Episode #543

- Diane recorded Danielle’s Open Mic Night performance and, after studying the lyrics, suspected that Danielle’s secret might be that she is Elly’s mother.
- Alex struggled to process the fact that his biological father, Graham, lives in King’s Bay and wants to have a relationship with him.
- Sarah conducted her own investigation and uncovered the connection between Graham and Alex, unaware that Graham had gone to see his son.


We cordially invite you
to join us for the
Grand Opening
Harbor Boulevard,
a new restaurant from the man behind
King’s Bay favorite
The Fisherman’s Pier.

Invitation in hand, Matt Gray pulls up the familiar number on his cell phone and places a call. It rings twice before there is an answer.

“Fisher home,” comes the warm female voice from the other end.

“Paula, hi. It’s Matt.”

“Matt! Hello. How are you?”

“I’m good.” It isn’t a lie, exactly. He isn’t bad. His life lately has settled into a comfortable, if not especially exciting, routine. He goes to work at Windmills, he picks up and drops off Tori when it is his turn to see her, and he spends as much time with his daughter as he can in-between. Sports have kept him occupied throughout the fall, winter, and spring, but with basketball about to end, he wonders how he is going to fill his time. This might be the year he gets into baseball, the one major sport about which he has never cared much. “How about you guys?”

“We’re doing pretty well,” Paula says. “Busy. Jason and Courtney’s wedding is coming together, and Bill has been consumed with the new restaurant.”

“That’s why I called, actually. I just got the invitation.”

“Oh, good! We hope you’ll be able to come.”

Matt pauses. He wasn’t that surprised to receive the invitation. The Fishers are good people, good enough to have invited him to their Christmas celebration despite his pending divorce from their daughter. He isn’t so sure what the invitation implies, though.

“Are you sure about that?” he asks. “It was nice--really nice--of you and Bill to invite me, but if this was one of those courtesy things, I’d rather just know so I can thank you and say I have other plans.”

“Matt.” There is a maternal sternness about her voice that touches him, carrying as it does a deep affection even as it seems to scold him. “Of course we want you to come.”

“You’re sure it won’t be uncomfortable? Christmas was--”

“Christmas was a unique situation,” Paula says. “Sarah was--she was hurting. We all know how she gets when she’s trying to pretend that everything is okay.”

He wonders if that means everything is okay for Sarah now. Tori told him that Sarah is still seeing Graham Colville. Maybe things are getting serious between them already, even if Matt can still barely conceive of going on a date with another woman.

“We want you to come,” Paula says. “Consider it a professional invitation. You were a big part of Bill’s last restaurant. It’s only right that you be there for the launch of the new one.”

All he can say is, “Thank you.” As he scans the invitation again, another question crosses his mind. “Where did the name come from? Harbor Boulevard? I thought he had another name for it.”

“It’s a street on the north end of town.”

“This address looks like it’s closer to the waterfront...”

“Harbor Boulevard is the street Bill lived on when we met,” Paula says. “The street where he proposed to me.”

“Oh. I guess that’s a good thing to name it after.”

“I’ll say so. Matt, we really do hope you’ll be able to make it to the opening.”

“I’ll be there,” he says without hesitation.


You got a piece of me! And, honestly! My life--would suck--without you!

Two young female voices blast out of the bedroom. From her post at the dining room table, Diane Bishop calls out, “That doesn’t sound like writing a paper to me!”

Samantha’s head pokes out from the back hallway, while the Kelly Clarkson song continues to play in the background. “We’re almost done.”

“And you helped Tori like you promised to?”

Her daughter stops just short of an actual, pupils-in-the-back-of-her-head eyeroll. “Yes.”

“Fine, then sing away until her dad gets here,” Diane says. “Just try not to give me a migraine.”

Samantha disappears back into her room. Diane settles at the table with her laptop and, confident that she will have a few minutes alone, pulls the USB memory stick from her purse. She plugs it into her laptop, and a folder opens--a folder with one file in it. A video. She clicks to open it, hoping that she didn’t give that intern in the IT department two hundred dollars for nothing.

