Episode #563

- After Travis ran away to Los Angeles with Elly, his parents brought him home and grounded him. Elly, still furious at Danielle for having lied to her, went back to San Francisco with the Vanderbilts.
- Seth awoke from his coma and identified Sabrina as his attacker. A warrant was issued for her arrest, but she had gone missing.
- Lauren booked an impulsive trip to Iowa to investigate Sabrina’s past. Josh offered to accompany her.
- Jason and Courtney vowed not to let the Sabrina situation ruin their wedding day.


When Jason Fisher awakens on his wedding day, the first thing that crosses his mind is Courtney. He rolls over and finds an empty spot beside him in the bed--which is no surprise, considering how Courtney could not fall asleep last night--and then allows his mind to drift to other matters. He glances out the window to check for signs of rain, but the ever-present Northwest clouds offer little hint of how the day might go. He thinks about the part in his vows where he keeps forgetting what comes next; he imagines about how beautiful Courtney is going to look in her gown; he pictures how cute Sophie will be in her little white and pink dress, and whether she will be fussy during the ceremony.

It never occurs to him that, by the end of the day, someone he loves dearly will be dead.

Shaking the lingering fog of sleep from his brain, he climbs out of bed and throws on a t-shirt and sweatpants. He checks Sophie’s crib and, finding it empty, heads downstairs, where he finds Sophie in her playpen and Courtney packing a diaper bag to its absolute limits.

“Finally, he emerges,” she says with a grin.

“I didn’t think I’d sleep so late. You could have woken me up.” He stoops down to give his daughter a good-morning kiss.

“I thought you could use the rest. This is gonna be a hell of a day.”

“Did you get any sleep?” he asks.

She shrugs. “Some.” She tugs on the zipper, but the bag refuses to close.

“Here, let me get it.” Jason takes the bag from her and tries to compress it between his arms while yanking on the zipper.

“I’ll smoosh, you zip,” Courtney says. Between their four hands, they manage to close the bag.

“I’m going to go meet my mom at the hotel,” she says as she gathers a million possessions. “She can deal with Sophie while we all get ready.”

Jason scrambles to be helpful in some way. “Is there anything else you need? Where’s the dress?”

“Already at the hotel. I’m good, I swear.” She pauses long enough to smile at him and then picks up the diaper bag and another duffel bag. “Can you load her into my arms?”

“How about I carry her to the car?” He gathers the baby and follows Courtney outside. “You guys are seriously starting to get ready this early?”

“They’re coming to do my hair and make-up at 10:30.” She unlocks the car and tosses the bags inside. “Then I have to get myself into that dress, which should take roughly six hours. Lauren has her work cut out for her.”

Jason straps Sophie into her car seat and closes the door. “I’m sure Lauren is prepared. She’s almost as excited about this as you. Almost.”

“She hasn’t been answering her phone,” Courtney says. “That’s kind of weird.”

“Don’t freak out. Maybe she’s taking a shower or something. Am I allowed to give you a kiss before the wedding?”

“Only until I leave this driveway. Then I am off-limits.”

“Guess I’d better take advantage while I can, then,” he says, trying to contain the grin spreading over his lips so that he can use them for other things.


2348. 2352. 2358. The numbers on houses and mailboxes pass by, ascending and bringing the travelers ever closer to their destination.

“That’s it,” Lauren Brooks tells the cab driver as she spots 2364. They drift to a stop in front of a grayish-blue ranch-style house, and Lauren pulls out her wallet to settle the fare with the driver. “Thank you,” she says, handing him the cash and climbing out of the cab all in one movement.

Josh Taylor is already waiting on the sidewalk. “So... this is it,” he says as they stare at the quaint house, its charms dulled by the lack of maintenance in the front yard, where the grass stands at a scraggly length and dying leaves form a patchy carpet over the driveway.

“Looks pretty normal,” Lauren says. “I expected Sabrina to have grown up in, like, a castle with big, scary clouds floating overhead.”

She takes an uncertain step up the driveway, and once she is in motion, adrenaline takes over and keeps her going. Josh follows, hesitancy radiating from his being like sound waves from a cartoon radio.

“This is so nuts,” he says. “You have a wedding to be at in, like, eight hours. Two thousand miles away.”

