In the design office at Forrester, Zoe was eager to give Zende a fashion show. He hadn't known she was so spontaneous. She asked if it scared him. "Not a bit," he responded. She was excited about showing him what an incredible designer he was. She said Ridge and Eric had an innate talent for knowing what looked good and felt good on a woman. Zende assumed she believed that he had that same talent. Zoe was sure of it.
Zoe thought the dress was so light and delicate that it would feel like she was walking on air. Zende replied that it was designed to feel as if the owner was wearing next to nothing. He wanted to bring Hope's message to visual life. He felt that women were fierce and strong, but also beautiful and sensual. It was empowerment meeting femininity.
Zoe decided to put on the dress. Zende promised not to peek. She said she'd hold him to it, even if he was tempted. She changed behind the dressing screen and strode around the room in the blue, nymph-like dress. Zende stated that it was beautiful.
Setting the mood, Zoe dimmed the lights and put on some soft music. She was taken with how the gown felt and moved. Zende requested that she walk for him. She pranced around in the dress and twirled. She asked what he thought. He called her "fantastique." She said she'd meant the dress. Pretending to be puzzled, he asked what dress.
Becoming serious, Zende stated that the dress was getting there. He had ideas for improvement. Zoe didn't know how to improve upon perfection. He replied that a dress was only as good as its model. He believed he'd enjoy working with Zoe. She promised that they'd rock the business, and she hoped he was ready for it.
Zende didn't think anyone would look half as good in the dress as Zoe did, and he felt she'd have to model all of his designs. That worked for Zoe. He said she was beautiful, talented, and smart, and she walked a fine runway. He decided that Carter was a lucky guy. Zoe looked away.
"Or not," Zende responded and asked what was wrong. Zoe revealed that Carter had asked her to live with him. Zende asked how she'd responded. She stated that she'd told Carter that she couldn't.
At the cliff house, Finn conveyed that he hadn't loved the circumstances of their first encounter, but he praised the day he and Steffy had met. Steffy chuckled about how banged up she'd been, but he said she'd still been the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. His words flattered Steffy enough to keep him around, and he joked that his evil plan was working.
Steffy was sorry that Liam had been out of line earlier. Finn said it would be nice if Liam were accepting, but Finn and Steffy did not need anyone's approval. Finn understood why Liam was concerned. Steffy asked if Liam had a reason to be and if she needed protection from Finn. Finn said it was only if Steffy needed protection from spending time with him. Steffy had looked forward to doing that. It was one of the reasons she'd been happy to complete rehab.
Just then, Thomas arrived with flowers for his sister and noticed that she wasn't alone. Sitting on a cushioned ottoman in front of the fireplace, Thomas was grateful for what Finn had done for Steffy and said it was great that Finn saw how special she was. Steffy called her brother sweet. She didn't know how she could not be with a man thoughtful enough to make sure her daughter had been there when she'd arrived. Thomas called it an impressive move.
Steffy mentioned that Ridge had been by earlier. Thomas was glad that Steffy was home and said he'd be there for anything she needed. She felt that he'd given her what she needed. "Support, confidence in my ability to make my own choices, chart my own course," she responded. Thomas replied that he was sensing Liam. Finn stated that Thomas was good.
Thomas admitted that he wasn't that good, and Hope had told him that Liam had been there. Thomas figured that Liam had given them a hard time. Chuckling, Steffy stated that Liam didn't approve of Finn. Finn quipped that he was crushed.
Shrugging, Steffy said Liam would be there, in and out of the house, because of Kelly, but Finn would be there, too. Thomas asked how she'd handle it. "I'm not. Liam's the one who's gonna have to change his attitude because Finn isn't going anywhere," she concluded. Finn said she had that right, and Steffy declared that Liam didn't get to police her personal life.
Thomas reasoned that Liam felt entitled to it because Steffy had let him weigh in for years, and Liam had Kelly to consider if a new man in Steffy's life set off alarm bells in his mind. Thomas understood it from a fatherly perspective, but he also thought it was great that Steffy was sticking up for herself. Steffy thanked Thomas for being reasonable.
Finn stated that he also got where Liam was coming from. Finn figured that he could handle Liam and was happy to be accepted by Steffy's brother. Thomas just wanted Steffy to be happy. Steffy conveyed that she was looking at the future in a way that she hadn't for a long time. Thomas noted that Liam would always care about her. Steffy said it was fine, and she got it.
