Episode #529

- Travis was uncomfortable knowing that Danielle is likely Elly’s biological mother.
- Molly made it clear to Brent that she does not think his crusade to solve the mystery of Mr. Clayton is worth putting his well being or their family in danger; Brent understood but felt otherwise.
- Sarah brought Graham to her family’s Christmas celebration, intent on getting Matt’s attention. When an irritated Matt simply left early, Sarah took Graham home and slept with him.


Downtown King’s Bay buzzes with activity, as people rush around in anticipation of the night’s New Year’s Eve festivities. In the office building called Winston Tower, however, things are almost completely dead; the resident companies have largely taken the day off or sent everyone home by now. In one office on the eighteenth floor, though, two people hover over a conference table littered with photographs, like they might on any other workday.

“I like this one the best,” Molly Taylor says, lingering over a photo of a tweed coat with oversized buttons, “but if we use it, then--”

“It contradicts this one.” Philip Ragan points at one of the four photos tacked up on a board at the head of the room.

“Yeah. They’re too similar.” Molly folds her arms and evaluates the situation, the same situation that she has been evaluating, in one capacity or another, for several hours.

Philip moves to take the problematic photo off the board. “Why don’t we get rid of this one, use the one of the coat, and then--”

“It’s the only set of pants up there. I want pants somewhere in the set of photos we use.”

Molly stares blankly at the board for a few more seconds, trying to make sense of it and hoping for an answer via divine intervention. Philip is slow to remove his hand from the board, as if not trusting that she won’t reverse her decision any moment now.

“I don’t know what to do,” Molly finally says.

Philip glances at his watch. “We could call it a day and reconvene on Friday. The photos aren’t going anywhere.”

She is about to insist that they stay and figure this out, even though she is sick and tired of dealing with it, but something else occurs to her. “You probably have plans, don’t you? I’m sorry…”

“I do,” he admits with a grin. A person with a softer touch might make it a sheepish, apologetic expression; Philip’s is more of a critical sneer. “You must have something going on tonight, too.”

“A night in with the twins and Brent. Highly exciting.”

“That sounds like the kind of thing you enjoy. Very domestic and all.”

“It is.” That much is the truth. Normally, spending time at home with her family is all Molly needs. But since Brent’s return from New Jersey and the tense arguments of Christmas day, something feels different. Being around him makes her nervous--and angry--and being at the house when he isn’t there makes her feel guilty, so she has done her best to avoid the situation altogether.

“So this ‘emergency’ session to prepare for our meeting with Willis Advertising,” Philip says, “is some kind of attempt to avoid real life by burying yourself in your work?”

It sounds awful, and she does not want to admit it, but she cannot lie about it, either.

“Well, that’s bleak,” he says, taking her silence as confirmation. “Makes my whole party-at-a-downtown-loft-with-a-bunch-of-artists-and-overpriced-wine itinerary seem a lot less vacant, as my mother is so fond of calling it.”

Molly continues to look at the photographs, though she is no longer contemplating their place on the board that will be presented to Willis. In truth, she is not even seeing their content anymore.

“You can leave,” she says. She pours herself into one of the conference chairs. “Enjoy your New Year’s Eve.”

Philip begins to gather his things, but he pauses and turns back to Molly.

“Are you… all right?” he asks. She almost laughs at how uncomfortable he sounds expressing concern.

“I’m fine.” It is a horrible lie, delivered amateurishly and without conviction.

“Clearly.” He leans against the conference table and stares her down. She realizes that is as much of an invitation to spill as he is going to offer, and she considers whether this is even something she wants to get into with him.


In the brand-new coffee shop inside the Edge of Winter Arena, holiday decorations linger, waiting to be taken down and packed up until next year. Sarah Gray waits at the back of the long line of customers and admires the shop, a product of her younger brother’s hard work.

Her purse vibrates, taking her by surprise. She pulls out her cell phone and, though she considers letting the call go to voicemail, steps out of line to answer it.

“Hi,” she says.

“Sarah. Hi.” Graham Colville’s voice comes across the phone line sounding strong and assured. “How are you?”

“I’m good. Just running around and doing some last-minute errands.” She watches as a new customer enters the shop and takes her place in line. “How about you?”

