Episode #558

- Molly decided to accompany Philip on a trip to his family home in New Hampshire. He surprised her by stopping at a quaint diner where he often went as a child.
- Claire sent Travis one more text message, revealing that the parents were in Los Angeles. Out of money and without a plan, Travis finally called her and revealed where he and Elly were.
- Travis and Elly came upon the girl who stole Elly’s purse from them.


In the parking lot of a run-down convenience store, Travis Fisher whispers to Elly Vanderbilt, in an attempt to direct her attention to something without drawing any to them.

“It’s her,” he says. Immediately he can tell that Elly recognizes the same face he did a moment ago: the girl who robbed them last night. Just like they are, she is wearing the same clothes as yesterday. She is even carrying the purse that she stole from Elly, probably with their money still inside it.

“We shouldn’t start anything,” Elly says. He can see her eyeing the girl up and down, calculating the pros and cons of confronting her. Travis is doing the same thing. She looks... tough. He hates to admit it about a girl, but there is definitely the potential that she might beat the hell out of him.

Maybe it is the knowledge that his parents are on their way, or that this girl had the balls to swipe Elly’s purse so blatantly, but something gets into him that propels him toward her.

“Hey,” he says loudly, enough so to grab the girl’s attention. “Remember us?”

“Who the hell are you?”

“That’s really cute.” He positions himself right in front of her, blocking her path to the store’s entrance. “How about you give my girlfriend her purse back?”

The girl’s eyebrows raise halfway up her forehead in the most disapproving Seriously? look Travis has ever encountered. For a split-second, it even makes him question if he is somehow in the wrong here.

“C’mon, quit playing dumb,” he says. “Just give her the purse back and walk away.” Elly steps up beside Travis.

“You fools need to get outta my way.” The girl pushes between them.

Elly grabs onto the purse. “Give it back.”

“Hell, no!” And suddenly Travis is watching a tug-of-war between the two girls. He reaches in to break it up when he hears a siren whir behind him.

All three of them freeze as a police car pulls into the parking lot. A uniform-clad officer emerges, leaving the sirens ablaze.

“What’s going on here?” the officer asks as he approaches them.

The girl steps forward. “They’re trying to take my bag!”


The rental car guides along one of the freeways in Connecticut or New Hampshire or wherever Philip Ragan and Molly Taylor’s travels have taken them. Philip pilots the vehicle with ease, clearly having driven this route many times before, and Molly observes the scenery through the window and tries not to doze off after the heavy meal they just shared.

“Thank you for bringing me to that diner. That pot pie was the best,” she says. “The best I ever had.”

“I had a feeling you’d enjoy going there,” Philip says as he changes lanes.

“I did. It’s just... not what I expected from you.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Oh, come on. Philip Ragan the photographer--the artist--he doesn’t go to diners like that. He goes to restaurants with wine lists the length of my pants.”

He glances over at her with a smirk. “So you think you have me all figured out. Is that it?”

All Molly can do is shake her head. The one thing she knows for certain about Philip is that he is infinitely confounding.

“This ‘castle,’” she says, recalling the way that Dot the waitress referred to Philip’s family home, “it’s where you grew up?”

“From the time I was two years old, yes. My parents didn’t want to stay in New York.” He falls quiet and maintains a steady focus on the road ahead. “After my father passed away, my mother entertained thoughts of selling it, but I don’t think she could bear to part with the memories.”

“When was that?”

“My freshman year of college. He was away from home and died suddenly.”

Molly turns in her seat. “I’m sorry, Philip.”

He tries to wave it off, though she can see the pain manifesting in creases on his face. “Thank you. At least I was old enough to remember him, and to know who I was already, more or less. My brother was only a baby then. And my mother...”

“I imagine it was really hard for her.”

“Impossibly. But she’s a strong woman. She’s managed to build her own life but keep him very much alive in it. And in ours.” Suddenly, he looks to her, his expression about eighty percent back to the Philip she knows. “Enough about that. Did you have a chance to speak with your boys when you stepped outside the diner?”

“Yeah. They’re having fun with their dad.” The statement reverberates within her, conscious as she is of Philip’s tale about his own father. “No matter what happens between Brent and me, I don’t want to take that away from them. It wouldn’t be fair.”