Lauren doesn’t like the way that his words make her consider the sheer insanity of what they are doing. “And we have plane tickets back, and a time change working in our favor, and--” She steps down on a crunchy group of leaves. “--and figuring out what the hell is going on might be the best wedding present I could give Courtney and Jason.”

As they arrive at the front door, Josh nods in agreement, though his eyes betray him.

Lauren rings the doorbell. “Are you scared?” she asks, unable to resist the urge to tease him. It’s too tempting, given how he never passes up such an opportunity.

Without warning, the front door flies open. A middle-aged woman with a graying perm stands before them, her navy housedress covered in an endlessly repeating pattern of lilies.

“Hi,” Lauren says, nearly choked by the enormity of the moment. “We, um... we were wondering if you had a few minutes to talk. We’re friends of Sabrina’s.”

She wills Josh not to snort or snicker or anything at the bold-faced lie. Luckily, he maintains his composure.

The woman’s face lights up. “You are? Oh, I-- Have I met you two before?”

“No, I don’t think so. My name is Lauren. This is Josh.” They takes turning shaking her hand. “We used to work with Sabrina. You’re Mrs. Gage?”

“Yeah, yeah. Come on in.” Though frenzied, the woman is absolutely beaming as she steps aside to admit them to the house.


“This is gonna be soooo uncomfortable, I bet,” Travis Fisher says as he holds the tuxedo up by its hanger.

“You’ll look so cute,” comes a voice from the computer.

He sets the tux back down on his bed. “That’s what my mom said. Which makes me think I’ll probably get beaten up if anyone sees me like this,” he says into the computer.

Inside the iChat window on his screen, Elly Vanderbilt laughs. “What are you, twelve?”

“At least I can maybe snag a drink at the reception.”

“Don’t get in trouble, please. I think we’ve had enough of that for a while.”

“I don’t even think they’d know what to do if I did something else bad,” he says, settling back into his computer chair. “They’re already sick of driving me to school and picking me up from soccer and stuff.”

“Maybe you’ll bore them out of grounding you,” Elly says as she picks up a bottle of water from offscreen. She pauses to take a drink from it. “I wish I could go to the wedding with you.”

“I’m gonna guess your parents won’t let you travel alone by yourself for a while...”

“Yeah, good guess. Maybe it’s good. If I came to see you, I would probably have to see Danielle, and... I don’t even know how to deal with that.”

“Have you talked to her at all?”

“No.” Elly stares off at some point beyond her computer that Travis can’t see. “I wouldn’t even know what to say. I mean, I can’t figure out how she lied to me for so long about being my mother.”

“She didn’t really lie,” he offers gently.

“She knew the truth, and she told me she didn’t. That’s lying.” She whips back toward the screen, staring at Travis in a way that makes him wonder if she knows more than she is letting on. “Can you even imagine how she can say she cared about me so much, and then tell me over and over that she didn’t know anything about my real parents?”

Travis really wishes that they were having this conversation via IM so that Elly couldn’t see him. He pretends to be doing something with the tux. “She was scared of how you’d react. And she didn’t think it was her place to tell you. I get why you’re mad, but maybe once the shock wears off...”

“I don’t think I can ever trust her again,” she says adamantly.

“I should probably get dressed,” he says. As unenthusiastic as he is about putting on that tuxedo, he is even less thrilled about the idea of sitting here and lying to Elly some more.

“Good luck,” she says. “Have fun! And take some cute pictures.”

“I’m sure everyone will force me, don’t worry.” They say their goodbyes, and the whole time, he wonders if he should just tell her that he knew Danielle was her mother, too. No, that would be stupid. It isn’t like anyone is going to rat him out. But he hates keeping this secret, and he wishes that she would be ready to forgive Danielle so that they can stop talking about how Danielle lied to her. If there is one good thing about being in King’s Bay while she is all the way in San Francisco, it’s not having to lie to her face every day about having known Danielle’s secret.


 “Thanks for letting me come over,” Tim Fisher says as he hangs his garment bag on an open door in the living room. “I don’t think I could’ve stayed at Mom and Dad’s all day while they got ready.”

