Episode #639

- Ryan traveled to Eastern Washington with Diane, who was blackmailing him to help her secure publishing rights from a convict who once worked with the Morianis. The prisoner declined the offer, and then Diane received word from Vision Publishing that she was being terminated.
- Tempest told Samantha the results of her GED exam: she passed! In the excitement, Tempest kissed Samantha, who was taken aback and made a hasty exit.
- When Jason took Sophie to play at the park, he ran into Lindsay, the woman he met last time. Lindsay dropped her purse, and while Jason helped her pick up the contents, Sophie vanished.
- Lindsay let Eric Westin know that their plan had worked. Eric was pleased until he received a call from a third party who demanded $500,000 for Sophie’s return.


Although the clock claims that day has turned to night, the Northwest sun lingers in the sky. It casts a glow that seems contradictory to the time of day--almost 9 p.m.--and stubbornly refuses to be pulled below the horizon. As Jason Fisher stares out a window at the front of his parents’ house, he knows that he must take a lesson from that persistent sun: he must hold on tight, must remain strong, until Sophie is found and returned to him safely.

“They’re going to find her,” Molly says from behind him. She rests what is supposed to be a comforting hand upon his shoulder, but the contact nearly makes him jump.

You don’t know that, his brain wants to snap. He keeps thinking about Courtney on their wedding day--so blissful one minute, and not even an hour later, hacked up and bloodied on the roof of the hotel. The image of Shannon Parish flashes through his mind, as it has been all afternoon and evening. Who else could hate him so much as to put a little girl in danger like this? Or did the person who snatched his daughter even know who she was? Was she a random target who happened to be at the park at the wrong time?

He wishes he had an answer to at least one of these questions, but he cannot even determine which option is more terrifying.

“Thanks,” he simply tells his sister.

Outside, a car pulls up to the curb, and two familiar individuals burst from it in the sort of frenzied rush in which he hoped never to see them again.

“Has there been any news?” Don Chase asks as soon as Molly opens the front door.

“No,” she says, letting him and Helen into the house.

“Brent has been giving us updates,” Jason says, determined to be as normal with them as possible, in spite of their recent animosity, “but there’s nothing substantial yet.”

“Have you eaten?” Molly asks the Chases. “My mom and dad have some food inside.”

Helen touches her stomach. “I don’t have much of an appetite.” Given the greenish coloring in her face, this is no surprise.

“We should try to eat something,” Don says. “I’ll bring you something, Helen.”

She nods her not-very-enthusiastic assent. A cell phone’s ring fills the entryway.

“That’s me,” Helen says, and when she checks the caller ID, she adds, “I need to take this. I’ll step outside for a second.” The other three make their way toward the living room as Helen excuses herself to the front porch.

Only once she has the front door closed behind her does she answer the call. “How much longer is this supposed to go on?” she asks, bypassing any kind of greeting.

Eric Westin draws a deep breath, which sounds fuzzy over the phone line, before he speaks at all. And when he does, Helen wishes he had kept his mouth shut.

“I’m afraid there’s been a complication with our plan.”


“What in the hell?”

Diane Bishop slows her car to a crawl. The red of brake lights and emergency vehicles blares up ahead, disturbing the otherwise serene landscape populated of tall evergreen trees. Up ahead, a minivan makes a U-turn and then rolls past Diane’s car.

“This looks… not great,” Ryan Moriani comments from the passenger seat.

She pulls up to the roadblock. A uniformed officer steps up to the driver’s side of the car as Diane rolls down the window.

“I’m afraid we’ve got a tree down,” the officer says.

“A tree fell?” Diane asks, looking ahead to the busy scene for visual confirmation.

“Several trees, actually. Over the next few miles.”

“But there was no storm,” Ryan says.

“There was up here,” the officer says. “Where you folks traveling to?”

“King’s Bay,” Diane tells him.

“Afraid you’re gonna have to spend the night on this side of the pass. Crew’s gonna be working all night.”

Ryan leans across the center console, his seatbelt straining against his chest. “I’m getting married tomorrow. We need to get home.”

