Episode #528

- After Claire was shot in New Jersey, Molly’s opposition to the Clayton investigation grew.
- Ryan encouraged Danielle to write a song to work through her feelings about having given Elly up at birth.
- Sarah brought Graham to the Fishers’ Christmas dinner, knowing that Matt would also be there.


“Honey, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

Sarah Gray pokes her head into the upstairs bedroom of her parents’ house where her daughter is watching YouTube videos with her cousin. Sarah doesn’t anticipate there is an easy or non-awkward way to do this, so she figures it is best to be as upfront and direct as possible.

Tori stares at her with confusion. “Okay…”

“This is my friend, Graham,” Sarah says. Graham Colville emerges from behind her and steps into the room.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Tori,” Graham says. He extends his hand for a shake, and Tori takes it, though Sarah can see her looking him up and down, trying to get a read on this unexpected addition to their Christmas.

“Graham didn’t have plans for Christmas, so I thought it would be nice to include him in ours,” Sarah explains.

“Okay.” Tori keeps studying Graham as she talks to her mother. “When are we gonna open presents?”

All your presents from me are in the car. We’ll bring them in after dinner.”

“Why can’t we do it now?”

“Because it’ll cause chaos. We’ll do it after dinner when everyone else exchanges gifts,” Sarah says firmly. “What did you get from your dad?”

Tori’s face lights up. “He got me the iPod Touch I asked for.”

Sarah knew Matt was going to take care of that one--they divided up which gifts would come from whom in a rather impersonal e-mail exchange--but it still stings to see that Tori is so satisfied with something that came from her father when she has yet to receive anything from her mother. She hopes that her own gifts will make Tori as happy.

Diane Bishop pops her head into the room. “Fifteen minutes to dinner,” she says, but the announcement trails off as she sees Sarah, Graham, and Tori all standing in their awkward little circle.

“One more video and then you all come downstairs,” Sarah says to Tori and Samantha. Caleb and Christian play nearby, though they don’t seem particularly interested in YouTube.

“What are you girls watching?” Graham asks.

As he makes a good show of being interested in the clips of people falling off trampolines, Sarah stands back and watches--or tries to. Instead, Diane grabs her by the arm and pulls her out into the hallway.

“What the hell is that?”

“What the hell is what?” Sarah asks, maintaining her cool even though she has a pretty good idea what Diane is talking about.

“Introducing Graham to your kid already? I didn’t know you two were so serious. Or that there was a ‘you two’ at all.”

Sarah shrugs, as innocently as she can muster. “Does there have to be? We’re just enjoying the holiday together.”

Diane widens her eyes and purses her lips, her patented “Don’t bullshit a bullshitter” look. Sarah decides that the best defense is silence.

“Don’t make me worry about you,” Diane says. “It’s Christmas. Claire got shot and didn’t get hurt too badly, so I have free reign to make jokes. Do not ruin this day for me!”

Sarah laughs. “I’m fine. I promise.”

Diane appears less than fully convinced. “I don’t know what your goal is, bringing Graham knowing that Matt would be here,” she says, “but be careful that it doesn’t blow up in your face.”


Ryan Moriani approaches the front door with trepidation. He is not expecting anyone, and frankly, the thought of having to face someone on another depressing Christmas day makes his blood itch. When he finally convinces himself to answer the ringing doorbell, he is surprised to find Danielle Taylor standing outside.

“Merry Christmas,” she says. She holds an elegantly wrapped box of significant size, bearing a bow on top.

“I thought you were spending it with your father and brother,” Ryan says.

“We did the big dinner last night, and I made brunch this morning. Brent and Molly had to go over to her family’s--I mean--”

“Yeah.” He wonders if it will ever not sting to realize that they are his family and yet he is not included in their celebrations. Rightfully so.

She hands him the box. “This is for you.”

Ryan accepts it tentatively. “I didn’t get you…” He should have bought her something. He knew it. He didn’t want to appear too needy or pushy, and he was sure that she would not get him anything--

“You did give me something,” Danielle says.

“I did?”

“Absolutely. Wait here.”

She hurries back to her car and pulls out a surprisingly large object. Once Ryan recognizes its shape, however, he begins to relax. He thinks he knows where this is going.

“I got you a guitar?” he asks. “And now you’re giving it back to me?”

“Yep. You solved the mystery.” She peers past him, into the house. “Are you going to invite me in, or what?”

