Episode #607

- Diane refused to publish a book written by Julian St. John, her sister’s fiancé and the man who ran a drug ring through Objection Designs several years ago.
- Molly thrilled Brent by asking him to move back into their home.
- Spencer blasted Loretta for costing him his college admissions with her scandals and crimes. Loretta insisted that Claire is really the one to blame.
- Alex told Sarah that he found Jason passed out on sleeping pills while Sophie cried in her crib. Sarah reported this news to an alarmed Paula.


Diane Bishop is careful to close the office door before she even begins. Her thumb presses the lock on the doorknob, and it responds with a reassuring click.

“She was screaming in her sleep,” she says. “Not even words, just... screaming.”

Tim Fisher leans against the edge of Diane’s desk, his face scrunched up in anguish. “I hope Dr. Arcaro can do something,” he says. “I don’t want her to... I don’t like this.”

“No kidding. I wish that bastard had survived his accident so I could go kill him myself.”

Tim stares intently at some spot on the carpet. “What did Samantha say when you woke her up?”

“Nothing, really.” Diane shakes her head. “She said she didn’t remember what she was having a nightmare about, or if she was dreaming at all.”

“Do you think she was telling the truth?”

“No! You know how she is. She never wants to worry anyone about anything.”

“Yeah.” Tim keeps rolling possibilities through his mind, trying to find some loophole that will allow him to make it magically be all better for his daughter. “The weird thing is that Tempest seems to be fine. She’s not having nightmares or anything.”

“Says who? Claire?” Diane pushes her eyes all the way upward, making a big show of her contempt for Tim’s ex-wife.

“She also lived on the streets for a while, so she’s probably a little more accustomed to things that scary.”

“Maybe.” Tim knows that is the most Diane will concede about anyone even vaguely connected to Claire. “I just hope this doctor helps her. She can’t keep living like this.”

“I know.”

Diane checks her watch. “Crap. I have to get to the boardroom for that big, mysterious meeting Ellis called.”

“You have no idea what it’s about?” Tim asks as he moves off the desk so that she can grab whatever she needs.

“Not a clue. I’m sure it’ll be a colossal waste of time, per usual.” With her Blackberry, a small black notebook, and a pen in hand, she crosses the office and opens the door. “You’re sure you’re okay leaving to take Samantha to her appointment?”


Diane leaves the office and turns right. Tim follows her but takes a left--but he only makes it a few steps before he stops in his path.

The woman approaching him, however, continues undeterred. “There you are,” she says. “I was hoping I’d find you.”

“Cassandra,” he says, utterly unprepared to deal with her.


Every time Paula Fisher sets foot inside the renovated ice arena, her heart swells with pride. She recalls all the mornings spent sitting on the worn vinyl bleachers, watching Jason and Courtney practice with Sandy. The overhead heaters would buzz on and off, in no apparent pattern. The advertisements lining the rink’s boards would periodically be replaced, but the boards remained banged up, marred by scratches and scrapes from hockey games. The facility was functional, even comfortable, but it was by no means impressive.

These days, however, the arena is a sight to behold. The bleachers are now made of slick wood that lends the place a slightly rustic feel; the brand-new boards are immaculate. Signs in the entryway point to the newly expanded areas that house a coffee shop and a gym. It is the type of facility that might make 5 a.m. practices a little more bearable--or so Paula would like to believe. It is remarkable for her to think that the arena has been transformed thanks to her son’s hard work.

As she walks up the stairs to the administrative office, though, that familiar sense of pride mingles with something else. Dread. This is not a conversation that she particularly wants to have, but avoiding it will not make Jason’s issues go away. They need to do something to help him. After she heard about how Jason took sleeping pills and slept right through Sophie crying and screaming, she wanted to drive over to his house and camp out there until everything was better. But Sarah is right: they have to approach this in an intelligent way, so as not to drive Jason further into isolation. They decided that the best way to accomplish that would be for her to stop in and make a casual offer, rather than having the entire family confront him.

