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- Ryan and Danielle reunited romantically.
- Samantha became upset when Tempest implied that coming out shouldn’t be such a big deal for her, but the girls later made up and had a more rational discussion. Tempest said she was willing to wait for Samantha to figure things out.
- Alex brought Liam out for a night with Cameron and his friends. He became uneasy when Trevor showed up at the club. Later, a drunk Trevor cornered Alex outside and kissed him--unaware that they were being watched.


The hot rush that comes with Trevor Brooks's kiss is so familiar. It washes over Alex Marshall, lips and tongue that drag him back to some of the greatest moments of his life, and he kisses back like a thirsty man in the desert. He didn't know how much he missed this--or maybe he did, and he didn't want to admit it. But he is lost in their kiss, oblivious to everything around them, to Samantha Fisher and Tempest Banks sitting on the ledge watching them, to Cameron's friend, Andrew, who stops in his tracks at the sight of them, marvels for a moment, and then ducks back inside. 
"Hey, man! You gonna order?"
That's what does it. Alex snaps out of it, yanks himself out of the kiss, and realizes that he is now at the front of the line for drinks. Head spinning, he leans toward the bar.

"Sorry about that," he shouts to the bartender over the music, before ordering drinks for himself and Cameron. 
Trevor lingers beside him as he waits. "That was nice," he says, his words floppy with drunkenness.
Alex's instinct is to agree, but reality is crashing down upon him now.
"We shouldn't have done that," he says. 

  Alex Marshall

"Trevor. We can't--"
"Then tell me you didn't like it."
Alex opens his mouth. Nothing comes out. 
"Say it, Alex. Say you didn't enjoy that, and I'll leave you alone."
"It doesn't matter if I did." Alex pauses as the bartender sets the pair of drinks in front of him. He hands over a 20-dollar bill, takes his change, and leaves two singles on the bar as he picks up the drinks. Trevor is still waiting there when he turns back.
"Just listen to me for a minute," Trevor says.
Feeling incredibly self-conscious, Alex scoots over toward the wall. 
Trevor takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, as if trying to summon something, and then spits out what he has to say all at once: “Do you know what I’ve spent the last year doing? Traveling for work and visiting Lauren’s baby and just trying to keep busy to keep my damn mind off you. And I don’t feel like I’m any closer to understanding this.”
“There’s nothing else to understand,” Alex says, frustration rising up inside of him, though he isn’t sure if it is directed at Trevor or at himself.
He starts to move away, but Trevor stops him with a hand on his shoulder.
“Just answer me one question,” Trevor says. “If we--if I--hadn’t messed up when I got back to King’s Bay, if I’d just told you I was engaged up front, would it be different now? Would you feel okay being with me now that I’m single?”
Alex sighs. If. If. If. He has been playing that game with himself for so long.
“I don’t know,” he says. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to bring Cameron his drink.”
He heads back inside the club before Trevor can stop him again.
On the dance floor, Andrew quickly finds Cameron, Liam, and Gideon dancing to Iggy Azalea.
“Where’s your drink?” Gideon asks.
Liam slows his dancing but tries not to appear to be paying too much attention. But it is clear from the way Andrew shakes his head that he completely forgot about getting their drinks.
“What happened?” Cameron asks, inserting himself right in front of Andrew. “You went outside?”
“Yeah.” Andrew’s attention shifts from one of them to the next, but Liam feels that there is something strange about it, especially about the way that he regards Liam now.
“I just saw something,” Andrew says. “I don’t know. It’s drama.”
Liam could swear that he sees Cameron’s face light up.
“What kind of drama?” Cameron asks.
Andrew twists his face for a few seconds, either legitimately tortured or putting on a good show of it, and then uses a hand to sweep his platinum hair out of his eyes.
“I feel like I should tell you,” Andrew says at last. “I saw Alex kissing some guy out there--that tall guy who came over to say hi to us before.”
“Trevor?” Cameron asks, eyes widening.
Liam suddenly feels dazed, the club spinning around him, the music distant and odd. All Andrew can do is nod in confirmation.
Under the firm streams of water, a cloud of steam filling the tiled shower to surround him, Ryan Moriani feels the stress of the week melting away. Normally, he would be tempted to stand in here forever--but not tonight. He turns off the shower, slides open the frosted glass door, and grabs a fluffy white towel to dry off.
A minute or so later, the towel cinched around his waist, he makes his way into the master bedroom, where Danielle Taylor lies in the bed, wearing an oversized black t-shirt, with the covers pulled up to her waist. Her attention is half-fixed upon a home renovation show on HGTV or one of those stations; Ryan can never tell the difference. He simply watches her for a long moment, relishing the sight of her in his bed, the knowledge that she is here to be with him. The thought puts him even more at peace than the shower did.

