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- In preparation for the birth of their baby, Natalie moved in with Jason.
- Travis had a rocky start to his new job at his late grandfather’s restaurant.
- Danielle resumed going to AA meetings and resolved to get her life on track.
- Tempest's biological mother, Yvette,
arrived in King’s Bay. After Tempest rejected her, Yvette took another approach and followed Tempest around to gain insight into her life.

Natalie Bishop had almost forgotten about these feelings. But now, in the final weeks of her pregnancy, she recalls them all too well. Years ago, during her first pregnancy, she remembers watching her body grow and swell. It was strange, but there was something special about it, something fascinating. She devoted hours to shopping for clothes that were not strictly designated as maternity wear, but rather roomy, flowing garments that still looked stylish and trendy. She tried her best to keep herself in shape, by walking and attending yoga classes – but despite her efforts, toward the end, her body betrayed her. Her hands and feet and face all ballooned, filling up with water and undermining whatever chicness she had tried to bring to her pregnancy.

And now it’s happening again. As she worked herself into her black maternity leggings this morning, pulling the pouch over her very large stomach, she couldn’t help but look in the mirror and see a woman who looked like nature had gotten the best of her. No matter how much she has worked out or dieted or carefully selected outfits, this is how she turns out: a fat, tired-looking, pregnant woman. She knows that the pregnancy will only last so much longer, and then she can return to her yoga classes and try to tame her body again – but she also knows that it will be more difficult than it was when Bree was born, when she was much younger.

Nevertheless, she pairs the leggings with a colorful, printed tunic and goes downstairs, where Jason and Sophie are waiting for her. She moves through the house and reflects yet again on how odd it is that this place – this place made for and by another family – is now hers. There are so many things she would like to change: the painting of lilies at the bottom of the stairs; the overly ornate, carved table that eats up too much of the passage between the living room and the dining room. There will be time for all that, though. She has been careful not to barge in like a bull in a china shop and act like she is trying to erase Courtney from Jason’s history, because she isn’t. But this is her home now, and with a little time, she’s going to make it feel that way.
  Natalie Bishop

“Bree left?” she asks Jason.

"Yeah, Conrad came about ten minutes ago,” he answers as he screws the cap back onto a bottle of water that sits on the kitchen island.
She offers a weary smile. “Thanks. I didn’t have the energy to deal with him today.”
“It’s fine. Now who’s ready for lunch?”
“I am!” Sophie shouts, her hand shooting into the air. “Is Travis gonna be there?”
“I texted him, and he says he’s working. He’ll come out and say hi,” Jason says.
Natalie picks up her purse from the kitchen table. “Well, I’m starving. Big surprise. So let’s get going.”
They get into Jason’s car – Natalie with a little more difficulty than the other two – and drive to the north side of King’s Bay. Summer has finally emerged in all its glory, no matter how hard the Pacific Northwest’s instincts might have tried to suppress it, and the sun shines out of a gleaming blue sky. As she attempts, with little success, to get comfortable in the passenger seat, Natalie tries to focus on the facts that it is a beautiful day and that she is spending it with a man she adores.
“Good to see you guys,” Matt Gray says when he greets them at the host’s stand. “How’re you feeling?”
Natalie groans. “I’m getting through it.”
“I think we’re all ready to meet this little guy or girl,” Jason says.
Matt waves the host off and shows them to a table himself. He sets down three menus and points out the server who will be with them in a moment.
“Can I get French fries?” Sophie asks, her voice a little too loud, per usual.
Natalie feels some kind of primal craving rise up within her and decides to go for broke. “Want to split an order? That sounds good.”
“Promise you guys will save me a couple,” Jason says. He looks out the large window to the side of their table. “What a nice day. I’m glad we’re all together.”
Natalie takes in the sight of his warm, gentle face, and a smile fills her own. “So am I.”
Harbor Boulevard

