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- Tempest’s mother, Yvette, revealed to Tempest and Claire that she is pregnant.
Travis asks Paula’s permission for the restaurant to sponsor a chili cookoff at King’s Bay's end-of-summer festival. 
- Danielle, who has been attending AA meetings, told Jimmy that she made plans to perform one of her new songs at an Open Mic Night.

“Here are the color ones,” Samantha Fisher says as she hands her brother a manila envelope, “and here are the black-and-whites."

Travis accepts the small box from her, then sets it down so that he can open the envelope and peek at the color flyers inside.

“These are awesome,” he says. “Thanks again for doing this."

Samantha sits down on the edge of her bed in a room in her mother’s condominium. “Of course. I want this event to be a success for you. And it’s giving me something to do to keep busy."

Travis slides the flyers back into the envelope. “No luck on the job-hunting yet?"

“Not really. I’ve applied to a bunch of things. We’ll see.” She fiddles with one of her duvet’s seams. “I only have two shifts left in the Student Affairs office. Isn’t that weird?"

“It seemed weird when I graduated, too — but you get used to it. There’s an entire world out there beyond King’s Bay U."

She affixes a brave smile to her face. “I hope so."

“Besides,” he says, “I’m betting that if you weren’t about to finish your job there, you never would’ve used their copy machine to make all these for me."

With a bashful shrug, she admits, “You’re right. But I decided to live on the edge."
  Travis Fisher

He pops off the top of the box to double-check the black-and-white prints. “These really look great, Sam. Thanks again. And all the social media stuff you’re doing kicks ass."

“I’m glad you like it.” She hesitates. “There is something I wanted to bring up."


“Well, I was reviewing the rules on the International Chili Society’s website…” She pushes up her dark-rimmed glasses, which have been slipping down her nose. “According to their guidelines chili should only be the meat, red or green chilies, and the spices. Are you holding people to those rules? Because if so—"

“No! That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. I want people to get creative with their recipes. That’s the point of this thing."

“Okay. I just thought you should know."

“Thanks. What a stupid ‘society,’ though. That sounds so boring.” He pauses to check an alert on his phone. “What do you have going on the rest of the day?"

Tempest and I have dinner plans later."

“You don’t sound that excited."

“I am. Really. But she’s been kind of… Has she said anything to you lately?"

“Like what?"

“She’s seemed a little distant. Like she’s distracted or…” Samantha folds her hands in her lap. “I just hope it isn’t something I said or did."

“It’s not."

“How do you know?"

Travis seats himself beside her on the bed. “Because you’re awesome. And because she’s kinda been the same way with me lately. I asked her to come shoot hoops with Landon and me the other day, and she just texted back, ‘Busy.’ That’s not like her."

“Not at all. That’s what worries me."

“She did just start a new job. Maybe it’s stressing her out."

“Yeah.” Samantha nods slowly, as if convincing her. “You’re right. That’s probably it."

“I bet that’s it.” He looks over at her. “You know I’m, like, happy for you guys, right?"

Samantha stares back at him for a split-second, then unnecessarily pushes up her glasses again. “Okay."

“I’m serious. I know there wasn’t some, like, big announcement, but you’re my sister, and she’s my… adoptive mom’s foster kid, or whatever, and my friend, too — and I want you both to be happy. And if you make each other happy, awesome."

Color fills Samantha’s cheeks as a more genuine smile appears. “Thanks, Travis. That means a lot."

“I promise that whatever’s going on with her, it’s not something you said or did. Got it?"

“Got it,” she says.

“Good.” He hops off the bed. “Because I need you on your game. We have a chili cookoff to promote!"

Cassie's Coffee House

The endless, magical twilight of the Pacific Northwest summer evening is on display through the windows on one side of Cassie’s Coffee House, but the patrons’ attention is squarely on the stage, where a man plucks away at a banjo and sings about a beautiful girl he spotted on the bus. At a table near the back, Danielle Taylor attempts to focus on the performance, but she once again has to check her phone — which tells her that the schedule for Open Mic Night is exactly the same as the one she has committed to memory and that there are four more acts until it’s her turn.

“One piping hot chamomile tea,” Jimmy Trask announces as he sets a mug down in front of her and then slides into the opposite chair. 


Beneath the table, Danielle’s leg shakes as she listens to the man onstage.

Jimmy leans over the table and asks in a loud whisper, “Need anything else?”

“No. I’m fine. I’m good.” She watches the steam rising off her tea. “Just focusing."


But she can feel him studying her.

