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- After Danielle confided in Ryan about her break-up from Matt, Ryan admitted that she inspired him to take control of his life and stop drinking.
- Sarah and Matt told their families that they are back together.
- Diane was shocked when, following her appearance on a radio advice show, the head of the station offered her a trial run as cohost of the morning show. 
- In the wake of Liam leaving town, Alex resisted Trevor's overtures about a reunion between the two of them. 


"It's finally getting chilly out there," Ryan Moriani, rubbing his arms through his sportcoat.

"You should be wearing a heavier jacket than that," Paula Fisher says as she closes the front door behind her son.

"There are times when I feel like I missed out," he says, "and there are times when it's absolutely like you've raised me from birth."

"Well, I don't want you to catch pneumonia!"

"I'm fine." Ryan laughs and follows her into the kitchen. The warmth of the house does feel good, and it also makes him acutely aware of how cold the fall air in King's Bay has become.

Paula bustles around the kitchen, retrieving containers from the refrigerator and dishes from the cupboard. "I'm so glad you could stop by."

  Paula Fisher

"It's been too long, and I was coming back from a meeting down south, anyway." He takes a seat at the table. "Can I help with anything?"

"Oh, stop. I just made a big batch of my chicken salad, so I thought we'd have sandwiches, if that's okay."

"Sounds delicious."

She begins to cut up a loaf of bread but stops mid-slice. "Can I get you anything to drink?"

"I'll just have some water," Ryan says.

"Are you sure? We could be naughty and open a bottle of Chardonnay…"

"I have to drive." He feels his chest tightening and knows that he needs to speak up. "Actually…"

Paula's hand, gripping the knife, hovers over the cutting board. "Yes?"

"There's something I've been meaning to talk to you about."

"Okay. You're worrying me, Ryan."

"Nothing to worry about. It's good news, actually." He takes a heavy sigh and then lets it out. "I've stopped drinking."

He can see the surprise in her face, followed by the internal processing of this news and the reasoning through how she should react.

"It isn't anything dramatic," he continues, "but I didn't like how it was making me feel. Or act. I've made a lot of mistakes, and alcohol certainly didn't make any of those situations any less messy, so…"

"Then I'm proud of you." She pours him a glass of water from the filter pitcher in the refrigerator and sets it in front of him. 

"Thanks. And don't worry--you guys don't have to feel strange about drinking in front of me. I'm fine."

Paula accepts that with a nod and continues making their sandwiches.

"It's actually something Danielle suggested I do a long time ago," Ryan says. "Maybe I wasn't ready back then. Maybe I had to make a few more mistakes. But I'm tired of living that way."

"I think it's a very healthy decision," Paula says. "You know, since Sarah and Matt are back together, Danielle must be single again."

Ryan can't resist grinning at how obvious her transition was. "Yes. I ran into her not that long ago."

"Well, I'm only saying… She's a very nice woman. I would've been thrilled if that wedding had come off."

"You and I both," Ryan says. "But I think I blew that one for good, you know?"

"What makes you so sure of that?"

He shrugs. Paula brings both of their plates to the table and sits down kitty-corner from him. 

"If there's one thing I've learned," she says, "it's that you really can never say never. Maybe the time just wasn't right for you and Danielle back then."

"Thank you for lunch," Ryan says pointedly as he picks up his sandwich. "It looks terrific."

Harbor Boulevard

The restaurant's lunch rush is at its peak, with nearly every table occupied as servers weave through the maze of diners. Alex Marshall sits at a table in the center, across from Don and Helen Chase, with a very enthusiastic companion beside him.

"What are you doing?" he asks Sophie, who is very focused on moving the food around her plate with her fork without actually eating any of it.

"Making sure it doesn't all touch," she says as if he is insane for not having realized this.

Helen laughs. "Why is it bad if it touches?"

"Because then my burger will have salad dressing on it. And that's gross."

"Makes sense to me," Don says. 

Sophie looks up from her plate, right at her grandparents. "Do you guys have Frozen at your house?"

"I put the DVD in your bag," Alex tells her. Then, to the Chases, he adds, "How many times can you watch Frozen in 48 hours? Because I hope you guys are prepared for that."

"I've only seen it once, so I'm excited," Helen says happily. "How about you, Alex? Do you have plans for the weekend?"

He shrugs. "Not really. I'm actually going over to see Billy later this afternoon."

"That will be nice," Don says. "And what about Cameron? We'd still love to meet him…"

Alex feels his cheeks growing hot. "Yeah... I don't know if that's in the cards."

"Why not?" Helen asks. "Is something the matter?"

"We're kind of cooling it a little," he explains as he watches Sophie finish sectioning off her burger, salad, and French fries into separate districts of the plate. 

"Oh. Sorry to hear that," Don says.

Helen indicates Sophie with a tip of her head. "Anything you can talk about right now?"

"It's nothing huge," Alex says. "He's just younger and has a lot going on. He's really into going out and hanging out with his friends, and I'm kind of… over a lot of that. We'll see what happens."

