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Appisode 8: The Alignment

Previously on Montecito: Nicole visits Robert in prison and delivers him some unexpected news; Beth and Stu put on the gala of the year, but it is cut short by an unexpected visit from Dean Clark; Clark is surprised to encounter Jace at the Gala and demands answers.

What does Nicole tell Noah? Does she lie and say he’s the daddy? Or does she just tell the truth and say it’s not his?

Click To Reveal Results

Williams Mansion, Montecito

Ava rolled her suitcase up to the foot of the staircase.  She took a sweeping look around the foyer and wondered where everyone was. Had the help been let go? Had they all quit at the news of her father’s arrest?

“Oh, you’re home! It’s good to have you back.” Mrs. Healy smiled as she walked towards Ava, arms outstretched. Ava let a whimper escape as the woman’s arms enveloped her. “There, there,” Mrs. Healy soothed. “It’s going to be alright. They’ve simply made a mistake and your father will be back at home before you know it.”

Ava pulled away, wiping her tears with the cuff of her cardigan sleeve. She nodded in agreement. Mrs. Healy sounded so confident and Ava was sure the woman had no idea how much she needed to hear those words.

“I’m just going to drop my bag upstairs, but is anyone else home? Claire? Beth?” she asked as she began to haul her luggage up the stairs.

“Ms. McKellar left to go see your father. Beth was upstairs an hour ago. I think she’s still here.”

“Thanks,” replied Ava. She preferred to talk to Beth anyhow. She needed to find out what the hell had happened while she was away.




Montecito Police Station


Claire smoothed her hair as she climbed the five stairs into the police station. Robert had been denied bail, but they hadn’t moved him - yet. Having Robert close to home gave Claire some comfort. Robert had explained he was being housed in a single occupant cell.


He used the word as though he were some international student, taking advantage of the free accommodations until he could get himself oriented.


The word irritated Claire. Imprisoned, locked up, incarcerated were all far more accurate verbs.

Claire entered through the front doors and walked straight up to the reception counter. “Hi, I’m here to see Robert Williams. I’m his wife, Claire McKellar,” she stated, void of all emotion. She retrieved her ID from her clutch and slid it across the counter towards the young freckle faced officer.

At one time, Claire used to get so nervous that she would drop several personal items on the floor before her shaky hands would fumble upon her ID and finally manage to pull it out of her wallet. The process was smooth now, a sign of repetitive execution. She had been through these steps far too many times this week, sometimes twice a day. Claire was sure the officer behind the counter knew her well, but she continued to repeat the process. She would give her name and slide the ID she always kept separate in the inside pocket of her purse. He would look for her name on the list of approved visitors as though she were new and he had never seen her before. It was the one routine event she came to count on in her day.

Claire followed the officer down the hall. They approached an open door and the officer motioned Claire to step inside. This was a new room. It did not have a door on it, only a door frame, and there was Robert sitting at the table with his hands folded on his lap. Her eyes scanned her husband’s face for a moment, then flitted nervously to examine the officer leaning against the wall in the corner, reading a magazine.

This officer was also new to Claire. She had never seen him before and she wondered why he was here. The freckled officer exchanged a few words with the man and then returned to his post at the front desk.  

“He’s my new shadow,” said Robert, nodding his head towards a slightly older officer who was now standing, newspaper under one arm, looking directly at Claire.  

The officer smiled, “A shadow - that’s a good way to consider me,” he said as he walked around the table past Claire. He pulled out one of the chairs and Claire had almost thought he was pulling it out for her to sit, until she realized he had removed it for himself.

“I’ll just be out here if you need me,” he said, taking the chair and placing it just outside the open doorway.   

Claire looked back at Robert and mouthed the words, what’s going on?

“I turned over a table and now they think I need to be watched,” he explained apathetically. “I had no idea they were so attached to their tables and chairs. Had I known, I would have been more careful. I hope they don’t feel the same way about their toilets. After eating the shit they served me yesterday, I’m pretty sure I’ll destroy that later.” He raised his voice so that the intended party would hear.

