Episode #426

Previously ...
- Sarah and Matt clashed over whether now is a good time to have another child.
- Danielle surprised Brent by arriving in King's Bay for a visit.
- Molly loaded Christian--but not Caleb--into the car and left for work. Sarah came by to drop off some files for Brent and found her nephew. When Molly returned and found Sarah with the baby, she was grateful but still uncomfortable.


Sarah Gray treks deeper and deeper into her parents' house: first the living room, then through the dining room, and finally into the kitchen, where she finds the sliding door open.

"Mom?" she calls out.

"I'm out here!" Paula's voice comes from beyond the deck, out in the backyard. Sarah goes outside and finds her mother kneeling in the dirt, her hands hidden inside oversized gardening gloves as she performs some surgical procedure on the earth.

"Hi, honey!" Paula looks up from her work and squints against the harsh sun. "What brings you by?"

Sarah leans against the deck railing. "Just thought I'd stop in and see how things are going. How have you guys been?"

"Wonderful. Things have been quiet. Although..."


"You should give Jason a call. He's had some fairly... interesting things happen lately."

Sarah is not sure what to make of that. "Good things?"

"They could be. Certainly not bad." The hint of a smile on Paula's face puts Sarah at ease. "Call him, that's all."

Sarah nods as her mother joins her on the deck.

"What about Molly?" Sarah asks suddenly.

Paula's eyes, having relaxed in the shade, narrow again. "What about her?"

"Oh, I don't know. I had to drop off some stuff for Brent, and she seemed... stressed."

"In what way?"

"The stressed-out way?" Another moment of her mother's intense stare forces Sarah to shrug and brush it off. "Just wondering."

"I'd imagine she's very busy, as usual."

"Yeah." This morning's incident balances precariously on the edge of Sarah's tongue, but mentioning it does not seem to be the wisest course of action.

"Why do you ask?"

"Nevermind. Really." Sarah tries to force the incident from her mind, but she can tell that it will continue nagging at her from the background.

"Do you have any of that iced tea?" she asks.

Paula brightens again. "I do." She leads the way inside, and Sarah follows, ready to leave all talk of Molly outdoors.


By the time Molly Taylor arrives at work, the morning already seems to have stretched on for days. Her nerves remain jangled as she steps off the elevator, but the office seems exceedingly normal. Business as usual, in no way a reflection of the terrifying morning that Molly has had.

She cuts a direct path to her office, not pausing to say hello or make small talk with anyone. The walk feels like a sprint through a gauntlet, as if everyone knows about the horrible mistake she made with Caleb. When she reaches her office, she ducks inside and realizes that she has been holding her breath.

The sense of refuge does not last long. Before Molly can settle in behind her desk, Camille Lemieux appears in the doorway. She looks elegant, as always, from her outfit to her hair to her smile.

"Camille," Molly says, trying to compose herself. "I'm so sorry about being late. Something came up with Caleb--"

Concern creases her boss's face. "Is everything all right?"

"Everything is fine."

"You're sure? You seem a bit--"

"Really, it's all fine. The boys are downstairs in daycare. It just slowed me down a little in getting here."

"It's no worry, then," Camille says. "I wanted to be sure you knew that the preview has been moved up to 1:30 this afternoon."

"Oh." It takes several seconds for the day's schedule to manifest itself in Molly's mind, and a few more for her to make the necessary alterations. "All right, thanks."

Camille begins to leave but turns back.

"Are you certain that you're up to working today?" she asks. "You look a bit flushed."

Camille's concern is so apparent, and all at once, the weight of the morning's events feels like too much for Molly to bear. She wants to confide in her friend about the terrible mistake that she made. Maybe getting it out in the open would make it seem less awful.

Or maybe Camille would recognize her for the inadequate mother that she is and cease to trust her at all.

"I'm fine," Molly says instead. "Maybe I'll have Ashley get me some tea."

"I'll take care of it," Camille says. "You just get settled in and focus on preparing for the preview."

Her lips pursed tightly, Molly nods and then forces a smile.


Reinvigorated after a quick run to the coffee shop across the street, Josh Taylor returns to the office, hoping the pace has picked up. Lauren Brooks is at his side, the two of them still discussing the morning drag, when they approach his cubicle.

"Have you seen the SpectraCorp portfolio yet?" she asks suddenly. "Alison said she'd send it by the end of the day. There's nothing else going on, so I thought maybe I'd take an early look."

"Yeah, I think I got it this morning." They step into his work area and are surprised to find a visitor.

"Dani, what are you doing here?"

Josh's sister stands from his desk and wraps him in a hug. "I had to see this for myself. Joshua Maxwell Taylor, holding down a nine-to-five? It's just too much!" she teases. Danielle gives his office another once over and a smile of approval. "But it looks like you're doing okay for yourself."

Josh seems almost embarrassed by the compliment, like he's ashamed for doing something right for once. "Yeah, it's not bad," he says, a smirk playing at his lips. "But really, when did you get here? And where have you been? We've been trying to get a hold of you for months!"

Danielle looks past him. "Aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?"

In his distraction, Josh almost forgets Lauren is in the room. She gives a shy wave from the door.