Ryan steps out of the way, irritated by his own stupidity and bad manners. “Of course. Come in. It’s freezing out here.”

They move to the living room, where a CSI rerun plays on the television.

“Big Christmas celebration,” she notes.

“Hey, I’m staying out of trouble.” He nods toward the untouched bar in the corner of the room.

“Good. That’s a big change from a year ago, as I remember.”

The memory of having passed out on a bench in the middle of the park still humiliates him--but then again, if it had not happened, he and Danielle might not have come into each other’s orbits.

“Open your gift,” Danielle says.

Ryan feels self-conscious opening the gift and knowing that he did not get anything for her, but Danielle’s excitement is enough to make him do it. He tears away the wrapping, opens the light cardboard box, and finds a… basket.

“A gift basket,” he says, studying its contents. Cheese. Crackers. Grapes. A bottle of sparkling cider. Two glasses.

“Not a gift basket. A Christmas basket. I had a feeling you weren’t doing much to celebrate by yourself, so I thought I’d bring a little Christmas celebration to you.”

Ryan tugs at the cellophane to unwrap the basket. “That’s really thoughtful.”

“I thought about making it a full Christmas dinner,” she says, “but the logistics of getting a ham in there were a little overwhelming.”

“It’s perfect. Thank you.” Uncertain about what the proper expression of his gratitude is, Ryan moves in to hug her--and is surprised when she greets him with a peck on the lips. Not that he minds.

“Now,” she says, “have a seat so you can see your present to me. Or hear it, I should say.”

He seats himself in one of the ornate armchairs that his father selected for the room. “It’s very strange, not having any idea what this gift that I allegedly got you might be.”

Danielle removes her guitar from its case. “You got me to write. And once I started, it just kept coming. An entire song.” She strums a few chords, or notes, or whatever one calls them; Ryan has never been very good at understanding music.

“It’s the best gift I’ve received in a long time,” she says, and Ryan settles in to listen as she plays the song for him.


Molly Taylor wishes that she could be more accepting. She wants nothing more than to support her husband in all he does, to be an unconditional pillar of strength for him so that he can achieve the things he seeks. Yet she does not know how to reconcile that desire with the feeling--deep in her gut, a sensation so strong that it nauseates her--that he is making a horrible mistake and putting all of them in grave danger.

As she watches Brent confer with Claire Fisher, no doubt over Molly’s vocal reaction to the latest twists in their search for this “Mr. Clayton,” she wishes that this weren’t dividing her and her husband.

Tim must notice her watching, because he approaches and says, “I take it you aren’t a fan of this mission?”

“Is it that obvious?”

“You have every right to have an opinion about it. The way I see it, let the past be the past. None of this is going to change anything that’s already happened.”

“Precisely. And now, with Claire getting shot… That really scares me.”

“Me, too. Even if I only found out from Travis.” In response to Molly’s quizzical look, he explains, “Claire and I aren’t on the best of terms these days.”

Molly craves details--she can tell there is a story there--but decides it best not to pry now, given the way Tim turns away almost as soon as he speaks the words.

Instead she says, “At least she’s all right. But if there’s a next time, God forbid…”

“I know.”

Brent looks over and sees Molly and Tim talking. He excuses himself from Claire and makes his way toward them.

“Everything okay?” he asks.

Molly bristles at the insinuation that everything should be okay, that she is the one with the problem for not being enthused about his vigilante quest.

“Tim and I were just talking,” she says.

“Do I even need to guess what you were talking about?”

Molly folds her arms and tries to conjure the right thing to say, if such a thing even exists.

“Tim, you lost all those years because of Nick Moriani and this Clayton guy,” Brent says. “Don’t you want to know why?”

Molly is thankful for Tim’s immediate response: “We know why--because Nick was a madman. And if Clayton worked for or with him, he is probably the same way.”

“Was,” Brent corrects him. “He’s dead.”

“He’s dead? What?”

“A man with Clayton’s ID and Social Security card on him was found shot to death in New Jersey,” Brent says. “The photo on the ID matched his real ID, which identified him as Reginald Carter. That’s why Claire and I went to Jersey--to confirm that it was him.”

“Who’s Reginald Carter? What does he have to do with any of this?” Tim asks. Molly knows that he has every right to be interested--she is, too, just not at the expense of everything they have worked so hard to build--but the subtle hint of egging Brent on annoys her.

