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Spencer demanded that Natalie submit Peter to a paternity test, unless she wants him to tell Jason about their trysts.
- Alex and Trevor invited several friends to Alex’s new house for a dinner party.
- Danielle
began recording music again as she got a hold on her sobriety.
- After meeting at the chili cookoff, Jimmy and Kathleen went on a date.
- Travis
struggled to understand why Rosie was pushing him away.

The enticing aromas of rosemary, garlic, and lemon greet Diane Bishop as she enters the small bungalow, with Samantha Fisher and Tempest Banks right behind her.
“Here, let me take your coats,” Alex Marshall says. He wears a shawl-collar cardigan over a plaid shirt and waits patiently as the three women remove their coats.
Diane gazes around the house as she hands hers to Alex. “This is fabulous! I love the big window over there.”
“Yeah, it lets in so much light.” Alex stares appreciatively at the living room wall bearing the large bank of windows as he takes Samantha and Tempest’s coats. “Glad you could all make it.”
“Thanks for having us,” Diane says.

Samantha holds out a bottle of sauvignon blanc. “We brought some wine.”
“You can put that in the kitchen while I hang these up,” Alex says. “Trevor’s in there cooking dinner.”
“It smells really great,” Tempest adds, her nose twitching in the direction of the kitchen.
As Alex slips around the corner to hang the coats, Natalie Bishop and Jason Fisher stride out of the kitchen.
  Diane Bishop

“Hi, Samantha. Hi, Tempest,” Natalie says, clutching a glass of red wine. She looks up at her sister. “I thought I smelled something.”
Diane rolls her eyes. “Are you sure it wasn’t whatever cheap celebrity perfume you got at the drugstore? Which is it? Paris Hilton?”
“Mom,” Samantha warns.
“It’s good to see all of you,” Jason says as he moves through to give each of the three new arrivals a hug.
Natalie takes a sip of her wine. “Thank you for the blanket you sent for Peter.”
“You’re welcome,” Diane says. “Samantha picked it out. I figure that kid’s gonna need all the luck he can get. No offense, Jason.”
Jason forces a grin. “It was a really nice gift. Thank you. Why don’t we go into the kitchen and get you all something to drink?”
Please,” Diane says, already moving in that direction. Samantha and Tempest follow.
Alex returns from the coat closet and joins Natalie, who lingers in the entry.
“Do you think we can all just get along and have a nice dinner?” he asks.
“Hey, I’ll try my best, but I can’t control my sister,” Natalie says. “And how could she think I would wear Paris Hilton perfume? Ugh.”
Cassie's Coffee House
“It took me a while to see… that all this time… I was portraying me.”
Danielle Taylor finishes her song and takes her hands off her guitar. The small crowd inside Cassie’s Coffee House applauds as she stands on the stage, gratefully basking in the audience’s positive reception to her performance. Every time she writes or sings or takes to the stage lately, she feels a little more like her old self, and it feels so good that she doesn’t know how she could have ever let it go.
As the clapping dies down, she leaves the stage and heads for the table in the back where Jimmy Trask is waiting.
He gives her an enthusiastic pat on the back. “That was even better than last time!”
“Thanks,” she says, taking off her guitar. “It felt good. Really good.”
“It was good.”
As Danielle takes her seat, she listens to the host introduce the next Open Mic participant and looks around the dimly lit coffee shop.
“I thought you had someone meeting you,” she says.
Jimmy checks the time on his phone. “I do. She said she was running a little late. She’s coming all the way from Tacoma--”
But he stops mid-sentence, and Danielle tracks his eyeline through the crowd until she sees a slightly older tanned woman with medium-length blonde hair and a leather jacket coming their way. The aging hipster onstage begins playing his song.
“There she is.” Jimmy rises to greet the woman, and Danielle watches as they share a peck on the lips.
“Did I miss it?” the woman asks, and Danielle knows that she is familiar, but she cannot remember from where.
“She just finished, yeah,” Jimmy says. “Kathleen, have you met Danielle, Elly’s mom? Danielle, this is Kathleen--”
Travis’s birth mother,” Danielle finishes for him as the two women shake hands. “I recognized you from the chili cookoff.”
“Sorry I missed your song,” Kathleen says. “But I saw you play at the cookoff. You were killer.”
Danielle offers an appreciative smile. “Thanks. From what I remember, your chili was pretty killer, too.”
“Can I get you a coffee or tea or something?” Jimmy asks.
Kathleen slips off her leather jacket, revealing a flowing, magenta top. “I’m all right for now. I’ll get something in a few minutes.” She watches the performer onstage and then turns to Jimmy and Danielle. “I don’t think I’ve ever been to an Open Mic Night. Karaoke, sure, plenty of times. But never this. It sounded fun.”
“It can be a little hit-or-miss,” Danielle says with a laugh.
“That’s part of the fun!” Jimmy says.
They quiet down and sit to watch the rest of the song, which is a somber original that sounds like it might benefit from a little more tempo and a little less time spent with the thesaurus. They clap politely when the man finishes.
“I think I’ll go get that coffee now,” Kathleen says. “I might need a little kick if the rest of ‘em are like that, you know?”
Jimmy stands once again. “I’ll go with you.”
They head off to the register up front, leaving Danielle at the table. She pulls out her phone to check it, but she barely has it unlocked before a visibly pregnant woman appears beside the table.
“Sorry to interrupt,” the woman says, “but you were great up there.”
Danielle sets down her phone on the table. “Oh, thank you. That’s so nice of you.”
“Always should tell people when they bring a little light into your life, you know? I saw you play at that chili contest a while back, too. Took me a second to realize you were the same lady.”
“Oh! You were at the cookoff? I’m sorry we didn’t meet. I’m Danielle.”
The other woman takes her hand and shakes it. “Yvette. Yvette Banks.”
“Here you go,” Travis Fisher says as he hands his friend a beer, then plops back down and sprawls out on the sectional sofa in his father’s living room.
“Thanks, man.” Landon Esco holds the beer in one hand as he uses the other to scroll through listings on his iPad. “Look, this one is awesome.”
Travis leans over to see, and Landon shows him the apartment listing. Travis scans it carefully.
“A Jacuzzi in the living room?” Travis reads incredulously. “High-pile shag carpet?”

