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- Lauren and Josh were married.
- Danielle brought Matt--whom she was helping to recover from his injuries--to the wedding as her date.
- Alex confronted Trevor about having slept with him without mentioning that he is engaged. Trevor’s fiancé, Liam, came upon them and asked what was going on.

Harbor Blvd

“What’s going on out here? Is everything all right?”

When Liam catches him and Trevor in mid-confrontation, a host of outcomes flash through Alex Marshall’s mind. Chief among them is the possibility that he could tell Liam everything--about his and Trevor’s past, about what happened between them last night. He could probably end their engagement here and now.

If Alex were a character in one of the novels he writes, he might do just that. It’s one of the things he loves most about writing: being able to live vicariously through wild, fearless individuals. Often he wishes he could be as bold as some of the people he writes about.

But he is not like that.

“Yeah, everything’s fine,” Alex says, sticking his hands in his pockets to add a casual air to the whole situation. “Trevor was just telling me about a… a prank he wanted to play on Lauren and Josh. I’m trying to convince him it’s not a good idea.”

“Okay, fine,” Trevor says, playing along and even throwing in a laugh for good measure. “You win. For now.”

Liam sidles up to Trevor and places a hand on the small of his back. “I think Alex might be right. Not on your sister’s wedding day.”

Trevor sighs. “Then I’ll save it for another time.”

“Shall we get back to the reception?” Liam asks in his lilting British voice.

“Good idea,” Alex says, already moving for the door. He holds it open for the other two men, who pass through it almost as a single unit.

Trevor turns back over his shoulder and mouths, “Thank you.”

Alex merely lifts his eyebrows in the most noncommittal of responses. He didn’t keep the information to himself to save Trevor or spare Liam or preserve their relationship. He did it simply because he knows it isn’t his information to tell, and the last thing he wants is to be any more involved in their relationship than he already is.

At least they will be heading back to London soon, he reasons as he follows them inside the restaurant. Then Trevor will go back to being just another part of his past--and maybe, with time, he can even minimize this misstep and remember him fondly. Maybe.

* * * * *

When Danielle leaves the dance floor to attend to something with Brent and their father, Matt seizes the opportunity to rest. This is more fun than he usually has dancing, but he doesn’t entirely regret the end of it, especially not since he is still so worn-down from his injuries. He returns to his seat at their now-empty table and waits with a glass of water.

“Looks like you’re making quite a recovery,” Bill Fisher says as he comes up behind Matt.

“Feels like it, too.”

Bill claps a hand on Matt’s shoulder and then pulls up the seat beside him.

“The place looks great,” Matt says. “And the food was top-notch. The tenderloin was perfect.”

“Thanks. I know it was important to Lauren to have a really great meal.”


“Well, you came through. Listen,” Matt says, a little bit stilted, “I’m sure you and Paula have heard all sorts of things--”

“Yeah. We have.” Bill’s tone is terse, not as immediately supportive as Matt was hoping for.

“Well, I want you to know that it’s not true. I was down on the pier that night looking for Sarah. Danielle can back me up on that--there was a note with Sarah’s name on it on my door. It had nothing to do with drugs.”

Bill offers a nod in response. At least it isn’t a total dismissal, Matt figures.

He presses on. “I just want you to know, you don’t have to worry about Tori…”

“You’ve always been a good father to her,” Bill says, and whether it’s intended as a peace offering or not, it certainly feels like one to Matt.

He is trying to figure out where to steer the conversation next when Bill speaks up:

“You and Danielle look like you’re getting pretty close.”

A twinge of awkwardness catches in Matt’s chest. He stammers a false start before saying, “She’s been helping me out since I got out of the hospital. And she’s the whole reason they found me in the first place. I’ve got a lot to thank her for.”

“She seems like a great woman,” Bill says, with what Matt is pretty sure is a healthy dose of insinuation.

Just then, Matt catches sight of Danielle re-entering the main room, flanked by her brother and father.

“Yeah,” he says as he watches her in her simple black dress with gold belt. “She is.”

* * * * *

“Am I totally insane?”

Lauren Brooks leans against a wooden post on the edge of the makeshift dance floor, her arms folded over the front of her elegant, ivory sheath dress.

“For marrying Josh?” her brother asks with wide eyes. “I think it’s a little late to be asking that question.” Liam, standing beside him, chuckles.

“Well, for that,” Lauren says with a smirk, “but I meant for this whole move. I’m quitting my job to move to L.A. with him. I don’t even have interviews lined up down there.”

“But it’s a damn good city to live in if you work in advertising and marketing,” Trevor says.

“I think it’s incredibly romantic,” Liam chimes in. “Putting love ahead of your career--fewer and fewer people are doing that these days. It’s a sacrifice worth making.”

“Thank you,” Lauren says. “I’m glad my brother has you.”

“I’m glad I have him,” Liam says as he takes Trevor’s hand.

“Everything is going to work out for you guys,” Trevor says to Lauren. “You’ll get settled, Josh will kick ass at his new job, and you’ll be able to scope out where you really want to work, instead of just taking the first thing you come across.”

“I hope you’re right,” she says, staring off at the swarm of half-empty tables lit by tea candles.

