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- The Brooks family held a funeral service for Roz, seemingly the latest victim of the Footprint Killer.
- Tori was annoyed to see Philip and Molly acting close. Spencer invited her to join him at an end-of-summer party at the beach.
- After Roz's funeral stirred painful memories of laying Ryan to rest, Danielle bought a bottle of wine. 
- Natalie chided Helen -- still facing charges for Sandy and Ryan's murders -- for showing up at Roz's funeral. Unable to handle all the attention, Helen told Don she was going to take a cab home.


The soft blue sky hangs lazily over the evening as Tori Gray makes her way down to the clearing by the water. The summer heat has dulled to a comfortable level, and when she reaches the beach, she removes her shoes and carries them with one hand as she enjoys the soothing warmth of the sand on her feet. She nervously scans the beach, but she doesn’t spot Fee C. or Ian among the throng of college students talking, laughing, and dipping their feet in the water.

She finds Spencer Ragan near the keg, a red plastic cup in his hand as he talks with a guy and girl whose bodies are almost alarmingly intertwined.

“Hey! You made it!” Spencer says. “Guys, this is my cousin, Tori. Tori, this is David and Amanda."

Tori greets them, and Spencer grabs her a cup from the plastic bag beside the keg. He pumps the keg and pours Tori a beer.

“Do you go to KBU?” Amanda asks as David buries half his face in her hair.

“Yeah. I’m gonna be a sophomore. How about you guys?"

  Tori Gray

David comes up for air for a brief moment. “We just graduated."

“Shit,” Spencer mutters, and the others turn to see what has caught his attention. An older woman stands at the entry to the clearing, surveying the scene.

“Who invited her?” David says with annoyance.

“I’ll get rid of her,” Spencer says.

Tori grabs his arm. “Wait."

“What? You’re not 21, right? Put your cup down."

“That woman,” Tori says, the cup still clutched between her fingers. “Do you know who that is?"

“Oh, shit,” David says. “It’s that lady from the news. The killer!"

Tori nods. “It’s Helen Chase."


“Okay, the girls are all settled with their movie and goldfish crackers,” Lauren Brooks Taylor announces as she returns to the dining room. 

“What movie did you put on?” Jason Fisher asks from his seat across the large, rectangular dining table.

Lauren slides into a chair beside her husband. “Do you even have to ask?"

“I’m sure we’ll here ‘Let It Go’ blaring from the family room soon enough,” Alex Marshall says. 

Natalie Bishop holds her wineglass by its stem, her brilliant red nails standing out against the pristine crystal. “I’m surprised Bree didn’t put up a fight. I think Sophie’s worn her down with that damn movie."

“Sophie’s worn us all down with that damn movie,” Jason says with a laugh as he pours another glass of red wine and slides it across the table to Lauren. 

Lauren accepts the wine gratefully and takes a hearty sip. “Trevor’s still outside?"

“He said he wanted to think,” Josh says, flaring his big, blue eyes. 

“He needs time for it to sink in,” Natalie offers.

“Yeah. Maybe.” Lauren looks out the dining room window into the backyard, and she sees her brother sitting on one of the outdoor lounge chairs, his head in his hands. “I feel bad that we have to go back to L.A. so soon. Not that there’s much I can actually do for him and my dad…"

“You have to take care of yourself, too,” Jason says. “Remember that."

Josh rests a hand on top of his wife’s. “He’s right."

“I know,” Lauren says. "At least Dad is finally sleeping. I don’t think he’s gotten more than three hours of sleep since Mom died. But Trevor… He isn’t good at dealing with big changes like this. He never has been."

Jason sets his glass down on the table. “But you can visit him any time you like. You know we’re always happy to see you."

Lauren nods, her lips pursed with uncertainty.

“Trevor won’t be alone,” Alex says, following her gaze out toward the backyard. “I’m going to make sure of that."


“I know her, sort of,” Tori explains to the others. “Let me talk to her.” Before Spencer can protest, Tori sets off across the sand toward Helen, clad in all black. She stands in place, taking in the party around her.