"Well, I hope that whatever happens, you're happy," Helen says, but the end of her sentence trails off. Alex sees her gaze tracking something behind him, and he isn't sure what to expect--and then Trevor Brooks appears at the side of their table.

"Hey, you guys," Trevor says. "Hey, Sophie. How's your lunch?"

"I haven't started yet," she tells him matter-of-factly. "Grandma, can you pour my ketchup?"

As Helen does that, she and Don pepper Trevor with questions about Lauren and her infant daughter. The information is all familiar to Alex, but it still brings a smile to his face. 

"I actually have something for you," Trevor says to Alex.

Alex looks up at the other man, who normally stands several inches taller than him anyway, but with Alex seated, Trevor seems impossibly high up. 


"I just got back from checking out the Objection store in New York," Trevor says, "and I went to that candy store you and I went to way back when. I got some of the sour candies--"

"The skulls?"

"Yeah! I figured you might want some, so I bought a whole bunch. Maybe I can drop them off at your place?"

"Sounds good," Alex says, but before he even finishes the statement, something occurs to him. "I'm actually heading out to Sarah's later today. Are you gonna be home? I could come by your house."

"I'm just picking up lunch and then heading back there, so that's perfect. Text me when you're headed over?"

"Will do."

"Well, I should pay for my food and get moving," Trevor says. "It's good to see all of you."

"You, too, Trevor," Helen says. "When your parents get back from their cruise, we'd love to see them."

"My mom mentioned the same thing on the phone," he responds, "so give her a call in, like, two weeks."

Trevor departs amidst a flurry of goodbyes, and when Alex turns back around, he sees both Chases staring him down with a certain expression on their faces.

"What?" he says. "No. No, no, no. We're just friends. Finally."

"If you say so," Helen says with a smirk. Alex focuses on his lunch and resists the urge to argue back, knowing that he'll only make himself sound more in-denial than he really is.

Thaw Coffee & Tea

"I can't believe someone is letting you on the radio," Sarah Fisher says as she adds non-fat milk to her coffee and stirs. "I love you, but are they insane?"

"I hope so, because it sounds like fun," Diane Bishop says. She snaps the plastic lid back on her own cup, and they walk toward one of the empty tables by the front window of the shop. 

"How long is this trial run supposed to go?" Sarah asks.

"Only a week. Which I hope is enough time to blow them away."

"Normally I would say you should try to refrain from telling people they're idiots, but that might actually be entertaining in this case."

"That's what I'm hoping."

The two women take their seats, placing their coffees on the sleek white table.

"Enough about me," Diane says.

A broad grin stretches across Sarah's face. "First time you've ever said that."

"Someone's sassy today. Must be because you're in such a good mood, huh?"

"I really am." Lately, Sarah has found it impossible to keep from breaking into random smiles at unexpected times; even the drudgery of moving Tori into her dorm room at King's Bay University had her beaming, just knowing that she and Matt were able to share something like that as a couple and not awkward, divorced parents.

"I can't believe you kept it a secret from me for so long," Diane says. "I mean, I get why, but I'm impressed."

"I thought it would be weirder," Sarah says, "but in a lot of ways, it's like no time has passed at all. It's just so familiar. Sometimes I wake up and Matt's in the bed with me, and I can't believe there were so many years when we weren't together."

"Because you guys should have been."

"I know. I try not to think about how much time we missed out on… but then I think, maybe all of this had to happen so we would really appreciate and be grateful for each other."

"You are really zen right now, and it's kind of freaking me out." Diane lifts her coffee cup. "Do I get to ask what happens now? Is Matt going to move into the house with you?"

"We've talked about it, obviously. I don't know. In some ways, everything has happened so quickly that we're still catching our breath."

"Well, I'm really glad you're happy," Diane says, "but if there's gonna be a wedding, I demand ample notice so I can look good in a bridesmaid's dress."

"Deal," Sarah says, "but you need to promise me you won't fall in the wedding cake at this one."

"I can handle that. I think."


The cool air smacks Danielle Taylor like an open palm to the face as she pushes out the door, Jimmy Trask trailing behind her. 

"You're a life-saver," Danielle says as they cross the parking lot. The heft of her guitar case weighs down her left side slightly. 

"Nah. I didn't do much," Jimmy says.

"You took on 50 percent of the lesson. That's huge."

When Jimmy shrugs, Danielle adds: "Seriously, I can't get those two to focus when they're together. Teaching them separately works so much better. I wish their mom would accept that and book individual lessons."

"It was fun," he says nonchalantly.

They arrive at Danielle's car, and she sets down the guitar case and rifles through her purse. "I don't have any blank checks on me right now, but I'll write you one for half the lesson--"

  Danielle Taylor

"No, you won't."

"Yes, I will! You earned it."

"Just doing a favor. I had a good time."


His mouth moves in a chewing motion for a few seconds, as if he's working on an idea that isn't quite ready.

"What is it?" Danielle asks.

"How about you pay me back by going to dinner with me instead?" He drops the question and then draws back his head, as if angling to get a better vantage point of how it lands. 

