Episode #497

- Jason’s renovated ice arena kicked off its grand opening, but a health inspector arrived to announce that their license had not cleared.
- Josh tried to use Sabrina to make Lauren jealous.
- Travis approached therapy as a way of becoming independent from his parents and got a job at the arena.


In the café’s kitchen, hidden away from the crowd that has come for tonight’s grand opening festivities, Jason Fisher paces back and forth. He doesn’t like being back here, but Sabrina Gage convinced him that it would be best if he kept his emotions away from the situation.

“Sabrina’s talking to the inspector now,” Courtney Chase says as she enters the kitchen. When Jason doesn’t respond, she adds, “This isn’t going to ruin our night. It’ll be dealt with.”

“It shouldn’t even have to be dealt with!” Jason says, trying to keep his voice down. “I asked you to file those papers the other day. You should’ve made sure it got done.”

“I faxed them over! I swear.”

It wouldn’t be like Courtney to lie to his face about something like this. If she says that she sent it, she did. But maybe she didn’t follow up on it. Maybe something went wrong with the fax transmission. There are a hundred possibilities.

“This shouldn’t have happened,” he finally says. “You should have been more thorough.”

“I’m sorry!”

“I know you are. But this is going to ruin the whole night--God, who knows how long it’s going to take to clear this up? We open for business tomorrow! What if we’re not even allowed to serve food?”

Courtney opens and closes her mouth twice, without any words materializing. Jason can see that she is genuinely upset, even remorseful, so he zips his lips, too. He doesn’t need to yell at her about this. He just wishes there were something he could do.

“Everything’s under control,” Sabrina announces as she joins them.

A tentative wave of relief moves through Jason. “Are you sure?”

“He’s going to let us keep serving tonight, because it’s really a private party. And I made sure he had the paperwork he needs, so he’s going to rush-file our license.”

“Thank you,” Jason says, finally allowing himself to relax.

“They didn’t have the paperwork?” Courtney asks.

Sabrina shrugs. “Something must have gotten lost along the way. I explained that you were handling it and you’ve been so stressed with the pregnancy and having everything up in the air… Anyway, it’s all taken care of.”
“Thank you, Sabrina,” Jason says again.

“You’ll owe me,” the blonde says with a smile. “Now let’s get back out there and celebrate.”

Jason doesn’t want to waste another moment of their big night, so he follows Sabrina out of the kitchen and back to the party.


Claire Fisher watches Tim talking to their son, who stands behind the skate counter, waiting for more guests to approach him for rental skates. He looks so grown-up in his arena jacket; she can hardly believe that he is old enough to have a job already.

She decides to approach them.

“Hey,” Tim says when he spots her. There is a slight hesitation about the greeting, as if he is not sure where they stand.

Claire tries not to reflect that awkwardness back at him. She offers a pleasant smile and a polite, “Hi. How’s it going so far, Travis?”

“Fine.” His tone is flat, the answer obligatory.

“Not too stressful yet?”

He stares at her as if she is the dumbest person he has ever encountered. “It’s not freakin’ brain surgery. I hand out crappy rental skates.”

Claire holds her reaction inside. What he wants is to get a rise out of her, she knows that much. Still, it hurts that they cannot have so much as a civil conversation.

“Watch it,” Tim warns Travis.

The teenager puts on his best innocent face. “What? It’s just not that complicated.”

They stand in painful quiet for a long moment. Finally Claire decides to try again. “Did you do anything good with your half-day on Thursday?” she asks.

Travis shrugs and mutters an answer: “Nope. Just hung out with Landon.”

He spots a pair of guests approaching and immediately turns his attention to them. “What can I get you?” he asks, the polar opposite of his demeanor with Claire.

As the couple steps up to the counter and Travis moves back to find skates for them, Claire leads Tim a few feet away.

“Do you think this therapy is doing any good at all?” she asks quietly.

“I don’t know,” Tim says. “He and I were having a pretty decent conversation.”

“Until I walked up.”

Tim looks at her in that sympathetic way that only he can--he must be the most talented person in the world at minimizing her worries without making her feel misunderstood.

“Well, we can’t just expect him to be ‘fixed’ all of a sudden,” she says.

“That’s right. It’s an ongoing process.”

Claire nods. She only wishes that she could take some strength from those empty words.


“But everything is fine now, right?” Sarah Gray asks Jason. He has been ranting and raving about the health inspector crisis for a solid five minutes.

“Should be, yeah,” he says. “Sabrina took care of it.”

“Then stop worrying.”

“I’m not worried.” But she tosses him a disbelieving look, and he wilts immediately.

“I’m not worried about the arena,” he finally says. “I’m worried about… Courtney and me.”


