Episode #580

- Sarah accepted Graham’s marriage proposal.
- Tim questioned Cassandra about the cryptic word--“equinox”--that her ex-husband mentioned, but Cassandra insisted JD was simply making things up to cause trouble.
- Runaway Tempest, having traveled all the way from Los Angeles to King’s Bay, called Claire for help. Claire took her to a shelter but, worried about the teen’s safety, decided to put Tempest up in a hotel for the night instead.


Morning haze stretches as far as the eye can see. Claire Fisher parks her car in front of the hotel, which, contrary to its name, is not so much beside the bay as several blocks up from it. She heads inside and up to the second-floor room where she left Tempest Banks late last night.

As she approaches the door, Claire’s stomach twists and tightens. She hopes that Tempest is okay. She is only a teenager, a kid, even if she tries to seem older, and even if there is something behind that face suggesting that she has lived entire lifetimes longer than Claire has.

She also hopes that the room is okay. Claire cannot imagine leaving Travis in a hotel room overnight and coming back to anything but pure disaster. But that, she can handle if necessary. At least Tempest had a warm, safe place to stay for the night.

She knocks on the door and waits. Seconds pass but feel like minutes. Finally she hears some shuffling from inside.

When the door opens, it becomes clear that Claire’s phone call, announcing that she was on her way, was barely sufficient to drag Tempest from sleep, let alone out of bed. If this were Travis, she might be annoyed, but there is something reassuring about seeing the girl experience a normal teenage ritual of being yanked into the day by an adult.

“Why you gotta get up so early?” Tempest groans as she lets Claire into the room.

“It’s 8 o’clock. It’s not that early.”

Tempest shoots her a disdainful look; she might as well have just said that she gleefully ran over some puppies on the way here.

“Did you sleep all right? Was everything... okay?”

“Yeah.” Tempest sits back down on the bed and pulls the comforter to her chest. Then, lazily, as if the thought has just entered her mind but seems too much work to act upon, she says, “Thanks.”

Claire sees the girl ready to slide back into slumber. Her eyelids droop down, and her body moves closer and closer to being horizontal on the bed.

“Why don’t you take a shower?” Claire says. “I’ll run out and grab us some breakfast. Then we can get started on our day.”

“Our day? What are you gonna do, take me to the zoo and crap?”

“First, I thought I’d take you to get some clothes. I would have picked some up on my way, but the stores aren’t open yet.”

“See? You are up too damn early.”

Claire laughs. “Then I made an appointment with a social worker. I’ve had some contact with her through work before. She should be able to work with you on the next step, maybe find a foster home--”

“Oh, hell no.” Tempest springs to her feet, and suddenly, the mattress and the comforter don’t seem so important to her.

“I came all this way to do this crap? Social workers and foster care and shit? Great.” Tempest puts on her tattered shoes. “I’ve done this before. It’s going nowhere.”

“That’s not true,” Claire says. “This lady will help you. I will help you.”

Tempest snaps angrily toward her. “You know what she’s gonna do? She’s gonna put me in a group home. And I’m gonna sit there ‘til I’m 18, because that’s what the big kids do. You stay in the group home because nobody wants your old ass coming into their house and robbing them and shit. Then you turn 18 and they put you back out on the streets and nothing’s any different.”

“We won’t let that happen.” Claire wishes she had more confidence in that statement, but she is sure that Tempest is much more acquainted with the system than she is.

“Bullshit. I know how this story goes.” Tempest pulls the door open. “Thanks for the hotel.” She charges out of the room without a look back.


“Where do you want this? Living Room or Dining Room?”

Tim Fisher stands in the middle of his sister’s apartment, holding a red blown-glass bowl over two open boxes--one for each room’s contents. He waits for Sarah to turn around and render her judgment, which she does only after she has finished taping up another cardboard box.

“Umm... Dining Room. Yeah.” She pushes a thick piece of blonde hair out of her face. The rest of her hair is pulled back into a loose, casual ponytail to match her yoga pants and sweatshirt. “Not that it matters. Most of this stuff is going into storage.”

Tim packs the bowl in bubble wrap. “And you’re okay with that?”

“Yeah. Most of this stuff is... well, just stuff. I needed to fill up this apartment somehow.”

She hoists the taped-up box onto a small stack of identical ones. “Besides, Graham’s house is really nice. It’s a great-looking place.”

Tim casts a glance around the apartment, its walls stripped bare and its shelved cleared in preparation for the movers. “Gonna miss this place?”

Sarah shrugs. “It’s never really been home. I needed a place to live after...” She skips over any mention of her breakup with Matt, though Tim can see it hovering behind her eyes.

“Have you guys set a date yet?”

“We’d like to do it soon. I just... I need to talk to Jason. I asked Mom and Dad not to tell him.”