“I’m doing well. I’m calling to ask about your plans for tonight. You had mentioned not being sure about what you’d be doing--”

“Turns out I have Tori tonight,” she says. “She’s having a few friends over, and Diane is going to bring her daughter, too.”

“Oh. I was going to suggest that we do something, but obviously your daughter takes priority.”

“Yeah. Sorry.” She does feel bad having to turn Graham down, but in a way, she is grateful to have a legitimate excuse. The week since Christmas night has been strange; since they slept together, Graham has been very attentive, wanting to make plans all the time. For her part, Sarah is not sure where they stand or where she wants to stand with him. Having another obligation for New Year’s Eve helps the situation, or at least delays having to deal with it.

“Perhaps tomorrow?” he suggests. “We could have brunch. Or dinner. I’d love to see you, if you have some free time.”

“I’ll have to let you know,” she says, even though she knows that Tori is going back to Matt by lunchtime tomorrow. “Hey, I’m at the coffee shop, and I should get off my phone before I order. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

They say quick goodbyes and end the call. Sarah gets back in line and tries to put the entire Graham situation out of her head, to no avail.


On the back deck of his grandparents’ house, Travis Fisher sits on a bench with Elly Vanderbilt. They both wear heavy winter coats and gloves, but the cold barely registers for Travis, since he is so wrapped up in being with Elly.

“This party’s gonna be awesome,” he says. “It’s a good thing Landon’s parents never pay any attention to anything he does.”

“Yeah, that sounds… great,” Elly deadpans.

Travis shrugs. “Gives us a cool place to have a New Year’s party.”

Elly seems less convinced of how awesome this is, so he decides to change the subject. He slides his arm around her shoulders, and she huddles closer to him without hesitation.

“I can’t believe it’s already been a year since we started talking,” Elly says.

“Because we’ve only seen each other, like, ten of those days.”

“Yeah. I guess that’s a good point.” She nuzzles her head against his shoulder, and the contact sends a rush through Travis’s body.

“A lot’s happened in a year,” he says, too distracted by being this close to her to come up with a more insightful comment.

Elly remains silent for a long moment, and Travis wonders if he did something to offend her.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year and I don’t know anything,” she says. “About my parents, I mean.”

Travis knew this was bound to come up sooner or later. He was just hoping for way later.

“Why do you want to know?” he asks. “It sounds like the parents you’ve got are pretty good.”

“They are. But to think that I came from two totally different people--it would just be nice to know who I really am.”

“You’re you. Finding your birth parents or whatever isn’t gonna change that.”

“I hope not. But there might be something I need to know, or…” She trails off, staring at the ground. “I just need to know. Who they are, where they’re from, why they gave me up, all that stuff.”

He can’t argue with her logic, even if he wants to. But this whole situation with Danielle is too weird. Maybe he misunderstood the letter that he saw--maybe Elly isn’t Danielle’s daughter after all.

“I just wish I had some way of finding out,” Elly says. “But until I’m eighteen, there’s not that much I can do, especially if my parents don’t want to help.”

“Maybe you should ask Danielle,” Travis blurts out.

She turns to him, her face full of consideration. “You think? She hasn’t been that thrilled about it when I’ve brought it up--she just kind of says it’s my parents’ choice and for the best and all that.”

“She’s your mom’s, like, best friend, right? Maybe she knows something… maybe if you ask the right way, she’ll decide there’s something you should know.”

He doesn’t even know what compels him to say it. He would rather have nothing to do with this mess, and he doesn’t even know if what he thinks he knows is true, but seeing Elly this desperate… he only wants to help her out.

“I’ll talk to her,” Elly says. “Good idea.”

“I’m full of ‘em,” Travis says. “And right now, I think we’d better get ready for Landon’s party.” To his relief, Elly nods and follows him into the house. He hopes that they can have fun tonight and forget about whatever he might or might not be keeping from her.


“It isn’t that I think he’s wrong for wanting answers,” Molly says, “but not at this cost.”

Philip cocks his head. “Potential cost.”

“She was shot.” The reaction to Claire’s shooting, minor though it turned out to be, continues to stun her. Claire and Brent and now even Philip, who has no investment in the situation, act like it is no big deal.

