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Tempest refused to entertain her mother’s attempts at reconciliation.
- While cleaning up after a fight with Fee at the chili cookoff, Tori met a charming young man working as a janitor at the winery.
- When
Sarah identified the person blackmailing her and Molly, it turned out to be the same janitor — who was really an I.T. worker who had taken the security footage of Philip’s shooting and was masquerading as a janitor in order to pick up the blackmail money. Sarah managed to record him confessing his plan, effectively neutralizing the blackmail plot.
- The day of Molly’s trial for shooting Philip arrived. Sarah was unsettled when Paula said that she was trying to remember what really happened on the balcony when Molly allegedly shot Philip.

KB Courthouse

The sky over King’s Bay is a gray soup of roiling clouds, as if nature itself has taken on the volatile anxiety of the day. A handful of news vans and reporters huddle near the front steps of the courthouse, waiting for any morsel of information or action. Matt Gray, clad uncharacteristically in a gray suit, keeps his head down and his elbows out as he leads the way into the courthouse. His wife and mother-in-law walk just behind him.

“Mrs. Fisher!” one of the reporters calls out, and Paula instinctively looks up, though only momentarily.

“Are you worried for your daughter?” another one asks.

“Come on,” Matt says gruffly. He takes both Sarah and Paula’s arms and hurries them up the steps and inside the courthouse.

After they pass through security, they find Molly Taylor and her older brother waiting in the relatively sedate corridor. Paula rushes over to embrace her daughter.

“Everything is going to be all right,” Paula says.

Molly nods, a little numb. “I hope so. Trying to believe that."

Paula turns to Tim. “Thank you for picking up your sister and driving her. I didn’t want to worry about her."

“Of course,” he says.

“I just wish there were more I could do,” Paula frets. “If I could remember what happened on that balcony, I could testify on your behalf…"

“You don’t have to do that,” Sarah says sharply. 

“It wouldn’t help,” Molly says, cringing internally at the prospect of Paula recalling what actually happened on the day Philip was shot. 

Paula’s eyes bug. “Of course it would help! If I could tell that jury that you shot Philip to protect all of us--"

“I can already testify to that,” Sarah cuts in.

“And we should not be discussing any of this out in the open,” declares a commanding voice from several feet away. The group looks to find Conrad Halston quickly approaching them. The attorney joins their huddle before he speaks further.

“I am going to do everything I can to secure an acquittal,” he says, “but we need to close ranks here. No more speculating, no more discussing this with anyone unless absolutely necessary. We can’t have the prosecution catching even a hint of weakness or uncertainty.” He glances around the corridor and finds that they are relatively alone right now. Even more quietly, he adds, “They don’t have a case. They’re going to spend their energy trying to twist what we present to suit them. Let’s just be confident in that and let it play out."

The Fishers nod along, each trying to exude confidence in his words, even if it is labored.

Edge of Winter Arena

Up on the second floor of the Edge of Winter Arena, Tempest Banks sits behind her desk in the otherwise empty office. Ever since the attempted robbery at the arena, she has been jumpy whenever she is alone in a room in the building, even though Jason has taken precautions to make sure that no employee is ever put in the sort of situation she was in that day. She can hear the sounds of figure skating practice down on the ice, and she knows there are two other rink employees working down there, as well. Nevertheless, when she hears the heavy door at the entrance slam and reverberate through the arena, she has two thoughts: one, to remind herself that it is simply someone arriving or leaving, and not some impending threat; two, that they really need to have a new stopper installed on the door so it isn’t so loud.

She is drafting a work order when she hears footsteps coming up the stairs. Her entire body tenses, and she hates herself for being such a wimp. But when a body appears in the doorway, it is even worse than Tempest’s fearful brain could have conjured.

“There you are,” says Yvette Banks as she enters the office in a denim jacket and black leggings. She looks around. “Ooh, look at this. Real nice.” She takes in Tempest’s black blouse and slacks. “And you. You look like such a grown-up. A real professional woman." 

Tempest pushes her keyboard away. “What are you doing here?"

“I was listening to that Diane lady on the radio this morning--"

“Why? Why are even still here? Go the hell away!"

Yvette jerks her head back. “You don’t talk to your mama that way."

“I’m gonna talk any way I want.” Tempest slaps her palms on the edge of the desk as she stands. “You got no right being here."

Yvette’s index finger, sporting a brightly painted pink nail, juts out. “I am worried sick about you, baby. You know what I heard on that show? That crazy-ass man who killed all those people was Claire’s brother?"

