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Travis finally convinced Rosie that his family doesn’t hold her responsible for Bill’s death, and she joined them for Thanksgiving.
- While the jury deliberated her fate, Molly broke down and admitted to Conrad that it was Paula, not her, who really shot Philip.
- Word
came in that the jury has reached a verdict.
- Paula finally remembered the shooting and insisted on telling the judge in order to spare Molly. In order to keep her from ruining their plan, Sarah locked her in the Fishers’ storage shed and placed a call for backup.

Diane Bishop enters the Fishers’ backyard through the side gate. She sees her friend standing in front of the storage shed, arms folded as defense against the chilly winter air. 

“What the hell’s going on?” Diane asks as she moves toward Sarah. “You heard that the verdict is in, right?"

“Yeah. I need to get to the courthouse. That’s why I need your help."

“Who is that?” a muffled voice calls out. Diane realizes that it’s coming from inside the shed.

Diane looks at Sarah in confusion. “Is that…?"

“Who’s there?” the voice cries. “Let me out of here! Please!"

“Okay, why is your mother locked in the shed, and why are you not letting her out?"

Sarah’s eyes are wild with urgency. “Because I need to go to the courthouse, and she can’t come. She’s going to-- look, I can’t tell you the entire story right now, but she cannot go anywhere near that courthouse until the verdict is read."
  Diane Bishop

“So you locked her in a shed."


"And you just want me to guard it until you say it’s clear?"

“Diane, is that you? Help me!” Paula says as she rattles the door handle from inside, to no avail. The padlock bounces against the outside of the door. 

“You’re the only person I can trust with this,” Sarah says, trying to ignore her mother. “Please?"

Diane shrugs one shoulder. “Why the hell not? Is anyone else home?"

Billy’s at preschool, and Matt’s at the restaurant. Tori’s upstairs. I’m going to make her come with me, so she won’t be an issue."

“Okay.” Diane studies the shed, as if expecting it to provide some mystical answer. “This is insane, even for us."

“I’m well aware. But this is for my mom’s own good."

“I’m having trouble totally believing that, but I’ll go with it for now. Can you give me the combination for the lock in case there’s, I don’t know, a fire or something?"

“There’s not going to be a fire."

“Well, your sister’s about to get her verdict in a murder trial and your mother is locked in a shed in the backyard, so a fire honestly wouldn’t be the weirdest thing going on today.”


“Listen, I’ve seen Black Mirror. One minute I’m going about my day, the next everything’s burning to the ground and I’m responsible for an old lady dying because I wasn’t allowed to let her out of a shed, and they put me in some virtual reality torture show for the rest of my life."

Sarah’s shoulders drop as she sighs. “I’ll text you the combination."

“Sarah, this is unacceptable!” Paula shouts through the door. “I’m freezing in here!"

“It’s more comfortable than jail would be!” Sarah responds. 

“Jail?” Diane asks.

“It’s a long story. And I might tell you later. In the meantime, just keep her here, please?"


Sarah leans in for a quick hug. “You’re the best. I’ll be back as soon as I can be."

“Good luck at court,” Diane says. “Keep me posted on what happens."

“I will."

Sarah darts up the deck’s stairs toward the house.

“And you are gonna owe me a nice bottle of wine for this, by the way!” Diane calls after her.

Edge of Winter Arena

Jolly Christmas music plays over the Edge of Winter Arena’s speaker system. The late-morning public skating session is empty, save for a few individuals making their way around the ice at varying rates of speed. On one side of the rink, Rosie Jimenez grips the barrier for dear life as she takes slow, careful steps with her rental skates.

“Come on. Just try letting go,” Travis Fisher says. He glides beside her, confident enough on his blades not to have to hold onto anything.

“No way. The second I let go of this thing, I’m gonna be on my ass. I just know it."

“That’s a real go-getter attitude,” he says with a laugh. “Let me get this straight: you aren’t scared of criminals running around with guns, but a little ice is a dealbreaker?"

She rolls her eyes. “Shut up."

They continue scooting along. A preteen boy in hockey skates whizzes past them. Travis eyes Rosie silently as she focuses on remaining upright and progressing down the ice. Her long, dark hair sticks out from beneath a beanie with snowflakes on it and a pom pom on the end. 

“How are you not worried about, like, falling and cracking your tailbone or something?” she asks.

“Because I’ve been doing this forever. My uncle started teaching us when we were toddlers. It’s just kind of second nature."

Rosie looks down at the scratched-up rental boots. “Nothing about this is natural."

Travis glides to a stop, and Rosie uses the wall to slow her already-minimal momentum to nothing. 

“Come here,” he says, holding out a gloved hand. 

“For what?"

“To get you off that wall. You’ll never learn if you’re clinging to that."

