Episode #597

- A potential client requested an unseemly favor from Josh and Lauren in exchange for his business. Josh’s decision to comply with the man’s request caused a fight between him and Lauren. In the heat of the argument, they slept together, but afterward, Lauren hightailed it back to King’s Bay, knowing the tryst was a mistake.
- When Elly told Travis that she would not attend college in King’s Bay because of her fractured relationship with her newly discovered biological mother, Danielle, Travis approached his uncle Ryan about getting the women to reunite. Ryan advised him not to get involved, but later, Danielle told Ryan that she could not get more serious about their relationship until she resolves things with Elly.
- Loretta revealed to Claire and Brent that her late husband was none other than James Robbins--Claire’s father. Loretta blamed Claire for killing James and taking him away from her.
- Hellbent on revenge, Loretta had Claire and Brent thrown into a pen with her vicious attack dogs, who destroyed Brent’s prosthetic leg and bit Claire. Tim arrived with police in the nick of time and rescued them. Loretta was arrested for facilitating the canine attacks.


For the first time in a long while, this feels like home.

Claire Fisher is not sure when it stopped feeling that way. It wasn’t when she moved out to her own apartment; even after that physical relocation, Bill and Paula Fisher’s house felt like a home base to her, a safe haven. It wasn’t when she and Tim divorced, or when she split from Ryan. No, the change has been more subtle, a shift that has occurred over the past two years, as she and Brent became more and more involved in their investigation into Nick Moriani, the mysterious Mr. Clayton, and finally Loretta Ragan.

Somehow, trying to ensure the safety of this family--the only real family she has ever known--has made Claire more of an outsider to that family. But today, for the first time in longer than she cares to consider, she feels a part of the whole again.

“I don’t understand how he lived this double life for so long,” Paula says from her spot on the large sofa, beside Molly.

“He managed it for years before my mother found out,” Claire says. “I guess Loretta was aware all along. Somehow, she was all right with it.”

Tim speaks from the loveseat, where he sits with Samantha: “I think we’ve established that Loretta is completely deranged.”

That elicits a minor laugh from around the room. Sarah, who is seated on the other side of Paula on the sofa, asks Tim, “You spent all those years locked up in some creepy clinic because Loretta thought it was what James would have wanted?”

“And because she was helping Nick Moriani,” Tim says. “But I don’t think she would have cared if it weren’t some sick way of punishing Claire for taking James away from her.”

On the floor, Travis rests on a pile of cushions with Tempest, Caleb, and Christian. He looks to Claire and asks, “So you have these two brothers you never knew about? What are you gonna do about that?”

Instinctively, Claire shakes her head. She has been doing it a good deal lately, as if the action will physically remove the thoughts from her mind. “Nothing,” she says. “Everything connected with my father has been completely poisonous. I don’t need any of that in my life.”

There are murmurs around the room--not exactly of disagreement, but slight urgings for Claire to reconsider. But she has no interest in making herself vulnerable to Philip or his younger brother. For all she knows, that would be equivalent to letting Loretta herself into her life.

She glances at Molly, expecting her to defend Philip, but the protest never comes.

“Can I get anyone any more tea?” Bill asks, rising from his chair. “Or coffee, or anything?”

Requests spring up from the crowd, and Tim and Sarah go to assist their father. As they head toward the kitchen, the sliding glass door in the back of the house opens, and Brent rolls in from the deck in his wheelchair.

“Did you find out anything?” Tim asks.

Cell phone clutched in his hand, Brent nods. “I have news about Loretta.”


Cloudy springtime gloom leaks in from outside, bathing the house in a dull, lazy gray. Lauren Brooks stands over the stove, heating water for a cup of chamomile tea. There is no reason for her to feel jetlagged from her quick trip to Arizona, but she nevertheless has been tired and lethargic since returning home.

She turns at the sound of footsteps and smiles at her mother, who carries two paper grocery bags.

“How was the store? Exciting?” Lauren asks.

Roz Brooks widens her already lively eyes. “Very.”

“Are there more bags in the car?”

“No, your father has the rest in the garage. He’s putting things away in the freezer out there.” Roz sets the bags on the island and begins emptying them. “You should have come with us. Just to get out of the house.”

A sigh rolls down Lauren’s body, dragging her shoulders down and her pelvis outward. “I just feel kind of blah. I might as well rest up so I’m ready to face the office tomorrow.”

“I can’t imagine it’s going to be that terrible... even if it’s a little awkward for you.”

Awkward is an understatement. I basically denounced Josh, and now I’m going to show up and, what, get credit for landing this account?” Unable to solve the dilemma in her head, she sets about helping her mother put away the groceries.

“You could always ask to be removed from the account,” Roz says.

“Yeah, that’s very professional.”

The kettle whistles, and Lauren moves swiftly to remove it from the heat. As she pours the water over the teabag, she wonders aloud, “But maybe that would be best. I can’t really criticize Josh for how he landed it and then profit from what he did. That makes me a huge hypocrite.”

She is still pouring the water when her cell phone rings. She replaces the kettle on the stove and places her steaming mug on the counter. When she sees the caller ID, she freezes.

