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- Molly was disheartened to learn that Philip had begun dating a woman named Adrienne. Paula encouraged her to let Philip know how she feels, now that she is a single woman.
- Tempest impulsively kissed Samantha, who later put distance between herself and her friend.
- Following their disastrous non-wedding, Danielle told Ryan that she needed some space, for the sake of her health and her sobriety.
- Ryan talked Diane into joining the Fishers for Thanksgiving instead of spending the holiday alone.
- After Matt learning that Sarah is expecting a baby with Graham, he and Sarah shared a tender moment of reflecting upon the child they lost.

11:59 PM

Ten… nine… eight…

The night is charged with possibility. In the dark room, two sets of lips slam together, a union that has been too long in the offing.

Seven… six… five…

Hands work blindly and wildly, grasping at buttons and clasps. Garments fall to the floor in careless heaps.

Four… three… two…

The two bodies, pressed so close they might as well be one, tumble onto the bed with abandon. There is nothing but the pair of them now.


Outside, fireworks explode in the night sky, lighting up the darkness with a dazzling array of colors. At last.

9:02 PM

Ryan Moriani shifts nervously from one foot to the other as he rings the doorbell and waits. He knows that this is a bold move, certainly one that carries a high chance of rejection, but tonight, of all nights, he has to try. There is simply no other option. He hopes that the contents of the cardboard box he is holding will make for a successful mission.

When Danielle Taylor answers the door, she looks resigned to a casual New Year’s Eve: her blonde hair is pulled back into a ponytail, she is wearing little, if any, makeup, and she is dressed in a zip-up sweatshirt and a pair of yoga pants.

“Hi,” Ryan says tentatively. “How are you?”

“I’m all right…” She glances at the box, as if expecting to see some sort of explanation for his presence. “What are you doing here?”

“I thought I would drop by and wish you a happy New Year. Molly said the boys would be with Brent tonight.”

“Yeah. Night off for me,” she says with a faint smile.

“And Elly is at Travis’s party?”

“She sure is.”

“Great. Because I have a surprise for you.” He flips open the panels that cover the box. “I’ve brought New Year’s Eve to you. Look--” He begins pulling items from the box. “Streamers, party hats, sparkling cider. All you need for a festive New Year’s Eve at home.”

  Danielle Taylor

He sees her smile broaden. Very good sign.

“That’s really sweet of you,” she says.

He hands her a noisemaker. “Give it a spin. Get warmed up for midnight.”

Danielle eyes the cardboard device uncertainly. “Ryan…”


“We can’t do this.”

“Why not?” He takes out a horn and blows it, but the sound is flat and uninspiring.

“Because I can’t go down this road again. I told you--”

“You told me that you needed space after the wedding,” he says. “And I will never stop being sorry for what a disaster that became. But you and I--we were good together. We can be good together again.”

She shakes her head. “Nothing has changed, Ryan. A few months’ time doesn’t erase what happened. It doesn’t change who we are.”

Part of Ryan wants to hurl the box onto the ground and destroy everything inside it. He hates that he let himself think there was a chance this would work. He should have known better. Danielle’s conviction was one of the things he came to love most about her. She stood up for him even when Brent and the Fishers thought it was an awful idea for them to get involved. But now that Ryan is on the other side of it…

“But I love you,” he says.

“I love you, too.” But the words are tinged with sadness and bear a painful finality. “Happy New Year, Ryan. I wish only good things for you.”

She takes a step back and gently closes the door.

9:28 PM

The elevator doors slide open, revealing an exposed brick wall and a high ceiling that leaves pipes and beams on display. Molly Taylor steps off the elevator and into the industrial hallway. It has a vibrant, urban feel, something that is hard to come across in King’s Bay. From one of the units on the floor, she hears loud, thumping music, no doubt part of a hip New Year’s Eve party being hosted by one of the residents.

She moves to Philip Ragan’s loft, with its heavy, sliding door, and pauses. Is she really going to do this? Doubts plague her, as they did for the entire drive here.

But she knows that she has to do it. She wrote the letter. She forced herself to put her feelings down on paper. If she can’t bring herself to tell Philip in person, then this is how it has to be.

The good thing is that, once he reads this letter, he will know how she feels. If he is serious enough about that Adrienne woman, then he will stay with her and Molly will have a clear conscience. And if not…

She doesn’t dare to let herself imagine that. It seems so unlikely.

With her stomach flip-flopping, she takes the envelope from her purse and slips it partway under the metal door. A corner of the white envelope sticks out from beneath, and she almost grabs it and shoves it back into her bag--

No, she tells herself. Leave it. Get this off your chest.

