Episode #419

Previously ...
- Jason received a voicemail message from an attorney, asking Jason to contact his office immediately to set up a meeting over an important but unspecified matter.
- At the bachelor auction, Katherine purchased a date with Brian. After Nick ruined the evening, Brian tried to reassure Katherine that it would all work out.
- Brent questioned Tim about Nick's shooting. Tim admitted to having fought with Nick but claimed only to have punched him before he left.


Tim Fisher sits across the desk from Diane Bishop, leafing through a manuscript for the umpteenth time.

"I really don't think there's anything here," he says. He re-reads a random excerpt of it, as though expecting whatever virtues Diane sees to leap off the page suddenly.

"And I do," she says. "The writing itself is good. It just needs guidance."

"Good writers are a dime a dozen. Good novelists are another issue entirely."

He waits for Diane to continue the argument, but instead she reaches across the desk and takes the manuscript from him. Case closed. Tim knows better than to argue with her over something like this.

He sees Diane's attention go to the door, and Tim turns to find Brian Hamilton lingering there, newspaper in hand.

"What do you guys make of this Nick Moriani thing?" Brian asks.

"He was asking for it, don't you think?" Diane counters. Tim looks at her, but she doesn't meet his gaze; since Brent came over to question Tim about the night of the shooting, they have shared very few words about the incident and its possible ramifications.

Brian shrugs. "Can't really argue with that, but still... Have you guys heard anything through Brent? Is Katherine not going to be charged?"

"Not for the time being," Tim says. For some reason he is afraid of how Diane might answer the question. "We'll see."

Brian narrows his gaze at them. "Do you know something you're not telling?"

"Brent can't just go giving out details left and right," Tim replies, his tone insistent. He hazards a glance at Diane, whose face is stony, expressionless.

"The cops will figure it out soon enough," she says finally. "It's their job."

There is an icy quality to her voice that is clear to Tim and, apparently, is not lost on Brian, either.

"Ooookay," he says, whistling as he slips out of the office. "Just trying to do some old-fashioned workplace gossiping."

Tim is about to stand up for Brian--after all, he was only trying to discuss a fairly big news story with the only other people in the office who were at the auction--when Diane beats him to the punch. Only she isn't standing up for Brian.

"He has no business sticking his nose into this," she says, slapping the manuscript against the desk with a note of finality.


The building is sleek and modern, the kind of place that is so clean that it must have secrets hidden in its floors and walls. Jason Fisher and Courtney Chase walk across the expansive lobby to the reception desk, both holding in their uncertainty under shallow breaths and nervous eyes.

When they stop at the desk, the receptionist--a young man with slicked-back black hair and thick-framed glasses--looks up with a cool smile, the kind that says: I'll pretend to be polite, but until you prove otherwise, you aren't welcome here.

"I have an appointment with Mr. Bransford," Jason says. "My name is--"

The receptionist suddenly brightens. "Jason Fisher. Yes. Follow me."

He leads Jason and Courtney back to an exquisite office, decked out in very square, very modern furnishings.

"Have a seat over there," the receptionist says, gesturing toward a couch. "Mr. Bransford will be with you in a moment."

He leaves and closes the door behind him; Jason and Courtney seat themselves on the sofa, though it does little to relax them. Silence, heavy with all their unanswered questions, buzzes all around them.

"Am I the only one getting a super-weird vibe from this whole thing?" she asks finally.

Jason is grateful for the break in the silence. "No, I definitely am, too. Did you see the way that guy perked up when he realized who I was?"

"Yeah. You'd think you were someone important," Courtney says with a teasing grin.

"I just want to know what this is about!" Jason says, excited but quiet, as he watches the still-closed door. "I mean, I can't be in trouble, right?"

She looks at him quizically. "Um, I'm pretty sure that you contact an attorney when you get in trouble, not the other way around."

