Episode #638

- Samantha confided in Travis and Landon about the prank that was pulled on her at school--and how Tori was involved. Landon later berated Tori for being so cruel.
- Jason struck up conversation with another parent, Lindsay, while Sophie was playing at the park. After their meeting, though, Lindsay made contact with Eric Westin.
- Diane threatened to reveal her and Ryan’s secret marriage to Danielle unless Ryan helped her sign an imprisoned drug dealer, who once worked with the Morianis, to a publishing contract in order to save her job at Vision.


Barbed wire sits ominously atop the rusting metal fence. A dark sedan idles before the fence like a horse waiting for the starting gates to part. When the weary old guard, who looks as dusty and worn-out as the facility itself, finally opens the gate, the car glides purposefully into the dreary parking lot.

“Are you ready to do this?” Diane Bishop asks her passenger.

Ryan Moriani dips his head in a resigned nod, batting his tired eyes to shake the remnants of unsatisfying sleep from them. “The sooner we get this over with, the better.”

They exit the car in the same silence in which they spent the bulk of the drive across the state. They would not normally make conversation to begin with, but Ryan is perturbed even to be here, and Diane--well, as much as she might not want to admit it, she is incredibly anxious about what is to take place inside this building.

“Ryan Moriani,” he tells the female guard in a stiff-looking navy blue uniform, seated behind bulletproof glass just inside the front door. “Here to visit with Javier Camacho.”

The guard references the handwritten list before her and, with a grunt, presses a button to allow Ryan deeper into the prison. A buzzer sounds, and a door opens. A burly male guard in the same navy uniform motions for Ryan to follow him.

“Wait over there,” the woman behind the glass tells Diane. The order is muted by the window, but it nevertheless serves to direct Diane to a row of seats against a cement wall.

The aged orange upholstery looks itchy and not especially sanitary, but Diane resigns herself to a half-hour of discomfort. It will be worth it if Ryan is able to convince Camacho to sell the rights to his story to Vision Publishing. Then Diane will be able to keep her job, they can forget about that traitor Julian St. John forever, and her stupid Vegas elopement with Ryan can become nothing but a shameful memory.

She pulls her Blackberry from her purse and, after deliberating a moment, drafts a new text message.

Go ahead and file the annulment papers, she types.

The response from Eric Westin comes less than a minute later: Are you sure?

He’s holding up his end of the bargain.

Consider it done, reads Eric’s reply.

With that taken care of, Diane tries to catch up on her e-mail, but her mind does not want to focus on it. She breathes a heavy sigh and lets the phone simply rest in her palm. Until Ryan comes out of that visiting room with good news, she is not going to be able to think of anything else.


The fresh summer air greets Jason Fisher as he walks toward the playground area of the expansive park. Sophie rushes forward through the lush, green grass, her little legs threatening to give out due to pure excitement at any moment. Seeing her so elated and free sends dueling emotions through Jason’s body: on one hand, he is thrilled by his daughter’s joy; on the other, he regrets having been so overprotective with her for so long.

But after what happened to her mother, he doesn’t have a choice.

Trying to expel that grim thought, he takes a seat on a bench and watches as Sophie joins some of the other kids in a sandbox. He has been making a concerted effort lately not to smother her, so he figures it is best to keep his distance and allow her to play with the other children for a while. The sun is warm, soothing, but not too hot, and he reminds himself to enjoy its touch without getting too anxious.

“Hey there,” comes a voice that he recognizes more quickly than he would like to admit.

Lindsay, the woman he met here recently, stands beside the bench, backlit by the glowing sun. Her blonde hair is pulled back into a ponytail today, and when she smiles warmly, her nose crinkles and the freckles on her face shift position.

“Hey,” Jason says, scooting down the bench to make room for her. “How are you?”

“Fine. Good, actually. I just needed to get Marcus out of the house for a while.”

Jason sees her young son running around near the jungle gym where he and Sophie had a near-collision.

