Episode #604

- Philip returned to King’s Bay. His newfound sister, Claire, wanted nothing to do with him, and Molly dismissed him from his duties with Objection Designs.
- Lauren and Josh rekindled their relationship.
- Danielle was furious at Ryan for trying to force her and Elly into a reconciliation, and she once again pushed him away.
- Since losing Courtney on their wedding day, Jason remained detached from his family and friends.
- Diane reluctantly agreed to meet her sister’s mystery fiancé--and was shocked when he turned out to be former King’s Bay resident Julian St. John.


The man approaching Diane Bishop’s table is instantly familiar to her, in a vague, unidentifiable way. She knows that she has met him before, but as much as she studies his face, she cannot attach it to a name or a story. Luckily, her sister is there to greet her fiancé with a kiss on the cheek and then introduce him.

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

In that instant, memory flows in and fills the gaps. The man who hired Sarah to investigate his wife’s possible infidelity, only to have it turn out that he was setting her up so that he could divorce her without alimony. The man who was arrested for helping Nick Moriani run the Objection Designs drug ring from inside the company. The man her idiot sister now thinks she’s going to marry.

Diane stands, but when Julian reaches out his hand to shake hers, she very blatantly uses her right hand to grab Natalie’s shoulder instead.

“Can I have a minute alone with you?” Diane says. She doesn’t wait for Natalie to answer and steers her into the restaurant’s entryway.

“That was rude,” Natalie huffs.

“Look, there are a lot of mistakes I’d be thrilled to see you make, but marrying that man is not one of them. He’s a convicted felon, Natalie. He was a drug kingpin--and not even a very good one!”

Natalie rolls her eyes like only a well-practiced drama queen can. “Drug kingpin is a major exaggeration. He got involved in some business deals that weren’t fully aboveboard. He paid for his mistakes. The end.”

“You knew about this?”

“Julian and I don’t have secrets,” Natalie says. The way she is beaming, she might as well have just gloated that a member of the British royal family asked for her hand in marriage.

Diane peers back into the dining room, where Julian is seated at the table, ordering a drink from the waitress.

“Why isn’t he in prison?” she asks.

“He was released a few months ago. Good behavior. We met at a cocktail party in Seattle, and when he mentioned King’s Bay... well, we got to talking, and it blossomed from there.”

Blossomed? You are deranged. Are you this desperate for a husband?”

“I’m not desperate, Diane. I’m marrying a man in spite of his flaws, because I love him. Maybe if you weren’t so picky, you’d have someone by now, too.”

The urge to smack her sister is nearly overwhelming, but Diane manages to force it down. With annoyance, she realizes that she left her purse at the table and will have to go back in to get it before making her exit.

“Just hear us out,” Natalie says. There is something different about her voice now--almost pleading, without the edge of superiority she normally favors. “I told you we have an offer for you. I promise it will be worth your time.”


Philip Ragan scans the homey, unpretentious coffee shop as he waits for his drink to be ready. A cluster of teenagers occupy three well-worn armchairs, their bodies hopping from chair to chair excitedly as they chatter and play with their cell phones. A man and woman sit awkwardly across from each other at a small table, probably on a first date--one established on the Internet, most likely. A few other patrons are scattered throughout the shop on their laptops.

When a light chime indicates that the front door has been opened, Philip’s attention follows it--only to receive a jolt from what he sees: Lauren Brooks and Josh Taylor entering together, their hands linked.

“Lauren,” he says before they even spot him. Always best to tackle these things head-on. “How have you been?”

“I’m doing okay,” she says, clearly thrown off-kilter by running into him. She holds onto Josh’s hand.

“And Josh? How are you?”

Josh does not bother with words, opting instead for a tight-lipped dip of the head. No surprise there.

“I didn’t expect to see you here,” Lauren says. “In King’s Bay, I mean.”

“That seems to be everyone’s reaction.”

