Episode #484


- Sarah planned a romantic evening for her and Matt, but it was ultimately no help in closing the gap between them.
- Diane promised a higher-up at Vision that she was on the verge of closing a deal for Ryan to pen his memoirs, but she confessed to Brian that she had no idea where Ryan was.
- Diane enlisted Sarah to locate Ryan for her.


A flurry of white overtakes Diane Bishop’s normally immaculate desk as she gives up on the reading she has been attempting for an hour now. It is not even noon, and the day is already lost to-- she isn’t even sure what. She sure as hell isn’t doing anything. She checks her Blackberry for the millionth time today, though she knows full well that no calls have come in recently. Especially not the one for which she is waiting.

Even more frustrated with the mess before her, Diane straightens up the loose pages and places the neat pile to her left. She needs information. She needs something to act upon.

What she gets instead is Brian Hamilton sauntering into her office, casual as can be.

“What do you want?” she snaps.

Mild alarm restrains Brian in the doorway. “Not to get killed before lunch?”

“Sorry. I’m losing it.”

“I can tell. You just apologized to me!”

Diane sneers at him. Brian, having apparently determined that the situation is safe enough, continues into the office and plants himself in one of the chairs across the desk from Diane.

“What’s going on?” he asks.

“Nothing. Nothing is going on. That’s the damn problem.”

“What do you want, dancing bears? There must be some work to do.”

“There’s plenty of work. What there is not plenty of is Sarah calling with some information on where the hell Ryan has gone.”

“That’s because she’s coming to report in person,” Sarah Gray announces as she enters the office.

Diane is out of her seat in an instant. “You’d better have something useful for me, or doing this in person could prove very risk to your well being.”

Sarah removes a sheet of paper from her DayPlanner and unfolds it. “From what I can tell, he rented a cabin up in the Pass yesterday afternoon.”

“He doesn’t have any money! How the hell is he doing that?”

“Used his American Express,” Sarah says. “Don’t ask me why he’d do something like this. Maybe he wanted to get out of King’s Bay.”

“Might as well do it before he gets chased out by a torch-bearing mob,” Brian says, “though I’m not sure how that hasn’t happened yet.”

Diane tosses items into her designer briefcase. “Brian, hold down the fort for me. You can run that notes meeting at 4:00, can’t you?”

“I guess,” he says with a shrug. “Where are you going?”

“The Pass. Sarah, give me that paper so I can find that miscreant brother of yours.”

Sarah clutches the paper tighter. “Why are you so determined to find Ryan?”

A look passes between Diane and Brian.

“We’re doing business together,” Diane says.

“You can’t go up there alone,” Brian insists. “Have you seen the weather reports? I’m coming with you.”

“I need you here. And cover for me, will you? I don’t need anyone finding out that I’m chasing this idiot like he’s Sasquatch in the Alps.”

“Why are you chasing him?” Sarah asks, more determined.

Diane snatches the paper from her and moves for the door.

“You can’t go up there alone,” Brian repeats.

Diane fires him a look instructing him to shut up. As he fumbles for some new approach to the protest, Sarah steps in.

“I’ll go,” she says.

Diane appraises her uncertainly. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah. I could use an adventure. And I have an SUV. I’m invaluable, basically.”

“All right,” Diane says, “but you have to promise not to yell at me.”

“Why would I yell at you?” Sarah asks.

Diane sidesteps the question. “Let’s hit the road, lady.” She cuts a determined path out of the office, and Sarah follows, shooting Brian a troubled look as she passes.

“Be careful!” he calls after them, though he has the distinct sense that neither woman will bother to heed his words.


Only a few hours later, Sarah’s SUV winds its way up something that is a “road” only in the broadest sense of the word.

“There’s supposed to be a long driveway on the left,” Diane says, reading directions from the passenger seat.

Sarah keeps both hands clamped on the steering wheel as they slowly approach the spot where she hopes they will find this promised long driveway. In the last half-hour, she has begun to regret volunteering to drive. Even with chains on the tires, the ground beneath the Jeep’s wheels becomes less trustworthy with every mile they travel.

