Episode #485

- Seth’s ex-fiancée, Miriam, crashed his date with Alex. Desperate to prove that he is serious about Alex, Seth chased after Alex and kissed him in front of Miriam.
- Trevor’s agent arranged for him to attend a benefit in Seattle, where he planned to angle for work as a model for a new denim line.
- Lauren learned that her biopsy results were negative. Elated to be cancer-free, she rushed to see Josh, only to find him with Sabrina. She ran off without letting him know that she had been there.


Maybe it’s a waterfall.

No, not possible. And a waterfall would be far too mundane for an event like this.

Trevor Brooks stares intently at the photograph hanging before him. It is beautiful, to be sure, but in such an abstract way that he cannot determine what its subject even is.

As frustrating as the puzzle might be, he is grateful to have something to occupy his attention. Everyone at this party seems to know everyone else. That’s how it feels, anyway, as the well-dressed guests flit from conversation to conversation. It looks to Trevor like the most elaborate yet effortless waltz he has ever watched. Champagne glass in hand, kiss on the cheek, everybody switch now. No one ever left without a partner.

Except him. His agent gave him two tickets to this event, and he had planned to bring Lauren with him, but something came up at work at the last minute. So he made the trek to Seattle by himself while she remained at Willis to work a late night.

Casually he allows his gaze to drift over the crowd. He has managed to identify Liesl Gitman, the young designer of Piece Of Me’s new down-market denim line. She was runner-up on one of those fashion-designer reality shows two seasons ago, and she has managed to build an impressive career since, especially in light of such an inauspicious entrance to the design world. Thank God for the internet, Trevor thinks as he reviews what he knows about her.

She is taller than he expected, and her looks, though a bit severe, are striking nonetheless. Her blonde hair rides atop her head in a complicated up-do, too precise to seem casual and too daring to be formal. An air of importance surrounds her, and as much as Trevor hates to admit it, he is intimidated by the prospect of approaching her.

He searches again for the people he does know, or has at least met previously: the co-founders of Piece Of Me. He nearly landed an ad campaign with them a few years ago, and he recalls having had an easy, comfortable rapport with them. He hopes that will translate to tonight. As soon as he spots them talking to Liesl, he will hurry over and re-introduce himself. At present, however, those co-founders are nowhere to be seen.

Isn’t this their event? he wonders, becoming more annoyed than the circumstances merit. He knows that he is edgy but sees no way of curbing that until he does what he came here to do.

Again he focuses on the photograph. Maybe it’s some kind of natural disaster. At the top left and bottom right corners, the thing--whatever it is--gives way to two lighter areas, though the borders are indistinct and, at least to him, incomprehensible.

A couple comes up behind him. Realizing that he has been standing in front of the same piece for far too long with no intention of buying it, he moves along. He looks for a new spot to plant himself. As his eyes travel over the room, they meet with those of an Asian woman who makes no effort to break the gaze. Trevor smiles back uncomfortably and continues looking for a place--but as he does, he spots what he really wants: the two co-founders of Piece Of Me jeans, headed straight for Liesl.

He prepares to make his move.


Cooking has always stressed Alex Marshall out. He remembers, as a boy, watching his mother trudge around the kitchen of their apartment like a prisoner assigned to some horrible detail. She would gripe about having to come home after a miserable day at a miserable job and deal with dinner. When he was a teenager, Alex tried to pick up the slack, but rarely did his feeble attempts at helping with dinner seem to ease his mother’s bad moods.

Now, as an adult, he still associates cooking with his youth. It is something that has to be done. He always finds it strange, albeit fascinating, when he spends time around Jason’s family and everyone gets involved in preparing a meal. They make it look… fun. Alex wishes that he could do that, but even the fajita strips and vegetables he took out of the freezer look like too much effort. He puts them back and removes a frozen pizza instead.

He turns on the oven and then stands there, waiting for it to indicate that it has finished preheating. Another reason he wishes he could enjoy cooking more: it would keep him busy right now. He could use the distraction. Just as they did all day long, while he tried to write, the memories of making out with Seth in the rain dominate his mind.

