Episode #532

- After a tense meeting about Ryan’s book, Diane invited him to stick around the office for a drink, which turned into several drinks.
- When Jason and Courtney’s babysitter cancelled at the last minute, Sabrina offered to step in. Jason accepted. When Courtney found out, she rushed out of their date in a panic.
- Shannon considered smothering Sophie in her crib and reached for a pillow…


“Where is she?”

Courtney Chase tears into the house like a madwoman. She throws open the door and does not bother to close it behind her; her voice bellows through the house without regard for manners or sleeping babies.

Jason Fisher tails her, distraught. He never intended for this to happen. All he wanted was to treat Courtney to a much-deserved night out. When Sabrina Gage offered to babysit, he viewed it as an opportunity to keep his plans with Courtney--not a means of upsetting her and derailing their night entirely.

“I’m sure everything is fine,” Jason says, although Courtney’s panicked ranting throughout the speedy drive home has spiked his blood pressure a bit, too.

“I can’t believe you would let this happen,” Courtney barks at him. She heads for the back of the house.

“Where is she?” she repeats loudly, turning a corner to climb the stairs. She stops abruptly, and Jason crashes into her back. Then he spots the thing that has given her pause: Sabrina, standing at the foot of the stairs like a waiting sentry.

“What’s the matter?” Sabrina asks.

“I need to see my daughter.” Courtney pushes past her.

Sabrina’s face contorts in confusion. “What’s going on? Is something wrong?”

“I need to see my daughter!”

Jason follows Courtney as she charges up the stairs. Sabrina meets his gaze, offering a What the hell is going on? look that Jason cannot even begin to answer. He keeps his face an expressionless mask, too afraid to give Sabrina a preemptive apology for Courtney’s behavior--just in case.

Just in case of what?! he wonders. He doesn’t believe that Sabrina is as dangerous as Courtney does. He doesn’t believe she is dangerous at all. He knows that Courtney doesn’t like her, and she has every right not to, but there is a significant difference between disliking another person and considering that person capable of harming a child.

“Don’t worry about Sophie,” Sabrina calls from the bottom of the staircase. She folds her arms across her chest.

“How could I not?” Courtney reaches the top of the stairs and pauses just long enough to turn back and yell at Sabrina.

“Is she okay?” Jason asks.

When Sabrina does not answer immediately, his pulse quickens. “Is Sophie okay?” he demands.

“I don’t know what all this fuss is about,” Sabrina says, and for a moment, her calmness causes Jason to relax--until the eeriest smile crosses her lips, and she looks directly at Courtney. “Sophie is all taken care of.”


The cab pulls up to the driveway. Ryan Moriani checks the meter and, taking extra care, counts out enough cash to cover the fare. He tells the driver to keep the change, because it seems like too much work to deduce a proper tip, and climbs out of the cab.

The nighttime chill assaults him as soon as he steps onto the sidewalk. He walks up the driveway and listens to the cab driving off into the distance. It occurs to him that there is something strange about the car parked in the driveway, a car that looks familiar and yet does not belong there--

And then he notices the woman waiting by his front door.

“What are you doing here?” he asks Danielle Taylor, hurrying toward her on untrustworthy legs.

“I wanted to surprise you. That’s why I texted you. When you said you were leaving Vision, I figured I could be here by the time you got home…”

“Well, it’s wonderful to see you.” He plants a kiss on her cheek, and his numb fingers fumble in his pocket for the keys. He can feel Danielle watching him as he unlocks the front door.

“Is everything all right?” she asks.

“Yes. Everything’s fine. Great, now that you’re here. Come inside. It’s freezing.” He ushers her into the house and quickly shuts the door. He reckons that he should feel much more sober once he is out of the cold.

“How did your meeting go?”

“A little tense,” he says, “but the book is coming along, which I suppose is the important part.” He hangs up his coat and extends his hand to take hers, but she hesitates in removing it.

“Where’s your car?” she asks. “Why did you take a cab home?”

“My car is in the garage at Vision. I’ll pick it up tomorrow.” He waits by the coat closet’s open door and decides it would be best not to offer any further information.

“Is the car all right? I’m sure we could call a tow truck tonight if need be.”

He can tell that she already knows the answer and is waiting for him to say it himself. He is not so sure that he wants to.

But his alcohol-blurred consciousness is thinking so hard about it that he has to spit it out. “Diane opened a bottle of wine. Or two. We were just trying to unwind after the meeting.”

Immediately he can tell that he has made a mistake, though it takes Danielle vocalizing it for Ryan to realize exactly what the mistake was:

“You stayed after your meeting to get drunk with Diane Bishop?”


