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Monday, December 24, 2012
by Mike

At Common Grounds, Kristen opened her laptop and typed Brady's name into a search engine. Kristen read with interest that Brady had once purchased a rare Samuel Caldwell photograph for fifteen thousand dollars. Kristen was certain that the information would later prove to be useful.

At a cemetery, Theo placed some holly branches on Lexie's grave. Theo tearfully stated that he didn't like the idea of celebrating Christmas without Lexie. Abe shared Theo's sentiment, but he assured Theo that Lexie would have wanted them to try to enjoy the holiday. As Abe and Theo started to leave, Chad and E.J. entered the cemetery.

Theo wondered if E.J. and Chad had gone to the cemetery to visit Lexie. E.J., who was holding a bouquet of flowers, confirmed Theo's suspicion, and he and Chad each gave Theo a hug. Theo was cold, so Chad offered to take him to the car so that Abe and E.J. could have some privacy. After Chad and Theo left, E.J. placed the flowers on Lexie's grave.

Abe said that he had heard that E.J. had recently started working at Countess Wilhelmina. E.J. confirmed the news, prompting Abe to quote the famous phrase from The Godfather: Part III about being pulled back into the family business. Abe asked if Kristen's return had influenced E.J.'s decision to run one of Stefano's companies. Avoiding the question, E.J. wondered why Abe cared.

"You're Lexie's brother, Theo's uncle -- I'm concerned about you. Your choosing to go back into the family business would mean you're under the influence of the wrong sister," Abe said. E.J. claimed that Lexie was always in his thoughts, adding that he had been trying to live his life in a way that would honor her memory.

Abe was unmoved, noting that E.J. had allied himself with Kristen, who represented everything that Lexie had always despised. E.J. pointed out that Kristen was his and Lexie's sister, adding that Kristen had changed. Abe skeptically stated that he had already received that memo. Abe asserted that Kristen was clever and cunning enough to fool everyone -- including E.J.

E.J. accused Abe of being cynical. "I'm being real, E.J. Your sister, Kristen, is the antithesis of goodness, honesty, and integrity, so if you want to honor Lexie's memory...you'd better find another way," Abe said before exiting the cemetery. Later, after E.J. left, Chad returned to Lexie's grave.

Kristen entered the cemetery and greeted Chad, who dried his eyes and admitted that he was surprised to see her. Kristen pointed out that Lexie had also been her sister. Chad nodded and started to excuse himself, but Kristen stopped him, wondering if she had done something to make him feel uncomfortable.

Chad admitted that Kristen's presence in Salem was something that he had not yet grown accustomed to. Kristen hoped that her attempts to get to know Chad had not been too lame. Kristen told Chad that she had enjoyed their recent conversations, and she optimistically added that she was looking forward to building a relationship with him.

Before Chad could respond, Kristen said that Stefano had been hoping to talk to Chad during the holidays. Kristen explained that she and E.J. were planning to do a video conference with Stefano on Christmas morning, and she invited Chad to join them. Chad sighed heavily as he looked at Lexie's headstone. "You know, on any other day, this would have been a tougher sell...but okay -- I will be there," Chad quietly assured Kristen.

Kristen thanked Chad, who hugged her and abruptly exited the cemetery. After Chad left, Kristen breathed a sigh of relief. Kristen eyed Lexie's grave for a moment before turning her attention to another grave that was located nearby. A bouquet of roses had been placed on the second grave. Kristen grabbed the roses and carelessly tossed them onto Lexie's grave before walking away.

At Common Grounds, Cameron greeted Chad, who said that he had been thinking about Cameron earlier. Chad noted that he and Cameron had never really gotten to know each other, despite the fact that they shared a sister. Cameron suggested that he and Chad might be able to change that, and Chad eagerly agreed.

After making some tentative plans to hang out with Chad later, Cameron skeptically asked if the holiday season had fueled Chad's sudden desire to bond with Cameron. Chad shrugged and wondered if that really mattered. Cameron conceded Chad's point and suggested that Chad might be able to share some additional information about Lexie. Chad smiled and said that he would be happy to do that.

At the hospital, Kayla received a phone call from Stephanie. Kayla was saddened to learn that Stephanie would not be returning to Salem to spend the holidays with her family. Kayla claimed that she understood, but it was clear that Stephanie's vague excuse for her absence had upset her mother.

Later, Kayla greeted Abe and wondered if he had made any plans for the holidays yet. Abe said that he and Theo had been planning to visit Celeste in Chicago on Christmas Eve, adding that they would probably be back in Salem before Christmas morning. Abe said that he hadn't made any further plans yet, and Kayla cryptically revealed that she was going to make those plans for him.

In Eric's room at St. Luke's, Eric insisted that he was fine, but Nicole wasn't convinced. Eager to help, Nicole urged Eric to talk about his nightmare. Eric ignored Nicole's suggestion and impatiently asked her to leave. Later, in another section of the church, Nicole hid when she heard Eric's footsteps approaching. Nicole listened as Eric paused in front of a wooden cross and prayed for forgiveness.

Nicole interrupted and suggested that Eric's prayers had gone unanswered because he had been looking for help in the wrong places. Nicole assumed that her presence had forced Eric to deal with some unexpected feelings of temptation.

"I know I'm not so attractive that I'm driving you nutty every day, okay? Seriously -- I'm sorry, but I don't have that big of an ego. I really don't. I'm just talking about what we used to have, and, you know, the way I kind of joke about you being celibate. Eric, really, I am sure there are devoted priests out there who feel a pull towards their past, and it's nothing for you to beat yourself up about," Nicole assured Eric.

Eric laughed and stressed that, while he appreciated Nicole's concern, she had completely misinterpreted the situation. Eric revealed that he had been having a lot of nightmares lately, and he admitted that he knew exactly why he had been having the nightmares. Nicole theorized that talking about the nightmares might make Eric feel better, and he hesitantly agreed.

Eric revealed that the nightmares had started after an experience in the Congo, where he had once worked as a photographer. Before continuing, Eric stressed that the information that he was about to share had not been shared with any of his family members. Nicole assured Eric that their conversation would remain confidential.

"When I...first got down there, it was almost impossible to get a real feel for the lay of the land...while they were under civil war. My job was to document it. There was a priest there in the village who kind of took me under his wing -- Father Ryan. He took me around, introduced me to people -- and not just the ones with positions of power, but the villagers who were bearing the brunt of the war. Father Ryan -- he was helping them cope, and I was inspired by his compassion," Eric explained.

Nicole smiled and said that Father Ryan sounded like a great man. Eric started to talk about one of the villagers, Neema, who had wanted to be a photographer. Eric assured Nicole that Neema had been talented enough to make that dream a reality. As Nicole listened, she realized that Eric was referring to Neema in the past tense.

