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Spencer insisted that Natalie submit baby Peter to a paternity test. Natalie slyly switched out Spencer’s DNA sample with one she’d taken from Samantha.
- During Molly’s trial, Tori testified about the night she discovered Philip was the Footprint Killer, but the D.A. attempted to cast suspicion on why she’d been at Philip’s loft that night.
- The
defense rested its case. But the prosecution declared that it had one more witness to present to the court.

“For its final witness,” District Attorney Audrey Tam announces, “the prosecution calls Felicia Coleman to the stand."

At the defense table, Conrad Halston turns to his client in confusion. “Who?"

All eyes are on the back of the courtroom as the doors open, and in walks a woman in her early 20s with a shock of platinum blonde hair. 

Helen Chase grips her husband’s forearm. “It’s that horrible Fee C.!"
Don watches the witness walk up the aisle. “Who in the world is that?"

“She’s that girl who ruined my chili at the cookoff,” Helen says, bitterness dripping from every syllable. “She used to be friends with Victoria and then turned on her. She’s a real nasty piece of work!” 

For a fleeting moment, as she passes up the aisle, Fee locks eyes with her onetime friend, who is seated in the audience with a look of utter shock upon her face.

“What’s she doing here?” Samantha Fisher whispers.
  Fee C.

Tori shakes her head. “I have no idea."

As Fee proceeds to the stand, Molly tells Conrad, “She was Tori’s friend growing up. I think they had some sort of falling-out."

“And what could she possibly have to do with this trial?” Conrad asks. 

“I don’t even have a guess,” Molly says, as her stomach does a somersault. “But I have a really bad feeling about this."


Like a gas slowly seeping in, a dense, uneasy silence fills the clinic’s exam room, where Natalie Bishop and Spencer Ragan wait in stiff plastic chairs that they have moved as far from one another as the small space will allow. Even baby Peter’s occasional gurgles and giggles as he plays with a plush giraffe with a rattle built into it. Natalie attempts to remain focused on her son, or else she knows she might spring across the room and dump that chair -- and Spencer right along with it -- on the cold linoleum floor before delivering a few well-placed kicks with her stiletto. It’s ridiculous that he has dragged her here in the first place; he doesn’t want a kid, and they both know it. Not to mention her lingering nerves over whether her fib to the nurse to switch Spencer’s sample actually worked. 

“How long has he been doing that?” Spencer asks out of the blue, shattering the fragile quiet.

Natalie stares him down. “Doing what?"

“Laughing. They don’t do that right when they’re born, do they?"

“What, now you’re suddenly interested in babies?"

Spencer’s face hardens. “I’m interested in him. If he’s my kid--"

The sudden opening of the door interrupts them. The doctor, a middle-aged man whose hair is completely white, seems to sense the tension the second he enters the room. 

“I’m Dr. Carlisle,” he says after taking a moment to survey the two of them. “You must be Mr. Ragan and Ms. Bishop."

“That’s us,” Spencer says.

The doctor leans down to look at Peter up close. “And who’s this?"

“This is Peter,” Natalie says. “And he’s pretty eager to get home and nap, so could we make this quick? You have the results, right?"

Dr. Carlisle seats himself on a rolling stool. “I do.” 

They stare at him expectantly. 

“Well?” Spencer says. “We already had to wait way longer than we should have."

“I’m sorry about that,” the doctor says as he opens the file folder he is holding. “Our lab has been very busy.” He studies the file’s contents with excruciating slowness.

“Doctor,” Natalie says. “What does it say? Is he Peter’s father?"

“According to this,” Dr. Carlisle says, “Mr. Ragan is related to this child. But he isn’t genetically Peter’s parent. Does that make any sense to the two of you?"

Natalie lets out a heavy sigh of relief. “Yes. Perfect sense. Spencer’s uncle is Peter’s father."

“Wow,” Spencer says, hunching forward and letting his head drop down. “Okay, then. At least we know."

“I told you,” Natalie says as she stands and hikes Peter up on her hip.

“Frankly, I’m surprised you came for the test at all,” Dr. Carlisle adds. “You do know that it’s unlikely you will ever father a child, don’t you, Mr. Ragan?"

Spencer’s head snaps up. “What? Why?"

“Because of your condition."

“My what?” Spencer asks, his eyes widening in disbelief. 


