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- During a night out clubbing, Liam finally learned that Trevor cheated on him with Alex during their engagement. 
- Philip returned to King's Bay, but Molly shot down any chance of them rekindling their relationship. 
- Brent filled Jason in on the investigation into Sandy's murder and explained that they needed to verify that it was really Shannon who died several years ago.


"I have the worst news in the world," Alex Marshall announces as Jason Fisher bustles into the kitchen, still buttoning the cuffs of his striped shirt.

Jason can tell from Alex's tone that he is half-kidding--at least a quarter-kidding, for certain. "How could 2015 be more of a mess than it's been already?"

"The coffeemaker has officially bitten the big one." Alex flips the on/off switch, but the machine does not light up, and there is no trace of the oddly comforting gurgling noise that it makes while brewing. "And yes, it's plugged in. I checked."

"Okay, that is bad news."

Jason comes over to the inspect the machine himself. There are grounds in the filter, there is water in the tank, the plug is indeed in the outlet, and yet nothing happens. 

"I guess it could be worse," he says.

"I have a bunch of writing to do this morning," Alex says, "so I'm not sure what could be worse than not having coffee."

  Alex Marshall

"Point taken. At least I can grab some when I get to the arena. You might have to put on real clothes and actually venture out into the world."

Alex looks down at his gray sweatpants, wrinkled t-shirt, and loose cardigan. "Ugh." 

"So if you're writing," Jason says, "does that mean you and Liam sorted things out?"

"No. He still hasn't returned any of my texts or calls. I don't know what to do. I'm just making tentative changes to the script based on what the studio said, and I guess I'll send them to him for his thoughts…" 

"I'm sure he just needs some space." Jason unplugs the coffeemaker, carries it to the other end of the counter, and tries it in another outlet. Still, nothing happens. "He's embarrassed and lashing out."

Alex's stomach flips at the mere thought of what happened at the club the other night, after he accidentally revealed to Liam that he and Trevor had slept together while Trevor and Liam were still engaged. He has known all along that he was walking a tightrope in keeping that secret and being Liam's friend and collaborator--but once Trevor called off the wedding, he had hoped it would remain a secret anxiety. 

"He does have reason to be angry at me," Alex says. "I sort of lied to him for… well, the whole time I've known him."

"But it wasn't really your place to tell him what happened, either. That was between him and Trevor."

"I don't know. Maybe." Alex grimaces and toys with the hem of his cardigan. "Is there some universal law that one of us has to have a disaster of a personal life at all times?"

"I don't know if I'd call mine not a disaster yet. I'm just getting back on the horse."

"Sounds like you did more than just get back on it…"

"Gross." Jason picks up a dishtowel from the counter and swaps it at Alex, who quickly puts up both hands to deflect it.

"Seriously, I'm glad things are going well with Natalie," Alex says, snatching the towel away from Jason. "You deserve to be happy after everything you've been through."

"Now if we could just figure out what the hell happened to Sandy so we don't need police guarding the house anymore, things would be awesome--"

"Daddy!" interrupts a distressed voice from upstairs.

Jason moves swiftly toward the hallway. "What is it?"

"I can't find my pink sneaker!" Sophie calls out.

"Look under the bed. Her stuff is always under the bed lately," Alex says. 

"Thanks. I'm gonna go deal with that," Jason says, "and then take her to school."

"And I'm gonna clean myself up and go out and buy a new coffeemaker."

"Awesome. Look at us, getting shit done." 

"Yeah. Look at us. Real grown-ups," Alex says with a laugh as Jason hurries out of the room and up the stairs.

KB Memorial Hospital

The desperate bleating of the phone at the nurses' station tears Claire Fisher's attention away from the chart she is filling out, but as she moves for it, the nurse who is supposed to be covering the desk swoops in with a diet Coke--probably her third of the morning, knowing Carol--and answers the call. Claire looks back to the chart and is about to resume writing when she senses someone standing in front of her.

"Hey there," Brent Taylor says as she looks up.

She smiles and pushes her dark brown hair back behind her ear. "Hey. What are you doing here?" 

"Had to follow up on something in the morgue. Nice way to start the day, huh?"

"Start? I've been here since 4:30. Get it together, Lazy." 

Brent grins back at her as she clicks her pen several times in a row. 

"How are things going?" she asks.

"Enh. This whole case feels like I'm trying to grab onto smoke. We get a lead and it evaporates. I'm still waiting to hear about whether they could do any DNA testing on Shannon's remains. The most promising thing we have to go on are those two bloody footprints. I have officers following up with every person who was at that party about what shoes they were wearing."

"You're going to solve it," Claire says. "I know you will."

"I need to--for Sandy and for Jason. He seems to be holding it together, but I can only imagine how anxious it's all making him."

"Yeah." She sets the pen down on the counter. "And how about you?"

"What about me?"

"How are you doing?"

