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- Sarah told Molly that she had hidden away $100,000 from the sale of Graham’s house to use as bait for the person blackmailing them about Philip’s shooting.
- Even in the face of the news that her mother is pregnant, Tempest continued to reject Yvette.
- Danielle
planned to perform at Open Mic Night, but as she prepared to go onstage, the pressure was too much — and she fled as her name was called.

Cassie's Coffee House

Her guitar hung over her shoulder, Danielle Taylor flies through the back door of Cassie’s Coffee House. Once she is in the alley, she sucks in as much of the refreshing nighttime summer air as she can; she wishes it were colder, more of a shock, as if that might stun her body and her mind back to reality.

As she catches her breath, the door opens behind her. The sound of someone else playing onstage floats outside, and the shame already welling inside Danielle now overflows. She made a fool of herself, running out here as soon as her name was called. But she couldn’t face it. She couldn’t go up there and perform.

Jimmy Trask closes the door behind himself and looks her over. 

“You okay?"

Danielle focuses on the end of the alley. She can’t bring herself to make eye contact with him. 

“I’m fine,” she says unconvincingly. 

“What happened back there? If you go back in, they’ll let you go on—"

“I don’t want to go on.” It comes out harsher than she intended, but something about it feels good, as if she’s somehow punishing him or the people inside or the universe for making her feel this way — even though, deep down, she knows that the only one she’s punishing is herself. 

“Sure about that?"


She stands firm, gaze fixed down the alley. The guitar over her shoulder feels like a 10,000-pound weight. 

“Can you drive me home?” she asks.

“What about your car?"

“I’ll get it in the morning.” She can feel the energy of his suspicion and his indecision — his internal debate over whether he should question her further. “No, I haven’t had anything to drink. But I can’t be in control of where I go now. I need you to take me directly home.” 

Inside, the faint sounds of music are replaced by applause.

“I’ll get your guitar case,” Jimmy says before slipping back into the coffee shop. 


Crystal and silver glitter beneath the chandeliers that hang from the ceiling of Windmills. Samantha Fisher and Tempest Banks sit at a table in one of the restaurant’s smaller rooms off the main dining room, studying their menus. 

Samantha sets hers down on the white tablecloth. “Are you going to get wine?"

Seconds pass as she awaits a response. She watches as Tempest stares blankly at her menu. “Tempest? Do you want wine?"

Tempest startles and looks up from the menu. “What? Oh, uh, wine? Sure. That’s good, yeah."

“Are you okay?” Samantha asks. 

A smile quickly shoots across Tempest’s face, a little too quickly. “Me? I’m cool. Yeah. I was just thinking about what to order."

“Okay.” Samantha picks up her menu, but her unease continues to gnaw at her, as it has for days now. Something about her girlfriend has seemed off for a while. “Did I do something?"
  Tempest Banks

“What are you talking about?"

“You seem… distant. Like you might be mad at me. I thought it would be fun to get dressed up and go out for a nice dinner…"

“I’m not mad at you."

“Okay. But what’s going on?"

Tempest’s features harden. “Will you just drop it?"

“So something is going on.” Samantha pauses, waiting for confirmation that never comes. 

She has seen this look in Tempest’s eyes before: like she is a caged animal, desperately looking for an escape. It’s something Samantha has had to understand and get used to, the way that Tempest will completely shut down and refuse to answer or explain something even when directly confronted. Having grown up with a mother who always had a story at the ready to cover any and every difficult situation, it’s been something of an adjustment for Samantha, to say the least.

So she draws a breath and, in spite of her racing heart, lays it out there: “You can’t keep doing this. If something’s going on — and if you really do want me to be with you — you need to tell me."

And then she waits.


Points of white light stand out against the dark blue night sky. Down below, on the back deck of the Fisher family home, Sarah Fisher Gray closes the sliding door behind herself and makes her way toward the cluster of white Adirondack chairs where her husband sits with a bottle of beer. 

Sarah drops into one of the chairs. “He finally went to sleep."

“You can work miracles,” Matt says as he hands her a beer. 

Sarah eyes the bottle. “Can you?"

“It’s not that hard!” 

“It is!"

Laughing, Matt uses the arm of his chair to pop the cap off Sarah’s beer.