“Are my son and beautiful granddaughter in here?” she asks when she arrives at the open office door.

“Mom!” Jason says. Paula rounds the corner and spots him at his desk. He wears a smile and is obviously pleased to see her, but there is something tentative and backed-off about him, even in these first few moments.

Sophie sits in a playpen at her father’s side, bashing her hand against a stuffed hedgehog. Paula moves to the side of the playpen and bends down to pick up her grandchild.

“Oh, you beautiful little girl,” she says, smothering the baby’s face with kisses. Sophie giggles at the ticklish sensation.

“What are you doing here?” Jason asks. He tries to make the question sound casual, but Paula can hear the nervous questioning in his voice--as if he is wondering whether she knows what happened.

“I was driving by and thought I might be able to catch you. It’s been too long since I saw Sophie.” She bounces her granddaughter on her hip and marvels at how much bigger and more mature Sophie seems since even a few weeks ago. With her other grandchildren, Paula saw them almost every day at this stage of their lives; with Sophie, however, their visits are ‘regular’ but not ‘frequent.’ Jason’s self-segregation has extended to his child.

“Do you bring her to the office every day?” Paula asks.

Jason clicks away at his keyboard for a few seconds before looking to her. “Yeah. That way she’s with me all the time. Less complicated, less confusion for her.”

“That makes sense. I’m sure it makes it a little more difficult to focus on your work at times.”

He shrugs. “I can handle it.”

“Well,” she starts carefully, “if you ever want your father and me to take her for a day or overnight, please, please ask. We’d be more than happy to spend the time with her.” She allows that a moment to land, then adds, “Actually, maybe we could take her for a weekend and give you some time to clear your--”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Even as he finishes the statement, he has turned back to the computer. He types as he continues: “I have everything under control, Mom.”

The way his shoulders are pressed halfway up to his ears, the way he stares at the computer screen with such forced focus, Paula can tell that the last thing he has these days is control. It breaks her heart to see her son living his life this way, especially when he has a family so eager to rally around him and help out.

Still, it takes every bit of strength within her to call him a liar. “No. You don’t.”


“Why does it seem like there are fewer hangers in here than there used to be?” Brent Taylor asks as he stands in the middle of the master bedroom’s walk-in closet with several shirts draped over his arm.

Molly Taylor peeks her head around the doorframe. “Is it better if I say that I just threw a bunch of hangers away, or...”

“Or that you bought a lot of clothes in the past year?” Brent finishes for her with a smile. “Let’s go with the throwing away.”

“Works for me.” Nevertheless, Molly moves into the closet and begins rearranging things in order to free up some hangers for him. To Brent, it seems like impossible math, and Molly is still struggling with it when the doorbell rings.

Immediately she stops what she is doing. “I’ll go get that.” She hurries downstairs to answer the door, and Brent follows slowly, still very conscious of his new prosthetic as he takes careful steps.

Once downstairs, he finds Molly standing across the open door from her sister. This is not exactly a common sight here--or anywhere--and Brent pauses at the picture of the two sisters together.

“Sarah,” Brent says, making his way off the last of the stairs. “What’s going on?”

She regards him with surprise. “Brent. Hi.”

“Brent’s getting his things moved back in,” Molly explains.

Sarah nods, trying not to make too big a deal of this substantial news. “I actually need to talk to you about something, Molly. But maybe Brent can shed some light on it.”

Molly leads the way into the kitchen, where they settle at the table. Sarah declines Molly’s offer of tea or coffee and launches quickly into her reason for coming. In a minute flat, she recounts the tale of Diane’s sister arriving in town, revealing herself to be engaged to Julian St. John, and trying to sell Diane on publishing Julian’s story.

“I don’t understand how he can be out of prison,” Molly says.

“He only got, what, ten years?” Brent says. “Plus an enormous fine. He had no prior convictions and was probably a model prisoner. I’m not surprised he got paroled.”

