Episode #629

- Samantha helped Tempest prepare for her GED exam.
- Spencer hooked up with Elly's roommate, Georgia, and then humiliated her by taking her clothes and making her walk across campus in her underwear.
- Diane and Ryan vowed to have their drunken marriage annulled without telling anyone in King’s Bay about it.


The rain refuses to relent, just as it has for days and days now. The car cuts through the driving precipitation, its blazing headlights a necessity even in the daytime.

When Tempest Banks came to King’s Bay, she knew that it would be different than life in Los Angeles. She had heard all about the weather being terrible, how it rains 300 days out of the year or whatever. But the reality of it can be pretty depressing. Sometimes she feels like it will never stop raining.

Still, she does not regret coming here. She really had no expectations as she hitchhiked north; she just needed a change. A big one. She had Claire’s number, but she didn’t expect too much out of it--maybe a hot meal, some tips on where to go. It was more about getting out of L.A. than looking for anything in particular in Washington. She was on those streets long enough that, if nothing else, it seemed like a good idea to find some new streets, ones where she hadn’t gotten in trouble so many times.

She had no idea that it would lead her here: almost 18 and on her way to take her GED exam in King’s Bay, Washington, with the woman who has appointed herself her foster mother.

“Are you nervous?” Claire Fisher asks from the driver’s seat.

Tempest merely shrugs. Of course she is nervous.

Sensing this, Claire says, “You and Samantha have been working really hard. You’re ready for this.”

“I hope so.” Tempest wants to believe her, but that is how regular school always was, back when she went: she’d think she understood stuff, she’d feel ready for a test, and then she would sit down and have no clue what she was doing. Her heart wouldn’t stop racing, and none of the words on the paper made sense.

Eventually she stopped going. She had bigger things to worry about, anyway.

They pull into the loop in front of the school, where other people are parking their cars and shielding themselves from the rain as they dash toward the school building. Of course I’m the only one getting dropped off, Tempest thinks with embarrassment.

Claire puts the car in park and turns toward her. “Good luck. You’re going to ace this.”


Leaning across the center console, Claire wraps her arms around Tempest. The hug lingers for a second longer than it normally would--Claire’s way of emphasizing her point. When she lets go, Tempest unbuckles her seatbelt.

“I’ll call you when I’m done,” she says.

“Okay. And good luck.” Claire is already beaming, like Tempest already received her results or something.

Claire drives back out into the rain. Without too much trouble, Tempest locates the classroom where the test is being administered. Samantha knows the layout well, since it is her school, and she made Tempest go over it on a map so that she wouldn’t have to be stressed about finding the room on the day of the test. Though it seemed like overkill at the time, Tempest has to admit that it helps a little today.

When she enters the classroom, she takes a look at the crowd. Some of them are around her age; many of them look older, at least in their early 20s. She wonders if they have taken the test before and failed, or what they have been doing with themselves since the time they would have been in high school.

At the front of the room, there is a check-in table, staffed by a woman with very curly gray hair and an ugly floral-print blouse that looks more like a tent. Tempest steps in line behind a man with a shaved head and again looks out at the people here to take the test, settling in at their desks with their pencils and scratch paper.

The man with the shaved head steps out of the way, and the gray-haired woman sets her sights on Tempest. “Can I help you?”

Tempest doesn’t know how it overtakes her, but the next thing she knows, she is blurting out, “Uh, no” and darting out of the room.


It is already late morning, but judging by the crowd in the university’s dining hall, one would think it were hours earlier. Students dressed in sweats, their mussed hair concealed by baseball caps, fill the seats. Their trays are piled high with eggs, bacon, muffins, and cups of coffee.

Travis Fisher sits at a table with his best friend, Landon Esco, his girlfriend, Elly Vanderbilt, and Elly’s roommate, Georgia. Their eyes are all a little bleary and their voices hoarse after a Friday night dorm party.

“You were threatening to do a striptease,” Travis tells Landon, whose mouth gapes in horror.

“I was not!”

“You were,” Georgia confirms. “On top of that girl’s desk.”

With a grunt, Landon bows his head in shame.

“I’m going to go grab one of those croissants,” Elly says, pushing her chair back from the table. “Anyone need anything?” They all decline the offer but thank her as she heads off.

“I’m just glad you were too drunk to follow through on that threat,” Travis says to Landon. “I see enough in our room.”

“And you like it,” Landon says, making a face.

