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- Paula reported to Tim that, while paying Claire a visit, she encountered an unfamiliar man in a towel. 
- Molly and Philip got engaged and began making wedding plans. 
- Travis was furious when he found out that Spencer is working for Tim at Vision Publishing. Later, Spencer went to see Samantha and apologized for having been rude to her; he suggested that they try to get together as siblings. 


"Come in!"

Once she hears the call from inside, Molly Taylor grasps the handle of the heavy door and pulls as hard as she can. The door resists for a moment but finally budges, and once she gets it sliding, it opens the rest of the way easily. She steps inside the loft and spots Philip Ragan bent over a trash bag in front of his closet; two other stuffed, tied bags sit a few feet away from him.

"What's going on here?" Molly asks as she sets her purse on the counter.

Philip finishes tying the bag. "Cleaning out my closet. One of those charitable organizations is coming to do pick-ups tomorrow," he explains as he comes toward her. He gives her a quick kiss hello and then pulls the door closed with ease. 

Molly eyes the three overfilled bags. "You're as bad as me with clothes!"

"Not even close." 

"I guess we'll find out once we have to share closet space, won't we?"

  Molly Taylor

Philip raides an eyebrow at her. "I suppose so."

Molly moves to the sleek, stainless steel refrigerator and finds an open bottle of Pinot Grigio in its expected spot. She retrieves a pair of glasses and fills them.

"Is it officially time to start discussing that?" she asks.

"Our living arrangements?"

She hands Philip his glass of wine. "Yeah. I can't imagine we're all going to fit too comfortably in here."

"Absolutely not." He indicates the screened-off area in the corner that has been turned into a makeshift room for Spencer. "The two of us are practically ready to kill one another as it is."

"But you'd be okay moving into my house, wouldn't you?" Molly asks as she slides onto one of the lucite barstools. "That wouldn't be too strange for you?"

"No. It's your home."

"I know. But Brent and I bought it together, so…"

"It's your home. It's the twins' home." Philip takes a sip of his wine. "There is something I've been meaning to discuss with you, though."

Molly waits.

"Have you spoken to Danielle about not continuing on once we're married?" he asks.

The question has been brewing, in a sort of distant way, in Molly's mind since she and Philip began making preparations for their wedding. But she's still a bit tongue-tied now that it has actually come up.

"She's a huge help with the boys," Molly says. 

"She's also your ex-husband's sister, which you have to admit is going to be a little strange."

"Well, yeah…"

"Besides, I don't have a day job, so I can take care of a lot of the shuttling when they're with us. Between Spencer and me--"

"Spencer?" Molly sets her glass down on the counter. "Your brother is not coming to live with us, Philip."

322 Bar & Grill

The restaurant is nearly empty, which is not surprising given the hour: it is halfway between the lunch rush and the influx of dinner patrons. What little late afternoon sunlight the clouds will allow lazes its way through the large front windows, bathing the front section of the restaurant's dark wood interior. Samantha Fisher sits in a booth, trying to keep herself occupied with a game of Words With Friends on her phone even though she keeps glancing at the time and toward the door every few seconds.

The waitress arrives with a smile and a plate of fries, which she sets down on the table. Samantha thanks her and munches on a fry before taking another sip of her soda. She isn't especially hungry, but she wasn't sure if the intention of this meet-up was actually to eat, and she feels bad taking up space in a restaurant--and a server's time--without ordering something.

Another few minutes pass before she glances up once more and sees Spencer Ragan outside the restaurant's window. He pulls the door open, scans the place, and spots her within seconds. 

"Hey," Samantha says with a little wave as he approaches the table.

"Hey." Spencer slips off the navy quilted jacket and sets it in the booth before sliding in himself. He is wearing a light blue dress shirt with the top button loosened. "How are you?"

"Good. I had two classes this morning, so I'm a little fried, you know? And I have a paper to write later. I should have started it already, but--" She realizes that she is rambling and stops herself. "Basically, a lot going on. What about you? How was work?"

He cracks a grin. "Boring. But fine. I had to chase a FedEx truck down the street, so that was cool."

Samantha laughs, even though she isn't sure what she's laughing at. Her whole body feels tense. She knows that she should be happy that Spencer wanted to spend time together, but she can't quite reconcile the idea that this stranger sitting across from her is her brother. 

The waitress suddenly appears at the side of the table. "Can I get you something to drink?" she asks Spencer.

"Uh…" He looks over the menu for about half a second before saying, "Can I get a tequila on the rocks? Do you have a reposado?"

He and the waitress go back and forth for a few moments before Spencer settles on something, but by that point, Samantha has no idea what they're talking about. Then the waitress turns to her again: 

"Are you okay with the Diet Coke?"

She is about to respond in the affirmative when Spencer jumps in. "Diet Coke? Come on! It's happy hour!"

"Oh, I don't know…"

"You're 21, right?" Spencer says. 

"Barely. Yeah."

"Did you walk from campus?"


"See? A drink can't do any harm, then. What do you like?"

Samantha looks back and forth between him and the waitress. "I don't know. Um… a margarita?"