"It wasn't long before the rebels showed up in the village. The rebels -- they didn't waste any time. They took control of that village in a matter of hours. They weren't soldiers -- they were terrorists. They looted the village. Whatever they didn't take, they set fire to it. They were drinking, celebrating like it was some great victory, and meanwhile, the people whose lives were just destroyed were, like, huddled in the street while their homes were in flames. Then it got worse. The leader of the group -- he said, 'It's time to make an example of somebody.' He grabbed Neema...and he put a gun to her head," Eric quietly recalled.

Eric had protested, and the rebel leader had agreed to let someone volunteer to take Neema's place. Eric acknowledged that the rebel leader had been calling Eric's bluff, and he admitted that he had been too scared to step forward. Nicole speculated that everyone else had probably been just as scared, but Eric shook his head and said that Father Ryan had been willing to sacrifice himself to save Neema's life.

"He didn't hesitate. He just stood right up, and he said, 'Take me.' Before anyone even knew, that man -- he let Neema go, and he put a bullet right through Father Ryan's heart. It should have been me," Eric tearfully stated. After Eric regained his composure, Nicole wondered what had happened to Neema after the rebels had left the village.

Eric revealed that the experience had traumatized Neema, who had stopped caring about photography. Eric sighed as he admitted that Neema had also stopped caring about him, but he added that she was still alive, thanks to Father Ryan. After praising Father Ryan's selflessness, Eric referred to himself as a coward. Nicole strongly disagreed with Eric's assessment of the situation, insisting that he was a good man.

"Did you hear what I said, Nicole? Are you listening? A great man is gone, and I'm here...trying to fill his shoes. I'm not a tenth of what that man was, because I'm not a man who stands up without hesitation, without fear," Eric firmly stated, but Nicole remained unconvinced. Nicole insisted that Eric needed to stop blaming himself, reasoning that his guilt proved that he was a better person than he had given himself credit for.

"You are a good man. You know what? I'm gonna venture out to say you're a great man, and I know what you're made of, and I know what is in your heart, and you want to know what else I know? If you really believe that you are doing God's work, then you have to know that this all happened for a reason. Maybe -- just maybe -- you're here to do something that Father Ryan couldn't, just like the way he was there for Neema when she needed him," Nicole suggested.

After tearfully thanking Nicole for listening, Eric asked for some privacy. Nicole nodded and reluctantly walked away. Later, Father Tobias greeted Eric and asked if everything was all right. "For the first time in a long time, it just might be," Eric replied. Meanwhile, in the town square, one of the nuns was collecting donations for a charity organization. Nicole greeted the nun and happily donated some money to the cause.

At the Brady Pub, Sami, Johnny, and Sydney greeted Caroline. Johnny and Sydney had helped Sami finish her Christmas shopping earlier that day, and the kids had each earned a cup of hot chocolate as a reward for their invaluable help. Caroline asked about Allie, who was notably absent. Sami explained that Allie was spending the day with Lucas.

Changing the subject, Sami wondered how Caroline had been feeling. "Oh, it's a good day. I've had quite a few in a row -- I consider it an early Christmas present," Caroline replied. Sami smiled and warmly stated that she was glad that she was going to be able to spend the holidays with Caroline. "You know, that's what the holidays are all about -- spending them with the people you love," Sami added.

Before Caroline could respond, Johnny jumped out of his chair and rushed over to greet Rafe, who had just entered the pub. As Sami and Caroline watched Rafe interact with Johnny and Sydney, Caroline wondered why Sami had not yet greeted Rafe. Sami said that she wanted to give the kids, who had been missing Rafe, a chance to spend some time alone with him.

Caroline pointedly observed that the kids weren't the only people who were missing Rafe, and Sami laughed at the not-so-subtle remark. Sami approached Johnny and Sydney, who were whispering to each other conspiratorially, and she wondered what was going on. Rafe explained that he had asked the kids to tell him what they wanted for Christmas.

Johnny announced that Sydney had asked for the same gift that he and Allie had previously received -- a stuffed penguin. Sami smiled as she recalled the Christmas that she had spent with Rafe at the safe house, when he had gone to great lengths to purchase the stuffed toys for her kids. Sami sadly informed Sydney that it might be difficult to find another penguin.

Johnny encouraged Sydney to send a letter to Santa, who would certainly be able to grant her wish. Sami whispered something in Johnny's ear. After receiving Johnny's hushed response, Sami explained that he had agreed to share his penguin with Sydney. Impressed, Rafe said that Sami's kids were really special. Sami insisted that she couldn't take all of the credit, since Rafe had always been a positive role model for her kids.

Later, as Johnny and Sydney played nearby, Sami invited Rafe to spend the rest of the day with them. Before Rafe could respond, he received a phone call from someone at the police station. Sami sighed as she listened to Rafe's end of the phone conversation and realized that he would not be able to accept her invitation. After ending the call, Rafe apologized to Sami, who agreed to give him a rain check.

After saying goodbye to Johnny, Sydney, and Caroline, Rafe exited the pub. Caroline wondered what Sami and Rafe had been talking about. Sami vaguely stated that the things that she and Rafe hadn't talked about were more significant, and Caroline urged her to elaborate.

"I don't know -- maybe I'm just feeling sentimental because of the holidays, but...I just kept having all these memories of us...and all the good times we shared, and I think he was thinking about the same thing," Sami clarified. Sighing with frustration, Sami admitted that she wasn't sure how Rafe felt about her. Sami added that she and Rafe had been thrown together unexpectedly because of Gabi's wedding.

Caroline seemed skeptical, and she pointed out that Sami had volunteered to plan Gabi's wedding. Caroline theorized that Sami had offered to help Gabi for Rafe's sake, and Sami conceded that Caroline might be right. Sami struggled to admit something to Caroline, who helpfully guessed that Sami was trying to reveal that she still had feelings for E.J.

"I realize I should have my head examined. I mean, everyone I love hates him, including you," Sami said. Caroline insisted that she didn't hate anyone, and she admitted that she had recently started to see a different side of E.J.'s personality. Sami agreed, summarizing that it seemed like E.J. had changed. Sami noted with surprise that Caroline wasn't judging her for caring about E.J.

Caroline matter-of-factly replied that the heart wanted what the heart wanted. "When I'm sitting with Rafe...it feels like old times, you know? And it feels right -- like we were meant to be together. And then...when I'm with E.J., and I see this new side to him, I feel that pull that I've always felt towards him, and...I don't know what to do, Grandma. I just don't," Sami said with a sigh.

Caroline hoped that Sami wouldn't make a stupid decision. Caroline pointed out that Sami had been bouncing between Rafe and E.J. for a very long time. After conceding Caroline's point, Sami acknowledged that she might never get another chance to make the right decision. Before Caroline could respond, E.J. entered the pub. After greeting E.J., Caroline abruptly excused herself so that she could get back to work.

