Episode #603

- Self-help author Dr. Monica King placed Sarah under hypnosis. In that state, Sarah experienced an alternate life in which she and Matt had never lost their second child--but their marriage still fell apart, and she still met Graham.
- Diane’s sister, Natalie, arrived in King’s Bay with news that she was engaged. She told Diane that she and her fiancé have a business proposal for her.
- Elly reconciled with biological mother Danielle, but the status of her relationship with boyfriend Travis remained uncertain.
- Claire received a mysterious envelope containing a birth certificate. She suspected Loretta Ragan and hopped a plane to the Northeast to grill the woman.


Summers in Washington are wildly unpredictable. Some days begin with a heavy covering of gray, a blanket that could just as easily signify October or February, and then explode into the perfect summer afternoon, complete with blazing sunlight and raging heat. Others start out as the prototypical bright, warm days made for the beach, only to take sudden turns into being overcast and cool by lunchtime. That is how Sarah Fisher and Diane Bishop wind sitting in the air-conditioned coffee shop, the former in a tank top and shorts, the latter in a light sweater and jeans, on this now-cloudy day.

“I don’t think that qualifies as a dream,” Diane says as she turns her iced latte in her hand. “More of a hallucination. Or a psychotic episode.”

Sarah nods in agreement. “It was bizarre. And that doctor said I was only hypnotized for a minute and a half. It felt like... days.”

Since her encounter with self-help author Dr. Monica King yesterday, Sarah has been trying to wrap her mind around the all-too-real dream that she experienced while under hypnosis. She truly felt like she was living in an alternate world, a world in which she didn’t lose her baby after Nick Moriani blew up her father’s restaurant. But even such a significant change--removing the event that she has always pinpointed as the reason her marriage to Matt fell apart--was not enough to alter the way her life turned out. She and Matt still fell victim to friction and resentment, and she still met Graham Colville.

“So you’re going ahead with marrying Graham because of hypnotic suggestions from some quack who hasn’t been able to move her face since Clinton was president?” Diane says.

Sarah pauses before answering plainly, “Yes.”

“I don’t know about you, Sarah.”

“Stop acting like I’m crazy.” Sarah eyes her friend over the rim of her paper coffee cup, from which she keeps removing the lid and replacing it seconds later. “Maybe it’s just an instinct. Something in my subconscious. I was meant to meet Graham. Marrying him is what’s right for me now.”

Diane holds up both her hands, as if eager to distance herself from this potentially insane decision-making process. In doing so, she catches sight of her watch.

“Crap,” she mutters. “I have to go meet my pain-in-the-ass sister and this mystery guy she’s somehow swindled into marrying her.”

“It’s weird that she just turned up in King’s Bay like that,” Sarah says. “It’s never sounded like you guys have that type of relationship.”

“We don’t.” Diane swigs down the remainder of her drink. “That’s how I know she’s up to something.”


“It got gross out,” Travis Fisher observes as he looks out the window of his mother’s apartment.

Tempest Banks, seated at the table in the small dining area, glances up from her book. “Weather here is weird. Isn’t it supposed to be summer?”

“Get used to it. You’re definitely not in L.A. anymore.” Travis grabs a hoodie that he tossed onto the couch earlier. “I’m gonna go out and make a call. How’s the studying?”

Tempest simply makes a face at her GED preparation book. Travis pulls on the sweatshirt and heads to the elevator, which takes him to the ground floor. The entire time, he clutches his cell phone in his hand nervously, pressing on its sides with his fingertips. Once outside the building, he immediately dials Elly Vanderbilt’s number.

As he listens to the call ring, he considers the strange dynamics of Elly’s recent visit. She was furious with him after he and his uncle conspired to get Elly and Danielle in the same room so that they would talk. But she did make up with Danielle, and that seemed to take the edge off her anger at Travis, at least a little. Still, she spent the remainder of her trip with Danielle, so Travis never had much chance to see where things stand between them. Now that she is back in San Francisco, he worries that she won’t even answer his calls.

Luckily, after three rings, she does.

“Elly,” he says a little too eagerly. “How are you? I just wanted to talk.”

“I’m good, I guess.” A pause stretches itself languidly over the line. “How about you?”

“Okay. I just wanted to--” He stops himself and takes a moment to think about his words before he spits them out. “I wanted to say I’m sorry for that whole thing at my graduation party. It was really dumb of me to ambush you and Danielle like that.”

“Yeah. It was.”

“But I’m glad you guys got to talk, eventually. How was the rest of your trip?”

“It was good. Nice to spend time with Danielle and sort of clear the air.” Her voice is tentative and rather flat, making it impossible for him to read into her words.

“Cool. I’m happy for you. So listen, I just felt like I should apologize again and see how you’re feeling about... us, I guess.” The next part is difficult for him to put out into the world; he has the scary thought that, by implying the worst-case scenario, he might make it a reality. “I’m hoping there still is an ‘us.’”

The silence that follows last way, way too long. Travis is pretty sure that his heart stops beating for several seconds.

