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- Travis and Claire had a nasty confrontation after she missed his 21st birthday party to tend to Spencer, who had been beaten up. 
- Spencer hoped to use money from his trust to pay off the gambling debt that led to his assault, but Philip--who oversees the trust--had another course of action in mind.  
- Diane discovered a discrepancy involving some vanishing inventory at the bookstore. When she asked Jimmy about it, he tried to play the whole thing off.


The late afternoon sun spills through the windows, forming geometric shapes in light on the carpet of the cozy bookstore. Diane Bishop sits on a stool behind the counter, half-watching the foot traffic on the sidewalk outside as she listens to her daughter.

"I wish Travis would be a little more level-headed, that's all," Samantha says as she picks her way through a box of recently donated books that sits on the floor.

"His mother skipped his birthday party after she kept an enormous secret about his own life from him. I think he has good reason to be mad."

"I know you hate Claire, but--"

"I don't hate her."

Samantha cuts her mother off with a stern look.

"Okay, I'm not a huge fan," Diane says. "And it honestly does sound like she was stuck in a bad position last night. But she created this mess by lying to everyone for so long in the first place."

"She was worried about--" This time, Samantha interrupts herself. "You know what? It's probably best if we don't argue about this. I don't think we're going to change each other's minds."

As much as Diane normally loves a spirited debate, she finds herself nodding. "You are correct on that one. How the hell did I wind up with such a smart kid?"

Samantha offers a half-shrug and goes back to reviewing the box of used books. 

"It's been nice to have some company today," Diane says as her gaze sweeps over the peaceful store. "It's usually such a ghost town in here." 

  Diane Bishop

"Who else came to see you? Sarah?" Samantha asks before taking a sip of the purple-red smoothie she brought with her.

"Alex. He was shopping for a gift." Diane's mind moves momentarily to the weird discovery she made about the store's inventory and the even stranger response she got from Jimmy when she asked him about it. She tries to shake it off and refocus. "Do you ever get to see Alex? Was he at the party last night?"

Samantha stiffens. "What? Why would you ask that?"

"…because he's a writer?" Diane isn't sure what to make of that strange, perhaps defensive reaction. "I figure you might have questions to ask him." 

"Oh. Yeah." Samantha quickly drinks some more of her smoothie. "I never really see him."

"If you ever want to pick his brain about writing, I'm sure he'd be happy to have coffee with you," Diane says.

"Okay. Thanks."

The moment is broken by the chime of the door. Diane looks up to find Keith Huff, the store's other owner, coming at her with an intense air about him. He is a wiry guy with a long, thin face, and right now, it appears that every muscle in his body is tensed up.

"Need to have a word with you," he says to Diane, ignoring Samantha entirely.

Samantha drops a worn paperback mystery into the cardboard box. "I should get going. I'll see you at home, okay, Mom?"

"Sounds good." Diane waits until Samantha exits the store before she addresses Keith. "What's going on?"

"Heard you were asking questions. Just wanted to remind you that's not your job."

The intimidation tactic is so transparent that it's almost laughable. "Excuse me?"

"Jimmy told me you were grilling him about the stock," Keith says, his mouth held tight. "Knock it off, okay?"

She holds up her hands as if to surrender. "Hey, if you don't want your manager paying attention to the store's stock--then my life will be a hell of a lot simpler."

"Just input what comes in, deal with customer transactions, and make the bank drops. Jimmy and I got everything else under control." 

There's something both smug and stupid about the whole thing, and Diane finds it too difficult to keep her mouth shut.

"Listen," she says, setting her palms flat on the counter. "This job is easy, and I'm happy to keep doing it, but you need to cut the crap. If there's something funny going on here, I want to know about it--now."

"I just told you, it's none of your business." 

"So if the cops waltzed in here and just happened to take a look at your books, nothing would set off an alarm?" She sits back and lets that sink in, as if to say, That's how you do a threat, moron. "Now are you going to let me in on what's going on here, or what?"


"Come on in," Danielle Taylor says as she holds the door open for Travis Fisher. "Your aunt is out with the boys."

"That's cool. I saw them all last night," Travis says as he takes off his flip-flops and adds them to the row of shoes by the front door. His Aunt Molly has always been the only one in the family who makes everyone take off their shoes when they come over. 

