Episode #545

- Matt realized that he picked up the wrong USB drive and wondered why Diane would have a video of Danielle singing.
- Travis and Elly continued to have a long-distance relationship.
- Jason and Courtney scheduled their wedding cake tasting session, and Shannon planned to use the event to administer the rat poison she recently purchased.


The smell of the ice strikes Courtney Chase as soon as she enters the arena. It is something she used to take for granted, because she experienced it every single day. But now that she stays at home to take care of Sophie, it has been months since she set foot in the arena. That familiar smell rises up from the glistening, sturdy sheet of ice and finds its way to her senses. She has never been able to describe it accurately; it smells... cold, but in a way that she has never encountered anywhere else in the world. It takes her back immediately to her days of being on the ice hour and hour, her cheeks flushed and her heart rate elevated. She stops to breathe in that scent, to take in the sight of the empty ice surface.

“I was beginning to think I’d never see you near a sheet of ice again!” says Sandy James, emerging from the coaches’ locker room.

Courtney turns and hugs her longtime coach. “Just wait until Sophie’s old enough to put on a pair of skates.”

“Where is the little one? She must be getting so big!”

“My mom offered to watch her for the afternoon,” Courtney says. “Jason and I are having a wedding cake tasting.”


“In the conference room upstairs. He had a meeting, so it was easier to have them bring the samples to us.”

A laugh trills from Sandy’s throat. “No baby and a buffet of cake. Doesn’t sound like a bad day to me!”

“You should come upstairs and join us, if you don’t have lessons to teach. We could use your opinion.”

“I have a 3:30, but I’ll be sure to stop in for a few minutes.”

“Good.” Courtney stares out over the unblemished surface of the ice, taking in its pristine whiteness and the subtle wisps of steam rising from it. “I’ve got to get out there again soon. I miss it.”

“I knew you would,” Sandy says with a grin.


Upstairs, in the conference room, the two representatives from Happily Ever After Wedding Cakes set up their presentation for the future Mr. and Mrs. Jason Fisher. Sabrina Gage, the office administrative assistant, oversees the setup.

“This looks great,” she says to Maribel and David, the two reps. “Jason will be in as soon as his meeting is over, and his fiancée should be here soon.”

She moves around the table, studying all the little samples of cake that have been neatly divided in two. She offers a smile of approval as she goes.

“Ooh, what’s that one?” Sabrina asks, pointing to a dark cake with an orange accents that only highlight the richness of the chocolate.

“That’s a dark chocolate cake with chocolate-orange ganache and orange buttercream,” Maribel explains in her proper way, lips held tightly and barely opening to release her words. “A rather untraditional choice, but people have been growing much more adventurous with their wedding cakes recently.”

“It looks delicious.”

“Thank you.”

Luckily Maribel cannot hear the words floating through Sabrina’s mind: It’s perfect. And it is, but not for reasons that a proud cake-maker would appreciate. The cake is darker than most of the other samples, dark enough that it will conceal the special addition that dutiful assistant Sabrina plans to make to it.

She fingers the baggie of crushed-up rat poison pellets in her pocket, waiting for the right moment to make her move.


June gloom hangs in the sky, a gray coat of paint that obscures the sky and saps the energy from these final days of the school year. Students linger in the parking lot, drawing out the minutes until they must go home and study for their final exams. Travis Fisher twirls his car keys on his forefinger as he crosses the parking lot, flanked by his younger sister and his best friend.

“I told my mom, I’m not gonna take the SATs again,” Landon is saying. “So whatever score I get, that’s it.”

“All I want is for mine to be good enough to get into WSU,” Travis says. That would mean he could move all the way across the state, away from the neverending craziness that is his family. He suspects he’ll love them a lot more when he is five hours away.

Samantha hikes her backpack up on her shoulder. “You could also take the ACT. Some students get a much better score on that one.”

“Whatever,” Landon says. “Not taking any more of those stupid tests.”

