Episode #625

- Tori told her mother that Matt came back to Sarah and Graham’s wedding, ostensibly to stop it from happening. Sarah realized that she had to talk to Matt about it.
- Ryan manipulated Natalie into getting Julian to Las Vegas, where Ryan had a rival publisher ready to steal Julian and his book away from Vision Publishing.
- Diane realized that Natalie, Julian, and Ryan were all in Las Vegas and assumed the worst.


Even the airport seems like Vegas. Slot machines, oversized drinks, and a general air of excess permeate the scene as soon as Diane Bishop steps off the plane and into the terminal.

With her purse as her only bit of luggage, she hightails it through the terminal, down an escalator, and out to the ground transportation area. She is still wearing the coat that she threw on when she left her office in King’s Bay, and now the desert heat--even at this evening hour--comes as a shock. She wriggles out of her coat as she hurries toward the taxi stand.

“Here,” she says, pushing in front of the three individuals waiting for cabs and handing the attendant a $20 bill. “I need a taxi ASAP.”

The attendant, a middle-aged man with eyes set too close together, regards the bill but does not take it. “You’ll have to wait in line, ma’am.”

“It’s an emergency.”

“I’m sorry,” he says stoically, like a robot programmed to ignore all outpourings of human emotion. “I can’t allow anyone to cut in line.”

Diane turns to the others in line, who do their best to pretend they don’t see her. Annoyed, she moves to the back of the short line and takes out her cell phone.

No texts, calls, or voicemails from any of them: Natalie, Julian, or Ryan. They have all been ignoring her for hours, since she booked her last-minute flight back in King’s Bay.

Dammit, what the hell are you up to? she wonders. Every fiber of her being is itching to get the hell out of here and intercept them before Ryan pulls whatever it is he came here to do.

She dials Natalie’s number again, keeping her focus upon the congested road for any sign of a rogue taxi. The call goes to voicemail.

As she hangs up, her phone vibrates. A new text message appears. Her hopes are momentarily dashed when she sees that it is from Sarah and not from one of the three idiots she is pursuing, but then she reads the message.

Julian has a room at the Bellagio. #1121.

“Thank you,” Diane mutters before she fires off a text saying the same thing. The wonders of having a P.I. for a best friend.


Inside the Venetian Resort, four people linger over the remains of a lavish dinner. Ryan Moriani picks sporadically at what is left of his veal chop, but he is much more focused on the conversation taking place around his table.

“So what do you think?” Sal asks. He is a heavyset man in his 50s, with graying hair and a stylish, custom-made suit. His voice is naturally loud and a little raspy.

“It all sounds very favorable,” Julian St. John says in his usual reserved manner. He always seems to be on the verge of a sneer, as if he knows something that no one else does.

Sal waits for more, then prompts him. “And…?”

Natalie Bishop prods Julian. “Yeah. The terms sound really good.”

“Vision’s contract is a lot more general regarding translations, adaptation rights, all of that,” Julian says.

“That’s because Vision doesn’t specialize in all that,” Sal says, clapping his hands together. “You’ll get a book on the shelves, yeah, but if you’re looking to really capitalize on revenue opportunities--”

Julian holds up a hand to stop him. “I’ll need to go over the contract with my lawyer.”

“It’s already drawn up,” Sal says. “I can have it sent to your hotel within the hour.”

“Excellent.” Julian downs the last of his martini.

It takes Ryan several seconds to process what has happened. “That means you’ll do it? You’ll take Sal’s deal?”

“I suppose it does,” Julian says. Natalie reaches over and squeezes his hand. “Provided the contract contains exactly what was just described, of course.”

“Of course.” Ryan’s entire body is vibrating with excitement. He’s going to pull this off. He’s actually going to pull this off. Steeling himself, he proceeds with the thing he has been waiting all night to say: “There’s one additional term that we haven’t discussed yet.”

He sees Julian’s face harden, as if he has just discovered that the entire deal is a sham. Natalie scowls at Ryan, ready to jump over the table and kill him.

“It doesn’t affect any of the terms we’ve discussed tonight,” Ryan continues. “But it’s something of a… you can think of it as a finder’s fee.”

Julian sets down the empty martini glass. “You’re expecting a cut of this? You have to be kidding me.”

“No. Not a cut.” Ryan motions for him to stay in his seat and calm down. “A provision, that’s all.”

Julian’s gaze flashes to Sal, a mix of impatience and disbelief. Sal, having been briefed by Ryan from the outset, simply sits back, his expression betraying nothing.

“There’s a piece of information that you have to leave out of the book,” Ryan says. “I think you know exactly what I’m talking about.”


Between the time she knocks and the time the door is opened, Sarah Fisher Colville changes her mind at least ten times about running away. She doesn’t have to do this. Matt will never know she was here. But she will go crazy if they don’t address this. They can talk about it later, though. But the waiting--

Her thoughts are cut short by the opening of the door. By Matt appearing in front of her.

“Hey,” he says, immediately scanning for signs of their daughter. “Did I--”

“I need to talk to you.”