“I’m waiting for info from a detailed background check. We’ll have a lot more to work with very soon.” As that information settles with Tim, Brent seizes the opportunity to make his case. “This is why we need to keep going. We’re close to having answers, once and for all.”

Molly can see that Tim is torn. She knows that she has no right to tell her brother how to feel, particularly after all that he has been put through because of these men, but she does not think she can ever be convinced that Brent and Claire are acting wisely.

“Claire got shot,” she says suddenly, as if that should change Brent’s mind for good.

“And that scared the crap out of us. But she’s fine, and now we know that we need to be more careful. It also means that we’re getting too close for someone’s comfort. The end is in sight.”

“How do you know that?”

“This is what I do, Molly. I’m doing this for us. To protect our family--all of it.” He gestures around at the rest of the Fishers, gathered to celebrate Christmas.

Having Tim bear witness to this argument embarrasses Molly, but not enough for her to keep her mouth closed this time.

“You say you need to protect your family. Well, that’s what I need to do, too. This is me, taking a stand to protect my family. I want you to stop this.”

Brent locks eyes with her. “I can’t do that.”

Sadly, that was the response she expected. She hoped for something different, but she expected this. And she does not know how to respond, so she turns and walks away from her husband.


When everyone sits around the expanded dining room table for dinner a few minutes later, the tension in the air is as thick as holiday eggnog. Sarah chooses a seat next to Courtney and directs Graham to the seat on her other side; Matt sits at the far end of the table, right beside Tori and adjacent to the rest of the grandkids.

She can see other schisms around the table: Molly and Brent, though seated together, might as well have a brick wall between them; Claire and Tim have taken care to avoid sitting anywhere near one another; guilty, wordless looks keep passing between Molly and Claire.

“Thank you all for joining us today,” Bill says from the head of the table. He says a brief prayer of thanks and then lifts his glass. “Merry Christmas, everyone.”

Glasses clink together, and a chorus of “Merry Christmas” rings out. Sarah notices Matt watching her and takes extra care to touch a hand to Graham’s shoulder as they toast each other.

Dinner is served, and the guests busy themselves with passing around platters and heaping food onto their plates. Smaller conversations spring up around the table, alleviating some of the tension of the larger group.

“Dad, did Graham tell you what property he came to King’s Bay to develop?” Sarah says across the table.

Taking her cue, Graham explains, “It’s on Pier 22. As I understand, it was--”

“Where the restaurant was. That’s certainly interesting.”

“I was sorry to learn what happened,” Graham says.

“Thank you. I found a new piece of property for a new restaurant. Rebuilding on the pier seemed too strange, after everything that happened there.”

Graham nods sympathetically. “I can understand.”

“How are the plans for the new restaurant coming?” Sarah asks Bill. A glance down the table reveals that Matt is listening intently.

“Very well. We should be open by summer.”

“That’s great, Dad.” She turns back to Graham. “What kinds of businesses are going to be on the pier now? The concept seems pretty ambitious.”

As Graham explains the project, which Sarah has already heard about in detail, she allows herself a moment of eye contact with Matt. His face is stone, and after an instant, he turns away.

She brought Graham today knowing that Matt would be here, and she has done everything in her power to draw attention to Graham and make Matt notice that she is moving on. Still, the sight of him turning away, visibly upset, causes a flash of anguish to rise up and hit her like a sudden burst of heat. She didn’t want to hurt Matt; that side effect never occurred to her. All she wanted was for him to see that she is capable of moving on, that she has met someone of quality--and for Matt to realize what a mistake it was to stop fighting for their marriage, to put a stop to this before the divorce is final.

Instead, he turns away, and Sarah decides that if he is going to get hurt, maybe he deserves it.


“It’s terrific,” Ryan says, as the last notes of Danielle’s song hang in the air. Months ago, he found her old music on the internet and listened to it--but it does not hold a candle to the way she sounds live, with just her voice and her guitar.

“I haven’t been able to do that in so long,” she says. “I have you to thank for it.”

“You’re the one who wrote the song.”

“Because you encouraged me.”

“Because you encouraged me to write my story.”

Danielle sets down the guitar. “Okay, this mutual admiration society is getting a little disgusting.”

With a laugh, Ryan stands and takes her waiting hands. She surprises him with another kiss, this one deeper and more intense.

“Do you need to get back to your family?” he asks.

“Kind of. Yes.” She kisses him again, anyway.

