Episode #560

- With Danielle’s secret--that she is Elly’s biological mother--out in the open, Elly insisted that she wanted nothing more to do with her “godmother.”
- When Jason learned of the attack that left Seth in a coma, he could not help but wonder if Sabrina might have been responsible.
- The police questioned Sabrina about the attack. She lied that she never saw him that night and said that he had been talking a lot about his ex-fiancée, Miriam.



The hotel suite pulses with testosterone. A bartender is stationed in the corner of the room with two kegs of Jason Fisher’s favorite microbrew, and the men circulate throughout the room, awaiting the night’s festivities.

Jason slides away from two of the friends he has retained from college and finds his older brother. He throws his arm over Tim’s shoulders. “This is awesome,” Jason says. “Thank you.”

“Alex was a big help.”

Jason’s best friend, standing nearby, turns at the sound of his name. “Thanks, Tim. Though I’m not sure if I want credit for what’s about to go down.”

“Not to give too much away,” Tim says, “but Alex was pretty excited at the prospect of strippers.”

“It’s funny!” Alex defends himself.

Jason glances at a pair of chairs on the other side of the expansive suite, where Bill Fisher and Don Chase are seated. “I can’t even believe Dad is here for this. That’s gonna be so awkward.”

“We couldn’t not invite him,” Tim says.

“You decided no on Travis?”

“My father’s one thing. My seventeen-year-old son does not need to be going to bachelor parties. Especially after that stunt he just pulled.”

“At least he’s safe,” Jason says before finishing off his beer. He holds up the empty cup. “Anyone want another?”

Tim takes the cup from him. “I’ll get it for you.”

As Tim heads for the bar, the door to the suite opens, and Brent Taylor enters. He does not appear to be in the mood for a party; rather, his facial features are taut with seriousness. He makes a beeline for Jason and Alex.

“Thanks for coming,” Jason says, though he can tell that Brent has more weighty matters on his mind. “What’s up?”

Brent’s eyes shift from Jason to Alex. “We’ve just made an arrest for the attack on Seth Ashby.”



This thing must weigh a thousand pounds.

Danielle Taylor knows better, of course. Her guitar has not suddenly been transformed into cement or stuffed with rocks. But the way it feels in her hands tonight--it is the opposite of what she needs it to be. There was a time when her guitar was her key to freedom, to escape. With a few plucks at its strings, she could lift herself away from whatever troubled her and come out on the other side, having exorcised her darkest emotions.

Now, as she sits on the edge of her bed, it feels as if someone has dropped a boulder in her lap. This is what set this entire mess in motion, anyway. She thought that she could escape from her troubles by writing a song, but sharing that song with people is what exposed her secret to Elly. And she can never take that back.

There’s a bottle of Chardonnay in the fridge.

She pushes the thought aside and idly picks at the guitar. Nothing sounds good or right or interesting.

Molly bought it a few weeks ago. It’s been sitting there ever since. Danielle hasn’t paid it much mind, not until now.

Annoyed with herself for even thinking about that bottle, she tries to play an old song. She only makes it through a few measures before her fingers stumble and, with a heavy sigh, she gives up.

One glass wouldn’t do that much damage. Just to take the edge off.

She sets the guitar on the bed beside her. This is not going to help, not tonight. She needs a distraction. She wishes that Caleb and Christian hadn’t been so cooperative in going to sleep tonight; playing with her nephews would be the perfect way to keep herself occupied.

Just one glass.

She wants to smash the guitar into the wall. It wouldn’t solve her problems, but--

“Get a grip,” she mutters to herself.

Herself doesn’t seem too interested in listening. Her body trembles, thousands of muscle fibers vibrating separately and yet in total unison. She feels like her body is trying to jump away from itself.

Her feet carry her down the stairs. Television might help. Something brainless and silly. Or something serious and thought-provoking. Anything that might engage her, really.

But her feet do not lead her to the family room and the television. They take the long way, through the kitchen. They pause in front of the refrigerator.

Look at it. Just look at it.

Not even in control of herself, she opens the refrigerator. There it is.

Pick it up. Hold it. Remember how that feels. The anticipation...

So she does. And the anticipation comes surging back. This was always the best part, right before the first sip, when she could imagine the taste of it and fantasize about how it would take her away. It’s almost better than the drinking itself--almost. The problem is, the anticipation cannot exist without what comes next.

Why not? You have nothing left to lose.

That is true. So she sets the bottle on the counter and opens a drawer to find the bottle opener.



