Episode #585

- After learning that Molly went to New Hampshire with Philip, Brent became determined to go there himself and pry her away from Philip and Loretta before something terrible happened.
- Claire tried to help Tempest settle into a new life. Travis offered to see if there were any jobs for her at the ice arena, while Samantha planned to tutor Tempest for her GED test.
- Tim confronted Cassandra about her mother’s suspicious death and the Equinox diamond ring. Cassandra exploded at him for digging into her past, then phoned her ex-husband, JD, and warned him about what was happening.


If Claire Fisher hadn’t opened the door at the exact moment she did, Brent Taylor might have barreled right through it.

As it is, he rockets into the apartment as if someone just found a key on his back and wound it as far as it would go. The embodiment of momentum, he bypasses all greetings and simply says, “There’s a flight at 6:15 a.m. We can be in New Hampshire by dinner time.”

“I can’t,” Claire says, folding her arms across her chest.

“This is it. Our chance to take down Loretta. I did some poking around, and she’s having some big party on Saturday night. We confront her there, there are tons of people around... It’s safe and it gets the job done.”

Claire shakes her head. With her eyes, she indicates the teenager seated on the couch in baggy pajama pants and a zip-up sweatshirt.

“Brent, this is Tempest,” she says. “Tempest, I’d like you to meet a close friend of mine, Brent.”

Brent approaches the teenager with hand outstretched. “It’s nice to meet you.” Tempest shakes his hand and offers one of her standard mumbled greetings.

“Tempest and I have a lot going on,” Claire says. “I can’t fly across the country for a half-baked mission at the drop of a hat.”

“It’s not half-baked,” Brent counters weakly.

Claire observes the pure fire and impulse in his movements. He cannot stay still.

“What is this really about?” she asks.

“It’s about stopping this madwoman! No one’s going to do it if we don’t.”

Claire understands the validity of his words, and yet, she does not quite believe that is the entirety of what is going on here. She casts him a disbelieving look and, out of the corner of her vision, notices Tempest paying more attention to them than to the TV now.

Brent cracks after a few seconds under her silent stare. “Molly is there. She flew out with Philip, I guess for this big charity party. I don’t want her there.”

“That’s understandable,” Claire says. “Call her. Warn her.”

“She won’t listen to me. You know how angry she got the last time I even mentioned Philip’s mother being the Loretta.”

Claire acknowledges as much with a terse nod. “I can’t go. I’m sorry. It’s too sudden.”

“I get it.” Brent turns back to the door and pulls it open. “I still might. I’ll let you know.”

“Be careful,” she says. He tosses her a quick wave and is gone.

She closes the door slowly, playing out possibilities in her mind. Confronting Loretta face-to-face might be the crazy move they need to break this case wide open--or it could become a disaster.

“You people have a lot of crazy stuff going on,” Tempest says from the couch.

Claire lets out a sigh. “You’re telling me.”


The subterranean parking garage in the Vision Publishing building is mostly empty by this time of night. Most of the employees went home two or three hours ago, leaving only a light smattering of vehicles spread through the garage. As Tim Fisher steps off the elevator and then crosses the garage toward his own car, he is very much aware of the way that his footsteps reverberate off the concrete floor, ceiling, and walls.

And as he nears his car, those creepy echoes seem all too fitting--because there is a figure leaning against the driver’s side. Still a safe distance away, Tim stops in his tracks.

“Fisher!” the voice calls out.

Tim does not move.

“Yeah! You!” The figure breaks into motion, its tall, strong frame coming directly at Tim. He backs up, but then the man steps far enough out of the shadows to become recognizable.

“What are you doing here?” Tim asks JD Robinson.

Still several yards away, Cassandra’s ex-husband stops walking. A smirk spreads over his face. “I really have to explain this to you?”

“Yes.” Tim shifts his gaze to gauge the distance between himself and the elevator, or more realistically, the staircase. He wonders if he could outrun JD.

JD complicates that equation by closing the gap between them. “Thought it’d be good to pay you a visit in person,” he says. “We got something to discuss.”

“No. We don’t.”

“Think again.” JD’s hand shoots out and smashes into Tim’s shoulder. Tim tries not to wince at the painful contact.

