Episode #502

- Danielle had dinner with Ryan and was supportive of his decision to write his book. Later she defended her choice to spend time with him to Brent and Molly.
- After Trevor left town, Alex was unable to being a relationship with Seth.
- Sabrina kept an enormous secret from everyone around her: she is really Shannon Parish with extensive plastic surgery and a mission to win Jason away from Courtney.


Cold water splashes onto her face. She needs it to calm her, to shock her back into sense.

This is getting too hard, Shannon Parish thinks as she stares at her new face in the mirror. Water drips from its elegantly sculpted curves, and she draws a deep, steadying breath. She didn’t account for how difficult it would be to work around Jason all day, every day, and keep her cool. She certainly didn’t account for having to be in the same room as Courtney, smiling and playing nice and acting as if she has anything on her mind other than reaching into that bitch’s chest and tearing out her miserable heart with her bare hand.

But she needs to be here. Better to be able to keep an eye on them.

There are days when she can hardly believe that she is here, so close to Jason. After all this time, after all she has been through… she is so close. She has to play her cards perfectly now.

She had to do so many awful things to get here. That horrible Dr. Friesen. Lars. She knew she had him when he insisted that she call him by his first name. What a sad, pathetic man--desperate for any bit of real affection, any sign that he wasn’t alone in the world. Perhaps she had done him a favor by giving him hope--and, certainly, pleasure--all those months. It really was a shame what she had to do to him at the end. He was a sad man, but he had a good heart, really. But she couldn’t have him running around, sharing her secret, knowing she was out in the world someplace. It wouldn’t have worked.

She hopes his final moments weren’t too painful.

Then there was the pain she had to inflict upon herself. Driving that brick into her face, over and over--sometimes she wakes up in a cold sweat, certain that it is happening again. But it was necessary. She couldn’t have walked into a surgeon’s office with her real face intact; she couldn’t have risked those “before” photos being in a record somewhere. And it certainly gave her a better explanation for the surgery than “I just want a completely new face.” Breaking the old one herself had merely been a way of speeding the process along, simplifying it.

It will all have been worth it, soon enough. She just has to keep her cool. She has to keep doing what she has done for a year: sit in that office, smile, wait until all the pieces are in place. She has to keep her emotions in check, at least in front of them. She has almost lost it with Courtney too many times. That won’t do. She is too close to ruin all her hard work because of some desperate impulse.

Another deep breath. She pulls up her sleeve and fingers her cut from the other night. She should have been smarter about it, not done it in such a visible place, but she couldn’t help herself. She will be smarter in the future.

She tugs down the sleeve and exhales. She can do this.


Out in the office, Courtney Chase is finishing up some end-of-the-day paperwork. Files and forms and invoices are spread over her suddenly too-small desk. When she swings around to search for the one she needs next, she accidentally smacks several folders right off the desk.

“Crap,” she mutters as the files and their contents spread out on the floor. She maneuvers her ever-growing body out of the chair, but before she is even fully on her feet, Seth Ashby is at her side.

“Sit down,” he says as he kneels and gathers up the papers.

“Thanks, Seth.” She tries to catch up with her breathing, surprised by how even the small amount of exertion has winded her.

“How much longer are you gonna work?” Seth asks from the floor.

“You sound like my doctor. And Jason.”

He rises and hands her the gathered files. “I think they have good reason.”

She thanks him for his help and then says, “It’s keeping me from freaking out too much, honestly. There’s so much stuff to do--getting ready for the baby, finding a house for Jason and me, planning the wedding…”

“I went through the wedding thing not too long ago,” Seth says. “It doesn’t have to be a circus. Just know that.”

She laughs. “I don’t think I have the energy to make it a circus.”


He seems genuinely relieved by this, as though he had a personal stake in it. Despite having worked with him for a few months, Courtney feels that she has not gotten to know him very well. Perhaps that has been a conscious choice, a way of maintaining her allegiance to Alex. But she sees something in Seth now, a rawness brought about by the mere mention of his aborted wedding, that intrigues her.

