At the Brady Pub, Nicole squirmed as Xander continued talking to Eric -- and, the whole time, Sami sipped Champagne as a way of hiding a triumphant smirk from the other partygoers, even though they were all focused on the drama that was unfolding. "Nicole's been cheating on you, mate -- she shagged another man," Xander elaborated, annoying Eric, who refused to believe the accusation.
"Why don't you get out -- before I throw you out," Eric advised Xander -- and Roman, John, and Philip all quickly volunteered to help with the task. "You know, it really is bloody decent of you to finally fly back [to Salem] just in time for your first wedding anniversary -- I know for a fact that your wife has been very lonely in your absence. You must have a screw loose to leave a woman like that all alone for this amount of time," Xander taunted Eric, staying put. "Excuse me, miss..." Xander said with a wink while reaching past Sami to seize a glass of Champagne. "Ugh!" Xander grumbled after gulping down the Champagne.
"This stand-up [routine] is embarrassing -- do you think he's drunk?" Chloe whispered to Brady, who just shrugged in response. "Poor Eric looks like he's been punched in the face... [And] the look on Nicole's face -- she's scared of something..." Sami whispered to E.J. -- and Brady, Chloe, John, and Marlena all seemed to hear the comment, despite the fact that it had been uttered quietly.
"Refill, mate?" Xander begged Roman, who ignored the request. "Well, the least you could do is refill Eric's glass -- all of a sudden, he's having a really bad night..." Xander suggested. "Oh, but he doesn't drink, does he?" Xander remembered. "Maybe he'll start again when he hears the rest of what I have to tell him -- including the name of the man who had sex with his wife!" Xander mused -- and Sami reacted to the point with just the slightest hint of concern. "It was me!" Xander bragged, ignoring Eric and Nicole's overlapping demands for silence. "And let me tell you -- she loved every minute of it," Xander stressed.
"[After] the things that you've done to Nicole in the past, you're the last man on earth she'd ever want to sleep with," Eric insisted. "Are you really gonna let him talk to me like that after I was there for you the night when he called to say he was staying in Africa for another three months?" Xander challenged Nicole. "I was having a nice drink at the bar [here], and she comes barreling in and starts knocking them back like there was no tomorrow --" Xander began to elaborate. "Do you remember that, Dad?" Eric asked. "No, I don't," Roman replied. "Well, that's 'cause you weren't tending bar [that night -- which explains why] the drinks weren't watered down," Xander clarified. "Anyway, after hours, we were back at the Salem Inn -- [and] we were good and drunk by then, [but] we went up to my room for another drink, and one thing led to another," Xander finished explaining with a shrug.
"You must have been hallucinating -- drunk or sober, Nicole would never be alone in a room with you," Eric maintained. "You'd been gone for a very long time, and Nicole was very needy, [and] I was there for her in her hours of need...[but] I understand why you'd have a hard time believing me, so maybe you should ask your sister Samantha -- she knows what happened --" Xander countered. "Don't put me in the middle of this!" Sami protested. "Oh, don't play dumb -- you said you saw Nicole and me going into the Salem Inn," Xander responded, forcing Sami to back up the claim then clarify that the night in question had been the night that Kristen had inadvertently forced Brady's vehicle off a road. "That's why I didn't tell anyone [at the time] -- Brady was in critical condition," Sami explained.
Nicole argued that Sami was leaving out a crucial part of the story. "I got my own room," Nicole stressed. "The inn doesn't have any record --" Sami argued. "I explained that -- I was so out of sorts [that] I used my Basic Black corporate card, [and] that is why there is nothing in my name!" Nicole countered. "Which I was just about to explain to Eric, if you hadn't jumped down my throat..." Sami innocently responded. "[Although] I do think it's odd that you happened to carry around the corporate receipt in your purse to show me -- I don't know, almost as if you were covering your tracks..." Sami casually added. "I told Nicole to hold on to the receipt...[in order] to reimburse the company," Brady helpfully interjected, annoying Sami, who was clearly skeptical but didn't get a chance to respond to the claim because Xander spoke up first.
Xander suggested that Brady was lying as a way of making up for having kept Nicole and Eric apart in the past. "You know, as well as I do, that Nicole and I did get drunk at that bar, and then we went up to my room at the Salem Inn and drank some more..." Xander challenged Brady. "But she wasn't so drunk that she didn't know what she was doing!" Xander suddenly thought to clarify. "She was furious at Eric for leaving her all alone with his niece and those two little brats for three more months, and she wanted to get back at him -- and what better way to do that than to jump into bed with me, where I showed her a damn good time..." Xander continued. "The truth is, Eric, she just couldn't get enough of me!" Xander concluded, earning a punch from Eric.
"I get it -- no man likes to hear how much his wife liked being with another man...especially when it's the truth," Xander conceded after recovering from the blow, prompting Brady and Philip to grab Eric before another punch could be thrown -- and prompting Roman and John to finally make good on their earlier offer to forcibly remove Xander from the pub. "Hey, ask your wife why she hired me at Basic Black -- she had to; it's the only way I'd keep quiet about us having sex, mate!" Xander shouted before John and Roman managed to shut and lock the front door of the pub.
"Well, this night didn't go the way it was supposed to..." Chloe whispered to Brady. "Not quite," Brady agreed. "How did Xander think he could get away with that? Nicole would never let him touch her!" Chloe protested -- but Brady didn't respond. "Wait -- do you know something? Did Nicole hire Xander to keep him quiet?" Chloe challenged Brady. "Xander doesn't want Nicole to be happy, and he would do anything to destroy her marriage -- and I'm not gonna let him get away with it," Brady answered before saying goodbye to Chloe then rushing out of the pub. "Where's Brady going?" Philip asked while approaching Chloe. "I don't know...but I have to talk to Nicole," Chloe replied before walking away from Philip.
"I should have thrown that bastard out of here before he opened his lousy mouth," John whispered to Marlena. "I'm not sure that would have changed anything," Marlena argued. "What do you mean?" John wondered. "You could see the pain that Nicole was in?" Marlena responded. "You think she was in pain 'cause...what, she laid down with that jerk?" John translated. "I think if she hadn't done that, she would have denied it -- vehemently," Marlena confirmed. "She did," John protested. "[No, she] wasn't that convincing -- she was worried, she was stammering... At least, that's my take on it," Marlena explained. "What the hell do I know? You're the shrink, so I'm guessing that your take is probably pretty accurate," John acknowledged. "I'm hoping I'm wrong...but, in this case, I think, for once, Xander was telling the truth," Marlena maintained.
Sami went to get more Champagne while everyone else was focused on Eric and Nicole -- then suppressed another triumphant smirk when E.J. approached a short time later. "Why didn't you tell me that you suspected Nicole of cheating on Eric?" E.J. wondered. "I didn't want it to be true -- I mean, look, I don't like Nicole, but Eric loves her, and I wouldn't want her to break his heart...and besides, I just can't believe that Nicole would cheat on someone as honorable as my brother," Sami claimed. "Being far apart is difficult for any marriage -- even if the distance is only emotional, [like ours was]... I just thank God that you hung with me [and] didn't turn to another man -- I would have lost my mind..." E.J. declared, making Sami squirm.
Chloe tried to comfort Nicole while Roman was tending to Eric's injured hand. "Eric knows what kind of man Xander is -- he's not gonna believe him," Chloe predicted. "I think he kind of does," Nicole countered as Eric approached. "You hate Xander -- why would you hire him at Basic Black?" Eric wondered. "Because of me," Chloe answered for Nicole before starting to explain to Eric that Basic Black had been understaffed recently -- and that Xander had previously worked for Gabi Chic and had therefore been in the unique position of being able to provide valuable information about the company's main competitor. "She hated working with him, but...you know, we thought it'd give us a leg up," Chloe concluded before prodding Nicole to confirm the story -- but Sami was quick to challenge it. "Mind your own business," Marlena advised Sami as Nicole remained silent.
