Episode #496

- Jason and his staff prepared for the grand opening of the renovated ice arena.
- Alex was despondent over Trevor leaving town but then poured his energy into rewriting his new novel.
- When Lauren learned she did not have cancer, she decided to give things with Josh another shot--but was surprised to see that he had moved on with Sabrina.
- Josh talked Sabrina into bringing him as her date to the grand opening.


For so long, this arena existed solely in Jason Fisher’s mind. No matter how many drawings or half-constructed rooms he has seen over the last year, he hasn’t truly been able to grasp that, one day, his vision would be fully realized. Now he stands at the entry to that very real, very finished (well, mostly) facility, greeting guests as they arrive for the grand opening festivities.

“…and if you head over to the skate rental window, you can borrow a pair of skates and take a few laps around the ice,” Jason says genially, even though it is probably the four hundredth time he has said those exact words tonight. “Make sure you do that before you hit the bar!”

When there is a break in the stream of arrivals, Jason leans over to Courtney Chase, who stands beside him with her hands resting on her ever-expanding belly. “I really have no idea why I insisted on greeting everyone at the door personally,” he whispers.

“You can stop whenever you want,” Courtney says, all the while giving him that I told you so look. “The people who get here later aren’t going to know that you were standing here before.”

“Hmm. You’re a smart one.”

The next guest to approach, however, is someone both of them want to greet, so they stay put for the time being.

“Hey!” Lauren Brooks and Courtney shout at almost the same time. They rush toward one another for a hug. They give glowing evaluations of each other’s dresses and shoes, and then Jason and Lauren turn to one another.

“Hey,” he says, feeling supremely awkward. They are on good terms again, but…

Before he can finish the thought, Lauren leans in and hugs him. It is a little rushed, a little bumbling on both their parts, but Jason is comforted by the fact that they are back at this point in their friendship.

“Congratulations,” she says. “This is beautiful.”

“You’ll have to take the full tour,” Jason says.

“I can’t wait.” But something at the corner of Lauren’s eye pulls her attention away, and a moment later, both Jason and Courtney notice it, too…

All three of their heads swivel to watch Josh Taylor and Sabrina Gage walking in, arm-in-arm.


“I feel really good about it,” Alex Marshall says to Don and Helen Chase. “It all sort of came flying out in this big rush, so I’m sure it needs work, but I have a good feeling.”

“I’m sure that’s a big relief,” Helen says, smiling warmly.

Alex offers an exaggerated nod. He still cannot believe how much progress he made in rewriting his novel over the past few days; now that he is back out in the world, the time he spent huddled at the dining room table, writing feverishly, seems like an odd dream. But the file that went to Diane Bishop today is very real.

“At least I finished in time to take a shower and get dressed for this,” he says. “You wouldn’t have wanted to see me twelve hours ago.”

Don’s eyes grow animated, though the rest of his demeanor remains calm and reserved, as usual. “I can get like that when I’m painting sometimes. Of course, your work is actually good…”

“That remains to be seen,” Alex says with an uneasy laugh.

Helen kisses Don on the cheek. “Your work is wonderful, dear.”

Alex is about to inquire about Don’s recent painting efforts when Seth Ashby approaches the group.

“Hey, Alex,” he says, feeling out the situation.

“Hey. Don, Helen, have you met Seth?”

“Courtney introduced us earlier,” Helen says.

“Seth is an old friend of mine. From college.” Alex isn’t sure if the Chases understand the implication, though he is sure Courtney will fill them in later tonight, anyway.

“Could I talk to you for a minute?” Seth asks.

“Go ahead, go ahead,” Helen insists. “Don and I want to try our luck on the ice before it’s too late.”

“Be careful!” Alex warns, half-joking, as they depart. Then he turns back to Seth: “So what’s up?”

“It’s good to see you.”

“Sorry I didn’t call you back. I got your messages… I was just in this trance, writing, and--”

“It’s cool. Probably better to talk in person, anyway.” Seth fidgets, looking elsewhere--anywhere but at Alex. Finally he spits it out in one barely comprehensible breath: “I heard about Trevor leaving.”

“It was a really good opportunity,” Alex says. “It would’ve been dumb for him to turn it down.”

A grin toys with the corner of Seth’s mouth. “He isn’t the only one this is an opportunity for.”


Lauren, Courtney, and Jason all watch Josh and Sabrina enter together.

“Hi, you guys,” Sabrina says with a broad smile. She looks wonderful tonight, elegant but young. Josh stands beside her with that same stupid, cocky smirk that Jason still wants to punch, just for the hell of it.

“I… didn’t realize you guys knew each other,” Courtney says.

“We met at 322 a few months ago,” Sabrina says. “We didn’t realize we had friends in common at first!”

Friends? Jason thinks. Josh must have fed Sabrina an interesting version of the truth.

“Congratulations on the opening,” Josh tells Courtney and Jason. “And Lauren. It’s good to see you.”