He can still feel Seth’s mouth on his and Seth’s hands on his face. He didn’t think he even remembered what it tasted like to kiss Seth, but in that first moment when their mouths met, it all came back to him. The sensation was familiar and electrifying; no way could it have been a decade since he experienced it last.

It took every ounce of willpower within Alex to flag down a taxi. Even in the heat of the moment, he knew that he wasn’t ready to go any further with Seth, at least not yet. But that almost didn’t stop him.

He has thought of nothing else since--aside from Trevor, that is. If he could simply dwell on the positive developments between himself and Seth, Alex might be giddy. Instead, every memory is tempered by guilt.

At the sound of the front door opening, he makes an effort not to appear spaced-out. A few seconds later, Jason enters the kitchen, his hair wet from the rain outside.

“It’s gross out there,” Jason says, opening the refrigerator and then closing it without taking anything.

“I’m making a pizza, if you want some,” Alex says.

Jason spots the frozen pizza on the counter. “Gourmet, huh? I’m in.”

The oven beeps, and Alex puts the pizza in. “How was your day?” he asks.

“Crazy. It’s like, there’s so much stuff going on. They laid down the floors in the café today. It looks awesome.”

“I can’t wait to see everything. Are you still going to make me wait for the grand opening?”

“We’ll see.” Jason drifts off for a second and then snaps back to attention. “So we’re standing there, looking at the café, and Courtney’s standing next to me, and she really looks, like, pregnant. Like, this is all really happening. I can’t wrap my head around it.”

“You’re lucky. It’s a big time in your life.”

“Seriously. But I was thinking… how stupid is it that we’re having a baby, we work together, and at the end of the day, we don’t go home together?”

“Have you guys talked about moving in together?” Alex would hate to lose his best friend as a roommate, but he knew that this would come eventually.

“Not exactly. I just think it’s time for something. A big move.”

Alex is pretty sure that he can read between the lines, but he doesn’t want to jump to any conclusions. “What do you mean?”

Jason does not hesitate. “I’m going to ask her to marry me.”


The office feels different at night. Maybe it is the absence of most of the employees, or the complete lack of sunlight coming through the windows on the far wall. Something feels different once it gets to be eight or nine o’clock. Lauren Brooks knows that much, even if her brain is too fried to think much harder about it.

She hunches over her desk, where four nearly identical versions of the same copy are spread out. Nearly identical. She is trying to select the most effective one, but as she heads into her fifteenth hour of the workday, it seems an accomplishment even to notice the differences between them at all.

She feels another person’s presence approaching. Even scarier is that she knows exactly who it is, as though there is something emanating off Josh Taylor that is distinctly him.

“Do you have that print where the bottle is leaning? They want to try it with that one again,” he says.

Lauren doesn’t even look up. “I put all the additional prints on your desk.”

“Why? I’ve been down in the conference room for, like, three hours.”

“So? It’s there. You’ve got it.”

She refuses to glance up, but she can feel that Josh is not going anywhere. She tries to remain focused on her work, or at least to give the appearance of doing so.

“This is not what we agreed on,” he says, dropping his volume. “What happened to working together and not letting things get weird?”

She wants to shout in his face that she doesn’t mean to be weird, but she just spent weeks thinking she might have cancer, so maybe he could give her a pass on that. But he doesn’t know anything about that, and that is her doing. It’s none of his business anymore, she reasons as she swivels slowly to face him.

“Things have been weird since we broke up,” she says. “Let’s not fool ourselves. I’m… just not in the mood right now.”

She returns to her work. Josh leans in closer so that he is hovering over her.

“What’s up with you?” he asks. It’s like he is a different person. The accusation has disappeared from his voice, replaced by a gentle concern. This is the Josh she wants to be with. Wanted to be with.

“I’m tired,” she manages to say.

He lingers there, almost pressed against her. She can smell him, a welcome change from the stale office air. She wishes that he would lean just a little bit closer, press his chest against her shoulder and her back…

Then she sees him through the front window of his house, cavorting around with that blonde woman, not missing her at all.

