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- After finding a bottle of vodka in Danielle’s closet, Molly asked Brent to speak with his sister as soon as possible.
- Natalie and Helen squared off over Natalie’s increased role in parenting Sophie, now that she’s moved into Jason’s house.
- Tempest was shocked when her mother showed up at the arena.

Edge of Winter Arena

“What’s the matter, Tempest? Ain’t you gonna introduce your boss to your mama?"

Despite the vastness of the empty Edge of Winter Arena all around him, Jason Fisher suddenly feels very claustrophobic. He stands between two women, one an employee whom he has come to consider a member of the family, and the other a stranger who has just declared herself to be Tempest Banks’s mother.

Tempest looks the other woman dead in the eyes. “No. I’m not.” Then she whips back around to Jason. “What’d you wanna talk to me about? We can go upstairs."

“You hold it right there,” the other woman says. “I’m your mama. I came all this way to see you—"

“After all this time? No thanks."

“I’ve been worried sick about you, girl. Didn’t have a damn clue where you got off to. Then I go on my Facebook and I see some video about you getting robbed—"

“You see me? I’m fine. I’m fine!”

Jason hangs back awkwardly. He knows that it isn’t his place to intervene, but he can tell how upset this is making Tempest. And he definitely knows that he has no place being a witness to the charged conversation between these two women.

“I missed you at home,” Tempest’s mother says.

“Yeah? Where the hell is home these days?"

“I have a little place—"

Tempest throws up her hands. “I don’t care. Do. Not. Care. If you wanted me to stay, you should’ve made it a place I wanted to be. The kinda place I was safe.” She looks back to Jason. “I’m gonna meet you in the office."

With that, Tempest stomps up the stairs. Jason watches the intensity with which she grips the railing as she goes. He sees Tempest go into his office and shut the door.

“I’m real sorry about that,” her mother says. “She always had that kinda wild temper."

Jason finds himself surveying the woman. She wears tight, dark jeans and a black jacket with a sheen to it; a leopard-print headband holds down her dark hair. There is a worn quality to her face, despite the smoothness of her skin.

“It’s really none of my business,” Jason says. “But Tempest is important to me, and she’s a grown woman. If something’s upsetting her…"

“I don’t wanna do that. Not at all. Just wanna see my baby girl. See that she’s okay.” She swivels her neck to take in the arena. “This is a nice place. How long she been working here?"

“A few years.” He extends his hand. “Jason Fisher."

“Yvette Banks.” She shakes his hand, and he notices her long, red nails. “Is my Tempest doing okay? She happy?"

“I think she is. She’s a great young woman. Smart and loyal and— well, feisty."

Yvette’s lips, colored to match her nails, curl up. “That’s my girl. Can you do me a favor?"

“I’m not sure if—"

“Something easy. Here.” She goes to the skate counter, scribbles something down on the corner of a sheet, and tears it off. When she hands it to Jason, she sees that it is a phone number.

“That’s my number. Mind holding onto it? In case Tempest changes her mind about seeing me? I got a lot to say to her. I’m gonna stick around town for a minute."

He nods and tucks the scrap of paper into his pocket. “I can do that."


Once Molly leaves to pick up the twins from their after-school activities, Danielle Taylor returns to her room and picks up the guitar that has been lying on her bed. With her hair still wet from the shower, she strums out what she was working on earlier, hoping to reconnect with it and find someplace new to take it. But her brain resists and, knowing that the house is empty, something from the closet calls out to her.

Within minutes, she has retrieved the bottle of vodka from her closet and is down in the kitchen, mixing some into a glass with lemon-flavored seltzer water and ice cubes. She picks up the glass and feels the bubbles tickling her nose. A sense of excitement fills her as she anticipates the rush of that first sip. 

She takes one gulp, then another. It’s as if she can feel the liquor coursing through her veins, calming her, making everything a little bit easier to handle. As she realizes that the glass is already half-empty, she reaches again for the vodka bottle — but startles when the doorbell rings.

  Danielle Taylor

She pushes through the panic as she looks around the kitchen. That vodka has to go somewhere. What little alcohol Molly keeps in the house — usually a bottle or two of red wine — usually resides in one of the lower kitchen cupboards. If there were more bottles, that would be the perfect option, but an entire extra bottle of vodka would be far too obvious if found there. She opts to stash it beneath the kitchen sink, where the robust collection of cleaning supplies and items would make it impossible to spot the vodka if someone were to open the cabinet door before she has the chance to move it again. With that taken care of, she hurries to open the door.

“Hey,” Danielle says with surprise when she opens the door to find her brother standing there. “Were you supposed to come get the boys? I didn’t think—"

“No. I came to see you."

She tries to suppress the alarm that rises within her. 

