Episode #568

- Ryan’s estrangement from the Fishers continued, even after the publication of his book.
- Shannon took Sandy hostage and used her to lure Jason out of the wedding reception and up to the hotel’s roof. She made Jason promise to leave with her--and then revealed that she had brutally stabbed Courtney, who lay on the floor clinging to life.
- The police stormed the roof. When Jason lunged at Shannon to stop her from shooting Sandy, the gun went off.


It all happens in flashes.

Jason Fisher lunging at her. Her hand clenching down on the gun, fighting to hold onto it. The sound of a bullet ripping through the night. The gun slipping out of her grasp, clattering across the cement. Sandy James screaming in agony.

It all happens in flashes, and there is nothing Shannon Parish can do to control any of them.

“Put your hands up!” Brent Taylor screams.

Shannon defiantly keeps her arms down. She has to get that gun back. Without it--

“Sandy!” Jason says, moving toward his former coach--their former coach--who doubles over in anguish.

“I’ve been--I think--” Sandy sounds utterly confused, totally disoriented, as blood pools on her leg and begins running south.

“Call for paramedics,” Brent commands one of the officers flanking him. Shannon is vaguely aware of the static of the radio, of the officer giving commands and issuing calls for help. She sees the gun maybe ten feet away on the floor. She tries to figure out how she can get to it.

“Put your hands up!” Brent says again, gripping his own gun so hard that his whole body shakes. The barrel focuses right on Shannon’s face.

One of his cohorts picks up her gun and tucks it away.

She continues to resist Brent’s orders. Sandy sinks to the floor, pain etched into every line and every curve of her face. Not far from her, Courtney lies motionless, a bloody heap--the way she was meant to be.

“You’re going to be fine,” Jason is telling Sandy.

“I didn’t mean to do it,” Shannon hears herself say. She didn’t want to hurt Sandy. She just needed her to get Jason out of the hotel with her. She never wanted to hurt any of them: not Sandy, not Seth, not even Courtney, really. But they all got in the way.

“The paramedics are on their way,” one of the officers says.

Brent stares her dead in the eyes. “It’s over, Sabrina.”

“Don’t call me that!” The rejection tears out of her body like a fireball, wild and untamed and furious. Sabrina is the one who did all this. She screwed this up. She made them all hate me.

“On the ground,” Brent orders her. She resists. “Get on the ground!”

She refuses to move. She can hear Sandy whimpering in pain. She can hear Courtney’s low moans, the half-conscious gurgling of a woman torn apart.

“I never meant for any of this to happen,” Shannon says, gasping at the cold night air. “I’m so sorry. I never wanted it to be like this.”

Jason hovers over Courtney’s bloody form.

“Jason, you have to believe me. I never wanted these things to happen.”

He snaps around. “Will you shut up? Just shut up!

He might as well have shot her in the gut. Every trace of breath leaks out of her body in one enormous rush.

“I’m sorry,” she tells him. “I’m sorry this happened. I never wanted to do any of this. But I had to.”

Light reflects off the tears streaming down Jason’s cheeks. She wants to rush to him, wrap him in her arms and comfort him.

“You did this,” he says, his words harsh and jagged like a rusty blade. “You are sick. You’re evil.”

“No.” But even as the protest leaves her lips, defeat begins to well in the empty spaces inside her. She tries to block it, siphon it out; she has come too far to give up now. “All I need is a chance.”

“You need to go to hell!” Jason turns his attention to the officers. “How long ‘til the paramedics get here? Courtney--and Sandy--”

“Soon,” Brent says, his gun still trained on Shannon. “I’m not going to repeat myself. Get on the goddamned ground.”

She considers dropping to her knees, giving up and letting this be over. It would be such a relief. She has spent so long barely treading water, gasping for air. She has been chasing memories and dreams for so many years, and she is tired. Bone tired. The only thing that has kept her going is the thought of Jason, of him finally accepting her and loving her, quieting the voices in her head and making her feel safe.

“I need you,” she says, as her throat tightens and tears push their way out from behind her eyes. “I need you so much.”

Jason refuses to look at her.

The tears fall harder now. They feel so good, but the release isn’t enough. The scars on her forearms itch, desperate to be torn open to relieve some of the pain she feels in her stomach and in her heart.

She looks over the wall, at the street several stories below.

“I love you,” she tells Jason. “I never stopped.”

“Love? Love?” He is almost hysterical now, crying the same way that she is. “You don’t even know what love is.”

It all happens in flashes.

Brent holding the gun on her, unrelenting and unsympathetic. Sandy cowering on the ground, one of the officers wrapping her leg with a jacket. The lights from the city around them, signs of life going on as if none of this happened. The sounds of sirens approaching. The street below. And Jason’s face, twisted with hatred, the worst thing she could ever imagine.

