Episode #640

- Helen and Eric Westin arranged for Sophie to be kidnapped while in Jason’s care, in order to paint him as an unfit parent. The kidnapper turned the tables on them by demanding half a million dollars for Sophie’s return.
- Don figured out Helen’s involvement in the kidnapping and, desperate to save Sophie, announced to Jason and the Fishers what had really happened.
- Diane and Ryan traveled across the state to pursue a lead for Vision Publishing. When it failed to amount to anything, Diane received word from Vision that she was being terminated. To make matters worse, a fallen tree in the Pass made it impossible for them to drive back to King’s Bay, so they were forced to find a motel for the night.


Don Chase’s announcement drops on the room like an atomic bomb. Everyone and everything goes completely silent, completely still.

“What are you talking about?” Jason Fisher finally asks, his eyes shifting from Don to Helen and back again.

“He’s--he’s exaggerating,” Helen says. “I can explain.”

“Then explain!” The order rips out of Jason like a burst of fire, hot and ferocious.

“Jason,” Bill says, stepping up to place a hand on his son’s shoulder. The gaze he has leveled upon the Chases, however, does not soften one bit.

Helen’s voice wavers as she forces the words out, painfully, one by one. “This wasn’t supposed to happen. It’s gotten out of hand.”

“What is going on?” Jason demands, louder, harsher. He can barely see straight, knowing that there is information about his daughter’s whereabouts being dangled before him.

“Helen, Don… please. Tell us what this is about,” Paula Fisher says, doing her best to maintain some type of calm.

Helen looks to Don, who motions for her to continue. Jason is tempted to grab the woman himself and shake it out of her.

“It’s Eric Westin,” she says. “He told me he would--he would help with Sophie.”

Jason hears a gasp from somewhere behind him. He thinks it comes from Molly.

“He arranged something,” Don fills in. “For Sophie to--I don’t know, to disappear for a little bit--”

“Eric Westin has her?” Jason is already on the way to the door. “Tell me where he is.”

“He doesn’t have her!” Helen cries out. “I don’t know--he paid someone--someone who is demanding money now.”

“Five hundred thousand dollars,” Bill says, repeating the sum Don blurted out earlier.

Helen’s head drops, her chin pressed to her neck. “Yes,” she mumbles.

“Jason, let me call Brent,” Molly says. She already has her cell phone in hand. “He’ll know what to do.”

“I need to get that money,” Jason says to no one in particular. “The banks are closed, but maybe…” He doesn’t even know where to begin. All that stands between him and getting his daughter back is half a million dollars. It’s certainly a lot, but he has some money left in his savings, from the inheritance… if he can liquidate some things…

He is vaguely aware of Molly explaining the situation to Brent over the phone.

“How could you do this?” Bill asks the Chases, though it is more an accusation than a question.

“I had no idea,” Don says.

Helen nods. “He’s telling the truth. He didn’t know. And I didn’t--I didn’t know what Eric was going to do. This was never supposed to happen. He made it sound so easy.”

“And now some maniac has Sophie!” Jason screams. He feels hands pulling him backward and hears Tim telling him something, some empty words that are supposed to make any of this okay.

“Tell Brent what you know,” Molly says to Helen as she hands her the phone. Helen’s entire body shakes as she accepts it. Jason doesn’t even know if he can stand still long enough to let the wretched woman explain her story to Brent.


“Give me that,” Ryan Moriani says, thrusting out his hand toward the other bed. Diane Bishop responds by placing a bottle of crappy Merlot in his hand. The sound of True Lies playing on the woefully out-of-date TV fills the dreary motel room.

“I can’t believe I’m trapped here the night before my wedding,” Ryan says as he pours more of the wine into his plastic cup.

“Yeah, well, life is rough.” Diane slugs down what’s left of the wine in her cup and reaches for the bottle. Ryan passes it over.

