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- Samantha and Tempest admitted that they are interested in one another but agreed to take things slowly. 
- Sarah accepted Matt's marriage proposal, and they began planning an intimate wedding on a short timeline. 
- Natalie had a one-night stand with Spencer before she began dating his uncle, Jason, though they all remained unaware of the connections among them.

322 Bar & Grill

"I can't wait to be on the slopes tomorrow," Travis Fisher says as he signs his credit card receipt. 

"Yeah, me neither." Landon Esco takes the folder from Travis and signs his own receipt. "I can't believe we've barely been out all season."

Travis slides out of the booth. "That's what I miss most about school: the breaks."

"No kidding." Landon grabs one last fry from his decimated plate of food, swipes it through a streak of ketchup, and sticks it into his mouth as he stands, too. "All right. Let's roll."

"You, uh…" Travis points at Landon's face, where a smear of ketchup now reaches out from his bottom lip. 

"You messing with me?"

"No! What kind of pointless joke would that be? 'You've got some ketchup on your face, man--just kidding, I made you wipe your face for no reason!' Here." Travis grabs a paper napkin from the table and hands it to his friend.

Landon wipes the ketchup and tosses the crumpled napkin onto his plate. "Okay. Now let's roll."

The young men navigate through the semi-busy dining room and are nearly at the front door when Travis stops in his tracks and turns back.

"What's wrong?" Landon asks. "What? Do I still have that ketchup on my face?"

Travis shakes his head. Landon looks toward the door and sees Spencer Ragan entering the restaurant. Spencer crosses the few steps toward the host's stand before noticing them.

"I should've trusted my gut when it told me to just hit a drive-through on the way home, huh?" Spencer says, glaring at them.

"I don't know if that'd be such a good idea," Travis says. "You know, since you'd probably just drive through the restaurant, and there wouldn't be anyone around to take the hit for you this time--"

"So clever."

Travis begins to push past him and this time gets the front door open, Landon on his heels, before Spencer speaks up.

"Gonna take your little buddy here home for some fun?" Spencer asks. "You must be lonely since Elly left your dumb ass."

Travis spins back around. "Okay, first of all, get some new material. That's old news. Second, I don't see girls hanging all over you right now."

"Yeah, and C, I wouldn't lay a finger on this idiot," Landon interjects. 

Spencer rolls his eyes and gives them an exaggerated wave. "Have fun, ladies."

"Go to hell," Travis says, exiting the restaurant before Spencer can get in another word.

"Yeah. Have fun. In hell, I mean," Landon adds before following Travis out into the cool night.


Claire Fisher balances the canvas grocery bag on her hip as she fishes her keys out of her purse. She manages to do it without dropping the almost-too-heavy groceries, but of course, when she sticks the key into the door, she finds that it is already unlocked. Quickly she turns the knob and pushes the door open.

"Oh. Hey," Tempest Banks says as Claire enters. 

"I thought you'd be out by now." Claire sets the groceries down on the end table and then takes a real look at Tempest. "Wow. When you said you had plans…"

Tempest's eyes widen as Claire looks her over. "What? It's too much, right? I knew it--"

"Tempest! No. You look fantastic." And it is true. She wears a pair of black leggings, a flowing white top with a wild gold print on the front, and her leather jacket. She even has on a pair of big hoop earrings. It is more dressed-up than her usual attire, but it flatters her. 

  Tempest Banks

"You sure?" Tempest says.

"Very." Claire wriggles out of her coat and hangs it on one of the pegs beside the door. "So these plans you have--do they happen to be a date?"

Tempest shrugs. "I dunno. Maybe."

Claire grins. "Well, whoever it is, she's very lucky. And if you feel like talking about it…"

The young woman holds up an index finger. "Don't push your luck."

Laughing, Claire transports the grocery bag to the kitchen counter. She hears Tempest pick up her keys from the coffee table.

"You're leaving already?" Claire asks.

"Yeah. I don't wanna be late."

"Well, have fun. Be careful. Keep your phone turned on. Call if you need anything. But mostly, have fun."

Tempest's normally tough visage softens with a smile. "Gonna try my best."

"Good. I'll see you later, okay?"

"Later," Tempest says, and with a speed Claire barely remembers from that seemingly long-ago point in her own life, she is gone in a flash. 

Claire sighs contentedly before she proceeds to unpack the groceries. She wishes that Tempest were more comfortable opening up to her about things--but then again, that's what all kids do to their parents, isn't it?