Tori’s head spins as she watches Fee take the stand and be sworn in by the bailiff. What could Fee possibly have to do with this trial? The only thing Tori can come up with -- and it is a possibility that nauseates her -- is that they’ve brought her in to discredit Tori’s testimony somehow. 

“And what is your relation to the defendant?” Audrey Tam asks.

Fee glances toward Molly. “I don’t know her. Not really. I was friends with her niece, Tori, growing up."

“Was friends?"

“Our friendship ended a little over a year ago. Because of a boy who picked me over her.”

Tori lets out an annoyed huff through her nose and grips the edge of the bench as hard as she can. It is all she can do not to scream her lungs out. That smug look on Fee’s face...

“What has your contact with Tori been like since then?” Tam asks.

Fee shrugs. “Not a lot. I’ve run into her a few times. We both go to KBU."

“That’s King’s Bay University, yes?"


The D.A. pauses and takes a few steps over the floor as she prepares her next question. “You say that a boy Tori Gray was interested in chose you instead. How did Tori react to that?"

“She went nuts,” Fee says. “She slapped me in the face. And a little while back, she attacked me at the chili cookoff. She’s off her rocker!"

“Objection!” Conrad says as he shoots to his feet. “Irrelevant."

The judge nods. “Ms. Tam, I want to know where this is going. This is not a trial about a college love triangle."

“I assure you that this is relevant,” Tam says. As Conrad reluctantly sits back down, she continues: “Did you ever see or hear anything implying that Tori had moved on from this young man you were both involved with?"

Fee nods enthusiastically. “Yeah. She said she had."

In the gallery, Tori’s entire body goes numb. She suddenly has a terrible sense of exactly where this is going.

“What did she say?” Tam asks.

“She said she was… dating, or whatever… some new guy. An older guy. She said she was done dealing with college guys."

“So Tori Gray told you that she was seeing an older man, correct?"
  Tori Gray

“Yep,” Fee says, with a twinkle of delight in her eye that makes Tori want to run up there and grab her by her stupid blonde hair. 

At the defense table, Molly goes pale. She wants to lean over and tell Conrad to do something, but she knows that this is valid testimony -- and if it is true, she doesn’t even know how to begin processing it. But before she can speak, she sees Conrad scribbling something on the legal pad in front of him. 

Do not react! the message says in small black letters. She’s baiting you. Act calm.

Molly takes in the message and does the best she can not to show any outward reaction, even as her mind replays all those months during which she and Philip were separated. He wanted to get back together. He was always so clear about that, so insistent. Would he really have gotten involved with anyone else -- especially her niece, of all people?

“Did you ever find out who that man was? Or meet him?” Tam asks.

“Nope,” Fee says. “She was really secretive about it. Like she wanted us to know there was someone, but she didn’t want to tell us who it was. Or couldn’t."

Even though she is looking down at her hands, with her brown hair falling over her face and acting as a shield, Tori knows that every eyeball in the courtroom has shifted its focus toward her. She can feel them staring at her, judging her. 

In the front row, Matt Gray takes a hold of his wife’s hand. 

“You don’t think…?” he whispers. “There’s no way."

Sarah’s throat is tight as she answers. “I don’t know what to think anymore."


Dr. Carlisle eyes Natalie nervously as he tells Spencer, “If you’d like to discuss this in private…"

“Just spit it out!” Spencer says. “What condition are you talking about?"

“You really don’t know,” the doctor says. “Mr. Ragan, according to this DNA sample, you have two X chromosomes."

A stab of panic jabs into Natalie’s gut. That must mean they tested the sample she took from Samantha. She hadn’t accounted for that discrepancy -- she just assumed it would show that the test subject was related to Peter, but as a cousin, not as a parent.

Spencer’s shock is evident as he bolts to a completely upright position in his chair. “I do not. What are you talking about?"

“According to the sample we took to run this test, you have two X chromosomes,” Dr. Carlisle says in a calm, even tone. “It’s very rare, but it does occur. It’s called XX Male Syndrome, or de la Chappelle Syndrome--"

“There’s no way. I would’ve known."

“Have you ever had a major medical procedure?” Natalie asks, knowing that she has to steer this ship. “If they never had a reason to test…"
  Spencer Ragan

“I’m not a hermaphrodite!” Spencer yells.