“I bet Mom is all over the place,” Jason says as he hands his brother a bottle of water. “Besides, I could use the company.”

Tim drops onto the overstuffed sofa and picks up the remote control. “Pretending we need five hours to put our tuxes on will give us a chance to watch the U-Dub game in peace.”

Jason takes a seat in one of the armchairs that flank a small, round table with a lamp on it. “I like the way you think.”

“Are you nervous?” Tim asks as he surfs to the channel where the game is being shown.

“Is it bad if I am?”

“It’s bad if you aren’t. All I remember from my wedding day to Claire are little pops of images. I was too worried about tripping or forgetting my vows to enjoy much of the day.”

That helps put Jason at ease, at least a little bit. “I’m worried I’m gonna need another tuxedo shirt for the reception. I’m always such a sweaty mess at these things.”

“Hey, if that’s your biggest concern...”

“I need trivial things to distract me,” Jason says, as if his actual concerns have been anywhere but right below the surface in the past few days.

“They haven’t found Sabrina yet?”

“Nope. I’m trying not to think about it too much. Seth is going to be okay, Courtney recovered from the poisoning okay, and we’re getting married today. She’ll be caught sooner or later.” He has to believe that much.

“She will,” Tim says with confidence so reassured that it must be false. “She’s really done all this because she’s fixated on you?”

Jason wishes he knew how to answer that. It certainly seemed that way when Sabrina pounced on him at the bachelor party, but that also seems like an overly simplistic explanation for all the crazy things Sabrina has done--not to mention egotistical for Jason to believe.

“I have no idea why she’s so obsessed with me,” he says, staring at the game on TV even though none of the images register for more than a split-second. “But it’s freaking me out. Like, did I do something to encourage this? Why do I keep attracting crazies?”

“Yeah, I’m not really sure if you should be flattered by that or not.” Tim turns up the volume on the TV. “It’s your wedding day. We’re not going to dwell on Sabrina or anything besides the fact that you and Courtney are going to be married by the end of the day.”

“I like that plan,” Jason says, trying to sweep his concerns to a remote corner of his mind.


Mrs. Gage closes the front door behind her visitors. “Would you like to see her?”

“Sabrina?” Lauren asks, nearly choking on the name. “She’s--”

Josh cuts in. “Yeah. We’d love to. It’s been so long.”

Obliging, Mrs. Gage leads them down a narrow hallway. The lights inside the house are dim, as if they elected to burn permanently at half-power; Lauren isn’t sure that she could picture the place any more illuminated.

“Sorry about the mess,” Mrs. Gage says. “We don’t have visitors too often, and it’s hard, you know--that’s no excuse, of course, but it just doesn’t seem that important sometimes.” She shrugs sheepishly as she turns into a room at the end of the hall.

Lauren feels her cell phone vibrating inside her purse. She pulls it out and sees Courtney’s name on the screen. She knows that she should answer, but she can’t now, and starting a conversation would only raise questions that she can’t answer at the moment. Guiltily, she hits Ignore and puts the phone back in her purse.

“Sabrina, some of your friends are here,” the woman announces.

Lauren feels as if a thousand miniature blades are stabbing into her stomach in perfect synchronicity. She didn’t expect that they would find Sabrina here. What are they going to say? She hopes that Josh has a plan, because she sure doesn’t.

When they step into the room, she is once again thrown off-balance. A hospital bed takes up much of the space. Machines and monitors crowd around it as if standing vigil--which, she supposes, they are. At the center of it all, looking so small, is a frail woman who lies motionless in the bed, her thin hair splayed over the pillow.

“I know it can be a bit much at first,” Mrs. Gage says, standing back as Lauren and Josh linger near the end of the bed. “You two didn’t come to see her in the hospital, did you?”

Lauren manages to shake her head. “No. We...”

“We should have,” Josh says. Lauren offers him a grateful look.

“I understand. Like I said, it can be a bit much. We hardly ever have visitors now. After the accident, lots of people came, brought flowers, brought food, but now... it’s like most of them forgot Sabrina exists.”

She circles to the far side of the bed and stands over the unconscious young woman. Softly she brushes her hair back and runs a hand over the gaunt cheek.

“How long has it been,” Josh says, “since...?”