Tempest sets her jaw. “Yeah. That doesn’t mean nothing."

“What’s wrong with you? These people got you brainwashed or something?” 


“I heard what they did to that other girl, Samantha’s cousin or whatever. That coulda been you!"

They didn’t do anything. It was Philip. He was crazy as shit, and he killed a bunch of people. And now he’s dead."

“And that Fisher lady killed him! You can’t be hanging around these people."

“I can do whatever I want,” Tempest says, her voice as stony as her face. “It’s my life."

“For now, it is. But maybe not if you keep hanging around these people with all their danger and stuff. That’s why you’ve gotta get out of here."

“What are you talking about?"

“You need to come with me,” Yvette says gravely. “You gotta leave King’s Bay right away."


“All rise for the Honorable Judge Ricardo Sandoval!"

The bailiff’s announcement brings the packed courtroom to its feet. Once the judge, a sturdy man of middle age with a five o’clock shadow already emerging in the morning hours, takes his post, the audience is seated. 

“Good morning, ladies and gentleman,” Judge Sandoval begins. “Calling to order the case of the People of the State of Washington versus Molly Taylor."

As the clerk swears in the jury, Molly breathes an uneasy sigh and looks over at Conrad. He offers her a reassuring, no-nonsense smile. 

“We’ll begin with opening statements,” the judge says. “Is the prosecution ready?"

“Thank you, your Honor,” the District Attorney says as she rises from behind her table and steps out into the open. “Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I’m District Attorney Audrey Tam, and it is my honor to represent the people of the great state of Washington. On Friday, November 27 of last year, the defendant, Molly Taylor, picked up a handgun and shot her former fiancé, Philip Ragan, in the chest — an act that she admitted to police who responded to the shooting. Mr. Ragan was pronounced dead at the scene."
  Molly Taylor

In her seat, Molly tenses. Her fingers clench together as she scans the faces of the jurors, the twelve people who will decide her fate. She knew this was going to be painful, but hearing the D.A. describe it now, even she is nearly convinced that she killed Philip without provocation — and she knows that she didn’t actually even shoot him!

Conrad quickly scribbles a note on his legal pad and slides it over to her: We’ll have our chance. Just stay calm.

Molly swallows hard as she tries to will herself to take his advice. 

“You’ve no doubt heard and seen plenty about the victim in the media over the past year,” Tam continues. “As you have been briefed, this court asks you to disregard all that speculation and hear this case based on what is presented in this courtroom. Because the late Philip Ragan is not the person on trial here — Molly Taylor is."

A row behind the table where Molly and Conrad are seated, Tim leans over to Sarah. 

“She’s making this sound like premeditated murder,” he whispers.

“I know,” Sarah says quietly. “That’s what they’re going to try to do. It’s all they can do.” She sees the nervousness in her brother’s eyes as they refocus on the D.A.


“Higher! Higher!"

Billy Fisher kicks out his legs from the swing as he soars through the air. Behind him, his older sister steals glances up at the ominous gray sky.

“Aren’t you tired yet?” she asks.

“No! I’m flying!” Billy shouts, displaying his usual lack of regard for modulating the volume of his voice. 

“Flying is exhausting. At least for one of us."

“I love it!"

She gives him another push and looks around. King’s Bay Park is mostly empty, save for a few people with strollers and dogs using the walking path — no doubt due to the combination of the early hour and the weather. Tori figured that a trip to the park would wear her little brother out better than being cooped up in the house, but now she wonders if that is even possible. 

“Hey. Wait. Chili girl,” a voice says from several feet away.

She swivels her head to see the handsome guy from the winery festival standing there, his hands buried in the pockets of a black hoodie.

“That was a one-time thing,” she says as she gives Billy another push. “I swear."

The guy takes a few steps closer. “Didn’t think I’d see you again."

“Yeah. Same.” She studies him. He is at least part-Asian — Japanese, she would guess — and both more good-looking and more built than she remembers. Also way hotter than any janitor she has ever seen.

“At least I recognized you without all those beans in your hair."

“Oh my god. Stop mentioning that!” As appalled as she is, she can’t keep a smile off her face.

She is delighted to see that it sparks a grin on his face, too. She hasn’t had a guy react to her like that in what feels like forever.
  Zane Tanaka

“It was pretty memorable,” he says. “What are you doing out here today? It looks like it’s gonna rain."

“Faster!” Billy orders as the swing flies back toward Tori. She responds by giving him an even harder shove.

“He wanted to go out and play—“ She cuts herself off as she indicates Billy. “This is my little brother, by the way. Not my kid."