“The preferred term these days is intersex,” the doctor says.

“Well, I’m not that, either! I think I would know if I were-- I have all the working parts. Natalie, you tell him!"

“Males with two X chromosomes tend to present as phenotypically male,” Dr. Carlisle explains, “because the genetic material from the Y chromosome is present in one of the X chromosomes, but biologically, these individuals are female."

Spencer bolts out of his chair. “I’m not female. Something with your test got fucked up. That wasn’t my sample."

“But it proved that you’re related to Peter, but not his father,” Natalie says. “A sample that didn’t come from you wouldn’t show that.”

Unless it came from your half-sister, she thinks, but she has to pray that Spencer won’t do the math there.

“Then it got contaminated,” Spencer says. “I want you to run another test. Now."

The doctor fumbles as he sets the file folder aside. “I’m sure we can arrange that. It will still take some time to get the results--"

“You know what? Forget it.” Spencer grabs the doorknob and yanks the door open. “I’m going to find someone who’ll sort this out for me. Good luck with your fucked-up lab."

He blows out of the room, and the door slams behind him, leaving the doctor and Natalie to sit in silence just as awkward as when Carlisle first entered the room. 

“I’m certain we didn’t misread the results,” the doctor says as he wipes his brow. “We ran the test twice just to be certain, since it’s such a strange result."

“Maybe he’s just in denial,” Natalie says as she picks up her purse while balancing Peter with her other arm. “Thanks for your help."

“I do hope you all get this cleared up."

“As far as I’m concerned,” Natalie says, moving for the door, “we’re all clear."


“Felicia,” Conrad says when his opportunity for cross-examination arrives, “you say that Tori Gray told you that she was involved with an older man."

“That’s what I said,” Fee responds. 

“And she never named this man or gave any concrete clues as to his identity, correct?"

“I guess not. But she was being really secretive about it, like I said."

“Then, wouldn’t you say it’s possible that there was no older man -- that Tori was simply saving face by claiming she was involved with someone new?"

Tori’s cheeks grow hot. She wants to crawl under the bench and curl up in a ball. It’s bad enough that everyone in this courtroom might think that she was having an affair with her aunt’s fiancé, who turned out to be a serial killer -- but it’s almost worse that they might think that she is such a loser that she had to lie about having a new boyfriend.

“Objection,” Audrey Tam says sharply. “Speculation. Counsel is asking the witness to back up his own theories."

“Your Honor, if the prosecution can use the witness’s testimony to draw one conclusion,” Conrad says, “then I’m entitled to use that same testimony to draw an equally plausible conclusion."

“I’ll allow it,” Judge Sandoval says. “Go on."

“I’ll repeat the question,” Conrad tells Fee. “Isn’t it possible that Tori fibbed that she was involved with someone new simply out of embarrassment and a desire to save face?"

“I guess so,” Fee says. “But she was being really secretive--"

“That’s all,” Conrad cuts her off. “No further questions."

Murmurs trickle through the courtroom as Fee is excused from the stand. She strides back down the aisle and takes a seat in the back row, but Tori refuses to look anywhere near her direction. The judge raps his gavel to take back the room’s attention. 

“If that’s all, we’ll move on to closing arguments,” the judge says. “Let’s take a 20-minute recess before we continue.” 

Immediately, the sounds of people standing, shuffling, and chatting fill the courtroom. Travis, Samantha, and Tempest remain huddled around Tori, unsure what to say. 

Paula Fisher leans over the railing that separates the front of the courtroom from the gallery. 

“That was absolute nonsense,” she says to Molly and Conrad. “There just isn’t any way…"

“Of course not,” Molly says, though her eyes betray her lack of certainty in that statement. 

Sarah and Matt hurry back toward their daughter.

“Come on,” Sarah says. “Let’s get you outside."

Tori stews in silence for another moment before standing. 

“I’m gonna go,” she says. 

“We’ll take you home if you want,” Matt says.

Tori shakes her head. “I just wanna be alone."

Sarah reaches for her. “Tori--"

But the young woman is already pushing her way through the bodies, out of the row and out of the courtroom. 


Will Fee’s testimony damage Molly’s defense?
Will Tori have to come clean about Philip?
Is Spencer about to discover what Natalie did?
Discuss it all in the Footprints Forum now!



Friday, December 09, 2016

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