Episode #518

- Brent told Molly that he would take a trip to Chicago to investigate the mysterious Mr. Clayton.
- Travis’s attitude toward Claire improved in the wake of her helping him with Elly.
- After a run-in on the pier, Sarah learned that Graham had purchased the space where Bill’s restaurant once stood. She took him up on his offer to talk about her problems.
- Ryan handed in a draft of his book to Vision Publishing.


The news comes so casually--a throwaway comment in an overheard conversation--that it hardly seems noteworthy at all. Yet, as soon as it hits Tim Fisher’s ears, it propels him down the hallway. He turns into Diane Bishop’s office, determined.

“I want to see it.”

She looks up slowly, methodically, from her work. “See what?”

“The book.” He scans her desk for a copy of Ryan’s manuscript. “I heard that he turned in his draft.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she says with that infuriatingly coy smile she uses to tell you that she’s lying to your face and there is nothing you can do about it.

“Diane. Come on. It’s about my family. It’s partly about me. And Samantha…”

“I’ve got it covered.”

“What does that even mean?” Because of their past relationship, Tim sometimes forgets how very… Diane she can be. She is, first and foremost, a manipulator. And right now, there is no reasoning with her.

He decides to try a different approach. “Have you read it yet?”

Lips pursed, she nods.

“How is it? Does he say anything--” Tim cuts himself off, not sure where to go with that question. Truth be told, he isn’t entirely sure what worries him so much about this book. It isn’t as if their family has an enormous amount of dirty secrets to be revealed, at least ones that they haven’t dealt with sufficiently by now. Still, it feels like a violation to have their private business made public this way, especially considering that Ryan is the one who caused so many of the terrible things they experienced.

“It needs work,” Diane says, jumping in before he can clarify his thoughts. “Which is where you come in.”

Everything about her--her tone, the look in her eyes, all of it--puts him at high alert. He is wary of whatever she is going to say before she even says it. “What does that mean?” he asks.

“I have a mission for you.”


Cardboard boxes and bare furniture populate each room of the house, and yet it still seems very empty. Graham Colville is a neat man, one who has moved from place to place with a minimum of possessions. As Sarah Gray unpacks one of the boxes in the kitchen, she notes only the broadest selection of items: coffee machine, toaster, single set of dishes. No pots, no pans, no other cooking accoutrements.

“We’re going to have to get you some stuff,” she calls out to Graham, who is busy unpacking in the living room.

A moment later, he appears in the doorway, clad in a navy sweater and khaki pants. “What kind of ‘stuff’ do you think I need?”

She surveys the kitchen, still so bare even though she has almost finished unpacking. “Things to put on the counters. Things to fill the cabinets.”

“What would be the point?”

Sarah finds the answer surprisingly difficult to articulate. “It’s what makes a house a home.”

Graham offers a noncommittal shrug and returns to his work in the living room. She has found, in the preceding weeks, that this is something he does: when he tires of a topic or does not deem it worthy of further discussion, he ceases to respond. No changing of the subject, no attempt to bring it to conclusion. He simply stops talking.

This realization takes Sarah by surprise--that she has spent enough time with him of late that she is beginning to recognize his quirks and distinct traits. She helped him pick out the furniture for the house and has now been helping him unpack. There is no need for her to do any of it, but the truth is that Sarah appreciates the distractions. In-between working on her currently slim set of cases, she has been grateful to be busy, even if it is with arranging a household that has nothing to do with her.

She unpacks the meager selection of silverware. Graham returns to the room with an empty cardboard box, which he is in the process of breaking down, and adds it to the stack of empty, flattened boxes by the far wall.

“I can’t thank you enough for your help,” he says. “Your presence alone has been so helpful. If not for having someone else around, I’d have taken weeks to unpack.”

“Believe me, I’m happy to do it,” she says, and before he can thank her any further, she adds, “I should thank you for giving me something to keep me occupied.”

They have not spoken much about Sarah’s ongoing divorce or the uncertainty in her life, but it is clear that Graham understands exactly why she is thanking him for the distraction.

“Last night was awful,” she says suddenly. She did not intend to discuss Tori’s stay with at her apartment, but the thought tumbles out, and she finds that she is desperate to vocalize her thoughts--to banish them from within her, if such a thing is even possible.

“Did Tori give you trouble?”

“No. That’s the thing. She didn’t scream or yell or act like a brat.” Those are all things Sarah feared would happen in the wake of the divorce announcement, especially after seeing what Claire has been through with Travis in the past year. She has been terrified that Tori might blame her for their family falling apart and lash out. Maybe Tori does blame her, but if that is the case, she is keeping it to herself.

“She just seemed so distant. Like there was nothing between us,” Sarah continues. “Then again, I guess that’s all she’s seen me do for a long time now…”

Graham’s response comes with much less confidence than his statements usually do: “I’m sure she’s only still adjusting to the changes.”

Sarah would like to believe that, but all she can muster is a glum shrug.

“Of course, I’m hardly in the position to offer parenting advice,” Graham says.