"Can you do it blended? With salt?" Spencer asks the waitress.

"Of course."

"Awesome. Thanks."

The waitress asks to see Samantha's ID, so she pulls it from her wallet and presents it. She has only had a few drinks since she turned 21, usually a glass of wine at dinner with her mom or some gross sugary drink that Elly gave her during a dorm party one night. But she's had a few margaritas, and they weren't bad at all.

"Come on. Live a little," Spencer says once the waitress has gone. "Sibling bonding, right?"

"Right," Samantha says as she picks up another French fry. Maybe this doesn't have to be so weird after all. 


Tim Fisher knocks on the door and then waits, letting his eyes travel to the brown and gold pattern on the carpet. It stretches down the hallway, an endless series of interlocking rings that threaten to hypnotize Tim. Luckily, Claire opens the door to her apartment before that can happen.

"Hi," he says as he looks up at her. "Thanks for making time to see me."

"Of course. I worked an overnight shift, so I've been trying to sleep on and off all day. Come in." She is wearing a pair of yoga pants and a baggy sweatshirt that he has never seen before; they haven't been together in a long time, but it still alarms him sometimes to realize how little he knows of her day-to-day life. 

Claire closes the door behind them. "Can I get you anything? Water? A drink?"

"Nah, I'm fine. Thanks." He hovers near the sofa. "I'm guessing Travis told you what happened at Vision."

"Oh yeah. I got a real earful. That's probably the most he's talked to me in one sitting in a year." 

"I'm sorry. I should have given you a heads-up. The whole thing is just…" He shakes his head. 

"An unbelievable mess," she finishes for him. "Believe me, I'm aware."

  Tim Fisher

"I didn't want to tell him Spencer was working at Vision until I was sure it would pan out," he says, though he knows the explanation is flimsy. He simply doesn't have another one, and it's the truth--most of it, at least. He has to admit that he was also fearful of Travis's reaction, and a part of him would have been relieved if Spencer had quickly flamed out and Travis never had to know about the arrangement at all.

"But he's doing well?" Claire gestures at the couch. "Sit, please."

He offers her an uneasy smile. Being here feels strange, in light of the twists and turns their lives have taken--and in light of what his mother told him the other day. 

"He's doing really well," Tim says as he takes a seat. "I've had to remind him a few times that his job is to do whatever people ask, but for the most part, no problems."

She joins him on the sofa. "That's pretty big. After the way he blew off working for Philip--"

"I know. Of course, now Travis feels like I betrayed him…"

"I don't know how we're supposed to win this one. I suppose it's pretty unreasonable to wish that the two of them got along."

"Yeah. And I don't think either of them is making that any easier. Not that I can blame them." He shakes his head. "I can't believe your father is still doing this to us, this many years after he died. It's actually kind of impressive."

"This is exactly what he wanted--him and Loretta. I'm so sorry. If I'd had any idea…"

Tim leans forward. "You what? Wouldn't have married me? Wouldn't have had Travis?" 

They share a moment of eye contact to acknowledge the slip-up--that Travis, the boy they raised as their own, wasn't really the baby that Claire gave birth to so many years ago.

"I just wish I could have stopped him," she says. "I should have known--"

"How? Why would you even imagine something as awful as what he did to us?"

"I don't know." She sighs loudly. "And we'd never have known Travis if he hadn't done this…"


"Of course, now I have two sons who can barely stand the sight of me."

"That isn't true. They just need time." 

"We'll see." She hesitates a moment before continuing. "I feel like, even after you and I got divorced, we had a family--I was a part of something--and lately, it's like that… never existed."

Tim hesitates and then says, "I hear you're seeing someone."

Claire's face goes slack. "Your mom told you." 

"She didn't mean any harm by it."

"Yeah, I've been seeing someone," Claire says, springing up from her seat. "It's not like I'm having one-night stands parade through here. Tempest was away--"

"You don't have to justify anything to me," Tim interrupts. "I know we've been… at odds in the past year, but I want you to be happy. You deserve that."

Claire paces beside the coffee table. "It's just starting out. I didn't really want anyone to know in case it doesn't go anywhere. I'm just trying to keep it separate from all this… stuff right now."

"I don't blame you."

"Let me tell Travis if and when the time is right," she says. "I don't need to give him any more ammo against me. And maybe tell your mom I'm not just running strange men through my bedroom at all hours."

"She doesn't think that," Tim says.

"You should've seen the look on her face. If she had been wearing pearls, she would've been clutching them, for sure."

Tim stands to join her. "Don't worry about what she thinks--or what anyone thinks. And we'll figure this stuff with the boys out, okay?"

"I don't know how you can promise that, but I'm going to try and believe you."

"Good. Then I won't tell you that I'm totally winging it here."

"You and me both, Tim," she says with a wistful sigh. "You and me both."


Molly and Philip remain frozen in a staredown that feels to Molly as if it lasts for years. She wonders if she spoke too harshly. But the prospect of having Spencer under her roof has never been one that she has seriously considered, for a multitude of reasons. 

Finally Philip responds. "You just asked me to consider having your ex-sister-in-law live with us, but my brother is off-limits?"