"Me? I'm fine. I dunno."

"Such a guy," she says with a small chuckle. "'I'm fine.'"

Amused, he raises his eyebrows at her. "What am I supposed to say?"

"Tell me what's going on in your life."

"Honestly, not a hell of a lot." He leans forward, placing his elbows on the counter. "Work's keeping me busy. Trying to carve out time with the boys otherwise. You know the drill."


Behind her, the phone cries out again. This time, Carol is there to answer it quickly.

"Listen, I need to get over to the station," Brent says, "but it was good to run into you."

"Same. It's really good to see you, Brent." She pauses for a moment. "If you have time soon, we should get lunch or dinner or something. It would be good to catch up some more."

"I'd like that," he says, smiling again. "I'll give you a call later this week."

"Sounds good." 

With a little wave, Brent turns and heads toward the elevators. Claire picks up her pen again, but instead of returning her attention to the chart, she watches him walk down the hallway and round the corner. 

Thaw Coffee & Tea

With the morning rush in full swing, the shop buzzes just like the caffeine through its satisfied customers' veins. As he waits in line, Jason passes time by checking e-mails on his iPhone and promptly deleting about 80 percent of them.

"Good morning," he says to the barista--also known as his nephew--as he steps up to the register.

"Morning," Travis Fisher says. "Usual?"

"Yep. Has Ryan been in yet?"

"He came through and grabbed his espresso about fifteen minutes ago." Travis takes Jason's debit card, swipes it, and hands it back. "I'll come upstairs and catch up for a minute once my shift is over."

"Sounds good." Jason moves to the end of the bar to await his drink. A moment later, he sees Philip Ragan walk through the front door of the coffee shop. They make eye contact immediately, but there is a stretch of awkward hesitation before Philip raises a hand in greeting. When Jason returns the gesture, Philip approaches him.

"Hi, Jason," he says, his tone even more reserved than usual. 

"Philip. Hey." Jason isn't sure how to address the man to whom his sister recently called off her wedding, especially in light of the ugly way in which the breakup occurred. 

Philip, as always, has the perfect words on hand. "I'm sure you aren't keen on seeing me, but I wanted to offer my condolences about your coach. Your family has always spoken so highly of her."

"Thanks," Jason says. "I'm still in shock, honestly."

"I'm sure. It's… terrifying. I can't imagine losing someone I loved in that sort of way."

"Yeah. And considering…" Jason trails off, but he can tell from the glint in Philip's eye that he comprehends the unspoken statement, the silent reference to Courtney's brutal death. "I'm just trying to focus on keeping Sophie safe. Thank god she's a little too young to really understand what happened. But the thought of raising her in a world where stuff like this happens scares the crap out of me."

"I'm sure."

"I just love her so much, and I…" He realizes that he is rambling and puts a stop to it, forcing a smile. "Anyway, that isn't what we were talking about."

"It's all right. Like you said, the entire thing is shocking."

"That's an understatement."

"Here you go," a female barista calls to Jason, stretching over the counter to hand him his beverage. He thanks her as he takes the cup.

"I won't hold you up," Philip says. "Best of luck."

"Thanks for your kind words about Sandy. And I do hope things work out for you."

"Thank you, Jason."

With a nod, Jason moves past Philip and toward the back door of the shop. He pulls it open, and the crisp chill of the ice arena's air slams into him, roughly welcoming him to the workday.


Alex is upstairs in his room, having just gotten dressed and drying his hair, when he hears the doorbell ring. With a quick glance in the mirror to confirm that his hair doesn't look too crazy, he hurries down the stairs, looks through the peephole, and opens the door.

"What brings you by?" he asks Tim Fisher as a nervous wave rolls through his stomach.

"Is this a bad time?" Tim asks, looking Alex up and down.

"No. I just got out of the shower. Sorry." He steps aside and lets Tim into the house. "I'd offer you some coffee, but our machine died this morning."

"I'm fine. But thanks." Tim slips off his overcoat. "Do you have a few minutes to chat?"

  Tim Fisher

"Yeah, of course." Alex scans Tim's face, trying to read what this is about; all he can tell is that this isn't a casual visit. 

They only make it to the threshold of the living room before Alex blurts out, "Did Liam call you? I know he's upset with me…"

"He is, yeah. But he didn't call me directly."

"Then what happened?"

"Alex," Tim says, before taking a long pause that causes the oxygen to rush out of Alex's body. "Why don't you sit down?"

"I'm fine. Tim, what is it?"

The older man hesitates, but when it is clear that Alex isn't going to move, he explains, "I got a call from the studio this morning."

Alex swallows hard. "What did they say?"

"They got a call from Liam's agent in the U.K." Tim's face contorts; it obviously pains him to speak these words. "He said, in no uncertain terms, that Liam will not be a part of the project if you're still onboard."