Travis unlocks his car, the old Honda that his parents bought him earlier this year.

“Shotgun!” Landon calls out.

Samantha doesn’t argue, but when Landon flips the front seat forward to let her climb into the back, Travis shakes his head at his buddy. “No way. Sam gets to ride shotty.”

“Bullshit! I called it!” Landon says.

“You’re lucky I’m even giving you a ride.” Travis gets into the driver’s seat and waits for Landon to step aside.

“It’s fine,” Samantha says.

“Landon’s lucky we’re even giving him a ride. I think sitting in the backseat is pretty cushy for someone who mooned a police officer and then tried to blame it on his mom."

Landon sneers at him and climbs into the backseat. Samantha settles into the passenger seat, and Travis starts the car. Just as he puts it into reverse, his phone sounds, signaling the arrival of a text message. He starts to back out anyway, until Samantha speaks up.

“You could get a ticket for texting and driving,” she warns him.

He sighs, annoyed. She has to be such a nerd all the time. Even if she is right. He puts the car back in park to check the text.

Landon catches Samantha’s eye in the rearview mirror. “It’s totally from Elly.” When Travis doesn’t deny it, he adds, “She send you a picture of her boobs?”

“God, shut up,” Travis says. He could at least wait until Samantha isn’t around to make those comments. “It’s just a text. She bought her plane tickets for the week after school gets out.”

Leaning forward so that his head and shoulders stick out between the two front seats, Landon prods him: “You finally gonna bang her?”

Samantha laughs uncomfortably. Travis tries to ignore the question as he texts back a quick response and puts his phone away. He backs the car out of the parking space.

Undaunted, Landon continues, “What’s the point of having a girlfriend if you can’t even--”

“Seriously, shut up,” Travis says, throwing his friend an irritated look. Even if the same question has sort of been on his mind. A lot.


“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Jason Fisher says as he enters the conference room, where Courtney, Sandy, and the two cake representatives wait. Shannon hovers near the door, ostensibly overseeing the proceedings.

“Don’t these look good?” Courtney asks him. “I don’t know how we’re even going to choose.”

Jason takes a seat beside her. “No kidding.”

Sabrina silently excuses herself, but she does not return to the office. She remains in the hallway, just outside the conference room door, as she pulls out her cell phone and fakes dialing a number. She holds the phone to her ear and begins to have a conversation with no one--generic enough so as not to attract attention, but sufficiently involved so that she does not seem to be lurking around.

She paces back and forth in front of the conference room, each time checking to see if they have gotten to the dark chocolate cake yet. The sight of Jason sitting there with Courtney, giggling and testing out cakes for the most ill-advised wedding in history, fills Shannon with rage. It takes every bit of strength within her not to hurl her cell phone against the wall.

Jason can’t do this. And he won’t have to, if all goes according to plan.

“Oh my God, I love the raspberry,” Courtney says as she finishes a bite of one sample. She looks to Jason, who makes a face. Shannon derives great pleasure from Jason’s disagreement.

“I don’t usually like fruity fillings,” he explains. “My favorite is still this one--” He points to a white cake that Shannon cannot make out, as she walks past the door again.

“Because you’re nuts. Here, Sandy, tell me what you think of this.”

“That’s excellent,” Sandy can be heard saying. “Wow.”

Shannon crosses in front of the doorway again and catches Courtney’s eye. Quickly averting her gaze, she pretends to be engaged in her phone conversation and moves out of the way. The last thing she needs right now is Courtney getting all suspicious again.

“Now this one,” Maribel announces, “is rather different. It’s a dark chocolate cake with chocolate-orange ganache and orange buttercream.”

Shannon hears the words from out in the hallway and does her best not to rush back to the door to watch. She made sure to put the poison-infested half of the sample closer to Courtney’s side of the table. Though she knows that she cannot incriminate herself by seeming too eager to watch something seemingly innocuous, all she wants in the world right now is to see Courtney take a bite of that cake and unknowingly eat her way into a much-deserved grave.