“Same here,” he says. “About Sophie, I mean. Not Marcus. He wasn’t causing too much trouble at our house.” He has no idea what these words are that are spilling out of his mouth, but he tries to smile to make it clear that this was an attempt at a joke. “It’s such a nice day to get outside.”

The weather? Really? he scolds himself.

Thankfully, she doesn’t seem to notice how stupid he sounds, or she chooses to ignore it. She takes a seat beside him on the bench.

“Jason, right?” she says. “Sorry, I’m horrible with remembering names.”

“Well, you’re not horrible with this one. Jason it is. You’re Lindsay, yeah?” As if he doesn’t remember.

“Yes, I am.” She looks over to where Marcus is playing, the same way Jason keeps glancing over at Sophie, who is digging in the sand with her lime green shovel. “So what do you do, Jason?”

“Do you know the ice arena down I-90 a few miles? Edge of Winter?”

“Yeah! One of my Marcus’s friends had a birthday party there a few months ago.”

“I’m the owner,” he says, hoping it doesn’t sound too arrogant. “I grew up skating there, and when the opportunity came to buy it and renovate… it was too good to pass up.”

Her face lights up. “You grew up skating?”

“Yep. For almost twenty years, if you can believe that.”

“Wow. That’s incredible.”

He shrugs. “What do you do?”

“I’m a waitress,” she says sheepishly.

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

“No, no. It’s just not as… big a deal as owning a whole arena. But the schedule is flexible enough, and my parents are able to watch Marcus while I’m at work, especially if it’s at night, so…”

“I know the feeling,” Jason says. “I’ve been bringing Sophie to work almost every day.”

“So your wife works?” she asks, casual as can be.

Jason feels it. The conversation hits a hitch. A big one. All at once, he is reminded of why he hasn’t made an effort to meet new people: because it always comes back to this. He will always have to explain where Sophie’s mom is and what happened to her.

“No, she’s actually--” He has thought about saying this a thousand times, but for all that hypothetical preparation, he might as well be coming to the situation totally cold now. He holds out a hand, as if trying to grasp the proper vocabulary out of thin air. “She passed away.”

“Oh.” Lindsay lets out a half-gasp. “Oh. I’m so sorry. I--” In the awkward frenzy of emotions, she knocks her purse to the ground. It falls on its side, spilling items all over the ground.

“Here, let me help you,” Jason says, before Lindsay has even made a move. Maybe he is just grateful for the distraction from this painful topic. He practically dives to the ground and begins gathering her makeup, iPod, pens, and whatever else was in there.

“I’m sorry,” she says, kneeling to assist in the process. “I get so clumsy…” Jason finishes putting everything back in the purse, and he hands it back to her. Lindsay quickly zips it up. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” They rise from the ground, and Jason wipes off the knees of his jeans, which have the slightest hint of dampness from the grass. He is about to reclaim his seat on the bench when he looks to the sandbox--

--and doesn’t see Sophie anywhere.

Panic spikes inside him even as he keeps scanning the area, sure that she must have just moved a few feet, or be hidden behind another kid, or--

“Sophie!” he yells out, rushing toward the sandbox area.

There is no sign of her at all.


The sun spills through the sheer white curtains, casting the perfect amount of light into the otherwise dark living room. Samantha Fisher lies stretched out on the deep, wide sofa with a book in her hands.

When the doorbell rings, it shakes her from the world of The Hunger Games and back to reality. It takes her a few seconds to transition out of the fictional District 12. Finally she sets down the book, face-down and open to her current page, and goes to check the peephole in the front door.

The sight of Landon Esco on her mother’s doorstep takes her completely by surprise. “What’s going on?” she asks as she fiddles with the various locks to open the door.

“I think someone owes me a pretty big thank you!” he proclaims. He wears a white t-shirt with an old Ghostbusters logo on it.

“What are you talking about?”

Landon strolls into the condo, his eyes sweeping over the space. “Is your mom here?”