“Alex said your fiancée… your ex… was in King’s Bay,” she says.

Seth nods. “She went back to Portland. I think she just wanted to prove to herself that whatever life I have here cannot possibly be as good as what I gave up with her.”

She doesn’t want to push too hard, but he genuinely looks as though he could use someone to talk to, and she feels as though she owes it to him to hear his side of things. Almost everything she knows about him has come through Alex.

“Is that what she saw?” she asks.

He hesitates. “I don’t know. If anything, she probably thinks my life here is better than it really is… she caught me at one of the few ‘up’ points I’ve had here.”

“With you and Alex?”

Another nod. This time, no words accompany it.

“If you want to talk, I’m here to listen,” she offers. She realizes that it sounds hopelessly corny, but she hopes that the gesture will mean something to him.

“Thanks.” He pauses and leans his body against her desk. “But I don’t know if there’s anything left to say about Alex and me.”


Alex Marshall rounds the corner into the produce aisle. As he pushes his cart toward the apples, he sees someone else doing the same thing.

“Hey,” he says as he parks his cart by the apple display.

“Hey,” Lauren Brooks says back.

Alex attempts to read her demeanor. Will she be hostile to him because of Trevor’s departure?

“How are you doing?” he asks. “Jason and Courtney said you’d been through some rough stuff lately…”

“I’m okay. More than okay.” Her voice is quiet, but it seems to Alex a quiet borne of shyness rather than an effort to brush him off.

He decides to take the bull directly by the horns. “I don’t want to not mention it, so are you doing okay with Trevor leaving?”

“I should probably ask you the same thing,” she says, “but yeah, I’m fine with it. It’s a great opportunity for him.”


A pause stretches out between them.

“So how are you doing?” she asks. “With Trevor leaving? And everything else, I guess.”

“I’m fine. Maybe not ideal, but fine. He needed to go--for himself.” Needing to keep moving, he tears a plastic bag from the roll beside the apples. “Trevor getting hurt was the absolute last thing I ever wanted to see happen. I’m so angry at myself for letting it happen.”

“Trevor had his part in that whole mess, too.”

Alex responds with a noncommittal shrug. Trevor did lie about his association with Cliff and the videos, but Alex recognizes now that he used Trevor’s misstep as an excuse to explore his feelings for Seth.

“Have you heard from him?” he asks.

“Yeah. They just did the official photo shoot in London. Now they start traveling around for appearances.”

“I’m glad he’s doing well.” Alex is happy to hear that. He just wishes that Trevor’s version of happiness included being in King’s Bay with him, even if that is a selfish thing to wish.

He starts to rummage through the apples to find an appropriately blemish-free one, which proves surprisingly hard. Lauren takes a bag and does the same.

“When we first started hanging out… what would you have said if someone had told you that this is how we’d wind up?” she asks.

“Shopping for apples? Sounds like exactly what we both wanted.”

“Except for the part where things didn’t work out and you fell in love with my brother. And I started dating my best friend’s ex, except that got screwed up and now they’re back together and having a kid.”

“I probably would’ve thought whoever told me all that had a very creative imagination,” Alex says as he manages to locate an apple good enough to keep.


The glowing white of a blank Microsoft Word document stares Ryan Moriani in the face. Taunting him. There have been a lot of things that concerned him about writing this book: the Fishers’ reactions; what it will be like to relive all those painful moments; subjecting his work to other people’s scrutiny. He did not, however, expect that the writing itself would be so impossible.

With a newfound respect for writers, he goes to the counter for a refill on his coffee. He is just returning to his table when he notices a familiar face walking through the front door.

Danielle Taylor sets eyes upon him almost immediately, too. There is an awkward moment of hesitation, and then she bypasses the counter and comes right for his table.

“Look at you,” she says. “A real writer.”

“Yep. I’ve got the coffee, the new laptop… unfortunately, I also have no words.”

He turns the laptop around so that she can see the blank document. She stares at it for several seconds before taking a seat.