He feels a full-blown explosion boiling within himself. The match was sparked as soon as he had to get in that car with her and drive all the way across the state to talk to a convicted murderer on her behalf. The fuse was lit when they came to that fallen tree and were told they couldn’t cross the Pass and make it back to King’s Bay tonight. And now he is stuck spending the night before his wedding in this dump, and he can’t even be honest with Danielle about why.

“I wouldn’t be stuck here if it weren’t for you,” he says, exhibiting as much restraint as he can.

“Actually, you wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for yourself.”

“How does that math work out?”

“Because you’re the one who screwed me over in the first place. If you’d just left well enough alone, Julian St. John would have stayed with Vision, and I wouldn’t have needed to look up Javier Camacho--”

“I’m sorry if I didn’t want you publishing all sorts of nasty details that would have turned my whole life upside-down,” he snaps. “I did what I had to do to look out for myself.”

Diane swivels around so that her feet are hanging off the side of the bed. “And I’m looking out for myself! I needed Camacho to sign on so that I could save my job. Do you think I wanted to spend five hours in the damn car with you? And you couldn’t even convince Camacho, so now I don’t even have my career, and--” She cuts herself off by dumping more wine into her cup.

“Oh, now it’s my fault that he wouldn’t take your stupid publishing deal?”

“It’s your fault that any of this is happening!” She gulps down more wine. “I can’t believe I married you. Ugh.”

“Your lawyer took care of the annulment, so it’s like it never happened. I think we’re better off looking at it that way.”

“Fine by me.” She stares blankly at the slightly fuzzy image and overly bright color on the TV screen. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I got fired today. Diane Bishop got fired. Think about that for a second. Besides Samantha, my career is all I have. And if I don’t have that, I’m even letting her down. This entire thing is a disaster.”

“You’ll find a way,” Ryan says weakly. “You always do. I can barely tolerate you, and I know that’s true.”

“Shut up.” She swings her legs back onto the bed and focuses hard on the TV screen--and on what is left of her wine.

Ryan still feels compelled to say something, anything, to cut through the tension. “At least you have good taste in movies. I was worried you’d try to make me sit through some Kate Hudson mess.”

“If you keep talking, I swear to God, I will find How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days somewhere on this dial just to torture you.”

Ryan feels the slightest hint of a smirk tugging at his mouth as he leans back against the headboard and redirects his attention to the movie.


The car feels foreign and out of Jason’s control on the entire drive over to Eric’s office. He hits the accelerator too hard and brakes too roughly; the other vehicles’ glaring red brake lights seem to burst into the night out of nowhere at all. If he had his way, he would not be driving at all, but Brent, who is now seated behind him, insisted that it is crucial, that it has to appear that only Helen and Jason are in on this. By the time he parks on the street outside the building that houses Eric Westin’s office, it seems like a miracle that they made it unscathed.

“Here,” Brent says, handing the bag to Helen, who sits in the passenger seat.

Jason has avoided looking at her the entire drive, but now he steals a glance. She looks pale, gray all over. Good, he thinks. She deserves every moment of misery she gets from this.

“I’m so sorry about this,” she says, holding the duffel bag in her lap.

“Just go in and give him the money! Get Sophie back!” Jason shouts.

“Hey.” Brent places a hand on Jason’s shoulder. He resists the urge to shrug it off. He is tired of people putting their hands on him, the silent code for “Calm down.” How in the hell is he supposed to calm down?

“What if he asks to count it?” Helen asks.

“Unless he looks at it under a microscope, it’s fine,” Brent says. “The outside bills in each stack are real. The counterfeits are only on the insides of the stacks. Don’t worry about it.”

She nods dutifully and reaches for the door handle.

“Just give Eric the money and get back down here,” Brent says. “Jason and I will be out here waiting. I have the address that he gave you over the phone. We have an unmarked car already there, and we’ll head over once you and Eric leave.”

Helen sighs and opens the door. “I’ll be back soon.”

“Great,” Jason mutters. Helen gets out of the car, and she pushes the door too weakly behind her. It clinks into place, not fully closed.

“Goddammit!” He reaches across the passenger seat and opens the door, only to slam it closed harder. He sees Helen startle and look back before she enters the building.