The now-familiar video begins to play. It begins with healthy applause, the whoops distorted by the poor quality of Diane’s cell phone camera. Then the blonde woman onstage launches into an introduction of her song: “I’d like to sing a song tonight that I wrote. It’s based on something painful in my life that I have recently had to come to terms with. Needless to say, it’s very personal. I hope that it inspires some of you to take your own problems and face them head on.”

As Diane hoped, the words appear on the bottom of the screen, closed-caption-style, as Danielle speaks them.

“Brilliant,” she says, touching her fingertips together as the song begins and the lyrics follow along at the base of the screen.


Sarah Fisher follows Graham Colville through the house, setting her purse down on a table in the entry hall as they go. The house has come a long way since Graham moved in. The decorator he hired has populated it with paintings housed in heavy gold frames and a variety of antique pieces, small figurines and statues.

“I’m glad you were able to come tonight,” Graham says as they reach the living room. “I thought you would be with Tori.”

“Matt said he’d pick her up. She’s been working on a paper with her cousin.” Sarah hopes that Samantha will be a good influence on Tori, encourage her to write a good paper and turn it in on time. Eighth grade has been a bit of a challenge--not just for Tori, but for Sarah and Matt, as well.

“Then I suppose I should order something for dinner.” Graham vanishes into the dining room and returns with the well-stocked binder of restaurant menus that mark his bachelor existence. “How do you feel about Italian food?”

“That sounds good.” They consult the menu briefly, and Graham places the call to order their dinner. Sarah waits in an ornately upholstered chair in the living room. All at once, the place seems strange and unfamiliar to her, despite how much time she has spent here in recent months. This is not the life she envisioned for herself for so long--sitting in a house decorated this way, ordering dinner out several nights a week with a man several years older than her. A man who is keeping things from her.

When Graham returns, the call completed, the vibe between them feels different. Graham seems to notice it immediately, too.

“It should be half an hour,” he says. When Sarah nods, he is quick to add, “Is everything all right?”

She doesn’t know what gets into her, but she needs to give him one more chance to come clean. “Something has been... bothering me, yeah. When I’ve asked you about your life before we met, you always say there isn’t much to tell--”

“There isn’t.”

She stares at him in disbelief.

“I don’t know what you are expecting,” he says, “but I don’t have any stories about having joined the circus or been taken hostage during a safari or having married a German countess for her money.”

Despite herself, Sarah cracks a tiny smile. He rarely makes jokes, and the impact when he does make one is much greater because of their infrequency. “You’re sure there isn’t anything?” she asks. “You can’t blame me for being cautious. My family has been through hell because of people we let into our lives and trusted.”

She expects him to shoot her down, as he has so many times in the past. It was worth a shot. Therefore, when Graham speaks again, Sarah is genuinely floored.

“There is one thing,” he says. “The reason I pursued business in King’s Bay in the first place.”

“Because the land where my father’s restaurant was became available?”

“That was an opportunity. A reason to come here and stay for the time being. But I’d been searching for that opportunity--an excuse, you might even call it--for a long time.”

She tempers her breathing and plays along. “Why?”

“Because there is someone here I’ve wanted to meet. Or, I should say, become reacquainted with... My son.”

“Your son?” She does her best to play along. “I thought you said--”

“He is only my son biologically. I’ve hardly ever known him,” Graham says, and then his eyes settle right on hers. “But you knew that already, didn’t you?”


“What do you mean, he’s here?”

Helen Chase’s exclamation sounds like the worded version of a gasp. She and her husband stare, dumbfounded, across the kitchen table at Alex Marshall.

“He came to my apartment,” Alex says. “He’s living here now, for business. He read my book a few years ago and realized that I lived in King’s Bay, and he’s been thinking of getting in touch with me ever since.”

Don’s face hardens. “That’s awfully considerate of him. The man ignores you for thirty years--what’s a few more as long as he knows you’re successful?” His disdain for Graham Colville is evident in every syllable that leaves his mouth. Just as quickly, however, he catches himself. “I’m sorry. You should do whatever feels right to you.”

