Episode #512

- Molly convinced photographer Philip Ragan to try working on Objection’s new campaign with her.
- Alex decided to give a relationship with Seth a shot.
- Sarah was shocked to be served with divorce papers from Matt.


Sarah Gray remembers clearly the day that her first marriage ended--for her, at least. Now that she has the benefit of time and perspective, she realizes that her marriage to Brent Taylor was over long before the day that she signed the divorce papers and delivered them personally to him. That act, however, was a victory for her. It was an acknowledgement that there was another life out there for her, a set of possibilities that she had narrow-mindedly ignored for too long. When she handed Brent the signed papers, Sarah felt, for the first time in years, free.

Today is the exact opposite of that. She does not feel free, but rather like a prisoner. Circumstance and forces beyond her control have run her down and tied her up. Being served with divorce papers from Matt was not a relief, but a harsh reality check. Her life is slipping out of her hands.

Determined not to allow that to happen, Sarah knocks forcefully on the door of the apartment that she and Matt shared until recently. She still considers this place home; the apartment in which she currently lives is a stopover, someplace she does not plan to be for long. Especially not now.

Matt opens the door, and Sarah thrusts the papers in his face.

“Are you insane?” she demands, barging into the apartment.

Matt appears thrown by her presence, and judging by the way that his mouth flaps open and closed without producing any words, he has little more understanding of this situation than Sarah does.

“What am I supposed to do?” he asks. “Nothing’s changing. Nothing’s getting better.”

“It can! It will!” She smacks the papers down on the kitchen table--the table that she and Matt bought together. They were supposed to have family dinners for years and years at this table. “I’m not signing these.”

“You have a better solution?”

“We figure it out. We make it work.”

“We’ve been saying that for a year.”

“Because it takes time,” she says, moving so close that she takes his hands and intertwines their fingers. “Please, let’s just tear these up and forget about this. We can fix this.”


Alex Marshall parks his car on the street and makes his way to the fourplex that houses Seth Ashby’s apartment. Since Jason and Courtney have had the baby at the apartment so much, Alex has taken to spending most of his time at Seth’s place. Not long ago, it was difficult for him to imagine them being comfortable together in any way, but they have begun to settle into a nice routine.

Still, Alex knocks on the door before entering. He waits until he hears Seth call out, “Come in!”

“How was your meeting?” Seth asks, as he stands in front of the open refrigerator in his work clothes.

“Really good!” Alex’s enthusiasm takes over as he puts his things down and joins Seth in the small kitchen. “They loved the new draft. Like, were crazy about it.”

“Awesome,” Seth says, though he sounds less than engaged. He pulls out one Chinese takeout container and then another.

“Is that stuff still good?” Alex opens one of the containers and sniffs. It seems fine.

Seth pulls the rest of the takeout cartons from the fridge. “Do you just wanna eat this?”

“Sure.” Alex stands back as Seth gets the food ready to microwave. He notices how Seth keeps his head down the whole time; his energy seems to be elsewhere. “Is everything okay?”


Seth makes a plate and pops it into the microwave. As it hums along, he turns back to Alex. “Kind of,” he says. “We’re, uh, having some visitors.”

“That’s bad, I take it?” Alex doesn’t know what to do with such vague information, until a terrible possibility hits him. “Oh, God, is it Miriam? She’s coming back?”

“No way. A different kind of bad.”

“How bad?”

Seth leans against the counter. “My parents are coming to visit.”


Evening sunlight spills through the eighteenth floor windows of Winston Tower in downtown King’s Bay. In the studio, Molly Taylor sits in a sleek, modern, white-leather chair. She likes to begin these viewings sitting down, even if she knows she is going to be on her feet in a matter of seconds. The routine helps her to relax when she sees her garments for the first time… or so she likes to think.

Today, however, it is only helping her disengage from her surroundings. Ever since Brent’s return from Brazil, Molly has felt preoccupied, unable to take him at his word on anything.

Nevertheless, when a design assistant brings out the first garment, Molly stands. She walks in a circle around it, as she saw Camille Lemieux do so many times.

“It looks much nicer than I expected for a first draft,” she says, looking to Philip Ragan, who sits in a chair identical to the one Molly occupied moments ago.

Philip nods politely, but she can see that he has something to say.

“Is something the matter?” she asks.

“Do you really want my feedback?”

“Of course.”

Philip rises and approaches the assistant and the garment. His eyes remain fixed squarely on the shirt-dress the entire time.

“This bit doesn’t look like the sketch you showed me,” he says, indicating the shoulders. “I thought there was going to be that trim…”

Molly’s cheeks burn hot at the realization. Her own design and she missed that. She was so focused on the buttons on the front of it, which had been her primary concern…

“You’re right. Thank you,” she says. Grabbing her notebook, she jots down the omission. To the assistant, she says, “We’ll see the next one now.”

