Episode #628

- Claire told Philip that she wanted to take blood samples from him and Spencer, in order to have complete medical files for the entire family. In truth, she wanted Spencer’s blood for a DNA test to determine whether he and Travis were switched at birth.
- Diane and Ryan were horrified to realize that they drunkenly eloped in Las Vegas. They planned to get a swift annulment.
- Diane also learned that Ryan’s plan was successful: Julian St. John signed a contract with another publisher, leaving Diane without a high-profile project at Vision Publishing.


The rain serves as a more-than-sufficient indicator that Ryan Moriani is back in Washington state. After the disastrous whirlwind of a weekend that he had in Las Vegas, the sight of home should be comforting; however, because of one terrible, drunken decision, he spent the entire trip back dreading his home and his loved ones.

His panic only intensifies when the taxi drops him off in front of his house and he spots a very familiar vehicle parked in the driveway.

Part of him wants to flee the scene. He is still exhausted and in shock, and this is not something he wants to face at the moment. But Danielle is a significant part of why he went to Vegas in the first place--to keep Julian St. John from revealing information in his book that would make Danielle and the Fishers hate Ryan--and he has to remind himself that he did accomplish that much. The book is going to be published on his terms. No one will ever know that he played a part in establishing the Objection drug ring that he eventually helped to take down. So, while his drunken elopement with a woman he loathes could be a major problem, he has already pulled off too many miracles to give up now.

Danielle opens the door before he even reaches the front steps. Shielding himself from the steady rain, Ryan flashes her a smile and then ducks his head back down until he is inside.

“I didn’t expect to see you so soon,” he says as he sets down his bag.

“I thought I’d surprise you. I missed you.” She stretches upward and plants a kiss upon his lips. Ryan is relieved to find that it feels the same as always: warm, reassuring. That much has not changed, regardless of the stupid choices he might have made in Vegas.

“Well, I’m thrilled that you’re here.”

“How was your trip?” Danielle asks.

“It was…” He raises one shoulder in a half-shrug. “Not exactly what I’d hoped.”

“Why did you even go?”

“Business. To meet with a publisher. Like I told you.”

“I didn’t even know you were working on another book,” she says. He cannot tell if there is a hint of accusation in her tone, a faint touch of I’m not sure I believe you.

“I’m not,” he admits.

“Then what’s going on?” She grows quiet, and even as he busies himself with emptying his pockets, he can feel her eyes scanning him, searching for answers. “You seem a little… shaken.”

He surprises himself with his response. Maybe it is the weariness from this insane weekend finally getting to him.

“I am,” he says.

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“Danielle, there’s… something I need to tell you. About my trip to Vegas.”


Claire Fisher hears her relatives before she sees them.

“This is retarded,” comes the reedy voice that she has come to associate with Spencer Ragan.

“It won’t take long. And it’s a wise precaution,” answers Philip Ragan’s more measured, urbane voice.

Claire busies herself with straightening the various items on the countertop. Seconds later, the two men come through the doorway of the small exam room where she asked them to meet her. She does her best to act surprised by their arrival.

“Oh, thanks for coming,” she says, setting a container of cotton swabs exactly where it was before she picked it up.

“Happy to do it,” Philip says. “This was a smart idea.”

Spencer doesn’t say anything, but he does offer a very exaggerated roll of his eyes. Claire cannot help but stop to study him. This boy--this young man--could be her son. She has only met him a handful of times; she has no idea what he looked like as a child, what his first steps were like, how his laughter sounded when he was a toddler. All those things about Travis are burned into her memory forever.

“So are you going to take our blood, or what?” Spencer says.

“Um, yeah. Who wants to go first?” Claire slips on a paper of disposable latex gloves.

“I will,” Philip volunteers. He sits down on the exam table and rolls up the sleeve of his Prada dress shirt. “Will this work?”

“As long as I can find a good vein in your elbow.” She begins searching and is grateful to locate one without much trouble. “This should be perfect.”

Philip is a model patient, not even wincing at the prick of the needle or the drawing of his blood. A minute later, she has the sample that she needs--well, the sample that will serve as a cover for the one that she actually needs.

“Are you ready?” Philip asks Spencer as he hops down from the table and rolls his sleeve back down.

Spencer eyes Claire disdainfully as she prepares a fresh needle and vial. “I’m adopted,” he says. “It’s not like my blood is going to match the rest of you, or whatever this is all about.”

