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- Lauren saw a text message from a woman named Allison pop up on Josh’s phone. It fueled her suspicions about his secretive trip to Los Angeles.
- Claire visited Spencer’s fraternity house, hoping to get to know him a little better, but Spencer refused to speak with her. Claire witnessed him participating in cruel initiation rituals and wondered if she ever wants to acknowledge him as her real son.
- Alex rejected Graham as his father after discovering letters that proved Graham had refused to be a part of Alex’s life when Alex was young, despite Sally’s best efforts.
- Graham discovered Sarah’s prenatal vitamins and realized that she is keeping her pregnancy from him.


The enticing aromas of Bill and Paula Fisher’s holiday meal beckon Ryan Moriani even before he enters the house. Despite the rain that has been falling lazily all day long and the dampness that hangs in the air, he pauses outside the front window. Through it, he can see the family bustling about, setting the table and pouring drinks and munching on appetizers. Travis and Tori are bringing plates and silverware to the table; Molly is refilling a bowl of dip; Tim is talking with Sarah and Graham on one of the sofas.

It wasn’t too long ago that he was unwelcome at family celebrations--and deservedly so. As he watches the Fishers inside the house now, he reflects upon how fortunate he is that they have accepted him back into the fold. That realization is tinged with sadness as he considers that this was supposed to be his and Danielle’s first Thanksgiving as husband and wife.

He is seized by a sudden, powerful urge to rush over to Josh’s house, where the Taylors have most likely gathered, and plead his case to Danielle. But his more rational side knows that only time can possibly heal the wounds that his betrayal inflicted upon her.

Doing his best to brush that aside, Ryan reaches for the door handle and enters the house. The smells of the Thanksgiving meal intensify immediately as everyone turns to greet him.

“Happy Thanksgiving!” he calls out cheerily as he hangs his coat. Sarah rises from the sofa and gives him a hug. Ryan finds himself scanning the house for one person in particular.

“Where’s Diane?” he quietly asks Sarah.

“She’s not here yet,” Sarah says, glancing around. “What, you don’t want to see your wife?”

“Shut up.”

Sarah smirks at him as Ryan sees Samantha emerging from the kitchen with a basket of rolls. He crosses over to her.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Sam,” he says.

She eyes him with a modicum of suspicion. “Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.”

“Your mom isn’t here?”

Sam shakes her head. “I came over before to help Grandma and Grandpa cook. My mom called half-an-hour ago and said that she isn’t coming.”

Ryan’s instant reaction is relief. Not having Diane here means that he won’t have to deal with the constant reminder of how he screwed things up with Danielle. It might even help the rest of the family forget about it, too.

“Why not?” he asks.

“She said she isn’t feeling well.” Samantha shrugs. “She seemed fine when I left this morning.”

“You think she’s lying?”

“Have you met my mom?”

“Good point.” He gives her a pat on the shoulder but finds himself disturbed by the thought that Diane is spending Thanksgiving alone because of him.


When Sarah excuses herself to greet Ryan, Graham takes the opportunity to deal with something he has wanted to do for days. He finds Jason pouring himself a glass of wine and joins him.

“Did Alex tell you what his plans were for the holiday?” he asks.

Jason looks at him with unmistakable disdain, making it abundantly clear that he has heard the entire story from Alex. “He decided to spend the day with Don and Helen.”

“I’m sure that they’ll appreciate the company,” Graham says awkwardly. He watches as Jason sets the bottle of cabernet back amongst the other bottles on the bar. “I take it he’s spoken with you about what happened.”

“Yes.” Jason’s expression darkens. “From where I stand, he has every right to be upset with you.”

“Of course he does. Of course. But I’m his father. He’s my son. We’ve already lost so many years--”

“Because of your decisions, the way I understand it.”

  Jason Fisher

Graham hopes that Jason will see his sincerity. “It was a very complicated situation, and I will always regret pushing Sally--and Alex, by association--away at first. Perhaps you can help him see that--”

“Graham,” Jason says sternly. “You might be my brother-in-law, but Alex is my best friend. There is no competition. What you did to him, lying like that--it might be unforgivable for him. And I have to support him in whatever he chooses.”

Knowing full well that this course of action is not going to do him any good, Graham allows Jason to move away. But he is not going to give up on his son, not after all these years. He has spent too much time without a family of his own just to let it all fall apart now.


Claire Fisher tries not to show any of her awkwardness outwardly as she leads the way to the front door. Tempest Banks follows behind her, carrying the apple pie that they spent the morning baking. They ring the doorbell, and Danielle swiftly answers.