"What?" The exclamation tears out of Alex before the words have even fully sunken in. "So he's quitting? We had a--a falling-out, but I didn't realize it was that extreme… I just need to talk to him--"

"He didn't quit."

"Wait. What?"

"Liam doesn't want to step back from the project. He wants you off it."

The statement lands with a thud in the middle of the floor. Alex doesn't even know how to begin responding to that. It's ridiculous, right? He looks to Tim for confirmation of that, but all he finds is that same anguished grimace.

"How can he do that?" Alex asks.

"He's a screenwriter with credits. They told the studio that you were difficult to work with, too attached to the source material--"

"But it's my book!"

"I know. We need to get your agent in there, to see what she can do."

"Yeah," Alex says robotically, but the counterarguments are swishing through his mind: She's a book agent. She doesn't deal with Hollywood studios. Liam's agent was supposed to be representing us as a team.

"What the hell happened between the two of you?" Tim asks. "Did you guys--?"

Alex's cheeks burn. "No. No. It's about Trevor and me--it's a misunderstanding, sort of."

"You need to talk to Liam and try to sort this out before it gets any worse."

"Yeah." Alex reaches into his pockets and realizes his phone is still upstairs. "You know what? I'm gonna go see him."

"Do you think it would help if I spoke to him, too?" 

"No. This is my mess. I need to clean it up," Alex says, hoping beyond hope that that is even possible.


Brent sits behind his desk, an overly wordy e-mail on his computer monitor and a bagel with cream cheese resting on a paper plate on his desk. Though the e-mail requires a somewhat timely response, the bagel is currently commanding his attention. He is finishing a bite of it when the knock on his door, one that he has been expecting, finally sounds.

"Come in!" he calls out, hurrying to finish chewing.

The door opens, and Bernard Albers, the county medical examiner, comes in amidst a flurry of energy. The man, short and balding with thick black glasses that somehow manage not to be trendy, always strikes Brent as one of those cartoon characters who would have a cloud of dust and confusion around him at all times.

Brent rises from his chair. "All right, what do you have for me?" 

Bernard slaps a stack of file folders on the desk. "I'm afraid it's not good news."

"What? Why?"

"You can't do DNA testing on ashes," Bernard says, flipping open one of the folders and pointing to something that doesn't even register with Brent. "Which we knew. But the clothing sample that was preserved in Evidence--"

"There was blood on it."

"It's five years old. It hasn't been preserved properly. I tried."

Now Brent strains to make something of the printout in front of Bernard, but it means nothing to him.

"So that's it?" he asks.

"I'm afraid so," Bernard says gravely. "We have no way of confirming that the body that was cremated was actually Shannon Parish."


Jason finds Tempest on the far side of the rink, shoveling snow from the Zamboni's recent pass over the ice. 

"Good morning," he says cheerfully.

"Hey." She stands the shovel up on its end. "What's up?"

"Ryan and I have someone coming by for a meeting in about half-an-hour. She's from the city's Parks Department. I'm not sure what she looks like, but her name is Amanda. If you happen to see her wandering around…"

"I'll send her upstairs," Tempest says. "That all?"

"Yep. Thanks, Tempest."

She resumes shoveling, and as Jason climbs the stairs up to the office, he hears the heavy Zamboni doors on the side of the rink being closed. The sound echoes through the cavernous area as he ducks into the office, careful to avert his eyes from the A/V booth just down the walkway. Even all these weeks later, it is painful to think about Sandy meeting such an awful end in there. He knows he has to do something about it eventually, but his brain cannot quite tackle it just yet.

"You beat me," Jason says when he sees his brother sitting behind his desk already. He sets down his bag and coffee on his own desk. "Good weekend?"

"Very," Ryan says, looking up from his computer. "Low-key, though. I spent most of it with Danielle."

"Good. I'm glad you guys are doing so well."

"You're telling me. How about you? Sophie was with Don and Helen, right?"

  Jason Fisher

"Yeah. And do I have a story for you…"

Jason plants himself against the edge of his desk and recalls for Ryan the story of how Natalie tried to surprise him by showing up on his doorstep in only a trenchcoat and lingerie--unaware that there were police officers guarding his house, ready to take out any intruders. Ryan is in the midst of a deep laugh, his body folded over as he tries to catch his breath, when Tempest appears in the doorway.

Jason curbs his own laughter enough to ask, "Is she here already? It's early--"

"No." Tempest shakes her head, and her expression is solemn. Jason finds himself sobering up immediately, standing from his perch on the desk.

"What's wrong?" Ryan asks. 

"I think you need to call the cops," the young woman says gravely.

Jason passes a worried look to Ryan and asks, "Why?"

"Because there's some woman here to see you," Tempest tells Jason, "and she says her name is Sabrina Gage."


What is going on at the arena?
Could this be the key to solving Sandy's murder?
Will Alex be able to change Liam's mind?
Come over to the Footprints Forum to talk about it all!

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Wed., February 25, 2015

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