Episode #617

- Ryan tried to convince both Diane and Julian that publishing Julian’s book was a bad idea, but neither of them could be persuaded.
- A session with a hypnotist showed Sarah an alternate life in which she and Matt never lost their baby--but their marriage still crumbled, and she still met Graham.
- After a falling-out, Sarah and Diane reconciled. When Diane offered to be maid of honor at Sarah’s wedding, Sarah revealed that she had asked Molly instead.


The driveway is already full when Matt Gray pulls up to the house. The caterer’s and florist’s vans are taking up prime real estate, and he also recognizes Molly’s car. Thus, in spite of the rain cascading down from the sky, he parks at the curb. Before exiting the car, he takes off his leather jacket and hands it to Tori in the passenger seat.

“Just hold it over your head,” he says. He hurries around to her side of the car, opens the door, and escorts her to the house’s entrance under cover of his coat.

“Thanks, Daddy,” she says once they reach the front door, which opens as a woman in a white apron exits with an umbrella. Matt and Tori wipe their feet and enter the house. Tori hands him his sopping jacket, and as Matt slips it on, he is aware of how wet his long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans became in the short sprint from the car.

“See? No harm done,” he says, spinning her to look at herself in a gold-framed mirror hanging over a console table. Her hair and her black dress are utterly untouched by the rain.

Tori gives herself a once- or twice-over and fiddles to realign her necklace. “It’s so effing cold outside.”

“Can you maybe find a better word?” Matt grumbles. She responds with a look that might as well be a giant sign reading, You’re old and lame.

He takes note of the house’s holiday décor and the way it has been utilized to dress things up for today’s wedding. Fresh, vibrant garland curls around the banister and the columns that highlight the foyer; poinsettias in both red and white provide merry bursts of color. In the living room, he sees a number of floor stands holding red pillar candles.

“Does it look okay?” comes a voice from the staircase.

Matt turns, and there she is--Sarah, dressed for another wedding day. He knew this day would come, knew she was marrying Graham, but having it right in front of him manages to knock him off-balance. When they held their own wedding years ago, first on the beach and then, officially, in the hospital chapel, he never could have imagined that he would be dropping off their daughter for Sarah’s wedding to another man.

“Looks great,” he says, an amiable smile broadening across his face. “So do you.”

“Thanks.” She descends the rest of the way down the stairs in her silk, silver dress. Matching accents are intertwined through her hair, which is swept up except for a few purposely loose strands. “Tori, you look gorgeous.”

“You do, too! They did such a good job on your hair!” Tori rushes to meet her mother at the bottom of the stairs, in order to examine the hairdo up close.

“Thanks for dropping her off,” Sarah says to Matt. “With all the preparation going on today…”

“Glad to do it. I guess I, uh, I’ll get outta here now.”

He moves for the door, but then Sarah speaks up: “Matt. Wait.”

He pauses as she turns to Tori. “Aunt Molly is in the kitchen. Would you go see if she needs help with any last-minute stuff?”

Sarah doesn’t say anything further until Tori disappears into the kitchen. Once she is gone, though, Sarah’s expression turns more serious.

“I just want to make sure you know how grateful I am,” she tells him. “You’ve been great through all of this. A lot of guys would be…”

“As long as you and Tori are happy.” He feels awkward as hell saying it, even if it is (mostly) the truth.

“I’m sorry things got so crappy between us, Matt. I never would’ve imagined this is how it would all end.”

“Guess you can’t force things to go according to plan.” Uncertain silence hangs heavy between them. “As long as you’re sure this is right for you, then I’m happy for you.”

For an instant, he swears that she is about to say that it isn’t right--that it’s utterly wrong, that she made a mistake by ever getting involved with Graham in the first place. He is sure that he can see the words poised on her lips, ready to spring from every unsettled muscle in her face.

Instead, she puts on a warm, if somewhat artificial, smile. “It is. So thank you.”

“I’m gonna get going.” He makes another move toward the still-open door, then reverses. “Congratulations, Sarah.” He pulls her into a tentative hug.

“Thank you,” she says, and as their embrace becomes less stiff, neither of them notices Molly enter from the kitchen and freeze in her tracks at the sight of them together.


Armed with a newspaper, Ryan Moriani occupies a chair in the hotel’s lobby for close to two hours before he sees what he needs. Once he does, he waits a minute, then makes his way to the elevator bank and up to the room where he has been once before. He knocks on the door and waits.

“Natalie,” he says to the brown-haired woman who answers the door.


“Ryan Moriani. I’m a… an associate of your sister’s.”