“Oh. Okay.” He moves to the side. “Come on in.”

Coming to this apartment is so strange. It used to be theirs, the home where they were building a life together, and now it is a place where Matt conducts a life almost entirely separate from her.

“Can I get you something? Water?” he asks awkwardly. He has never been entirely at ease with formalities like this.

She shakes her head. Considering how much steam she has built up since Tori’s revelation about the wedding day, she has no idea how to maneuver the conversation that way.

So she cuts to the chase: “Tori said you came back to the wedding.” Not an accusation. Just a fact. Regardless of intention, he did return to the house that day.

Matt flushes hard, like his body is being forced to take the brunt of emotions that his brain and mouth cannot handle.

“Are you gonna say anything?” she asks.

“What am I supposed to say?”

“I don’t know.” Whatever she envisioned him saying during this encounter… she didn’t think she would have to tell him to say it. “Why’d you come back?”

“’Cause I got caught up in this stupid idea.”

“What stupid idea?”

His tone suddenly grows much more accusatory. “What are you trying to get me to say?”

“The truth! You were standing outside the window at my wedding--”

“And you married him, Sarah. You wanted to marry him. So I left.”

She hasn’t seen him look this hurt in a long while.

“You didn’t give me the choice not to,” she says softly.

“Bullshit. That is such bullshit, Sarah. You moved in with him. You got engaged to him. You wanted to marry him.”

“Yeah, but…”

“But what?” His stare issues a challenge.

A challenge she cannot accept. This is not how this is supposed to go.

“I don’t know why you’re getting so angry,” she says. “I just asked you a question.”

“Come on. That wasn’t a question. That was a--” His mouth is ahead of his brain, and he sputters trying to find a correct word that never arrives. “This is so stupid.”

She finds herself retreating toward the door. “I don’t know why you’re doing this.”

“Why I’m doing this?” He drops onto the couch, defiant, refusing to chase her. “Sarah. Come on.”

“I just asked you a question,” she repeats, and when he doesn’t offer anything in return, she slips out of the apartment.


Ryan can tell that Julian knows exactly what information he is talking about. Ryan scanned the manuscript and confirmed that it was in there; he needs to make sure it is removed before the book goes to press.

Nevertheless, Julian decides to play stubborn. “I’m not sure I understand what you’re referring to,” he says, while that irritating sneer declares just the opposite.

They remain in a deadlock, staring one another down. Ryan knows that Sal probably read it in Julian’s manuscript, though he probably did not realize its significance. Natalie, on the other hand, is a complete loose cannon. He does not need her hearing this.

“Could I speak to you alone for a moment?” Ryan asks, already standing. Julian reluctantly obliges, and they move toward the restaurant’s very busy bar area.

“You have a remarkable amount of nerve,” Julian says as they wedge themselves against a wall.

Ryan shrugs. “I brought your manuscript to Sal. He has a terrific deal for you. This happens to be one of the terms. Take it or leave it.”

Please don’t leave it. Even putting the possibility out there frightens Ryan.

“I’m almost impressed,” Julian says. “Very clever of you.”

“I can’t have this getting out. Not after all this time.” As much as Ryan is trying to play it cool, his heart is thumping, and his breathing feels very labored.

“From what I hear, your reputation isn’t exactly stellar.”

“And I don’t need it getting any worse. I’ve done a lot to turn my life around.”

Julian rolls his eyes in an overly exaggerated manner. “I’m sure. Do you really think your family and your fiancée would be that shocked that you were the one who masterminded the Objection drug ring in the first place.”

Hearing someone else say it so plainly is like a punch in the gut to Ryan.

“I didn’t mastermind it,” he counters. “I… facilitated.”

“Your father wouldn’t have had access inside the company without your help.”

“It was a judgment error. And then he was lucky enough to fall into league with you, anyway.”

“Don’t act like such an innocent. Your sister took a chance by giving you a job, and then you stabbed her and Camille Lemieux in the back by helping your father traffic drugs through their store.”

“I didn’t help him!” Ryan says in a barely restrained shout.

“You gave him access to schedules, passwords… You made it possible for him to start the operation in the first place, Ryan.”

“I wasn’t the one running it from the inside.” Ryan decides not to indulge this any longer. “That isn’t the issue, anyway. I don’t want it discussed. I certainly don’t want it published. So if you agree to remove that little item from your book, Sal’s deal is yours.”

“If I agree,” Julian says, “what’s to say that Diane won’t tell what she knows? She’s going to be furious.”

Ryan can feel his confidence returning, slowly filling back up. “That’s the beauty of this. All Diane knows is what she read in your manuscript. I can claim that she’s making things up to get revenge on me.”

“What makes you think anyone will take your word over his?”

“Because you’re going to back me up. You’re going to say that she’s inventing things. That you have no idea what she’s talking about.” Ryan relishes the feeling of being able to turn a threat on this bastard. “And if you don’t, you’ll be in violation of your contract with Sal, and you’ll relinquish very valuable--very lucrative--rights to your book.”

Julian turns away. For a panicked moment, Ryan worries that he is losing him, that he has pushed too hard.

