Episode #479

- Former pals Courtney and Lauren had a friendly conversation, and Courtney confessed her pregnancy. Lauren, however, did not reveal that she had seen a doctor because of the lump found in her breast.
- Trevor tore up Cliff’s card and definitively decided to have nothing more to do with the porn producer.
- Seth took a job working for Jason at the ice arena. Alex was irate when he found out, but Seth calmed him down and insisted that he wants Alex to be a part of his life.


This new year does not feel any different than the last to Alex Marshall. He was hoping that the flip of a calendar page would obliterate the tumult and bad memories of the year gone by, but those things have tailed him right into 2008. Now he sits in the coffee shop, trying desperately to get some work done on the latest revision of his novel.

He glances up casually from his laptop, allowing his brain a moment to wander and find the right phrasing, when he discovers something else entirely: Trevor Brooks standing at the counter, waiting for a drink. Alex’s gaze lingers on Trevor: that long, lean body; the way his jeans always manage to look like they were cut just for his body; the hair that is perfect even when messy.

Trevor turns suddenly. Alex bows his head, but he has already been spotted.

He keeps his focus on his laptop, hoping--at least part of him is--that Trevor will go away and the whole thing can be avoided. Then he hears the barista call Trevor’s familiar drink, and seconds later, Trevor is beside his table.

“Hey,” Alex says, raising his head.

“Hey.” Awkward quiet. “Working hard?”

“Yeah. I have a lot of work to do before this thing is ready to be published.”

Trevor sips his drink.

“How are you?” Alex asks, unable to handle the silence. “How were the holidays?”

“They were okay. Not great, but… good to spend time with family, you know.”

It pains Alex to be having such a pedestrian conversation with someone he was so close to only a few months ago. It isn’t right. This isn’t how things are supposed to be.

“I’ve really missed you,” he says.

Trevor’s surprise is evident. He gives it time to pass before responding, “I’ve missed you, too.”

The declaration, simple though it is, fills Alex with hope. “Maybe we could get together,” he says. “Catch up. Talk.”

For the first time in far too long, he sees that smile on Trevor’s face--that smile where half his mouth lifts, as though someone is pulling on a hook at the corner of it. He’s missed that smile.

“So things have changed?” Trevor asks.

“What do you mean?”

“Seth. He’s gone? You… got that out of your system?”

Alex doesn’t know how to answer. Of course he’s gone. I want nothing to do with him. It’s you I want. Except Seth is still in King’s Bay, maybe for good, and as much as Alex wishes there weren’t some lingering attraction there, there is.

He is still trying to formulate his response when Trevor picks up the ball.

“I can’t do it,” Trevor says. “Unless he’s gone--unless I know for sure that that’s totally over--I can’t put myself back in that position. Not now.”

All Alex can do is nod understandingly. He hates himself for it, but it’s all he can do. A minute later, he is all alone again.


She knows that she should use the weekend to relax after several hectic days of work, but Courtney Chase has too much energy to entertain that option for long. She has felt this way, totally wired, ever since sharing the news about the baby with Jason. Her mind is too busy making plans and contemplating possibilities to do much relaxing.

Amidst all the craziness, there is something reassuring about picking up the phone and dialing Lauren Brooks’s number. It has been far too long since she has done this, but it feels so familiar. Their chance encounter at the hospital before Christmas made Courtney optimistic that they might be able to renew their friendship, and while she waits for Lauren to answer, she hopes that she did not misread the situation.

“Hello?” Lauren answers. She sounds drowsy.

“Lauren, it’s Courtney. I didn’t wake you up, did I?”

“No, no.” The denial doesn’t sound too convincing until Lauren adds, “Sleep is not something I’ve been getting a lot of lately.”

That would explain why she sounds so out-of-it. Courtney wonders if she should ask if anything is wrong, but Lauren takes over before she gets the chance.

“What’s going on?” Lauren asks.

“I was wondering if you’re free for lunch today. I know it’s short notice, but I’d love to sit down and catch up some more.”

“I’d like that… but I’m going to need to take a raincheck. It’s just a--it’s not a great day.”

