Episode #583

- In the wake of her legal separation from Brent, Molly decided to travel back east with Philip to attend his mother’s charity masquerade ball.
- Lauren and Josh were assigned to travel together to Phoenix for business.
- Claire asked Travis if it would be all right for Tempest to stay at their apartment for the time being. The teen rejected the idea but, after a talk with Elly, gave Claire his blessing.
- Tim confronted Cassandra with his newly acquired information about the Equinox Diamond and its possible role in her mother’s death. Cassandra blew up at him for not trusting her.


A prescription pill bottle, a sealed envelope, and a check sit in a neat row on the kitchen counter.

“Christian’s antibiotics. One in the morning and one at night. The boys’ permission slips for that Pioneer Farms field trip. They’re due on Friday. And this is what we owe for the new basketball warm-ups. It goes to the coach at the next practice.” Molly Taylor concludes her explanation with a heavy sigh, then scans the room for anything she might be forgetting.

“I have it under control,” Danielle Taylor assures her, grinning with amusement at her sister-in-law’s over-worrying. “I’m kind of here every day.”

“I know. Thank you. Just make sure Brent knows what has to happen when.” A frown comes over Molly’s face. “Should I write this down?”

“Between the two of us, I think we can pass along all the pertinent info,” Ryan Moriani says from behind Danielle.

Molly surveys the items on the countertop once more, then takes a step back, as if putting the issue to rest for good. The house phone rings, and Molly reaches for the nearby receiver. She has been waiting for this call.

“I’ll be right out.” She hangs up. “My taxi is here.”

“I’ll help you with your bags,” Ryan says. He picks up her suitcase from the floor and takes it to the entry.

“Boys! I’m going!” Molly calls up the stairs. Caleb and Christian barrel down toward her at lightning speed. “Give me a kiss,” she says, and even though they make grossed-out faces when she kisses their noses, they each plant a peck on her cheek.

“Be good for your dad,” she says. “And have fun. I’ll talk to you on the phone at night, okay? I love you both.”

“Love you, too,” they mumble in that perpetually embarrassed way that eight-year-old boys do everything serious. Molly takes in the sight of them one last time and then joins Ryan outside.

“Thanks,” she says as he loads her suitcase into the trunk of the taxi.

“Enjoy yourself,” Ryan says. “Be safe. Have fun.”

Molly nods, but she does not feel like she is embarking upon something fun or relaxing or escapist. She feels like she is ducking out on the boys when she should be there for them, and what Paula said about the appropriateness--or lack thereof--of traveling with Philip has been gnawing at her.

Ryan seems to detect the thoughts swirling through her head. “You’re allowed to take some time for yourself. The kids are going to love having the time alone with Brent.”

“I know. It’ll be good for all of them.” She speaks the words almost robotically; she believes them, but she still feels wrong hopping on a plane and flying away from it all. “Do you think it’s wrong for me to go away with Philip?”

“What would be wrong about that?” Ryan asks carefully--as if he already knows the answer but does not want to offend her.

“Mom said--she doesn’t think it’s appropriate, considering that I am still married to Brent, and--” The sentence dies on her lips, unsure of where it is supposed to go next.

“It’s up to you to decide what’s right for you. Obviously things between you and Brent are... difficult. If Philip is a friend, then he’s a friend, and you’re allowed to enjoy yourself. And if he’s more--”

“He isn’t.”

“Then he isn’t. You know that. It isn’t anybody else’s call.” He offers a warm smile as reassurance. “Just enjoy yourself. Have fun at the big party. We can handle the antibiotics and the permission slip and the rest.”

“The check. Don’t forget the check.” He nods. “Thanks, Ryan.” She gives him a somewhat awkward hug; she has become used to having him around again, thanks to his relationship with Danielle and the softening between him and the rest of the family over the holidays, but they are not particularly close. Still, it feels like the appropriate thing to do.

“Fly safe,” Ryan says, and Molly climbs into the back seat of the taxi. She hopes that by the time it delivers her to the airport in Seattle, she will feel more certain about what she is doing. Certainty, however, has been in short supply of late, and she doesn’t feel particularly confident about its prospects today.