“Come on, man,” Josh says, taking a step forward and half-blocking Lauren’s body. “After what you and your mom did, you can’t think--”

“I want to make it clear that I had no knowledge of what my mother was doing,” Philip says. “Not to mention no involvement whatsoever. I was just as shocked as everyone by what was revealed recently.”


“Josh,” Lauren says, moving him out of the way. “If you’re telling the truth, Philip, then I’m sorry about your mother. That can’t be easy. If you aren’t...”

“I am.” Philip feels a surge of annoyance that these people do not believe him, but then again, what reason do they have to do so? He is relieved to hear his drink called, and he moves to the bar to retrieve it.

“Just stay away from everyone,” Josh says. “That means Lauren, Molly...”

“I’m no longer working with Objection, so you don’t have to worry about that.”


Philip ignores the smug overgrown child and addresses Lauren: “Take care.”

“You, too,” she says uncertainly.

As he exits the coffee shop and heads for his rental car, Philip takes mental stock of this latest disastrous encounter. There were only a few people he wanted to see in King’s Bay: Molly, Claire, and Lauren. His encounters with each of them have been underwhelming, to say the least; whatever trust he had or could have with any of them now seems to be a distant memory. There really is nothing left for him in King’s Bay.


“Is it really that bad?”

Jason Fisher begins to look up at his brother, but his gaze is waylaid by the papers and files and God-knows-what-else covering his desk. “What does it look like?”

Ryan Moriani takes a seat across from him. “Maybe it’s time to get someone else in here, Jason. You can’t do three or four people’s jobs forever.”

“Maybe.” Jason lets out a heavy sigh as he surveys the paper-related devastation before him. “I’m keeping up, though. This way, I know everything that’s going on.”

“And you’re working weekends and driving yourself insane.”

Ryan senses that Jason is not going to respond, or at least, that he will attempt to direct the conversation elsewhere. As if sensing her father’s need for assistance, Sophie cries out from the playpen beside Jason’s desk. Immediately he reaches over and picks her up. She settles into his lap with her stuffed hedgehog toy.

“I know you’re probably wary of... trusting anyone new,” Ryan continues, choosing his words very carefully, “but not everyone you hire is going to be dangerous or psychotic. You could get referrals...”

“I don’t want referrals!” Jason snaps, then looks down at Sophie to make sure he has not disturbed her. She seems oblivious to the minor outburst as she continues playing. “I’m fine, Ryan. I promise.”

Ryan does not believe that for a second, so he opts not to say anything at all.

Jason takes advantage of the lull to shift the conversation. “Have you talked to Danielle yet?”

“Not really. We’ve traded a few voicemails and texts. We’re supposed to sit down and talk this week. I haven’t wanted to pressure her, considering...”

“What you did,” Jason says with a sympathetic grin.

“Precisely. Giving her space is the hardest thing in the world, though.”

“She’ll come around.”

It is the sort of obligatory reassurance that, despite being the appropriate thing for Jason to say, means absolutely nothing. Ryan lets it evaporate into the air, which takes only seconds.

“I was only trying to help her,” he finally says. “I wanted to give her some closure as far as this Elly situation is concerned.”

“Do you really think tricking them into being at the same party was the smartest way to do that?”

“No. I know. In retrospect, it seems idiotic.”

“Then giving her some space is probably a good idea,” Jason says. “And not just for now. Even if--when--you guys make up, stop trying to direct things for her. Let her find her own way with this stuff.”

Ryan knows that Jason is right. He has always had this problem: with his fathers, with Claire, now with Danielle. He finds it impossible to sit back and allow things to play out. He always needs to make things happen as soon as possible--and, too often, that leads to unfortunate, unexpected consequences.

“I can’t lose her,” he says quietly.

Jason doesn’t say anything. Ryan wonders if his comment was insensitive, in light of how much more horribly Jason had his wife ripped away from him. Neither of them speaks for a long moment.

Ryan is the one who finally breaks the silence. “We should do something out of the ordinary. Take a day and drive to Seattle for a ballgame. I’m sure Paula and Bill would be happy to have Sophie overnight.”