“She wasn’t hurt,” he counters. He has listened attentively for several minutes as Molly detailed the latest turns in Brent’s quest to find the mysterious Mr. Clayton, but this is the first time that he has offered anything in the way of an opinion.

“She could have been hurt. It could happen again. I don’t want to see Claire hurt, and I most certainly don’t want to risk losing Brent--”

“I can’t argue with that.” Philip shrugs and fiddles with the photos on the board. “But you do understand his perspective.”

“Of course I do.” She hates that everyone sees her as a shrew who wants to keep her husband from pursuing something important to him. “I wish he could have his answers without risking so much, that’s all. We’re lucky to have what we do have…”

“What if it isn’t possible for him to enjoy whatever it is you do have without finding those answers?”

How dare he? Philip knows nothing about their marriage, or “whatever it is” they do have. He has no right to speak about the quality of their lives together.

He seems to notice her ire. “I’m merely offering a possibility,” he says. “You are the one who told me all about her personal problems in laborious detail, which implies a desire for advice, so I was only--”

“Laborious detail? You know what? Go home and get ready for your pretentious artists’ party, or whatever you’ll be doing tonight.”

Philip grabs his coat. “Since I realize you’re only taking out your domestic frustrations on me, I’m going to ignore that little outburst and leave.”

He slips on the coat and picks up the rest of his things. Molly watches, fuming. Apologizing crosses her mind, but that seems too much like admitting that he is right about her taking out her frustrations on him, so she clams up.

Philip moves to the door but turns back. “Don’t sit here stewing for too long. If you value your husband and kids so much, you should probably spend some time with them.  Oh, and Happy New Year.”

“Happy New Year,” Molly calls after him as she slumps back into a chair.


After Sarah finally picks up her order from the counter, she starts for the exit. She makes it halfway there before the door opens and a new customer enters: Brent Taylor.

He spots her immediately and waves an awkward hello. They come together in the middle of the small shop.

“Hey,” Sarah says. “How are you?”

“I’m okay. Are you, uh--do you have big plans tonight?”

She shakes her head. “Tori is having some friends over, so Diane is going to bring Samantha, and we’ll all hang out together. Or, more likely, the girls will hang out in Tori’s room and ignore us.”

“We’ll see if the twins even make it to midnight,” Brent says.

“So you guys are staying in tonight?” She noticed--more than noticed--the animosity between Brent and Molly on Christmas day, though she is not sure how serious it was.

Brent’s sour expression suggests that it was more than a one-time spat. “I guess so. We haven’t really… things have been a little nuts. Not much opportunity to make big plans.” His eyes sink to the floor but suddenly shift upward again. “You aren’t seeing Graham tonight, then?”

“No.” The question catches her by surprise. “Why would you think I was?”

“You were kind of all over him on Christmas. It seemed like it was pretty serious between you two.”

She waves off the observation, but Brent appears unconvinced.

“What was that all about, then?” he asks. “Getting Matt’s attention?”

Sarah scoffs at the idea. “What? Why would you think that?”

“Please. Sarah, if anyone knows how you can be--” He cuts himself off and redirects the statement. “I saw someone on Christmas that I haven’t seen in years--the old Sarah.”

The notion causes her breath to catch in her chest.

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Is it?” He waits for an answer that never comes, then continues: “Be careful. Whatever you’re trying to do with Graham and Matt… it could very well blow up in your face.”

“Matt and I are finished,” she says. “And I do care about Graham.”

“You sure about that?”

“Yes!” She takes a defiant sip of her coffee and then, not knowing what else to say, pushes past him. “I have to go.”

“I’m just trying to help,” Brent says. “I didn’t mean to--”

“Don’t worry about it.” Without so much as a glance back at him, she exits the coffee shop.

As she crosses the parking lot, Brent’s words bite at her. Using Graham… that isn’t what she is doing. This is completely different from when she met Matt while married to Brent.

Still, the thought nags at her, and by the time she gets into her car, she feels compelled to pull out her cell phone again. She dials quickly and, as soon as she gets an answer, says, “It turns out that I am free tomorrow. Dinner sounds good, if the offer still stands.”


Is Sarah in over her head with Graham?
Is it possible for Molly and Brent to find common ground?
What should Travis do about the Danielle/Elly situation?
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