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- After the sting at the bookstore, Claire realized that she and Jimmy shared a deeper connection than she thought, and she ended their relationship. 
- Alex told Don and Helen that things between him and Cameron have cooled off. 
- Trevor's ex-fiancé, Liam, surprised him by returning King's Bay--and found Alex at Trevor's house. 


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

Alex Marshall freezes mid-step when he spots Liam standing at the open door. Trevor Brooks seems like he is caught in a tractor beam, unable to move or speak other than to swivel his head back and forth between the other two men.

"When did you get back?" Alex asks Liam. In the space of one second, which feels like it stretches over ten minutes, Alex fixes a smile upon his face and relaxes his posture as best he can.

"I only arrived this morning," Liam says pleasantly. "Tim called about the meeting with that producer--"

Alex hurriedly scans his mental calendar. "I didn't think anything was set."

"It isn't. But it seemed as good a time as any to come back and prepare." Liam turns his attention toward Trevor. "I thought I'd surprise you and pop in to say hello."

"I'm totally surprised," Trevor says, widening his eyes in a way that makes Alex want to smack him with the cellophane bag of candy in his hand. 

  Liam Cassell

"I didn't expect to see you here, too," Liam says to Alex, his voice lilting with his English accent.

Alex's entire body tenses. He forces his eyes not to meet Trevor's.

"I actually just swung by to pick up something." Alex holds up the bag of candy, as if it's supposed to prove a point, even though as he does, he realizes how trivial a reason--excuse?--it seems. "I'm on my way to Sarah's to see my little brother."

Liam's face lights up. "Oh! How is Billy doing?"

"He's so big. He isn't even a baby anymore. He's a toddler. It's crazy." Alex feels himself beginning to ramble and makes himself shut up. "I should get going. I'll give you guys some time to… catch up." 

He moves toward the door, only realizing too late that he is placing himself in the middle of a very awkward traffic jam.

"Thanks again," he says to Trevor, simultaneously holding up the bag of candy and slipping past Liam through the door to avoid having to hug Trevor goodbye. If he even would have in the first place.

"I'll text you so we can catch up and strategize," Alex tells Liam. "We have to go over those new notes Tim sent us."

Liam rolls his eyes good-naturedly. "I know. Take care. We'll talk soon."


Alex does everything he can not to run down the driveway and back to his car on the street. The awkwardness of the situation follows him like a storm cloud, threatening to burst at any moment.


"One, two, three… lift!"'

Travis Fisher grunts as he hoists one end of the television set off the dresser. He watches his sister strain to lift the other end. Travis begins waddling backward toward the door of her bedroom.

"You okay?" he asks.

"Yeah. I'm fine," Samantha says, though she doesn't sound entirely fine.

"I could've dragged Landon along."

"I've got it. It's not that far." Samantha's words, however, come beneath breaths.

"As soon as I get a better job, I'm buying you a flatscreen."

They shuffle in silence down the short hallway and into the living room. 

"Let's set it down by the door," Travis says, "and we can catch our breath and stuff."

They are halfway to the front door when there is the sound of a key being inserted into the lock. Travis motions for Samantha to set down her end of the TV, and they rest it on the hardwood floor just as Diane Bishop enters.

"I'm being robbed?" Diane says.

"We're taking the TV to my dorm," Samantha explains. "There are a lot of upsides to having a single room… but I'd forgotten how much of our stuff last year was Elly's."

Diane sets down the mail on the counter and then looks at the TV set. "We really need to get you a flatscreen."

"That's what I said!" Travis wipes his forehead and then says to Diane, "I heard you got a bigshot radio job."

"It's only a trial. We'll see." Then her face bunches up with excitement. "But it's pretty damn cool, huh?"

"I still can't believe they offered you a job. That lady looked like she was going to kill you," Samantha says.

"She was just pissed I upstaged her and gave good advice." Diane drops her purse onto a chair and begins to go through the pile of mail. 

"Sam, you should come to dinner if you have time," Travis says. "I think my mom made a reservation for three people, but I'm sure she can bump it up."

"Dinner with Claire and her boyfriend--sounds like a hoot," Diane says as she slides a nail under the flap of an envelope.

"Boyfriend?" Samantha asks.