At first he merely shrugs. When the words do come, they are clumsy, still finding themselves, and weaving their way around a heavy tongue.

“I trusted her with this,” he says. “She swears she sent the paperwork in, and I believe her, but… she didn’t follow up on it. So it’s like, can I really trust her with stuff?”

Sarah takes a sip of her drink and turns this over in her head. “This has absolutely nothing to do with work, you’re right.”

“Everything just seems so big now, you know? Like, one little thing goes wrong at work, and I’m wondering what kind of parents we’re going to be, and how we can make a marriage work if we manage to screw up stuff like health inspection papers, and…”

“I get it,” Sarah says. “Take some advice from me: stop thinking so big-picture. Sometimes little things are just little things. Everything isn’t an indicator of how the rest of your life is going to turn out.”

Her younger brother cracks a knowing, empathetic grin. “Sounds like you’re speaking from experience.”

“It’d be nice if I could take my own advice. So do me a favor and be the one who doesn’t screw up a good relationship because of something you can’t even define.”

Jason falls silent. Sarah knows that she has dumped too much on him; this was supposed to be about him, not about her ongoing issues. Matt not attending tonight is somehow stressing her out just as much as him being present would have.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I--”

“Don’t be. Thanks for letting me vent. And you’re right. I shouldn’t make this any bigger than it is.” Placing a hand on her shoulder, he adds, “You really should take your own advice sometime. You can actually be kinda smart now and then.”

“Thanks. I think.”

Jason finishes off the rest of his drink. “What do you say about hitting the bar again?”


Courtney emerges from the ladies’ room for what has to be the tenth time this evening. She knew that this would happen as her pregnancy got further along, but the reality of moving her ever-expanding body in and out of the bathroom makes her want to go home and lie on the couch. Every stupid thing is exhausting these days.

Her first instinct is to seek Jason out and join him, but when she spots him talking with Sarah, she decides against it. He insisted that he isn’t mad at her, but everything Courtney can see and hear says otherwise.

“So you screwed up. It’s all taken care of now. No biggie,” Josh Taylor says as he sidles up beside her.

“I’m glad to see you haven’t lost your great sense of empathy,” Courtney says.

Josh grins, as if she just offered him some wonderful compliment. “Just saying. I know Mr. Self-Righteous will never let you live this down, but it was a problem for about ten minutes.”

“You can stop insulting my fiancé any time now.”

“Fiancé. Jeez. Sounds so grown-up.”

“We are grown-up,” she says, though she often has trouble believing it herself.

“Don’t remind me.”

Courtney cannot help herself. He is being just enough of a jerk tonight, and she is just enough on the edge, that this was bound to happen.

“I can tell that’s not a concept you’re too familiar with,” she says. “Being a grown-up, I mean.”

He rolls his eyes and throws back a slug of his drink. “Oooh. Burn.”

“I’m serious. What’s this whole thing--making out with Sabrina just so Lauren can see you and get upset?”

“Believe me,” Josh says, exhibiting something other than sarcasm for the first time in this conversation, “Lauren is not that high on my list of priorities.”

“Yeah, because priorities one to one-hundred are all you,” she says. “You could be a little more sensitive, after what she’s been through--not that I expect sensitivity from you, but still.”

“What she’s been through? Stringing me along, playing hot-and-cold with me? Yeah, sounds like she deserves a lot of sensitivity.”

She cannot believe how self-centered he is. “The biopsy. You know, the part that had nothing to do with you.”

Confusion flickers over Josh’s face. “Biopsy?”

She never told him, Courtney realizes. Feeling like an idiot and fearful about what she has just done, she starts to move away. “Forget it.”

“I knew it,” Josh says. “I knew something was going on.”

“Forget I said it,” Courtney insists, but she can tell that Josh is going to do anything but that.


Outside the arena, the man who called himself Mitchell Donovan opens his car door.

“Thanks for all your help,” Sabrina says.

“No problem. Where’s my cash?”

She looks around to be sure no one is watching and then pulls an envelope from her purse. “This should do it,” she says, handing it to him.

He counts the cash and, satisfied, says, “I hope their license really did clear.”

“Everything’s fine. I checked with the Department of Health this morning.”

The man begins to get into the car but pauses. “So what is this, some kinda prank?”

“That,” Sabrina says, pointing to the envelope, “means that all of this is none of your business.”

He accepts that with a shrug and gets into the car.

“Thanks again,” she says, stepping back from the car.

“No, thank you.” The man closes the door and starts the engine. Sabrina watches him pull out of the space and exit the parking lot.

They’ll never have any idea, she thinks as she returns to the party.


What is Sabrina up to?
What will Josh do now that he knows the truth?
Can anything make Travis soften toward Claire?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to discuss!

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