“Are you just starting cold?” she asks. “I thought Vision was going to have someone work with you.”

“They want me to do a little writing on my own first. ‘Priming the pump,’ Diane called it.”

Danielle turns the laptop back around. “So start writing.”

“I’ve been trying!” he says. “I have no idea what to put down or how to begin.”

“What do you want to say?”

He just shrugs and rolls his eyes heavenward. This was a terrible idea. To think that he could filter the mess that has been his life into a coherent, let alone compelling, book--

Danielle scoots her chair around to his side of the table. “When I was writing music, I would always start by writing something completely freeform. Just a paragraph, or a page, whatever it took to get my thoughts moving.”

“When you were writing music?” Ryan asks. “You don’t anymore?”

Her confidence, so clear and focused a moment ago, sags under the weight of the past few years. “I try occasionally. I haven’t had much success.”

“Why not?”

“Maybe I’m not at a place in life where I can express myself that way,” she says. “Or maybe music is something that will stay in my past. I haven’t written anything of any substance since I got out of treatment.”

Her gaze wanders around the coffeehouse, to the small stage at its back.

“You have no idea how many times I played here,” she says. “Being onstage seemed like the most important thing in the world at that time.”

Her fragile moments always surprise Ryan. She presents herself as so in control, so clear on where she is going and how she is going to get there, that it comes as a surprise to realize that she doesn’t have it all figured out, either.

“Maybe you should try what you’re telling me to do,” he says.

“I have tried. There’s nothing of any value there.” Just like that, her whole demeanor changes, back to the cheerleader, the bright-eyed but firm enforcer. “Besides, I’m not sitting on a contract and a big check like somebody. So get to writing.”

“What am I supposed to write?”

“Whatever you want!” When that does not spur him into action, she adds, “Why did you decide to write this book?”

“We’ve been through this,” he says. “Because--”

“Tell it to the page, not to me.”

Hesitantly, he moves his fingers to the keys and tries to place his inhibitions aside.


Courtney waits for Seth to say something more. It is a long wait; she reorganizes the files that she knocked over, straightening out their contents and ensuring that everything is in its place. She suspects that he is not going to say anything at all, but he lingers by her desk, so she waits patiently. She is nearly finished checking the files when he speaks.

“Too little, too late,” he says. “I think that’s what it must be. I tried, I really did. We went on a date, I told Miriam off--” He hesitates for a split-second. “--I even kissed him in public. That was a huge thing for me.”

“I’m sure he realizes what a big step it was,” she offers. She knows that Alex realizes, because he told her.

“I thought it’d be different after Trevor left. Like he wouldn’t have to feel guilty about it anymore.”

She looks up at him. “Do you feel guilty about it, though?”

“Why would I feel guilty?”

“I don’t mean to judge… but from what I know, you have a record of not being totally comfortable with your sexuality.”

Seth opens his mouth to protest but then shrugs. An admission of defeat.

“Alex has had a rough time of it,” Courtney continues. “His mom was probably one of the least trustworthy people imaginable. His dad was never around. He got close to you in college, and you vanished. And he thought he had something great with Trevor, but even that fell apart. So if it seems like you’re just going to take off once things get uncomfortable…”

“I need to go see him.”

He breaks away from her desk but stops halfway back to his. “Tell Jason I had to go take care of something, would you?”

“Of course. I’m going to get out of here soon, anyway.”

Seth hurriedly gathers his things, but before he exits the office, he stops and looks right at her. “Thank you, Courtney.”

She smiles. “Good luck.”

Then he is gone. She hopes that she has been able to help, but she also remains woefully confused as to where Alex stands on the issue of Seth. At least it’ll force him to make a decision either way, she reasons, hoping that she hasn’t somehow just made things worse for both Alex and Seth.


Alex fixes the twist-tie around his bag of apples and waits while Lauren does the same.

“Good running into you,” he says, ready for an awkward goodbye.