In all their time together, they have spoken very little of his past. Sarah is curious, but he has a way of restricting conversation to topics with which he is comfortable. This seems like an opportune opening.

“Do you have children?” she asks.

“Being a parent is not something I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing,” he says with a shake of the head. “I wish I had a piece of magical advice to offer, but I don’t.”

Sarah wishes the same. She returns to unpacking, hoping that it will at least dilute the memories of her cool night in the same apartment as her daughter--and her fears of a future full of similar nights.


“And she actually likes awesome music. Last night, we were IMing and realized we were both listening to the Cobra Starship album.”

“Go figure,” Landon Esco says drolly as he and Travis Fisher wander the outdoor campus of their school. He has been listening to Travis’s excruciatingly detailed descriptions of his every interaction with Elly Vanderbilt for the entirety of their lunch period, from their lockers to the cafeteria and now outside.

Finally, Travis seems to notice Landon’s lack of enthusiasm. “I was just saying. Why do you have to be such a downer?”

“Dude. I’m not being a downer. You just never shut up about this chick.”

“Sorry. Jeez.” They walk in silence for a few steps. “I’m just really happy, you know?”

“Oh, I noticed. And I’m glad. You’re a lot less… depressing than you were, like, all of last year.”

They pass some of Travis’s soccer teammates, and while Travis chats with them about this afternoon’s upcoming practice, Landon pulls out his cell phone and checks it. Not that there is any point, since he didn’t feel it vibrate, but it’s what he does when he is left standing around.

The soccer guys take off, and Travis turns his attention back to Landon. “Look, I’m sorry,” he says. “I’ll shut up about Elly.”

“Good,” Landon says with a goofy grin. “It’s funny, though.”

“What? That I’m this into her?”

“Well, yeah. But I mean, how much your mood has changed. All it took was one kiss and a bunch of IMing and texting?”

“That’s not all it is. She’s gonna come visit at Christmas again. And maybe I’ll get to go down there sometime.”

“Yeah, but I thought you were, like, mad at the world,” Landon says, not sure about broaching the delicate subject but feeling the need to address it somehow. “You were so mad at your mom and everything, and now it’s like… it’s all fine.”

“It’s not fine. I dunno, my mom was just really cool about this thing. I’ve been really hard on her.”

Landon decides to bite his tongue. As glad as he is to see Travis so happy, this Elly thing seems like a big Band-Aid on a lot of bigger problems. But if it helps Travis be less pissed about his life, then maybe that’s good enough.

They turn a corner around a brick wall and come upon Travis’s sister sitting on the ledge, a book in her lap and her lunch by her side.

“What’s up?” Travis asks. “Why are you eating out here?”

Samantha smiles awkwardly at them. “I thought I’d get ahead on my reading for English class. And it’s so noisy in the cafeteria…”

“Oh.” Travis seats himself beside her. “Want some company?”

She shrugs. “It’s fine. I have a lot of reading to do.”

Landon can tell that Travis doesn’t quite believe her, but neither of them says anything. No high school freshman is more enthusiastic about getting ahead on classwork than having a half-hour to check out during lunch.

“How are you liking school so far?” Landon asks.

Another shrug. “Fine, I guess.”

A moment of awkward quiet passes among the three of them.

“Let me know if you need anything, okay?” Travis says, standing.

“I will.”

“See you after school, kiddo.”

With a forced smile, Samantha returns to her reading, and Travis and Landon continue moving through the school grounds.

“I feel bad for her,” Travis says abruptly.

Landon stuffs his hands in his pockets. “I wasn’t gonna say anything…”

“She has a tough time making friends. I think high school’s weird for her so far.”

“At least she has you here if she needs you.”

“Yeah…” But Travis’s train of thought is cut off by something a few feet away, and when Landon looks in that direction, he understands immediately: Amelia Lau.

They have been avoiding her since school started. Since Travis had his breakthrough with Elly, he has been dodging Amelia’s attempts to make plans with him. They even left a post-football-game party last Friday to steer clear of her.

“Wanna turn around?” Landon asks, already prepared to flee.

Travis stops where they are. “No.”


“I’ve gotta do this eventually,” he says. “Meet me back at my locker, okay?”

Landon watches as Travis approaches Amelia, wishing the best for his buddy but not really wanting to see the scene that could take place as he lets Amelia down.


“So you met with Mr. Clayton last month?”

Brent Taylor folds his hands on the desk in front of him, trying to exude as much calm as he possibly can. The woman across from him appears to be an odd combination of intimidated and annoyed. She was resistant to answering any of his questions at all until he showed her his badge and explained the backstory of the mysterious “Mr. Clayton,” but even after she cowered and began offering information, it is only in the most clipped, unhelpful manner possible.

“Yes. That’s correct,” Ms. Shackleford says, pushing her glasses up her nose.

“And what was that regarding?”

“A property he hoped to purchase here in Chicago.” She hesitates, as if fearful that she has disclosed too much. “This is all a matter of public record, anyway.”