Mrs. Gage’s face tightens with confusion. “Over three years. I thought you said--”

“Could you take a look at something?” Lauren says. She reaches into her purse and withdraws a folded piece of paper.

“What’s going on?” Mrs. Gage asks. She moves around the bed to stand between them and the patient. “Who are you people?”

“Please.” Lauren unfolds the piece of paper and holds it out. “This résumé--someone we know has been using it. In Washington state. She’s claiming that her name is Sabrina Gage...”

The woman snatches the paper from Lauren and scans it hurriedly. “What is this? My daughter--that’s where she went to college--” She pauses. “What’s this Tacoma, Washington? Sabrina has never been to the west coast.”

“Your daughter,” Josh says. “Sabrina. She had her accident three years ago? And she’s been like this ever since?”

“Yes.” Mrs. Gage continues to study the résumé but finds no satisfactory answers on it. “What is this? Who are you? Did you really know my daughter?”

“No, and we’re very sorry for lying,” Lauren says. “We didn’t know what we would find here. We’re sorry about your daughter. But someone is out there, claiming to be her and doing horrible things.”

Mrs. Gage’s features go slack as she takes in this information. Josh folds his arms and looks to Lauren, satisfied to have proof that the Sabrina Gage they know is not who she claims to be. Lauren wishes that she could feel that sense of victory, too--but as the most likely explanation, insane as it is, settles over her, her blood runs cold.


With her freshly washed hair wrapped in a soft white towel, Courtney paces barefoot over the navy carpeting of the hotel room that will serve as her home base for the day. She holds her cell phone to her ear, listening as it rings on the other end. One, two, three, four times...

“Hi, you’ve reached Lauren Brooks. I can’t make it to the phone right now--”

Courtney ends the all-too-familiar recording before it can finish. She wishes the ladies who are coming to do her hair and make-up would show up early, just to distract her. Instead, she finds Alex’s number in the phone and dials him.

“Happy wedding day,” he answers.

“Not if I can’t find my maid of honor. Have you heard from her? Do you have any idea where she is?”

There is a telling silence on the other end of the line. “She’s fine,” he says at last.

“Fine? What does that mean? Why isn’t she answering her phone?”

“She’s taking care of something. She’ll be there on time.”

“How can you be so sure of that?”

Another spell of silence indicates that he can’t. “Just try to relax. Are you at the hotel?”

“Yeah. I’m waiting to get my hair done.”

“If you need anything, I can come over there.”

She sits down on the edge of the bed. “No, no. But thanks. Sandy, Sarah, and Molly should be here soon. But seriously, is Lauren okay?”

“She’s fine. She had something last-minute to take care of and didn’t want to freak you out.”

“Yeah, because my maid of honor not answering any of my calls on the day of my wedding won’t freak me out at all,” she says, realizing how wound-up she sounds. “You go get ready, or whatever you boys have to do. I can handle myself.”

“Let me know if you need anything,” Alex says. “Enjoy yourself! I’ll see you in a few hours.”

She thinks of returning her phone to her purse but decides to keep it out, in case Lauren finally calls back. Alex’s reassurances were vaguely helpful, but she still wishes she knew where Lauren is or what she is doing. Why the need for secrecy?

With time to kill and that nervous energy buzzing beneath her feet, she decides to visit the room where her mother is watching Sophie. If anything can distract her from what she realizes is completely frivolous stress, it’s her daughter.

She grabs her purse and phone and walks a few doors down the hotel corridor. She knocks on the door of their extra makeshift bridal room but hears no response from within.

“Mom?” she calls out, knocking again. That energy burns in her fingertips now, so she withdraws the extra card key from her purse and slips it into the door. She gets the door halfway open before she stops in her tracks, breath hitching in her throat as if someone hit the pause button mid-inhale.

“Mom!” She rushes over to where Helen lies on the floor, not moving. She shakes her once and then lowers her ear. Her relief at hearing that her mother is breathing lasts only an instant, though--because then she looks up and sees that the playpen, where Sophie should be, is empty.


What happened to Helen? Where is Sophie?
Will Lauren and Josh’s discovery be useful?
Should Travis come clean with Elly about what he knew?
Come on over to the Footprints Forum to talk about it!

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