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- A man named Wade came into the bookstore and threatened Diane over a discrepancy in the bank deposits. Diane insisted she had no idea what was going on. 
- Elly heard other students talking about their acceptance to the study abroad program and worried that she hadn't gotten in. Travis was nervous that she'd discover that he threw her application in the trash instead of mailing it. 
- After Trevor called off their wedding, Liam announced that he would be going back to England with his family for a little while. 


Samantha Fisher lies on her stomach on top of her bed, her Environmental Science textbook open before her. Normally she doesn't struggle with reading for class, but today's assignment seems especially dry, and the numbers keep jumbling together and forcing her to glance back in the text to reorient herself. She is about to give up and simply kill time until her work-study shift when there is a knock at the door.

She pulls herself off the bed, takes a second or two to straighten out the comforter, and then answers the door. Her brother stands there in a black hoodie and gray sweatpants, a Seahawks cap pulled over his shaggier-than-normal dark blond hair.

"You have a sec?" Travis Fisher asks.

"Yeah, come in." Samantha watches him as he does so. "Is something the matter?"

"No." His eyes belie his answer, though. "Just something I was thinking about."

"You could've texted."

"I know. I was on my way to the Rec Center, though, and I figured…" He paces a few steps back and forth over the thin, gray carpet. "You know how you said you could maybe look to see what the status of Elly's study abroad thing was?"

The gears in Samantha's head churn faster, trying to figure out where this is going. "Yeah…?"

"I don't think that's such a good idea."


  Samantha Fisher

"Because." He does some more pacing.

"Travis. What's going on?"

"Okay, I need to tell you something," he says. He drops down onto Elly's bed. 

"You're scaring me," Samantha says.

"It's not that bad. Just…" He pulls off the cap and tries to straighten out his hair, to no real effect. "Elly asked me to put the application in the mail for her, and I'm worried that if it never made it in or something, she's gonna blame me."

"Why would she blame you?"

"I don't know. Because it's important to her and she asked me to do it."

"Do you really trust the Postal Service that little?"

"Kind of," he says. 

Samantha watches him for a few more seconds. He seems genuinely concerned about this--more so than he needs to be, certainly. 

"Don't worry about it," she says. "I'm sure it made it in, anyway. I'm just worried she didn't get in, and that's why she hasn't heard yet."

Travis's response is delayed by just a second. "Yeah, me too."

She can't stand to see him looking so nervous, though. "I won't say anything, okay?" she offers.

"Cool. Thank you." He pulls the cap back over his hair. "I really appreciate it, Sam."

Cassie's Coffee House

The coffee shop is even busier than usual, as the autumn cold and rain have officially driven the residents of King's Bay indoors for the next few months. Elly Vanderbilt managed to secure a table by the back wall of the large main room, and she sits at it with her biological parents across from her in mismatched, kitschy wooden chairs.

"I just hope I hear soon," Elly says, her small hands encircling the ceramic mug in front of her. "Those two girls in class got their acceptance letters, and a guy on our floor got one saying he didn't get in…"

"You're gonna get in," Jimmy Trask says with a forcefully confident smile.

Elly wishes she shared his unwavering positivity. "I hope so."

"I'm sure it would be an amazing opportunity," Danielle Taylor says, "but the thought of you being gone for four months… It makes me kind of sad."

"It's four months, not forever," Elly says.

"Yeah," Jimmy pipes in.

"I know, I know." Danielle sighs and plasters a grin on her face. "And then who knows where you'll be off to after graduation? It's just gone by so fast, that's all."

"You're telling me," Elly says. "I can't believe my thesis is going to be done in a few months, either. I can't believe I'm even writing a thesis."

"I wouldn't even know where to start with something like that," Jimmy says.

Elly raises her eyebrows. "I'm not sure I know, either. Just when I think I've got the hang of 'desirable, ideal, and actual self-presentation in social media for college students,' my advisor has some new thought that turns the whole thing on its head."

Jimmy leans back in his chair and shakes his head. "How the hell did I wind up with such a smart kid?"