"Danielle takes care of the kids," Molly says. "She's their aunt."

"And Spencer is my brother--and your nephew, for that matter."

"But I hardly know him. And nothing that I do know about him makes me want to have him living under the same roof as my children."

"What did you think I was going to do? Kick him out in the streets? His bed is right over there!" Philip says.

"I don't know." She rises from the barstool. "You've always said this was a temporary arrangement. I didn't know you intended to have him living with you forever."

"I don't! But I'm trying to help him straighten his life out. Sending him off to live on his own would not help with that."

"It sounds like he's doing well," she says. "Even at work. Tim seems very impressed."

"Which is fantastic. But I can't put a deadline of a few months on him turning his entire life around."

Molly's body is vibrating with anger. She suspects that she has no right to be upset, but the way this is happening feels like he just presumed something enormous about their life together without even consulting her. So she does the only thing she can think of: she grabs her purse.

"I should be home in time for dinner with the boys," she says. "I'll e-mail you the documents from the wedding planner."


She reaches for the door handle and struggles to pull it open. Philip steps in to do it for her, causing her to let out a loud, frustrated groan.

"We'll figure this out," he says.

"We will," she says, "but I want you to seriously consider my side of this. Very seriously." Without giving him a chance for a rebuttal, she takes off toward the elevator. 


"Wait, wait. So they literally fell into the cake?"

Samantha nods emphatically. "Right in it. Like, we found them lying on the floor with icing and cake all over them. It was completely destroyed."

Spencer lets loose with another round of riotous laugher. "That is insane!"

"I know!" Samantha can't help but laugh, too, even though she was at the wedding in question, when her mom and aunt got into a brawl that ended in a colossal mess. 

  Samantha Fisher

"I had no idea you guys could be so much fun," Spencer says once his chuckling has calmed to a more controlled level. He picks up his glass and downs the last of his tequila. 

Samantha is still trying to catch her breath. "It was pretty ridiculous," she manages to huff out.

The waitress returns to their table. "Another round?" she asks, clearly amused by their laughter.

"What do you think?" Spencer asks, looking to Samantha.

She regards the dregs of her margarita. She's feeling pretty fuzzy, not bad or out-of-control or anything, just silly and light, after the one margarita.

"You know, I think I'm all right," she says.

Spencer furrows his brow at her. "You sure?"

"Yeah. That's enough for me."

"Okay, then. Could we get some more water and maybe a plate of onion rings?" Spencer says to the waitress. She heads off to take care of that, and Spencer refocuses on Samantha.

"I kinda can't believe we're actually doing this," he says.

"Me neither. It's… really nice, actually."

"Yeah. Although I bet not everyone would be too thrilled we're hanging out."

"You mean Travis."

Spencer nods. "I don't think he's gonna be a fan of me anytime soon."

"Give it time," she says. "This whole thing has been a really big shock for him. For you, too, I'm sure."

"To put it lightly, yeah. I mean, I do get it. But it's not like much has to change for him. I had to move across the country, my mom's in prison… He's got his family, he's got his regular life. Hell, he's got a girlfriend who seems pretty awesome."

"She is, yeah."

The waitress returns and refills their water glasses. Samantha drinks hers eagerly, downing nearly half the glass in one gulp. 

"How long have they been together?" Spencer asks.

"A long time." Samantha has to sift through some of the clouds in her brain to find the answer. "Almost five years, I think. Since before college."

"Wow. That's, like, a lifetime when you're this age." He picks at the charred remains of the French fries. "You think they're gonna get married?"

Samantha hesitates. She doesn't really have any doubt that that's the plan in both Travis and Elly's minds… but she doesn't know how Travis is going to marry Elly without a clear conscience, if what she suspects about Elly's study-abroad application is true.

"You don't think so?" Spencer says.

"Oh, I'm sure they're planning on it. Just weird to think of my brother getting married, you know?"

"Hell, my brother is way older than Travis, and it's still weird to me that he's getting married. You think they make a good couple, though?"

Samantha sips the very last of her margarita through the black straw. "Absolutely."

Spencer cocks his head. "That seemed a little… hesitant."

"There's just some… stuff between them. And I sort of get caught in the middle."

"Stuff? What do you mean?"

"It's just tough," she says, feeling the fuzziness wrap its way around her brain. "I wind up having to keep secrets for one or the other of them, and sometimes they do really dumb things. Especially Travis."

"That's no fair," Spencer says as he picks up his water glass. "What kind of dumb things?"

She shakes her head. "It's nothing."

"Obviously it's something. They shouldn't be putting you in that position. It's not fair." He takes a sip and then sets the glass down, a little too hard. "If you need someone to vent to, I'm here. I'm your brother, too. So go for it."

Sitting in that booth, as more and more diners fill the restaurant and some song that sounds like Mumford & Songs plays and her head spins a little, Samantha thinks that maybe he is right.


Should Samantha open up to Spencer?
Should Molly let Spencer live with her and Philip?
Will Tim and Claire figure out a way to parent both boys?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum now!

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Friday, March 07, 2014

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