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- Sarah and Molly left the duffel bag containing $100,000 in the spot designated by the blackmailer.
- Rosie accepted Travis’s invitation to be one of the judges for the chili cookoff.
- Tori st
ruggled to assimilate back into regular life after her recovery period and physical therapy.
- Natalie gave birth to a son, whom she and Jason named Peter.

Near the back side of Wandering Soul Winery, Sarah Fisher Gray and her sister creep out of the men’s restroom where they were instructed to leave the black duffel bag full of money. 

“Mom? Aunt Molly?"

The women stop in their tracks and and see Sarah’s daughter headed toward them. 

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

Dad wanted to see if Travis needed any help.” Tori eyes them with confusion. “What were you guys doing in the men’s room?"

“What?” Molly says. “We weren’t--"

“I saw a client,” Sarah cuts in. “I couldn’t let her see me, so I pulled Molly in there with me."

Tori shrugs. “Weird."

“Where’s your dad and your brother?” Sarah asks.

“Over by where Travis is set up."

“Okay, we’ll see you over there.” 
  Sarah Fisher Gray

Tori ducks into the women’s restroom, and Sarah pulls Molly toward the street where the car is waiting.

“You don’t think she suspected anything, do you?” Molly asks quietly.

“The minute I mentioned work, she stopped being even remotely interested."

They walk over the green grass in silence for a moment.

“You know, you’re a pretty good liar,” Molly says.

“Thanks? I think."

“It’s a compliment. At least in our current situation."

Sarah uses her remote to unlock her SUV. 

“So what’s this plan of yours?” Molly asks as they get into the car.

“You’ll see.” Sarah feels her hand shaking as she starts the engine. “I hope."


“Thanks for coming,” Travis Fisher says as he leads Rosie Jimenez toward the small dais where the judges’ table has been set up. 

“Promise it’ll be fun?” Rosie asks as she surveys the contestants setting up their chili entries on the checkered tablecloth-covered tables nearby.

“I sure hope so.” They step up onto the dais. “Rosie Jimenez, these are your fellow judges: Hansen works at the restaurant… Diane Bishop and Luke Berman are the hosts of the KBAY morning show… and you’ve met my grandma, Paula."

The five judges exchange greetings. 

Rosie toys with the zipper on her lightweight hoodie. “So what do we do?”

“I’ll give you guys a more in-depth explanation in a few minutes,” he explains, “but basically, you’ll all sample the entries and assign them a point value from 1 to 10. The entry with the most points wins. It’ll be easy."

Paula touches a hand to her stomach nervously. “And how much chili are we going to have to eat?”

“Yeah, I don’t need to be making myself sick,” Diane says.

“Well, everyone needs to sample all the entries,” Travis says.

He sees Rosie grimace at the prospect and begins to panic. How could he not have thought this through?

“Travis,” comes a voice from behind him. He turns to see Matt Gray coming his way.

“What’s up?"

“Do you have another sign-in sheet?” Matt holds out the piece of paper, which, to Travis’s astonishment, is completely full.

Travis looks out at the tables and suddenly realizes how many people are here: far more than just his family and friends. Just a short while ago, he was worried that no one would show up — and now this.

“Okay, maybe we’ll rework the judging system a bit,” he says as his mind races.


“You came!” Tori says as she sidles up next to Spencer Ragan, who is examining a rack of woven bracelets beside one of the booths.

Tim twisted my arm,” Spencer says.

“Or you just really wanted to spend time with your favorite cousin."

He grins. “That, too.” He lets go of the bracelet he has been studying. “God, there’s so much crap here."

They fall into step along the walking path.

“You realize it was a year ago we really hung out for the first time?” Tori says. “We ran into each other here--"

“And we went to that party on the beach--"

“Where Helen Chase showed up!” 
  Tori Gray

They both laugh as they continue walking.

“That was a fun day,” Spencer says. “I still can’t believe she stayed and drank with us."

“And she was really nice! I thought she was going to get us in trouble."

Tori tries to push away other thoughts of that day, like how she came to the festival with the sole purpose of scoring some alone time with Philip. If only she had known how that would end up...

What she sees next causes her to stop dead in her tracks.

“Ugh. Her,” Tori says.

“Helen Chase?"

“No, I like her. Look.” Tori points, and Spencer follows the invisible line created by her index finger until he sees what has grabbed her attention: her old friend, Fee C., carrying a pot into the chili cookoff’s area.


Out in the parking lot of the winery, Jason Fisher removes the stroller from the trunk of his car and sets about unfolding it. Natalie Bishop stands by and, once the stroller is ready, gently sets their infant son in it.

"Why does he need that hat if he's in there?" Sophie Fisher asks as she climbs out of the backseat. 

"Because babies have really sensitive skin," says Bree Halston.

"I want a hat!" Sophie declares.

"You have all those hats at home," Jason says. "Why didn't you bring one?"

Sophie plants her hands on her hips. "I didn't know I needed one."

"I'm sure we can find you a hat somewhere here," says a woman's voice from behind Jason. "It'll be Grandma's treat."