“Will you leave me alone?” she snaps.

Just like that, he springs backward, and the other face of Josh Taylor reemerges. “Jesus. What the hell is wrong with you?”

Nothing is wrong with me,” she says, painfully aware of the irony in her statement. Josh blows out of her cubicle and back down the hallway. Nothing is wrong with me, she thinks, and yet everything is wrong.


“Lucas! Thomasina!” Trevor says, swooping in to talk to the heads of the Piece Of Me denim label. “Trevor Brooks. I was almost a part of your spring 2006 campaign.”

“Of course!” Thomasina King lowers her thick black glasses on her nose. She is an imposing woman and, if Trevor were to be brutally honest, rather mannish. Still, he found her very pleasant when he met her originally, and he is grateful to be recognized now.

“You’re one of Wes’s, aren’t you?” asks Lucas Bloom, Thomasina’s business partner.

“Yep. Congratulations on the new line you have coming out.”

“Thank you.” Thomasina gestures toward Liesl. “This is our guest designer, Liesl Gitman. Liesl, Trevor Brooks.”

“Nice to meet you,” Trevor says, extending his hand for a shake.

Liesl regards his hand as though it might be diseased. Finally she deigns to take it, but only for the most perfunctory of handshakes. Trevor feels the conversation’s momentum come grinding to a halt, and he is about to jump in and resuscitate it when Thomasina gives him an assist.

“Trevor, what are you up to these days?” she asks.

“My contract with Objection is through,” he says as nonchalantly as he can manage. He feels a little guilty about omitting the details--namely, that the contract was terminated when the late head of Objection Designs found out he had done porn--but hey, that’s the way the game is played. “So I’m weighing options. Looking for something I really want to do.”

Thomasina must be reading his mind. “You know, we’re organizing the promotional push for Liesl’s line. You might be perfect.”

Lucas lights up at the possibility. “Tres perfect.” Trevor feels a little like a piece of meat, being sized up by Lucas’s very appreciate eyes, but it can only mean good things for his career.

“What do you think, Liesl?” Thomasina asks.

Again, the woman brings Trevor’s momentum to a dead stop. She appraises him like a potential homeowner might take in a rat-infested shack.

“Perhaps.” She says the word, but she doesn’t even bother to make it sound diplomatic.

Thomasina and Lucas offer Trevor apologetic looks. He accepts them gratefully and makes a few moments of conversation about the art and the charitable cause before excusing himself. He has made it only a few steps away from the designers when the Asian woman from earlier is in his face.

“Trevor, is it?”

He nods. There is something predatory about her, something that the pearls and the tasteful black dress cannot conceal. But it could be business-related, especially if she knows who he is. He smiles.


“We had better talk,” she announces.

“I’m sorry. You are…?”

“Miriam Frost. Your boyfriend is trying to get into my fiancé’s pants. Again.”


Jason’s idea is not exactly shocking news to Alex, but something about it still surprises him. Maybe it is the pace of things; Courtney getting pregnant, her and Jason getting back together, and now this--it all seems like it is happening so fast.

“Are you sure you’re ready for that?” Alex asks carefully, not wanting to offend his friend.

He spots a glimmer of uncertainty, but Jason steamrolls right over it with his words. “We’re having a baby. I want to be with Courtney. I want to live with her. I mean, what else is there?”

“Maybe this is a dumb question, but do you love her?”

“Yeah. Absolutely.”

“Then I think that’s your answer,” Alex says.

Jason does not seem to regard the matter as closed, however. “It’s just so weird. I was so close to proposing to Lauren, and it seemed like such a big deal, and this just feels… kind of normal.”

“Judging by how that whole proposing-to-Lauren thing went, maybe that’s a good sign.”

They share a laugh. Alex can’t think of a reason why Jason shouldn’t ask Courtney to marry him. His biggest concern is that they might be swept up in the excitement of the baby and rushing because of it, but when it comes down to it, that is none of his business.

