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- Diane opened up to Sarah about the miscarriage she suffered several months ago--and the fact that Ryan was the father of the child. 
- In spite of their recent rift, Travis reached out to his mother, Claire, and invited her to join the rest of the family in celebrating his 21st birthday. 
- Sarah had a chance encounter with her newly discovered nephew, Spencer, but he abruptly bolted in the middle of their conversation. 
- Spencer hurried back to his hotel room, concerned that someone had been watching him. When he entered the room, someone was there waiting for him. 



Spencer Ragan's nerves are still jangled as he approaches his hotel room. He is sure that his mind invented whatever it thought it saw outside the restaurant, but he remains unsettled. Just because someone wasn't watching him then doesn't mean someone hasn't been… or won't be. 

He slips the key card into the door of his room. The button turns green, and he pushes the door open. He has barely closed the door when he feels the hand on the back of his neck.

"I've been waiting for you," the voice says. "Just like I've been waiting for my money. And you know how much I hate waiting."

Spencer's entire body tenses. Something hard and metallic pushes against his back.

"I just got back," he says, the words nearly choked out of existence by his fear. "I'm getting the money."

"You said that when you left three months ago."

"Dude…" Spencer cranes his head around as much as he can with the tight grip being applied to his neck. He knew it from the voice, but it's the same guy, Cal, who got him into the poker games, who took his bets all too happily. His round face is framed by a dark brown shadow just thick enough to be called a beard, though it is patchy in random spots.

  Spencer Ragan

"You stopped answering my calls," Cal says. "That's not cool, man. I just want my money."

"I'm getting it. My brother lives here -- we're meeting with the accountant so we can have it transferred--"

"The details are not interesting to me, kid. I thought you were getting it from your mommy. What, she didn't wanna cough up 28 grand? Thought your family was loaded."

Suddenly Spencer finds it difficult to swallow; his throat feels completely blocked. "It's complicated. I'm getting the money. I swear."

"Then let's go get it now."

"I can't--"

Something jabs hard into Spencer's lower back. As Cal flips him around, he sees that it isn't a gun, as he feared, but an aluminum baseball bat, which isn't much better. 

"I can get you some tonight," Spencer says, mentally running through how much money he has in which accounts. He can probably get a thousand out of ATMs, maybe a little more. He left Philip a message earlier, hoping to speed things along, but he doubts there is much his brother can do about it tonight.

"I don't want some. I want my fucking money!" Cal swings the bat, and Spencer leaps backward just enough to avoid being hit. 

But he feels another pair of hands grasp him from behind, and as he struggles, he manages to catch a glimpse of the person. It's another man, not much older than him -- the same guy he thought he saw outside 322, he's sure of it.

"Just let me make a phone call!" Spencer pleads, already bracing for impact. The only response he receives is a sharp blow to his abdomen.


The smell of piping hot pizza fills the main floor of the house. Family members and a few of Travis Fisher's friends crowd around the dining room table, grabbing slices from the multitude of open boxes. 

"Let me get at that Canadian bacon one!" Landon Esco calls out.

"What, 38 pieces isn't enough?" Travis says, indicating Landon's overly full plate.

"Nope." Landon grabs a slice of the Canadian bacon and takes a huge bite out of it.

On the other side of the living room, the front door opens. Tempest Banks enters the house, followed by a girl with dark, curly hair and pale skin. 

"Hey," Tempest says to Samantha Fisher, who is seated on the couch with her grandmother

Samantha wipes her mouth with a napkin and sets her plate down on the coffee table. "Hi!" 

Tempest gestures toward her friend, who is dressed plainly in a white ribbed tank top and dark skinny jeans. "This is Annie."

"It's nice to meet you." Samantha sticks out her hand for a shake.

"You, too," Annie says with a smile. She is very pretty, with dark eyes that suggest an intensity Samantha would not expect from someone so diminutive.

Travis comes bounding across the room toward them. "You made it! Awesome."

He and Tempest act out some kind of complicated handshake that Samantha doesn't follow very well; there's a clasp that looks like they are going to have a thumb war, then some other move, then a fist bump. Samantha has no idea how they both know how to do what moves in what order.

