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- Paula decided to accept a plea bargain that would place her on house arrest for one year as punishment for shooting Philip dead.
- Spencer quit his job at Vision Publishing and decided to live off his inheritance from Philip, even renting an extravagant new house.
- Tempest
told Samantha and Diane that Yvette now plans to give her baby up for adoption. Diane was stricken by an idea.

The grass squishes beneath Paula Fisher’s feet as she makes her way through the cemetery. Though it is a wonderfully bright winter day in King’s Bay, the lawn is still wet from the early morning rain. Paula frowns as she sees the mud bubbling up from the ground with every step she takes, flecks of brown clinging to her simple black shoes as she goes. 

Since it is a weekday morning, the cemetery is even quieter than usual; she doesn’t see a single person once she leaves the nearly deserted parking lot. When she arrives at her destination, she is grateful for the utter peace and quiet. Something about coming here and being distracted by others -- or perhaps distracting them -- feels wrong.

Her stomach tightens as she reads her eldest son’s name on the oval-topped gravestone.

“Oh, Ryan. My dear.” Her voice comes out at half-volume, as if hesitant to disrupt the somber mood all around her. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you."

She places one of the two bouquets of flowers that she brought at her feet. Its colorful assortment stands out against the green grass and the gray stone.

“I’m going to court this morning,” she says, “and if everything goes as planned, I won’t be able to come see you for a while. A whole year. I know it’s silly, but I wanted to come tell you. If I could, I’d be here every single day to talk to you."
  Paula Fisher

She goes on for a while, filling him in on family news the same way that she would if she had stopped by his home for a cup of coffee.

“Peter is getting so big,” she says. “He’s on the verge of crawling already! It’s so much fun having a baby around again."

A wave of guilt washes over her, though she is so accustomed to the feeling that all she does is silently accept it. The thought of having missed those years with Ryan still pains her, especially in light of the fact that his life was cut tragically short. Not only did she lose the opportunity to know him for over half of his life, but she also has to live with the knowledge that he was raised by Nick Moriani, of all people, who entangled Ryan in things that he spent the rest of his life trying to escape. 

“I’ll love you always,” she says, touching her index and middle fingers to her lips and then pressing them on the gravestone. “And I’ll be back to see you when I can."

With the other bouquet nestled in the crook of her elbow, she makes her way to the next burial site. She has visited so often that she doesn’t even have to think about the best path to take, and soon she is standing in front of her late husband’s grave. 

“I’m sure you know what day it is,” Paula says as she places the flowers down in front of the large stone. “I know you’re always watching over all of us."

She looks off into the distance and watches the bare branches of a tree sway in the breeze.

“I’m so sorry to have let you down the way I did,” she says. “I never thought I’d be capable of… of what I did to Philip. But I was so angry, and what he did to you, and to Ryan, and the others…” She takes a deep breath. “But I know I have to be strong for our family. And I will be. I’m going to do everything I can to protect every single one of them, even if I can’t leave that house."

She stops speaking as she hears footsteps behind her and self-consciousness takes hold. 

“You didn’t let anyone down,” a voice says as Paula turns. 

Cassie's Coffee House

At the condiment bar inside Cassie’s Coffee House, Alex Marshall stirs some sweetener into his coffee. He presses the plastic lid down onto the cup, finding the heat that radiates off his drink a pleasant shift from the chill that his hands caught outside moments ago. He tosses the stirring stick into the trash and makes his way across the shop to a table by the window, where his friend is waiting for him with her own coffee.

“How’d the show go this morning?” he asks as he slips into his chair. 

Diane Bishop shrugs. “Standard. We were doing one of those ‘we pay off your credit card bill if you answer a trivia question’ things, and of course the guy we called couldn’t get the question even with all the hints we gave him. Sometimes you can’t help people help themselves."

Alex chuckles. “How do people even get those things wrong nowadays? You can just Google the answer on your phone while you pretend to be thinking."

“I know! I figure if someone is that dumb, they don’t deserve the money.”