“Cassandra tells me you been asking questions. That’s gotta stop.” JD’s hand reaches inside his jacket, and Tim’s lungs feel as though they suddenly cease to work. “That’s gotta stop.”

Tim recognizes the metallic glint of a blade in JD’s hand.

“Here’s how this is gonna go,” JD says, drawing the knife out further. “You’re gonna stop asking questions about Cassandra and her mom and me. You’re gonna pretend you never heard anything about it. Got it?”

A gulp forces its way down Tim’s constricted throat. “Sure.”

Sure? That doesn’t sound too serious.”

The next thing Tim knows, the blade is pressed against his chest. A firm hand grips his shoulder, holding him in place. He could bolt, but he dreads what would happen if he did.

“Fine,” Tim says. “I promise. I don’t care, anyway. Cassandra and I--we’re finished.”

“You sure about that?” Like the sharp gleam of the knife, something sparkles across JD’s eyes--something wild, something threatening. In this moment, Tim doesn’t doubt that this guy would gut him right here and leave him for dead.

“Positive. It’s none of my business.”

“Good.” JD eases the knife away from Tim’s body, then presses it back, harder. Tim prays for someone to step off the elevator or out of the stairwell.

“I’ve seen those kids of yours,” JD says. “Little girl with the frizzy hair, driving around in a gray Mazda. And the boy, with the black Honda...”

The specificity of JD’s knowledge about Samantha and Travis hits Tim harder than any punch or stab of the knife could.

“I have no more business with Cassandra,” Tim rushes to say. “Anything that happened with you and her and--whatever--it’s none of my business.”

“That’s what I like to hear.” JD withdraws the blade from Tim’s chest with agonizing slowness, but he doesn’t put it away; he lets it linger out there, between them, a live reminder of how this could still go. “Smartest words you ever said, Fisher. Just make sure you don’t forget ‘em.”

Tim’s entire body is dying to exhale, but he knows he will not be able to until he is safely in his car. “I won’t.”

With one final flash of that dangerous smirk, JD turns and goes. His hand tucks the blade back inside his jacket, like it is a cell phone or wallet or something else utterly normal. Tim remains frozen in place until JD turns into the stairwell, and then he bolts for his car. Shaky fingers scramble to unlock the door and then close it safely behind him. He pushes down the lock desperately and then sits, gasping for air.


After Brent leaves, Claire has Tempest help her rinse the plates from dinner and load the dishwasher. They are drying their hands when Claire’s cell phone lets out a ping. She runs the towel over her fingers once more and then grabs the phone from the table to read the new text message.

It is from Travis: Talked to Uncle Jason. Might have a job for Temp. Call u tmrw.

“Travis talked to his uncle who runs the ice arena,” Claire says. “He thinks there might be a job for you there.”

“Oh, cool.” Tempest does not sound particularly excited, but Claire is learning that is just how she is: everything is underplayed.

“Maybe I’ll take you over there in the morning to meet Jason. I’m sure he’d be happy to help out. It’s a great arena, too. It would probably be a nice place to work.”

“Great.” Tempest places the dishtowel back on the countertop and returns to her station on the couch.

Claire fires off a quick text to thank Travis and then refocuses her attention on Tempest. “Do you think you’ve watched enough TV for the day?”

“What else am I supposed to do?”

“We can go for a walk if you’d like.”

Tempest makes only the faintest indication of even entertaining the idea. “I’m okay with TV.”

Claire reasons that, if too much TV is their biggest issue right now, they are doing pretty well. She decides to come at it from a different angle.

“Did you call Samantha about meeting up tomorrow afternoon?” she asks.

“Not yet.”

“You have her number, don’t you?”

Tempest pulls out the pre-paid cell phone that Claire bought for her. “In here.”

“Why don’t you call her now and set up a time for me to drop you off?”

Setting down the phone, Tempest says, “Maybe later.”

“Tempest. Come on.”

“What?” It is the most emotion Claire has seen out of her in days; her eyes bulge out, and they stay that way as she continues, “It’s my stupid test. I’ll study when I need to.”

Claire takes a beat to rein in her heightened sense of agitation. “It couldn’t hurt to get ahead a little bit.”

