“Well, how did you like it?” asks Ashley, coming over to Nicholas.
“Wonderful,” Nicholas answers. “It’s surprising you haven’t been discovered. I suppose when your family expands further, you’ll get your chance.”
“Let’s hope so.” She turns to Rachel. “So, you’ve been filling him in on the family plans?”
“No need to,” Nicholas answers for her. “Everyone’s aware that your family wants to expand into new territories.”
Rachel speaks up. “But I’m glad I was here tonight. It gave me a chance to experience your talents first-hand. If you don’t mind, I could give you some exposure even before your family’s planned expansion.”
“Well,” says Ashley, smiling, “I certainly wouldn’t oppose such measures, as long as it’s not negative publicity.”
“Belle, I’m glad you’re back,” says Claire. “Where have you been?”
“Oh, I just took a little jaunt out of town for a bit,” Belle answers.
“Were you with Nicholas or Gavin?” Claire asks. “You were all gone at the same time and no one was sure where any of you were. Ashley was running around frantic, but your mother said you went out of town with Nicholas. Nicholas returned yesterday without you. But, I thought something was brewing between you and Gavin. I don’t understand this little love triangle.”
“Listen, Claire,” says Belle. “There is no love triangle. It’s all a ruse for Ashley’s sake. You know what she can be like. Whatever you think is going on, please do not express them to anyone, especially around Ashley.”
“OK, but do you like either one of them?” Claire is curious.
“I like them both. But not the way you mean.”
“I’m surprised you’re supporting me,” says Melanie, “even though, I am grateful for it.”
“Why should you be surprised?” asks Blanche. “After all, I’m a newcomer here as well. You can’t pretend that I was accepted with open arms.”
“Uh, no,” says Melanie, warily. “So, we’re the new girls on the block.”
“Yes, and we should stick together for moral support. I’m sure the others are going to be antagonistic towards us.”
“You’re right,” Melanie says, smiling. Just then a phone rings and she answers it. Blanche pretends to walk away while Melanie watches her. Around the corner, Blanche stops to listen.
“Don’t call me here,” Melanie says, in a lowered voice into the phone. “I can’t talk right now. OK, I’ll be there.”
Gavin is beginning to regret sending Belle home as he follows Mr. Z into Arizona. Mr. Z was alone, so Gavin can only assume that Justin was sent home to Vegas. Driving through the desert he found very little cover. When Mr. Z pulls down a deserted road, Gavin pulls up to examine a map for an alternative route. It would look too obvious to follow such a dirt road.
Belle receives a text message. “Oh, my gosh,” she says, as she reads it.
Quickly, she dials Gavin’s number. “Hello, gorgeous,” he answers. “Miss me already?”
“You’re lucky Ashley’s not on either end. But I have an ID on our Mr. Z. His name’s Ryan Loomis. And he could be dangerous. So watch your back. For your own protection, maybe you should tell me where you are.”
“I’m in the middle of nowhere in Arizona and I may have lost my prey. You’re not thinking of flying back, are you?”
“No, but I could arrange for some back-up in case. Tell me precisely where you are, or as well as you could.”
He examines his map again and describes his whereabouts.
“Keep your phone charged,” Belle says. “And let me know when you run into trouble.”
“Yes, mom,” Gavin answers.
Rick comes out of Lucas’ room. “He’s asleep now. He was pretty attentive to the story, and I could tell that he wanted to ask questions. But he kept his mouth shut.”
“That’s all right,” says Lisa. “We can’t expect major leaps and bounds. Maybe you can try turning reading time into a sort of game and see if that helps.”
“That’s an idea. I’ll try it tomorrow. Or, maybe we can have him say good-night to Eileen before he goes to bed. He’s forming an attachment to her.”
“Yes,” says Lisa, thoughtfully. “I’m surprised to find that he understands his relationship to her.”
“Maybe it’s because of his experiences at Marie and Dan’s.”
“I guess it was a good idea to start there. I’m glad we’re all working together to help him.”
“Are you ready for tomorrow?” asks Michael.
“As ready as I can be,” says Amanda. “It’s not like studying for an exam.”
“Are you scared?”
Amanda shrugs. “I suppose I’m a little nervous. I don’t know what to expect. It seems to be such an open and shut case that I can’t see how important my testimony could be.”
“Yes, but he’s pleading temporary insanity. They’ll ask you to describe everything in detail and his lawyers are going to to try to get you to say that he was crazy.”
“He’s crazy, however you look at it. But I guess I have to watch my words.”