Episode #503

- Courtney and Jason prepared for the arrival of their baby and also became engaged.
- Alex and Lauren ran into each other and discussed Trevor. They finally made peace with all that has happened between them.
- Brian told Diane that he has no interest in being her backup guy.
- Diane advised Sarah to accept Graham’s dinner invitation.


The car pulls into the empty driveway. A middle-aged woman in slacks and a button-down blouse steps out from the driver’s door. Jason Fisher and Courtney Chase emerge shortly thereafter and follow their realtor through the summer’s eve and to the front door of the house.

“This looks nice,” Jason says, giving Courtney’s hand a hopeful squeeze. And it does. Nevertheless, they have seen so many houses in the past week that he is not sure he has any perspective anymore. Places that look promising on the outside wind up being terrible on the inside; exteriors that do nothing for him lead to impressive interiors; many of them have been altogether awful. He isn’t even sure that he knows what good and bad look like, at this point.

“Mm-hmm,” is all Courtney has to say. He watches her evaluate the exterior, scoping out the number of windows and the brick front of the garage. From what he can tell, she has not been wowed by any of the places that they have seen thus far, either. She will not admit to being tired of looking, but he gets the sense that she is as weary from it as he is.

The realtor unlocks the door and lets them in. The entryway surprises Jason. A staircase comes down into the foyer, where hardwood floors spread out in every direction, leading to a dining room, a living room, a kitchen.

Courtney turns to him, a new spark in her eye, and then takes off to check out the place. The realtor follows her, spouting facts about square footage and amenities included.

Jason lags behind. The house is very appealing, that much he can tell. Or he thinks he can tell that much, although maybe he is just suffering from househunter’s fatigue. At this point, he just wants to find a home for himself, Courtney, and their baby, so that they can have one thing off their plate before the baby arrives. Which could be any day now, so they do not have a lot of time.

Courtney comes flying back into the room--or, more accurately, waddling at a rapid rate. Jason smirks at the sight. She returns the look; she knows exactly what is so amusing to him.

“This is it,” she says.


“Come here. Look at the living room. It’s… this is our home.”

She takes his hand and leads him back to the living room. There is a sureness about her touch, a conviction that makes Jason believe, too. This could be their home. This could be the place where they live their new lives--their new life, together. It doesn’t even occur to him to protest, not even when he sees the atrocious tile backsplash in the kitchen or the weird chandelier in the dining room. If this feels like home to Courtney, it feels like home to him.


At a table against the back wall of the elegant restaurant, Diane Bishop idly peruses the menu. This is mostly unnecessary; she is familiar with its offerings, and she is not particularly hungry, either. She does it to keep herself busy, glancing up occasionally to keep tabs on the assignment for which she has come here.

When the hostess leads Brian Hamilton to the table, Diane sets down the menu.

“Sit,” she hisses at him.

Brian does not obey. “Why am I even here?”

“I need someone to have dinner with me.”

“Oh, I get it. When you need me, I’m supposed to come running like some desperate puppy. When I need something from you, though…”

“Brian. Just sit down,” she says firmly. She had a feeling he would take the invitation this way. She should have just given him the details over the phone, but--

“I’m over it,” Brian says. “Whatever I thought I felt for you--it’s not worth all the up and down and back and forth. Enjoy your dinner.”

He turns to leave. Diane reaches out and grabs him by the sleeve.

“I need your help,” she says. That is enough to make him pause. “I’m on a mission. I can’t sit here alone. I’ll go insane.”

“What kind of mission?”

Diane tilts her head and shifts her eyes to the side, directing Brian’s gaze. He follows the hint and spots Sarah, seated toward the front of the restaurant with Graham Colville.

“You’re spying on Sarah?” he asks.

“No! Well, yes, but she asked me to. I’m keeping tabs on things.”

“Who’s that guy?”

“Will you just sit down?”

Reluctantly, Brian does so.

“We met him up in the mountains, when we went after Ryan,” she explains. “Or Sarah did. She got lost in the snow, and this Graham guy helped her find her way back. Then he showed up in King’s Bay on business and wanted to see her.”

