Episode #546

- Tim invited Cassandra to the opening of Bill’s new restaurant so that he could introduce her to his family.
- Matt discovered that he had picked up the wrong USB drive from Diane’s condo and was suspicious when he discovered the file of Danielle’s performance on it.
- Shannon/Sabrina slipped ground-up rat poison into a slice of cake during Jason and Courtney’s wedding cake tasting session. She was elated when Courtney finally ate the poisoned piece.


He has not seen the site during its development, so when Tim Fisher and his date step into his father’s new restaurant in downtown King’s Bay, he is truly impressed. The finished product is as wonderful as Bill described: gentle lighting that induces relaxation without being too moody or romantic for families; rich wood tables and chairs that suggest comfort and warmth; a wall of expansive windows that overlook the downtown streets, protecting patrons from the elements while allowing them to feel like a part of the life outside.

“What do you think?” Bill asks from his position at the host’s stand.

“It’s terrific,” Tim says, his enthusiasm genuine. He shakes his father’s hand and hugs his mother. “Mom, Dad, I’d like you to meet Cassandra.”

“So nice to meet you,” Cassandra tells the Fishers. If she is nervous about meeting his parents for the first time, it does not show. “The restaurant is beautiful.”

Bill dips his head gratefully. “Thank you. Table for two?”

“Before we sit, I actually have something for the two of you,” Tim says.

“You didn’t have to bring anything,” Paula says.

“You might really think that after you see what it is.” He turns to Cassandra, who pulls the item from her purse. Paula and Bill gasp in almost perfect unison when they see it.

“It’s finished?” Paula asks, taking Ryan’s book and turning it over in her hands.

“This is the version that’s going to stores,” Cassandra says.

“We had a few advance copies,” Tim explains. “I thought you both might want to--”

Paula cuts him off. “Thank you. I’ll have to... We’ll have to read this when we have the chance.” Her cool reaction makes Tim wonder if he has done something wrong by bringing the book back into their lives, but he also knows that they would not be able to ignore it for long. Its release is only weeks away, and they deserve to see what Ryan has written before the rest of the world does.

“Now, how about that table?” Bill asks, his demeanor shifting at once back into professional mode. He leads them through the sea of diners--most of whom are, if not family, then friends of Bill and Paula--to a table by the wall. Presenting them with their menus, he says, “I’d list our specials tonight, but everything is special tonight, since it’s all new. Have a look and I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Then, to Cassandra, he adds, “We’ll have to chat later. You’ll have to tell me how you put up with this guy.”

Cassandra laughs, and Bill departs. Tim watches as his father returns to his mother, who despite her casual response to the book is still holding it and staring at it, without having opened it.

“Think they’re going to hate me once they read what Ryan and I wrote?” Cassandra says.

Tim shakes his head. “It’s not that bad...”  And it isn’t, at least from his perspective. He has read several drafts of the book, including this final one, and while it certainly doesn’t make him want to forget about everything that has happened and embrace Ryan as his brother, it does put in perspective how far his life has come since those dark days. No one ever moves on by dwelling on the past. “I just hope they feel the same way I do.”


When Jason Fisher and Courtney Chase arrive fifteen minutes later, with baby Sophie in tow, Bill seats them two tables down from Tim and Cassandra. The brothers trade quips about their dislike for the Lakers and their inevitable run for the NBA title, and Tim introduces Cassandra. Bill brings a high-chair for Sophie, and Jason and Courtney take their seats.

“This is awesome,” Jason says, taking in the restaurant. He came by to see his dad a few times during the preparation for the opening, but the finished product is very impressive. “It’s so different from the Fisherman’s Pier, but it’s like, a perfect sibling of it. You know?”

Courtney coughs, a brittle sound that she nevertheless attempts to downplay. “Yeah. It’s great.”

Jason reviews the menu. “What do you think looks good? I keep reading everything, but I have no idea what to pick.”

After a moment of trying to focus, Courtney looks him dead in the eyes. “I don’t know. I can’t even focus.” She seems glazed-over and spaced-out, as she has for a few days now.