She cocks her head. “So I get a day off and you want me to spend it putting my life on the line?"

“Stop being melodramatic. Come on.” He grabs the hand that she is using to grip the railing. “You can do this.” 

Rosie scowls, though Travis can see the faintest wisp of a smirk hidden beneath it. She slips her hand into his. Even through their gloves, the physical contact sends a jolt through Travis. Tentatively she releases the barrier from her other hand’s grip. 

“Just trust me,” he says, as he makes the softest little pushes to give them some momentum. Rosie doesn’t so much skate as drift along beside him. 

“See? Not so bad,” Travis says. “Try and give yourself a little push."

He demonstrates by pushing the toe pick of one skate into the ice, as if he were using his free foot to pick up speed on a skateboard. Rosie attempts to do likewise.

“Don’t let your foot drop in like that,” he says. “Try and stand up straight on the blade."

She adjusts her standing foot and even manages a little push with her toe pick.

“There you go. Awesome.” He squeezes her hand, and her dubious expression melts a little more.

The kid in hockey skates flies by them again. They continue skating.

“You’re totally getting this,” Travis says. He feels Rosie relaxing, and her death grip on his hand loosens. 

“Okay, this isn’t terrible,” Rosie says. “Not sure I’ll ever be as fast as that kid, though."

“You get used to it. This is a good start.” Without warning, Travis lets go of her hand.

She continues gliding on the fumes of their momentum. “What are you doing?"

“Throwing you in the deep end. Now you’re off the wall and you aren’t holding on to me, and you’re still standing. Right?"

It takes Rosie a few seconds to look around and realize that he’s right.

“You’re evil,” she says.

Travis grins. “Maybe. But soon, you’re gonna be doing all kinds of fancy shit…” He turns in a half-circle so that he is facing her and going backward. He gives himself a few backward pushes and then tries to turn again -- only for his feet to get tangled up. He goes crashing to the ice.

Rosie laughs. “Really fancy there, Fisher."

His backside a little sore from the impact, and his cheeks burning a little from embarrassment, Travis looks up at her. “That was karma, huh?"


“Come here. Help me out.” 

Rosie gives herself another push to make it over to him, and he holds out a hand for assistance. But when she grabs a hold of it, he pulls in an effort to get himself up -- and pulls her down right on top of him. 

“Are you okay?” he asks.

“Yeah. I’m fine. No thanks to you."

He looks up into her face. Glints of light like stars in the night sky shine in her brown eyes. Suddenly he is very aware of their physical proximity and the fact that their bodies are pressed together. He lifts his head toward hers, and he can see and feel her moving in closer, too--

The loud ringing of his cell phone breaks the moment.

Reality hits, and Rosie rolls off him. Travis sits up as he pulls his phone from the pocket of his jeans to silence it. But he sees his father’s number on the screen and has a feeling that he knows what this is about.

“Hey, Dad,” he answers. “What’s up?” He nods as he listens to the quick burst of information from Tim. “Okay. Thanks. See you soon."

“What is it?” Rosie asks.

“The jury has a verdict in my aunt’s case. They’re going to read it in half-an-hour."

“Then let’s get moving,” she says as she struggles to pull herself to her feet.


Paula stands by the door of the storage shed and contemplates her next move. From what she has been able to overhear, Sarah left for court, leaving Diane to guard her. With the padlock on the door, Paula knows there isn’t much chance of simply breaking out.

She seats herself on a plastic crate. The memory of shooting Philip on the hospital balcony has continued to ring through her head ever since the moment it came rushing back in startling clarity. She can still feel the gun in her hands and hear the blast of the bullet. The sight of Philip being hit and falling backward into the balcony railing is one that will never leave her mind, she suspects.

She still cannot believe that she shot and killed a man. Never before had she held a gun, let alone fired one. She doesn’t think she could do it now.

But, somehow, she did do it. She can recall, so viscerally, the way she felt when the doctor told her that Bill didn’t make it. Even now, her hands go numb and her stomach drops. Seeing Bill lying on the floor of Tori’s hospital room, not moving, bruises around his neck...

Her body quivers with disgust at the memory. And, suddenly, she can almost understand how she picked up that gun and shot that man.

Her heart races as she thinks of Molly, waiting in that courtroom for her verdict for a crime that she didn’t even commit -- an act that she claimed in order to protect her mother.

“I won’t let you do that,” Paula says as she rises from her makeshift seat. “I have to get to the courthouse."


Spencer Ragan always forgets how raucous the visiting room at Carroll County Jail can be. On one long wall, a plexiglass window is divided up into individual banks where visitors can sit and talk to the inmates through telephones. The rest of the space is occupied by tables, where people -- mainly children -- occupy themselves with puzzles, games, and routine screaming.