Brian takes this all in with mild shock. “Is she… having an affair with him?”

“No! It’s friendly. I just wanted to be sure she’s safe with him. If she pulls back her hair like she’s going to put it into a ponytail, she needs us to interrupt them.”

With a sigh, Brian unfolds his napkin and drapes it over his lap. “Never a dull moment with you.”


Across the restaurant, Sarah Gray sits with Graham Colville. Their waiter waits for Graham’s verdict on the wine he ordered, an expensive cabernet sauvignon. When Graham nods his approval, the waiter fills both their glasses and then leaves them.

“I’m thrilled that you took me up on my offer,” Graham says, “though I have to admit I was a bit surprised.”

Her fingers dancing around the stem of her wine glass, Sarah says, “I appreciate you asking to see me. I could use friends these days.”

She can see Graham working to suppress a wince at the word friends.

“Sorry.” She feels a little embarrassed at being so upfront--it feels presumptuous, but then again, Graham has made his intentions toward her clear. “I have a husband and a daughter. A family. This can’t be anything more than…”

“I know. And I do understand. It will take some getting used to, that’s all.” Graham smiles as he takes a sip of the dark wine.

Sarah glances, as casually as she can, toward the back of the restaurant. She sees that Brian has joined Diane. She feels guilty for having them there, spying, without Graham’s knowledge, but it would be stupid to trust him so entirely until she gets to know him better.

“If we are going to be friends,” Graham says, “perhaps it’s time for me to learn a little more about you.”

“Now this part I like. It’s actually the only reason I agreed to have dinner with you. I knew I’d get to talk about myself, and I can never resist a chance to do that.”

She feels herself relaxing under his amused gaze. It has been a long time since she relaxed around anyone, even Diane.

“What led you to become a private investigator?” he asks.

Work questions, I can handle, she thinks before launching into her explanation.


Bill Fisher searches for words. “This is so…”

“Boring?” Matt Gray offers from his post at the stove.

“Exactly.” Bill takes another bite of the glazed pork chop, just to be certain. It is, in fact, boring.

Matt turns off the stove and sets the pan over a cool burner. He thought he was onto something with this latest attempt at the glaze, but midway through, it somehow turned into every other rejected glaze he has come up with in the past week.

“Sorry,” he tells his father-in-law. “I wish I could come up with something a little more creative.”

“You aren’t the only one having that problem.” Bill pushes the pork around his plate with his fork. “It feels like something is missing, doesn’t it?”

Matt could not agree more. “I’m about as far from creative as you can get these days.”

“We need something,” Bill says, “different. Something… so that the new restaurant isn’t the same as the Fisherman’s Pier.”

“That wouldn’t be such a bad thing.”

Bill remains firm. “This is a new project. A joint effort. It isn’t the restaurant I built almost twenty years ago.”

Matt sinks into a chair at the kitchen table. “I wish I felt up to the challenge, that’s all. You’re giving me this great shot, and I’m…”

“Doing a great job.”

Matt groans.

“I’m being serious. You’re talented. You deserve the opportunity to create something rather than just working in the kitchen.”

With a shrug, Matt slumps back in his seat. “I just feel so… drained lately. Like there’s nothing left for me to work with.”

“I think that’s understandable.” Bill goes quiet for a long moment, clearly searching for the appropriate words. “You and Sarah… are things any better?”

“I thought they were getting better. She’s seeing a therapist. I offered to go with her, but she said she needs to do it on her own first.”

“She does love you,” Bill says.

“I know. I just don’t know if it’s enough anymore.”

Matt feels like a fool for spilling his guts--especially to, of all people, his wife’s father. He would like to be stronger than this. But something happened when Sarah came into his life. He lost the ability to turn off his emotions, or at least to ignore them so fully that he could fool himself into thinking they were not there.

“It’s ending,” he says quietly. “That’s what it feels like. I can’t even remember when I first started thinking that, but it feels like it’s all ending.”

Bill is quick to jump in: “Don’t think like that.”