“We should have everything cleared up real early in the morning,” the officer says. “There’s a motel back that direction about five miles. I suggest you hunker down for the night and get an early start tomorrow.”

The last thing Diane wants to do is spend a night in a motel in the middle of nowhere--especially not with Ryan Moriani, of all people--after having been unceremoniously dumped from her job hours ago. “You’re sure there isn’t a way to drive around?” she asks.

“It’s the Pass, ma’am. Not a lot of alternate routes.”

He steps back from the car, signaling that this aimless negotiation is over. Diane closes the window but just sits there, her hands on the steering wheel.

“Danielle’s going to kill me,” Ryan says.

“Not if I do it first,” Diane says with a groan, still unable to believe the chaos filling the road before them.


Glancing at the front door and windows to be sure that she will not be overheard, Helen sends a heavy whisper into the phone. “I don’t have that kind of money!”

“We need to find it,” Eric says.

“I don’t have access to half a million dollars! How could you let this happen? She was supposed to…” She cannot bring herself to finish the sentence. Saying it out loud was awful enough already, but Eric assured her over and over again that it would be a simple disappearance, just long enough to get everyone riled up and make Jason look distracted and inattentive as a parent. Knowing that it has spiraled out of control makes the agony of what she has authorized even more dreadful.

“Technically, you do,” Eric says. His own voice is not quite at full volume. Helen imagines him in that fancy office of his, trying to remain as cocky and unaffected as always, even though his reputation--his entire career, really--could be on the line because of this stunt.

Unless he is lying to her and working with the kidnapper to swindle them out of this money.

“You had better not be lying to me,” she says, surprised by the strength in her own voice.

“Helen, I could potentially earn half a million dollars during the second half of this year. Why would I risk my law license and my livelihood over something so, well, stupid?”

She has to admit that his reasoning makes sense. “I don’t know,” she says slowly. “You can’t blame me for being suspicious, considering this latest turn of events.”

“True.” He sounds uncharacteristically nervous. He sounded so calm throughout the process of proposing and planning this whole thing. “What I was going to say is that you might not have the money yourself… but Jason does.”

The thought has already crossed her mind, of course, but there is no way to get Jason to hand over that amount of money without alerting him to her involvement in the kidnapping. It wasn’t even supposed to be a kidnapping…

“Then he’ll know we were involved in this,” she says.

“Not if we play this correctly.”

“How exactly would we do that?” she snaps. “I just want to know that my granddaughter is safe!”

Even as she barks into the phone, she hears the door opening behind her. She realizes that she became too caught up in her conversation to remember to stand guard.

“Listen to me carefully,” Eric says, but his voice is distant now, because all she can focus on is Don, staring intently at her.

“What’s going on?” he asks.

She does not know how to answer.

“Helen, tell me what is going on!” Don demands.


“I wish there were something we could do,” Lauren Brooks says in between nibbles of a piece of sourdough bread.

Alex Marshall nods in agreement. “Me, too. I can’t imagine how Jason must be feeling.”

The two friends sit in a corner of the living room, Lauren in the seat of an armchair and Alex perched on the side of it. They watch Jason, who stands in a conversation with his father and sister, though Bill and Molly are the only ones saying anything.

“I just can’t believe this is happening,” Alex says. “After what happened to Court, especially… it’s like it never stops.”

“I don’t even want to think about what Sophie must be going through.” Lauren shudders at the cavalcade of possibilities that assault her mind.

“Even just living in the same house as her for a few weeks…” Alex doesn’t even know where he is going with that, but he has grown even more attached to the little girl since he moved into Jason’s house, and he cannot bear the thought of--no. No thinking anything like that.

“They’re going to find her, and she’ll be fine,” he says instead.

“Crap.” At once, Lauren bolts to her feet. “I’m supposed to meet up with Josh and spend the night at his place. I should probably let him know what’s going on.” She starts to go to the front porch, but through the window, she sees Don and Helen having what appears to be an argument. Instead, she climbs the staircase and makes her call from the upstairs hallway.