She spots what appears to be an opening on the left. They have made it this far without getting hopelessly lost, and Sarah can only hope that luck continues until they find Ryan.

“Okay,” she says, careful to keep her eyes on the road, “would you please tell me what the hell kind of ‘business’ you could possibly be doing with Ryan?”

“It’s no big deal.”

“Yet you didn’t mention it to me until now.”

“I didn’t think it merited mentioning.”

Sarah chances a sideways glance at her friend. She recognizes this version of Diane all too well. The woman is up to something.

“Tell me now,” Sarah says.

Instead, Diane advises her, “Don’t miss the turn.”

Sarah stays quiet long enough to make the left turn, at an exceptionally slow speed. They find themselves, as promised, in a long, snow-covered driveway. They drive a few hundred feet in tense silence, and then the driveway opens to a cul-de-sac of sorts, with several cabins lining a circular area.

Sarah eases the car to a stop in what she hopes is a decent spot to park, though the heavy covering of snow makes it difficult to determine if that is the case. Diane consults the sheet of paper that Sarah’s research produced.

“It says he rented Cabin Number Three,” she says, already getting out of the car.

“Diane.” Sarah waits for Diane to stop and listen, but instead, she climbs out and closes the door. Sarah hurries around the car to catch up with her. “I want to know what’s going on.”

At last Diane pauses and looks directly at her, though it is clear that she is evaluating how much information she can get away with concealing.

“We’re in talks with Ryan to write a book for Vision,” she finally says.

“I didn’t know Ryan wrote.”

“Surprised me, too. Now let’s find him, okay?”

Diane leads the way, scanning the cabins for some indicating of which one is Number Three. Finding none, she selects the third cabin from the end and knocks on the door.

She listens carefully for a long moment. “Do you hear that?” she asks Sarah, who moves closer. She does hear it: voices inside.

Diane bangs on the door again, harder this time. “Open up! Ryan, open the door!”

Still nothing. Boldly, Diane reaches for the doorknob--and it turns in her hand.

“You are not going to avoid me forever!” she declares as she barges into the cabin.

What follows is a flurry of screams and shouts. Diane freezes, and Sarah, moving in behind her, catches a terrifying glimpse of an older couple--close to her parents’ ages--wearing precious little clothing.

“Oh my God!” the woman shouts. “What are you doing?”

“Who are you people?” the man demands.

Sarah backs out the open door, and Diane follows. The man rushes at them and slams the door, then opens it back up.

“Perverts!” he yells at them before slamming the door even harder.


Sarah is still horrified as she and Diane stand in front of the actual Number Three, across the circle from the cabin they already tried. They have only just managed to contain their giggling.

“How were we supposed to know the numbers started on this end?” Diane questions as she knocks on the door of what is actually--they hope--Ryan’s cabin.

“What do you want?” comes a voice from inside.

“Ryan, open the door!” Sarah shouts. What follows is a moment of shuffling as the various locks are undone. Then he stands before them. He is exactly what Sarah would expect of a man whose entire life has fallen apart: unshaven, disheveled, reeking of alcohol.

“Didn’t expect to see you,” he says to Sarah, his lips loose and heavy. Contempt sets in as he notices Diane. “Or you.”

“What are you doing up here?” Sarah asks. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m great.” He nods through the haze of drunkenness. “What are--why are you here?”

She sees the optimism in his eyes. It has been evident since the moment he opened the door and saw her. She knows what he must think: that perhaps she came on behalf of the family, or that she has changed her mind about him and will provide his first steps back into the Fisher fold.

It has been months since she ran into him at the mall, and she is not sure what she feels. Pity, certainly, and concern. The man is a mess. He is her brother, and she wants him to be okay. But anger competes with that concern, threatening to override it entirely. She is so mad at him, all these months later, for what he did to Tim, to Claire, to their mother. And to her, though indirectly. Logically, she knows that Ryan holds none of the blame for Nick’s actions, but emotionally, she cannot help but lump it all together.

“I came along with Diane,” she finally says. She hopes that the simple statement will tell him enough about where she stands to set things straight. She is not here to welcome him back with open arms.

“Terrific.” He takes a frightening large swig from the bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand; Sarah hopes it is for effect, though his current state indicates otherwise.