And in the New Year, she will be able to move forward without her feelings for Philip weighing upon her. No matter how he receives the letter, this has to be done.

She wills herself back into the elevator and out to her car.

10:04 PM

“You having a good time?” Travis Fisher asks as he sneaks up behind his sister.

“Yeah,” Samantha says with a shrug. It actually isn’t a lie. She was hesitant when Travis told her that he was having a New Year’s Eve party at his mom’s place. Parties aren’t exactly her thing. But Travis and Elly have been really careful to make sure that she isn’t left alone without anyone to talk to, and the New Year’s Eve special on TV gives her something to watch when things get a little awkward.

“I know it’s not the most amazing party in history,” Travis says as he drinks from a red plastic cup, “but it’s a lot better than spending the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s.”

“Knowing our family, something crazy is probably happening there.”

“Seriously. You sure you don’t want a drink?”

She shakes her head. “No. But thanks.” She was worried this would be a big, drunken mess, but since Claire made it clear that she would be home not long after midnight, the twenty or so kids hanging out in the apartment are on more or less good behavior. Sam has seen a few flasks being passed around, but the party is far from wild.

Across the room, the sliding glass door to the balcony opens, and Landon Esco steps inside, followed by Tempest Banks. Ironically, the most awkward thing about the entire party, for Samantha, has been interacting--or avoiding interacting--with the person she knows best besides Travis.

“I’m glad you decided to come,” Travis tells Samantha.

She catches herself staring across the room at Tempest and Landon. “Me, too. It helps that Tori went to that thing with the cheer girls. The less I have to deal with them…”

“I told you: if they bother you, you let me know. Got it?”

“Got it,” she says with a smile. Travis moves off to rejoin Elly, and Samantha plants herself back on the couch to watch Ryan Seacrest introduce a performance by LMFAO in Times Square. She is grabbing a handful of Doritos from a bowl on the coffee table when someone sits down on the couch beside her.

  Samantha Fisher

“You gonna avoid me for the whole night?” Tempest asks.

“I’m not avoiding you,” Samantha lies weakly.

“Bullshit.” Tempest holds a red cup and has clearly had a little to drink. Her whole body seems a little more relaxed than usual. “You’ve been avoiding me for months.”

“It’s not that--” But Samantha cuts herself off. She doesn’t know what it is.

They watch LMFAO jumping around on the stage for a few seconds. The din of conversation in the apartment makes it tough to make out the song they are performing.

“We can forget about what happened,” Tempest says. “Let’s forget about it and just go back to being friends like we used to be.”

“We don’t have to forget it,” Samantha says, but she doesn’t know how else to go about this. She misses having Tempest as a friend, but everything has been so mixed-up and weird ever since…

“You obviously didn’t like me kissing you, so…”

Samantha looks around to make sure that no one is listening to them. “Are you… I mean…”

“A lesbian?” Tempest shrugs. “I guess. Yeah. Not like I run around using that word all the time.”

Sam takes a moment to digest that. It isn’t that she has anything against gay people--she has grown up with her Uncle Jason having a gay best friend--but she’s never had a friend her age who was gay. Maybe it’ll just take some mental adjusting.

“Sorry if I’ve been weird,” she says.

Tempest looks at her over the edge of the red cup. “If? You’ve been avoiding me, girl.”

“Fine. Sorry if I’ve been avoiding you.” Samantha can’t help but crack a little smile, and thankfully, Tempest does the same.

“Now what the hell is this shitty music?” Tempest asks, pointing to the TV. Samantha relaxes back into the couch, happy to have this resolved before 2011 concludes.

10:31 PM

J&M Supermarket is practically a ghost town when Matt Gray dashes in there after work. Aside from a few shoppers in party attire grabbing bottles of champagne or small snacks, it might be the emptiest he has ever seen the place. He tracks down a six-pack of beer and makes his way to the checkout stand to pay. He wasn’t even going to bother celebrating New Year’s Eve, since he has no big plans and Tori is at a sleepover with friends, but when he got off work earlier than expected, he figured he could at least relax with a few beers and watch the ball drop on TV.

He settles into the checkout line behind a group of college-aged kids who are all paying for a single item separately. As he is growing more and more annoyed with the drawn-out process, a finger taps him on the shoulder.

“Big New Year’s Eve?” Danielle asks as Matt turns around.

“Ha. Yeah,” he says, holding up the six-pack. “How about you?”

“Clearly I’m all decked out.” She indicates her yoga pants and hoodie sweatshirt. “What brings you out into the wild tonight?”

“I thought I’d be at the restaurant all night, but it was slower than they expected, so they cut a few of us early. I was gonna head home and watch some crappy New Year’s coverage on TV, I guess.”