The kitchen of Harbor Boulevard is already steamy with the heat of prep work, even though the lunch shift has yet to begin. Travis Fisher is at his station, slicing an entire bucket of lemons into wedges. He is about halfway through when he hears his uncle’s voice call through the kitchen.
“Can I get everyone over here for a quick staff meeting?”
The entire kitchen staff, Travis included, hurries to reach stopping points in whatever work they are doing. They convene around Matt Gray, who is stationed at the end of a long, stainless steel counter.
“Just a couple of things,” Matt announces. Travis notices that, as he addresses the entire group, Matt maintains a focal point somewhere above all of their heads, toward the back wall. He has never thought of Matt as someone who would especially enjoy public speaking, but working for him has caused Travis to see him in a different way. He somehow manages to maintain his usual shy demeanor and yet command the attention and respect of his staff.
“We’re gonna be doing our usual booth at the end-of-summer festival at the winery,” Matt says. “Since this is the first year without Bill, I wanna make sure we keep up the tradition and have a good presence there.”
Murmurs of agreement fill the kitchen.
“I’m gonna be putting together a team to prep the samples we’ll give out there,” he continues, “so if that’s something that sounds good to you, come talk to me. And we’re having more of those keychains made to hand out, too.”
He rattles through another order of business pertaining to end-of-the-night cleanup, and he is winding down the short meeting when a voice barks out from near the front of the group.
“I’ve got something to bring up,” says the craggy voice, which Travis instantly recognizes as belonging to Hansen; he is the only guy here whose voice has the same weathered character as his face. “It’s about a menu change.”
“Go for it,” Matt says.
“It’s about the chili. Brought this up to Bill last year, and then… y’know.” An awkward silence briefly descends upon them before Hansen presses onward: “Think it might be a good idea to pull it from the menu.”
Matt folds his arms. “Why’s that?”
“For starters, it’s a bunch of ingredients we don’t use in anything else. So that’s sunk costs we aren’t getting back. And frankly, it’s a pain in my ass to keep it heated all day, and make sure it’s fresh by dinnertime.”
Travis watches Matt nodding, maybe mulling it over, and something surges inside him that he can’t push down.
“I know I’m new here, but I have to disagree,” Travis says. He sees every head swivel around to look at him and wonders if he’s out-of-line in speaking up. But it’s too late now. “That chili was one of my grandpa’s signatures. He made it at the old restaurant and brought it over here.”
It seems as if the ensuing quiet stretches on for hours, but finally Matt nods and says, “Travis has a point.”
“Of course he does,” Hansen says. “I’m not saying it’s not good. But c’mon – it’s kind of lowbrow, don’t you think? All this other stuff we’re doing, and then we have chili? It’s taking up room we could use for another soup.”
“It’s one of my grandma’s favorites,” Travis says. “And we get a lot of orders for it.”
Hansen shrugs. “We get orders. Not a ton. Not enough to justify the prep and the expense and the time, if you ask me.” He looks back at Matt. “Just a suggestion.”
“I’ll think about it,” Matt says. “Anyone else?”
Travis knows that if he argues any more, he’s likely to lose his temper. He already hates the way Hansen talks to the rest of the staff and treats him like a child. And now, to try and pull one of Bill’s favorite dishes from the menu not even a year after his death? It’s disrespectful and stupid.
“Everyone back to work, then,” Matt says. Travis lingers for a moment and considers approaching his uncle about the chili, but Hansen passes by him and gives a look that can only be described as a glare. Stewing, Travis bites his tongue and heads back to his station.

The glowing sun feels fantastic on Yvette Banks’s skin, and the fresh air is a welcome relief from the muggy air inside her old sedan. She waited in the parked car long enough to watch Tempest emerge from the apartment building, wait a few minutes at the bus stop, and then ride away. She has to admit that she was surprised to see her daughter riding the bus. From everything Yvette has observed over the past several weeks, Tempest has it pretty good: the lady she lives with works at the hospital; that girlfriend of hers just graduated from the local university; and she has apparently been promoted to some kind of desk job at that ice arena. Yvette would’ve thought she could afford a car – or that the white lady would’ve bought her one, considering that it looks like she’s taken her on as a daughter.
But never mind that. Yvette has done her research, and she knows enough to know that today is the right day to make her move.
After Tempest’s bus pulls away, Yvette heads for the apartment building. She realizes that she has no way of getting in on her own, but she looks at the callbox for a moment and finds the name of the woman Tempest lives with: “C. Fisher.” She dials the code for the apartment, and the box emits a loud ringing noise.
“Hello?” a female voice asks from inside.
“Delivery for Mrs. Fisher,” Yvette says.
A beep sounds, and the door unlocks. Yvette goes inside and takes the elevator up. Thanks to her research, she knows exactly where she is going. She makes her way to the apartment and knocks.  
When Claire opens the door, Yvette watches her reaction carefully. The pleasant smile gives way to confusion.
“Claire Fisher?” Yvette asks, although she already knows the answer. Though she has seen the woman from a distance several times, this is her first time getting a look up close. She’s pretty enough, Yvette supposes, with dark hair, pretty eyes, and a long face. Her neck is thin – hell, all of her is too damn thin.
“That’s me,” Claire says, wariness edging into her voice. “Can I help you?”
“My name is Yvette. Yvette Banks.”
She watches as recognition dawns over Claire.
“I’m real sorry I lied down there on that buzzer,” Yvette says, “but I had to see you. My girl – my Tempest—”
“She isn’t home.” There is a sudden, hard edge to Claire’s voice.
Yvette takes care to react with both surprise and sadness. “Well, maybe that’s best. It’s probably you I need to talk with anyway.”
“How did you find us?”
“I saw that video of Tempest’s on the internet – I’m so glad she’s okay, after what she went through. That could’ve gone real bad. That’s my girl – my baby girl. All these years, I didn’t know what happened to her, if she was okay…”
As Yvette hoped, the lines in Claire’s face soften ever so slightly.
“She’s doing well. She’s safe and cared for.”
“Good. Thank you, thank you, Mrs. Fisher. I can’t thank you enough. I thought the worst could’ve happened. I even went to the police, but they said Tempest was a grown-up, and I guess they didn’t think it was important…”
“When I met Tempest, it was clear she had run away from something bad,” Claire says. “I don’t want to accuse you of anything, but it doesn’t sound like she had a very happy life before she left Los Angeles.”
“No. I’m afraid not. But she’s a good girl, and I miss her so much. I have to see her—”
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”
Yvette reminds herself to keep her emotions in check. “Excuse me?”
“Tempest has given no indication that she wants to see you or anyone from her past,” Claire says. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to give you access to her. Not without her permission.”
“The lost soul, the wise one… The mother, the child… It took me a while to see… That all this time… I was always portraying me.”

