Episode #473

- Travis spotted the girl from the park at the mall and tailed her, hoping to find a way to talk to her.
- After a secret doctor’s appointment, Lauren scheduled a biopsy for the lump found in her breast.
- Josh, not understanding why Lauren had run out on him, started a sex-only affair with Sabrina.
- Camille Lemieux’s death left the future of Objection Designs in question.
- Even after they slept together, Diane continued to reject a puzzled Brian’s romantic advances.


Though they were an annoyance mere minutes ago, the throngs of holiday shoppers now seem like a blessing to Travis Fisher. Their presence allows him and Landon to follow the girl from the park with minimal risk of detection, especially after the girl and her mother dip into a kitchen store. Travis and Landon linger out in the mall, more or less concealed by all the activity around them.

“Tell me you have more of a plan than following her around,” Landon says.

“I’m working on it.”

It’s the truth; he is trying desperately to formulate some way of going up to her without looking like a total loser. Or a stalker, which he now is, kind of.

“Jeez. Just talk to her,” Landon says. “Be like, ‘Hey, remember me? I wanted to make sure you found where you were going.’”

“Oh yeah, that’s smooth.” Not that Travis can think of anything better.

He can’t think with Landon staring at him that way, but he also doesn’t want to be left alone. Come on, Travis, you can do this.

“You want me to distract her mom so you can talk to her?” Landon proposes.

Travis finds himself considering the idea, even though it has a million holes. He wonders if he thinks about this stuff too much. Or maybe not enough, given how bad he is at coming up with a decent way to approach this girl.

Landon darts his head around to see past the shoppers circulating in front of and all around them. “The mom’s not too bad, either. MILF, for sure.”

“Oh my God, shut up.” Travis smacks Landon on the shoulder… not that it stops him from taking a closer look.

And then it hits him--something that has been tugging ever so lightly on his brain since he saw them a few minutes ago.

“That’s not her mom,” he says suddenly.

Landon turns quickly. “Huh?”

“That woman. It’s my Uncle Brent’s sister. Danielle. She was, like, a singer when she was younger.” He has only met Danielle a few times, most recently last Christmas, but he knows that she is staying with his Aunt Molly and Uncle Brent to help out with their twins. 

“There’s your in,” Landon says. He pushes Travis forward and follows behind, keeping him in motion. “Go say hi. You’ve got this.”

Grateful for this twist of fate--and the escape from having to figure this out on his own--Travis forces himself to enter the store.


The fashion-forward group sits along one side of the long table, and the buttoned-up business types line the other side. This is how it always is: the creative folks--the designers, stylists, whoever--huddle together, and the more traditional businesspeople, in the obvious suits and ties they seem unable to shake, do the same. It is almost as if they were instructed to sit this way.

Molly Taylor is planted in the middle of the creative group. An attorney for the late Camille Lemieux stands at the head of the conference room, detailing Camille’s final wishes for the future of Objection Designs, as outlined in a will last updated about six months before her untimely death.

Right now, said attorney, a man in his fifties with a small, wiry pair of glasses to match his small, wiry frame, is rattling off Camille’s plans for dividing her stock without tipping the power in any particular direction. Molly hears her name, set to receive the same amount as the rest of the design team, and tries to put the information out of her head at once. The mere thought of profiting in any way from her mentor’s death turns her stomach.

“Leave it to Camille,” whispers the woman beside her, Lainie, a spiky-haired designer in her late forties. “She gets us all in here, only to bore us with all this business stuff.”

“That’s because she cared about the company,” Molly says, keeping her voice down.

“Mm-hmm. Leave that stuff to the suits, I say.”

That’s why Camille was more than just a successful designer, Molly thinks. She cared enough to educate herself on all aspects of the industry, not just the ones she thought were fun.

Molly folds her arms and turns back to the attorney, still naming names and amounts. He reaches the end of his list, and then things take a turn for the interesting:

“And now, Ms. Lemieux’s wishes for the structure of the company.”

Everyone sits up a little straighter, pays a little bit more attention. Molly does not expect many significant changes, but she has to admit that this part is more interesting than the careful and neat division of stocks.

