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- Jason found Tempest very upset and, though she wouldn’t open up to him, told her to take the rest of the day off work and take care of herself.
- Elly, about to leave King’s Bay for Stanford Law, said her goodbyes to Samantha and a heartbroken Travis.
- Danielle was surprised to see Spencer at the front door and asked him to leave--but Elly revealed that she had asked Spencer to come.


When Elly Vanderbilt hears the doorbell from out on the back deck, she quickly crosses through the kitchen and into the foyer to open the door.

Danielle Taylor tails her through the house.

"I wonder who that is," Danielle says, as Elly sees him through the glass pane and opens the door.

"Hi," Spencer Ragan says.

Danielle, standing behind Elly, 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--"

Elly cuts her off. "It's okay. I asked him to come here."

"You--" Danielle stops speaking, but her eyes ask the question for her: Why in the world would you invite him over?

"I'm leaving for California today," Elly explains to Spencer. "And I need to talk to you before I go."

  Spencer Ragan

"Well, I'm here," he says, the sarcastic edge to his voice somehow making him sound like the put-out party here, despite all he has done to her.

Elly steps through the doorway to join him on the front porch. "Let's talk out here." She flashes Danielle a look to assure her that it will be fine and then closes the door.

"What the hell's this about?" Spencer asks.


"What about me?"

Elly walks down the three steps to the gravel driveway and folds her arms. "What you did to me--to Travis, really, and Samantha--it was so unnecessary."

"So you wish you had no idea what Travis did?"

"I didn't say that. But it wasn't your place to tell me--and don't even pretend you did it out of the goodness of your heart. You did it purely to hurt him, and you did, and you managed to hurt Samantha in the process, too. Congratulations."

Spencer pulls his car keys from his pocket and descends the steps. "You made me come all the way out here so you could scold me like a little kid?"

"I'm not scolding you," she says, feeling a fury build in her chest that she didn't even know was there until now. "I'm warning you."

"Oh. That's hilarious."

Elly plows onward: "I'm warning you to stay away from Travis and Samantha. They're good people--way better than you are ever going to be. You walk around like some big shot, but you know what you really are? A loser."

"I'm glad you got that out of your system," he says as he pushes past her to return to his red BMW coupe. "Have a nice life, Elly."

"I'd wish you the same," she says, "but I know it isn't even possible. You're a miserable person, Spencer. I feel bad for the Fishers that they have to live their lives knowing they turned you out into the world."

It looks like Spencer is going to say something else, but instead, he closes his mouth and gets back into his car.

Elly's insides are still churning with rage as she watches him drive off. 


Tempest Banks takes the bus home, the same way she does every day, but somehow, it feels like she isn't really there. Everything is hazy and blurry, as if it should be pouring rain even though the summer sun is riding high in the sky, casting its brilliant glow over everything. All she wants to do is crawl into her bed and not wake up until she feels better.

When she enters the apartment, though, she finds Claire Fisher on the couch, folding laundry.

"I thought you were working until--" Claire cuts herself off when she sees Tempest's face. "Oh no. What's wrong?"

"It's nothing," Tempest says, though the words come out of her throat in a wet tangle. She starts to head for her room.

"Tempest. What is it? Do you want to talk?"

Tempest stops moving. She feels her hands clenching into tight balls, the same way her insides already feel.

"What good is talking gonna do?" she says.

Claire seems startled by this reaction. "If something's bothering you… Did something happen at work?"

  Tempest Banks

"No. Yeah. Kinda."

"What is it?"

Then Tempest doesn't even know what's happening to her, but her eyes start streaming tears--again.

"It's Annie. She said…" She doesn't even know how to explain it, feels stupid for even trying.

Claire stands up. "Did you guys have a fight?"

Tempest shakes her head because she can't get the word out through her sobs.

"What happened with Annie?" Claire asks. Suddenly she is very close to Tempest, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. Tempest isn't used to this kind of closeness, but right now, it doesn't feel strange; it feels like a life preserver.

"It's so stupid." Tempest swallows hard, determined to push the sobs down. She feels like a baby, crying this way. "She said…" Deep breath. "She said she met someone else at that hockey camp. She doesn't want to hang out anymore."

"Oh. Tempest. I'm so sorry. You have every right to be upset."

"Maybe. I don't know."

"You do. You do," Claire says, squeezing Tempest's shoulder and pulling the young woman more tightly to her.


Spencer races away from Molly's house, hoping the roar of the BMW’s engine will overpower the thoughts surging through his head. But it sounds the way he feels, angry and persistent, and every time he has to hit the brakes because of a stop sign or some idiot barely going the speed limit, something rises up inside him to fill the void left by the noise.

Where does Elly get off lecturing him? He did her a favor by exposing what Travis did. Serves him right to have everyone finally know that he’s just as much of a destructive jerk as they all think Spencer is. And Samantha--that was an accident. She seems like a nice kid, and if there had been a way to leave her out of it, he would have. But it’s not like he ruined her life. All she did was tell the truth. They aren’t going to hold that against her forever--and if they do, they’re all bigger assholes than he thought.