“You sure you don’t want anyone else here? Your brother—"

“No,” she says. “I need to do this one alone. Do you know how long it’s been since I got onstage? I just want to… get it out of the way."

“You’re gonna kill it. And I’m here. I’ll be able to tell everyone how awesome you were."

Danielle forces a grin. The man onstage concludes his song with a decisive pluck at the banjo, and applause ripples through the coffee shop. As he shuffles offstage, beaming, the emcee — a guy in his 20s named Clark, with a hipster mustache and a knit cap in spite of the season — replaces him at the microphone. The clapping peters out.

“That was great, Andrew,” Clark says. “Just great. Up next, we have someone a lot of you will recognize. She’s no stranger to Cassie’s — give it up for Scarlet Simmons!"

Scarlet, a waif of a girl with hair whose natural red hair has been enhanced with something more dramatically befitting of her name, comes onstage with her keyboard and maneuvers it onto the nearby stand. 

“I need some sugar for this,” Jimmy says, holding up his own coffee cup. “Be right back."

He slips away from the table, and Danielle watches as Scarlet gets her bearings onstage. Two more acts after this. 

You can do it, she tries to tell herself, but her leg won’t stop shaking.


His chest heaving as he catches his breath, Brent Taylor rolls onto his back. He stares at the ceiling in his post-coital stupor for a long moment before turning his head toward his bedmate.

“Tell me again why we waited so long to do that,” he says.

Claire Fisher smiles. Her cheeks are flushed and her dark brown hair is splayed all over the pillow. “I have no idea."

Brent's bedroom is quiet, except for the sound of their heavy breathing, as they come down from the high of their lovemaking. Finally Claire turns onto her side and props herself up on her elbow.

"I think it’s because we weren’t ready,” she says.


“Why we waited so long. I think we both kind of knew, deep down, that there was something here a while ago."
  Claire Fisher

“Yeah. Guess so."

“But we were both still messed up — me because of Ryan and Tim, you because you were still so tied up with Molly. If we had gotten involved earlier, I think it would’ve been over before it started."

Brent turns that over in his mind for a few seconds. “I think you’re probably right."

She places a hand on his chest. “But I’m glad we figured it all out."

“Me, too."

Claire looks past him and out the window, at the brilliant pink hue of the sky. “And I really needed the distraction tonight."

“Something else with Tempest’s mom?” he asks.

“No. We’re just… waiting. For what, I don’t even know. But we’re in this holding pattern, and I feel like she’s a loose cannon — I have no idea what she really wants or what she’s going to do."

“Do you think she really does just want to reconnect with her kid?"

“I think she might think that’s her real motive. But it’s so clear that she wants something from Tempest — maybe just to be absolved of whatever she did. It isn’t the kid’s job to do that for the parent."

“It shouldn’t be,” Brent says. “Has Tempest said anything else? Is she going to sit down and talk with her?"

Claire runs her free hand through her long hair, pushing it all back, and it falls toward her left shoulder. “She just shuts down when I try to bring it up. Yvette has a room up on the north side of town, but I don’t know how long she’ll be here. And frankly, if she’s having this baby, I’m not sure I want her to leave."

“Because then the cycle starts again."

“Yeah. I don’t know if I can let that happen. Especially not with all the stuff I see at the hospital…"

“I hear you. Hey, how about we just lock ourselves in here and never leave?"

“I like the sound of that.” She trails a fingernail over his strong bicep. “Although I think we both know enough by now to realize that’s not how it works."

“Unfortunately, yeah. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try…"

Before Claire can even react, he is back on top of her, his face buried in her neck as he does everything he can to distract her from the troubles of their real lives.


“Shawty had them Apple Bottom Jeans, boots with the fur…"

Travis stares with alarm at the stage of Cassie’s Coffee House, where a guy with a man-bun and an acoustic guitar is moaning his way through a slowed-down rendition of a Flo Rida song. When he is able to pry his eyes away from the trainwreck unfolding onstage, Travis turns his attention back toward the bulletin board and jabs a green thumbtack through the top of one of his flyers.

“Do you have a permit for that?” asks a voice from behind him. 

He freezes and then glances back over his shoulder. 

“I don’t— I didn’t realize—"

“I’m messing with you,” Officer Rosie Jimenez says as she breaks out into a laugh. “Do you seriously think we have nothing better to do than patrol bulletin boards?"

Travis feels heat rushing into his cheeks. “Well, you— you’re standing there in your uniform looking all serious.” 

“I’m grabbing an espresso before my shift."

“Night duty? That sucks."

“You’re telling me. Speaking of sucking…” She points toward the stage.

