Episode #562

- Sabrina posed as a masked stripper to infiltrate Jason’s bachelor party. When she got him alone and made a move on him, he tore off the mask and realized who she was. However, Sabrina escaped before she could be caught.
- Alex visited Seth in the hospital and wished that he would wake up and provide answers about Sabrina. When Alex left, Seth’s eyes fluttered and his finger twitched...


Pre-dawn light peeks through the hospital’s blinds, bathing the antiseptic walls and floors in a warmth that they only enjoy at this magical time of day. Energized by her morning tea, Claire Fisher makes her morning round of patients’ rooms, checking in with those who are awake and guiltily rousing those still asleep.

When she reaches Seth Ashby’s room, however, she is able to put her guilt away; she would not feel the least bit at fault if she were to wake Seth during her visit. His parents will probably be back soon to sit with him, and no doubt they would be thrilled to find that he had come out of his coma.

She goes about checking his vitals, comparing what she sees on the monitors to what was last written on his chart. “You’re going to come out of this, Seth,” she says as she jots down the numbers. “You’re going to be fine.”


The groan startles her into a whole new state of alertness. With adrenaline still dancing in her veins, she studies Seth carefully. His eyes remain closed, his arms and hands limp as they have been since he was admitted, but the corner of his mouth twitches.

“Seth,” she says, her voice soft as she leans closer. “Can you hear me?”

“Mmmm.” This second groan is accompanied by a rolling of his head.

“Your parents are coming soon. They’ll be so happy to see you. Won’t you be glad to see them?”

Claire’s fingers stiffen around the clipboard as she waits for some response, some sign that he has heard her and is trudging back toward consciousness. It feels as if an hour passes while she watches him and waits.


“Seth? Can you hear me?”

“Mmmbreeeeeee...” His head rolls once more, back toward her. This time, his hand lifts off the bed, too. It falls back down to the mattress with a lazy smack, but nevertheless, it is movement. Response. Life.


“Mmmmmmbreeeeeeeeeee!” The sound is plaintive, no longer a groan but a cry, a word trapped by a tongue and lips that are not yet able to translate the thought properly. She tries to figure out what he is trying to say, in hopes of starting some kind of conversation with him. If she can engage his mind, maybe his body will fight harder to catch up.

“Are you trying to tell me something, Seth?”

“Mmmmmmbreeeeeeeee!” he cries out, and for an instant, his eyes snap open. They clamp shut almost as quickly, but the signal spurs Claire into overdrive. The gears of her mind spin like a turbine in hyperactive motion. And just as she figures out what he is trying to say, he does it. He manages to articulate it so that she can make out the word:



By mid-morning, Lauren Brooks has handled all the e-mails that were crowding her inbox when she arrived for the day. She takes her cell phone into the conference room for a few moments of privacy and tries to force herself to make a call that has been hanging over her head for days.

Just call him, she tells herself. It’s no big deal. While her logical side knows that is the truth, it keeps being shouted down by some other part of her: the part that fears Philip will laugh at her request or, even worse, agree out of pity for her. They have not seen each other in some time, what with his trip to the east coast and her obligations toward Courtney and the wedding.

She forces herself to count down from ten. When she reaches one, time seems to stop. “Just dial,” she mutters to herself, grateful for the empty conference room, but her fingers do not obey. She pulls up the listing in her phone and stares at it. One push of a button will be all that it takes--

Her index finger does it for her. Simultaneously thankful and horrified, she puts the phone to her ear and listens for the ring on the other end. It barely rings once before he answers.

“What a pleasant surprise,” Philip Ragan’s voice greets her.

She relaxes ever so slightly. “Hi. How are you? How was your trip?”

“A success, I’d say. It was nice to see my mother and spend some time at home, too. It’s always very grounding.”

“I bet. I’m glad to hear it.” This scant small talk is already fogging up her brain, so she just spits it out: “So I have a question to ask you.”

Quiet dangles over the line, until Philip finally prompts her. “Yes?”