All hints of politeness fall from her face. “I know who you are. You’re the one who wrote that book.”

“That would be me. I need to have a word with you.” He moves to enter the room, but Natalie blocks him.

“It’ll only take a minute,” he says.

“Julian!” she calls out.

“I saw him leave the hotel a few minutes ago. I know he isn’t here.”

Natalie continues to block the door. “A minute. Go.”

“You and Julian are making a terrible mistake,” he says. “Once this book is out, he’ll never work in the financial sector again. Take it from me. From my experience.”

“It’s a good payday.”

“It’s also incredibly short-sighted. That money is not going to last the rest of your lives. Then what? What is Julian going to do for work once his criminal activity is all over the bestseller list? Or are you going to be the one who has to find a job?”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” she says, though he is certain that he can see a few cracks in her armor already.

“That’s just it, Natalie. I know this territory better than anyone.”

“Get out of my face.”

With a disinterested shrug, he half-turns away from her. “Then again, maybe it doesn’t matter. For all we know, once the book is published, Julian will be through with you, anyway. What he really needed you for was to get to your sister, wasn’t it? And once he’s collected his money…”

“Shut up,” she says, her hand poised to slam the door in his face. Ryan keeps his hands pressed on the doorframe but prepares to yank them away, lest she actually fling the door closed. Visions of having his fingers smashed cause his stomach to flip, but he tries to maintain an outward cool.

“All I’m saying is, think about what you’re doing,” he tells her. “Think about your future. If you really want to have a life with Julian, maybe this book is not the wisest move.”


Sarah closes the door behind Matt. She turns around and takes in the house, decorated both for the wedding and for her and Graham’s first Christmas as husband and wife. The sight of it is overwhelming, as she is suddenly hit by the enormity of this life change. She is about to be Graham’s wife, pledged to him forever and ever; once upon a time, she made that same vow to Matt.

When Molly emerges from the kitchen, she does so warily, as if not sure what she might find in the foyer.

“Are we all set?” Sarah asks. She forces the question to sound as perky as possible, and it sounds false even to her own ears.

“We’re in very good shape, yeah.” Molly, clad in a knee-length black dress and an elegant strand of pearls around her neck, approaches her sister. “Matt went home?”

“Yeah. It was good of him to bring Tori over. He saved me a little bit of worrying.”

“I’m sure he didn’t mind.” Molly’s careful gaze works its way over Sarah. “You’re doing all right?” she finally asks.

“What do you mean? I’m fine. A little nervous, obviously. This wedding stuff doesn’t get less scary, no matter how many times you do it.”

Molly offers an accommodating grin and then, her voice quieter, says, “I mean… with Matt. You aren’t… regretting anything?”

Something spikes inside Sarah, something aggressive that she has not felt since her talk with Molly on Thanksgiving and her subsequent request that Molly stand up for her at the wedding.

“What do you mean?” she says.

“Nothing,” Molly responds quickly. “Just that… I saw you and Matt hugging. I thought you might be--I understand that you two left things very unresolved, that’s all.”

Of course she has to pull something like this today. Sarah shakes her head. “I don’t know what you’re trying to say--”

“Nothing, Sarah. I’m sorry. I was only asking.” Molly shifts awkwardly away from her. “It’s your wedding day. I didn’t mean to bother you. I only wanted to make sure you were doing all right.”

“I am,” Sarah says, but as soon as the disdainful words pass her lips, she feels another set rushing up behind them. “Wait.”

Her eyes flash to the staircase, to the front door, to the living room, and all around the foyer before she continues. “You’re right. I do… I miss Matt. I guess I’m thinking about it more today than normal, because…”

“Because you thought your wedding to him would be your last one.”

“Yeah. It isn’t that I don’t want to marry Graham.”

“I understand that.”

Sarah cannot tell how truthful that statement is, but she presses onward.

“This is the right thing for me,” she says. The dream, or whatever it was, that she experienced when Dr. Monica King placed her under hypnosis comes roaring back to the front of her mind. It has been lurking in her head a lot lately, in the dark of night, when she thinks about the upcoming wedding. But the dream told her exactly how things would have turned out if she hadn’t lost the baby: she and Matt would have still been at odds, and eventually their marriage would have disintegrated. They had problems, deep problems, long before she lost the baby as a result of the restaurant explosion.

“Of course I get sentimental about Matt sometimes,” she says. “But I’m supposed to marry Graham. My future is with him.”

“If you feel confident about that, then there is nothing to worry about. Now let’s go get you married.”

They start toward the kitchen, until Sarah says, “Molly. One more thing.”

“What?” Molly says, all business.