"Bottom line -- Liam's married to Hope," Finn concluded. Thomas replied that he knew it better than anyone. Steffy expressed surprise that Thomas had found acceptance of Hope's marriage and commitment to Liam. Thomas was glad someone saw his effort. He was trying to make up for what he'd done, and he wanted the chance to move on with his life like everyone else had. Face darkening, he said he wanted to return to working on HFTF.
Steffy asked if Hope had a problem with it. Thomas described Hope as indifferent, which, to him, was worse. He said she wanted to work with Zende. Steffy offered to talk to Hope; however, Thomas felt he should be the one to fix the mistrust he'd created. Thomas wanted to minimize all the conflict because it wasn't good for any of the kids. Steffy said they just had to respect each other's choices. Thomas thought that was harder for some than others.
Steffy said it had been a long time since any man besides Liam had caught her eye. She'd been thinking it would never happen. "But then I woke up in the hospital, and there he was," she said. Steffy said Liam had to find a way to deal with it, and Finn had become a part of her life.
In Brooke's cabin, Liam wondered how long Donna would have the kids. Hope said it would be long enough for them to talk without little ears perking up. Liam was still processing what she'd said before. Hope said that was exactly what she wanted him to do. She wanted him to really think about what was motivating his animosity toward Finn.
Liam claimed he didn't have to think about it. He already knew that it was because Finn had been too busy trying to date his patient to notice what had been going on with her. Liam wondered what the flaw in his logic was. Hope said there might be a chance that he was jealous of Finn and his new relationship with Steffy. "And you haven't exactly denied it yet," she noted.
Liam was amazed that Hope thought that he was jealous of Finn. Liam claimed not to be, but Hope said it was looking that way to her. Surprised, he asked why she thought that. She asked what else she was supposed to think. "That Steffy's the mother of one of my children," he said. Hope replied that he didn't get to have a say in Steffy's personal life, and they weren't together.
Liam reasoned that he still endeavored to protect Steffy and Kelly. Hope asked what from. She thought the doctor was a wonderful guy. Liam didn't know about that after Finn had insinuated himself into Steffy's life. Hope pointed out that they were consenting adults. Liam posited that Steffy's judgment had been impaired by a disease that Finn had facilitated without noticing.
Hope told Liam that they hadn't noticed it, either, but Liam insisted that it had been Finn's job to notice. He claimed Finn had let Steffy fall down the rabbit hole due to his libido. Hope said that Steffy didn't blame Finn, who wasn't even Steffy's doctor anymore. Hope asked why they couldn't see each other.
Liam began motioning like he wanted to speak, but Hope went on, saying that Finn seemed like a good guy. Finn was funny and smart, and he made Steffy happy. Liam asked how he was supposed to navigate someone he didn't trust hanging around his daughter.
Noting that Steffy was a grown woman, Hope said Liam couldn't stop Steffy from seeing Finn. Hope felt that Liam should be happy that Steffy had found someone -- unless that was what really bothered him. Hope wondered if Liam had a problem with Steffy moving on with any man that wasn't Liam.
Hope conveyed that no one knew Liam's history with Steffy better than Hope. It was Hope's history, too. She acknowledged that Steffy and Liam shared a deep connection and a child, who would bond them forever. "But there still needs to be room to breathe," Hope said.
Liam was still stuck on the part where Hope said he didn't want Steffy to move on with another man. "Do you?" Hope asked. Liam replied, "Well, not Finn." Hope told Liam that he didn't get to choose that for Steffy. Liam asked if he was supposed to ignore that if Finn had been paying "the right kind" of attention, Steffy wouldn't have gotten hooked on pain pills.
Hope asserted that Liam didn't know that, and she said he knew Steffy could hide things when she wanted to -- even from people actively looking for it. "And, besides, that chapter's over now," Hope added. Liam asked if Hope didn't agree that the way Finn had handled things could speak to his character in the future.
Hope thought that Liam was trying to control Steffy's life, including what man she dated -- even if Liam didn't realize he was doing it. She asked him to step back and look at it objectively. She believed that even he would see that his reaction was inappropriate. "So, Liam, please, as your wife, I am asking you to take a step back and to let Steffy live her life," Hope said.
Liam asked if it was an ultimatum. Hope said she was just asking him to stay out of Steffy's personal life. Stuck on the "as your wife" part, Liam said his issue with Finn had nothing to do with Liam and Hope's marriage.
Hope noted that Liam shouldn't even be having issues with Finn anymore. It had already been established that Finn was no longer Steffy's doctor. Irritated, Liam pointed out that Finn had become Steffy's "advocate." Hope asserted that Steffy had asked Finn to be that. Hope told Liam that it didn't matter and was none of his business. Hope said Steffy and Finn could choose to be together if they wanted to be, and Hope didn't blame Steffy for wanting to be with Finn.
