full life, and he didn't need to fall back into the past. But now there is something more vulnerable about Seth, something closer to the friend he remembers from years ago, and it has Alex's tongue clipped and immobile.

Seth stares at him, apparently expecting something. Finally Seth ends the silence himself: "I'm happy you got published and that you're, like, a real writer now. I know you always wanted that. The book--it just--when I read it--"

"I know it must've been a shock," Alex says. "And I'm sorry about that, I am. But--"

"That's the thing," Seth says. "I'm sorry, too. I'm the one who should be sorry."


Anonymous dance music--some club track that Trevor Brooks doesn't recognize, one that sounds exactly like a million other songs--fills the nearly empty space of the bar. Trevor sits at the bar, his fingers wiping the condensation from a tall Crown-and-Coke.

He glances up at the clock, then back at the rough surface of the bar. It is a shockingly familiar sight, one that used to be a part of his everyday life--and one that he thought he would never see again. But here he is, sitting, waiting, wishing for this to end so that he can go home to the new life that he has built.

He takes a sip of his drink. The ice melted long ago, and now the whole thing is a watery mess of fizz and diluted liquor. He sets it down in annoyance and looks again to the entrance. Nothing.

Minutes pass. He fiddles with his cell phone and contemplates ordering another drink. He checks the clock again. He looks to the door. And--

There he is. Instantly recognizable, even with the added weight of age and the added wear-and-tear of his lifestyle. It's him.

He spots Trevor immediately, flashes that familiar sneer at him.

"Hi, Cliff," Trevor says, his heart beating faster now.



Claire is flossing in front of the mirror when Ryan enters the bathroom. His tie and jacket have been discarded, but he still wears the tuxedo pants and shirt.

"Aren't you dying to get out of that thing?" Claire asks in between strokes of flossing. The moment that they got home, she got out of her dress and into something much more comfortable.

Ryan doesn't seem to hear the question. "Did you check on Travis?"

She nods, goes on flossing for another few seconds, and then answers, "Cory's mom said everything is fine. The boys were upstairs playing video games."

"Good. Listen, I'm really in the mood for ice cream, and we're all out, so I'm going to run and get some. Do you have any preference?"

She shakes her head. "I'm not hungry."

"All right. I'll be back in a while."

As he exits the bathroom, Claire calls after him: "Do you need it that badly? Why don't you just stay in? I can make something else."

But it's no use. Ryan is through the front door before she even finishes her appeal.


Seth leans on the back of the couch, his palms pressed into it, and he looks everywhere in the room but at Alex.

"I was a dick in Portland," he says. "I'm sorry for that. I freaked out when I read your book. I thought anyone who knew either of us back then would be able to put together the pieces. And then when Miriam showed up..."

The mention of his fiancee casts a strange pall over the room.

"I take it she has no idea," Alex says.

"No. I mean--" The idea seems to trip Seth up. "That would be weird, wouldn't it?"

Alex shrugs. The whole thing is already so weird. There was a time when he envisioned a future with Seth; sure, he was young and naive and obviously didn't understand how these things worked. But to have him here now, in his home, talking about the woman he is going to marry--it's mind-blowing.

"It's a really good book," Seth says, finally. "I think it would've gotten to me even if I hadn't been there for the real thing. The way you, like, bring it all to life--it's amazing."

"Thanks." Alex looks at his feet, then at his hands. He has no idea where this conversation is going, no idea why they are even having it. What is he supposed to say?

Then it comes to him. He doesn't know what force brings the question from his brain to his mouth, but now that he has Seth here, he has to know.

"Do you still think about it?" he asks. "About us?"


Cliff takes his beer from the bartender as he pulls up the seat beside Trevor. He takes his time--there always was something slow, methodical, about him, Trevor recalls--and appraises Trevor without a hint of shame or even subtlety.

"You look even better than you did in those magazines," Cliff says.

Trevor swallows hard. "Thanks. Um... I'm just gonna come right out with it. What do you want?"

Cliff does that thing again: looks him up and down, like he's savoring every moment that he gets to feast his eyes on Trevor.