Molly huffs with distress. “Can’t we do something to stop him from getting his book published? He almost destroyed Objection’s reputation by using it as a front for his drug operation. I won’t let him drag us through the mud again.”

“It’s all public record,” Brent says. “There are certain things you can object to, obviously, but on the whole...”

Shaking her head, Molly says, “If Camille were alive today...”

“Diane has no intention of publishing the book,” Sarah says. “I just thought you should know about Julian.”

“Thank you,” Molly says as she finishes making herself an espresso with the machine that Brent has not been able to use for a year. He doesn’t even want one now, but the possibility of making one whenever he wants fills him with a sense of hope.

“Why is Diane’s sister marrying him, anyway?” Molly asks.

All Sarah can do is shrug. “I haven’t even met her yet. From what Diane says, Natalie is completely deranged, so maybe she thinks this is a great idea.”

“If Diane isn’t biting on the book, maybe they’ll take the hint and get out of King’s Bay,” Molly says. “It doesn’t sound like anyone wants either of them here.”

“No kidding,” Sarah says, and Brent observes that it is one of the rare occasions when both Fisher sisters are completely in agreement.


Philip Ragan does not regard it as strange when he sees two men in work uniforms move through the house and up the main staircase. There are always service people coming and going in his mother’s house, and despite her incarceration, things have more or less continued to function according to schedule. However, when Philip sees the two men come back down the stairs carrying a large flatscreen television, he quickly wraps up his phone call and springs to his feet.

“Excuse me!” he calls out. “What do you think you’re doing?”

The men pause and exchange looks. Finally one of them says, “The guy upstairs told us to take it out.”

“What guy?” Even as Philip asks, though, he knows the answer. “Spencer! Get down here!” He gestures for the men to set down the television and, when he receives no response from upstairs, calls Spencer’s cell phone.

“Come downstairs, would you?” Philip says once his brother answers the call. Thirty or forty excruciatingly long seconds later, Spencer appears on the stairs.

“Why are these men taking your television out of the house?” He suddenly feels like the bewildered father from a cheesy 1990s sitcom.

“Because I’m getting a new one,” Spencer says calmly. “By the way, I need an advance from my trust. Actually, we need to talk about how that’s--”

Philip holds up a hand. “First things first--” He addresses the two men. “Bring the television back upstairs, please.”

The men look annoyed and then oblige. Philip waits until they have moved away a bit before he gets into it with Spencer.

“For the record, Mother is still in control of your trust,” he says. “I don’t have the authority to do anything with it.”

Mother is in jail.”

“She’s waiting to stand trial. She hasn’t been convicted of anything. She certainly isn’t going to have the attorneys act as if she’s dead. What’s more, I don’t want you running all around spending money as though the world is ending.”

“Oh, come on. If I can’t go away to college--because of what Mother did, keep that in mind--then I’m going to upgrade my situation here. I don’t think you can fault me for that.”

“Actually,” Philip says, picking up his phone from the table, “I was just on the phone with the Registrar’s Office, and you’ll have a spot this semester.”

“At Princeton?”

“No.” Hesitation pulls at Philip like a rider at a horse’s reins. “None of the schools that admitted you previously are interested in reconsidering their decision as of now. But there’s a university in the city where I’ve been living--”

“What the hell? Where, in Bumfuck, Oregon?”

“Washington. King’s Bay.” Philip suspected this is how Spencer would react, and he tries to maintain an even tone. What his brother wants most is to engage in an argument. “King’s Bay University is a very good school.”

King’s Bay University? What is that, a public school?” When Philip does not deny it right away, Spencer’s features widen with horror. “Oh, god. You have got to be kidding if you think I’ll even consider--”

“You are going there.”

“Bullshit, Philip. I’m not moving all the way across the country to waste my time at some public school full of hippie assholes. Once this thing with Mother blows over, I’ll re-apply to Princeton, or Dartmouth, maybe, and I’ll start next fall.” Satisfied with his plan, he folds his arms. “So, I need some money.”