 “No. She’s off doing something for work in Spokane.”

“Oh. Okay.” The boastful grin returns to his face. “I went and talked to Tori.”

“What do you mean?” But before she even finishes the question, she understands what it was about, and her blood pressure surges. “What did you say to her?”

“Just that it was really shitty of her to be part of what those girls did to you.”

Samantha’s stomach wobbles. “Landon…”

“Someone needed to tell her! She can’t go around being such a brat to people, especially not her cousin.”

“I know,” she says. “I just don’t want Miranda and those girls doing anything else. I can handle a day of garbage in my locker if they just leave me alone.”

“You shouldn’t have to. She needed to be told off!”

“It’s not your business, Landon.” She doesn’t want to spend her last high school days cleaning garbage out of her locker and handing in papers covered in mystery liquids, but she would rather do it only once instead of having to do worse things every day.

“Sure it is. Travis is my best friend. You’re his little sister. And Tori--” He cuts himself off, maybe loses his grip on words he thought he had in hand. “She’s your cousin. It’s messed up, what she did.”

“I told you, I know that. I just don’t want them to do anything else. Better to leave it alone.”

“It’s not gonna make things worse,” he says, a little too emphatically. “Tori doesn’t want to get in trouble. She knows what she did was bad.” He sounds almost desperate, as if trying to apologize all of a sudden, and it makes Samantha feel bad.

“Well, I appreciate the thought,” she forces herself to say. He means well; she should be grateful that he stood up for her so readily, especially since they don’t really know each other, aside from him always being around her brother.

“You’re a cool girl,” Landon says, as Sam notices that all the swagger and bravado of a minute ago have faded away. “You don’t deserve crap like that.”

Samantha shrugs and looks at an imaginary spot on the carpet.

Landon shifts his position so that Samantha has no choice but to look at him. “I mean it, Samantha. High school is stupid. Once you get out of there and go to college, people are gonna realize how awesome you are.”

“Maybe,” she says, exhaling loudly as she returns to the sofa.


“So what the hell d’you want?”

Camacho is even more intimidating than Ryan recalled. He remembered him as an imposing man, a former athlete who maintained his bulk without going soft. But his time in prison has afforded him plenty of time to work on his body. He now seems like an army tank in human form. It isn’t difficult for Ryan to see how a jury saw fit to convict him of a brutal murder. He is very grateful for the sheet of plexiglass between them.

“I was visiting someone else,” Ryan says, “and I heard you were here, too.” He prepared a lot of small talk, a strategic way of steering Camacho toward the idea of publishing rights. The prisoner’s complete lack of tolerance for small talk has thrown Ryan.

“So you’re just a nice guy.” Camacho’s mouth and black goatee twist up in a sneer.

“Hardly. The thing is, I got out of my father’s business years ago. Did you ever hear of Julian St. John?”

Camacho allows a disdainful little laugh to slip past his throat. “That guy who was running the operation with your dad outta that clothing store? Worked out real well.”

“No kidding,” Ryan says. “St. John popped back up and wrote this book, and he was trying to cause trouble by dragging me back into all these things my father did…”

“Heard about your old man’s last stand. Hell of a way to go out.”

Ryan tries his best to look humored rather than utterly horrified by the memory of how Nick held them all hostage and blew up the restaurant. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, the images will come back to him--Nick in that wheelchair, looking like death itself, almost gleeful in his determination to kill Ryan and all the people who had come to matter so much to him.

“Anyway, it sounds like you got a raw deal, to say the least,” Ryan says into the telephone receiver, “and I know someone who might be able to help you.”

Camacho’s skepticism is evident at once. “My lawyer’s got it under control. We’re appealing. Their evidence was shit--”

“Believe me, I get it. But this isn’t about the conviction itself. It’s about the story.”


“The rights to your story. Publishing. A book. Maybe a movie. If this conviction gets overturned--and things are looking good for you--”

“What, you trying to make me a deal?”