"Y'know, you always were my favorite," he says at last. "Anything I asked, you'd do. Some of the boys give me trouble every step of the way. Not you."

Trevor forces himself to take a sip of the drink, just to fill the space.

"And I was thinking," Cliff goes on, "it's nice to see you so successful now. Of all my boys, you're the one who deserves it most."

Unable to take it any longer, Trevor turns and makes direct eye contact. "Come on, Cliff. What do you want from me? Money?"

Cliff bursts out into a laugh that's too loud, too big, for the almost-empty bar.

"You never were much for subtlety," he says, pausing to take a drink of his beer. "As I was saying: you deserve all this big-time success you've got... and it'd be a shame if something popped up to ruin all that."

"You wouldn't do that to me," Trevor says, but he doesn't quite believe that.

"I sure wouldn't want to, but I've been trying to get by in this city long enough to know that you've gotta do what you've gotta do sometimes. And if that means that those videos wind up, say, all over the internet, then so be it."



The hot water cascades over Lola Bouvier's hands. She reaches for another of the dishes piled beside the sink and washes it methodically. Her eyelids feel heavy, and she would love nothing more than to turn in for the night, but she knows that she will sleep so much better if all the dishes are done.

Ever since Mrs. Moriani moved out, Lola has been Mr. Moriani's live-in help. She tends to all domestic matters while he does whatever it is that he does all day. As far as Lola can tell, that involves yelling at people on the phone and wearing suits to do nothing very special.

As she scrubs sauce from a plate, she lets her eyes close for just a moment. Soon enough, she will be able to go to bed. Then she can wake up fresh tomorrow, and since she is ahead on her work, she will have time to look for another job. From the sounds of things, Mr. Moriani doesn't stand much chance of beating the charges against him, and once he's in jail--

A strange sound, like a thump, or maybe a dull boom, snaps Lola from her thoughts. She listens harder, but it does not come again.

She turns off the water and calls out, "Everything okay?"

No answer. She listens for another moment, then makes her way out into the foyer.

And then comes a completely different sound: the doorbell. She answers it swiftly and is surprised to find Katherine in front of her.

"I'm so sorry. I--I knocked over this flower pot," Katherine explains. She bends down to pick up the broken pieces of pottery lying nearby, in a pile of soil and flowers.

"I'll get it, Mrs. Moriani," Lola says, surprised both by the visitor's identity and the late hour.

"Please, call me Mrs. Fitch. I do not want to be associated with that man in any way whatsoever." She moves uncertainly away from the mess. "Speaking of which... where is he?"

"I think he's up in his study," Lola says. "Sure is a busy night around here."

"Nick has been busy, that's for certain," Katherine says. "Busy ruining the lives of innocent people, that is."

"Would you like me to take your coat?"

"That won't be necessary," Katherine says, moving toward the back hallway. "This won't take long at all."


For a moment, Alex thinks that Seth is going to make a break for the door. He doesn't answer, looks like he has no intention of answering. But then he glances at Alex.

"Of course," he says, dropping his gaze to his own hands. "How could I not?" He smiles, mischief glinting in his eyes as he brings them back up to meet Alex's. "It was pretty hot."

"Yeah," Alex says, relieved to be able to address this, finally. For so long--ever since he came back to school and found that Seth had moved out without so much as a note or a phone call--he has looked back on their experiences with guilt, as if he were the one who did something wrong. To hear Seth admit that he enjoyed it, that he still thinks about it, goes a long way toward undoing those feelings.

With that out of the way, there is something else he needs to know, and if he doesn't ask immediately, he knows that he won't.

"Have you ever done it with anyone else? I mean, a guy?"

Seth looks away again. "Yeah. One of my teammates when I transferred to Portland, he was--this guy was nuts. Did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. We fooled around a couple times."

"But you're happy with Miriam?"

Suddenly Seth's tone shifts: now his guard is up, he's on the defensive. "Really happy. She's good for me." He pauses to study Alex's expression. "I know what you're thinking. But it's different for me--I mean, you and I, we're not the same way."

Alex remains tight-lipped.