“Mrs. Chase,” Tori says as she approaches. “Hi."

“Tori!” Helen says with surprise. “What’s going on here?"

“We’re just having a little end-of-summer party. You know, because there won’t be too many more nights like this before the fall weather kicks in."

Helen looks out at the young adults, many of whom have now turned to regard her as if a mountain lion had wandered into their midst. “I thought I would take a walk on the beach to clear my head."

“Yeah, it sounds like you’ve had a rough time lately."

“That’s putting it mildly."

“I promise we aren’t doing anything wrong,” Tori says. “If you could just not say anything — or if you want to stay—"

“Oh, I couldn’t possibly do that!"

Tori lifts one shoulder in a half-shrug. “It’s a public beach."

Before Tori realizes it, Spencer, David, and Amanda have come up behind her.

“Mrs. Chase, right?” Spencer says. He extends a hand toward her. “I’m Spencer Ragan. I’m actually Paula and Bill’s grandson—"

“Oh, yes. That’s right!” Helen’s face lights up with recognition as she shakes his hand. “It’s lovely to meet you."

“As I’m sure Tori told you, we’re just having a little party,” he continues. “Nothing illegal. And no one underage is drinking,” he adds with a meaningful look at his cousin.

“I wouldn’t want to cause any trouble for anyone,” Helen says. “I certainly understand what it’s like to be bothered when all you’re trying to do is live your life!"

“Thanks so much, Mrs. Chase,” Spencer says. “For the record, I don’t believe a word of what they’re saying about you in the media. I know you’re going to be found innocent."

“Yeah,” Amanda parrots. “You’re getting a bad rap."

Helen’s ashen blonde hair blows lightly in the breeze. “That’s very sweet of you to say."

“Would you like a drink?” Spencer asks. “All we have is beer, but if you’d like one…"

  Helen Chase

Tori watches in horror as Helen contemplates the offer.

“I don’t see why not,” Helen says. “I came here to take my mind off things."

Spencer hands her a fresh red cup. “Here you go. I just poured this one.”

“Thank you, Spencer.” Helen holds up her cup. “Cheers. You’re all such lovely young people!"

“Cheers!” the others repeat as they hoist their cups and then drink. 

“Hey, and if you did do it,” David says, “you must’ve had a hell of a good reason."

Spencer elbows him in the side, and Helen gasps.

“I’m gonna go get my cup. Of ginger ale, I mean,” Tori says, and she is surprised when Helen falls into step beside her. 

“You know, I remember when you were just a little baby,” Helen says as they walk. “It’s incredible to think you’re a grown woman now."

“That’s me. All grown-up.” They reach the spot where the keg rests, and Tori takes her half-full cup from the ground, using a hand to conceal its contents from Helen. “They said it was a man, didn’t they? The person who killed Mrs. Brooks?"

“They did. Yes. I was just at her funeral earlier. That’s why I wanted to get out and clear my head a bit."

“I’m sorry.” Tori sips her beer as she tries to figure out what to say next. “I’m sure the police will figure out that you didn’t have anything to do with the other ones really soon."

“I certainly hope so.” Helen gazes contemplatively out toward the water. “How about you? Which one of these handsome young men is your beau?” 

“Oh, I don’t have a boyfriend now. There’s actually someone coming who… well, he kind of treated me like crap. I’m a little nervous about seeing him."

“If he’s the one who treated you badly, he should be ashamed to show his face!” Helen cautiously takes another taste of her beer. “A beautiful young woman should never be made to feel badly about herself because of some imbecilic boy."

“Maybe you can tell him off for me,” Tori says with a laugh.

Helen’s face falls. “I’m afraid I’m no expert at that, either. Today at Roz’s funeral — well, everyone was staring at me, and one awful woman even had the nerve to tell me I shouldn’t be there — at my own dear friend’s funeral! — because of the accusations against me. I felt like I had no choice but to leave."

“That isn’t fair. She was your friend."

“I didn’t know what else to do. I suppose I could have stood up for myself… It just felt like they were all coming after me."

