Episode #429

Previously ...
- Brent suspected that something was wrong with Molly, but she denied it. She kept the truth about what had happened with Caleb from him.
- Danielle was vague about her recent travels and her plans for the future.
- Jason informed his parents of his plans to buy the skating rink and renovate it using Shannon's money.


As soon as he walks into the coffee shop, Jason Fisher spots her. His focus beams directly to her, as though there were some sort of homing device at work.

Lauren Brooks spots him, too. With only one course of action available, Jason sinks his hands into his pockets and approaches her.

"Hey," he begins, his voice sounding awkward to his own ears. He offers a friendly smile and hopes for the best.

"Hey. How have you been?"

"Good. I mean... yeah, pretty good." He tries to figure out if, let alone how, he can fill her in on what has been happening with him recently. "How about you?"

"Pretty good. Yeah."

Silence falls over them. Lauren glances to the counter, where her beverage has yet to appear magically.

"Actually, something really weird happened," Jason says. He tries to relax, but this feels so forced, so unnatural.

Lauren seems genuinely interested, though wary. "What?"

"Shannon died." He pauses for a moment, enough for the shock to sink in for her, and then continues: "Something with her heart, while she was in the institution."

"Wow. That's... it's weird. I don't know what else to say."

"No, it is weird, to think that she's dead. And... this is even weirder... she left almost everything she had to me."

"No! What? Why?"

"No clue. Because she was insane, obviously. But it's, like--" He leans in and lowers his voice. "--like, millions of dollars."

Lauren's eyes go wide. "Shut up!"

"Dead serious. I'm working on a business plan with Ryan, something I can really stick with. It' so surreal, though."

"Yeah, I bet."

Nearby, a barista sets down a cup on the counter and hollers, "Medium caramel macchiato!"

"That's me," Lauren says, and she steps aside to take her drink. When she turns back around, Jason can feel the change: the intimate chatter of a moment ago is gone, vanished before he even realized that they had slipped back into their old rhythm.

"I have to get going," she says, nodding toward the door. Jason nods, too, as though she needs his approval to leave.

"It was good seeing you," he says.

"You, too." Something about her expression, the hint of a smile on her lips, tells him that she means it. "Good luck with the... money and all."

And just like that, with a final giggle at the strangeness of it all, she is gone. As Jason takes his place in line, the encounter plays over in his mind.


Brent Taylor holds the phone to his ear. One, two, three rings. He is mentally preparing a voicemail message when he hears a click.


"Sarah. Hey." Brent leans his desk chair back as far as it will go. "I wanted to thank you for getting that research to me so fast."

"Oh, no problem. Was it any help?"

"Not yet, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I brought Katherine in again, but her story checked out with the people at the museum and the hotel, so..."

"It'll come together."

Brent's gaze sweeps over the office while he contemplates her attempt at reassurance. He wants to believe that what she says is true, but the dearth of physical evidence makes him more nervous with each day that passes.

"I'm bringing Nick's maid in again, too," he says at last.

"This would be a lot easier if Nick would just wake up."

"You're telling me... Anyway, I just wanted to thank you."

"Like I said, no problem. Hey, I hear that sister of yours is in town."

"The rumors are true. She mentioned something about giving you a call, so you should be hearing from her soon. She came over last night and met the twins."

"Must be nice for Molly to have her around," Sarah says. There is something about the comment that catches Brent's attention--a little too much concern in Sarah's tone, perhaps.

"What's that mean?" he asks.

Sarah sounds eager to backtrack, which only serves as further confirmation for Brent that something is going on. "Oh. Nothing, really. She just--when I saw her, she seemed--"

"Don't lie to me, Sarah. Is something going on with Molly that I should know about?"


Molly Taylor pokes her fork around in her chicken Caesar salad as she talks to her sister-in-law across the table.

"It's so nice to have you around," Molly says. She means it: she and Danielle were such close friends back when Danielle lived in King's Bay, but they have lost touch ever since she left.

"I'm thrilled to be here," Danielle says. "And to finally meet the boys. Molly, they're adorable!"

Molly is unable to prevent a broad grin from breaking out across her face. Every time she thinks about the twins, she is filled with a sense of wonder, of overwhelming joy. Even now--even though it is tinged by guilt, after...

She forces herself not to dwell on what happened. No one is any worse for the wear.

"What are your plans? Are you headed back to San Diego, or is this just another stop in your traveling?" she asks.

"To be honest, I'm not sure." Danielle picks at her roasted chicken. "Eventually I need to settle in one spot, but everything is so up in the air, and I have enough money saved up..."

"You know, I envy you. I love Brent and the boys and my career, obviously, but to be able to take off and see all the sights that you've seen--there's something so romantic about it."

Danielle's laugh sounds awkward, almost bitter. "It isn't all it's cracked up to be."


"What you and Brent have, that's what really counts. That's what it's all about."

Molly studies her for a long, quiet moment. There is something about Danielle's demeanor that isn't right--something simmering below the surface.

"I don't mean to pry," Molly says, "but..."


