Episode #547

- Tim brought his family advance copies of Ryan’s completed book.
- Matt realized that he had the wrong USB drive and wondered why Diane had a video of Danielle performing.
- After unknowingly ingesting rat poison planted by Shannon, Courtney began coughing up blood and collapsed.


This is supposed to be a beginning.

For so long, that is all Jason Fisher has thought about: how this is the beginning of his and Courtney’s life together, the beginning of Sophie’s life, the beginning of him truly being an adult. They are supposed to have nothing but time.

And now that is exactly what they don’t have. Claire did everything she could to keep Courtney stable while they waited for the paramedics, but when they arrived at the hospital, the doctors were not able to tell him what is going on with Courtney. They said they had to run tests to figure it out. All he can think is that, for every second they do not have an answer, it becomes more and more difficult to save her.

The image of blood spewing from Courtney’s mouth flashes over and over again in his mind. He wonders if it will remain seared there forever.

This is supposed to be a beginning. But now, they might be facing an ending.

“Here you go,” Tim says. Startled, Jason looks up to find his brother extending a cup of coffee to him. Jason accepts it with a grateful but forced smile, and Tim and Cassandra occupy the two seats to his right.

“Nothing from the doctor yet?” Tim asks.

Jason shakes his head. “Maybe I should call Molly to check on Sophie.”

“She’s fine. Molly said she would call if you needed to know anything. She’s probably been asleep for hours.”

He tries to accept that, but no matter how logical Tim’s words are, all Jason can picture is the worst-case scenario. What if something happens to Sophie while he isn’t there with her? What if this is some horrible illness that Courtney and the baby have both caught?

The double doors to the waiting area open. Jason’s stomach flips. Instead of the doctor, though, it is Claire, dressed in her nursing scrubs. Don and Helen Chase, who have both had their eyes closed for some time, practically leap to alertness.

“The doctor is on his way,” she says.

“How’s Courtney?” Jason asks.

“She’s sedated.”

That doesn’t exactly tell him anything useful. Sedated because she was in too much pain? Sedated because they need to get her into surgery?

“Thanks for your help,” he says instead, feeling like a robot executing a command because it has been programmed into him.

Bill and Paula, who have been sitting diagonally across from him--Bill with his face buried in a copy of Ryan’s book, Paula with various magazines--now set down their reading materials and stand.

“Whatever it is, they’ve caught it early,” Bill says. “You said yesterday was the first day she was even coughing.”

“I really think it might be that swine flu,” Helen adds. “And they’ve had a lot of luck treating that. Courtney is young, and she’s strong.”

Jason doesn’t know what to say to either of them. He wants to believe what they are saying, he wants to share their optimism, but the stark reality of the situation will not allow him to do so.

Seconds later, Doctor Harris or Haines or something like that, a man on the far side of middle age with the protruding belly to prove it, comes through the doors. Jason stands on shaky legs, holding with both hands onto the coffee that he has no intention of drinking.

“How is she?” Jason asks, suspecting that he has just snapped at the doctor but too worried to care.

“Courtney’s sedated right now,” Doctor Harrison says.

“Do you know what’s wrong with her? Is she going to be okay?”

The doctor purses his lips. Every muscle fiber in Jason’s body tightens. He has a feeling that he does not want to know the answers.


After the ambulance transported Courtney to the hospital, Matt Gray took his daughter home. He knows that the Fishers have more important things to worry about tonight than notifying him of Courtney’s condition, but he nevertheless stays up late, rattled by the night’s events and unable to switch his brain off. Just as his second consecutive viewing of the day’s SportsCenter episode is starting to wear him out, there comes a knock at the door.

“Give it to me,” Diane Bishop demands before he even gets the door open.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Matt says flatly, lacking the energy and the motivation to bother with a convincing lie.

Her hand shoots out and pushes the door the rest of the way open. She marches into the apartment and begins scouring. “Where is it? I want that drive, dammit.”

“Tori’s asleep. Keep it down.”

Diane shoots him a withering look. “You could have at least answered my calls.”

“I knew what you wanted.”

Exasperated, she sighs and continues to rummage through the living room.

“This place is disgusting,” she says, using her fingertips to move a sweatshirt that is draped over the back of the sofa. “You could at least spring for a cleaning lady.”

Matt lets the comment pass. “What are you up to?” he asks instead.

“I’m making a present for Danielle. And you’re ruining it.”

“Yeah. I buy that.” He folds his arms. “I don’t know what you’re planning, but the way Sarah put it, you and Danielle aren’t exactly pals.”

“Since when do you care about Danielle Taylor?”

“Since you decided to terrorize her, or whatever you’re up to. I know how you get.”

She ignores him and moves to the kitchen. Matt watches her open several drawers and cabinet doors, to no avail. When she opens a box of cereal and starts pawing through it, he moves toward her.

“Enough,” he says, taking the box from her. “If whatever you’re up to is that important, you’ll figure out how to do it without that drive.”

