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Three Months Ago...
- After learning that Tim and Claire are his biological parents, Spencer vowed that he wanted nothing to do with them.
- Travis was devastated by the news that he is not Tim and Claire’s biological son, though they vowed that the truth changes nothing and they will always be his family.
- Tim lashed out at Claire for having kept the secret about the boys’ parentage from him for so long.



Springtime sunlight floods past the open curtains into the living room, promising the glory of summer that is soon to come. The two women sit in chairs across from one another. One holds an iPad in her lap; the other has her hands folded, and the nervous shaking of her leg is just barely detectable.

“It’s been three months,” Claire Fisher says, her desperation apparent. “I want to know where he is.”

Sarah Fisher looks up from the document on her iPad. “I don’t know exactly where he is. After he visited Loretta in prison right after he left King’s Bay, there was a one-way ticket to Heathrow charged on his American Express.”

“When was that?”

“Three days after his prison visit. After the flight, there are a number of charges on his Visa--London, Paris, Monte Carlo…”

“He’s not even 21.”

  Claire Fisher

“Loretta’s accountants have been paying off his balance.”

Claire doesn’t know how to respond to that, or to any of this, really. She runs her hands through her dark brown hair, letting her fingers to push through the few tangles that they find. She had to do something, and since Spencer hasn’t responded to any of her phone calls or e-mails (not that she expected him to), asking Sarah to look into his whereabouts was about the best she could do.

“I guess at least I know he’s all right,” Claire says.

“It looks that way, yeah.” Sarah closes the iPad. “How are things with Travis?”

Claire sits on her answer for a long moment, but the most she can manage is still a loud exhale. “I don’t know,” she finally says. “Not well, obviously. He’s still angry at me. That’s about the extent of it.”

“He’ll come around.”

“I hope so.” But with every passing day and every rebuffed effort, Claire’s faith in that grows a little dimmer. She reaches for her purse. “Thank you for doing this. Is a check okay?”

“Stop. You are not paying me.”

“It’s your job. I can pay. I really appreciate--”

“Claire. Please. It wasn’t that tough,” Sarah says. “Besides, I understand what it’s like to screw up in this family better than probably anyone.”

“Thanks, Sarah.” Claire stands and slings her purse over her shoulder.

As Sarah rises, she says, “I would’ve expected you to ask Brent for help, though.”

Claire is grateful that Sarah is walking past her at the moment; she misses the way that Claire freezes for a split-second, the way her whole body tenses at the mention of Brent. A few months ago, he would have been the first one she turned to, without a doubt. But after that night…

“I know he’s busy,” she says dismissively. “And I really would have paid you.”

“I know.” Sarah leads the way through the foyer and opens the front door. She looks as though she is about to say something else--but instead she stops cold in front of the door.

A second later, Claire understands why. The voice from outside comes trilling through the air:

“Where’s my little jellybean of a grandson?”

“I thought you weren’t coming for another half-hour,” Sarah says as she casts a glance back at Claire, who braces for the inevitable impact.

“I couldn’t wait to see Billy,” Paula Fisher says from the front steps. “And I thought it wouldn’t hurt you to have some extra time to yourself before your meeting--I know how it is when you have a little one around--”

But Paula stops in her tracks when she enters the house and sees Claire standing there.


The neighborhood is brand-new, having been created from the ground up only a few months ago. Every four houses repeat the same floor plans and layouts, varying only the color and a few other variables. Normally, Travis Fisher would find a place like this contrived and kind of sad, but given what they have all been through, he understands the appeal of a total clean start.

“Take the next left,” Samantha Fisher says from the passenger seat, where she is navigating using her phone.

Travis pauses at the stop sign and then turns. Three houses down on the right, their father stands at the curb in front of a blue-gray house with a two-car garage and a perfect lawn. The Sold sign is still spiked into the lawn.

“What do you think?” Tim asks as the kids get out of the car.

“It’s great!” Samantha says as she hurries over to hug him. Travis hangs back. Relations between him and his entire family--“family,” he thinks sometimes--have been weird since it came out that Spencer is actually his parents’ biological son. But he understands that his dad didn’t know a thing about it, so he has been trying to give him a chance.

“Let me show you inside,” Tim says as he heads up the stone walkway to the front door, which is unlocked.

The house smells new inside. Carpet in a variety of neutral, beige and beige-adjacent colors covers the floors of most rooms, with a break for a lighter wood flooring in the entryway and kitchen. Right now, there are an L-shaped sectional couch and a mounted flatscreen television in the living room, but little else.

Tim’s tone is apologetic as he explains, “I already ordered some furniture, just to get us started. But there’s a lot more to do.”

Upstairs, he shows them the master bedroom, which has a surprisingly large bathroom, and then takes them down the hall. First up is Samantha’s room, which already has an unmade bed (but nothing else) in it; next is Travis’s room, which is a mirror image of that one, just across the hall.

“What’s that?” Samantha asks as she indicates a closed door.

“Guest room,” Tim says with a shrug. Travis opens the door and, sure enough, there is another bed in there.

He gets exactly what this is. “Seriously?”

“What?” Samantha asks, looking from her brother to her father and then back.

“He has a room for Spencer,” Travis says as he stares disdainfully at Tim.


“Bye! I love you!”