“Need I remind you that receiving money from your trust is contingent upon being enrolled in school, until you earn a bachelor’s degree? You’re attending school this semester, Spencer.”

Spencer clenches his teeth and grunts at Philip, then spins around and bounds up the stairs. He nearly slams into the workers, who are returning sans television. As Philip grabs his wallet and tips them generously, he hears the faint slam of a door from somewhere upstairs. Spencer might not be pleased by his plan, but a fresh start will be good for both of them. Philip is sure of it.


Cassandra Ward looks as good as ever. She is dressed down, in dark, almost indigo jeans with a white camisole top and a lightweight purple cardigan over it. Her curly hair is pulled back casually into a ponytail, and she wears glasses with rectangular, black frames. And if their relationship hadn’t nearly gotten his daughter killed, Tim might grant more than a passing glance to her appearance.

“I had to pick up a check,” she explains as Tim leads her into the floor’s smaller conference room, which is mercifully unoccupied. “But I was hoping I’d see you.”

Tim lets the comment pass without a reaction.

“I’m so sorry about what happened,” she says. “I’m as much to blame for it as JD was.”

“That all could’ve been avoided if you had told me the truth months before.”

“I know.” Behind the glasses, her eyes look haunted; Tim can tell that she has been living with this burden, this guilt, since the day of JD’s rampage.

Good, he thinks, flashing once more to the image of Samantha waking up screaming from a traumatic nightmare.

“How’s Samantha doing?” Cassandra asks. She speaks carefully, as if fearful that she might be wrongly invoking a sacred name.

“She’s having a difficult time, to be honest. She has an appointment with a psychologist this afternoon. I’m praying the doctor can help her.”

“Me, too.” She folds her arms across her chest and shifts her weight from one foot to the other and back. “I really am sorry, Tim. I don’t know how else to express that.”

He stifles the nastiest thoughts begging to emerge from his mouth and instead simply nods.

“I’m going back to Texas,” she says. “I’ve been there for the past few weeks, actually. But I’m moving back permanently.”

“Good luck.”

He knows that his curt responses sound petulant, that he is barely making eye contact with her... and if Samantha weren’t going through what she is now, he might care more.

“Again, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry, Tim. I’m going to sell the ring and donate the money to charity. It’s only right.”

That catches him off-guard. In all of this mess, he has hardly given a second thought to the “Equinox diamond” that set this whole thing in motion.

“I think that’s a good idea,” he manages to say.

“I hope so. I can’t keep that thing, not after what happened to Samantha, and to my mother.” Her voice dips a little lower. “And if you think I get off scot-free in all this, remember that I have to think about how my mother’s death was my fault every day for the rest of my life.”

He isn’t sure if she expects sympathy for that, but she certainly is not going to get it from him. Instead, he chokes back the urge to reply, “Good.”

“I really do care about you, Tim. I thought what we had could’ve been something really good.” This time, she does not wait for him to respond; she opens the conference room door to let herself out. “I hope things get better for Samantha. Take care.”

“You, too,” he says, and then she is gone.

Tim didn’t particularly want to see her again, and whatever feelings he had for her were destroyed by the revelations about her mother’s death and JD’s victimization of Samantha and Tempest. Nevertheless, watching her go still hurts a little. All the potential of the months they spent together, all the half-formed plans that were taking shape in his head the whole while, are now decisively squashed. The bond he thought they had formed is no longer valid, and he is once again on his own.


In the other conference room, Diane sits at a table surrounded by the company’s other acquisitions editors. Martin Ellis, the Vice President of Acquisitions, towers over the end of the conference table. He is an imposing man, with a body like a cask of wine and a face that Diane privately likens to a potato. Right now, he is huffing and puffing his way through a labyrinthine analysis of facts and figures.

