Episode #626

- Helen revealed to Don that she retained attorney Eric Westin to represent them in a possibly custody suit against Jason over their granddaughter, Sophie.
- Ryan and book publisher Sal Manzano presented Julian with a very favorable contract for his book, with the provision that he remove the incriminating information about Ryan: that he helped Nick set up the Objection drug ring years ago. Julian accepted the offer.
- Diane rushed to Las Vegas to stop Ryan’s plan. She decided to do whatever it might take to keep Julian from receiving and signing the contract that night.
- Natalie and Julian planned to celebrate his new deal by eloping in Vegas.


She knows immediately that opening her eyes is going to be a terrible idea.

So she doesn’t. Not at first. She clamps them shut even harder, trying to ward off the headache that is stubbornly, violently, trying to make its presence known. It feels like a giant’s fist is squeezing her brain… and drumming all over her skull for good measure.

Diane, you are an idiot, she scolds herself. Even formulating the statement hurts her brain.

Eventually the headache becomes too painful to ignore. She needs to find aspirin, or water, or something. Slowly she parts her eyelids, afraid of the bright lights that are sure to assault them and make this even worse.

Mercifully, it is fairly dim in the room. She is lying on her side, facing the window, and she sees that the curtains have been drawn. A sliver of light peeks out from behind them, hinting at an obnoxiously bright day outside, but at least she doesn’t have to deal with that at the moment. And she recognizes the room as being one inside the Bellagio, where she knows that she booked herself a room, so at least she managed to make it back here in one piece.

She can see the bedside table out of the corner of her vision. There must be a clock on it, she knows, but her desire to know the time is outweighed by the thudding in her head and the nausea that rolls through her midsection. She has not had a hangover like this in a long, long time, certainly not since Samantha’s birth. She truly never expected to face such a thing again.

What the hell happened last night? she thinks. With the utmost care, she manages to crane her neck upward until the clock’s neon green display comes into view. 9:38 a.m. At least it isn’t the middle of the afternoon, although given the way she feels, she might be lying here until at least then, anyway.

She closes her eyes again and hopes to sink into the pillow, and maybe into unconsciousness. There is some Advil in her purse, she remembers, but the act of getting up to retrieve it is far too daunting right now. And the energy required to locate her purse in the first place is entirely beyond her.

Drawing deep breaths through her nose, she attempts to remember last night’s events. She remembers taking shots at a bar inside the Bellagio with Ryan and Julian-- The contract. She has no idea what became of the contract that Sal Manzano was sending over for Julian. Did she manage to intercept it? Did Julian get as drunk as her, thus rendering him incapable of signing anything?

But then another image presents itself. A chapel. The inside of a gaudy, cheesy Vegas chapel.

Natalie and Julian’s wedding. She must have gone to the wedding. And she sure as hell wouldn’t have been celebrating with them, no matter how drunk she was, so perhaps she went to keep an eye on them--to make sure Julian never got to sign the contract.

Another wave of nausea surges through her. This time, it swims closer to her throat, almost into her mouth. She accepts the inevitability that she will vomit at some point today, probably sooner than later. But it isn’t going to happen in the next two minutes, so she isn’t getting out of this bed yet.


That’s a voice. And unless something incredibly strange happened last night, it is not her own voice.

Someone is in this bed with her.

She wishes she could believe that if she doesn’t open her eyes, doesn’t roll over and check, then he will go away.

But she doesn’t believe that. He won’t.

With painstaking slowness, she opens her eyes again. The headache seems to radiate through her body, and her first instinct is to close her eyes and ignore the entire situation for a while longer. But now that she is aware of it, she can’t. So she rolls onto her back and then, once she is certain that her head or stomach or both are not going to explode, she swings the rest of the way onto her left side.

She recognizes him at once. Her brain must be using whatever power it has left to do the quick calculation. But there is no mistaking who is lying in bed beside her.

“Mmm,” Julian mumbles in his sleep.

Diane stops breathing. It is the only thing she can do that won’t wake him up. She can’t scream. She can’t go flying out of the bed. She just holds her breath. Carefully, she rotates onto her back again. Staring up at the ceiling is better than staring at him.

How the hell did this happen? she wonders. Her body adds a pounding heart to the pounding head and stomach. She brings her left hand up to her face to cover her eyes.

And that’s when she sees it: a gold band on her ring finger.

It all makes sense now--the drinking, the chapel, waking up with him. I married Julian St. John.


A sleepy gray haze hangs over King’s Bay. It is only mid-morning, but the weather makes Alex Marshall want to climb back in bed and stay there for the rest of the day. Fighting the urge, he parks his car in front of the Chases’ house and carries a toolbox to the front door.

“Alex! Come in,” Helen says when she opens the door.

“Where should I put this?” he says, holding up the toolbox.

“Just put it on the floor for now. Thanks for returning it.”

“Thanks for letting me borrow it.” He sets the toolbox down by the front door.