“Sarah, could you give Ryan and me a few minutes?” Diane asks as she barges into the cabin.

“We don’t have anything to discuss,” he says, watching Diane with annoyance.

She takes it all in stride. “No, but I have some things to say. Things that might interest you. So shut up and let me talk.”

Sarah has the sense that she has walked into something very complicated, and so, as Diane asked, she backs out of the cabin and closes the door.


Although the temperature is frigid, Sarah does not mind being outside. She considers returning to the car and sitting with the heat on, but there is something appealing about the snow-covered outdoors. No snow is currently falling, but there is a fresh layer on the ground, and the stinging chill in the air leaves her with no doubt that more flakes will fall soon.

Truth be told, she was okay getting out of the cabin and out of Ryan’s presence. Seeing him induced such a torrent of emotion in her, and as she walks around the back of the cabin, she attempts to sort out those feelings. However, Ryan’s downfall is tied inexorably in her mind to her own tragedy of losing the baby, so it remains as it is, a knotted clump that she cannot untangle.

She passes into the cluster of trees behind the cabin. She is not sure what she hoped to accomplish by coming up here with Diane. Certainly Diane’s caginess piqued Sarah’s suspicions, and she was very curious about Ryan’s current state, but it is more than that. She was running away. She is running away.

She thought she had control of her emotions, finally, when she resolved to make an effort with Matt the other night. But they only wound up back where they started--maybe even worse than before. She wanted to make it work, and she tried, she really did. She hopes that Matt knows that.

Her hand grazes an icy tree trunk, and frozen twigs and leaves crunch underfoot. There is a quiet, a serenity, up here that seems within reach and yet just out of it. Her own thoughts will not leave her alone long enough for her to embrace the peace of this place, so removed from her everyday life and the constant sense of failure that has haunted her for months.

She isn’t even angry at Matt. Not really. Sometimes there is an irrational surge, but she has come to recognize it and does her best to stifle it. But that undercurrent of uneasiness always remains. Just when she thinks she might be able to get comfortable again, there it is, surfacing beneath her and knocking her off-balance. She wishes that she could explain what has changed between them, but all she knows is that being around Matt makes it impossible for her to forget the child that she never had the chance to know.

Trees surround her now as she ventures deeper into the wooded area. The cabin is somewhere behind her, far enough away that she feels the freedom to think. Now the thought that has been pressing at her for months forces its way to the front. As much as she might not want to admit it, it seems unavoidable: Something is wrong with me.

There is a certain freedom in the admission. Maybe she can get help. Maybe she can see a doctor, and they can get to the bottom of this, and then she can get back to the life she worked so hard to build with Matt and Tori.

The resolution takes only seconds to occur, and already she feels as though her entire life has changed. Suddenly she is eager to return to her life and enact this plan. It is the only choice if she wants to reclaim her life.

She turns back toward the cabin, but when she turns, she realizes that the way she thought was “back” is not. Or maybe it is. She cannot see the cabin, and she cannot tell if that is the way from which she came.

Panic sets in as she realizes that she has no idea where she is. She thought that she was wandering in a fairly straight line, but it all looks the same now--snow and trees and brush. Stopping where she stands, she evaluates the way that she thought would lead her back to the cabin. Maybe it will. She might have simply wandered further than she realized.

She turns, hoping to get a better look in the other direction and sort herself out, but the only thing she feels is something heavy smacking into her head, and the only thing she sees is complete black.


Ryan aims a disdainful stare at Diane. “No,” he declares simply before turning his back to her and retreating across the cabin.

She allows his rejection to dissolve into the air. Racing after him will not accomplish anything. She has to play this as though she already holds the power.

“I’m here because of my daughter,” she says.

Ryan’s surprise is evident. The man might be a self-indulgent ass and an attempted murderer, but she knows that the Fisher family is his weak spot--and he has always cared about Travis and Samantha, in particular, at least as much as he is capable of such a thing.

“I don’t want her to go through life wondering why her uncle framed her father for murder,” she says, “or that things like being trapped in a basement by a bomb-wielding lunatic happen all the time.”

