Episode #630

- Molly’s lawyer had her divorce papers sent to her home. She shared with Danielle her conflicted feelings over the end of her marriage to Brent.
- Claire, in need of a DNA sample to determine whether Spencer is her biological son, lied to Philip that she needed blood from him and Spencer to build a family medical file.
- Tim spied Helen Chase meeting with attorney Eric Westin.


On most other days, Molly Taylor would be annoyed at receiving a social call in the middle of a busy workday. But she has hardly been able to focus for the past week, anyway, so when her assistant, Cameron, buzzes in that she has a visitor, she is all too willing to accept the distraction. She saves her e-mail as a draft just as Philip Ragan enters the office.

“I was running some errands downtown and thought I might take a chance and see if you had a few minutes free,” he says by way of greeting. He is dressed more casually than usual, in dark jeans, brown lace-up Oxfords, and a half-zip sweater with a t-shirt underneath. The sweater stretches impressively over his defined chest.

“I’m glad you did. I’m not getting much done, anyway.”

“Is something the matter?”

With a flick of her wrist, she swats the question away like a pesky fly. “What’s going on with you?”

“I have some potentially good news,” he says, taking a seat across the desk from her.

“Do tell.”

“Claire contacted me.”

“She called me and asked for your number,” Molly says. “I didn’t think it was my place to pry, but it seemed promising.”

“Absolutely. She wanted to discuss putting together a family medical file. I suppose it makes sense, what with her being a nurse. She wanted blood samples from Spencer and me to complete the records.”

A grin plays upon Molly’s lips. “You’re getting excited over blood samples? Wow.”

“It’s progress!” he insists as a smile breaks through. “She’s actually acknowledging that we’re related.”

“I’m only teasing. I understand.”

“It’s a small step,” Philip admits as his voice fades to a more solemn tone, “but it’s a step nonetheless. Spencer was a bit difficult, of course, but the more interaction Claire has with us, the more I hope she’ll recognize that we aren’t the same as our mother.”

“That’s for sure. I’m happy for you.”

The next thing she knows, Philip is studying her like she is a crucial, bewildering clue at a crime scene.


“Are you sure you’re all right?” he asks. “You seem… off.”

“Off, huh?” She tries to force it into sounding playful, even though he has hit the nail on the head.

“Melancholy, I mean. And you said you’ve had trouble getting work done. Is something bothering you?”

“I feel like you ask me that every time I see you.”

“Probably because you’ve been through a lot lately. Tell me what’s going on.”

She hasn’t intended to share this with anyone besides Danielle, especially because she does not want to get into it with her family yet, but being able to discuss it with someone removed from most of the people she knows is very appealing.

It comes out with a gust of breath. “My lawyer sent over the divorce papers.”


“And what?”

“Have you signed them? Are you going through with divorcing Brent?”


“At any rate, I’ve started putting out feelers at other companies,” Tim Fisher says from his seat at his parents’ kitchen table, “but the publishing industry isn’t exactly healthy these days.”

“That’s probably smart of you.” Paula Fisher crosses the kitchen with two steaming mugs, the string of a teabag sticking out of each one. “Here, drink some tea. It will help you relax.”

A bit skeptically, Tim accepts the tea. He is not so sure that something as simple as tea can reduce his stress over the possibility of losing his job, but he is willing to try.

“If anyone has the ability to pull a magic rabbit out of her hat, it’s Diane,” Paula says as she joins him at the table.

“True.” He blows on the tea and waits for it to cool down. “Everyone in her group has been hunting high and low for a project to replace Julian’s book. There has to be something.”

Paula nods encouragingly.

Tim regards the curls of steam climbing from his mug for a moment and then tells his mother, “There’s something else I wanted to talk about with you.”

Her face shifts immediately, as lines of concern that have had decades of practice assume their positions. “What’s that?”

“I was out getting coffee the other day,” he explains, “and I ran into Diane. She was meeting with Eric Westin--that lawyer who handled my divorce--”

“Oh, I’m well aware.” Paula’s face darkens at the mention of the attorney, and Tim recalls the story of how Eric forced Paula to confess, on the stand at Samantha’s custody hearing, how Ryan Moriani was the son she had given up for adoption years before. It is one of the many things that Tim has difficulty reconciling as being a part of real life, since it happened when he was missing from King’s Bay and his entire family thought he was dead. No matter how many times he hears the stories, that’s what they always seem like: stories.

“Well, when Diane left, Eric stayed behind. I was still waiting for my coffee. And then I saw someone else walk in to meet with Eric.”