Travis is about to engage in one of their usual, stupid back-and-forth games when he spots Elly out of the corner of his eye--having some sort of confrontation with Spencer Ragan, who is wearing a mocking smirk on his face.

“What do you think that’s all about?” Landon asks.

Travis starts to stand up. “I don’t know, but it’s one thing for that asshole to try to get under my skin. It’s totally another for him to be harassing Elly.” Before he can start toward them to rescue Elly, though, she breaks away from Spencer and ducks into the kitchen area. She returns to the table moments later with her croissant on a small plate.

“What was that? Was Spencer bugging you?” Travis asks her.

Elly tries to wave it off. “It was nothing.”

“It looked like something.”

“It’s fine,” she says, casting a quick glance over at Georgia, who looks like she is ready to fold in on herself. “Drop it, Travis.”

“Something’s going on,” he persists, sure of it now. The way Elly and Spencer were staring at each other during that brief exchange--there was an unmistakable animosity visible between them.

“I said it was nothing--”

“It’s okay,” Georgia interrupts. “I’ll tell him.”

“Georgia, no,” Elly says. “It’s not important.”

But Travis can tell that whatever Georgia knows is a big deal. She looks too serious, too concerned. “What happened?” he asks. And then he waits for one of the girls to spit it out.


“You cannot tell anyone about this.”

Diane Bishop levels a threatening stare upon Eric Westin as she delivers this warning across the small coffee shop table. She knows the man and his ethics--or lack thereof--well enough to realize that such an explicit admonition is necessary.

“Your secret is safe with me. Attorney-client privilege and all that,” Eric says calmly, as he lifts the paper cup to his mouth. He is the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome, and a successful attorney to boot. His confident swagger--some might call it cocky--is not entirely unwarranted, Diane has to admit.

“Still. My professional life is about to be flushed down the toilet, if I don’t come up with a Hail Mary ASAP. I don’t need everyone knowing what an idiotic move I made in my personal life, too.”

“It is a little funny.” A cruel little smirk plays over Eric’s lips. “Come on. Marrying Ryan Moriani, of all people?”

“Just push this annulment through so I can forget this ever happened, okay?” She shakes her head in disgust. “What’s the saying? ‘What happens in Vegas should burn in hell’?”

“I don’t believe that’s exactly it.”

As much as Diane wishes she didn’t have to discuss this at all, let alone be chided about it, she is grateful for the opportunity to vent about it with someone. She has been walking on eggshells, trying desperately to keep this information to herself, since returning to King’s Bay from Las Vegas.

“I still can’t believe you actually did it,” Eric says. “What on earth were you thinking?”

She is about to launch into an explanation of just how drunk she was when something across the shop catches her off-guard. The front door opens, and Tim Fisher enters, his sights set on the counter. Before he goes over to place his order, however, his gaze wanders just enough to land upon Diane.

“Oh, crap,” she mutters. Then, to Eric, she says, “Play it cool, okay?”

Tim approaches their table. “Hey, Diane. Eric, hi.”

“Hi, Tim.” Eric stands for a moment and extends his hand for a shake.

“Eric and I were just catching up,” Diane tells Tim. She knows immediately that she spoke too quickly, too eagerly.

Tim’s brow furrows, aiming an accusatory look at her. “Dare I ask what you’re actually up to?”

She glances at Eric to let him know that she has this under control. Then she drops her head and lets out a big sigh. “I wasn’t going to say anything, but I’m preparing a lawsuit.”

“Against who?”

“Sal Manzano and Julian. They might have slipped in under the wire with that contract they signed, but Julian’s deal with Vision was all but official. There’s at least enough there to tie up that book for a while.” In reality, she has done the research and discovered that she wouldn’t be doing anything besides wasting her time with a lawsuit, but Tim doesn’t need to know that.

Tim takes in her story. She hopes for a sign that he will buy it and quit with the probing, but of course he can’t leave well enough alone.

“Shouldn’t you be going through Vision’s legal department for that?” he asks. “No offense, Eric, but I’m not sure that family law is the best background for a major corporate suit.” And then, to Diane, he says, “So tell me what’s really going on here.”


A voice inside Tempest tells her to stop, to go back in that room, sign in, and take her test, but the rest of her cannot handle the idea. Her hands are clammy, her legs are tingling, and her head feels like someone just stuck it in the dryer. As she bolts out into the rain, though, she is confused to hear that internal voice become external.