Sami could tell that something was bothering E.J., and he explained that he had visited Lexie's grave earlier. Unwilling to ruin Sami's holiday spirit, E.J. started to excuse himself, but she stopped him and cryptically stated that she had something that might make him feel better. Sami went to the kitchen to find E.J.'s surprise. A few moments later, Johnny and Sydney emerged from the kitchen and rushed into E.J.'s arms.

Later, Caroline and Sami watched as E.J. read a story to the kids. When the story concluded, Caroline took the kids back into the kitchen so that they could see if their Christmas cookies were ready to be removed from the oven. After Caroline, Johnny, and Sydney left, E.J. thanked Sami and admitted that she had managed to make him feel better.

"You don't have to thank me -- you should thank the kids. But you don't have to do that either, because they were just being themselves. They were really happy to spend time with you, but then, they always are. Merry Christmas, E.J.," Sami said as she embraced E.J., who grinned as he held her. Johnny and Sydney interrupted and announced that they wanted to hear another story.

At the Horton Town Square, Rafe placed a phone call to someone and gave them a description of the stuffed penguin. Later, Rafe returned to the pub, clutching the coveted toy. Muttering that the penguin was going to make Sydney very happy, Rafe peered through the window and realized that E.J. was with Sami, Johnny, and Sydney.

Rafe changed his mind and walked away before the kids could see him.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

In St. Luke's, Eric was placing the baby Jesus in the manger as Marlena and Roman arrived with a box. Smiling, Marlena noted that she had a present for Eric. Eric opened the box to find a new set of white and gold vestments. Smiling widely, Eric excitedly announced that he would wear the vestments for mass that evening.

In the town square, Brady rushed to Nicole's aid as she started to drop a poinsettia plant that she was carrying. As Brady looked over Nicole's shoulder, he saw Kristen enter the square with E.J. As Kristen stared at Brady across the square, E.J. theorized aloud that Kristen was thinking of John. Kristen noted that she had a plan to convince John that she was not a threat to his family.

Across the square, Nicole informed Brady that she was headed to work. Lowering her eyes sheepishly, Nicole asked Brady to give Sydney a kiss if Brady saw her. Brady nodded and said that he would. E.J. and Kristen approached Brady and Nicole. E.J. introduced Nicole to Kristen. Staring at Kristen, Brady remarked that he had a proposal that he needed to discuss with Kristen. Smiling slyly, Kristen agreed to meet with Brady later.

After Brady left, Nicole asked E.J. to wish Johnny and Sydney a Merry Christmas for her. When E.J. asked why, Nicole noted that Johnny and Sydney were the only children she had ever been a mother to and would ever be a mother to. E.J. nodded, and he walked away without a word.

At the Horton house, Doug and Julie arrived first for the ornament hanging party. When Nick entered the house, Julie scowled at him. Julie told Nick that she admired him for "doing the right thing" but that she was concerned about whether Nick was ready for marriage. Nick's face lit up as he spoke of how much he loved Gabi. Convinced by Nick's countenance, Julie smiled and told him that she was glad he was happy.

Doug asked Jennifer how she was doing. Jennifer admitted that though she was happy to be surrounded by people who loved her, she missed J.J. "We have an amazing family and some wonderful friends," Jennifer said to Doug. When Lucas arrived at the house, he made awkward small talk with Jennifer. Lucas wished Jennifer happiness, and she wished him the same.

In the Kiriakis living room, Abigail took tins of cookies from Maggie and headed for the front door. Abigail ran into Daniel in the foyer, and she told him that if Daniel made Jennifer happy, then she approved of their relationship. After Abigail left, Adrienne, Justin, Sonny, and Will arrived at the Kiriakis mansion. While Sonny and Will chatted by the tree, Adrienne put her arm around Justin and commented on how wrong she had been about Sonny and Will. Smiling, Justin noted that many people had said that he and Adrienne had been wrong for one another.

When Brady arrived at the mansion, he presented Victor with a present from him, Bo, Justin, and Daniel. Victor opened the box and found the deed to his father's boat that he had searched for all his life. Touched, Victor called Bo to thank him for tracking down his father's boat. Daniel stared at Jennifer's phone number on his cell phone. "I'll see her soon enough," Daniel whispered.

At the Brady Pub, Rafe dropped by to drop off a present for Sydney. When Rafe behaved indifferently with Sami, she asked him what was wrong. Rafe remembered when he had watched through a window as Sami, E.J., and the children laughed together in the pub. Sami asked Rafe if he would attend mass at Saint Luke's. Rafe declined and noted that he was going to attend the service at his church. Rafe said hello to Johnny and Sydney, then he left.

E.J. and Kristen arrived at the pub. As Sami gazed across the room at Kristen, Kristen announced that she needed to leave for a meeting. Kayla entered the room from the back, and she coldly greeted E.J. Smiling, Sydney took E.J. upstairs to show him his Christmas present.

Brady met up with Kristen in the town square to talk "business." Kristen gave Brady a Caldwell print. Taken aback, Brady asked Kristen if she had known he had been looking for that print. Kristen thought about when she had checked Brady's computer and learned that he had been looking for Caldwell prints. Smiling at Brady, Kristen played dumb and noted that she'd had no idea that Brady was a fan of Caldwell's work.

Pleased, Brady leaned toward Kristen as if to kiss her. Kristen pushed Brady away. Smiling, Brady said that he longed for the day when he could openly pull Kristen into his arms in public. Brady apologized for not having a gift to give Kristen. His smile fading, Brady noted that he had talked to Daniel and that it was clear that Jennifer had not informed Daniel about Brady and Kristen's affair.

Brady asked Kristen to spend the night with him. Kristen smiled and nodded. After Brady walked away, Kristen grinned. "You are helping Santa give me the one present I really want: revenge," Kristen purred to herself.

When Nicole returned to St. Luke's, she finished setting up the church for mass. Nicole sniffled, and she fought back tears. Eric entered the church and complimented Nicole on the work she had done to decorate St. Luke's. As Eric talked, he realized that Nicole was upset. Nicole admitted that she had asked E.J. to wish the kids well for her. Eric invited Nicole to mass, but Nicole declined.

Nicole said that she had once believed in miracles, but that she realized that miracles were for other people. Eric informed Nicole that even during the worst of times in the Congo, he could hear the laughter of children. Eric noted that God did not want people to suffer, and he suggested to Nicole that she pray. Nicole joked that the only God she prayed to was a double martini.

Upset, Nicole returned to the town square and started to cry. Nicole pulled her phone out of her pocket and stared at the phone number for her brother Brandon. As Nicole sighed, she received a video text message. Nicole opened the message and found a greeting from Sydney. "Mommy Nicole, I love my doll. Merry Christmas. I love you!" Sydney said. Nicole was overcome, and tears fell down her face. She looked heavenward and thanked God.