"In fact, I think that everybody should give Eric and Nicole some time to work this out on their own," Marlena stressed -- but Eric didn't take the out. "I need you to answer one simple question -- did you hire Xander because you were shorthanded...or to shut him up?" Eric challenged Nicole. "I am so sorry..." Nicole eventually whispered while fighting back tears -- and Eric stormed out of the pub in anger after processing the response.
Marlena said goodbye to John then headed off with Roman in search of Eric. "Poor Eric -- how could she do this to him?" Belle whispered to John as Nicole broke down in Chloe's arms. "Well, honey, it sounds like Nicole was in a bad way -- Eric being gone must have really taken a toll on her," John reasoned. "Yeah, well, how is that an excuse for sleeping with the worst person on the planet?" Belle countered.
"Let's get out of here -- I don't want to stay here and watch Nicole try to get sympathy from everyone," Sami whispered to E.J. "I see there are things that time doesn't alter..." E.J. mused. "What does that mean?" Sami wondered. "How much you hate Nicole," E.J. clarified. "I have lots of good reasons, don't you think?" Sami argued before starting to exit the pub with E.J. -- prompting Nicole to quickly pounce.
"You did this, you bitch!" Nicole spat after grabbing Sami by the hair. "I didn't actually make you cheat on your husband, Nicole -- [and, remember], Eric used to be a priest; he takes those vows seriously. You ever heard of the Ten Commandments -- 'Thou shalt not commit adultery'?" Sami argued. "Oh, you're quoting the Bible now? Well, here's a verse for you -- 'Let she who is without sin cast the first stone'!" Nicole countered before storming out of the pub.
"She seems to think you had something to do with what Xander did tonight," Belle said to Sami. "Oh, please -- she thinks I'm behind climate change!" Sami countered. "Eric is a deeply religious man, but I think it would be hard for any husband to forgive what Nicole did..." E.J. mused, prompting Sami to quickly change the subject, suggesting that it would be best for them to head back to the DiMera mansion.
"Sami couldn't get out of here fast enough -- I wonder why..." Belle dryly said to John. "Do you really think that Sami had something to do with Xander outing Nicole?" John asked incredulously. "Yes -- I more than know it," Belle matter-of-factly replied. "But she loves her brother!" John protested. "[And] she thinks Nicole's the worst thing that ever happened to [him]," Belle countered. "[Still]...you think that she would set her own brother up to be humiliated like he was tonight?" John wondered. "She's telling herself that he'll be better off -- that he'll get over it. [Trust me] -- I know my sister; she hates Nicole for keeping Sydney from her for so long, so she saw a chance to make Nicole feel the same kind of pain, and she took it...and I bet she did not give one thought to how that would hurt Eric," Belle explained.
"I still can't wrap my head around the fact that Nicole actually slept with Xander," Chloe admitted to Philip. "This must be very hard for you -- why don't you let me take you home --" Philip offered. "I can't go home without knowing that Brady's okay -- I'm sure he went after Xander, [and] he's recovering from a really bad accident..." Chloe fretted before rushing off in search of Brady, not even bothering to say goodbye to Philip first.
Xander entered the Horton house with the briefcase that Sami had handed over earlier -- then began to admire its contents after settling on the living room couch. "Well, Sami, you came through for me -- makes me glad I didn't kill you, like Kristen wanted me to... A cool million, just for a few minutes' work -- and one punch to the jaw..." Xander mused with a grin. "That's if it's all here -- the way Sami took down Nicole without batting an eye, I wouldn't put it past her to try and cheat me, too..." Xander suddenly realized, causing the grin to turn into a scowl.
"It is all here -- minus the bail money, which I can get back..." Xander declared with a laugh of disbelief after counting the money. "And cold, hard cash doesn't disappear like a bank transfer..." Xander added, still bitter about the way in which the previous deal with Sami had ended.
Brady stormed into the house while Xander was in the process of putting the cash back in the briefcase. "Party's over? It's a bit early..." Xander casually joked. "You had Nicole under your thumb, then you decided to destroy her marriage in the most hurtful and humiliating way, so I want to know why you did it -- and why you did it now," Brady tiredly snapped. "I just thought Eric deserved to know what kind of woman he married," Xander innocently reasoned. "Yeah, 'cause you're just a stickler for morality, aren't you? No, really -- why'd you do it?" Brady skeptically countered.
"Just a laugh. [And besides], who are you to give me a hard time about [my treatment of] Nicole? When you found out that she was cheating on you with Eric, you forced her to leave town -- with a baby in her arms!" Xander answered. "[And] it didn't do anything for me -- nothing -- because Eric and Nicole found their way back to each other, 'cause they belong together. [But], yeah, I did that -- because, at the time, I wanted Nicole, and it was just injury to my pride. [And] what you did [just] doesn't make sense [like that -- I mean], you already used your one-night stand to blackmail Nicole to get your nice, cushy job at Basic Black, so...why would you throw it away?" Brady responded. "Who says I have?" Xander argued. "Oh, trust me, cuz -- you're history. And don't ask me for a reference," Brady countered. "Should have known you'd do this..." Xander grumbled. "Yeah, you should have," Brady agreed.
"[Which brings me] back to my original question -- why did you do it? [I mean], you had your little fun, [but] now you're broke and unemployable. [And] I don't even think you're stupid enough to think that Nicole would just go into your arms after you blew up her marriage. So, that leaves one reason, Xander -- good, old-fashioned money, right?" Brady realized. "What money? You just told me I lost my job --" Xander protested. "You have not moved from that spot since I came through that door, [so]...what don't you want me to see?" Brady mused before shoving Xander, who had been blocking the briefcase from view -- and the bills that were sticking out of the sides of the briefcase made its contents pretty obvious. "Looks like somebody paid you off to ruin Eric and Nicole's relationship. Who the hell was it?" Brady snapped. "None of your damn business," Xander insisted.
"But did you see the look on your pious brother's face when I told him I'd had his bride? I'd have done it for free, just for that --" Xander teased, annoying Brady -- but Chloe arrived just then, putting a stop to any physical altercation that might have been about to start. "Are you okay?" Chloe asked Brady after Xander headed off to another room with the briefcase. "I'm fine -- [but] that briefcase is full of money, [and] he pretty much admitted to me that he was paid to do what he did tonight. I tried to get a name out of him, but --" Brady replied. "I stormed in and ruined it," Chloe concluded. "He wasn't gonna talk, anyway," Brady guessed.
Chloe revealed what had happened after Brady had left the pub. "If there's one person who can get that kind of money quickly, it's Samantha Brady DiMera," Brady acknowledged. "[And] we both know that she hates Nicole," Chloe agreed. Meanwhile, Philip sent a text message to Chloe from the pub -- then sighed while waiting for a response.
At the DiMera mansion, E.J. questioned Sami about Nicole's earlier comment. "Maybe she just found religion," Sami joked. "It sounded like an accusation. What sin have you committed now?" E.J. countered.
Marlena and Roman went to the Walker-Brady apartment in search of Eric, who reluctantly let them in after they refused to just go away. Roman and Marlena both tried to argue that the Walker-Brady relationship had survived many other obstacles and could surely survive this one, as well, but Eric wasn't convinced -- and just wanted to be left alone. Once the coast was clear, Eric picked up a framed wedding photograph and hurled it across the apartment in disgust then broke down -- and, a short time later, Nicole entered the apartment and also broke down.