But when she speaks, it is somehow even more terrifying. “There’s actually something I need to tell you,” Elly says.


Claire Fisher hurries to put her shoes back on after passing through the jail’s metal detector. This process is even more stressful than going through airport security, especially because she does not get to reclaim the belongings that she relinquished before going through the scan. She will be able to pick them up when she departs, but she feels naked and unarmed without her wallet, cell phone, keys, and the remainder of what was in her purse--and that is not how she needs to feel going into this meeting.

She checks in at a visitors’ window, and after several minutes of waiting with an outdated People magazine still concerned with Jake and Vienna from The Bachelor, a guard emerges to lead her to her destination. She is seated in a plastic chair in front of a thick glass window, just one pair in a row of identical chairs and windows. Only a few of the stations are occupied, she notes, surprisingly relieved that there is no one immediately beside her.

She picks up the telephone receiver and holds it as she waits. Within moments, Loretta Ragan is led through a door into the narrow room on the other side of the glass. Her bright orange jumpsuit stands in stark contrast to the sad, weak color of the once-white cinder block wall.

As her handcuffs are removed and she seats herself at the window, Loretta glares at Claire. The woman wears not a stitch of makeup, and her red hair hangs limp and without styling around her shoulders. Claire expected that Loretta might look less intimidating, less scary, under these circumstances, but the lack of additional décor makes her nipped-and-tucked face look even less human.

“I didn’t expect you’d be so eager to see me again,” Loretta says into the receiver. “Particularly not so soon.”

Claire mulls her words carefully. “This wasn’t exactly something I wanted to do... as much as I might be enjoying the sight of you locked up like this.”

“I wouldn’t gloat so much if I were you. I won’t be in here long. I have excellent attorneys.”

“They couldn’t get you released on bail.”

“Technicalities,” the older woman says, waving away the thought with a flourish of her free hand. “Once my trial begins, I’ll be on my way to freedom again.”

Claire does her best to maintain a game face, but the thought of Loretta running free sends a chill to the farthest reaches of her body. She decides to forge onward: “Just tell me what you’re up to.”

“I already told you. I’m doing everything in my power to ensure my freedom.”

“That’s not what I’m talking about.”

Loretta holds the receiver away from her face and gazes idly around the inmates’ side of the visiting station, but her eyes do not land on any one person or thing for more than a second.

“What does it mean? Why did you send it to me?” Claire asks.

Slowly, like a cat performing the most leisurely stretch in history, Loretta brings the receiver back to her mouth. “I’m afraid I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.”

“Dammit!” Claire snaps, simultaneously embarrassed and empowered by the small outburst. “The birth certificate. I know you sent it to me. Now tell me what it means!”


After Diane leaves, Sarah spends some time sitting in the coffee shop, making notes for a client briefing later in the day. Her mind keeps wandering, but she manages to maintain focus enough to get her thoughts down in an organized manner. Satisfied with this bit of work, she packs up her things and is about to vacate her table when a familiar voice speaks her name.

“Sarah,” it says. “Hey.”

She waits a beat before looking up at Matt Gray. When last she saw him, he had come to Graham’s house because Tori had called and told him that Graham and Sarah were being unfair to her. Sarah defused a near-fight between Matt and Graham, but then Matt disappeared upstairs, comforted their daughter, and left the house without another word to her. Now she is unsure how to address him.

“Hi,” she begins uncertainly.

Matt regards her with an equally tentative tone. “We’ve gotta talk about what happened with Tori.”

“I know.” She pauses, thinking it best to wait for some clue as to how he feels about the other day’s events, but then it all comes cascading out: “Graham was out of line. I told him that. As Tori’s mom, I made a decision, and he has to support me in that. I get where you were coming from, wanting to stand up for her. But you have to respect that Graham is a part of my life, and he is going to have some say in things like this--especially things that happen in his house, concerning his money.”

Matt remains tight-lipped and tighter-jawed. He does that Matt thing, not saying anything, not giving any indication of how he’s feeling as he lets her words sink in. There are times when she admires that about him--in contrast to the way she can never suppress an emotion for more than a millisecond or two--but it is oftentimes infuriating the way he keeps everything so close to the vest.

She can’t decide which type of time this is.

When he finally does respond, the direction of his words takes her by surprise. “Why are you marrying that guy?” he says.

“Excuse me?”

“You’re not the only one this affects. You’re making him an official part of Tori’s life. That’s a big change for her.”

“Tori will adjust.” The next question out of her mouth is one of those things that she wishes she could restrain inside, but it proves overpowering. “Is that really why you’re mad?”

A moment passes. “I’m not mad,” Matt says. “I’m disappointed. You’re a better mom than that, letting some guy second-guess the way you treat your own kid.”

“Listen, I told Graham exactly how I felt about what he did. Don’t warp the issue.” She gathers up her things and slings her bag over her shoulder. “I have to go.”

“Go for it.”

With a final stare at him, Sarah weaves her way through the tight arrangement of tables and exits the coffee shop. The dream, or whatever it was that she experienced while under hypnosis, comes rushing back to her. Problems with Matt were inevitable. Graham came into her life for a reason. And she is making the right decision--she has to believe that.