“I can’t help it.” He wishes that he felt differently. He doesn’t want it to be true. But something inside of him, some terrible, whispering voice, keeps telling him that his marriage is failing and there is nothing he can do about it.


After they finish with the realtor, Jason and Courtney return to his apartment. Courtney settles on the couch and Jason joins her, rising only when their pizza is delivered.

“I can’t believe we found a place,” Courtney says as Jason grabs plates from the kitchen.

If they take our offer.”

“They will.”

Just as he sits back down on the couch, there is a knock at the door. Courtney moves to answer it, but he motions for her to sit still and answers it himself.

“Hey,” he says as he lets Lauren Brooks into the apartment. It has been a long time since she was here, back when they were dating. He tries not to think about what a weird dynamic the three of them have.

“Here are the sample books you asked for,” Lauren tells Courtney as she sets the stack of books on the table. “I had to work a couple of Willis’s clients for them, but you should be able to find anything you want in these.”

“Thanks.” Courtney begins casually flipping through one of the books.

“So?” Lauren asks. “Any luck with the house-hunting?”

Courtney and Jason exchange a look. He motions for her to do the honors, so she exclaims, “We found a place! We’re putting in an offer on Monday.”

“Wow! Congratulations. You have to tell me all about it.”

“I’m sure she could be persuaded to talk about it a little bit,” Jason jokes. “Do you want some pizza?”

Lauren considers the greasy but tempting pizza. Before she can answer, Courtney does it for her: “Yes, you do.”

As Courtney describes the house to Lauren, already throwing in ideas for how they will decorate it, Jason gets another plate and a bottle of water for Lauren. He hands each of them a slice of pizza. He is about to bite into his own when the front door opens again.

Alex Marshall steps into the apartment and takes a look at the three of them, spread out with their pizza. “Did I miss the invitation to the party?”

“Want some pizza?” Jason offers. “Courtney’s gonna tell you that you do, so you might as well just take it now.”

Alex disappears into the kitchen and returns with his own plate and a soda. He settles on the floor with his pizza, picking up bits and pieces of Courtney’s description of the new house.

“I’m so glad you guys found a place,” Alex says. “It’s getting down to the wire.”

“Yeah,” Jason says between bites of his pizza. “Now we can deal with a new baby, moving into a new house, and planning a wedding all at once.”

“And getting a business off the ground,” Courtney adds.

Instead of groaning at the load of things on his plate, though, Jason feels oddly content. This is how it is supposed to be.

“Do you realize how long it’s been since the four of us hung out together?” Courtney asks.

None of them answer. It isn’t necessary. They sit back and eat, basking in the enormity of all that has happened between and among them in the past few years.

“Should we toast to the new house?” Alex asks.

“Let’s toast to friends,” Courtney says. “It’s kind of amazing we can all be together and hang out, after everything that’s happened. We should do it more often.”

All four of them raise their drinks.


Once Diane and Brian have ordered their meals, they sit mostly in silence. Finally, Diane can take no more of sipping her drink and looking at her cell phone.

“Are you going to sulk all night?” she asks.

Brian looks up, and something flashes in his eyes. “Sulk? Really? You think I’m, what, still torn up over you?”

“I didn’t say that.” She didn’t, but it is what she meant. She would rather leave it up to him to say it outright.

“I’m not,” he says insistently. “And it’s not like you needed me here. You could have had dinner and watched Sarah without me.”

She was hoping he wouldn’t notice that.

“You wanted to see me, didn’t you?” he asks, though it is more a statement than a question. He stares Diane down until she has no choice but to crack.

“Okay, fine. I kind of… miss…”


She hesitates. “Having you around.”

“Would you go so far as to say…” He is loving this; she can tell. “…that you miss me?”

“Maybe. Maybe.” She glares at him with narrowed eyes. “Don’t get a big head about it.”

Smiling to himself, Brian lifts his drink to his lips.

“As a friend,” Diane hastens to add. “The way things used to be.”