At the Evans-Black townhouse, John and Belle continued talking about the possibility that Sami was responsible for what Xander had done earlier. "If she arranged for Eric to have to go through this, maybe it was because she thought that Eric needed to know the truth," John reasoned. "There are plenty of other ways he could have learned the truth, Dad -- Sami could have told him privately, calmly, kindly... What she just did to him was cruel," Belle argued. "But if she just went to Eric [and] told him privately, I don't think he would have believed her," John countered. "Probably not," Belle decided after some thought. "[Still]...for some reason, Sami wanted to take Nicole down in public," Belle guessed -- and John didn't get a chance to respond because Marlena and Roman entered the townhouse together just then and reported that Eric was inconsolable.
Theo visited Chad at the DiMera mansion. Over a game of chess, Theo told Chad that Ciara had annulled her marriage to Ben. "Would you be my best man?" Theo asked Chad. Chad suggested that Theo was rushing things. "Neither one of us wants to wait," Theo said. Theo admitted that he did not like that Ciara had chosen their wedding date as a form of payback to hurt Ben. "Just because she hates Ben, doesn't mean it changes the way she feels about you," Chad said.
At Julie's Place, Ciara met up with Allie. "I want you to be my maid of honor," Ciara said. Ciara explained that her grandfather's friend was a judge, and he had secured an annulment for her marriage to Ben. When Allie asked about Theo, Ciara glowed as she talked about how well she got along with Theo. "When is the big day?" Allie asked. "Tomorrow," Ciara said. Allie asked Ciara if she had intentionally scheduled her wedding to hurt Ben.
"This is not about Ben. This is about me, Allie. I want to take that day back. I want to remember tomorrow as the day that I married my best friend. Not the day that I married a serial killer," Ciara said. "I remember that day. In detail. And I know you're not going to believe me, but before all hell broke loose, I think it was the happiest day of your life," Allie said.
"That day, the church was bombed because of Ben. My entire family could have died," Ciara argued. Allie countered that Ben had changed, but Ciara did not believe anyone could change that much. "The two of you were so in love that after you kissed and said your vows, people were crying," Allie said. Ciara asked Allie not to mention the vows. Ciara stressed that she had no interest in remembering her wedding or Ben. Allie apologized.
"It's just so sad to me that you and Ben can't be together," Allie said. "Theo is my best friend. I love him. He makes me feel safe," Ciara said. "Is that the best reason to marry someone?" Allie asked. Frustrated, Ciara told Allie that she did not have to be in the wedding if she objected to it.
Theo arrived, and Ciara told him that she had asked Allie to be her maid of honor. As Ciara stared at Allie, Allie smiled and said that she would love to be Ciara's maid of honor. Theo announced that Chad had agreed to be his best man. "Nothing in the world is going to stop us, Theo," Ciara said.
Ben sat in his apartment, and he stared at the annulment papers. When Claire visited, she told Ben that she believed she could convince Belle to help Ben with his divorce. "It's too late," Ben said. Claire called her father, and Shawn confirmed that Ciara had set a date for her wedding. "Ciara cannot be marrying Theo on our anniversary," Ben said. When Claire suggested that it was a coincidence, Ben explained that he had told Ciara about the date of their anniversary.
"[Ciara] is doing this on purpose," Ben said. "Maybe she wants to marry Theo as soon as she can because she is scared she is going to remember what she had with you," Claire suggested. Ben said that Ciara was the bravest person he knew. "You need to be the brave one now, Ben," Claire said. Ben said he would do whatever it took to stop the wedding.
When Lucas returned downstairs to the pub, he was surprised to see Philip sitting alone in the room. "What happened to the anniversary celebration?" Lucas asked. "Let's just say the party is over," Philip said. Talk turned to Sami. Lucas suggested that the best way to leak the information about his affair with Sami was to have Nicole talk to E.J.
"E.J. kicks Sami to the curb, who is going to be right there to comfort her?" Philip said. Lucas said that he hated how E.J. treated Sami, but he was worried about E.J's reaction to the letter. "[Giving Nicole the letter] is your best shot at getting what you want: Sami," Philip said.
"I do want her, but I can't do it like this. I love her too much. Man, I don't want to hurt her. I should have just let this letter burn," Lucas said. Lucas walked behind the bar, and he threw the letter in the trash. Lucas thanked Philip for his advice, and he went upstairs. Philip walked behind the bar, and he fished the letter out of the trash. "Well, I am not giving up," Philip said.
At the DiMera mansion, Sami undressed E.J. in their room as he questioned her about Nicole's comment. "It sounded like an accusation. What sin have you committed now, Samantha?" E.J. asked. Sami thought about her night of passion with Lucas in the cellar. As Sami remained silent, E.J. pushed Sami to tell him what Nicole had meant.
"Classic Nicole. She's backed into a corner, and she will say whatever mean, nasty thing that comes into her mind," Sami said. As Sami sat at her vanity and removed her jewelry, E.J. continued to talk about Nicole. "An uncharitable person might say that [Nicole] has no one to blame but herself," Sami muttered. E.J. agreed that the situation was a nightmare.
"I can't imagine why [Nicole got involved with Xander] in the first place. I mean, he's a ticking time bomb," Sami said. "What does that remind me of?" E.J. said. With a sigh, Sami asked if they could talk in the morning. Unfazed, E.J. noted that Nicole had singled out Sami for judgment. Sami rolled her eyes. E.J. suggested that Xander's confession had been so brutal and public that he did not think Eric and Nicole's marriage could survive the events of the party.
"You know I am not sorry to see that marriage end. You know how I feel about Nicole," Sami said. Sami added that she was sorry that Eric was in pain. "But it had to be done, right?" E.J. asked. Frustrated, Sami asked E.J. not to cross-examine her. Sami was defensive, but E.J. pointed out that the situation was "clearly Xander's fault." Sami narrowed her eyes. E.J. argued that it was out of character for Sami to have not told anyone that she had seen Nicole go into the inn with Xander. Sami explained that she'd had no evidence to back her theory about the affair.
"So, you decided to gather your proof and then, in a quiet, private, solemn moment, you would discreetly share what you knew with Eric? But instead, somehow, out of the blue, Xander decides to make a public spectacle of Nicole's humiliation and shame? Now just why would he do that?" E.J. asked. Sami shrugged. E.J. noted that when Xander had made his accusation, Sami had not said a word of support.
"Wouldn't that have been the perfect opportunity to, what's the American expression? To pile on?" E.J. said. Sami said she was happy that Eric knew the truth. E.J. asked Sami, "What exactly is it you are not telling me?" Sami batted her eyelashes at E.J. as she unbuttoned his shirt. "The truth is that I paid Xander to show up at the party tonight to tell everyone what I already knew," Sami confessed. E.J. laughed.
"How much?" E.J. asked. When Sami told E.J. she had paid Xander one million dollars, he asked Sami if she had bothered to negotiate. "It was worth it, every penny, for Eric to know the truth about Nicole," Sami said. "Xander does seem a little one-note about his fees. Didn't he want a million dollars to stop from killing you and Lucas?" E.J. said. Sami reminded E.J. that Xander had demanded ten million, and E.J. had canceled the wire transfer.
"Right, well, I'm sure you were willing to pay whatever it took to bring Nicole to her knees," E.J. said. "No matter what you think, I didn't enjoy it tonight. I just did what I had to do. Eric had to know the truth," Sami said. E.J. agreed that it was better for Eric to know the full story.