“Is it weird to have a chocolate wedding cake?” Courtney asks.

“It’s not the most traditional,” Maribel says, “but more and more people are opting for them. It used to be that groom’s cakes were traditionally chocolate, but these days, anything goes.”

Just eat the goddamn cake, Shannon thinks as she lingers just out of their eyelines. She forces herself to continue her fake conversation--“Do you think she believes him?” she babbles--as she crosses in front of the conference room once more.

Jason lifts his and takes a bite. As covertly as she can, Shannon makes sure that he is eating the unpoisoned piece. He is.

“This is so good,” he says, his mouth still full.

“It looks wonderful,” Sandy says.

Courtney picks up her piece of the sample slice. “Here, try it.” When Sandy hesitates, Courtney adds, “Seriously, you’re gonna have to share some of these with me. I’m already getting full.”

Shannon cannot help but stare, her heart racing, as Sandy moves to take a bite of the chocolate cake.


Samantha uses her key to let herself in but is surprised to find the door already unlocked. She enters the condo warily, ready to run away if need be.

But instead of burglars or anything scary, she sees her mother, sitting on the couch with her laptop. “Hi, kiddo,” Diane says. “I had a meeting on this side of town and didn’t want to bother going back to the office.”

“Okay.” Samantha sets down her backpack and glances to the TV, where one of those reality shows, The Real Housewives of New Jersey or something, is playing. She allows her mother to see her disapproval.

“What?” Diane asks.

“Even you watch this? You’re a book publisher. Aren’t you supposed to be...”

“Smart?” Diane watches a few seconds of the catty women bitching at each other. “You can be smart and still enjoy other people’s misery, Sam. Never forget that.” She seems proud of herself, as if she has just conveyed some ageless wisdom.

“Kind of a miracle I’m not a serial killer,” Samantha says. “Yet.” She picks up her bag to go to her room and make a dent in the mounds of homework awaiting her.

“Wait, Samantha! Question.”

She turns back to see that Diane has set her laptop aside. “This Facebook thing,” Diane says, “how does it work, exactly? Can you send people e-mails and stuff?”

Terror stabs Samantha in the chest and quickly spreads through her body. “You don’t seriously want to join Facebook, do you?”

Diane shrugs. “I don’t know. Might be useful. Can you... send files to people and all that?”


“Maybe I can just use your account later to send a thing or two. Since I know it would be the worst thing in the world for you if I joined.”

“Yes. It would be.”

Diane frowns at her. “Go do your homework. I’ll come in later if I need to use that Facebook. And think about what you want for dinner!”

Samantha makes her escape down the hall, hoping she has dodged the bullet of having her mom on Facebook. Tori’s friend Fee’s mom joined Facebook and wound up posting photos of herself making out with college boys on spring break. Everyone teased her for weeks. Samantha can only imagine what horrible things would happen if Diane Bishop were to get her hands on that thing.


Back in the living room, Diane thinks that her plan worked quite well. Samantha’s dismay at the possibility of having her mother on Facebook should be enough for her to let Diane use her daughter’s account later. All Diane really needs is one of Samantha’s contacts: that Elly girl.

She goes to the drawer where she tossed the USB drive containing the file of Danielle’s telltale performance. Retrieving the drive, Diane feels a shot of excitement move through her body. She hasn’t been this excited to expose someone self-righteous and miserable in a long time. Maybe since she and Brian took those photos of Molly and Brent together and e-mailed them to Sarah.

When she goes to open the file, though, something bizarre happens. All that is there is... a Word document? She opens it to find the paper that Samantha helped Tori write. She closes the file before she catches too much of its content; Tori might be a cute girl, and very sweet, but Diane suspects that academics is not her strong suit.

