Episode #530

- Travis found a letter that suggested Danielle might be Elly’s biological mother. Desperate to help Elly without giving away what he knows, he told her to question Danielle.
- Alex and Seth decided to slow down their relationship and take things more casually.
- Cassandra Ward, hired to be Ryan’s co-author for his book, clashed with Diane but found an ally in Tim.


Diane Bishop sits behind the large, elegant desk in her office and flips through the loose pages before her. When she comes upon a page with a red mark on it--which happens often--she stops and looks across the desk, where Ryan Moriani and Cassandra Ward await her feedback.

“Here,” she says, “page forty eight. Where it says, ‘I had no way of knowing…’”

Cassandra flips to the page in her copy of the manuscript. “Ryan and I went back and forth on how to word that line. You don’t like it as-is?”

“I don’t like it existing. Nor do I like the paragraph that it’s a part of, or the three pages that follow.” Diane narrows her eyes at them. “I thought we talked about all this Claire stuff. It doesn’t work.”

“Cassandra felt it was necessary,” Ryan says.

That earns him a sideways glare from his co-author, who calmly but firmly says, “It’s necessary. We need to explore that relationship. The man shot his own father and almost sent his brother to jail for this woman--”

“Hey,” Ryan interjects. “It’s not like I just did it for her.”

Diane and Cassandra join forces, however briefly, to shoot him a pair of skeptical looks.

“We need to develop the relationship,” Cassandra continues.

“I don’t disagree, on principle. But this stuff is boring. It’s too romantic. Too perfect,” Diane says.

Now Cassandra turns to Ryan for backup. “Don’t you think that we need to sell the romance? It’s your story. Why else would you have done what you did?”

“I’m the one you just called a loser, remember?” Ryan taps his pen against his manuscript. “I actually am with Diane on this one. I didn’t like the chapter when I wrote it, and even boiled down like this, it feels sappy.”

“You have to take the readers up before you tear them down!” Cassandra says.

“The only place this is taking anyone is on a tour of what they ate for lunch.” Diane rereads a brief selection to herself, as if trying to force herself to buy it, and then shakes her head. “No. No way.”

Cassandra steadies herself and asks, in a collected tone, “How would you approach the relationship, then?”

“With a pitchfork and a torch, if you made me.”

“It’s a serious question, Diane. This is an integral part of the story.”

“I’m aware of that,” Diane says. “I feel like I need to know why. Why this woman? What makes her worth turning your entire life upside-down for?” She looks to Ryan for the answer.

As he tries to find the words to articulate what drew him to Claire, Cassandra focuses on Diane.

“Are you sure this doesn’t have to do with your intense… distaste for this Claire woman?” she asks. “From everything Ryan and Tim have said--”

“You’ve been gossiping about me now?” Diane says to Ryan.

He shrugs. “A few stories came up in the course of writing. It’s not like you’re a completely unrelated third party.”

Diane grimaces. “Just make it work, okay? And make it less sappy. I’m not the one being paid to be the brilliant writer.”



Alex Marshall’s fingers tug at the zipper. First just his thumb and forefinger, but after endless seconds of trying to undo Seth Ashby’s slacks gracefully, Alex gives up and uses his other hand to steady himself. The zipper comes down with a satisfying riiip.

“There we go,” he says, smiling at Seth, who is pinned against the door.

“What the hell got into you today?” Seth asks, his words shaded by great amusement.

“I’m trying to generate ideas for my next book.” Alex dives in to kiss Seth. “And when I have to brainstorm and it isn’t going well--” Another kiss, this one deeper. “--I wind up playing around on the internet--” He drops his mouth to Seth’s neck. “--and looking at all sorts of interesting things.”

“So you’ve got me in front of you, but you’re really all worked up over Ashton Kutcher.”

“Ashton Kutcher? What is this, 2003?”

Alex yanks Seth’s pants down his toned legs. They hit the floor, but Seth makes no move to step out of them. Alex presses his mouth against Seth’s and, overcome by need, pushes their bodies together hard. When they finally separate, Alex breathes a sigh into Seth’s open lips.

“It’s you I was thinking about all day,” he says.

“This whole taking-a-step-back thing is kinda doing wonders--” Seth gasps as Alex’s hands slide inside his boxer shorts.

Alex looks at him like a man possessed. “You like that?”

Seth nods and murmurs his approval.

“Tell me what you want,” Alex says. “What do you want me to do?”

He sees the change in Seth. It is momentary, more a hitch than a full-on shift, but the blip in conversation is enough to disrupt Alex’s momentum.

Well, sort of. Hands still in Seth’s boxers, he asks, “What’s wrong?”

Nothing is wrong,” Seth says with widened eyes.

“Then what’s up? And don’t try to lie, because I saw you get all weird a second ago--”

“It’s nothing.” Seth falls into the sort of pause that Alex knows will lead to more words shortly. A moment later, they arrive. “There’s just… something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”

The seriousness of his tone surprises Alex, who takes a step back.

“You don’t have to stop doing that,” Seth says, reaching out to put Alex’s hands back where they were a second ago.

