Days of our Lives Recaps: The week of December 26, 2022 on DAYS

Sonny defended Leo to Victor. Will and Sonny fought about Leo. Alex and Stephanie's date was cut short. Bonnie told Sarah of her suspicions. Xander told Sarah the truth. Gwen admitted to Justin that she had created Rednax. Eli spent Christmas with Abe and Paulina. Brady and Eric plotted to kidnap Rachel. Gabi encouraged Rafe to date Jada. Li and Gabi wed. Gabi remembered her conversation with Rolf, and she confronted Li at the altar. Wendy cut ties with Li. Johnny kissed Wendy. E.J. kissed Nicole. Gabi found Stefan and Chloe in bed together. Rachel disappeared.
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Sonny defended Leo to Victor. Brady and Eric plotted to kidnap Rachel. Gabi remembered her conversation with Rolf, and she confronted Li at the altar.
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Victor and Sonny argue about Leo

Victor and Sonny argue about Leo

Monday, December 26, 2022

by Mike

Stephanie wrapped up a phone conversation with Kayla while alone at the Brady-Johnson townhouse then sighed at an artificial tree that was sitting on the kitchen table and had the distinction of being the only holiday decoration on display. "I thought you'd be festive, but...nope, just depressing," Stephanie grumbled while inspecting the only two working lights on the tiny tree's otherwise bare branches. "And now I'm talking to a tree -- even more depressing," Stephanie concluded with a groan.

Someone knocked on the townhouse door just then -- and Stephanie was surprised to see that the visitor, Alex, was carrying a real tree that was quite a bit larger. "This is exactly what I needed," Stephanie declared after Alex entered the townhouse, also carrying a box of decorations. "I just thought you might be lonely this morning, since your family was out of town," Alex explained to Stephanie while they were setting up the tree and covering it with lights, ribbons, and ornaments.

Alex didn't want to sound ungrateful but couldn't help wondering why Stephanie hadn't canceled their holiday plans and joined Steve, Kayla, Joey, and Tripp in Seattle after Paulina had officially declined the gubernatorial election victory the previous day. Stephanie claimed to be too busy to take a vacation and also admitted to having been looking forward to eating dinner with Alex and the rest of the Kiriakis family later that day. Alex warned that Stephanie might have regrets by the end of the night. "Between Bonnie's hallucinations and Sonny's new houseguest, the place is a little bit more nutty -- even more -- than usual," Alex explained to Stephanie before sharing more details.

Stephanie was relieved to learn that Bonnie had decided to talk to Marlena. "I once suffered from PTSD, too -- it was one of the worst times of my life," Stephanie admitted before telling Alex about having gotten caught in the middle of one of the many wars between the Kiriakis and DiMera families that had occurred over the years. "Wasn't E.J. responsible for Tripp's kidnapping, too?" Alex recalled at the end of Stephanie's tale. "We can't prove it, but...yes," Stephanie confirmed, prompting Alex to muse that it seemed like the "ruthless bastard" E.J. had a fondness for messing with the Johnsons.

Stephanie teased that Alex had no idea just how much truth was in that observation. Stephanie changed the subject instead of elaborating, admitting to Alex that it was hard to believe that Sonny had invited Leo, of all people, to stay at the Kiriakis mansion. "Baby bro is a big softie," Alex grumbled. "Kind of the opposite of your Uncle Vic," Stephanie noted.

Alex agreed with Stephanie's comparison then changed the subject, wondering how Tripp was doing in the wake of Ava's breakdown. Stephanie informed Alex that Tripp was desperate to see Ava but was going to have to wait a few more days for the first visitation opportunity. Stephanie assumed that was the only reason Tripp had decided to join Steve, Kayla, and Joey in Seattle for the holidays.

Stephanie stepped into the kitchen to prepare two cups of hot chocolate, and Alex sneaked a gift box under the tree while the coast was clear. Stephanie soon returned with the cups of hot chocolate and watched Alex turn on the tree's lights then noticed the gift box. Alex encouraged Stephanie to open the gift right away, teasing that it was somewhat time sensitive.

Stephanie removed a gaming console from the box then gave Alex a look of confusion. "You told me that you loved playing video games all the time with your brothers back in Seattle and that you were looking forward to having a tournament with them when you were home for the holidays. Since you couldn't get back there, I figured maybe you and I could have our own little tournament," Alex explained, prompting Stephanie to rave that the gift was thoughtful and romantic.

Alex lost a driving game then argued that Stephanie had an unfair advantage as a former racer. Alex lost a dancing game next but blamed that on Stephanie's past experience as a cheerleader. Alex refused to go for a third round of humiliation, guessing that Stephanie was simply better at everything. Stephanie teased that Alex had to have at least one special talent. Alex confirmed the suspicion then gave Stephanie a kiss as proof.