“Where is she?” Courtney cries again, though she is already headed for the nursery.

“She’s sleeping!” Sabrina calls after her. She turns to Jason, who is kneading his forehead with distress. “What’s wrong with Courtney?”

Jason shakes his head. He is sorry to have dragged Sabrina into this. Maybe she has been a bitch to Courtney--he doesn’t think Courtney would lie about that--but she is also his coworker, and having her witness this chaotic family scene is embarrassing.

“It was really generous of you to offer to watch Sophie,” he says, “but I shouldn’t have taken you up on it. I knew it wouldn’t be Courtney’s first choice.”

Sabrina takes a sudden step backward, as if someone has come at her with a balled-up fist. “Courtney didn’t trust me with Sophie?”

“It’s not that. It’s…” It is that, more or less, but he cannot come up with a way to phrase this that doesn’t sound like he is attacking or degrading Sabrina. “She’s still very protective of Sophie. And I know you two have had your differences…”

“I don’t know what Courtney thinks happened, but we had a few disagreements,” Sabrina says. She appears physically hurt by the implication of anything more. “Certainly nothing to suggest I’d hurt your daughter.”

At a loss for words, Jason simply nods. “Maybe you should go.”

“Yes. Get out of our house,” Courtney says loudly. She stands at the top of the stairs with Sophie in her arms.

Sabrina nods politely, then indicates Sophie. “She was fine. She was sleeping.”

Courtney stares her dead in the eyes. “You need to leave.”

“I’m sorry,” Sabrina says, looking first at Jason and then up at Courtney, ever so briefly. “For whatever I did.”

Jason watches her go and dreads having to face her as an employee on Monday. This whole thing has been so inappropriate, and as much as he loves Courtney, her behavior regarding and toward Sabrina is verging on irrational. He follows Sabrina to the door.

“Let me pay you for your time,” he says, reaching into his pocket.

“Don’t. That would be weird.” Sabrina opens the front door but then pauses. “Maybe you should look into getting Courtney help. She’s acting a little…”

He doesn’t want to agree, at least out loud, so he tightens his lips. “Thanks again for your help.”

Sabrina leaves the house. Jason wants to head upstairs and see his daughter--who, as he expected, is absolutely fine--but he is uncertain how he might even begin to deal with Courtney now.


“I didn’t stay to get drunk with Diane,” Ryan says. “She was going to have a drink. It was a stressful meeting. I didn’t think it would hurt to have one--”

Danielle’s face crinkles up. “It doesn’t look like you had one drink.”

“We had a little bit too much. It isn’t a big deal.” He moves in on her, wraps his arms around her body. She softens into him.

“Is something else bothering you?” he asks. Even in his reduced state, he could tell from the moment he saw her by the door that she was tense--the human equivalent of a firecracker, a flame eating away at the fuse until it leaves her ready to blow.

“I took Elly to the airport,” she says.

Ryan runs a hand over her back. “I’m sorry. I know it must be hard to see her go.”

“It is. But that’s… I can handle that. It’s something she said before she left.” She breathes hard and heavy, deep intakes of air that contrast sharply with her rapidly beating heart. “She was grilling me about how Melanie and Tom adopted her, if I knew anything about her birth parents…”

Ryan truly does not know what advice to offer. If it were him, there is no way he could have kept the secret Danielle has already kept for sixteen years. But she is different: less impulsive, more in control of her emotions.

“You’ve said that it isn’t your place to tell her anything,” he says. Wow, helpful. He holds her more tightly against him; all that he is aware of are their two bodies and the buzzing in his ears.

“I know.” She falls quiet, then repeats it, as if to reinforce the lesson: “I know.” Another deep breath. “She said that Travis told her to ask me. He thought I might be able to tell her more. Doesn’t that seem…”

“Strange? Yeah.” Through the haze of the wine, Ryan has to remind himself about Travis and Elly. He thinks of his nephew as a boy--the boy who, for a time, was like a son to him, was going to be his stepson. To think of him as a teenager in a relationship--with Danielle’s daughter, no less--throws Ryan for a loop. Can time really be passing that quickly?

He yanks himself out of his mental meanderings and back to the present. “There isn’t any way Travis could know.”

“Of course not. But it worries me that he has her thinking that way.” She lifts her head from his chest. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be complaining.”

“Complaining? Please. I don’t mind. I’m the one who should be sorry, for being drunk around you. It isn’t right.”

Now Danielle takes a full step back from him. “That isn’t what you should be sorry about.”

“What?” Ryan tries to catch up. Did he do something else? Say something?

“I can handle myself just fine,” she says. “Someone being drunk around me--it doesn’t make me want to down a bottle of cooking sherry or anything.”

