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- During a dinner party at the Fishers’, Spencer exposed Claire and Brent’s romantic relationship to everyone.
- While on a brunch date with Travis, Rosie spotted someone across the restaurant and went into a panic. She faked a message from work and claimed that she had to leave to head to the station.
- Alex
and Trevor moved ahead with their plans to adopt Yvette’s newborn son.

KB Memorial Hospital

A steady rhythm of beeps and boops underscores the quiet activity taking place in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Tempest Banks stands over the incubator inside which her newborn brother lies, his eyes scrunched shut and his tiny fists balled up.

“He looks so peaceful,” someone says from behind her.

Turning, Tempest sees the social worker, Veronica Nguyen, whose strong voice and intense eyes counterbalance her small stature and perpetually mussed hair.

“Nurses say he’s doing real well,” Tempest says. “He should be outta here soon.”

“That’s how it sounds, yes.” Veronica steps up to stand beside the incubator with Tempest. “We’ll have to discuss what comes next.”

With her gaze still set upon the baby, Tempest swallows hard. “I wanted to talk to you about that.”


“Yeah. I have some ideas.”


The chimes on the front door jingle as Sabrina Gage exits Thaw Coffee & Tea and steps out into the parking lot. It is only late morning, but it already feels much later in the day to Sabrina, thanks to the fact that her shift began well before dawn this morning.

With an exhausted sigh, she stops beside her dinged-up old sedan and sets her coffee cup on the roof. After fishing in her purse for the keys, she unlocks the door and lowers herself into the driver’s seat. But when she sticks the key into the ignition and turns it, all she gets in return is the equivalent of a hacking cough from the vehicle.

She tries again. Another sputter.

Her body tenses and her heartbeat picks up speed as her hand hovers over the ignition, her fingers tentatively on the key as if it were a stick of dynamite that could blow at any instant.
Every muscle in her body clenches as she turns the key once more. The car lets out a low, guttural growl, a noise that sounds like it might turn into something more significant… but instead, it drifts off into nothingness.
A flurry of terrible words and phrases rip through her mind.
  Sabrina Gage

“Dang it!” she says, slamming her hands on the steering wheel. She sinks back into the upholstered seat and closes her eyes, frustration running through her veins.
A knock on the window startles her. Her eyes fly open and see Jason Fisher standing there. Relief and embarrassment compete within her as she opens the door.
“Everything okay?” he asks, his tone implying that he already knows the answer.
“It won’t start. I knew this was coming.”
“Have you been having problems?”
She shrugs. “There’s always something wrong it. It isn’t even…” She tries the ignition again, and this time, it barely even lets out a sputter.
“I can call you a tow truck,” Jason says.
“It’s okay. I have AAA. My parents made me get it when I moved out here.”
“Your parents sound smart.”
“They are,” she says, and thinking of home -- the house she grew up in, the stretching plains of Iowa, her parents’ warm faces -- helps her temporarily calm down.
“After you call AAA, I’m giving you a ride home, or wherever you need to go,” Jason says. “And that’s non-negotiable.”
She looks up into his kind face and finds herself so grateful to have met someone who cares this much about others; it was something she feared she’d never encounter outside of her hometown.
“Thank you,” she says as she removes the key from the ignition and reaches for her cell phone.
“The social worker was here not too long ago,” Claire Fisher says as she takes a seat in the waiting area of the hospital’s emergency room. “She said she was expecting you.”
“Yeah, we wanted to see her as soon as possible,” Alex Marshall says. He and Trevor Brooks sit in a pair of chairs across from Claire, with a small stool bearing an unwieldy amount of magazines between them. “It sounds like the baby is doing well--”
Claire nods. “Very.”
“So this needs to be figured out soon. I just hope she considers us fitting parents.”
“We have plenty of people to vouch for us,” Trevor says. “Good careers, a house, a support system.”
“I have my fingers crossed for you guys,” Claire says.
Elbows on his knees, Alex leans forward. “How is Tempest doing?”
“I’m fine.”
All three of them glance in the direction of Tempest’s voice. She stands a few feet away, a stern expression on her face.
Alex and Trevor scramble to their feet.
“Tempest,” Alex begins, his voice catching, “I just want to reiterate how sorry I am for what happened. It was in very poor taste, and I’m sorry that you had to hear it or be hurt by it. I know you must be hurting so much already.”
Slowly, Tempest folds her arms but says nothing.
“We’re so sorry for your loss,” Trevor says, “and for what you’re going through. I lost my mom not that long ago, and it’s… it’s horrible.”
That manages to elicit a respectful, tight-lipped nod from Tempest.
“We’d still like to give your baby brother a home,” Alex continues.
“No way.” Tempest levels a hard stare at the two men.
Claire steps forward. “Tempest--”
“No.” Now she shifts that same stare toward her foster mother. “You’re not raising him. Because I’m gonna do it.”
“Uncle Brent!” Travis Fisher calls out, raising a hand as he cruises through the lobby of the hospital’s main floor.
Brent Taylor pauses at the entrance to the cafeteria, a fresh cup of coffee in his hand, and searches until he spots Travis. The two men walk toward one another.
“Coming to see your mom and Tempest?” Brent asks.
“Yeah. Hoping I can maybe get Tempest’s mind off things a little, or even get her to go home for a while.”
“Your mom would really appreciate that, I bet.” Brent shifts the coffee cup between his hands as he hesitates, mulling his next words. “Listen, Travis…”
“It’s okay.” Travis holds up a palm. “You and my mom -- if you guys are happy, then that’s cool. You’ve both been single a while, you’ve been friends for a long time, and… you don’t have to worry about it upsetting me. I’m not some pouty teenager anymore. I just want my mom to be happy. Really.”
Brent’s face relaxes, and a smile spreads over his mouth. “Thanks, Travis. That means a lot. I really do care about her.”
“Good. She deserves that.”
“Speaking of… looks like you and Jimenez are getting pretty close. I hear you brought her to family dinner the other night.”
Travis tells himself to play it cool, even as he feels an excitement radiating from himself that is so strong that he worries it might be tangible.

