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- Natalie was furious when Jason sent Bree to a skating competition with another coach so he wouldn't have to travel--and she blamed Bree's poor performance on Jason not being there.
- Travis continued trying to make amends for having thrown Elly's study-abroad application in the trash, but she was not interested in reconciling.
- Elly revealed that she was admitted to Stanford Law School. 


Samantha Fisher sits upright on the sofa, trying to focus on the episode of Orange is the New Black playing on the television. Every few minutes, though, she realizes that she has missed something vital and has to rewind to try and follow along better. But her attention continually goes toward the front window, waiting for the car that she knows is coming.

Finally she sees the vehicle pulling in. She meets Elly Vanderbilt on the front porch.

Samantha feels uneasy as she greets her former roommate. "Hey."

"Hey," Elly says with a softness that begins to put Samantha at ease. This doesn't appear to be an angry visit, at least.

"Do you have a few minutes?" Elly asks.

Samantha nods and leads her into the living room. They both sit on the large, beige-colored sectional sofa, and Samantha notices the unflattering moment at which she has paused Kate Mulgrew as "Red" on the TV screen.

"I'm sorry the last few weeks of school were so weird," Elly says. "I didn't mean to basically move out of the room for good--it seemed hard to be there, that's all."

  Samantha Fisher

"I understand. And I'm sorry I blabbed to Spencer about your application, and that I didn't tell you it hadn't been turned in. It wasn't fair of me." The apology comes spilling out of Samantha, a torrent of words and thoughts she has been holding in a cage for weeks and weeks.

"Sam. It's okay. You were not the one in the wrong in this whole thing." Elly  tucks a strand of chestnut hair behind her right ear. "I'm sorry any of it happened. It sucks. But you've been a good roommate--and a good friend--and I didn't want to leave on a bad note."

"Leave?" Samantha says, her brain playing catch-up.

"I'm sure Travis told you about Stanford Law."

"Yeah. Congratulations. I know you thought it was a long shot."

"Very long shot," Elly says, the words coming through a tiny laugh. "But thanks."

Samantha smiles. "So you're going, then."

Elly nods. "Yep. That's why I wanted to see you today. I'm actually flying out this afternoon."

She is still speaking as a key is inserted into the front door, then deemed unnecessary as it is already unlocked. The door opens, and Travis steps into the house. He freezes in the doorway when he sees the two girls on the couch. A pang of guilt hits Samantha, as if she has been caught betraying him just by conversing with his ex-girlfriend like this. 

"You're leaving?" Travis asks, his gaze fixed upon Elly.

Thaw Coffee & Tea

The brightness of the place seems so wrong to Tempest Banks as she enters the café: the cheery whiteness of the lights and the tables; the empowering Kelly Clarkson anthem playing over the speakers. She shields her face and, her body feeling like it's made of concrete, slogs over to the counter.

"Is Travis working?" she asks the curly-haired redhead behind the counter, whom she has seen many times though she has no idea what her name is.

"Not until 4 p.m.," the girl says. "Do you want me to leave him a message?"

Tempest is already shaking her head. "Nah. Thanks."

She thinks briefly about getting a drink, something chocolate-y, but the thought of ingesting anything turns her stomach. She is still wearing her Edge of Winter employee jacket, and it feels oppressively warm outside the chill of the rink itself. She hurries back to the door that connects the two businesses and, as she whips it open, nearly slams right into a man's chest.

"Whoa," Jason Fisher says as he manages to avoid the collision.

"Sorry," Tempest says, looking up at her boss. "I wasn't paying attention--"

"It's okay." He takes a long, hard look at her face. Tempest knows there is no hiding it now. "Tempest. Did something happen?"

"No," she says, but it is a weak, useless denial. 

He studies her for another long moment and then leads her aside, toward a short, dimly lit hallway that goes only to a supply closet and storage room.

"What's wrong?" he asks, his voice quieter than before.

"Nothing. I'm fine."

"You don't look fine." When she keeps her head bowed, he adds, "I know you. You get angry. You don't get sad. And right now, you look pretty sad."

She wishes she had a mirror so that she could see if there are still dried tears on her cheeks. She hates walking around looking like such a baby.

"You don't need to tell me what it is," Jason continues, "but if it has anything to do with anyone here--someone who works here, or a patron--I hope you will tell me."

"It doesn't," she says through lips that feel thick and tired.

"Okay. So if this is personal… why don't you cut out of here early?"

She looks up sharply. "What? No. I can do my job--"

"I'm sure you can, but you don't have to. You have, what, two hours left in your shift? Go home. Take it easy. I can run the Zam after this session."


"Yes. I promise."

"Sorry," she says, grateful even for the prospect of being able to take off this jacket and sprawl on her bed and not have to do a damn thing right now. "I can work extra later this week to make up for it."

"Don't worry about it. We all have bad days. Take care of yourself."

"Thanks, Jason," she says before starting to move away.

"Hey, Tempest?" he calls after her.

She turns back. "Yeah?"

"Whatever it is, I hope you feel better."


"Travis," Elly says as she stands. "You got my text, right?"

"Yeah. That's why I came home." He looks back and forth between her and Samantha. "What's going on?"

"I asked Sam to meet and talk, too," Elly explains.

Samantha bolts to her feet. Travis is still reeling from what he heard when he walked into the house.

"I'll give you guys some time alone," Samantha says.

Elly reaches out and grabs Samantha by the shoulder. "I'll be in touch, okay? Take care of yourself."

"You, too."

The two girls embrace, and as Travis watches, it hits him how final this must be. She's really leaving?

Samantha makes a quick exit, scurrying upstairs. The room seems cavernous once it is just him and Elly. 

