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- Conrad presented Paula with the D.A.’s final offer for a plea bargain: a year of house arrest.
When Tempest tried to help Samantha prepare for her job interview at Objection, Sam took offense, and an argument ensued. Samantha managed to salvage her interview and ended it on a positive note.
- Yvette
informed Tempest that she’s considering giving her baby up for adoption.

The inviting aroma of garlic, sesame oil, onions, carrots, and peas on the stovetop drifts through the well appointed galley kitchen of Diane Bishop’s condominium. The pleasant hiss of stovetop sizzling fills the air as Samantha’s knife claps against a wooden cutting board, chopping green scallions into small pieces. She checks the wok on the stove and, deciding that it has been long enough, adds the cauliflower that she just used the food processor to transform into tiny, rice-like pieces. After adding soy sauce and covering the pan, she steps back to wait for it all to cook. 

She doesn’t normally cook such involved dinners on weeknights, but this evening, she is grateful for any purposeful activity to distract her mind. Her job interview at Objection Designs this afternoon continues to weigh upon her; she felt as though she really got through to the woman conducting the interview, but she won’t fully relax until she hears whether or not she got the job. And her anxiety over her argument with Tempest has continued to eat at her. The text she received about an hour ago, asking if Tempest could come by, almost put her at ease, but the more time passes as she waits for her girlfriend to arrive, the more the tension returns to knot her muscles and turn her stomach. 

The “rice” has been cooking for about two minutes when she finally hears the knock on the door. She hurries over, but once she is in front of the door, she pauses. Since their argument, Samantha has written and rewritten their next encounter many times in her head. She still has no idea how it is supposed to go.

“Hi,” she says as she opens the door.

“Hey.” The whites of Tempest’s eyes face her, as her pupils are directed toward the floor. “How are you?"

Samantha just nods. “Come in.” 

“Smells good in here,” Tempest says as she follows Samantha back to the kitchen.

“I’m trying a new recipe for cauliflower fried rice."
  Samantha Fisher

“You’re putting cauliflower in fried rice? Why’s that need a recipe?"

“It’s cauliflower cut up really, really small instead of rice. It’s a lot healthier,” Samantha explains. She sees the familiar look on Tempest’s face. “You can say it."


“I know what you’re thinking."

Slowly a grin spreads over Tempest’s mouth, and she shakes her head. “White people."

Samantha can’t help but laugh, and she feels the bubble of tension around them burst.

“I’m sorry I snapped at you,” she says. “I was pretty touchy about my interview."

Tempest wags her head. “Sorry I was being so damn extra. It was your interview. How’d it go?"

“Pretty well, I think. But you were right -- I needed some help with getting dressed for it. The lady called me out on not being into fashion!"

“For real?"

“Yeah. I thought I had no chance, so I told her about how we got into a fight and how I want to learn more about how clothes can make people feel confident, and how working in marketing, I can help pass that message along to other people who feel the way I do."

Tempest takes a finger to her temple. “So smart."

Samantha crosses to the stove to check on the rice. “How are you?"

“That’s kinda why I wanted to talk to you,” Tempest says. “I have news."

“What kind of news?” Samantha asks, her heart rate spiking as she covers the wok again.

Tempest leans against the counter and folds her arms. “My mom came to see me."

“Why is she still--"

“She wanted to tell me that she thinks she’s gonna give the baby up for adoption."

“What? Wow.” Samantha moves back over to be closer to Tempest, to try and get a read on her. “How do you feel about that?"


“How did she seem?” Conrad Halston asks.

Molly Taylor looks to her left and shrugs. “All right. Maybe she’s still in shock, but I really think she’s so relieved to have prison off the table that that’s softened the blow a lot."

They sit at the bar of Windmills. The restaurant has already adjusted its lighting to be dimmer, more intimate, for the evening than it was during lunchtime and happy hour. Crystal chandeliers glitter overhead. 

“I’m glad to hear that,” Conrad says. “She seemed to take the news so well that I was worried it hadn’t fully sunken in."