Rafe, Gabi, Maggie, Victor, Sonny, and Will arrived at the Horton ornament hanging ceremony with tamales and cookies. Lucas crossed to Sonny and thanked him for joining the family. Rafe asked Nick about the wedding preparations, and he advised Nick to remember that marriage was not easy. Gabi wished Sonny a merry Christmas, and he walked away.

Hope joined the ornament hanging ceremony via video chat on her computer. The family hung their ornaments, and Jennifer placed Daniel's next to hers on the tree. Maggie saw Jennifer staring at Jack and Daniel's ornaments. Maggie told Jennifer that Daniel was thinking of her. Smiling, Jennifer texted Daniel "Merry Christmas." Daniel responded in kind. Jennifer picked up a photo of Jack and said, "Thank you for taking such good care of me."

After the various family gatherings concluded, everyone went over to St. Luke's for mass. Maggie, Victor, Jennifer, Doug, Julie, Lucas, Sami, Will, Sonny, Adrienne, and Justin sat in the pews. As Sami turned around to look at the door, she spotted E.J. and Kristen walk into the church. As Sami smiled, she saw Rafe enter the church behind E.J. Nicole walked in last.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

At the Kiriakis mansion, Daniel, Maggie, and Abigail happily video-chatted with Melanie. Jennifer was pleased to hear that Melanie had enjoyed her Christmas in Europe. As Daniel and Jennifer headed out the door for the hospital, each admitted that they hadn't gotten the other a Christmas gift -- and both were relieved, as well as looking forward to their date the following night.

Victor stuck his head in the front door and demanded to know if anyone was going to get in the car so Henderson could take them to the hospital. Jennifer and Daniel followed him out.

At Common Grounds, Billie visited with Chelsea via the video capabilities on their cell phones. Lucas entered just as Billie hung up, with Kate not too far behind him. Kate declared happily that she knew it was going to be a great year, because she had her children and her grandchildren -- and she'd just learned that she was officially four years cancer-free. Lucas invited Kate and Billie to join him at the Hortons' for Christmas. After some initial reluctance, both women enthusiastically agreed.

Brady and Kristen lay in her hotel room bed after having sex. Before they could begin anew, Chad and E.J. knocked on the door to wish their sister a merry Christmas. While the DiMera men cooled their heels in the hallway, Brady grabbed his clothes and ducked into the bathroom. When Kristen finally let her brothers in, she admitted that she hadn't had a good night's sleep.

Chad then presented Kristen with her Christmas gift -- a lifetime of her favorite beverage from Common Grounds. Kristen and E.J. gave Chad his very own DiMera corporate credit card. Kristen turned on her computer, and Stefano, clad in a Santa hat, appeared on the screen, warmly wishing them all a merry Christmas. Stefano declared that Lexie would be very happy to see her siblings in the same room, celebrating together and not arguing. He assured his children that he loved them very much.

After they'd all said goodbye and disconnected the video chat, Chad hurried off. E.J. announced that he had something special to give Kristen -- a pendant depicting the holy family that had belonged to Lexie. Kristen promised to cherish it, and hugged her brother affectionately.

In Horton Square, Eric and Sami watched with Sydney while Allie and Johnny rode around on their new scooters. Sami assured her brother that she was pleased to see that he seemed to be happy in his new life in the priesthood. She confided that she was still torn between Rafe and E.J., but Eric encouraged her to just relax for one day and enjoy Christmas.

When Brady arrived in the square a bit later, he found Sami and Eric engaging in some playful sibling rivalry. The kids ran up to hug Brady and wish him a merry Christmas. Sami noted that Brady had on the same clothes he'd been wearing at church the night before, but he denied it. Kristen sent Brady a text message just then, inviting him to return to her room whenever he could. Brady wished everyone a merry Christmas and then hurried off.

Sydney asked Sami if her penguin had been a gift from Santa or from Rafe. "I think it's a little bit of both," Sami replied. Sami had her phone out to call Rafe when E.J. entered the square. Johnny and Sydney ran up to him excitedly, and he scooped the kids up in his arms. While the older children played, E.J. chatted with Sami and Sydney.

E.J. somewhat awkwardly asked Sami if, for Christmas, he could get a little clarity "about this thing between the two of us." He pointed out all the ways they had been getting along, and asked, "Am I just imagining it, or do you feel something, too?" Suddenly Johnny shouted as he rode back between the benches, interrupting Sami and E.J.'s conversation before she could answer.

Once Johnny had ridden away again, E.J. told Sami that he would like to make -- and keep -- a New Year's resolution for them to be a family.

Back at St. Luke's, Eric knelt before the altar and thanked God for helping him get through his first Christmas Eve mass. "Thank you for bringing me home, for giving me the chance to do better," Eric continued. "Just help me do better as a priest, as an uncle, as a brother, a son. Most of all, please let my family find peace this year."

Brady returned to Kristen's hotel room, where she showed off the earrings that he'd gotten her for Christmas. They soon ended up back in bed together.

As Will let Sonny into the Horton house, Sonny raved about what a great Christmas Eve party the Hortons threw. They noticed that they were standing under the mistletoe, so they began to kiss, just as Doug and Julie entered from the kitchen and Nick and Gabi walked in from the living room. Doug and Julie seemed pleased that Will and Sonny had found love with one another, while Nick tried to hide his disapproving scowl.

Julie and Doug then headed out for the hospital, and Nick and Gabi started to follow them. Will stopped Gabi and Nick before they left to ask if the four of them could call a truce for at least one day. In the spirit of the season, everyone agreed, and the four left for the hospital.

At the hospital, Abe thanked Kayla for knowing that being there was just where he and Theo belonged. Abigail arrived and somewhat awkwardly wished Cameron a merry Christmas. Julie announced that it had been Doug's brilliant idea to have Jennifer read the Christmas story to the children, since it had always been her grandfather's job. Jennifer tried to decline, but Maggie asserted that Jennifer was the perfect person for the job.

After some convincing by her family, Jennifer reluctantly agreed to do it. They all shared memories of Tom and Alice sitting in the chair and reading to the children, but Maggie pointed out that there were many new memories to be made. Maxine produced the Bible for Jennifer to read from, and Jennifer took her seat in front of the children who had gathered near the nurses' station. She assured the kids that although she knew the hospital was the last place they wanted to spend Christmas, the best doctors anywhere were taking care of the children -- as they had recently taken care of Jennifer.

As the rest of the family arrived, Jennifer told the children how, when she was a girl, her own grandfather had read the Christmas story every year. She began to read the traditional Christmas tale, as the children listened with rapt attention.

Doug and Julie proudly watched Jennifer do beautiful justice to the age-old tale. When Jennifer had finished reading, Doug led the assembled children and adults in singing Silent Night. Then Victor, dressed as Santa Claus, appeared to hand out gifts to the excited children. Maggie beamed proudly at her husband. The Hortons, especially Abigail, congratulated Jennifer on a job well done. Daniel admitted to Jennifer, Abigail, and Maggie that he had only met Mrs. Horton a few times, but he had been impressed with her faith and spirit.

