Episode #608

- Danielle and Ryan remained on the outs after he tried to manipulate her and Elly into reconciling.
- Sarah warned Ryan that Julian St. John was trying to sell a memoir based on his experiences working with Nick Moriani.
- Brent moved back into his and Molly’s home, and their marriage finally appeared to be on the mend.
- Paula learned that Jason was passed out on sleeping pills while Sophie cried in her crib. She confronted him about having a problem, but he refused to listen to her.


In a corner of the busy coffee shop, Ryan Moriani cannot pick something to stare at. He gazes into his coffee, out a nearby window, at the distressed wood of the tabletop, and at the door that never ushers in the person he waiting to see. Anxiety burns in the pit of his stomach, and his knuckles seemingly need to be cracked at least once per minute. When Danielle Taylor finally does walk through the door, Ryan feels like he should have smoked his way through an entire pack of cigarettes.

She immediately locates him among the many patrons, and she winds her way toward him through the chairs and tables.

“Thanks for meeting me,” Ryan says as he rises to greet her.

“Of course.” Danielle sits down before he can move in for a hug.

“Can I get you something? Coffee, tea?”

“I’m all right. Thanks.”

He hovers over the table for another moment before he takes his seat again. His unsteady hands curl around the coffee cup.

“I should begin by telling you how sorry I am,” he says. “Ambushing you and Elly the way I did--it was wrong. I never should have put you in that position.”

She nods, a terse acceptance of this apology. Ryan hopes that some words might follow, but when they do not, he forges onward.

“I love you,” he tells her. “Being without you all this time--it’s been hell. You are the best thing to happen to me in a long, long time, Danielle. I don’t want to be without you.”

When she finally does speak, it is more than he could have hoped for. “I love you, too,” she says.

It is a relief to Ryan to hear those words, and yet, he senses there is a but coming.

“I just don’t know if I can keep doing this,” she continues after a pained pause.

He hastens to assure her, “You don’t have to. I’m going to change. You make me want to change. To be better.”

She shakes her head. “You keep saying that. You’ve said it before. And nothing ever changes, Ryan. There’s always another surprise waiting.”

“This time will be different. Just give me a chance.”

“I don’t know how many more second chances I can give you.” She sounds so sad that it makes Ryan feel even worse than he already did.


Even as Claire Fisher makes her way through the maze of desks, ringing phones, and clacking keyboards, she questions whether she should be doing this. She wants--needs--to confide in someone about the birth certificate that Loretta sent to her, but when Tim almost found it in her apartment the other day, it all felt wrong. It’s too soon for her to share this with him, especially if it turns out to be nothing. She prays that it will turn out to be nothing. But in the meantime, she cannot keep it to herself any longer.

Still, opening up to someone will put this out in the world in an irreversible way. As she enters Brent Taylor’s office, she hopes that she is making the right choice.

Brent looks up from his desk. “Hey. Everything okay? You sounded upset when you called.”

“Everything’s fine.” She reaches into her oversized purse, a black Marc Jacobs that she managed to find discounted online, and pulls out the manila envelope. “Sort of fine. Take a look at this.”

He opens the envelope and studies the birth certificate. His face contorts with confusion. “Who is this?”

“That’s the question,” she says. “Loretta had this sent to me. I went to see her in prison--”

“You flew to New Hampshire?”

“Just for one day. Of course, she totally stonewalled me. She’s obviously toying with me in any way she can.”

“So track down the mother and father and find out if they have any connection to her,” Brent says, tossing the certificate and envelope onto his desk.

“I’m going to. I was going to have Sarah look into it, but I don’t want to have anyone in the family know about it until I know something for real.”

Brent leans back in his chair and examines her carefully, trying to read her for some insight. “What do you think this is about?”

She has to force herself to verbalize it: “Travis.” She picks up the certificate and holds it up for him to see. “Look at the date of birth. Three days before he was born. If this is something my father engineered...”

Now he gets it. His bewilderment morphs into a pained grimace.

“Don’t jump to any conclusions,” he says after a bout of tense silence. “This could just be Loretta grasping at straws to screw with you.”

“That would actually be ideal, given the alternatives.” She presses her hands into the back of a chair and thinks of sitting down, but too much nervous energy is coursing through her body for that.

“What do you need me to do?” Brent asks.

“I don’t know. I just... I needed to tell someone about this. And I don’t want to alarm the Fishers until I know whether there’s anything legitimate to this.”

He nods gravely. “Let’s start by tracking down these McClintock people. One thing at a time.”

“Yeah.” In spite of all the worry, some hint of relief spreads through her system. Telling him was a good idea. She doesn’t think she could have held this back any longer. A grateful smile plays at her lips. “Thanks, Brent.”