“Henry Cahill will move from the position of Chief Financial Officer to being Chief Executive Officer,” the attorney says, deferring to Mr. Cahill, a dry man whom Molly nonetheless respects quite a bit. She knows that he was one of Camille’s most trusted associates. Although Molly might have harbored some fantasy of Camille leaving her in charge of the company, she knows that this is much more realistic: Cahill has a business mind but understands the creative process and the need to bridge the two sides very carefully.

“With the position of CEO now being filled by someone other than herself,” continues the attorney, “Ms. Lemieux wished to create a new position, to ensure that Objection Designs continues creatively in the same spirit in which it was launched. Effective immediately, the new post of Chief Creative Officer will be filled by Molly Taylor.”

Molly hears her name, but it is hollow, unreal, and she almost joins the others in gasping and looking around in utter surprise. Instead, she fixes her stare downward, upon the sleek table. That cannot be correct. Chief Creative Officer? She doesn’t even know what that means, really.

“The CCO will lead the design team and oversee the creative direction of Objection,” the attorney announces.

A few people offer their congratulations to Molly, but mostly she feels eyes boring into her. Lainie, beside her, turns to someone on her other side and whispers, “Figures. Camille must’ve wanted to make sure this place fell apart without her.”

Molly tries to ignore it all. She knows she should be thrilled right now, but it feels like someone has just strapped an enormous boulder to her back. She can see it in all of them: the financial people, the creative team, everyone.

For the first time since they entered this room, both sides of the table, the creative and the business, are joined together in spirit--except for Molly, who sits there like a child among adults, trying not to crack as they all judge her, Camille, and this apparently foolish decision.


The treats inside the pastry case all look tempting, but Brian Hamilton tries to pry his eyes away from them. Not necessary. He stopped in here to grab a coffee on his way back from a meeting. A sugar rush--and the subsequent crash--is not what he needs to get through the rest of the workday.

“Brian,” says a voice beside him. He turns to see Sarah Gray, bundled up against the winter cold.

“Sarah. Hey.” They do not know each other too well--mostly, Diane is the sole link between them--but Brian was there when Sarah saved all their lives in the restaurant explosion, and later in the hospital while her family stood vigil.

“How are you?” he asks, trying to sound his most sincere, which he is. Diane has revealed a bit about Sarah’s difficulty coping with the loss of her baby, and he feels that he must acknowledge it in some way.

“Hanging in there. Trying to get some Christmas shopping done while Tori’s with her friends. How about you?”

Quick deflection, he thinks. She’s good at this.

“I’m all right. Just grabbing a cup of coffee before I head back to the office.”

Brian pulls himself away from the pastry case, and they merge into the line in front of the register.

“I’m actually really glad I ran into you,” he says. “Can you… if I ask you something, can you not tell Diane about it?”

“Is it going to be something I should tell Diane?”

“No. Definitely not. It’s about me, mostly. I just… maybe you can give me some perspective here.”


He struggles for the proper way to word this. Too much and he sounds like an idiotic, lovesick teenager, and this is so far from that, it’s not funny. But if he reveals too little, there is no point to this conversation.

“Has Diane mentioned anything to you?” he asks. “About me?”

Sarah pauses, thinking, and Brian tries to ascertain whether it is a genuine pause--because Sarah genuinely doesn’t remember Diane mentioning much about him, which is a bad sign--or a fake pause--because there is something she doesn’t want him to know. He cannot tell.

“What do you mean?” she finally responds.

“I don’t know. Anything.” When this doesn’t seem to be getting him anywhere, he blurts out, “Diane and I, we--” He lifts his eyebrows. “You know.”

Thankfully, Sarah picks up on what he is saying. “You did? Really? She did not mention that.”

“Of course not.” He wishes that he cared less, but he can’t help it. Something inside him sinks. He should have known that Diane would be too self-conscious, or ashamed, or whatever, to mention this even to her best friend.

“Wait,” Sarah says, “so are you into her now? Do you want--”

“I don’t know. Not a clue. I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t know why I care…”

He realizes that the other people in line can hear him, and with a few uncomfortable glances around, he shuts up. Sarah takes the cue and lowers her voice, too:

“You and Diane? Really?”