“I can make you an offer, if that’s what you want. I can make this work for you.”

Camacho holds the phone several inches from his face, as if being mentally stuck also requires him to be physically frozen.

“You have a small window of time to take advantage of this,” Ryan urges him. “If you set up a deal now, you can have the book ready when public interest is still high.”

“I don’t know.”

“Come on,” Ryan urges him, his fingers tightening around the receiver.


Jason rushes toward the sandbox. He keeps expecting to see Sophie at any moment, ducked down into the sandbox or behind someone or ten feet away, gone to retrieve a stray toy. But no matter how hard or fast his sight devours the landscape of the park, he cannot find his daughter anywhere.

“Did you see a little girl a minute ago? Blonde hair, pink shirt, white leggings,” he says breathlessly to a pair of mothers sitting at a picnic table.

“I think so,” one of them says.

“She was in the sandbox,” the other offers.

“Yes! Did you see where she went?”

The women exchange a look. “No,” they answer almost-but-not-quite simultaneously. He can see them taking stock of their own children, making sure that they will not wind up like this crazed man.

As the two women go to ask their kids about Sophie, Jason attempts to interrogate the rest of the toddlers in the sandbox, with little success. Lindsay comes hurrying over, her son’s hand clutched in hers.

“Call 911,” she says. “I don’t see her anywhere, and none of the kids…”

“I know.” Jason feels like he is going to vomit. The first place his mind goes is to Shannon Parish. She’s dead. He saw her die. And yet… they thought she died once. What if she took Sophie? What if this is part of some new plan?

Trying to shake the thought, he takes out his cell phone with unsteady fingers and calls 911. Lindsay gestures that she is going to continue looking and takes Marcus along with her.

“I need to report a missing child,” he spews into the phone. “My daughter--we were at the park, and I can’t find her--”

As the dispatcher attempts to glean details from him, Jason can see the other parents joining in the frantic search. The shining sun overhead now feels like a cruel taunt from the world.

Across the park, Lindsay ducks into a thinly wooded area. Out of sight of the other parents and especially of Jason, who is engaged in his 911 call, she withdraws her own phone and taps out a text message.

It worked, she writes. As soon as she sees that the message has gone through, she deletes it from her mailbox.


When she receives a message from Tempest asking her to meet up, Samantha’s first instinct is to respond that she is too tired or too busy studying for her upcoming finals. Then she realizes that she can use it as an excuse to get Landon to leave, which is becoming difficult now that he has settled on the couch in front of an episode of Hoarders. She tells him that she has plans to meet Tempest, and he gives her a ride over to Claire’s apartment.

“Thanks for the ride,” she tells him as she opens the door. “I appreciate it. And what you said to Tori. Just… don’t cause any more trouble, okay?”

He smiles. “I promise. And I meant what I said before.”

That same uneasiness stirs the pit of Samantha’s stomach, and she hustles out the car. “Thanks again,” she says quickly as she closes the door.

Landon pulls away, and she lets herself into the building. When she knocks on the door to Claire’s apartment, perhaps a full second elapses before Tempest yanks the door open as if the place were on fire.

“What’s going on?” Samantha asks.

Tempest holds up a sheet of paper. “I passed!”

“Oh my gosh!” Samantha takes the sheet of paper and discovers that is exactly what it says: Tempest passed her GED. “Congratulations!”

“Thanks. And thanks for all your help.”

“You’re the one who did all the work. Where’s Claire? Does she know yet?”

“She’s still at the hospital. I’ll tell her when she gets home,” Tempest says. “I was thinking I should, like, make dinner for her or something to surprise her. Wanna help?”

“Yeah, that sounds fun. My mom is out of town, anyway.”

They clatter inside the apartment, still full of energy and excitement. Tempest starts opening cupboards and the refrigerator, ostensibly in search of something to prepare for dinner. Samantha stands at the edge of the kitchen and reads the detailed test results.