“Guess not.” Phone in hand, Tempest goes into her room.

“Are you going to call her?”

“Yeah,” she calls out before shutting the door. Claire is not entirely certain that she believes Tempest, but she supposes she will find out soon enough.


Tim’s hands are still shaking as he turns onto his parents’ block. His mind replays the encounter with JD over and over, but each time, it takes a different fork: What if JD had been even wilder with the knife? What if Tim had stood up to him and knocked it out of his hand? Part of him wishes that he hadn’t caved to JD’s threats so easily, but there was no other sensible thing to do.

He eases the car beside the curb. Instead of turning it off and getting out, however, he flips off the headlights and then picks up his cell phone. The call plays through his hands-free system.

One ring... two... three... four...

Cassandra’s brief voicemail message greets him: “You’ve reached Cassandra Ward. I’m unable to take your call at the moment. Please leave your name and number, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you!”

Tim has heard the recording many times, but it has never been as frustrating as it is today.

“Hey, it’s Tim,” he says, discovering each word only as he speaks it. “I want you to know that JD is back. He was waiting for me in the parking garage when I left work tonight, and he threatened me about...” He trails off as a thought occurs to him. “For all I know, you put him up to it. Just know that I don’t care. None of this is my business. Just thought I’d warn you, in case.”

He ends the call, rocked by this new suspicion. Could Cassandra have commissioned JD to threaten Tim on her behalf?

Instead of exiting the car, he makes another call.

“Brent,” he says when his brother-in-law answers. “Listen, there’s something I need to talk to you about....”


When night finally falls over King’s Bay, it seems like it has taken a lifetime to arrive. All Tempest has wanted for hours was for it to get dark, so that maybe she would become tired enough to fall asleep. She doesn’t know what else she is supposed to do with herself.

Now, though, as she lies on top of the blankets on the bed that used to be Travis’s and is, for the time being, hers, sleep is the last thing her body seems to be interested in.

The new cell phone sits in her palm. She knows that she should call that Samantha kid, but now it’s too late. She just let Claire think she called before because it was easier than telling her no a hundred more times.

What’s with being so pushy? She’ll study when she needs to study. These people are so obsessed with making plans and crap.

“Maybe I’ll take you over there in the morning to meet Jason. I’m sure he’d be happy to help out. It’s a great arena, too. It would probably be a nice place to work.”

That’s all Claire wants to do: make plans. Nonstop. Plans, plans, plans. Like it’s not enough just to give Tempest a place to crash for a while. The lady thinks she can fix everything just by taking her on some neverending tour of this dumb city. She doesn’t even have any idea what Tempest’s life was like before. She just wants to make everything magically be okay by shoving her into some random job and making her pass a test.

Tempest rolls onto her side. The soft pillowcase is cool against her cheek, and for a moment, she thinks that sleep might be closer than she thought. But there is something moving through her body, like bugs crawling or something, making it so she can’t relax and can’t get comfortable.

Finally she sits up. She doesn’t want to deal with this stupid job or the GED or anything else. She doesn’t even know what to do at an ice rink. What are they gonna make her do, drive that stupid thing that makes the ice all clean? She doesn’t even know how to drive.

And the test. She was never stupid at school, but she’s probably forgotten a lot of stuff since the last time she really went to class. What if she wastes all this time and doesn’t even pass?

Before she knows it, she is on her feet, with her backpack taking her place on the bed. She stuffs a few things into it--some of the new clothes Claire got for her, mostly. Nothing that was here before her. She has no interest in robbing these people. She just needs to do her own thing.

She slips the backpack over her shoulders, but instead of moving for the door, she goes to the desk. She grabs an index card and a pen but has no idea what to write.

Claire –

She stops to think. Claire has been really nice to her, even if she’s kind of pushy.

Thanks for everything. I got to go but you been really good to me. Thank you.

She reads it over a few times. It probably sounds stupid, but it says what it needs to say. She signs her name, puts the pen back, and leaves the index card in the middle of the desk. Then, as quietly as she can, she slips out of the bedroom, past Claire’s closed door, through the living room, and out of the apartment.


Where will Tempest go next?
What will Claire do when she discovers Tempest is gone?
Did Cassandra send JD after Tim?
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