“What’s wrong?” Roz asks.

“It’s Susan.” The last thing Lauren wants today is to explain herself to her boss; she thought she could at least put it off until work tomorrow. But she knows she has to answer.

“Susan. Hi,” she says in the most friendly tone she can manage. “How are you?”

“I’ve been better,” the stern voice replies. “I have to say, I’m a bit disappointed about your trip to Phoenix.”

Lauren’s chest tightens with panic. She tries to remain as cool as possible--and avoid her mother’s watchful gaze--as she says, “There were some... personal issues that made it impossible for me to stay for the rest of the weekend. I was actually going to suggest that you remove me from handling the account--”

“What are you talking about, Lauren?”

“Well, I don’t think I really have a place working on the Sue Casa account. I’d be happy to sit down and discuss the reasons with you tomorrow.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Susan says. “I just spoke with the people from Sue Casa, and they’ve chosen to give their business to another firm.”


The family waits, scattered throughout the living and dining rooms, for Brent to explain.

“She’s out on bail,” he says.

The house explodes with outrage. Tim steps closer to Brent, like an incensed lawyer going to confront a judge.

“She’s just going to do something worse now!” Tim says, as if Brent has any power to reverse the decision.

Brent’s hands grip the sides of his wheelchair; it looks like he is considering pushing himself to his feet--foot--to take action. Instead he explains, “They only have her on assault with a deadly weapon for now. There aren’t grounds to deny bail.”

“She confessed,” Claire says. “I told the police there everything that she said. She confessed to helping Nick plan the bombing, she said she helped hold Tim--”

“I know.” Brent holds up a hand to stop her. “And they’re working on all that stuff. Now that we have the link, it won’t be hard to get her on more charges. It’ll just take a little time to corroborate everything that we say she told us.”

An uneasy quiet spills over all of them.

“This shouldn’t be so difficult,” Bill says. “The woman tried to kill all of us. She kept Tim away from us for years. She has to be punished.”

“She will be,” Brent says, though everyone is well aware that his reassurance means nothing just yet.

The doorbell sounds, and several of them shout in almost-unison, “Come in!” Ryan Moriani enters a second later, his face racked with worry.

“What’s going on?” he asks, eyes trained on Paula. “I just got your message--”

“Let me explain,” Claire says. She stands from her seat to join Ryan. “It’s insane. Maybe you’ll be able to fill in some blanks for us.”

Bill nods his head toward the kitchen. “We’ll go get those drinks.”

The group disperses into small pockets of activity. Sarah approaches Brent, who keeps fidgeting in his wheelchair.

“Going crazy in that thing?” she asks with a smile.

“Yeah. And my new prosthetic won’t be here for ten days. I’m going to...” His gaze drifts down to the empty leg of his pants. “I don’t like feeling like this.”

“Just think about what you’ve done. For all of us. You found Loretta, you figured out what was going on...”

“I just hope the charges stick,” he says.

“They will. There’s too much information for her to walk now.” Sarah’s eyes sweep over the room, at the family gathered together in spite of everything they have faced. “It’s kind of strange to know who caused these things, isn’t it?” She doesn’t have to specify what things she means: the dangling leg of Brent’s pants is enough, but he also knows that she is referring to the child she lost in the restaurant explosion.

“Maybe it’s better we didn’t know back when it happened, or I’d be in jail for murder right now,” he says.

“You’re not the only one.” She sighs. “Maybe now we can all put our lives back together.”

Brent watches Molly, across the room with her mother and their sons. “Yeah. I think we might be getting there.”

Sarah picks up on what he is talking about. “Really? Are things better between you guys?”

“I don’t know,” he admits, “but for the first time in forever, I feel like we could get there.”


Across the room, Claire finishes delivering a truncated recap of everything they have recently learned about Loretta.

“How did no one know your father was living a double life?” Ryan asks.

Your father knew.”

“Apparently. But I had no idea she even existed,” Ryan says. “If I’d known, I would have told you--everyone--a long time ago. The things she did to this family...”

Claire nods. She does believe him; at his lowest, Ryan would certainly have taken advantage of the opportunity to deflect blame elsewhere.

“I just hope they can make some serious charges stick,” she says. “Loretta was careful to keep herself a few steps removed from everything that happened. She was always working through your father or Clayton.”

She notices Tempest sitting on the couch, playing with baby Sophie. Ryan follows her gaze.

“What’s this I hear about you taking in a foster kid?” Ryan asks.

“I wasn’t exactly planning on it,” she says, “but the time was right, I guess. I’m going to go check on her.”

“Thanks for the update, Claire.”

She slips away, breathing a sigh of relief as she does so. Being in such close proximity to Ryan still feels suffocating and strange, even with all the time that has passed since their relationship imploded.

“Are you doing okay?” she asks Tempest.

Tempest looks up at her. “I’m fine. Seriously. You don’t have to keep checking on me.”

“I know you’re fine.” Claire takes a seat and holds out her fingers for Sophie to grab. The infant uses both her hands to shake Claire’s hand vigorously. “But you went through something pretty horrible.”

“I swear, I’m cool.” Tempest’s face softens. “But thanks.”