Josh sounds flustered when he answers, but that quickly morphs into concern as Lauren explains what is going on. “I think I’m gonna be here pretty late,” she says. “I feel like I should stay, for Jason.”

“Yeah. Totally. Actually, it kinda works out.”

“What do you mean?”

“I had to fly out-of-town,” Josh says. “Last-minute thing.”

“What? Where are you?”

“Um, L.A. It’s a work thing.”

“What work thing?” They are paired on most of their projects at Willis, or Lauren is at least aware of the other things to which he has been assigned. She cannot think of a single one that would send him rushing to Los Angeles.

“I’ll explain tomorrow,” he says. “Don’t worry. I’ll be back in plenty of time for the wedding.”

“All right.” She doesn’t even know what to say to him, because he has been so vague about what he is doing. “Good luck, I guess.”

“Thanks. See you tomorrow, okay? I’ll text you when my plane lands.”

“All right. Have a good night.”

She ends the call with a supremely odd feeling. Why wouldn’t Josh tell her what he is doing in L.A.? Why is he there in the first place? And why would he tell such a poor lie?

When she returns to Alex, she picks up her plate and chomps down the remainder of the sourdough.

“What’s wrong?” Alex asks.

“I’m just out of sorts, that’s all,” she says, and it is not entirely a lie.


After Samantha leaves Claire’s apartment, her head spinning so fast that she knows she will not accomplish any productive studying tonight, she takes the bus back to her mother’s condo. She has barely walked in the door, and discovered her Aunt Natalie weeping to yet another romantic movie, when her phone rings. She moves to silence it, sure that it must be Tempest, but the display reveals that it is her brother. He never calls; usually they just swap quick, informational texts. She steels herself to act normal and answers the phone.

“Hey,” she says.

“Hey.” Travis sounds concerned. Immediately Samantha knows that Tempest must have told him about the kiss.

“I’m coming to pick you up,” he says, his urgency unmistakable.

Minutes later, Travis’s car pulls up to the building. Samantha is already waiting outside, and on the way to their grandparents’ house, he fills her in on the bone-chilling situation about Sophie. The circumstances are so disturbing that Samantha actually goes several minutes at a time without thinking about what happened earlier between herself and Tempest. She feels guilty when it occurs to her that the universe managed to find an actual, sufficient distraction for her.

But even that vanishes when Claire and Tempest walk through the door.

“Thanks for letting me know,” Claire tells Bill. “I just finished a shift at the hospital. Is there any news?”

There isn’t, of course, and they all do their best to be optimistic and to avoid vocalizing any possibilities that might be too horrifying. It is only a matter of time, though, before Samantha is in the kitchen alone, filling up her soda, and senses someone behind her.

“Hey,” Tempest says.

When Samantha turns around, it is as she feared: they are alone in the kitchen. Alone together. Just like earlier, at Claire’s.


“You wanna talk about before?”

All Samantha can do is sip her newly refreshed soda. The fizzy bubbles leap out of the glass to tickle her nose.

“Sorry if I freaked you out,” Tempest says. She is back to speaking slowly, tentatively, the way she did when she first came to stay with Claire. Samantha had almost forgotten how substantial a wall there used to be between the two of them. Like they were from two different planets entirely.

“You didn’t,” Samantha says, but it is too hasty and thoroughly unconvincing.

“I figured you might be thinking the same thing, or… I don’t know.”

Samantha drinks some more of the soda. “I need time to think, okay?”

“About what?”

She has no idea how to answer that. “Everything.”

“We can forget it happened, if you want,” Tempest says.

Suddenly, before Samantha can redirect the conversation appropriately, someone else is walking into the kitchen. Travis takes one look at the two of them and freezes.

“I interrupt something?” he asks.

“No,” Samantha rushes to say. “We were just…”

Tempest picks up the slack for her: “Talking about that whole thing with Tori. Sam was saying she wants to forget about it. Pretend it even happened.”

“Make sure Tori knows it wasn’t cool,” Travis says.

“Landon already took care of that,” Samantha says wearily. The last thing she needs right now is to be reminded of that whole problem, too. “I’m glad Aunt Sarah is out working on finding Sophie, or I’d have to see Tori tonight, and I really don’t want to yet.”