“Yes, really. Or not, based on the way she’s acting. I don’t get it. I help her out with all her stupid schemes. I don’t insist on behaving or anything--no offense to your brother, but she was always trying to change for Tim. How many relationships have I blown because I’ve endorsed her insane behavior?”

Sarah laughs. “Probably quite a few.”

“Exactly. But somehow I’m not good enough? I brought her Thanksgiving dinner!”

“You did?”

He nods. “She would’ve spent the night completely alone if I hadn’t shown up. I was doing something nice.”

They move forward in line.

“Think about what you just said,” Sarah says. “Nice? Diane? Does that sound like a combination that makes any sense at all?”

“Maybe you’ve got a point there.”

“We both know I’ve got a point there. Since when has Diane wanted to be romanced? She’s Diane.”

“So what, I should blackmail her or frame her for murder or something?”

That gets another laugh out of Sarah, and finally, Brian feels himself relaxing a little bit.

“Just remember, she’s Diane. That’s why you like her in the first place.”

“Surprisingly helpful,” Brian says, nodding appreciatively.

“I’ve got to be good at sorting out someone’s life,” Sarah says, “and mine sure isn’t a candidate.”

“Believe me, I know the feeling.”

The line shifts forward again, and they go with it. Brian is not sure what this new insight means, exactly, or where it will lead him, but he feels a sense of clarity that he has not felt since he and Diane were stuck together in the blackout. If he can show Diane that he gets her in a way that no one else does--maybe in a way that she does not even realize she wants to be gotten--then maybe he stands a real chance here.


“Lauren, Josh, you two can deal with the layout.”

Everyone else in the conference room scrambles, having been assigned tasks so that they can save an ad that is supposed to be submitted for print in three hours. It began as a normal workday, putting finishing touches on a project that they all assumed was close to complete, until an hour ago, when they received word that their slogan didn’t clear and the whole thing would have to be redone if they wanted to put out an ad at all.

So everyone else moves in a frenzy, flying all over the place, grabbing at papers and supplies and each other, but Lauren Brooks sits at one end of the conference table, contemplating her next move. She knew this was coming. She has successfully managed to avoid having to work closely with Josh for a few weeks now, longer than she expected she would be able to. They have exchanged quick, sometimes terse words, but no more. She knew it would come to an end eventually.

Looking down the table, she sees him looking back at her, almost leering, ready to break out into a grin at any moment. Like he’s got her trapped.

Steeling her nerves, Lauren rises from her seat and approaches him.

“Guess we should get to work,” she says.

“Guess so.”

She reaches for the existing layout, now marked up with a bunch of fruitless ideas and a few inklings of good ones, and exits the conference room without waiting for him. They settle in a design studio down the hall, and Lauren does not acknowledge him again until they are seated side-by-side, hunched over the ad.

“Do we keep this photo or pull another one from this shoot?” she asks.

“I don’t think there’s any reason to change it. The photo wasn’t the problem.”

“Okay.” She pulls up the file on the oversized Mac monitor in front of them. “Same text?”

“It needs to go smaller if we’re going with the new slogan,” Josh says, casting a glance through the studio’s glass wall. “How long is it going to take them to make sure it clears?”

Lauren wishes she had an answer for that. There is only so much they can do until they receive an official go-ahead. And dead time is not something she wants to contend with right now.

“What are you doing for Christmas?” Josh asks, tapping a pencil on the wooden table.

“What am I doing for Christmas? That’s what you ask me?”

“Just making conversation. What am I supposed to do?”

She shrugs. There is something childlike about his question, like a little boy up to no good who will swear that he’s perfectly innocent even when his muddy footprints are all over the walls and the dog is trapped inside an overturned box. It’s cute, her mind spits out before registering that she shouldn’t be thinking such things. It can’t be cute.

She sighs. “Josh…”

“I’m seeing someone,” he says.

The news lands with a heavy thud upon Lauren’s head. Not what she expected.


“It’s casual. Fun.” He drags the word out, as if to make it sting. Fun. Unlike you.

“Oh. Good for you,” she says, trying to sound pleasant, even friendly. This is how it’s gonna be, huh?