“I’m always here for you. You know that.”


It has been a long time since Molly Taylor came to this place, and even longer since it was under such pleasant circumstances. As she weaves her way along the familiar route to her husband’s office, she can feel the eyeballs on her, asking silent questions. She meets them with a calm, pleasant smile, even stopping to say hello to a few people. Of course, it is all small talk; no one dares to ask why she is here or what this visit means about the state of her marriage. She hopes that her relaxed demeanor and the bag of deli takeout in her hand will answer those unspoken queries.

When she reaches Brent’s office, she finds the door open. She is about to step into the doorway and surprise him--both with her presence and the lunch she is carrying--when she realizes that he is busy with someone.

A second later, she realizes who that someone is.

“Thanks, Brent,” Claire says, her back to the door, blocking Brent’s view of it.

Though she cannot see his face, Molly can hear the softness in his voice as he responds, “I’m always here for you. You know that.”

Suddenly, all thoughts of a happy lunch with her husband fade away, and all Molly can think about is whether she made a mistake in coming here.


“Hey, buddy,” Jason Fisher says sharply as Alex Marshall admits him to the apartment.

“Hey. What’s up?” Alex tries his hardest to maintain his cool, though he already has a fairly good idea why Jason wanted to speak with him. Even though he is certain that he did nothing wrong, his insides tremble with nervousness.

“Pretty sure you know what’s up.” Jason places Sophie down on the floor, and Alex can see that the little girl’s face is stained with not-quite-dry tears. When her father hands her a stuffed hedgehog, Sophie regards it curiously and then hurls it to the ground.

Alex waits for Jason to vocalize the issue.

“You went to my mom and tattled on me?” Jason says, as he picks up the hedgehog and tries to hand it to Sophie, who refuses to take it.

“I didn’t go to your mom,” Alex says. “I saw Sarah when I went to Graham’s. I wasn’t not going to mention--”

“Why not? Aren’t you supposed to be my friend?”

“I am your friend. And as a friend, I am worried about you. I’ve said it to your face--it’s not like I’m going behind your back.”

“Well, you really set a whole shitstorm in motion, so thanks.” Jason kneels down again to pick up the hedgehog, but Sophie shakes her head in denial. She runs across the apartment’s generic beige carpeting but only makes it a few steps before she loses her balance and topples to the ground. Tears come instantly.

“Come here, sweetie,” Jason coos as he scoops her into his arms. She nuzzles against him but cries even louder. Over the baby’s head, Jason says to Alex, “That was not cool, telling my family like it was some major tragedy. I overslept. The batteries in the baby monitor died. No one got hurt.”

“You overslept because you’re taking those pills every single night.”

“Please. It’s not like I’m Michael Jackson, getting chloroformed to sleep or something.” Sophie’s cries rise, threatening to drown out Jason’s words. He rocks her gently back and forth. “Soph, it’s okay. It’s okay.”

As bad as Alex feels--and he does; since he opened his mouth to Sarah, he felt like he betrayed his best friend--he reminds himself that he did this out of concern for Jason. Sometimes that takes precedent over being in someone’s good graces for a while.

“I’m worried about you,” he says again. “Maybe the sleeping pills aren’t the problem. Actually, I know they’re not. But everything isn’t okay. You’re--you’re grieving, and you’re trying to do it all yourself, and that’s not healthy.”

Jason’s eyes flare. “I wish everyone would stop trying to tell me what’s healthy or normal or okay! My wife got--” He glances down at Sophie, still absorbed in her wailing. “My wife got hacked up and murdered on our wedding day! Nothing is normal. I’m keeping my head above water. I’d say I’m doing pretty damn well.”

“Honestly, I’m amazed you’re even functioning, let alone running a business. But you need help, Jason. You need to let some of us help. It’s not good for you and it’s not--” He hesitates over this next part but forces it out: “It’s not good for Sophie.”

For a split-second, Alex actually fears what Jason is going to do. The rage within him is so visible, so palpable, that Alex has horrifying visions of Jason flinging Sophie to the floor, or lunging at Alex and smashing his head against the wall, or any number of equally awful things.

Instead, Jason chokes back his words and squats down to pick up the neglected hedgehog. Cradling the still-crying Sophie in his arms, he returns to the door.

“Don’t you dare tell me how to raise my daughter,” he says. He opens the door and then turns back. “You know what? Why don’t you butt out of my life altogether? ‘Cause if this is what you consider helping me--thanks but no thanks.”

Just like that, he is gone, as quickly as he arrived. Alex doesn’t know whether he should chase after him or give him some time to cool off, but more than ever, he is certain of one thing: he needs to do something to help Jason and that little girl.