"Give my genes some credit!" Danielle says with a laugh.

As Elly watches them, she wishes she could freeze this moment. There was a time, only a few years ago, when the concept of family seemed ruined to her. Learning that Tom and Melanie weren't her biological parents was disorienting enough, and then finding out that Danielle had been masquerading as her godmother and that there was a man out there whom she'd never met who was actually her father… it was all too much. But now here she sits, having coffee with the two of them, talking and laughing and enjoying themselves--not quite the type of family she grew up knowing, but a new kind. A nice kind.

"Speaking of, I need to get back to campus," Elly says. She finishes her tea and grabs her purse. "I have to meet with my advisor. And maybe there'll be a letter in my mailbox…"

"Don't stress yourself out," Danielle says. "If you get in, it'll be great. And if not, you can travel after graduation."

"You're gonna have an awesome time either way," Jimmy adds. "You have gotta get to Amsterdam. It's mind-blowing."

"I'm going to try," Elly says as she stands. "I'll see you guys soon, okay? Have a good night."

"Thanks," both Danielle and Jimmy say, not quite in unison. Elly rounds the table to give each of them a quick, stooped-over hug, and then she hurries out of the coffee house.


"I feel so bad for Liam," Cameron Kelley says as he pushes back his stool and stands up. 

Alex Marshall rests his elbows on the countertop, which is covered with the remains of the takeout they just finished eating. "I know. Going back home and being with his family for a little while will be good for him, I hope."

"Yeah." Cameron stacks Alex's dirty plate on top of his and carries them around the counter into the small galley kitchen. "It just sucks. You have no idea why Trevor called it off at the last minute?"

Alex gulps down the last of his red wine. "I'm guessing because he didn't think marrying Liam was the best choice."

Cameron places the dishes in the sink and turns on the faucet. "Yeah, but you'd think he would have known that before."

"You'd think." 

Cameron rinses the two plates, while Alex gathers the Thai food containers. He takes two empty ones to the trashcan.

"Well, it sucks," Cameron says as he turns off the water. He looks up at the green digits on the microwave. "Crap, I need to jump in the shower in a second."

Alex clutches his stomach in mock anguish. "I can't believe you're going out after all that food."

"I know, but I promised Avery I wouldn't flake. Besides, it'll be fun." Cameron slides up behind Alex and snakes his arms around his waist. "Why don't you come? We're just gonna have a few drinks, maybe do a little dancing…"

"The most exciting thing I'm doing tonight is watching TV on the couch."

"You never want to hang out with my friends."

"It has nothing to do with your friends," Alex says. 

Cameron's lips set into what looks dangerously like a pout, and Alex feels a flare of annoyance inside himself. 

"I know you don't like Avery," Cameron says. "Or Brad. But come on… we'll have fun. I want you to be there."

"I'm just not in the mood to go out--or do anything, really." 

"Are you sure about that?" Cameron asks, as his lips touch down on Alex's neck.

Alex exhales. The contact feels wonderful. "Pretty sure."

"Think about how hot it'd be to dance together… get sweaty…" Cameron's fingers quickly undo Alex's belt. Alex makes no attempt to stop him, even as Cameron unsnaps his jeans.

"I'm thinking about it."

Cameron's hand slips down Alex's stomach and beneath the waistband of his boxer briefs. 

"I thought you had to shower," Alex says, closing his eyes as he enjoys the touch of Cameron's fingers.

"You should join me, at least."

Alex leans back into Cameron. "I think I can do that."

"Good," Cameron whispers against Alex's neck.


On the third floor of the Student Center, Samantha sits in front of a computer, inputting data from the file folder beside her. She has only been at it for fifteen minutes or so, but the task has already grown monotonous. She tries to motivate herself with a reminder that this menial job goes a long way toward offsetting her tuition.

She slogs mindlessly through the rest of the information in this particular file, which takes another two songs on the Pat Benatar album she is playing through her headphones. As she closes the file and reaches for another, something that has been percolating in the back of her mind floats to the forefront…

"Okay, I need to tell you something," Travis says. 