“And that is why this is all going to work out, regardless of where you and Brent land,” Philip says. “Your focus is in the right place.”

“I hope so,” she says, though his words do little to assuage the guilt that she feels every day that she and Brent do not spend under the same roof with their kids.


The police officer, a Hispanic man who is barely 30, sizes up all three of the teenagers. After a long, pregnant pause, he finally makes a declaration: “I’m gonna need to see everyone’s IDs.”

Travis and Elly both reach into the purse.

“Hey!” the thief says.

“Our wallets are in there,” Travis explains to the officer, who responses by snatching the purse and fishing for the wallets himself. He finds two, and Travis has to fight off the biggest sigh of relief upon seeing that they are his and Elly’s wallets.

The officer gets out their IDs and then says to the other girl, “Where’s yours?”

“I don’t have one.” Her eyes search the pavement of the parking lot.

“How old are you?”


“What’s your name?”

She darts her wary gaze over to Travis and Elly, as if they might steal her name if she dares to say it in front of them. “Tempest.”

The officer’s agitation is obvious. “Tempest what?”


“All right, Tempest Banks,” the officer says, “and--” He pauses to read the two IDs. “--Travis and Ellen, I’ll be back in a minute. No one move.” He returns to his car, where he does something official-looking.

The three teenagers stand in painful silence. Whatever that cop is doing, it’s taking a long time. Travis’s heart pounds as they wait. He scans the streets and, finally, sees a taxi pulling up.

“That’s my parents,” he says to Elly. The cab stops, and sure enough, Tim, Claire, Danielle, and two people whom Travis doesn’t recognize all pile out.

“They’re all here?” Elly says. He realizes that the other man and woman must be her parents.

The adults rush over to them, exclamations of relief climbing and crawling all over one another: “You’re okay!” “Thank God!” “We were worried we wouldn’t find you!” Hugs fly fast and furious, but when Danielle and Elly wind up face-to-face, there are no gestures, no words--just blank acknowledgement.

“Whoa, who are you people?” the cop demands.

“We’re his mother and father,” Claire and Tim say.

“We’re her mother and father,” Melanie and Tom say.

The officer looks to Danielle. “And who are you?”

The question hangs in the air. “I’m her mother, too,” Danielle finally says.

The cop shakes it off and turns back to Travis and Elly. “You’re both wanted as Missing Persons.”

“We filed those,” Tim explains. “So now they aren’t missing anymore. I can sign off on it, or whatever you need.”

The officer agrees and begins to lead Tim toward the squad car. He turns back to Tempest. “What about your parents?”

The girl, who has already faded into the background, shrugs.


As the group breaks up, Melanie Vanderbilt gives her daughter another hug. Elly allows her mother to embrace her, knowing what is coming next. When they break apart, Melanie takes a step back and looks Elly square in the face.

“I’m sorry about what happened,” Melanie surprises her by saying.

Elly doesn’t know how to react. She did her lashing-out at her parents back when she first found out she was adopted; mostly she is surprised that Melanie still looks and feels like the mom who raised her. This newly acquired information about her birth has not erased sixteen years of history.

“We’re just glad you’re okay,” Danielle says.

Elly stares her down. What is she supposed to say to this woman?

“Nothing is going to change,” Melanie says softly. “Your dad and I--we’re still your parents. And Danielle loves you very much.”

“Enough to lie to my face for years.”

“Elly.” Her mother’s--Melanie’s--exhaustion is suddenly obvious. Elly wonders if she and Danielle have been fighting over this already.

“Let her,” Danielle says. “I deserve it.” Melanie seals her lips.

“At least my mom and dad were lying to me to keep our family together,” Elly says. The words have been circling in her head ever since the moment she realized that Danielle is her mother; even when she isn’t actively thinking about the situation, there the words are, waiting for their chance to be unleashed. “You said your were my friend, but you lied to me about something that should’ve made us closer.”

Danielle squeezes her hands into little balls, until her knuckles turn white. “Someday you’ll understand all this. I hope.”

“I do understand--I was an idiot for trusting you. You’re not my mom. You’re not my godmother or even my friend.”

Elly turns away from Danielle and finds Travis standing there, waiting for her. Grateful for the escape, she folds herself into his arms and wonders why, even though she was finally able to spit those words at Danielle, she doesn’t feel any better.