No matter how fast or how long he drives, he can’t quiet the angry chatter in his mind. So he finds himself making a loop, speeding back to let Elly know the real score.

When he returns to Molly’s house, though, the Subaru is gone from the driveway. He tries the doorbell and ascertains that no one is home. Elly’s mom must have taken her to the airport already.

“Good riddance,” he mutters as he returns to his car.

He is settling back into the driver’s seat when another BMW, a black one he knows well, swings into the circular driveway. Philip Ragan quickly parks and hurries over to Spencer’s car, and Spencer reluctantly rolls down the window.

“What are you doing here?” Philip asks.

Spencer kills the Kanye West song playing through the car’s speakers. “Elly summoned me here to chew me out.”

“Are she and Danielle still here?”

“No, they must’ve gone to the airport. What are you doing here?”

“I’m going to make dinner for Molly and the boys. I’m going to get a head start while she picks them up. Why don’t you stay and eat with us?”

Spencer rolls his eyes. “Oh, yeah. That’s what I need right now.”

“What does that mean?”

“I just got a lecture from Elly about what a terrible person I am, how I’m such a piece of shit for actually letting people know what Travis pulled on her,” Spencer says. “I don’t need to sit in there and have Molly eyeballing me like I’m about to steal the good silverware and set the house on fire.”

“Molly doesn’t think of you that way,” Philip says, but there’s just enough of a hitch in getting the words out that he confirms Spencer’s suspicion.

Something is roiling inside Spencer now, the same thing he was trying to drown out while he drove, like a black mist leaking into his chest that won’t stop until it fills the entire space.

“Maybe they’re right,” he says, staring straight out the windshield. “Maybe I’m just never going to stop fucking up. But what does anyone expect? Our mother’s in prison for trying to kill a whole bunch of people, our father was apparently some criminal with a double life--”

“Don’t do this to yourself,” Philip interrupts. “And you don’t have their blood in your veins, if that’s what you’re worried about. I do.”

“I actually do have Father’s--and our sister, or my mother, or whoever the hell she is, who killed him.”

Philip places his hands on the door and ducks down so he is eye-level with Spencer. “You are not destined to be an awful person, Spencer. And if you’re worried that people see you that way… you have the power to make them see you differently.”

“Do I? I have this whole brand-new family, and it’s not like any of them want me around.”

“That isn’t true. Tim hired you. Molly wants to get to know you.”

“Bullshit,” Spencer says as he fires up the engine.

“Don’t act like you’re purely the victim here, either,” Philip says, his tone shifting in tandem with the car’s aggressive roar. “How many times has Claire reached out to you and you’ve done no less than told her to go to hell?”

“Save it, brother.” He lets up on the clutch and shifts into gear, stomping on the gas pedal to get away--

--but the next thing he knows, the car is flying backwards, away from Philip, and Spencer realizes with panic that he is headed straight for the house.

“Stop!” Philip screams.

Spencer is already braking, but he has no idea how much space there is--it’s all happening too fast, it’s too weird--and then he hears crashing all around him as the car jolts to a stop.


Tempest does feel better once she finishes crying--or, at least, she feels too tired, both physically and mentally, to care so much. It's almost the same as the times she has felt sick to her stomach; as gross as it is, throwing up makes it feel better. She has the sense that she has passed something awful out of her system--though maybe it is not so much her anguish over Annie as having finally admitted the truth to Claire.

"I'm glad you could tell me that," Claire says as she rejoins Tempest on the couch. She sets down a glass of water on a wooden coaster on the table. "You could have told me earlier, if you'd wanted. This is--who you date or fall in love with--none of that has any effect on how I feel about you or how welcome you are in this home."

"Thanks." Tempest takes a slug of the water and tries to slow down her breathing. "Sorry I didn't tell you before."

"It's your business. You told me when you were ready to. And I'm sorry about Annie. I could tell you liked her a lot."

"You could tell?"

"You guys spent a lot of time together," Claire says with a smile. "And I saw you with her. I wasn't even sure if you wanted it to be a secret."

Tempest shrugs. "I don't know. I didn't want to bug you."

"You never bug me. I'm just sorry it didn't work out."

Tempest quietly sips the water.

"Can I ask you a question?" Claire says as delicately as she can.

Tempest's eyes come at her sideways, full of that caution, that automatic distrust, that Claire has come to recognize in her.

"When you left home," Claire says, "before I met you in L.A…. was it because of any of this? Did your mother kick you out?"

"No." Tempest shakes her head insistently, then sees to realize how outsized the reaction is and stops entirely. She sips her water again and finally says, "It wasn't that. Not really."

"Okay." Claire offers a gentle smile. "I just want you to know that there isn't even a chance of that here--and if you ever do want to talk about what happened with your family, I'm here to listen. Okay?"