The assistant places the dress on an empty rack and exits. Molly feels like a fool for not having noticed something so significant, especially when her photographer--who has never worked in fashion before--picked up on it.

“I’m impressed,” she says. “I didn’t expect you to be paying such close attention to my sketches.”

“I’ve been using that one to test out a few concepts for the photos. I thought the trim was the kind of dramatic touch we’d need.”

“You’re right. Absolutely.” She nods insistently, as if the motion will somehow wipe away her embarrassing oversight.

She notices Philip studying her. “What?”

“You don’t strike me as the type to overlook details,” he says, “especially not something of that magnitude on your own work. Nothing you’ve said or done to me so far suggests you’re anything but a control freak of the highest order.”

“Thank you? I think.” She has learned that Philip’s compliments often sound a lot like insults--or perhaps it is the other way around.

“If I’m going to do this campaign with you, I need you in the same mental space as me. Not distracted like you are now.”

“I’m not distracted,” she protests feebly.

Philip’s throat emits a snide little laugh. “Really?”

She considers additional cover-up, but the effort seems entirely too exhausting. She has been living with these thoughts in her head for days without any relief.

“It’s personal,” she says by way of warning.

“I’m an artist,” Philip says. “Everything is personal. Try me.”


Sarah clings to Matt’s fingers as though they might be the key to saving this whole thing. His hands are rough, but comfortably, familiarly so, like they have tackled challenges far more daunting than this and emerged successful.

“I’m sorry,” she says, words spilling forth from her in a way they rarely have in the past year. “I’ve been selfish. I haven’t given you anything to work with. I’m sorry for that, and it will change. My therapy sessions are going so well…”

She hopes for some indication that he understands her, that he agrees. But his hands feel tense in hers, and when she removes her eyes from his strong chest to look up at his face, what she sees is not enthusiastic agreement.

“We’ve had this talk before,” he says. “Feels like a hundred times. Nothing has changed.”

“But it will.”

“Why? How?” Matt disentangles his fingers from hers and, adding insult to injury, slips his hands into his pockets.

“Because we want it to! Marriage is work. Look at everything we went through just to get married.”

Matt is speechless. Now Sarah sees in him someone she used to know: a man who was closed off, unwilling to let anyone past his exterior gate. She broke through years ago and thought that she would always remain on the inside, but now she finds herself outside the gate once again.

“I know what this is,” she says. “You’re protecting yourself. I get that. You got too close to Nicole, and it broke your heart. Jake got hurt, too. And I know I’ve hurt you, but I promise--it ends here.”

She waits breathlessly for him to let her back in. They can do this.

“You can’t promise that,” Matt says. “That’s the problem.”

Something new swells in her: anger. Why does he have to be so difficult? Does he want this to happen?

“Matt, I’m not signing those papers.”

“Then I don’t know what we do. I can’t keep living like this. If we can’t magically fix this--and we can’t--then the only thing way to stop doing this to ourselves is to get a divorce.”

Sarah is about to respond when she sees movement behind Matt. She should have known, but in her desperation, it didn’t even occur to her… but now it makes sense why Matt has been half-whispering.

Tori stares at them from the hallway. “You’re getting a divorce?”


“I don’t remember your parents being that horrible,” Alex says.

“Because when you met them, I was their perfect little boy,” Seth says. “Athlete, going to the school they wanted me to… a lot has changed.”

“They don’t know?”

The microwave beeps. Seth busies himself with removing his plate and testing the temperature of his food.

“They know I called off my wedding. Obviously. They know I left an awesome job that would’ve turned into an awesome career. As you might imagine, they’re not thrilled about any of that.”

“But they don’t know about us.”

“No way.”

Seth hands Alex an empty plate. Alex picks through the takeout cartons to assemble his own dinner plate and pops it into the microwave.

“So I’ll stay at my place for a few days,” Alex says once the microwave is running. “Tell them at your own pace. You’re still getting used to this.”

Seth pauses with his fork on his lower lip. “Not exactly the advice I expected from you.”

“What does that mean?”

“I thought you’d be mad at me for not having told them,” Seth says. “Or you’d force me to. I have a lot of explaining to do as it is. I’m just not ready to tell them… everything.”

Alex moves to stand beside Seth. Their arms touching, he says, “It isn’t something you can rush. It won’t be right. I’ll lie low while they’re here, you’ll handle them, and then we’ll get back to normal. No big deal.”

“Don’t do that. I want you to meet them.”

“I thought you said...”

“I want them to get to know you. As a person. So that when the time comes for me to tell them, you’re not some stranger. You’re a real person who’s important in my life.”