Tori takes another swig from her cup. “You know what you need to tell them?"

“What’s that?"

“‘Don’t come for me unless I send for you!’ Put them in their places. It’s nobody’s business if you go to say goodbye to your friend."

“Don’t come for me unless I send for you,” Helen mutters with a little laugh. “Maybe I’ll try that."

“It’s called throwing shade."

“Throwing shade,” Helen says, as if sounding out the words for the first time ever. “Hmm.” 

“Here’s to standing up for ourselves,” Tori says, lifting her cup again, and the two women toast as the light wind continues to roll in from the tranquil bay. 


Danielle Taylor drinks half the bottle of wine behind the closed door of her bedroom, even though no one else is at home. She hopes that it will help her ease into a nap so that she can forget about going to the cemetery today and having to relive the horrible loss of Ryan. Instead, it gets her head buzzing, and when she lies down, one of her favorite songs runs through her head on what seems like an endless loop, to the point where it overshadows any attempt at sleep. The sun is still balancing on the horizon, a pink-and-blue glow washing over King’s Bay, so Danielle pulls herself out of bed, stashes the half-full bottle in her closet, and takes the plastic cup down to the kitchen, where she rinses it and places it in the dishwasher. 

She sits down at the piano and begins to play. Her fingers feel strangely disconnected from her head, and it takes several attempts before she finds her rhythm. When she does, though, she does her best to go on autopilot. The room seems to slip away into a hazy gray as the piano becomes her sole focus in the world.

“Not everything is gonna be the way you think it oughta be,” she sings quietly, her fingers dancing over the keys. “Seems like every time I try to make it right, it all comes down on me…” The song, as if so often does, seems to penetrate right down to her soul as she plays and sings.

She is yanked from her reverie by the sudden jangle of keys in the front door. Her immediate instinct is to freeze, to stop playing, until she realizes that she is not doing anything wrong, nor is she doing anything out of the ordinary. She allows herself to keep playing the song lightly as Molly and the twins enter the house.

“Hi,” she says, perhaps a little too brightly, as they all remove their shoes.

“How did everything go?” Molly asks as she enters the living room.

“It was fine. Difficult, but fine.” Danielle continues playing, as if the music might somehow help to conceal the strange feeling of the wine inside her, which she is sure is broadcasting itself like a neon sign; at least the piano allows her to avoid much eye contact.

“What are you playing?” Christian asks as he watches her hands. 

“It’s one of my favorite songs ever,” Danielle says. “‘I Shall Believe’ — it’s by Sheryl Crow."

Caleb screws up his face. “Who’s Sharon Crow?"

“Sheryl!” Molly responds with a laugh. She looks to Danielle. “Are we officially old?"

Danielle shakes her head and forces a chuckle. She waits to get to an appropriate spot in the music and then sings, “Open the door… and show me your face tonight…"

Molly and the twins stand back appreciatively as she goes through the second verse of the song. 

“Are those pork chops defrosted yet?” Molly asks once Danielle has finished.

The question strikes Danielle with all the force of a tidal wave slamming through the house. “Oh. No. I completely forgot…” She springs up from the piano bench. “I’m so sorry. I can get them—"

“Danielle, it’s okay,” Molly says. “We have plenty of other food. I can make some pasta and a salad."

“Okay. Yeah.” Suddenly the room is spinning. She can’t believe that she forgot about the pork chops. It was her idea to cook them tonight. “I’ll go put some water on for the pasta right now."

“There’s no rush,” Molly says. “I can do it. Don’t worry."

“It’s no trouble—“ The words are barely out of Danielle’s mouth when she feels inertia rock her body, as her foot snags on the edge of the carpet. She manages to catch herself against the back of the sofa. 

  Danielle Taylor

Molly places a hand on Danielle’s arm to steady her. “Calm down. I’ll start dinner."

“Okay. Thanks.” Danielle smiles and nods; she sees the twins staring at her as if she might be on fire.

They know. They must know, the voice inside her whispers.