“Hey! Where do you think you’re going?”

Years of experience have given her the instinct not to stop and look back--just run. When someone tells you to hold it, you book it. But there is something different this time: she knows the voice. So she stops.

Unfortunately, as footsteps rush to catch up with her, it occurs to Tempest that facing Samantha Fisher might be even worse than the police or a disgruntled storeowner.

“As far as I know, they aren’t administering the test outdoors,” Samantha says from behind Tempest. “Especially not in this rain.”

Tempest stands in place but does not turn around to face her friend.

“Were you really going to run away?” Samantha asks.

“What are you doing here?” Tempest says.

“I was in the library working on that chemistry project with my group. I was headed to the bathroom when I saw you running out of there like the building was on fire.”

“Maybe it is.”

“Maybe your pants are. Tempest, you were really going to run away and not take the test?”

“I don’t know.” Tempest’s gaze drops to the cracks in the sidewalk. All around them, the rain falls; it smacks brutally against the metal overhang that shields them from the weather.

Samantha circles around so that Tempest has no choice but to look at her.

“Are you nervous?” Samantha asks. “Is that it?”

“No.” Samantha’s eyes sear into Tempest until she adds, “Maybe.”

“Don’t be.”

With her vision still pointed at the ground, Tempest can see Samantha shifting her weight back and forth from one foot to the other. It feels like it takes a million seconds before she says anything again. Tempest wants to break away and run so she doesn’t have to deal with this stupid test that she is probably going to fail or with all the people who are going to be disappointed when she does.

“What’s the very, very worst thing that could happen?” Samantha asks.

“I don’t know. We have a giant earthquake and the building falls down and kills us?”

“I was referring to your GED exam, but that would be bad, too, yeah.”


“So? What is the worst thing that could happen in that room?”

With an unsure shrug, Tempest says, “I fail the test?”

“Precisely. And what happens if you fail?”

Claire will get mad, and you’ll feel like you wasted all this time, and the Fishers will all think I’m stupid, and--

“You take it again,” Samantha answers for her. “That’s it. If you don’t pass the test, you wait the necessary amount of time and you take it again. I’ll help you prepare if need be.”

“I don’t know if I can take more studying,” Tempest says, feeling a tiny smile push her lips upward. “Especially with your drill-sergeant ass.”

“Then you’d better go in there and try your hardest, right?”

Tempest realizes that she has no way to argue with that. “Right.”

“Okay.” Samantha starts to walk toward the classroom, then turns back. “One more thing.”


A little stiffly, Samantha leans in and wraps her arms around Tempest’s back. Aside from Claire, who has hugged her a few times, Tempest can’t remember the last time someone just gave her a hug to be nice.

“Thanks, Sam,” she says, awkwardly bending her arms around Samantha’s back to return the hug.

“Okay,” Samantha says when they break. “Now let’s get back in there so you can take this test.”

Possibly against her better judgment, Tempest follows her back inside the classroom.


“What an asshole!” Travis says as Georgia wraps up her story.

“Seriously,” Landon mutters, shaking his head. “Sorry, Georgia.”

“It’s fine,” the blonde girl says, though she does not sound as if she believes that. She seems disturbed by the whole incident, even though it took place before winter break.

Travis swivels his neck until he spots Spencer eating at a table by the window with a bunch of Sigma Chi guys. The douche fraternity. Of course, Travis thinks.

“So what, now he’s harassing both of you?” Travis asks Georgia and Elly.

“He’s just trying to get a rise out of me,” Elly says. “Because he knows I think he’s disgusting.”

“He is disgusting.” Travis looks at Spencer again. “You know what? I’m gonna go have a little talk with him.”

“Travis, don’t--” But even as Elly says it, Travis is out of his seat and on his way across the dining hall. A few of the Sigma Chi guys see Travis approaching before Spencer does. They eye him warily, as they seem to do with all strangers, like they have been raised to believe that anyone unknown to them must either be a dangerous lunatic or utterly unworthy of their time.

“Hey, uncle, I need to talk to you for a minute,” Travis says.

Spencer glares at him. “Why?”

“About Georgia. Come on.”

After hesitating for a moment, Spencer stands. He looks amused by the entire thing, which only makes Travis’s blood burn hotter. This jackass really thinks that other people exist solely for his entertainment.

They settle a few feet away from the table.

“You owe Georgia a major apology,” Travis says.

“Why should I apologize for her being a slut?”

