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- After an awkward run-in with Brent, Claire flashed back to a night when things seemed to heat up between the two friends.
- Embarrassed about blowing up at her ex, Matt, when he came to check on her, Sarah presented him with a gift certificate for a new bed-and-breakfast and insisted that he take his new girlfriend, Danielle, there.
- Diane was undecided about how to handle the pregnancy that resulted from her one-night stand with Ryan. When she went in for an ultrasound appointment, the doctor informed her that there was no fetal heartbeat.


The summer sun sits high in the sky, its rays beaming down upon King's Bay. The light breeze drifting in from the water cuts the heat by the perfect amount, and as Sarah Fisher pushes the baby stroller over the downtown sidewalks, she can't help but revel in the perfect, pleasant weather.

She catches herself slowing down as she passes by a new bakery. The display case is visible through the front window, and the colorful assortment of miniature cupcakes grabs her attention. She notices Billy sitting up in his stroller, too, and it certainly looks as though he's focused on the treats, too. She is contemplating a trip inside the shop when two figures reflected in the window steal her focus completely.

"Hey," she says, turning toward Matt Gray and Danielle Taylor.

"Hey there," Matt says. He offers a little wave, and Danielle does the same. The awkward tension is palpable, and no matter how badly Sarah wishes that she could just sweep it all away, she doesn't know how.

Danielle kneels down to play with Billy, who is all too eager to shake his stuffed hedgehog and babble an entire new language of sounds for his fresh audience.

"He's adorable," Danielle says, looking up at Sarah.

She smiles. "Thanks. And he's being a very good boy today. Though I think he might have his eye on one of those cupcakes."

  Sarah Fisher

"They do look pretty good," Matt says. Billy kicks a little sneaker-clad foot up toward Matt, who grabs onto it. "I gotcha, kiddo!"

Billy wriggles around in the stroller, laughing as Matt grabs one foot and then the other, over and over.

"What are you guys up to today?" Sarah asks.

Matt and Danielle trade a brief look that sparks Sarah's curiosity.

"Actually," Matt explains, "we're grabbing lunch and then we're headed to Orcas Island. We're staying at that B&B you got us the gift certificate for."

"That was really nice of you," Danielle says.

"Yeah, I got your thank-you note. You're, uh, you're welcome." Sarah glances inside the bakery again and suddenly feels the need to escape the situation. "I'm gonna go inside and get a few of those mini cupcakes. Enjoy your trip, okay?"

"We will," Matt says. "Thanks."

Danielle offers some kind of goodbye, too, but Sarah is too busy maneuvering inside the store. The air conditioning washes over her like an ocean wave, but she somehow notices it without feeling it; her mind is too consumed by the encounter with her ex-husband and his new girlfriend, on the way to a romantic weekend that Sarah provided for them. She wants to feel proud that she handled that so well, that she is handling it so well, but--

She stops herself. She's going to be proud. That went well. It was civil and pleasant. That's all.

Doing her best to put it out of her head, she pushes the stroller toward the display case to pick out some treats.

Edge of Winter

"Hello?" Natalie Bishop calls as her hand raps against the open door.

"Come in!" Ryan Moriani says without glancing away from his oversized computer monitor. When he finally does, he recoils at the sight of the visitor. "Oh."

Natalie, clad in a bright yellow wrap dress, scans the large office. "Jason isn't here?"

"Nope. I'm sure he'll be glad he missed you, though."

"I need to reschedule one of Bree's lessons. I'll leave a note." She moves toward Jason's desk, which is covered in paperwork.

"Try not to destroy anything," Ryan says.

"That's cute, coming from you." She takes a seat at Jason's desk and locates a stack of Post-it notes. "It's kind of a miracle you've been working here this long and haven't gotten the place shut down yet, no?"

Ryan attempts to refocus on his work. "Such a comedian."

As Natalie writes, she continues, "At least that's one thing Jason and I can see eye-to-eye on -- what it's like to have an irresponsible screw-up for a sibling."

"Wait. Are you calling yourself the responsible one?"