"But you continuing not to let her move on -- that is affecting our relationship," Hope said. Hope wasn't jealous or insecure. She knew that Liam loved her and that their marriage was solid. Hope strongly felt that if Liam continued to run after Steffy, trying to rescue her from a man she was happy with, it was not only disrespectful to Steffy, it was disrespectful to Hope.
Hope needed Liam to see that, especially given their history. She said that she was his wife, and they were raising children together. That was where his focus should be. That was where his attention should be. Hope, Beth, and Douglas needed and deserved it from Liam. Hope said she was asking Liam again to just let it go and let Steffy go.
Steffy and Finn exchange game-changing words
In the CEOs' office at Forrester, Charlie stopped in to personally congratulate Carter on his new position and to see how the new security card was working out. Charlie sensed that the job wasn't the only big thing in Carter's life, and he asked if there was some steam brewing between Carter and Zoe. Carter grinned.
Charlie said that if Carter ever needed advice, he could go to Charlie, "your love guru." Carter appreciated the offer, but so far, he felt that things were going fine with Zoe.
In the design office, Zoe talked to Zende about how surprised she'd been when Carter had pulled out a key and begun talking about a future together. It had been a sweet offer, and she'd felt bad about feeling thrown off by it. Zende noted that she and Carter had been seeing each other for a while. Even so, Zoe felt that there were many steps between that and living together.
Zoe revealed that there were important steps that she and Carter hadn't taken yet, but Carter was sure that it was what he wanted. Zende asked how Zoe felt. She said she'd begun to wonder if it was too soon, but she worried that waiting might make it too late. It had been very unexpected, and Zoe had a lot to think about. She asked what Zende thought she should do.
Zende didn't think he should advise Zoe on Carter. Zoe said she wouldn't ask normally, but she couldn't talk to her work friends about it. She didn't want people gossiping about Carter at the office, but she felt as if she could talk to Zende. Zende assumed it was because he was Carter's friend. Zoe indicated that she looked at Zende as her friend, too.
Zoe asked if she and Carter were rushing into things and if she was wrong to want to wait. Zende asked what Zoe was asking him and if she was asking him if she should stop seeing Carter. Zoe was sorry to put Zende on the spot. She just had a lot to consider, and a lot of things could change for her and Carter and change for her at work...and with Zende.
Zoe felt that she and Zende had a connection at work, and she didn't want to lose it. Zende didn't, either. He was grateful that Hope had put them on her line, and it had been amazing creatively. Agreeing, Zoe was leery of doing anything to mess it up -- like asking awkward questions about her personal life.
Zoe appreciated Zende listening but decided to let him work. As she started to leave, she picked up a guitar in a case. Zende was surprised that it was hers. She said it was a stress reliever, and she'd been working on a song during lunch breaks. He asked where she performed. Zoe replied that she didn't perform. She just liked writing songs. He asked if he could hear one.
Embarrassed, Zoe asked if Zende really wanted her to sing for him. She didn't consider herself a professional or anything. "Please..." he asked. Zoe warned him to be nice, and he said he was sure he'd be her biggest fan. He pulled out his phone to record it and to show her later how amazing she was.
Zoe sat on the stool and began strumming the guitar and humming. She began singing in a slightly raspy, slightly Billie Holiday-esque style. "Monday blends into Tuesday, and Tuesday blends into Wednesday...and we start again...and we start again..." she sang.
At the end of the song, Zende was blown away. Zoe said she hadn't sung for anyone in a long time. He said it was beautiful, and she grinned.
In Brooke's cabin, Liam said he'd never meant to disrespect Hope. Hope told him that he had to let Steffy live her life. "Her life with Finn," Liam uttered. Hope affirmed that was what it would be if Steffy wanted that. Not knowing what was so hard for Liam to understand, Hope asked what Liam expected to happen -- if he expected Steffy to stop seeing Finn at his behest or if Liam preferred for her to be lonely and pining for him.
Hope told Liam that, from where she was standing, he seemed to be jealous and unable to accept the fact that Steffy was moving on with another man. Liam claimed that his issue was Finn, not Steffy. Hope doubted Liam would have an issue with Finn if Steffy didn't have feelings for him. Liam stammered that it wasn't that.
Hope stated that she was asking Liam not to challenge the relationship. Hope noted that Steffy had gone through treatment and was in a really good place. Steffy had gotten there with the help of Finn, who was no longer her doctor. Hope felt that Steffy was lucky to have Finn, and he was motivating her to move forward with her life. Hope believed that they should all support that. She implored Liam to let Steffy move on "for all of us. For me."
