Episode #523

- Claire had high hopes for her relationship with Tim after they slept together. She told Brent that she no longer wanted to pursue the Clayton investigation because she hoped to put the past behind them.
- Tim told Claire that he thought it would be a bad idea to renew their relationship.
- Travis discovered a letter in Danielle’s room that implied that she was Elly’s biological mother, but he did not tell anyone.
- Alex accidentally revealed to Courtney that Jason got drunk with Sabrina, not Tim.


“I thought you were having drinks with Tim. You were drinking with Sabrina?”

Courtney Chase’s realization vacuums all air out of the space where she, Jason, Alex, and Paula have been conversing. Alex’s face goes blank as it dawns on him that Courtney was not aware of that detail; Jason’s goes even blanker as he finds himself caught in a lie that he never wanted to tell.

Paula, holding baby Sophie, stands from her seat on the sofa. “I’m going to see if the baby needs to be changed,” she says. No one questions the flimsy excuse for an exit.

“Tim cancelled at the last minute,” Jason says. “Sabrina and I were working on the holiday schedule, and she suggested we finish it over drinks. To get out of the office.”

Courtney takes in his explanation but does not offer any hint of a response. Strong emotions flare within her, but they are too wild for her even to identify them.

“You have to trust me,” Jason says, shifting into pleading without hesitation. “Me and Sabrina? Me and anyone besides you? I would never even…” His words get tangled up and trip him mid-thought. “You have to believe me. It was strictly work.”

The thing is, she does trust him. She doesn’t believe that Jason would be sneaking around with someone else. But the information still does not sit right.

“They really were only working,” Alex chimes in.

“How’d you get so drunk, then?” Courtney asks. “That wasn’t two-drinks-after-work tipsy. You were loopy.”

“I guess the drinks were really strong. I don’t know. I had three, but…” He trails off again. “I didn’t tell you only because I didn’t want it to sound like more than it was. You’ve gotta trust me.”

Courtney decides to let go of what she has been holding inside. “I do. But I don’t trust Sabrina.”

“I was just as much to blame as she was.”

“No. For all the offhand comments to me, about the baby and our relationship. The trying to provoke me. When I went into labor--”

“I’m sure that was a misunderstanding,” Jason counters, though he sounds less than fully committed to defending Sabrina right now.

“I don’t trust her,” Courtney repeats, not even bothering to debate the point. “And you shouldn’t, either.”

Jason must be too grateful to have avoided an argument to challenge her. Courtney only hopes that he will take the warning to heart.


Over the hors d’oeuvres, Brent Taylor comes up beside Sarah Gray. “I hate to do this on a holiday,” he says, “but there’s something I want to run by you.”

Sarah turns. “A case?”


“Go for it. Please.” There is no mistaking the glimmer in her eye; Brent reasons that she is grateful for the distraction.

He motions for her to join him in the kitchen, which is empty save for Travis pouring a cup of soda. They make small talk with the teenager until he exits.

“I’ve been working on something,” Brent tells Sarah, “that’s not strictly an official case. And I have hit a gigantic brick wall.”

Sarah cocks her head attentively. “What’s the case?”

He glances toward the dining room, to be certain that they are alone. “I’m trying to find out who was helping Nick between the time we thought he died and when he actually died. Someone got him out of the hospital, hired those guards, helped him set up the entire thing--the same person who kept Tim stashed in that clinic.”

The mention of that traumatic incident, the one that caused the loss of Brent’s leg and brought about the end of Sarah’s pregnancy, causes her to bristle. Brent questions whether it was wise to drag her into this, in light of all that she has suffered as a result.

“Of course,” she says slowly, her head rising up and down in agreement. “How do you know it’s the same person?”

“It is. Someone calling himself ‘Mr. Clayton.’ It’s an alias. There’s some real estate in the name, including the compound that Claire’s father used to have in Brazil.”

“It goes back that far… wow. So that’s why you and Claire--”

“Were in Brazil. Yeah.” Which brings Brent back to the subject of Claire, who until twenty minutes ago was his ally in this mission. “And now Claire has decided that this investigation isn’t wise, that we should try to move on instead of dwelling on the past.”

“Sounds awfully nice.” Sarah raises a skeptical eyebrow. “So what’s the roadblock? It seems as if you’ve learned a lot.”

“We have--I have. I even managed to grab a photo of a man I’m almost sure is our Mr. Clayton, from a security camera in Chicago. It’s just that it isn’t much use if we can’t find anyone who recognizes him.” He contemplates showing Sarah the picture, though he knows that there is no point.

He can see her gears shifting into motion, and he recognizes the spark that first drew him to her when she was a rookie cop. It is the same spark that has helped her grow into an effective PI.

“Come at it from a different angle,” she suggests. “Trace Nick’s business. If you work backward, it’s going to lead you--”

“To Clayton.” Brent feels stupid for not having thought of this approach earlier. “Of course. There had to be money, or at least communication, going in that direction.”

Claire appears in the doorway. “Brent? Can I have a word with you?”

He tries to measure his knee-jerk reaction, annoyed though he is by Claire’s defection from their mission. “Sure. Sarah and I were just discussing this Clayton situation…”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about,” Claire says, settling in with them and taking the cue to keep her voice low. “I think I was too rash, what I said earlier… We do need to find Clayton.”


“Who are you texting? Anyone I might know?”

The voice surprises Travis Fisher, yanking him away from his sharp focus on his elegant new Samsung Instinct phone. He finds Danielle Taylor standing a few feet away from the stairs of his grandparents’ house, where he is currently sitting, huddled over the phone.

“Maybe,” he says as a rush of blood fills his cheeks. There isn’t even anything to be embarrassed about, but his body defaults to that reaction.