Matt Gray zigzags expertly through the restaurant's kitchen, alive with the bustle of the dinner shift, and arrives at the doorway of his boss's office.

"Here you go," Matt says, wielding a yellow legal pad. 

Bill Fisher looks up from the mountain of payroll work atop his desk. "You're sure?"

Matt winces. "I think so."

Bill waves him in, and Matt hands him the pad. Bill scans the messy handwriting on it.

"Interesting," the older man comments as he reads.

"How? Good? Or bad?" Matt asks. His palms feel clammy in a way that he knows is ridiculous; this isn't an exam. But he wants this to be perfect.

  Matt Gray

"Good. It looks delicious. Why'd you kill the osso buco?" 

"Too complicated. And it's not like Sarah loves it, so… what's the point, you know? We screw it up, people have a bad time. We get it right, no one remembers. The filet's easier." 

"Eddie and I can handle a few osso buco orders if it's what you want. It's a small wedding."

"I know." Matt clamps his hands on the back of a chair and leans forward. "But this is my thing. Sarah's taking care of everything else for the wedding--and she's good at all that stuff. This is the one thing I do well. I wanna make it perfect."

"It'll be perfect because you and Sarah are celebrating that you get to be together. Not because someone's osso buco turned out well."

Matt scratches his neck as he fumbles for words. "I know. But it's… not like you usually get a second chance at this kinda thing. And our first wedding had some, uh, bumps."

"Yeah, a few. But you got married." Bill stands and crosses to the other side of the desk. "It isn't that often you get to give your daughter away to the same man a second time, either. But it feels right."

"I just want this one to be good. What if the way the last one went was, I dunno, an omen or something?"

"You and Sarah went through a very traumatic event. You lost a child. You were grieving. That's why you grew apart. It had nothing to do with Sarah getting locked in a freezer at your wedding--"

"Or Molly going into labor in the middle of it and us having to get married at the hospital."

"Exactly. It will be perfect because the two of you being together is perfect," Bill says.

"Thanks. And I can help out in the kitchen--it takes me ten minutes to get my suit on--"

"No way." Bill laughs. "Eddie and I have this under control. You focus on marrying that beautiful daughter of mine. Okay?"

"Okay," Matt says, his nervous smile settling. "Thanks for everything. I mean it."

"And I mean it when I say it's my pleasure," Bill says, clapping a hand on Matt's back. 


Travis only has to wait outside the building's front doors for 30 seconds or so before a pair of students on their way out hold the door open, allowing him to slip in without swiping a student ID. He decides to bypass the elevator, which he knows from his years living in this building is legendarily slow, and bounds up the stairwell. By the time he reaches his sister's floor, he is a little out-of-breath, though he refuses to acknowledge it and simply takes shallow breaths as he strides quickly down the corridor.

He can see a light coming from underneath Samantha's door as he knocks. It only takes her a handful of seconds to answer.

"Hey," she says, looking more startled than she should, even in light of this surprise visit. "What are you doing here?"

"I was driving home and figured I would try to come grab my ski gloves now instead of in the morning." He looks her up and down; the skinny jeans, boots with a heel, and v-neck sweater with a collared shirt under it are more stylish than she usually goes for. "Figured you'd be studying. Are you going to a party?"

"Oh, no, uh…" Samantha retreats into the room, and Travis follows her inside. "Just going to grab dinner and go to this concert thing they're doing in the amphitheater."

"Oh. Cool."

Samantha bends down to get something from the far side of the bed and emerges holding the black gloves. "Here you go. And by the way, don't ever leave your ski gear in my bag again without warning me. They were so gross."

He gives them a sniff. They smell fresh and bear a hint of potpourri.

"I washed them," she says. "You're welcome. And actually, I need to get going--"

"I'm here!" comes Tempest's voice from outside the door. Both Travis and Samantha turn and take in the sight of her, dressed up for the night out. Tempest freezes when she spots Travis.

"Hey, man. You coming with us?" she asks, her eyes darting toward Samantha.

"Travis just came to get his gloves," Samantha explains, "because he's gross and left them in my ski bag after Christmas."

Travis moves to the door, stepping out into the hall so that Tempest can pass him and come inside. 

"You guys look nice," he says. "Girls' night out, huh?"

"Yep," Samantha says quickly.

"Something like that," Tempest adds, partly under her breath. 

"All right, I'm out," Travis says. "Thanks again, Sam. Have fun."

"Have fun skiing!" Samantha calls after him. "Don't let Landon fall off the chair lift again."

