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- Claire continued to keep the secret that Travis and Spencer were switched as infants, unsure how to proceed with this world-changing bombshell.
- Matt and Danielle continued to grow closer and went public with their relationship.
- Jason reluctantly accepted Natalie’s help in planning a gala fundraiser in Courtney’s memory. Ryan promised Jason that he would secure some surprise guests.

KB Memorial Hospital


That’s tough to believe.

Fifteen minutes until Jason’s benefit begins. And Claire Fisher is still in her pale blue scrubs, her arms and legs and fingers and toes weary after an extra-long shift that has involved maybe ten minutes of sitting, total.

“All done for the day?” asks Alicia, who stands over a pile of paperwork at the nurses’ station, her scrubs an exact duplicate of Claire’s. It is finally quiet, almost serene, after a hellish day; the only sounds are the distant voices coming intermittently over the P.A. system.

“With my shift. But my--” Claire stops herself, thinking better of explaining the complicated familial relationship to a workplace acquaintance. “I have a family event. A benefit at the Bayside Hotel.”

“Sounds fancy.”

“Yep. Somehow I have to turn this--“ Claire sweeps a hand over her sweaty hair, pulled back in a ponytail that’s rapidly falling apart, and her dirty, wrinkled scrubs, which look about the way her body feels. “--into something presentable.”

“Could be all kinds of fun, though.”

“Yeah. I hope so--”

Claire’s happy wish for the night explodes into a thousand jagged pieces as an emergency team crashes through the doors, bodies pulsing with urgency and tethered around a stretcher. Then comes another stretcher, its own team steering it.

“Audi slammed into a telephone pole,” one of the intake doctors announces to the room at large. “Kids. Two more coming in.”

Alicia flies out from behind the desk as the other two stretchers come busting through the doors. Claire moves to join her.

“You clocked out?” Alicia asks.

“Yeah, but--”

“Rules,” Alicia says firmly. Claire knows why the hospital is so strict in enforcing shift limits for the doctors and nurses, but that doesn’t make it any easier to turn away when a crisis like this hits. She feels like she could work another six hours on the adrenaline alone.

Instead, she goes behind the desk and starts paging staff. Still helping, technically, but not being a liability.

Staff members begin to flood the area, assessing which people and which stretchers need to go where. Claire comes out from behind the desk, and it’s then that she knows she will not be making it to Jason’s party tonight.

Because lying on stretcher number four, his hair matted with blood that is leaking down his face, is her son.


The Royal Ballroom is bathed in a dim, buttery glow that seems to pick up pieces of the navy and silver décor and carry them all around the room. Barely noticeable uplights warm the walls, and the tables, surrounded by silvery-gray chiavari chairs, are covered in tablecloths dominated by that same icy color but offset by solid navy underlays.

“It’s amazing,” Jason Fisher observes from the spot in the doorway where he has paused to soak in the sight of the entire room.

“You really like it?” Natalie Bishop asks. She is posted behind him with the event planner, a lady on the upper end of middle age who appears to be as tightly wound as the elaborate knot in her dyed blonde hair. Jason can just about feel the nervous anticipation emanating from Natalie in dancing waves.

“Yes. I love it.” He takes a step and then another, venturing out amongst the tables that will be filled with guests in a matter of minutes. He finds himself drawn toward the large portrait of Courtney stationed by the podium up front. It’s a beautiful springtime picture from their engagement shoot, a sunset burning behind Courtney as she is caught staring off. A smile plays at her lips as she daydreams about their life together.

It seemed too gruesome to use something from their wedding day, breathtaking though she looks in those photos.

Jason shakes off the creeping tentacles of sadness--that is not what tonight is for--and turns over his shoulder to Natalie.

“Thank you for that,” he says.

She nods. “She’s beautiful.”

Jason regards the photo again, even though he has it memorized. “Yeah. She is.”

  Jason Fisher

“Thank you for everything,” he says as he returns to shake the planner’s hand.

“I’ll be circulating around the room,” the woman tells him. “If you need anything at all, please let me know.” She moves off to open the doors to the ballroom, signaling the official beginning of the party.

“Look at the tables,” Natalie says, pointing around the room. Jason scans the perimeter and notes the tables bearing hors d’oeuvres--all constructed from ice, sparkling with glints of light from all around the room.

“Those are amazing.” He walks toward a table that holds a display of shellfish and notes the intricate carving in the legs. “How aren’t they melting?”

“They will eventually. But there are pumps to drain them. By the time everyone settles in for dinner to be served, the staff will move these out,” Natalie explains.

He admires the beautiful detailing of the ice table. “This is such a cool touch. Thanks.”

“I’m glad you like it.”

Jason sees the first guests walk through the doors--but they are no ordinary guests.

“It’s stunning!” Helen Chase says as she and Don hurry over to Jason.

“It really is,” he agrees, greeting Helen with a hug and Don with a handshake. “It’s so good to see you guys.”

