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- Trevor and Liam moved ahead with plans for their wedding, while Trevor became aware of Alex's new relationship with Molly's assistant, Cameron.
- Samantha was furious at her mother after she learned that Diane had gotten pregnant with Ryan's baby and kept the news from everyone, even after miscarrying.
- Philip paid off Spencer's gambling debt and hired Spencer as his photography assistant so that Spencer could work off the "loan." 


The studio sits in a business park toward the western end of King's Bay, one of many unassuming, flat gray boxes amidst a sprawl of parking lots and uniform lawns. Philip Ragan has seen plenty of more inspiring settings for a photoshoot during his career, but he has also done enough work for Objection Designs to know that this is as good as it gets without trekking all the way to Seattle.

"I thought you didn't like to do 'commercial' stuff like this," Spencer Ragan says as he trails his older brother into the building. He has Philip's camera bag slung over his shoulder and carries a second, smaller equipment bag in his left hand. "I remember when you were, like, flying over St. Tropez in helicopters and shit."

"I make an exception for Molly's company," Philip says, almost wincing at the words. He knows he is inviting some kind of mocking or chiding, and sure enough, Spencer delivers.

"If that doesn't make you whipped, I don't know what does." Spencer makes the sound of a whip cracking, which resonates through the cavernous space. The crew is already gathered; a white backdrop and lighting equipment have been set up; and a craft service table sits against a far wall. Innumerable wardrobe racks, flanked by a flurry of busy designers, fill out the space. 

Molly Taylor approaches them. She wears a black pencil skirt and a shiny, ice-blue blouse, and her dark, straight hair falls over her shoulders. 

"Hello there," she says after greeting Philip with a kiss. "And Spencer -- thanks for coming to help out."

Philip sees the eye roll coming before Spencer even does it.

"Not like I had much choice," he says, practically beaming ire in Philip's direction.

  Spencer Ragan

A tall, handsome man in a heather gray sweater strides up behind Molly. 

"I can't thank you enough for doing this," Trevor Brooks says as he extends a hand to Philip. "The photographer who shot our last lookbook was…" He glances to Molly, who acknowledges the ordeal with a pair of widened eyes.

Philip shakes Trevor's hand. "Of course. This is my brother, Spencer. He's going to be helping me out today."

"Nice to meet you," Trevor says, offering Spencer a shake. Spencer accepts without any huffing or puffing, much to Philip's relief.

Spotting a small table, Philip steers Spencer toward it. "Let's set you up over here," he says, and they begin to unpack the equipment. Philip can feel the aggression radiating off Spencer and tries to ignore it. 

"You're going to be in charge of the memory sticks," Philip says. "I'm going to go through quite a few of these over the course of the shoot. Do you see these numbers printed on them?" He holds up one of the small cards.


"When I finish with one, I'd like you to download the pictures onto my laptop and then create a little spreadsheet logging which outfits were covered on which memory stick." Philip rifles for a sheet of paper, kept crisp in one of his folders. He hands it to Spencer. "I'm going to shoot them in this order, so it's just a matter of tracking how many I get through on a given memory stick."

"Got it," Spencer says, though his gaze has wandered over toward one of the models, a tall blonde who is in the midst of changing tops without much regard for modesty at all, other than turning her back to most of the room.

Philip pats him on the shoulder. "Enjoy the view as much as you like. Just keep track of the memory sticks, and you'll save me a lot of grief later."

Spencer takes a seat in the folding chair behind the table. "I'm on it." He begins setting up the laptop, even as his attention flickers back toward the model as she slips a form-fitting t-shirt over her head. 

If that's what it takes to keep him engaged, then fine, Philip thinks as he goes to consult with the lighting director. 

Vision Publishing

Tim Fisher lets go of the pages, and they slap against the desk with a satisfying thwack.

"It's in really good shape," he says to the two men seated across the conference table from him. 