“Well, it’s good to see you,” Alex says. “I know Trevor would’ve loved to be here, too, if it weren’t a weekday--"

“That wasn’t an accident."

For an instant, Alex thinks he has misheard or misunderstood her. “You didn’t want to see Trevor?"

“Of course I want to see him. This isn’t about seeing him. It’s about seeing you.” She takes a sip of her coffee. “There’s something I want to run by you, but it needs to be a one-on-one thing for now."

“Okay. What’s going on?" 

“Remember when you moved out of Jason’s house, you said that you were really going to miss being such a big part of Sophie’s life?"


“You said that you thought you’d be ready to start a family of your own soon,” she says. “And something has, um, come to my attention that I think might be of interest to you."

Alex circles his hands around his coffee cup as he leans forward. “What are you talking about?"

“Tempest’s mother is ready to pop in the next few weeks, and she’s decided to give the baby up for adoption,” Diane explains. “And I happen to think you’d make the perfect father for that baby."

Thaw Coffee & Tea

When Spencer Ragan enters Thaw Coffee & Tea, he is annoyed to see a lengthy line at the register. He sighs and takes his place in the queue. As he waits, he fiddles with his cell phone, occasionally glancing up to see Sabrina Gage taking orders and payments with surprising speed and efficiency. Bright bolts of the winter sun shine through the floor-to-ceiling windows, sharpening the glow of the café’s lacquered white surfaces. 

Sabrina catches Spencer’s eye several customers before it is his turn. He acknowledges her with a terse nod and then returns his attention to his phone. A good three or four minutes pass before he steps up to the register.

“Good morning,” Sabrina says. “What can I get for you?"

“It’s actually kind of a complicated order,” he says.

He sees a flash of panic in Sabrina’s large, dark eyes. She reaches for a fresh cup. “What’ll it be?"

“It’s more of a favor."

“Spencer, there are customers waiting.” She lifts her chin to indicate the two people behind him in line. “What can I get for you?"
  Spencer Ragan

“Fine. I’ll have a dry cappuccino.” He glances over at the pastry case. “Oh, and one of those scones. The cinnamon one."

She jots his order on the cup in marker and passes it to one of the baristas. Then she slides over to get his scone.

“I need your help,” Spencer says. “With some of Philip’s things.” 

Sabrina pauses, the scone clutched in a pair of tongs. 

“Like what?” she finally manages. She slips the scone into a bag.

“Passwords. There are all these hard drives, and I know there’s all this work he never released, and it must be on them, but I have no way of getting into them."

“It’s been over a year. I’m not even sure if I ever knew the passwords to some of that stuff."

“You know more than I do,” he says. “These are all drives that the police took, went through, and returned, so I’m betting there’s photography on them. And I want to get into it."

“Why?” She hands him the scone. “Insert your card."

He clumsily takes his wallet from his jeans and places his debit card into the chip reader. 

“Because I want to sell them,” he says. 

“You want to sell your dead brother’s photography? Doesn’t that… creep you out?"

Spencer rolls his eyes. “Who cares? I quit my job. And I legally own all Philip’s work now. I can do whatever I choose with it."

“I didn’t say that you couldn’t. I said that it’s creepy."

“Come on,” he says, surprised and yet completely unsurprised by the resistance she is putting up. 

She offers him a pleading look, as if begging him not to put her in this position. 

“I have to help the other customers,” she says. 

“I’ll cut you in on the profits."

“Excuse me?"

“We’ll work out a deal. Think about what you could do with that money,” he says. “You worked with Philip. You helped him develop that work. You’re entitled to a cut."


“Think about it. All right?"

She hesitates, then tells him, “Your drink will be ready at the end of the bar."

Spencer picks up the bag containing the scone. “Just think about it,” he says before he steps away from the counter. 


“Sorry. I didn’t mean to sneak up on you like that,” Molly Taylor says, her hands buried in the pockets of her coat as she stands before her mother. “I guess we both had the same idea this morning."

“Your father would be so glad that you came,” Paula says.