“I can’t believe it,” she says. “I mean, I can. I knew you could do it. But I can’t believe the results are finally here and it all paid off!”

“Me neither.” Tempest lets out a squeal, then drags a chair from the dining table into the galley kitchen.

“What are you doing?”

“I can’t reach any of these damn pots up here.” She climbs onto the chair and begins rooting around in the upper-level cabinet.

Samantha continues studying the results sheet. “You got a 570 on the writing part! That’s awesome. You were so worried about it!”

“I know! I was kinda surprised.” Tempest continues blindly reaching for things in the cabinet, the inside of which is still out of her sight, but Samantha looks up from the paper when she hears a big commotion. She lurches forward out of instinct, thinking she might be able to help, just as Tempest falls from the chair and topples onto her.

“Ow,” they say, almost in unison. Then they begin laughing uncontrollably.

“How did you even fall?” Samantha gasps through a laugh.

“I was on my tip-toes.”

Samantha’s own body is rocking with laughter, and the vibrations from Tempest are only making it worse. She keeps trying to breathe normally and stop laughing, but the whole thing was so ridiculous.

“I wish we had that on camera,” Tempest says.

“I think I hit my butt really hard,” Samantha says before bursting out into another fit of giggles. They remain that way for a good minute or two, unable to do much but gasp for air as the laughter engulfs them.

Finally it subsides enough that they are both trying to catch their breath.

“You okay?” Tempest asks. “Sorry, I wasn’t trying to kill you or nothing.”

“I’m fine.”

“Okay, good. That wasn’t a very good way to repay you for helping with my test.”

“I told you, it was all you.”

“You’re the first one who’s been able to get me all motivated and stuff.”

Their eyes meet, and suddenly, Samantha is very aware of Tempest’s weight pressing down on her. Until now, the situation just seemed funny, but now they have been lying here for so long, and--

Her thoughts are blown into a million pieces when she sees Tempest moving in and then feels a mouth crushing down on hers.

The kiss doesn’t last long, maybe a few seconds, and their mouths remain closed, but it sends Samantha’s head spinning. She has never kissed anyone before, not in that way, and she definitely wasn’t expecting it to happen like this. Especially with Tempest.

“What was that?” she asks cautiously, needing to break the oppressive silence.

Tempest keeps staring at her, maybe trying to read her or the situation. “I just wanted to do it, that’s all.”

“Oh.” She squirms, and Tempest takes the hint to move so that Sam can stand up. Neither of them says anything else for a long moment.

“I should probably just go home,” Samantha says. “I have to finish studying for my finals, and Claire doesn’t know I’m here, so--”

“I don’t think she ever minds seeing you.”

“I know, but I’ve got a lot of studying, and my mom might be home late, and--” The words are coming as fast as the thoughts, too fast for her mouth to keep up, so she just barrels toward the door. “Congratulations again.”

“Thanks,” Tempest says, but the words hang out of her mouth limply now.

Everything is different now.

Samantha scrambles out of the apartment and back outside. Part of her brain tries to remember the bus schedule so that she can get home, but most of her is preoccupied with what just happened inside.

She is still trying to catch her breath.


Every time the buzzer sounds, Diane’s full attention snaps to the door. Time after time, however, it is not Ryan, and she is left to try and occupy herself with her Blackberry while all she really wants is to know what is going on in the visiting area.

Then, finally, the buzzer goes off, and Ryan emerges. She springs to her feet.

“How did it go?”

From the instant Ryan looks at her, she knows the answer.

“What the hell? Why not?” she says, though it is more a demand than a question.

“His attorney advised him not to entertain any offers yet. They’re going to try and create a little bidding war once the appeal heats up, I’m sure.”

“But he still might consider it.”

“He might.” Ryan does not sound convinced, or convincing, in the least.

They exit the depressing facility in silence. Diane does not want to walk back to the car, but she has no other option. She can’t storm back in there and force an inmate to sign over the rights to his story.