Hesitantly, Alex obliges, though he is too distracted to commit fully to his ministrations. “What did you want to ask me?”

“You know how you asked what I want you to do?” Seth pauses before spitting out, “It’s about that.”


“I made some chicken and rice,” Danielle Taylor says as Elly Vanderbilt rolls her suitcase into the kitchen. “You should have something to eat before you go.”

Elly happily takes a seat at the kitchen counter. “Not like they’re going to give me anything on the plane.”

“Precisely.” Danielle prepares a plate of the food for the teenager. “All packed?”

“Barely.” Elly nose scrunches up. “Molly showed me this way of rolling everything up instead of folding it, and it saves space, but I still always feel like there’s so much more stuff on the way back.”

“That never changes. Your things expand once you unpack them.”

As Danielle prepares a plate for herself, Elly’s cell phone dings, announcing the arrival of a text message. She taps away at the keyboard, and Danielle takes a seat beside her with her own plate.

“Can I ask you something?” Elly says abruptly.

“Of course.” Danielle prepares herself for an awkward inquiry about boys--specifically, something concerning Travis Fisher. Given the amount of time that the two teens spent together during Elly’s visit, Danielle supposes she should be glad that Elly is smart enough to ask questions.

“You and my mom were good friends back when she adopted me, right?”

Danielle nearly sucks down an unchewed chunk of chicken. She forces herself to pause and chew it, willing herself to remain calm. “Yeah. We were friends for years before that.”

“So, I mean, how did it happen? Did they go to an adoption agency and see what babies were there, and they picked me? Or did they, like, meet with my mother and get to know her--”

“You really should ask your parents these questions,” Danielle says. “It isn’t my place to tell you any of this.”

Disappointment spreads over Elly’s face. She moves a forkful of chicken and rice to her mouth and goes through the motions of eating it.

“Maybe someday they’ll feel it’s right to tell you the whole story,” Danielle offers. She hates to see Elly this way, desperate for answers that Danielle herself could provide, but she also knows that it is not her right to tell her anything. She relinquished that right when she allowed Melanie and Tom to adopt her baby. She made a vow to them when she agreed to be part of Elly’s life as her godmother, not her mother.

“So there is a story. Can you just give me a hint? That means they met my birth mother, doesn’t it?”

The gleam in her daughter’s eyes makes it almost impossible for Danielle to resist. Almost.

“Like I said, it isn’t my place. All I can say is that you should ask your parents again. Maybe when you turn eighteen…”

“That’ll be forever.”

Danielle grins at the teenage concept of time, in which a year is such a major unit of life that it might as well be a decade.

“Travis thought you might be able to help,” Elly says as she receives another text message.


“He thought you might tell me something that my parents haven’t. Since you were friends with them at the time of the adoption and all. Guess I should tell him he was wrong.”

Elly focuses on typing a new text, while Danielle considers that bit of information. There is no way that Travis would know anything. Briefly her mind flashes to Ryan, the only person in King’s Bay who knows the truth, but she has to believe that she can trust him… and if he were going to tell anyone, the teenage son of his ex-fiancée would be an odd choice. Still, Travis even connecting Danielle to the situation concerning Elly’s parentage strikes an uneasy chord within her.

“I’m sorry,” Danielle says, hoping that it will put an end to the discussion. “Now finish your dinner, or we’re going to be late for your flight.”


“That woman,” Diane groans once Cassandra has exited the office. “Why did we hire her again?”

Ryan glances at the door to be sure that Cassandra is out of earshot. “She’s a good writer.”

“I suppose. Stubborn as a...”


“Shut up.” Diane glowers at him. “How is it writing with her? I can’t imagine she’s all that receptive to anyone else’s ideas.”

“It’s fine. Like I said, she’s a good writer. She has plenty of ideas that get me thinking.”

“I don’t need you thinking. I need a damn book that works.” Diane flips through the manuscript quickly, seeing a continuous blur of red as the pages fly by.

“It does work, even if there are parts you hate,” he says.

Diane admits as much with an irritated grunt. “Are you sure she isn’t running roughshod over you the entire time you two are writing together?”

“Is that actual concern for me that you’re expressing?”

“No. I just want to be sure she’s enhancing the story you have to tell, not silencing you and writing whatever the hell she wants.” She falls quiet and considers Cassandra Ward; the very act makes her shudder with annoyance. “She’d better watch herself around me, that’s all I’m saying.”

Ryan lifts a crystal paperweight from the desk. “What are you going to do, break this on the desk and cut her with it?”

“Have you met me?”

Diane checks the clock on her computer screen and then lifts a hand to her face. “I can’t believe that took so damn long… Do you have anywhere to be?”

“No, not really…”

“Then you’re helping me with this,” she says, reaching under the desk. An instant later, she produces a bottle of red wine. “Tim has Samantha tonight, and someone’s gotta listen to me gripe about that woman for at least another forty five minutes.”

“I can handle that,” Ryan says with another small laugh, surprising himself.


