Episode #664

- Diane, laid off from Vision Publishing, worried about what her next move would be.
- After Matt was rescued from the about-to-be-demolished building, the police found evidence of drug use. Claire told Brent that she ordered a toxicology screen on Matt.
- Sarah was suspicious of Graham’s role in Matt’s strange disappearance.


“I think I need to go to rehab,” Sarah Colville says flatly.

“I think you should let your body have whatever it’s craving right now,” Diane Bishop responds from across the small table in the center of the cozy, vaguely bohemian coffee house. “And if you wind up with caramel hot chocolate coming out of your ears, oh well.”

“Then I’m blaming you when it happens.” Sarah happily takes another sip of her new favorite drink. The rich, warm beverage touches taste buds that she didn’t know she had; her cravings during her other pregnancies veered much more toward the salty. The drink momentarily satiates her recent desire for this exact combination of sweet elements.

Diane sets her own paper cup down on the table. “The thing I hated most about being pregnant was having to give up caffeine. I don’t know how you’re functioning.”

Sarah groans. “Don’t remind me. I’m always half a step away from serious withdrawal symptoms.”

“Maybe rehab isn’t such a bad idea,” Diane observes with a grin. She glances down and brushes a few stray hairs from her stylish black trenchcoat.

“You feel good about your interview?” Sarah asks.

“Look, I’m going in there with a hell of a résumé. I know I can schmooze the hell out of people. Getting an interview in this market was the rough part. The interview itself should be a piece of cake.”

“Good attitude.”

“It’s the only attitude you can have with these things,” Diane says before lifting her cup to her lips again. “What’s the latest on Matt? He’s doing okay?”

“Didn’t even have to spend the night in the hospital, which is kind of a miracle. Apparently Danielle stayed over at his place to help him out.”

“Hold the phone. Danielle and Matt? Really?”

“She says they’re just friends,” Sarah says, remembering her run-in with Danielle in this very coffee shop--the run-in that caused them to realize something was seriously wrong with Matt. Danielle had just come from dropping by Matt’s place early in the morning, which struck Sarah as awfully intimate for ‘just friends,’ but she is grateful that it happened. “Anyway, I’m glad he has someone to help out, because he didn’t want Tori to have to do it.”

Diane drags a long, clear-manicured nail across her cheek. “Hmm. I don’t know how I feel about this.”

“There’s nothing to feel. They’re friends. Matt needs people around right now, and his brother can’t just drop everything and come out here. So it’s good.”

Sarah feels Diane studying her intently, as if gathering data to make some grand, scientific proclamation. She decides to cut her friend off.

“I just wish I knew what the hell happened,” Sarah says. “Matt says he found a note from me asking him to meet me on the pier. Danielle swears she saw the same note in the morning. But it’s nowhere to be found, and I know I didn’t write it…”

“But someone else did,” Diane finishes with a knowing gleam in her eye. Still, being the good friend that she is, she waits for Sarah to take the conversation one step further.

“This is so between the two of us,” Sarah says, lowering her voice to a half-whisper, “but am I completely insane for going to the obvious place with this? Matt was found in a building that Graham happened to be overseeing the demolition of. Someone who knows both Matt and I well enough left that note for him. I…” She shakes her head, still loath to vocalize the horrifying thought.

Diane reaches out to cover Sarah’s hand with her own. “Honey. You’re a smart chick. You do this for a living. If your instincts are pointing you in a certain direction…”

“That’s what scares me,” Sarah admits as she stares out the shop’s window at the dreary Pacific Northwest day.


Each step toward the front door sparks a cacophony of aches and throbs throughout Matt Gray’s body, but accomplishing even this smallest of purposeful activities makes it worthwhile. He opens the door for Brent Taylor and stands aside to let him into the apartment.

“It’s good to see you on your feet,” Brent says. “Have an okay night?”

“Yeah. Woke up plenty of times, but I’m still feeling pretty good today.”

“Good to hear. How did your nurse do?”

“Managed not to get herself fired,” Matt says with a smirk.