Helen nods and holds onto her husband’s arm.

“That’s the thing. I don’t know what feels right.” It has been days since Graham turned up at his door, and Alex feels no closer to processing his reaction and having an actual firm stance on the situation. “It felt really good not to let him in, because I don’t need him. I’m fine without him. But on the other hand, it’s like, am I going to regret that?”

He looks to Don. “Did you know him? After you found out about my mom and him?”

“Not really,” Don says. “It all happened so quickly, and I was... hurt.” He seems ashamed of his younger self’s reaction to Sally’s extramarital affair with Graham. “When you were born, you were my son, and all of a sudden, I found out it wasn’t true.”

Alex feels the need to say, “I don’t blame you for leaving her. I hope you know that.”

“Thanks.” Nevertheless, Don’s head remains down. “I couldn’t imagine staying in a marriage like that, having a family built on lies. Sally fought so hard to keep me around, which made me want to hurt her even more. So I did. I left. And then Helen came back into my life, and she supported me, and everything was so normal and good...” He smiles lovingly at his wife.

Witnessing the strong bond between them, Alex’s head seems to clear. “I’m not going to call him. I don’t need him in my life.”

“As long as you really feel that way,” Don says.

“I do.”

Helen reaches for Alex’s hand. “We hope you know that, regardless of what biology says, you are a part of this family. Anytime you need us, we are here. Even if you just want to hang out. I could always use some help with that attic reorganization I’ve been doing!”

They all share a laugh, and Alex feels firm in his decision. His mother and Graham didn’t give him much of a family, but he has built one for himself in King’s Bay. He doesn’t need anyone’s guilty, belated charity.


Matt can hear the girls playing music even as he waits outside the condo. When Diane opens the front door, Matt says, “Did they get any work done at all?”

“They say they finished, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt,” she says. “I guess we’ll find out when Tori gets her grade.”

Matt grimaces at the thought. His daughter has not exactly been a model student of late. She is far too busy with her actual careers of texting, talking on the phone, listening to music, and hanging out at the mall to have time for schoolwork.

Diane lets him in, and he calls out for his daughter. Tori and Samantha appear from the back hallway.

“Did you get your paper done?” he asks Tori. She nods, a move so casual that he actually believes she is not lying.

“It’s right here,” Tori says, showing him the USB drive that contains this alleged paper. Then, as if she hadn’t been talking to him at all, she turns to her cousin. “Do you know where my headband is?”

“I think it’s on my desk,” Samantha says. Tori drops the USB drive on the dining room table and sprints back into the bedroom.

“Thanks for helping her,” Matt tells Samantha. He looks to Diane and finds that she has vanished into the kitchen. “And thanks for letting them work here, Diane.”

“No problem!” she calls back. “I might’ve blown an eardrum, but whatever.”

Tori reappears.

“Find your headband?” Matt asks.

Nodding, she slips the headband over her head, then conducts a search for her shoes. She locates one, and Matt finds the other. She slips them on, never bothering to sit down or even stop moving as she does so, and then picks up her backpack.

“Thanks again,” Matt says to Samantha as they move for the door. “Thanks, Diane!”

They let themselves out and head down the exterior stairs to the parking lot. “How was school today?” Matt asks as they walk.

“Good.” Tori shrugs. “They made us try on caps and gowns for graduation. Oh my God, they’re so gross and, like, cheap. Like wearing newspaper or something.”

Matt laughs at the apparent crime of fashion. “Can’t believe you’re graduating from middle school.”

“High school is gonna be so cool.”

Matt would like to agree, but the thought of sending his daughter off to high school practically makes his blood run cold.

“Oh crap,” Tori says, stopping in her tracks.

“Language,” he warns by rote. “And what’s wrong?”

“I forgot my paper. The little drive that it’s on, I mean.”

Matt turns back for the stairs. “Where is it?”

“I put it on the dining room table.”

He hurries back up the stairs and knocks on the door. Samantha answers.