"It must have been awful for you to see Xander and Nicole heading into that inn," E.J. said. "Awful for me?" Sami asked. E.J. noted that Sami had been faithful to a man that had not deserved it. "Nicole betrayed Eric in the first year of their marriage. I can actually understand why you did what you did," E.J. said. "We're back together. That's all that matters. Forget about everything else," Sami whispered. Sami kissed E.J.
Nicole returned home and found Eric with a packed suitcase. "I didn't think there would be really anything for us to talk about. Is there?" Eric said. "No," Nicole whispered. Eric announced that he was on his way back to Africa. Nicole looked across the room, and she saw the frame of her wedding photo shattered on the floor. Nicole picked up the picture, broken frame and all.
"Why don't we call it what it really is? Running away," Nicole said. "I thought you had enough pain for one night," Eric said. With a nod, Nicole countered, "So, you decided for both of us that it would be better for me to come home to an empty apartment." Eric argued that a discussion would not change the events of the evening. Frustrated, Nicole started to yell over Eric's protestations.
"There is nothing I can do to change the fact that I slept with Xander because I was lonely and I was depressed and I degraded myself with a man who had abused me! And you, you chose to spend the first year of our marriage 8,000 miles away from me! Our home and our family and our relationship was spent on social media! And then months went by where we didn't even get to touch!" Nicole cried out. After a couple of calming breaths, Nicole continued.
"So, here is Nicole, the scarlet woman, bad, bad, bad. And here is Eric. Running back to his good work. Back to a world where he does good for others, and no one asks a damn thing of him," Nicole said. Tears fell down Eric's face. Nicole held out the wedding photo for Eric, and she asked him if he had planned to leave that for her to find on the floor. When Eric did not respond, Nicole dropped the framed photo onto the floor.
"You didn't think that would cause me pain? Or maybe you wanted to hurt me, but you didn't need to talk to me about it in person because that is one of the perks of a long-distance relationship, right? You don't have to own up to what you've done," Nicole said. Emotional, Eric yelled, "All right! I'm selfish! I'm sorry!" Nicole countered that Eric had not been selfish; he had just been absent.
"I'm so sorry, but good God, Xander? I mean if there is any person besides me who hates him, it's you," Eric said. "Do you really think I want to defend myself for what I did? How can I expect you to believe anything I say now? How can I expect you to believe me when I tell you that I love you? Because I do love you. I just don't know if it matters anymore," Nicole said. In tears, Nicole said she could not let Eric slip away, and she begged him to talk to her.
"Talk to me like I am your wife," Nicole whispered. "I thought we did talk. I thought we decided together," Eric said. "For future reference, when you ask someone is it okay if I do exactly what I want and make it very, very clear that they better say yes, that is not talking. That is not making a decision together," Nicole said. Eric apologized. Nicole reminded Eric that they had decided together to let Allie and Henry move in.
"I thought you were okay with it!" Eric yelled. Nicole said that she had been okay with their decision about Allie, but she had not known that Eric would be absent for months on end. "You decided to re-up. I got married, and I don't think I felt more alone in my entire life," Nicole said. Eric asked Nicole if that gave her an excuse to sleep with Xander, and Nicole yelled no.
"I hate what I did! It was the worst mistake of my life, okay? But I have to figure out some way to understand why it happened and how I can forgive myself. Because if I can't forgive myself, how am I going to go on? And I have to go on, Eric. I have to because I have a little girl that I love with my whole heart. And there are people here that need me," Nicole said. Eric asked Nicole why she had not told him how bad things had been for her.
"I tried. I even tried to tell you after it happened," Nicole said. "No, you did not," Eric countered. With a sigh, Nicole told Eric about the email she had written to him with a full confession. "I couldn't send it. And I tried talking to you, and then you came home, and it was our anniversary," Nicole said. "I get why you're mad, because I bailed out on you. What I don't get is why Xander?" Eric asked. Nicole shook her head.
"Maybe I went to bed with Xander, because I thought I could finally get my husband to pay attention to me," Nicole said. "You wanted to hurt me that much?" Eric asked. Nicole reminded Eric that he had told her that he had signed up for another tour. "I was so hurt that people on another continent were more important than me," Nicole said. "That's not true!" Eric objected.
Nicole continued, "I wanted to hurt you, but I definitely wanted to hurt me. I wanted to blow things up because that's the one thing I'm actually good at: self-destruction." Eric asked Nicole why she had not told him the night of the phone call. "I didn't want to beg and plead my husband to want to be on the same continent as me," Nicole said.
"You're right. This is as much my fault as it is yours," Eric said. Nicole started to cry. Eric admitted that his good deeds had not excused his absence. "I'm sincerely sorry. So, what do we do now?" Eric asked. "No matter what I do, I will always be a sinner. And you will always be a saint," Nicole said. "Far from it," Eric countered. Nicole said that she knew Eric would eventually forgive her, but she would never be able to forgive herself.
"Although you took that priest's collar off years ago, it doesn't change who you are. You are a good man who wants to help other people. And that is really hard to do with a wife who wants your whole life and your whole heart to herself," Nicole said. "What are you saying?" Eric asked. Through tears, Nicole said that she and Eric were too different.
"I think I'm the best version of me when I'm with you, and you're the best version of you when you are not with me," Nicole said. "What are we supposed to do?" Eric asked. "I think this marriage is over," Nicole said. After a moment, Eric asked about Holly. "I missed her so much," Eric said. "She's missed you, too, but you can video chat," Nicole said. Choking back sobs, Nicole said that Holly looked forward to Eric's letters. Eric reached out and caressed Nicole's face.
"I can't let you go," Eric said. "You have to," Nicole whispered. Eric kissed Nicole, and he offered to leave in the morning. "You should go," Nicole said. Eric kissed Nicole's hand as she cried, and he walked to the door. "I'll always love you," Eric said. "And I will always, always love you," Nicole said. After Eric walked out, Nicole fell to the floor and cried out in pain.
At the Price-Grant apartment, Eli joined Lani in the living room, wearing only a towel, and wondered if there had been a change of plans. "I thought you were going to breakfast with your dad," Eli admitted. "I'm late," Lani explained.
Lani hurriedly transferred a few items from one purse to another while directing Eli's attention to the couch, where someone's body was completely hidden under a blanket. "Can you put some clothes on before Chanel wakes up?" Lani requested. "She done already seen it before," Eli dismissively argued. "And never again, all right?" Lani tiredly countered. "Not to worry, Lani -- this time, I took precautions," Chanel interjected, sitting up to reveal a sleep mask that was blocking everything -- including Eli's nearly naked body -- from view.
"You can take the mask off now," Lani informed Chanel after Eli retreated from the living room. "Sorry to be such a pain -- it's really nice of you to let me stay [again]," Chanel stressed. "Yeah, well, considering everything that happened with your mom, we couldn't just kick you to the curb," Lani reasoned. "I'm so done with her!" Chanel declared before starting to complain to Lani about Paulina's idea of an apology -- making room for Sweet Bits in Price Town. "If she wants to make things right between us, she's gonna have to do much better than that," Chanel insisted.
At the Horton house, Julie received a visit from Paulina. "I hope this isn't too early --" Paulina began -- and Julie slammed the front door shut before another word could be spoken. "Guess I better get used to that..." Paulina muttered before starting to knock on the front door insistently, forcing Julie to reopen it. "Have your eye on some more prime real estate? Looking over our home? Want to turn it into a Waffle House?" Julie assumed. "I came to apologize," Paulina revealed.
Julie skeptically stepped aside, prompting Paulina to enter the house -- then immediately begin raving about it being an incredibly lovely place. "So far, your 'apology' sounds like that folksy, down-home load of horse pucky you've been spreading all over Salem," Julie grumbled. "Sorry -- it's just gotten to be second nature," Paulina conceded before launching into a long-winded speech -- and Julie received a phone call from Doug long before the preamble was anywhere near the point of turning into an apology, if it was even really heading in that direction. Julie rushed off with a look of concern after a brief conversation with Doug, having never heard an apology from Paulina.