“I heard that!” Danielle calls from the kitchen. She emerges, drying her hands with a dishtowel. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I was easily an 11.”

“Says who?” Matt teases, enjoying the way that Danielle’s eyes widen in mock indignation. Then he notices Brent watching them, and he becomes uncomfortable. This all feels very much like flirting--especially after that charged moment between them in the bathroom last night--and while that energy in and of itself is surprising to Matt, it’s even stranger in front of Danielle’s brother.

“What’d you wanna talk about?” Matt asks Brent, assuming a more serious tone. “Did you guys find some new evidence?”

Brent hesitates for a split-second before saying, “Why don’t we sit down?”

The three of them awkwardly arrange themselves in the living room, Brent and Danielle on the couch and Matt in the recliner. Something about Brent’s demeanor suddenly has him very anxious.

“There’s no easy way to get into this,” Brent says. “Claire had the lab rush a toxicology screen when they took your blood. There were notable levels of heroin in your body when you were found in that building.”

In a single instant, Matt feels as if his eardrums have blown out. There is no sound around him, nothing but a dull buzzing crowding his brain. He stares at Brent, waiting for some indication that this is a terrible joke, but it never comes.

“Whoever did this to me pumped drugs into me?” he says, as his eyes drift to the puncture marks on his arm. When Danielle asked about them last night, he assumed they must have been from the IV at the hospital, but now…

“Maybe,” Brent says noncommittally. “One of the officers also recovered a used needle from the room where you were found.”

Matt looks to Danielle for confirmation that this is crazy talk, but she seems to be processing it quietly, her hands folded together in her lap.

“Your wallet and cell phone haven’t turned up, either,” Brent says. His tone is detached, the voice of a law enforcement official rather than a--well, Matt and Brent have never exactly been friends, but they were in-laws at one time, and they do know each other better than the typical cop and victim.

Brent leans forward. “Is there anything you want to tell me about why you went down to the pier, Matt?”

“No!” Matt gazes around at the room, at the familiar artifacts of his life--Tori’s cheer squad photo, a picture of Jake and Mia with their son, the signed Jerome Bettis football that Sarah got him a lifetime of Christmases ago--but none of it takes away the surreal feeling that has been thrust upon him by this new information, by Brent’s apparent accusation.

“Brent, I know we have kind of a… rocky past,” he says, “but even you can’t think I’m some junkie.” He turns to Danielle. “You were with me that night, a couple hours before I went to the pier. Did I seem like I was on drugs?”

“No,” she says, but there is a hesitation to it. Then she adds, “Not at dinner.”

But you could’ve gone down to the pier to score some after that, the sentences finishes in all three of their minds.

“I just want you to be aware of what’s going on,” Brent says. “At this point, it’s only a factor in our investigation, but if we keep pushing forward and there’s something you’re keeping from us--”

“I’m telling you, there was a note on my door in handwriting just like Sarah’s,” Matt insists. “Danielle, you saw it, too. I went to the pier because I thought Sarah needed me. I thought she was in some kind of trouble. She said not to call or text her, and I thought maybe Graham…” He doesn’t know what he thought, exactly, but he knew it must be bad.

“I did see it,” Danielle says. “I wish I had thought to stick it in my purse. But that’s why I asked Sarah if she knew where you were, because I drove by the pier and saw your truck and it all seemed very weird.”

“It’s more than weird,” Matt says, crashing back into the recliner. “You guys have to believe me. Drugs are the last reason I was on the pier that night.”


The offices of the romance novel publishing company are very different than the Vision offices to which Diane is so accustomed. Vision has an overtly professional--if a bit blandly corporate--headquarters, but Hartz Publishing, housed in a standalone building on the north edge of King’s Bay, far from the downtown business district, chooses to embrace the quirks of its corner of the industry. Framed covers of romance novels dating back to the 80s line the hallways, and the odd wall here and there is painted a bold color, like bright blue or hot pink. The main floor of the office is not divided into cubicles, but is rather a collection of mismatched old desks and furniture.