Spencer waits at one of the phone banks for his mother, or the woman he believed for most of his life to be his mother, to be brought out. He very much still thinks of Loretta Ragan as his mother, as she is the woman who raised him, but he now makes the cross-country trek to New Hampshire so infrequently that he rarely sees her, and when he does, he is reminded that she is a stranger in so many ways.

When Loretta comes through a door, she spots him immediately and hurries toward their station. He is still unaccustomed to seeing her without makeup. Her red hair, once so vibrant and bold, has dulled into more of a brown; he never knew that she had it colored, but it doesn’t surprise him. 

“I can’t tell you how glad I am to see you,” she says as she picks up the receiver on her side of the plexiglass. “After our last phone call, I wasn’t sure when we’d speak again. Merry Christmas, darling."

“Merry Christmas,” he says coolly.
  Spencer Ragan

She flinches at his reserved tone but presses onward. “I saw on the news that the jury is deliberating in that terrible woman’s case. Soon your brother will have justice--"

“He murdered five people."

“And she murdered him in cold blood. This is revenge for all the havoc those people have put our family through over the years -- for what Claire did to your father."

“After he took me away from her and gave me to you. You and Nick Moriani kept Tim away from his family for years, too. Philip killed two of the Fishers. Isn’t that enough?"

Loretta’s brilliant green eyes, not dimmed a bit by her prison stint, flash with fire.

“If you’re just going to spout the same nonsense you did over the phone,” she says, “why did you bother coming to see me?"

“This isn’t a social call or a holiday visit. I need to know something."

“What, pray tell, is that?"

“When you first got me -- when James brought me back after he kidnapped me -- did you have medical tests run? Was there anything strange about me?"

She stares back at him in confusion. “What in the world are you on about?"

“Just answer the question,” Spencer says. “Was there anything abnormal about me? My chromosomes?"

“No! Your father had extensive tests done. You’re perfectly healthy. You always have been. Where is this coming from?"

Spencer hesitates, the phone perched on his shoulder. 

“Are you sick?” she asks. “I can call up the best doctors--"

“I’m not sick. It was routine bloodwork. I assume the sample was mixed up or contaminated, but I needed to ask--"

“And it said you had a chromosomal issue?"

“It doesn’t matter."

Loretta leans forward, clutching the receiver tightly. “Spencer, if something is going on, I want to know. I can help you. Now what is this bloodwork all about?"

KB District Courthouse

Conrad drives Molly to the courthouse almost entirely in silence, except for the several moments in which he abruptly turns to ask her things like, “What were you thinking?” and “Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?"

“Because I was worried about my mom,” she says on one occasion.

“Because it’s my fault Philip did any of that to begin with,” she answers on another.

Then Conrad huffs or groans, and they continue driving in silence until his next inquiry.

By the time they reach the courthouse, members of the press are already staked out in front of the steps. Molly braces herself for the inevitable shouts and shoving, and sure enough, Conrad is only able to protect her from so much of it as they push through the gauntlet. Thankfully, they make it to the entrance of the courthouse quickly enough, and once they are inside, quiet surrounds them. It is almost eerie, but at least Molly feels as if she can breathe again.

They go through security and head into the courtroom, which is nearly empty. At the defense table, they sit in tense, awkward silence. 

“I just want to get this over with,” Molly says. 

Conrad turns a critical eye toward her, but when he speaks, his tone is softer than she expected. “I can still speak up. We can stop this."

“No. I’m not doing that. And you can’t say anything."

“I know. Not without your consent.” He sighs. “I can’t comprehend that you’ve done this, though. Are you insane?"

She purses her lips. The doors at the back of the courtroom open, and Tim and Jason enter. They head straight for the row of seats just behind the defense table. 

“How are you holding up?” Tim asks as he takes his sister’s hand.

Molly shrugs. “As well as could be expected."

“This is going to go your way,” Jason says. “I just know it."

She doesn’t have the heart to argue otherwise, although she is not nearly as convinced as he seems to be. They make small talk about the case and the jury for a few minutes as they wait; Molly notices that Conrad barely speaks at all, instead focusing on his phone. She can nearly see the tension -- it isn’t exactly anger, nor is it anxiety, but some combination of the two -- radiating off him in waves. She wonders if her brothers can see it, too.

The courtroom begins to fill up, as interested parties take their places in the gallery. Finally Sarah and Tori come through the door and join the other Fishers. 

“Where’s Mom?” Molly asks in confusion.

“She, uh, she wasn’t feeling well,” Sarah says.

“What’s wrong?” Tim interjects. 

“I think it’s her stomach.” Sarah catches Molly’s eye. “I really need to talk to you for a second."

A sense of dread rises up inside Molly. “What’s going on?”

Conrad turns in his seat, suddenly displaying great interest. “Has something happened?"