“You okay?”

“Just tired, I guess.” Courtney reaches a hand out to Sophie, who grabs her index finger and squeals.

He studies her with concern. Her coloring looks off, pale, and everything about her is so listless.

“Hey, you guys,” Sarah Fisher says as she approaches their table. Graham Colville stands behind her, elegant in a dark gray suit.

Jason stands to greet his sister with a hug, and when he shakes Graham’s hand, there is definitely a moment of awkwardness. The topic of Alex, however, remains unspoken as the two couples chit-chat and Sophie becomes the focus of conversation.

As the baby chatters at an attentive Graham, Sarah whispers to Jason, “Is he coming?”

“No.” Jason glances at Graham and whispers back, “He thought it might be awkward, since you were bringing--”

“Has he said anything to you?”

Jason remembers Alex’s plea not to reveal anything to Sarah, and Graham by association. “I don’t want to get in the middle of it,” he says.


“I’m serious.” He sits back down and picks up his menu. “Everything looks so good. It’s going to be impossible to decide what to get,” he says broadly, to both Sarah and Graham.

“We should get to our seats,” Graham says, and he leads Sarah away.

Her eyes seeming to sag at the corners, Courtney zeroes in on Jason. “What was that about? You and Sarah?”

He wishes that he could tell her, but until Alex says something, it is not his place. Then again, he might force Alex to call Graham, just so he doesn’t have to be caught in the middle of this anymore.

“Nothing,” he says, focusing harder than ever on his menu.


When Claire Fisher arrives at the grand opening with Travis, the rest of the family is already there. She locks eyes with Tim almost immediately; he sits against the wall at a small table with a beautiful woman, who must be the writer she has heard about through the family grapevine. Travis goes over to say hello to his dad, but Claire lingers by the host’s stand, not ready for that interaction.

“Molly’s here with just the twins,” Paula says. “Why don’t we join two tables so that you can all sit together?”

Unable to form words, Claire merely forces a smile and a nod in response. She has not seen Molly since they were all gathered at the hospital, after Brent’s car was forced off the road and Caleb was injured. Paula grabs two menus and leads the way to Molly’s table.

“Why don’t we have Claire and Travis join you three?” Paula says. Caleb and Christian stop playing with their bread long enough to appear excited by the possibility... Molly, not so much.

Paula begins to slide the next table over to join it with Molly’s. Claire steps in to help her, but when she looks over at Molly, all she sees is disapproval and dread.

“I don’t know if this is the best idea,” Claire says suddenly, removing her hands from the table they are sliding. “I’m sure Molly would appreciate having the time to eat alone with the boys.”

Finding this ridiculous, Paula glances to Molly, whose lips form a thin, tight line. “I think that might be best,” she agrees.

Confused, Paula resets the table where it originally was and leaves the menus for Claire and Travis. Claire glances back and, seeing that Travis is now talking with Jason, seats herself. This is almost more uncomfortable than being at one big table, because now she and Molly are sitting side-by-side, albeit with a gap between them--but not a large enough gap to cancel out the tension.

Claire doesn’t know if she will make it through this dinner if she doesn’t at least make an attempt, so she quietly says, “I really am sorry. For everything that’s going on.”

Molly keeps her gaze straight ahead, never turning toward Claire. “You don’t have to say that.”

“Yes, I do--”

“No, because if you were really sorry, you would stop encouraging my husband to continue this insane mission.”

The frankness of the comment, so loaded with irritation and resentment, takes Claire by surprise. She expected them to tip-toe around what is going on; she did not expect Molly to blame her so flatly.

“Brent is doing this because he feels that he needs to,” Claire says. “For your good and the boys’ as much as his own. If we don’t find--”

“I’ve heard this a thousand times,” Molly interrupts. “And it makes sense, on a purely logical level. But when you factor in all the risks? When you consider everything that could come of this besides closure? It’s insane.”