Molly steps over the wet grass, her own heels balancing precariously atop the soft earth, to join her mother at Bill’s grave.

“We all miss you so much, Dad,” Molly says. “And we are going to be the ones watching out for Mom. She already stepped up to protect us -- she saved Sarah and me. Now it’s our turn to be there for her."

She slides an arm around her mother’s shoulders.

“I’m so sorry that you have to go through this,” she says. “You shouldn’t be the one being sentenced today."

“Molly, I shot a man. He’s dead."

“And that man murdered five people.” Molly swallows a hard lump in her throat. “I’m so sorry that I let him get close to us. I brought this on our family. If only I’d seen it…"

“Don’t do that to yourself, honey. What Philip did it not your fault."

Molly is silent for a lengthy moment. 

“I still can’t believe you risked going to prison for me,” Paula adds. “That was truly selfless."

“It wasn’t selfless. It was the only choice."

“It was a show of love. It was your way of protecting me. As twisted as this entire situation is, I know that your father would be proud of you for stepping up the way that you did."

“I’m just so sorry,” Molly says. “I’m sorry you’ll have to spend the next year locked up in the house--"

“I will survive. We all will. I’m not going to prison. I’m not going away. It will be a challenge, but I’ll get through it."

“Just let us be there for you. We all want to be. Let us help you."

Paula smiles. “I can do that."

They share another several seconds of quiet, a lovely peace surrounding them as they gaze down at Bill’s final resting place. 

“I’ll give you a few more minutes alone with Dad,” Molly finally says. “And when you’re ready, we’ll go to the courthouse and face this -- together."

“Thank you,” Paula says, and they separate. Molly walks off in the direction from which Paula came only minutes ago, presumably to visit Ryan’s grave.

“Bill,” she says softly once she is alone again with her husband. In an instant, tears form in her eyes. “I’ll never stop loving you until the day I die, and I will do everything I can to do right by this family of ours. I promise."


Alex springs back in his chair. “Wait, what?"

“You want to be a dad, right?” Diane says. “Yvette’s going to give this baby up to someone to raise. Why shouldn’t it be someone we know will be a great parent?"

“I…” Alex’s jaw flaps open and closed as he struggles to find words. “Of course I want to be a dad. This is just really sudden."

“I know. All of it is. That’s why I wanted to talk to you alone first. I don’t even know if you and Trevor have talked about having kids, or what you’re planning for the wedding, or--"

“We’re trying to pull together a summer wedding,” he says, though he isn’t even sure why, because that isn’t what this is about. “Wait. Why are you even involved in this?"

“Because of Samantha. She and Tempest are -- I think it’s pretty serious, and Yvette turning up has been this whole shitstorm of drama for Tempest. I think she’s relieved that her mother is giving this kid up, but she’s also worried about who he or she will wind up with. Just like anyone would be."
  Alex Marshall

“Of course. Yeah."

“I know it’s a lot to think about,” Diane continues, “and it’s insanely fast. But think about all the red tape you’ll have to cut through and the money you’ll spend to adopt through an agency. Doing it privately…"

He finds himself nodding along. “I know. I need to talk to Trevor. I need to see-- there are a million things I need to see about before I could even start to make a decision."

“That’s why I wanted to put this in your head now. Things are going to move quickly."

“Yeah. Okay.” He looks down at his cup but realizes that his mouth is too dry even to consider drinking coffee right now. “I can’t be a father now. Not without-- I don’t know, all the prep time. I’m totally not ready."

“I wasn’t ready to be a mother, and then I got pregnant and… I was. Mostly."

“I wouldn’t even know what I was doing."

“You learn as you go. You take advice. You accept help. I just don’t want you to miss out on what could be an incredible next step for you -- and for Tempest.” She levels a serious stare upon him, practically commanding him to make eye contact. “Just promise me you’ll give it serious thought."

“That’s the crazy thing,” Alex admits. “I am."


Is Alex ready to become a parent?
Will Molly be able to let go of her guilt?
Will Spencer be able to carry out his plan?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum!



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

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