Episode #495

- Alex struggled to accept the reality of Trevor leaving for Europe.
- Travis and Elly remained in touch even after she returned to her parents in San Diego.
- Camille’s will named Molly the Chief Creative Officer of Objection Designs.
- Sarah’s therapist advised her to schedule a no-pressure outing with Matt and Tori.


The movie crowd spills out of the theatre and out into the lovely spring day. The sun has deigned to make an appearance today, and as far as Sarah Gray is concerned, it could not have picked a better occasion. The gorgeous weather serves as the perfect backdrop for her day out with her husband and daughter.

As much as she wants to work things out with her family and get back to their normal lives, the thought of an outing with them has had her terrified. She was not sure that they could spend time together without the tension and resentment that plagued their household in the weeks and months before Sarah moved out. So far, however, things have been going even better than she hoped.

“That was sooo awesome!” Tori says.

“Gotta say, I’m a little surprised you liked it,” Matt says. “I didn’t know Iron Man was gonna be your thing.”

Tori shoots her father a look. “Just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I’m a wimp.”

Sarah laughs, and when she casually glances over at Matt, she finds that he is looking at her, too. They lock eyes over Tori’s statement and both let out an additional little laugh. Their daughter is as girly as they come.

“I even liked it,” Sarah says, “if that tells you anything.”

Matt takes a final sip of his soda and tosses it into a trashcan. “Good. This makes up for the time that you guys made me go see The Devil Wears Prada.”

“Oh my gosh, that was so fabulous. Right, Mom?”

“Very fabulous,” Sarah says, unable to keep a grin off her face.

As they stroll through the outdoor mall, Tori takes both her parents’ hands. They walk in silence--not the awkward kind that has become so familiar in the last year, but an easy, relaxed quiet.

“I wish every day at school could be a half-day,” Tori says.

“Summer’s coming up pretty fast,” Matt says.

Tori beams at the prospect.

With a knowing grin, Matt teases, “Better enjoy it while you can. Maybe you’ll have to get a job next summer.”

“Yuck.” Tori makes a face, but her horror is short-lived. She is too happy today to let much get to her. “Mom?”

“Yeah?” Sarah is thrilled to see her daughter in such a good mood.

“Does this mean you’re ready to move back home?” Tori asks.


The springtime sun provides a glorious atmosphere for the twenty or so teens cavorting around the backyard and in the pool of Landon’s parents’ home. An iPod deck turned up to full volume blasts the new Usher song.

Travis Fisher lies on a towel on the lawn, eyes closed as he listens to the music and the conversation around him.

“So we’re, like, going the wrong way on the freeway,” Landon says to a small, rapt group of their friends. “My dad made me pull over, and he had to turn the car around.”

“I can’t believe they’re even letting you take your driver’s test,” says Amelia, one of their classmates.

Without opening his eyes, Travis chimes in, “Maybe his parents are just hoping he’ll do so badly that the DMV bans him from ever driving again.”

Travis hears the rest of the group laugh--particularly Amelia--but there is no response from Landon. An instant later, however, Travis feels a finger snap sharply against his bare stomach. One of Landon’s signature flickings, no doubt.

“You shithead,” Travis mutters, but he barely opens his eyes long enough to throw a joking glare at Landon. Nothing could upset him today, not with a half-day at school and a whole afternoon of lying in the sun and hanging out with his friends.

“I think that’s gonna leave a mark,” Amelia says.

Travis shrugs. “It’s fine.”

“No, look at how red it is.” Amelia reaches out a finger and rubs the small, red spot on Travis’s stomach.

He tries not to flinch at her touch. It is nice, if surprising. Still, something about it makes him acutely uncomfortable.

“I think I need another one of these,” Travis says, holding up his nearly empty can of Bud Light. “Anybody else?”

“I could use one,” Amelia says, smiling at him as he stands.

“I’m right behind you, bro,” Landon says. He follows Travis around the pool and over to the shady area by the back door where the cooler sits.

“What was that?” Landon asks as soon as they are alone.

Travis opens the cooler. “Huh?”

“The way you jumped up like she was attacking you or something. You could totally get laid if you just put in a little effort.” Landon glances back over at Amelia, who is still eyeing Travis. “Or no effort at all.”

Travis doesn’t doubt it, but something feels off. “I don’t know. I just…” He thinks what he feels is a little guilty--which is totally stupid. It isn’t like he and Elly are a couple, or even dating, or anything other than IMing and texting and flirting a little bit. So why is he thinking about her now?

“Oh my God, I didn’t know you were gay,” Landon says with mock sympathy.

“I’m not. Shut up.”

“Then man up and get back over there!”

Travis digs two cold beers out of the cooler. Landon is right. It’s completely dumb to feel like he’s doing something wrong by flirting with another girl. He’s fifteen. He should enjoy it.

“And for the record, I’m not the one who was flicking your half-naked ass a minute ago!” Travis says as he heads over to rejoin the group.


In a conference room on the eighteenth floor of Winston Tower, the sunshine is a distant presence on the other side of the windowpane. Molly Taylor stands at the head of the air-conditioned room, presenting some rough conceptual sketches.

“And for these pants, I’d like to go with a fuller leg,” she says, indicating a sketch that she started and threw out at least five times before arriving at this version.

Sylvia, a member of the design team who has had a comment on every single sketch that Molly has shown, raises her hand and then speaks without waiting to be acknowledged. “Why are we changing that silhouette?”

“The runway shows all seemed to be moving away from the super-skinny cut for their fall collections,” Molly says. She knows. She followed the shows as they happened, and as she worked on this presentation, she went back and studied the collections more carefully.

“Are you sure our customer is ready for that sort of shift?” Sylvia asks. Molly doesn’t know why she bothers phrasing it as a question; what she is clearly thinking is, “Our customer isn’t ready for that--and also, I think you’re an idiot.”