“You treated her like crap.”

“She treats herself like crap. You can’t blame a guy for wanting to get a little action.” Spencer gives him an unsettling look up and down. “Oh, I get it. You’re jealous. Your little girlfriend won’t let you stick it in yet? What, she wants to wait til marriage?” He cannot suppress a laugh at the idea.

“Shut up. And for what it’s worth, I get plenty from Elly. Not that it’s any of your business.” Travis knows he probably shouldn’t have gone there, but he can’t stand Spencer’s smugness. “Just go apologize to Georgia, okay?”

Spencer ignores the request. “Are you worried I’m going to get to Elly next? She’d look damn good going up and down on my--”

He doesn’t get to finish the thought, because Travis slugs him in the face. A shot of pain shoots up his arm when his fist connects with Spencer’s cheek, but it feels so damn good, too. From not that far away, he hears Elly call out his name.

Spencer makes a show of staggering backward, knocking into someone’s chair. He holds a hand to his cheek and stares at Travis. There is a momentary flash of something in his eyes--perhaps embarrassment, perhaps shock that Travis actually acted on his annoyance.

“You’re as much of a psycho as your mom,” Spencer spits.

“Oh, you’re one to talk about psycho moms.” Travis barely gets the words out before an older student forces his way between them.

“I’m an R.A.,” the guy says. “I need to see your student I.D.”

“He started it,” Travis says, though he knows it is futile.

Spencer is still holding his face for effect. “He punched me out of the blue.”

As Travis reaches into his pocket for his I.D., he catches sight of Elly’s disapproving face in a cluster of kids not far away.


Diane doesn’t know what comes over her, but she actually grows nervous beneath Tim’s questioning gaze. Usually lies spew out of her as naturally as a river over a broken dam. However, the utter humiliation of this situation--and the possibility of Tim finding out that she eloped with his idiot brother--freezes her in her tracks.

“I’m advising Diane, that’s all,” Eric jumps in.

“I don’t want to give anyone at Vision any more ammo against me,” she tells Tim. “Not with my head already on the chopping block. So would you please keep this to yourself for the time being?”

“Sure. Yeah. I’m going to go grab that coffee now. Samantha’s at the school working on her project?”

“Yeah. I said I’d pick her up at 2. I can bring her by your parents’ house afterward.”

“That’s great. Thanks.” He raises a hand in a half-wave. “Good seeing you, Eric.”

“You, too, Tim. Take care.”

Diane and Eric remain in silence until Tim has retreated all the way to the order counter on the other side of the shop.

“See? I’m very capable of keeping my mouth shut,” Eric finally says.

“Thanks. This is so stupid. Just make this annulment happen. Send me all the papers, and I’ll have Ryan come to me to sign them. I don’t want anything sent over to his house.”

“So his fiancée doesn’t find out?” An obnoxious grin lights up Eric’s face. “Sorry, this entire thing is hilarious to me.”

“Shut up. Just let me know what you need from me.” She pushes out from the table and stands. “Walk me out?”

Eric stands out of courtesy and checks his watch. “I have another client meeting me here any minute.”

“What, you’re running your practice out of coffee shops now? Should I hire someone else to handle my imaginary breach-of-contract suit?”

“I have needy clients who insist upon meeting on Saturdays,” he says. “The least I can do for my sanity is conduct business away from the office.”

They part with a promise from Eric to get the paperwork rolling on Monday morning. Diane shares a quick goodbye with Tim, who is waiting for his coffee order, and then leaves the shop.

As Tim waits, he notices Eric lingering at the table and checking his watch. The front door opens and closes a few times, as indicated by the jingling of a bell, but Tim doesn’t pay much attention to any of the new arrivals until he sees Eric’s face light up with recognition.

“Long Americano ready at the bar,” the barista calls out. Tim moves to pick up his coffee but keeps one eye on Eric--particularly when he spots the person whose arrival Eric seems to have been awaiting. The woman, seemingly oblivious to Tim’s presence, joins Eric at his table. He grabs his coffee from the bar and hurries out of the shop, propelled by an instinct not to let her know that he saw her here.

Why would Helen Chase be meeting with Eric Westin? Tim wonders as he makes his way back to his car. Whatever the answer, he knows it can’t be good.


What should Tim do about Helen and Eric?
Will Diane and Ryan pull off a secret annulment?
What will happen to Travis now?
Talk about this episode in the Footprints Forum!

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