“How was your shower?” she asks.
“Not quite as good as what came before,” he says with a wink. He slips into the walk-in closet and locates a pair of boxer shorts, some pajama pants, and a t-shirt.
When he emerges, now dressed, Danielle asks, “How do you feel about dessert?”
Ryan stops in his tracks. “Isn’t that what we just had?”

  Ryan Moriani

She grins. “I mean actual dessert. Ice cream? Cake?”
“That sounds good, too.”
“I can go check the kitchen and see what’s there,” Danielle says, throwing back the covers.
“I don’t think there’s anything there. Which I know because I polished off the last of the ice cream last night.”
Danielle laughs. “You pig!”
“I know, I know.” He walks back to the bathroom and hangs the towel. “I’ll tell you what. Why don’t I run out and grab something?”
“You don’t have to do that--”
“The store is five minutes away. And it would be my pleasure. Anything to make you happy.”
“Ice cream is a pretty good way to do that.”
“I thought so.” He leans over the mattress to give her a kiss. “Now for the big question.”
Danielle tilts her head. “What’s that?”
“What flavor of ice cream do you want?”
The pulsing beat envelops Samantha Fisher as she follows Tempest Banks back inside the club. They quickly find their friends, Steph and Maria, up by the bar where they left them.

"Sorry, I just needed some air," Samantha says, still a little embarrassed at how she stormed outside earlier, but the other two girls clearly are not bothered by it or didn't notice to begin with.

"We were just talking about going to see that stupid 50 Shades of Grey movie tomorrow," Steph leans closer to explain. "Wanna come?"

"No way!" Tempest shakes her head vigorously. "Nuh-uh. No way am I paying money for that trash."

"We can sneak in a flask!" Maria says, grabbing Tempest's forearm. "It'll be funny."

"Y'all are nuts," Tempest says, her head continuing to wag back and forth.

Samantha listens to them debating the merits of this outing; she feels as if she should have something to add, but she worries that she will sound stupid wondering why anyone would pay money and spend time watching something that she knows she's going to hate. She is internally debating this when she feels a tap on her shoulder, so she spins around.

Standing in front of her is a Hispanic girl, close to her age but probably a few years older, with long, black hair falling over her shoulders. She is pretty--not strikingly so, but with a pleasant, rounded face. Her skin glows with the unmistakable sheen of someone who's been drinking, and her eyes wobble around to corroborate this fact. 

"Hi," Samantha says uncertainly.

"You're really pretty," the girl says.

"Oh." Samantha isn't sure how she is supposed to respond. Is the girl serious? Or is she just really drunk or making a joke? She decides to err on the side of politeness: "Thanks. You, too." 

"Yeah." The girl reaches up and touches her hair. Samantha flinches involuntarily. "I love thick girls."

"Thanks?" She doesn't want to sound bitchy, but it's kind of a weird compliment. 

"So much to grab onto," the girl says, her words sloshing together. She juts out a hand to grab Samantha's backside. Reflexively, Samantha swats the hand away.

The girl recoils. "I'm just tryin' to show you some love."

"I don't even know you," Samantha says. "I'm not okay with you touching me like that."

"Way to be a bitch about it." The girl folds her arms. "What, you got that many other girls tryin' to get with you? I don't see none of 'em around here. You should be grateful--"

"Okay, I'm gonna go back to my friends," Samantha says, a sharp edge to her voice as she turns back around. 

"Did you see that?" she asks Tempest, who has been engaged in a spirited conversation with Steph and Maria. 

"No, what?" Tempest says, as Samantha feels another, more annoyed tap on her shoulder.

"You're just gonna turn your back on me like that?" the girl asks. It sounds like a challenge.

