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- Alex agreed to attend Trevor and Liam's wedding, despite his discomfort over seeing his ex marry another man.
- Claire and Brent, still haunted by the night when Claire made a move and Brent rejected her, had an incredibly awkward run-in.
- After a blow-up with Philip, Spencer went to Tim and asked for a job at Vision Publishing in order to work off his debt to Philip.

Harbor Boulevard

"Here's to Trevor and Liam! Forever!"

Patrick Brooks's voice rings through the restaurant, followed by the celebratory clanging of champagne glasses. The crowd for the rehearsal dinner is small--just family members and the wedding party--but their excitement and enthusiasm fill up the large space.

"What a wonderful night," Roz Brooks says as she floats up beside her son. "The wedding is going to be even better."

"We certainly hope so," Liam Cassel says. He places a hand on the small of Trevor's back and rubs in a circular motion.

"Your family is so nice," Roz tells Liam.

He smiles in return. "They feel the same about all of you. Speaking of which…" He tips his head to indicate his mother, who is beckoning him from the other side of the long table. "I'm going to see what she's on about. I'll be back."

He gives Trevor a final pat on the back and hurries off.

"We're so proud of you," Roz says to Trevor. "I hope you know that."

"I do. Thanks." He takes a deep breath and then feels the need to loosen his tie and collar. For a moment, he feels released and unconstrained. 

"I really appreciate everything you and Dad have done," he says, taking in the remains of the lavish meal and the happy people circulating about. 

"It's our pleasure. We want you to be happy."

"It means a lot. There was a time when I wasn't sure…"

  Trevor Brooks

She cuts him off: "There was an adjustment period. And we made it. You deserve happiness. And if Liam is what makes you happy, then I, for one, am thrilled."

She pulls him into a hug, her body a little loose from the white wine she has been imbibing all night. Trevor returns the gesture, all the while staring over her shoulder and taking in the scene around him.

His father's words ring in his head: "Here's to Trevor and Liam! Forever!"



Tim Fisher is perched at the bar of the upscale restaurant, a tumbler of scotch resting before him on the white marble countertop. He holds his cell phone in one hand, scrolling through a lengthy and overly detailed work e-mail that he lacks the focus to comprehend right now. As his eyes flicker to the time on the phone yet again, he feels a presence beside him.

"I'm sorry for keeping you waiting," Philip Ragan says.

"No worries. I know this was kind of last-minute."

The two men shake hands, and Philip settles into the high-backed bar chair beside Tim. He signals to the bartender and places his order. As the bartender moves around behind the bar, Philip turns to Tim.

"This is about Spencer, I gather," Philip says.

"Yeah. He came to see me last night."

"Then I suppose he told you about our argument. I haven't seen him since he stormed out of my loft. He texted me that he was--" Philip applies air quotes to the next part. "--'crashing' with one of his fraternity brothers."

"I offered to let him stay at my house," Tim says, "because Travis was going to spend the night at the dorm, but…" He shakes his head. "He just said he had it under control."

The bartender sets a martini with two olives on the bar in front of Philip, who quickly thanks him.

"It's promising that he came to see you, no?" Philip says as he picks up the delicate glass.

"I think so. I mean, yeah. It's the first instance of him reaching out at all since we all found out."

"I hope you won't think any less of me for admitting this, but I am at my wit's end. I have no control of him. He's…" Philip takes a sip of the martini while he gathers his words. "He's so incredibly entitled, and he wants to believe that he's invincible, and I worry that if he keeps going like this…"

"Believe me. I understand." Tim picks up his own drink. "And I wouldn't even begin to think less of you for that. I've raised two teenagers. It's impossible. And you didn't even have the early years to ease into it."

Philip shrugs and then lets out a troubled sigh.

"Anyway, I didn't ask you to meet me just to tell you that Spencer came to see me," Tim says. "He explained that you've been making him work off his debt."

"Which has gone so well."

"That's the thing. It doesn't sound like either of you is particularly thrilled with him working as your assistant."

"I'd be thrilled if he even attempted to do what I asked."