He shrugs. "This is just so random. I--"

Jason goes quiet as the door opens. A man in his late forties or early fifties, undoubtedly Mr. Bransford, enters the office. He carries an air of confidence about him, as if he has never doubted a single decision he has made in all his years.

"Mr. Fisher!" he exclaims, moving toward them with his hand extended.

Jason rises to shake his hand. "Nice to meet you." He turns to acknowledge Courtney. "This is Courtney Chase."

The attorney, who until this moment seems to have been appraising Courtney quite appreciatively, suddenly goes cold. He withdraws his hand and asks, "Courtney Chase, you said?"

Both Jason and Courtney nod, confused.

"In that case," Bransford says, "we might have a problem."


When Tim returns to Diane's office a little while later, he can feel a noticeable tension in the air. He is not certain whether it is a bad-tension or simply a weird-tension, but it is most certainly present.

"Here's that letter you wanted," he says, handing her the printed sheet.

"Thanks." Diane takes the letter and reads over it immediately, barely sparing a look for him. Tim waits across the desk for whatever feedback she might have.

But when she lowers the letter and raises her eyes to him, he can tell that business is not what she has on her mind. They stare at each other, in a sort of deadlock, until Tim finally has to be the one to break it.

"You believe me, don't you?" he asks.

She barely even hesitates. "If you say you're telling me the truth, then I believe it."

"I swear. I only--" He looks to the door; no one is within earshot, but he lowers his voice anyway. "I punched him. That's it. I wanted to make it clear that I knew what he'd said about Travis and that we'd keep him protected, and then he started goading me about how I'd lost so many years of my life--"

"Tim." Finally Diane's expression softens. "I understand. The bastard deserved a lot more than a punch, but I believe you."

Something inside him relaxes, something that has not been able to relax for days. But as soon as he allows his thoughts to move again, the fear comes back.

"What if no one else does?" he asks. He is scared even to vocalize the thought, but some part of him feels compelled to do so. "What if the police can't figure out who did it, and since they know I was there and had a motive--"

"Don't be ridiculous. They have no concrete evidence. They have no weapon. There's no way they could make any charges stick."

The way that Diane keeps her cool is nothing short of amazing to him, and he offers a weak but appreciative smile in return.

"And besides," she said, "even if they tried, we'd find a way to make sure it never worked."


Brian passes through the doors and into the coffee house. Its soft lighting is a welcome change from the aggressive sun outdoors, and the same goes for the air-conditioning.

He is on his way to join the short line at the counter when a somewhat familiar voice catches his attention. He pauses mid-stride and looks to see Katherine Fitch at the front of the line.

"I'm sorry, ma'am, this isn't Starbucks," the barista, a young man with a pointy goatee, explains in a not-so-patient tone.

"How can you not serve Frappuccinos?" Katherine fires back, undaunted. "And you call this place a coffee house!"

Brian watches with amusement. Normally he would be embarrassed to see someone making such a scene, but Katherine seems so in-control of her demands.

"Because this isn't Starbucks," the man repeats with exaggerated fatigue.

Before he even realizes what he is doing, Brian sidles up beside Katherine at the register.

"I think what the lady means is that she'd like a Mocha Killer Chiller," he says to the barista. Then, to Katherine: "What size?"

The confusion on her face morphs to delight just in time to answer, "Grande."

"Medium," Brian relays.

The barista starts to ring up the order, but Katherine interrupts. "Were you going to order anything?" she asks Brian.

"Oh, uh, yeah, I'll get mine in a second--"

"Don't be absurd. Please, tell this silly young man what you'd like."

Brian suppresses a laugh and places his order. Katherine pays for the drinks, and they move to the side to wait.

"Thanks for the coffee," Brian says.

"Oh, please. Thank you for rescuing me from that young man's blinding idiocy." She tucks her wallet back into her elegant handbag. "I normally get my coffee drinks at Starbucks, but I was in need of a pick-me-up and I spotted this place along the way."