“Mol’s not home yet with the kids, is she?” Brent asks.

“Uh, no. She only left a few minutes ago."

“Okay, good.” Brent heads for the kitchen, and Danielle closes and locks the front door. She follows him — and nearly collapses when she sees the half-full glass on the counter by the sink. How could she have forgotten?

Luckily, Brent doesn’t seem to notice it. He strides toward the table and takes a seat.

“Why don’t you come sit down?” he asks. There is a tenseness, a seriousness, to him that has her feeling very on-edge. This is the flip side of that wonderful buzz she gets from those first glorious sips of a drink; now her head is humming loudly, and she has to keep pushing the noise aside so that she can focus. 

“I’m fine,” she says as she leans against the counter, blocking the glass from his view.

“Okay.” Brent pauses and nods his head, though she doesn’t know exactly why. “How are you? Molly said you’ve been writing a lot."

“Trying.” She reminds herself to stay bright. Positive. “I’m coming up with a lot of ideas I love. Just trying to work them out into full songs. I had almost forgotten how hard it is. But it’s what I love."

“I know. I’m really glad you’re writing again. You’ve been through a lot. It’s a… it’s a healthy outlet."


Danielle feels as if an invisible hand has reached into her stomach and started twisting her organs. She is certain that Brent can somehow see through her, see that damn glass behind her.

“I’m fine, Brent. I am.” As casually as she can, she pivots, picks up the glass, and turns on the faucet.

“Just listen to me,” he says, irritated by the sudden rush of water.

“I am."

She dumps out the contents of the glass into the sink. 

“What is that?” he asks, suddenly on his feet. 

“It’s nothing. Just cleaning up.” But she feels Brent right behind her now. 

“Are you sure?"

She refuses to look at him as she rinses out the glass. “I’m sure."

“Danielle. Come sit down with me. Let’s talk."

“I said I’m fine!” 

Brent backs off a step or two, but she can feel his gaze burning into her. She moves for the dishwasher, but he intercepts her and grabs the glass. He lifts it to his nose.

“What was in there?” he asks.

“What are you talking about?"

“What was in the glass? Why did you have to clean it out right this second?"

“Because I don’t like the mess—"

“Danielle. Please be honest with me.” He grips the glass between both his palms. “What was in this glass?"


“There is no Mrs. Dawn Chase! It’s Don, and he’s my husband!” Helen Chase presses the cordless phone to her ear as she stands in the living room of her home. “And I’ve had just about enough of your calls. I don’t want to switch cable providers!"

“What on Earth is going on in here?” Don asks as he hurries into the room.

“It’s another one of those solicitors,” Helen says.

“Just calm down. Hang up.” He holds up both palms as if surrendering. “Let it go."

Helen brings the receiver to her mouth for one more statement: “And take us off your list, please!"

She ends the call but continues clutching the phone.

“Getting that worked up isn’t good for your blood pressure,” Don says as he guides her to the sofa.

Helen hesitantly takes a seat. “I know. It’s that awful Natalie. She’s still got me all steamed up from earlier!"

He takes the phone from her and places it on the coffee table. “I’m sure it was just a miscommunication."

“It wasn’t! Courtney is probably rolling over in her grave at the thought of that indecent woman becoming Sophie’s stepmother."

“I’m sure what Courtney would want is for Sophie and Jason to be happy. And it seems that Natalie makes them happy."

Helen narrows her eyes at him. “Please. It’s only a matter of time before Jason realizes how she’s pulling one over on him. Probably for his money! I just hope he comes to his senses before it affects Sophie."

Don stares down at the carpet for a lengthy moment, attempting to gather his wits.

“Things might not go the way you’re hoping,” Don says calmly. “And we’ll have to work to accept that."

“I don’t want to accept it! I should be able to bring my granddaughter cookies."

“You did! And she’ll eat them."

“Not if that witch has anything to say about it."

“You don’t know that. I’m sure Jason will want Sophie to enjoy the cookies.” He takes his wife’s hand. “Why don’t we go out for a nice dinner and try to forget about this for the rest of the night?"

“I don’t think I can forget it,” she says, “but dinner sounds nice."

“It will be.” Don plants a kiss on her forehead. “And this will all work out. I promise."


As he steps out of his car in the driveway, Alex Marshall pauses to check himself out in the driver’s side window. Thankfully, he looks very much like he could have been out writing at a coffee shop all afternoon — not holed up in a hotel for a much-needed midday romp with Trevor. Grateful that he bothered to shower before leaving the hotel, he takes his messenger bag from the trunk and goes up to the house.

Inside, he follows a cacophony of voices to the kitchen, where Natalie Bishop is preparing dinner as Sophie and Bree sit on stools at the breakfast nook and chatter with — or maybe at — her. 