“It’s awesome, isn’t it?”
“What are we? The BeeGees?!”
Landon sits up straighter. “You don’t like it?”
“How is this even a real apartment?” Travis wonders with a laugh.
“I think it would be pretty sick. Think about all the girls we could bring back there. Or are you and Rosie gonna start acting all married soon?”
  Travis Fisher

“I dunno about that.” Travis takes a swig of his beer and then sets it down roughly on the coffee table.
“She’s still not texting you back?”
“I saw her at the courthouse. She wouldn’t even make eye contact with me while she was on the stand. Then I tried to stop her afterward, and she blew me off.”
“What the hell, man?” Landon drinks his own beer as he thinks. “Did you say something sketchy the last time you guys hung out? You said it went well.”
“It did! That’s why…”
“It all kinda made sense while she was testifying,” Travis says. “The way she talked about the day my grandpa got killed--she still blames herself. Maybe she doesn’t want to see me because that makes it harder to ignore that.”
“Dude, tell her you don’t blame her! That’s a start.”
“I did. She sort of--she didn’t care. Or acted like she didn’t. Maybe she really does just not like me.”
“Bullshit! Look at you! You’re my best buddy. Girls love you.”
“Because I’m your best buddy?”
Landon shrugs. “I dunno. Maybe. I can’t read minds. Point is, she didn’t just decide she wasn’t into you after, what, two good dates. If you think something’s up, something’s up. She’s super-serious about her job, right?”
“Very. Yeah.”
“Then she probably feels like she failed and she’s taking it really hard.”
“That’s what I think. Yeah.” Travis picks up his beer bottle again. “But what the hell am I supposed to do? I told her I don’t blame her. None of us do.”
“Then you have to show her.”
“Show her? How?”
“I don’t know!” Landon says. “If you ask me, a Jacuzzi in the living room is a good start…”
“Not a Jacuzzi,” Travis says as he turns the beer around in his hand. “But you might be onto something here…”
At the bar, Jimmy and Kathleen wait for their drinks as a young woman with cat-eye glasses plays a ukulele onstage.
“Sorry I didn’t make it in time,” she says, folding her arms.
“It’s okay. It’s a whole night -- it isn’t just about Danielle.”
“Well, I’m glad you invited me.”
“Glad you came.”
Kathleen stares across the room. “She’s pretty.”
“Danielle?” Jimmy shifts uncomfortably for a moment. “Yeah, she is. What’s that have to do with anything?”
“Oh, come on. You two have got a past. You have a kid together. And you still hang out all the time?”
“We took a lot of years off hanging out,” he says. “Didn’t see each other for years after Danielle gave Elly up.”
“Kathleen!” the barista calls out.
She turns and picks up her drink before continuing. “You mean to tell me there hasn’t been anything between the two of you in over twenty years?”
He chews on his response for a few seconds. “Look, there might’ve been a little… trying it on for size a while back. But it was pretty clear we’re both different people than we were back then. Or at least we don’t make sense together anymore. If we ever did.”
A smirk spreads on his face. “You jealous?”
“Maybe a little.” She diverts her eyes. “But if you say that’s that, then I believe you. I don’t have time to play around if I don’t trust someone.”
“I like that about you,” Jimmy says.
“That I don’t waste time?”
“That you’re exactly what you seem to be. It’s refreshing.”
Kathleen grins as the barista behind her shouts out Jimmy’s name.
“I can’t believe you’re Tempest’s mom,” Danielle is saying across the coffee house. “I don’t know her very well, but our--” She thinks it through for a split-second and decides to go with the cleanest explanation. “My family is close with the Fishers.”
“I didn’t know where she was for the longest time,” Yvette says. “Had me worried sick. Now I found her and she’s safe -- thank the Lord she’s safe -- but it’s tough seeing your baby think of different people as her family, y’know?”
Danielle nods. “Believe me, I do.”
After a quiet moment of introspection, Yvette waves away the solemnity. “Anyway, I don’t wanna be taking up your time. Just wanted to tell you how good you were.”

