Episode #772

- After coming out of her coma, Sabrina Gage--the woman whose identity Shannon Parish stole--showed up in King's Bay. Jason was skeptical about her intentions. On her way out of town, she had a fender-bender with Philip, who wound up offering her a job as his assistant. 
- Diane witnessed a kiss between Samantha and Tempest and contemplated turning to Alex for advice.
- Alex ran into Samantha and Tempest at an LGBT club night and promised Samantha that he wouldn't tell her mother he had seen her there. 
- Ryan proposed to Danielle, and they once again became engaged. 


The springtime rain has halted for the time being, but the concrete steps leading up to the courthouse's entrance are stained a dark gray when Ryan Moriani and Danielle Taylor emerge from the building. 

"You have no idea how happy this makes me," Ryan says, holding up the manila envelope that contains their newly acquired marriage license.

Danielle wraps her arm around his. "I have some idea."

They make their way carefully down the steps and pause at the bottom.

"We have a lot of planning to do," Ryan says.

"I know! Do you really think we can pull off a surprise?"

"Yes. Of course. We'll invite everyone for a dinner and then spring it on them that it's actually a wedding. We just have to do it soon, because I don't know how long I can keep my mouth shut about this."


"And I promise this one will go better than the last time."

"Ryan." Danielle takes a step back from him but intertwines their fingers. "That's in the past. You've changed. We've changed. I would not have agreed to marry you if I thought there was a possibility things would go badly again."


"No still. It's over. It's done. You don't need to apologize for it anymore."

Ryan swallows a rush of words as he stares across the street at the luscious green of the park. He recalls one of the darkest times in his entire life, when--depressed and drunk, reeling from the rejection of both his families--Danielle found him passed-out on a bench in that very park and took care of him. That was the beginning of all this; he can hardly believe they have come this far. 

Finally he turns to her. "How did I get so lucky?"

Danielle simply smiles back and then leans in to kiss him. A car soars by in the street, the sound of its tires on the wet asphalt pulling them out of their reverie.

"Should we have dinner to celebrate?" Ryan asks.

"Definitely. I need to go back to the house for a little bit, though. Brent's coming to pick up the twins, and I need to make sure they're packed."

"Okay. Why don't you come to my house when you're through? I'll make reservations someplace nice."

"That sounds wonderful." She brings her lips to his once more and lets the kiss linger as a man walks past them, as if they are hoping their happiness in this moment will prove contagious.


"It really is a strong story," Diane Bishop says as she closes the cover of her iPad. "Like I said, the scene at the museum was distracting--it's suspenseful but doesn't lead anywhere--and, overall, I think you could push your main character more."

"In what way?" Alex Marshall asks from across the dining room table, where he sits tapping out notes on his laptop.

"Come on. I know you have some aggression of your own you need to take out. And you've got this character out to avenge this thing that's been hanging over her for years and years. Make her more vicious. Let her get uglier. You know?"

Alex nods along as he types up the thought. Only once he is finished does he stop to process it.

"Yeah," he says. "I think I know what you mean."

Diane smirks. "Just imagine it's Liam she's going after."

"I don't know if I get to act vengeful toward him…"

"Oh, please. That bastard screwed you over. If you can't take your anger out on him, let your character take it out on everyone else."

The synapses in Alex's brain start firing in that old familiar way, the rush of ideas and possibilities that never stop feeling like a magical gift. 

"I can't thank you enough for reading this," he says. "Your feedback is always such a huge help. And this way I can punch it up before I turn it in to Tim."

"Happy to do it."

"Well, I owe you dinner or something."

Diane waves off the suggestion. "Stop--"

"Seriously. I insist."

"You don't owe me anything." She falls uncharacteristically silent for a moment. "Although if your offer to listen still stands…"

"Of course," Alex says, though his chest tightens at the prospect, given his recent run-in with Samantha and his suspicion that what Diane wants to discuss is related to the same subject. 

She takes a deep breath. "Here's the thing. You know I love Samantha unconditionally. She's always kind of marched to the beat of her own drum, and I love her more for it. And she's so intelligent, and she's kind in a way that sometimes makes me wonder if she's really my daughter."

"She's a great kid. Young woman, I mean."