“It’s so we have complete records in case of an emergency,” Claire says as calmly as she can. “I have a foster daughter living with me, and my son has a half-sister… It’s a big, sprawling family. I want to make sure we have complete medical information, that’s all.”

As though she didn’t just offer that perfectly reasonable explanation, Spencer continues scowling at Claire. “Besides, I don’t know if I want you stabbing me with that thing,” he says.

“I promise not to hurt you.”

“Like I’m going to trust you. You killed my father.”

Our father,” Philip says, gesturing to indicate all three of them. “And it’s much more complicated than that, regardless of what Mother has told you.”

“Whatever.” Spencer glares at Philip and then back at Claire. “I shouldn’t have even come. I’m outta here.”

He whips around and hightails it out of the exam room.


When the cab pulls into her complex, Diane Bishop finds herself studying her condo in a much different way than she normally does. She has lived in this place for so long that she hardly even notices it anymore; it is as familiar as the sight of her own face in the mirror. The thrill of being a homeowner wore off long ago, and often the only reminder is her monthly mortgage payment.

Today, however, she sees the condo as something endangered, something she has to protect.

She barks at the cab driver to pull as close to the covered stairs as possible and thankfully only has to endure two or three seconds of the driving rain. She climbs the stairs, pulls out her keys, and unlocks the door, hyper-aware of every moment. She is not going to lose her job. She is not going to lose her home.

“Hey, Mom,” Samantha says from the breakfast nook, where she sits with a sandwich and a book.

“Hey, kiddo.”

“How was your trip?”

“Umm… fine. Just a last-minute work thing.”

“You look tired,” Samantha says before taking a bite of her sandwich.

“Gee, thanks.” Diane is well aware that she must look like hell. She is wearing the same clothes that she wore to dash to Las Vegas, she barely managed to get her hair under control, and no amount of makeup is going to conceal how tired her face looks.

“No, I mean, you look… upset. Disappointed.”

Diane flings her purse onto the couch. “That’s a bit of an understatement.”

Samantha swivels on the barstool to face her mother. “Why? What happened in Vegas?”

I lost a major project and, to make things even worse, I married your damn Uncle Ryan, of all people.

“Oh, I was just chasing a deal that didn’t quite work out,” she says instead.

“I’m sorry, Mom.”

“Thanks.” Even today, an interaction like this with her daughter almost manages to lift Diane’s spirits. Samantha has grown up into such a smart, compassionate teenager, and sometimes Diane just stands back and marvels at how the hell she produced such a good kid. Today, though, there is a terrible guilt layered on top of all that.

“I should go take a shower,” she says, needing a few minutes to gather her thoughts.

“Okay. Do you want to watch a movie later? I figured out how to stream Netflix through the TV.”

“That sounds great. Think about what you want to watch.”

Diane retreats to the master bedroom, full of artwork and décor that she purchased with hardly any regard at all for price. She picks up a blown-glass vase that she bought at an art fair two years ago. It is still gorgeous, intriguing. But now she also sees it as money that she could have squirreled away in case of emergency.

Samantha might be growing up as an intelligent, caring young woman, but she is still a kid. And she depends on Diane. If she loses her job at Vision, she is going to be letting that kid down--and she cannot allow that to happen.


When Ryan does not immediately offer further explanation, Danielle presses onward. “I don’t like the way you sound,” she says. “What’s going on?”

A nervous energy pulses through Ryan. He feels as though he is walking the world’s most narrow, unstable tightrope, and he wonders if he is always going to feel like this. It seems like there is always one thing or another to cover up; he doesn’t know if he can spend the rest of his life under this much pressure. Even if it is pressure that he has brought upon himself.

“Come with me while I unpack,” he says, picking up his bag. He needs to keep busy while he does this--less chance for her to read him.

She follows him up the stairs and into the master bedroom. Sometimes, Ryan manages to forget that this house used to belong to his father, that it is the very same house where he shot Nick and left him for dead. On days like today, though, he cannot shake the sense that Nick’s spirit is lingering here, haunting him, refusing to relinquish its hold upon him. On days like today, he feels far too much like his adoptive father’s son for his liking.

The rain picks up steam outside, drilling the roof and the windowpanes with fervor.

“I didn’t tell you much about this trip because it was all very last-minute,” he says as he sets the bag on the bed, “and to be honest, I didn’t have much of an idea what was going on. I shouldn’t have even said anything about a publisher at all.”