Alex Marshall exhales loudly, and as he does, a smile breaks out across his face, as if it has been constrained for days and has only now been cut free. "I am so relieved to hear that. We thought we were on the right track…"

"…but you sort of never know, especially at this stage," Liam Cassel finishes in his lilting British accent. "Selfishly, I'm just thrilled to have this draft off my plate before the wedding."

"I don't blame you." Tim notices a smudge on the table's slick white surface and uses his sleeve to wipe it away. "Honestly, those are the only notes I have for you guys. I think it's ready to go to producers. Great work, both of you."

"I couldn't have done it without him," Alex says. "Seriously. I had no idea what I was doing."

Liam waves that concern away with a flick of his hand. "You're an excellent writer. It's just a matter of navigating a new form."

"Well, it's working," Tim says. He sees Clarissa, a 20-something redhead from his department, appear on the other side of the glass wall. She hesitates, and Tim motions for her to come in.

Clarissa opens the door just enough to poke her head inside. "Mr. Ellis just called back. I have him on hold. Do you want to take it, or…?"

Tim springs to his feet. "I'll take it. Guys, those are all my notes, but I'd like to talk about producers, if you can wait a few minutes."

Alex and Liam trade a quick look.

"Sure," Alex says. "Go ahead."

"Thanks." Tim hurries to follow Clarissa from the room.

The door closes, sealing the two writers in the room together. Silence fills the space. It is a strange feeling to Alex, one he would not have expected or predicted. They usually have plenty to discuss, but they usually meet with deadlines looming over them and pages upon pages of work before them. With this temporary stopping point upon them, Alex is much more aware of the underlying tension, and he wonders if Liam notices it, too.

Of course he doesn't, because he doesn't know the entire story.

"I'm so relieved," Alex says lamely, needing to fill the space somehow. 

Liam swivels toward him in his chair. "Same. I was hoping I wouldn't have another revision dangling over my head during the week of the wedding…"

He trails off in a way that pricks something within Alex, especially given the final word of Liam's statement.

"I wasn't sure if I should ask," Liam says, "but I feel silly letting this linger."

Alex's body tenses, and his breathing slows to a crawl.

"We haven't received your RSVP for the wedding. I'm sure it must be somewhat awkward for you, considering your past with Trevor--"

Alex shakes his head. "It isn't that. It's fine. Seriously."

Liam smiles. "Oh. Well, then. You'll be coming to the wedding?"

Alex swallows hard, fairly certain that there is no positive outcome to any answer he might give.


The roar of the vacuum cleaner has become something of a pleasant sound to Diane Bishop these days. It used to drive her mad, to the point where she made a point of not being at home when the cleaning lady came. She found the loud racket of the vacuum overtook all her other thoughts, made it impossible to do so much as read an article in the newspaper.

These days, though, there is a certain comfort in that. It's straightforward and simple: the noise starts up, the carpet gets cleaned, and something useful has been done. The cleaning lady was one of the first expenses that she chopped after being fired from Vision, and she has grown accustomed -- well, almost -- to doing housework herself. The place has not degenerated into squalor yet, so she considers that a victory.

She is lost in that whirring, the back-and-forth motion, and the neat lines in the carpet when, all of a sudden, she hears a key in the lock. She pauses, the vacuum still sounding its now-aimless anthem, as her daughter opens the door and peeks inside.

"Hey," Diane says, seeing that Samantha is frozen in place. She turns off the vacuum. 

"Hey." Sam slips through the door and closes it. "I thought you'd be at work."

"We're opening a little later today. Everything okay?"

"Yeah. I needed to get some stuff to bring to campus. The dorms open today."


They stand there in a silent face-off. They have not spoken since Samantha ran out the other day, stunned after overhearing that Diane had been pregnant with Ryan's baby. The most Diane has received from her since is a text message stating that she would be staying at her father's. Tim has reassured Diane that Samantha seems fine, but that doesn't make it any easier for Diane to know that her daughter's faith in her has been shaken yet again.