“That’s so nice of you to say. I hope you’re enjoying yourself.”

Yvette gazes off at the woman onstage as she speaks. “I am. Makes me kinda sad, though. Always thought I might be a singer. Used to love singing in church. My mama, she would always tell everyone, ‘This girl can sang!’ Even did it a little when I grew up. But, y’know, life happens. Had my babies and got my jobs and things fall away. That’s why it’s so great you’re still doing it.”
“I’ve been lucky, in some ways,” Danielle says. “Lucky to have the time to focus on my music. But it’s also been hell at times.” She has been trying not to stare too obviously at Yvette’s pregnant stomach, not to be the one to bring it up, but thankfully, Yvette does it for her.
  Yvette Banks

“Now that this one’s on the way, I figure I’ll never have the time,” she says, patting her stomach.
“Hey, hey,” Jimmy says as he and Kathleen return. “What’d we miss?”
Danielle turns to him to introduce Yvette, but then something strikes her. She looks back to Yvette.
“I have an idea,” Danielle says.
“This is delicious,” Tim Fisher says between bites. The entire group has gathered in Alex’s small but comfortable dining room for a soothing autumn meal accompanied by copious amounts of red wine. “The Cornish game hens are terrific.”
“What do you call these?” Tempest asks, her knife and fork paused over the bronzed bird on her plate.
“Cornish game hens,” Trevor says.
Tempest shrugs and goes back to cutting. “Seem like little chickens to me.”
Samantha laughs. “They pretty much are. But yeah, they’re really good.”
“I didn’t know you were such a great cook,” Jason says from across the table. “How did we not get you into the kitchen with our dad years ago?”
Trevor blushes. “It’s just a hobby. Besides, I don’t know if I could keep up in a kitchen like that. Sounds like Travis is doing great, though. We heard the chili cookoff was a huge hit.”
“We were all really proud of him,” Tim says with a nod.
“How about you, Samantha?” Alex asks as he scoops more piping mushroom rice onto his plate. “How’s the job hunt going? Am I going to get to see you at Vision when I visit?”
Tim looks meaningfully at his daughter. “I’ve offered. I’d love it if something opened up that might be right for her.”
Samantha sets down her fork. “Of course it would be nice. But I don’t want to slip in and take the job Spencer just quit, either -- especially since Dad’s hoping he comes back.”
“I am,” Tim admits.
At the other end of the table, a chill goes through Natalie. She reaches for her wine as casually as she can manage. “Spencer quit his job?”
Jason glances over at Tim, whose gaze has just grown a little darker, his facial features a little more creased. “I didn’t want to say anything, just in case…” He places a hand on Natalie’s hand. “He had a little disagreement with Tim and Claire. Everyone’s hoping it’s just a temporary thing.”
“Got it.” Natalie gulps her wine.
“Samantha actually did most of the marketing for the chili cookoff,” Diane chimes in. “She made the social media accounts, created the posts, drafted the flyers, all of that.”
“Really?” Trevor says. “Because…” He contemplates the rest for a moment before continuing. “We’re actually looking for a digital copywriter at Objection. I’m sure your aunt would’ve mentioned it if she weren’t-- you know. But if you want to come in for an interview, I can get you in.”
Samantha’s eyes go wide. “That would be great! Thank you, Trevor.”
“Yeah, Trevor, that’s really nice of you,” Diane says.
Natalie listens distantly, grateful that the topic of conversation has moved along. Her stomach quivers. In her head, possibilities spin and clang around. The fact that Spencer would walk away from his job working for Tim says a lot about how little he has to lose over Peter’s paternity now. And she can’t have that.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Kathleen asks as she leans against the table.
Danielle stares up at the stage. “I think so. I hope so.”