“It’s a great deal, Julian. Much better than what Vision is offering. And all you have to do is not include one little thing.”

When Julian faces him again, his face is still creased with indecision. But when the words finally come from his mouth, they are exactly what Ryan wants to hear: “Fine. I’ll do it.”


Sarah spends the drive home thinking about her encounter with Matt. That was not at all how it was supposed to play out. She was hoping for honest conversation to move them forward, at the least… but instead, it feels like they leapt back in time two or three years. Predictably, the skies decide now would be a good time for rain, rendering visibility on the roads as hazy as her brain.

The last thing she wants to do when she gets home is to face anyone--so, naturally, Graham is sorting through mail in the foyer when she walks through the front door.

“Hi there,” he says genially as he glances up from a stack of bills. “How was your afternoon?”

She forces a smile. “It was fine. I had to do a little quick work for Diane.”

“What’s she gotten herself into this time?”

His ongoing alarm over all things Diane Bishop genuinely amuses her. “More adventures,” she says. “Her and Ryan. God only knows.”

She can feel Graham watching her, studying her, as she hangs her coat in the hall closet.

“Is something the matter?” he asks, his voice gentle but sturdy.

She takes her time with the coat--perhaps so she does not have to face him while she lies. “I’m just thinking about what happened with Tori yesterday.”

“I’m sorry for that. I need to learn to control my temper with her. I haven’t had much experience with teenagers, I’m afraid.”

“I know. You don’t have to apologize.” She shuts the closet door. “Just be patient. Tori needs to learn how to treat people with respect, especially authority figures.”

Graham rests his hands on her shoulders. His touch is strong, reassuring. Somehow this always surprises her; she gives him credit for his intellect, his sophistication, but not often enough for his manliness.

“You need to relax,” he says. “I have an idea.” He allows his touch to linger a moment longer, then vanishes from the foyer. When he reappears, he has a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and two glasses. “Come with me.”

They settle in the living room, where Graham pours them each a glass of wine and then reclines on the couch in such a way that Sarah can curl up against him, and he can protect her from everything that is wrong with the world outside this room.

Maybe today was supposed to go this way. Maybe it was supposed to show her that she made the correct choice, after all.


Diane thinks about planting herself in a bar at the Bellagio, but there is no place to drink that also affords a clear view of the hotel’s entrance. Instead she gets a latte—more to keep herself occupied than because she has any need for the caffeine—and paces the lobby, never letting her attention stray far from the front doors.

When Natalie and Julian return from wherever they have been, it is as bad as Diane feared: they are with Ryan. She marches right over to them.

“This is a sight I never expected I’d see,” she says.

They all stop in their tracks. Julian looks uncharacteristically nervous. Ryan steps in front of the other two.

“I’m impressed,” he says. “Quicker than I expected. Unfortunately, you’re still too late.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Panic floods her system, but she tries to push it down. There is no way this imbecile could have pulled off something this slick.

“Sal Manzano is sending a contract over within the hour,” Ryan says. “He’s publishing Julian’s book. You lose.”

Her first instinct is to whip toward Julian. “You son of a bitch! You can’t do this. You signed a contract with Vision.”

“A contract that hasn’t cleared Legal yet,” Ryan interjects. “The lawyers are canceling it right now.”

“He offered me a better deal,” Julian says coolly. Diane should have known better than to expect loyalty from a criminal.

Instead she focuses on Natalie. “You. You are such a piece of shit, do you know that? I helped you out—”

“You helped yourself out,” Natalie says. “You didn’t even want to listen to us until you needed a big book to save your job.”

Touché, Diane thinks, though she has no intention of admitting it. “I didn’t want you marrying a criminal who was clearly using you for your connections.”

“Whatever.” Natalie waves a hand in her face. “Julian and I are going to celebrate by eloping. If you’re up for a wedding—”

“More like a funeral,” Diane says. “Go on. Marry your felon.” She looks to Julian and then to Ryan. “This isn’t over.”

“Oh, it’s over.” Ryan looks so smug that Diane wants to claw his eyes out.

She decides to rein in her anger, though. There has to be something she can do to reverse this.

“I’m going to find something to wear for the wedding,” Natalie says.

“We’re going to have a drink to celebrate,” Julian says. “Call me when you’re ready.”

Like a ghost whom no one can even see, Diane watches them disperse: Natalie to the shops elsewhere in the Bellagio, Ryan and Julian to the nearest bar. Diane tosses her coffee cup in the trash, too devastated to do much of anything. Then she makes a split-second decision and chases after Ryan and Julian.

She finds them at the bar, ordering tequila shots.

“Get me one of those, would you?” she says to Ryan. He looks back at her with surprise. “It’s the least you can do, Ryan. And I need a damn drink.”

He gestures to the bartender for one more, and as they take their shots, Diane assembles a plan in her mind. There in no way Julian is getting his hands on that contract tonight.


What does Diane have up her sleeve?
Will Natalie and Julian make it to the altar?
Can Sarah finally put her feelings for Matt behind her?
Talk about all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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