Maggie invited everyone back to Tom and Alice's for some more holiday cheer. A bit later, as everyone began to arrive, Julie was a bit taken aback to see that Kate and Billie had accompanied Lucas, but she assured them that Tom and Alice had always welcomed everyone with open arms. When the phone rang, Julie asked if Kate could answer it, and Bill was on the other end of the line. Kate greeted her ex warmly, and after wishing him a merry Christmas, handed the phone off to Lucas.

Julie chatted with Billie about how Chelsea was doing, and then led Billie into the kitchen to help with some cooking duties. When Daniel and Jennifer arrived, Jennifer was disappointed to have missed her father's call, but promised to get back to him soon.

Julie pressed Gabi to eat some doughnuts, and noted that if the baby were anything like its father, it would be able to eat dozens at one sitting. Will listened glumly from across the room. Maxine arrived at the party, so Jennifer introduced her to those she didn't know. As Daniel and Victor -- still in his Santa costume -- stood before the Christmas tree, Victor admitted, "I'll never get used to seeing my name on this tree." Victor hinted that Maggie had to have had a reason for putting Daniel and Jennifer's ornaments so close together.

Abigail showed up at Common Grounds, where Chad was working in the empty coffeehouse by himself. Hanging the "closed" sign on the door, Abigail announced that Chad was going with her to the Hortons', because no one should be alone on Christmas. Chad let her drag him out the door by the hand.

When Chad and Abigail arrived at the Hortons', Nick and Chad greeted each other warily, and Chad quickly wandered off. Nick demanded of Abigail, "Why would you bring him here?" Abigail retorted cheerfully that Chad was her friend, and Nick needed to get over whatever his problem was with Chad.

While Will watched, Lucas presented a gift envelope to Sonny. Sonny was thrilled and touched to find that Lucas had made a donation to PFLAG in Sonny's name. Will was moved when Lucas admitted that he'd even been going to the meetings.

Doug caught Maggie gazing thoughtfully at a photograph of Tom and Alice. Maggie whispered a request in Doug's ear, so he called the room to attention with a whistle. Maggie stated that she had just been thinking about Tom and Alice, and how proud they would be of their family at that moment -- carrying on the Horton family traditions with all of their loved ones.

Maggie began to tear up as she continued, "I was not a Horton by blood -- not even by name anymore -- but you know, that didn't matter to Tom and Alice. Family was family, whether you were born into it or not. Every year when this group gathers here, it gets a little larger, as it should. Not that we always got along... The important thing is that we put our differences aside, and find the common ground, and know we're all loved. We are and always will be family. And those near and far who can't be with us today, we wish you a very merry Christmas."

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Thursday, December 27, 2012
by Mike

At the Horton house, Abigail greeted Jennifer, who had agreed to go on a date with Daniel later that day. Jennifer admitted that she was nervous about the date, but Abigail insisted that everything was going to be all right.

Later, Hope, who had just returned from her trip, entered the house and greeted Jennifer and Abigail. Abigail asked about Bo, and Hope stated, somewhat evasively, that he had decided to spend a few extra days with Shawn, Belle, and Claire. After hinting that Hope needed to question Jennifer about a special date, Abigail excused herself and exited the house.

Jennifer tried to downplay the situation, stressing that her date with Daniel was just a lunch date, but Hope could tell that something was bothering Jennifer. Jennifer pointed out that a lot had happened since the last time that she had dated Daniel. "What if we had our chance...and that was it? What if there...is no getting back what we had?" Jennifer asked.

Hope advised that Jennifer needed to learn how to trust her own instincts. Hope added that it would be pointless for Jennifer to try to compare her past relationship with Daniel to her new relationship with him, because the two relationships were obviously going to be different. Hope pointed out that she had been in Jennifer's shoes before, and she assured Jennifer that everything was going to be all right.

Jennifer hugged Hope and thanked her for the advice. Jennifer gasped as she realized that she had left some important files at the hospital, and she excused herself so that she could retrieve them. Hope decided to accompany Jennifer to the hospital, where a hospitalized witness was waiting to be interviewed.

At the hospital, Daniel received a phone call from someone. Daniel said that he had managed to find the old date book that the caller had asked about. As Daniel searched for a confirmation number that had been recorded in the date book, he saw something that distracted him. Daniel recited the confirmation number and quickly ended the phone call, claiming that he had just been asked to check on a patient.

Maggie, who had overheard Daniel's end of the phone conversation, wondered why he had lied to the caller. Daniel sighed as he reluctantly handed the date book to Maggie, who observed that Parker had been baptized two years earlier. Daniel showed Maggie the photograph of Parker that Kate had given him earlier, and he admitted that he wasn't sure why he had been carrying the picture around in his wallet.

Daniel acknowledged that Maggie and Victor had taken several trips to Chicago to visit Parker, and he hesitantly asked her to tell him about the boy. "He's a lovely little boy. He's got the best smile. He loves to throw a ball -- any kind of ball. Victor thinks that he's got exceptional athletic ability -- I mean, not to say he's the least bit prejudiced or anything. Anyway...he is a delight," Maggie said with a smile.

Daniel blamed his nostalgia on the holidays, but Maggie wasn't convinced. Maggie said that her experience as a sponsor had taught her that it was never a good idea for a person to suppress their emotions. Meanwhile, Jennifer entered the waiting area and listened as Maggie suggested that it might be best for Daniel to cancel his date. Jennifer quickly walked away before Maggie or Daniel could see her.

Later, Daniel, who had refused to cancel the date, received a text message from Jennifer. Confused, Daniel informed Maggie that Jennifer had asked for a rain check on the date, citing illness as the reason for the cancellation. Daniel excused himself so that he could try to call Jennifer. After Daniel left, Hope, who had overheard a portion of his and Maggie's conversation, wondered who was sick.

Maggie explained that Jennifer was sick, but Hope insisted that there had to have been some sort of misunderstanding, since she had just seen Jennifer earlier that day. Hope mentioned that Jennifer had gone to the hospital to retrieve some files, and Maggie sighed as she quickly realized why Jennifer had cancelled the date. Without offering an explanation, Maggie rushed off, urging Hope to follow her.

Later, at the Horton house, someone knocked on the front door. When Jennifer opened the door, she found Daniel standing outside, holding a bouquet of flowers.

At St. Luke's, Eric showed Nicole a photograph of the first sunrise that he had seen in Africa. Nicole declared that the photograph was beautiful. "It's yours. It's my way of saying thank you for letting me talk out my feelings about what happened back there. I mean, thanks to you, I feel like I'm turning a new page. I owe you," Eric said.