Diane waits at a table near the center of the main dining room, a glass of chardonnay in her hand. It’ll be a miracle if one glass is all she needs to get through this lunch.

At least it’s not dinner, she thinks. That would have been even more painful. At least lunch is a shorter ordeal.

Her sister comes sashaying in a few minutes later. She wears big, dangling earrings and a dress that would be more fitting for a cocktail party than lunch with one’s sister. That’s Natalie--always reliably inappropriate.

Diane does not rise to greet her. “Hi.”

“Hi. Thanks for agreeing to meet us. I think you’ll really like him.”

“I’m sure,” Diane says, and she gives her chardonnay a swirl before taking a big gulp.

“As I said, we have a business proposal for you,” Natalie explains as she daintily seats herself.

“If you’re selling Mary Kay or something--”

“Please. Nothing like that.”

Diane waits for more details, but they do not come. “Where is this guy, anyway?”

“He’s parking the car. He’ll be in in a minute.” She signals to a nearby waitress, who isn’t even the one covering their table. “I’ll have a pinot grigio. Thank you.”

“I don’t understand why you’d think I, of all people, would be interested in whatever you’re peddling,” Diane says.

“I’m not peddling anything. This is a genuine business proposal--an offer to become partners in something that could be very lucrative.”

Diane simply offers a lazy nod and drinks her wine, all the while thinking of what the most fun way to refuse to pony up any money would be. Writing a check and then tearing it up? Telling them she’d love to help, but she’s set aside exactly that amount for Lady Gaga collectibles?

“Oh, here he is,” Natalie says as a smile broadens her lips.

Diane looks up, and though the face is immediately familiar, she cannot pair it with a name--until Natalie does it for her.

“This is my sister, Diane,” Natalie says. “Diane, this is my fiancé, Julian St. John.”


In spite of the slight wind and the general absence of the sun, which minutes ago prompted him to throw on a sweatshirt, Travis now feels very, very warm. He unzips his hoodie as he waits for Elly to say more.

“What’s up?” he asks, failing miserably at seeming casual.

“I made a decision. About the future. Our future, I guess.”

And?! he wants to bark, but he manages to suppress the urge. “Okay...”

“There are some things I need, and I don’t think I’m going to get them with the way things are,” she says.

Now his heart might be stopping for good. He braces for the inevitable impact--

“I withdrew my acceptance from Occidental,” she says.

Wait, what?

“Wait, what?”

“I’m going to King’s Bay U in the fall. It’s just--it makes sense. I’ve lost a lot of time with Danielle. I want to get to know her in this--in a different way, knowing what I know now.”

He doesn’t know how to voice the major question now raging in his mind. “That’s great,” he says. “That’ll be good for you guys.”

“Yeah. I think so. I want to be closer to her... and to you.”

His lungs suddenly open up, and he breathes the biggest gasp of air he can handle. “Does that mean--?”

“It means I want to be near you.”

“I want to be near you, too. I mean, I--Elly, I’m sorry for what I did. I promise I won’t pull anything like that ever again. I swear.”

“Good.” He can almost hear her smiling over the phone line. “Because I don’t have any schools left to switch to.”


Claire’s body vibrates with fury, but Loretta sits perfectly still on the other side of the glass, giving no indication as to why she sent that birth certificate. If not for the disgusting smirk pulling at the woman’s plumped lips, it might actually seem that she had nothing to do with the mysterious document, after all.

“Who is John Charles McClintock?” Claire demands.

“You didn’t really think I would just tell you, did you?” Loretta says. “That would take all the fun out of it.”

“Goddamn you. You’ve had more than enough ‘fun’ at my family’s expense.”

“And you murdered my husband. Tit for tat and all that, my dear.”

“Just tell me what this is all about.”

“I’d rather not.” Loretta signals to the guard and sets down her receiver. “I’m ready to go back to my cell,” she tells the guard.

“I’m not through with you!” Claire says, but it is no use. The guard replaces Loretta’s handcuffs.

Before being led away, though, Loretta turns back and says one last thing to Claire. She can make it out, even without sound:

“Look them up.”

With that, the guard takes her from the room. Claire remains at the station, too dazed to move. She thought Loretta might be eager to torture her by divulging whatever is going on; luring Claire here is why she had that birth certificate sent to King’s Bay in the first place. But Claire did not anticipate that the wretched woman would prefer to torment her by gleefully withholding information instead.

Nevertheless, Claire has the names of the parents listed on that birth certificate, and she has the name of the hospital where the child was born. She hoped to have some information from Loretta before she went crashing into their lives, but now she has no choice. She has to find them, and she has to find out why Loretta Ragan would be interested in their son--a child born three days before her own child, and only a few hours away.


What will Claire learn about the birth certificate?
Will Sarah and Matt be able to co-parent with Graham in the picture?
What do you make of Natalie’s surprising new fiancé?
Discuss this episode and more in the Footprints Forum!

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