Alex wants to do whatever he can to help Seth through this transition, but he is not entirely clear what is being asked of him. “You want me to pretend that we’re just friends, then?”

“I don’t want you to pretend anything. It’s not like we’re all over each other in front of other people, anyway. We’ll just act like ourselves for one whole dinner. They know I came up here because my roommate from freshman year of college was up here, so… we can swing this.”

“Of course we can,” Alex says, touching a hand to Seth’s shoulder.


Molly hesitates in saying anything further to Philip. She barely knows him, and if she phrases something incorrectly, he is likely to hold it over her head for the duration of their time working together.

“It’s nothing, really,” she says. “Family-related.”

“Ah. Career woman distracted by her home life. I didn’t realize you were so fond of clichés.”

“I didn’t realize you were such a misogynist.”

Philip scoffs. “Quite the opposite. You are the one getting flustered and missing things at work… why? Your kid’s teacher says he’s too aggressive with the other kids?”

Molly entertains a brief fantasy of strangling him with the next garment that is brought out to them. She manages to resist the urge--at least physically.

“Last year, my half-brother’s adoptive father crashed a family wedding and trapped all of us in the basement of my father’s restaurant,” she spews, “and then set off a series of bombs. My husband lost the lower part of his leg. Ever since, he’s been fixated on getting revenge, even though the man who did it died in the explosion. So he took a secret trip with my sister-in-law to Brazil to investigate a man who died years and years ago, only they thought he might be alive and pulling strings. It turns out he really is dead, but they managed to get themselves thrown in jail. And he wasn’t planning on telling me about any of it.”

Philip just stares at her with widened eyes.

“And the man who blew up the restaurant?” she adds. “He came back from the dead to do it.”

Philip blinks several times, taking this all in. Finally he says, “Okay, then. Point for you.”

The assistant brings out another dress, this one longer and a bit more formal. Molly tries her hardest to focus every ounce of her attention on it.

“Wait,” Philip says. “Your husband went to Brazil to investigate a different man who might have been back from the dead?”

Molly circles the garment, taking in its details and making a note about the unflattering stitching on the back of the waist. “Yes. But he’s actually dead. Which only raises more questions, to be honest.”

“You have got to be making this up.”

“I wish I was.” Molly jots down a few more thoughts on the dress and motions for the assistant to bring out the next piece. “Nothing to say about that one, hmm?”

“I think I’m in shock from your story,” Philip says.

“So are we all.” As the assistant brings out the next garment, Molly tells Philip, “Now focus. I can’t have you being too distracted to criticize my work.”


Matt turns toward Tori. “Your mom and me--we love you very much.”

Sarah takes a wide step to place herself right beside Matt. “Yes, we do. And we don’t want you to worry. What you overheard--it’s just us talking, not--”

“It’s us talking about something that could happen,” Matt interrupts. “But nothing else changes. Especially not the way we feel about you.”

“I know,” Tori says, folding her arms across her chest. “I’m not retarded.”

“What did I tell you about using that word?” In truth, Sarah is grateful for the transgression and for the opportunity to reprimand her daughter as she would on any other day. For a moment, things almost seem normal.

Just for a moment, though. Matt presses on: “You are the most important thing to both of us.”

Sarah cannot believe how insistent he is being about this. Telling their thirteen-year-old daughter that they very well could be divorcing is like… well, like having her served with divorce papers.

“I can’t believe you’re doing this,” Sarah says under her breath.

Matt flashes her a look that seems to say, Neither can I. But it doesn’t stop him.

“Your mom and I have been having a tough time since we lost the baby,” Matt says to Tori. “It isn’t anyone’s fault.”

Tori glances back and forth between the two of them, trying to process this development. Sarah can only imagine what she is feeling. Things have been messy in their household for so long; the upheaval that they have put her through is unforgivable. Sarah wants to hold her daughter tightly and promise her that everything will go back to normal very soon, that their family will be just fine. But she can’t do that, not without Matt onboard. So she braces for Tori’s tears and tries to find something more suitable to say.

“Whatever,” Tori says instead. She turns and disappears into her room.

“Tori, wait!” Sarah moves after her, but Matt holds her back.

“Let her,” he says. “Give her a few minutes alone. She needs to get used to it.”

Sarah looks again at the divorce papers, sitting on the kitchen table. Minutes ago, she felt defiant and strong by slapping them down there. She was going to deal with this. Now they sit there with a heaviness, an inevitability, that breaks her heart.

“So do I,” she says, backing away from him as she loses the battle with her own tears.


Is this the end for Sarah and Matt?
Can Molly and Philip really work together?
Will Alex be able to hand Seth’s parents?
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