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- Spencer and Natalie awaited the results of another paternity test on Peter, to determine for good if Spencer or Jason is the child’s father.
- Zane attended a family dinner at Paula’s house and taunted Sarah with his closeness to Tori. Sarah considered paying him the blackmail money to get him away from her daughter.
- Alex
and Trevor had an interview with the social worker in hopes of adopting Yvette’s baby, but Tempest remained insistent that she will be the one to raise her half-brother.

The hospital cafeteria is quiet, with just a few visitors scattered throughout the space, eating quick, solemn dinners. At one table against the wall, Alex Marshall and Trevor Brooks sit without any food in front of them. Alex taps the toe of his boat shoe against the floor and once again checks the time on his phone.

“She should be here by now,” he says, more for his own benefit than Trevor’s.

“I just wish we knew what this was about. Calling off the home visit is a bad sign.”

With his lips held in a tight line, Alex nods. He glances toward the door for some sign of Veronica Nguyen, the social worker assigned to Yvette’s child’s case.
“But Claire says the baby is all right, and that’s what’s really important,” Alex adds, fully aware that he is simply speaking to fill the space, to try and drown out all the worries that threaten to envelop both of them.
  Alex Marshall

Both men stiffen when they see a familiar face enter the cafeteria -- but instead of the social worker, it is Tempest herself. She freezes when she spots the two of them, but Claire Fisher, walking in behind her, nudges her forward.

“Are you guys here to meet Veronica, too?” Claire asks as she and Tempest arrive at their table.
Alex nods. “Do you have any idea what this is about?”
Tempest and Claire trade a look. Alex tries to read it, but all he can see is some clear tension between the two women.
“I’m gonna raise him,” Tempest says, snapping suddenly toward Alex and Trevor. “He belongs with me.”
Alex forces himself to take a deep breath. “Tempest…”
“He’s my brother.” She throws him a stony look, her eyes hard and hostile.
Claire’s shoulders slump in resignation. She appears ready to say something but cannot find the words.
Suddenly Trevor bolts up from his seat. It takes Alex a moment to realize what has caught his attention: Veronica Nguyen walking into the cafeteria. Instinctively, Alex hops to his feet, too.
As Claire and Tempest turn around, Alex notices the man following Veronica. He is black, approximately in his mid-40s, and sports a worn baseball cap pulled down close to his eyes.
Alex sees Tempest tense up visibly, like every muscle fiber in her body has been zapped with a stun gun.
“What’s he doing here?” Tempest demands.
Claire’s eyes search between Tempest and Veronica for the answer. “Who is this?”
Veronica stops and indicates the man, who stands uneasily beside her. “This is Hank Bassett -- the father of Yvette’s baby.”
A dying light bulb blinks and flashes, glowing its last gasps of life before fizzling again. It casts an eerie pall over the hallway of the apartment building as Tori Gray makes her way down the row of identical, dark brown doors. When she arrives at her destination, she stops outside the door and listens to the muffled hip-hop coming from inside the apartment, which she can barely make out to be the new Kendrick Lamar album.
After she knocks, the music drops several notches in volume. It takes another few seconds before she hears the lock turning and the door opens.
“Hey,” Zane Tanaka says, his surprise evident, as he takes her in. “What’s, uh, what’s up?”
“I was on my way home from class. That’s why I texted. I thought maybe we could get dinner.”
“Oh.” He runs a hand over his thick, dark hair. “I’m kind of in the middle of something.”
“That coding thing?”
The awkwardness of the moment lands heavily upon Tori. She knew it was a risk to drop by unannounced, with little more than a text to confirm that he was at home, but she was so swept up in the spontaneity and her excitement to see him that she didn’t entirely consider that it might go this way.
“Sorry to come by like this,” she says. “I figured it was worth a shot. But if you’re busy, I’ll let you get back to work.”
“Thanks. Sorry. I’m trying to get this thing done by the morning. The developer wants it ASAP.”
“Okay. No worries. Maybe we can get lunch tomorrow? My only class is in the morning.”
Zane twists up his face. The music in the background stops briefly before a new song starts up.
“I’m probably gonna pull an all-nighter,” he says. “I’ll be wiped tomorrow. But I’ll text you.”
“Okay. I’ll let you…” She knows that she should go, but she isn’t sure what sort of goodbye to have with him. The vibe of the entire interaction feels off. “You know, if you’re trying to do the fade-away or whatever, you don’t have to. You can just tell me.”
“I’ve asked you to hang out, like, five times and you’ve been busy or haven’t wanted to. Which is cool -- I mean, it sucks, but if you aren’t into it--”
Zane recoils with what looks like genuine shock. “Why would you think I’m not into it?”
“Because! You never want to hang out when I ask you to. Like the only thing you’ve been excited about was going to that dinner at my grandma’s, which is honestly kind of a weird thing to be excited about.”
“I’ve just been busy.”
“And that’s fine. So listen,” she says, hitching up her purse on her shoulder. “When you decide you want to hang out, or you have time, get in touch and I’ll see if I’m free. Okay? In the meantime, I’m not going to spend my time chasing you around.”
She is already walking down the hallway, away from him. “Text me if you want,” she calls out without even looking back.
“It’s about time,” Spencer Ragan says as he lets Natalie Bishop into his house.
“Excuse me for having to come up with a plausible reason why I was running out the door last-minute right after dinner,” she says with annoyance. “Jason thinks I went to the hospital to help Conrad with something.”