“Any chance they can fend for themselves for a little while longer?”

She makes a show of contemplating the possibility. “I suppose. Just a little while longer.”

This time, Ryan initiates the kiss. It builds and continues to build, and when he forces himself to end it, their mouths linger on one another.

“I can think of one way to celebrate,” he says, “if you can spare the time.”

“I think I can,” she says, kissing him once more as she reaches for the buttons on his shirt. Ryan’s hands are already tugging up her sweater.



Once dinner is over, everyone scatters from the table. Sarah and a few others help Paula transport dirty dishes to the kitchen.

“I’ll put up the coffee,” Bill announces.

Sarah notices Tori putting on her coat. Matt makes his way over to Bill.

“We’re going to go,” Matt says quietly.

Sarah tries not to look as though she is paying attention; luckily, Diane makes another crack about Claire’s shooting, so Sarah lets out a laugh and grasps Graham’s arm.

“We haven’t even had dessert yet,” Bill says.

“Tori and I need to get out of here.”

Sarah forces herself to look elsewhere, but she can feel Matt’s gaze indicating her and Graham. Serves him right, she thinks.

Then something occurs to her: “Tori hasn’t opened her presents yet.”

“Get them out of the car,” Matt says, the first direct words he has spoken to her all evening. “We’ll take them home.”

“I want her to open them with me,” Sarah says.

“Then maybe you should pry yourself off your date for a few minutes.”

Matt’s annoyance is almost enough to make her retrieve the presents and send them home with him and Tori--just to spite him. But it is not enough to miss Christmas with her daughter.

“I’ll get the presents, and we’ll open them, and then you can do whatever the hell you want,” Sarah says, moving for her purse and her keys.


As Claire carries some of the desserts out to the dining room, Tim intercepts her. Once he has her attention, though, he does not even know what to say.

“What?” she finally asks.

“I just wanted to see how you’re doing,” he says. “Are you feeling okay?”

“I’m fine. I know how to take care of the wound. It’s what I do all day.”

“Good.” He dips his head, feeling like a fool even as he knows that he had to check in on her. “Just be careful, please.”

“I will be. Thanks for your concern.” She has trouble keeping her tone from sounding too snotty.

“These people are nuts, Claire. God only knows what--”

“It’s none of your business.”

“Excuse me?”

“What I do--it’s none of your business,” she says.

“I beg your pardon! I’m the one who was held in that damn clinic all those years.”

“And I’m the one who had to accept that you were gone, and had to move on with my life, and had to adjust when it turned out you were alive.” She catches herself. “I’m sorry if that sounds bitchy or selfish. I know you went through a lot. But just because you aren’t interested in learning about why those things happened doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be.”

“I am interested. But it’s one thing to be interested and another to be in situations where you’re getting shot.”

“And it’s my decision to make,” she says before pushing past him to set the desserts on the table.


“Thank you for walking me up,” Sarah says as she and Graham arrive at her door.

“Thank you for inviting me tonight. Your family is wonderful.”

“Sorry that we left so abruptly. After that attitude that Matt pulled about Tori’s presents--I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore.”

She expects a response, but Graham falls silent. She has come to expect bouts of quiet from him, but when they land in the middle of a conversation, it is usually a conversation about him.

“I know why you brought me tonight,” he says, out of nowhere.

The statement takes Sarah by surprise. She struggles for words.

“You wanted to make Matt jealous,” he continues. “And while I’m flattered that I was your choice for doing that--”

“That isn’t why I brought you.”

He levels a knowing gaze on her. “Sarah.”

“I mean, a part of me wanted to show you off,” she says, “but not for Matt’s benefit. Just so everyone could see who I’ve been spending time with and that I’m doing okay, with the divorce and all.”

His skepticism remains. He kisses her on the cheek and says, “Regardless, thank you for a lovely evening. It was nice not to spend Christmas alone.”

He turns to leave. Sarah doesn’t know what compels her, but she reaches out and grabs him by the sleeve.

“Don’t go.”

Graham studies her, confused. “What?”

“Come in.” She sucks in a hard breath. “Stay the night.”

“Are you sure…?”

“Yes.” She presses her lips to his and simultaneously fumbles to unlock the door. “I’m sure.”


Is Sarah making a mistake with Graham?
Can Molly and Brent agree to disagree?
Can it really be so easy for Ryan and Danielle?
Discuss this episode in the Footprints Forum!

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