  Tempest Banks

"Hope you don't mind I brought a friend," Tempest says. "This is Annie. Annie, Travis is Claire's son--it's his birthday."

"Do I know you from the rink?" Travis asks as he eyes Annie.

"I play hockey there," she says as they shake hands. "Happy birthday."

"Thanks. There's a ton of pizza over there--but you might want to get some before Landon eats it all." He leans in and whispers to the girls: "And ask Elly who has the flask if you want to put something in your soda."

Tempest and Annie head toward the pizza. 

"You know that girl?" Samantha asks her brother, trying to sound casual and not totally nosy.

"I just recognize her from work." He looks after Tempest and Annie for a second as they move into the fray in the dining room. "Do you know if they're, like, together? Has Tempest said anything to you?"

Alarm stings Samantha all over her body, even if she isn't sure why. "What do you mean? Why would she tell me that?"

"'Cause you guys are pals? I don't know." Travis shrugs. "Maybe I'm off-base. Who knows?"

"Yeah. I have no idea." Samantha glances around the room. Travis's friends have all congregated in one area, while Jason and Molly are laughing on the other side of the dining room table. "Are you having a good time?"

"Yeah. And it'll be even cooler when I get to hit the bars later. But yeah. I am."

"Good. I was worried you'd feel… weird. You know?"

"I mean, I do, but… it's all good. At least it feels that way right now."

"It is all good," Samantha says with an encouraging smile. "I know how topsy-turvy everything must seem to you lately, but we're family. We always will be, no matter what."

Travis nods as he looks around the room. "Yeah. I guess we are."


The blaring of an alarm is the first thing he hears.

It's morning, he realizes through a haze.

Only it isn't morning. He's on the floor. And he feels like he just got run over by a truck.

The blaring continues as Spencer tries to breathe and realizes how difficult it is. His body feels battered and pummeled.

Then he remembers Cal. And the other guy. And the aluminum bat.

The alarm is coming from somewhere inside of him.

His head feels like a sack of ground-up meat, useless and heavy and disgusting. He tries to lift it long enough to look around the hotel room but can barely manage that much. At least his vision is clear--that has to be a good sign.

Then he recognizes the alarm's noise. It isn't an alarm at all. It's his cell phone. Which is in one of his pockets.

With stiff arms, he manages to locate it. Philip's name shows on the caller ID. Spencer manages to answer the call and presses the button to put it on speaker so that he can drop his head back to the carpet.

"Philip," he says, the name croaking out of him.

"Spencer? I just got your message--"

"Can you--" He pauses to huff a few labored breaths. "Can you come to the hotel?"

"What's going on? Are you okay?"

He doesn't know how he is going to explain this, but he doesn't have any other choice. "Just come. Please." He lifts his head a few millimeters from the carpet and feels a sting of pain somewhere in his back. "I need help."


When Tim ducks into the kitchen to grab another bottle of soda, he finds Sarah already in there, typing on her phone. 

She glances up at him. "E-mail from a client. I couldn't focus out there."

"Yeah," Tim says as he moves to the refrigerator. "I'm not sure I need a whole hoard of college kids in my house again anytime soon." 

"You can have Tori and her friends sometime and let me know how you feel. Or an infant." Sarah finishes typing her response and puts her phone back in her purse. "Actually, I'm glad I have a minute alone with you. I wanted to tell you… I ran into Spencer earlier."

Tim stops mid-movement at the open fridge, the bottle of soda clutched in his hand. "You did? Where?"

"I was picking up food at 322, and he came in right after me. I introduced myself and we sort of talked for a second, but then I turned around to pay and he disappeared."

"What do you mean, disappeared?"

"Ducked out while I had my back turned. The hostess said he just bolted out the door. I thought maybe he saw something--or someone--outside, but I have no idea what it was."

Tim lets out a heavy sigh. "That's weird, but not entirely surprising. He was definitely not thrilled to see me when I showed up at Molly's."

