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- Molly told Philip that she isn’t ready for her family to know that she is dating someone just yet.
- On New Year’s Eve, Tempest and Samantha finally talked about their kiss. Tempest admitted that she is gay, and they decided to be friends again.
- Matt received a note from Sarah, asking him to meet her on the pier where the Fisherman’s Pier restaurant used to be. The note asked him not to call or text her--just to come meet her. Confused and alarmed, Matt went.


The dark night surrounds Matt Gray as he hurries down the pier. It looks as if most of the businesses on the pier have already closed for the night, so only a few scattered lights stand out here and there.

Sarah?” he calls out into the dark. There is no answer.

When he reaches the end of the pier, he does not see Sarah anywhere. That note made it sound so important for him to come meet her as quickly as possible, so where is she?

Panic strikes him as he wonders if Graham got to her first. Matt has no idea what happened earlier, but it was serious enough for her to go to Matt’s apartment, leave that note, and then come here. And why couldn’t he try her phone? Because Graham might see that he was calling?

A gust of wind blows in from the bay and chills Matt. Something is not right here.

  Matt Gray

“Screw it,” he mutters as he pulls out his cell phone. He is scrolling through his contacts to pull up her number when he hears the pier creaking with footsteps behind him.

“Sarah,” he says, turning around. But before he can see her--or whoever it is--something hard flies up and hits him in the face. And then everything fades to blackness.

Cassie's Coffee House

The place is alive with activity when Claire Fisher walks through the door in search of a caffeinated pick-up. There are students huddled over textbooks and laptops, studying furiously; there are people chit-chatting across the small, worn oak tables; onstage, a man with a long beard holds an acoustic guitar, noodling something that might or might not be an actual song.

What catches Claire’s attention as she waits in line, however, is one particular couple eating a single piece of chocolate cake with two forks. They do not spot her while she waits and places her order, but she continues observing them. There is something unmistakably intimate about the way they are sitting, the way they are interacting, the way Philip occasionally reaches across and touches Molly’s arm.

With her coffee in hand, Claire is trying to decide what to do--approach them or leave without making her presence known--when Molly glances up and sees her. Molly’s instantaneous reaction is to set down her fork, which strikes Claire as odd. And when Molly awkwardly waves her over, Claire finds her feet carrying her toward their table, even though she knows it would be much less messy to leave.

“Hi,” Molly says, sitting up straighter in her chair. “Are you heading to the hospital?”

“Actually, I just finished a shift,” Claire says. “I have to stay up and pay some bills, so I thought this might help.” She holds up her coffee for emphasis, as though it were necessary.

“How have you been?” Philip asks. Every syllable is spoken with such care, as if he is afraid of stepping into a landmine. Not for the first time, Claire observes that he seems like a nice guy, and if he weren’t Loretta Ragan’s son, she might actually enjoy getting to know him as a brother. But that’s a big if.

“I’m doing well. Thanks,” she answers as neutrally as possible. “How about the two of you? Are you working on something for Objection?” She can’t keep her eyes from going to the slice of cake they were sharing.

“Oh, no,” Molly says, somewhat guiltily. “Just… having dessert.”

“I’m no longer working with Objection,” Philip adds.

“I see.” Claire takes a sip of her coffee, which is still too hot to be drinking. “Well, I should get going. Tempest is waiting at home, and my bills aren’t going to take care of themselves--as much as I wish they would.”

“Have a good night, Claire,” Philip says. He punctuates the statement with a friendly smile.

“You guys, too,” she says as she turns to go.

“Bye,” Molly says.

Claire moves quickly out of the coffee shop, trying to seem as casual as possible. When she gets outside, the chilly breeze startles her, and she is grateful for the warmth of the coffee in her hand. She looks once more through the window and sees Molly and Philip leaning in toward one another, talking, probably about their run-in with her. Their body language erases any doubts that Claire might have had: they are obviously on a date.

Eager to escape the cold night, she returns to her car.


“I think I can officially say that I am terrible at any kind of sports video games,” Elly Vanderbilt announces as she enters the living room.

“Join the club,” Danielle Taylor says from the sofa, where she sits cross-legged with a bowl of popcorn.

Elly plops down on the love seat against the wall. “Caleb and Christian had a good time beating me, though, so I guess that’s what counts.”

“You’re a good sport to play with them for so long.”

“It’s fun. And I was hoping it’d be good practice so I could beat Travis the next time he makes me play one of those games, but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen.”

Danielle laughs and holds out the popcorn bowl. “Here. Want some?”

Elly reaches forward and grabs a handful of popcorn. “Thanks.”

They settle in and watch the television quietly for a few seconds before Danielle says, “I’m glad you were able to come over tonight. I know how busy school keeps you--”

“Sometimes it’s nice to get off campus! I forget there’s a real world out here.”

“How are your classes?” Danielle asks. “How’s that Biology professor you were so worried about?”

Elly rolls her eyes and lets out a big sigh. “Crazy. I swear, she changes the rules for how she’s going to grade our labs based on what people are having trouble with in that particular lab. Like she loves to see everyone fail.”

“Sounds like someone who really loves teaching.”

  Elly Vanderbilt

“Oh, yeah. Totally. But hey, it’s only a semester. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.”

The quiet falls over them again. Danielle tries to pay attention to the TV, but she senses that Elly is preparing to say something--and based on all the silent build-up, it must be something significant.