The pain is too much to bear. Even worse than when she was a girl, the way her parents hurt her. Worse than the pain of realizing that she had killed them in that fire, and worse than the first time they took her away from Jason and put her in that horrible hospital. This pain is the worst--because there is no more hope now.

Her desperate hands pull her onto the half-wall that borders the roof.

“Get down from there!” Brent yells.

Her whole body shakes. Sirens whirl in the distance. Glancing back over her shoulder, she sees Jason’s face, but the sight of it is too much.

“I’m sorry,” she says into the nighttime breeze, and then unsteady feet launch her upward and out, into the sky. She is vaguely aware that she is falling, but all she can really see are the bits of her life presenting themselves before her mind’s eye in scattered snapshots. The pavement rushes up to meet her, but it is abstract, far away, like something out of a dream, and as it moves closer, the strangest feeling comes over her, serene and open. She thinks it might be peace. Finally.

It all happens in flashes. And then there is nothing more.


Two ambulances race past the restaurant, their frenzied sirens momentarily cutting into the din and their lights throwing a red glow through the front window. Matt Gray, seated at the bar, drags his gaze away from the college football game on TV to watch the ambulances go by.

He is about to return his attention to the game--and to the beer and half-eaten burger in front of him--when he spots a familiar face walking through the restaurant’s front door.

It takes only a second for Danielle Taylor to spot him, too. She stops at the host’s stand to say something and then comes toward him.

“How’re you?” he asks lamely, considering that the last time he saw her, her biggest secret was exposed and her daughter declared that she wanted nothing to do with her.

“Getting by,” she says with a genial smile. “And you? I thought you’d be at the wedding.”

“Jason invited me, but I figured it’d be weird, Sarah bringing Graham and all.” He takes a sip of his beer. “Are you dropping in to eat? If you are...” He pulls up the empty chair a few feet away.

“No, I’m just picking up a takeout order for Ryan and me.”

“It’s okay. I know you just want to avoid having to talk to me for too long,” he says with a teasing laugh. As it fades, he turns more serious. “Listen, I’m really sorry, for... what happened at the party for Ryan’s book. I shouldn’t have brought that drive thing there.”

“You were doing me a favor by keeping it away from Diane.”

“Some favor. Made things a whole lot worse.”

“It was a ticking time bomb,” Danielle says. “It was bound to come out. Of all the people I could blame, you are not on the list.”

He tries to accept that. “Thanks. I’m still sorry it happened. Have you and Elly...”

“Talked?” She shakes her head. “I’ve been checking in with her parents. She’s doing okay, I suppose. Maybe once some time has passed, she’ll be willing to talk with me.”

“She will. She’s a kid. They have to make stuff complicated.”

“I think I’m the one who did that. But at least it’s out there now. I can’t say it’s how I wanted it to happen, but in a way, it’s a big relief.”

The hostess returns to her stand with a white plastic bag tied at the top.

“There’s my order,” Danielle says. “It was good to see you, Matt. Have a good night.”

“You, too.”

She goes to pick up her food and pay, and Matt checks the score on the TV. Outside, a police car whizzes down the street, its wild lights setting the night on fire.


After the realization that both the bride and groom have gone missing, the celebration in the hotel’s ground-floor restaurant slowly turns to a fearful gathering. First only the four parents are aware of what has happened; then, word spreads among the families and friends. Sirens close in on the hotel, and by the time Claire receives a panicked call from Brent to go up to the roof, it is apparent to everyone that something very, very serious is taking place.

Bill Fisher waits as close to the restaurant’s exit as the police will allow him. When he sees police officers and paramedics streaming into the building, a cloud of urgency surrounding each and every one of them, he tries to push his way out of the restaurant.

A thick-armed police officer holds him back.

“Where are my son and daughter-in-law? On the roof?” Bill demands rather than asks.

The cop’s silence is all the confirmation that Bill needs.

“I need to see them,” he says. “What’s going on?”

“We’ll have more information in a few minutes.”

“I don’t want ‘information.’ I want to know what’s happening! Why are there paramedics here?”

“We’re working hard to make sure everything is okay,” the officer says before turning his back.

Paula appears behind Bill. She knots her fingers together with worry, the way she always does. “What’s happening?” she asks.

All Bill can do is shake his head. Paula joins him in watching the action in the lobby, searching for some clue as to what in the world is going on.

A valet rushes across the lobby to the front desk. “Someone fell off the roof,” he tells the desk clerk. “A woman. Maybe she jumped, I don’t know.”

Paula gasps, and her hand clutches Bill’s shoulder. Bill, for his part, lacks the energy and the nerve to do anything but stare across the lobby as the valet’s words echo in his head. Maybe they are better off not knowing, he thinks as he tries to block out the worst of the bad thoughts that crowd his head.