“Do you have the address of the property?” Brent is fairly certain that his digging thus far has provided him with a full list of all the properties Clayton Holdings owns; that is how he came to this realty office in the first place. But if he has to waste a few minutes softening this woman up by having her regurgitate things he already knows, then so be it.

Ms. Shackleford consults her computer and, within a matter of moments, rattles off the address. It matches the one he has.

“And what can you tell me about Mr. Clayton?” he asks.

“What do you mean?”

“What does he look like? How old is he? Anything that you recognized would be helpful.”

His investigation into Clayton has produced precious little, other than a Social Security number that Brent is certain is a fraud. The man has absolutely no presence in the world other than signing for real estate purchases and sales for his own holding company.

“Well,” Ms. Shackleford begins, “he has brown hair. White--Caucasian. In his fifties, I would say. I don’t know. Probably his fifties. I didn’t notice his height…”

Brent jots down the scant details. He looks up and is about to prod her for more when something catches his eye.

“Do you keep the tapes?” he asks, standing as if drawn to the security camera in the upper corner of the office.

Ms. Shackleford turns to see what he is talking about. “Yes, I believe so. For a few months.”

Relief and anxiety simultaneously wash over Brent. “I’m going to need to review those tapes.”


“A mission,” Tim repeats, attempting to gauge what Diane is up to. “Of what sort?”

Diane rises from her seat. “As I said: it needs work. Ryan did a good job of laying out the bones of the story, but he’s no writer.”

“You want me to edit it?” That is far more than he expected from her. Being able to read it would be one thing; having the chance to rework and shape Ryan’s work is fairly ideal. If there is anything in there with which he is not comfortable--

“Don’t get ahead of yourself. I want you to find someone to work on it with him.”

“A co-writer?”

“Precisely. Someone who can help him shape this thing a little bit, give it some focus.”

Okay, not quite editing himself, but still a chance to dig into Ryan’s writing and perhaps pull some strings with the content.

“Does that mean I get to read it?” he asks. “If I’m hiring someone to co-write this thing--”

“You’ll get to read it, okay? Bring me a short list of potential co-writers first.”

Tim nods in agreement. He is anxious to see what Ryan has written, how he has presented their family and the entire situation. Finding a few qualified co-writers should be simple enough.

“This doesn’t mean I like the idea of this book,” he says. “In fact, I’m doing this because I hate it so much.”

“Fine by me. As long as we publish it and it sells.”

Her cool, unconcerned attitude about something so personal and volatile makes him crazy. She was trapped in the restaurant basement, too--she and their daughter almost died as a result of Ryan’s lies and Nick’s revenge plot. For her to be so flippant about it is inconceivable to Tim, but it reminds him of why a relationship between them never would have worked in the long-term.

“Now get moving,” Diane says. “The sooner I have a list in my hand, the sooner the manuscript turns up in your e-mail.”

Tim makes his way out of the office, not wanting to waste another moment in getting started.


After Sarah finishes unpacking in the kitchen, she decides to carry the stack of flattened boxes out to the curb and place them with the rest of the recycling. On her way out, she makes a sweep of the house, looking to collect any additional empty boxes.

In the guest bedroom that has been selected to serve as Graham’s home office, she spots an empty box. When she approaches, however, she sees that there is a folder inside it.

She removes the folder and moves to place it on the yet-to-be-organized desk--but, in her efforts to balance the flattened boxes under her arm, misses the desk and sends the folder sailing to the floor.

Its contents spill out. It is a curious collection of odds and ends: newspaper clippings, old photographs…

Among them, several photos of an infant. And, in a few of them, a man who is unmistakably a younger version of Graham.

The off-white blanket wrapped around the baby does not offer any clue as to its gender. The photos’ ink and paper are aged, certainly not recent. Graham’s earlier statement comes back to her: “Being a parent is not something I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing.”

The sound of footsteps jolt her into motion. Quickly she scrambles to put the folder’s contents back inside and set it on the desk.

“Is everything all right?” Graham asks as he enters the room.

“Yeah. I, um--I was just going to break down this box and take it outside with the others.” She starts to deconstruct the box. As casually as she can, she asks, “You said you’d been married once, didn’t you?”

He nods. “Yes.”

“You and your wife never wanted children?”

“The timing was all wrong for us. Starting a family isn’t something to be entered into lightly--as I’m sure you know.”

“That I do.”

She finishes breaking down the box. She wants to ask him directly about the photos, but it seems so nosy. It could be a relative’s baby, or a friend’s.

“I’m going to take these out,” she says.

“Thank you.”

She maneuvers out of the room with the pile of boxes, but something about the situation--the photos of Graham with that baby, and his way of discussing the matter of children and family--sets off the investigator in her. Even as she tells herself to forget it, she wonders what kinds of things Graham would prefer not to discuss, and why.


Will Brent be able to find an image of Mr. Clayton?
Is Graham hiding something from Sarah?
Will Tim be able to exert any control over Ryan’s book?
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