Claire does not know how else to defend what she and Brent are doing. She thought that, perhaps, she could plead his case with Molly, help her see things from Brent’s perspective so that they could begin to repair their marriage. So she offers the one thing that she knows to be true, that might make a difference: “He’s doing this because he loves you.”

Finally, Molly turns to her--but when she speaks, she is anything but understanding.

“Don’t talk to me about how my husband,” she says, “or how he feels about our kids and me. If you really cared, you would get him to stop doing this.”

The sheer accusation in Molly’s voice sets Claire off. She didn’t trick Brent into pursuing Clayton with her. He has been a willing participant all along, often driving the investigation himself. Suddenly, she cannot help herself:

“If you really cared, you would support him.”

Molly’s eyes widen, and she recoils, pulling back as if she has been smacked. Before she can conjure a response, though, Travis arrives at Claire’s table. Immediately the women turn away from one another.

“Hi, Aunt Molly,” Travis says as he takes his seat.

“Hi, Travis. It’s good to see you.”

Claire picks up her menu and focuses on her son, intent on ignoring the table beside them.


Shortly after she and Graham receive their entrées, Sarah sees her daughter walk into the restaurant, followed by Matt. Immediately she stands and waves to Tori, who makes her way over. Sarah wastes no time in embracing her daughter. She saw her two days ago, and yet it seems like months. She doesn’t know if she will ever adjust to not having Tori under the same roof as her several nights of the week.

“You look beautiful,” Sarah says, stepping back to check out Tori’s outfit--skinny jeans, a button-up shirt, and a scarf tied loosely around her neck. “So grown-up.”

Tori’s embarrassment and pride war for space on her face. “Thanks, Mom.”

“Hi, Tori,” Graham says. She waves back. Sarah can tell that her daughter is still not sure how to relate to Graham, but she reasons that having them meet in casual settings like this is the best way to ease both of them into it--if this thing with Graham is even going anywhere.

A moment later, Matt follows behind Tori. “Hey,” he says to Sarah, and then, with a little nod, “Graham.”

Graham reciprocates a quick acknowledgement of Matt, who then focuses on Sarah.

“Can I talk to you for a minute?” he asks.

“About what?”

“It’s kinda...” He pats Tori on the shoulder. “Why don’t you go hold down that table your grandpa picked out for us?”

“Yeah, ‘cause someone’s totally gonna steal it,” Tori says, but she nevertheless does as he asks.

Sarah doesn’t like the sound of all this. If Matt came here to confront her about moving on with Graham, or something regarding the almost-finalized divorce, it is beyond inappropriate. “Matt, now is really not--”

“What’s the deal with Diane and Danielle Taylor?” he says.

The question catches Sarah entirely off-guard. “What? What do you mean?”

“Just answer the question. Is Diane up to something?”

Sarah has no idea why he would care about this, let alone be so insistent upon finding answers. The Matt she knows prefers to stay out of drama, especially when it doesn’t directly relate to the people he loves.

“I have no idea,” she admits. “They don’t really get along, I’ll tell you that much.”

Matt muses on that silently. “If Diane says anything...”

“Matt, what the hell is this about?”

He waves off the question. “Don’t worry about it. Thanks.”

Without even a goodbye, he moves to join Tori at their table. Sarah returns to her seat, racking her brain over why Matt would even begin to care about the animosity between Diane and Danielle.


After dinner concludes, some of the guests depart, offering Bill their congratulations and accolades as they pass out the door. With the crowd thinned considerably, the family remains behind for wine and some (more) dessert, set out on a buffet table toward the back of the dining room.

For the first time in years and years, Claire is acutely aware of how out-of-place she is. It was kind of Bill to invite her, and the Fishers have truly been the family that she never had, but... tonight, she certainly does not feel like a member of the family. She and Tim are not speaking, Molly is angry at her (to say the least)... She stands to the side, making polite chit-chat with Courtney and Jason about the baby and counting the minutes until it would no longer be impolite to leave.

Her comfortable little cocoon is disrupted when Tim approaches with his new girlfriend. Jason and Courtney, apparently sensing that this is serious, shuffle away.