“We’ve by and large avoided the crunch of the economy up until now,” Ellis says, “but it’s long past time for us to make some changes.”

Diane does not like the way this sounds. She shifts uncomfortably in her cushy conference chair and makes a face indicating dread at the man across the table.

 “Am I going to have to cut an editor?” Ellis says, pausing dramatically. “Yes, I am.”

She knew this was coming—they all did—but having it confirmed sucks the air out of the room. Everyone suddenly seems to be hovering above their seats.

“However, I pride myself on having a strong team of editors, and I consider it fortunate that no one immediately springs to mind as being an obvious cut.”

Diane wouldn’t have put it past the oaf to lure them all in here only to fire someone in an embarrassingly public way, but she is grateful for this minor relief.

“Will I give you all a chance to prove yourselves? Yes, I will.” Ellis clasps his hands together. “Besides, today is my fourteenth wedding anniversary, and I don’t want to taint it. My wife and I are going to Seattle for the weekend. We’ll be having brunch and going on the Ride The Ducks tour.” A dreamy look overtakes him, and he goes quiet for a moment.

Then he continues, “The point is, everyone has four weeks to prove him or herself. At the end of this four-week period, at least one acquisitions editor will be cut. At least one. So if you currently have any projects in your pipelines, now is the time to fast-track them.”

A flurry of agreeable—fake—murmurs rise up from the assembled editors. Diane takes the opportunity to scan the room and size up her competition. Time to get serious.



Jason levels a hard gaze upon his mother, a grown-up version of the Seriously? he used to throw her way when he was a teenager. Paula was hoping it would not be necessary to go into such specifics, but his stubbornness is the reason he has been in this emotional gridlock ever since Courtney’s death, and without a push, he might never break out of it.

“I heard about what happened,” she says. “With Alex and Sophie and the sleeping pills. Jason, if you have a problem, we can—”

“I do not have a problem!” The insistence that has been mounting in his voice since she walked in now explodes full-force. “Actually, scratch that. I have a huge problem. Everyone’s sticking their nose into my life and talking about me behind my back. What, did Alex run right to you to tattle on me? Figures.”


“I don’t want to hear it. Why is everyone running around acting like my life is in shambles? I go to work everyday. I run a business. I have a nice house, and I take care of my daughter.”

“I’m starting to question whether you can do that.”

Jason’s face falls. His mouth opens and closes, but instead of producing words, it just sputters. He moves toward her and wrests Sophie from her arms.

“That’s enough,” he says. “You can tell Alex that I’m fine. If you guys don’t think so, you’re more than welcome to butt out of my life for good.”

Paula wants to reach out and hold him, but he is not seven years old anymore. That won’t fix the cut on his knee from falling on the ice while trying a flying camel.

“We want to help you,” she says.

“And I’m telling you that I don’t need your help.”

“Jason.” She tries to sound firm and non-emotional. Practical. “I’ll come stay at your house for a bit. I can help out with Sophie while you handle your everyday life. No judgments. Just help.”

His response is silence. Paula swears that she can see contemplation in his face; he really is considering it. She waits, willing her body to remain in place while she prepares to hear what she knows he is going to say.

Instead, he shatters the illusion with a few simple words: “I think you should go.”


“I appreciate the offer. I do.” He rounds the desk and sits back in the desk chair with Sophie in his lap. “But I am fine. Sophie is fine. And until you can accept that, we don’t have anything else to talk about.”


He does not answer her. He does not even acknowledge her. He returns his attention to his work, focusing very hard on keeping his head down, until Paula can bear it no longer. She moves to the door.

“We aren’t going to abandon you,” she says, “and we aren’t going to abandon that little girl. I love you.”

When his response—the response he has been giving ever since he could speak—is not instantaneous, Paula exits the office. She is going to help him—they all are. They just need to figure out how.


How can the Fishers get through to Jason?
Will Philip get Spencer to King’s Bay?
What will Diane do to secure her job?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum!

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