Spencer closes the front door. “Very trusting of him to let you run off to be with your ex-husband. Kind of ironic, huh?”
“Shut up.” She gazes upward, to the skylight in the ceiling two stories up. “This is quite a place you got yourself.”
“It is, huh?” Hands on hips, he gazes around proudly.
“Okay, where the hell are they?” Natalie says.
“Where are what?”
  Natalie Bishop

“The test results. That’s why you summoned me, isn’t it?”
He sneers at her. “Yeah. They’re, uh…” He looks around for a moment. “Upstairs on the desk. I’ll grab them.”
“I’m coming with you.” She stalks up the open, white staircase right behind him.
At the top of the stairs is an open loft, where a black metal desk and bamboo plant sit. A hallway branches off to what Natalie assumes are the bedrooms. Spencer picks up a manila envelope from the desk.
“Finally, a test you didn’t get to screw with,” he says as he slowly pulls back the flap.
“Will you just open the damn thing?!”
Spencer pauses. “Nervous, eh?”
“Of course I’m nervous! You have been torturing me for months. Can we just get this over with? I can’t take this anymore.”
“Wait.” His hands drop to his sides. “Do you really not know?”
A burst of rage flares inside Natalie. “What? No. What the hell are you talking about?”
“Seriously? I figured you got a test done months ago and you already knew.”
“I don’t need a test! Peter is Jason’s son.”
“You know that?”
“I know it.” She sets her jaw and stares him down. “Jason loves that boy. We have a family. That’s what matters.”
“See, that’s the thing.” Spencer slides the slim set of papers out of the envelope. “Because if you look here… the DNA says pretty clearly that Peter is my son.”
With a notebook tucked underneath her arm, Sabrina Gage locks the door of her apartment and walks down the exterior stairs toward the street. At the curb, she looks up and down the street for signs of her Uber.
While she waits for the car, Sabrina takes the notebook from under her arm and flips through it. Her own handwriting fills many of the pages, though it is interspersed with printouts, small items cut from magazines, and other odds and ends. This book represents the scope of her work for Philip Ragan, those months of her life that once seemed so promising. Working for a photographer of that stature felt like a true opportunity to better her life, to achieve a dream and follow a passion that would take her beyond the small Iowa town where she spent her entire life. And then it all came crashing down with the horrible realization of what an evil, twisted man Philip was.
Not that she isn’t grateful for her barista job at Thaw. She knows how kind it was of Jason to help her find work, and she generally finds the customers pleasant and friendly. But there is a part of her that wants more.
Right now, though, what she needs more of is money. She can’t even afford the repairs that her car needs, let alone a new car. And that is where this notebook comes in.
Her stomach twists at the thought of profiting off Philip’s notoriety. The man murdered five people in cold blood. It seems unbelievably tasteless of Spencer to sell his unreleased work, especially when two of the victims were Spencer’s own uncle and grandfather. But she isn’t the one choosing to sell the photographs, she reasons. If she didn’t hand over the passwords, Spencer would either sue her or get someone to hack into the drives to access Philip’s work. She might as well receive combat pay for what she went through and, for once in her life, take charge of her situation.
She sees the blue sedan rolling up the street toward her. With a deep breath, she closes the notebook. This is what she has to do.
In the hospital cafeteria, Tempest turns to Claire. Her eyes are wild with desperation.
“He shouldn’t be here,” she says, though it is less a statement than a plea.
“Tempest,” Hank says. His voice is deep, his speech unhurried. “It’s been a long time. I’m real sorry about Yvette.”

In response, she folds her arms over her chest and shakes her head insistently. “You never cared about anyone but yourself. If you did, you would’ve been with her this whole time. You found out she was pregnant and you took off.” She turns to Veronica. “We don’t even know if he’s really--”
“We’re currently running a DNA test to establish paternity,” Veronica says, keeping her tone calm, “since there was no name listed on the birth certificate.”
“I’m gonna tell you all the shit this guy did to me and my brother and my mom,” Tempest counters. “You can’t give that baby to him.”
  Tempest Banks

Claire places both hands on her foster daughter’s arm. “Tempest. Please. Try and stay calm. We’ll work this out.”
Alex and Trevor hang back, watching the scene unfold with uncertainly.
“I don’t want the damn baby,” Hank says.
“Then why the hell are you here?” Tempest blasts.
“There are legal steps that have to be taken,” Claire says softly. “This is good. It means everything will be aboveboard.”
“Exactly,” Veronica says. “Mr. Bassett is prepared to sign over his parental rights once paternity is established.”
Tempest lets out a huff. “Good.”
“Of course,” the social worker continues, “as the birth father, Mr. Bassett inherits custody of the baby. Therefore, if he chooses to place the child through a private adoption, he can do so. That’s why we’re here today.”
Hank looks up from under his cap, focusing on Alex and Trevor for the first time. “You must be that couple Yvette was gonna give the baby to.”
“Um, yes. We are.” Alex sticks out his hand to shake. “I’m Alex Marshall. This is my fiancé, Trevor Brooks.”
Hank shakes Alex’s hand and then Trevor’s. “From what I hear, you’re gonna make great parents to my boy.”


Will Tempest accept Hank’s decision?
What will Natalie and Spencer do now?
Should Tori break things off with Zane?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum!



Friday, June 09, 2017

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