A few of the ten or so other heads gathered around the conference table bob in agreement.

“We can definitely make this a skinnier leg,” Molly says. She flips to the next sketch, a mini-dress, but someone calls for her to put the pants back up, so she does.

“What are those… colors on the side?” another of the design team members asks.

By now, Molly knows where this is headed. She forces herself to answer as politely as possible. “Some of the colors I’d like to offer these in. Vivid colors are in for pants. Turquoise, yellow--”

“It’s too much,” Sylvia says, shaking her head.

Molly draws a deep breath. She cannot lose her cool, and besides, these people have their jobs for a reason. She cannot take their criticism personally.

Henry Cahill, the man named as Camille’s successor to the CEO position, stands. “Molly, perhaps we’d best reconsider these concepts before moving forward.”

“With all due respect,” Molly says, careful to keep her voice measured and professional, “I believe this is the direction Objection should be moving.”

“I’m afraid I have to disagree,” Henry says. “We aren’t high fashion. Our customers aren’t likely to take risks on things that they haven’t seen on TV, in movies, or out on the streets yet. Our job is to do those things well--not to set the trends.”

Molly wants so badly to argue with him, but she keeps her mouth shut and flips her oversized sketchbook closed. She made herself crazy coming up with some fresh concepts to present, and this is the reception she gets?

Maybe Camille made a huge mistake putting me in charge, she thinks as the meeting disperses.


When Jason Fisher arrives home, he wants nothing more than to think and talk about something, anything, besides work. With the arena’s grand opening coming up in two days, he and the rest of the staff decided to call it a short day today. They have some long, long hours ahead of them, and there is little else they can do to prepare before things are delivered tomorrow. It seems wise to take advantage of the opportunity to rest while they have it.

Still, he cannot stop his mind from reviewing the details and logistics. He is grateful when he finds Alex Marshall at the dining room table.

That is, until he takes note of Alex’s state. He wears the same sweats and t-shirt that he was wearing when Jason left for work this morning, and his wild hair makes it clear that he has gone nowhere near the shower since then. His laptop, a coffee mug, and several scattered pages sit on the table in front of him.

“Hey,” Jason says, a little wary of disrupting his roommate’s work.

Alex glances up and seems genuinely surprised to see Jason, as though he had not noticed his entrance until he spoke. “Hey.”

“You, uh, get a lot done today?” Jason asks, surveying the area. He notices more printed pages on the floor beside Alex, as well as a plate with crumbs on it and a fork. Considering what a neat-freak Alex normally is, something very out of the ordinary must be going on.

“I had a big breakthrough. I think I figured out how to adjust the story. I’ve been pulling it apart and putting it back together all day.”

“I can tell.”

Jason deposits his keys and wallet in the basket where they have started keeping such items to avoid misplacing them.

“I decided we might as well call it a day early at the arena,” he says. “I’m sure all hell is going to break loose with final preparations tomorrow, so we might as well get some rest while we can.”

Alex nods without ever taking his eyes off the laptop screen.

Jason considers whether he should slip out of the room wordlessly but finally decides on saying one more thing. “Okay, I don’t want to interrupt you. Do you want dinner? I’m going to cook in a little bit--”

“I can’t even think about eating,” Alex says, still typing. “I just--I need to get through this.” He flips through a few of the loose pages, seemingly finds whatever he was looking for, and then commences typing like a madman.

Jason quietly moves into the kitchen. He has never seen Alex in such a writing-driven trance; he has never been one of those wild artistic types who acts like a lunatic while he’s in creative mode. Jason doesn’t know what to make of this current fit, but he thinks he’ll call Courtney for dinner and ride this out someplace else.


As soon as Tori’s question hits the air, the sun might as well have been sucked into a black hole. In that instant, Sarah realizes that whatever delusions she might have about a perfect day and a perfect family are just that: delusions.

The three of them slow their steps until they come to a stop entirely, in the middle of a walkway.

“I know how hard this has to be for you,” Sarah says, “and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, honey.”

“So you aren’t coming home?” Tori asks.

Instinctively, Sarah looks to Matt for some help, some guidance. Even after all that they have been through, her very first inclination is to turn to him. For so long, he was the one on whom she depended to show her the way.

He offers a nod that manages to be both encouraging and sympathetic, all in one minimalist action.

“Not yet,” Sarah tells their daughter. “Soon, I hope. As soon as I possibly can. But things are… they’re complicated.”

“Why?” And suddenly Tori is not the brash girl on the verge of becoming a woman; she is a small child, scared and entirely dependent upon her parents.

“I wish I knew,” is all Sarah can say.

“I don’t get why you have to do this!” Just like that, Tori’s tone turns again--from frightened to angry. “You’re ruining everything!”

“Hey,” Matt intercedes. “That’s not fair. Your mom is working hard to make things better.”

Sarah finds herself studying Matt, to see if he really believes that or if it just lip service for their daughter’s benefit. She can’t tell.

“She’s not trying hard enough,” Tori says.

Sarah wishes that she had some way to defend herself, but the truth is that she cannot explain this to Tori if she cannot even explain it to herself. She still doesn’t know why she feels the way she feels, or what changed when she lost the baby, or how to make any of it better.

“That’s enough,” Matt says.

Tori assumes a defiant stance, arms folded, body closed off. “I want to go home.”

Matt begins to protest, but Sarah lifts a hand. It is an admission of guilt and a concession of defeat. “That’s probably a good idea,” she says.

She bends down to kiss Tori’s forehead. “I love you. And I miss you.”

Tori says nothing in response, and Sarah has no choice but to walk away from her family once again.


Can Sarah put her family back together?
Should Travis turn his attention to other girls?
Is Alex on the verge of something great?
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