Episode #544

- Diane had the video of Danielle’s performance captioned with the song’s lyrics. She saved the video on a portable USB drive... which Matt accidentally picked up.
- In Cassandra’s hotel room, Tim noticed a picture of a woman he presumed to be her mother. When he picked up the photo, its backing fell off, revealing newspaper clippings about Cassandra’s mother having been killed in a break-in. Cassandra snapped at him when she saw him looking over the clippings.
- Brent and Molly remained at an impasse regarding his ongoing investigation.
- Shattered after Jason found out that she had sex with Seth, Shannon/Sabrina determined to put her plan into action and purchased rat poison.


The coffee machine beeps, announcing the completion of a fresh pot. Tim Fisher grabs his mug from the counter of the office kitchen and fills it with the steaming liquid. As he finishes, Cassandra Ward enters the kitchen.

“Good morning,” he says. The sight of her brings a smile to his face.


Her tone is flat, and Tim wonders if he detects some chilliness in it. He thought their dinner the other night went well, after that awkward moment when she caught him looking at the articles about her mother’s death.

Cassandra pours herself a cup of hot water. As she selects a teabag, Tim decides to test the waters. Maybe it is all in his head.

“Ryan’s book goes to the printer this week, doesn’t it?” he asks.

“If all goes according to schedule, yeah.” She doesn’t look up at him as she immerses the teabag in the hot water. This time, he is sure he is not imagining her coolness.

“About the other night,” he says, “I really am sorry for looking at those clippings. I didn’t mean to snoop. I just picked up the photo to look at it, and the back came off--”

“It’s fine,” she says in a tone that suggests it is anything but.

He sets his mug down on the counter with a heavy clink. “I’m just going to put my cards out there. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you. If me seeing those articles is a dealbreaker, then let me know and this can stay professional. But I’m sorry, I really am.”

Cassandra’s eyes hold on the counter for a long moment before rising to meet his. For the first time since she entered the kitchen, her face softens, revealing the appealing woman he knows her to be.

“I’m sorry, too,” she says. “I’m not angry at you.”

“You sure about that?”

She nods, cracking a tiny smile. “I swear. My mother’s death is just--it’s a sensitive subject.”


“No, it’s complicated. Abnormally so.” She allows that to hang in the air but offers nothing more.

Tim recalls some of the details from the news clippings: her mother was shot and killed during a break-in at her home. It can’t be easy for Cassandra to process something so sudden and senseless, even more than a year later.

“I’m really sorry for your loss,” Tim says. “And I don’t want to pry. It’s your personal business, and I respect that. But if you ever want to talk about it--”

“It’s complicated,” she says again, cutting him off. “What happened to my mother was horrible. Tragic. But it didn’t stop there.”

“What do you mean?”

She draws a deep breath. “It also involved my husband.”


Shannon Parish evaluates her reflection--or, rather, Sabrina Gage’s--in her computer monitor. She is not sure if the change works, but she knows that it was necessary.

“Whoa,” Seth Ashby says as he enters the office. “You do that last night?”

She offers him only the most cursory of glances. “Yep.”

Returning her attention to her reflection, Shannon decides that the dark hair looks okay. She just needs to get used to it. It is a pretty extreme change, but something extreme was in order. After Jason found out about her lapse in judgment with Seth, she felt like she wanted to destroy something. How could she have put all her hard work in jeopardy for something so simple? So fleeting? Her insides felt like they were being squeezed so hard that they would twist into knots and knock her dead.

Part of her wanted to destroy “Sabrina” forever--do what she did to her original face and wipe it away, start over, start fresh. But she doesn’t have time for that now.

“Just needed a change?” Seth asks.

“I guess,” she says with a shrug.

He takes a few steps closer to her desk. “Looks good. I like it on you.”

Why does he have to keep talking to her like this? If Jason were to walk in and see them, he might think-- “Can you just leave me alone?” she snaps.

Seth draws back. “All I said was--”

“I know. Just... give me some space, okay?”

His face tightened with confusion, he returns to his desk. She doesn’t have the energy to deal with him right now. She has to remain focused on what’s really important.

The phone rings, and a glance at the display reveals that it is on Jason’s line. Shannon composes herself before answering, “Edge of Winter Arena. Sabrina speaking.”

“Hi,” comes the voice from the other end. “This is Maribel from Happily Ever After Wedding Cakes. I’m calling for Jason Fisher...”

“He isn’t in yet. Is there anything I can help you with?”

“I’m calling to confirm an appointment for a cake-tasting tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m.”

Shannon reaches for a slip of paper, ready to jot down a message, before something occurs to her. “And where is that supposed to be?”

“At our shop,” the woman says.