She sees the way he is staring at her — either with amusement or condescension, she isn’t sure — and suddenly feels the need to dig herself out of seeming like such a loser. 

“What are you doing in the park so early?” she asks, though she immediately worries that it sounds like an accusation. “Do you have to work?” 

“I’m on my way to grab a coffee before work, yeah.” He seems to catch himself and shakes his head. “That thing the other day — the janitor thing — I was just filling in for someone. That isn’t my real job."

“What do you really do?"

“For now, I work in I.T. at a big company,” he says. “It’s pretty boring. But what I really do is develop apps. I have two I’m working on right now. Just trying to get funding off the ground."

“What are they?"

“I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you.” He winks, and she notices the dimples in his cheeks. “I would ask you to come get coffee, but…” He gestures to Billy, who is still swinging thanks to Tori’s occasional pushes. 

“Yeah. Probably not a good idea."

“I’m Zane, by the way.” He extends a hand, and when she takes it for a shake, she is surprised by how soft his skin feels and how strong his grip is.

“I’m Tori."

“Good to meet you — or, see you again. I should get going, but…” He pulls out his phone. “Too forward if I ask for your number?"

“Not at all.” He hands her the phone, and she punches in her cell number.

“I’m gonna be using that,” he says as he pockets the phone again. “Have a good day, Tori. And don’t get caught out here in the rain."

“Tell that to him.” She tilts her head toward Billy. “But yeah, use that number."

With another wink, he sticks his hands back in the hoodie’s pockets and heads off across the park. 

“Hey, why’d you stop pushing me?” Billy demands as Tori stands there with her arms by her sides.

Across the park, a smirk crawls across Zane’s face. “Nice to meet you, Victoria Gray,” he mutters to himself as he walks over the damp grass.


Tempest lets out a bitter laugh that fills the office with its derision. 

“Did you fall and hit your head somewhere?” she asks. “Is that what this is all about? ‘Cuz I know that I haven’t done a damn thing since you’ve been here that would ever make you think I’d go anywhere with you."

“It’s not safe here,” Yvette says. “It’s not. You got serial killers and murder trials and-- You mean to tell me you were never scared, that whole time that man was running around killing people? Not a little bit?"

Tempest remembers how she felt mere minutes ago, hearing that door slam and footsteps climbing the stairs. She remembers being alone with that man who walked right into the arena and pulled a gun on her. 

“You know what was scary?” she says, her voice reducing itself to a thin, quivering line. “Being a little girl and hiding in my bed ‘cuz I never knew when one of your boyfriends was gonna start yelling and screaming and come in and get me."

“Tempest, baby--"

“Coming home from school and having some drunk loser hit me in the face ‘cuz I asked if I could watch TV in my own house. Watching Isaac get the shit beat out of him ‘cuz he asked for extra dessert or ‘cuz we made too much noise or any damn thing."

“That wasn’t me."

“Nah, it was just all the guys you brought into our house,” Tempest says, her mind darkening with the terrible memories that she normally spends so much energy pushing out and away. “All the guys you kept inviting in, so you could stand back and watch while they did that to us--"

“I didn’t want them to!"

“You didn’t stop them!"

“‘Cuz they hit me, too.” Yvette’s voice breaks. “I know I did wrong. I know I never stood up for you and your brother the way I was supposed to. That’s why I wanna make things right now."

“Then why are you having a baby with one of those same men? Why do you think that’s a good idea?"
  Tempest Banks

“That’s why I came here! To stop that and start over. But now I see how dangerous this place is--"

“Don’t you dare talk to me about danger."

“You’re my baby. I worry about you. I want you to be safe."

“You never cared about me being safe.” Tempest shakes her head as she stares down her mother. “What you want is for me to take care of you now. You and that baby. Know what? I can’t do it. I can’t. I got out. I made myself a life. I ain’t got the time or the energy to fix yours when you couldn’t do it yourself."

“I wanna keep you safe!"

“Then get the hell away from me, ‘cuz I never got so hurt as when I was around you.” Tempest places a hand on the phone’s receiver. “Do I need to call security and have them drag you outta here?"

Yvette’s face lights up with shock, but she pulls it back. Quietly, she says, “I’m not gonna stop trying."

“I wish you would."

“You watch out for yourself. You be safe,” Yvette says before she disappears back through the doorway.