Onstage, the host, wearing his usual knit cap and mustache, takes the microphone. “Next up, we have a last-minute entry. Most of you already know Jimmy, who’ll be on the piano…”
The spotlight shifts in the direction of the piano, where Jimmy sits and waves as a cheery rises up.
“…and joining us for the very first time tonight, please welcome Yvette!”
The host waits for Yvette to join him onstage and then hands her the microphone. A mixture of welcoming applause and confused murmurs spreads through the coffee house as her pregnant state becomes apparent. Nevertheless, she takes her spot at center stage with the microphone in hand.
Danielle clasps her hands together as she watches.
“She’s just a girl, and she’s on fire…”
Yvette’s shaky, a cappella voice fills the shop. She looks directly at Danielle, who nods encouragingly.
“Hotter than a fantasy, lonely like a highway…”
Jimmy’s piano emerges softly behind Yvette’s voice. The woman still appears petrified as she grips the microphone hard with both hands.
“She’s living in a world, and it’s on fire… feeling the catastrophe, but she knows she can fly away…”
Jimmy jumps in and uses the mic attached to the piano to send up a rousing, “Oh-oh-oh-ohhhh…”
Yvette glances back at him and seems to take a deep breath. “She’s got both feet on the ground, and she’s burning it down…”
“She’s getting more confident,” Kathleen whispers to Danielle.
Danielle smiles. “Yeah. She is.” Yvette’s voice is far from incredible, and it clearly has not been maintained or trained, but there is an appealing rawness and power to it. 
Jimmy kicks in with another round of “Oh-oh-oh-ohhhh,” and this time, Yvette joins him. Then she plows ahead:
“She’s got her head in the clouds, and she’s not backing down…”
Both her voice and the piano go quiet. Danielle holds her breath but notices the way that Kathleen is looking up at the stage -- and at Jimmy, in particular -- with stars in her eyes.
Yvette dips her head and then raises it again, singing out with gusto: “This girl is on fire!”
A smile breaks out across Danielle’s face as she feels the crowd’s energy surging along with the song.
“Okay, I officially cannot eat another bite.” Diane drops her napkin atop her dessert plate for dramatic effect.
“I could try, but I’d probably be in serious pain later,” Tim says.
“Can we have the tour now?” Samantha asks. “I’m dying to see the rest.”
“I think I’m on table-clearing duty, since Trevor did the cooking,” Alex says, “but as soon as I’m done--”
Natalie holds up a hand. “You go. Give the tour. I’ll clean up.”
Several heads whip toward her.
“Really?” Diane asks. “You?”
“This might come as a shock to you, but I do have some manners.” Natalie sneers across the table at her sister. “Besides, Alex was nice enough to host. Everyone go have a tour. It’ll take me five minutes to get everything into the kitchen.”
“Thank you, Natalie. That’s very sweet,” Alex says, pushing out his chair.
The group files out of the dining room, but not before Diane gets in one final eye roll at her sister.
Natalie busies herself by stacking a few dishes. But as soon as she hears the footsteps grow faint enough, she bolts for the other end of the table.
She picks up the fork and spoon from Samantha’s place setting and turns each one over. They are both dirty, which is promising. She just hopes there’s enough on each one…
Not wanting to waste another moment before the group returns, she grabs her purse from the back of her chair, takes out the plastic baggie that she brought for just this reason, and sticks the fork and spoon inside. She stashes the baggie back inside the depths of her purse.
“This has to work,” she mutters as she begins gathering the rest of the cutlery into a pile so that no one will notice the two missing pieces.


Is Natalie going to get away with her scheme?
Could Samantha fit in at Objection Designs?
What did you think of Danielle helping Yvette?
Come discuss it all in the Footprints Forum!



Monday, November 21, 2016

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