"This is my co-worker... my friend, Lauren Brooks," he corrects, looking to her for her approval of the title. "And this is my sister, Danielle Taylor," he adds for Lauren's benefit.

Lauren extends an eager hand. "I don't know if we've ever officially met, but I remember you. I was friends with Courtney Chase..."

"Oh, yeah!" Danielle says, her eyes lighting up with recognition.

"Nice to finally meet you." Lauren takes a few steps back. "I'd better get back to work and let the two of you catch up."

Josh hands her the portfolio she mentioned earlier, and she leaves the two of them to themselves.

"She's cute," Danielle says, offering her unsolicited opinion. "I bet the girls working here are just fighting with each other for excuses to stop by your cubicle all day long, aren't they?"

"Hardly." She's succeeded in making his tanned skin take on a pinkish tint, whether from embarrassment or annoyance. "It's really not as exciting as your overactive imagination makes it out to be. Just another boring job. What the hell have you been up to, anyway?"

"Let's not get into all that now. I shouldn't bother you here. I don't want to get you in trouble or anything." She still wears an amused smile at the sight of her little brother in all his corporate glory.

"We'll catch up later, right?"

"Yeah. I'll be here for a while. I'm staying at the hotel down the street. For now."

"For now?" he repeats. "Does that mean...?"

"It means things are... up in the air at the moment." She chooses her words carefully, but decides that it's a fitting way to sum up her current situation. She's sure it's only a matter of time before they know all the details, anyway.


Sarah sits at the table while her mother pours two glasses of fresh iced tea.

"It was a nice wedding?" Paula asks as she stirs in the sugar.

"Very. And I know it means a lot to Matt to see his brother so happy."

Paula joins her daughter at the table and hands her one of the glasses. "Of course."

Sarah sips the refreshing liquid. "This is great, thanks."

"Did Tori enjoy herself?"

"She stole the show. As usual." Sarah wraps both hands around her glass. "She's growing up so fast. I can barely comprehend it."

"That's the way it goes." For a moment, Paula appears distracted, as if looking around for all those gone-too-soon moments. "One day you turn around and your babies are all grown up."

Sarah mumbles her agreement. Once again her mind is consumed by the subject that has been weighing on her since Jake and Mia's wedding reception.

"Matt thinks we should have another one soon," she says.

Paula parts her lips to respond but hesitates. Finally she asks, "And you don't?"

"I do, but... no. Not right now."

"You've discussed this with him?"

"I don't know if 'discussed' is the right word. More like 'argued over.'"

There is something diplomatic about the way Paula folds her hands together on the table, an air borne of years of arbitrating disputes between her children. Sarah can only imagine having such patience someday.

"Why don't you want to have another child soon?" she asks.

"Because I don't have room for it. I'm working so much, and I'm scared to lose traction in my career. And Tori keeps us busy as it is. I don't want to be like--" But Sarah cuts herself off.

Like Molly is. The thought completes itself in her head.

Paula tilts her head, telling her daughter to go on.

"I don't want to have another baby just because it seems like something we should do," Sarah says. "If we do--when we do, I guess--I want it to be because it's the right time and we really want it."

"That seems like a fair attitude."

"Try telling that to Matt. He gets so pigheaded about things, like he's the only one whose opinion matters." She takes another sip of the tea, but its sweetness is little consolation. "I just wish he'd understand where I'm coming from."

"You can't do anything other than make your viewpoint clear," Paula says. "Matt's a good man. He loves you. He'll come around."

"I hope so," Sarah says, but she feels less than confident about it.


E-mail after e-mail flashes in front of Molly as she works through her inbox. She has accumulated a greater number of messages than usual since yesterday afternoon, most of them related to today's preview, and it takes every bit of energy she possesses to concentrate on each one enough to absorb its content.

She reaches for her tea, but the move is interrupted by her cell phone's sudden ringing.

She checks the caller ID and considers letting it go to voicemail. But if she doesn't answer, the need for this conversation will hang over her for the rest of the day. In one smooth movement, she answers the call and lifts the phone to her ear.

"Hey, honey."

"Hey," Brent's voice responds. There is no indication from his tone that he has any idea of what happened earlier. "Have you given any thought to what you want to do for dinner tonight?"

"No," she says, quite truthfully. A glance at the clock confirms that it is only mid-morning; dinnertime might as well be a month away. "I should be home on the early side, though. We have this preview thing this afternoon, and assuming it goes smoothly, I should be free to leave as soon as it's over."

"Great. I wanted to let you know that we're going to have some guests for dinner."


"Yeah. And someone else."

"Is he bringing a date?" The potential awkwardness of the situation hits Molly. "Lauren?"

"No. A... special guest."

"Who?" She tries to keep the edge out of her voice but isn't so sure that she succeeds. "Tell me!"

"It's a surprise."

Molly realizes that she does not have the energy to haggle any further. "All right. I'll be ready."

"How's your day so far?" he asks, with such enthusiasm that she has to wonder if he already knows and is merely toying with her.

Her rational side chimes in: Of course he doesn't know. He'd be a wreck.

"It's fine." She cannot bring herself to deal with this now. "Pretty run-of-the-mill, actually."


Will Molly tell Brent what happened?
Can Sarah and Matt find common ground on the baby issue?
What has Danielle been up to recently?
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