Episode #504

- Claire and Brent planned to travel to South America to revisit James Robbins’s old compound and investigate the possibility that he might be alive.
- Travis remained angry toward Claire for having put their family in danger from the Morianis.
- After Danielle helped Ryan get started on his book, he impulsively kissed her. Flustered, Danielle made a quick exit.


Weary from a long shift at the hospital, Claire Fisher unlocks the door to her apartment. Instead of relief at finally being home, however, she feels trepidation. A grueling day of work is nothing in comparison to dealing with the surly sixteen-year-old waiting at home.

“Hi, honey,” she says, trying as always to pretend as though she and Travis are working from a clean slate.

Travis removes his attention from the TV just long enough to grunt a hello at her.

“What did you do today?” she asks as she moves around the apartment, putting her things away and settling in.

“Watched TV. Played on the computer. I dunno.”

She tries to take it all in stride. Civility is almost a compliment from him. As long as he is not actively shouting at her, she will consider it progress.

“I was thinking that we could go out for dinner,” she says, “and you could drive there. Afterward we can do some real practicing for your test.”

“I don’t really need to practice,” he says, flipping the channel as soon as his show goes to commercial.

Claire works to keep her tone pleasant. “Your test is in two days. You should be doing all the practicing you can.”

“Seriously. It’s fine. I got it.”

“Then how about dinner?” she asks.

He picks up his cell phone and fiddles with it. “I’m gonna go eat with Landon and some people, I think.”

“This is your last night before you go back to your dad,” she says, seating herself on the arm of the couch. “I’d really like to have dinner with you.”

Travis shrugs and begins to tap out a text message.


“I’m going out.” He stands from the couch, still mid-text, and walks away from her.

“Travis! I said we’re going to dinner.”

He stops and turns back to stare at her, a silent challenge to enforce her words.


After a family dinner, Molly Taylor remains in the kitchen to clean up, while Brent takes Caleb and Christian upstairs for their bath. He finally has them in the tub when Molly bursts in, phone pressed to her ear.

“Is there any way you could swing by this place downtown and pick something up for me midday tomorrow?” she asks Brent. "I have meetings."

For a moment, he doesn’t know if she is serious. He informed her of his trip--for work, he said, leaving out the parts about Claire and South America for the time being--days ago.

“I have a flight tomorrow morning,” he says.

Molly stops in her tracks. “Oh.” She turns her attention back to the phone. “Let me call you back in a minute. I’ll figure it out.”

She ends the call and seats herself on the edge of the tub, where the boys are splashing water and toys.

“Sorry,” she says. “I completely forgot. I’m trying to…” She turns the phone over in her hand. “I’ll see if Danielle can do it. Or I can send a messenger to pick it up.”

Brent nods, happy to let the subject of his trip pass without further comment. He has tried to say as little as possible about it. After he and Claire passed on the opportunity to tell Tim about their investigation, they seem to have developed an unspoken understanding not to offer details to anyone until they know something concrete. Brent feels a tinge of guilt over keeping this from Molly, but the possibility of solving this mystery outweighs that temporary drawback.

“This trip,” Molly says, “what’s it for?”

Her timing is so perfect that Brent almost laughs. Of course she asks now, the night before he leaves.

He finds lying to her much more difficult than he hoped it might be. “Work. We have this ongoing investigation… a kidnapping… and I need to go talk to some people.”

“Is it going to be dangerous?”

“I hope not.” At least that much is the truth.

Still, Molly must notice something strange about his intonation, or his mannerisms, or something, because she does not let it go.

“Where are you going?” she asks. “And what kind of local police investigation requires you to go away for days and days?”


Upstairs, Danielle Taylor sits on her bed with her legs folded beneath her and her guitar in her lap. It has been a long time since she even took the instrument out of its case; the mere act of holding it has seemed so daunting ever since she completed treatment. From time to time, her mind slips into creating music, but when she consciously tries to pursue and develop it, some iron gate crashes down and blocks her from it. To go so far as to sit with her guitar and work on something… it has somehow seemed impossible.

After her session at the coffee house with Ryan Moriani, however, something inside her changed. Helping him write ignited something inside of her--the old, familiar desire to shape and work her thoughts into something more real.

As she always used to, she allows her fingers to guide her. They are rusty from years--Wow, she thinks, unable to believe it, years--without practice, and yet they also feel completely natural as they move over the guitar’s strings. They begin to find something cohesive, and she plays it a few more times, trying to block out thoughts of whether it is any good.

Once the short sequence is familiar, she tries to follow it, to read its emotion and determine what it might be about. In the fleeting moments in which she has allowed herself to think about writing a song, she decided that writing a song about learning to write and play again would be natural. Even if it turns out to be no good, it might open her back up and get her back into the routine.

As she plays the newly created bit, however, it leads her back to only one thing…

She sees Ryan moving swiftly toward her--feels his lips pressing against hers for a split-second, no longer--sees his face, filled with uncertainty, as he pulls back.

She realizes that she is touching her index and middle fingers to her lips.