Molly Taylor stands on the front porch, calling out these words as she waves, even though the passengers of the car exiting the driveway cannot hear her. She watches the SUV turn out of the driveway and travel down the road until it is obscured by leaves and tree trunks and distance and then disappears.

“Okay, the boys are off for a weekend with their dad,” she announces as she reenters the house.

“Which means we are about to be on our way,” Philip Ragan says as he swoops into the foyer and pulls her close. He plants a kiss on her lips and then pulls back. “Do you have everything?”

“I would have a better idea of that if you told me where we’re going.” She knows it isn’t going to work, but she has to try.

Philip shakes his head as a playful smile works his mouth. “No, no. I’m taking you away for a surprise weekend if it kills me. Besides, as long as you packed everything on that list--”

  Philip Ragan

“Swim suit, cocktail dress, sweater,” Molly rattles off. “All I’ve really established is that you aren’t taking me to a frozen tundra.”

“And we can get there by car.”

“Oh. We’re driving?”

“We’re being picked up. In…” He checks his silver Breitling watch. “…18 minutes.”

“Of course we’re being picked up,” she says with a grin. “Let me go make sure everything is turned off upstairs.”

“You already checked.”

“Just humor me, okay?” She starts for the stairs but then pauses. “And thank you.”

“It’s my pleasure. Truly.”

Molly vanishes up the stairs. Philip normally does not share her compulsion to check and double-check things; usually, he has enough confidence in what he does the first time. But today is different. This trip is different. Knowing that he has a minute or two before she returns, he opens his leather weekend bag, goes into one of the inner pockets, lifts out the two pairs of dress socks, and sees it.

The box.

He can’t help but glance inside. He just has to make sure that it’s coming along for the weekend with them.

There it is. The diamond. With any luck, by the end of this weekend, it will be perched confidently on Molly’s ring finger.

With a private smile, he tucks it away, replaces the socks, closes the pocket, and zips up the bag. Soon enough.


“Paula. Hi,” Claire says. The tension between the two women is visceral. Claire has seen Paula only once since the truth came out, when she stopped by the Fishers’ shortly afterward to talk to Tim. Based on the reception that she received from Paula, Claire is still a bit surprised that she didn’t also get another slap across the face like the one she got from Diane Bishop, of all people.

“Claire.” Paula nods her head in the slightest of greetings before looking to Sarah. Claire can read a thousand questions in that look: What is she doing here? Why didn’t you warn me? What are you up to?

“I was doing a little investigative work for Claire,” Sarah says. “She just stopped by so I could debrief her before my next meeting.”

Paula’s face remains stony.

“I want to apologize to you,” Claire says. “Again. I made a poor decision, and it had repercussions for a lot of people I love. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with any of that.”

“’Poor decision’ does not begin to describe what you made,” Paula says. “You decided it was up to you to play God with all our lives. You had no right to keep that information to yourself, and certainly not for as long as you did. You put Tim in a terrible position.”

“I know--”

“Now I have one grandson who feels completely alienated from the only family he’s ever known, and another who’s gone missing because he wants nothing to do with us. So thank you, Claire.”

In all her years of knowing the Fishers, Claire has never been on the receiving end of something so blunt and disdainful from Paula. She feels like her former mother-in-law just administered a karate chop to her gut.

“I’m going to go,” Claire says to Sarah. “Thanks again.”

“No problem,” Sarah says.

Claire rushes out the door, not even bothering to close it behind her. Once she is safely inside her car, she looks back at the house; she can see Sarah and Paula’s forms through the living room window. For so long, the Fishers were her family, even after she and Tim divorced. But now, something fundamental has shifted, and Claire isn’t sure that it can be repaired.

With an aching sadness in her chest, she starts the car.


Tim throws up his hands. “Travis, what am I supposed to do? Not have a room for him? How welcoming is that?”

“Why do you have to be ‘welcoming’ to him at all? He’s an asshole,” Travis says.

“And he’s my son. So are you. There is no graceful way of navigating this, but I’m trying. Cut me some slack, okay?”

Travis doesn’t answer. He just stares at the brand-new mattress and bedframe, sitting in a room that is only feet away from the room that will be his. He feels Tim and Samantha watching him intently.

“I’m not living with him,” Travis finally says.

  Tim Fisher

“I’m not asking you to,” Tim says. “The room is a gesture. Spencer is welcome to come stay with me whenever he wants or needs to. There are no plans for him to stay here this summer.” He lets out a sigh. “I haven’t even heard from him in months.”

Travis walks out of the bedroom and pulls the door closed again. “This fucking sucks.”

“You’re telling me,” Tim says. “But look. You guys have finals to worry about. Focus on those. Everything else… we’ll figure it out as we go.”

Samantha nods her head, but Travis can’t even bring himself to do that much.


Philip is waiting in the foyer with the bags when the doorbell rings.

“Molly, I’m fairly certain the oven was off the four times we checked it earlier!” he calls out in a good-natured tone.

“I’m coming!” she responds.

Philip moves for the door. Here goes nothing. By the time they return from their weekend away, he and Molly might be--

The hopeful thought falls away as he opens the door and sees who’s standing there. It isn’t the driver as he expected.

“Hey, brother,” Spencer Ragan says. “I’m back.”


What brought Spencer back to King’s Bay?
Will the Fishers ever forgive Claire?
Will Tim’s plan blow up in his face?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to talk about this episode now!

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Friday, June 14, 2013

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