At Julie's Place, Abe and Theo discussed Paulina's betrayal while waiting for Lani to join them for breakfast. "Have you figured out how to stop Paulina from tearing down the square?" Theo wondered. "Well, our lawyers are filing another plea today...but they're not very optimistic about our chances," Abe answered.
"If it'll help for you to be there, that's totally fine with me; I know how important this is to you -- to everyone," Theo stressed. "No, Theo -- if you're getting married today, that's where I'll be," Abe insisted. "What do you mean, 'if'?" Theo protested. "Well, I think you should call the wedding off," Abe clarified.
"You and Ciara have only been together for a couple months --" Abe reasoned. "But I've known her my whole life!" Theo pointed out. "I still think you should give it a little more time -- what if Ciara starts to remember being married to Ben, being happy with Ben... I don't want the woman you love pulling the rug out from under you," Abe maintained. "Is this about me and Ciara...or is this about you and Paulina? [Because] they are two totally different situations -- Ciara has never lied to me; she doesn't keep secrets," Theo argued. "She could still end up hurting you --" Abe warned. "Dad, I'm not a kid anymore -- you don't need to protect me. [And besides], I love Ciara, [so] I am willing to take that risk...and, really, aren't there always risks in relationships?" Theo countered.
"You remind me of your mother -- sometimes wise as hell...but stubborn as they come," Abe admitted. "That's me," Theo confirmed. "And I love you for it," Abe stressed. "So, no more talk of putting off the wedding?" Theo translated, and Abe nodded in response -- just as Lani entered the restaurant and apologized for having kept them waiting.
Lani guessed that Abe had been trying to talk Theo out of marrying Ciara that day -- and that Theo had refused to listen to Abe's advice. "[And, personally], I'm glad...because after all of the drama the last few weeks, it will be good to celebrate something for a change -- so, we'll focus on this wedding and forget all about Ms. Paulina Price," Lani declared -- and, as if on cue, Paulina entered the restaurant just then.
"The other night, [Abe], you told me [that] if I really wanted to make it up to you, [I needed] to stop the demolition...[so], I took those words to heart, and...as of an hour ago, I called everything off -- Horton Town Square is here to stay, [and] I'll go back to the plan I pitched you in the first place," Paulina announced. Abe didn't know what to say about the move, but Theo sincerely declared it a good first step -- and Lani sarcastically praised Paulina for having decided to do the right thing.
Lani chased Paulina off then warned Abe and Theo not to believe a word of the apology, guessing that there was some sort of hidden agenda. "Paulina was telling the truth -- the demolition has been called off," Abe reported after a quick phone conversation with a member of the team of lawyers who had been fighting Paulina -- but Lani remained skeptical and advised against forgiving and forgetting just yet.
At the Price-Grant apartment, Chanel confided in Eli about having recently made a play for Theo as a way of trying to get over the fact that Allie had chosen Tripp. "I figured Allie was the girl that you have been crushing on...[and] I remember [that] when you told me about this 'friend,' you said that you didn't think that you'd be able to connect with someone [else] the way you connected with her...[but] you are smart [and] beautiful [and] fun, [so] I'm sure that you will find someone out there that is meant just for you -- and then it'll be Allie's loss," Eli declared, earning a hug from Chanel.
At the Weston apartment, Ben awoke with a grin after dreaming about having exchanged wedding vows with Ciara one year earlier, then sighed while thinking about where things stood between them -- and, seconds later, someone knocked on the front door. "Ciara!" Ben whispered before jumping out of bed and opening the front door in a burst of excitement -- then sighing again after finding Allie standing on the other side of it.
"I just wanted to give you a heads-up -- Ciara and Theo are getting married today," Allie began. "Claire already told me," Ben grumbled. "Right... Well, there's something else that I want you to know -- Ciara asked me to be her maid of honor, and I said yes --" Allie continued. "Great -- that is great... And I'm sure you're really busy, and you've probably got a lot to do, so why are you here?" Ben snapped. "Ben, I know that you're hurt, [and] I don't even think that this wedding [is] a good idea...[but] I love Ciara, [and] I know how hurt she'd be if I refused, [and] she's gonna marry Theo whether or not I'm her maid of honor, [so] I just don't feel like I can turn my back on her -- [especially after] what she's been through this year," Allie concluded. "I have no beef with you, Allie -- I get it," Ben backpedaled. "I tried to get her to wait...but she wouldn't listen," Allie revealed.
"Getting married on your anniversary -- I have no idea why she feels like she has to do that --" Allie added. "I do -- she's trying to prove to herself and everybody else that she hates me," Ben explained. "Ciara doesn't hate you --" Allie protested. "No? Then why has she pushed me away since the day that she got back here? Why does she look at me like I make her sick? [And], most importantly, Allie, why is she marrying another man on our anniversary?" Ben countered. "I can't answer that -- I just believe that, somewhere inside, she still loves you," Allie maintained.
"She doesn't remember that -- and I can't make her. [And, trust me], I have tried -- I have spent every waking minute since she came back here, trying to jog her memory of us and how much we really love each other, and all it's doing is making her more and more angry," Ben stressed. "I know -- I tried, too, and the same thing happened," Allie revealed before starting to elaborate. "As I was talking about, you know, how much you two love each other...for the briefest moment, I noticed something in her expression change -- like it actually affected her, [or] like she was remembering something that she hadn't remembered before... [But] I don't want to get your hopes up," Allie concluded.
At the Brady house, Claire entered the living room and found Ciara sitting at a desk, applying makeup. "What are you doing here?" Claire wondered. "What does it look like I'm doing, Claire? I'm getting ready for my wedding!" Ciara responded. "In this house? I don't think so!" Claire snapped. "I don't need your permission, Claire, to do anything! Besides, my brother already told me that I can get ready here," Ciara bragged.
"Well, if you think I'm gonna help you, you're nuts!" Claire warned. "Did I ask you to help me? The last thing I want right now is your help! Besides, Allie is my maid of honor -- so, if you could kindly get the hell out of here, that would be great --" Ciara countered. "I cannot believe you are actually going ahead with this farce!" Claire sputtered. "'Farce'? How dare you call my marrying Theo a 'farce'! I love him --" Ciara objected.
"Not the way you love Ben -- [which means that] you are going to end up hurting Ben and Theo! [Look], if you would just stop for a second and listen to the people who care about you --" Claire advised. "Like the girl who tried to set me on fire twice?" Ciara spat. "You cannot talk to me like that in my own house!" Claire insisted before starting to drag Ciara toward the nearest exit. "This is my mother's house!" Ciara clarified before pulling away and slapping Claire, who counterattacked with Ciara's bridal bouquet. Shawn soon entered the house and broke up the fight then demanded an explanation, prompting Claire and Ciara to start blaming each other.
Ciara stopped arguing with Claire after realizing that Shawn, who had left the house earlier to pick up Hope at the airport, had returned alone. "Her plane had some mechanical problems, and then they had to turn it back around, so there's no way that she's gonna make it today," Shawn explained, drawing a sigh of disappointment from Ciara -- and prompting Claire to reason that the universe was trying to make it clear that the wedding wasn't supposed to happen, at least on that particular day.