“I’m sure there are going to be some rough days. I can’t even imagine not leaving the house for an entire year. That’s…"

“That’s still much better than prison. Especially for someone your mother’s age."

Molly responds with a brisk nod. “Absolutely. I can’t thank you enough for all your help. You didn’t have to stay on after the trial and handle all this.” She lets out a sigh and turns more fully toward him. “I am so sorry that I misled you all those months during the trial."

Conrad picks up his martini glass by the stem. “I can’t say I’m thrilled. But you are far from the first client not to tell me the entire truth, and at least in this case, it was good for your case. I’m not sure I’ve ever defended someone who was claiming to have committed a more serious crime than the one she actually committed."

My dad always did say I was an overachiever…” She takes a sip of her drink. “But really, thank you so much. You’ve made this experience much less terrifying than it could’ve been. Not that it wasn’t."

“And you certainly kept me on my toes.” He lifts his glass, and she clinks hers against it.

“Has there been any word on when you can return to work?” he asks. “If you need me to push things forward, from a legal standpoint…"

“The agreement was that the board would vote once my trial was over. Obviously the way that ended kind of threw things into chaos, but I’ve been promised they’ll hold a vote as soon as my sentencing happens. I can’t believe I’ve been away for so long."

“You’ll slide right back into the rhythm of things."

“I hope so.” She leans her elbows against the white marble of the bar. “How about you? What are your plans once this is all wrapped up?"

“I suppose I’ll head back to Portland in the next week or so. I’ve essentially put my practice on hold, though my partner has been handling things, and I’ve been able to tend to a few cases here and there in what downtime I’ve had. After being in the same town as Bree for so many months, though… it isn’t easy to leave."

“You know,” Molly says, “King’s Bay is a pretty great place to live. And I’m sure Bree would love it if you made the move permanent."

Conrad gives her a lopsided grin, as if to say that the idea is cute but far too whimsical to be something he could ever do.

“It isn’t impossible,” she adds. “Lawyers are needed everywhere. Especially here."

“Especially here, considering your family lives here.”

“Hey!” She laughs as she swats at the air in front of him. “This was an especially bad year."

“Then I’m sorry I had to get to know you during one of the bad ones,” he says. “But…” He notices her gaze straying over his shoulder, focusing on something that hardens her face into a tense mask of anxiety. “What’s the matter?"

“It’s…” She continues to stare past him even as she tries to speak, so finally, Conrad swivels around to see what has captured her attention.

At the maitre’d stand, Brent Taylor and Claire Fisher wait, warm smiles on their faces and their hands clasped together, to be seated.


A barely touched coffee cake sits in the center of the kitchen table, though neither Paula Fisher nor her guest has much appetite for it. For as long as Tim can remember, his mother has always had things like that on hand -- or managed to produce them out of thin air -- in the event that company stops by. When he arrived after hearing the news about her plea deal, Paula insisted on fixing coffee and a snack for him; Tim acquiesced simply because he figured it might ease her mind to do something so normal. Now, as they talk, he slowly works his way through the slice of cake. 

“It could be much worse,” Paula says. “Much worse."

“Of course. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to be upset.” Tim sets his fork down on the small plate. “It’s going to be a big adjustment."

“I know.” Paula gazes around the kitchen, as if seeing it with new eyes now that she knows it will be one of the few sights she sees during her year of house arrest.

“The good thing is, we’re all here for you."

She pushes a pained smile across her lips. “I know. And I’m so grateful for that."

The doorbell’s chime carries through the house. Tim stands and holds out a hand to indicate that his mother should not bother.

“Let me get it,” he says, and he hurries through the dining and living rooms.

“Hey, man,” Jason Fisher says as soon as Tim opens the door. “How’s she doing?"
  Tim Fisher

“She’s okay. Really.” Tim waits for Jason to hang his coat, fat drops of rain clinging to its surface. “We’re sitting in the kitchen."

“Oh, it’s so good to see you!” Paula exclaims when she catches sight of her youngest child. She practically leaps from her chair to embrace him. “Can I get you anything? Coffee? Or coffee cake?"