“Thank you for doing all this,” Don says. Helen lets out a gasp as she sees the portrait of their late daughter.

“Don and Helen, I’d like you to meet Natalie Bishop. She took the lead in putting this event together,” Jason says. “Natalie, Don and Helen Chase--Courtney’s parents.”

The Chases exchange pleasantries with Natalie, commenting on how lovely the room looks and how excited they are for the night, but it all fades into the background for Jason. For a moment, his mind carries him back to a year ago, when things with Courtney’s parents were at their worst--when Helen was facing criminal charges and he was wondering what it would be like for Sophie to lose her only biological tie to her mother. But now, things are better. Things are good again. And when he glances at the photograph of Courtney, he can almost see her smiling at it all, pleased that they have all finally begun to put their lives back together.


Claire might not be able to go behind the curtain in the emergency area where a team of doctors and nurses are clustered around Spencer, but there is no hospital rule preventing her from waiting right outside. She shakes her leg nervously, the tip of her running shoe drumming against the beige linoleum floor, as she attempts to glean any kind of information from the periodic shouts and movements coming from behind that curtain.

“What’s going on?” comes a voice, and suddenly Philip Ragan is coming at her like a bullet. His pristine tuxedo--he was on the way to Jason’s benefit when he received Claire’s call--looks absurdly out of place in this antiseptic setting. “What happened to him?”

“There was a car accident,” Claire says, her arms folded in front of her body. “Spencer and three of his friends hit a telephone pole. He’s in there.” She points to the area sectioned off by a curtain.

A nurse nearly bowls them over as she runs by them.

  Philip Ragan

“How is he?” Philip asks. His eyes widen, signaling his disbelief that she has not yet reported this crucial information.

“I don’t know yet. He had what looked like a pretty serious head wound. They’re--”

“And why aren’t you in there?”

“Hospital regulations. Shift limits. I tried.”

She can read his irritation, all tight features and dark eyes. But instead of barking at her, he lets out a sigh and says, “Thanks for calling me.”

The curtain is yanked back, the metal rings scraping across the bar, and Alicia comes darting out.

“What’s happening?” Claire asks. Then, to speed things along, she adds, “This is Philip. Spencer’s brother. My brother. Anyway--”

“Cracked sternum and at least two broken ribs,” Alicia reports. “We can get all of that under control. But there’s pretty severe cranial trauma. The good news is that it’s an open wound, so there isn’t any excess pressure on the brain, or--”

“But what’s the bad news?” Philip asks, though it’s more a demand than an inquiry.

“He’s lost a lot of blood. That’s why I came out here. Claire, if you want to help out, you can start calling the local banks. Try the other hospitals, too. We have a major shortage. He needs--”

“O negative,” Claire finishes. She sees surprise register upon Alicia’s face. “I’ll get on it. Thanks.”

Alicia disappears back behind the curtain.

Philip’s panic is evident as he turns to Claire, who is already aimed toward the door. “What does this mean? We have to find another facility that has a stock of his blood type?”

“I have a better idea,” she says, and she heads for the nurses’ station. Philip falls into step behind her. Claire tries to swallow her nerves, but there is no denying it: this could blow everything wide open, and she has no idea how she is going to handle that.


The twinkling of piano keys can be heard beneath the heavy din of conversation that reaches out to the ballroom’s walls and up to its vaulted ceiling. Travis Fisher marvels at the elegant scene as he enters the ballroom in his black suit.

“Maybe you were right about the shoes,” he says over his shoulder to Elly Vanderbilt, who enters behind him in a turquoise dress that comes to her knees.

“What about them?” Samantha Fisher asks. She is right behind her brother and his girlfriend in a black skirt and a tan wrap blouse with a matching camisole underneath.

“Travis thought it would be cute to wear Chuck Taylors with his suit,” Elly explains. “I convinced him to just act like a grown-up and wear dress shoes.”

Travis slips his arm around Elly’s waist and moves his face teasingly toward hers. “At least I didn’t try the backward hat this time.”

“Yeah, small miracles,” she says, the tail end of her words consumed by a giggle as Travis kisses her on the cheek.

“Well, well, look who made it! And relatively on time, too.” The teenagers look over to see Tim Fisher approaching them in his classic tuxedo.

Travis gives his father a playful punch on the shoulder. “Looking like a stud, Dad.”

Tim laughs off the comment and moves to give his daughter a hug. “You guys all look great. Where are your mothers?”

“We came straight from the dorm,” Samantha says. “Mom texted me that she’s running a little late.”

A waitress passes by with a tray of passed hors d’oeuvres. “Tuna nicoise crostini?” the blonde woman asks the foursome.

“For sure,” Travis says, eagerly grabbing a napkin and then one of the beautifully presented bites. Samantha follows suit.

“I could use five more of those,” Travis calls after the waitress, but she has already moved to another group.

“What about your mom?” Tim asks him. “Any word from her?”

Travis shakes his head. “Nothing so far. She said she’d see me here, though.”