“It smells great in here,” Alex comments as he sets down his keys.

“Mom’s making a chicken!” Bree announces.

“It’ll be ready in about half-an-hour,” Natalie says. “Roasted chicken, asparagus, and this kale Caesar salad that I hope I don’t screw up."

  Alex Marshall

“I didn’t know you were such a cook,” Alex says.

“I was a housewife for years. It’s all still up here.” She taps an index finger to her head. “Do you girls want to set the dining room table?"

“Can we use the nice napkins?” Bree asks.

“Knock yourselves out."

With the explosive energy of young children, Sophie and Bree race toward the dining room.

“Thanks for doing all this,” Alex says. “Is Jason home yet?"

“He texted me a little while ago. He had to stop by the arena to take care of something, but he’ll be home in time for dinner.” Natalie places her oven mit on the countertop. “So, how’s Trevor?"

Alex freezes. “Huh?"

“You were with him, weren’t you? Your cheeks are totally flushed. Unless you’ve been out for a run in jeans and a sweater…"

He feels the heat rushing into his face. If his cheeks weren’t flushed before, they certainly are now. “Guilty."

“Things are good with you guys, then?"

“Very. Yeah. It’s nice. It’s been a long time since we were… this on the same page."

Natalie smiles. “I’m glad. You deserve to be happy, Alex."


She moves to the oven, where she turns on the light and peeks at the roasting chicken.

“Something kind of weird happened this afternoon,” she says, more quietly than before. “I’m wondering if you have any… I don’t know, insight."

“What’s wrong?"

“Helen came by. She brought muffins and cookies. And the girls wanted to have cookies… but I told them to wait until after dinner because they’d already had their snacks. Helen lost it on me."

“Lost it? How?"

Natalie sighs. “She accused me of body-shaming Sophie and starving Bree and all this nonsense. And she threatened to run to Jason and tattle on me."

“Oh, god. Helen is… I know she can be a lot."

“That’s an understatement. I was only trying to be responsible — I don’t like Bree having a lot of sugar, and that’s my decision to make as a parent."

“Yeah, of course."

“Anyway, I’m nervous that she’s going to run to Jason and make me sound like some evil stepmother."

“Jason knows how Helen can be. She’s concerned about Sophie — and that’s her right — but she’s always worried about losing her because Courtney isn’t around."

“I get that. I just wish she wouldn’t take it out on me."

“Yeah. I’m sorry about that.” Alex offers an encouraging smile. “But I’m glad you’re here. So is Sophie. And Jason definitely is. You’ve made such a difference in his life."

“And he has in mine.” She touches her rounded stomach, which pushes out the black spandex shirt beneath her emerald green hoodie. “We’re having a kid. And I hate having all this tension around it, you know?"

“Believe me, I understand. Helen will adjust. She’s going to have to accept your place in Jason and Sophie’s lives eventually."

“I hope so."

“For what it’s worth, I’m pulling for you and Jason,” Alex says. “I’m happy you’re going to be here for him when I move out."

“Thanks, Alex. Would you mind keeping this between us? I don’t want to stir anything up if it isn’t necessary."

“No problem."

The sound of a crash from the dining room interrupts them.

“Bree!” Sophie shouts.

“I’ll go check that out,” Alex says. “Thanks again for cooking."

“Thanks for listening.” 

Alex ducks out to the dining room, and he never sees the satisfied grin that spreads over Natalie’s face as she watches him go. 

“Perfect,” she says to herself before she returns to her cooking. 


Jason climbs the stairs and finds Tempest in his office. He closes the door to give them some privacy.

“You okay?” he asks. “I take it that was a surprise."

“A nasty surprise. Did she leave?"

He fingers the scrap of paper with Yvette’s phone number on it that sits in his pocket. “Yeah."

“Good. I don’t ever want to see her again."

“Tempest…” He paces the floor as he searches for the proper words. “I don’t know why you ran away—"

“No. You don’t.” She levels that same stern glare upon him that she gave Yvette earlier. “And you’re not gonna."

  Tempest Banks

“Okay. It’s your business. But if you ever do want to talk… there are a lot of people who would listen. Claire, Samantha, Travis, me…"

“Yvette is not worth talking about.” She shakes her head, as if to free herself of the entire matter, and then seems to transform back into the Tempest he knows so well. “What’d you wanna talk about?"

“It’s actually about the arena,” he says, leaning against the edge of his desk. “You’ve been a huge help with scheduling and stuff—"

“I was just doing that ‘cause things got so backed-up,” she says, defensiveness slicing through her voice.

“I know. And I appreciate it. This isn’t me asking you to back off. It’s me asking you to come work up here."

Her eyes go wide. “What? Really?"