Agonizing, Liam said that what Hope wanted him to do seemed impossible. "To stop looking out for my daughter and her mother?" he questioned. Hope said he had his own life to live and his family with Hope. Hope figured there was always going to be another man in Steffy and Kelly's lives, and Liam had to accept that.
Reluctantly, Liam replied that Hope was right; Steffy would do what she wanted to do, and it was beyond his control. He realized that he couldn't stop Steffy from dating Finn, and he couldn't choose whom Steffy brought into Kelly's life. That scared Liam. He claimed that it hadn't been jealousy. It had been the way Finn had entered Steffy's life by crossing the line as her doctor.
Hope replied that Liam had crossed the line in telling Steffy whom she could and could not date. Hope needed him to see it and understand that it made her worried about their family. Liam said their family would be fine. He didn't want to jeopardize what they had. They'd gone to "hell" and back together, and they'd made a home for Beth and Douglas. Liam told Hope that she was his bedrock, and he didn't want her to question his devotion to her and their family.
"So yes, I will...let go," Liam quietly decided. He was determined to be a good father to Kelly, but he wouldn't interfere in Steffy's relationship because he needed to focus on his own. He said that he loved Hope and was grateful for each day he got to spend with her.
At the cliff house, Steffy figured that Finn had won over her brother. She'd been surprised by Thomas' new attitude toward her situation with Hope and Liam. Finn assumed that Thomas was normally a protective brother. Steffy didn't feel she needed protection from Finn, and she wanted everyone to know that he made her very happy.
Finn stated that Liam could think whatever he wanted as long as it didn't change how Steffy felt. Steffy said it wouldn't happen, and Liam's tendency to worry couldn't compete with her stubbornness or Finn's thoughtfulness. She wished Liam could just accept it.
It still scared Steffy to think of how easily she could have lost everything, including Kelly. Finn believed he should have realized what had been happening to her. She disagreed, but he said he'd had a responsibility as her physician. Steffy countered that she'd had her own responsibility to Kelly, but the pills had consumed her and become the most important thing to her.
Finn replied that Steffy had gone to the edge, but she'd pulled herself back. Steffy believed he'd pulled her back, but he insisted that she'd fought her way back to a healthy future with Kelly. He wanted to be a part of it and do all he could to keep her and Kelly safe and happy.
Steffy conveyed that she, Liam, and Hope had been so wrapped up together that Steffy couldn't imagine life any other way. They'd stayed connected for the kids, like some kind of enlightened family, but at times, she'd felt like her mother, who'd lost her husband to Hope's mother. It was the same repeating pattern, according to Steffy. Steffy didn't want that for her daughter or for Kelly to grow up in a broken home. It was another reason Steffy had been taking the pills.
Finn was sorry it had gotten to that point. Steffy replied that, after getting help, she didn't feel that way anymore. She was stronger, and she believed it was because of Finn. The motorcycle accident had been the last straw and had pushed her over the edge. She hadn't really been dealing with her issues before that. She'd just tried to tough them out.
Steffy stated that Finn had pointed her in the right direction when he'd been caring for her in the hospital, at the cliff house, and at the clinic. He'd been pointing her toward something she hadn't felt in a long time -- peace. She was ready to move forward with a new perspective on her life and her future. She wanted Finn in it.
Steffy had wanted to tell Finn her feelings for a while, but she'd waited because she hadn't wanted him to think she'd just been expressing gratitude for his help. She was grateful, but she felt more than that. "Finn, I love you," she expressed. Readily, he replied that he loved her, too.
Steffy and Finn kissed. Kelly began calling for Steffy, and Finn and Steffy chuckled after the interruption.
Thomas' feelings for Hope come to a head
At Forrester, Charlie sung the praises of a company that developed a shoe that could sense the present of chewing gum. Carter was amused with Charlie's exuberance, but politely passed on getting more information about the company or its product. Charlie then changed the topic to romance and said that he'd always be available should Carter need any advice on his "new first mate, Zoe Buckingham." Carter seemed surprised that Charlie was offering love advice. Charlie then relayed his tips for a healthy relationship that included always listening and always realizing that you're 100% wrong.
Carter interrupted before Charlie could get to his third piece of advice and stated that he didn't need any advice. In fact, Carter told Charlie that he had a very big night planned for Zoe. Charlie assumed that Carter was about to ask Zoe to marry him.
