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- Helen’s defense attorney was confident that Helen could avoid jail time, but she made it clear that neither Helen nor Don stands much chance of being allowed to see Sophie in the foreseeable future.
- Graham hoped that Jason might be able to get through to his estranged son, Alex, for him, but Jason maintained that Alex is his best friend and he will respect his wishes regarding Graham. 
- Sarah announced her pregnancy to her family and friends at Thanksgiving dinner.


With a creak, Matt Gray’s pickup truck rolls to a stop beside the curb.

“Think there was enough traffic?” he says to his daughter, who is busily adjusting her ponytail in the visor mirror.

Tori tightens the blue and gold ribbons in her hair, which match the rest of her cheer uniform, and turns to him with a look. “If you had let me take Driver’s Ed--”

“If you and your friends hadn’t been mean to your cousin,” Matt cuts her off.

“I know, I know. But I haven’t gotten in trouble all semester now!”

“And that’s a good thing. I just hope you really learned a lesson from this.”

“I did. I promise.” She starts packing all her make-up supplies--some of which Matt would not be able to identify with a gun to his head and a cheat sheet--into a little bag, which she sticks into her backpack. “Now promise me that you’ll take me driving during spring semester.”

Matt exaggerates a shudder, though it isn’t entirely fake. “All right, I promise. I wonder how your mom is gonna feel about sitting there with you behind the wheel.”

“Probably not too good, with the baby and all.”

“What?” The idea is still sinking in even as Matt spits out the word. Baby? Could Sarah be…?

“Oh my god,” Tori says, covering her mouth with her hands. “I thought she already told you.”

“Your mom is pregnant?” he asks slowly.

“Yeah. Dad, I’m sorry. I thought…”

“It’s okay. You don’t have to apologize to me.” He plasters a big smile on his face. “Get inside. You have a team to cheer for.”

Tori gives him a hopeful look and gets out of the truck. As the door closes, Matt allows the full weight of this news to hit him. He knows that Sarah is married to someone else, and he has finally--almost--accepted that. But for her to have a baby with Graham… that makes it so final, so concrete, in a way that he cannot quite reconcile.

Thaw Coffee & Tea

“Graham just needs to be patient,” Jason Fisher says as he holds a peppermint mocha in his hands.

“You try telling him that,” Sarah Fisher Colville says with a groan. “He’s been so intense about it.”

“Well, his son is refusing to speak to him…”

“I know. I just have no idea how to fix it.” Sarah takes a sip of her tea and gazes thoughtfully around the busy shop. Bing Crosby’s I’ll Be Home For Christmas plays quietly in the background.

“You can’t. Neither of us can.” Jason pauses before adding, “To be honest, I’m not sure Alex should forgive him.”

Sarah nods, if not in agreement, then in understanding.

“Not that one replaces the other,” she says, “but I’m hoping the baby will at least take his mind off Alex for a while. Then maybe enough time will pass that Alex will come around.”

“Maybe. Yeah. How are you feeling?”

“Actually, pretty great so far. Not nearly the same morning sickness I had with Tori, or…” She trails off, realizing that she walked right into that one. She always does. In her head, she knows that she has been pregnant two times before, but the emotion of it never occurs to her until it is too late.

  Sarah Fisher Colville

Jason grows somber. “And you’re… doing okay… having to think about the last time?”

“Yeah. I mean… yeah.” She lets out a heavy sigh. “It will probably never get any easier than it is now. I almost had a second child, and then I didn’t.”

She plays with the teabag hanging out of her cup. “I still haven’t told Matt.”

“Are you kind of dreading that?”

“Yeah. He went through that last pregnancy with me, obviously, and now for me to be remarried and expecting another baby… it’s sensitive, that’s all.”

“Definitely. You know Matt’s going to be supportive.”

“Of course he is.” He always is. What really worries her is the thought that she is going to hurt him with this proof of how much she has moved on with her life, while he is still living in the apartment that they shared and spending so much of his time alone.

“I have to get it over with,” she declares, as much to Jason as to herself. “The longer I put it off, the worse it’s going to be.”

“I think you’re right,” he says. “Tell Matt as soon as you can, and then you won’t have to worry about it anymore.”


Diane Bishop digs through her purse as she approaches the reception desk. The receptionist, a woman a little older than Diane with a large, chestnut-colored perm, offers a warm smile.

“I know that damn parking ticket is in here somewhere,” Diane mumbles. After a few seconds, she locates it and hands it to the receptionist, who stamps a validation on it.

“Have a nice day,” the receptionist tells her. Diane returns the sentiment and heads for the elevators. Not that she frequents attorneys’ offices, but the place seems unusually empty--probably because of the holidays. The elevator dings and its doors open. Diane steps aside to let whomever is inside exit first, and she is surprised when she recognizes one of the two elevator passengers.