Her intrigue apparent as she leans forward, Paula asks, “Who?”

“Helen Chase.”

“Oh, no.” Paula does not seem nearly as surprised as Tim was when he saw the two of them together.

Again Tim blows on the tea, but it remains too hot to taste. “It just struck me as weird, considering everything that’s happened between the Chases and Jason…”

“It isn’t weird at all,” Paula says. “I almost expected Helen to try something like this. But it is something to worry about.” Just by watching her, Tim can tell that worrying is not the only thing she is planning to do.


Molly takes a deep breath before answering. “Yeah, I signed them. I had them sent back to the lawyer’s office today.”

“Wow.” Philip falls quiet for a long moment. “I’m sorry, Molly.”

“Thanks,” she mutters. Admitting it to him feels like admitting defeat. Even as her marriage to Brent crumbled, part of her always believed that it could be salvaged--that it should be. She really thought that their marriage was going to last forever, that after all they went through to be together, it was destined to work. She still feels as if she should have been able to do more to repair it.

Maybe she could have. But it’s too late now.

“I really am sorry,” Philip says.

“I appreciate that.” She spins her chair around to face the window. The weather is dry but moody, dangling the threat of rain over the city. It seems fitting for her glum mood.

“I’ve been thinking about moving,” she says.

“Because you bought the house with him.”

“Yeah. I don’t want to uproot the boys or make this any harder for them, but at the same time, that house is… it’s like living in a shrine to this marriage that I couldn’t fix.”

“You can’t look at it that way. The fact that your marriage is ending doesn’t reflect upon you as a person.”

She doesn’t know if she can ever believe that, but she doesn’t want to sound petulant, so she remains quiet.

“Molly, I’m serious.” She hears Philip stand from the seat and cross to her side of the desk. When she swivels around again, he is right in front of her.

“You shouldn’t punish yourself for this,” he says. “You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t fail. Relationships sometimes don’t work forever--and as horrible as it might be to accept, it isn’t because of something terrible or wrong that you did.”

His physical proximity makes it even more difficult for her to conjure a response.

“You’re a really great friend,” she says. “Thank you.”

“I try.” A thoughtful look comes over his face, and just as she is wondering what in the world he might be thinking, he says, “Let me do something for you.”

“Like what?”

“You need to have some fun. And you need to do something with a friend who isn’t your live-in nanny who is also your husband’s sister.”

“Should I be afraid of what ‘some fun’ means to you?”

“Absolutely not. Just say you’ll make time tonight. Danielle can handle the twins, you know that.” He smiles down upon her, and something about it convinces her that this might be an okay idea. Maybe even a good one.

“Fine,” she says. “I’m going to trust you on this.”

“Good. You won’t regret it.”

Even as cocky as he can be, Molly recognizes something inside herself, something that is very much looking forward to a surprise that has nothing to do with the disastrous state of her life.


The bitter chill of the arena hits Tim hard, even coming from the rainy Northwest outdoors. The cold in here is deeper, the kind that burrows into one’s bones, and unlike Jason and their parents, Tim has not had much experience in this environment. Shivering in his windbreaker, Tim waves to Tempest Banks, who is guiding the Zamboni over the ice, and hurries up the stairs to the second floor.

He finds his brother alone in the office—well, alone with his young daughter, who is excitedly squeaking her hedgehog toy in her playpen.

“Hey, man,” Jason says as soon as Tim enters. “What are you doing here?”

“I needed to grab coffee and figured I’d stop in downstairs. Just thought I’d come by and say hello first.” Tim crosses to the playpen and bends over its edge to play with Sophie, who swats her hands at him and utters a bunch of words that do not appear to be part of the English language.

“How’s work?” Jason asks with a slight frown. “Ryan told me about the Julian St. John thing.”

Tim sighs as he has to consider the situation all over again—not that it has been far from his mind anytime during the past week, anyway. “It’s a little hectic,” he explains. “We’re all in panic mode. I was making some calls earlier to try and scrounge up a project that might work, but nothing concrete so far.”

“What about Alex? He’s working on something now. Can’t they just push up the release date?”

“Diane’s considered it, but if the book isn’t ready, then it’s not going to do us any good in the long term, anyway.”


“Thanks.” Tim scoops Sophie up into his arms. “And how are you, you little princess?”

Jason rises to his feet. “Be careful. She tends to squirm a lot…”

Sophie does move around in Tim’s arms, but it is nothing that he can’t manage. “I do have two kids, remember? I’m used to it.”