“Were you able to fix the things you wanted to fix?” Helen asks, smoothing out her hair. It is pulled back into a ponytail, and she is wearing an oversized sweatshirt and casual pants. “I’m sorry I look so sloppy. I was just up in the attic organizing some things.”

“Oh, please,” Alex says, gesturing at his own jeans and hoodie. “And yeah, I got some stuff done. That stupid cabinet door that was falling off is all fixed now.”

Helen leads him into the kitchen. “I don’t understand why your landlord can’t handle these things. You should sue.”

“Or just move out,” Alex says with a laugh. “My lease is up in a few months, anyway. Probably time to look for something new.”

Without even asking, she pours him a glass of iced tea. He thanks her as he takes it, and as she pours another for herself, she asks, “Have you seen Jason lately?”

He had a feeling this visit would take such a turn. He gulps some more iced tea. “I saw him a few days ago,” he finally says. “He seemed good. He and Sophie both.”


“You sound a little disappointed.”

“No. Of course not. I’m glad he’s doing well.” Alex senses that there is a caveat coming. “I’m not sure that it’s permanent, that’s all.”

“What do you mean?”

“I worry about my granddaughter,” Helen says. “And Jason is burning the candle at both ends. I’m not sure this… stability can last forever.”

Alex is surprised by how convinced she sounds.

The next statement out of Helen’s mouth goes beyond surprise, though: “I’ve hired an attorney.” She sounds almost gleeful about it.

“Do you really think that’s necessary?” he asks, careful to keep his tone measured and even.

“I’m afraid it might be. I’ve retained him, that’s all. If anything happens, I want to be prepared to help Sophie.”

Alex doesn’t know how to respond. He has grown close to the Chases--they are, more than anyone else, his family--but right now, he hardly recognizes the woman before him.

“I don’t think anything’s going to ‘happen,’” Alex says. “Jason’s a responsible parent.”

“I know he is. I just worry about him becoming overwhelmed, or…” She stares into her iced tea. “I worry.”

“Well, he’s doing fine. They both are.” He tries to sound decisive, definitive, so that she will get the hint that he does not approve of what she is doing.

“I hope you’re right,” she says, as if it some far-off possibility that is about as likely as a unicorn swooping into the kitchen. “I really do.”


By some miracle, Diane makes it out of the bed without rousing Julian. She quickly realizes that this is not her room, but the room that Julian and Natalie are supposed to be staying in. The floor seems to be rolling beneath her as she locates her purse and the rest of her clothes, though her right shoe is nowhere to be found. Scanning the room for it does no good, and when she bends down to look under the bed for it, she comes perilously close to throwing up. Deciding to count the shoe as a loss, she scrambles into her clothes and, holding her remaining shoe in her hand, flees the room.

As she rides the elevator down to the lobby, she becomes aware that she has no idea what she looks like. She was in such a hurry to get out of that room that she didn’t even bother to check out her appearance, but based on the looks she is getting from other hotel guests, it can’t be good. The shiny elevator doors reveal only a blurry blob of person that she vaguely recognizes as being herself--although, given the way she feels, it is probably a pretty accurate rendering.

The elevator only makes her nausea worse, with all the starting and stopping and stale air. She presses herself against the back wall and wills herself not to get sick. By the time she reaches the lobby, she is desperate for a drink of water and a restroom--though in what order, she is not certain. She stops right there by the elevator bay and pops three Advil.

I got married. I got married to Julian. What the hell?!

She wishes that she could remember more about the night besides the flash of the chapel’s interior--like, say, why in the world she thought it was a good idea to get married, let alone to that man, or what the hell happened with the publishing contract--but actual memories are few and far between right now. And her brain doesn’t appreciate being pushed into anything at the moment.

She decides to find a gift shop, buy a bottle of water, figure out where her room is, and sleep this off. But she only makes it a few steps when she catches sight of the worst thing that could possibly happen to her.


If Diane were functioning at even a slightly better speed, she might be able to dodge her sister. But as things stand, she freezes in Natalie’s sight line, and a moment later, Natalie is hurrying across the lobby toward her.

“I’d say good morning, but you sure don’t look good,” she says.

“Thanks.” Normally, Diane would have a retort ready, but all she can do is examine Natalie and wonder how much she knows.

“You did have one hell of a night, though,” Natalie says.

“Um, yeah.” Suddenly Diane is very conscious of the gold band on her finger. She can’t take it off without being incredibly conspicuous, so she dangles the hand by her side.

Natalie nods at the solo shoe in Diane’s hand. “The other one is in my room--your room, I guess. At one point, you decided you didn’t need it, and then you ran out.”

“Why… why did I run out?” She decides that playing dumb is the safest course of action… not that she knows a whole lot, anyway. “You slept in my room?”

“After a while, it wasn’t even worth trying to move you again.” Then Natalie does something that horrifies Diane: she reaches for the hand with the wedding band on it. “So how are you feeling about this today?”