Now Diane sits inside the office of Daphne Rowland, a woman in her 40s with straight blonde hair that reaches the middle of her back. Diane, wearing a conservative black business suit with a skirt that reaches almost to her knee, feels overdressed next to Daphne, who is in a red checkered shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

“We like to have fun around here,” Daphne says. “What we do is fun.”

“I can tell,” Diane says, eyeing the display of birthday cards propped up on Daphne’s bookshelf. Each features a Chippendales-type male stripper. It’s the sort of décor that would get someone fired from Vision in the blink of an eye.

Daphne glances over Diane’s résumé. “After working at someplace like Vision, why do you wanna be a part of the Hartz team?”

“I love publishing. I love books. Working within a specific genre means learning the rules and conventions of that world, but I see it as a natural extension of the skills I’ve developed so far in my career.”

“Fair enough. Do you love romance?”

Diane spent a lot of time prior to the interview working on this question, because she knew some version of it would be headed her way. She begins slowly, “I won’t lie and say that I’m a rabid fan of romance novels, but I love what they stand for. Every piece of literature should represent a fantasy for the reader--of a world they want to live in, or the fulfillment of a dream, or even just the exploration of an issue in society that people don’t regularly talk about.”

Daphne takes that in silently. Diane tells herself that it was a good, confident answer, but just below the surface, she feels her nerves dancing a little jig.

“Are you married?” Daphne asks.

“Well,” Diane says, not having anticipated this question at all. “That’s... an interesting explanation.”

“Interesting is good.”

“It is?”

“Absolutely. People with interesting lives--they’ve got something to work out. Makes ‘em more engaged in the work. The one thing we do not want here at Hartz is someone boring.”

“Oh.” Diane takes that in as a plan formulates in her mind. “I can assure you, my life is anything but boring. As it turns out, I am married, though not exactly by choice.”

Daphne narrows her eyes with apparent intrigue. “Go on.”

“I have a daughter by a man named Tim who also worked--works--at Vision,” Diane explains. “We haven’t been together in years, but we’ve stayed friends. His ex-wife almost married a man named Ryan Moriani, who you might have heard of. He’s also Tim’s half-brother. We actually published his memoirs a few years ago.” She pauses to give Daphne a chance to interject, btu after a moment of silence, she rolls onward. “Anyway, I loathe Ryan Moriani. He’s awful. Totally irresponsible, impulsive, just--a big mess of a human being. Last year, we wound up competing for the rights to another memoir, and we all wound up in Las Vegas, and one thing led to another… and I’m technically married to Ryan right now. We’re in the process of having it annulled, but that’s been a whole disaster of its own.”

Daphne’s face doesn’t move for a few seconds. Then she sets Diane’s résumé down on the desk, and a shocked expression spreads over her face. “That’s quite a story.”

“It is.” Diane cannot believe that her catastrophe of a personal life might actually work in her favor.

“I’m gonna wish you the best of luck with that,” Daphne says. “But frankly, it sounds like your life is a trainwreck. And I can’t be trusting someone like that with important work.”

Diane’s head spins. “But you said--”

“I said I like to hire interesting people. You and your criminal husband and his brother and whoever else all sound crazy. I can’t be taking a chance on something like that.” Daphne rises to her feet.

“You can check my references. My personal life has not affected my professional life in any capacity. My track record at Vision speaks for--”

Daphne juts out her hand. “It was nice to meet you.”

Diane just slumps in the chair, numb.


After Brent departs in a flurry of awkward reassurances, Matt and Danielle linger around the apartment. While Danielle goes into the kitchen and finishes rinsing the dishes that they used last night, Matt flips on the TV. It only takes a few seconds for him to know that SportsCenter is not going to distract him from the specter of Brent’s visit.

He stands and stiffly makes his way toward the kitchen.

“You don’t believe it, do you?” he asks.

Danielle turns off the sink. “What?”

“You don’t believe what Brent was saying, right? You don’t think I’m some junkie?”

Her contemplative pause makes him very nervous.

“Honestly?” she says, drying off her hands. “No.”

He exhales with relief. “Okay. Good.”