Diane glowers at him and then shakes her head with disapproval. “Boy, you’re a real barrel of fun.” She surprises him by actually crossing the living room and stepping outside. “This isn’t over, you hear me?”

“Yeah, I guess.” He rolls his eyes and closes the door on her.


It feels as though minutes pass before the doctor even begins to answer.

“Do you know what’s wrong with her?” Jason demands of Doctor Harper or whatever his name is.

“It looks like she ingested some rat poison.”

“What? How does that happen?”

As Doctor Hartford shakes his head, Paula covers her mouth with her hands.

“She came to see me the other afternoon,” Paula says. “I was... I was working in the garden. And there have been rats out back. I didn’t think--”

“Unless Courtney picked up a pellet of rat poison off the ground and ate it, it’s unlikely it came from your garden,” the doctor says. “There is much more than a trace of it in her system.”

Bill places an arm around Paula’s shoulders and holds her tightly, but her face remains creased with distress. Jason offers her a reassuring look.

"I don't understand how this could've happened," Don mutters, looking down at the ground.

“The important thing,” Doctor Hanson says, “is that you got her in here right away. We’re administering Vitamin K right now. It should counteract the anticoagulant agents in the poison.”

Jason soaks up this information, loops it back through his mind once just to be sure he has heard properly, and then asks, “So she’s... okay?”

“She should be, if all goes according to plan.”

“Can we see her?”

“She’s still asleep, but yes, I’ll take you to her.”

Jason spews thanks at his various family members as he, Don, and Helen move to the double doors, waiting for Doctor Hannibal or whatever to catch up so that he can lead the way.


After being thrown out of someone’s home, a normal person might leave. A normal person, however, would also fail at her mission. That is why Diane Bishop waits in the parking lot, keeping an eye on Matt’s bedroom window until she sees the lights go out.

She creeps toward the first-floor apartment and approaches a window several feet down from Matt’s. Tori’s room. That kid is her best shot at having a chance to raid the apartment without Matt hovering over her.

She tries the window and finds it locked. She half-expected to find it open, curtains--or standard white blinds, as the case may be--billowing in the nighttime breeze. With no other choice, she knocks lightly on the window pane.

This kid could sleep through a train crashing through her room, she thinks as she stops briefly and then resumes knocking. A few seconds later, Tori finally stirs. First she turns onto her back, and then her eyes drift open, forcing sleep out of the way as the rapping on the window penetrates her consciousness.

Terror freezes her face when she spots the figure at the window, but Diane holds up her hands, and a moment later, Tori recognizes her and cracks the window open.

“Sorry to wake you,” Diane says, as if this were perfectly routine, “but your dad has something of mine, and I really need it tonight.”

“Why didn’t you just ask him?” Tori asks groggily.

“I forgot. And I thought it might be awkward if I knocked on his bedroom window, because he’s my best friend’s husband. You know how it is. Girls’ code and all that.”

Tori processes this and seems to buy it, because she slides the window open wider. Diane wastes no time in hoisting herself up and through it.

“This is weird,” Tori says as Diane tumbles over her and off the bed.

“Life is weird. Don’t ever expect anything else,” Diane babbles, pulling herself together and moving for the door. She grips the knob and turns it with excruciating slowness. The door emits a painful creak as she eases it open, but she freezes. Nothing. She’s in the clear.

“What does my dad have that’s yours?” Tori asks, her head already back on her pillow.

“Just a little computer drive. I’m working on something for work. There was a mix-up, that’s all.” Diane shoos her off and creeps into the hallway. The floor creaks even worse than that door, and she pauses again. More silence. With careful steps, she makes it out to the living area.

The desk. Of course, she thinks as her eyes settle on it across the dark living room. Figures he would put a USB drive in the desk. With slow, careful steps, she moves toward it. Each second feels as though it lasts hours. When she is close enough, her hand shoots out and grips one of the drawer handles. She begins to pull it open, and then--

The lights go on.

“Really?” Matt asks from the entrance to the living room. “You’ve gotta be kidding.”

Diane turns and sets her hands on her hips. “No. I’m perfectly serious. Where is my drive, Matt?”

“Hidden. Now get out.”

She opens the drawer anyway and rummages. “If you’ll just give me a moment--”


She considers ignoring him, but no good searching is going to be accomplished with him looming like this. Better to re-strategize and return with a new plan of attack.

“Fine, fine,” she mutters, moving back the way she came.

“You can go out the door,” he says, blocking the path to Tori’s room. “And next time you come over, try not to climb in the windows in the middle of the night. Got it?”

“Yeah, whatever.” She shuffles to the front door and makes her exit. She hears the lock snap closed behind her.

I will get that damn drive back, she thinks, glaring back at the closed door.


While Jason goes back to see Courtney, his parents remain in the waiting area with Tim and Cassandra. Bill busies himself with the book that Tim brought for them earlier: Ryan’s newly completed memoir of his life as Nick Moriani’s son and his role in Nick’s death(s). They are waiting for so long that Bill makes it to the back cover of the book.