At the cliff house, Steffy mused that Finn was trying to "really get in good" with Kelly because the doctor had read the infant's favorite bedtime story three times. Both agreed that saying "the L word" was a big step for both of them.
Liam showed up and promised he was not there to cause more trouble. He wanted to apologize. Liam started his apology by reiterating his belief that Finn had crossed the line with Steffy. Steffy quickly noted that the "apology" did not seem much like an apology. Liam said that his opinions had been based on Finn being Steffy's doctor -- and since he was no longer Steffy's doctor, that required Liam to change his perspective.
Liam told Steffy that he supported her decision to be with Finn. "You deserve this -- to be appreciated, taken care of... loved," Liam added. Liam then promised that he would back off because it was time that he allowed Steffy to live her life.
Steffy was surprised to hear what Liam had said. Finn asked what had changed Liam's mind. "Hope, what else?" Liam said with a smile. "I may be a well-meaning jerk, Steffy, but I'm still a jerk," Liam said. Finn disagreed with Liam's jerk label. Finn said he understood because Liam had been looking out for Steffy and Kelly. Liam then stated that his role was Kelly's dad -- nothing more. Steffy thanked Liam for what he'd had to say.
Later, Finn told Steffy that he was surprised by how quickly Liam had come around. Finn told Steffy that he'd meant what he'd said -- he wanted to devote himself to loving and caring for Steffy.
While talking with Hope, Thomas said he'd found a coloring book in the back seat of his car and surmised that Douglas had left it there. Thomas said how much he enjoyed spending time with Douglas and promised to never take that time for granted ever again. The conversation shifted, and Hope mentioned that Liam was on his way to see Steffy. Thomas thought that was a bad idea, but Hope surprised him by saying that the visit would be different. Hope explained that Liam realized that he had to take a step back. It was important, she explained, that she, Liam, and Steffy were able to coexist because their children needed that. Hope likened that to how she, Liam, and Thomas would all need to move forward. Thomas promised to prove that he had changed.
After Hope left the office, Charlie wheeled in a heavy box. After claiming that he'd "pulled some fat," Charlie limped away.
Zende said he was reaching out to a music exec that he knew. Zoe got quiet, and Zende wondered if he had embarrassed her. Zoe wasn't immediately sure how she felt. She paused for a moment before stating that she was enjoying that she felt "so comfortable and confident" around Zende. As the two made subtle overtures to one another, Zoe told Zende that she was a girl who liked to keep her options open. Zende stated that he believed Zoe could be a future superstar in the world of music.
Zoe told Zende that she wanted to get to know him better. Zoe asked Zende how he had accomplished so much at such a young age. Zende chalked up a lot of his success to luck. The rest, he said, was from being a Forrester. Asked what he dreamed about, Zende responded, "I dream about you." Zende waited a moment before clearing up his statement. He dreamed about all of the beautiful models that would wear his clothes. Zende told Zoe that he found it easy to talk to her. He remarked that it reminded him of how easy it had been to talk to Nicole, but he stopped himself before he said Nicole's name.
Zoe confided in Zende that she had not thought her relationship with Carter would progress as fast as it had. Zende wondered if Zoe was having second thoughts about Carter. Zende told Zoe that Carter was lucky "to have a woman as smart, beautiful, and talented" as her.
Liam returned to work and told Hope that he was grateful for how she'd helped him realize what was important. He also apologized for having made Hope feel that she wasn't valued. Hope told Liam that she was happy that things were going back to normal.
Thomas paced around his home, asking himself why he had taken the box home with him. He carefully opened the box and muttered that the item in the box was "so lifelike, it's creepy." Inside the box was a mannequin head that was the spitting image of Hope.
Zoe is enchanted by the romantic evening Carter planned
In the design office, Zoe changed back into her regular clothes. She told Zende that she wasn't so sure about her decision not to move in with Carter. Zende figured that she was having second thoughts. She felt that Carter was smart, successful, and kind. She just hadn't expected him to ask her to move in with him so quickly. She asked if Zende thought it was too fast.
Zende said that every relationship had its own timeline. Zoe replied that he gave good advice, and that was why she wanted to know if he thought she should move in with Carter. Zende reasoned that only she knew what was best for herself.
Zoe remarked that it was a big decision and a big statement. Part of her wanted to go for it, but sometimes, she wasn't so sure. She guessed she was waiting for some kind of sign. Zende said it wasn't always that obvious, and she just had to do what made her happy.
Carter arrived. He hoped he hadn't interrupted anything. Zoe said he hadn't. He asked how the HFTF meetings were going. Zende said they were plugging away. Carter looked forward to seeing Zende's designs on Zoe. Zende said he did, too, and he and Zoe exchanged glances.