“She’s great,” he says as evenly as he can. “I like spending time with her. Kind of hoping I get to do a lot more of it.”
“I get the sense she feels the same way. She’s a hell of a cop, too. You know what? I was at the station all day yesterday, and we were short on bodies, and someone suggested we call her in on her day off. And here’s how much I like her: I told them to call someone else because Jimenez deserves her day off.”

The story hits Travis like a battering ram to the stomach. He doubles back in his mind, wondering if he has his days wrong or if he heard something incorrectly, but no: it was just yesterday that he and Rosie went to brunch, where they joined Kathleen and Jimmy at their table, and before their meal was even served, Rosie looked at her phone, told them she’d been called in to the station, and excused herself.

“Did that work?” Travis asks, hopeful but hesitant. “Did you wind up calling her in?”

“No, she got her day off. Like I said, she deserves it. She’s a hard worker.”
  Travis Fisher

“Oh. Uh, yeah. She is.” He forces himself to nod along, but his mind is clouded. “I should get upstairs.”
“Go ahead. Your mom will be thrilled to see you. Tempest, too, I bet. Take care, Travis. And thanks for what you said.”
“No problem.”
Travis manages to plaster a grin over his face long enough so that Brent turns and heads for the exit. After a few steps in the direction of the elevators, Travis stops, too overwhelmed to continue without gathering his thoughts. Could Brent be wrong? Or did Rosie lie about why she was leaving brunch yesterday? Did anything happen to make her decide she didn’t want to be there with him? Or was it something else?
The thoughts press down upon him as if the ceiling itself were lowering over him, pushing him right into the ground.
What the hell is going on? he wonders.
‘’It’s this one, right?” Jason asks as he eases his car to a stop outside the four-unit apartment building.
“You remembered,” Sabrina says with surprise.
“I’m shocked myself. I don’t have the best track record for remembering details.”
“I can’t thank you enough for the ride. This is…” She stares straight out the windshield, toward the row of trash cans lined up by the curb for collection day. “I knew that car didn’t have that much life left in it, but still.”
“The mechanic didn’t say it was for sure a goner.”
“He didn’t sound too optimistic.”
“He said he was going to see what he could do.”
“Did you not notice him refusing to make eye contact when he said that?” In spite of the terrible turn her day has taken, Sabrina lets out a little laugh. “I’m not feeling so great about my odds.”
“Try and keep your chin up. And hey, if there’s anything I can do to help, let me know.”
“You gave me a ride! That’s a big help.”
“Seriously. You’re a great person, and I know it must be tough being on your own in a new place.”
She exhales. “It is. But it’s nice, too. A fresh start, you know?”
“I remember you saying that.” Jason bites his lower lip as he considers something. “But I mean it. If I can help out while you sort this car thing out, please let me know.”
“Thank you, Jason. I might just have to figure out how to win the lottery or something like that.”
“I’ll cross my fingers,” he says, “or maybe see what I can do about rigging that.”
She lets out a guffaw. “Can you imagine?”
“I don’t know if I’m slick enough to get away with it, but I can try.”
“That’s very nice of you.” After a pause, she unclicks her seatbelt and opens the door. “Thanks again for the ride.”
“My pleasure. Good luck with whatever the mechanic has to say.”
Sabrina steps out of the car.  “I owe you one, Jason.”
“Nah. It’s what friends do.”
She smiles at him. “Friends. I like that.” She closes the car door and walks up the driveway to the back stairs that lead to her studio apartment, feeling strangely positive in spite of her car’s -- and bank account’s -- dismal outlook.
Tempest never flinches, not when Alex and Trevor throw one another a surprised look, and not when the men glance back at Claire as if to wonder how this could possibly be happening.
“You know you aren’t in a place to raise a child,” Claire says gently.

“Why the hell not? I have a good job now. And I’m his sister--”
“What about childcare?” Claire asks. “Who will look after him while you’re working? I have a job, too. I can’t--”
“I’m gonna move out, anyway,” Tempest says. “It’s time I did that.”
“I don’t want you to move out.”

“I’ve got to.”
  Tempest Banks

“Please don’t do this.” Claire moves toward Tempest, a pleading look on her face as she reaches for the younger woman. Tempest shrugs away her touch.
“You don’t need to be raising a child right now,” Claire says. “You’ll be a terrific mother someday, but now--”
“He’s my brother! No one else is right to raise him. This is what I owe him, okay? And you’re not changing my mind.”
Before Claire can respond, Tempest pulls away and hurries back toward the elevators.
“She can’t…” Alex struggles to form a coherent statement. “Everything else aside, she isn’t in a place to take on a baby.”
Claire plants her hands on her hips. “I know. I think she’s just so wrapped up in her grief, and her guilt…”
“The social worker can’t think that’s a good idea,” Trevor says. “There’s no way.”
“She is the next of kin,” Alex offers.
“Still.” Trevor runs a hand over his brown hair.
“I have to talk some sense into her,” Claire says. “I have to. Before this all goes really wrong.”
Will Tempest come to her senses about raising the baby?
Will Jason be able to help Sabrina out of her jam?
What will Travis do now that he suspects Rosie lied to him?
Come to the Footprints Forum and discuss it all now!



Friday, May 26, 2017

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