On a stormy night in Pine Valley, Erica Kane lured a very pregnant Maria Santos Grey to a cabin at Willow Lake. The two had a bitter argument, causing Maria to go into early labor. With no help available, Erica was forced to deliver Maria's baby. When the baby appeared to be having problems breathing, Erica sped off with baby Grey, to get help. When Erica's car lost control and slid into Willow Lake, Erica managed to save the baby before losing consciousness. Transient Esther Glynn, who lived alone in a trailer on the lake, found the baby and decided to keep her.
Despite her protests, when Erica regained consciousness at Pine Valley Hospital, Maria's baby was presumed drowned. Erica could not accept the child's death and went to Willow Lake looking for evidence to the contrary. When she came upon Esther's trailer she thought she heard a baby crying. After spying on Esther, she discovered that the baby was indeed alive. Erica befriended Esther and convinced her that the baby needed medical attention, and that Esther didn't have the financial means to care for a child by herself. Erica decided that the baby belonged with her, and tried to convince everyone that she had used her influence to facilitate a quickie Russian adoption. Erica hired Esther as a nanny, and instructed her to move her trailer onto Ms. Kane's property.
While working for Erica, Esther met Stuart Chandler, who was in many ways her kindred spirit. They both walked a slower path through life, and shared an appreciation for Stuart's artwork and family values. Their relationship began to surpass mere friendship, but Esther shied away from any deeper involvement with Stuart.
As the residents of Pine Valley became increasingly suspicious of Erica's speedy adoption proceedings, Esther learned the truth about the baby she cared so deeply about - that Maria was, in fact, the baby's birth mother, and that Erica was keeping the truth from her. Esther tried to convince Erica that the right thing to do was to return the baby to Maria.
When the baby (eventually known as Maddie Grey) was returned to Maria and Edmund, Erica faced kidnapping charges. Esther stood by Erica, and tried to convince her Pine Valley detractors that Erica's intentions had been honorable. When Erica was finally convicted and began serving her sentence, Esther decided it was time to move on.
When Esther again returned to Pine Valley, she happened upon Stuart, wandering alone in the woods. He had lost his memory as a result of head injuries sustained by a hit and run car accident involving an intoxicated Arlene Vaughn Chandler. When Esther realized that Stuart had amnesia, she tried to convince him that she was his wife, and that she had been searching for him. While nursing an injured Stuart back to health, Esther learned that he had married Marian Colby-Chandler during her absence, and decided to do whatever was necessary to keep Stuart from finding out that Marian, not Esther, was married to Stuart.
In an attempt to shield Stuart from the familiar places and faces of Pine Valley, and specifically to keep him from reconnecting with Marian, she convinced Stuart to run away with her to Las Vegas, to "renew" their vows. Though nothing felt right to Stuart, he agreed to the trip. When Esther's trailer broke down along the way, the duo found themselves stranded in an isolated country town, at a truck stop known as The Queen Of Hearts Diner. The diner was owned by Jude Enoch, who had recently lost his wife, and was now raising their star-struck daughter, Marilyn, by himself. The Enochs befriended Esther and Stuart, and while they waited for repairs to be made to Esther's trailer, Esther began to work at the diner and Stuart at odd jobs, in exchange for room and board.
Slowly Stuart's memory began returning, and inspired by the name of the diner, he unwittingly created a painting in Marian's likeness as the Queen Of Hearts. He was certain that the mystery woman he had painted was his destiny, and that Esther was deceiving him. He found his way to a beautiful and familiar lake, while at the same time his twin brother Adam had arrived there to mourn the loss of his twin privately, at their favorite fishing spot. Stuart recognized Adam's "Pine Valley Outfitters" fishing vest in a nearby tackle shop, and instinctively knew his heart belonged in Pine Valley. When Stuart returned, he found Marian in Adam's attic, where Arlene held them captive so that Adam wouldn't find out what she had done to Stuart. With Stuart having regained his memory, it is presumed that Esther remained at the Queen Of Hearts Diner with the Enochs.