Episode #623

- Tori told Matt that she saw him at Sarah’s wedding and tried to make him admit that he wanted to stop Sarah from marrying Graham.
- Claire discovered that Travis’s blood type did not match the one listed on his birth certificate. Suspecting that a switch had taken place, she set out to find a way to test Spencer’s DNA.
- Ryan stirred up Natalie’s insecurities about her relationship with Julian and encouraged her to get him to elope in Las Vegas--where Ryan made arrangements for another publisher to meet Julian and steal him away from Vision Publishing.


The minute she and Brent Taylor set foot in the dormitory, Claire Fisher feels far more conspicuous than she would like. She knows that the students they pass are eyeing them, trying to figure out who these “old people” are, whose parents they might be, and why they are roaming around the dorm on this particular afternoon.

“This is the worst undercover job in the world,” she mutters to Brent as they enter a stairwell.

Brent looks upward to be sure that they are alone in the stairwell. “We don’t have to be undercover. That’s the brilliance of this.”

“I can’t imagine he’d be happy if he knew we were here.”

“By the time he finds out, we’ll have what we need.”

They arrive at the third floor and exit the stairwell. As they proceed down the hall, searching for the right room, Claire is immensely grateful that she has Brent by her side. She could do this alone, but his comfort level in situations like this goes a long way toward keeping her calm--well, as calm as she could be right now.

They stop in front of room 308.

“Ready for this?” Brent asks. Claire nods and knocks on the door.

The young man who opens it is, thankfully, not Spencer Ragan. They managed to check his class schedule and waited for a day when he would be away from the room for several hours, but in the back of her mind, Claire has been wondering whether the plan would fall apart before it really even began.

“Hi,” she says to the young man, who is clearly startled by the appearance of these two adults at his dorm room door on a weekday afternoon. “I’m Spencer’s sister. Is he here?”

“Uh, no.” The kid is Filipino, shorter than average height, and soft-spoken. “He’s at class.”

“Oh. Do you have any idea when he’ll be back?”

The roommate glances at the alarm clock on one of the bedside stands. “Probably, like, 20 minutes? He’s at his last class right now.”

“Oh, okay.” She sticks out her hand. “I’m Claire, by the way. This is Brent.”

“Mark.” They all shake hands. “He never mentioned having a sister…”

“Half-sister. It’s a little complicated.” Her eyes flash to the open backpack on one of the desk chairs. “Would you mind if we waited here for him? I really need to talk to him. It’s important--family stuff.”

“Um, sure. I’m actually headed to a class in a minute. Come in.”

The room is a little larger than the one that Travis and Landon share in Hartley Hall, but the basic layout is the same. A built-in set of drawers, a bed, and a desk line each wall, dividing the room neatly in half. Mark hurriedly picks up some clothes from his bed, but Claire has seen her own son’s room at home, and this is definitely not too bad. One of the windows is cracked open, letting a tinge of winter-cold air into the room.

“I’m gonna head out now,” Mark says, zipping up his backpack and placing it over his shoulders. “Want me to text Spencer and tell him you’re here?”

“No,” Claire says, a little too quickly. Composing herself, she adds, “I don’t want to alarm him or anything. Thanks for letting us wait here.”

“Yeah, no problem.” A moment later, Mark leaves the room.

Despite the fact that they were let in by someone who lives here, Claire feels that they are violating someone’s personal space. She cannot get her body to stop pumping adrenaline.

“Let’s find what we need and get out of here,” Brent says. “He said Spencer would be back in maybe twenty minutes--so I want to be out of here in ten.”

“Okay.” They begin scouring Spencer’s side of the room, searching for something--anything--that they might be able to use.

She picks up an empty coffee cup from the desk. “Can we get a DNA sample from this?”

“What would be great,” Brent says, picking up a shower caddy from Spencer’s nightstand, “would be a hair. Doesn’t he have a brush or something?”

“His hair is kind of--” She makes a motion to indicate the way that Spencer spikes up his hair. “So he might not really brush it.”

Brent sets down the shower caddy. “Dammit.”

“Hang on a sec!” comes a voice from out in the hallway. Right outside the door to this room.

“That’s him,” Claire mouths, turning to Brent in horror.

“Let me put my stuff in my room,” Spencer says, on the other side of the door.

Time slows to a crawl as Claire hears the jingle of keys and then the click of the keys being inserted into the lock.


“I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it! Sex in the air, I don’t care, I like--”

Tori Gray is lost in the new Rihanna single when, out of nowhere, it stops abruptly and her bedroom goes silent. She turns around and sees her new stepfather standing at her computer.

“I already asked you to turn down the music,” Graham says.

Tori shrugs and rolls over on the bed. “Sorry.”

Graham regards her with a grim expression. “Don’t you have homework to finish?”

“I’m gonna do it in a little bit.”

“You should do it now. So it’s complete and you can relax.”

“I was relaxing.”