The news comes as a shock to Jason. He did not expect the police to crack the case of Seth’s attack so quickly, not with the utter dearth of leads they have had.

“Who did it?” Alex asks.

Jason prepares himself to hear the name that he has expected to hear since he learned of what happened to Seth: Sabrina Gage.

“Miriam Frost,” Brent says. “Seth’s ex-fiancée.”

“What?” Jason and Alex exclaim almost, but not quite, simultaneously.

Jason can see Brent’s mind working to translate the specifics that he knows into something vague enough to share. “Someone... pointed us in her direction. Apparently Seth wrote her a letter last week saying that he’d made a mistake by leaving her and that he wanted another shot. We found the letter at Miriam’s house in Portland.”

“Seth said that to her?” Alex asks, his face warped with confusion. “He hates her.”

Brent shakes his head. “Apparently not. We went into Seth’s computer at the arena, like I said we were going to--” He looks to Jason. “--and found the document. Who knows what happened between them, but Miriam has no alibi for the night Seth was attacked.”

“I guess she could’ve driven up here and then back in one night,” Alex says, his words loose, as if he is trying to sort them from a thousand other useless ones.

“She was booked tonight,” Brent says. “She’ll be out on bail in the morning. Now all we need is for Seth to wake up and confirm that it was her.”

The three men go quiet as they absorb the grim facts of these newest developments. Tim returns, holding four shot glasses, and hands them out.

“Figured you could use one of these, too,” he tells Brent.

Jason makes a face. “Is this Jager?”

“Humor me. I don’t get to act like I’m in college that often anymore.”

The four men hold the shot glasses aloft. “To my little brother,” Tim says. “May he have his fun tonight before he’s locked down for all eternity.”

“Gee, thanks,” Jason says with a laugh. The four glasses clink together, and the men throw back the liquor. Grimaces abound, and before they can dissolve, the lights in the suite flash off.

It is only black for a moment, though. The door to the suite bursts open, and a Lady Gaga song fills the room. A strobe light announces the arrival of four women, decked out in burlesque costumes, complete with masks. In-between pulses of light, Jason sees the women strutting through the room, running their fingers along the men’s arms and shoulders and faces.

“Gimme that beer,” Jason says, grabbing the refilled cup from Tim. He downs it as the masked women close in on him.

If not for the darkness and the costumes, he might recognize one of the women--and notice the intensity with which she stares at him.



It has been years since Courtney Chase came to this club. There was a time when she thought she might turn into the kind of person who went out every weekend. She would work a glamorous job during the day, have long, cocktail-filled dinners with her friends each night, and each weekend, find an exciting new man to enjoy for a little while. Somehow, that never materialized. She continued skating long into her 20s, and she kept living at her parents’ for what was admittedly far too long. Only in recent years did a job with any real promise--working as an administrator at the arena--present itself, but then so did motherhood.

The 22-year-old version of herself would have been very distressed to learn about how her 20s would pass. As today’s version looks around the raucous club, however, she is surprised to find that she is pretty content with how things have turned out.

Sarah Fisher slides onto the stool next to Courtney at the bar. “Everything okay?” her future sister-in-law asks.

Courtney turns, the fake veil atop her head swinging as she does. “Yeah. Just thinking.”

“Your bachelorette party is no time for thinking.”

“Not the depressing kind, don’t worry.” Swiveling on the stool, Courtney looks at the group of women dancing, ostensibly in her honor. There is Lauren, her best friend for years and years; some girls from skating and from college, like that idiot Whitney would always used to throw parties where they could discover new ways to screw up their lives; even Claire is there, on the perimeter of the crowd being a good sport while some overly loud Flo Rida song plays.

“You sure about that?” Sarah asks.

The nod comes quickly, before Courtney even has a chance to tell herself to do it. “That’s the weird part. I thought I’d want to spend my bachelorette party having twelve of these--” She holds up the Long Island iced tea that someone bought her, which is taking her far too long to consume. “--and dancing with strippers and all that. But I’m sort of... not in that place, you know?”

“We could’ve done something else. More like a shower, or--”

“No, no. This is fun.” Courtney watches as Whitney grabs a tall guy from nearby and shimmies down his leg. “It just makes me really glad I’m marrying Jason.”

“I think that’s secretly the point of bachelorette parties,” Sarah says. “To be such a mess that you get over all of it in one night. So if you’re already there, even better.”

“Yeah. I really do think I’m ready for this.” Courtney sips at the too-strong drink. “Okay, you’re right. Enough thinking. Let’s go dance.”