The way Jason sits back in his chair, the way his hands tighten around Sophie’s little body, one would think that Ryan suggested throwing the child out a twelfth-story window.

“As you can see, I’m really busy around here,” Jason says, gesturing once again at his buried desk. “Day trips are probably not in the cards for a while.”

“Is that really the only reason? Work?” Ryan asks, leaning forward.

“Yes.” Sophie squirms in Jason’s leg and then flings her hedgehog to the floor; Jason leans down to pick it up. As he hands it back to his daughter, he says coolly, “Thanks for bringing lunch. But I should get back to all of this. It was good to see you.”

“Good to see you, too,” Ryan says, and he lets himself out of the office, even if it seems like the last thing he should do is leave his brother alone.


Molly Taylor recalls the first time they did this all too clearly. They waited in a room similar to this one, a few doors down the hallway. The specialist brought in Brent’s newly crafted prosthetic and explained its construction, how much of it was made of plastic to keep its weight down, how the foam covering was intended to mirror the size and shape of Brent’s other leg. Molly remembers watching with equal parts joy and trepidation as the doctor fitted the artificial limb onto Brent’s leg; she was amazed by the science of it, hopeful that it would work for Brent, and a little relieved not to have the stump of his injured leg hanging loose anymore. She also remembers feeling guilty for that last thought.

Today, as the doctor attaches his new prosthetic--a replacement for the one destroyed by Loretta’s attack dogs--it all feels like old hat. They sail through the explanations, and the doctor allows Brent and Molly to work together to fit the cuff around his thigh and fasten the belt around his waist.

“You’re sure it feels all right?” asks Dr. Khalil, a quiet man in his late thirties or early forties with a triangular little beard on his chin.

“Feels a lot like the old one,” Brent says with a nod.

“Excellent. I’ll go get the physical therapist, then.”

Dr. Khalil slips out of the room. Molly sits in a chair angled toward the exam table, from which Brent’s two legs hang down.

“I bet it feels good to have that back,” she says.

“You have no idea. I had almost gotten used to having it, you know? It was sort of like I never lost my leg to begin with. And then I had to spend all those weeks without it.”

She sighs. “I can’t even imagine.”

He squeezes his bicep. “At least the crutches helped pump up my arms.”

“At least there’s that,” she concedes with a smile.

Quiet falls over them like a light mist. They have so rarely been alone together in the past few months; it is as if neither of them knows what the dynamic is anymore. Molly remembers a time when the dynamic they shared was the most important thing in the world to her.

“You didn’t have to come today,” Brent says.

“I wanted to.”

“Well, thanks.”

“You know I’m here for you, Brent.”

“I know. Josh and Danielle are, too. You don’t have to feel obligated--”

“I said I wanted to. Not that I felt obligated.” Her eyes drop down to her purse, resting in her lap. “I’ve been thinking.”

Brent simply waits for her to go on.

“It sounds like things are getting serious between Josh and Lauren,” she says. “He could probably use his own space again. And it would be good for you to be around the boys while you get used to your new leg...”

Brent tilts his head downward, leveling his gaze upon her until their eyes meet. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

She can hardly believe that she is. After all that they have been through, this is how it comes out--with so little drama, without much ceremony. The past year and several months have been trying, and there have been plenty of times when she believed her marriage was over, that there was nothing left for which to fight. But something has changed since they returned from New Hampshire. All of that has softened. With Philip out of the picture, and the specter of Loretta no longer hanging over every single interaction they share, Molly and Brent have once again begun to feel... normal. To her, they feel like Molly and Brent again. Not some couple on the verge of divorce. Not two parents trying to share their kids. Just Molly and Brent.

“You should move back in,” she says, all the words spewing out in a rush. “If you want to, that is.”

The offer--the proposal--sits there for what seems an eternity. She spoke too soon. She jumped the gun, and Brent is going to get uncomfortable, and it’s going to--

“I’d love that.” He smiles and reaches for her hand, which she happily gives to him. “I’d really love that.”