"Yay!" Sophie shrieks as she runs over to hug Helen Chase. Helen sets down her covered crockpot at her feet. 

"Hi, Helen. Hi, Don," Jason says to his former in-laws.

"This must be baby Peter!" Don exclaims as he moves to the stroller. He holds a pot of his own as he stoops down to look at the baby. "He's very handsome. Congratulations to both of you."

"Thanks," Natalie and Jason say, nearly in tandem. 

"We'll see how long he lasts today," Natalie adds. "These outings are still a little tough."

"He needs his sleep!" Don says. "I take it neither of you had the time or energy to make something for the contest?"

Jason laughs. "Not even close."

"We each made our own," Helen says as she picks up the crockpot. "I wanted to bring my signature Five-Alarm Chili, but Don wanted to try his own recipe."

"It's a bit of an experiment," Don says. "It starts off savory, but then it transitions on your palate and the fruit flavors that I infused into it start to come through. It's a real surprise!"

"Sounds like you guys have a shot at the prizes," Jason says. "Should we all get down there?"

Sophie tugs on Helen's arm. "When can I get my hat?" 

"Patience, darling," Helen says. "Let's go get set up for the contest, and then we'll have a look around."

"She really doesn't need a new hat," Jason says.

"Oh, of course she does! It will be a little gift from Grandma!" Helen proclaims.

Jason trades a look with Natalie and takes a deep breath before they follow the others down the paved path.


Beside the judges’ dais, Travis and Matt huddle together with the two sign-up sheets.

“I think this will work,” Matt says. “Good thinking."

“I hope so. Sixty three entries. That’s crazy."

“You should be proud of  yourself. You pulled together an awesome event."

Travis glances over at his panel of judges. “It won’t be so awesome if we wind up making our judges sick."

“Nah, this system you worked out should be good."

“You’re sure? Then I’ll go explain it.” Travis pauses when he spots Kathleen Bundy approaching, holding a crockpot by its handles. She wears a flowing magenta top and a broad smile; her overly tanned face stands in sharp contrast to her very blonde hair. 

“Hi there!” Kathleen says as she hurries through the grass. “Look at all this!”  

Travis indicates the nearby table. “Here, put that down. I’m glad you made it.” He turns to Matt. “You’ve met Kathleen, right? My, uh, my mother?"

“Just real quickly, but yeah. I hear you’re a cook, too."

“Nothing fancy, but chili’s right up my alley! And I wanted to see what Travis here cooked up. No pun intended."

“We had a little crisis on account of getting way more entries than we expected, but I think we have it under control,” Travis says. “I need to go brief the judges on how this is gonna work."
  Kathleen Bundy

"You go right ahead," Kathleen says.

Travis sets one of the sign-up sheets in front of here. “Sign in here so we can give you a number. We just need a little description of your chili, too."

She takes the pen from his hand. “That I can do. Good luck. It’s gonna be great, Travis."

He looks around at the bustling scene. “I hope so."

“What the hell is she doing here?” Spencer asks.

Tori regards her former friend with annoyance. Her stomach flip-flops as she envisions having to see Fee C. face-to-face. Having taken the semester off from college to recover from her injuries, she feels less than prepared for any kind of social interaction outside her family — especially one as charged as a meeting with Fee would be like. 

“Want me to go tell her off?” Spencer says. “This is your family’s thing, and she knows it."

Tori considers that for a few seconds.

“You know what? I think I’ve got this one."

She marches over to the cookoff site, where Fee is setting her pot down on one of the checkered-cloth-covered tables. 

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

Fee rolls her eyes and turns with excruciating slowness, letting her head loll downwards and then snap up to face Tori. 

“My mom thought it would be a fun family-bonding thing before I move back into the dorms,” Fee says. “Not that it’s any of your business."

“My cousin is throwing this contest, so yeah, kind of my business. And really rude of you to show your face here, honestly."

Fee removes the lid from her pot and looks at its contents. “You know, it’s pretty weird how your family is, like, obsessed with chili."

Spencer stands behind Tori, his arms folded. 

“They’re not obsessed,” Tori says. “They own a restaurant!"

“Whatever. I’m surprised you’re here. Aren’t you supposed to be, like, learning to walk again or whatever?"

“She’s fine. She’s getting better every day,” Spencer interjects.

“And I’m going back to school this semester,” Tori says.

“Oh, great."

“You should be excited. That means I’ll meet some new guys, and you’ll suddenly have a dating pool to pick from again — which I guess you’ll need, since it sounds like you couldn’t hang onto Ian after you stole him from me."

Fee gasps, and her entire body tenses with anger. Then, in one swift move, she reaches her hand into the pot, pulls out a handful of chili, and flings it at Tori.

Tori recoils as the hot liquid and meat pelts her in the face and chest. She stands there, mouth agape, as she processes what has just happened.

“You did not just do that!” Tori shouts as she lunges for the other young woman.


Will Spencer break up the fight between Tori and Fee?
Will Travis figure out how to manage the contest?
Can Sarah pull off her secret plan?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum!

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Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016

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