“Yeah. Okay.” Still, Jason continues watching them with concern, and he does not sit back down.

“There’s actually something I wanted to talk to you about,” Tim says. “Did you know that Helen has…” He realizes that he might be presuming things and stops.

Jason’s entire being flares with intensity. “Helen has what?”

“Well, I don’t know if it means anything, but I saw her meeting with Eric Westin. You know, that lawyer—”

“Yeah! What the hell?” As if by pure instinct, Jason rushes forward and takes Sophie from Tim’s arms. “What were they talking about?”

“I don’t know. I just saw them together at Cassie’s. It seemed weird.”

“It is weird. If Helen is planning something…”

“We don’t know that,” Tim says. He feels compelled to try and calm Jason down; maybe he shouldn’t have said anything at all. “It might have something to do with Courtney’s estate, or…”

“Courtney’s estate has been handled by our lawyers. And she’s been—it’s almost a year and a half. You know what Eric Westin does.”

Tim’s response is glum. “Yeah.”

“Should I hire an attorney?” Jason asks. “What do you think?”

“I think you should sit tight until you have some idea of what Helen is doing—if anything. Just be a model parent. It’s not like you’ve gotten a DUI with Sophie in the car. She would have no case even if she wanted to try.”

“Still.” Jason hugs Sophie tighter, and again Tim wonders if he was wrong to say anything. But it is better for Jason to be informed and on his guard.

“Be aware, that’s all,” Tim says. He gives his brother a pat on the back. “Keep being a good father, and keep your emotions in check in front of the Chases. Don’t worry about this more than you should.”

“I’m gonna try,” Jason says, not very convincingly.


Dun dun dun… dun dun dun…

The doorbell at the Chases’ house is some tune that Paula recognizes but cannot place. On any other day, she might allow her mind to wander until it figures out why the tune is familiar. Today, however, she pushes aside the thought and waits for the door to open. She has no energy to waste on anything but her explicit purpose for coming here.

“Paula,” Helen says with surprise as she answers the door.

“We need to have a discussion.” Paula marches into the house without waiting for an invitation.

“What’s this all about?”

“I know you took a meeting with Eric Westin.”

Helen freezes by the open door. There is no mistaking her body language: she has been caught at something, and she knows it.

“If you’re planning something, Helen, I’d like to know. Jason is my son. Sophie is my granddaughter, too.”

“I was only exploring my options,” Helen says, her tone a very labored, forced calm. “I thought it would be best to be informed.”

“I’d like to believe that’s all it was, but I’m well aware of how Eric Westin operates. You are, too.”

Helen pauses again. Paula wants to do something, anything, to force more out of her. This is not the time to leave anything on the table.

“Are you planning a lawsuit?” she demands.

“No! I told you—all I wanted was to be educated about my options. In case anything happens.”

“What’s going to ‘happen’?” Paula asks. “Sophie is doing fine. Jason is very capable of raising her. He has all of us to help him—”

“And he won’t let any of us do anything!” The words tear out of Helen like a fire that just received a fresh gust of oxygen. “He refuses to let that little girl out of his sights. He brings her to that office every single day. Don and I practically have to force him to allow us visits with her.”

For the first time since her arrival, Paula hesitates. “Is Jason giving you trouble over seeing Sophie?”

“Somewhat.” Pressed under Paula’s gaze, Helen adds, “Not really, but he always seems so unwilling. Like he thinks we’re going to lose her or hurt her if he leaves her with us for a few hours or, God forbid, overnight.”

“He’s being protective of her. He has good reason…”

She doesn’t need to specify why; Helen’s face tightens even at the roundabout reference to Courtney’s murder.

“He had that tantrum the day we were all at his house,” Helen continues. “And those sleeping pills. For as overprotective as he is of Sophie, you’d think he wouldn’t be willing to drug himself into a stupor every night. What if something happens—”

“Nothing is going to happen!” The force of Paula’s outburst leaves an echo radiating around them for several seconds. In a quieter tone, she says, “If you and Mr. Westin are planning something, I suggest you rethink it. You are going to regret dragging Sophie into the middle of a custody battle.”

“Only if Jason leaves me with no other choice,” Helen protests.

“You will regret it,” Paula says, and then she pushes past Helen and back out the open front door. The sky is an uneasy bluish-gray, the kind that could take the day to any extreme at the drop of a hat. Paula tries not to look at it, because she knows that there is nothing she can do to control it.


Will Paula’s words have any effect on Helen?
What should Jason do with this new information?
What does Philip have in store for Molly?
Discuss all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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