Episode #472

- Travis and his friend, Landon, met a girl in the park during the blackout. She asked them for directions, and Travis was smitten. Later, the girl turned up at Danielle’s door--she was Danielle’s goddaughter, Elly.
- Elly told Danielle that she had overheard her parents discussing the fact that she was adopted, something they had never told her, and ran away from home. Danielle urged the girl to return to her parents while concealing the fact that she is Elly’s biological mother.
- Courtney’s doctor confirmed her pregnancy. She confided in Lauren but remained unable to tell Jason about it.
- Alex, already distraught over a bad meeting about his new novel, discovered Seth working at the arena with Jason.


Alex Marshall freezes in the doorway of the office. Jason Fisher sits at his desk, right where Alex expected to find him… and, across from him, Seth Ashby is planted there, like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Like he belongs here. Which he does not.

“Alex,” Jason says, guilt painted all over his face. “What are you doing here?”

“I think the question is, what are you doing here?” Alex counters. “Both of you.”

Neither of them is forthcoming with a response. The whole thing is so surreal to Alex that he entertains the idea of walking out of here, putting this out of his mind, and never having to think about it again.

“I was planning to tell you,” Jason says. “Seth applied for Ryan’s job--Sabrina met him first, and she didn’t know who he was.”

“Well, then, I guess that’s okay,” Alex says, unable to keep the sharp edge of sarcasm out of his voice. “I know you’re powerless to override any decision that your office manager makes.”

“We haven’t made any decisions yet! This is just--we’re trying it out.”

“He’s telling the truth,” Seth pipes in. “I’m hanging out here for a few days to get a feel for what they do. Nothing’s official.”

Alex’s eyes dart from one of them to the other, back and forth. “Was anybody going to talk to me before it became official? If I hadn’t walked in here, I mean.”

He feels like a child throwing a tantrum, but as much as he would like to exercise greater control over his emotions, it is not possible right now. This is too weird, too wrong. He has spent months trying to keep Seth separate from the life that he has built here in King’s Bay, and now he finds out that Seth has made his way into his best friend’s business? And Jason knowingly allowed it?

“I didn’t want to upset you over nothing,” Jason says.

“This is nothing? Really?” Alex counters.

“That’s not what I mean. I didn’t want to make an issue out of something that didn’t have to be one. If we’d decided to go ahead and bring Seth on, I would’ve talked to you.”

Alex stares his down, uncertain whether he believes him. He knows that this is not a malicious act on Jason’s part, but given how Alex has confided in him about Seth’s growing interference in his life and how he would like things to go back to normal with Trevor, Jason should have known better than to consider this. At all.

“I’m really sorry,” Jason says.

“Hey, guys, I’m back,” Courtney Chase announces as she sweeps into the room, nearly slamming right into Alex.

“Hi, Court,” Alex says over his shoulder.

Courtney takes in Alex, and Seth, and the expression on Jason’s face, and he can see that she gets it immediately.

“We were going to tell you,” she says, placing a hand on Alex’s shoulder.

He jerks away reflexively. “I don’t want to hear it. Not now.”

“Just calm down,” Jason says, standing from his seat. “This isn’t that big a deal.”

“Really? I’m glad you think so. But if you don’t think this is a big deal, then maybe we aren’t as good of friends as I thought.” Alex shakes his head at Jason, then spins on his heels. He pushes past Courtney to get out of the office. He has to get… away from here, somehow.

“Alex, wait,” he hears Courtney say, but he keeps moving down the hall.


Some time later, the office is still numb and lifeless. Jason, Seth, and Courtney sit at their desks, staring at the walls and periodically throwing out reassurances to each other that this will work out. When Sabrina returns from her extended lunch break, she discovers them sitting there, silent and morose.

“Is everything okay in here?” she asks, scanning the room. “Anything you need, Jason?”

“Alex dropped by,” he says, his eyes widened and his chin tilting toward Seth.

“Ohhh.” Sabrina makes her way to her desk. “What do we do now?”

“We stop sitting on our asses,” Seth says, bolting suddenly from his chair. He grabs his coat. “I’m going to find Alex. I can talk him down.”

“No offense, but I don’t know if you’re the person he wants to see right now,” Jason says.

“Not sure he’s too hot on you right now, either.”

Seth slips out of the office. Courtney has the urge to do something, too. There is too much buzzing around in her head, after her doctor’s appointment and her run-in with Lauren. Staying still and staring at the walls are not such impressive options.

Apparently Sabrina feels the same way. “I’m going to get some coffee,” she announces. “Anyone want anything?”

They both shake their heads. Courtney waits anxiously for Sabrina to dip out into the hallway. Then she and Jason are alone, and Courtney can barely keep her thoughts from bursting out of her head.

“Hey, can we talk for a minute?” she asks, and she almost laughs at how casual it sounds. Oh yeah, just a minute. I’m having your baby, that’s all.