“I hope she realizes what a bitch she was to you, that’s all.” He turns to Tempest. “My mom just told me about your test. Congrats. Maybe we can celebrate when everything else calms down.”

Tempest forces a smile. “For real. Yeah.”

Samantha makes a very deliberate move around Travis, back toward the doorway. “We should get back out there. In case anything’s happened, or…” She knows it sounds like a weak excuse, and Tempest must see right through her, but at the moment, all she wants is to get out of this kitchen. It feels like someone sucked all the oxygen out of the room and then turned up the heat to 90 degrees.

Travis follows her back out to the living room, but Tempest lingers behind. The two girls do not exchange another word the entire night.


Helen knows that there is no getting out of this. Not really. She might be able to throw Don off the scent somewhat, but she has no idea what kind of lie to tell, and with every second that passes, his face grows harder.

“I’ll call you back in a minute,” she says into the phone. She doesn’t bother waiting for a response before she hangs up.

“Who were you talking to?” Don asks, his face hard as stone.

 She decides to stick as close to the truth as possible without actually confessing to anything. “Eric Westin. I was hoping he might know someone who could help--the police are moving too slowly--”

“There’s a private eye in the family,” Don says. “Sarah is working on this on her own, too. And Brent is part of the family. The police aren’t going to let this fall by the wayside.”

“I know, but--”

“You know something.”

“I do not.”

“Do you know where Sophie is?”

She should have known that he would see through her so readily. She doesn’t even know how to cover this up. She never anticipated that it would turn into this.

“You heard me on the phone,” she says. “I have no idea where she is! If I did, she would be home in an instant.”

“But you know something,” he repeats without missing a beat. “Is Sophie all right?”

“I don’t know!” The cry rips out of her. “I wish I did!”

His eyes bore into her. Helen knows what is coming.

“You and Eric planned this, didn’t you?”

“We didn’t plan this,” she says weakly.

“You planned for Sophie to disappear. For what? To make Jason look bad?” He takes her silence as confirmation. “Helen!”

“He obviously was not paying attention! Someone was able to take her!”

She can see Don trip over that point, and for a fleeting moment, she thinks that she might be able to sway him to her point-of-view.

“Then what the hell is the problem?” Don asks, desperation and anger running together. “Where is our granddaughter?”

“I told you! I don’t know!” She feels tears choking her throat and clouding her eyes. “Something happened--the man who took her--he wants money--”

“What are you saying? You hired some man who’s gone rogue?”

She does not answer, cannot bring herself to confirm it when he puts it that way. This was a terrible idea. She never should have listened to Eric. He was so smug about it, as if he had done it a thousand times before without any cause for concern.

“How much does he want?” Don asks, stealing looks at the house to be certain that no one else hears them.

The answer is too absurd for her to report in anything but a mumble: “Five hundred thousand dollars.”

“What? We don’t have that kind of money.” It takes only an instant before he adds, “We have to tell Jason.”

“No! Don, we can’t.”

“He’s our only chance of getting that money quickly.” He reaches for the doorknob.

“Don! No!” She grabs his arm, stopping him. “If you tell Jason what’s going on, we will never see Sophie again.”


Ryan parts the dingy motel blinds with his index finger as he talks on the phone. The twilight sky is finally showing signs of ceding defeat to night.

“They assured me that the work will be done early,” he says. “I’ll be out of here at dawn. It’s only a few hours back to King’s Bay.”

“I hope so,” Danielle says, her sigh sounding fuzzy over the already-questionable connection. “How did the trees even fall? There was no storm.”

“Apparently there was one up in the Pass.” He can tell what she is intimating: that he is lying, that he is up to something. “You can check online. I managed to find a report on my phone.”

“You found a motel, though?”

“Yeah. It’s an incredibly classy establishment, as you can imagine.”

“Maybe we can reschedule our honeymoon and spend it there.”

“I already made the arrangements.” The jokes help him relax somewhat; at least she is not angry.