Travis is too confused to respond immediately. He looks between his sister and her mother for a moment. 

"She's dating that loser I used to work for," Diane says. "Jimmy."

Samantha turns to Travis. "Claire's dating Elly's dad?"

"I had no clue," he says, trying desperately to wrap his brain around the concept. "Are you sure?" 

Travis sees the exact instant that it dawns on Diane that perhaps this was a connection best left unmentioned. 

"I thought you knew," Diane says, her voice punctuated by a very uncharacteristic stammer. "I'm sorry, I didn't--"

"No, it's fine." Travis tries to shake off the confusion, but it hovers over him. His mom and Elly's dad? Why wouldn't she tell him?

"Come on," he says quickly, bending back down to scoop up the TV. "Let's get this out to the car."


"You should have told me you were coming," Trevor says as he ushers Liam into the living room.

"Truthfully, I wasn't even certain I'd come until I actually bought the ticket," Liam says. "I knew I'd have to be here for meetings at some point, but…"

Trevor winces at even the implication of how Liam left King's Bay. 

"I'm sure it was tough for you to come back," he says, careful to maintain an even tone.

"Very much so." Liam moves through the room, evaluating the photos and the decor that are nearly identical to how they looked just before their wedding that never took place. "But I'm glad I did."

  Trevor Brooks

One part of Trevor automatically brightens; it sounds like a reprieve being granted. Another part of him tenses, wondering what Liam expects from this surprise return. 

"How's work been?" Trevor asks before the awkwardness can rise up and choke the breath out of his throat. "I saw on Facebook you were getting a lot of writing done."

"A lot. Being back at my parents' was dull in many ways, but it gave me time to think and write and… reflect. I needed it." Liam fixes a smile upon his face as he turns away from the mantle and back toward Trevor. "A feature I wrote is gaining some great steam. I think it's going to be produced over in Britain next year as a television special."

Trevor does not have to fake his excitement. "Liam! That's amazing. Congratulations."

Liam waves off the accolades, swiping his hand through the air. "Who knows? It might not amount to anything."

"But it might!" 

With a shrug, Liam regards the photos on the mantle. "How are your sister and Josh? And the baby?"

"She's growing so fast," Trevor says. "My parents and I are going down there for Christmas. I have a ton of pictures."

"I'd love to see them."

Trevor pulls out his phone but stops and says, "It's really good to see you. I'm sorry about--"

"It's all right." Liam shakes his head and paces a few steps over the living room carpet. "I needed time. I'm glad I took it. And while I'm not sure I'll ever be thrilled with what you did, I understand now."

"You do?"

"Yes. I might not love it, but…"

"I never, ever wanted to hurt you," Trevor says. The words have been trapped in his brain for far too long, almost spilled out in so many e-mails and texts and voicemails over the past several months. "But I thought going through with the wedding and bottling it up would be worse--"

"I know! And I see that now." Liam rests on the arm of the sofa. "Being angry gains me nothing. I'll always be sorry things didn't work out--especially as far in the process as we got--but if you weren't certain, you did the right thing by calling it off."

Trevor feels himself let out an exhale that he didn't even know was pent up inside him. "Thanks. I mean--I'm so sorry. The whole thing was such a mess."

A wry smile breaks across Liam's face. "It wasn't fantastic, I'll give you that much." He sighs and walks over to the window. "I spent a lot of time being angry."

"I kind of got that from all the ignoring my messages and stuff."

"The entire thing was fairly humbling. But when I set my ego aside, I do understand it. Being bitter or angry--it accomplishes nothing. It doesn't restore what I thought we were going to have. And my family has been a tremendous help."

"I'm sure. I just… I'm sorry you got hurt." Trevor runs a hand through his brown hair, which has grown a little too long in the past few weeks. "I'm really glad you came by."

"I wanted to catch up. It's lovely to see you." Liam slaps his hands on his legs and stands. "Now show me those photos of your adorable niece before I do get upset."


After letting Alex into the house, Sarah Fisher locks the front door and leads him toward the kitchen.

"I'll wake him up in a minute," she says, setting the baby monitor down on the counter. "I didn't think he'd nap this long. He's been fighting it so hard lately."

Alex laughs. "He's probably wearing himself out running all over the place."