Again Courtney gets the sense that something is seriously wrong, but she doesn’t know if it is her place to pry. Once upon a time, she wouldn’t have thought twice about inquiring into every aspect of Lauren’s life; it’s how their friendship was. But with all that has transpired, they are now on much more tentative ground.

“How are you feeling? Have you talked to Jason?” Lauren asks.

“Yeah. I told him, on Christmas, and it’s--everything is great. I should’ve told him sooner. You were right about him being a good father. The way he lit up…”

“I’m really happy for you guys.”

Courtney has no doubt that Lauren means it. She wishes that they could sit down and talk for hours, like they used to.

“Give me a call when things settle down,” Courtney says. “If there’s anything you want to talk about…”

“Thanks, Court.”

They say their goodbyes and end the call. Courtney has an uneasy feeling about the conversation, and it remains with her for the rest of the day. Something is going on with Lauren, and though it might be none of Courtney’s business, she cannot help but wish that she could do something to help.


After a few frustrating hours at the coffee shop, Alex returns home. As if his writing weren’t limping along poorly enough, Trevor had to show up and throw everything into even further disarray. Alex found himself barely able to focus on the words on his screen afterward, let alone compose new ones. All he can think about is how he wishes he had reached out for Trevor--touched him, held him for even a few seconds, like that might make all the difference in the world.

He is sitting on the couch, laptop on his knees while he tries to review what little work he got done today, when there is a knock at the door. He answers it and finds Seth there.

“What’s up?” Seth greets him, as though this were a planned visit.

“I don’t know. What is up?”

“Just thought I’d drop by to see you.”

“Ah. Hence the texts asking what I was up to.”

“Smart one, you are,” Seth says, noticing the laptop. “How’s the writing?”

“Frustrating. Stupid.” Alex closes the door and returns to his spot on the couch. He thinks of setting the computer aside--it would be nice to be free of its burden for a few minutes--but keeps it on his lap, a protective shield.

“You have plans the rest of the day?” Seth asks.

“I was planning on getting some work done…”

“That doesn’t look like it’s going too well.”

Alex hesitates to agree, because that will only give Seth further reason to hang around. It isn’t like anything is going on, and it isn’t like he and Trevor are even together, but being in Seth’s presence makes him feel incredibly guilty.

Seth picks up on the weirdness. Regarding Alex with narrowed, searching eyes, he says, “I thought we were doing better.”

All Alex can do is shrug.

“So we’re not? Alex, you’ve gotta talk to me. We’re cool, right?”

The words explode out of Alex before he knows they are coming: “Cool? Really? You show up here, turn my whole life upside-down just when I was finally ready to move on, and you want us to be cool? For real? Are you kidding me?”

Seth takes a step backward. “I didn’t mean to--”

“That’s the thing, Seth. What do you mean to do? What’s the point of all this? Is there something you want from me? Or are you just wasting both of our time?”


Trevor’s feet pound hard against the treadmill’s belt. His heart pounds and his lungs burn, and he couldn’t feel better. He has felt disengaged from his workouts in recent months, but since his decision to have nothing more to do with Cliff Burkett, he has felt a renewed drive to get his body back to its peak condition.

He sees his cell phone, lying on the treadmill’s tray, light up. He is ready to ignore the call when he sees that it is from Wes, his agent. He pauses the treadmill, removes his iPod earbuds, and brings the phone out to the hallway.

“Wes! Hey.”

“Trevor. How are things? How were the holidays?”

“I’ve had better,” he says, momentarily getting caught up in the news of Lauren’s biopsy, “but they really helped put things in perspective.”

“Good. You ready to get back to work?”

“You know I am. Do you have someone who actually wants to give me a job?”

“Not exactly, but I’ve got a lead. Remember that audition you went on for Piece Of Me Jeans?”

Trevor remembers it well. He was on a hot streak, busy with seasonal print ads for Objection, and he thought he had nailed the auditions for the jeans line. He had really connected with the people and was surprised that he didn’t book the shoot.