Zende congratulated Carter on buying Ridge's loft. Carter said he hadn't spent much time there, but he was hoping it would change after that night. He asked if Zoe was free that night because he had a special evening planned. Zoe accepted the invitation, and Zende guessed that it wasn't a group thing. Carter apologized, and Zende wondered who wanted to be the third wheel, anyway. He bade them a good night, and they left.
Later, Carter and Zoe arrived at the loft. Carter said it was all still sinking in and starting to feel like home to him. Zoe was honored to be the first and second person he'd invited into his home. He added that she'd been the first one he'd told about his promotion. She indicated that Forrester was lucky to have him, and so was she. She was proud of him and said his achievements couldn't have happened to a greater guy. Carter felt lucky to share it all with her.
Later, Carter and Zoe sat in the candlelit loft, having her favorite wine, Chardonnay. Carter had hired a private chef and said dinner would be "shortly." She was surprised that he'd gone all out. He was okay about the fact that she wasn't ready to move in, but he wanted her to be at home there. She asked why he was so sweet to her, and he said he was treating her the way she deserved to be treated. Zoe said he made her feel very important.
Carter told Zoe that she was special to him and his good luck charm. Zoe agreed that she was because wonderful things had happened to him since they'd started dating. He believed they'd been drawn together for a reason, and he thought it might be to walk through that crazy life together. He foresaw good things for them and hoped that night could be the beginning of their future together. The two kissed and gazed at each other.
In the CEO's office, Hope apologized to Liam for her last-minute deadline at the end of the work day. Liam didn't mind but mentioned that he'd promised Beth and Douglas a puppet show that night. Hope wished to play the princess, but Liam said Beth already had that role. Hope guessed it made her the queen, and he replied that she'd always be his queen.
Hope was grateful for the way Liam always included Douglas, especially given Liam's feelings about Thomas. Hope didn't really trust Thomas, either, but figured they had to give him credit for allowing Douglas to be a part of their family. Liam loved having Douglas as part of the family. Hope said Douglas looked up to Liam and was a great brother to the girls.
Liam believed that he and Hope were lucky to have Douglas. Liam enjoyed treating the boy like one of his own. Liam was glad Thomas had given Hope shared legal custody, but Liam wasn't glad Thomas was a part of that package. Hope stated that Thomas really was making an effort. For Liam, it would take some time to sing Thomas' praises, and Thomas still creeped Liam out.
Hope reasoned that Thomas had seemed a little better and was trying to prove himself. Liam was amazed by how forgiving his wife could be. "I did not say that I have forgiven Thomas," Hope corrected. Liam conceded the point but believed that she did always see the good in people -- even if it was buried beneath a psychological landfill.
Hope claimed she did it for Douglas' sake. In her view, it would be unfair to Douglas for her to completely give up faith in Thomas, who'd always be a part of Douglas' life. The thought of it was overwhelming and terrifying to Liam, but he figured there had to be a tiny ounce of self-awareness within Thomas that had moved him to give Hope custody.
Liam was unwilling to concede anything further about Thomas. Liam vowed to stay vigilant and urged Hope to do the same. Hope believed that Thomas had accepted that they would have nothing but a purely professional relationship outside of caring for Douglas. Liam said it did appear as if Thomas had abandoned trying to find ways to have Hope to himself.
Hope let Liam know that Thomas was eager to return to work on HFTF and prove himself as a designer. Liam hoped that was all Thomas wanted. Hope asserted her belief that Thomas had moved on. She said Thomas knew how happy she was and knew she wouldn't give it up.
Zende arrived and enthusiastically greeted Liam. Zende hoped he hadn't interrupted anything. Hope said she and Liam were married and saw each other all the time. Liam revealed that they'd been talking about their favorite subject, Thomas. Zende guessed Liam wasn't a fan. Liam said he wouldn't bad-mouth Zende's cousin, but Zende replied that he understood. In Zende's view, things with Thomas didn't always meet the eye.
Zende admitted that he had his issues with Thomas, who probably wasn't thrilled that Zende was even in town. He felt that Thomas resented him for some reason and resented his closeness to their grandfather. "Now that I'm designing for Hope for the Future..." Zende reasoned. Liam advised Zende not to let Thomas get to him.
Hope stated that Zende's designs were uniquely his and exactly what her line needed. Zende appreciated that and stated that he wasn't saying that Thomas was a gifted designer. Liam called Thomas a tortured designer. Hope said Thomas had his demons but was working on them. Liam replied that he was trying to believe it.
