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- Tempest’s mom, Yvette, insisted that she’ll stay in King’s Bay until she and her daughter mend fences
- Travis organized a chili cookoff to promote the restaurant.
Sarah received instructions to drop the money for the blackmailer at the end-of-summer festival.

The grounds of Wandering Soul Winery are alive with the sights, sounds, and smells of the annual end-of-summer festival. Tented booths cover the sprawling green lawns, and the winding, paved walkways await the foot traffic of the patrons who will be arriving in a short while. The morning haze has begun to burn off, revealing the shining sun and dazzling blue sky.

On one particular patch of lawn, Travis Fisher straightens the red-and-white checkered tablecloth on one of the folding tables he has set up in the area reserved for the chili cookoff that Harbor Boulevard is sponsoring. 

“Looking good!” calls out a voice from behind him. Travis turns and sees his father striding down the walking path, holding a cooler by its handle.

“You made some?” Travis asks as Tim comes nearer.

“You know I’m not much of a cook, but I wanted to support you. I found this idea online about adding beer to the chili, so I tried that."

“Can’t go wrong with beer.” For what must be the twentieth time, Travis surveys the area he has set up: the four folding tables, with trays and Sterno cans set up for keeping the contestants’ chili entries warm; the dais with a table and chairs for the five judges; and a tented booth to the side with information about and memorabilia from the restaurant. 
  Travis Fisher

“Do you think this is too many tables?” he asks.

“Too many? You know we’re all coming to support you and enter the contest."

“But what if it’s just, like, my relatives? That’ll be so embarrassing.” 

Tim sets his cooler down on the nearby table. “I’m sure other people will turn out. You and Samantha did a lot of advertising."

Travis sighs. “Fingers crossed."

“Listen, Travis. You put together what’s going to be a great event. People will come out and have fun and share their recipes. It’s good publicity for the restaurant, and it’s a lot more fun than another year of giving away keychains and coupons at a booth."

“That’s what I hope. I’m just nervous that it’ll be totally lame and no one will show."

Just as Travis is about to respond, he sees another familiar face approaching: the weathered visage of Hansen, one of the longer-running — and higher-ranking — cooks from the restaurant’s kitchen.

“So am I gonna have anyone to judge?” Hansen asks in his distinctive, raspy voice.

“It’s early,” Travis says, as he mentally whispers to himself a reminder not to let his disdain for the guy show. “Thanks for agreeing to judge. I thought it’d be good for someone from the kitchen to be on the panel."

“Yeah, well, we’ll see if there actually is anything to judge."

Travis bites his tongue and instead points to the dais. “You can go get set up there. The other judges should be here in a minute."

Hansen grumbles as he sees himself over to the judges’ table.

“He seems like a real ray of sunshine,” Tim says quietly as Hansen moves away.

“And this is him on a good day.” Travis reaches for the numbered sign-in sheet. “Why don’t you sign in and we can get you set up?"

Tim takes the sheet and pen. He begins to write halfway down the page.

“What are you doing?” Travis asks. “There’s no one before you."

“Pro tip: if you don’t want it to look like only your family and friends showed up, don’t assign your dad spot number one."

Travis laughs. “Okay, maybe you’re right there."


In the parking lot of the winery, Sarah Fisher Gray waits beside her SUV. Her body hums with nervous energy as she watches the lot begin to fill with cars, knowing that any one of them could be the blackmailer who’s here today to pick up the money. When her sister’s Mercedes finally pulls in, Sarah is like a stick of dynamite with its fuse lit and rapidly disappearing. 

“It’s about time,” Sarah says, walking toward the car as Molly opens the driver’s door. 

“It took us a little longer to get out the door than I’d hoped,” Molly says. Her twin sons clamber out of the car, and Molly pops the trunk. 

“Hi, boys.” Sarah gives Caleb a hug, which he tolerates even though he’s at that age where boys act like affection from a family member is the most horrific thing on earth; Christian is more forthcoming with his. 

"Why  don’t you guys carry these down there?” Molly suggests as she pulls two separate crockpots from the trunk, where they have been packed amongst blankets and towels for transport.

"You made two?” Sarah asks.

“Caleb helped me with mine — he wanted to add a bunch of chili peppers, so it’s really on fire now — and Christian helped Danielle. Theirs is a vegan tofu chili. We brought hers because she was giving a lesson this morning."
  Molly Taylor

Sarah nods, not really caring about the details since they have something much more important to worry about. Within a minute, the boys are carrying the crockpots down a small hill and into the festival. Once they are safely out of hearing distance, Molly turns to Sarah.

“Do you have it?"

“In my car. Yeah.” Sarah leads the way back to the SUV, and they wait for a couple to finish getting out of a nearby car and walk away. 

"I still think it's weird that this person wanted to do it here," Molly says. "Do you think it's a trap?"

"No. But I think it shows that whoever is doing this knows a lot about what's going on with our family. It's like they're taunting us by doing this at a time when everyone will be around."

"Probably makes it easier for them to pick up the money without sticking out."

"Exactly. But it also makes our side of things easier, in a way."

Molly frowns. "Do you really think this is going to work? Maybe it's better if we just let them take the money and pray that's enough for them to leave us alone."

"Hey, you're the one about to go on trial for murder," Sarah says. "If you want to leave it up to prayer..."

"I don't. But those texts said that if anything happens to whoever picks up the money, the video gets released. Then Mom goes to jail--" Molly catches herself and, after glancing around to be sure no one is nearby, continues in a voice barely above a whisper: "Mom could go to jail, and we'd both be in huge trouble."

"That only happens if we have no leverage."

"What does that mean? Sarah, what are you planning?"