Diane steps out from behind the vacuum. "I just want to say, again, that I am sorry you had to hear what you did in the way that you heard it."

"It's okay."

"It isn't okay. I should have trusted you enough to confide in you about it. Just believe me when I say that I was worried about burdening you, or that you'd think of me as even more of a screw-up."

Samantha nods, seeming to understand, maybe even accept, what Diane is saying.

"No one was ever going to know," Diane says. "I lost the baby before I told anyone. But then your aunt found out, and she blabbed to Ryan, and the horse was out of the gate."

"Were you going to have the baby?"

Diane hesitates. "In the spirit of honesty: I don't know. I am certainly in no position to have another kid, especially a newborn, right now. But it all happened so quickly that I never got to make that decision."

Another nod.

"I'm sorry that I let you down," Diane says. "I'm trying. I'm going to keep trying, even harder. Okay?"

The pause that ensues probably only lasts two seconds, but it feels to Diane as if it takes ten days.

"Okay," Samantha says, and she takes a few steps to close the gap between them. As soon as she is within reach, Diane reaches out to pull her in. 

"I need you around to keep me accountable like this," she says as her daughter leans into her. "You are the best thing that has ever happened to me."


Most of the attention in the studio is turned toward the shooting area, where a statuesque model is working her way through a series of poses while clad in one of the outfits that Molly and Trevor hand-selected. Cameron Kelley gingerly maneuvers his way through the lighting techs and grips until he reaches the front, where his boss stands intently watching Philip snap photos.

"One non-fat pumpkin spice latte," Cameron whispers as he hands Molly the cup.

"You are a life-saver," she says quietly. "Thank you."

"You're welcome." 

Trevor stands near the wardrobe racks, consulting with the designers on a pair of pants that are not matching as well with a top in reality as they all imagined they would. As Trevor finishes up the confab, he spots Cameron moving toward the back of the crowd and follows him.

"Hey," Trevor says, careful to keep his voice hushed. "Would you be able to get in touch with Rebecca at the office and let her know that we're swapping out the pink tunic for the blue one? The pink is not working with that print the way we were hoping--"

"I'll take care of it. I know she kept insisting on the pink the other day in the meeting."

"Yeah, and it looks terrible."

"I'll handle her."

  Trevor Brooks

"Thanks, Cameron." Trevor folds his arms, and they settle in to watch the shoot for a few quiet moments. "So, uh… you and Alex are seeing each other, huh?"

Turning slightly, Trevor sees Cameron regard him with an instant of confusion, perhaps even suspicion. 

"Yeah, we are. Molly and her brother kept wanting us to meet, and when we finally did… we just hit it off."

"That's good. I'm glad. And he's an amazing writer."

"I know. I had read his books before we met. I probably drove him nuts with questions on our first date." 

Part of Trevor wonders if he shouldn't be pursuing this conversation at all, but he does care about Alex, and if Alex can work with Trevor's fiancé, surely Trevor can at least make an effort to be nice to the guy Alex is dating.

"Will you be at the wedding?" Trevor asks.

Cameron scrunches up his face. "Wedding?"

"Mine. We invited Alex with a plus-one…" The statement dies on Trevor's lips, and he scrambles. "He hasn't even RSVPd yet. I just thought it'd be nice if he brought you--since we sort of work together, and--"

"If he wants me to be his date, I guess he'll ask," Cameron says, with what Trevor is fairly sure is false bravado, though Cameron makes a pretty good show of it. "I probably shouldn't force the issue, especially considering…"

"Considering what?"

"He told me all about you guys. All the… history and stuff. I'm sure it's pretty complicated for him."

Trevor nods along. "Yeah. I'm sure it is." He doesn't know what else to say, so he adds, "We'd love to have you there if things work out that way."

"Maybe it will," Cameron says, with a hint of a grin that Trevor can't quite read.

"Well, thanks for your help," Trevor says, and he steps away, feeling the awkwardness trailing him like a cloud of napalm.