Zende hoped that, as cousins, he and Thomas would connect and start getting along better. Liam advised Zende to keep his expectations low because Thomas was delusional and incapable of change, especially where Hope was concerned. Liam said that Thomas was obsessed with a woman he'd never have.
In Vinny's apartment, Thomas looked at the realistic-skinned mannequin of Hope, which was still packaged in the shipment box. He was amazed at how lifelike it was. Later, he posed the doll, dressed in a shirt and skirt, on the sofa and became awed by the design and craftsmanship. To him, the eyes and lips were just like Hope's.
Scoffing, Thomas shook his head and wondered what he was doing. Again, he marveled at how lifelike the Hope doll was, but then he told himself that it was a piece of plastic. He decided that he needed to get the doll back to Forrester. As he went to collect it, a female voice said, "Wait. I don't want to go back in the box. I want to stay here with you."
Thomas told himself that he was hearing things. When he went to grab the doll, he heard it implore him not to lock it up in the box again. Thomas checked the back of the doll's head for something. Not finding anything beneath its hair, he became determined to take the doll back to work before anyone noticed that it was missing.
The doll asserted that it didn't want to go. It said it had been away from him for too long. It wanted to be with him, and it knew that he wanted to be with it, too. Thomas told the doll that it wasn't real. He said it was a mannequin.
"No, I'm not," the mannequin replied. Thomas stepped forward to attempt to move it again, but it said that "this" was what they'd been waiting for. It said they were finally alone together. It urged him to take it back the next day. Thomas said the doll could not stay the night. It insisted that it wanted to be with him, and it knew he wanted to be with it, too.
Thomas asked himself what was wrong with him.
Zende gets some unexpected advice from Julius
In the CEO's office in the evening, Hope was alone and still working when Brooke arrived to invite her daughter to dinner. Hope seemed preoccupied, and Brooke asked what was on Hope's mind. Hope said that it was about Thomas. Brooke leerily asked what had happened.
Holding up a design sketch, Hope revealed that Thomas had made it. Brooke thought it was good and asked what line it was for. Hope explained that Thomas wanted another chance. Brooke assumed Hope believed that the chance was with HFTF, but Brooke asserted that Thomas really wanted another chance with Hope.
Hope explained that she felt safer with Zende as part of the mix, and she liked the idea of having a team of designers. She said they'd been parenting well, and she really believed that if something had been going on, she'd have seen it by then. She sensed that Thomas was on the right path. Brooke quipped that any path away from Hope was good with Brooke.
Brooke wanted Thomas to get better for Hope and Ridge's sakes, but it was hard to believe Thomas due to his past. Hope said she was remaining vigilant. Brooke was glad to hear it because there still might be a chance that Thomas was still obsessed with Hope. Brooke asked what Liam had to say, and Hope said Liam shared Brooke's concerns.
Brooke reasoned that Thomas' manipulations could be subtle, and she advised Hope to tell Liam how Thomas had been acting daily. Brooke figured Liam might pick up on things that Hope might miss. Hope said it was also possible that Thomas was committed to becoming a better person. Brooke advised Hope not to forget all the things Thomas had done. Hope claimed that those things were always in the back of her head, and Thomas knew it. It was the reason he wanted to prove that he was in a stable, healthy place.
Brooke said that the problem was that, no matter how hard Thomas tried, they'd all be wondering what was going on in his head. It was a shame, and she felt bad for him. Correcting herself, she said she felt bad for the boy Thomas had been and wished they could go back in time to steer him in the right direction. Hope asked what Brooke thought had gone wrong.
"Having Taylor as a mother," Brooke answered. Apologizing, she guessed she shouldn't say that. She guessed there were many things that could have happened, and once someone like Thomas was psychologically unbalanced, she wasn't sure that person could recover.
In the design office, Zende looked at a sketch he'd done of a model that looked like Zoe. As he thought of her, Julius arrived, guessing that Zende was reviewing one heck of a dress. Julius recalled that Zende had said he saw Nicole in every design he did. Because the two of them were split up, Julius assumed it was hard for Zende to find his inspiration.
Julius noted that Zende had left Paris very quickly. Zende claimed he'd meant to reach out. He acknowledged his promise to take care of Nicole and make her happy. Julius believed his daughters could take care of themselves, but he and Vivienne hadn't taken Nicole and Zende's separation easily. Zende claimed that he'd always love Nicole and wanted the best for her.