“Samantha!” she calls out. Her daughter appears in the short hallway a moment later. “Why is Tori’s paper on my USB drive? Didn’t she take it with her?”

Samantha shrugs. “She couldn’t find it, so she asked me to e-mail it to her. She must have forgotten--” But she stops mid-sentence, thinking. “But I swear her dad took her USB thing.”

In a flash, Diane realizes what has happened. She has to get that drive back from Matt.


From outside the conference room, Shannon watches in horror as Sandy digs her fork into the dark chocolate cake and moves it toward her mouth. Everything seems to shift into slow-motion--everything except Shannon’s thoughts, which come with such speed and ferocity that they knock the wind right out of her.

She can’t eat that! Then Courtney will be okay. And Sandy doesn’t deserve to die. Okay, maybe she does, the way she’s always pushed Jason and that bitch together. But still, that would be suspicious. And Courtney would still be alive. I have to--

“What is it?”

Shannon snaps out of her panic and realizes that Courtney is looking directly at her, addressing her.

“We’re in the middle of something,” Courtney says.

Shannon plasters the sweetest, most naïve smile she can manage on Sabrina’s face. “I’m so sorry to interrupt. Sandy, we need you downstairs. There’s a...” Nothing comes to mind. “Well, I’ll explain. I don’t want to take up any more of everybody’s time.”

Sandy sets down the chocolate cake and rises from her seat. As she comes toward Shannon, the unthinkable happens.

“Maybe I’ll take it, then,” Jason says, reaching for the cake that Sandy just set down.

Shannon could swear that her heart stops beating.

“You’re a pig,” Courtney says, though she makes no move to stop him from eating the cake.

“Are you ready?” Sandy asks Shannon. “What’s the emergency?”

“I, um...” But Shannon cannot pry her gaze away from the horrific scene unfolding in front of her. Jason slips his fork into the chocolate cake. She can’t let him eat it. She can’t have him--

Without even processing the thought, she turns, slams her knee into the doorframe, and slumps to the ground.

Predictably, a gasp flies up from her audience. Jason springs to his feet, and Sandy kneels down to help her.

“Are you okay?” Sandy asks.

“I’m so clumsy sometimes, it hurts.” Shannon forces a grin through the very real pain. “Literally.”

She sees Courtney throwing Jason a sideways look, another of her condescending What the hell is wrong with this woman? expressions.

“We should get you some ice for that,” Sandy says. Jason slips out of the room, and Shannon feels a twinge of satisfaction in knowing that despite Courtney’s efforts to poison him against Shannon, he has still rushed off to help her.

Nonchalantly, Shannon pulls herself along the floor over to the conference table and uses it to steady herself as she stands. “I’m so sorry to interrupt...” she says, shaking her head at her own clumsiness. When Courtney, determined to ignore her, turns to talk with Maribel and David, Shannon sees her opening.

“Sandy, could you grab the bottle of ibuprofen from the top drawer of my desk? I bet I’m going to need that.”

Sandy obliges, and Shannon wastes not a second in sliding the chocolate cake closer to Courtney’s seat.

Jason returns with the ice, and Shannon drops into a chair, assuring them all that she will be fine and that they should go on.

“What’s next?” Jason asks as he returns to his seat.

“We have a white chocolate and lemon cake,” Maribel says.

“Wait, I never got to taste this one.” Courtney picks up her fork and takes a piece of the almost-forgotten dark chocolate cake. “I need to weigh in on it, too.”

As Sandy returns and gives Shannon the ibuprofen, it finally happens: Courtney raises the fork to her mouth and takes the bite. Eats it. And then, with a look of pronounced approval on her face, goes back for another bite. Shannon has to exercise the utmost in restraint to keep from squealing in glee. Suddenly the pain in her knee seems well worth it.


Is Shannon’s greatest wish about to come true?
What will Diane do now that she realizes Matt has the drive?
What is in store for Elly’s next visit to King’s Bay?
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