“I think I’m…” Jason catches the look Tim is giving him. “You know what? Both sound great."

Paula busies herself with pouring him a cup of coffee and fetching another plate and fork.

“I’m sorry it took me so long to get over here after your call,” Jason explains. “I was caught in meetings at the arena--"

“Oh, don’t be silly,” Paula says. “I’m just thrilled to see you now."

He looks at her ankle. “So are you…?"

It takes Paula a moment to realize that he is searching for the ankle monitor that will soon be the dominant force in her life. “Oh, no. Not yet. We still have to sign the papers and have the official sentencing. It’ll be a few days, still.” She pauses as steam rises off the freshly poured mug of coffee. 

“Then we’ll make the most of those few days,” Jason says. “We can do whatever you want."

Paula brings the coffee and plate to the table. “I’m going to be fine. Like your brother said, it’ll be an adjustment. That’s all."

“So do you have to stay in the house all the time?” Jason asks. “Or are there exceptions?"

“There would be more if I had a job.” She cuts a slice of cake and hands him the plate. “As it is, Conrad thinks the most we’ll be able to manage will be doctor’s appointments."

“I guess you’ll look forward to the dentist in a way you never have before,” Tim says. 

They all manage a small laugh at that.

“They normally wouldn’t even consider house arrest as a sentence for this… this kind of crime,” she continues, still having trouble reconciling the magnitude of what she did to Philip. “But because of my age, and the nature of the shooting, Conrad was able to convince them. For that, I’ll always be grateful to him."

“It’s nice that Sarah and Matt will be here with you,” Tim says. “And the rest of us are only a call away."

“If I lived alone, I might be able to leave once a week to do the shopping,” Paula says. “But they’ll probably have to do that for me. You boys will have to teach me about that Amazon Prime you’re always on about."

“I can do that part,” Jason says. “We’ll get through this."

“Hey, it’s a good excuse to have lots of dinner parties here, right?” Tim offers. 

“Yes.” Paula fixes a determined expression upon her face. “I’m going to get through this year, no matter how hard it might seem."

“And we’ll be here for you every step of the way,” Tim says. 


Tempest’s response is slow to materialize. The crackling and popping of the concoction on the stove keeps the air alive with energy.

“Good, I think,” she says at last. "Yeah. Good."

A soft smile appears on Samantha’s face. “That’s great. It must feel nice to have her admit that she can’t use this baby to magically fix everything she did wrong with you."

“Yeah. That’s it."

“Yvette’s giving the baby up for adoption?” another voice asks, and they both whirl toward the hallway, where Diane Bishop has just emerged.

“Sorry to interrupt,” she says, hands flailing, “although not really, since it’s my home and you’re standing in the kitchen. But you know what I mean. That sounds like fantastic news."

Tempest nods. “It is. Better for the kid, for sure."

“From what you’ve said and the little I’ve seen, that woman has no business raising a kid,” Diane says. “And I say that as someone who barely had any business herself."

“That isn’t true,” Samantha says.

Diane’s eyes widen. “Hon, I know this might be hard to believe, but I wasn’t always the upstanding citizen you know now."

Samantha laughs. “I don’t think anyone would ever mistake you for an upstanding citizen."

“Hey!” Diane redirects her attention to Tempest. “That’s very good news, though. That baby will have a chance at a better life, and you won’t have your mother hear bothering you anymore. Has she left town yet?"

“She’s gonna stay ’til after she has the baby,” Tempest says. “Her doctor’s helping her figure the whole thing out."

“And then you can get on with your life,” Diane says.

“Yep.” Still, there is a glimmer of hesitation in Tempest’s eyes. “Kinda weird that my brother or sister is gonna be with total strangers. I hadn’t thought about it like that before. But still better than my mom or that Hank guy."

“Whoever gets the baby will be someone who really wants a child,” Samantha adds. “That’s the best a kid can ask for."

Nodding, Diane glances toward the stove. “That smells terrific. Tempest, are you staying for dinner?"

A wordless look passes between the two young women.