Uneasiness sears the pit of Claire Fisher’s stomach as she awaits the knock on the door. She surveys the spread on the table in her small dining area: spaghetti; turkey meatballs; garlic bread; a salad consisting of only lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, with plenty of ranch dressing, just the way Travis likes it. It all looks quite good, and even though it is a little early for dinner, Claire is famished just seeing and smelling it. Still, she cannot help but think that Travis is going to walk in here, accuse her of trying way too hard, and check himself out of the situation before it even gets underway.

“We gonna eat soon?” Tempest Banks asks from her post on the sofa, where she is watching some horrible show on MTV in which young guys go on a date with their girlfriends’ mothers, or something twisted like that. Claire has decided to pick her battles carefully for the time being.

“As soon as Travis gets here,” Claire says. She straightens the silverware set out on the table.

Tempest’s show drones on for a few more minutes before the knock upon the door comes. Claire is simultaneously relieved and terrified; she wants to rush to open the door and jump out the window at the same time.

“Hi, honey,” she says when she opens the door, after deciding that leaping out the window might be a bit melodramatic and counterproductive.

“Hey.” Travis steps into the apartment tentatively, despite having been perfectly comfortable the last time he was here. Claire can see him scanning behind her for their new guest, the person he has come to meet--or, rather, meet again.

“Travis, you remember Tempest, don’t you?”

Travis is already looking at the other teenager seated on their couch. “Yeah.”

“Hey,” Tempest says with a barely detectable flick of her head.

Claire has no idea how this is supposed to go. Maybe there is no supposed to in such a situation. “Dinner’s on the table. Why don’t we sit down?”

Travis moves immediately to his regular chair at the table. Tempest rises to join them, but Claire’s voice stops her midway:

“Would you turn off the TV, please?”

Tempest throws her one of those looks that she has been offering up a lot since she began staying here, like she can see right through the “please” and “thank you” business to all the dysfunction that has ruled Claire’s life for years and years.

At the table, plates are passed around and filled.

“Tempest is going to start studying for her GED,” Claire tells Travis, hoping to open up some sort of conversation.

“When was the last time you went to school?” Travis asks.

Claire shoots him a warning look.

“What?” he says defensively. “Am I not supposed to ask actual questions?”

Tempest mulls over the sliced loaf of garlic bread. She selects both end pieces, sets them on her plate, and passes the cutting board to Claire--who can already tell Travis is seething. He always eats the ends, because there is more crunchy crust.

“Did you have to take both ends?” he says.


“It’s a free country, isn’t it?” Tempest fires back.

“Guess I should’ve seen it coming,” he says. “You steal my girlfriend’s purse... you trick my mom into letting you stay here...”

“Travis!” Claire says, louder.

Tempest glares at Travis over the table, ignoring Claire. “I shoulda seen this coming, too. I could tell you were a spoiled little asshole in L.A.”

“I’m an asshole? Really?”

Tempest pushes away from the table and springs to her feet. She tosses one of the pieces of bread in Travis’s direction; it lands on the table. “Eat your stupid end. I’m outta here.”


A paper airplane crashes into Tim Fisher’s face as he enters the office.

“Sorry,” Diane Bishop says, without much concern, from her post behind the desk, which is littered with papers folded in a variety of shapes.

“Bad time?” Tim asks. “You look... busy.”

She finishes folding one more sheet of paper and sets it on the desk. It looks to Tim like a diamond with two lumps sticking out of the bottom.

As Diane picks up a stack of untouched pages from the other side of the desk, she says, “This damn manuscript I promised Carl I’d read. His wife is in love with it.”

The half-baked origami suddenly makes more sense to Tim. “That good, huh?”

“This is the biggest piece of shit I’ve seen in quite a while. I almost want to call Carl’s wife and congratulate her on such an achievement.” She gestures to the piece of paper she just finished folding. “Fish base. I’m still learning. Thank God for the internet.”

Tim picks up the one that almost took out his eye. “What’s this, the traditional Japanese airliner?”

“It’s hard! I had to make a few easy things to have some fun.”