“Maybe I’ll go upstairs and take a quick shower,” she says, desperate to escape. “The funeral has me a little out of sorts."

“I don’t blame you,” Molly says, though there is a slight crinkle to her eyes, as if she might be analyzing Danielle. “Go clean up — that goes for you, too, boys — and I’ll get dinner started."

“Great. Thanks, Molly. Sorry again about the pork chops."

Before Molly can reassure her once more that it’s okay — You didn’t need to apologize again, Danielle scolds herself — she turns and heads up the stairs, desperate to be alone in the shower, with the sound of the pounding water drowning out the rest of the world.


Alex excuses himself from the table and, after checking on the children in the family room, uses the sliding glass door in the kitchen to slip out to the backyard. He finds Trevor sitting up on the lounge chair, staring out at the lawn under the fading sunlight.

“Mind if I sit down?” Alex asks.

As if trapped in slow-motion, Trevor cranes his head in Alex’s direction. “You’re the one who lives here."

Alex perches on the adjacent chair. “What are you thinking about?” He allows the question to hang between them for only a second or two before adding, “Stupid question?"

Trevor shakes his head. “I’m never gonna see my mom again."

“It’s weird, isn’t it?"

“I guess you know the feeling,” Trevor says, his eyes widening as if actually seeing Alex for the first time since he came outside.

“I remember it. Very vividly.” He sighs, knowing that no words he produces can fix this for Trevor; still, he has to try. “I won’t tell you to be grateful for the time you had with her, because it isn’t a competition and it’s also never enough."

“I know what you mean, though."

“The things you said about your mom at the service today — they were beautiful. Her spirit really was one-of-a-kind. And that can live on. It will."

Though he nods, Trevor also sniffles, and soon Alex can see that he has begun crying. 

“I just miss her already,” he says through his tears. “I don’t know how it’s supposed to get any easier."

“It will. It doesn’t go away. You… adjust, I guess. When my mom died, it didn’t even seem real for months."

“It seems like a bad dream."

“Yeah. I’m so sorry, Trevor.” Alex scoots over to Trevor’s chair and encircles the other man’s body with his arms. Trevor rocks lightly as he cries. 

“What if I hadn’t picked up that stupid recorder?” Trevor finally says. “My mom would be alive."

“You can’t do that to yourself."

“That guy, whoever he was, he came to get the recorder. My mom died because that thing was in the house."

“Please don’t blame yourself,” Alex says. “You didn’t make that man kill Cameron. You didn’t make him come after the recorder. You didn’t make him do that to your mother."

He can’t tell if Trevor’s silence is a sign of agreement or rejection. 

“What matters now is where you go from here,” Alex says. “You take it one day at a time. You have Lauren, and your beautiful niece, and your dad. And you have me. You have a lot of people who love you."

His body still shaking, Trevor looks up. “Do you mean that?"

“Of course I do. And I’m here for you. Never forget that."

Trevor leans harder into Alex as his sobs deepen, a cry for the mother he will never again see alive. 


“I suppose I should be going,” Helen says, an empty, weightless cup in her hand. The sun continues to lose its battle to stay afloat, and a deeper blue sky threatens to overtake the beach. “Thank you kids for having me. It’s been a long time since I did something like this!"

“Hey,” David says, his words slurred, as he pokes Helen in the arm. “If they do let you off, you should write a book like OJ did — you know, If I Did It.” He winks with all the subtlety of Godzilla stomping through a busy city. 

Tori smacks him in the shoulder. “Don’t say that!” She is about to apologize to Helen when something across the beach catches her eye.

“Oh no,” she says, almost under her breath. “They came."

Ian and Fee C. stand at the edge of the clearing, evaluating the party.

“That’s them?” Helen asks.

Tori groans. “Couple of the year."

Helen regards the pair. “That boy looks like an oaf. And your friend’s bikini top is more than a touch too small to be out in public. She looks like a trollop!"

Spencer lets out an involuntary howl at the comment, which immediately draws Ian and Fee’s attention. The two make their way over the sand toward the little group.