“You were blasting this music so loudly that I couldn’t concentrate on a thing downstairs.” He glances at the computer screen, where iTunes is open. “And why are you listening to a song called ‘S&M’? That hardly seems appropriate.”

“Oh, God.”

“Victoria, I’m serious.”

It feels like something is about to explode inside her chest. She tries to push it down, but it happens anyway. “Fine! Just shut up, okay?”

She knows immediately that she has gone too far.

“Don’t you dare tell me to shut up,” Graham says.

Well, the damage is done, so she might as well go with it. “Already did!”

“Victoria! That is unacceptable!”

“Hey! Hey!” Sarah comes rushing down the hall and into the room. “What is going on in here?”

“I came in here to turn down this blasting music, and your daughter felt it was necessary to tell me to shut up.”


“It just slipped out.” She scoots up toward the head of the bed, pressing herself into the mound of pillows. “Sorry.”

Sarah turns to Graham. “Give us a minute alone, okay?”

He assents silently and leaves the room. Sarah gently closes the door and then joins her daughter on the bed.

“What is going on with you?” she asks. “Graham is a part of this family. You can’t act like this toward him.”

Tori folds her arms and drops her chin to rest upon them. “Why did you do this to us?”

“Do what to us?”

“Marry him.”

“Because I love him. We’ve been through this, Tori.”

“You didn’t have to marry him.”

“I know I didn’t have to--”

“No. You could have picked Dad.” She sees her mother ready to disregard her and decides that this is the right time to let it fly: “Dad came to stop the wedding. He didn’t want you to marry Graham.”


Natalie Bishop waits nervously in the sitting area of the hotel suite, her Dell laptop resting on top of her legs. When she hears the shower switch off, she mentally reviews her proposal once more. She hates the thought of giving Ryan Moriani any credit at all--the man is clearly a moron, from what she has gathered from their limited interactions--but he might have a point about Julian… especially after that phone call from earlier.

At first, she wanted to confront Julian about it. If some hussy is calling their hotel looking for him, he’d better be able to explain himself. But the more she thinks about it, the more she thinks that a confrontation would make her look desperate. Better to keep that information in her back pocket in case she needs it. In the meantime, she can adjust her plans accordingly.

This is the right thing to do.

The bathroom door opens, and steam floats out into the suite. Julian emerges from the bathroom in a soft, white bathrobe that contrasts strongly against his dark skin.

“Good shower?” she asks.

“Yes. It was, um, it was relaxing.” He seems surprised by the question; she reminds herself not to seem so intense.

“Good.” She places the laptop on the desk and stands up. She smoothes out her dress as Julian goes to the closet to select some clothes.

“How are you feeling about dinner?” he asks.

“I actually… I hadn’t really thought about it,” she says. “I was thinking about something else for this weekend.”

Julian turns to look at her over his shoulder.

“How do you feel about Las Vegas?” Natalie says.

He narrows his eyes in confusion. “Is this some sort of focus group?”

“I think it might be a fun getaway. Bree is visiting her father, we have nothing big to do…”

“I suppose we could do that.”

“Great. I’ll book a hotel room. How does the Bellagio sound?” She darts back to the laptop.

“It sounds wonderful,” Julian says, “but why the rush?”

“What do you mean? There’s no rush. I’m just excited to take a trip with you.”

“Natalie.” He folds his arms across his chest. “What’s really going on here?”


As Claire watches the doorknob twist, she becomes completely paralyzed. There is no way that she can do anything--hide, escape--even though every millisecond seems to be lasting an hour. So she freezes and watches the terrible conclusion of this play out in her mind’s eye.

But it never comes.

“What the hell?” Spencer’s voice says outside the door, but it is not directed at the room, but somewhere down the hall. He laughs, and then there is the sound of footsteps. The next time Claire hears his voice, it is far enough away from the door that she cannot make out the words.

“Come on!” Brent mutters, grabbing her by the arm. He dives to the floor with surprising agility for someone with a prosthetic lower leg, and he pulls Claire underneath Mark’s bed with him.

Moments later, the doorknob turns again, and they hear Spencer say to someone outside, “Let me just drop my bag in here, okay?”

The bed is very low to the ground, barely enough for Claire and Brent to fit underneath it. The benefit is that it would be almost impossible for Spencer to see them unless he were to get on his hands and knees and purposely peek under the bed. Claire lies on her stomach and allows herself only the shallowest of breaths as she sees Spencer’s Diesel sneakers move around the room.

She can feel Brent beside her in the dark, their sides touching. She can feel his breathing more than hear it, and she finds herself trying to match his breaths--anything to relax herself.

Then something happens that causes her to stop breathing entirely: Spencer’s iPhone falls to the ground.

“Dammit,” he says to himself. He bends over to pick it up, and for one instant, Claire is sure that he is going to bend far enough to get a look underneath the bed.

But his hand stretches down, picks up the phone, and seconds later, he is out of the room, closing and locking the door behind himself. Neither Claire nor Brent says anything for a good ten seconds.

“What now?” she whispers.