Tempest listens to the footsteps descending the stairs and removes her hand from the phone. She wasn’t sure exactly who she was going to dial if Yvette had called her on her bluff, since there isn’t actually on-site security, but it did the trick. She drops back into her office chair and tries her best to push all those horrible memories — the rough grips of hands, the raised voices, the crack of skin on skin — back into the dark corners of her mind where she normally keeps them. But she knows it’s going to be harder than usual today. 


When the prosecution concludes its opening statement, Audrey Tam returns to her seat, and the judge invites Conrad to speak to the jury.

“Molly Taylor is a devoted mother to two sons, a beloved daughter and sister, and a successful businesswoman who has contributed greatly to the local economy with her company, Objection Designs,” he tells the jurors. 

Molly reminds herself to make eye contact with several of the jurors, as Conrad advised — not too lengthy, and not with a full smile, but just enough to show that she is not hiding anything. Even if she is.

“As Ms. Tam said,” Conrad continues, “Ms. Taylor admits in full to having picked up that gun — a gun registered to Mr. Ragan, the deceased, who brought it with him to King’s Bay Memorial Hospital — and having fired a shot at Mr. Ragan as he held her sister and threatened to throw her off the fifth-floor hospital balcony."

As he speaks, Conrad paces over the linoleum floor of the courtroom, keeping both his movements and his tone casually confident but never sloppy.

“We’ll hear from Ms. Taylor’s sister, herself a former police officer, as to what took place on that balcony on the morning of November 27th,” he says. “We’ll hear further from witnesses who can provide firsthand testimony as to the danger Mr. Ragan posed to his victims — most notably, the single victim who survived his attacks."

Once Conrad enumerates other witnesses who will be called to bolster Molly’s case, he reiterates the basis of the defense’s case and returns to his seat. 

“Thank you,” Molly says quietly as she leans toward him.

“The prosecution may begin presenting its case,” Judge Sandoval announces.

Audrey Tam again stands. “The State calls Dr. Ivan Patel, County Medical Examiner, to the stand."

Dr. Patel, a wiry man whose glasses are a little too large for his face and whose hair seems wild even though he has clearly made an effort to tame it, takes the stand and is sworn in.

After establishing his credentials, Tam turns squarely toward the stand and asks, “What was Philip Ragan’s precise cause of death?"

“Philip Ragan died from a gunshot wound that first pierced his right lung and then tore through the left atrium of his heart,” Dr. Patel says. “There was no visible exit wound, and the bullet was later discovered inside his body, near his heart."

A pair of X-rays are projected onto a screen to depict the damage. The doctor's description of the fatal injuries, coupled with the cloudy images of Philip's body -- probably the last images ever taken of him -- send a fresh swell of anxiety coursing through Molly's body. She can see Philip in her mind, the bullet slamming into his body and throwing him against the railing. She can see the blood oozing from his wound, through his shirt. And she can see the man she loved, or thought she loved, for a long time before any of that. Sometimes it is still difficult to process that the man who met his end on that balcony was the same man who made her feel so loved in so many special ways.

“The shooting took place at a hospital,” Tam says. “Shouldn’t that have made it possible for doctors to act quickly and save the victim?"

“Mr. Ragan was pronounced dead as soon as he was brought inside the hospital. Between the injury to his lung and that to his heart, he suffered what’s known as a pneumo-hemothorax."

“Would you explain for the court what means?"

“It means that, because of the bullet wound, a large amount of air rushed into his chest, meaning his lung was unable to expand. In addition, the lung itself was punctured. And when the bullet struck his heart, the chest cavity also filled with blood.” Dr. Patel bows his head gravely. “By the time Mr. Ragan received medical attention, he had lost too much blood, and his lung had also filled with blood. As a result, his brain had been deprived of oxygen for several minutes."

“That sounds like a very painful way to die."

“Objection,” Conrad says as he stands in one swift motion. “The witness has no way of knowing for certain what Mr. Ragan felt."

“Sustained,” the judge says.

Tam shoots Conrad a quick look and then moves on with her questioning. Within a few minutes, she has excused the medical examiner. 

“Does the defense care to cross-examine the witness?” Judge Sandoval asks. Conrad rises and poses a quick series of questions regarding the placement of Philip’s body when he was found, in order to establish the tight quarters of the balcony and the women’s inability to break free from Philip. 

“No further questions,” Conrad says, and Dr. Patel steps down.

Audrey Tam takes a moment before she addresses the court: “For its next witness, the State calls Spencer Ragan to the stand."


What kind of testimony will Spencer provide?
What does Zane have planned for Tori?
Will Yvette ever get through to Tempest?
Talk about all this and more in the Footprints Forum!



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

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