“Well, it’s good to see your sarcasm and humor haven’t been lost,” replied Claire as she took the only available chair left in the room. She had seen this side of Robert once or twice before and thankfully wasn’t forced to become accustomed to it. “Why did you turn over the table?”

A flash of Nicole crossed Robert’s thoughts. Her long legs topped with the unmistakable baby belly.

“It was after David told me I wasn’t getting bail,” he lied.

“David Moore, your lawyer?” Claire asked for clarification.

“How many Davids would deliver that piece of news to me?” he asked, drawing in a deep breath as though it took extra effort to deal with an imbecile.

Claire drew in her own because she knew she needed to be extra patient with Robert today. His mood matched his face. He looked tired, and his salt and pepper hair was curling around his ears, unwilling to be managed.

“Of course,” she conceded, playing the role of a good wife, when in fact she wanted to throw the table upside down herself. She looked over her shoulder and could see part of the officer’s foot and could hear him flipping a page of his magazine. Is he listening to us?

Claire smoothed the lines in her linen skirt before folding her hands on her lap. This was no ordinary visit. She was here to bring him some terrible news about the case. News that she preferred to discuss with him before his lawyer did.

“You weren’t supposed to come until later this afternoon, but it’s actually better. David’s coming by later and the visits break up the monotony.”

Claire shook her head. It was as though he were reading her thoughts and leading her into an argument.  

“Well,” began Claire, “I thought I’d talk to you about some things we could do to clear your name a little faster. Maybe bring you home before the end of the week,” she smiled as his expression became one of intrigue.

“What were you thinking?” he asked, folding his own hands on the table.

“Well, I was in bed last night thinking about how I could help. They think you may have killed your other wives, right?” She hated saying the word in plural. One wife was one thing, but two wives meant he had lived two lives with other women before her. Not to mention the fact that he never told her about the first one - and now they were both dead.  


“So I was thinking that maybe I could be the reason you’re released. After all, you married me and I had no money. I’m still alive and you practically adopted my grown daughter. She’s an adult and you still support her,” she said. Claire paused, making sure he was really paying attention. “So,” she drew in a breath and exhaled the words, “I think I should take a blood test and prove that you’re not trying to kill me.”


Her idea was received with silence.

Robert leaned back in his chair and looked at her carefully.

Was that hurt in his eyes? Was he upset? How could he be upset with such an obvious plan? Perhaps he was wondering why David Moore hadn’t thought of it. She couldn’t take it anymore and finally asked, “So? What do you think? How long do you think it would take to get the results?”

“Do you think I am trying to kill you? Is that what you think?” he asked.

“What? No! Of course not. I’m trying to get you out of here,” she replied, dumbfounded. She hadn’t heard the flipping of any pages in the hallway.  He was either intensely immersed in an article about belt buckles or that nosy bastard was definitely eavesdropping.

“I love you. You know that, right?”

He was back. She could hear it in his voice. This was the man she fell for. This was the man she married.

“Yes, Robert, I know that. I’m just trying to help. I think this would help.”

“Don’t you think David and I discussed this? I suggested it right away. I figured there was clearly a mix-up and your blood would clear up everything. But after telling him about your heart problems, the medication you’ve been taking on and off for bladder infections and anxiety, he thought it could actually make the case worse.”

“How?” she asked, confused.

“How?” Robert repeated. “How?” he asked again, a little louder this time. “Because every drug has side effects. Because one thing can look like another.” He made sweeping gestures with his arms. “Your blood could actually make it all worse!”

“Really?” asked Claire, unconvinced.

“Yes, really!” Robert slammed his fist on the table.   

It startled Claire and she jumped a bit in her seat.

“I can’t even take a lie detector test because the unpalatable excuse for food they served me this morning might be the reason my heart skips or I sweat a little more than usual! It’s all open to misinterpretation and can incriminate me further!”

“Well, I wasn’t there for this discussion,” Claire pointed out. “You obviously thought the same thing so don’t blame me for trying when you yourself suggested it,” she added defensively. This was not going the way she had hoped. She didn’t have much time left and she still hadn’t told him the bad news yet.