Travis grimaces. "Yeah, no promises there. Catch you guys later." A millisecond later, the door closes behind him. 


Spencer is hunched over a plate of fish and chips at the bar, his sleeves rolled up messily and his tie loosened. He catches a glimpse of himself in the mirrored wall behind the liquor and nearly has to do a double-take. He looks like such an adult. Such a boring adult. This isn't at all how he thought his early 20s would be.

He picks up another fry and is munching on it when he hears a little boy's laughter rip through the dining room. Instinctively, he turns to see where the raucous sound came from--and that is when he sees her. 

Natalie Bishop stands by the host's stand, focused on her phone as she waits to be helped. She is dressed casually, in skinny jeans with flats and a red coat buttoned up. Spencer realizes he is still staring when she looks up and locks eyes with him. He can tell that it takes her an instant to place him.

He raises a hand in a tentative, awkward wave, and she does the same. Seeing that she isn't with anyone, Spencer hops off his stool and goes over to her. This might not be such a bad night, after all. 

  Spencer Ragan

"Is this the only place you ever come?" he asks, a grin forming on his lips as he feels himself settling into a more comfortable, flirtatious mode.

"Right?" She folds her arms. "Funny running into you here."

"Yeah. Pretty weird. Sorry I, uh, never got in touch. I didn't mean to blow you off--just been busy with work--"

She holds up a hand. "It's totally fine. You don't have to apologize for anything."

"Cool. You getting dinner? I'm sitting at the bar, if you want to…" He lets the sentence trail off, knowing that the rest is clearly implied.

"I'm actually not staying." She nods her head to indicate the hostess, who is approaching with a takeout bag.

Spencer shrugs. "I mean, you could… or I'll finish up real fast and come meet you…"

Natalie thanks the hostess and takes the bag. "I'm, um… I'm actually seeing someone. I'm bringing this over to his house." 

"Oh." Spencer feels himself deflating and issues his body and mind a command to hold it together. He puffs out his chest. "That's cool. I actually have plans later, anyway. Just figured I'd ask."

She smiles, though there's something patronizing about it that causes his blood pressure to spike.

"Have a good dinner," she says before heading out the door.

Spencer refuses to acknowledge the hostess's look and heads straight back to his spot at the bar. What does he care about some chick he banged once? Let her go eat burgers with whatever old guy she's dating. It's not like it makes any difference to me, he reasons as he slides back onto the stool and picks up his fork. 


"What's the big emergency?" Claire asks as Travis comes barreling into the apartment.

"Landon and I are going out to the Pass to ski tomorrow," he explains as he gives her a hurried hug, "and I realized my gloves were at Sam's, so I went over to get them, and then I'm driving home and Landon texts me that he can't find his gloves, and I remembered I had that extra pair here, so…"

"I hope you weren't texting while you were driving."

"Oh my god, Mom." Travis groans and pulls open the hallway closet. He begins moving plastic crates out of the way until he finds one with his name on it. "Why do I still have all this crap here?"

Claire laughs. "That's a good question."

"I just saw Tempest, actually," he says as he gets on his knees to dig through the crate. 

"Really? Where?"

"She was just getting to Sam's. I guess they were going to some show on campus."


He is so busy searching for the gloves that he doesn't notice the shift in Claire's demeanor, the way she turns inward a bit.

"Ah! There. Thank god." He sets the gloves aside and hastily repacks the crate. "I would've been so pissed if he didn't realize he didn't have gloves until the morning."

"I'm sure you guys will have a great time," Claire says.

"Hoping so. Thanks again," he says as he puts the crate back in the closet.

Claire feels her words sticking in her throat. "Do you want to stay for dinner?"

"Already ate. And I need to get back to Dad's and get to bed so I can be up early. But thanks. We should do dinner soon."

"Yeah. Of course." Her face feels like a clay mask as she forces it to look unburdened. "Have fun with Landon."

"Thanks." In a flash, he and the gloves are gone.

Claire closes the door. Tempest said she had a date. And then she went to Samantha's. She got all dressed up to go to Samantha's. And she was glowing about it. Claire leans against the door, these thoughts swirling around in her head as she attempts to process what she knows must be true.


Will Claire tell Tempest and Samantha what she knows?
Was Spencer more hurt by Natalie than he let on?
Will Matt and Sarah's wedding go off without a hitch?
Come on over to the Footprints Forum to talk about it all!

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Wed., March 25, 2015

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