“She turned around and gave that big booty a smack!” The performer inexplicably wails the entire line.

“It’s kind of amazing, right?” Travis says. “Like who told him this was a good idea?"

Rosie cringes as she listens to the song. “It’s because his bun is too tight. He can’t think straight."

Travis chuckles.

“Selling something?” Rosie asks.


“The flyer.” She looks past him and scans the one he just hung up. “Chili cookoff, huh?"

“I know it sounds kind of lame… but it’s a whole thing for my grandpa’s restaurant. One of the guys in the kitchen is pushing to get the chili taken off the menu, but it was one of my grandpa’s oldest recipes, and my grandma loves it, so I thought if we used the festival at the winery to do something cool that would get people excited, it might change his mind."

Rosie nods slowly.

“Like I said, lame,” Travis hastens to add.

“Nah, not lame. It’s cool that you’re trying to do something for your grandfather’s memory. And I’m sure your grandmother appreciates it."

Travis feels a sudden lightness throughout his entire body. “Yeah. I hope so. Hey, actually…"

He sees Rosie staring back at him and wonders why he even said anything. She’s going to think this is so stupid.

“Actually what?” she asks, folding her arms.

Travis draws a deep breath; he hates how intimidated he always feels around her. “We need one more judge. I was thinking of asking my Uncle Brent, but he’s so busy, but I think it’d be cool if it were someone in the local government or police force or something."

His statement hangs in the air between them as the man onstage finishes his song and tepid applause rises up.

“Are you asking me to be a judge in your chili contest?” Rosie says.

“Yes! Would you want to? It’s fine if you don’t."

“It sounds fun,” she says, glancing at the flyer again for the details of the event. "Although if I'm a judge, that means you're gonna miss out on my famous poblano-jalapeno chili. It's caliente."

"That good, huh?"

"Nah, I'm just kidding. I'm a terrible cook. My mom, though..." She gets lost in thought for a short moment. "How much chili am I gonna have to eat?"

“Small bites. I promise. Although it kinda depends on the number of entries."

“I can handle it. My brothers always said I ate like one of the guys.” She hears her name called and moves to the bar to grab her espresso. “I’ve gotta run. Why don’t I give you my number and you can text me whatever I need to know?"

“Cool. Sounds good.” Travis scrambles with oddly clumsy fingers to pull out his phone and enter her number.

“Got it,” he says. 

“Great. Oh, one more thing."


“Next time you ask someone to do something, don’t immediately give them an out,” she says. “Be a little assertive. Women like that."

“I’m…” But he doesn’t have any response ready, and before he can conjure one up, she gives him a wink and heads for the exit.


Danielle waits by the side of the stage, guitar slung across her body, as the man with his hair in a bun plays his song. 

“You can do this,” she tells herself, though it’s more of an internal monologue with her lips moving ever so slightly. “You can do this."

She looks out at the crowd. The place isn’t even full; it’s a good, healthy turnout, but not an overwhelming amount of people. Or it shouldn’t be an overwhelming amount, at any rate. But now she is wondering why she wanted to do this at all. 

Because it’s good for you, she reminds herself. Because this is how you get back on track.

She is repeating that to herself mentally when she spots Travis Fisher and that police officer on the other end of the shop. They are engaged in conversation but then turn to acknowledge — and make some crack about — the man performing onstage. And even though she knows that guy is pretty awful, Danielle can’t help but wonder: Are they all going to think that about me, too?
  Danielle Taylor

What she hates even more is that her brain’s next instinct is to search the room for a drink she could slug back, even though she knows full well that there is no alcohol here. But once the seed is planted, it sprouts and blooms with appalling quickness, and suddenly, all she can think about is having a drink.
“You don’t need a drink,” she mutters, needing to say it aloud to reinforce it. 

The song onstage concludes, and a smattering of applause for the guy with the man-bun breaks out. Danielle again scans the place: she sees Travis leaving, thank goodness; she sees Jimmy’s encouraging face at their table; and she sees all the people waiting and watching.

“Some of you might remember this next lady,” Clark announces into the mic. “We’re very lucky to have her here tonight. Give it up for Danielle Taylor!"

She doesn’t know how she makes the decision, but before her name is even out of his mouth, Danielle’s legs are carrying her in the opposite direction. Guitar still hung over her shoulder, she bolts through the back door and out of the shop. 


Will Danielle have the courage to go onstage?
Does Travis have a chance with Rosie?
What should Claire do about Yvette and the baby?
Discuss it all in the Footprints Forum now!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

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