“I know this means very little right now,” Brent says, leaning forward, “but try and stay calm. We all have to play this cool, or we risk setting this guy off.”

“I’m trying.” Jason lets his hands fall from the steering wheel. “Do you really think this is going to work?”

“I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that it does.”

Jason notes that it is not exactly a promise.


The mood at the Fishers’ is somber and heavy as the family lingers around, awaiting news on Sophie. They occupy themselves with the television or by fiddling with their cell phones or with picking at the spread of food that remains on the dining room table, but they all move as if in a trance.

Bill finds Don standing by a window in the entryway. Since Helen left with Jason and Brent, Don has stayed away from the others.

“Any word yet?” he asks, turning back and seeing his old friend.

Bill shakes his head. “I’d tell you if there were.”

The weighty silence absorbs both of them. The summer night has finally taken effect outside, leaving the sky a navy blue.

“If I’d known any of this was going to happen, I would’ve stepped in,” Don says. “I knew that lawyer was capable of some underhanded tactics, but something like this never crossed my mind.”

Bill is uncertain how to respond. On one hand, he never dreamed that either of the Chases could do something as appalling as what Helen has done; on the other, the fact that she did it makes it difficult for him to believe that Don knew nothing about the whole thing. Then again, Don did come clean about it, because saving Sophie was more important to him than saving face.

“I just hope Brent’s plan works,” he says instead.

“You know how much Helen and I love that little girl. She’s… she’s all we have left of Courtney.”

Then why would you put her in this sort of danger? Bill wants to demand. But Don’s face is so anguished, so pale and fretful, that Bill is once again swayed to believing that he really did not know about Helen and Eric’s scheme until it was too late.

“Then let’s keep praying that she makes it back to us safe and sound,” Bill says.


Though she has driven by the downtown hotel many times over the years, it never occurred to Helen to go inside the place. Not until today. When she and Eric walk through the lobby to pick up an envelope that has been left for them at the front desk, she finds the interior as charming as the outside of the building--that is, not at all.

They ride the elevator up to the fourth floor. It is a small, claustrophobic cube, and the tight space makes Helen’s breathing even more labored.

“Room 407,” Eric says as he looks at the card key that was inside the envelope. “Remember: do not set that bag down until we look in the room and make sure Sophie is there and okay.”

“Then we close the door and wait.” She spent the entire ride to the hotel running through the instructions over and over in her head.

“And we do not open it until he knocks and we count to sixty.”

“What’s to stop us from taking the money in the room with us so that we have that and Sophie?” she asks.

“The fact that he has a key to the room, too. If the money isn’t left outside--or isn’t all there--then he is most certainly not letting us out of that room.”

Helen’s stomach flips end-over-end. He’s going to count the money… She can only hope that Brent’s plan plays out perfectly on-schedule.

The state of affairs on the fourth floor is even worse than that of the lobby. The red carpet shows severe signs of fraying, and the lighting is creepily dim. Helen’s entire body is already quaking with apprehension, and the scenery is only making it worse. The duffel bag slung over her shoulder feels like it weighs two thousand pounds.

They locate Room 407 with ease. As Eric swipes the card key in the door, Helen hears something that makes her heart swell with hope: a cry.

“That’s Sophie,” she says, pushing toward the door, frantic to get inside. “She’s in there.”

Eric reserves comment as he opens the door. Sure enough, Sophie sits on the dingy queen-sized bed. Her howls become even louder once the door is open; her face is flushed from crying so hard.

“Oh, my sweet girl. You’re all right!” Helen rushes over to the little girl, who reaches out for her but does not miss a beat in her terrified cries.

“The bag,” Eric reminds her. Helen slips it off her shoulder without ever taking her eyes off Sophie. The minute she is free of that horrible duffel bag and all it represents, she scoops up the child.

“You’re all right, sweetie,” she tells Sophie as she strokes her soft brown hair. “Everything is all right.”