“He’s not going to hold it against you.”

“I know. It’s awkward, that’s all. It feels inappropriate to be getting engaged while he’s going through all this.”

The only response Tim can muster is, “Yeah.”

They continue packing in silence for a short while until Tim decides to change the subject. “There’s something I wanted to talk about with you. About Cassandra.”

Sarah looks up from the overly full magazine rack she is sorting through. “What? Is something wrong?”

“No. I mean, I don’t know.” He wonders yet again if he is making something out of nothing, playing into JD’s mind games and doubting Cassandra when there is no reason to do so. “Her ex-husband showed up and said some weird things. I just want to be sure... I don’t know.”

“What’d he say?”

“It was strange. He told me to tell her ‘equinox.’”

“Like... the first day of spring?”

“Who knows? He was really cryptic about it. Then he said something about how maybe there are things Cassandra hasn’t told me, after all.” He shakes his head at how stupid it sounds. “He was probably just trying to get under my skin. Cassandra said he’s been bothering her ever since they split up.”

“I can look into it if you want,” Sarah says, setting aside a stack of old magazines.

“Maybe. Thanks.” He thinks about it, whether it is an invasion of Cassandra’s privacy or a mark that he doesn’t trust her the way he should. But he asked her about it, and she dismissed the issue. Or answered honestly. Maybe he doesn’t trust her as much as he should.

“That might be good,” he says, “just for peace of mind. I feel like I shouldn’t, but there’s something about this guy--and the way Cassandra reacted when I asked her--”

“Give me her ex’s name, and I’ll do some digging. Just between the two of us. I promise.”

“Thanks, Sarah.” He hopes he is not making an enormous mistake by pursuing this...


With a grateful nod to the barista, Matt Gray picks up his black coffee from the bar. Most days, he just makes coffee at home; no point spending three dollars on the exact same thing, plus waiting in line and all that. But when he woke up this morning, he remembered that he ran out of coffee grounds yesterday, so to the coffee shop it was.

He adds a packet of sugar to the coffee and is headed for the door when he spots Molly Taylor entering the shop, in a long burgundy coat.

“Hi, Matt,” she greets him, offering a hug.

“Hey. What are you doing out so early? Headed to work on a weekend?”

She shakes her head. “The boys have a basketball game. Danielle’s getting them ready, and I’m on latte duty.”

“How are the boys?” It seems like the polite thing to say. He knows things have been pretty ugly between Molly and Brent for months now, so he hopes it isn’t too much of an invasion to ask.

“All things considered,” she says, her weary expression speaking volumes about the state of her marriage, “they’re doing pretty well. How’s Tori?”

“Scaring me more and more every day. I swear someone told her she was 21 and she believed them. I caught her and her friend trying to climb in the bedroom window last night.”

“Their teen years are going to be payback for the way we acted toward our parents when we were that age,” Molly says. “How about you? How are you holding up?”

“Fine, I guess.” He gives the coffee a test sip but finds it way too hot to drink yet.

“Good. I’m glad.” She seems so serious as she reaches out a hand and rests it on his wrist. “I can’t imagine this Sarah and Graham thing is easy for you.”

All he can do is shrug. “Nothing I can do but move on, right?”

“That’s a good attitude. I was worried you’d be more... I don’t know. It’s not every day your ex gets engaged to someone else.”


He feels his face fall. He feels his hand go dead and robotically places the other hand beneath the coffee cup before it slips from his grip.

“Oh my God,” Molly says, drawing in the words with a gasp. “You didn’t--oh my God. Matt, I’m so sorry. I thought--”

“It’s okay.” He doesn’t know why he feels the need to reassure her. The whole coffee shop seems hollow, like a cave, where his thoughts and words are bouncing off the walls and slamming back into him, playing a thousand times over...

“My mom said she hadn’t told Tori yet, but I thought--I guess I didn’t think.”

He tries his best to center himself. He even forces a genial smile. “I would’ve found out sooner or later, right?”

That doesn’t seem to make Molly feel any better.

“I should get going,” he says, reminding himself to retain his hold on the coffee cup as he pulls his keys from his pocket. “Have fun at the basketball game.”

“I’m really sorry, Matt.”

There is no point blaming her, because it isn’t her fault. With another obligatory smile, he pushes his way out of the shop, in the hope that some fresh air might take away the sting of this unexpected news.


Claire races out the door to catch up with Tempest. “Wait!”

Tempest continues to trudge down the hallway. Claire chases after her.

“What do you want to do?” Claire calls out. “Tell me, and we’ll try it out.”

Forced to stop at the elevator, Tempest pushes the button impatiently, so hard that her thumb threatens to create a permanent indentation in it. The delay gives Claire enough time to catch up with her.

“I’m not letting you walk out of here,” Claire says.

