College student Carol Demming, came to Oakdale in 1970 and began working for Lisa Eldridge at the Wade Bookstore. Soon after, she met Lisa's son, Tom Hughes, who'd just returned from Vietnam. Although Carol's father, psychiatrist Dr. Phillip Demming, saw Tom as a troublemaker, Carol befriended him and stuck by him through all his difficulties. As Tom was dealing with a drug addiction and being convicted for a murder he didn't commit, Carol began dating a man named Peter Burton. Later, in 1972, when Tom got his act together, he and Carol tried to help Peter find his biological father (who turned out to be Lisa's boyfriend, Wally Matthews). Throughout this time, Carol's feelings for Tom had grown stronger and she and Peter broke it off. Soon after professing their love for each other, Carol and Tom married in a beautiful wedding ceremony. Sadly, though, Tom was too busy building his law career to be an attentive husband to Carol and soon the pair divorced amicably.
Soon after, Carol starting dating Jay Stallings. Jay was much darker and more passionate than Tom and Carol (like most of Oakdale's women) was very taken with him. Jay was eager to take their relationship to a new level, but Carol didn't believe in sex before marriage. Desperate to keep seeing her, Jay married her. At the same time, Tom married his first legal client, the sultry Natalie Bannon. Though both married, Natalie and Jay found it difficult to resist their feelings for each other. Making it difficult were Tom and Carol who, still friends, wanted to hang out together. Jay and Natalie's attraction grew while their spouses were oblivious. Though both Tom and Carol were content in their lives, Jay and Natalie both wanted more out of life than a mundane small town existence. Finally, Tom noticed how uncomfortable Natalie was around Jay and called her on it. Not wanting to endanger her marriage, Natalie covered up her feelings of lust for Jay and told Tom that Jay had designs on her! However, when Tom confronted Jay, he laughed it off by saying that Natalie totally misread him. Soon after, Tom left Natalie when he discovered that she kept the truth about her past a secret. Distraught at what seemed to be the end of her marriage, as Carol was out of town, Natalie turned to a willing Jay and the two finally gave in to their passion. Unfortunately the next day, Tom came back and he found out about Jay and Natalie's affair. Angry, he got in a violent confrontation with Jay. Afterwards, Jay begged Tom not to tell Carol, and not wanting to see Carol hurt, Tom agreed. He did divorce Natalie though, while remaining silent to Carol about why he hated Jay so much.
Meanwhile, Jay was desperate to keep Carol happy and agreed to adopt a child. At this point, Natalie left town but couldn't get Jay out of her system and kept calling him and hanging up. Finally Jay pleaded with Tom to intercede and Tom located Natalie and told her to stop calling. Natalie demurred, then returned to Oakdale and blackmailed Jay into giving her a cushy job at his construction company or she'd tell Carol everything. Though Jay complied, he still couldn't get Natalie out of his system and, again when Carol was out of town, the two began a full fledged affair when Natalie convinced Jay that Carol was still in love with Tom. Finally, Tom learned that Carol and Jay had been moved up the adoption list. Wondering if he should tell Carol about the previous affair, so that an innocent child won't be brought into a doomed marriage, his decision was made for him when Natalie told Lisa! Being told by Natalie that the truth wouldn't hurt as much if it came from her, Lisa told Carol about Jay and Natalie. Devastated, Carol threw Jay out. Although Jay appealed to Tom's father, the fair-minded Bob, to convince Carol to give him another chance; it did no good and she initiated divorce proceedings. Soon after, Jay was critically injured after heroically saving Annie Stewart from a cave in, Carol visited Jay often and agreed to work for him again. Although Jay hoped that this would be a new beginning for them, Carol made it clear that, while she didn't hate him, she no longer loved him. However, despite her words, her heart felt otherwise and she later agreed to take him back,