“You, too.” She settles her hands on her cart. “And Alex--Trevor didn’t leave because of you. He left in spite of you.”

As she pushes her cart away, Alex lingers, turning over that thought in his mind.


When Shannon exits the restroom, she finds Courtney alone in the office.

“Where is everyone?” she asks.

“Jason’s still downstairs working on the schedule with Sandy,” Courtney says, “and Seth had to take off. You can probably go, too, if you want.”

Shannon folds her arms. Maybe she should stay. Maybe she should take advantage of the time alone with Courtney and get this over with, once and for all.

“Are you okay?” Courtney asks. “You were in there for a long time.”

Not now. Too many things could go wrong, Shannon decides, reminding herself to drop her voice just a little bit from what comes naturally. Sabrina’s voice says, “I’m feeling a little queasy. Nothing too bad. Maybe I’ll try to go home and rest up.”

“Take advantage of the downtime while you can!” Courtney says cheerily. Shannon suppresses the urge to slap that stupid smile right off her fat, pregnant face.


After her run-in at the supermarket with Alex, Lauren’s mind is running a million miles a minute. It was good to see him, only the slightest bit awkward but oddly reassuring.

In the parking lot of the grocery store, she sits in her car and finds herself toying with her cell phone. Maybe it was the discussion of Alex and Trevor’s relationship. Maybe it was talking about her own, naively hopeful past with Alex. Regardless, something about the encounter has made her think about Josh--not that he is ever far from her mind these days.

She scrolls to his number in her phone. She feels as though it has been so long since she saw him, even though she sees him every day at work. They have taken to moving around in a cold, mechanized routine, somehow divorced from the emotion of their blowup at the arena’s opening. Maybe if she calls him now, things will be different. He might be open to talking.

The foolish hopes passes. She stuffs her phone back into her purse and starts the car.


Alex has just arrived home with his groceries when there is a knock on the door. He leaves the half-unpacked bags on the countertop and moves through the living room.

He opens the door to find Seth but doesn’t even have time to get out a single word.

“I want to do this,” Seth says, pushing his way into the apartment. “I’m serious. I know it’s new for me and maybe that makes it weird for you, but I’m serious about being with you.”

He stands there, awaiting Alex’s response, his face gleaming with hope. There is something pure and fresh about it, and today, for some reason, that seems like a good thing to Alex.

“You’d better be telling the truth,” he says, swooping in to kiss Seth.

Seth’s surprised mouth melts into his, and within moments they are kicking the door closed, stumbling as one awkward unit back to Alex’s bedroom, and tearing off clothes that Alex wishes would just disappear.


Once Ryan gets started, the words come easily. The few times that he stops to hesitate, Danielle is at his side, reminding him to write what he is thinking, not what he thinks he should write. Eventually she leaves the table to get herself a coffee, and when she returns, he has reached the bottom of the page.

“Look at you,” she says as she notices his progress. “See? Told you you could do this.”

“I’m not sure if it’s any good,” he says, unable to resist reading over his words.

“That’s what rewriting is for. But first you’ve got to write.”

He slumps back in his chair and realizes how tired he is. Pouring out his thoughts like that was exhilarating, but apparently it was also exhausting.

“You’re going to be fine,” Danielle says.

For the first time in a year, maybe more, Ryan believes it. “Thank you.”

And before he has a chance to second-guess himself, he leans forward and plants a kiss on her lips.

It is quick, nothing too aggressive, and when he draws back, he cannot keep himself from smiling.

Until he sees the expression on her face.

“Was that inappropriate?” he asks, hoping to salvage the good feelings of a moment ago. “I’m sorry. I just--”

Danielle touches her lips and then, hurriedly, says, “I should get going.”

“Danielle. Wait.”

“Good luck with the writing,” she says as she motors out of the coffeehouse.

It is a good thing he is in a public place, because if he weren’t, Ryan would smash the laptop into a thousand pieces.


Did Ryan go too far by kissing Danielle?
Can Alex move forward with Seth now?
What will Shannon do to Courtney?
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