“They might, considering she has you for a mother.”

Diane ignores the weak jab. “I want her to understand that things aren’t black-and-white. That every person is the ‘good guy’ in his or her own eyes. You telling your side of the story could help show her that.”

Ryan throws her for a loop by pausing, rather than jumping onboard and following her down this line of reasoning.

“Are you really trying to sell me on this by using Samantha?” he asks at last. “You expect me to believe this crap?”

Though she tries not to flinch, Diane can do it for only a moment.

“Okay, fine. That was a load of bull.” She braces herself for the inevitable burst of smug satisfaction from Ryan, and only once it passes does she continue. “I need to publish something high-profile, something that’ll grab people. Fiction doesn’t do that. Real people’s stories are where the money is right now.”

“So you want to use me to make money? Oh, that’s going to convince me. Slick, Diane.”

“There’s money in it for you, too. A lot of money. A big advance, even.”

She has him on the hook. She can tell. She waits patiently (at least on the outside) while he downs another gulp of liquor.

 “The answer is no,” Ryan finally says. “Get back in your car and go home. You aren’t going to get what you want out of me.”

Diane folds her arms. That’s what he thinks.


“Take it off! Take it off!”

Tori Gray chases her father from the car to their apartment, and as he works hurriedly to unlock the front door, she makes a grab for the trucker hat that he swiped from her head and placed on his. Matt dodges her efforts long enough to get the door open, but as soon as they get inside, Tori dives and snags her hat back.

“Got it!” she gloats, popping the cap back onto her head.

“Fine, you win.”

Tori drops her backpack on the sofa. “Mom! Are you here?”

Matt doesn’t hold his breath for a response. He tried to reach Sarah on her cell phone right before he picked Tori up at school, but her phone went straight to voicemail.

“I wonder where she is,” Tori says after peeking her head into the bedrooms.

“Maybe out working on a case.” Even so, Matt checks his cell phone, on the chance that he missed a call from his wife. He hasn’t.

He tells himself not to worry. Sarah has been out at all hours, throwing herself into her investigations. Nevertheless, he can’t help but grow concerned whenever he doesn’t hear from her for an extended period of time.

“Hey, wait,” Tori says. She picks up a piece of paper from the kitchen table and reads. “I guess she is working.”

Matt waits for her to finish reading and then takes the note. He scans it quickly, but from what he can tell, it is mostly what he expected it would say.

Had to head to the mountains for a case. Be back by morning. There’s some of those leftover turkey burgers in the fridge for dinner.

An empty feeling overtakes him, and it has nothing to do with the mention of dinner. It feels as though there is an actual hole inside him--a space that, with every day that Sarah withdraws from him, grows larger and larger. He wonders how much worse it can get, but at this point, such a thought is probably just tempting fate.


When Sarah wakes up inside the cabin, she is relieved. Confused, but relieved. The last thing she remembers is being in the woods… finding herself lost… ramming into a tree. She doesn’t remember how she made it back here, but that doesn’t matter, so long as--


Her vision is still a little hazy, and her eyes are a little reluctant to stay open, but from what she can tell, this is not Ryan’s cabin.

This place is much bigger. Much nicer. Probably not a rental, judging by how nice the furnishings are. She scrambles to a sitting position on the wide, plush sofa, and her head spins from the frenzied effort.

“Oh, good. You’re awake.”

The voice is completely unfamiliar. Adrenaline floods Sarah’s body, spreading an uncomfortable numbness through her limbs. She grips the sofa to steady herself.

“You’re probably still woozy,” the voice says. “Let’s not overexert ourselves.”

In complete defiance of that advice, Sarah whips her head around and finds the source of the words. It is an older man, his silver-white hair cropped closely to his head. A white button-down shirt peeks out from beneath his black sweater.

As soon as they make eye contact, his expression changes: his face falls, and lines appear that were not visible a moment ago.

“I’m sorry. This must seem very strange,” he says. “I take it you don’t remember me finding you out in the snow?”

“No…” She looks him over, as if to find him carrying an axe or displaying some other blatant clue that he is a serial killer.

“You seemed to wake up a bit. You even spoke to me a little, but I could hardly make out the words. I thought it might be best to let you rest.”