“Didn’t expect to see you here,” Fee says with disdain as she eyeballs Tori.

“She’s my cousin,” Spencer says. “You guys have some balls, being rude to her—"

“This again?” Ian interrupts, with a hard roll of his eyes, as if it’s a two-hour lecture he has had to sit through every day for the last ten years. 

Fee notices Helen grimacing at her.

“Who’s the old broad?” Fee asks. “And what’s wrong with her?"

“She’s a family friend,” Tori says.

“And she might’ve killed some people,” David pipes in.

Ian and Fee react with confusion before it dawns on them why Helen seems familiar. But before either of them can acknowledge that, Helen speaks up.

“Your name is Fee C.?” she says, her tongue heavy from the two or three beers she has consumed. “That’s very unfortunate."

“Helen!” a voice calls out from across the way. All heads turn to see Don Chase waving at Helen.

“That’s my husband,” Helen explains as he hurries over, moving unevenly through the sand.

“There you are,” he says as he comes closer. "Why didn’t you answer your phone?"

“It’s in my purse.” She indicates the small black bag slung over her shoulder. “I guess I didn’t notice it vibrating. I’m fine!"

“I was worried!"

“How did you find me?"

“I used that Find My Phone feature that the man at the Apple Store told us about.” He looks around in horror. “What would the judge think if he found out you were at some beer bash with a bunch of co-eds?"

“We have a sockhop later, too,” Spencer whispers to Tori. 

“Everything is above-board.” She hands Tori her cup. “Thank you all for your hospitality. I should go."

“Yeah, it’s weird that you’re here,” Ian says. “Should’ve known you would do something like that, Tori."

Helen turns back and jabs a finger at him. “Don’t come for her unless she sends for you!” She looks to Tori. “Did I get that right?"

Tori smiles. “Pretty good. Bye, Mrs. Chase!"

“Bye, kids!” Helen waves as Don leads her off the beach.

“Now I need a beer,” Tori says to Spencer, pointedly ignoring Ian and Fee.

“Let’s go.” Spencer leads the way toward the keg.

As they linger behind, Ian looks at Fee as if he has just noticed that she has two heads or three arms. “Your name is Fee C. That’s kinda gross!"


Lauren returns from checking on her daughter, who is happily lying on a blanket playing with her toys and watching the television, and finds Natalie in the kitchen, opening another bottle of wine. To her recollection, it is the first time they have ever been alone together, and she can see that fact is dawning on Natalie, too.

“Are the kids okay?” Natalie asks as she pulls the corkscrew from the bottle.

“Yeah. They’re fine.” Lauren leans against the kitchen island. “I’m glad he has you."

Natalie looks up with surprise. “Jason?"

“I was worried he wouldn’t ever let himself find someone else,” Lauren says. “And Courtney was my best friend. But he seems happy with you."

Natalie visibly exhales; it is clear that she was collecting herself for a fight. “Thanks for saying that."

The sliding door opens, and Alex enters, followed by Trevor.

“Look who’s come to join the party,” Alex says.

“Do you want a glass?” Natalie asks, already retrieving one from the hanging rack. Before Trevor can answer, she has placed it in his hands and is filling it with the contents of the newly opened bottle.

“We should probably go after this glass,” Lauren says. “I don’t want to leave Dad alone for much longer."

“Just this glass, then we go,” Trevor agrees.

“Guys, come in here!” Natalie calls. A moment later, Jason and Josh file in from the dining room.

“What’s going on?” Jason asks, but a smile crosses his lips when he sees that Trevor has come inside.

Natalie raises her glass. “I think a toast is in order."

Jason takes her lead and lifts his own glass. “To Roz Brooks — an amazing woman who gave us two terrific friends. She’ll never be forgotten."

“To Roz!” the others say, and their clinking glasses send a series of melancholy chimes into the night.


What comes next for Trevor and Alex?
What did you think of Helen’s outing?
Will Danielle be able to stop drinking?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to talk about it all!

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Friday, Sept. 25, 2015

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