Sarah casts a wary look at the attorney. 

“Could I have a minute alone with Molly?” Sarah asks. 

The others react with confusion but murmur their agreement. Sarah passes through the waist-high gate that separates the front of the courtroom from the gallery, but Conrad makes no move to leave the table.

“I really need to talk to my sister alone,” Sarah says. 

“It’s fine,” Molly assures him, and Conrad reluctantly stands and moves away.

Sarah pulls Molly toward the edge of the room and turns her back to everyone else as she whispers, “She knows."

“What do you mean?"

“Mom. She remembered everything."

Molly’s heart kicks into overdrive. She feels it pounding against the inside of her chest. “Where is she? What’s she doing?"

“I have her-- Diane is watching her. I told her she’s not allowed to come here until the verdict is read."

“And she listened to you?"

“Okay, I might have locked her in the shed in the backyard,” Sarah admits. “But I didn’t have a choice. She was going to rush over here and tell the judge that she did it."

“She can’t do that.” Molly shakes her head insistently. “Not after all we’ve done to protect her. Even if I wind up going to jail…” She takes a deep breath, meant to calm herself, though it doesn’t even come close to beginning that process. “I did this for Mom. And for Dad and Ryan. We can’t let her undo it all now."


Even in her winter coat and scarf, Diane has to fold her arms against the bitter chill of the cold. The longer she stands in the backyard, the more insane her task seems, though she knows that Sarah must have a very good reason for asking her to do this -- and for locking her mother in that shed in the first place.

Paula pounds on the inside of the door. “Diane! Are you there? You have to let me out!"

“I’m not allowed to do that,” Diane shouts back.

“But I don’t feel well. It’s my-- I have to use the bathroom terribly. If you don’t let me--"

“There has to be a box or a bucket in there.” Diane cringes at the thought but goes on. “Sorry, Paula. Just following orders."

“Diane Bishop!” This time, Paula’s tone isn’t one of pleading at all, but rather scolding. “My husband and I accepted you into this family after all the things you did to Tim and Claire -- not to mention the way you had that awful Eric Westin reveal that Ryan was my son in the middle of court! Do you know how much damage you’ve done to people I love over the years? But you’re Samantha’s mother, and if Sarah and Tim could forgive you, so could we. But it hasn’t been easy, and I’d like to think you’d be a little more grateful."
  Paula Fisher

As much as she might hate to admit it, that stings Diane. She knows that she has behaved less than admirably toward the Fishers over the years, and although she was usually able to justify her actions at the time, she isn’t proud of some of the things she’s done. 

“Do you hear me?” Paula continues. “Open this door now, or there will be hell to pay!"

Diane moves closer to the shed. “I’m really sorry, Paula. Sarah said this is for your own good. That’s the only reason I’m doing it."

“Sarah is out of her mind!” Paula goes quiet for a long moment. “She didn’t tell you why she locked me in here, did she?"

“No. But she said--"

“It’s because Molly didn’t shoot Philip. I did! And now they’re going to read Molly’s sentence, and if she gets convicted--"

“So Sarah locked you in there because she wants Molly to get convicted?"

“No! They’re in on this together."

“You expect me to believe that Sarah and Molly actually worked together long enough to cover up a shooting that you committed."

“Yes. I’m telling the truth,” Paula says. “And if you let me out, I’ll give you my first interview for your radio show."

Diane’s breath catches in her throat. That would be quite a scoop. But Sarah would kill her if she sold her out for an interview.

“I can’t do that,” she says. “You can’t bribe me. Well, not this time."

“You have to let me go. I need to get to that courthouse and tell the judge what happened. I can’t let Molly go to prison for something I did. Think about Samantha. If it were her facing a prison sentence…"

Immediately Diane knows what she has to do. She pulls out her phone to reference the text message that Sarah sent her. After one fumbled attempt in which she spins the lock too far, she gets the padlock undone. As soon as she pulls the door open, Paula comes bursting out.

“Oh, thank you! Thank you!” Paula grabs Diane by the shoulders. “You won’t regret this."

“Sarah’s going to kill me,” Diane says. 

“She can blame me."

“Yeah, but I let you out. Maybe there’s a way--"

“There’s no other way,” Paula says, and with that, she spins Diane around and shoves her into the shed. 

“What the hell are you doing?” Diane yells as she scrambles to regain her balance. 

“Making sure nothing else gets in my way!” Paula slams the door closed and snaps the padlock back into place. “Thanks for your help, Diane!"

Ignoring Diane’s cries of protest, Paula hurries up the deck stairs to retrieve her car keys from the house.


Will Paula make it to the courthouse in time?
What verdict will the jury return with?
Will Spencer tell Loretta about the paternity test?
Talk about it all now in the Footprints Forum!



Wed., December 21, 2016

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