"Trust me, will you? I do this stuff for a living."

Molly folds her arms, left bare by her sleeveless top, across her body. Sarah opens the trunk and pulls out a large black duffel bag.

"A hundred grand is way heavier than you'd think," she says as she strains to lift the bag. "I wonder if there's a way to get the car closer to the restrooms where we're supposed to stash it."

Molly scans the area, which isn't wildly busy yet but still contains a lot of people who might find it weird to see these two women carrying a heavy black bag through the festival. "Yeah, that might be good." She takes another look in the trunk of Sarah's SUV. "Where's your chili?"

"I didn't really have time to make any, on account of trying to make sure we don't all get thrown in prison," Sarah snaps as she heaves the bag back into the trunk. "Now are you coming with me, or what?"


“Oooh, we’ve gotta come back and look at those!"

Tempest Banks pauses briefly in front of one of the booths, which has a wide variety of sunglasses set out on a table and hanging from a wire screen. 

“It’s almost fall,” Samantha Fisher says. “You won’t need sunglasses for months."

“That’s the point. It’s the end of summer — I either lost or broke just about all my pairs by now. Gotta stock up so I’m ready when the sun comes back."

With their covered pots in hand, the two young women continue down the walking path past all kinds of vendors. There are stations selling paintings and photography, hand-blown glass, clothing, and more.

“This is even bigger than I remember it being,” Samantha says as she takes in the sheer vastness of the festival. “That should be good for Travis."

“Yeah, and all those flyers and Instagram posts and everything else you did are gonna--"

Tempest stops mid-sentence, and Samantha looks over at her with concern.

“What’s wrong?"

She sees that Tempest has not only stopped talking, but walking, too.

"She did not,” Tempest mutters. “She did not."
  Tempest Banks

"Who didn't? What?"

She follows Tempest’s eye line to see another woman, with a  zebra-print headband holding back her hair, coming toward them as they all reach a fork in the path. She holds a disposable aluminum pan with handles.

“Baby girl!” the woman says, and Samantha understands who this must be.

Yvette Banks quickly closes the gap between herself and the two girls.

“What do you think you’re doing here?” Tempest asks.

“I was at that nice old ice rink where you work the other day, getting myself something to drink in that little, what do you call it, the café,” Yvette says, “and I saw this ad for a chili cookoff, and I thought, What a nice thing to do to meet people. Plus y’all need to try my pineapple chili. Y’all about to be shook!” 

“Only thing I’m shook by is you being here,” Tempest says through gritted teeth. “Why you still hanging around?"

“Because I wanna get to know my baby girl. Is that such a crime?"

Samantha studies Yvette; something about the woman is familiar, but she knows she couldn’t have seen her in a photo. Tempest has never shown her photos of her family or her time before King’s Bay.

“And who’s this?” Yvette asks. “I’m Tempest’s mama."

“I’m Samantha,” she begins, and then it hits her. “And we’ve met."

Tempest’s head jerks Samantha’s way. “What?"

“We met outside Claire’s building one day. You came up to me and asked for directions.” Suddenly Samantha feels a creepy sensation crawl all over her body; how long was this woman watching all of them?

“Oh, that’s a funny coincidence,” Yvette says. “And I didn’t even know you knew my daughter--"

“Yes, you did!” Tempest says. “You been following me around, and not just me -- Claire and Sam and probably everyone else, too. ‘Cause you want something, am I right? Well, you’re not gonna get it, so just drop it and go the hell away!"

Yvette’s face falls. “Tempest…"

“Come on, Sam.” Tempest turns and continues down the path toward Travis’s cookoff. Samantha quickly follows, unsure how to feel or what to say about the tense confrontation between mother and daughter.


Sarah pulls the SUV up to the curb near the heavily shaded area of the winery where the specified restrooms are. Whoever chose this spot for the money drop chose wisely, she thinks; it is close enough to the road to make coming and going simple, but also in an area guaranteed to be busy with foot traffic from the festival all day long. Molly helps her carry the bag to the free-standing cement structure that houses the restrooms, and after checking that the coast is clear — which it isn’t at first, so they have to wait outside with the bag until the single occupant, an older man, exits — they slip into the far stall of the men’s room and, after some trouble, manage to get the bag up onto the deep window ledge where they were instructed to leave it.

“Whew,” Sarah says, breathing a bit heavier than usual as she steps down from the toilet, on which she had to stand to reach the ledge.

“Do you really think it’s safe up there?” Molly asks. "What’s to say someone else won’t come by and take it?"

“No one is getting that thing down without a struggle. And I bet our friend isn’t going to let it sit for long.” Sarah opens her purse and fishes out a black pen, which she sets on the back of the toilet.

Molly watches her with confusion. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing.” Sarah then pulls out her cell phone and sends a text to the given number, informing their blackmailer that the drop has been made and that they are clearing out. “And now we wait."

“I’m nervous."

“Join the club. But let’s get out of here. The longer we linger, the longer this whole thing takes."

The sisters hurry out of the restroom, and when Sarah reaches for the door handle, it is pushed open and nearly strikes her. A preteen boy looks at them with confusion, then rushes past them toward the urinals. Sarah and Molly step outside into the fresh air.

“Mom? Aunt Molly?"

They turn to see Tori Gray standing there, headed for the restrooms.

“Hi,” Sarah says. “I didn’t think you guys would be here yet."

“Dad wanted to see if Travis needed any help.” Tori goes quiet for a long moment. “What were you guys doing in the men’s room?"


Will Tori catch on to Sarah and Molly’s predicament?
Will Sarah’s plan for the blackmail money work?
What does Yvette have up her sleeve?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum now!

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Monday, Sept. 12, 2016

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