“Everything should work out for Elly to come visit for New Year’s,” Danielle says. “I think she’s very excited to see you again.”

He doesn’t know how to respond to that. Good? Sounds kind of smug.

“Me too,” he says lamely as that heat rises back to his cheeks. Scrambling for something to say, he asks, “Have you and Elly always been so close?”

As soon as the question is out, he worries that it is too much. Knowing what he knows--or thinks he knows, or whatever--about Danielle’s true relationship to Elly…

“We’ve been close. We’ve certainly become closer in the last year or so, since she surprised me by showing up here.”

“Seems like things are better with her parents now.”

“They are, yes.” Danielle folds her arms over her chest. “I’m really glad. Elly’s parents have always been terrific to her.”

“It doesn’t sound like it was so terrific to lie about her being adopted,” he says without even thinking.

Danielle’s reaction is very measured and rational, so much so that it strikes Travis as having been rehearsed. “They made a choice that they felt was in Elly’s best interests. She might not agree with that choice, but even she can’t argue that they were only looking out for her well-being.”

Travis shrugs. It still seems pretty crappy not to have ever told her she was adopted, like that’s some huge secret. Of course, having her real mother be her godmother makes the whole thing pretty weird, so what does he know?

“She wants to find them,” Travis says.

He is about to explain what he means when Danielle takes over: “Her birth parents? I know.” A heavy sigh escapes her lips. “Maybe one day, she will. But I wish she’d focus on the good things in her life right now, not on chasing something that has so little to do with the person she’s becoming.”

Travis isn’t sure if he agrees, but he nods along anyway.


Not wanting to intrude upon what is clearly a complicated matter between Brent and Claire, Sarah slips away. She finds Tim half-heartedly watching the TV and joins him.

“Happy Thanksgiving?” she says, noting the dull look on his face.

“I suppose. It’s… complicated. How are you holding up?”

“I’m holding up. So that’s something.” She didn’t expect to find her older brother so out of sorts; his life has seemed to find some sense of stability over the past year. “What’s got you so out of it?”

“Like I said, complicated.” He appears prepared to leave it at that, then changes his mind. “Just when I think things have settled down between Claire and me, it gets all stirred up again. I wonder if that ever stops when you’re divorced.”

“Probably not, with our luck.”

“You and Brent seem to get along pretty well these days,” Tim observes.

“After how many years? And that was so different from you and Claire. You two have a kid together, and you were so in love. The only reason it didn’t last is because of completely insane circumstances. Very different from Brent and me.”

Tim quietly processes that.

“It’s good to know I have such fun to look forward to,” Sarah says. “With Matt and me.”

“It’s really happening?”

“The divorce should be finalized after New Year’s. I…” She doesn’t even know what she is starting to say. The idea of being divorced from Matt is still too tremendous, too awful, for her to accept as reality.

“Sorry to paint such a terrible picture of life after divorce,” Tim says.

“I should thank you for the heads-up, probably.”

“It is possible to get past it and move on. I don’t know how, but one day, you wake up, and you go about your day, and hours later, a thought hits you, and it’s like… you forgot. You forgot to think about it or feel awful.”

“You let go.”

“Yeah. Which I suppose you can only do when you’re not thinking about letting go all the time, so it takes a while.”

Sarah rests her chin in her hand. “So that’s it? You realized that you let go of Claire, and you felt free from the whole thing, and that was that?”

Looking past her, Tim can see half of Claire in profile, in the kitchen, in conference with Brent. Memories of the other night rush back to him.

“There are lapses,” he says. “But you have to stay focused on moving forward with your life. Otherwise… God only knows how long you’ll keep putting yourself through that pain, over and over.”

“But if there are lapses,” Sarah says, “does that mean that you haven’t really let go or moved on? Maybe we’re not meant to do those things.”

“That’s a pretty bleak outlook.”

“I’m just saying. Just because the marriage doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean that your emotions change. Divorce is a logical decision--‘We can’t live this way, so we have to change something’--but it isn’t always what you want, emotionally. And you can’t change your emotions.”

They both fall quiet as they contemplate that thought. Finally Tim slides an arm around his sister’s shoulders.

“We’re pretty pathetic, huh?” he asks.

“Don’t even try to fight it,” Sarah says with a wry smile, resting her head on her big brother.


Back in the kitchen, Brent is trying to make sense of this latest shift from Claire.

“What changed?” he asks, not even bothering to hide his skepticism. “Why do you want to find Clayton now, when twenty minutes ago it was the worst idea in the world?”

She seems embarrassed by the mention of her earlier turnaround. “I overreacted. I got nervous, and I thought…” She spies Tim out in the living room, talking with Sarah. “I thought wrong.”

He does not know whether to be glad that she has reversed her decision or annoyed that she has flip-flopped so much on the subject today.

“This is something I need to do,” he explains, not even sure where he is going with this. “For me, there is no moving on--not even a chance of it--until I feel like I’ve done all I can to put this behind me. Behind all of us.”

“That’s what changed,” she says, her tone surprisingly firm. “I realized that’s true. I thought I could go back, pretend like none of this had happened, but… we can’t do that. Our lives have been changed too much.”


The air between them is thick with questions, with plans to be made and action to be taken. Brent draws a deep breath.

“I need you with me,” he says. “If you’re in, you are in. No turning back. Otherwise, I’m doing this alone.”

Claire stares him straight in the eyes. “I’m in. Let’s do this.”


Should Brent trust Claire to be a part of this mission?
Will Travis keep Danielle’s secret from Elly?
Will Jason heed Courtney’s warning about Sabrina?
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