“I’m surprised Matt didn’t go,” Ryan Moriani says, as he and Danielle spread their takeout meal over the dining room table.

“I think he was worried it would be awkward.” Danielle opens the Styrofoam container of French fries and immediately swipes one off the pile. “Oh, these are good. We should have ordered two hours ago.”

Ryan runs a hand up her back. “As I recall, we were otherwise engaged two hours ago.”

“I seem to remember that,” she says with a smile, picking up another French fry. “You got the turkey burger, right?”


She hands him the container with his burger. He takes it and drops into a chair, but he makes no move to open the container. Danielle has a fairly good idea of what is wrong.

“Are you upset you aren’t at the wedding?” she asks.

Ryan’s right shoulder rises and falls in a halfhearted attempt at a shrug. “Not upset, exactly. I didn’t expect to be invited. More like disappointed.”

She takes a seat across from him and simply looks at him. She doesn’t speak, she doesn’t force him to say anything. Instead, she waits for him to continue. In their time together, she has learned that this is the most effective way to get Ryan to open up.

“I guess I thought there would come a point where it would all pass,” he says when he is ready. “I know that’s stupid, after everything I did to the Fishers, but I had this little hope in the back of my mind...” Now he opens up the container and pulls apart the burger to be sure there are no pickles on it. “But my brother got married today, and I missed it. There’s no next time or next year for that. It’s pretty final.”

“There will be other events. Weddings, holidays, all sorts of things.”

“I visited them when Sophie was born. I thought maybe that would... help things along. That Jason would maybe soften up. But he didn’t, and that was the last time I saw him. Not that I blame him, or any of them. What I did...”

They pick at the French fries in silence.

“Maybe it’s time you forgave yourself,” Danielle says.

Ryan looks as if he is holding back the urge to laugh in her face. Barely holding it back.

“I’m serious,” she says. “You aren’t the same man who made those mistakes. You’ve learned and you’ve changed.”

“That doesn’t change the past.”

“No, but it can change the future. You’ve proven yourself to me, Ryan--and you know how skeptical I was at first. Maybe there is still hope for you and the Fishers.”

“Maybe,” he says, without much conviction.

“Don’t shut the door on the possibilities. That’s all I’m saying.”

He lifts his burger to his mouth, but before he takes a bite, he stares at Danielle over the top of it--as if he is trying to sort out whether what she is saying might be valid, after all.


The paramedics have the stretcher halfway out of the ambulance before the doors are even fully open. Jason crouches inside the vehicle, watching the real-life horror movie playing out before him. EMTs and doctors shout confusing, worrisome words as the stretcher and Courtney disappear inside the hospital.

Claire climbs out of the ambulance first. She extends a hand to help Jason out.

“Did they get her here in time?” he asks as his feet hit the pavement.

“I hope so.”

That is not what he wants to hear.

“Thanks for taking care of her back there, while we waited,” he says. “That has to have helped.”

Claire’s lips form a thin, stern line as she nods. Jason is vaguely aware of the cold bite of the nighttime air, nipping through the thin fabric of his dress shirt. When he looks down, he sees the smears of red on him, and images of the blood-spattered rooftop invade his head. He wonders if he will ever stop seeing those images.

“Let’s go inside,” Claire says, and she takes his arm to lead him into the hospital.

It occurs to him how fortunate it is that there is a nurse in the family, because without Claire, he would have no idea where to go or what to do. She brings him to the nurses’ station, where she confers quietly with a male nurse for a minute.

“They’re already moving her to the O.R.,” she tells Jason when she turns back. “To operate on her.”

“That’s good, right?”

“It’s good. Yeah.”

He gets the impression that there is something more, something that she is not telling him, but he is not so sure that he wants to hear it right now. He finds a chair and dumps his weary body into it.

Minutes later--he thinks--Tim, Travis, and Molly rush in. “Mom and Dad are coming with the girls,” Molly says. “Sarah is with Graham.”

The details of who is getting there in which vehicle leave Jason’s brain as soon as they enter it.

“Can you find out anything else?” he asks Claire a few minutes down the line.

“I’ll try.” She disappears to investigate.

Before he realizes what he is doing, Jason is on his feet. “I can’t sit here. There has to be something I can do.”

Molly slips her hand into his. “Why don’t we go to the chapel? It’ll be good to pray.”

As much as he doesn’t want to face the fact that there is anything they need to pray for, he allows her to guide him down the hallway toward the chapel. The others fall into line behind them, a procession full of fearful words unspoken.


Will the doctors be able to save Courtney?
What did you think of Shannon’s final moments?
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