“Sorry. I know. I guess I was hoping you had thought of something we didn’t.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “This is crazy. I can only imagine what people at work are saying.”

“The very same thing we’re all thinking. This is preposterous. How could anyone accuse you of such horrifying things?” Claire shook her head.

Robert reached over the table to take Claire’s hands. She met him halfway and whispered, “I’m just trying to help. You know that, right?”

“I know, I know. I just get so crazy in here. I feel caged.” He turned her wrist over to see the time. “We aren’t going to have much more time. Maybe you should come back when David comes in this afternoon. Apparently, he has some news for me. Who knows, maybe I’ll be home by dinner.” He gave a half-hearted smile.

Claire glanced at the watch. He was right, she only had a few more minutes. She couldn’t put it off any longer.

“Robert, there was a reason I came by earlier today to see you. I wanted to discuss something before your meeting with David.”  

“What is it?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “You know we aren’t allowed conjugal visits, so what else could it be?” he asked, laughing at his own joke.

Oh God, this is going to be hard.

“No, I’m not asking about conjugal visits.” She looked over her shoulder at the open doorway. His foot was still visible, and apparently there wasn’t any reading going on. “I just wanted to talk to you about some information that came up in the case.”

“What kind of information?”

“David knows who the mole is.”

“Who? I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of who works in the house, who visits the house, I’ve even gone through all the people I work with. A few names came to mind. Who was it? Who’s the bastard that has it in for me?”

Claire hesitated before answering, “Beth.”

Robert pulled his hands back. “Beth?”

“I don’t know why she did it. I’m not even sure she knows the implications of her actions. I haven’t had a chance to-” She didn’t get to finish her sentence.

“Didn’t know the implications of her actions? Are you kidding?” he spat the words out like venom.

He’s gone. Hyde had left and Jeckle was back.    

Claire sat a little straighter in her chair, but couldn’t bring herself to look at him.

“I really don’t, Robert. Just let me talk to her. I’m sure there was some misunderstanding. She must have thought she was helping or something.” She was almost whispering now.

“Helping? How could you think that? She’s had it in for me since she laid eyes on me!” He stood up so fast his chair toppled back and hit the floor.

“Don’t you see how this is going to look? Your daughter? The one I’ve been supporting is one of the people pointing her finger at me! I might as well have a bull’s eye on my back!” He was pacing now.

“I think your time is up, Mrs. Williams,” came a voice from behind her.  Alone, those words would almost sound like a suggestion or a question, but his tone let her know it was a command.

“Yes, of course.” Claire stood up dropping her clutch to the floor. None of this made any sense to her so how could she expect him to understand? She picked up her clutch and looked back at her husband. He was facing the wall, refusing to look at her.

“I’ll . . . talk to her. I’m sure we can fix this,” she said as she walked out of the room.




Montecito Beach

Noah pulled his car into the parking lot adjacent to the beach. He could see the back of Nicole sitting on a bench, waiting for him. From this view, she looked so serene, at ease, with strands of her hair dancing in the breeze.  

Noah, on the other hand, was anything but relaxed. He had barely slept all night. He had asked her a simple question, point blank, but Nicole wouldn’t answer. Instead, she just told him to meet her here, at the beach, where there would be less prying eyes and scandalmongers.

Last night, Noah laid in bed unable to sleep, sure that he’d be a father in a few months. Why else wouldn’t she tell him at the gala? Thoughts of his future and where he would be next year plagued him. He’d have to quit school, wouldn’t he? Would this mean they should get back together again? And on and on spiraled his thoughts for the better part of the night.

Now, Noah sat in the car willing his legs to move. Nicole picked a bench next to a small play area with swings and a slide, facing the water. Noah could hear the squeals of one little blonde girl in particular as she was pushed higher and higher by a young woman, presumably her mother or nanny. Noah wondered if Nicole picked this bench on purpose.

Nicole turned, spotting his car and waved him over. Now that he’d been seen, he didn’t want to appear hesitant. He swung open the door and climbed out, walking towards Nicole purposefully.