“Would it be possible to bring the samples to our office instead? Mr. Fisher has a meeting with a vendor at 2:30 that we can’t reschedule. His fiancée could come here, and you could use the conference room.”

“Of course. Why don’t you give me the address, and I’ll set that up?”

Shannon rattles off the address and thanks the woman. She hopes Jason would be proud of her professionalism and her efficiency.

When the call ends, Seth is moving toward the door. “I’m gonna go grab a coffee,” he says warily.

Shannon nods. She waits for him to be gone and then looks up the number for Carson Electric. She dials.

“Hi, this is Sabrina calling from Edge of Winter Arena. You have a meeting set with my boss for 1 pm tomorrow. I was wondering if it would be possible to move that to 2:30?”


“Dad, have you seen my brown jacket?”

Matt Gray pokes his head out of his bedroom to find his daughter standing in the hallway, in a pink t-shirt and jeans, as frantic as if the safety of the entire free world hinged on that very brown jacket.

“You left it in my truck,” he says.

“Crap! Can I have your keys? Fee’s mom is gonna be here any minute to pick me up.”

“Keys are on the counter. And don’t say ‘crap.’”

She makes a face at him and then darts out to the kitchen. Matt is about to return to getting ready for work when something strikes him.

“Hey!” he calls out. “Did you print your paper?”

No response.


Her head peers around the corner. “I didn’t wanna say ‘crap’ again!”

In spite of himself, Matt laughs. “Go grab your jacket. I’ll print the paper out.”

“Thank you, Daddy!” She takes off and, a moment later, rushes out the front door.

Matt finds the USB drive also sitting on the kitchen counter and takes it to the computer in the living area. Impatiently, he waits for the computer to detect it. As soon as the folder pops up, he clicks on it--and finds the paper nowhere in sight.

“What the hell?” he mutters as he opens the only file on the drive... a video file.

Applause and cheers leap out of the computer’s speakers as soon as the image appears. A blonde woman stands on a small stage, holding a guitar. “I’d like to sing a song tonight that I wrote,” she says.

The woman looks familiar, and as she finishes introducing her song and begins to play the guitar, he places her. Danielle. Brent’s sister.

And when she starts singing, something else appears onscreen: closed caption-style words that he soon realizes are the lyrics of the song. She can’t let go of letting go, one line reads.

The front door flies open, and Tori runs back in with her jacket in hand. “What’s that?” she asks when she sees the screen.

“You tell me. This is the only thing on the drive.”

Tori looks at the drive sticking out of the computer’s USB port. “That’s not mine.”


“Yeah, really,” she says with wide eyes. “You must’ve taken the wrong one from Samantha’s house.”

Matt glances back at the screen as Danielle sings, all the lyrics neatly transcribed at the bottom of the screen.

“Call your cousin,” he says. “See if your paper’s still on her computer. She can e-mail it to you, and we’ll print it here.”

Tori pulls out her cell phone and starts to dial. Something else occurs to Matt.

“Did Samantha go see your Uncle Brent’s sister sing or something?” he asks.


“Nothing. Just don’t tell her we have this.”

“Why not?”

“Just... don’t. Not yet. I’ll get it back to Diane later.”

“Whatever,” Tori says as she places the call.

Matt stops the file, but the image of Danielle Taylor remains frozen onscreen. Something about this is weird. He has no idea what, exactly, or why, but if Diane Bishop is involved, he has a feeling the explanation should be colorful.


“Thanks for coming,” Claire Fisher says as she lets Brent Taylor into the apartment. “Can I get you anything? Coffee?”

“No, thanks, I’m fine,” Brent says. He carries a thick stack of documents, which he sets on the small dining table.

Claire takes a seat at the table and eyes the paperwork. “That looks... intimidating.”

Brent concedes as much with a heavy exhale. “I don’t know how else to tackle this but to dive into these listings. Every woman in New York and New Jersey named Loretta. If we can start to narrow this down...”

He joins Claire at the table. She takes in the massive amount of documents before them and wonders how they are ever going to find the answers they seek. Part of her is surprised that they are even pursuing this; she expected Brent to shelve the investigation after his falling-out with Molly. She certainly would not have blamed him.

Travis Fisher emerges from his bedroom, his backpack slung over one shoulder. When he sees Brent sitting at the table with his mother, he stops in surprise.

“Hi, Travis,” Brent says.

“Oh, hey, Uncle Brent.” Travis takes in the mound of papers on the table. “What are you guys doing?”

Claire is surprised by her body’s reaction to the simple question: her adrenaline races, her defensive instincts go into overdrive. Why does she feel as if she has been caught doing something wrong?

“We’re just going over some things,” she says quickly. “Can I make you something for breakfast?”