“Promise me won’t go into labor during this wedding, too.”

“I think I can handle that,” Molly says, patting her not-at-all-pregnant stomach, and the women head into the kitchen.


Natalie glowers at Ryan. “Why do you care so much, anyway?”

“Because.” Ryan knows there is no way in hell he can possibly sell some story about being concerned for Natalie or Julian, even if he attempts to play on her animosity toward her sister. In this case, the truth--or some part of it--might be his best bet.

“Because Julian was working for my father,” he says. “Personally, I don’t want any of that dredged up again. I’ve finally managed to move on with my life. I’m finally someone other than Nick Moriani’s son. The last thing I want is for this book to come out and drag all that into the open again.”

“Hmm.” She folds her arms tightly across her body, pushing her breasts upward perceptibly. He suspects that she is not even aware of the action; it is probably something she has done so many times to so many men that it is second nature now.

“You should try and discuss this with Julian,” Ryan says.

“You should try and get out of here before he comes back. I know he wouldn’t be happy to see that you snuck up here to harass me.”

“I’m not harassing you.”

“Sure seems like it to me.” She tips her head toward the suite’s telephone, resting on a nearby desk. “I’m sure management would take my word for it.”

He holds up his palms in a ceasefire. “Fine. Think about what I said, that’s all.”

“I already did. And I decided I didn’t care. As soon as that contract is finalized, the book is going to the presses.”

Ryan’s heart skips a beat. The contract isn’t finalized? The contract isn’t finalized?!

“The contract isn’t finalized?” he asks as calmly as he can.

“Don’t get so excited. It’s just been slow because of the holidays. And a little extra negotiating.” She flashes a smug grin, and Ryan can tell there is zero chance of her discouraging Julian from proceeding with the book. Whatever curtain of denial she managed shroud herself with is firmly back in place, even if Ryan was able to peek underneath it for a minute or two.

“Have a spectacular Christmas with your fiancé,” he says, backing away from the door. “For all you know, it could be the only one you two spend together.”

“Ugh.” With a sound of disgust, Natalie thrusts the door closed. The sound echoes through the corridor. Ryan hardly notices, though, because he has already pulled out his cell phone. He combs through his contacts for a number, and when he doesn’t find it there, he opens his e-mail application.

That number has to be in here somewhere…


Matt braces for the rain as he exits the house. Ducking his head down to his chest, he strides as fast as his legs will allow. That is how he doesn’t notice he is about to bump into someone until he has very nearly bumped into her.

“Watch where you’re going,” Diane Bishop snaps from beneath her umbrella.

Matt looks up. “Hey, Diane. Sorry.”

Clad in a black cocktail dress with a ruffle down the front, she holds out the umbrella to cover him as well as herself. “You’re the last person I expected to see here.”

“I was dropping Tori off.”

“It must be a real barrel of monkeys for you to be here.”

He shrugs, trying to hide his discomfort. “It’s fine. I got to congratulate Sarah.”

“Don’t congratulate her yet,” Diane says with a wry grin.

“What does that mean?”

The rain continues to fall hard all around them.

“Just that I hope she’s making the right choice,” she says carefully. “The wedding hasn’t actually taken place yet.”

“She seems pretty sure this is what she wants.”

“She’s Sarah. She always manages to convince herself that whatever she’s doing at the moment is the best decision she has ever made.”

Matt studies her. “What are you trying to say?”

“Nothing.” A sneer plays upon her lips. “Look, Sarah also asked Molly to be her maid of honor today. She’s clearly not in her right mind.”

“Isn’t that because you did something to make her not trust you?”

“Hey. We made up. The point is, she’s doing this because she can’t be with you.”

His heart rate quickens. “Did she tell you that?”

“Please. She doesn’t have to.” She pauses as she spots Bill and Paula’s car parking on the street, then hurries to add, “All I’m saying is, if you don’t want to see Sarah marry Graham, now is the time to do something about it.”

“I’m--I’m happy for Sarah,” he stammers, stepping out from under the umbrella. “Enjoy the wedding.”

He hightails it back to his car, waving at Bill and Paula as they step out of theirs. Only once he is behind the wheel again, his body drenched and his heart thumping, does he stop to think. Does Diane know…? Could she? No. There’s no way. She was just saying it because she is Diane, and that’s what she does. Sarah is about to marry Graham, and the last person who has any place here is Matt.

Trying to convince himself of that, he starts the car and drives away from the house.


Will Matt change his mind about letting Sarah marry Graham?
Is Sarah lying to herself about this marriage?
What could Ryan be up to now?
Talk about all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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