Julius said he'd always protect his daughter, but no matter what happened between Nicole and Zende, Julius would always be proud to call Zende his son. Zende humbly thanked Julius. Julius said that the Avants never turned their backs on each other and were always connected, even if apart. Julius thought Zende had a good heart and wanted the best for Nicole.
Zende stated that Julius had been a great father-in-law with words of wisdom. He was happy that he could still go to Julius for advice. Julius remarked that he had time right then -- if that was what Zende was hinting at. Zende thanked Julius, but he said that some topics were off-limits. "Dating already, huh?" Julius assumed.
Zende claimed that wasn't it. Julius was sure a handsome man like Zende got plenty of female attention. Julius repeated that he was there for Zende if he wanted to talk about it. Zende said it was complicated. He wasn't dating, but there was a woman there at Forrester. Julius joked about complicated relationships then admitted that the conversation was awkward because he'd wanted Nicole and Zende's marriage to work out.
Zende asserted that he wouldn't have married Nicole if he hadn't thought they'd make it. Julius knew it and said Zende had been loving and supportive during the breakup. Julius said that if Zende and Nicole had agreed to move on with their lives, then Zende should do it, even if it was complicated. Zende questioned hurting someone else who was just as interested in the woman as he was.
Julius asked if Zende should step aside to give some other guy a shot. Julius asked if the other guy would be more hurt if he invested time and emotions into a woman better suited for Zende. Julius wasn't saying that the woman was, but Julius asked if Zende owed it to himself and Zoe to find out. Julius decided to leave, but he hoped he'd given Zende something to think about.
Julius left, and Zende text-messaged Zoe. He instructed her not to move too fast with Carter. Instead, Zende wanted her to make up an excuse to leave Carter's place and meet him at the office. As Zende waited around, he watched the video of Zoe playing her song.
At Carter's place, Zoe complimented the meal she and Carter were having. Carter said he wasn't the best cook, but he knew how to hire one. He was glad she'd liked it because he planned on taking many nights to show her what she meant to him.
Zoe had no room for dessert, and Carter suggested she have it later if she was staying a while. She said she had nowhere to be, and he decided that meant she could have more wine. She wondered why he was so good to her. He asked if she hadn't heard him say how much she meant to him. She said he meant a lot to her, too, but she hadn't had much luck with men.
Zoe recounted her problems with Thomas, who'd used her, and Xander, who'd left another country to get away from her. It felt different with Carter, and she didn't know what to make of him. He told her that thinking was overrated, and feelings were the only things that mattered. He knew exactly how he felt about her.
Carter had admired Zoe from afar. He hadn't thought he'd have a chance with her because she'd been unavailable. He said that the time was right, and he should know after presiding over so many weddings. He'd completely fallen in love with her. Carter said he loved Zoe. He needed her to know that he wasn't her father or Xander or Thomas. Carter wouldn't abandon her. He wanted her by his side and in his bed. He said the rest of their lives could start that night.
At Vinny's place, Thomas told the mannequin that they weren't having that conversation -- because mannequins couldn't have conversations. He wished he'd left that thing at the office. In a pseudo-calm Hope voice, the mannequin said he knew where it should be, and that was with him. It implored him to let it stay.
Thomas asked the Hope doll if it really wanted to stay there. He yelled that it couldn't want anything because it wasn't alive. The Hope doll replied that she was alive if he said she was. He asserted that it was not alive, and it was going in the box and back to Forrester. The Hope doll reasoned that it would be simpler to take her back with him in the morning. Thomas said Hope was probably looking for "you," but the doll replied that it wasn't so.
Thomas told the doll that it couldn't possibly know that. "Of course, I can. I know because I am her," the Hope voice said. Thomas got in the mannequin's face and called it a prop. The mannequin didn't know what was so hard to believe and said there was nothing to be afraid of. Thomas agonized about hearing voices, and it told him to stop denying that she was right there.
Thomas wouldn't believe it, but the Hope doll persisted in trying to convince him that it was Hope and that he should let her stay where she belonged. The doll was happy to be alone with him and said it should have been that way all along. As he gazed over its lips and chest, it asked if he'd missed it. "Yes," he uttered. It said it had missed him, too.
Thomas asked why "Hope" was saying those things, and he wondered about Liam. "What about him?" the Hope voice replied. She called Liam Mr. Flip-Flop. She asked if Thomas really thought she wanted Liam when she could have a man who'd shown her many times what she meant to him.
Thomas told the doll that it needed to leave. In a pouty voice, the doll begged him not to make it leave. It was "so lonely" and wanted to stay the night. It could tell that Thomas was, too, and that he needed it as much as it needed him.