"Is everything okay? The way you talk about your traveling, it's like you regret it."

"Not at all."

"Then what's going on? You seem--"

"I'm fine!" Danielle snaps. "Drop it, all right?"


When Courtney Chase and her iced mocha join Jason fifteen minutes later, he is still replaying his encounter with Lauren in his head. He doesn't know what to make of it. The last time that they saw each other, tensions were thick; today, there were glimpses of their normal dynamic, almost as if the messy breakup never even happened.

"Sorry I'm late," Courtney says as she takes a seat across from him. "I've been, like, fifteen minutes behind all day."

"I have no tolerance for tardiness," he says with mock snootiness. He picks up his coffee and sticks his nose in the air.

"So let's hear it." Courtney folds her hands together in anticipation, and when Jason doesn't immediately launch into a speech, she urges him: "Come on! What's the big news?"

He takes a deep breath and then blurts it all out at once. "I'm taking the money and buying the rink."

"What?" Her eyebrows jump halfway up her forehead. "Shut up!"

"I talked it over with Ryan and with my parents, and I really think it's a viable plan."

"Are they even selling?"

"We'll work that out," he says through a smirk. "Those people treat it like some bastard child anyway. If someone offers them enough money for a stake in it--"

"God, it would be so nice to have you running that place instead of... whoever's in charge now. That guy with the mustache?"

"Yeah. Anyway, the plan is to buy out the majority share in it and then renovate to make it more of a complex: a gym, a coffee bar, maybe even a restaurant."

"Please fix the broken stall doors in the ladies' room. That's so gross."

"Sure, I think I can swing that. You know, if this even works out."

"It will work out. Jason, this is awesome!" Courtney leans over the table and, before Jason even has time to get uncomfortable, she touches her lips to his cheek. It is a quick peck, nothing more, but it sends a charge through Jason that he had almost forgotten was possible.

"I'm so happy for you," she says as she sits back down.

As he looks at her, with her dark hair pulled up in a carefree knot, it all makes sense. What he shared with Lauren a little while ago--that wasn't the spark of a recharged relationship. It was the resolution of tension, as months of uncertainty finally gave way to good will. But what seemed so confusing a moment ago is now clear for what it was: a chance to move on.

"Thanks, Court."


The other end of the line is dead silent. Brent waits, as patiently as he can, for Sarah to say something, anything. He would be worried that he lost the connection, but he can make out the faint sounds of her breathing.

"Sarah?" he finally asks.

"Brent..." She drags out the tail of the word; his name is nothing more than a stall tactic. He can hear her conflict over whether to tell him whatever it is that she knows.

"You're not doing such a hot job of denying that something is up," he says, "so you might as well spill."

"You should talk to Molly. Ask your wife about it." She punctuates the statement with a note of finality.

"You think she'll tell me?"

"Molly's no good at keeping secrets. She might try, but it never lasts long."

"I hope you're right. It's not serious, is it?"

"Well... No, I mean, everyone is fine." She goes quiet for the briefest moment, not even long enough for Brent to get a word in edgewise. "Just ask Molly, okay? I don't want to be the bad guy here and rat her out."

Brent leans forward in his chair. "This is making me nervous."

"I've got to go. Good luck, Brent." With that, she hangs up, leaving Brent to listen to the dead air on the line.

He hangs up only long enough to regain the dial tone. When he picks up the phone again, his fingers move over the keypad mechanically. In spite of Sarah's scant reassurance, his pulse is racing at the thought of what might be going on with his wife.

He listens to her phone ring--once, twice...


Danielle's violent response takes Molly by surprise. She drops her fork to the plate and sits up straight.

"I'm sorry," Danielle says almost immediately.

Molly doesn't reply. She doesn't know how to, so she sits there, trying to get a read on who this person sitting across from her is.

"I didn't mean to snap at you," Danielle continues. She wears an expression of genuine regret, and it takes only a moment for Molly to see the friend she remembers in there.

"What's going on with you?" she asks cautiously. "If it's none of my business, just say so, but I worry about you. Brent does, too."

"I know. And I'm lucky to have you guys in my corner. But really, it's nothing."

They lapse into silence. Danielle takes another halfhearted bite of her lunch.

"I'm still not so thrilled about getting dropped by the record label," she says, out of nowhere.

Molly folds her hands and listens as Danielle goes on.

"It's a difficult blow to take. Some days, I feel like I'm fully able to move on, but others..."

"I can understand that," Molly says. "It's only a temporary setback, though. Keep that in mind."

"I'm trying." Danielle brightens considerably. "For the time being, I should focus on how nice it is to be here with my brothers, my sister-in-law, and my nephews."

"That's a good place to start." Molly offers a warm smile, but she still does not feel assured that everything is all right with Danielle. Something about her behavior seems erratic, strange.

She is so caught up in thought that she is oblivious to the vibrating in her purse, as her phone rings and rings before sending Brent to voicemail.


Do you have an idea what's wrong with Danielle?
Did Sarah handle the situation the right way?
Will Jason finally move on with his life?
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