After his depressing and not especially productive talk with Danielle, Ryan returns to his car full of nervous energy. He will prove to her that he can change--he has to. One word in particular stands out in his mind: surprises. He can’t really blame Danielle for being tired of them. There was the way Diane exposed Elly’s parentage--because of Ryan’s connection to Danielle. There was the graduation party where neither she nor Elly knew the other would be in attendance. Hell, there was the time she found him passed out drunk in the park and, before that, the time she attended his wedding to Claire and wound up being held hostage with the rest of the guests. She has experienced a lot of upheaval because of Ryan-related surprises.

There is one more on the horizon, he fears, and so after sitting in his car for a few minutes processing all this, he makes a series of phone calls. Within fifteen minutes, Sarah gets back to him with a hotel name and a room number. Ryan heads directly there.

He raps hard on the door of room 312. Julian St. John answers in a matter of seconds, outfitted in a pale blue cashmere sweater and khaki pants. He looks put-together, rested, not at all like a man who recently spent a few years behind bars.

“Now this is a surprise,” Julian says, eyeing Ryan.

“We need to talk.” Ryan pushes past him and into the room. “I heard about your little plan to make a buck off your brief and not very successful stint as a criminal.”

Julian leaves the door open and crosses his arms over his chest. “And?”

“And I won’t allow it. I’ll sue. You can’t profit from your involvement with my father and his bad ideas.”

“That’s rich.” Julian pauses, then lets out a hearty, overly dramatic laugh. “This coming from the man who published a book about how he framed his own brother for murder.”

Ryan knew that would be the first line of opposition and quickly responds, “That was different. I wanted people to know my side of the story. I wanted my family to understand how that all happened.”

“But I’m not allowed to air my side of the story. I see.” Julian taps his toe against the carpet. “Everything you and your father did is public knowledge. I can write whatever I please about my involvement in it.”

Nervousness flares anew within Ryan, a flickering flame hit by a fresh burst of oxygen. If Julian publishes this book, there is going to be so much digging, especially because of his own recently published memoir. The aspects of his life and past behavior that he worked to downplay and revise will be dredged up again, exposed, and his family and Danielle will all have to remember that the man they tentatively accept is really just a criminal.

He decides to try another tack. Willing himself to maintain a calm exterior, he says, “I wanted to warn you to drop this. But I guess it doesn’t matter much. I hear Vision Publishing wants no part of this, and you aren’t exactly a marketable author elsewhere, so...”

A sneer spreads over Julian’s face.


“You’re a little behind the news cycle,” Julian says. “I received a call from Diane Bishop earlier today. She wants the book. In fact, she wants to put it on the fast track to publication.”

The floor seems to fall out from beneath Ryan. Surprises. Always more surprises.


Molly stands outside Brent’s office, watching him and Claire confer over--well, she doesn’t know what, but from the sounds of it, it is something both serious and personal. Just like before, when they were investigating Loretta Ragan together.

“I do know that,” Claire says to Brent. “And I appreciate it more than you can know.”

Something about Claire’s tone spurs a shift inside Molly. There is something so sentimental about the way Claire expresses her gratitude; there is a sweetness to it that seems determined to ignore all the damage their “special bond” did to Brent’s marriage. So Molly clears her throat and knocks on the open door.

Claire turns at the noise, and when she moves her body, she also grants Brent a view of the doorway and his wife standing there.

“Hope I’m not interrupting,” Molly says. She holds up the takeout bag. “I thought I’d surprise you with lunch.”

“Wow. Thank you.” Brent rises to greet her with a hug and a kiss.

Molly turns to Claire. “Hi, Claire. Is everything all right?”

All Claire says is, “Yeah. I just had something to run by Brent. I’ll let you two get to your lunch now.”

“I’ll make a call about that thing,” Brent says to Claire as she moves toward the door.

“Okay. It’s no rush. But thank you. I’ll see you later, Molly.”

Molly sets the food down on the desk and begins to unpack it. She waits for Claire to be completely gone before she says anything else.

“Is there more trouble with Loretta?” she asks.

The question seems to make Brent nervous. “Oh, uh--no. Not really. It’s nothing to worry about.” He forces a smile across his face. “What did I do to deserve a surprise visit and lunch?”

She shrugs. “I thought it would be nice to do something a little special. Now that you’re back in the house, we can go back to our normal lives.”

“I like the sound of that,” Brent says, and he seems perfectly genuine about it. But then why is he still having secretive meetings with Claire, talking in code about things that he obviously is not going to explain to Molly? As they unwrap their sandwiches, she wonders if anything has actually changed at all.


Is Molly being irrational about Brent and Claire’s friendship?
Should Ryan try and dissuade Diane from publishing Julian’s book?
What can Ryan do to prove himself to Danielle?
Discuss all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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