"Messing around with guys is fun, I guess," Seth says. "It's like, I always loved soccer. It was my thing. But my sophomore year, I did track. And it was fun, I liked it, but when I had to choose between that and soccer, I knew what I had to pick. But I had to get the track thing out of my system. You know?"

Alex nods tentatively. He thinks he does, but... maybe not.

"Okay, that was a stupid example," Seth says.

"No. It's not stupid. I'm just not sure I understand. Maybe you're right--maybe we really aren't the same way."

Awkward quiet falls over them, and Seth approaches Alex.

"Here," he says. "I wanted to apologize, and I wanted to give you this."

Alex braces. But Seth reaches behind him and pulls out... a square envelope.

"It's an invitation," he explains, handing it to Alex. "To the wedding. I'd love for you to be there."

Alex eyes it skeptically. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah. Like I said, I came here to apologize. I'd like if we could be friends, at least catch up with each other every now and then."

Alex nods and opens the envelope. "Thanks."



Trevor's mouth feels very dry all of a sudden. He drinks the watery, vaguely carbonated mixture in his glass, but it does nothing to help the dryness.

"Internet's the way to do business these days," Cliff says, "at least this kinda business. If I've got videos already made, I might as well put them up--"

"You can't do that." Trevor looks at him, his eyes pleading. "If people found out I'd made those tapes, it would ruin my career... ruin everything I've worked for."

"Like I said, it sure would be a shame."

Trevor sets down his glass, hard. "Okay. What do you want? Spell it out."

Cliff glances around, then leans in. "Five grand."

"Five thousand? That's a lot of money."

"That's kinda the point, Trev."

"No, I mean, I'm not getting paid that much. I'm not, like, a movie star."

"Those tapes I have would beg to differ..." Cliff raises an eyebrow ominously, fixing his stare upon Trevor's.

"Fine." Trevor stands up. "I'll bring you the money tomorrow, okay?"


"Whatever. Sure." Trevor starts to move for the door. "You're still in the same place?"

"I sure am. Thanks for helping out an old friend, Trev."

Trevor leaves as quickly as he can, but he still feel Cliff leering at him as he goes.


The only light in the room comes from the television. Diane sits up in bed, watching the Sex and the City re-run. When she hears the front door open, she lets out a sigh of relief that she didn't even realize had been building.

Tim comes into the bedroom seconds later, looking even more like a zombie than he did earlier.

"Where have you been?" Diane asks.

He moves about the room, removing his clothes and getting ready for bed.

"I just had to straighten something out," he says.

"Could you be any more cryptic?"

He stops long enough to look at her. "Sorry. It isn't anything you need to worry about."

Diane watches his form move across the dark room. "You're sure?" she asks.

"I'm positive," Tim says as he climbs into bed beside her. "Everything should be fine now."


Lola has just finished turning out all the lights in the main living areas of the house when the doorbell rings again. She considers not answering. After all, it is beyond late, and Mr. Moriani is already busy with his wife. But she figures that it must be important, and so her slipper-covered feet pad across the house and the foyer to answer the door.

"Hi, Lola," Ryan says. He doesn't wait for her to respond; he just comes inside. "Where's my father?"

"In his study. But he has a visitor already--"

"At this hour?"

"It's Mrs. Mor--Mrs. Fitch."

Ryan's face tightens. "They're in the study?"

"As far as I know," Lola says, but Ryan is already on his way to the back hallway.

Lola heads for the back stairway, but she barely makes it to the kitchen before she hears Ryan's cry:


A moment later, Mrs. Fitch screams, a sob mixed with a cry of terror. Lola changes course and hurries to the study. The anguished sounds grow louder as Lola nears the room.

She stops short outside the door. Ryan stands just inside the room, hands held up to warn her not to come any further. But she peeks around the doorframe...

Several feet away from Ryan, Katherine stands, her body heaving with sobs.

With a gun in her hand.

And at her feet, sprawled on the floor, is Nick Moriani.


Did Katherine finally crack and shoot Nick?
What is Tim being so mysterious about?
Will Trevor's past catch up to him?
Come on over to the Footprints Forum to discuss it all!

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