A glance at Eric reveals that he is relieved, perhaps even surprised. Some color has returned to his face, which has been ashen ever since Helen arrived at his office.

“Fortunate that Jason was able to produce the money so quickly,” he says as he sets the bag outside. Helen cannot tell if she detects a hint of accusation in his words. She doesn’t want to think about Jason now. She has no idea what he is going to do, how he is going to condemn her, once they get Sophie home. But first…

She wonders if she can send Jason a text message and tell him to have Brent call the entire thing off. What does it matter if they catch the kidnapper? Let him get away with what real money is in the bag. The important thing is that she has Sophie in her arms.

Eric closes the door with a decisive slam. He waits, tapping his toe on the floor, for their signal. Sophie’s cries fade, finally, into heavy, drained breaths.

“Everything is all right,” Helen whispers to her granddaughter. She waits, breathless and shaking, for the knock that will tell them this is all about to be over.

But it does not come. Instead she hears a male voice call out, “Freeze!”

“What the hell?” Eric says, moving toward the door. Helen hears the click of the card key in the door, and then the door flies open and slams Eric in the face. He staggers backward and falls to the ground.

Everything before her is a blur: the man rushing into the room, the police officer behind him, and then the gun trained firmly upon her and Sophie.


No matter how many windows she opens, Paula finds the house too suffocating to remain inside for the entire night. Once she is outside, though, even the summer night’s air is not enough to help her breathe more easily.

She startles when she hears the sliding door open. Looking back, she sees Molly coming out to join her on the deck.

“Brent hasn’t called yet,” Molly says, anticipating her mother’s question.

Paula stares into the dark backyard. “How could Helen be so stupid? If Sophie--” She stops herself mid-sentence. Mid-thought, really. It is too much.

“She’s desperate. That’s how it seems, anyway. She and Don lost Courtney.”

“And now they could lose Sophie, too.” The very idea makes her want to scream, makes her want to rush out of the house and do something.

“I’m sure she realizes that now.” Molly drapes an arm around Paula’s shoulders. “But she’s spent all this time convincing herself that Jason is, I don’t know, dangerous, or at least not cut out to take care of Sophie properly. Do you remember how we felt when we thought Tim was dead and it seemed like Diane was going to take Samantha away?”

“Of course.” Sometimes it seems easy for Paula to block out all the pain that Tim’s disappearance caused, because it was such a miracle when he returned to them. But it still catches her off-guard at times, in the dead of night or in a stray moment. Those feelings will never truly fade, certainly never be forgotten.

“I don’t know why I’m defending her,” Molly says, “but I can sort of understand it. Not that it makes what she did okay.”

“No. Nothing can make it okay.” Paula sighs. “Thank goodness Brent is working on this, though. It makes me feel a little better.”

“Yeah. If anyone can save Sophie, it’s Brent.”

Something in Molly’s voice makes Paula look over at her daughter. Sure enough, Molly is now the one gazing off into the distance, at nothing in particular. As reasonable as she is trying to sound, the discussion of her barely-ex-husband is clearly having an effect upon her.

“I just want the phone to ring,” Paula says.

“Me, too, Mom. Me, too.”


This is not how the plan is supposed to go. That is the only coherent thought that Helen can muster as she stares down that gun.

Everything happens in a choppy blur, swaths of light and movement without meaning and certainly without predictability. The man who must be the kidnapper is upon her at once, his gun never wavering from its attention to Helen and Sophie as he grabs Helen by the arm and slides behind her.

“What the fuck is this?” he demands of the room at large. Eric drags himself to his feet, groaning and he holds both hands to his face.

“Drop the gun,” the police officer orders, as another one, a woman, sidles up behind him. Both hold their guns out and at the ready, too, and all Helen can think is that there are now three firearms aimed squarely at her and her granddaughter.

“Couldn’t just play by the rules, could you?” the kidnapper says. All Helen can see is his arm, covered in the sleeve of a gray sweatshirt, and a hint of a tattoo creeping from his wrist onto his hand.

“I said, drop the gun!” the officer repeats, more angrily.