"You're scaring me." 

"It's not that bad. Just… Elly asked me to put the application in the mail for her, and I'm worried that if it never made it in or something, she's gonna blame me."

"Why would she blame you?"

"I don't know. Because it's important to her and she asked me to do it."

It hadn't occurred to her that Elly's application might never have made it in at all, but now that Travis raised the concern, it does seem possible. All those other students have heard back, and Elly is a senior with good grades--so she would most likely have gotten in. And the answer is a few keystrokes away.

She knows that she isn't really supposed to peek at other departments' records, but she won't even be viewing anything sensitive or confidential; the access is easy and one sub-menu off the main one. So, after a moment of hesitation, she clicks through.

Her eyes scan down the list of applicants for the spring semester study abroad programs. Brant Tillman… Rachel Tripp… Rebecca Vuong…

No Elly Vanderbilt.

"That's weird," she mutters to herself, the music still coming through her headphones even though it might as well be thousands of miles away now. 


"So how are things going with the bookstore?" Danielle asks, turning to face Jimmy.

He shrugs, and his head rolls to the side, like his neck is too lazy to hold it up. It's the same loose way he has always had about him.

"It's good. Wish business was booming more, you know," he says, "but it's good."

"Dare I ask how Diane is doing?"

"She's fine. She can be kind of a…"

Danielle smirks. "Pain in the ass?"

"Yeah," he says, allowing himself a grin, "but that's kind of a good thing when you have to deal with customers all day."

She picks up her latté and takes a sip. "So you're really staying in King's Bay for a while, huh? You like it?"

  Jimmy Trask

"Guess so. I've got nowhere else to be, you know?" He seems to zone out for a long moment. "And it's cool to be around Elly. Never really thought I'd be doing that. But she's such a good kid--she's got such a good head on her shoulders."

"I know. Tom and Melanie did a very good job. Whenever I get… I don't know, thinking about it all, I just remind myself that allowing them to raise her was the best decision I could've made."

"And we're all here now," Jimmy says.


A lull swims into the conversation. It's been a long time since they chatted casually, just the two of them; they went so many years with no contact at all, and since Jimmy's return to her life, their interactions have mostly been about Elly and logistics. Danielle can hardly remember what it was like to be friends with him--then again, they weren't exactly friends back in the day. 

"How about you?" he asks. "Things good with that guy? Matt?"

"Yeah. I think so. We're taking it… not slowly, but we aren't rushing, that's for sure." She takes the final sip of her latté, savoring the rich combination of coffee and milk. "I guess that's what dating looks like at our age, huh?"

"Maybe." Jimmy doesn't sound as though he agrees, or even understands, but he doesn't offer a counterargument. "It's good to see you happy, Dani."

"You, too." 

All at once, Jimmy scoots out from the table, his wooden chair scraping against the floor, and pops to his feet.

"I should get going," he says. 

Danielle glances at her watch out of habit, though she already knows the time. "Same. Molly has a dinner, so I need to be home with the boys."

They make idle chit-chat about her work watching Caleb and Christian as they walk out of the shop, into the already-dark evening. Outside the front door, they pause, and Danielle indicates her car right in front.

"Take care," Jimmy says. "See you soon."

"Yeah. Have a good night."

"You, too."

Danielle quickly gets into her car, surprised by the nip of the air. She starts the engine and is out of the parking lot within moments. 

Jimmy checks his cell phone as he strolls toward his old Jeep, parked toward the back of the lot. He digs in his pocket for his keys and, eyes still fixed on the phone, puts them in the door to unlock it--but then he feels a hand on his arm. The grip is firm enough to stop him mid-movement.

"Took your time in there, huh?" a man's voice asks.

"Wade?" Jimmy says, turning in confusion. 

The next thing he knows, something is colliding with his face, and he is tumbling to the ground.


What will happen to Jimmy?
Will Diane get involved?
What will Samantha do with her newfound knowledge?
Share your thoughts in the Footprints Forum!

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Wed., Nov. 20, 2013

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