  Tim Fisher

"Maybe I shouldn't have introduced myself," Sarah says. "Sorry if I made anything worse. I thought it couldn't hurt."

"You have nothing to apologize for. I'm just hoping Philip manages to make some progress as far as convincing him to stick around."


She watches Tim as he pulls out another bottle of soda and closes the fridge with his hip. 

"So Diane came over earlier," Sarah says. "She told me about…" She pauses and casts a quick look toward the doorway. "…the miscarriage."

"Oh, good. I mean, not good, but I'm glad she's talking to you about it. I've tried to ask how she's doing a few times, and she just kind of brushes me off."

"Yeah, well, she's Diane. I'm not sure she would have told me at all, but Ryan found out, so she was upset."

"What does Ryan finding out have to do with--" Tim stops himself. His eyes threaten to bulge out of his skull. "It was Ryan's?"

Sarah's breath catches in her throat. "You didn't know that part?"

"No. I just knew she had been pregnant and miscarried." He shakes his head as he absorbs this latest blast of news. Tim checks to make sure the coast is clear and then repeats, "Ryan?"

"I know. Please don't tell her that I spilled that. She told me that she told you about the miscarriage right after it happened. I just assumed--" 

"Don't worry." He mimes zipping up his lips. "I'm glad she opened up to you, though. I'm glad she has you in general."

"I'm glad I have her," Sarah says. "Now do you think you can go back out there and face Ryan without losing it?"

"I'll do my best," he says as Sarah leads the way back to the party.


By the time Philip arrives, Spencer has maneuvered himself into a sitting position, leaning against a wall. When Philip announces himself with an urgent knock on the door, Spencer is able to reach--straining so badly that it feels like his body is going to explode--and pull down the door handle to let him in.

"What happened to you?" Philip asks as he kneels down and takes in the sight of his battered brother.

"These guys--they were waiting for me in here." 

Philip's gaze sets on Spencer's right hand, its fingers mangled and its form a grotesque, purple-and-red balloon caricature of its usual self. 

"What guys?" Philip asks.

Spencer turns his head away, at least as much as he can. "It's a long story."

"Someone came to your hotel room and nearly beat you to death--"

"Not death."

"--and you expect me not to ask questions?" Philip reaches for Spencer's head and uses his fingers to part the hair and search for any wounds. "What hurts the most?"

Spencer points to his midsection. "Ribs, I think."

"My god." Philip fumbles for a moment and then pulls out his cell phone. "I'm calling 911."

"No. You can't!" 

"Then what am I supposed to do? You need medical attention."

"I'm gonna get in trouble. Don't. Please." Spencer slumps against the wall. "I owe them some money. From gambling."

Philip freezes, holding his phone in mid-air. "The money you want me to give you for moving to New York--does that have anything to do with this?"


"Spencer!" Boiling with frustration, Philip climbs back to his feet. "I'm not even going to ask how much money right now."

Spencer looks up at him with a grimace. "Good."

"But if you won't let me call 911--"

"You can't."

"Fine. But there's someone else I can call."


Claire Fisher closes her locker and walks over to the row of sinks. After a quick shower and a change from her scrubs into a comfortable red sundress, she almost feels revived from her long shift--almost. What she actually needs is a solid night of sleep, but adrenaline will have to suffice tonight.

And it will, she is sure, because she is so excited about the evening ahead. Celebrating Travis's birthday with him and the rest of the family is going to feel so good, so normal. As she shakes out her still-wet hair, she reminds herself not to set her expectations too high. This is a beginning, not a final resolution.

She is on her way out of the locker room when her cell phone rings. She stops and digs it out of her bag. A moderate panic sets in as soon as she sees Philip Ragan's name on the caller ID.

There is only one thing this could be about.

"Hey, Philip," she answers. 

"Claire. I need your help--Spencer needs your help. Immediately."


Will Spencer be able to pay off his debt before something worse happens?
Can Tim remain silent about Ryan being the father of Diane's child?
Is Samantha jealous of Tempest and Annie?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum!

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Friday, July 26, 2013

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