“Yeah. I haven’t wanted to hire someone new since Ryan died, but if I’m being honest, I’m overwhelmed. I need someone up here who knows the ins and outs of the arena the way you do."

“I don’t know all that finance stuff the way Ryan did—"

“That’s okay. I’ve been outsourcing a lot of that anyway. And if I can get some help with the day-to-day stuff, I can focus on bigger-picture things, anyway.” He pauses for a brief instant. “Did I mention it comes with a pay raise?"

“And not having to shovel snow and deal with those stinky-ass rental skates?"

Jason laughs. “You’re done with all that. If you accept."

“Hell, yeah, I accept!”

“Good. I need you up here."

“Oh, man. Thanks, Jason."

“No, thank you. You’ve been such a huge help around here. You’ve earned this."

Tempest beams. “When do I start?"

“After you handle the check-ins for the evening freestyle,” he says. “Sorry. Somebody’s got to do it."

“It’s fine. I got it.” She heads for the door but turns back. “Thanks again."

“It’s all you,” he says, pleased at seeing her so excited. He watches her practically dance out of the office and listens to her descending the stairs. 

Jason crosses around to the other side of his desk and sits down in his leather chair. He looks across the room, toward the desk that was once Ryan’s. Just like when Courtney died, he feels guilty at the prospect of anyone replacing his brother here — but Tempest will bring new skills and new energy, and he needs her. 

He thinks back to her attitude minutes ago, before he offered her the promotion. She was so angry about her mother’s appearance. Jason wishes that he could help in some way, especially if Yvette plans to turn up again. Tempest has no obligation to see her, of course, but he knows that matters with family aren’t usually so cut-and-dry.

He reaches for his cell phone, scrolls through his contacts, and places a call. The recipient answers on the second ring.

“Hey, Claire. It’s Jason,” he says. “Just between the two of us, there’s something I need to give you a heads-up about."


“What are you getting so worked-up about?” Danielle asks, doing her best to maintain a calm exterior even though her heart is pounding and her head is spinning. 

Brent holds up the glass. “What was in this? Why was it so urgent that you pour it out?"

She forces herself not to evade his eye contact. “Because it was going to leave a ring on the counter. Is it a crime to want to keep the house clean?"

“No, it’s not a crime. And you know what I’m asking.” He places the glass on the granite countertop. “Have you been drinking?"

“What? Brent, that’s insane! You know how hard I’ve worked.” She knows that she has to say the words — has to protect herself — but she finds it physically difficult to push them out; the weight of the lie, the betrayal of all the work that her years of sobriety took, makes her want to lie down and cry. 

“I know. But you’ve had a really tough few years, and you’ve always said that recovery is an ongoing process, not a magic cure."

“It is."

“That’s why I’m concerned! You aren’t superhuman. Molly and I are just worried—"

“You’ve been talking to Molly about this?” She folds her arms tightly over her chest. “Is that why she keeps insisting on driving Caleb and Christian? The two of you really think I would drive drunk with my nephews in the car?"

She can see Brent calibrating his response, and it infuriates her. He’s trying to manage this so that he and Molly come off like the good guys.

“We don’t think that,” he says. “We’re concerned. That’s all. If you’re struggling—"

“Does Dad know about this? Josh?"


“Good. Keep it that way.” She looks to the empty glass, as if it might have miraculously refilled itself so she could take a swig. “This is nuts, Brent. If the two of you want me to move out— to fire me—"

“That is not what I’m saying, Danielle."

“Then where is this coming from?"

She already has a terrible feeling that she knows the answer, well before he vocalizes it.

“Molly found a bottle in your closet."

Her stomach threatens to drop to the floor. She should have hidden it better. She doesn’t know why she was so stupid as to assume that someplace so obvious would be an adequate hiding spot. 

“I can’t believe she went through my things,” she says.

“She didn’t go through your things. She went into your room, and the closet was open—"

“Yeah. I’m sure. It’s fine to violate my privacy if you decide you can’t trust me. Is that it?"

“Danielle, that is not what this is about.” He reaches out for her, and she swats him away. Her left hand flies out and strikes the empty glass, and it goes flying off the counter. It erupts against the hardwood floor, littering the kitchen with glass.

“Here, be careful,” Brent says as he steps forward.

“I’ll get it! Stop trying to be such a damn hero, Brent. Is that what this is? Trying to come to the rescue because you feel guilty about your little romps in the sack with Claire, of all people?"

Brent’s mouth is agape, but instead of responding, he merely stares. It takes her a few seconds to realize that he is not staring at her, but past her.

And when she turns around, she sees Molly and the twins standing at the entrance to the kitchen.


Will Danielle finally get help for her drinking?
How will Molly react to the news about Brent and Claire?
Will Yvette leave Tempest alone?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum now!

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Monday, May 16, 2016

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