At this point, Natalie learned she was pregnant! Knowing that Jay wouldn't leave Carol, Natalie asked Jay for money for an abortion. However, Jay didn't believe in abortion and refused. Not knowing what to do, Jay confided in Kim Dixon who convinced him to be honest with Carol. To his surprise, Carol understood and suggested that since Natalie didn't want her baby, she and Jay could adopt it. Natalie agreed on the condition that Jay help her set up her own real estate firm. However, soon a greedy Natalie decided she wanted more money and hit up Jay for $ 10,000 to ensure that she'd go through with the adoption. When Jay refused her demand for more money, Natalie vowed revenge. After getting the money from Carol (who was afraid to upset Natalie out of fear that she'd renege on the deal), Natalie double-crossed the Stallings and left town! In addition to troubles with Natalie, Jay also had to contend with his company being in debt and he was certain that his former foreman, Pete Larson, was responsible. When he finally got proof, he violently brawled with Larson in public and then, needing to talk to someone, he sought out his friend, Melinda Grey since Carol was out of town visiting her father. Later on the way home, Jay heard on the radio that Larson was dead! Suddenly Jay became prime suspect # 1, especially when he refused to give an alibi for that night. Although he told Tom that he'd been out driving that night and ended up at a bar, Tom saw holes in his story. Although Jay still tried to hedge around the truth, Melinda came forward. However, despite Tom's advice, Jay refused to use Melinda as his alibi since he didn't want Carol to know he'd been out all night with a woman, despite the fact that nothing at all happened. Though Jay wisely had a change of heart at the trial, this time Melinda changed her story by saying that Jay forced himself into her apartment that night and she had to fight him off! Unfortunately for Jay, everyone, except Tom, believed Melinda's story, and although he was cleared of Larson's murder, he lost Carol in the process.
Later, Natalie unexpectedly wrote Carol to announce that she'd had a baby girl and later deposited the girl at Carol's doorstep. In debt and his marriage seemingly over, Jay suggested giving the child up, but Carol wouldn't hear of it and even stopped divorce proceedings to guarantee that they'd get to adopt the child, who was named Amy. Not long after, Carol was sexually assaulted by an enemy of Jay named Hank Robinson, who hated Jay since Jay took off with his girlfriend years earlier. Learning what Hank did, Jay angrily confronted him and beat him to a pulp. Unfortunately, he was arrested for assault and, knowing that there was no proof that Hank raped Carol, Jay plead guilty to protect her. Not wanting him to go to jail, Carol tried to get proof that Hank was an abusive man and sought the help of attorney Grant Colman. In the end, Grant was able to produce a tape of Hank offering him a $ 5,000 bribe in order to call off the investigation. At a stalemate, Jay was sentenced to a mere 60 days in jail for assault. Though the Stallings resolved to make a go of their troubled marriage, not long after, Jay tragically died in a mining accident. Later, a grieving Carol wanted her friend, Steve Andropolous, to take her into the mine where Jay died. As he described the circumstances of Jay's death to Carol, he had to admit he might have been able to save Jay from the collapse. Carol stopped speaking to a guilt-ridden Steve.
Carol eventually forgave Steve and ended up falling in love and marrying him in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Natalie, now living in California and married to wealthy movie mogul Ari Triandos, was surprised to see Carol again, but kept herself unseen. Curious, Natalie asked her lover, Cody Sullivan, to go to Oakdale to check on Carol and her daughter. Later, she asked Carol if she could see Amy but Carol refused. However, Natalie refused to be turned away, and went to their home when she knew they were out and convinced the baby-sitter to let her in by claiming to be Carol's cousin. Unfortunately, before she even had a chance to see Amy, Annie Stewart arrived and kicked Natalie out of the house. The next day, Steve confronted Natalie and demanded that she leave them alone or else. Vengeful, Natalie tried to blame him for the theft of her necklace. Finally, Natalie got to secretly see Amy by bribing the baby-sitter with a bit part in Triandos's new movie. However, Carol and Steve arrived home early and were outraged to find Natalie there. Finally, Natalie revealed that the reason she wanted to see Amy so badly was because her new husband made her agree that they'd have no children. Having spent years herself yearning for a child, Carol understood. After seeing Amy one last time, Natalie left Oakdale and returned to her life in California. Later, Carol was horrified to learn that Steve was involved in illegal activities with James Stenbeck. Unwilling to put her daughter's life in danger, she divorced him.
Carol would find herself a decent man in Reverend Norman Frazier. After marrying in a simple ceremony thrown by the Hughes family, they left the past behind and departed from Oakdale.