Nicole wasn't convinced that she had done anything to deserve the gift, but Eric disagreed. Eric wished that he could do more to repay Nicole. "Well, if you really do mean that, uh, there is something else I'd like from you...and it would mean the world to me. Uh...I shouldn't have to tell you, of all people, that sometimes...the best gifts aren't from a store, and this one -- well, this one would be from the heart. Will you...be my date for New Year's Eve?" Nicole asked.

Nicole quickly clarified that the date would not be a real date. "I saw that Father Tobias was handling the late...midnight Mass, you know, for New Year's, so I thought, 'Yay!' You know, the two of us would be free, and -- and you know how New Year's can be, and I just didn't -- I don't want to be alone...dwelling on everything that I've lost, and...well, since you're practically my only friend, I thought it would be nice if the two of us could just...hang out together," Nicole explained.

Eric apologetically declined Nicole's request. "Oh. Okay. So...even though our non-date is just about two friends hanging out -- what, Salem is full of petty gossips who would pounce at the sight of their new priest out on the town with the world's biggest screw-up?" Nicole asked defensively. Eric assured Nicole that she had misinterpreted the situation, adding that he would be spending New Year's Eve doing volunteer work.

Eric suggested that Nicole could join him, and she laughed as she declared that he was crazy. Eric urged Nicole to reconsider, adding that he believed that it would be good for her to do some volunteer work. Nicole sighed with frustration and admitted that she was sick of hearing that phrase. "I am not your pet project. All -- all I want is to not be alone on New Year's. Is that too much to freakin' ask?" Nicole wondered.

Eric defensively stated that he was simply trying to give Nicole something to do, but she countered that he was trying to get her to do something that he wanted her to do. "God, you and your freakin' faith! You know what? I am not you, Eric, and just because I work here, that doesn't mean that I want to be molded into your image! You know what? I hope that you have a rockin' New Year's -- I do. And while you're there helping the homeless guys talk about their feelings, I -- maybe -- just maybe -- they can teach you how to have a little fun," Nicole said before storming out of the church.

At the Horton Town Square, Sami wondered why Rafe had been avoiding her recently. Rafe claimed that he had simply been busy because of the holidays, but Sami wasn't convinced. After citing a few examples of Rafe's evasiveness, Sami insisted that she deserved to know the real reason that he had been distancing himself from her. Rafe warned that Sami might not like the answer.

"I've decided I don't want to play games anymore," Rafe matter-of-factly stated. Sami seemed confused, so Rafe revealed that he had seen her hugging E.J. a few days earlier. Sami explained that she had been comforting E.J., who had been upset because he had just visited Lexie's grave, but Rafe seemed skeptical.

"I'm wondering if E.J. is getting the same mixed signals from you that I am...and I have a feeling that the answer is yes," Rafe said. Sami sighed as she silently recalled that E.J. had recently tried to talk to her about their relationship status. Sami started to walk away, impatiently stating that she wasn't going to let Rafe interrogate her, but he pointed out that she was the person who had started the conversation.

"Okay, fine. All right -- the truth is...I am...confused. I am conflicted. I feel like I'm -- I feel like I'm caught in the middle," Sami admitted. Sami said that, while she was glad that she and Rafe had been making an effort to repair their relationship recently, E.J. was still the father of two of her children. Sami added that E.J. had changed, but Rafe countered that if Sami really believed that, she was the person who had changed.

Sami reminded Rafe that he had asked her to be honest with him. "Okay, fine, then let's be honest. The truth is...I don't think that you really are all that conflicted, and you're in the middle because that's exactly where you want to be. Oh, yeah. You could have chosen one of us by now. Instead, you've got us both circling around you...because that's exactly what you want," Rafe theorized.

Sami denied Rafe's accusation, but he wasn't convinced. Rafe conceded that he couldn't force Sami to be honest with him, and he advised her to at least be honest with herself. Sami countered that she had been unaware that Rafe had been expecting her to sort out her feelings on his timetable, since they had never talked about the situation before.

After conceding Sami's point, Rafe reminded her that she wasn't the only person who had feelings, adding that he had sorted his out already. Rafe reiterated that he was sick of playing Sami's games, and he stated with finality that he was done. Sami started to protest, but Rafe refused to change his mind. Sami nodded and wondered what she and Rafe were going to do about Gabi's wedding.

Rafe reminded Sami that they were both adults, and he assumed that they would be able to handle the wedding accordingly. Rafe gave Sami a chance to assure him that she only wanted to be with him, but she took his offer as an ultimatum. "I feel like I have earned the right not to be in a competition for you -- especially not with him," Rafe said, referring to E.J. Before Sami could respond, Rafe walked away.

At the Brady Pub, Chad ran into E.J., who happily revealed that he had shared a magical moment with Sami during the holidays. Chad nearly choked on his drink when he learned that E.J. had asked Sami to be a part of E.J.'s family again. "You know, I wonder if you're letting the spirit of the holiday make you a little too optimistic. I mean, this is Sami we're talking about here," Chad pointed out.

Before E.J. could respond, Abigail entered the pub, and Chad stared at her with admiration. E.J. noted that it seemed like he wasn't the only DiMera who was hoping to rekindle an old romance. As Abigail started to approach Chad and E.J., Chad feigned ignorance and quietly warned E.J. to shut up. E.J. greeted Abigail with a kiss on the cheek and asked if she had enjoyed the holidays.

Abigail smiled at Chad as she stated that her Christmas had been better than she had expected it to be. E.J. realized that Chad and Abigail had spent the holiday together. Chad nodded and thanked Abigail for the invitation, adding that he had really enjoyed celebrating Christmas with her at the Horton house. Abigail grinned and excused herself so that she could order a cup of hot chocolate.

After Abigail left, E.J. started to tease Chad, who continued to downplay the situation. E.J. pointed out that Abigail was a very attractive young woman, adding that she and Chad had once been more than just friends. "So I should just get back together with her? Sure as hell would let you off the hook, wouldn't it?" Chad snapped.

E.J. claimed that he was sorry that Chad and Melanie's relationship had ended badly. Chad shook his head and started to walk away, but E.J. stopped him. E.J. advised Chad to accept the fact that Melanie was not going to be returning to Salem, adding that Chad needed to move on with his life. E.J. said that he had encouraged Chad to talk to Abigail because he wanted Chad to be happy.

E.J. suspected that, in addition to blaming him and Gabi for ruining Chad's relationship with Melanie, Chad had also been blaming himself. E.J. said that Chad was ultimately the person who was most responsible for ruining the relationship, and he urged Chad to forgive himself. After encouraging Chad to try to have some fun on New Year's Eve, E.J. abruptly exited the pub.

Later, Rafe entered the pub and ordered a cup of coffee. Rafe accidentally dropped a twenty-dollar bill on the floor, and Nicole quickly scooped it up. Nicole refused to return the money to Rafe, since she was the person who had found it. Rafe impatiently instructed Nicole to give him the cash, but she questioned his claim that he was the original owner of the money.