“Then we’re about in the same boat,” Danielle says, “minus the part where you were actually at work and where you get to have a drink.” She shows off the inside of her shopping basket, which contains a bag of sour candy and a bottle of sparkling cider. “In case you think I’m a wild woman or anything…”

Matt laughs. “The house is empty tonight?”

“Yeah. Molly is out, and the twins are with Brent.”

One of the college students finishes paying, and the line shuffles forward.

“You know,” Danielle says, “if you feel like it, you’re welcome to come over and watch that crappy coverage on TV at our house. I can’t promise that my company would improve it, but I’ll at least share some of this candy with you.”

Normally Matt would beg off, saying that he has to get up early or is waiting for Tori to call or any number of excuses, but tonight, something is different. Maybe it was seeing all the couples and groups celebrating at Windmills, or maybe it’s just the charge in the air that comes with awaiting the arrival of a brand-new year.

“That sounds good,” he tells her with a smile.

11:08 PM

Molly stops by her parents’ house to say hello and wish them a happy New Year, then gets in the car and heads for her own home. She remembers the years when her parents hosted a big, lavish party to ring in the New Year--a tradition that lasted from the time she was a teenager up until Tim went missing on this very night years ago. It never seemed right to have a New Year’s party again, and even though Tim has long since returned, the tradition has lapsed.

There was one other New Year’s when their family had a reason to celebrate: the year that Molly and Brent threw a “black and white party,” ostensibly to celebrate their engagement, and then shocked their family and friends by having it be a surprise wedding. She smiles warmly at the thought but is stunned to realize, seconds later, that the pleasant memory came without an unbearable pang of pain.

Maybe things really are getting better, bit by bit.

Her phone sounds with a text message. While waiting at the next red light, she checks it. It is from Danielle, informing her that Matt has come by to watch the ball drop on TV. Molly isn’t sure how to process that--she wasn’t aware that Danielle and Matt even knew each other, aside from in the most passing of ways--but she fires off a quick response before the light turns green.

She finds herself taking the long way home, winding back through downtown and toward the waterfront rather than cleanly out to the edges of town. King’s Bay is alive with celebration tonight. Lights brighten the night; every establishment looks packed; the sidewalks are jammed with people awaiting midnight.

It is among those crowds on the sidewalk that she notices one particular person: Philip Ragan. She also takes note of who he is with… Adrienne.

As the traffic rolls slowly down the street, pausing one at a time at the stop sign, she watches Philip and Adrienne engaged in deep conversation, seemingly oblivious to all the excitement swirling around them.

  Molly Taylor

Adrienne really is beautiful. She looks like the type Molly always presumed Philip would go for.

Molly doesn’t know what comes over her, but as soon as she makes it through the stop sign, she is reversing course, on her way to take care of something urgent.

11:23 PM

“What the hell are you doing here?” Diane Bishop groans when she opens the door to her condominium.

Ryan holds up a bottle of champagne. “Fresh out of the refrigerator section. I didn’t want to ring in the New Year alone, so I figured I should seek out my wife.”

“Don’t call me that. It makes me want to throw up.” She eyes the bottle. “At least you didn’t cheap out.”

“Of course not. Now let me in.”

With a loud huff, Diane steps out of the way and admits him to the condo. Ryan beelines for the kitchen and goes about opening the bottle of champagne.

“I see I was right,” he observes, glancing around the condo. The lights are low, and the TV is on.

“About what?” Diane folds her arms across the front of her casual but flattering black wrap shirt.

“That you’d be spending the night alone. Are you becoming a shut-in? This worries me.”

“What worries me is that I let you into my home without having an armed guard present,” she says.

A loud pop fills the condo as Ryan opens the bottle.

“Where do you keep your glasses?” he asks, already rifling through the cupboards.

She pushes him out of the way and retrieves two champagne flutes.

“What should we toast to?” Ryan asks as he fills the glasses.

“Well, my damn sister texted me earlier that she’ll be back in King’s Bay next week,” Diane says, “so we could toast to 2012 being the year that I finally lose my mind.”

He hands her a glass. “Ugh. She’s terrible.”

“No shit.” The bubbles from the champagne tickle Diane’s nose as she waits for Ryan to be ready for the toast. “Oh, I’ve got it. Our annulment is officially in progress. I stopped by to see the new lawyer.”

“Now that is something I can toast to.” He holds his glass aloft. “Here’s to being out of one another’s lives forever.”

“Thank God,” Diane says, clinking her glass against his. They drink as a cheer erupts up on the television.