That afternoon, Philip finds himself driving through the back roads of the King’s Bay area. Despite all the time he has spent in this city over the past year and a half, he has never done much exploring. He did not consider it to be much more than a temporary stop, of which he has had many since graduating from college over a decade ago. Now, with no one he knows here wanting much to do with him, and his home back east being even less appealing, he is eager to get lost in territory that bears no bitter history.

What he finds proves rather underwhelming. Certainly, the towering evergreens and the vast expanses of fields are visually appealing, but outside the city limits, there is not much to observe besides nature--and that becomes repetitive rather quickly. He is winding the rental car back toward the freeway when his cell phone rings.

He reaches for the console to answer the call, only to be reminded that this subpar piece of tin lacks a built-in Bluetooth system. Deciding that the chances of a police officer catching him on his phone are slim out here in the middle of nowhere, he answers and holds the phone to his face.

“Spencer,” he greets his younger brother. “How are you?”

“I’m fucking pissed!” Spencer says, before Philip even finishes his question. “What the hell was Mother trying to do? Ruin our lives?”

“I think it’s evident she wasn’t thinking clearly. Why? What’s the matter?”

“I just got a letter from Princeton. They said my acceptance has been rescinded. They sent back my deposit and everything.”

“They can’t do that,” Philip says, though he has no proof whatsoever to back that up.

“Well, they did. I called Dartmouth and Brown and Cornell, too. God, Philip, I called Cornell! I would kill myself before I went to upstate New York. They all mysteriously have no record of me having been admitted. They said their incoming classes are full and I’m welcome to apply again next year.”

Philip does not know what to say. With one hand on the steering wheel, he guides the car around a wide curve.

“I’m sure there’s something we can do,” he finally says. “I’ll make a donation. Where do you want to go most? Princeton, still?”

“I guess! I--” Spencer’s words are cut off by an abrupt huff that fogs up the already cloudy connection.

“Calm down.”

“Calm down? What the fuck is going on?”

“I’m on my way to the airport,” Philip says. “I’ll be home late tonight. We’ll find a solution to this, I promise.”

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, man.”

A faint click indicates that Spencer has hung up on him. Philip sets his phone back in the plastic center tray and hits the accelerator a little harder. At least this might be something he can actually fix.


Instead of answering Natalie’s request, Diane dips back into the dining room, determined to retrieve her purse and get the hell out of there. What began as irritation has now swollen into rage. It’s one thing if Natalie wants to convince herself that a whirlwind romance with a recently paroled felon is a love story; it’s entirely another to try and suck Diane into their schemes.

“I assume you’re familiar with my... history,” Julian says as soon as she reaches the table. His voice is steady and strong.

“Remember that P.I. you tried to swindle? She’s my best friend. So yes, I’m well aware of your history.” She decides to omit the part about nearly having been eaten alive by a shoe-destroying Rottweiler while assisting Sarah on a stakeout.

She snatches her purse from the seat as Natalie catches up to her. “Diane, just listen to us,” she says. “This could be mutually beneficial.”

Diane snaps around. “No. It could be beneficial for the two of you, and you’ll try to spin it to deceive me into thinking I’ll get something out of it. Well, guess what? I’m not interested. Enjoy your lives together.”

She makes it only two steps away from the table before Julian speaks:

“I’m writing a book. My story. We thought Vision Publishing might be interested in it.”

In spite of her anger, Diane pauses.

“We’re aware of what a success Ryan Moriani’s story was for you,” Julian says. “My own story plays off that. I was working with his father for some time.”

The proposal does make some business sense, she has to admit. But she shakes off the grime of that illusion and tells them firmly, “I’m not interested in funding either of your mistakes. Neither is my company. Goodbye.”

Before they can further plead their case, Diane blows out of the restaurant. Once she hits the sidewalk, she pulls out her Blackberry and dials Sarah’s number.

“You are not going to believe who I just had a run-in with,” she says into the phone as she hightails it to her car.


Will Diane be able to shake Natalie and Julian that easily?
What should Philip do next?
Will Molly and Brent be able to get their marriage on track now?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to discuss all this and more!

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