“I know this is really short notice,” she says, “but Courtney’s wedding is tomorrow, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bring anyone, but I do, and...”

More quiet. “And?”

Wishing that he would read between the lines--or, more accurately, acknowledge that he knows exactly what she is getting at--Lauren forces out the question. “Would you like to be my date?”

Philip’s laugh crackles over the line. Lauren’s heart stops.

“Of course I would,” he says. “It’ll be nice to see you.”

“Oh, good. Great.”

“Did you really think I was going to say no?”

She hems and haws, and they fall into an easier conversation. They chatter for a few minutes before Lauren spots Alex Marshall through the conference room windows. He is circling the space around her cubicle.

“I should get going,” she tells Philip. “Thank you.”

“Thank you for asking me.”

They end the call, and she hurries out to join Alex. “What’s going on?” she asks, all too aware of the tension that has seeped into every fiber of his being.

“He woke up,” Alex says. “Seth woke up. And he said who attacked him.”

Lauren can tell from Alex’s expression exactly whose name it was.


“Open the door! Police!”

Brent Taylor stands back as two of his officers storm Sabrina Gage’s front door. Brent holds the freshly drawn warrant for Sabrina’s arrest, his body humming with an anxious current. Every second that Sabrina remains a free woman is another second that she can inflict harm on someone Brent cares about--Jason, Courtney, their friends, or God forbid, baby Sophie.

The officers’ banging on the door produces no response, though. And unlike Brent’s visit to question Sabrina the other day, the Audi is not in the driveway.

Brent steps to the door and pummels it with his fist. “Sabrina! Open up!”

Still nothing.

“I’ll pull up her plates and send out word for everyone to be on the lookout for them,” one of the officers says. He hurries back to the squad car to do that.

Brent lingers by the front door, clutching the warrant between tense fingers. If she isn’t here, and she isn’t at the arena... he doesn’t have a damn clue where they go next. How is it possible that Jason and Courtney have known Sabrina for so long, and yet they know so little about her?

“I have to make a call,” he tells the other officer, pulling out his cell and stepping aside.


“Thanks, Brent,” Jason Fisher says before hanging up the phone. His fiancée waits on the couch, their young daughter in her lap despite Sophie’s best efforts to escape.

“What did he say?” Courtney asks. The words sound as if they have been waiting a century to jump from her lips.

“They can’t find her. Her car isn’t at her house.” Jason tosses the phone onto an armchair, a muted show of aggression. “Where the hell else could she be?”

“Think she skipped town?” As soon as Courtney finishes the question, though, they share a look that acknowledges how unlikely that is. Wherever Sabrina is, she is biding her time. Someone that crazy won’t be scared off that easily.

“Maybe the wedding is a bad idea,” Courtney continues. “I mean, having it right now, with all this going on.”

All Jason can do is sigh. He hates to admit that there is even a nugget of truth there, but with Sabrina on the loose, who knows?

He attempts to shake off his doubt. “We can’t let this derail our lives.”

Sophie continues to squirm, so Courtney sets her down on the floor. She holds onto the edge of the couch and takes a few tentative steps, as she has been doing lately, and then drops to the carpet and crawls toward her toys.

“I just wish we had some idea why Sabrina was doing this,” Courtney says as she watches the baby play. From the moment she showed up in that office, it was like she had it out for me.”

Their eyes lock, but neither wants to vocalize how familiar this situation is. The same nonsensical thoughts that kept Jason awake after the bachelor party now swirl in his mind; he doesn’t even know how to vocalize a theory that sounds so insane.

“Shannon is dead,” he says instead, as if either of them had actually mentioned her.

“Maybe Sabrina is possessed by her ghost.”

“Yeah, that seems like the answer to this whole thing.”

Sophie stands up, throws a stuffed cow at them, and then squeals. As Jason laughs, Courtney claps her hands together. “Come to Mommy,” she urges, as she has been doing a lot lately. The baby looks at the ground, picks up one of her feet to take a step--and then tumbles down. She stares at them, confused, and then starts to cry.