“So what happened?” she asks with concern. “What was this all about?”

“A publisher who’d been interested in my first manuscript--well, my only one--approached me about the possibility of doing another project. I went to Las Vegas to meet with him.”


“And it isn’t going to work,” he says with a sigh. It bothers him how easily the lie rolls off his tongue. “That’s why I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“Sometimes opportunities come up and they wind up not leading anywhere. It happens.” She watches him remove a crumpled shirt from the bag and takes it from him. “Here, let me.”

She flaps the shirt in the air, trying to release some of the most egregious wrinkles, and then goes to the closet to hang it. Ryan reaches back into the bag, pulls out a pair of pants, and then notices something at the bottom that he didn’t realize was in there--

A photograph.

Oh, God.

It is a photo of him and Diane from some kind of photo booth, no doubt from the tacky chapel where they were married. They stand against a white backdrop, flashing their cheap gold wedding bands at the camera, their faces drooping from all the alcohol. A gaudy border of clouds surrounds the photo, with a pair of wedding bells in the center up top. The picture must have been heaped in with his belongings in the hotel room, and he failed to notice it when he tossed everything back into the bag during his hasty retreat from Las Vegas.

“What’s that?” Danielle asks, emerging from the closet.

Ryan is grateful for the layout of the room, because from where Danielle stands at the entry to the closet, she can only see the plain, white back of the photo.

“Oh, one of those stupid airline things,” he says. “One of those notices that they went through my bag.” He stuffs the photo back into the bag, making a mental note to destroy it as soon as possible. He picks up the pair of pants from the bed and hands them to Danielle. “Would you mind finding a hanger for these?”

“Of course.” She takes the pants and goes back into the closet. Ryan scrambles to tear the photograph to pieces. He ducks into the bathroom and shoves it down into the wastebasket.

“Don’t feel bad about things not working out with this publisher,” she says. “Maybe you can still write another book. Wouldn’t Vision be interested in publishing it?”

“I’m not so sure about that,” Ryan says, stepping out of the bathroom. “Enough about that, though. What would you like to do for dinner?”

“Let’s go out,” she says. He tries to find comfort in the utter normalcy of her response. She has no idea what happened in Vegas. He and Diane will have an annulment soon enough, and that will be that. He can still have this life that he has been fighting to have.


“I’m sorry,” Philip says. “Spencer is a bit… Maybe it’s best if you just take my sample for now.”

“No.” Under normal circumstances, Claire would agree with him. Given this already-insane situation, though, she will do whatever it takes to get that sample from Spencer. She doesn’t think she can handle any more wondering.

“Wait here,” she tells Philip as she rushes out of the room. Breaking into a jog, she catches up with Spencer at the end of the corridor.

“Hang on!” she calls out. He stops walking but doesn’t turn to face her.

“Do this for your brother,” Claire says, almost tripping over the word brother. It probably isn’t even the truth. “He’s responsible for you now. It would give him some peace of mind.”

“I’m 18. No one is responsible for me but me.”

“Fair enough.” If Travis were giving her this much attitude, she would tear into him for acting like a brat--but she has a feeling that would not get her anywhere with Spencer right now.

“Listen,” she says, placing a hand on his shoulder, which he promptly shrugs off. “I know you don’t like me. And that’s fine. You don’t have to like me. But for better or worse, we are all related in one way or another. That isn’t going to change in an emergency just because you don’t want it to be true.”

He doesn’t say anything--but he also doesn’t bolt for the elevator. She proceeds with great caution.

“Someday, I would love to have the opportunity to tell you my side of the story,” she says. “About what happened with my--our--father, how I grew up, all of that. But even if you never want to give me that chance, we’re stuck being related, Spencer.”

He looks back at her over his shoulder. “If I let you take a damn sample, will you leave me alone?”


“Fine.” He lets out a big sigh, to make sure she knows what an exhausting effort this is. Claire begins walking back down the corridor, and a moment later, she hears his footsteps following her.

She decides not to say anything other than what is utterly necessary until she has his blood in that vial. And then, as soon as Philip and Spencer leave, she is taking it downstairs to the lab and ordering a DNA test.

She cannot even think about what happens beyond that. Not until she knows for certain one way or the other.


Should Claire even try to have a relationship with Spencer?
Will Diane be able to save her job?
Can Ryan keep his drunken elopement a secret from Danielle?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to discuss it all!

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