They stand in tandem, pausing for a moment to watch the rest of the group before they return to the dance floor.

“Welcome to the family, Court,” Sarah says. “Now let’s go embarrass ourselves.”



As the strippers put on their show, Jason tries not to think about what Courtney would think. She and the girls are probably doing something equally ridiculous tonight, anyway. To quiet his brain, he demands another shot. Before he knows it, one is being thrust into his hand, and then another. He downs them both.

Minutes later, the two shots and the quickly gulped beer have taken their effect on him. The formerly disorienting darkness is now comfortable in its anonymity. He keeps forgetting that there are so many other people in the suite, as his awareness seems to be limited to the five or so feet in his immediate vicinity. He even starts not to feel so uncomfortable with the way that the girls are parading around and grinding on each other, and he almost entirely manages to block out the fact that his dad and Courtney’s father are both witnessing the same spectacle.

An elaborate skirt is, unsurprisingly, torn off and flung in his direction. The dancer, now in a black leotard, pushes Jason down into a chair and steps one long leg over his middle. Straddling him, she continues to dance to the Jay-Z song that is on. Cheers, jeers, and every type of holler in-between sound from the other men as the dancer lowers herself onto Jason.

“Bet you’re gonna miss this,” she whispers huskily into his face.

“No, I... not really,” he stammers.

She continues to gyrate, pushing her body against his. “You sure about that?”

She pops off her corset top, revealing a black bra underneath. More hoots and hollers fly up. Finally she moves away, but another dancer quickly takes her place.

The room spins around Jason. He is vaguely aware that everyone is paying attention to someone else being assaulted by a stripper--Alex? Is it Alex? Oh, God. A hand grabs Jason by the shirt, lifting him out of the seat. The hand drags him somewhere--he isn’t sure where, until he slams into a wall. The hand turns him around.

“You having fun?” the woman asks.

“Uh, yeah. It’s great.”

Suddenly the darkness seems much more encompassing. He can hear the hootenanny in another part of the room, and he sees the flashes of light and occasional glimpses of the other guests, but it all seems very far away right now.

“How about one last night of debauchery,” the dancer says, “before you’re tied down forever?”

It crosses Jason’s mind that Tim and Alex might have made the world’s most colossal screw-up and hired hookers instead of strippers. The thought makes him laugh, and for a second, he forgets where he is.

“How about it?” the woman presses.

“I, uh, I’m fine,” he says.

“Really?” Her hand pushes him harder against the wall, and her other hand-- Suddenly he is very aware of where that one is.

“I won’t tell if you won’t,” she whispers.

Jason pushes back against her. “I don’t think--”

But she forces him back against the wall with all her force, and her mouth slams into his, silencing him.



Danielle’s hand shakes as she places the bottle opener on the counter and closes the drawer. The bottle of Chardonnay is radiating something, an energy, a magnetic pull. She can feel it even as she glances away from it.

One glass can do a lot of damage. She has worked hard to maintain her sobriety. It only seems easy now because of all the painful, diligent effort she has put in over the past several years. It isn’t worth losing that for a glass of wine.

And look how well this sobriety thing is working for you. Your life is a disaster.

True. She reaches for the bottle. Her fingers curl around its neck, and she pulls it closer. All she has to do is break that seal and extract the cork and it is hers.

The doorbell rings. Before she even processes what it is, she thrusts the bottle away from her, like it is made of radioactive matter. Her heart thuds against the inside of her chest, and somehow, she cannot catch her breath. She steadies herself long enough to pick up the bottle again and shove it back inside the refrigerator.

Still trembling, she moves to the front door. Molly is supposed to arrive home from her trip tonight, though she cannot imagine why Molly would be ringing the doorbell. She peeks out the side window, and just as it occurs to her not to answer, Ryan Moriani turns and spots her.


As much as she might not want to deal with this, she needs to let him in right now. Already she cannot believe what she almost did. That wasn’t even her thinking. It was as if she was possessed, controlled by some outside force.

She pulls open the door. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Ryan buries his hands in the pockets of his khaki pants. “I’m sorry for dropping by like this. I was driving around, and--I wanted to see you.”

“Come in.”

He seems surprised by the quickness with which she offers permission to enter, but he wastes no time in following her into the house.

“Elly’s okay?” he asks as she leads the way back to the kitchen.

“She’s fine.” She considers explaining her sojourn to Los Angeles in greater detail, but the basics that she offered him in a text message seem sufficient at this moment. She cannot imagine rehashing all of that tonight. “She’s back in San Francisco. With her parents.”