Ciara insisted that it was too late to postpone the wedding -- and Shawn reported that Hope didn't want to be responsible for such a delay, anyway. "Why is everyone pretending like this isn't going to end in a huge disaster?" Claire wondered. "Why don't you [just] get the hell out of here and go hang out with your buddy-buddy the Necktie Killer and talk about what a lunatic I am for not wanting to be the wife of a serial killer instead of an honorable, wonderful person who has never killed a single soul --" Ciara snapped. "All Claire is trying to do --" Shawn interjected. "Is ruin my life!" Ciara grumbled. "You know that that is not true --" Shawn protested.
"Dad, just stop defending me -- if that is what Ciara believes, then...fine, I will go," Claire decided. "But, [Ciara], we both know that the only reason you are so desperate to marry Theo today is because you're just trying to hurt Ben -- because you're afraid [that], eventually, you're gonna remember how much you love him. [And], you know, last night, Ben told me that you were the bravest person he'd ever known...but, right now, when I look at you, all I see is a coward," Claire added before storming out of the house, drawing a scoff of indignation from Ciara.
"I know you think that this is a bad idea, too -- but, unlike Claire, at least you are trying to be on my side --" Ciara started to say to Shawn. "At the risk of another fight...I'm just gonna stop trying [now -- because] as much as I want to support you on this decision...I can't, in good conscience, not tell you that, like Claire says, I really think that you need to postpone this wedding. [I mean], everything is going so fast -- is there anything wrong with just maybe taking a moment and allowing yourself to think [about] whether or not you're marrying Theo for the right reasons?" Shawn argued, drawing a groan of frustration from Ciara.
"When I woke up in that hospital, I was told that I had forgotten years of my life and that I was married to the Necktie Killer -- and the only person who didn't have any expectations for me and who didn't make any demands [of] me was Theo; he made me feel safe [and] loved, and I think those are very, very good reasons to marry someone!" Ciara countered. "[Still]...why so fast?" Shawn maintained. "Damn it, Shawn, please -- it's bad enough that Mom can't be here...and now...to think that my own brother doesn't even want me to go through with this --" Ciara tearfully protested. "Okay, you're right -- I shouldn't have said anything," Shawn reluctantly backpedaled.
"I want Mom to be here!" Ciara pouted. "I do, too," Shawn agreed. "Let's just hope that nothing else goes wrong, right?" Ciara decided -- and, as if on cue, Julie entered the living room just then and informed Ciara and Shawn that Doug had just gotten injured while playing racquetball. "It's probably an injured rotator cuff -- it's happened before," Julie explained before complaining about Doug's insistence on playing the sport twice a week -- news that Shawn and Ciara had apparently never heard before. "Is this some kind of weird conspiracy between you guys -- you're just gonna start dropping out of my wedding, one by one, until I cancel it?" Ciara wondered. "Don't be ridiculous!" Julie responded before rushing off to check on Doug.
Claire went to the Weston apartment in search of Ben -- and was surprised to find Allie there, as well. "I just heard that you are gonna be the maid of honor at Ciara and Theo's wedding --" Claire began. "Yeah -- lucky me..." Allie muttered. "You know, I'm kind of surprised you agreed to that," Claire admitted, drawing a grunt from Ben. "How could I say no?" Allie reasoned with a shrug before rushing off to get ready for the event.
Allie went to the town square to pick up a replacement bridal bouquet after receiving a text message from Ciara -- and ran into Chanel afterward. "You and Tripp getting married?" Chanel assumed, drawing a laugh from Allie.
Allie clarified the situation then changed the subject, apologizing to Chanel for the way in which their previous conversation had ended. "I'm sorry you felt you had to [leave]...but it was probably for the best -- there was major drama with my Aunt Nicole and Uncle Eric; I think they're done," Allie revealed. "I'm sorry," Chanel stressed. "[Anyway], I really hope that me and you can still be friends, if that's okay with you... [But] we don't have to talk about this now -- just think about it," Allie added before starting to walk away from Chanel -- but Paulina approached just then and informed them that they were going to get to start a bakery together in the town square, after all.
"I can't believe this is happening!" Chanel raved to Allie after Paulina rushed off to take a phone call from an investor. "I'm so happy for you -- [and] I still want to be a part of the bakery, but I'd understand if that didn't work for you...and you don't have to answer right now," Allie stressed before starting to walk away from Chanel again. "Hey, Horton -- let's do this," Chanel called out, drawing a grin from Allie.
At the Weston apartment, Claire finishing telling Ben about what had just happened with Ciara. "Claire, you do not have to fight my battles for me --" Ben insisted. "Oh, no -- this wasn't your battle; it was mine. She treats me like dirt, too, you know. [And] the way she's behaving, I am beginning to think that you're well rid of her," Claire stressed.
"We both know this isn't the real Ciara -- she's only pushing me away right now because she's afraid," Ben reasoned. "That is not an excuse for the way that she's treating you," Claire argued. "What about what she excused me for doing -- not just excused me but forgave me...and forgave you, too? This girl never gave up on us when she had every right to, Claire!" Ben countered.
"You are a saint," Claire raved. "Said nobody ever," Ben objected. "Still...I don't think that I would have been able to keep the faith the way you have," Claire admitted. "That's all I got -- I'm stubborn that way," Ben explained. "So is she, Ben -- Ciara is determined to marry Theo today," Claire warned. "I am just as determined to stop her," Ben stressed.
"Remember when Ciara was leaving for South Africa, and I told you that I came up with a plan? [Well], I couldn't go through with that then -- but this is a now-or-never situation, so...I'm going to kidnap Ciara before she marries Theo," Ben admitted. "Extreme...[but] also kind of traditional -- [Ciara's] dad once kidnapped her mom to stop her from marrying another man," Claire responded. "Well, it all worked out for them, right?" Ben assumed. "Eventually -- [although] the story goes that she was royally ticked off at him for a very long time," Claire warned. "I can deal with Ciara being mad at me for a very long time -- but I cannot deal with losing her forever," Ben stressed.
At the Brady house, Ciara complained to Shawn about the fact that Hope, Doug, and Julie were all going to miss the wedding. "Maybe the universe is trying to tell you something," Shawn suggested, echoing Claire's earlier thoughts on the matter. "I don't believe in omens -- good or bad," Ciara protested. "You used to -- [and] you used to also think that you and Ben had a psychic connection, just like Mom and Dad had," Shawn countered.
"Yeah, well, that was a different Ciara -- this Ciara is going to marry Theo today, and nothing the universe can do is going to stop it," Ciara insisted.
At the Brady house, Shawn received a text message while Ciara was once again rejecting the idea that the universe was trying to send signs that the wedding needed to be postponed. "Don't be too sure..." Shawn argued before informing Ciara that Belle was busy dealing with some sort of crisis at DiMera Enterprises and wasn't going to be able to attend the wedding. "Great..." Ciara grumbled.
"Given everything that's happened, I'm sure that everybody would understand if you felt that you wanted to --" Shawn suggested. "Damn it, Shawn, I told you -- I am not postponing this wedding, no matter how much you want me to!" Ciara insisted. "Well, it's a good thing you booked the chapel and not the cathedral, [then]..." Shawn joked, but Ciara wasn't amused.
"I'm getting really tired of your running commentary --" Ciara snapped at Shawn -- just as Allie entered the house with the bridal bouquet and apologized for being late. "I ran into Chanel, and --" Allie began to explain. "You guys just stopped to get croissants?" Ciara irritably guessed. "No, Ciara, it's really good news -- her mom is backing down; she's chilling out with the demolition of the square!" Allie excitedly clarified. "That's great news!" Shawn raved, and Allie agreed, but Ciara wasn't impressed. "It's also a great day to get married," Ciara pointedly declared.
Ciara complained to Allie about Shawn's attempts to postpone one wedding -- then complained to Shawn about Allie's attempts to jog memories of another wedding. "Oh, my God -- I'm so sorry; I'm being a total bitch, huh?" Ciara eventually backpedaled, but Allie and Shawn both seemed to understand.