“Hi Nic,” he said, casually approaching her from behind and squeezing her shoulders.

“Hey,” she responded, all smiles.

Noah came around and sat down, his eyes landed on her hands, which were resting on the ever present bump.

“How are you feeling?” he asked.

“Oh you know, the same as every pregnant woman, I suppose. Fat,” she replied, patting her belly and smiling at him coyly.

“You’re not fat,” reassured Noah, almost an automatic response as he had years of practice. Nicole always complained about her non-weight when fishing for a compliment.

“Please,” she said, rolling her eyes, “I am too!”

“You’re pregnant. It’s not the same thing. You have a human in there.”

Noah reached over and rested his hand on hers. Nicole smiled at him.

“It’s not yours.”

The words came out of nowhere and Noah had nothing to prepare him. They both knew why they were there, sitting on this bench, sitting at this beach, sitting in front of the playground. But Noah had already convinced himself he was the father. He already made mental plans of what would need to happen, what he would do, how he would tell his parents, how he would break up with Elise.


“I said,” she replied a little slower, “the baby is not your’s.” Nicole paused. Clearly Noah was in shock because his hand still rested on hers.  “You are not the father. You don’t have to look so pale and worried. The baby won’t come out looking like you. You don’t need a DNA test,” she explained further. “It’s not yours,” she finished with a smile.

“Not mine?”

“Not yours.”

“You’re sure?” he asked.

“I’m sure.”


“No buts, Noah. It was the guy that came after you,” sighed Nicole. “You didn’t think my world stopped turning because we broke up, did you?”     

Noah drew in a breath of relief. “No, I didn’t think your world stopped turning. Although that was a quick turn around.” He removed his hand. His smile grew larger as the realization sunk in. He wanted to be a father some day, just not now.

“Feel better?” she asked.

“I was always fine,” he replied. “I was ready to deal with whatever you told me today.”

“This was just the best case scenario for you,” said Nicole. She was looking out at the ocean now. Her thoughts were off now into places Noah no longer had to worry about.

“Who is it? Do I know him?” Noah asked.

“No. No, you don’t know him,” lied Nicole.

“Does he know? Is he going to help?”

“He knows.” Nicole shrugged. “Honestly, I’m not really sure how much I want his input or help.”

This was not the response Noah was expecting. Nicole could be ruthless. He had no idea who this guy was, but he was sure Nicole would make him step up to his responsibilities, not only to their child but to her. This only made Noah wonder more about the father’s identity.

“You can’t take this all on your own. It’s not fair to you. Kids are expensive, or at least I hear people say that all the time. I don’t know who this guy is, but he shouldn’t be allowed to walk away,” reminded Noah, as though this were common sense advice she’d been ignoring.  “I can’t tell you what to do -,”

“Nope, never could,” interrupted Nicole.

“No, never could,” he agreed and continued, “I’m just saying, if you need anything, you know you can call me. I’ll be here for you.”

Nicole smiled. Okay, this has gone on long enough. Noah was a good guy but she certainly didn’t need his pity. Nicole got up and patted him on the head.

“You’re sweet, Noah. Thanks, but I’ll be just fine. I always land on my feet. I’m cat-like that way,” she smirked. “If I thought I need him or that he was ducking out of his responsibilities, my claws would come out,” she laughed, curling her hands to imitate extracted claws.

“Right,” said Noah, getting up off the bench. “I’m forgetting who I’m dealing with.” He smiled and gave her a hug.

“Okay, enough,” said Nicole patting him on the back. “I’m hungry again. It must be time for my second breakfast. You can buy me a waffle.” She walked towards Noah’s car, not waiting for a response.

Noah smiled and shook his head. She’ll be just fine.





William’s Mansion, Montecito Hills

Beth groaned and flipped her pillow over, searching for the cooler side. As she nestled her cheek against the cool bamboo cotton, she shut her eyes tightly, willing sleep to take over. She was exhausted. She had barely slept last night. After Clark had marched in and stole all their hard earned money, and probably ruined Network’s reputation in the process, Beth was so angry it took hours to calm down. When she finally did, she kept replaying the events of the party over and over again.