He hands her the notes that he printed minutes ago. “Coverage on Terry’s first draft. I e-mailed you the PDF, too. I’ll, uh, leave you to your work.”

Diane takes the pages but doesn’t bother to look at them yet. “What’s with you? You’ve been quiet all day.”

“Nothing.” The dilemma that has been eating him from the inside out gnashes its teeth, though, and he is perversely thrilled that Diane noticed. “It’s just something with Cassandra.”

“What’d she do?”

“More like what did I do. There was something I felt like she was keeping from me, so I asked Sarah to look into it for me--”


“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Taking some initiative. It’s good. Just because you sit back and pretend there aren’t problems doesn’t mean there aren’t actually problems, you know.”

Tim wonders if that is a dig at something that happened during their relationship, but he does not even know where to begin that mental excavation, so he continues, “Sarah found out some stuff, so I asked Cassandra about it, and of course she got mad that I didn’t trust her.”

“But what Sarah found out was the truth, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah.” Which is precisely the circular argument he has been having with his own brain all day long.

“So... she’s mad at you because she lied to you, and you found about it?”

“I realize it sounds open-and-shut, but I don’t know the whole story,” he says, extending his internal debate to the outside world. “I wanted to give her a chance to explain to me.”

“And instead of doing that, she blew up at you. That should tell you something.” Diane glances at the computer screen for instruction and then nabs a fresh sheet of paper off the manuscript pile.

“Maybe you’re right.”

“Of course I’m right. Tim--after what happened to your brother and Courtney with that lunatic he had working for him, I think it’s perfectly okay not to give people the benefit of the doubt.”

He had not even made the connection before, but now that Diane has done it for him, the pieces all glide into peace with incredible ease. Something inside him releases, relaxes. He might have violated Cassandra’s trust by going behind her back, but she rebuffed his efforts to be upfront about things, and the bottom line is that he has to look out for himself and his kids.

“Thanks,” he says. “You, uh, want any help with those?”

Diane glances up from her folding. “Pull up a chair. But I don’t know if you can keep up with my very advanced skills...”


With every second spent in the security line, Molly’s blood pressure feels like it rises ten points. How did the people in front of her not anticipate having to take out their laptops until the last possible second? What is so difficult about remembering to take your keys out of your pocket before you walk through the metal detector? Why do the passengers now have to put their shoes on the conveyor belt instead of in one of the plastic bins?!

By the time she and Philip Ragan make it to the other side of security, Molly feels as though she has run a marathon. In Hell. Philip, for his part, looks as effortlessly put-together as ever. He slips his arms back into his gray blazer, slips his shoes back on with ease, and picks up his leather messenger bag. He might as well be ready to step into a J. Crew catalog. Molly sits on a bench, struggling to cram things back into her purse and carry-on bag.

“What a nightmare,” she says as she wriggles back into her plum-colored cardigan.

“Relax,” Philip says. His smile is almost enough to disarm her agitation--almost. “We’re about to be on an official vacation. That means no stressing yourself to the point of mania.”

“I don’t know how more people don’t have psychotic breaks going through airport security.” She lets out a sigh and slips on her heels. “Okay. Can we get some coffee before we go to the gate?”


They make it only a few steps, however, before Molly spots two very familiar faces coming toward them.

Josh Taylor does an exaggerated double-take at the sight of her. Lauren Brooks lingers behind as Josh moves forward to give Molly a hug.

“Off on your big trip?” Josh says.

“Yeah. Just, um, trying to pull myself together after the security line.” She sees Josh eyeing Philip, and every muscle fiber in her body itches to get away from this spot, to make this encounter stop. “Hi, Lauren.”

“Hey.” Lauren waves at her, then at Philip. “Hey,” she says to Philip.

Philip has not spoken much about their break-up, other than to inform Molly that it took place, but Molly can certainly feel the awkwardness radiating off both of them.

“You guys are traveling together, huh? Brent didn’t mention that,” Josh says. Molly can hear the accusation in his voice, and it causes her discomfort to spike to a new high.

She swallows hard and forces out the best explanation she can: “Philip’s mother is hosting a charity ball. They invited me to join them. It benefits the Red Cross...” Even as she speaks the words, she is aware of how false they sound; the Red Cross is not her reason for taking this trip, and they all know it.