“Everything’s fine,” Courtney says, moving to pick up her daughter. As she quickly gets her to quiet down, Jason reaches for the phone again.

“I should call Alex back and let him know what’s going on.”

He picks up and dials. “Hey. Bad news...”


“Thanks for the update,” Alex says before ending the call and tucking his phone back into his pocket.

Lauren blows a wisp of dark blonde hair out of her face. “What’s the latest?”

“The police went to Sabrina’s house with a warrant, but she wasn’t there. No one has any clue where she is.”

Though she knew it couldn’t possibly that easy, Lauren still feels the sinking numbness of disappointment. She wants so badly for this to be over, for Courtney and Jason to be able to have no concerns on their wedding day but one another.

Alex adds, “He said Brent is pulling out all the stops to make sure they find her. They’re checking flights and everything.”

“What’s that about my brother?” Josh Taylor asks, poking his head out of his cubicle.

Lauren tips her head to indicate the conference room. She and Alex go inside, and Josh joins them a moment later.

“It’s Sabrina,” she says once they have a little more privacy. “She crashed Jason’s bachelor party by posing as one of the strippers--”

Josh nods along. “Brent told me about that.”

“Well, Seth woke up this morning. He said Sabrina was the one who attacked him--”

“--because he found a bag of rat poison in the trunk of her car,” Alex says.

“So she poisoned Courtney.” Josh leans against the wall and silently considers the situation. “I knew that chick was crazy, but this is a whole ‘nother level.”

Alex glances at the oversized onyx clock mounted on the wall. “Crap. I have to go pick up my tux.” He gives Lauren a quick hug goodbye. “I just wanted to drop by and tell you about Seth... This whole thing has me so turned around.”

“You’re not the only one. I’ll see you tomorrow for D-Day.”

He hurries out of the conference room and down the hall toward the elevators. Lauren and Josh remain in the otherwise empty room, both too distracted by the morning’s news to think much about work.

“No one has any idea why Sabrina is doing this shit?” Josh says.

“Apparently she came onto Jason really hard at the bachelor party. She’s obsessed with him or something.”

Josh offers a very exaggerated roll of his eyes. “Of course. What is it about that guy that turns all of you into zombies? You should know, being a former victim and all...”

“Josh. Shut up.” Her head is clouded with thoughts of things they could have done differently, actions they could and should have taken to prevent things ever progressing this far. If only they knew then what they know now...

“Iowa,” she says suddenly.

“What about it?”

“Sabrina’s family. That’s where she’s from.”

“I thought you guys said Brent was checking flights and stuff.”

“I don’t think she went there,” Lauren says. “But maybe her family has answers. Or maybe they can get in touch with her.”

“Um, she doesn’t strike me as a girl with a really strong home life, you know?”

“There are answers there.” All at once, Lauren moves herself out the door.

Josh tails her. “Where you are going?”

“To book a plane ticket. And then to Iowa.” She stands over the computer chair in her cubicle as she searches the web for flights.

“You’re gonna go play Nancy Drew in Iowa? Don’t you have a wedding to be maid of honor at in, like, 24 hours?”

“Dammit!” She hastily clicks on the wrong link, then backtracks and gets to the site she needs. “It’s a maid of honor’s job to make sure the wedding goes as smoothly as possible, isn’t it?” Returning her attention to the screen, Lauren finds a flight that leaves in four hours. The sheer craziness of this impulsive plan almost gives her pause as she clicks to select the flight--but the sheer craziness that has invaded their lives prompts her to do just that.

“Hold up,” Josh says.

“No. I don’t have time to waste. And you’re not talking me out of this.”

“I know. That’s why I think you should get two tickets.”

Always full of surprises, she thinks, a grin breaking out over her face as she changes the number of passengers and hopes for the damn website to load a little faster.


What will Lauren and Josh find in Iowa?
Will they make it back in time for the wedding?
Will there even be a wedding, with Sabrina on the loose?
Head on over to the Footprints Forum to talk about it!

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