As Rafe and Nicole continued to argue about the cash, Nicole angrily admitted that she would pay twice as much money if it meant that she would be able to have a single conversation that day that didn't involve a moron who was determined to tell her what to do. Nicole slapped the cash against Rafe's chest and told him to keep it.

Rafe countered that he would pay three times as much money if it meant that he would be able to have a single conversation with someone who was actually willing to listen to him. Rafe crumpled the money and tossed it back at Nicole, urging her to keep it. After a stunned silence, Rafe and Nicole each cracked a smile and started laughing about their shared frustration.

Later, Rafe told Nicole about his earlier conversation with Sami. Rafe assured Nicole that he had meant everything that he had said to Sami. Nicole understood Rafe's frustration, since she had recently been forced to accept the fact that she had lost Daniel for good. As Nicole thought about her earlier argument with Eric, she suddenly realized that she and Rafe might be able to help each other.

Nicole told Rafe that the town square was going to be hosting a New Year's Eve party, and she invited him to join her. "This is absolutely not a date -- we are just two friends who are stuck with nothing to do on the one night of the year you absolutely do not want to be stuck with nothing to do," Nicole added. Rafe admitted that Nicole was right, and he agreed to be her date. Nicole predicted that it would be a night to remember.

At the Horton Town Square, Chad ran into Abigail, who jokingly suggested that he was following her. After a brief conversation, Chad wondered if Abigail had made any plans for New Year's Eve. Abigail said that she was probably going to spend the evening playing board games with Jennifer. When Abigail asked Chad the same question, he said that he hadn't made any plans yet, and he abruptly excused himself so that he could start his shift at the coffeehouse.

At Common Grounds, Sami ranted to Eric about her earlier conversation with Rafe. Sami admitted that she wished that she had smacked Rafe. Eric laughed and observed that Sami's holiday spirit had quickly vanished. Sami summarized that Rafe had reached the conclusion that she would never be able to make an unwavering decision.

As Sami insisted that Rafe was wrong, E.J. entered the coffeehouse. Eric abruptly excused himself, and E.J. took a seat at Sami's table. Sami wondered what E.J. wanted, and he replied that he had already answered that question the previous day. E.J. added that he was still waiting for Sami's response.

Assuming that E.J. was about to make the same observations that Rafe had made earlier, Sami interrupted and insisted that she was perfectly capable of deciding what she did and did not want. E.J. was pleased to hear that, since he needed her to make a decision about accompanying him to the New Year's Eve party that was going to be held at the town square. Sami smiled and said that she would be honored to join him.

Sami predicted that it would be a night to remember.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

At the Horton house, Daniel handed Jennifer a bouquet of seasonal flowers and asserted that he was fully aware that she was not sick -- he believed she was letting him off the hook because she thought he didn't want to go on their date. He declared that he wanted to go on the date, and he refused to take "no" for an answer. Jennifer explained that she'd overheard Maggie telling Daniel that it would be a good idea to cancel the date.

Daniel clarified that his mother was just being overprotective, because he'd just discovered that it was the anniversary of his learning that Parker was not his son. He continued that he'd discovered something new about himself -- he wanted to share his feelings about it with Jennifer. Daniel admitted that sometimes he wondered if he would ever get over losing Parker. Jennifer was moved and relieved that Daniel wanted to talk to her about it. When Daniel was clearly ready to change the subject, Jennifer announced that it was time to start their date, which Daniel promised to make very special.

At Sonny's, Will awakened from a nightmare in which Gabi and Nick were moving away from Salem with Will's son without even telling Will where they were going. Will woke up shouting, "Stop, please! Stop!" Sonny tried to comfort Will, but Will insisted that he didn't remember what the dream had been about. Since Sonny was running late for work, he asked to shower before Will, but invited Will to hang out with him at the coffee shop. Will declined, citing homework for a school paper. As soon as he heard the water running, Will sent a text message to Gabi that read, "I need to talk to you ASAP."

In Gabi's room above the pub, Nick and Gabi had obviously spent the morning making love. Nick then got a text message from Kate to remind him about his job interview. Nick replied that he would be there. Gabi was worried that Nick would miss their Pre-Cana session with Father Eric, but Nick assured her that the interview wouldn't take very long -- and besides, it was important to him to be able to provide for his new family.

After Nick had gotten dressed in a suit and tie, he kissed Gabi goodbye and left. Gabi then checked her phone and found the message from Will, so she quickly called him. He asked if they could meet to talk.

Soon, Will met Gabi at a private spot in the park. He told her about his nightmare and how he feared he would never have a say in his baby's life. Gabi reminded him that it was what he'd agreed to -- and it was what was best for the baby. She added that he had willingly taken her to the abortion clinic, and urged him to just let it go. "Every day, this baby gets more and more real to me, and I can't talk to anybody about it!" Will emphasized. Gabi firmly reminded him that it was for the baby's sake.

Will asked if Gabi honestly thought she could do what she was asking him to do. "Do you know how many times you've said we have to do what's best for the baby? What I think you mean is what's best for you and Nick. I do want what's best for the baby -- that means I am part of the discussion. And I'm not sure we're doing the best thing anymore," Will declared firmly but softly. He walked off, leaving Gabi there to fret.

At Common Grounds, Kate ordered coffee from Sonny while she waited to meet Nick. Sonny declared that the Horton family Christmas had been very special, and Kate grudgingly agreed. Nick arrived just then, so he and Kate got a table. Kate noted that if Nick were meeting with her, then he obviously hadn't accepted the offer from Countess Wilhelmina. Nick concurred, "I am fielding my options." Kate produced an envelope from her purse, and explained that it was the same generous offer that Billie had extended, only with a signing bonus.

As Nick made some notes in pen on the document, he explained that they were the things he would need to consider before deciding between Kate's company and Countess W -- like stock options, profit participation, and vacation time. Kate asserted that Nick needed a reality check, and reminded him, "You're an ex-con with a less than ingratiating personality. My company could use you, but I wouldn't push my luck if I were you."

Grinning smugly, Nick stated that he was going to email E.J. and Sami about Kate's offer and signing bonus and see what happened. Kate sarcastically declared that she looked forward to Nick accepting her offer so they could spend even more time together. Nick pointed out that Kate hated losing to Sami -- and Kate's offer wasn't even in the right ballpark. After Nick strode out, Sonny cautioned Kate that she would like Nick even less once she got to know him better.

Kate was pacing outside the pub and muttering to herself about what Nick could do with his offer when Will walked up and asked if she were all right. Kate admitted that she'd just had a very unpleasant meeting with Will's cousin Nick. "I know that your family is thrilled that he's out, but I'm telling you, I don't trust him," Kate declared.