Either Jason senses that there is more to it or he really is too distracted by the Alex dilemma to think about anything else, because his rejection is swift and immediate.

“Not right now.” He barely spares her a glance before hopping out of his chair again. “I need to get some air or something.”

Courtney wants to yell at him to sit back down and listen to her, but she knows that now is not the time. He exits the office, no doubt to wander aimlessly downstairs and outside for a few minutes before returning. As he leaves, he passes Sabrina, returning with a cup of coffee.

“I feel bad for even bringing Seth in here,” Sabrina says. “If I hadn’t kept him here to chat when he dropped off his resume, none of this would be happening.”

“Please. It’s not your fault. Jason and I should have known better.”

Courtney realizes that she is still wearing her coat and, though she was freezing a few minutes ago, the room now feels stiflingly hot. She stands to remove it, but in the process, she knocks her purse off the desk. Its contents spill over the floor.

“Ugh,” she mutters, squatting to gather everything and suddenly noticing how sore she is. Anytime something feels uncomfortable these days, she wonders if it is a pregnancy symptom. It seems early for soreness, but then again, she really has no idea how this goes.

“I’ll get these,” Sabrina volunteers, and Courtney looks up to see her coworker holding a tin of Altoids and--of course--the one thing that she had hoped to keep to herself.

“What’s this?” Sabrina asks, turning over the bottle of prenatal vitamins that the doctor gave to Courtney.


Christmas music lilts through the air, barely audible over the buzz and bustle of the afternoon shopping crowd. Travis Fisher and his friend, Landon, sip on Jamba Juice smoothies as they wander among the hoards of people.

“I have to figure out what to get my sister,” Travis says, staring into storefront windows but not receiving much inspiration.

“Get her a book. She’s always reading.”

“Actually a non-stupid idea, for once.” But as Travis turns the idea over in his head, it seems less and less viable. “Except the stuff I’d buy her is probably too dumb for her or something.”

Landon shrugs, obviously not too worried about it, and takes a loud slurp from his smoothie. Travis is about to try and slurp his louder when he spots something that makes him stop in his tracks.

Or, rather, someone.

“Dude.” He grabs Landon’s shoulder to pull him back. “It’s her.”

Landon follows Travis’s pointing finger but doesn’t get it. “Who?”

“The girl from the park. The night of the blackout.”

“Oh. Whoa.” Landon looks her over and nods approvingly. “She’s hotter with the lights on. That doesn’t happen too often.”


Travis watches her as she stands near the mall directory with an older blonde lady. Landon is right: she looks even better than he remembers.

“I’ve gotta talk to her,” he blurts out.


“It’s better than hitting on her in a park in the middle of a blackout.”

“Except she’s with her mom.”

“Yeah.” Travis really has no useful response to that; he isn’t hitting on some girl in front of her mother, no matter how cute she is.

The girl and her mother find their destination on the directory and move along. Travis half-hopes that the girl will look up and spot him, saving him the awkwardness of approaching her. No such luck.

He watches her walk away. After the first time he saw her, even after that brief conversation in the park, he felt like they met for a reason. Like it was supposed to happen. This only makes him think that his instinct was right.

“Come on,” he says, grabbing Landon’s arm.


“Come on! I don’t wanna lose her.” And with that--but without any plan or any idea of how he is going to make contact with her--he takes off in pursuit of her.


After he rushes out of the arena, Alex is not sure where to go. Going home seems too obvious. Coffee shop? Being amongst people, even strangers, is less than appealing. He considers driving around, but knowing how unfocused he is right now, that seems dangerous. There is one other place that comes to mind, but it seems so wrong to go there now. So home wins out.

When there is a frantic knock on the door, however, he regrets that decision.

“Alex, open up!” comes Seth’s voice through the door.

Alex is surprised that it is not Jason or Courtney who came after him, but he is also glad. He is not yet sure how he wants his next interactions with them to go; his decision could determine the course of their friendships forever. Seth, however… he knows exactly what he wants to say to him.

He yanks open the door and lets loose. “Why are you doing this? Are you trying to ruin every part of my life? You’re in my writing, you got in the middle of Trevor and me, now you’re working with Jason and Courtney--can’t you just go away?”

Seth takes it all in calmly, and his response is slow and measured.

“I don’t think that’s what you really want,” he says at last.

“Stop making decisions for me!” Alex fires back.

Seth fails to take the bait, fails to engage in the argument. Alex wishes that he would; then he could feel justified in screaming at him and kicking him out of his life forever. As it is, though, Alex feels like a melodramatic fool.

“Can I come in?” Seth asks. “Just to talk. I’d like you to hear me out.”

Instead of slamming the door in his face, Alex draws a deep breath and steps aside. Seth moves into the apartment.

“I don’t get this,” Alex says. “Any of it. You stay away--avoid me--for years, and all of a sudden, you’re everywhere.”

“Things change. I’ve changed.”