“You talking about Claire?” comes a voice from behind them. Tempest Banks stands in the entryway in a long, flowing black dress that isn’t exactly eveningwear but is still much more dressed-up than her usual attire.

“Have you heard from her?” Tim asks.

“She called me a little while ago,” Tempest says. “She got held up at the hospital. Said she’ll be here when she can.” She looks around the ballroom, her long black hair shifting from one shoulder to the other. “Is there some food around here?”

“I’ll go hunting with you,” Travis says, and he leads both Tempest and Elly off. Samantha lingers behind with her father.

“Everything okay?” Tim asks. “How is living with Elly?”

“It’s great. She and Travis have been really good about showing me around campus.” Samantha pauses and then lets out a heavy sigh. “Have you talked to my mom lately?”

“A little bit, but not too heavily. Why?”

“I’m just worried about her,” Samantha says. “She’s acting weird, even for her.”

“Okay, then that must be pretty weird.” Tim swings an arm around his daughter’s shoulders. “Have I told you how beautiful and grown-up you look tonight?”

Samantha shrugs off the compliment. “Thanks.”

“I’ll talk to Diane when she gets here,” he says. “I’m sure everything is fine. Deal?”

“Deal,” Samantha says, even though Tim can see her willing herself to stop worrying.


Sarah Fisher sits at the table where her family will be eating dinner once the cocktail hour is over, sipping on a white wine. The party going on around her is a little overwhelming, in light of the fact that she has spent most of her time recently in her parents’ house, caring for a newborn; still, the opportunity to get dressed up, put on actual makeup, and be around other people for a few hours is a nice change of pace. Having just checked in with the babysitter, she is content to sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of the event.

“Mind if I join you?” her half-brother asks as he approaches the table.

“Of course not.”

Ryan Moriani takes the seat beside Sarah and sets his cocktail on the table. “You look fantastic, by the way.”

“Thanks.” Sarah looks down at her plain, loose-fitting black dress. She still hasn’t lost the baby weight--not that it has been very long, but it made getting dressed for tonight more of a challenge. “How are things with you?”

  Ryan Moriani

“Good,” he says almost automatically. He pauses to check his phone, and Sarah lets her gaze travel around the room. It lands--actually, it zooms, as if pulled by a magnet--on Matt and Danielle, who are laughing together as they talk to a couple Sarah does not recognize. Matt looks handsome in his black suit (one that Sarah remembers helping him pick out, which meant dragging him to the store), and Danielle looks glowing in a dark blue dress that leaves one shoulder exposed.

“So are they… together?” Ryan asks.

With a start, Sarah turns to him. “What?”

“I saw who you were watching. Believe me, I’ve been watching, too.”

Sarah’s insides feel jumpy as she adjusts in her seat. “I guess they are. I don’t know. I haven’t really talked to Matt about it. Tori said that Danielle has been over at the apartment a lot. Matt looks happy. I’m glad he’s found someone.”

The words come out in a big, jumbled pile, like a rope released too soon and collapsing in a heap. She feels her cheeks growing hot and instinctively takes a drink of her wine.

“I guess,” Ryan half-agrees.

Sarah would much prefer not to keep thinking about Matt and Danielle, so she rotates in her chair and asks, “Where are these surprises Jason mentioned? Does he even know what they are?”

“No, but I promised him some big contributors, and--”

He does not even get to finish the statement before a voice trills across the ballroom: “Ryan!”

The siblings turn to see none other than Katherine Fitch, adorned in an elegant gold dress, her red hair gathered in her trademark up-do, with her son by her side.


Philip trails Claire out to the corridor, where she immediately begins dialing a call on her cell phone.

“Who are you calling?” he asks impatiently.

The question makes her feel as if the corridor’s walls have been pulled a little tighter around her--which is stupid, because once she makes this call, there is no turning back. She’s going to have to work fast to patch up the holes here.

“Come on, answer,” she mutters as the call rings and she turns her back to Philip.


“Is that Katherine Fitch?” Paula Fisher asks.

Tim and Bill turn in surprise.

“Looks like it,” Bill says. “And Andy. How nice of them to come support Jason.”

They watch as Ryan hurries over to greet Katherine with a hug and Andy with a handshake.

“It really is a lovely party,” Paula comments as she surveys the entirety of the scene. “I hope Molly gets here soon. She said Philip was running late. It’ll be nice to have all of us in the same room.”

All of a sudden, Tim reacts to some unseen stimulus. When he pulls out his phone, Paula realizes that it is vibrating with a call.

“It’s Claire,” he says before stepping away. Then he answers. “Hey. Everything all right?”

“No,” she says. “Tim, I need you to come down to the hospital right now.”


Will Claire have to come clean about Spencer’s parentage?
Has Natalie really pulled off a perfect party for Jason?
Can Sarah really be okay with Matt dating Danielle?
And where is Diane?
Join us to talk about this episode in the Footprints Forum!

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Wed., Oct. 17, 2012

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