Danielle grins. "It sounds like you had a lot of fun last night, from what Elly tells me."

"Yeah, it was a good night." He shakes his head to push away the memories of the hangover, which has mostly faded by now. "Is she upstairs?"

"She's packing, yeah. You can go on up."

He thanks Danielle and trudges up the stairs. He doesn't quite have the energy--or the certainty in his own stomach--to take them two at a time as he usually does. He finds Elly in the guest room, her suitcase open on the bed amidst piles of clothes. The Florence + the Machine album--which he knows quite well due to dating Elly--is playing on her laptop. 

"How's the packing coming?" he asks as he comes up behind her.

Elly turns, and it's immediately clear that she is frazzled. "Horribly. I needed to do laundry, but Caleb stepped in dog poop, so Molly had thrown his sneakers in the washing machine, and… ugh." She picks up a folded t-shirt. "I don't even know what to bring. And I still have to get my study abroad application postmarked and in the mail before I go." 

"When's the deadline?"

"Midnight tonight." She pauses long enough to look him over. "How are you feeling? Better?"

"Mostly, yeah. Even drove all the way here without needing to puke."

"Big progress." She goes back to trying to organize things in her suitcase. "Did you see your dad?"

"No… but my mom came by. Like right after you dropped me off."

"How was that?"

"Miserable. She was full of excuses and… ugh. I don't even wanna talk about it." He watches her frenzied movements for a moment. "Can I help with anything?"

Elly takes a step back to evaluate the situation. "You know what? Are you willing to run an errand for me?"

"If I say no, does it mean you won't get on the plane?" he asks with a grin.

"No. It just means I'll be in a bad mood later."

Travis twists his face up. "No thanks. So I guess, yeah, I'm totally down to do an errand."

"Oh my god. It would be a huge help." She hurries over to the nightstand, where her laptop bag rests, and pulls out a large manila envelope. "Can you take this to the post office, get a postmark on it, and make sure it goes in the mail? I would be so, so grateful."

"Sure. I got this." He takes the envelope and then turns his cheek for a kiss, which she delivers after laughing at him. "You still want me to take you to the airport?"

"If you don't mind. And if you won't puke on me." 

"No promises there," he says. "Let me go take care of this, and I'll be back in a little bit. You just deal with packing. Okay?"

"You're the best," she says, swooping in for one more kiss before she sends him on his way.


As he stands on the small terrace, Philip Ragan holds his cell phone to one ear as he faces the gleaming summer sun.

"Thank you, Gary," he says. "I really appreciate you taking care of this so quickly. Yes--I will. Thanks again."

He ends the call and, the phone still clasped in his hand, leans against the iron railing. He hears footsteps approaching softly from behind.

"Was that him?" Spencer Ragan asks.

Philip gazes out at downtown King's Bay and the water in the distance. "Yes. The money is being transferred first thing in the morning. We can go pick it up as cash, and I'll go with you to drop it off wherever you need."

"Go with me? I'm not ten years old."

"Ten-year-olds don't rack up thousands of dollars in gambling debt, do they?" Philip swivels around to face his younger brother. Spencer is dressed casually, in a t-shirt and loose shorts. Aside from a few bandages, there is little sign of the beating he suffered last night, though his face is puffy and looks tired.

  Philip Ragan

"I don't know why you couldn't just take it out of my trust," Spencer says. "I have the money."

"You don't have the money. That money is for your future."

"You were going to give it to me--"

"For an apartment! Not because you lost thousands in a poker game." Philip shakes his head and takes a moment to cool himself down. "I'm taking care of the money for you, and you're going to work that debt off with me."

"How long is that going to take? What, am I going to carry camera equipment around?"

"If I need you to. You made this mess, Spencer. You need to be accountable for cleaning it up, too."

Spencer sneers and looks off into the distance. "Then why don't you just let me figure out how to pay it myself?"

"Because I don't want these people killing you when you can't pay!"

For once, Spencer is actually frozen into silence.

"In the meantime, we need to find a proper bed for you," Philip says as he moves past Spencer and back inside the loft.