"I can do dinner," she says, her head suddenly a little cloudy. "But is this…"

"A date?" He shrugs. "Who knows? It's been good hanging out with you again, Dani."

It's always so strange when he calls her that--as if she's being sent back in time to play the role of someone she once knew intimately but hasn't seen in decades.

"Dinner I can do," she finally says, "but I can't promise anything beyond that. I'm still kind of turned-around from the Matt thing--"

"I know. And that's cool. Just something I've been thinking about."

What happens next still manages to surprise her: he leans closer and plants his lips on her cheek. It's beyond a friendly kiss, the way he lingers seconds longer than any platonic kiss would, but it's also surprisingly subtle for the man whom she remembers proudly crushing beer cans on his forehead. When he pulls back, Danielle thinks her head might actually be spinning a little.

"I'll call you," he says.

"Okay." Then, smiling, she asks, "So if I'm paying you back for the lesson, does this mean I'm paying for dinner?"


After he finishes lunch with his mother, Ryan decides to run an errand at the bank before heading back to the office. His brain, however, is crying out for its afternoon dose of caffeine. Not wanting to wait until he makes it back to the arena, he makes the slightest of detours to hit a familiar spot. And as much as he doesn't want to admit it, the extra driving time gives him the luxury of spacing out and reveling in what Paula suggested: that maybe there is a chance for him and Danielle to have a new beginning. 

He steers his Acura into the parking of Cassie's Coffee House and is scanning the narrow lot for an empty space when he sees something that causes him to punch down on his brake immediately.

There is no mistaking that that's Danielle. It is her car, and he'd recognize her form anywhere, even if her face isn't immediately visible--not to mention the guitar case at her feet. But what alarms him is not simply the sight of her, but of that man--Elly's father--leaning in and placing what looks like a very sensual kiss on her cheek.

When Jimmy pulls back, Danielle's face radiates. Part of Ryan can't stop watching this, but the other part knows that he has to stop. He knew it was stupid even to entertain the idea that Danielle might be willing to give him another chance; he never should have let himself consider it at all, but he sure doesn't need to be slapped in the face with reality like this. He puts the car in reverse and backs around the corner before either of them can spot him.


"I can't believe you even remembered," Alex says as Trevor hands him the cellophane bag of candy. He takes pleasure at how full and heavy the bag feels and tries not to think about the stomachache he's going to have later if he doesn't exert some self-control.

"I never forget stuff like that," Trevor says. "You know that."

"Yeah. I guess I do."

The two men linger in the living room of the Brooks family's house, a house where Alex remembers spending so much time in years past. He glances to the mantle, noting how the photos on display have changed over time: now there are family portraits from Lauren and Josh's wedding, as well as a slew of shots of their young daughter. 

"Your parents are gone for two more weeks?" Alex asks.

"Yeah. Then they're in town until right after Christmas. I don't know how they don't get tired of being on cruise ships all the time."

"As long as they're having fun."

There's a stiltedness to the proceedings, an awkward energy in the air. Unsure what else to do, Alex unties the bag of candy and pops a sour skull-shaped gummy into his mouth.

"Oh my god. That's so good." He winces as the sourness hits him. "So sour."

"They're amazing, right?"

"Yeah." Alex pulls another from the bag and hands it to Trevor. Moments later, Trevor's face is puckering and twisting in the same way.

"Thanks for getting these," Alex says once the candy's effect has mostly worn off. "I appreciate it."

"It's no trouble. I like doing stuff for you." The corner of Trevor's mouth crooks upward. Alex hates how even that look makes his stomach feel warm, all these years later. 

"Mind if I use your bathroom before I head out?" Alex asks. "Then I need to get going to Sarah's."

"Of course not. Go ahead." 

Alex goes through the kitchen to the half-bathroom across from the laundry room, just as he has so many times before. 

Meanwhile, Trevor leans against the couch and pulls out his phone while he waits. He is scrolling through his Instagram feed when the doorbell rings. His eyes still fixed on the phone, he makes his way to answer the door, wondering what item he probably ordered online and then totally forgot about.

But when he opens the door, it isn't a delivery person standing there.

"Hi," he says to Liam Cassel, unable to hide his shock.

"Hi, Trevor." Liam's face bears a friendly glow, as if he wants to make it clear that this is not an angry visit. "How are you?"

"I'm good," Trevor says, even as he hears the toilet flushing and the bathroom door opening. He tries to ignore it, even as he knows what is coming. "I'm actually…"

  Liam Cassell

"I'm gonna blame you if I can't restrain myself and eat all of these tonight," Alex's voice announces as he passes through the living room and grows closer. Trevor glances to Liam and sees him freeze--the same way Trevor's entire being has tensed into a rigid line--before Alex finally appears in the foyer.

"Alex," Liam says with surprise. "I didn't expect to see you here."


What is Liam doing back in King's Bay?
Should Danielle give things with Jimmy another shot?
Will Diane be a success on the radio?
Discuss it all in the Footprints Forum now!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

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