“Hi,” he says, calmly and cordially--a far cry from the last conversations they have had.

“Hi,” Claire answers, and she turns to the woman. “Claire. Travis’s mother.”

“Cassandra. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” The women shake hands, and Cassandra casts a momentarily uncertain look over at Tim. “I actually know quite a bit about you,” Cassandra says, her tone apologetic, “or at least about your life. I’ve been working on the book with, um, Ryan.”

“Oh. Wow. So you two met through work?”

Tim nods. “Cassandra’s been a great resource to have for Ryan’s book. She’s kept it from getting too exploitative.”

“Good. Thank you. Is it almost--”

“I’m going to send you a copy by messenger tomorrow,” he says. “You deserve to see it before it comes out.”

“Thanks. I appreciate it.” Part of her still wants to scream at him for having slept with her when he had no intention of resuming their relationship, but she knows that would not be especially productive. This is better for all of them, particularly Travis.

Bill motions to Cassandra to join him and Paula. “I’ll be back in a second,” she tells Tim. And to Claire, she says, “It’s nice to meet you, finally.” She goes to join Tim’s parents, leaving the former spouses alone.

“She seems very nice,” Claire says. “And she’s beautiful. Wow.”

“She is. On both counts.” He slips his hands into the pockets of his slacks. “Claire, I wanted to apologize... for what happened. I never should have let things go so far--”

She lifts a hand to stop him. “It’s fine. I’m... I appreciate it.”

His silence is full of gratitude. As put off as she still is over their one night together, it feels good not to be harboring animosity toward him. She has loved him for too long, and even if that now means loving him as a friend and as the father of her son, so be it. She will get used to it. Someday.

“Tell me about this book,” she says, more than ready for a neutral topic.


After leaving Claire, Jason and Courtney move with Sophie over to Molly.

“She is getting so big!” Molly exclaims, reaching out a hand to Sophie, who is quite happy to grab it from her.

“And heavy,” Courtney says. “I’m just scared that if I put her down, she’s either going to hurt herself or pull a table over. Or both.”

“I don’t know where she would get instincts like that,” Molly says as she throws a playful look at her younger brother.

Jason scowls at her and extends his hands to Courtney. “Here, let me take her. You must be exhausted.”

“Yeah...” Courtney runs a hand over her hair. The dark circles beneath her eyes seem more prominent than they were a few hours ago.

“Is she not sleeping through the night?” Molly asks.

Courtney coughs, a violent act that shakes her whole body. “She’s been great, actually. The past three or four weeks, she’s been sleeping pretty solidly. I’ve just been...”

“I think you’re coming down with something,” Jason says as he bounces Sophie up and down in his arms. “You should get that cough checked out tomorrow. I can come home early to stay with Sophie, or drive you...”

Molly nods with great understanding. “There’s nothing like being the mother of a baby to knock down your immune system.”

Courtney begins to reply, but instead, the cough returns, even more forceful than it was a minute ago. She moves to cover her mouth, but it is too late: a drop of red flies out and lands on Jason’s sweater.

He looks down in horror. “Is that--”

Another cough interrupts him. This time, the blood splatters on Courtney’s hand.

“Here,” Jason says, handing Sophie off to Molly, as the others in the room take notice of Courtney’s increasingly brutal cough. More blood spews out. Jason grabs a clump of napkins and hands them to her before pulling out his cell phone.

He glances at it long enough to dial 911, but out of the corner of his vision, he sees something collapse. He looks up just in time to see Courtney hit the floor.

“Courtney!” he yells as the operator answers his call. He tries to gather his thoughts enough to explain what is going on, as the rest of the family clusters around and Claire kneels beside Courtney, whose eyes are clamped shut even as blood trickles from her mouth.


Is Shannon’s plan for Courtney going to succeed?
Was Molly right to lash out at Claire?
Will Sarah get involved in Matt and Diane’s situation?
Come over to the Footprints Forum to talk about it!

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