"She is. So a while back--New Year's Eve, actually, when you could tell something was bothering me--I saw something, and she doesn't know I saw it."

He swallows hard. "What did you see?"

"I saw Samantha and Tempest… kissing."

"Oh. Wow." He gives that a few seconds to sink in; he certainly didn't expect it to be something so decisive. "They don't know you saw?"

"I don't think so, no. It could've been a one-time thing, but I don't get the impression that it is."

"They're close friends."


"And does it… bother you?" he asks tentatively.

"No! I mean, look. There are people I think would be a much better fit for Samantha than Tempest. She's got a hell of a mouth on her, and she's not exactly a bastion of achievement--"

"She's done pretty well, considering where she's had to come from," Alex interjects. Jason has told him plenty of times how impressed he is by Tempest's work at the arena and what an asset she is to have on staff.

"I guess. But she's also close with Claire. And you know how I feel about her."

Alex chuckles and closes his laptop so that he can focus on this conversation. "So what's bothering you is that Samantha could be involved with Tempest?"

Diane shrugs one shoulder in half a confirmation. "Kind of. But I also don't know if this is the first time, or if it's something she's been doing for a while, or if she's struggling… I guess I'm hoping you might have some insight into her side of things, so I have some idea what to do."

Her phrasing catches him off-guard. "Why do you think I know anything?"

"Because you're gay and had to deal with coming out?" she says warily, as if it might be a trick question.

"Oh. Yeah. Everyone's process is different, though. And a lot has changed in the world since I came out. Kids are coming out younger and younger. Same-sex marriage is legal here. And Samantha has grown up knowing gay people."

"That's why it worries me that she hasn't said anything to me yet." Diane flops back against the dining room chair. "If she conflicted about it? Does she think I won't be accepting? Or has something happened to traumatize her--?"

"You can't know any of that without talking to her," Alex says.

"Then I should ask her flat-out?"

"No. No, no, no." He shakes his head vigorously to underscore his point. "She could feel put on the spot or, I don't know, accused."

"Then what the hell am I supposed to do?"

"Let her know you'll be supportive," he says. "Subtly, I mean. You don't need to slap a bunch of rainbow stickers on your car--"

"Good. That sounds tacky."

"--or start carrying on about how much you love Rosie O'Donnell--"

"Good. Because I don't."

"Remind her that you have gay friends and you regard them just the same as your straight friends, that kind of thing. If you see or hear something on the news about same-sex marriage, mention how glad you are that the tide is turning. That kind of thing."

"So I have to wait for her to open up to me?" 

"Let her come to you in her own time. Be patient."

She groans. "You know how I feel about being patient."

"I know. But you can do it this once. For your daughter."

"I guess she's worth it," Diane says.


"Once the order has been filled, we indicate it like this," Philip Ragan says, leaning over to highlight a row of the spreadsheet in vivid yellow.

"I can do that," Sabrina Gage says. She takes a moment to orient herself with the computer's controls. "Sorry, it's been a long time since I used a Mac. We have a PC at home."

Philip smiles at her. "That's okay. Take your time."

Sabrina nevertheless quickly highlights the following row in yellow. 

"I know this is all very dry," he says as he pushes his chair back from the sleek steel desk. 

"Oh, no. It's exciting, just to be working and to be around your art, to see how you create. It's been a long time since…" She goes quiet, and Philip sees a certain darkness crowding out the sunniness that she has radiated since the minute she arrived today. 

"Since what?" he finally asks.

"Nothing. Since I was inspired, I guess. It was time for me to get out of Iowa." 

"Well, good. I hope this will be a productive arrangement for both of us, and all this record-keeping should be balanced out by the days you get to spend on shoots with me."

Sabrina brightens and rubs her hands together. "Yeah! That will be really cool."

Their conversation is interrupted by the sliding of the heavy metal door. Spencer Ragan appears in the loft's entrance.

"Hey," he says uncertainly, taking in the sight of his older brother and this woman he has never seen before.

Philip rises from his chair and pushes it in. "Spencer, I'd like you meet Sabrina Gage, my new assistant. Sabrina, this is my brother, Spencer."

"It's really nice to meet you," Sabrina says as she stands up and quickly crosses the loft to shake Spencer's hand.