“She’ll come around,” Ryan says softly.

Danielle shrugs that off. She is not so sure about that, and building up false hope will not get her anywhere.

“I’m so, so sorry that this happened, Danielle. If I’d had any idea--”

“I know.” She does. She understands that he had no idea what Diane was planning, and that he did not cause it to happen. But her anger over the whole situation is still too raw to allow her to say anything more.

Ryan opens his mouth to speak but freezes before any words emerge. Danielle follows his gaze and realizes what he sees: the bottle opener on the counter.

She can see him working very hard not to mention it. “At least she’s okay,” he says instead. “Kids are...” He’s looking at it again.

Danielle grabs the bottle opener and shoves it in a drawer. “I was just... it’s nothing.”

Silently, Ryan studies her. She feels like he can see everything that she is thinking, that she was thinking minutes ago, as though her thoughts were somehow laid out like an X-ray.

“I didn’t do it,” she says.

“Where is it?”

“I didn’t have a single sip.” But his stare bears down on her, so forceful that she has no choice but to answer. “In the refrigerator.”

Ryan opens the refrigerator and locates the bottle of wine, stuffed on a middle shelf. He holds it in one hand as he takes the bottle opener back out.

Danielle watches in confusion. “What are you doing?”

“A favor.” He opens the bottle. Danielle swears that she can smell the wine, even from several feet away, rising up to tickle her nose. Ryan grips the bottle by its middle and cuts a quick path to the sink.

“That’s Molly’s,” Danielle protests weakly as he dumps it into the sink.

“I’ll buy Molly a new bottle. I’m sure she’ll understand.”

Before she knows it, the wine has been drained, and all that remains is an empty glass vessel. She can still smell the Chardonnay in the air.

He places the empty bottle on the counter. The clink of hollow glass against granite triggers something in Danielle. Suddenly, everything hurts.

“I wasn’t going to drink it,” she says. “I just--” She stops herself. She has no idea how to finish that lie.

“Don’t.” Ryan approaches her, his arms open. He draws her into them, and when she tries to speak again, he offers a soft, “Shh.” As angry as she is--at Diane, at the situation, at herself--she allows herself to melt into him, and somehow, the wine lost to the drain does not seem like such a loss anymore.



The party continues to rage, all loud music and cheering and seizure-inducing lights, but against the back wall of the suite, Jason’s entire world comes sharply into focus. He pushes the woman away from him.

“I said no.” He wipes at his lips, trying to erase all traces of her. “This is not what I signed up for.”

“Me neither,” she says in that same seductive voice. “Just a little extra... because I want to.”

The strobe light flashes again, and in that burst of light, Jason notices something familiar. He reaches out for her mask but misses.

She grabs his wrist. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“What do you think you’re doing?” With his free hand, he yanks the mask off her face.

No way.


She simply leers at him with a wild, lecherous grin that makes everything of which she has been suspected--poisoning Courtney, attacking Seth--seem entirely possible.

“What the fuck are you doing?” he demands, clutching the mask in his hands so that she can’t take it back.

“Trying to give you a memorable night. You fired me, remember? A girl’s gotta work somehow.”

The room continues to whirl around Jason, but he does his best to hold his head steady. He cannot be hallucinating this. He isn’t that drunk. Sabrina Gage is--what the hell is she?

“You did it,” he says. “You poisoned Courtney.”


He forces his way past her. “All right! Party’s over!” he yells. Murmurs of confusion echo throughout the room as he tries to find his way to a light switch.

“Turn on the lights!” he yells. People scatter and scramble. The strobe light continues to flicker, but the music finally gets turned off.

The lights come on with a sudden flash. The men are scattered throughout the room, as are the dancers... well, three of them.

“Sabrina!” Jason yells. “Where are you?”

He breaks for the door to the suite, but when he rips it open, there is no sign of her in the hallway.

“Jason!” Tim says, coming up behind his brother. “What the hell is going on?”

Jason’s breath comes hard and fast, and as his lungs try to catch up to his blasting heart, he scans the suite again. He couldn’t have imagined all that. She was really here. Sabrina was really here, and she made a move on him, and--

He searches the room for Brent. “You arrested the wrong woman.”


Is this it for Shannon/Sabrina?
Will Jason and Courtney’s wedding go as planned?
How can Danielle mend fences with Elly?
Come over to the Footprints Forum to discuss it all!

Next Episode