“So you’re saying you want to be with me?”

For the first time since his arrival, Seth seems to choke on the air he is breathing. He attempts to conceal it, but Alex notices.

“I want you in my life,” Seth finally says. “And I need someplace to start over. Why not here, where, if nothing else, I have you as a friend?”

It sounds so neat and logical that Alex wants to scream.

“Please, Alex, just give me a chance. Let me make up for acting like such an idiot back in college.”

Seth moves in closer, just close enough so that Alex catches a hint of his scent. It is the same as he remembers it, and for a moment, he breathes it in and relaxes.

“You need me, too,” Seth says. “Your friends--they’re good people, and I hope they’ll be great to work with, but clearly there are some issues there, if they couldn’t even tell you about this. You need someone you can trust. Give me a chance to be that person.”

Alex wants to bolt, but he has no idea where he would go. Not out in public. Not for a drive. Not to Jason or Courtney. And then there is the other place he thought of: Trevor’s secret spot by the river. He would love to escape there, to revel in the serenity and the memories--but he cannot go there now. Not after everything that has happened.

“Friends?” Seth asks, extending his hand.

Reluctantly, Alex accepts it, and when Seth clasps his other hand over the top, Alex forces himself not to pull back from the contact. Maybe Seth has gone about this all wrong, but his ultimate point just might be correct: perhaps, after all this time, Seth is the one person on whom Alex can truly depend.


Courtney’s mind spins like a turbine working overtime, eating through potential lies in record time. Nothing she can come up with is smooth enough or makes sense or--

“You’re taking prenatal vitamins?” Sabrina asks, reading the bottle.


“You’re… wow. Courtney.” Sabrina holds the vitamin bottle between her hands as she takes in this news. “How far along are you?”

Courtney resists admitting it, though there is no use. “Two months,” she finally says.

“Congratulations. You must be pretty excited, huh?”

“Yeah. Of course.” The response is automatic, but it feels mechanical and inauthentic.

“What’s wrong? Courtney, this should be one of the happiest times of your life.”

Courtney drops her head. She has been telling herself that it would be a happy time as soon as she found a way to tell Jason. But now the reality is stark and harsh: she hasn’t yet told him, she doesn’t know how he will react, and two months into her pregnancy, she is far more terrified than she is excited.

“I didn’t even know you were seeing anyone,” Sabrina says.

“I try to keep my personal life out of the office.” The lie is almost enough to make Courtney burst out laughing. Having sex in this very office is what got her into this situation in the first place.

“Well, if you don’t mind my asking… who’s the father?”

“I do mind your asking.” She doesn’t mean for it to sound so snappy, but the way it comes out, it sounds like she is ready to leap over there and bite Sabrina’s head off.

“Okay. Sorry.” But Sabrina continues eyeing her, as if the answer might be written somewhere on Courtney’s person. “Have you told him yet? The father?”

Courtney shakes her head.

Jason walks back into the office, and Courtney snaps back into her seat, trying to act as though nothing is amiss. She organizes her purse and sets it down beside her seat, glancing toward Sabrina to make sure that the vitamins are concealed.

“I thought you were needed some air,” Courtney says to Jason.

“I did. I do.” He picks up his car keys. “I’m going to go pick up those signs from the copy shop. I need to keep busy.”

He disappears from the office as quickly as he reappeared, but only once Courtney hears his footsteps descending the stairs does she breathe again.

“Oh my God,” Sabrina says. “It’s him.”

Courtney doesn’t know how she is going to get through this lie.

“You’re having Jason’s baby?” Sabrina asks, the disbelief in her voice thick.

“I’d rather not discuss this,” Courtney says. She crosses to Sabrina’s desk. “Can I have my vitamins back?”

She reaches for the bottle, but Sabrina makes no move to return it to her.

“I didn’t even know you guys were… seeing each other again,” Sabrina says.

“We’re not. Not really.”

Sabrina sits back in her chair, still clutching the vitamins. “You haven’t told him yet? I thought you guys were close.”

“We are. It’s complicated.”

“If you can’t even tell him about this baby, how do you think you guys are going to be able to raise a kid together?”

The question makes the situation seem so clear, so straightforward, that it seems the undeniable truth. This is no way for a child’s life to begin. They will never be able to do this.

“Maybe you want to reconsider this, while you still have the chance,” Sabrina says.

With that, she hands Courtney the vitamins. Courtney takes them apprehensively, not even sure that she wants to deal with the unopened bottle. She can’t do this. She and Jason are not ready to have a child. Maybe Sabrina has a point: if she makes this go away, they will have time to figure this all out, figure out where they stand and what they mean to each other.

The bottle feels heavy in her hands as she returns to her desk and buries it in her purse.


What should Courtney do about the baby?
Is Alex wrong to trust Seth?
Can Jason and Courtney make this up to Alex?
Discuss this episode in the Footprints Forum!

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