Helen waits for some move, any move, really. She brought this on all of them. If someone has to get hurt in this, it should be her. She never should have trusted Eric.

“Back out of the room,” the man grasping her arm tells the officers. “Back out and close the door, or the lady and the little girl get it.”

Get it? Helen feels like she is in an action movie. This cannot be happening. Then again, her entire life has felt like a movie—a terrible, tragic movie—since Courtney’s wedding day.

“Let them go,” Eric says. “Take the money.”

Helen sees the gun flick in the direction of the officers. “They’re just gonna let me go? Right.”

“You’re only making this worse for yourself,” the male officer says, taking a step closer. “If you drop the gun now—”

He keeps speaking, but Helen does not absorb any of his words. Suddenly she is thrust forward, and all she can think is that she needs to hold onto Sophie. They hit the ground, hard, and as she rolls over, she sees that the kidnapper has gone down, too. Brent has appeared out of nowhere and has his heel dug into the kidnapper’s back while he holds a gun to his neck. The other officers move in and begin to place the kidnapper in handcuffs.

“You should probably check the fire escape next time,” Brent says as the handcuffs snap into place.


Jason waits anxiously for some indication of how things are going inside the hotel. Unable to remain in the car, he stands outside and listens for voices, or yells, or the sound he is dreading: a gunshot. But he hears nothing and knows nothing until two police officers escort a goateed man in a gray sweatshirt out of the building.

Then comes the only sight he truly cares about: Sophie. Whatever anger he feels about her being in Helen’s arms pales in comparison to the euphoric blend of relief and joy that seeing her safe brings.

He runs to the building’s entrance. “Daddy’s here,” he says, stretching out his arms to take her.

“Daddy!” she yells out. Jason eases her out of Helen’s hold and hugs her tightly, though he is not sure it could ever be tight enough. Brent and Eric Westin follow Helen out of the building, but Jason hardly notices them.

“You’re okay, kiddo,” he says, running his thumb over Sophie’s tear-stained cheek. “I’m so sorry. But you’re okay. You’re with Daddy now. I’m never leaving you.”

Brent holds out the duffel bag. “You probably want this, too. I can have my guys pull the counterfeits and give you back what’s yours.”

“Yeah, that’s fine.” The money seems absurdly unimportant right now. He has Sophie back in his arms. She is safe. That is all that matters.

Somewhere in the distance, Jason hears the slam of a car door. The other two officers return, minus the handcuffed man.

“I’ll take him down and book him,” the male officer says to Brent.

“Okay,” Brent says. “But there’s something else we have to do first.”

Jason has not allowed himself to look Helen or Eric in the face, but now, the glance that he steals makes it clear that Eric knows what is about to happen.

“Eric Westin, you’re under arrest for conspiracy to commit kidnapping,” Brent says before rattling off the Miranda warning. Uncharacteristically, Eric does not protest, nor does he resist the locking of the metal rings around his wrists. One of the officers leads Eric to a separate squad car.

“You might want to take Sophie to the car,” Brent says to Jason. “I don’t want her to see this.”

Helen stands stiffly, knowing what must be about to take place. “I’m so sorry,” she says. “I never meant for any of this to happen.” Her features distort as tears threaten to push through.

Courtney would hate to see this, Jason thinks, and for a moment, he sees Helen for what she is: an old woman who made a very, very stupid choice out of desperation. But then he thinks about how he felt today, how he felt waiting for word from inside that hotel, and how Sophie must have felt to be alone with a stranger in an unfamiliar place.

“I won’t cry for you, Helen,” he says, and with that, he turns and brings Sophie back to his own car. He buckles her into her carseat and climbs behind the wheel.

“We’re gonna go see Grandma and Grandpa and everyone else,” he tells his daughter. In the rearview mirror, he watches as Brent places Helen in handcuffs.


What will happen between Jason and the Chases now?
What kind of punishment will Helen face?
Will Ryan make it back in time to marry Danielle?
Talk about this episode in the Footprints Forum!

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