“Are you two off on a vacation of your own?” Philip asks. He wears a cocky smirk, the kind of arrogant expression that would peeve Molly if it were directed at her; as it stands, however, she could not be more grateful to him for redirecting things toward Josh and Lauren.

“Business trip,” Lauren answers matter-of-factly. “To Phoenix.”

“Well, good luck,” Molly says. She switches her carry-on bag from one hand to the other. “We should really be going. I’m going to need some coffee before we get on that plane. Good seeing you both.”

“Enjoy your trip, you two,” Josh says. Something about his tone makes Molly incredibly uncomfortable--like he is implying so much more about their traveling together, just like Paula did. Why can’t anyone just understand that she needs to get away with a friend for a little while?

She and Philip make their way through the terminal, and Molly finds the sea of unfamiliar faces incredibly soothing.

“That was sufficiently awkward,” Philip comments as they walk.

“Awkward doesn’t even begin to describe it,” Molly says, listening to the clack of her heels against the floor and wondering what Josh is going to tell his brother about the run-in.


Claire observes in horror as the get-to-know-you dinner melts down into disaster in record time. Tempest storms toward the bedroom, and Travis folds his arms over his chest and sinks into his chair.

“Get back here,” Claire says, her voice much firmer and more in-control than she feels. Tempest doesn’t look back. “Tempest! Sit back down, now.”

The warning is enough to stop Tempest, who at least turns around.

“Where are you going to go next? Do you have any idea at all?” Claire asks. “You can’t spend your entire life running away from things that you don’t want to deal with. And Travis--” She swivels to face her son. “Tempest is a guest in our home. You treat her with the same respect you would anyone else. Got it?”

They remain frozen that way, three points of a triangle held in place by tractor beams, until Claire says, “Now sit back down, Tempest, and act like an adult.”

The teenager drags her feet back to the table, and they continue filling their plates and begin to eat in complete silence.

Claire decides to try a different approach to conversation. “How was school today?” she asks Travis.

“Fine. I dunno.” He uses his fork to chop a meatball in half. “I have that Fundamentals of Computing class last period, so that’s easy. They think it’s, like, the 80s, teaching us to type and stuff.”

“They could at least teach you some more advanced things,” Claire says, “like how to use Photocrop.”

Travis busts up laughing. “Photocrop? Okay, Grandma.”

Claire turns to her other side and sees Tempest snickering. Seeing her in restrained laughter puts Travis over the top and, in turn, makes Tempest burst out in full, unbridled laughter, too.

“Photocrop!” Tempest exclaims in one of the choppy breaths between laughs.

“Okay, I’m old. Make fun of me.” Claire eats some of her salad while they continue laughing uproariously. She should have remembered the one thing guaranteed to bring kids together: mocking adults.

Finally the laughter dies down. There is an awkwardness, a stall in the conversation, but something about it is lighter now.

“I haven’t gone to school since the beginning of sophomore year,” Tempest says out of nowhere.

Travis, realizing that she is answering his question from earlier, takes the ball. “Really? Did you just stop going one day?”

Tempest shrugs. “I kept saying I’d go back tomorrow, tomorrow. Then I missed so many days it was like, whatever, I wasn’t gonna catch up anyway. And my stupid mom kicked me out of the house, so it’s not like she cared.”

“We’re going to get her into a GED class,” Claire says. “That way she can get her degree and work.”

While he twirls some spaghetti on his fork, Travis says, “I could talk to Uncle Jason, see if there’s any openings at the rink.”

The offer takes Claire by surprise--in the way that she had hoped to be surprised tonight. “That would be great. Thanks, Travis.”

He shrugs and keeps eating his dinner. Tempest does the same. The conversation continues in fits and starts as they finish dinner, but by the time the meal is through, Claire has to wonder if this new road--one she never expected to be on--might actually lead them someplace besides over a cliff.


Will Josh tell Brent that Molly is traveling with Philip?
Will Claire, Travis, and Tempest be able to live in harmony?
Should Tim put his relationship with Cassandra behind him?
Discuss all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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