"My pleasure to be of help." Quiet falls over them for a moment before Brian works up the nerve to switch to a more troubling subject. "I've seen the newspapers lately. Are you doing all right?"

"I'm perfectly all right, yes. You won't catch me raving about my wonderful stay at the local jail anytime soon, but it was nothing that I couldn't survive. Better to have it over with so quickly than to be considered a suspect for weeks and weeks."

"So they've officially cleared you?"

"They declined to..." She looks around and lowers her voice. "... press charges. I take that as a sign that they have moved on to other prospects."

"I hope so," Brian says, suddenly feeling very strange about the whole thing. She doesn't seem scared or worried about the matter--just annoyed.

Another barista calls out their orders, and Brian picks them both up from the platform. He hands Katherine hers and waits for her to taste it.

But instead of commenting on her beverage, Katherine looks up at Brian with a stern expression.

"Truth be told," she says, "it would serve Nick right if they never caught the person who did this. The only tragedy is that they didn't complete the job."

"You don't mean that."

"You'd be surprised." She pauses to get a napkin from the counter. "But enough of that. I'm glad to have run into you. Don't we have a charity-mandated evening to arrange?"


Jason attempts to read the attorney's troubled expression, but all he gets for his trouble is further confusion.

"What do you mean, a problem?" Jason asks. "Courtney is a friend of mine."

"That's all?"

"Yeah. Yes." Jason glances at Courtney, but as soon as he does, he regrets the move. There is an unmistakable awkwardness between them all of a sudden; Jason feels his cheeks heating up and swiftly speaks up again. "What's this all about, anyway?"

"Let me start from the beginning," Bransford says. He moves behind the desk, then gestures for Jason and Courtney to move to the chairs opposite him. As they do, he continues:

"Are you familiar with Chocolate Burst Hot Cocoa?"

"I think so, yeah..." The brand name is a distant memory to Jason; its image is a fuzzy logo stored with his childhood memories. He looks to Courtney for confirmation, and she nods.

"As you may recall, the brand was bought out in a rather lucrative deal several years ago," Bransford explains. "A multi-million dollar deal."

He pauses to let the information sink in, as though it has some relevance. Jason takes the opportunity to lean forward and interrupt:

"I'm sorry, but what does any of this have to do with me?"

"Mr. Fisher, you've just become the beneficiary of that multi-million dollar buyout."

Jason sits back. "What?"

"The founder and CEO of Chocolate Burst Hot Cocoa was a man named Ron Powell, whose daughter--"

"Shannon Parish," Courtney says, finishing the sentence before Bransford has the chance to do it himself.

"Yes." Now Bransford sits back in his own chair, clasping his hands together. "Despite the... unfortunate circumstances surrounding Mr. and Mrs. Powell's deaths, their daughter inherited their rather substantial financial holdings."

"Shannon Parish was a maniac. She nearly ruined both our lives," Jason says. "She had Courtney attacked--"

"Believe me, I'm aware," the attorney says. "I'm her legal counsel."

This is all too strange for Jason. He starts to rise from his seat. "I'm sorry, but--"

"Mr. Fisher, please."

"If Shannon is up to something, even from inside that place--"

"She is no longer at the facility."

The news sends a fear through Jason that he didn't even realize was possible; it is as though no time has passed since Shannon tried to have Courtney killed.

"What? She was sentenced to life--"

"And she served it," Bransford says. He sets his hands on the desk. "Shannon Parish passed away last week."

Jason is certain that he has heard incorrectly, so he looks to Courtney for confirmation. She appears equally shocked.

Courtney is the first of them to speak, and her words are slow, uncertain: "You don't mean..."

"Shannon left all her money to you, Mr. Fisher, on the condition that you not be married to Ms. Chase at the time of her death. And seeing as how you are not..."

Courtney completes the statement. "...the money is his?"


How could this money change Jason's life?
How far will Diane go to protect Tim?
What about the new bond between Brian and Katherine?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to discuss this episode!

Next Episode