“Why didn’t you call 911?”

“It would take quite a while for an emergency crew to come all this way,” the man says. “Once I was able to tell that your breathing was regular and you weren’t bleeding, it seemed unnecessary.”

Sarah nods along, giving the impression that she buys his story, even if she is not sure that she does. This strange man found her unconscious in the woods and brought her to his cabin to “rest”? She’s lucky she’s alive.

“Where are you staying?” the man, noticing her skepticism, hastens to ask. “I asked you earlier, but you only mumbled and then closed your eyes again.”

She tries to think of some way to explain it and finally realizes that she has the address in her pocket. She pulls out the slip of paper, just where she left it, in her back pocket.

“I’m sorry. I know this must seem bizarre,” the man says. “I hope I haven’t frightened you.”

“No.” She is still not ready to let her defenses down entirely with him, but with every word out of his mouth, she becomes more certain that he means her no harm. “Thank you. I feel like such an idiot, knocking myself out like that.”

He smiles sympathetically. “As long as you’re all right.”

“I am, yeah. A little dizzy, but that’s all.” She sits up straight and focuses her eyes across the room, on the softly dancing flames in the fireplace. “I should get back.”

“Of course. Let me help you.” He comes over and, with tentative, careful hands, assists her to her feet. “Graham Colville, by the way. It’s a pleasure to meet you, even under such strange circumstances.”

“Sarah,” she says, allowing him to take her hand. He offers a firm but gentle shake, a balance he has apparently practiced to perfection. “Thank you, Graham.”


After Ryan stops speaking to her, Diane lingers about the cabin. She sits at the small kitchen table and flips through the guestbook that the owners have left, silently mocking the sappy sentiments emblazoned on its pages. She half-expects Ryan to pick her up and toss her out of the cabin, but he merely keeps his distance and focuses on watching his DVDs of The Wire.

When she grows bored with the guestbook, she addresses Ryan across the cabin: “Aren’t you going to throw me out?”

“Oh, you’re still here?” He doesn’t even glance at her.

Diane stomps over to the living area and attempts to block his view of the television.

“I’m sure you used the last of whatever you’ve got--cash? A credit card that’s about to burn out?--to rent this place.”

He nonchalantly attempts to see around her. “It’s worth it, or it would have been, until you showed up.”

“Why? To escape from the world? If life in King’s Bay is so hard and so depressing, why don’t you move somewhere new? You’re sticking around because you want to believe things can change.”

Ryan doesn’t respond, but she notices the subtle shift in him, the way that he stops jostling for a good angle on the television and stares at the quarter-screen that is currently visible from where he sits.

“It felt good to see Sarah, didn’t it?” she asks.

“Yeah. I guess it did.”

“You thought she was here to… what, forgive you? Absolve you?”

Ryan’s mouth forms a tight seal. He does not need to respond; Diane saw the hope rise in him upon seeing Sarah and then plummet as he realized she had merely accompanied Diane.

“You have nothing to lose,” she says, “and everything to gain. Get your story out there. Maybe the Fishers will read it and understand your side of the story.”

“Or think it’s disgusting and want nothing more to do with me.”

“They already want nothing more to do with you! That isn’t going to change magically.”

That stare again. Cold, scornful. He does not want to believe what she says, but he has no rejoinder, either. He knows she is right, that much she can tell.


Outside, the snow is falling once again. Sarah remains a bit unsteady on her feet, so Graham walks close behind her, prepared to restore balance if need be.

“I can’t believe I got lost this close to the cabin,” she says, marveling at how easy the trek back to Ryan’s rental turns out to be.

“The snow has an amazing ability to transform things,” Graham says. “The world can look completely different when it’s covered like this.”

“You’re telling me.”

They travel in silence for a few seconds until Graham speaks again. “So, Sarah, I’ve forgotten to ask what it is you’re doing in the Pass. Are you on vacation?”

“Not exactly.” She is still hesitant to divulge too many details, though nothing about this man suggests that he is dangerous. “My brother took a rental up here. A friend and I drove out to find him. We’ll probably head home tonight.”

“And where is home?”