Tim offers a sympathetic nod. "Spencer asked if he could work at Vision again, like when he interned for me. I wanted to discuss it with you before I gave him an answer."

"Oh." Philip sits up straighter, taking in the news. "Do you have a position for him?"

"I did a little investigating today. There's something in the mail room. It isn't the most glamorous, but if he's willing to give it a shot…"

"Then please, yes, offer it to him. I want him to be working, to be doing productive things with his life. If that's more readily accomplished by working in your office than assisting me at shoots, that's fine."

"Great. Let's hope he tries a little harder at Vision than he did at that photo shoot."

"He told you about what happened?"

"I mean, I got his version of the story," Tim says. "I'm sure the truth has some significant differences."

"I'm sure. But that's no matter." Philip lifts his glass, indicating that Tim should do the same.

"Thank you, Tim," he says as they clink glasses. "May this work out for everyone." 


The sound of the doorbell catches Alex Marshall off-guard, both because of the late hour and because they so rarely have visitors drop by unannounced. He is sitting at the dining room table, his laptop open in front of him as he tries to write (which mostly involves reading Wikipedia articles and checking Facebook), and he is all too eager to leap out of his seat and head for the foyer.

"I've got it!" he calls out toward the living room, where he can hear the sound of whatever movie Jason and Sophie are watching.

The sight that greets him when he opens the door is unexpected, to say the least.

"Is Jason home?" Trevor asks. He wears a light blue button-down shirt with the top button undone and a slate gray tie with its knot loosened considerably.

"Um, yeah. Do you need to see him?"

"No. You. I…" There is a wild energy in Trevor's eyes, a frantic electricity radiating off his being. 

Alex steps outside and closes the door behind himself. The night air has a sharp bite to it; the unmistakable chill of fall has swept in and eradicated the last traces of summer. He pulls his cardigan closer around his body.

"What's going on?" Alex asks.

"We just had the rehearsal dinner. I'm…" The rest of the thought disappears into the air.

"You're what?"

"I don't know."

 A sinking feeling overtakes Alex. He already knows where this is going, but he doesn't want to allow himself to think it.

"I'm supposed to be marrying Liam," Trevor says. "Tomorrow. And all I can think about is how I screwed up--with you, with us. I spent all that time away to get, I don't know, perspective or something, and then I fucked it all up the first night I was back in town."

"I told you, that's in the past. It's done. I've forgiven you. Forgive yourself."

Trevor nods, though his eyes belie that. 

"I just…" Trevor clamps his hands behind his head and ruffles his own hair. "I never should have left you in the first place."

There it is. The statement--so simple, but so weighty--lands between them like a meteor striking Earth, blowing apart whatever illusion of stability Alex thought they had achieved.

"What are you saying?" Alex asks.

Trevor drops his hands and looks Alex straight in the eyes. "I want to know--I need to know--if there's still a chance for us." 


"That was Josh," Brent Taylor says as he sets his phone down on the coffee table. "The rehearsal dinner is over, and they're taking the baby over to Lauren's parents'. They should be here in 40 minutes or so."

"Perfect," his sister says, her legs curled up beneath her in the plush armchair across from Brent. "Does it still seem crazy to you that Josh has a child?"

"Every day. All the time." Brent reclines on the deep sofa, its pillows still strewn all over thanks to the twins. "I'm barely accustomed to the fact that I have them--and I'm not Josh."

"No kidding." Danielle plucks a tortilla chip from the bowl on the table. "It was nice of Trevor to invite us to the wedding, though. We barely count as family…"

"We're family. Just…" He does the math in his head. "Sort of. But yeah. It was nice."

He drifts off in thought as he takes a sip from his bottle of beer.

"Are you going to be okay seeing Molly there?" Danielle asks.

  Brent Taylor

Brent sets the bottle down on the table--a little too forcefully, he realizes. "Yeah. Of course. It's fine." He tries to wave it away like a puff of smoke in the air. "We talk all the time because of the kids. It's not like…"

He doesn't even know how he was going to finish that, so he just lets it float away.