At Julie's Place, Theo wrapped up a phone conversation then fretted to Abe and Lani that Chad was busy dealing with some sort of crisis at DiMera Enterprises and wasn't going to be able to attend the wedding. "So, a couple of hours out from my wedding, and...all of a sudden, I don't have a best man," Theo summarized. "Hmm... Well, I would step in, but then you wouldn't have anyone to marry you..." Abe responded. "What about Eli?" Lani suggested -- just as a cell phone started ringing. "Look at that -- it's him," Lani observed before answering the call and trying to explain the situation to Eli, who quickly interrupted.
"What now?" Theo wondered after Lani ended the call with a sigh. "One of his court cases got moved up, and he has to be there to testify -- otherwise, the perp would walk," Lani reported. "Why do I get the feeling that there's something...really off...about this wedding? [I mean], last night, I walked in on Ciara talking to Allie, [and] when I asked them what they were talking about, [Ciara] said that she had just asked Allie to be her maid of honor...but neither one of them seemed very happy about it. [Then there's the fact that] everyone keeps trying to talk me out of [this wedding]. I just think that Ciara would fall apart if I backed out [now, though, so]...I guess I don't have to have a best man..." Theo mused. "What about a best woman?" Lani spontaneously offered, and Theo gratefully agreed.
Theo walked over to the bar to pay for the family's breakfast -- and as soon as the coast was clear, Abe and Lani started discussing their lingering concerns about the wedding. "Ciara sounds pretty fragile," Abe noted. "I know... But, Dad, Theo is gonna stand by Ciara no matter what, so...I think our job is to stand by him," Lani decided. "And keep our mouths shut," Abe conceded with a sigh.
At the Weston apartment, Claire wondered if Ben was sure that kidnapping Ciara was the best course of action. "I don't know...but I do know this is my last chance, [because] if she marries Theo, those vows will be the ones that she remembers, and I'll lose her forever. [And] if anything is gonna make her remember that she actually loved me and believed in me, it's that cabin, [because] that's where it all started. [So], I have to do this," Ben reasoned.
"[But] I shouldn't even be talking to you about [it] -- if it comes out that I told you about this and you didn't turn me in, Claire, you could be charged with aiding and abetting," Ben realized. "What if I want to aid and abet?" Claire countered.
At the Brady house, Allie finished helping Ciara get ready for the wedding -- and Ciara started crying while trying to thank Allie. "What's up with the tears?" Allie wondered. "I don't know -- I guess I'm just really, really happy, [because] ever since I woke up in the hospital, I feel like I've just been looking behind me, [and] now I finally feel like I'm looking forward," Ciara responded. "Are you sure? I mean, I know you said today is not about you and Ben, but --" Allie challenged Ciara. "No, today is not about [that] -- it is about me and Theo; marrying him is all I want!" Ciara stressed before rushing off to a bathroom to wipe away tears and change into a wedding dress, leaving Allie alone in the living room.
At the Weston apartment, Claire wondered how Ben's plan was going to play out. "You are gonna go back to your house, and you're gonna text me when Ciara's leaving, [and] I'm gonna be around the corner on my bike, [and] I'm gonna zoom in [and] throw her on the back [then] take off," Ben decided. "Okay, I'm not sure if this is romantic or just toxic masculinity, but that is a very dangerous plan," Claire protested. "That is what you just told me her dad did --" Ben argued. "Yeah, back in the dark ages!" Claire countered. "Well, then, I'll find another form of transportation," Ben backpedaled.
"Either way, you need to text me when Ciara's leaving --" Ben reiterated. "Ben, I can't do that -- Ciara does not want me there, remember?" Claire objected. "[Then] what about Allie?" Ben suggested. "I don't know -- what if you tell her what you're planning, and she turns around and tells Ciara?" Claire warned. "That's a risk I'm willing to take," Ben insisted.
Ben contacted Allie, who agreed to help with the plan. "I didn't think that this wedding was a good idea to begin with...but after being with Ciara this morning, I know it's not," Allie reasoned before saying goodbye to Ben and ending the call -- just as Ciara returned. "Who were you talking to?" Ciara wondered. "Just a problem with Henry's sitter --" Allie claimed. "Oh, no -- don't tell me --" Ciara protested. "I just have to run home so quick, but I will be there at the church -- you don't need to worry about anything," Allie stressed before fixing the zipper on Ciara's dress then rushing off.
At DiMera Enterprises, E.J. apologized to Belle for the bad timing of the company's crisis after remembering that Ciara was supposed to be getting married that day. "It's okay -- [I mean], this is a multimillion-dollar, time-sensitive deal, and I'm on retainer, so..." Belle assured E.J. with a shrug before changing the subject, hoping that Chad and Kate would be able to make it to New York and meet with the client before another company secured the deal.
E.J. guessed that the client wasn't actually talking to other companies. "I think the timing was calculated -- [see, sometimes, a client just pretends to] get cold feet at the last possible second [to] see how much more they can squeeze out of us. [You know], I had forgotten how cutthroat business can be -- people look you in the eye and smile then stab you in the back," E.J. elaborated, surprising Belle, who had expected a good-faith negotiation with the client.
"Sounds like Sami -- [and], actually, I think she was smiling when she stabbed Nicole in the back at the party last night," Belle mused. "You're mistaken -- Xander was the one who did the stabbing...and it wasn't in the back; [it was] very direct [and] very public," E.J. argued. "Oh, come on, E.J. -- you know the law; [the] co-conspirator is just as guilty as the killer. And my sister -- your wife -- she's the same conniving bitch she's always been," Belle countered.
"Hypothetically, even if Samantha had something to do with the events of last night --" E.J. began to protest. "That's like saying...'Hypothetically, two plus two is four'..." Belle joked. "That doesn't make her a 'conniving bitch' -- her tactics might have been a little extreme, [but] she didn't make up anything about Nicole, [and] all she wanted to do was make sure Eric knew the truth," E.J. concluded. "You know, it will never cease to amaze me that a man as clinical and cynical and Machiavellian as you still can't see Sami for who she really is -- and God help her if you ever do," Belle mused. "I just wonder how Sami would feel if someone did to her what she did to Nicole," Belle added.
Nicole was sitting alone in the Walker apartment, drinking red wine and staring sadly at the framed wedding photograph Eric had shattered the previous day, when Philip knocked on the front door and called out a greeting. "It's not a good time," Nicole responded. "Come on, please -- it's important," Philip countered, prompting Nicole to reluctantly open the front door. "Just so you know, it's not a barrel of laughs in here," Nicole warned.
"Eric left last night," Nicole revealed. "I'm sorry to hear that," Philip stressed. "But not surprised," Nicole assumed. "No," Philip confirmed. "Want a drink? I want a drink!" Nicole muttered while walking over to the kitchen table to fetch an open bottle of red wine. "It's a little early for me," Philip declared. "I wonder what time it is in Africa..." Nicole grumbled.
"I actually have something for you --" Philip announced. "Well, if it's not alcohol, I don't want it," Nicole protested. "Oh, I think you will...once you know what it is," Philip countered. "How would you like to pay Sami back in kind?" Philip offered, drawing a look of confusion from Nicole. "You must know she was behind what happened last night -- it reeked of Sami," Philip elaborated. "Yeah, it was her kind of party...but...what do you mean, pay her back?" Nicole responded. "Pay her back in kind," Philip stressed while producing the letter Kristen had sent to E.J. "She blew up your marriage -- this is the means to return the favor, quid pro freakin' quo; [it's] the detonating device," Philip teased.