"Oh my god. Just wait 'til you see--I can't take my eyes off him for three seconds. He's into everything."

"That's what I'm here for. Give you a little break."

"And to spend some quality time with your brother," Sarah says as she opens a cabinet. "Water? Anything else?"

He shakes his head. "I'm fine. Thanks." He folds his hands together and pauses, knowing that this transition is going to be awkward no matter what.  "Jason told me about you and Matt."

"Yeah. I wanted to tell you myself," Sarah says, her eyes darting momentarily toward the floor. 

"Sarah." He waits until she looks up, and he forces her to make eye contact with him. "I'm happy for you guys."

Her shoulders appear to drop several inches out of relief. "Thank you. I wasn't sure…"

"It's great. You guys have always been… meant to wind up together. Matt is a great guy. I'm glad Billy's going to have this family around him."

"You're part of that family." She goes to the refrigerator and fills her glass from the built-in water filter. "You still have no idea how sorry I am about how things turned out with your father…"

"Graham brought a lot of that on himself," Alex says, a torrent of emotions swelling inside his chest. 

"He wasn't wrong about Matt and me--at least, about the feelings between us. Neither of us ever let go of that, and it wasn't fair to Graham."

"Maybe not, but you didn't force him to do what he did to Matt."

"No." Sarah takes a drink of her water. "Just wish I'd learned that lesson a little sooner."

"People make mistakes," Alex says. "Errors in judgment. It doesn't make them bad people. I'm sorry I lashed out at you guys the way I did after Graham died."

"I totally understand." She smiles and picks up the baby monitor. "I'm gonna go get Billy. I know he'll be excited to see you."

"I'm excited to see him."

Sarah leaves the kitchen. As he listens to her footsteps moving up the stairs, Alex replays their conversation, unable to keep thoughts of his own situation with Trevor and Liam out of his mind. 


Travis steps off the elevator and storms down the hallway. He tries his key in the door and finds it locked; it occurs to him that his mother might not be home, that he might have come all this way for nothing. But when he enters the apartment, he finds her emptying the dishwasher in the small kitchen.

"What are you doing here?" she asks, stepping around an open cabinet door. "Dinner isn't for three hours."

Travis stops only a few steps into the apartment. "Is it true?"

Claire's face twists with confusion. "What?"

"You and Elly's dad?"

He watches his mother's expression turn to stone. 

  Claire Fisher

"Guess so," he says, letting his arms fall limply to his sides. 

"It isn't what you think," she finally says.

"How? You're dating my ex-girlfriend's dad. How long has it been going on? Since before Elly left?"

"Yes." Claire folds her arms. "We aren't dating."

The information swirls around in Travis's head for a moment. "Ew. Mom. Gross."

"No! I ended it. As soon as I found out who he was."

Travis feels like a balloon that's just had a needle stuck into it. "You didn't know who he was?"

She shakes her head. "We met at 322. It was never serious. We didn't even talk much about our children--I knew he had an adult daughter, but I never got her name. As soon as I realized the connection, I ended things with him."

Travis is formulating his response when Claire unexpectedly plows onward:

"Not for anything, but I'm allowed to see whomever I want to see, Travis. I ended it because it was way too complicated, and complicated is not what I need right now. But I can't spend the rest of my life walking on eggshells, trying not to do things that might upset you."

"It's just weird," is all he can say.

"I agree. Really weird." She takes a few steps closer toward him. "I'm sorry about what happened with Elly. It stinks. But I hate that you hear something and come in here expecting that I intentionally did something to upset you."

"I didn't think that," he says weakly.

"You did. And I get it. The last few years have been like… being on an out-of-control rollercoaster for you, I'm sure. They have been for me, I know that much."

He swallows hard. "I'm sorry."

Claire nods. "It's fine. And it's over between Jimmy and me, all right? Now let's try and have a nice dinner tonight. Tempest should be home from work in an hour or so."

"Cool." He looks at the open cabinets and drawers. "Can I help with the dishwasher?"

"I'd appreciate that," Claire says, giving him a warm pat on the back as he heads for the kitchen. 


Are Claire and Travis finally ready for a breakthrough?
Is Liam right to forgive Trevor the way he has?
Does Alex still have feelings for Trevor?
Come over to the Footprints Forum to discuss it now!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

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