“There has to be something we can do,” she says as they get into the car. She makes no effort to start the engine.

“I tried,” Ryan says.

She sighs. “I know.”

Her Blackberry rings, startling both of them. When she sees the name on the caller ID, she has to gather herself before she can answer.

“Martin. Hi,” she says, dread swelling in her stomach.

“I’ve been trying to get a hold of you,” her boss says.

“Sorry. I’ve been dealing with Vision business, actually.”

“So you said. Do you have anything to report?”

“Not yet.” She knows it is a lie, and she suspects that Martin Ellis knows, too.

“Diane, didn’t you tell me that you were about to score something big for our calendar? Yes, you did.”

She wishes that she could tear his stupid rhetorical questions out of his mouth and shove them up his ass.

“I’m working on something,” she says.

“Are you about to close a deal?”

She glances over at Ryan, who seems to know what is happening on the phone. He looks away, perhaps embarrassed.

“No,” she admits. “I’ve hit a little snag, and--”

“Then I’m sorry,” Martin says. “Do I want to do this? Absolutely not. But you’ve left me with no choice.”

“Martin, I’ll--”

“Diane, I’m sorry. I’m going to have to let you go, effective immediately.” He lets that sink in for only a moment before adding, “I’ll have someone from HR contact you to review the specifics. You’re due for a sizable severance, I’m sure.”

I don’t want a goddamn severance!  she wants to scream into the phone, but she forces herself to keep it inside. Maybe there is a way to change his mind…

“I’m sorry, Diane,” he says to fill the silence. “Goodbye.”

The line clicks in her ear. She continues holding the phone to her ear, unable to grasp what has just happened.

“Are you okay?” Ryan asks.

“Shut up.” She chokes back a lump in her throat and sticks the key in the ignition. She cannot bring herself to turn it, though, and simply watches as the rest of her keys swing back and forth on the ring, as aimless as she feels.


After receiving Lindsay’s text message, Eric Westin sends her a quick response to thank her for the report. Then he excuses himself from a conversation with two other attorneys and locks himself in his private office.

He picks up the receiver of his office phone. “Could you get Helen Chase on the phone for me, please?”

His secretary connects the call, and in no time, Eric is on a call with Helen.

“What is it?” she asks, sounding incredibly wary.

“Everything is going according to plan. I wanted you to know.”

“Is she okay?”

“Everything is going according to plan,” Eric repeats. He is careful to keep his tone even and not to say anything specific… just in case.

“I want to know that she’s safe.” Helen sounds as if she has spent the entire day biting her nails and pacing the floors.

“She is safe. There’s no reason to think otherwise. You know how this is going to go.”

“I’m trusting you.” It sounds like a warning.

“As you should. I’ll keep you updated.”

He ends the call and tries to assess what other work he can tackle now. Before he has much of a chance, though, his cell phone rings. He answers it eagerly, ready for a more official update.

“This is Eric,” he answers.

“I got her.” The voice is gravelly and, quite frankly, a bit offensive to Eric’s ears. He hates having to deal with these people personally, but it is not worth the risk of including a middleman.

“Thank you for letting me know. Now just follow the timeline we--”

“Five hundred grand.”


“Half a mill. I want it.”

Eric’s chest tightens. “That wasn’t part of our--”

“Do I sound like I care? Half a million dollars if you want the kid back.”

“You have to be kidding me.” Eric knows that he cannot risk setting this man off, especially given this unexpected turnaround, but his fist tightens around a crystal paperweight on his desk.

“Serious as a heart attack.  Either you cough up five hundred grand, or I blow your whole scheme out of the water.”

“You would have to incriminate yourself to do that,” Eric says.

“I got ways around that,” the rough voice says. “Now, how about that money? And fast.”


Will Eric and Helen’s plan be ruined now? Can they get the money?
What does the kiss mean for Samantha and Tempest’s friendship?
What will Diane do now that she has lost her job?
Talk about this episode and more in the Footprints Forum!

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