“Come in,” she tells them, stepping aside. “Happy Thanksgiving.”

“Happy Thanksgiving,” Claire says. She removes her coat and hands it to Brent, who greets her with a hug. He takes Tempest’s coat, too.

“Be right back,” he says as he moves away.

Josh is headed toward them, a basketball between his hands and Caleb and Christian on his heels. “Happy Thanksgiving,” he says to Claire. “I’m gonna take these two little goons out in the driveway to burn off some of this energy before dinner.”

“Josh, this is Tempest,” Claire says. Josh and Tempest offer each other quick little waves.

“Mind if I come shoot with you?” Tempest asks him.

“Not at all. Come on.” The four of them file back out the front door into the cold.

“They’re going to freeze out there,” Claire says as the door closes.

Danielle brushes away the concern with a swipe of her hand through the air. “They’ll all be running around like nuts. And I think Josh could stand to burn off the energy more than the twins, honestly.”

Claire laughs and allows it to settle before she speaks again, her tone more serious. “How are you doing? I was sorry to hear about what happened at the wedding.”

“You’re probably the only other person who truly understands me when I say that I should have seen it coming,” Danielle says.

“I don’t know if you could have even imagined that Ryan had eloped with Diane…”

“I mean, I wanted to believe that he’d really changed. And it’s just not--it’s not who he is. None of us can make him change.”

“That, I understand,” Claire says with a weary sigh. “Still, I’m sorry you were hurt. How are you doing?”

Danielle shrugs. “Fine. Keeping busy taking care of the boys, writing music again… You have to believe that everything happens for a reason, right? The universe has its plans.”

“And the universe clearly did not want either of us to be married to Ryan Moriani,” Claire says with a bittersweet grin.

Brent returns to them and tells Claire, “I’m glad you and Tempest could make it.”

“Thanks for inviting us,” she says, already feeling more relaxed than she did while they were on their way here. She wasn’t sure if any of the Taylors would regard her unfavorably because of her closeness to Brent and the way that their investigation aided in breaking down his marriage to Molly.

Lauren Brooks emerges from the kitchen, an apron tied around her neck and waist. “Did Josh go out with the boys?”

“They’re in the driveway playing basketball,” Danielle says.

“Hi, Claire. Happy Thanksgiving,” Lauren says. Claire returns the sentiment, and then Lauren takes Danielle by the arm. “Could I have a word with you? Alone?”

“Of course. We’ll finish talking later,” Danielle tells Claire before moving off with Lauren.

Danielle follows Lauren back to the kitchen, where they are alone with the variety of dishes at differing stages of readiness.

“Do you need help with anything?” Danielle asks.

Lauren shakes her head. “No. Not the food, anyway. It’s about Josh.”


All his life, Spencer Ragan has spent his holidays in the most elegant of ways, with hired help serving decadent meals to rooms full of well-dressed and perfectly groomed people. The stark surroundings of the prison visitors’ room, with its dull paint and cheap plastic furnishings, make for a Thanksgiving unlike any other he has ever experienced.

“I’m sorry that your holiday has to be this way,” his mother says from across the table. With her face free of makeup and her hair--now its natural brown rather than the red he grew up seeing--falling plainly around her shoulders, she looks very different from the woman who raised him.

“It’s still better than having to deal with Philip trying to make us act like some perfect middle-American family,” Spencer says. “And much better than having to put up with Claire trying to be my sister.”

“Is she still bothering you?”

“On and off. I just do not want to see her, you know? But she showed up at my house the other day and tried to talk to me.”

Concern deepens the lines in Loretta’s face. “Isn’t there some kind of campus security you could call to keep her from harassing you?”

“Not unless she does something a whole lot crazier.” Spencer leans back in the uncomfortable chair and folds his arms across his chest. “She was on this whole kick about putting together a family medical file a while back, too. Of course Philip was totally into it, so he made me give blood.”

  Spencer Ragan

“What do you mean?” Loretta asks, sounding much more alarmed than some stupid medical file should warrant.

“She wanted everyone’s blood type on file and a bunch of other crap,” he explains. “I guess she’s a nurse and they’re always worried about things like that, but it’s never going to make her my family. You and Philip are my family--and he’s even pushing it lately.”

Loretta’s gaze drops to the table, and she knots her fingers together. “He hasn’t returned any of my calls in some time.”

“He’s been so weird since all of this happened,” Spencer says, waving his hand vaguely to indicate the room, the prison, the complete change in their lives from a few years ago.

“He isn’t still seeing that Molly Taylor woman, is he?”

“I don’t think so.”