"I asked you not to touch me," Samantha says. "If you want to have a conversation--"

"What's the problem?" Tempest cuts in. Samantha can practically feel the heat of rage radiating off her.

"Your friend's a real ungrateful bitch," the girl says. 

Tempest turns to Samantha. "This chick buy you a drink and you didn't say thank you?"

"No," Samantha answers.

"Exactly. 'Cuz I just got you a drink." Tempest slings an arm over Samantha's shoulders. "She's with me. So you might wanna get moving."

The girl folds her arms, takes stock of them for a minute, and then rolls her eyes. "Whatever." She turns and walks away, nearly tripping on the stairs down to the dance floor.

"The hell was that?" Tempest asks, dropping her arm.

"I have no idea. She told me I was pretty, and then she said something about… liking 'thick girls,' and she tried to grab my butt--"

"I would've smacked her then!"

"I don't usually smack people."

"If you're gonna hang around a bunch of drunk lesbians, you better learn," Tempest says. "You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks for jumping in."

"No problem. And hey--that's a big step."

"What do you mean?"

"You just got hit on," Tempest says, "and it wasn't a big deal that it was a girl--just that she was a creep."

"Yeah. Big milestone," Samantha says through a laugh.

"It is!" Tempest takes a quick sip of her drink. "Now are you gonna help me talk these two out of dropping 15 dollars each to go see that piece-of-crap movie, or what?"

Alex takes a long sip of his drink as he navigates through the crowd and back to the center of the dance floor. He hopes that all traces of what happened outside will miraculously be gone by the time he finds his friends. But when he does reach them, he feels four sets of eyes zero in on him with uncomfortable intensity.
“How was outside?” Cameron asks, an unmistakable edge to his voice.
Alex tries to hand him the drink, but Cameron waves it off.

“Uh, what’s going on?” Alex asks, scanning the four of them for some hint.
Finally Liam steps forward and jabs a finger into his chest. “I can’t believe you.”
“You and Trevor! Did you think I wouldn’t find out? How long has this been going on?”