Josh laughs. It is an obnoxious little sound, so cocky and all-knowing.


He centers his eyes upon hers. “So you’re cool? Whatever we had going, it’s just--”

“Over. Yeah.” It takes every ounce of strength she possesses to say it so plainly. “You can see whoever you want.”


This is not how Lauren expected this to go. She lies awake at night, wondering what the doctor is going to tell her after the biopsy, wondering if it was wrong to run out on Josh rather than admitting that she is terrified of what he felt on her body. But if he is already seeing someone, if he has already moved on… then maybe that instinct, that protective sense, was more right than she gave it credit for.


Travis and Landon move wordlessly through the store. Upscale cooking utensils, many of which Travis didn’t even know existed, surround them, but they pay little attention to the merchandise as Travis leads the way. He plants himself near a display close to where Danielle and the girl are looking at a set of expensive pans.

Picking up an item to make his presence here look a little more authentic, Travis glances up occasionally, waiting for Danielle to turn. The moment she does, he makes sure to catch her eye.

“Danielle?” he says, doing what he thinks is a pretty good imitation of actual surprise. “Travis. Tim and Claire’s son.”

“Hi!” Danielle says, and then she does that thing that adults always do, scanning him up and down. “You’ve gotten so big!”

He is unable to keep a bashful grin off his face, though he abolishes it as quickly as he can. The girl steps to Danielle’s side and sees Travis and Landon.

“You guys,” she says, saving Travis the trouble of reminding her of who he is.

“You all know each other?” Danielle asks.

“Kind of,” Travis says.

“I asked them for directions the night I got here,” the girl says.

“Travis,” he volunteers, sticking out his hand for a shake and probably seeming way too eager in the process.

“Elly.” She does not hesitate to shake his hand, and the intensity of the contact throws Travis for a loop. He feels his cheeks growing warm and has to pull his hand away. 

“Elly is my goddaughter,” Danielle says. “She’s visiting from San Francisco.”

“Oh. Cool.” And then quiet hits them, and Travis stands there, grinning like a dumbass.

“Looks like you found where you were going,” Landon chimes in.

Travis flashes a quick look back at his friend. Of course he had to bust that out.

Elly shrugs awkwardly. “Yeah, it was fine.”

Danielle notices the item in Travis’s hand. “You boys like to shop for kitchen supplies?”

“I was thinking I needed a… thing like this,” Landon says, grabbing the item from Travis.

“A meat tenderizer?” Danielle says.

“We’re trying to find a gift for his mom,” Travis says, grabbing the meat-tenderizer-or-whatever and sticking it back on the shelf.

Landon moves closer to Danielle. “Maybe you can help me with this. I don’t really know about this stuff…” He turns Danielle toward another shelf, leaving Travis and Elly alone together.

Travis decides to seize the opportunity before it slips away. “So, uh, how long are you in town?” he asks.

“Not sure.” Elly shrugs. “Things were kind of crazy at home, so I thought I’d get away for a little while.”

“That’s cool.” Travis tries desperately to come up with something else to say; he can’t ask about what’s going on at home without sounding nosy. Finally he just spits it out: “So if you’re gonna be here for a while, maybe we could, like, hang out.”

Elly’s mouth softens into a smile, and Travis’s hopes soar, but then come the words:

“I don’t know. I might be going back soon. I’m not sure.”


If that isn’t a rejection, he doesn’t know what is.

The next thing he knows, Elly has turned around and is helping Danielle, who is helping Landon pick out a gift for his mom, who, as far as Travis knows, has not done anything but order takeout since Landon was born.

Travis hangs back, feeling like too much of a loser to join in, and as soon as there is a break in the conversation, he forces Landon to thank Danielle and get the hell out of there with him. They mumble quick goodbyes as Travis pulls Landon from the store.

“What the hell was that?” Landon questions as they merge back into the mall traffic.

“Forget it.”

“She shot you down?”

“No, she--she’s not sure how long she’s gonna be around. She didn’t shoot me down.”

“Sure,” Landon says, and they move through the crowd in silence.


What will Brian try next?
Should Travis give up on Elly?
Are Lauren and Josh truly finished?
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