It has been far too long since anyone kissed her. That is why she can’t stop thinking about Ryan’s kiss. Letting him do it again would be a disaster. He is a mess of a human being, and while she hopes that she can help him, particularly with his drinking, anything more than a tentative friendship would be a horrible idea.

Her cell phone rings, tearing her from her thoughts. She sets down the guitar to answer it, hurrying when she sees the name on the caller ID.

“Hi!” she answers. “How are you?”

“Good,” Elly Vanderbilt says through the phone. “How about you?”

“I’m doing well.” Danielle puts the guitar aside. “What’s going on? Are you on summer break now?”

“That’s actually why I’m calling. My mom and dad won this trip, and… I was wondering if, instead of going with them, I could come stay with you for a little while.”

Danielle does her best to keep her reaction moderate and appropriate. “Of course! I’m sure Brent and Molly would love to have you here for a bit. You’re sure it’s okay with your parents?”

“Duh. Here, I’ll put Mom on.”

As she waits for Elly to hand the phone to Melanie and considers the possibility of a summer with her daughter--goddaughter, she corrects herself mentally--Danielle decides that it still might be too soon for that guitar to come out of hiding.


Claire and Travis remain frozen in a deadlock, gazes fixed upon one another. It breaks her heart that her son does not even want to share a meal with her or be in the same apartment as her, but caving in will not get her anywhere.

“I’ll be in by my curfew,” he says, starting again for the door.

“No.” Claire stands. “We are going out to dinner. You can drive or not drive, I don’t care, but I’m happy to practice for the test if you want to.”

Travis hangs his head, his eyes rolling up to look at her with that patented You have gotta be joking expression.

“Let me wash my hands and change my shoes, and we can go,” she says.

“Ugh. God. Why?”

That is more than enough for Claire. She has put up with this for months, afraid to push him even the slightest bit, lest she drive him away for good. What she realizes now, though, is that she is losing him, anyway.

“Enough, Travis. We’re having dinner. I’ll just as gladly go out as I’ll cook something here, but wherever we are, you are going to sit down with me and have a meal.”

He doesn’t move. Doesn’t say anything, doesn’t even look at her now.

“Decide what you want to do. I’ll be right out,” she says.

But before she even makes it out of the room, Travis speaks up: “It’s, like, practically a death wish to hang around you. Someone’s probably gonna try to blow us up.”

Claire has to work hard to keep her anger in check. She can feel it ready to explode out of her, but she clenches her jaw and holds it in.

“Sit at the table,” she says. “I’ll be out in a minute, and I’ll cook something for us.”

Travis huffs and stomps on his way to the table. Claire dips into her room, half-expecting to hear the front door open and close as he slips out, but it does not happen.

She is not looking forward to a painfully awkward meal with Travis, but she knows that it is necessary for her to follow through with the ritual. She has to teach him to respect her, and she has to win back his trust. With any luck, her trip with Brent will do just that: give them the answers they need to put the mess of the past several years to rest, once and for all.


Brent feels himself withering under Molly’s gaze. There is not even a hint of accusation in her questions, but his own guilt about lying to her is substantial.

“I shouldn’t say anything until we have it wrapped up,” he says. He forces himself to exercise his police skills--a poker face, a detail-less answer, a convenient excuse--but finds it excruciating to flex those professional muscles with his wife.

“What’s this thing you’re dealing with?” he asks, quickly turning the subject.

Molly sighs at the mere mention of whatever she has been on the phone about. “There’s this photographer I want for our next campaign. Danielle and I met him at an exhibit, and I tried to talk to him, but he wasn’t exactly enthusiastic.”

“So you probably don’t want to work with someone like that.”

“That would be the rational approach. But this guy is good. His work--it made the whole campaign come alive in my mind.”

“What are you supposed to do, then? Bug him until he caves?”

“That’s a thought,” Molly says. “I’m going to buy his photograph. Or have the company do it, rather. See if we can license the image to use in our ads.”

“That seems easy enough.”

“You would think. But if this guy is the way I think he is, that’s going to drive him nuts. Maybe he’ll agree to shoot fresh stuff for us because he won’t be able to stand having his other work used that way.”

Brent offers up a silent, grateful prayer that he is not involved in any kind of creative field. Their “rules” do not appear to have much to do with logic or common sense.

The phone rings. Molly stands immediately.

“I’m trying to get someone to sell me the photo,” she explains to Brent as she pats the boys on their wet heads and then sweeps out of the bathroom.

Brent wishes that this could be enough: his wife, his kids, their home life. But too much has happened. He truly does not believe that he can live the rest of his life, having to deal with his disability, without understanding the how and why of it all. There is so much more to all of this than Nick Moriani’s single-minded focus on revenge. For all he knows, whoever pulled those strings could be back tomorrow; his family, and the Fishers, might never be safe. With any luck, this trip to South America will provide him and Claire with answers, and he will not have to lie to Molly anymore.


Is it wise for Brent and Claire to lie about their trip?
How will Elly’s return affect Danielle?
What will it take for Travis to accept Claire?
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