"Have you met my sister? She's a disaster." Natalie takes her oversized sunglasses off the top of her head. "You're actually lucky you got out of that marriage as fast as you did."

"I can't believe I'm saying this," Ryan says, pausing for a sigh, "but maybe lay off Diane, okay? She's a good mother to Sam, and she found herself a job, which is more than I can say for some people…"

A little laugh escapes Natalie's throat.

"Sometimes people make mistakes for reasons other than being completely careless or destructive," he adds. "Not that you would know anything about that."

"Yeah, well, her last mistake was a real doozy."

Ryan studies Natalie's face for a minute. She lifts her eyebrow in what appears to be a challenge.

"She told you about that?" he asks. Not that it even matters that anyone knows that he and Diane slept together, really, but still -- annoyance burns inside him.

"She told you?" Natalie fires back.

"I was kind of there, so yes."

Natalie's eyes go wide, and she drops the pen on the desk. "Oh my god."


"It was you?" She lets out a squeal. "Of course it was. It was you!"

"Wait. Then she didn't tell you?" he asks.

"I had just never put the pieces together," she says, "but of course. It makes total sense."

Now Ryan is lost. "What in the hell are you talking about, Natalie?"


Claire Fisher sits alone at a small table toward the back wall of the hospital's cafeteria. Most of the tables are empty, and the entire space is bathed in the harsh glow of the overhead fluorescent lights. Lost in thought, she moves her fork through the Chinese chicken salad on her plate. She knows that she needs to eat in order to get through the remainder of her shift, but -- as has so often been the case over the past few months -- the distractions of her personal life seem difficult to push out of the spotlight.

Right now, her run-in with Brent Taylor is weighing heavily on her. If she could just go back and change that night...

“No one has to know.”

Her hands paw at his shirt. Loose fingertips clumsily undo the top button.


“I need this,” she says as she leans in closer. She can feel the heat from his face against her lips.

There is a pregnant moment, long and humid, as Brent breathes against her ear. His body feels firm to her touch, and desire overcomes her -- desire for him, desire to feel something other than despair and regret.

And then Brent's hands take hold of hers and move them, place them squarely back in her own personal space.

"This is not a good idea," he says.


"We're friends. Family, really. And you're upset. We can't."

And then the heat was gone, replaced by a stinging, unshakeable coldness. Claire has tried to find solace in the fact that Brent is a good enough man to turn her down when she had been drinking and was so clearly in a state of emotional disaster… but her foolish come-on seems to have frayed their friendship beyond mending, and it's difficult to see any upside to that. Brent has been one of her only close friends in the past months, and now even that is gone.

She sticks a forkful of lettuce and Mandarin orange in her mouth and chews slowly. It feels as though, in a matter of months, she has screwed up almost her entire life. The son she raised wants nothing to do with her; Tim will barely tolerate her; she drove away a close friend; and another son, a virtual stranger, hates her so much that a mere encounter with her might be enough to send him running to the opposite coast. The Fishers have been her family, her only family, for so long, and now she doesn't have that support system anymore…

As her mind skips from one depressing thought to another, she continues eating the salad without really tasting it. A buzzing in the pocket of her scrubs jolts her from her thoughts, and she prepares to react to a page from the hospital. But it is her cell phone that vibrated.

  Claire Fisher

She sees the name on the home screen of her phone. Travis.

As elated as she is to have her son contacting her, she opens the message with trepidation. He has hardly reached out to her at all these past few months -- in fact, he has barely been receptive to any of her efforts.

But then she sees the message: I'm having people over at Dad's new house for my birthday. Tomorrow night at 8 pm before we go out. We're gonna have cake and stuff. You should come if you feel like it.

Her spirits soar. She has to re-read the message again just to be certain that it says what she thinks it says. She doesn't know what inspired such a change in Travis's attitude, but for him to reach out like this… maybe it means that things really are going to get better.


Clutching the baby monitor in her hand, Sarah tiptoes over the hardwood floor of the upstairs hallway. She only relaxes once she has made it to the master bedroom. She sets down the monitor, uses the restroom, and then hops on the bed to review a case on her laptop.