“Hi,” she says awkwardly to Helen Chase. Aside from a quick greeting or comment at one of the Fishers’ holiday gatherings, she has probably never said a word to the woman, but it would be even more awkward not to say hello.

“Diane. Hi.” Helen seems startled by the sight of her. Diane supposes that isn’t entirely surprising; from what she knows, Helen has been through the ringer in the past two years.

Diane realizes that they have been standing there for too long for this to be just a passing hello, so she ventures to say, “How are you doing? I was sorry to hear about… everything that’s happened.” What the hell else are you supposed to say to a woman whose daughter got murdered and then she went kind of nuts and had her grandchild kidnapped?!

“Not as sorry as I am,” Helen says. She shakes her head, as if trying to brush off those unpleasant thoughts. “How about yourself?”

  Helen Chase

“I’m doing well. Thanks.” It’s kind of a lie, but it seems like the right thing to say. “Trying to get myself an annulment, since… well, I guess we both got screwed over by Eric Westin, huh?”

“To put it lightly, yes. Actually, I should be going. I have an appointment. It’s good to see you, Diane.”

“Same. Happy holidays.”

Helen heads toward the reception desk, and Diane pushes the elevator button again. The doors open immediately, revealing the waiting car. She steps inside and presses the button for the lobby, and only then does it occur to her: Why does Helen Chase have an appointment at a firm that specializes in family law? What is she up to?


With her caseload quiet for the holidays and Graham off at a business meeting until later in the evening, Sarah decides to take an afternoon for herself. She attempts to finish up her Christmas shopping but finds herself distracted by her earlier conversation with Jason. She knows that she has to tell Matt about the baby--and he is going to find out sooner or later, anyway--but instead of leading her to him, her thoughts bring her back to the place where their lives exploded, both literally and figuratively.

She strolls down Pier 22, staring out at the choppy water being stirred up by the winter breeze. She can feel the wind’s bite even through her coat and its warm hood. This used to be such a regular location for her to visit, but she has been here only a handful of times since her father’s restaurant was destroyed. In its place now stands a cluster of little shops, mostly tourist traps, which seem to be taking over the waterfront these days.

She thinks back to the times when she was a young woman, in college and then starting out on the police force. So many family events took place at Bill’s new restaurant. It was such a source of pride for him. She even used the restaurant as a home base for the wedding that she and Matt had on the nearby beach--or attempted to have, at any rate.

But it was at another wedding at the restaurant that everything changed. Nick Moriani trapped them all inside and made it clear that he planned to blow the place sky-high as his final revenge. Sarah, despite being pregnant, managed to escape and almost made it to the bomb in time to defuse it.

Except there were multiple bombs. And all she accomplished was nearly getting herself killed--and injuring the baby inside her so badly that Matt had to make the choice to terminate the pregnancy to save Sarah’s life.

As she gazes out at the water and the darkening sky, she finds it difficult to believe that so many years have gone by. She and Matt grieved for that child and felt their marriage falling apart. She met and eventually married Graham. Tori grew into a teenager. All this time has passed, and yet sometimes, she feels as if her real life is the one that existed before that blast--the life that was blown to smoke and ash by Nick Moriani.

“Looks like someone had the same thought as I did,” comes a voice from behind her.

Caught entirely off-guard and yanked from the depths of her thoughts, she turns around with a start. Standing before her is the absolute last person she intended to see in the flesh right now.

“Matt,” she says as her heart rate slowly returns to normal. “What are you doing here?”


“Thank you so much for coming out,” Graham Colville says as he shakes hands with the two men. “I know this is a difficult time of year, scheduling-wise.”

“The sooner we move through this, the sooner we can begin construction,” says one of the men.

“We’re eager to get through the demolition phase,” the other says with a salesman’s smile.

“As soon as the holidays are over, we’ll be able to begin,” Graham tells them. “In the meantime, I can take care of preparations and be sure that all the paperwork is in order. And then you’ll be able to see your project take shape.”

After another round of thanks and holiday well-wishes, the two men climb into their car and depart. Despite the chill in the air, Graham takes a moment to scroll through the multiple e-mails that have piled up on his Blackberry while he was holding his meeting. He finishes reading them and is about to get into his car when he spots something that causes him to do a double-take.

The Jeep Cherokee is one of the handful of other cars in the lot. He even double-checks the license plate to be certain. The vehicle is his wife’s.

  Graham Colville


Don Chase is cleaning up his painting supplies in his makeshift art studio in the garage when he hears the sounds of the front door opening and closing inside the house. He quickly wipes his hands and hurries inside.

“Where have you been?” he asks his wife.

“I had something to take care of,” Helen says with the stony expression and tone that have become her trademarks of late.

Don watches her hang her coat in the hallway closet. “I was worried about you,” he says.