"So you're going to Stanford?" he says, unable to bear the silence.

"Yeah. I wanted to say goodbye."

There it is: the word he has been dreading.

He knots his fingers together. He doesn't know what he is supposed to say or do in this moment.

"I am going to miss you," she says. "The past few weeks… I know everything's been different. But I don't want to leave with you thinking I hate you or that I regret our relationship."

"Then why won't you even consider giving it another shot?"

Elly's mouth opens, but her lips hang in mid-air without any words coming out. 

"I was thinking about proposing after graduation," Travis says. He has wanted to say it a hundred times, hoping it might sway her, remind her how serious they were and how much history they share. Maybe that is still his goal now; he hardly knows. He just doesn't understand how she can let go of it all so easily.

  Travis Fisher

Elly's surprise is evident. "Really?"

"Yeah. I mean… we were together for years. It seemed like the next step. I just wish I hadn't been so stupid."

She doesn't respond to that.

"I need to go to Stanford," she says instead. "It's the right thing for me. And if we were still together… maybe I wouldn't have let myself take that risk."

"So I did you a favor. Great."


Reflexively, she reaches out and grasps his arms. The touch sends a jolt through Travis, and when he looks into her eyes, he can see that she feels it,   too.

"I miss you," he says.

Elly lets out a weighty sigh and pulls her hands away from him.

"I need to go finish packing and get to the airport," she says. "But I'll miss you, too, Travis. Be good to yourself. You deserve to be happy."

He wants to plead that he'll only be happy with her, that if she leaves, there is no chance of it. But he knows now that he isn't going to change her mind--and maybe it would be selfish to try.

"Good luck at Stanford," he says. He is unable to resist the urge to give her final hug. "I love you."

"I love you, too," Elly says as she hugs him back.

Edge of Winter

"I need to talk to you!"

The voice turns the corner into Jason's office before its owner does, but even without these clues, he knows who is incoming: there is only one person who comes stomping up to the arena's second floor in stilettos like the ones he hears clacking over the floorboards.

"What now, Natalie?" he calls out milliseconds before she sashays into the office.

"I want to make sure you aren't going to flake on this trip like you did the last one." She wears a dress in a navy and turquoise print that, as much as Jason hates to admit it, looks pretty great on her even though it's a ridiculous thing for the mother of a figure skater to wear to the rink for her daughter's practice session.

"I'll be there. I promise," he says. "Have my plane ticket and everything."

"Good. I don't want to show up in Spokane and have Bree freak out because she has no coach."

"I told you, that was an error in judgment. It won't happen again."

Natalie accepts that with a terse nod, as if she isn't quite sure she should believe him but doesn't think it is worth arguing over at the moment.

"You're booked on the same floor of the hotel as us and everyone else from the rink," she says instead.


Her tone comes down several levels of aggressiveness as she asks, "And you think she's ready for the season?"

Jason leans back in his office chair and links his fingers behind his head. "Between you and me… she's so ready. If I were feeling reckless, I might even try to push her to compete Novice this year. She's going to rock Intermediate."

"You think?" Natalie says, a grin creeping across her face.

"Absolutely. Do not tell her I said that, though. I don't want her getting cocky."

"My lips are sealed."

"Tough as I find that to believe, I'll trust you for now," he says. "This is only a pre-season competition, but I feel really great about the progress she's made this year."

"Good--because that's what I'm paying you for." Natalie drums her long fingernails against the doorframe. "I'll see you in Spokane."

"Yes, you will," Jason says, dropping his arms and popping forward in the chair. "I swear."


After she returns to the house, Elly finishes packing her toiletries and wrestles with the zipper on her rolling suitcase to get it closed. She lugs it down the stairs and, as she is setting it down, sees Danielle through the kitchen window, sitting out on the deck.

"All done packing," Elly says as she steps outside.

Danielle opens her eyes and straightens up in the Adirondack chair. "Oh. Great. Do we need to get going?"

Elly double-checks the time on her phone. "Not yet. Relax."

"I don't know if I can really do that, knowing that you're leaving." Danielle pats the empty chair beside her, and Elly sits. "But I'm so proud of you."

"All I did was get in. I still need to not flunk out."

"You're going to do so well."

"I hope so." Elly gazes out at the expanse of green lawn. "I can't thank you enough for everything."

"You don't have to thank me for anything."

"Letting me stay in King's Bay--it changed my life. I was so… lost when I came here. I'm sorry I was so angry at you for not having told me the truth sooner."

  Elly Vanderbilt

"It was a huge shock for you," Danielle says.

"Yeah, but I was a brat about it. You did the most selfless thing you could've done by letting my parents adopt me. I understand that now."

"They gave you a good home. They raised you to be a good woman."

Instinctively, Elly smiles at the thought of her parents, whom she will see in just a few hours. "They're great. And so are you. And Jimmy--he's cool, too. I'm lucky to have four parents in my life now."

Danielle reaches over and touches her daughter's hand. "I'll come visit you."


From inside the house, the doorbell sounds. Elly is on her feet immediately.

"I wonder who that is," Danielle says, standing to trail Elly casually into the house.

Elly sees him through the glass pane and pulls open the door just as Danielle arrives behind her in the foyer. 

"Hi," Spencer Ragan says.

Danielle gives the young man a hard stare. "If you're looking for your brother, he isn't here. And we're actually about to leave--"

"It's okay," Elly interrupts. "I asked him to come here."


Why did Elly invite Spencer over?
How will Travis move forward with his life now?
What's going on with Tempest?
Come on over to the Footprints Forum to discuss now!

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Friday, August 08, 2014

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