Beautiful decorations and people dancing.


Son of a bitch, stealing Clark.

Sounds of Claire crying from her bedroom when Beth returned home.

Beth sighed and contemplated giving up on the nap when she heard a knock at her door.

“Come in,” called Beth, somewhat hesitantly. Robert couldn’t have been released, could he?

Ava opened the door and Beth smiled when she saw her. Ava rushed into the room and hugged Beth tightly. “Beth! What is happening? I don’t understand what’s going on? Why have they arrested my dad?” Tears sprang to her eyes as she sat down on the bed beside Beth.

Beth gulped. In an effort to stall, she noted how tired and worried Ava looked. She didn’t know where to begin. She cleared her throat. “Well, he’s been arrested for the attempted murder of my mother.”

“Yes, I know, but that’s ridiculous! It’s not true! Why would they even think that? There has to be some kind of mistake!” She shook her head incredulously.

“Well, they think that your dad was slowly poisoning my mom. Remember how she’s been feeling so sick lately, and going to the doctor quite a bit?”

Ava nodded.

“Well, they think that Robert is responsible - that she isn’t sick, so much as being poisoned by that asshole. I’m sorry, Ava, I know he’s your dad, but he-”

“Oh my God! You think it’s true?” Ava yelled, standing now. “I can’t believe you, Beth! After all he’s done for you, just because you don’t like him, doesn’t mean that you can buy into all of this! How selfish and ungrateful can you be?”

“All he’s done for me! Are you kidding?” Beth retorted. While she wanted to yell and scream, it wasn’t Ava’s fault. She was just as much the victim as Beth. She forced herself to take a breath before continuing, quieter this time, “Ava, look. There’s more that you need to know. While they are only arresting Robert based on the current charge of the attempted murder of my mother, they are gathering evidence and will likely charge him for the murder of your mother.”

“My mother?” Ava gasped, not really comprehending.

“Yes. They believe that Robert may have also poisoned your mother. Like my mom, she also was experiencing health issues, and apparently the symptoms are quite similar.  Not feeling well, some heart problems, infections . . .” Beth trailed off as Ava was turning white.

Ava sat back down on the bed, opened and then closed her mouth. She tried to process the information.

“But, why? This doesn’t make any sense. Why would he, do that?” She couldn’t even bring herself to say the word ‘murder’. “He loved her!”

“I think for the life insurance money and her inheritance.”

“No! This is insane, Beth! This is crazy. This is my dad we are talking about! No! You hate him, so of course you’d believe all this, but it’s not true. You weren’t there when my mom died. You didn’t see how devastated he was!” Ava sobbed.

“Maybe so. Maybe he was sad for you because you lost your mother. Or maybe he was just acting, trying to avoid suspicion.”

“I don’t believe you. This is all some sort of misunderstanding. I’m going to see my dad,” Ava stated, wiping the tears from her eyes. She stood and squared her shoulders resolutely. She turned to open the door.

“Ava, wait!” called Beth.

Ava paused, hand on the door and turned back to her stepsister. “What?”

“There’s more.”

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me! What ‘more’ could there be?” Ava shouted.

Beth flinched. She had never heard Ava shout before, let alone at her. She was always so composed and polite. “The police are also gathering evidence to put together a charge for the murder of his first wife.”

Ava blew out an exasperated breath. “You already said that they are going to charge him for the murder of my mom-”

“Your mom wasn’t his first wife. Brenda Scott Williams was. He was married to her for a short time before he married your mom. She also had a life insurance policy and died due to a heart condition. All the same symptoms as my mom and your mom.”

Ava turned back slowly into the room. “He was married before my mom?” she whispered, more to herself than to Beth. Ava pressed her fingers, almost harshly, against her tired eyes for a moment before moving them to her temples. She tried to ease the throbbing of an emerging headache as she rubbed in little circles. She eventually dropped her arms to her side.

Beth remained silent and waited.

Finally, Ava looked back up at Beth.


Does Ava believe Beth, or does she continue to believe her father is innocent?

You Decided

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If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.
~Toni Morrison

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