The door to the motel room bursts open, and Diane comes hurtling in, a plastic bag in her hand. Ryan can see two bottles of wine sticking out of it.

“I thought we--” she begins, but Ryan silences her with a hand thrust into her face.

“What was that?” Danielle asks.

“Just somebody else at the motel. I’m walking around the parking lot while we talk.”

“Be careful. It doesn’t sound like the safest place.” A beep sounds on the line. “That’s Brent. I should take it. Send me a text when you leave in the morning.”

“I will. I’ll probably just nap for a few hours and get up to leave as soon as possible. I love you. And tomorrow, I’m going to marry you.”

“I can’t believe it! I love you, too. Goodnight.”

Danielle switches to the other line, and Ryan ends the call. He sees Diane sneering at him as she tosses the plastic bag in the trash.

“How heartwarming,” she mutters.

Ryan decides not to snip back at her. “Do you have a corkscrew in your purse or something?”

“Even better.” She picks up one of the bottles and twists the cap off. “Very sophisticated.” She retrieves a paper cup from the bathroom, pours herself some wine, and then sits down on one of the two twin beds in the room. At least they were able to get one with separate beds.

“Give me some of that,” Ryan says as he goes to grab his own paper cup. “I’m going to need it to get through this night.”


In the dining room, Paula Fisher keeps placing items of food on her plate, even though she hardly has any appetite at all. The act of preparing the food was therapeutic for both her and Bill, as it always is--something to keep them occupied, something to make them feel as if they are helping out in a time of crisis--but the spread itself holds very little appeal for her at the moment.

She hears the sliding glass door in the kitchen open and close. Tim emerges from the kitchen seconds later. “Anything new?” he asks.

Paula shakes her head. “Nothing so far.”

She notices that he is clutching his phone in his palm. He must have been on a call in the backyard.

“Is everything all right?” she asks.

From the way that Tim’s mouth immediately droops into a frown, she can tell that she was right to inquire.

“There’s a rumor at Vision that Diane’s been fired,” he says.

“What?” The news, if it is even true, is truly a shock to Paula. Diane Bishop might be a lot of things, but she has always been a determined, powerful businesswoman. Short of some terrible scandal, she cannot imagine why Vision would cut her loose. “Would that affect you?”

“It could. I mean, I’m in her group. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re looking to cut anyone else, but if they’re looking to tighten things up…” His face goes slack with fear, and it stays that way for a few seconds, until he shakes his head to toss it off. “I don’t want to jump to any conclusions yet. And Diane didn’t answer my call. Have you heard back from Ryan?”

“No. Danielle said he was handling something in Eastern Washington and would be back in the morning.”

“Isn’t that cutting it a little close, with the wedding?”

Paula sighs. “I suppose there won’t be a wedding if we don’t…” She cannot bring herself to say it, but Tim understands perfectly: If we don’t find Sophie tonight.

“Maybe we should stop having family weddings,” Tim says dryly. “They pretty much all turn into total disasters.”

“Sarah and Graham’s was fine.”

“No one was kidnapped or died. Big victory.”

Suddenly, they both hear a commotion in the living room.

“Don, stop!” Helen’s voice calls out. Paula and Tim hurry into the living room to see what is going on.

They find a red-faced Don standing before Jason. Helen tugs on her husband’s shirt, trying to deter him from whatever mission he is on.

She spins him around to face her. “Don’t do this. Think about what could happen, if…” She seems to be trying to convey something without actually saying the words.

Don stares into her face as he weighs whatever decision it is that he has to make. Everyone else watches them intently, trying to figure out what in the world is happening.

Then Don turns back around and addresses Jason. “We need money. To get Sophie back.” Helen lets out an exasperated groan at the words.

Bill, standing beside Jason, regards his old friend. “Don, what are you talking about?”

“Helen knows where Sophie is,” Don tells the room full of people. “Or she will, as soon as we can get our hands on five hundred thousand dollars.”


What will happen to Helen and Eric now?
Will Jason be able to recover Sophie safely?
Is Josh up to something?
Will Ryan make it back in time for the wedding?
Discuss all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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