"Sure. Yeah." Tempest springs up from the sofa. "I think I'm gonna go shower. That might make me feel better."

"That sounds like a good idea."

Claire watches the young woman disappear into the bathroom. As the sound of the shower fills the air, Claire leans back into the cushy back of the couch and wishes there were something more she could do to put Tempest at peace.


“Thanks for driving me all this way,” Elly says as Danielle pulls the Subaru up to the curb.

“Of course. I wasn’t going to stick you in a taxi,” Danielle says. “Not when this let me spend a little more time with you.”

“Well, your car does smell better than most of the taxis I’ve been in.”

“That’s because you haven’t been in here with Caleb and Christian.”

Elly opens the passenger door. “I guess this is it.”

“Yeah.” Danielle sighs and pops the trunk. “Come on.”

  Elly Vanderbilt

The two women get out of the car and remove Elly’s rolling suitcase and backpack from the trunk. As Elly slips the backpack over her shoulders, she feels Danielle’s eyes on her.

“I’m so proud of you,” Danielle says, her voice suddenly distorted, as if something is caught in her throat.

Elly feels her own eyes stinging a bit. “Thank you for everything. Having all this time with you…”

“It’s been really special.” Danielle smiles hard even as the beginnings of tears are evident. She pulls Elly into a tight hug.

“I’m going to miss you,” Danielle says. “But I’ll be down there to visit. And check your messages!”

“I will. I promise. I’ll talk to you soon, okay?”

“Yeah. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

They embrace again, and then Danielle forces herself to get back in the car. Elly wheels her suitcase up onto the curb. The automatic doors of the airport terminal slide open, but before she enters, she turns back. She feels Danielle waving through the car window.

Elly waves back and then, with a deep breath, looks out at the beautiful Pacific Northwest sky, a vibrant blue with nary a cloud in sight.

“Goodbye,” she says, and then she takes her bag and passes through those doors and into the next phase of her life.


When all the noise stops, Spencer can’t see anything. His heart pounding, he can hardly draw a real breath. He realizes that he squeezed his eyes closed when the impact began, and he tentatively opens them, fearful of what he will--or won’t--see.

The view out his windshield is obstructed, even beyond the huge white airbag pressing against him. Chunks of wood and dust and God knows what else litter his entire field of vision. He feels his hand still on the gear shift and notices that, at some point in the chaos, he managed to put the car in neutral and disengage the clutch.

“Spencer! Can you hear me?”

“Yeah!” he calls out to Philip, whose voice sounds close even though Spencer can’t see much. He hears clattering, as if Philip is trying to dig his way closer.

“Are you okay?”

“I think so.” Spencer does a quick inventory of his body. He can see… he doesn’t feel any notable pains… he seems to be able to move all his limbs. “Yeah.”

“Try and open your door.”

Spencer tries. It works. His thoughts are scattered, and there are too many of them to grasp onto--Holy shit, what did I just do?--but he has the clarity to turn off the engine.

It takes some digging on both ends--maybe only a minute or so, even though each piece of wood and jagged pane of glass feels like it takes forever to move--and then he can see Philip.

“What happened?” Philip asks, his eyes wide.

Spencer pants, trying to draw whatever breath he can, as he spits out words. “I thought I was putting it into first--or I meant to--but I guess my brain was thinking reverse--”

“It’s okay,” Philip says, even though the sight of the red car, lodged directly into Molly’s family room, suggests otherwise. If Spencer weren’t so shellshocked, he might cry at seeing his beautiful car like this.

And then Philip is pressing something into his hand. Keys, Spencer realizes.

“What?” Spencer asks, confused.

“Take my car. Go back to my place. Your keys are in the ignition?”

“Uh--yeah. Yeah.”

“Then go. We traded cars tonight. All right?”

“What are you doing?” Spencer asks.

“Take my car and go,” Philip persists as he pulls out his cell phone. “I’m going to give you a few minutes’ lead before I call, but I can’t delay too long.”

Spencer stumbles a few steps toward Philip’s BMW, but the whole thing feels like a dream, like he’s somehow watching it from outside himself.

“Do you feel okay to drive?” Philip asks.

“Yeah. Just… I’m fine. Just shocked.”

“Then get out of here. You were never here tonight. I took your car. Is that clear?”

“Yeah.” Spencer clutches the ring of keys in his palm. “Philip. Thank you.”

“There’s nothing to thank me for,” Philip says. “Just go.”

With shaky legs and trembling hands, Spencer gets into his brother’s car. He double-checks every movement as he starts it, pleased for the first time ever that Philip wussed out and opted for an automatic transmission. He is still trying to catch his breath as he carefully pulls out of the driveway. In the rear-view mirror, he sees Philip standing by the wreckage, cell phone in hand as he waits to make his call.


Why is Philip trading places with Spencer?
Are you sad to see Elly go?
Did Claire handle Tempest in the right way?
Talk about all this and more in the Footprints Forum now!

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

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