Her eyes gently closed, Danielle Taylor finishes strumming her guitar. She feels a sense of peace, the kind she has really only ever felt while playing music, as the spirit of the song surrounds her. With a deep breath, she opens her eyes.
Jimmy Trask is looking back at her, a grin on his face.
“Damn good,” he says. “That’s damn good, Dani.”
“You really think so?”
  Danielle Taylor

“I know so. It’s like— it sounds like your old stuff. In a good way. It has that kind of, I dunno, soul to it.”
The guitar in her lap, Danielle lets herself exhale with relief. They sit in the garage of Molly Taylor’s house with the quiet surrounding them now that Danielle has finished.
“You just wrote that?” Jimmy asks.
“It’s something I’ve been working on. But I couldn’t crack the chorus for months. I kept coming up with stuff that wasn’t quite right. And as soon as I started going to meetings a few weeks ago, it was like my head opened up, and… there it was.”
His grin lingers lazily, the same way everything about Jimmy seems to do. “I’m proud of you. Seems like you’ve picked yourself up from a hard time.”
“I’m trying. Taking things day-by-day. That’s all I can do, right?” She still feels so much shame when she thinks about how she backslid into drinking, how she threw away all those years of sobriety. And she shudders when she thinks of any of those blurry days and nights, hours in which she isn’t entirely sure what she said or did. For better or worse, she does remember her nasty outburst at Brent, during which she outed his relationship with Claire to Molly – but she has said her apologies, and she knows that she can’t change the past. She can only be a better person moving forward.
“Hell, you got a song done. That’s pretty great,” Jimmy says.
“Actually, I have seven songs done.”
“Seven? Wow.”
“Yeah. It’s like the floodgates opened up in the last month or so. It’s amazing.”
He drums his hands on his knees and then points at her. “I’ll tell you what. We should get you into my buddy Darren’s studio. It’s not much – just an attic he converted – but decent equipment. We could get some of this stuff recorded.”
“That might be nice,” she admits. “There’s something else I should tell you, actually.”
“I signed up for something.”
Jimmy waits. He leans forward, eyebrows rising.
“Open Mic Night at Cassie’s,” she says. “It’s been so long since I played in public, but it feels like – like what I need to do to keep moving forward.”
“I think that’s the second best thing I’ve heard all day. Besides that song, I mean.”
Danielle laughs. “It’s not that good.”
“It’s good. Now you’ve got seven, you say? Let me hear another one. Because we’ve gotta choose the very best for your Open Mic Night.”
Danielle draws a deep breath and adjusts the guitar in her lap. Her fingers move back to the strings with the same ease that her feet take steps or her eyelids blink. This is natural. This is right.
You can do it, she tells herself before she launches into another song.