"You, too," he says. They shake, and he removes his jacket. His navy tie has already been loosened, and the top button of his dress shirt is undone.

"Spencer works at Vision Publishing," Philip explains as his brother moves to the kitchen.

"Wow. You guys have such fancy jobs," Sabrina says. "My dad's been a mailman my whole life."

"I've been really fortunate to be able to make a career as a photographer," Philip says. "Sabrina, you can head home if you'd like. I think we've covered a sufficient amount for today."

She shakes her head, as if to loosen it up. "Whew, yeah. I have lots to remember. Say, do you guys know if there's a K-Mart or something around here? I have to pick up a few things for my new place."

As Sabrina slips into her black windbreaker, Spencer stands at the open refrigerator and throws Philip a stupefied look.

"There's a Target off the next exit of the highway, if you're heading east," Philip says. "They should be open for a few more hours."

"Great. Thank you. For everything, really. Today has been so cool." Sabrina picks up her backpack from beside the door. "I'll see you tomorrow. It was nice to meet you, Spencer!"

"Same," Spencer says, giving her a wave as she leaves.

Philip helps pull the door closed behind her. Spencer waits a beat before he shuts the refrigerator and speaks.

"Did she literally fall off a turnip truck?" Spencer says as he uncaps a bottle of water.

"She's very sweet," Philip says. "She's also very eager to do a great job and learn--which is more than I can say for some people who have been my assistant in the past."

"Ten-to-one she shows up with a plate of Rice Krispie treats before the week is over." Spencer undoes his tie and pulls it off. "I'm gonna go change and then we can go grab dinner?"

"Excellent." Philip watches his brother disappear into the back area of the loft and then sets about straightening up the workspace through which he and Sabrina spent all day combing.


Ryan picks up the remote control and flips off the television. Tonight's evening news seems to be a litany of depressing stories about local crime and tragedy, and as much as he feels that it is important to be informed about events taking place in the world around him, the procession of upsetting news threatens to drag him down on this otherwise wonderful day. He sets the remote back on the coffee table and crosses the room to a mirror, where he straightens his sweater and dress shirt in anticipation of Danielle's arrival.

When he feels satisfied with their appearance, he takes a step backward and is unable to keep from noticing the bar right in front of him. It used to house a slew of decanters and bottles, and it was often his refuge after a difficult or troubling day. Now the crystal ice bucket remains, but the liquor has been replaced by a decorate set of glasses.

There was a time when it would have been impossible for him to imagine never drinking again, but he is doing it now. It has been over a year, and even though the urge hits him from time to time, he keeps finding himself capable of pushing it down, over and over, like a leak that he keeps having to re-plug.

The sudden sound of glass shattering rips him from his thoughts.

What the hell was that? he wonders. His body stiffens as he waits for some follow-up noise, some clue about where that came from.

"Hello?" he calls out as he exits the living room to survey the house.


After Jason gets home from work and is able to stay with Sophie, Alex decides to get out of the house for a bit so he can analyze his draft in light of Diane's notes. He heads out into the damp evening, goes to Cassie's, and orders an herbal tea to enjoy while he works. He is navigating his way to a table in the back area when he spots Samantha Fisher huddled over her own laptop with laser-sharp focus.

"Samantha. Hey," he says as he approaches her.

She looks up with a start. "Oh. Hi."

"Working on something for school?"

"Yeah. I have this paper due for my American Renaissance class on Thursday, and it's..." She holds up her hands and exhales loudly, which completes the thought pretty adequately. 

"I can't say I miss those days," Alex says with a little laugh. 

"Yeah." She falls quiet and seems to be lost in thought. "Do you have a few minutes?"

"Sure. I guess so. Why?"

"I've been wanting to talk to you about something. That night I ran into you…"

"At the Lookout." Taking her cue, Alex pulls out the chair across from her and sits down. He sets his tea on the table and his messenger bag at his feet. 

"I'm sorry if I snapped at you that night," she says, twisting her face as if it pains her even to recall that night. 

"If that was snapping, you are officially the nicest person I have ever met."

"Well, I know I was probably being weird." She draws a deep breath. Alex recognizes this moment all too well. He can actually feel the same anxiety that Samantha must be feeling at this moment; no matter how many years go by or how comfortable he becomes with his sexuality, he still carries with him that fear that his secret could bring everything crashing down at any time.  