The teen shoots her a contemptuous glare; it might as well be a spoken challenge: How the hell are you gonna do that?

The elevator settles with a creaky rumble. The door lethargically slides open, and Claire slips in beside Tempest.

“Did you grow up in L.A.?” she asks, deciding to try a different tack.

The change of subject appears to throw Tempest, who looks at her sideways. Finally she says, “Kinda. In Van Nuys--like, the valley.”

Claire nods, savoring even this tiny morsel of information. Keep her talking.

“When did you leave home?”

Another examining look, another hesitation. Tempest stares straight ahead at the old aluminum door. “Like two years ago. When I was 15.” She seems ready to add more, perhaps an explanation, but lets it fade off into the stale elevator air.

Claire decides not to push for the why right now. Baby steps. “Do you have brothers or sisters?” she asks.

“Just one brother. He’s 19. No, 20. No, wait, he’s 19, still.”

The elevator lurches to a stop on the ground floor. As soon as the door begins to open, Claire reaches out and pushes the Close Door button.

Tempest tries to push past her. “Come on, lady.”

“Just come to see the social worker with me,” Claire says. “You want to try and make things different, don’t you? You must have left L.A. for a reason.”

“I told you, stupid social worker’s not gonna do nothing. I was in a group home before.”

The instinct has been germinating in Claire’s brain, but she wasn’t sure if she should let it out or suppress it. Now, seeing the utter resignation on Tempest’s face--seeing this child believe that she might as well accept how crappy things are going to be for the rest of her life--Claire knows what she needs to do.

“Come meet with the social worker,” she says, “and then you can come home with me.”

That actually elicits a shocked reaction from Tempest. Her mouth droops open. But she forces it closed and, wiping all emotion from her face, says, “Thought you didn’t want me robbing you or whatever.”

“I’ll trust you if you trust me. I have to talk to my son first, make sure he’s all right with it, but maybe he can stay with his dad for a while. But the offer is only good if you meet with the social worker, think about school, a job, things like that.”

She removes her finger from the button and lets the elevator door open. Either Tempest is going to take the offer, or she won’t. Claire has done what she can.

Tempest doesn’t bolt from the elevator, not even when the door is open.

“I’ve gotta take a shower first,” she says. “And didn’t you say something about getting breakfast?”

She pushes the button to take them back up to the floor where she spent the night. Claire breathes a sigh of relief, though she suspects it is a very, very premature feeling. Baby steps, she reminds herself.


After they eat breakfast and Tori hops into the shower, Matt tries to keep himself busy. He washes the dishes by hand, he drinks the coffee that is finally cool enough (Seriously, why do they make it so damn hot?!), he puts a load of laundry in the washer. The whole time, though, he is all too aware of what is coming.

The knock on the door is almost a relief. Might as well get this over with.

“Hey,” he says before he even has the door open.

Sarah stands before him, both hands on the purse that hangs from her left shoulder. “Good morning.”

Immediately he looks at her ring finger. Empty. Which makes sense, considering she hasn’t told Tori yet, but it gives Matt the cruelest moment of hope that maybe Molly misheard things.

“She’s in the shower,” Matt says. He wishes he had timed this better, rushed Tori along so that there wouldn’t be so much awkward waiting time.

“Okay. I’m not in any hurry.” Sarah rests her purse on the back of the sofa. “I actually need to talk to you for a minute.”

“I know,” he says, and then realizing how vague that sounded, he repeats with emphasis, “I know.”

“Oh.” Sarah clearly gets it; she draws back. “I... How did you find out?”

“Doesn’t matter. Just wanted you to know that I know, to spare you the whole drawn-out confession thing.”

“Thanks.” Gears seem to be turning inside her head, maybe combing through whatever little speech she rehearsed to find bits that are still relevant. “I wanted to tell you myself.”

“It’s fine. It’s happening anyway, right?”

He could swear she hesitates for a moment. “Right.”

“Then I’ll be happy for you,” he says. “As long as Graham makes you happy--and as long as he’s good to Tori--”

“He is.”

“Then I guess there’s no problem.” The next part is a lot harder. “Congratulations.”

“Thanks, Matt.”

He tries to figure out how the hell they wound up at this point. This is not how any of it was supposed to go. He reminds himself that he was the one who filed for divorce.

“I’ve gotta go check on some laundry,” he says, for once grateful that the apartment doesn’t have a washer and dryer in it. “You can go knock on the bathroom door so she doesn’t stay in there for half-an-hour.”

“I’ll do that.”

He hightails it out of the apartment, to the laundry room where the washer still has over 20 minutes to go, as he knew it did.


How will Matt handle the news of Sarah’s engagement?
Will Sarah discover anything useful for Tim?
How will Travis react to Claire’s new plan for Tempest?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to talk about it all!

Next Episode