“Of all the things I have going on, marrying Courtney is the one I am ready for,” Jason rambles on. “The baby, running a business--I’m a lot less sure about that stuff.”

Alex turns on the oven’s light and peeks through the door, which is pointless, since the pizza has been in there for about two minutes.

“Oh my God, when did we get so old?” he wonders. “Shouldn’t we be talking about, like, parties and bad first dates and stuff?”

Jason shakes his head and marvels along with him. “I’m gonna go change before that pizza’s ready.”

He ducks out of the room, leaving Alex alone with his thoughts once again. Jason and Courtney are preparing to start a family, and he’s, what, making out with his college roommate, who could barely even manage to ask him out for dinner? The whole thing depresses him so much that he gives the pizza another unnecessary check before deciding to pour himself a drink.


The ex. Of course. Trevor knew that Seth almost got married not too long ago, but he never expected to come face-to-face with the woman.

“If I’m not mistaken, we have something in common,” Miriam says.

Trevor sizes her up, trying to get a feel for her angle. “What’s that?”

“We both want this thing between Seth and Alex to be over. Am I right?”

Trevor stops short of agreeing, though he senses that his body language gives him away. Uncomfortable with this line of conversation, he leaps to something more immediately troubling. “What are you doing here? And how did you know who I was?”

“My father is a well-connected businessman in the Northwest,” she says, as if he should be able to fill in the rest for himself. “And as for you… let’s just say I’ve done my research.”

Already Trevor does not like her. There is something horribly calculated about her every movement, about every syllable that passes through her lips. If he were Seth, he wouldn’t have married her, either.

“The man I dated for six years,” Miriam presses, “the man I was going to marry--he is not gay. Not that I have any problem with it--I have lots of gay friends--but Seth is not gay.”

Her smugness pushes a button within Trevor. “Have you read Alex’s book? Because Seth comes off a little gay.”

“Seth has always had a difficult time making decisions for himself. He’s one of those men who needs someone to lead him along. Alex came along at a time when Seth was vulnerable, and he never had closure.”

“Alex is not some predator. Seth broke his heart.”

“No. Reality broke Alex’s heart. What they had was never going to be anything more than fooling around. It wasn’t until that awful book came out that Seth got cold feet about marrying me.”

“I’m sure your dazzling personality had nothing to do with it.” Trevor entertains the idea of feeling bad about the quip, but it was too hard to resist. And Miriam seems undaunted.

“I think we could be of assistance to one another,” she says. “We all know that this… experimentation between Seth and Alex isn’t going to last.”

“What, you want me to help you keep them apart?”

“I’d like to think of it as expediting the inevitable.”

In spite of his better instincts, Trevor finds the prospect very appealing. He is weighing that desire against those instincts when a finger taps him on the shoulder.

“Trevor Brooks?” asks a man who, as Trevor discovers when he turns, has olive-colored skin and an immaculately groomed goatee.

“That would be me.”

“Felipe Pinero. I loved the work you did for Objection.”

“Oh.” The compliment throws Trevor for a loop, but he is grateful to have an excuse to escape from Miriam. “You’ll have to excuse me,” he tells her, being polite more for Felipe’s benefit than for hers.

Her lips pursed tightly, Miriam nods as if to dismiss him. Trevor steps off to speak with Felipe.

As they talk, Trevor notices Miriam eyeing him. He tries to ignore her. And, as much as he would like to, he cannot stop thinking about Alex and Seth.

He notices that photograph again, as well--the one that he could not stop studying earlier. He has no idea if it is the effect of a fresh angle or the passage of time, but suddenly, he can see it clearly: it is a photo of two hands, sliding out of the corners of the frame. The colors have been inverted to emphasize the negative space between them, the space that he previously thought must be a waterfall or something.

It is not something. It is nothing. The story is not about the two hands, but about the impossible space between them.


Can Trevor give up on Alex?
Is Alex any closer to a decision?
Should Josh steer clear of Lauren?
Should Jason and Courtney get married?
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