“Forgot her paper,” Matt says as he moves back into the condo. He sees a USB drive sitting on the corner of the dining room table and grabs it. “Here we go. Thanks again.” He ducks out and heads down the stairs to catch up with his daughter, who is once again texting on her cell phone.

What neither he nor Samantha noticed was the second USB drive, sitting on the other side of the dining room table...


It takes every grain of willpower within Sarah to remember her training and maintain eye contact with Graham. “What do you mean?”

“Do you mean to tell me that you did not an ounce of investigating? Not a background check, at least?”

Her instinct is to deny the accusation, but for all she has wanted Graham to be honest with her, she owes him the same respect. “I had to. To be sure that I wasn’t putting myself or my daughter in danger. I’m sorry.”

“I don’t blame you,” Graham says. “I’d probably have done the same thing--or hired someone to do it, I suppose.”

“Really? You aren’t mad?”

He moves his hands to his pockets. “I’m certainly not thrilled that you haven’t trusted me, but I understand.”

Sarah’s instincts kick into high gear. She is alone in this big house with a man who just admitted knowing she has gone behind his back. Thankfully, her path to the exit is clear; Graham stands deeper in the living room than her. As casually as she can, she takes a step backward, placing herself closer to the exit.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you what I was doing,” she says. “But I had to make sure there wasn’t anything... serious.”

“As I said, I don’t blame you.”

There is something relaxed about him, something that makes Sarah believe him. Especially when he sits down on the sofa, with its carved wooden body and high arms. This is not a man out to punish her. It is the Graham she has been getting to know for months.

“You probably cannot imagine how I could go all these years without knowing my son,” he says, staring off toward the window, something he rarely does. “It’s a complicated situation. I was very young when his mother became pregnant. And she was... married.”

Sarah listens to his tale, wondering when and how she should drop the additional bomb that she knows his son, that Alex is her brother’s best friend.

“I suspected Sally’s child was mine,” Graham continues, “but she insisted that her husband was the father. For months. Somehow he puts the pieces together. To this day, I’m not certain how he figured it out, but Sally never was the greatest at keeping secrets. Her husband was heartbroken... That boy had been his son. It ended their marriage.”

“And she blamed you.”

Graham looks at her with surprise. “Your investigating turned up that much?”

“I was able to fill that part in for myself,” she says. The parallel to her own situation with Brent and Matt around the time of Tori’s birth is not lost on her. At least Tori has been able to have Matt in her life.

“She kept him from me,” Graham says. “They moved away. I saw him a few times, but Sally--that was his mother--had custody, and they continued to move around. Alex stopped answering my letters. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found out where he was: living in King’s Bay.”

Sarah quietly processes this new information. She vaguely remembers Sally Marshall from when Alex came to town and became friends with Jason. The woman tore into town trying to break up Courtney’s parents and win back her ex-husband. Now it all makes sense. Graham is not an awful person or a deadbeat; he has been kept from his son all these years. Relief washes over her.

“He’s a writer. A successful writer,” he says.

“I know,” Sarah blurts out.

Graham’s surprise passes quickly. “I suppose your investigation turned that up, as well. If only I’d had access to your resources years ago.”

“That’s not what I mean. Your son--I know him. I know Alex.”

Now Graham’s face, his whole body, expand with genuine shock. “I’m sorry?”

“He’s my brother’s best friend. They lived together until last year.”

It is now Graham’s turn to be the one whose head is spinning. “You know my son.”

“He’s a good guy, Graham. You should go see him.”

“I did.” He lets out a heavy sigh. “He wants nothing to do with me. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.”

“He was probably shocked,” she says, moving toward him. “Give him some time. But be persistent.”

Graham looks up at her and reaches for her hand. Sarah allows him to take it, all the while wondering how she got herself into this--and what comes next for all of them.


Can Sarah help Graham get to know his son?
Will Alex ever be receptive to his father?
Will Matt realize what’s on the drive he picked up?
Come on over to the Footprints Forum to discuss!

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