"[It's] addressed to E.J. -- how did you get it?" Nicole challenged Philip after reading the letter. "Does it matter?" Philip argued, but Nicole was still curious. "Let's just say it was...intercepted...and I thought you might want to return it to its rightful owner," Philip explained. "Mm-hmm... And what are you getting out of this?" Nicole wondered. "Well, it's always a pleasure to screw up E.J.'s life...but the main thing is that with Lucas being Lucas, he didn't just sleep with her -- he fell in love with her all over again," Philip answered. "Ugh -- poor guy..." Nicole muttered, and Philip nodded in agreement. "[But] he is my brother, and I want him to be happy," Philip reasoned with a shrug.
"Why don't you give him the letter?" Nicole asked. "Unlike anyone else in Salem, he won't play dirty...[so], I'm gonna leave that letter with you -- [and] what you do with it is up to you," Philip replied. "So, I could refuse to stoop to Sami's level, and destroy this letter...or I could, as you said, 'pay her back in kind'..." Nicole summarized with a mischievous smirk.
Lucas went to the DiMera mansion to see Sami -- but didn't exactly receive the warmest of welcomes. "We don't have anything to talk about," Sami insisted. "Come on -- you don't want to do a postmortem on that party last night?" Lucas countered. "According to Philip, you were amazing -- you were...what, triumphant?" Lucas summarized. "You brought Nicole to her knees --" Lucas added. "Well, that's a position she's familiar with..." Sami muttered. "That's funny -- it's not nice, but it's funny," Lucas responded. "You put 'public humiliation' on a whole new level. You know, I'm actually surprised you didn't take Nicole down to the square and shave her head -- that would have been great..." Lucas declared.
"I don't know why you're after me about this -- I didn't do anything; Xander's the one who barged into that party and shot off his big mouth about what they did --" Sami argued. "Oh, Sami -- stop, stop... We both know you, and we both know what you did," Lucas countered. "Okay, fine... [But] you've certainly been part of your fair share of my schemes, so where does this moral superiority come from?" Sami snapped. "I don't know -- I guess I'm just choking on the hypocrisy here, [because] you played God [and] broke up Nicole's marriage [when] you're actually guilty of the same sin she is," Lucas responded.
"What would happen if you and E.J. threw a party, and someone announced what happened with us?" Lucas challenged Sami. "We agreed to never talk about this again --" Sami reminded Lucas. "No, you can't do that -- you can't just push 'delete' and act like it didn't happen --" Lucas protested. "Yes, I can -- and you can, too!" Sami insisted. "No, I can't, because I'm not like you -- in fact, Sami, I almost told E.J. everything," Lucas admitted.
"[Then] why didn't you? I know how much you hate E.J. --" Sami responded. "'Hate' doesn't describe how I feel about him -- [but] I love you, [so] I couldn't go through with it...[even though I really] wanted to rub it in his smug, arrogant face [because he] treats you like property --" Lucas explained. "Okay, Lucas -- I think you should go --" Sami objected. "[And] I'll never understand, in a million years, why you love this man so much after he's mistreated you all this time -- but you do, so...because of that, I promise I'm gonna keep my secret, and I won't tell yours," Lucas concluded.
Sami tearfully thanked Lucas. "I'm really sorry for dragging you into this --" Sami stressed. "I'm not -- because I love you so much --" Lucas responded. "Lucas, I appreciate what you're doing, [but] I just don't know when E.J.'s gonna be back, and I don't want the two of you to run into each other, so..." Sami fretted. "I got you," Lucas agreed before starting to exit the mansion -- then turning to face Sami again. "But just so you know...if and when things go wrong between you two, I will always be there for you," Lucas promised before continuing to exit the mansion, unaware that Sami was already starting to have second thoughts.
At DiMera Enterprises, E.J. wrapped up a phone conversation with Chad, who had managed to work things out with the client -- and, a short time later, Nicole entered the CEO's office. "If you've come to whine to me about Samantha, just don't --" E.J. tiredly began. "I never mentioned that woman's name --" Nicole stressed. "Because it would be pathetic if you tried to blame her for your fall from grace -- you are the one who married Francis of Assisi and screwed around with Beelzebub. [Now], look, I'm very busy, so why don't you go spill your guts to your old chum Chloe -- I'm sure she's really good at throwing a pity party; years of experience..." E.J. concluded.
"Since you did mention Sami, I have to ask -- what's your take on what she did, hmm? Do you think it's okay to expose other people's sins -- that that's not playing God with other people's lives?" Nicole challenged E.J. "I'm calling security --" E.J. warned Nicole while reaching for the desk phone. "Your sister wrote you a letter," Nicole teased, stopping E.J. -- who, of course, knew that was true. "Where did you get that?" E.J. asked as Nicole produced the letter. "What difference does it make? As they say...'read it and weep'..." Nicole replied before handing the letter to E.J.
E.J. read the letter then guessed that Nicole had also read it. "Yes, I have -- I'm an adulteress and a snoop," Nicole admitted. "This is not funny!" E.J. snapped. "Well, I'm having a lot more fun than I did at my anniversary party -- and, may I point out, at least you're reading about your slut of a wife in the privacy of your own office; Eric heard about me at the pub, in front of his mother...and, oh, his 'devoted' twin, who, we now know, is no better than me!" Nicole countered.
"It has to hurt, knowing that it was Lucas, right? Seems you underestimated his...'assets'..." Nicole mused before exiting the office -- and once the coast was clear, E.J. shoved all the items off the desk with a scream of anger then contacted someone and demanded Kristen's latest cell phone number.
Lucas entered the Brady Pub and found Philip waiting at the bar. "Where you been?" Philip began. "I was just talking to Sami," Lucas explained. "Did you tell her about the letter?" Philip wondered. "No -- it's gone; what's the point?" Lucas responded. "Actually, I have a confession to make..." Philip admitted.
Nicole returned to the Walker apartment and went back to drinking red wine and staring sadly at the framed wedding photograph Eric had shattered the previous day. "Well, Sami, you did it -- you destroyed my marriage... Now, let's see how you like it..." Nicole muttered.
E.J. entered the DiMera mansion and joined Sami in the living room. "What are you doing home so early?" Sami wondered after greeting E.J. with a kiss. "For some reason, I had this overwhelming urge to come home to my loving, faithful wife..." E.J. responded, making Sami squirm.
Belle entered St. Luke's and approached Shawn, who was surprised that the crisis at DiMera Enterprises had been resolved before the wedding had begun. Shawn filled Belle in on everything that had happened since their previous conversation, finishing the recap just as Theo entered the church with Abe and Lani. "How's my smile?" Shawn whispered to Belle. "Strained -- just like Abe's," Belle responded.
Ciara stopped in front of a wall-mounted mirror while exiting the Brady house. "And she lived happily ever after..." Ciara flatly muttered before suddenly remembering a recent conversation with Ben. "Ben means nothing to me -- he means absolutely nothing to me!" Ciara insisted before rushing out of the house and getting in a waiting limousine.
At St. Luke's, Theo lifted a bridal veil -- and found Claire, not Ciara, under it. "Surprise," Claire sheepishly said to Theo and the wedding guests. Meanwhile, Ciara protested that the limousine driver had just missed the road that would take them to the church. "That's because we aren't going to the church," Ben explained from the driver's seat. "Ben?" Ciara snapped. "Happy anniversary, Ciara," Ben responded with a grin.
Due to NBC's coverage of the Tokyo Olympics, Days of our Lives did not air. This was a planned preemption, and there were no "lost" episodes as a result of the scheduling change.
Days of our Lives will resume on Monday, August 9, and pick up where the Thursday, July 22, episode concluded.