“Let’s wait a few minutes, just to be safe,” Brent says. “Then we get the hell out of here.”

So they lie there in the dark under the bed, biding their time until the coast is clear. Claire feels her body go numb as the adrenaline rush wears off. As if sensing this, Brent shifts his position so that he can place a hand on her arm. The contact goes a long way toward reassuring her.


A thousand possibilities fly through Sarah’s mind. She heard her daughter wrong. Tori is mistaken about having seen Matt. Tori is making it up, trying to cause trouble. All of those things make more sense than-no.

“He was here,” Tori says, taking Sarah’s silence as a sign that she doesn’t believe her.

“I know he was here. He came to drop you off. We spoke.”

“And he came back later. I saw him outside the window.” Tori leans forward, as if trying to press the words into her mother’s consciousness.

“Why would he do that? No…” She and Matt had their moment that day. She cannot lie to herself well enough to pretend that it didn’t mean anything, didn’t make her think about what life would be like if their marriage hadn’t failed, but she chose to marry Graham. And Matt didn’t try to convince herself otherwise.

“He wanted to stop the wedding,” Tori persists.

It scares Sarah how much she believes Tori--or how much she wants to believe her.

“This has nothing to do with your father,” she says, standing from the bed. “You were disrespectful to Graham. When you’re in this house, he is as much a parent to you as I am. He’s my husband.”


“No. You will show him respect. End of story.”

Tori groans and drops her head into a pillow.

“I want you to go apologize to him,” Sarah says, “and then come back in here, do your homework, and keep the music off. And give me your cell phone.”

“Mom, I promise--”

“Phone. Come on.” Sarah holds out her hand until Tori cracks and forks it over. “Now go apologize to Graham.”

With an exaggerated huff, Tori slides off the bed and trudges out of the room. Sarah lingers behind; she turns the cell phone over in her hand, as if manipulating the device will somehow allow her to solve a problem that is totally intangible.


Natalie keeps her eyes on the laptop screen. “What do you mean? Nothing’s going on.”

“The way you’re rushing,” Julian says, “it seems like the hotel is about to burn down and you want to get out before it happens.”

“I just want to have a nice, romantic weekend.”

“We can have one of those here.” He unties the robe and lets it fall onto the floor. In spite of herself, Natalie cannot help but stare. He did a commendable job keeping himself in shape in prison, and now she gets to enjoy the results of his hard work.

“Come here,” he says, proudly displaying his naked body. Natalie moves toward him and tentatively touches her fingers to his hard, toned arm.

“If I said I want your body now, would you hold it against me?” he asks, pressing his body into hers. He is clearly relishing the opportunity to tease her a bit.

Natalie shakes her head and forces herself to focus. She has to get him to Vegas.

“It’s the wedding,” she says. “I’m freaking out a little.”

He steps backward. “What? Why?”

“Because it’s my second wedding. And yours. And I’m worried about spending the money on a big wedding, and--I’m nervous, that’s all.”

“There’s nothing to be nervous about.”

“I feel like we’re… tempting fate or something.”

He silently studies her for a moment. “I don’t understand what this has to do with…” And then it hits him. “Oh. Vegas. Wedding.”

Natalie allows a coy smile to play over her lips. He doesn’t seem upset.

“Does that sound good to you?” she asks.

“It makes sense. And Vegas sounds terrific. What do you say we take this little trip and see what happens?”

It isn’t the firm commitment to an elopement that she would like, but a little alcohol and a whirlwind weekend can help that. Getting him there is the difficult part, and it looks like she is going to be able to pull it off.

He presses against her again.

It takes every bit of willpower within her to give him a playful shove and tell him, “Save it for Vegas, baby.”


They remain underneath the bed for a good five minutes before Brent declares that it is safe to come out of hiding. They give the room another sweep but do not find much that would be suitable for a DNA sample, so after checking that the coast is clear out in the hall, they leave the room and proceed out of the dorm.

“I can’t believe we didn’t find a single thing we can use,” Claire says as they cross the campus back to the parking lot.

“We’ll figure something out.” Brent doesn’t sound particularly confident in that, but it sounds like the sort of thing that he always says in situations like this.

Claire wants to break out in a sprint so that they can get out of here as quickly as possible, but they maintain a casual pace en route to the parking lot. They make it to the car without incident, but it feels like a miracle to Claire--like she is certain that Spencer is about to catch them on campus and know exactly what they were doing.

Her mind continues to race as they get into the car. As Brent starts the engine, she takes out her phone.

“I have another idea,” she says. “Just don’t say anything while I’m on this call, okay?”

Unsure of where this is headed, Brent nods and begins to drive. As soon as Claire speaks, though, he understands why his presence is best kept a secret.

“Hey, Molly,” Claire says into the phone. “I was hoping you could give me Philip’s number. I need to get in touch with him.”


Why does Claire want Philip’s number?
What will Sarah do with her newfound knowledge about Matt?
Will Natalie succeed in getting Julian to the altar?
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