“Nah, I’m gonna go pick Landon up. We have to go work on that history project with our group before first period.”

“You should eat something.” She gets up from the table and goes to the cupboard. “Cereal? Here, take this.” She hands him a breakfast bar.

“Thanks,” he says, glancing again at all the papers on the table.

“Have a good day at school, honey.” She waits until Travis is gone to speak again, and she senses that Brent is doing the same.

“Are you still staying at Josh’s?” she asks in an effort to broach the delicate subject.

“Yep. Molly is... Let’s just say I don’t think she’s going to change her mind on this anytime soon.” There is something heavily distracted about the way he speaks, the way his gaze drifts to the corner of the room, as if he is so consumed by the topic that he does not even know where he is. “That’s why we need answers. The faster we solve this, the faster we put it behind us.”

“Do you really think Molly will see it that way?”

Yes.” His answer is rock-solid, without any room for doubt. “Once we can be sure that we’re all safe, she’ll understand. She’s just nervous. She’s worried. I get that.”

Claire wonders how he can be so sure. Maybe he has to be, in order for the risks to be worthwhile. She has nothing to lose--she wants to be safe, and she wants her son to be safe--but mostly she wants answers. She wants the certainty that this will be over, once and for all. But she is not risking anything but her own safety to achieve it. Brent, on the other hand, has a marriage, a family.

“Molly and the boys deserve to know that they are safe,” he says. “Same as all the Fishers. That’s why we’re doing this.”

He flips open the first of several file folders, ready to get to work.


“Husband?” Tim asks. He swears that she said she was divorced--

“Ex, now,” Cassandra says. “Because of what happened to my mother.”

In an effort to keep his promise about not prying, Tim waits for further explanation. If she wants him to know, she will explain.

“JD was questioned about the break-in,” she finally says. “The police thought... well, it doesn’t matter. It was resolved. But the entire thing was too much, and we... stopped working, I suppose.”

“Believe me, I understand that part,” Tim says.

The spark returns to Cassandra’s face. “I know. I’m co-writing a book about it.”

“It disturbs me how much you know about my life without me having to tell you, you know that?”

“Look on the bright side. All your dirty laundry’s out there. Nothing left to shock me with now.”

“Does that mean there are going to be more dinners?” he asks.

She takes a careful sip of her hot tea. “Absolutely.”

Relief floods Tim’s system. “Speaking of which... how would you feel about getting to know some of these characters you and Ryan have been writing about?”

“Your family?”

“My dad is opening a new restaurant. I’d love for you to come to the grand opening with me.”

“I’d love to come. Does this mean I’ll also meet the famous Claire?”

“Probably.” Tim tries not to get too anxious about how that will go; he hardly speaks to Claire these days, especially now that Travis can drive himself between their homes. “How about me meeting this--what’s his name--JD?”

“Yeah. Not happening.” Cassandra touches a hand to his forearm. Tim finds the gesture highly reassuring. “I really would love to go, though. Thank you for inviting me.” She glances at the door and, sure that no one is coming, plants a quick kiss on his lips.

“Remember,” Tim says. “If you ever want to talk about your mother, let me know. I’m more than happy to listen.”

Cassandra nods, but even as she does, Tim notices that distant look in her eyes, a look that tells him that she has no intention of returning to the topic any time soon.


When Jason arrives at the office twenty minutes later, Sabrina and Seth are at their respective desks, working away, not interacting at all. They might as well be coworkers who have never seen each other outside the office. She hopes Jason will notice and realize that what happened between them is in the past.

“Good morning,” he says as he comes in, and then he stops in his tracks. “Wow. That’s a big change.” He studies Sabrina’s newly brown hair.

“I just felt like mixing it up. What do you think?”

“It’s nice. Different, but really nice.”

She breathes a sigh of relief. He doesn’t hate it. “Thank you.”

Jason settles in at his desk. “Anything going on?”

“A lady from the cake shop called,” Shannon tells him, “to confirm your tasting for tomorrow at 3. But Carson Electric wanted to reschedule for 2:30 tomorrow--”

“I can’t do that. We need to do the cake-tasting. We’re already down to the wire on that.”

“That’s why I arranged for the cake people to bring the samples here. You can meet with Carson at 2:30, and Courtney can meet you here at 3 for the tasting.”

His face brightens. “That’s perfect. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” she says, genuinely thrilled by his response. Maybe this all will work out.

All it will take is a little help at 3 p.m. tomorrow from that bag of rat poison hidden under a blanket in her trunk...


What is Shannon planning? Will it work?
What should Matt do about the video?
Is Cassandra hiding something from Tim?
Come discuss this episode in the Footprints Forum!

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