“Mmm. These are good!”
Sophie holds a French fry between two fingers and takes a showy chomp out of it.
“See? Told you this would be a good idea,” Natalie says as she takes another.
Jason holds up his palms. “Hey. I’m never going to argue with fries. But do you ladies maybe want to think about what you’re ordering for lunch?”
Sophie lets out an exaggerated sigh. “Fine, Dad.”
Jason barely suppresses a laugh as they all pick up their menus.
“The chili sounds good,” Natalie says. “Is it spicy? The doctor says some spice might help move things along with the baby…”
“When is it getting here, anyway?” Sophie asks.
“I told you, Natalie is due next Wednesday,” Jason says. “That doesn’t mean it’ll be exactly that day. Sometimes it happens earlier or later than the day they tell you.”
Jason and Natalie exchange a look.
“Because they’re kind of guessing,” Natalie says.
“Because they’re dumb?”
Jason seals his lips together, but a burbling laugh still manages to escape.
“They aren’t dumb,” he says. “It’s just hard to know for sure.”
Sophie pulls both of her little legs beneath her on the chair. “Did I come early?”
“A little. We were pretty ready, though.”
“And you took my mom to the hospital?”
Jason feels a hitch in the conversation at the way Sophie says “my mom,” as if Courtney isn’t someone she actually knows – although that is the truth. She never knew Courtney as a person, no matter how much he tells stories and shows her photos and videos.
“We were at work,” he says, doing everything he can to breeze past the fact that Courtney was arguing with the woman they knew as Sabrina Gage – who was really Shannon Parish – at the time. “And we went to the hospital, and you were born.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that.”
“Just like that,” Natalie says, or rather, murmurs.
Jason looks across the table at her. “What?”
“Just like that.” Natalie’s eyes widen with surprise. “Pretty sure my water just broke.”
Sophie jabs a finger in the direction of Natalie’s half-full water glass. “It’s right there.”
“No,” Natalie says. “The baby is coming. Now.”
After he hits a lull in his prep work and takes a minute to pop out and say hi to his Uncle Jason and Sophie, Travis returns to the kitchen. It never ceases to shock him how the temperature in here is a good 15 degrees warmer than it is out in the dining room. He uses his sleeve to wipe his brow and sets back toward his station. On the way, however, he passes by Matt’s office. Matt sits behind the desk, furrowing his brow at some paperwork. Travis hovers at the open door for a few seconds before knocking.
“Hey, Travis, what’s up?”
“It’s about the summer festival.”
Matt brightens. “Oh. You wanna be on the prep crew? It’s a good thing for the new guys to do.”
“I want to help,” Travis says as he takes a few steps inside the dimly lit office. “But I have an idea for what we should do.”
“What kind of idea?”
Travis takes a deep breath. “Just hear me out.”

“I get why you’d feel that way, I do,” Yvette says as she stands in the doorway of Claire’s apartment. “Tempest had a tough time, I know that. And some of that was my fault – you won’t catch me trying to say it wasn’t. There was a man, a boyfriend of mine, and he roughed me up some – roughed me up real good, I hate to say. And he laid his hands on my little girl, too. If I could go back and change that…”
As Claire takes in what the other woman is saying, she studies Yvette. Her jeans are tight and have a sheen to them, but her long-sleeved, white shirt is buttoned nearly to the top, as if she’s made a conscious effort to appear trustworthy in spite of the heat outside. A black-and-white striped wrap covers the front part of her hair, and two large, silver hoops hang from her ears. Although their biological children are about the same age, Yvette looks to be a good decade younger than Claire.
“Unfortunately, you can’t change it,” Claire says. “I’m not here to judge. Everyone has their own struggles, and I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
“But you don’t think I should be able to see my own daughter.”
Something about Yvette’s tone – her entire demeanor, really – sits just that way of sincere. Claire can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, but it’s an instinct she cannot shake.
“I didn’t say that,” she responds carefully. “But Tempest is an adult. She deserves to make her own decision. All I know is her side of the story—”
“What’d she tell you?”
  Claire Fisher

“Not much. That things were difficult at home. That she’d been on and off the streets for a while before I met her. But the last thing I want to do is put her in an uncomfortable or vulnerable position by making a decision on her behalf.”
“She’s my daughter. Not yours.” Yvette pauses suddenly and grips the doorframe to steady herself. “Let’s get that straight right now.”
“I know that. And if…”
Claire trails off as she watches Yvette’s eyes roll back in her head.
“Are you okay?” she asks. “Come here—”
She reaches out for the other woman, and she barely gets a hand on her forearm before Yvette wobbles and then collapses. Claire lunges to keep her from hitting the floor, but Yvette’s body is like a sack of potatoes in her arms, and they both sink down as Claire watches Yvette’s eyes flutters closed, open, and then closed again.


Is something actually wrong with Yvette? 
What is Travis’s big idea?
Will Natalie’s labor go all right?
Discuss it all in the Footprints Forum!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

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