  Liam Cassel

Alex swears that he can feel his heart drop straight through his stomach. His numb fingers struggle to maintain their grips upon the two drinks, which now seem ridiculous.
“Answer me,” Liam says.
“What do you want me to say?” Alex swallows hard as he attempts to gather his words, the right words, any words, but it is as difficult as grabbing a handful of water.
“I want a bloody explanation! You work with me, you bring me out, you pretend to be my friend--and all the while, you’re shagging the man who left me practically at the altar?”
“Whoa. I’m not shagging Trevor--” Alex looks around for help but finds none.
“So it was an isolated incident, then?” Liam asks, his wild eyes daring Alex to lie to him.
“Yes! How did you--” Someone bumps into Alex from behind, and one of the drinks spills over the lip of the plastic cup and washes over his hand. “We weren’t even friends then, Liam! I didn’t even know he was engaged. If I could go back and change what happened--”
“What? Change what?”
A horrible realization strikes Alex, like an anvil racing down from the ceiling to crack him over the head.
“Nothing,” he says hurriedly, trying to turn away.
“Not so quick.” Liam snakes around to land, once again, directly in front of Alex, blocking his escape path. “You and Trevor slept together?”
“We--” He knows that he has already given himself away, that he can’t talk his way out of this, and frankly, it isn’t his mess to explain away, anyway. He isn’t the one who cheated. He didn’t even know Trevor was engaged.
“I’m not sleeping with Trevor,” Alex says.
Liam’s face is flush with exasperation and rage as he searches for a comment, a retort, something to put Alex in his place. And then Alex sees this go from bad to worse, as Trevor comes up behind Liam. Trevor instantly reads the tension between them. 
“What’s going on?” he calls out over the music.
Liam whips around and reacts to his presence with a start.
“You bastard,” Liam says, before pulling a hand back and slapping it hard across Trevor’s cheek.
The store is blessedly empty at this late hour, save for the employees stocking shelves and a handful of shoppers with very specific goals moving briskly through the store. Ryan heads directly for the freezer aisle in the middle of the store and stops short when he sees someone he knows all too well standing in front of one of the glass doors.
“Same idea, huh?” he says as pleasantly as he possibly can. Tim Fisher turns, surprised, to regard his half-brother.
“Ryan. Hi.”
“Danielle wanted dessert, so I decided to run out and get something,” Ryan explains, not even sure why he is saying it other than to fill the tremendously awkward cavern between them.
“Seems like you guys are doing well,” Tim says as he pulls open the freezer door, though he continues scanning and does not reach for anything in particular. A basket with a handful of items sits at his feet. 
“We are. Yeah. Thanks.” Ryan’s mind is suddenly in overdrive; it is so rarely that he and Tim are face-to-face like this, just the two of them. At family functions, everyone seems so aware of not putting them--well, not putting Tim--in this uncomfortable position, but now there is no buffer.
“How about you?” he asks, feeling the need to make this normal. “What are you up to tonight?”
Tim turns, again looking surprised, and then lets the freezer door drift shut. “Not much. It was a long week at work. I’m just grabbing a few things and then hunkering down for the night.”
“Good. Listen, Tim…” Ryan sees that he has the other man’s attention and hurries to make sense of the thoughts zig-zagging through his mind. “I know we don’t really talk much--not that we should--but I just want you to know how much I appreciate you allowing me to be a part of the family. I’m sure it can’t be easy for you, after everything that happened, but… you’re more gracious about it than just about anyone else on Earth would be. And I don’t want you to think that I take that for granted.”
Tim takes several seconds to turn that over in his head, and Ryan tries to read his expression, to get some sense of whether he has completely misfired.
Finally Tim bows his head slightly. “Thanks, Ryan. I appreciate you saying that.”
“Yeah. Of course. You’ve--I can never tell you how sorry I am for the things I did to you and to Claire and the entire family.”
“I know you are.” Tim again opens the door and, this time, grabs a container of something, too quickly for Ryan to tell what it is. As the door closes again, Tim says, “And thank you for being there for Jason the way you have. It’s been a huge help to all of us.”
“It’s the least I can do,” Ryan says.
“Yeah. But it’s something. Have a good night, Ryan.”
“You, too.”
Picking up his basket, Tim turns the corner and is gone, leaving Ryan to process the encounter. It wasn’t something he intended to do tonight, but it has long been in the back of his mind, and he feels a certain weight lifted off his shoulders now that he has expressed those feelings to Tim--and not had them completely rebuffed.
He tries to focus on the wall of colorful cartons in front of him, eager to return home to Danielle.
The sting of Liam’s hand against Trevor’s face somehow seems to rise over the booming music. Alex, Cameron, and the others freeze in complete shock, as do several other people dancing nearby.
Trevor’s gaze moves from Liam to Alex.
“You told him?” he asks.

“I cannot believe you two,” Liam says. “Pretending to care about me and then carrying on behind my back.”
“We have not been carrying on,” Trevor says, his voice sharp with annoyance.
“I swear, we haven’t,” Alex says, softer. “It happened once, Liam. That’s it.”
Trevor’s eyes bulge. “You told him that?”

  Trevor Brooks

“I thought he knew!” Alex says.
“Andrew saw the two of you kissing outside,” Liam says, “and Alex was all too happy to volunteer the rest.”
“I thought that’s what you were talking about!” Alex cuts in.
Liam snaps toward him. “Shut up. And I thought you were my friend. And you--” He stares Trevor down. “Did you ever want to marry me at all? Or was it all some grand joke?”
“Of course I did,” Trevor says. “Liam, come on--”
“No! I bet you both think I’m such a fool. A right idiot, yeah?” Liam shakes his head. “You can both go to hell, for all I care.”
He turns and storms out, his shoulder bumping into Alex as he goes. The two drinks slosh over Alex’s hands.
Cameron grabs one of the half-empty cups from Alex. “I thought you were a good guy. But sleeping with your friend’s fiancé? That’s pretty shitty.”
“That isn’t how it happened,” Alex says, but Cameron doesn’t care. He turns his back and goes back to dancing with his friends.
“What the hell was that?” Trevor says, looking around them at the undulating bodies.
“I have no idea.” Alex takes a slug from the drink left in his hand, unsure what else he is supposed to say or do.

Will Liam ever forgive Alex and Trevor?
Should Alex give in to his feelings?
Can Ryan and Tim remain at peace?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to talk about it all!

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Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015

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