“That’s the thing. I’m always right.” Trevor wraps his arms around her. “I am so proud of you, Lauren. You deserve your happy ending.”

  Liam Cassel

She rests her head against his chest. “I’m happy you could be here today.”

“Wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” Trevor says, and Liam watches reverently as the two siblings share a moment away from the ecstatic chaos of the wedding.

* * * * *

Jason finds Alex by the bar, getting his glass of wine refilled, and slides up beside him.

“How’d it go?” he asks.

Alex turns to him with exasperation. “Not well. Or--maybe the only way it could have gone. I don’t know.”

“What did Trevor have to say for himself?”

“Not much. What I expected, I guess. That it was a mistake. He got caught up in the moment, and we were drinking, and blah blah.”

“Drinking is not a free pass to cheat on your fiancé,” Jason says.

“No kidding.” Alex shakes his head. “It all just goes to show that Trevor is the same impulsive, overgrown child that he’s always been. Getting older hasn’t changed that. Living in Europe hasn’t changed that. And I am never going to change that.”

“Yeah.” Jason exhales sympathetically. “I’m sorry, buddy.”

“Maybe it’s a good thing,” Alex says as the bartender hands him his wine. “I mean, this way I’m reminded right off the bat, and I don’t spend any more time pretending that Trevor is anyone besides who he is.”


“Come on, everyone! They’re about to leave! Outside!” Brent announces as he moves through the crowd. Jason and Alex stop to watch as the guests begin moving outside, shepherded by Brent, Danielle, and Trevor.

Outside, the sunset has faded into night, and an open, navy blue sky hangs above King’s Bay, stars twinkling like perfectly placed diamonds. A sleek black limousine waits at the curb, and the cluster of family and friends buzz with anticipation until the moment that the newlyweds burst through the restaurant’s door.

The new Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, hands clasped together, are met by a chorus of cheers and applause.

Brent shakes his brother’s hand. “Congratulations, Josh.”

Alex pulls Lauren into a hug. “I love you. You’re going to be so happy.”

Jason, smiling, points a finger at Josh. “You’d better be good to her.”

The flurry of congratulations and goodbyes carry them all the way to the limo, and by the time Lauren and Josh make it into the backseat, they both collapse into the cushions with heavy sighs.

“Wow,” Lauren says, watching through the tinted window as they pull away from the revelers. “I can’t believe it’s actually happening.”

“It’s actually happening.” Josh grabs a bottle of champagne, pops the cork, and pours two glasses. He hands one to Lauren and then raises his own in a toast. “To us. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor.”

  Lauren Brooks

Lauren can’t help but smile at the title. “To the whole big life we have ahead of us,” she says, clinking her glass against his again. “Together.”


“That was a pretty great wedding,” Matt says as he and Danielle enter his apartment. “Not that I have much to talk about. The one I’ve had, the bride got locked in a walk-in freezer… and then someone went into labor during the wedding… and then we wound up getting married at the hospital.”

Danielle closes the door behind them. “Yeah, well, I’ve had two. I escaped from the first one through a window, and the second one ended when two women got in a fight on top of the cake and it turned out one of them was already married to my groom. So…”

They both double over in laughter, unable to believe the ridiculousness of their battle tales.

“Wow,” Matt says as he wriggles out of his tie and undoes his collar. “At least we have some good stories.”

“That’s something.”

Danielle goes into the kitchen and pours two glasses of water. “Thank you again for coming with me. And for dancing with me.”

“That is pretty much the first and last time anyone is gonna catch me on a dance floor,” he says as she hands him one of the glasses. Their fingers brush against each other as he takes it, and the contact sends a whirlwind of thoughts through his mind. He is about to write them off as silly when his eyes catch Danielle’s.

After their hands have lingered for far too long, he stammers, “Uh, thanks. For the water.”

“Yeah. Of course.”

But the vibe between them has changed. Too many unsaid things were communicated in that fleeting moment of physical and eye contact. Matt doesn’t even understand how it’s possible, but it apparently is. They stand there, perhaps a foot apart, sipping their water.

And then something--a rush of adrenaline, maybe, or a loss of common sense--kicks him in the pants. He sets down his water.

“If this is crazy, just say so and we can forget it,” he says, “but… you think it’d be okay if I kissed you?”

He waits on pins and needles for her to indicate one way or the other. He’s about to say that she should just forget he ever said anything when--

“Why would that be crazy?” Danielle says as her lips form into a smile.

The next thing Matt knows, he is resting his hand against her jawline and drawing her face near to his, and then they are kissing, and the closeness and the intimacy of it feel so good. It has been far too long since he felt this, and maybe it is the same for her, because that first kiss turns into something that does not end, something deeply physical and consuming.

He breaks apart for an instant. “Do you wanna…” He tips his head toward the bedroom.

“No,” she says, and instead she pushes him down on the couch and begins unbuttoning his shirt. “I think right here is fine.”

She climbs on top of him and somehow manages to slip out of her dress without so much as a pause, and then all Matt knows is that there are hands and lips everywhere, and it feels so good….


Are you rooting for Matt and Danielle?
Will you miss Lauren and Josh?
Will Alex be able to just let things go?
Talk about all of this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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Monday, June 04, 2012

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