“You, too,” Lauren says. A moment later, Josh and Sabrina move into the crowd.

That’s Sabrina?” Lauren asks Courtney and Jason. “I knew Josh was seeing someone, but I didn’t realize…”

“We didn’t know she was seeing him,” Courtney says. “Figures, though. We all seem to have a knack for meeting the exact same people.”

Jason can tell that Lauren is watching Josh and Sabrina, even she is trying to look as if she isn’t. He doesn’t know what kind of hold Josh has over Lauren--the guy is a jerk, and he hasn’t done anything to change Jason’s mind on that matter--but Lauren also seems to care genuinely about him.

“It’s probably not very serious,” Jason offers, trying to be helpful. “Sabrina hadn’t even mentioned that she was seeing someone until we asked her if she was bringing a date tonight.”

Lauren shrugs. “Josh can do whatever he wants,” she says. It is a bad attempt at appearing not to care, but Jason and Courtney just nod in agreement.


As he and Sabrina move into the crowd, Josh marvels at the arena’s new makeover. It doesn’t look at all like the place he used to come to watch Courtney skate, back when they were dating.

“I’ve got to admit, this place looks awesome,” he says. “I might not like Jason, but I’ll give him that much.”

Sabrina turns serious. “What’s wrong with Jason?”

“He’s--he’s one of those dudes who has everyone convinced he’s a good guy, like he can do no wrong, but he’s just as much of a jerk as I am. At least I show it, right?”

“He is a good guy.”

Josh decides to drop it. He doesn’t need to have an argument with another girl about Jason, of all people. He scans the crowd for his brother and sister but doesn’t spot either of them. Instead, he sees Lauren, trying to look as though she isn’t watching him and Sabrina.

Josh reaches down and grabs Sabrina’s hand. She turns to him, surprised, but says nothing, and they continue walking.

“There’s food in the café,” Sabrina says, “and a bar, which I’m sure you’ll like.”

“We’ll get drinks in a minute.” Josh stops suddenly and turns to Sabrina. “Thanks for bringing me along tonight.”

“Sure. Uh, thanks for coming.”

He leans in and kisses her. Their kisses are usually aggressive, backed by needs that, for each of them, have nothing to do with the other. Normally, Josh would be fine with that. But tonight, he goes for a softer approach. It is still sexual, but there is something affectionate about it. After a moment of surprise, Sabrina responds in kind.

Josh opens one eye, just to make sure Lauren is watching, and then goes on kissing Sabrina.


Something about the way Seth is eyeing him makes Alex uncomfortable. He has the gleeful look of a predator advancing on wounded prey that is unable to help itself.

“I don’t think this changes anything,” Alex says hurriedly, desperate to wipe that expression off Seth’s face.

His words do just that. “What do you mean?”

“Just because Trevor is gone… We can’t just, like, get together. It’s not like I was waiting for him to leave so this could happen.”

“So let’s do what we’ve been doing. Hang out, talk--we can go on another date if you want.”

All Alex can do is shake his head. This is all wrong.

“Alex, it’s not like you guys were together up until the second he left,” Seth says, his irritation showing through. “You’ve wanted this, too. You kissed me back.”

There is no denying that he is still attracted to Seth; looking at him right now, Alex can think of a hundred things he’d rather be doing with him than standing in the middle of an ice arena with a bunch of strangers. But every instinct he has had in handling this situation has been wrong. He needs to… do something differently.

“I was in love with Trevor,” he says. “I still am. I don’t think I can give you whatever it is you want from me.” He finds it too hard to resist a final, little dig: “If you even know.”

“Alex, come on.”

“I’m sorry.” Alex moves away before Seth can say anything else.


“Don’t pay attention to them,” Courtney tells Lauren. She lifts a hand to turn Lauren’s head. “You know Josh is doing that to get under your skin.”

Lauren hesitates in admitting even that. “I know…”

Jason exerts all the energy he possesses to keep his mouth shut. Josh is a jackass. He has known that for years. Jason was devastated when he and Lauren split up, ostensibly over Josh, and--even though he is thrilled to have wound up back with Courtney, and even though he wishes Lauren nothing but the best--some small part of him is glad to see her finally realize the truth about Josh, too.

“Uncle Jason!”

Travis Fisher walks briskly toward them, wearing his blue Edge of Winter fleece jacket.

“Something wrong at the skate counter?” Jason asks.

Travis shakes his head. “There’s a guy here asking for you.”

Jason notices a man, walking a few steps behind Travis, in a gray suit and carrying a clipboard. He has a bad feeling about this already.

He manages to offer his hand to the man. “Jason Fisher. I’m the owner.”

“Mitchell Donovan, Department of Health,” the man says, shaking Jason’s hand mechanically. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to shut you down.”


What is wrong with the arena?
Can Lauren and Josh work things out?
Should Alex give Seth a chance now?
Discuss this episode in the Footprints Forum!

Next Episode