“King’s Bay,” she says after some reluctance. She decides to turn things around on him. “And where are you from? Do you come up here often?”

“I live and work in Phoenix for the time being,” he says, “but I spent quite a few years in Boise, Idaho. There is something about the mountains that I’ve always been drawn to. My cabin here is a retreat--time away from the sun, my business, the hassles of day-to-day life.”

“That sounds nice.” She has to agree that there is something serene about being here. The snow and the threatening mountain roads make this feel like a place away from the world--something very appealing to her, indeed.

“It’s wonderful, yes.”

They emerge from the wooded area, and Ryan’s cabin comes into sight.

“I hope you don’t mind me saying so,” Graham continues, the words sounding as though he has been sitting on them for some time, “but maybe there’s a reason you went wandering and got your lost in the woods today.”

“So I can be reminded of what a moron I can be?” she says through an uncomfortable laugh.

“So that we could meet.” His gaze rests hopefully upon her.

“Graham…” Several steps pass before she finds the proper words. “I’m married. I really appreciate your help, but I have a husband and a daughter.”

“Of course. I should have known that. Or asked.” The confidence drains from his face, as it did back at his cabin when he realized how sketchy the situation must have appeared to Sarah.

They reach the front door, and instead of pausing for what is sure to be an awkward goodbye, Sarah thrusts it open. She finds Diane and Ryan in a staredown.

“I got myself a little lost,” she announces, hoping to cut whatever tension is present. “And knocked out. This is Graham. He kept me from being devoured by wolves or something.”

“Pleasure to meet you,” Graham says, raising his hand in a polite wave to Diane and Ryan. Sarah introduces them, as well.

“I’d better be going,” Graham says. “Have a safe trip home.”

“Enjoy the rest of your time up here,” Sarah says. With a polite smile, Graham backs out of the cabin and closes the door.

“You get lost in the woods and you meet him?” Diane asks. “I’d probably wind up with the Unabomber.”


Ryan focuses on Sarah. Even through the glossy haze of drunkenness, his concern is visible and, Sarah is sure, genuine. “Are you okay?” he asks, studying her.

“I’m fine. Typical clumsy move, that’s all.” She pauses, unsure what the dynamic is or should be between her and her half-brother. “Are you okay?”

“Do you actually care?” He doesn’t wait for an answer. “Time for you two to go.”


“What? You don’t have to pretend to be concerned about me.”

“I’m not pretending.”

“But you aren’t actually going to do anything about it, are you?”

Diane crosses the room and takes Sarah by the arm. “We’d better go.”

“I do want you to be okay,” Sarah says, unable to remove her focus from Ryan. “I’m sorry if I got your hopes up by coming here--”

“Don’t be. You don’t owe me anything. No one in your family does.” He takes another swig of his drink and, when he is finished, seems surprised to see her still standing there. “What are you waiting for? Get out!”

The intensity of his anger freaks Sarah out. This time, she allows Diane to lead her out of the cabin.

“Do you think it’s safe to leave him like this?” Sarah asks as they return to the SUV.

“He’s drunk. He isn’t going anywhere.”

“Still… he shouldn’t be alone this way. Not in the mood he’s in.”

“Sarah, he’ll be fine. Things are about to turn around for him.” Diane takes the car keys from Sarah. “I’m driving, by the way. I don’t need you passing out at the wheel or anything.”

Sarah lets her have the keys and get into the passenger seat. As she buckles her seatbelt, she asks, “What did you mean about things turning around for Ryan? Is he really writing a book for Vision?”

“You promised me you wouldn’t get mad,” Diane hedges.

“I won’t get mad. What’s going on?”

Diane pulls out a folded set of papers from her purse. “Ryan just signed a contract with Vision Publishing... to write his account of Nick’s death and resurrection.”


“You said you wouldn’t get mad. Besides, he could use the money, and it’s a chance for him to tell his side of the story.”

As Sarah tries to wrap her mind around this information, Diane pulls the SUV away from the cabins and back toward the world below.


How will the Fishers react to Ryan’s book?
Has Diane gone too far in pursuing this project?
Will this be the last Sarah sees of Graham?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to discuss this episode!

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