"I just need to find a place--"

Philip spins around again. "You are not going to 'find a place,' Spencer. You are staying with me for the time being, all right?" Seeing his brother's mouth already flapping, Philip cuts him off: "You aren't enrolled in school for the fall, so you can't live on campus--and I'm not sure where else you expect to live, considering that you have no income whatsoever."

Spencer's face hardens as he stares at Philip, taking in the uncompromising reality of the situation. Finally he lets out a loud huff.

"This is so unfair."

"Life isn't always fair," Philip says as he locates his keys on the dark granite kitchen counter. "It's time you got used to that. Now are you going to come with me, or are you leaving it up to me to pick out a bed for you?"


Diane watches Keith react. Though he manages to keep his expression mostly blank, he takes half a step to the side and, in the process, bumps into the cardboard box on the floor and nearly loses his balance.

"You threatening me?" he says as he steadies himself.

"I have nothing to threaten you about," she says. "I'm just saying: isn't it better for me to be in the loop so I don't accidentally tell someone the wrong thing or screw something up?"

She can see Keith's gears turning--not that there are that many of them, she's sure--until he lets out a sigh and looks her in the eye.

"It isn't even a big deal," he says. "I have this side business--real estate stuff--and it's cleaner to pass some of the money through here than to, you know, claim it as personal income."

Diane decides to bite her tongue. Money laundering? Tax evasion? Probably… and he probably doesn't even know what he is actually doing.

"Hey, that's your business," Diane says. "Just leave me out of it and let me do my job and I'll keep my mouth shut."

"Then work that register and don't ask questions," Keith says. "Got it?"

"Got it." 

He levels another stare at her. "Good."

Diane suppresses the urge to laugh in his face. She recognizes his weaselly tough guy act far too well from all her years of being a female executive, and she isn't threatened in the least. But that doesn't exactly squash her concerns, either; Keith is probably committing crimes he doesn't even realize are crimes, and she'll be damned if she's going to get caught in the middle of that mess.


With intense focus, Travis navigates expertly through the vehicles that swim--or dart, rather--from lane to lane. He pulls his Honda Civic up in front of the main terminal, which serves all the commercial flights that come in and out of the regional airport.

"Guess this is it," he says to Elly, who is undoing her seatbelt.

"Two weeks," she says. "That's not long at all."

Travis shrugs and opens his door. He goes to the trunk and pulls out Elly's suitcase. She comes around from the passenger side, her purse slung over her shoulder.

"I'm still gonna miss you," he says. "Even if it is only two weeks."

"I'll miss you, too. But we'll text and call and stuff. And it's going to be really nice to spend some time with my mom and dad."

  Travis Fisher

Travis takes that in. He closes the trunk and then turns back to her. "It's crazy how you just say it like that. Like it's nothing at all."

"Say what?" But she realizes before she finishes the question. "Because they are my mom and dad. Danielle and Jimmy are my parents, too, but Mom and Dad are--that's who they are." She reaches for Travis's hands. "You'll get there, too."

He doesn't really want to talk about it now; this isn't what their goodbye is supposed to be about.

"Thanks for taking care of my drunk ass this morning," he says with a smile.

"Happy to do it. Just don't make it a habit, okay?"


They share a goodbye kiss, one that deepens until it is abruptly cut off by the honking of a horn.

"I think that's my cue," Elly says. She pulls out the handle of the rolling suitcase. "Thanks for dropping me off--and for taking my thing to the post office. That helped so much."

"Not a problem. Have a good flight, okay? Text me when you land."

"I will. I love you."

"Love you, too."

They steal one more peck, and then Elly heads for the terminal doors. Travis hurries back around to the driver's side and hops in the car. He makes it into his seat just in time for the person behind him to honk again. He reaches under his seat for something, and once he feels it between his fingers, he pulls away from the curb and drives toward the airport exit.

He is at the end of the short loop, away from traffic, when he sees something and decides to pull over. Again he reaches down. This time, he takes the item out from under his seat and then gets out of the car. He leaves it idling as he hurries over to the trashcan on the sidewalk.

He takes a final glance down at the envelope, Elly's neat handwriting on its face, and then holds his breath as he drops it into the trashcan.

Quickly he returns to his car and pulls out of the airport, trying not to think about what he has just done.


What is Travis up to?
Will staying in King's Bay be good for Spencer?
What should Diane do about the bookstore?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to talk about all this and more!

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

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