"It still can't be easy," Danielle says. "Especially because I'm sure she'll be with Philip."

Brent throws her a knowing grin. "You don't have to play that 'I'm sure' game with me. You live in her house. You know."

"Well, yeah."

"Does she seem happy?" The question falls out of his mouth before he can stop it, but as soon as it does, he rushes to cover it up. "Of course she is. Does. Stupid question."

"Not a stupid question. She's the mother of your kids, and…" Now it is Danielle's turn to trail off, but Brent understands the part that goes unspoken. "But yeah. Honestly, she does."

"Good." It still feels like a punch to his gut, but it's also good to hear. He has no idea how to reconcile those dueling emotions. 

"You should be bringing a date," Danielle says, unfolding her legs and stretching out. 

Brent shakes his head. "I am not even close to that yet."

She tilts her head thoughtfully. "How about Claire? You guys seemed… close for a while. She came to Thanksgiving!"

"Yeah, as a friend."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes!" He knows he answers a little too quickly, a little too insistently, but it just comes out that way. 

"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.

Brent's heart thumps against his chest. It has been so long. Too long. Somewhere in his brain, the thought is circulating that this is a bad idea--they are friends, practically family--but that voice is rapidly being quieted by the other feelings overtaking him.

Her hand drops down. Rests on his leg. He tenses up as he feels it tracing downward, toward his knee, toward…

"We can't do this," he says abruptly.

Brent yanks himself out of the memory. Maybe he shouldn't have been so self-conscious. But he hasn't been with anyone besides Molly since he lost his leg. And maybe it was for the best, anyway. He has already been married to two of the Fishers' daughters. To start something up with Claire would be…

"Are you okay?" Danielle asks.

"I'm fine."

He tries to focus on the TV and avoid her gaze, which is like a tractor beam.

"So there's nothing with you and Claire," she says.

"Nothing," Brent says. "I swear."


Alex doesn't even know what to say. He spent so much time resenting Trevor for being with Liam instead of with him, and he finally let that go… and now Trevor is standing in front of him, the night before his wedding to Liam, asking if there's a chance for them?

"You're marrying Liam," he says flatly.

Trevor's mouth flaps open, but no words come out. 

"You have cold feet," Alex says. "That's all." It kills him a little to say it, but he knows that he has to.

"It's not cold feet. It's… I thought I could move on. I thought I had moved on. But now…"

Suddenly Alex finds it difficult to breathe. He sucks in a big gulp of the cool night air.

"If you don't want to marry Liam, you shouldn't," he says.

Trevor drops his head. "I don't think I should."

"Then don't. In the long run, that will be better for everyone, even if it's painful now."

"Yeah. You're right."

Slowly Trevor looks up. There is a hope in his eyes, a sparkle, and Alex feels himself being pulled into it.

The next few words are some of the most difficult he has ever spoken:

"But you should call off the wedding because you don't think it's right to marry Liam--not because of me."

"It's kind of all wound up together," Trevor says.

"It shouldn't be." Alex can't even make eye contact now; he stares off into the yard, at an oak tree silhouetted by a street light. "You and I--we can't be together. Not now."


"Liam is my friend. I can't do that to him. And after all you and I have been through…" He shakes his head, as if preemptively shutting down the protest that he knows is coming. "I can't do it. I won't."


"I'm sorry, Trevor." Alex reaches behind himself and opens the door. "You should go."

"Did you not hear what I said?" Trevor asks. He looks crestfallen, and a far-too-large part of Alex wants to take him in his arms and make that go away.

"I heard. I just… I think you should handle your situation with Liam."

Trevor lingers there, as if he might be able to wait this out.

"Good luck," Alex says, and he disappears back inside the house. He closes the door but waits there with his fingers upon the handle, daring him to rush back out and tell Trevor that he wants to be with him.

But he doesn't.


Was Alex right to shut Trevor down?
Will Spencer do a better job for Tim than for Philip?
Should Brent give Claire another chance?
Talk about all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

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