“I’m never going to be able to do that,” she says, placing her phone on the arm of the chair as she accepts the opened bottle. 

“Just have to, you know, apply yourself."

Sarah shakes her head. “I’ve tried. I’ll leave that miracle up to you.” She takes a sip from her beer. “We’re basically a prehistoric couple. I get the children to bed, you open the beers."

“I don’t think cavemen had beers."

“I guess civilization has made progress, then.” She looks up at the expansive sky. “What a peaceful night. I needed this.” 

“Same. Nice to get some fresh air and be out of that hot, busy kitchen."

“How’s everything going with the chili cookoff? Is that creating a whole bunch of extra work?"

“Not really. Travis is really taking the bull by the horns. I think he’s excited about having some responsibility."

“Good for him.” She is about to ask about Matt’s plans for participating in the cookoff when her phone vibrates and the screen lights up. The notification is for a text message — first one, then two, then more — from a number not saved in her contacts; even though she does not recognize the number, she immediately knows what this is about. It’s always a different number — which inevitably turns out to be from a burner phone — but over the past few months, she has been conditioned to go on high-alert the moment she sees a notification from an unknown number like this. It’s always the blackmailer, sending some new and frustratingly slow orders. 

“What’s up?” Matt asks, breaking her from her stupor.

“Oh, uh, nothing. Why?"

“‘Cause your phone lit up and you went as white as a ghost. So what’s wrong?” 


As soon as Danielle lets herself into the house, she sees the lights on in the kitchen and hears the sounds of video games coming from the family room. With dread percolating in her stomach, she sets down her guitar case, removes her shoes, and heads for the kitchen.

"Have you not eaten yet?” she asks when she finds Molly Taylor at the stove.

"Oh, no. I’m just working on my recipe for Travis’s chili cookoff. I want it to be very traditional, very simple, but perfect.” Molly gives the pot one more stir and looks up at her former sister-in-law. “How was your lesson?"

Danielle swallows hard. “It wasn’t a lesson."

“What do you mean? Danielle, what’s wrong?"
  Molly Taylor

“I signed up to play at Open Mic Night at Cassie’s."

“That’s good! Haven’t you missed performing?"

“Yeah.” Danielle folds her arms across her body. “But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get up there."

Molly sets down the wooden spoon and comes nearer. In a softer voice, she asks, “What happened?"

Danielle understands the implicit question, can see it written on Molly’s face.

“I didn’t drink. I wanted to, but I didn’t."

“Good. That’s important."

“But all I could think was that I needed a drink. That I couldn’t get up there without one.” Danielle shakes her head at her own foolishness. “How stupid is that? If I’d had something to drink and gone up there, I probably would’ve been a mess—"

“You don’t need alcohol to play. I’ve heard you play plenty of times when you were sober, and it was beautiful."

Danielle wants to believe that, but the black cloud that feels as if it is engulfing her pushes out whatever rays of light Molly’s reassurances might bring. 

“There were all those people, and all I could think about was how I’d have to stand up there and watch them thinking how awful I was. I couldn’t face it."

“You aren’t awful. No one thinks that.” Molly wipes her hands on a nearby kitchen towel and then moves toward Danielle with open arms. “And you didn’t drink. That’s the most important part. You had the urge, and you didn’t give in."

“But I wanted to."

“But you didn’t.” 

Danielle leans in and allows Molly to wrap her arms around her. She never thought that she’d be back at this point by this time in her life — at such a low, once again. 

“I made an idiot of myself, running out like that,” Danielle says. “Those people must all think I’m some washed-up headcase."

"Are there any meetings tonight?" Molly asks gently.

Danielle checks the clock on the microwave. "There's one more, yeah. I should go."

“There will be other chances to perform,” Molly says. “You can do it. I know you can.” 

Danielle wants to believe that — but with the emotions raging inside of her, and the overpowering desire to take a drink and zap it all out, she doesn’t know if she can.


The tension is as thick as quicksand as Samantha folds her hands atop her menu and watches Tempest for some sign that she is going to react, let alone explain. When Tempest finally does open her mouth, though, her tone isn’t aggressive at all — it is quiet, almost apologetic.

“I don’t wanna drag you into it,” she says. “It’s a bunch of bullshit. It’s nothing."