Out in the main area of the office, Cassandra navigates her way back to the lobby. The office is largely empty now, given the late hour. There is, however, one person still in his cubicle, and he notices her coming his way.

“How’d it go in there?” Tim Fisher asks, rising to greet her.

“I’m walking out in one piece and I’m not in handcuffs, so all things considered, it could have been worse,” Cassandra says.

“That sets the bar kind of low.”

“I’m trying to be positive. See the bright side in everything. New Year’s resolution.”

“That’s… quite the bright side.” In spite of her jocular attitude, he can tell that the meeting took a toll upon her. “Was Diane just really hard on the work?”

Cassandra glances behind herself to be sure that she will not be overheard. “It isn’t even that. I can handle criticism. But she’s so damn stubborn, you know?”

“I know. Believe me. Well aware of it.”

“She’s obviously a talented editor, and a very successful one, but that attitude. Man.” She pauses to dwell on some memory from the meeting and then continues: “She’s so insistent about downplaying the relationship between Ryan and Claire. I swear, it has more to do with not liking Claire--”

“She is not a Claire fan, I can tell you that much.”

“I feel like I need to meet this woman, given how much I’ve talked about her.”

“Probably not a bad idea,” Tim says, “but Claire and I aren’t exactly on the best of terms these days. You’d probably have a better chance being introduced through Ryan.”

“Somehow I doubt that.”

The reassurance falls flat for Tim, and for a moment, he is swept up in regret over the latest turns in his relationship with Claire. He wishes that he had been stronger in the moment and not slept with her, or at least that he had realized and vocalized beforehand the way he felt as soon as it was over.

“It’s much later than I expected,” Cassandra says, checking her watch. “That meeting ran forever.”

“A notes meeting with Diane Bishop? Somehow I’m not surprised.” Tim opens his mouth to say something, spurred on by a sudden whim, but catches himself. He is about to let the whim fall by the wayside when Cassandra looks at him curiously.

“What?” she asks.

“What do you mean?”

“You were about to say something.”

“No, I was…” Realizing he has been caught, he scrambles for a cover story. When none produces itself, he decides to throw caution to the wind. “Do you have plans for dinner? I was going to go grab something…”

She hesitates a moment, then asks, “Is that an invitation to join you? Or are the two statements unrelated?”

The joke releases some of the tension that has been mounting in Tim’s chest. “They’re very much related. So, in the interest of being more coherent: would you like to grab dinner?”

“I’d love to,” she says, “especially if it means getting me the hell out of here.”


Seth’s hips thrust against Alex’s hands.

“Tell me what it is,” Alex says, getting a little annoyed.

“Sorry. I probably have you thinking it’s some really out-there thing now.”

“Kind of. Yeah.”

Seth reaches down and presses the palm of his hand against the front of Alex’s jeans. Alex pushes back at the touch.

“I really hope this isn’t a story about how you were on the internet all day,” Alex says, “and you’re fantasizing that I’m the youngest Jonas Brother or something.”

Seth simultaneously scowls and laughs. “It’s just something I’ve been thinking a lot about. Something I’ve always wanted to do.” He sticks his free hand up under Alex’s shirt; though the touch is cold, it is electric against Alex’s hyper-sensitive body.

“Feel me up like a ninth-grader?” Alex jokes. He doesn’t know how many more dumb quips he can produce, but they are the only things keeping him from full-fledged insanity as he waits for Seth to spit it out.

“I met someone.”

Just like that, the electricity running through Alex, running between him and Seth, zaps to a stop. Alex draws his hands back to himself.

“You what?”

Hastily Seth shakes his head. “Not like that. I don’t mean--” He allows his hands to confirm this, as they undo Alex’s belt and button-fly. “Someone for us.

“Uh…” Alex has a vague idea of what Seth means, but he doesn’t want to presume anything.

“I’ve never had a threesome. And I really wanna do it.” Seth makes eye contact, even as one of his hands disappears under the band of Alex’s boxer briefs. “Could you do that for me?”

Alex draws a deep breath. With the way Seth is making him feel right now, he would probably give a leap off the Space Needle a shot.

“I think so,” Alex says, even as nervousness churns in the pit of his stomach.

“Good. That’s so hot.”

Seth allows his fingers to show Alex just how hot he thinks that is. Alex leans into him and buries his face in Seth’s shoulder and neck.

“There’s just one thing,” Seth says, his lips mere inches from Alex’s ear.


“This person… it’s a she.”

Alex doesn’t move, doesn’t respond. He doesn’t even know what he thinks.

“Are you okay with that?” Seth asks. “It’s this big, like, fantasy for me, and doing it with you--it would be so damn hot.”

Alex tries to figure out what to say, but Seth’s hands cloud his thinking.

“I think I can do it,” he finally says. And he means it. Knowing how worked up this gets Seth--

An instant later, Seth’s mouth replaces his hands, and all Alex’s lingering doubts are banished to another dimension.


Is Alex making a mistake by agreeing to Seth’s wish?
What should Danielle do about Travis, if anything?
Will Diane and Cassandra kill each other before the book is done?
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