Brian continues to sip his drink, enjoying her admission. She scowls at him but cannot help being relieved that they got this out in the open. She hoped that having him here tonight would give her the opportunity to have an actual conversation with him.

“In the interest of being friends, what the hell is going on with you?” she asks. “Fill me in.”

“Not much.” Clearly that isn’t the answer he wants to give. After another long moment under her stare, he cracks. “There’s actually something I kind of wanted to tell you about.”

She sets her drink down hard. “Spill it.”

“I, um, got a call last week. From Element.”

The name of the publishing company at which they worked in Los Angeles catches Diane by surprise. “And?”

“They have an opening that they’d like me to consider taking.”

“Wow. So are you…?”

“I don’t know.” He goes quiet, then spits out, “But I’m thinking about it, yeah.”

Diane sits back, allowing that news to seep in. But she does not have long to consider it, because when she turns to check on Sarah, she sees her friend’s hands moving to her head… pulling her hair back behind it as she talks to Graham…

“Come on!” Diane barks at Brian. “Sarah needs help!”


“It’s hard for me to remember being a cop,” Sarah says. “It was a strange time in my life.”

“Do you regret not having stayed with it longer?” Graham asks as he watches her carefully over the rim of his glass.

She shakes her head. “Not at all. Being a PI is what I was meant to do, I really think. And it gives me a lot of flexibility, which is nice with Tori--my daughter.”

“How old is she?”

“She’ll be fourteen this summer, if you can believe that.” Sarah knows that she can’t. “She’s a terrific kid. I’m just sorry I’ve been so…” She searches for the right description. “All over the place. She deserves better.”

“You’re a part of her life and you love her,” Graham says. “That alone means the world to a child.”

The intensity of his statement intrigues Sarah. She is about to ask a follow-up question when a piece of hair falls across her face. Wiping it away, she instinctively lifts both hands and pulls her hair back behind her head.

“Do you have children?” she asks Graham.

But before he can answer, Diane and Brian appear at their table.

“Sarah! Funny running into you here. How are you?” Diane asks, far too enthusiastically.

“I’m… good,” Sarah says as she realizes what she just did. “Everything’s fine. Great, even.”

“Are you sure?” Diane puts a protective arm on Sarah’s shoulder.

“Yes. I swear. Everything’s great.” Sarah widens her eyes, hoping Diane will get the hint. “Graham, do you remember Diane?” she says, hoping to make this as painless as possible.

“Of course,” Graham says. He and Diane shake hands.

“And this is Brian,” Sarah says. He and Graham shake, as well.

“So… you guys are having dinner?” Sarah asks.

“Yep. Just having a nice little dinner by ourselves, and we look up and who do we see over here?” Brian feigns surprise very badly. “Go figure.”

They make a few moments of awkward small talk, after which Sarah promises to call Diane tomorrow. Diane, for her part, remains reluctant to walk away.

“Don’t feel obligated to chit-chat right now,” Sarah tells them. “Go and enjoy your dinner.”

Brian leads Diane back to their table.

Sarah returns her attention to Graham. “What a coincidence, huh?”

A smirk manifests upon his face. “Yes. Quite the coincidence.”


“You asked them to spy on us, didn’t you?”

“What? No! That’s--” The lie is too stupid for her even to finish. “Diane offered to keep an eye on things, just in case…”

“…I turned out to be a deranged lunatic. I understand.”

“I’m sorry, Graham. It was rude of me not to trust you.”

“I understand, I do.” He starts to sip his wine but laughs. “Did you have a secret gesture to tell them to interrupt us?”

Sarah drops her head in shame. “Pulling my hair into a ponytail. But I do it all the time, and I just forgot… Ugh. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. It’s amusing. Although it would help if you trained them to be better liars next time.”

They share a smile and a laugh and go about their dinner. Sarah is grateful for Diane and Brian’s help, but she has the sense that she will not need it, after all.


Should Sarah let down her guard with Graham?
What will come of Brian’s job offer in L.A.?
Can Courtney, Jason, Lauren, and Alex all go back
to being friends?
Discuss this episode in the Footprints Forum!

Next Episode