“But I might not be as easy to convince as other people.” She folds the dishtowel and hangs it over the bar on the oven. “I’ve been there. Even once I got sober, the few people who knew about my problem were always asking--”

“Yeah, but that’s the difference. I didn’t have to ‘get sober.’”

“No, but there’s the suspicion of it now.” She sighs and clasps her hands together. “I don’t mean to freak you out. It’s just that, as soon as the accusation is raised, you’re pretty much guilty until proven innocent.”

This all seems completely crazy to Matt. He went down to that pier a normal guy looking to help the mother of his kid, and he woke up the target of attempted murder and a suspected drug addict.

“You saw that note, too,” he says. “I didn’t go down there for drugs or anything like that. The note said it was from Sarah.”

“I know. And that’s why I believe you,” Danielle says. “I just hope that we can find a way to convince my brother and everyone else.”

“Me too,” Matt says. “Because someone wanted to get me down to that pier so they could kill me. And I have a pretty good idea who.”


After Diane leaves for her interview, Sarah decides to stick around the coffee house and try to get some work done. She has her laptop open in front of her, the screen a blur before eyes that do not wish to focus, when she receives a text from Brent, asking if she is available to talk. Minutes later, he is joining her at her table inside Cassie’s.

“This whole thing just got a lot weirder,” Brent says as he settles into his seat.

“What happened?” she asks, closing her laptop.

She recognizes Brent’s expression and his tone. This is Police Commander Brent Taylor talking. “What I’m about to tell you is in the strictest confidence. You cannot repeat it to a single person.”

Sarah agrees and listens in horror as Brent describes the track marks on Matt’s arm, the needle found in the room where he was tied up, and the results of the tox screen. A lot of wild possibilities have crossed her mind since Matt was found in that building, but Matt having been left for dead as part of some drug deal gone bad was not one of them.

“You can’t believe that,” she says.

“Between all that and the missing phone and wallet, it’s pretty straightforward evidence,” Brent says.

“Which is why I know you don’t really believe it. It’s too neat. It shouldn’t be this easy to piece the whole thing together.”


They share a momentary smile, the mutual satisfaction of two people who have investigating in their blood.

“But why are you telling me?” Sarah asks. “I would’ve found out sooner or later.”

“Because I want you to be careful. I doubt we’re ever going to find that note, but Matt and my sister swear they saw it. Without the note, Danielle never would have thought to ask you about seeing Matt in the first place. Someone forged that note in your handwriting, knowing it would get Matt down to the pier.”

His statement is so clear that he might as well not even have bothered to say “someone.”

“I’m not telling you this stuff to scare you,” Brent continues. “But I know the way your mind works, and I knew you had to be halfway there on your own, anyway. I need you to be safe.”

“I don’t think I’m in danger myself,” she says, even though she has not fully convinced herself of the possibility.

“We don’t know that. A week ago, you didn’t think this was a possibility, either.”

She rests her hands atop her pregnant stomach, trying her best--and mostly failing--to remain calm. “Then what am I supposed to do? Wait around? I have a teenage daughter and another baby on the way. If I’m living--”

“That’s exactly my point,” Brent cuts in. “If Graham was behind what happened to Matt, my money is on him having done it to hold on to you and that baby. As long as he has you, things stay as they are. If you start accusing him of things or pulling away, that changes the dynamic, and then who the hell knows what he’s capable of?”

A chill runs through Sarah’s body. This all seems so surreal. She knows Graham. She married the man. She moved her daughter into his home. And now it’s a legitimate possibility that he set up an elaborate attempt on Matt’s life?

“Just play it cool while we investigate for a few more days,” he says. “Don’t let on that you even doubt the police’s story about Matt. And if anything scares you, let me know. Please.”

Sarah folds her arms and sits back, trying to figure out how she is not only going to pretend that she believes all these awful things about Matt, but also that she is stupid enough not even to question Graham’s involvement in it. But Brent is right, and if this is what it takes to keep herself, her children, and even Matt safe for the time being, she will find a way to make it work.


What should Sarah do about Graham?
How can Matt clear his name?
What will Diane’s next move be?
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