“They liked you a lot,” Wes says. “I told you they only booked the guy they did because they owed his agent a favor--otherwise you would’ve gotten it, I’m certain.”

“So what? They have a new campaign?”

“They’re launching a new line, a little more down-market, more affordable. They haven’t officially announced it yet.”

“Okay…” Trevor waits for some hint of where this is going but grows impatient. “You just want me to be aware of it?”

“The lead designer is throwing this party in Seattle, and I got an invite. I can’t make it, but I thought if you went and reminded them of who you were…”

“I can do that,” Trevor says. “But I’m not really invited, am I?”

“It’s a big thing, some charity gala. They sent me two tickets. Doesn’t really matter who uses them.”

Trevor doesn’t even need to waste time thinking about it. “I’ll pick them up from you later today. You can give me the details.”

“Great. We need to get you out there networking again,” Wes says, his tone confident as ever.

Hoping to soak up that confidence, Trevor adopts the same tone. “Sounds like a plan. I’ll see you this afternoon.”


Alex fixes a hard stare upon Seth. “What’d you even come here for?”

Even as Seth murmurs his response, he averts his gaze. “To see you.”

“Well, you’ve seen me, so now you can go.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

Alex finds himself at a loss. It has been a year since Seth’s aborted wedding, and they are in almost exactly the same place as they were then. What is the point of Seth being in King’s Bay if they are just going to have this same conversation over and over?

“Then what do you mean?” Alex asks. “What do you want from me?”

“You know.” Seth tilts his head, his face scrunched up like a child pleading to stay home sick from school. “Don’t make me say it.”

A laugh bubbles out of Alex’s throat. “Make you? If this isn’t something you want to do, I’m not forcing you to stay here. You’re free to leave.”

“Okay, fine.” Despite that declaration, Seth hesitates, flicking the tip of his tongue over his lips. “Do you want to do something? Like, dinner?”

Alex hates the way that his anger subsides so quickly; he should find this more irritating than cute. He does. But something about Seth always pulls him into the past, into a time when first love seemed like it would be forever, and without intending to do so, he finds himself playing along.

“I’m not familiar with this concept of two people making plans to do something,” Alex says. “Does it have a name?”

Seth’s eyes widen with exasperation.

“You can’t expect me to do something I don’t even understand,” Alex says. A part of him loves twisting the knife and watching Seth squirm. It seems deserved after everything Seth put him through. However, another part of him just wants to hear Seth say it--not to be vindictive, but to know for certain that Seth has always felt the same way that Alex has… even if it has taken him years to admit it.

“A date, okay?” Seth blurts out. “Do you want to go on a date?”

Just hearing the word, Alex feels vindicated. He wasn’t a fool for thinking that they could be more than hook-up buddies back in college; there were real feelings underneath that, on both sides.

Even so, he still feels as though he is being disloyal to Trevor. Then he remembers what Trevor said to him earlier: “Unless he’s gone--unless I know for sure that that’s totally over--I can’t put myself back in that position. Not now.” In other words, they have no future until and unless Alex can sort out this thing with Seth.

“Looks like we’re going on a date,” he finally says.

They pick a day and time, and after Seth says that he will call with more specific plans, he leaves the apartment.

A nervous grin lingers on Seth’s lips as he goes. “The next time we hang out,” he promises teasingly, “I will redeem myself.”

Alex watches out the window as Seth goes to his car; the situation has become so confused that he doesn’t know if he should be happy about this date or annoyed by it. But it is a step toward resolving this whole thing, he figures, and that is a very good thing, indeed.

Alex steps away from the window as Seth climbs into his car. Neither of the young men notices that, across the parking lot, someone else sits in a rental car and pays very close attention to Seth’s movements.

Thank God, he was only in there for a few minutes, Miriam Frost thinks as she watches Seth’s car back out of its parking space. Though it would be better if he hadn’t come here at all.

She allows Seth a few seconds of lead time and then starts her own car, prepared to follow him wherever he goes next.


What does Miriam want with Seth?
Should Alex have accepted the date?
Will Trevor fight for Alex?
Come over to the Footprints Forum to discuss!

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