“I’m sorry I wasn’t here for you when it happened,” Claire says. She cannot even imagine the terror that Tempest and Samantha must have felt being trapped in the car with that gun-wielding maniac.

“Well, you thought I was gone for good, so I can’t really hold it against you. And that whole thing with being attacked by dogs sounds like it was pretty bad, too.”

Claire can still feel the pain in her arm beneath the bandaging, but in a strange way, it feels like an achievement--like a worthwhile step in bringing Loretta down. Even if she will never quite shake the sensation of that dog wrestling her to the ground and clamping its jaws down around her arm.

“Just make me a deal,” Claire says. “If anything starts to bother you--memories or fears or anything--please tell me. And no more running away.”

Tempest shrugs. “Guess I can do that.”

Across the room, Ryan makes his way over to Travis, who is busily texting on his cell phone.

“Travis. Have a minute?” Ryan says.

His nephew glances up at him warily. “What, you wanna lecture me again?”

Ryan allows the barb to land for a moment. He doesn’t regret what he said to Travis when the teenager came to see him the other night; trying to force a reconciliation between Danielle and Elly might only make matters worse. But after his discussion with Danielle about their future--and her insistence that she cannot fully move on with him until she repairs her relationship with her daughter--he thinks he might be a bit more flexible on the issue.

“I actually wanted to speak to you about that,” he says. “I think you might be on to something.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t think we can force Danielle and Elly to make up. They have to choose to do that themselves. And I don’t think lying or tricking them is going to be productive.”


“But maybe we can... facilitate some discussion.” Ryan fully realizes how thin a line he is walking here, how close he is to flat-out endorsing manipulation of the women in their lives. However, he would prefer to consider it... guidance.

Travis still looks cautious but ventures to ask, “Why? Do you have an idea?”

“Something like that.”


Lauren waits impatiently for the door to open. When it does, however, all her thoughts and words are in such competition with one another that none of them can make it out.

“What now?” Josh says, eyeing her suspiciously.

“I just talked to Susan,” she manages to say. “We didn’t get the account? What happened?”

“You suddenly care now?”

“I always cared about getting that account.” His confrontational tone ignites something within her, makes it easier for her to verbalize everything that is swirling in her head. “I didn’t care for the way you chose to go after it, but--”

“Didn’t have much of a choice,” he counters. There is something about his demeanor that Lauren has only seen from him on rare occasion: a quietness, something resembling embarrassment.

“So what happened?” she asks. “Did Antonio change his mind?”

Josh shakes his head. “You were right.”


“I said you were right. I decided I couldn’t go through with it.”

The surprise is nearly enough to knock her off her feet. When Antonio Lopez proposed that Josh seduce his wife in order to make her look bad during their impending divorce, Josh acted like he had no qualms about compromising himself that way.

“It was gross,” he says, unable to look her in the eyes. “And look, I’ll do some shady shit if it’ll get me ahead, but I’m good at what I do. I don’t need to be a gigolo. Not after that one time, anyway.”


“It was a joke. God.” His hand rests on the edge of the door, as if ready to close it in her face at any moment. “So you were right, I was wrong, and now we don’t even have the account to show for it. Awesome.”

She truly does not know how to respond. She never expected this reversal out of him.

“Well, I’m glad you changed your mind,” she says. “You’re better than having to do something so sketchy. Did you tell Susan the whole story?”

“Not yet.”

“You should. Make sure she knows how ridiculous his demands were. It’s not like we lost this account under any kind of normal circumstances.”

“I guess.”

They stand there in awkward silence, until Lauren cannot handle it any longer.

“I’ll get going, then,” she says. “Thanks for filling me in.”


She starts back down the stone path to the sidewalk but only makes it a few steps before Josh calls out to her.

“You know why I did it?” he says.

She turns. “What? Why?”

“Or didn’t do it, I guess.” He labors over his next words for a long time. “Because of you.”

“Josh, I told you in Phoenix. You can do whatever you want. I just don’t think--”

“No, you were right. I shouldn’t have even considered doing it.”

There is a tension between them, a tension that Lauren has felt since he opened the door but which now feels much more pronounced. She recognizes it as the tension of things waiting to be said. Unsure what her role in this is, she walks back up the path, closing the distance between them.

Finally, Josh looks her directly in the face. In the eyes. “I shouldn’t have gotten so pissed at you for standing up for what you believe. I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but... you make me want to be a better person.”

He groans, as if unable to believe what he just said. Lauren reaches out a hand to him. It lands on his bicep, firm and full beneath the sleeve of his t-shirt.

“It means a lot that you didn’t go through with it,” she says.

The next thing she knows, they are kissing. It bears the same intensity as when it happened in Phoenix, but this time, there is no anger, no resentment--simply appreciation for one another.

Josh pulls back, looking as though breaking the kiss is the most painful thing in the world for him. “You want to come in?”

Lauren kisses him again and pushes him backward. She closes the door behind them.


Will Lauren and Josh finally be able to move forward?
Will the Fishers have to deal with any more of Loretta’s plots?
Will Travis and Ryan be able to work together?
Talk about all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

Next Episode