"Come forward about six inches," Philip says to the model, who is perched on precariously high stiletto heels that no retail employee would ever wear to work. "That's great." He continues snapping away for a few seconds before the camera gives him a familiar alert.

"Memory card, please!" he calls as he removes the current one. A few seconds pass before he thinks to look toward the table where Spencer is stationed--or is supposed to be stationed. There is no memory card incoming, and there is no sign of his brother.

With a sigh, Philip says as calmly as he can manage, "Take five, everyone." He sets down the camera and goes stomping through the studio as the rest of the personnel mill around, confused by the sudden break.

He finds Spencer in the wardrobe area, leaning against a cement wall and laughing as he talks with the blonde model he was eyeing earlier, now wearing a pair of tiny shorts that bring all the focus to her impossibly long, toned legs.

"Spencer," Philip barks as he comes up behind the younger man. "I need another memory card."

Spencer turns with a jolt. "Oh. Hey. Sorry. I, uh--I can grab that."

"Yes. You can." Philip offers a passing smile to the model. "I'm sorry. I need him."

He leads Spencer back toward the table, talking through clenched teeth and keeping his voice down in hopes of maintaining some semblance of decency.

"You're supposed to be working," Philip says.

"I am! Sorry, bro. I'll get your card. It's not that big a deal."

"You are working. Working because you racked up an impossible debt that I had to cover for you. You are not here to meet girls."

"She's a model!"

"I don't care if she's Heidi Klum--"

"More like Kate Upton. You just don't want me to have any fun." 

"Spencer! You have a job. And you are going to take it seriously. I am tired of bailing you out. I am tired of not being able to take my eyes off you for more than ten seconds, because every time I do, you get yourself into some mess--"

"You know what? Then don't bother." Spencer whips around. "Use my trust to pay yourself back for the loan, like I told you to do. I'm outta here."

"You are not--"

Philip becomes aware of people watching them and cuts himself off. It is no matter: Spencer is already on his way out of the studio. Philip senses someone closing in on him and finds Molly by his side.

"What happened?" she asks.

He shakes his head. "Exactly what I should have expected, to be honest."


Alex suddenly feels that the conference room is actually an oxygen-deprivation chamber. He hadn't expected that he would have to answer Liam so directly about the wedding, and he finds himself grasping for whatever words he can get a tenuous handle on.

"I understand if you aren't comfortable," Liam says, "given your previous relationship with Trevor and everything. But I thought it was appropriate to invite you."

"It was very nice of you. Both of you." Alex stares at the conference table for a few seconds. "And it isn't uncomfortable at all. Of course I'll be there."


"Definitely." Alex's stomach drops even as he attempts to present a totally different facade. "It's an important day for both of you, and you're both my friends."

"Thank you," Liam says. "I'm glad we've had the opportunity to work together and become friends."


Alex wants to bolt, but he is stuck sitting here, putting on a happy face and dreading what the wedding will be like. It doesn't have to be a big deal, he knows that, but it will be. It will be. Trevor is marrying someone else. 

"He hung up because it took too long to put the call together," Tim says, the shadows of a barely suppressed eye roll coloring his words. "Now where were we?"

"Would you mind if I used the restroom for a moment?" Liam says, already standing. 

"Go right ahead."

Liam exits, and Alex notices Tim studying his face.

"What's the matter?" Tim asks. "Did something happen while I was gone?"

"No. I, um… Liam just asked if I'd be at his and Trevor's wedding."

"And you said no?"

"I said yes. Hence the…" He waves a hand in front of his face to indicate his coloring or his expression or whatever it is that's giving him away to Tim. 

"You're a brave man," Tim says.

"You would think." Alex lets out a loud sigh and allows his weight to fall back in the chair. "You would think."


Will Alex be able to make it through the wedding?
Will things be okay between Diane and Samantha?
What should Philip do about Spencer now?
Discuss all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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Tues., October 01, 2013

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