“There’s something I wanted to talk to you about,” Elly finally says.

Danielle waits calmly for her to go on.

“You know how you said that when I was ready to meet my dad--my biological dad--I should tell you? Well, I think I’m ready. Or as ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Okay. As long as you’re sure,” Danielle says slowly. It is as much for Elly’s benefit as it is for her own.

“I am. Yeah.” Elly pushes her long, chestnut hair behind her ears. “Why do you talk about him so… carefully? Like you’re really worried just mentioning him?”

Danielle shakes her head. “It isn’t that. It’s just a big can of worms to open, and… he isn’t a part of my life, either. He hasn’t been for a long, long time.”


“A lot of reasons. He was a drummer I played with for a while, like I told you. That was back when I was drinking. A lot. It’s just a part of my life that I’ve really left behind.”

“The drinking--was he--”

“An alcoholic?” Danielle shrugs. “I don’t know. Everyone partied so much in that world. It was all very creative and free-spirited. Looking back, it’s hard to tell how many of us really had a problem.”

Elly contemplates that quietly. “I guess that makes sense.”

“You’re sure about this?” Danielle asks again.

“Yeah. I am.”

The certainty with which Elly answers sends a shot of anxiety through Danielle. She doesn’t want to keep Elly from meeting her biological father--she could never do that--but part of her has always hoped that Elly would decide that she is not interested. It was a naïve hope, of course, and Danielle knows full well that it has more to do with her own sense of self-preservation than anything. Well, that and a desire to keep Elly safe.

“Do you know where he is?” Elly asks.

“No. I’ll have to do some asking around. I can get in touch with some people--I’m sure someone knows.”

“Okay.” Elly pauses, then says, “His name is Jimmy?”

“Yeah. Jimmy Trask.” Saying the name aloud feels strange to Danielle after all these years.

“Jimmy Trask,” Elly repeats, turning the name over in her mouth like a new food she isn’t quite sure about.

Danielle reaches for the popcorn. She knows that she has no choice but to do this, but she hopes that neither she nor Elly regrets it.


Before Claire even reaches the door of her apartment, it comes flying open.

“Are you that excited to see me?” she asks as she steps toward it.

But it isn’t Tempest Banks opening the door. Instead, Samantha Fisher comes bursting out into the hallway, only to stop before she rams right into Claire.

“Oh, hi,” Samantha says.

“Hi, honey.” Claire gives Samantha a hug. “Were you and Tempest hanging out?”

“Yeah, but I have to get home. I have a calculus test in the morning.”

“Sounds fun,” Claire says with a laugh. “Good luck.”

“Thanks!” Samantha zips up her fleece jacket. “See you later.”

“Bye, Sam.”

Claire watches her walk quickly down the hallway and turn the corner toward the elevator. Then she enters the apartment to find Tempest flipping through the cable guide on the TV screen.

“Hey there,” Claire says, setting down her coffee and her purse so that she can take off and hang up her coat. “How are you?”

“Good. How about you?”

“Fine. My shift wasn’t too crazy. I have some paperwork to do, so I thought this--” She picks up the coffee cup from the end table. “--might help.”

  Claire Fisher

Claire locks the front door and then joins Tempest on the couch. “You and Samantha are hanging out again, hmm?”

Tempest throws her a look that suggests Claire might have just asked her the fastest way to get to the moon. “We weren’t not hanging out.”

“I just hadn’t seen you two together for a while. I thought maybe you’d had an argument or something.”

Tempest shrugs. “We’re cool. Seriously.”

“Okay. Got it.” Claire sits back on the couch and drinks her now-cooled coffee. She watches Tempest out of the corner of her eye. She knows it isn’t any of her business, but Tempest is practically a daughter to her, and Samantha was her daughter at one time. It was apparent that they’d had some kind of falling-out, since for months, neither mentioned the other, and she never saw them together. And Tempest’s dismissiveness about the subject only adds fuel to the fire. But things seem to be fine now, and as long as the girls are happy, that is all that matters.


The pain is the first thing he notices. It is somewhere toward the center of his head, and it is blaring, like an alarm smashed into the middle of his brain. There is a pain in his mouth, too. In his jaw, maybe.

The next thing is the darkness. It is pitch-black all around him. He can make out the faintest shapes, but nothing concrete, nothing helpful in figuring out where the hell he is.

Then Matt realizes that he is on a floor--tile, or something cold like it. So he is inside a building. What building, he has no idea, and the screaming pain in his head makes it difficult even to think about the possibilities.

The last thing he remembers is being on the pier… meeting Sarah… except when he turned around, it wasn’t Sarah at all.

But he has no idea who it was.

He tries to move, to pull himself to a sitting position and get his bearings, but when he attempts to reach his hands to the floor, he finds that they are taped together. He manages to press them onto the floor awkwardly, but it is no use: his ankles are taped together, too.

The pain in his head surges. It all feels like so much work.

He tries to scream. Not surprisingly, there is something--tape, probably--wrapped around his head, pressing his mouth shut. All he gets out is a muffled grunt, the audio equivalent of hitting a punching bag.

He wishes he knew where he were. If he could just stand up… but he’s so tired. There will be time later…


What is happening to Matt?
Will Danielle regret tracking down Elly’s father?
Will Claire ever soften toward Philip?
Discuss all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, 2012

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