After a meeting between Eric, Brady, Kristen, and Billie at St. Luke's to discuss the building of the new school, Eric walked Billie out -- while Brady stayed behind to plant a passionate kiss on Kristen. Kristen pushed him away, worried that someone would see them and tell John and Marlena. Brady suggested that the two of them get away for New Year's Eve, perhaps to Chicago, where they could be together and not have to worry about being caught

Kristen refused, so Brady handed her a file from his briefcase that she could pretend to have to pick up at his office later. As they were kissing goodbye, Eric returned from outside and nearly caught them, but they quickly covered. After Kristen left, Eric asked if he could speak to Brady about something important.

Eric asked if Brady would like to help out that night with the homeless men's group. Brady declined, since he wasn't sure what he was doing later. Eric guessed that a woman was involved, but Brady wasn't ready to talk about it yet. Eric noted that after the tough year Brady had experienced, he was glad that Brady's life seemed to be turning around. Eric asked if Brady had talked to John and Marlena about it, but Brady confided that he wasn't even sure how serious the relationship was yet. Brady added that he wanted something serious, but he wasn't sure what the woman wanted.

When Gabi arrived at the church for her and Nick's meeting with Father Eric, she went into the empty sanctuary and pensively gazed at the statue of the Virgin Mary on the altar as she placed her hand over her belly. Eric entered then and asked if Gabi were all right. Gabi claimed that it meant a lot to her to be getting married in the church, since she'd grown up going to the Church of the Holy Cross.

Once Eric learned that Nick was running a little late, he noted, "During our Pre-Cana sessions...I just felt there was something wrong, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I just felt that you and Nick weren't telling me something." He assured Gabi that anything she told him would remain confidential. "Is there something you want to tell me?" Eric gently asked Gabi. "Yes, Father. There is," Gabi replied resignedly.

Nick was sitting in Horton Square, waiting to hear back from Kate, when he got an alert reminding him that he was supposed to be at the church. He grabbed his things and hurried off.

As Daniel led Jennifer into the Brady Pub, he explained that the place had special meaning to him, because of the darts game the two of them had played long before. Jennifer and Daniel laughed at the memory. Daniel suggested that they could spend their date by eating cheeseburgers and playing another game of darts. Jennifer grabbed the darts from underneath the board and declared, "Game on!"

The game began badly for Jennifer, as she managed to hit the wall and a potted plant, but not the dartboard. Daniel wondered what had happened, since Jennifer had been so good at it the last time. Jennifer admitted that she had been furious with Jack during their last game, and quickly apologized for mentioning her late husband. Daniel assured her that it was all right for her to talk about Jack, and Jennifer reassured Daniel that it was also okay for him to talk about Parker.

Daniel teased Jennifer playfully about what a lousy dart player she was, so she rose to the challenge and threw another projectile at the board -- and missed again. Jennifer declared that she wasn't going to get mad about it, because she was so happy to be there on a date with Daniel. While Daniel was giving Jennifer some pointers on how to play better, he had to step away to take a phone call.

Just then, Anne, Jennifer's coworker from the hospital, walked in and made disparaging remarks about Jennifer being able to take time off just because her last name was Horton. Although Jennifer politely asked Anne to leave, Anne continued bad-mouthing Jennifer. Billie arrived and overheard one of Anne's more acerbic comments. "You know what? You sure sound like a bitch," Billie declared, and then shoved Anne in the direction of the door.

Using her anger toward Anne to take aim at the dartboard again, Jennifer landed three darts right near the bull's-eye. Daniel returned and admired her handiwork. Jennifer asked if he would like to return to her house for some dessert, and he happily accepted.

At the Horton house, Daniel noticed how his and Jennifer's ornaments were hung closely together on the tree. Jennifer informed him that Maggie had been responsible for that. Jennifer then confessed that she wasn't really in the mood for dessert; she had just wanted to be alone with Daniel. Just as the two were about to kiss, his cell phone rang.

After the quick call, Daniel reluctantly informed Jennifer that he had to return to the hospital for surgery. Although initially frustrated, Jennifer walked Daniel to the door and thanked him for a wonderful day. Daniel agreed that he'd had fun, as well. The two shared a lingering goodbye kiss in the doorway.

Over coffee in Horton Town Square, John suggested to Marlena that they go on a double date with Brady and whoever he'd obviously started seeing. Startled, Marlena promptly spilled her coffee. John guessed that Marlena believed that he was pushing Brady, that it was too soon after Madison's death for Brady to be dating again. John maintained that he'd sensed Brady had already moved on, and he thought New Year's Eve would be an informal way to meet Brady's new female companion. Marlena gently asserted that it would be better if they stayed out of Brady's business.

Kristen arrived in the square just then, and she hid behind the Christmas tree to listen in as John maintained that he merely wanted to be a part of Brady's life, and if Brady had moved on with a new woman, John just wanted to meet her. Before things became too testy between them, John's cell phone rang, so he stepped away to answer it.

Kristen immediately emerged from behind the tree and greeted Marlena with sarcasm. Kristen noted that she had just watched Marlena risk a huge fight with John just to keep from telling him about Brady and Kristen; Kristen threatened to throw it back in Marlena's face whenever she felt like it. Continuing to taunt Marlena, Kristen hinted that she was about to head over to Brady's office for an "exploratory meeting."

Marlena warned Kristen that what she was about to do was not because she had lost control or because Kristen had rattled her. "I'm going to do it just because I really, really want to," Marlena declared, and then slapped Kristen violently across the face. A stunned Kristen gasped and grabbed her cheek in pain. Each woman threatened to tell John why they had argued.

Kristen got the upper hand by producing the file she was going to return to Brady at his office -- which Marlena had gone "ballistic" when she'd learned about. Marlena grabbed the file and, disgusted, accused Kristen of using the church to cover up her and Brady's "sick little affair." Kristen derisively pointed out that everyone believed she had changed and that Marlena was the crazy one -- especially John. Kristen grabbed the file and sauntered off.

As John returned from taking his phone call, he ran into Kristen. They wished one another a happy new year. When Kristen noticed that Marlena was watching, she "thoughtfully" wrapped John's scarf around his neck so that he wouldn't catch a cold. Marlena fumed as Kristen walked off.

John spotted Marlena as she was angrily hustling out of the square, and he hurried to catch up with her. He asked what was wrong, and she informed him that she'd just seen him with Kristen. John defensively maintained that they had merely bumped into each other, and all Kristen wanted was peace. "The hell she does!" Marlena snapped. John groaned, "This is really getting old." Marlena agreed, and suggested that John go to Brady's office and invite him to join them for New Year's Eve.

Kristen was surprised when she arrived at Brady's office and found the place deserted except for him. Brady informed her that he'd let everyone go home. After Kristen handed him the file, Brady shoved everything off his desk. He picked Kristen up and placed her on it, and the two began kissing ardently.

John arrived outside Brady's office, gave a quick knock at the door, and let himself in. "Hey, Brady. You in the middle of something?" John asked -- and then he saw a naked Brady and Kristen bent over the desk.

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