Diane stammers for a good ten seconds before she squeaks out, “You know?”

Oh, God. This is bad.

“Of course I know,” Natalie says as a devious grin crosses her lips.


After Alex leaves, Helen attempts to return to her project in the attic, but the conversation with Alex continues to gnaw at her. He has always been polite, but the subtext of his responses was clear: he thinks Helen is going too far by even talking with a lawyer. Feeling the need to discuss this with someone who understands her point-of-view, she places a phone call; predictably, she is asked to leave a message. She goes back to the attic and does a few minutes of work before, surprisingly, the phone rings.

“Mrs. Chase, Eric Westin,” her attorney says through the phone. “What can I do for you?”

“I just spoke to Alex Marshall--Jason’s best friend,” she explains. “I thought he might have something useful for me, but he swears that Jason and Sophie are both doing fine.”

There is a troubling silence on the other end of the line. “Maybe that means a suit won’t be necessary. That’s a good thing, wouldn’t you say?”

“No. Well, yes. But everything isn’t going to be fine. Everyone is pretending that Jason will just snap back into shape and be enough of a parent for Sophie, but it isn’t true.”

“Why do you feel that way?”

“Because he’s unstable! The sleeping pills, the anger, the way he won’t let Sophie out of his sight…” Her hands are trembling at the mere thoughts. “And he is the one who let that woman back into their lives. Shannon.”

“Is that…”

“The woman who killed my daughter! If Jason had only believed Courtney, Shannon never would have been around them in the first place.” She keeps replaying in her head all the times that Courtney said that something seemed off about ‘Sabrina,’ and Jason continued to let her work at the ice arena and even stay with Sophie. “He’s been unraveling for a long time. I feel for him, I really do, but I have to protect my granddaughter, especially now that Courtney is gone.”

“Mrs. Chase,” Eric begins before taking a long pause. “If you’re truly that concerned about your granddaughter’s well-being, there are things we can do.”

“What do you mean? Bringing in Child Protective Services to check up on them?”

“We can… speed things along, if you’re so convinced that your son-in-law’s breakdown is inevitable.”

It immediately sounds sinister to Helen. She doesn’t want to do anything to hurt Jason or to make the situation worse. Still, anything to ensure Sophie’s safety.

Her hands tremble as she tells him, “Go on.”


“You know?” Diane asks, unconsciously taking a step backward. God only knows what Natalie is going to do now. She was furious enough when Diane received attention for things like completing her master’s degree, climbing the corporate ladder, or giving their parents their first grandchild. But this--marrying her fiancé!--is such a direct hit. Diane cannot conceive of the sort of demented reaction Natalie will probably have.

A little laugh trills out of Natalie’s throat. “Why wouldn’t I know? I was there!”

“You were there? Why didn’t you stop me?”

“Because you kept insisting it was the right thing to do. Who am I to get in your way?”

Something is off here. Very off. There’s no way Natalie would have stood back and watched her own fiancé marry the sister she barely tolerates… unless Natalie and Julian were up to something.

Diane shuts her eyes for a second in an attempt to steady the spinning lobby. “What happened with Julian’s contract? Did he sign it?”

“Yeah. Sorry about that. Looks like you’re screwed--in more ways than one.”

The news comes at Diane like a dagger through the gut. She has no idea how she is going to deal with this at Vision. She’ll have to spin it somehow. Maybe they can sue Julian for breach of contract, even though his contract hadn’t officially been processed…

…except she married him.

“Did the two of you trick me into this?” she demands.

“The two of us?” Natalie asks, perfectly innocent.

“You and Julian. What’s the game here?”

“There is no game! You swore this was something you needed to do, so we let you.”

“I don’t understand this,” Diane says, again pressing her eyes closed, only to discover that things continue spinning even in the blackness. “I need some water.”

Natalie goes fishing in her own oversized Birkin handbag and pulls out a half-finished bottle of water. “Here. You need this more than I do.”

Diane snatches the bottle from her and chugs the rest of its contents. The liquid is a welcome relief to her sticky, dry mouth, but it does little to settle her stomach.

“I think I need to lie back down.” She glances again at the gold band on her finger. “We can sort this all out later. An annulment shouldn’t be that difficult.”

Across the lobby, she sees Ryan Moriani turn a corner. He looks like death, too, with his shirt from last night unbuttoned and untucked; a white undershirt shows underneath. His short, dark hair is anything but neat.

“Maybe he can fill in some blanks for me,” Diane says, motioning toward him. Ryan spots them and comes over.

“I would hope so,” Natalie says.

Diane is about to ask what Natalie means, but as Ryan comes closer, she notices something.

A gold band. Just like hers. On his left ring finger.


How did Diane and Ryan end up like this?
What will happen next between them?
Is Helen going too far in her quest to protect Sophie?
Discuss all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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