"It's okay," Alex says softly.

"The thing is…" Another deep breath. "There kind of is something going on. With Tempest and me." She tosses the words out there and then freezes, as if she has just fired a gun and is waiting to see what kind of damage the shot does. 

Alex forces his face to walk through the steps of surprise. "Really? Wow. I wasn't sure if…"

"We're not, like, a couple. I don't know."

"But you like her."

"Yeah." A small grin spreads over her mouth. "I do."

"Have you discussed this with anyone else?"

She shakes her head, and then horror spreads over her face. "Alex, please, you can't--"

"This stays between us. I promise." He mimes zipping up his lips and locking them with a key. "You don't have to say if you don't want to, but is this your first… experience with another girl?"

Her cheeks flush with red. "Yeah. Or with anyone, really. So I haven't been sure…"

"You'll figure it out. It'll take some time, but you will."

"I hope so. I'm just so old, you know? I feel silly still figuring this stuff out--"

"First of all, you are not old," he says. "Secondly, you shouldn't be on anyone's schedule besides your own." 

"Okay." She picks up her cup and sips contemplatively. "Do you think my mom has any idea?"

Alex's nerves tingle as he does his best to keep his expression neutral. "I don't know. Have you talked to her about it at all?"

"No. Maybe I should."

"Do you feel ready to?"

"I'm not sure."

Alex chooses his next words carefully. "Well, for what it's worth, I've never known your mother to be anything but accepting."

"But she's Diane Bishop." Samantha's eyes widen, another gesture that perfectly expresses the subtext behind her words. "She has… strong opinions."

"She isn't a bigot. Not even close. And she loves you and wants you to be happy."

"Yeah." Samantha seems to be turning that over in her head, checking the math to be sure that it is correct. 

"When you feel ready, I have no doubt that your mother will be open and accepting and love you every bit as much as she always has." Alex pauses, one more thought nagging at his consciousness, and he finally decides to spit it out: "If I can give you some advice, though, make sure you separate the issues. Coming out and announcing that you're in a relationship are two separate things. Even the most accepting of people might need time to make a mental adjustment to what you've told them--so springing a relationship on your mom at the same time could feel overwhelming."

"Okay. That makes sense." Samantha exhales again, but this time she sounds relieved. "Thank you for listening. I don't know why, but it feels so good to say it out loud to someone."

"I understand. Believe me." He gathers his things and stands. "I'll let you get back to your paper, and I have plenty of work of my own to do. But if you do need to talk, please get in touch. Okay?"

"Thanks, Alex."

He finds a table open by the opposite window and attempts to settle into his work, but his brain keeps flashing back to his conversations with mother and daughter. He feels that he did a good job of not betraying anyone's confidence, but the last thing he wants is to incur the wrath of Diane Bishop--or complicate Samantha's coming-out process.


The rain starts to trickle down again while Danielle is driving, and by the time she pulls into Ryan's driveway, it has picked up considerable momentum. She grabs her umbrella from the back seat and uses it to shield herself as she hurries to the front door. 

She leaves the umbrella on the covered porch and uses the key that Ryan gave her to let herself into the house. Only after hanging her coat on the rack beside the front door does she become aware of how quiet the house seems.


There is no response--nor is there the familiar hum of a television from the living room or water running in the kitchen or any of the other normal sounds one might expect.

"Ryan?" she asks again, her voice louder. But he does not answer her.

She goes to the stairs and listens for the shower. Maybe he is still getting ready. But she does not hear that, either. She is about to go up the stairs when something catches her eye at the end of the hallway.

"Ryan?" she calls out once more as she makes her way to the study, where the light is on. It normally wouldn't be unless--

She freezes in her tracks when she comes to the doorway. The first thing she sees is the curtain fluttering in the breeze. But the window is not open; it is smashed, leaving a jagged, gaping hole in the pane. Her gaze tracks down to the floor, where it finds a pile of glass.

And then she sees him. He lies face-down on the carpet, his gray sweater stained with a pool of crimson.

"Ryan!" she screams as she hurries toward him.


What happened to Ryan?
Did Alex handle things the proper way?
Can Philip and Spencer help Sabrina settle in?
Discuss it all in the Footprints Forum now!

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