11:56 PM

Molly rushes back into Philip’s building, only to see the doors closing on the full elevator car. She waits impatiently for a few moments before deciding to brave the stairs. She pulls off her heels and darts into the stairwell.

A breathless minute or two later, she is back in front of Philip’s front door. The party down the hall has grown louder, music and voices competing for attention. Luckily, a corner of the white envelope is still sticking out from beneath Philip’s door. She bends down to pick it up, but before she can snag it, a voice interrupts.

“Just what do you think you’re doing, miss?”

She grabs the envelope and hides it behind her back as Philip walks down the hall toward her.

“I was… just dropping by,” she says lamely.

“At midnight on New Year’s Eve?”

She shrugs. “I was driving around. I don’t know. Shouldn’t you be out with your date?”

“Adrienne and I had a… difference of opinion tonight.”

Molly knows it isn’t really any of her business, but she asks anyway: “What happened?”

“She’s been making all sorts of overtures about getting serious. I’ve told her I’m not ready for that.” He eyes her suspiciously. “What are you hiding behind your back?”

“Nothing.” She tries to think of how she can slip the envelope into her purse without him seeing.

“It’s strange that you’re here, Molly.”

“I know. I was just driving around.” She knows that she sounds like more of a lunatic than she would have if he had merely seen the letter--especially since he and Adrienne seem to have called it quits.

“Let me see what’s behind your back,” he says. A grin flares on his face.

“No. Philip, it’s nothing.”

He makes a grab for it. Molly spins away from him.

“Oh, please. Just let me see!”

“No!” She manages to cram the envelope into her purse.

“An envelope, hmm? This is one of the stranger things I’ve ever seen you do,” he says, amusement creasing his dimples. He looks so handsome in his slim black suit and red tie.

“Just let it go, Philip.” She is torn between being mortified and wanting to blurt out what was in the letter.

“What was in the envelope, Molly? Come on.”

She thinks about it and takes a deep breath. She didn’t want him to see the letter because she thought he was with Adrienne. But now he isn’t. Still, the letter was such a stupid idea, so earnest and silly and…

Instead, she surges forward and presses her mouth to his.

11:59 PM

Ten… nine…

“Here we go, guys!” Travis calls out, gathering everyone around the TV.

Samantha already has a seat on the couch, and the other teenagers cluster around and begin counting along with the crowd on TV. When Sam looks to her left, she sees Tempest next to her again. Tempest smiles at her, and for the first time in months, Sam feels relaxed around her.

Tempest leans toward her, and for a second, Samantha questions what she is going to do. Then Tempest whispers, “I’m glad we’re friends.”

Eight… seven…

“Uh oh,” Matt says as he pulls his hand from the bag of candy.

Danielle, sitting across the coffee table in another chair, looks at him. “What is it?”

He pulls a sole gummy worm from the bag. “Only one left. Here you go.”

“You can have it!”

“Nah. They’re yours.”

Danielle reaches over, takes the gummy worm, and tears it in half. “Here.”

“Thanks,” Matt says as he takes his half. “Thanks for inviting me over.”

“Thanks for actually coming! I wasn’t totally looking forward to ringing in the new year alone.”

“Speaking of…” He nods toward the TV and then picks up his glass of sparkling cider. “You ready?”

“I guess so,” she says, raising her own glass into the air as the crowd counts down…

Six… five…

Diane and Ryan stand in her dimly lit living room in front of the flatscreen television.

“Why would anyone want to be in Times Square for this?” Diane asks, cringing as the camera pans over the massive crowd. “That looks horrible.”

“I know. Ugh.” Ryan takes a sip from his glass of champagne. “Maybe it’s because of the holidays, but I’ve got to say… you’re not always as bad as people make you out to be.”

She lifts an eyebrow at him. “Well, you are. But I guess I can tolerate it in small doses.”

Four… three…

The sound of partygoers in another unit counting down to midnight spills into the hallway. Molly and Philip hardly hear them as their lips crush together.

Philip feels behind him blindly for the lock. He manages to slip the key in with only a minimum of broken kisses.

The loft is dark as they continue to kiss. Molly doesn’t know how she waited so long for this. Now that they are doing it, she realizes that this passion, this want, was here all along. Her hands fumble to undo his belt. Philip pulls at her jacket and dress.

When they reach Philip’s bed, he pauses and pulls back. “Are you sure?” 

“Yes,” she says as she pushes him onto the bed.

Two… one…

Somewhere outside, far away from them, shouts of celebration ring out and fireworks explode throughout the night sky.


Are Molly and Philip ready for a relationship now?
Will Samantha and Tempest get back to how things once were?
What is going on with Danielle and Matt?
Discuss all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

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