A guard approaches the table and delivers two trays bearing their Thanksgiving dinners: two slices of bland-looking turkey, a dollop of what is undoubtedly canned cranberry sauce, and some whitish mashed potatoes, with a little plastic container of brown gravy on the side.

Loretta picks up her plastic fork. “I’m so happy that you came to spend the holiday with me. I never meant for any of this to happen, Spencer. I want more for you than…” She gestures over the food. “…this.”

“I know. But I wanted to see you. I needed to see you.”

“Nothing makes me happier than hearing that,” she says, a genuine smile moving over her face. “And you listen to me: you stand your ground when it comes to Claire Fisher. Do not let her convince you for a moment that you owe her anything.”

“Of course I don’t,” Spencer says as he reaches for his cup of water. “She killed my father, and she had you sent to prison.”

“Exactly. It would serve her right if you showed her no emotion but hate for the rest of her days.” Loretta picks up her own cup and toasts Spencer. “Happy Thanksgiving, love.”

“Happy Thanksgiving, Mother.”


Ryan doesn’t quite know what he is doing even as he gets out of his car and climbs the stairs to Diane’s unit. The rain has subsided for the time being, but the weather still looks and feels thoroughly unpleasant. He knocks on the door and waits for an answer that never comes.

“Diane, open up!” he calls, knocking again, harder. “It’s Ryan!”

To his surprise, the door opens a few seconds later. Diane stands before him in jeans and a pink cashmere sweater. “Telling me it’s you is supposed to make me open the door?”

“Seems like it worked, no?” He pushes past her into the condo. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Well, I was having a quiet Thanksgiving.”

He observes the cup of soup and half-empty bottle of wine on the coffee table. A paused image fills the flatscreen TV.

“You’re getting drunk by yourself and watching Pulp Fiction? Some Thanksgiving,” he says.

She shoves her way around him and sits back down on the couch. “What are you doing here?”

“I was at the Fishers’ and thought you’d be there. Samantha said you came down with something, which doesn’t seem to be true, unless that wine bottle is actually full of Dimetapp.”


“And I’m wondering why you didn’t come to the Fishers’,” he says.

“Because I do not need a house full of people looking at me like I’m the second coming of Satan because I married you and ruined your perfect little life with Danielle.”

“Please. I’m the one they blame for that.”

She refills her wine glass. “Do you know how long it’s taken me to have Paula and Bill see me as something other than this homewrecking vixen? The past few years, it’s almost been normal. I felt welcome there. And now I’m right back where I started.”

Ryan takes a chance and plants himself on the arm of the couch. “That isn’t true.”

“It is true. And what is this? Some big mission to spread holiday cheer and reverse all the shitty karma you’ve racked up?”

“No. I just don’t like the idea that you’re sitting here all alone. Your daughter is over at the Fishers’. You should be, too.” She doesn’t respond, so he continues: “Where’s Natalie?”

“She took Bree to our parents’--and don’t even think about suggesting I should have gone there. I would rather spend Thanksgiving alone than listen to my parents blame me for costing Natalie her perfect, convicted felon fiancé. I swear, they’re even more out of touch with reality than my sister is.”

“Okay, that does sound terrible,” Ryan says, staring at the image of Samuel L. Jackson frozen on the screen.

“This is just not a year where I have a lot to be thankful for,” Diane says without prompting. “My career is in the toilet. I’m burning through my savings. And I’m legally married to you.”

“And you have an intelligent, caring daughter who loves you,” Ryan counters. “And a best friend who would love to see you today, and Tim is probably kind of grateful to you for helping screw up my life again, and hey--I can even sort of tolerate you these days.”

Diane scowls at him. “Don’t go thinking that the feeling is mutual.”

“The point is,” he says, snatching the glass of wine away from her, “that you shouldn’t be spending the holiday alone.” He rises to his feet. “Now come on. What do you say?”


Lauren wrings her hands together. “Has he mentioned anything about Los Angeles?”

Danielle looks at her with confusion. “Ever? Yeah…”

“Recently, I mean,” Lauren says. “Sorry if this sounds nuts. He took a trip to L.A. that he said was for work, but I know Willis didn’t send him. I’m just wondering if he might have said anything to you about it.”

“No. I’m sorry.” Danielle’s mouth tightens into a straight line. “Do you think there’s something to worry about?”

Before Lauren can articulate her answer, they hear the front door open. Josh’s voice announces loudly, “It’s freezing out there. We need jackets.” A moment later, he comes barreling through the kitchen on the way to his bedroom, and Lauren and Danielle stand by in awkward silence. Josh leans in and plants a quick peck on Lauren’s cheek as he passes.