As he flips it closed, he turns to Paula beside him. “Tim was right.”

She glances up from a People magazine. “Oh?”

“About the book. It’s... it’s certainly not as bad as I thought it might be.”

“That’s a relief,” she says, with all the weight of someone who has just learned that the grocery store has not run out of 2-for-1 dishwasher detergents.

“Do you want to read it?”

He holds out the book to her. She regards it like one might a dirty tissue.

“I’m tired,” she says. “It’s been a long night. Maybe later.”

Maybe later? Paula, this is--”

“I know what it is. I’m not in the mood right now, that’s it.”

They sit in awkward silence as Bill thumbs through the book again and Paula does everything in her power not to look at it. From several seats down, Tim notices that Bill has finished.

“What’d you think?” he asks.

“It’s not as... exploitative as I thought it would be,” Bill says. “Cassandra, you did a wonderful job, of course.”

“Thank you,” she says politely.

“At least he seems to have genuine remorse for what he did.” Bill chooses his words carefully, knowing that Paula is listening to each and every one, no matter how hard she is trying to appear otherwise occupied.

“I really think he does,” Cassandra offers. “Ryan might be a lot of things, but he really does regret what he put all of you through. I think it’s going to haunt him forever.”

“Good,” Bill says. “He deserves that much.”

“Mom, are you going to read it?” Tim asks.

She brushes off the question with a casual flick of her hand. “I’m too tired to begin it now. Later, later.”

Bill holds onto the book, not at all convinced by his wife’s claims that she will crack it open tomorrow.


Jason sits by Courtney’s bedside for close to an hour. After a while, Don and Helen take a break to go use the restroom and get more coffee. Despite the doctor’s assurances that she should make a full recovery, this entire scene still makes Jason very uneasy. Courtney lies in the hospital bed, stirring occasionally, sometimes groaning or murmuring, and he keeps picturing the blood that spewed out of her mouth earlier and fearing that it is about to return.

When she finally opens her eyes, he waits for her vision to focus, for her to see him. Gently he squeezes the hand he has been holding the whole time.

“Where am I? What...” She looks around the room, taking in the fact that she is in a hospital and has several lines, including an IV, hooked up to her body.

“The hospital. Don’t worry. Everything is going to be fine.”

She looks as unconvinced as he feels.

“You collapsed,” he says. “At my dad’s restaurant. You were coughing really hard...”

“I remember that.”

“...and you started coughing up blood. A lot of it. Then you collapsed, and we called 911.”

Fear spreads over Courtney’s face. “What’s wrong with me? Do they know—”

“The doctor said it was rat poison.”

Rat poison? That doesn’t even—How would I have eaten rat poison?” Suddenly alert, she lifts her head from the pillow. Jason places a hand softly on her shoulder, trying to ease her back down.

“This wasn’t an accident,” she says, her gaze locked hard onto his, like a missile that has found its target.

“You don’t really think...”

“Why not?” She bolts upright in the bed again. “Someone poisoned me.”

“Court, that’s a little—”

“A little what? Crazy? Yes, poisoning someone is crazy.” She pauses, as if allowing the rational part of her brain to catch up with her wild speculation. “And I can only think of one person who might have done this.”

He doesn’t know how to respond. Sabrina is emotionally unbalanced; he agrees on that much. But to poison Courtney? What reason would she have for doing that?

“I know this sounds like I’m pulling things out of thin air,” Courtney says, almost pleading with him, “but I get a weird vibe from her. She was acting nuts at the rink the other day. I’ve only ever gotten that vibe from one other person.”

He knows who she means without either of them having to utter the name: Shannon.

“Let’s say it wasn’t intentional,” he says. “What if there’s rat poison residue on something you touch every day? Like the gate in front of the house or something, from the landscapers?”

Courtney stops to consider that. He can see that she wants to protest, wants to blame it on Sabrina, but she is forcing the rational part of herself to hold back. He can also see how utterly worn down she looks—like she has gone weeks without sleep, like the effort of sitting up in bed might be too much.

“I’m going to fire her,” he says.

Courtney’s surprise is apparent. “What?”

“I’m going to fire Sabrina. I don’t care if she did this or not--I mean, I do, but regardless, something has to change. If having her around scares you this much, then she has to go.”

Finally, Courtney allows herself to lie back against the pillows. “Thank you.”

Jason squeezes her hand gently. He knows that this is the right thing to do for the woman he loves and the mother of his child, even if Sabrina is perfectly innocent. He can even put out feelers to help Sabrina find a new job, just to smooth things over. But the important thing is making sure that Courtney and Sophie feel safe, and if firing Sabrina will do that, then he has no other choice.


Will Jason save his family by firing Sabrina?
Why won’t Paula touch Ryan’s book?
Will Diane succeed in stealing the drive back from Matt?
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