It takes the parents and the police officer some time to sort out the issue of the Missing Persons Report. Tempest sits on the curb in front of the convenience store, having been warned repeatedly by the cop not to wander off. Claire waits with Travis and Elly.

“I will never understand how you thought this was a good idea,” she says to her son.

“Yeah, well, we learned our lesson, okay?” His voice is back to that same flat, detached tone that she recalls all too well from when their family problems were at their worst. She  reminds herself to tread carefully.

“We’re just glad you’re okay. Both of you.”

The officer approaches them. “Now what about this purse?”

“I just want my things back,” Elly says. “We were at this diner last night, and she--”

“I wasn’t doing nothing. I was hanging in the corner with my five best friends,” Tempest fires back without looking at any of them.

“She stole it from us,” Travis insists.

The officer turns his attention to Tempest. She stares at the ground and doesn’t even seem to notice that she is being watched, but suddenly she blurts out, “Yeah, it’s hers, okay? Do I really look like I’m buying that J. Crew crap?”

Something about the outburst catches Claire off-guard, and she barely holds back a snicker.

“So it is your purse,” the officer says, returning the bag to Elly. “Would you like to do anything about the theft?”

Elly and Travis exchange wide-eyed looks. “No, no. It’s not--it’s not a big deal.”

Claire is glad for their quick judgment. That little girl might talk tough, but sitting on that curb right now, she looks like a child. A child who has been wearing the same clothes for days or weeks on end.

The matter resolved, the officer returns to his car. Tempest stands to bolt out of there, but something comes over Claire.

“Hey. Wait a minute,” she says.

The girl turns back warily. Claire maintains a few feet worth of distance between them; she suspects that moving any closer will just cause the kid to run.

“Do you need a meal or anything?” Claire asks.

Tempest eyes her as if this is going to turn out to be a prank. “I’ve got plenty of meals.”

Claire decides not to challenge her. Instead, she roots around in her own purse and produces two 20-dollar bills. She holds them out to Tempest, who doesn’t move.

“Buy food with these. Or whatever you need.”

“For real?”

God, this girl is probably younger than Travis. Claire wishes there were something more she could do.

“Yes,” she says, still holding out the money.

Tempest reaches forward and snatches it. She studies the twenties like a counterfeit inspection officer. “Thanks, lady.”

“Claire. Are you from Los Angeles?”


The girl appears ready to break out of there, and Claire doesn’t know what else she can or should do. She pulls out a scrap of paper from her purse and scrawls something down. “Here,” she says, holding it out to Tempest. “If you’re ever in Washington state... or you ever need anything...” She doesn’t even know what this will accomplish, but it can’t hurt. At least it might make this child feel as if someone cares a little bit about her.

Tempest takes the paper with the phone number. “I don’t think that’s gonna happen.” She tucks the slip of paper and the money away. “Thanks again, lady.”

“Take care of yourself,” Claire says, and the girl runs off. Claire watches her go and feels her stomach twisting. No matter how much of a pain Travis can be, or how much he might lash out at her, at least she knows where he is, and that he is safe and has the things he needs.


By mid-afternoon, Philip and Molly exit the freeway. He drives them through an idyllic landscape that looks as if it were plucked from a painting. Finally Philip turns down a narrow road that Molly soon realizes is actually a very long driveway. The brick façade of the house rises into view up ahead.

“I don’t know if ‘castle’ was that big an exaggeration,” she says as she eyes the impressive house.

Philip parks the car in front of the house, where a black Mercedes sedan also sits. Molly steps out of the car, marveling at the beautiful estate. She suspects that she will find tennis courts out back.

They retrieve their things from the trunk as the front door of the house opens. A glamorous red-headed woman stands at the entry, beaming, as Philip approaches her.

“Mother,” he says, picking up his stride. They meet on the steps and embrace.

“It’s so wonderful to have you here,” his mother says. She turns to Molly with a bright smile. “And who is this?”

“This is my coworker, Molly Taylor.”

Molly hurries to join them on the steps and extends her hand for a shake.

“Molly,” Philip says, “I’d like you to meet my mother... Loretta.”


Is there more to Philip than meets the eye?
Can Elly and Danielle mend their relationship?
What will happen back in King’s Bay?
Come discuss this episode in the Footprints Forum!

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