Within a few minutes, though, her eyes have begun to grow heavy. She rests her head against the carefully stacked pillows and decides that a short nap while she has the chance might be a good idea. She closes the laptop, sets it on the nightstand, and once again lies back -- this time shutting her eyes. In only a few moments, she can feel her brain fading into blackness, pulling a curtain over thoughts of her caseload and the bills she has to pay later.

Everything is black when she hears the voice:

"You did this to yourself."

She knows the voice all too well -- just as well as she did when Graham was alive. He is a frequent visitor to her dreams these days.

And then she is back in front of that bakery, facing down Matt and Danielle, who are smiling and laughing and grasping each other's hands and just so damn happy.

"Isn't this what you wanted?" the voice asks. But it isn't a question so much as a taunt.

No, she wants to say. It isn't, not really.

Then he is there, lying in the bed -- their bed -- beside her. Graham, grinning and maniacal. How did she not notice it for so long? How did she ever think this was a man whom she could trust?

"You married me," he says. "You cut Matt loose. This is how you wanted things to be."

She wants to protest. She wants to tell him that she made a mistake ever trusting him, that she ran away from Matt because she was so confused about the child they lost… but the words won't come. In these dreams, they never come.

"You'll always have me," Graham says with that sneer.

With a start and a gasp, Sarah wakes up. She is in the bed -- her bed now -- and she is alone. Graham is gone. She just wishes that her subconscious would realize that.

As tired as she was minutes ago, she grabs the laptop and opens it back up. Getting some work done, even as drowsy as she feels, has to be better than returning to that world.


Diane Bishop sits behind the counter, going one-by-one through a stack of recently donated books as she enters each into the store's system. The door chimes sound, and she glances up ready to greet a customer -- only to see Ryan storming toward her.

"How could you not tell me?" he asks.

His tone, his posture, the fire in his eyes all tell her exactly what this is about. She hesitates, taking a moment to process his rage and her reaction.

She closes the book in front of her. "What are you talking about?"

"You were pregnant," he says through gritted teeth. "You were having my baby, and you never told me."

"How did you find out? My sister?"

"Yes. You told the sister you can't stand, but you couldn't tell me?"

"Natalie found out by accident," Diane says, doing everything she can to maintain her composure. "That I was pregnant, I mean."

  Ryan Moriani

"So? I was the father of that child."

"I didn't terminate it," she says. "I went in for a doctor's appointment and was told there was no heartbeat." She gives that a few seconds to sink in and watches the news play over Ryan's face. "Did my sister tell you that part? I thought I made it very clear to her what happened, since she clearly believed it was her right to know."

Ryan sticks his hands in his pockets and paces several steps away from the counter. Finally, after a taut silence, he speaks without turning back to her.

"I've wanted to be a father for so long," he says. "If I had known…"

"You wouldn't have been able to change how it turned out."

"But I would have known."

Diane doesn't know how to argue with that. She had her reasons for not telling him; to be honest, she doesn't know at what point she would have told him, or how. She takes the next book from the stack and begins entering the title and author into her system.

"You've been so angry at Claire for what she did -- on whose behalf, Tim's?" Ryan says. "This is just as bad."

"This is hardly the same thing."

"It's closer than you want to think. Playing God with people's lives -- with important things that people need to know."

"Ryan, I'm working. I don't have time for this." She finishes entering a line of information into the computer. "And for the record, you arrogant ass, I lost a baby in all this. Thanks for the sympathy."

She can see him ramping up to fire back, but his lips move without producing any words, and finally -- with one last angry stare -- he spins around and exits the store.

With him gone, Diane gives up on the idea of working for the time being and slams the book closed. She knew Natalie would tell someone. Deep down, she knew that Ryan would find out. But what he said about Claire -- that isn't true. She knows it isn't. And if people can't see that…

She leaves the new entries on the counter and goes to restock a cart full of books waiting in the center aisle. She has to do something besides think about this whole mess.


Was Diane wrong to keep the news from Ryan?
Will Sarah be able to shake her visions of Graham?
Can Claire and Travis have a real breakthrough at his birthday?
Come join the discussion in the Footprints Forum!

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Friday, July 12, 2013

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