“It’s still inconsiderate of me.”

“Yes. And I appreciate the thought. Or I would, if you understood what the real issue was.”

He waits for her to illuminate it. The whole conversation is moving too fast for him. The room turns around them--not spinning fast, but in quiet waves, like a carousel winding down.

“You shouldn’t be drinking,” Danielle finally says. “Not because of me--because of you. It isn’t good for you. You--you can’t handle it.”

“What am I doing that’s so bad? I took a cab home. I’m having a conversation with you. I’m not throwing up or passing out or--”

“But you could. We met because I found you passed out on a park bench in the middle of the morning, Ryan.”

“I was in a bad place at that point.”

“Yeah. Passed out drunk on a park bench in the middle of the morning! What’s to say it won’t happen again? Do you really think you can control this?”

“I can,” he says, but his tongue feels heavy. “Why are you picking a fight about this?”

“I’m not picking a fight! I’m making a point.” Before he knows it, she has the front door open again. A chilly breeze floats into the foyer. “I think we should continue this conversation when you’re sober,” she says.

“Don’t make a bigger deal of this than you need to.”

“That’s why I’m leaving right now. Drink some water and go to bed.”

The door closes hard behind Danielle. Ryan thinks of chasing after her, but he is too tired. The wine has made his whole body heavy. The thought of calling her tomorrow, when he is rested, brightens him enough to move him to the stairs. He trudges up them, ready to put an end to this day.


I am not a baby killer. I am not a baby killer.

As Shannon Parish drives, she repeats the mantra to herself--out loud, in her head, then aloud again. With each repetition, she feels great relief, and yet, she is still scared. Tonight she glimpsed a part of herself that terrifies her. Never in a million years did she think she might be capable of killing a child. But when she saw Sophie lying there, screaming her head off, all she could think was that silencing those cries would mean the end of Jason and Courtney.

She is glad that her humanity prevailed. She never could have lived with herself if she’d killed a baby. Especially not Jason’s baby.

As she held that pillow in her hands, mere feet from Sophie, Shannon looked down at the baby and saw something in her eyes that she never expected to find: Jason. She could see him in there, as clearly as if she were staring into his eyes themselves. There is no denying that that child is his--not just his, but an extension of him.

Terrifying as it is to realize what she almost did, Shannon is also grateful, because tonight, she discovered what she must do. She must save not only Jason, but his daughter. That beautiful baby deserves better than to be raised with Courtney as a mother. Sophie is not the one who needs to be eliminated.

Jason and Sophie need her.


Jason watches from the doorway as Courtney gets Sophie settled back in her crib.

“I can’t believe you would do this,” she mutters at Jason, her back to him.

“I didn’t want to cancel our plans. Who was I supposed to call? Tim’s busy with work and lives with our parents, Molly barely has time for the kids she already has, Sarah’s gone completely off the deep end… I guess I could call Ryan. The brother who shot a man in cold blood and tried to frame Tim for it. Would that have been better than Sabrina?”

Courtney turns sharply to him. “Sarcasm is not going to help.”

“I’m just trying to figure out what you would have preferred I do!” He speaks in a loud whisper, overly conscious of disturbing Sophie. Courtney pushes past him and leaves the room. He follows her.

“I would rather have stayed home than had you leave our daughter with a lunatic,” Courtney says as she pulls the nursery door closed.

“What evidence do we have that she’s a lunatic? I’ve seen… let’s see… nothing at all to make me think that.”

“She tried to get me to have an abortion!”

“She suggested it as an option,” he says, still unnerved by the thought that Courtney might have chosen such a path for her pregnancy. “When you were keeping your pregnancy from me, might I add.”

Courtney’s eyes flare. “Let’s not even dredge all that up now. That’s not what this is about.”

“It’s about you trusting me!”

“No, it’s about you trusting me! Over some woman we’ve known for, what, a year and a half? Why is it so hard for you to accept that I might be right about her?”

Because you can’t just run around accusing people of being nuts without any evidence, Jason thinks, but he knows better than to voice the thought aloud.

Apparently his silence is answer enough for her, because the next thing he knows, she is storming back into the nursery. “I’ll sleep in here tonight,” she says before shutting the door in his face.

Jason wants to follow her, wants to find a way to make this right, but he truly does not know how. Telling her that she’s right would be easy enough in the moment, but there is no telling where that might lead tomorrow or beyond. He slinks off to their bedroom, ready to embark upon what is sure to be a sleepless night.


How should Jason handle the situation regarding Courtney and Sabrina?
What will Shannon do now that she has a clear objective?
Can Ryan and Diane get past the issue of his drinking?
Come discuss this episode in the Footprints Forum!

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