“You should,” Samantha says. “I have some chicken in the oven, too."

Tempest barely even hesitates. “Sounds good to me."

“Sam, thanks for cooking tonight,” Diane says. “I’m going to grab my phone, and then I’ll set the table."

“Let me do it,” Tempest cuts in. “I wanna help."

“Thanks, Tempest. That’d be great.” 

As Samantha breaks an egg in the center of the wok, Diane retreats down the hallway toward her bedroom. Her mind churns with the seed of an idea, one that is growing and expanding with every second that passes. She knows that she shouldn’t mention it over dinner, not yet -- but she has to do something about it as soon as possible.


Conrad watches the couple near the entrance. “Philip’s sister and Brent are an item?"

“Very much so.” Molly is suddenly very intent upon the ice cubes in her glass. 

“How did I go through that entire trial without knowing this?"

“No one knows,” she says. “Almost no one."

Conrad is about to ask another question when Brent looks over and sees them. When the maitre’d steps away, he and Claire approach the bar.

“Hey, Mol,” he says. “Hi, Conrad. Good to see you."

The men shake hands as Claire lifts a hand to wave. 

“How’s your mother doing?" Brent asks. “I heard there was finally a deal being hammered out."

“She’s all right,” Molly says. “Everything still has to be finalized, but all things considered, this is probably for the best."

Claire looks from Brent to Molly to Conrad. “There’s a deal?”
  Molly Taylor

“It isn’t official yet, so I can’t speak to it,” Conrad explains, “but it looks like we have something on the table that satisfies everyone."

“That’s a relief,” Claire says. “Thank you for your help with all of this."

Conrad responds with a gracious bow of the head. 

“Are you staying for dinner, or just having drinks?” Brent asks. 

“Just a drink,” Molly says. “Danielle’s cooking dinner at the house. Actually, I should get going soon…"

“Tell the boys I’ll see them tomorrow,” Brent says. 

“Enjoy your dinner,” Conrad adds as Brent and Claire return to the maitre’d stand.

Molly uses her straw to stir the ice and remaining liquid in her glass. “That wasn’t too painful."

Conrad watches quietly as Brent and Claire are led to a table across the dining room.

“You handled that well,” he says. “I take it you aren’t one hundred percent onboard with that relationship?"

She lifts a shoulder in a half-shrug. “I don’t think my opinion matters much. I’m the one who asked Brent for a divorce."

“That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy for you to see him with your ex-sister-in-law."

“It isn’t.” She lets out a sigh. “Or maybe it has nothing to do with her, and it’s just the fact that he’s moved on, and I… somehow thought that Philip was going to be my future."

“You can’t continue beating yourself up over that."

“People keep saying that.” She opens her purse and removes her wallet.

“Let me get these,” Conrad says, reaching into his jacket pocket.

“No, please. You’ve been a huge help to my family and you’ve listened to me vent. The least I can do is buy you a drink."

“Fair. Thank you. But I’ll owe you one before I leave King’s Bay."

“That would be nice,” Molly says, her expression lightening. 

At their table across the way, Claire and Brent scan their menus. 

“What have you heard about Paula’s deal?” she asks.

“From the sounds of it, Conrad talked the D.A. into agreeing to a year of house arrest,” Brent says. “Which is a hell of a lot better than prison time."

“Absolutely. A year confined to the house, though. Wow."

“It won’t be easy."

“No. I should go see her. She’s going to need people around her.” Claire sets her menu down atop her plate. “Do you think it’s time we tell everyone? Now that the trial is over…"

Brent’s mouth flattens into a tight line as he considers this. “You’re probably right. The kids should know."

“I’m sure Paula will have some kind of opinion,” Claire says, “but this is just the way things are."

He reaches across the table and takes her hand. “And we’ll get through it. Together."

“We will,” she says, gazing back at him as the candle in the center of their table flickers.


Should Brent and Claire have gone public sooner?
What should Molly do to get her life back on track?
What kind of idea is Diane brewing up?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum now!



Monday, February 20, 2017

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