“But it’s bothering you. I can tell. And if there’s anything I can do to help—"

“There’s not."

“Not even listening? Letting you get it off your chest and work through it?"

“What’s the point? Won’t make it go away."

“Make what go away?” Samantha leans forward. “You’re scaring me."

“Don’t be scared. It’s dumb shit.” Tempest’s gaze darts around. “My mom showed up."

“Wait, what? Your mother is here? How did she—"

“She saw that video on YouTube and came to my work. I told her to get lost."

“So she’s gone?"

Before Tempest can answer, the bowtie-clad waiter appears at their table with the waters they requested. 

“Here you go,” he says. “Have you ladies decided what you’d like to drink?"

Samantha looks to the menu, but the mass of words are little more than a blur. She still feels rather lost when trying to order wine — how do you even know the difference? — but now the task seems entirely overwhelming. 

“I think we need another minute,” she says, picking up her menu as if to signify that she really is going to work on this. 

“No trouble. I’ll be back with some bread,” the waiter says before departing. 

As soon as he is gone, Samantha’s focus careens away from the menu. 

“What did she want? Did she leave when you told her to?” she asks.

“She said she wanted to see me. That she missed me.” Tempest lets loose with an exaggerated eye roll. “I was living on the streets for months before I came up here, and she never bothered to find me. And I’ve been here for years! But she never cared until she saw that video."

“Maybe she didn’t know how to find you,” Samantha offers.

“She could’ve told the cops. Nah, she saw that video and thought I was making money off it and didn’t waste another damn minute getting up here."

“You think she wants money?"

“I know she does. It’s all she ever wanted. Especially now."

“Why now?"

Tempest lets out a guttural sigh. “That nasty witch is pregnant!"

Jutting out her neck, Samantha manages to lean in even further. “What? Did she tell you that?"

“She showed up at Claire’s front door and fainted. I still think it was all a damn show. But Claire got her to the hospital and they did the test. Turns out she’s not lying."

“And she’s still in town?"

“Says she got a room up on the north side for now,” Tempest says. “I just want her ass out of here. But Claire’s worried."

“About her?"

“About the baby, I guess. I dunno. It’s too damn much.” Tempest reaches for her own menu. “See? Told you it was some bullshit."

“But it’s a big deal. I’m glad you told me. Thank you.” Samantha takes Tempest’s hand over the table. “I’ll do whatever I can to help."

“Thanks. Best thing we can do is ignore this scheming heffa, I promise."

There are so many questions Samantha wants to ask: what happened to make her resent her mother so much? Does she have any concern for the child her mother is carrying? But she knows that she shouldn’t push her luck; getting Tempest to open up even this much was an enormous accomplishment. 

“Then we might as well focus on picking some wine,” Samantha says, “because I think we both need it."

“Amen,” Tempest says as she picks up her own menu again. 


Despite the warm evening air, Sarah freezes up. Almost involuntarily, she picks up her phone.

“It’s a contact I’ve been waiting to hear back from,” she says. “About a case. Just not something I want to deal with tonight.” It isn’t exactly a lie, she tells herself.

"Can it wait?” Matt asks.

“Probably not. I’ll at least check it and see.” Feeling Matt’s stare upon her, she opens the message thread.

I hope you have my money ready. The drop will happen at the festival at the winery next week. 
  Matt Gray

She scans the rest of them, not taking in the details so much as the idea. She knew this was coming, but instead of it being a relief, it chills her. Because this is real now. The remainder of the messages spell out specifics involving a men’s restroom, a black bag, timing, and more. Her brain whirls as she envisions how she’ll possibly manage to plant that $100,000, catch this person, retrieve the money, and most importantly, ensure the destruction of that video showing her mother shooting Philip.

“Let me just respond real quick, and then I can put this away,” she says. She simply fires back a text saying that she will be ready. And then, before closing the messages app on her phone, she sends one more message — this one to Molly: 

Call me in the morning. We have a lot to go over.

With that, she sets her phone back down, picks up her beer, and smiles at her husband.

“Everything under control?” Matt asks.

“I sure as hell hope so,” she responds, swigging some of the beer to drown her nervousness. 


Will Sarah be able to catch the blackmailer?
Will Yvette be a threat to Tempest’s relationship?
Will Danielle ever get back to performing?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum now!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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