Out in the entryway, Brent brings Tempest her own coat.

“I’ve been meaning to congratulate you on your test,” Brent says as he and Claire watch her put on the coat. “That’s a big accomplishment. You should be proud.”

“Thanks,” Tempest says shyly.

I’m very proud,” Claire interjects.

“How is working at the rink?” Brent asks Tempest.

“Cold,” she answers with a grin. “But good. Jason’s really nice. And I’m just trying to save up enough money to get my own place when I turn 18.”

Claire pulls back with surprise. “What? This is the first I’m hearing about this.”

Tempest half-shrugs. “I just thought… once I turn 18, I’m not gonna be a foster kid anymore. I figured that was--”

“You are not a ‘foster kid,’” Claire says. “You’re family, no matter how old you are. You’re welcome to stay with me for as long as you want to.”

  Tempest Banks

“That’s really nice,” Tempest says, sounding truly surprised.

“Like I said, you’re family.” Claire wraps an arm around Tempest’s shoulders.

Josh comes rushing back through, zipping up a hooded sweatshirt. “You ready?”

“Let’s go.”

Claire and Brent stand back and watch them fly out the front door.

“She’s a good kid,” Brent says.

“I know. I got very lucky.” Claire regards the closed door for another second, then turns down the hallway. “Do you think they need any help in the kitchen?”

“Let’s find out. But first, come and say hi to my dad. He’s in the living room with Lauren’s parents.”

As he leads her through the house, Claire cannot help but reflect on how this is so different from how she thought she would be spending Thanksgiving at this point in her life--and what a lovely surprise it is.


“Dinner is served!” Bill announces as he carries the platter of turkey into the dining room. The family swarms around the table.

“Ryan isn’t back yet,” Paula says as they take their seats.

Jason holds up his phone. “He just texted me. He said he’ll be here in five minutes.”

“Where did he even go?” Molly asks.

No one seems to have an answer. Everyone settles into their seats, while Bill disappears and returns with the carving knife.

“Why don’t I get this bird carved while we wait?” he proposes. Everyone murmurs their agreement, and he begins.

“Would you care for some wine?” Graham asks Sarah, extending a bottle of cabernet sauvignon toward her. Instinctively Sarah shakes her head. “Are you sure?” he presses.

“Very,” she says. She sits back and watches as Graham refills his own glass and then passes the bottle to Tim. It is a peaceful holiday, blessedly free of much drama or angst. She feels sorry for Graham, since she knows how much it is bothering him not to have Alex here, but at least the rest of them are together and happy. In fact, it might be a good time for something…

She stands up. “There’s something I’d like to say.”

The rest of the family watches her curiously.

“I only just found out,” she says, placing a hand on Graham’s shoulder, “but I think this is the right time to tell you all… that Graham and I are expecting a baby!”

The table erupts in cheers and exclamations of surprise. Sarah leans down toward Graham.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you privately,” she says, “but this timing was too perfect, and I knew you’d be thrilled.”

“I am.” He takes her hand in his. “When did you find out?”

“Just a few days ago.” It isn’t exactly the truth, but in the end, that part of the story hardly matters. She would rather not rehash how she almost told Graham on the night that he and Alex had their falling-out. “You’re happy, aren’t you?”

“I’m elated,” he says, standing to kiss her.

“What did I miss?” Ryan asks, standing at the open door in his coat.

“Graham and I are expecting a baby,” Sarah says as Graham’s arms close around her.

What?” comes another voice. Diane comes bursting through the door. “Did I hear that right?”

“Mom, what are you doing here?” Samantha asks.

Still wearing her coat, Diane crosses to the dining room and bends down to give her daughter a hug. “Ryan came over to convince me that this is where I really wanted to be for Thanksgiving. And he wouldn’t leave until I went with him, so…”

“We’re glad you could make it,” Paula says warmly.


“Here, we can squeeze in an extra place setting next to me,” Sarah says, already shifting her own plate down a few inches.

Tim hops up. “I’ll get one of the chairs from the kitchen.”

“Congratulations,” Diane says, giving her best friend a hug.

“Thank you.” Sarah leans in closer to whisper, “Welcome to the family, sister-in-law.”

“Shut up. And happy Thanksgiving.”

“Happy Thanksgiving,” Sarah says, as Tim returns with the extra chair, Bill resumes carving the turkey, and happy chatter overtakes the entire dining room.


Now that Sarah has announced her pregnancy, will Graham be less suspicious?
Should Lauren drop her worries about Josh?
Might there be a genuine connection between Diane and Ryan?
Talk about all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

Next Episode



Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011

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