“I’m fine. I have a Christmas present for you.” She pulls an envelope from her purse.

“What is this?” Don takes the envelope and removes it contents. It takes him only a moment of scanning to realize what the document is. His hands, his face, his entire body goes numb. “You want a divorce?”

Helen looks to the ground. “I don’t want one. But it’s the only option.”

“How is a divorce our only option?” He sets the papers down on a nearby table. “Helen, we need each other. I need you.”

“You heard the lawyer. This is… As long as you and I are married, neither of us has a chance of being a part of Sophie’s life.”

He keeps waiting for her to crack, to yell “Gotcha!” or otherwise indicate this is a joke, but she remains as frighteningly calm as she was when she walked through the door.

“I am not divorcing you,” Don insists. “I love you. I will always love you.”

Helen is quiet for a long time, and finally, Don thinks that he sees an emotion showing through: a sadness so deep and painful that he wants to tear up the papers and hold onto her for as long as he possibly can. But when she flashes him that incredibly pained look, her words are the opposite of what he wants to hear.

“Do this for me,” she says. “And if you can’t… do it for Sophie and for Courtney.”

With that, she goes up the stairs, leaving Don alone with a decision that he does not even want to consider.


“Hi,” Sarah says. “I was just out for a walk…”

“Pretty loaded place to go for a walk, no?” Matt comes forward and leans against the wooden railing. A long, pregnant silence passes he says, without looking at her, “I think I owe you some congratulations.”

Just like that, her blood pressure spikes again. “What do you mean?”

“Tori told me about the baby. She thought I already knew.” Finally he looks over at her, but only for an instant. Then his eyes flick toward something in the distance behind her, probably something minute in the sky. He has never been great at eye contact. “And I meant that. Congratulations.”

“Well, thanks.” She tries to get a better look at his face, to get some sense of how he is really feeling. His words so often come across as flat and even, giving little hint of what emotions might be lurking beneath. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you myself. I wanted to.”

He shrugs. “It’s fine. It’s not your job.”

She wants to counter that, but she supposes it is true.

“We’re not that person for each other anymore,” Matt adds, as if he has read her mind.

As much as Sarah might want to dispute that fact, she can’t. Instead she asks, “So is that why you came down here? You heard about the baby and you were thinking about…”

He cuts in so she doesn’t have to say it: “Yeah.”

“Do you think about him a lot?” she asks.

“All the time. I see Tori getting older, turning into a grown-up, and I think about how I could have this son, too, this little boy who would grow up into a man…”

“Me, too.” Her chest feels tight with anxiety, and she knows that there is something she has to say, after all this time. “I’m sorry I ever blamed you.”

Matt takes a step back from the railing, genuine surprise on his face. “We’re so far past that,” he finally says.

“No, we’re not. I blamed you for making the only choice you really had. I was just so mad, and I guess I thought that if I could blame someone, then… I don’t even know.” She folds her arms and pulls them tight to her body. A lively gust of wind whips in from the water.

“Stop blaming yourself for blaming me,” he says with a brave attempt at a smile. “Life goes on. And you have a kid on the way now. I’m serious: if you’re happy, then I’m happy.”

She runs her finger over the splintered wood of the rail. After all this time and all the things that happened here, this is all that this place is: memories.

“Thank you,” she says, hoping that he knows how much she means it.


On a hunch, Graham decides to take a walk down Pier 22. He knows what this place represents to Sarah, and with the recent discovery of her pregnancy, it isn’t entirely surprising that she would come here.

Since very early in their relationship, there have always been certain things that Sarah was clearly attempting to handle on her own. Graham has done his best to offer his support and to make her aware that he is there for whatever she needs, but he also knows that there are things—deeply emotional things—that she experienced on her own, and expressing her support and his love for her is all that he can really do.

It seems important to do that now. So he walks down the pier, and as he expected, he sees her standing there at the end of it, just beside where her father’s restaurant used to stand.

What he did not expect was that she would be with someone. It makes sense, on a logical level, for her to be in this place with the one person who shared the experience of losing that child with her. Graham knows that Sarah and Matt will be forever bonded not only by Tori, but by the baby that they lost.

But he still hates seeing them together. Especially as they are now—so deeply engaged with one another, talking in such an intimate way. There is nothing overtly sexual or romantic about it, no lingering touches, certainly no kisses like the one that he witnessed months ago, but it still strikes him as deeply inappropriate.

After watching them for several minutes, his gut burning at the sight of them together, he retreats to his car. Interrupting them in this moment will not accomplish anything that he truly wishes to accomplish.

No, for that, he needs to do a great deal more thinking on his own.


What should Don do about Helen’s request?
Is there any chance for Sarah and Graham?
Was Tori’s slip to Matt purely an accident?
Talk about all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011

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