Stephanie confirmed that Alex's kissing skills were impressive. Alex asked for a victory lap, prompting Stephanie to offer to grant the request in a more comfortable room of the townhouse.

Rafe and Jada were both on duty at the police station when Justin arrived to get an update on the search for Ava's accomplice. "We tried questioning her, but...mentally, she's completely checked out. I don't think we'll get any answers from her anytime soon," Jada reported. "We're not giving up, though -- in fact, right now, we are waiting on a forensics report on the warehouse where Bonnie and Xander were held," Rafe elaborated.

Justin thanked Rafe and Jada for their continued efforts to solve the case then fretted that Bonnie might not be able to fully recover until the kidnapper was identified and arrested.

Bonnie ran into Sarah while passing through the halls of the hospital. "Justin convinced me that I should, well, talk to someone about the visions I've been having about the clown who kidnapped me, so...Dr. Evans, saint that she is, agreed to meet me this morning, and we just had our first session," Bonnie explained to Sarah before admitting that talking to a psychiatrist had seemed silly at first but actually might have already made things better.

Bonnie saw a clown just then and started fretting about having spoken too soon, but Sarah also saw the clown -- an innocuous one known as Clarence the Christmas Clown, who was waiting to entertain the hospital's youngest patients during the party that was held there each year. Sarah clarified the situation just as Bonnie was preparing to throw a punch at Clarence as a way of standing up to the suspected hallucination. "Stay away from me, you freak!" Clarence spat at Bonnie before thanking Sarah for the help then rushing off in search of a safer waiting area. "I think my therapy isn't gonna be a quick fix, after all," Bonnie grumbled. "Maybe not...but it is important to stick with it," Sarah advised.

Sarah was surprised to learn that Clarence wasn't the only person Bonnie had lashed out at recently. "Why did you think that Xander was your kidnapper?" Sarah wondered, prompting Bonnie to list each of the signs that had pointed to Xander as a likely suspect. "But obviously, it couldn't have been him," Bonnie concluded, drawing a forced smile from Sarah, who seemed to be deep in thought.

Gwen rushed over to the roach-infested motel after receiving an urgent message from Xander. "Thanks for coming over -- I hope I didn't pull you away from any fun holiday festivities," Xander began. "No, you actually saved me from having to go to church with the Hortons -- specifically, Julie," Gwen responded. "Well, Sarah's at the hospital, so it's a perfect opportunity for us to be totally alone," Xander explained before showing Gwen some lingerie.

Gwen stared at the lingerie in disbelief then laughed while recalling having given Xander multiple warnings about a debt that would eventually be collected. "Oh, you don't need to repay me this way! Look, I'm not that person anymore, Xander -- I would never ask you to be unfaithful to your wife!" Gwen objected, prompting Xander to clarify that the lingerie was the Christmas gift that they, according to Thomas, had picked out for Sarah together. "I've got much better taste than that thing!" Gwen stressed before admitting that wasn't important then promising not to let "that little snitch" Thomas' chat with Sarah cause too much trouble for Xander.

Xander started to escort Gwen out of the motel room while still holding the lingerie, unaware that Justin was preparing to knock on the door. Xander hid the lingerie after spotting Justin then claimed that Gwen had just stopped by to return a scarf that had been lost during the Horton family's annual tree-trimming ceremony. Justin repeated the information that Rafe and Jada had shared earlier then handed over an envelope that contained a Christmas gift for Xander -- the necessary paperwork to initiate a lawsuit against Rednax for wrongful termination. Xander maintained that the matter wasn't a big deal, but Justin insisted on continuing the lawsuit as a pro bono case.

Justin reasoned that the lawsuit would be a way of thanking Xander for having saved Bonnie when the kidnapper had returned to take care of unfinished business. Xander tried to object again, but Gwen interrupted and blurted out a name, having sensed that Justin was starting to get suspicious about how much resistance the lawsuit was receiving.

Justin repeated the name -- Maeve Wilson -- and Gwen claimed that was the woman who had been Xander's boss at Rednax. "I was going to interview her, see -- I was gonna do some press for this company -- but then, when I found out that they were crooked, I just ditched the story," Gwen explained before promising to give Justin the woman's contact information.

Justin thanked Gwen for the help then started to rush off to the hospital to pick up Bonnie, prompting Xander to request permission to tag along. "Sarah's enlisted me to play Santa for the kids in Pediatrics," Xander revealed before adding that the ride with Justin would give them more time to argue about whether to move forward with the lawsuit. "I'm not gonna change my mind," Justin warned.

Xander laughed off the threat then promised to meet Justin outside after fetching the Santa costume. "Who are we gonna get to play 'Maeve Wilson'? Are we gonna...I don't know, get Leo to don drag? Or maybe give his mate Jackie a call?" Xander challenged Gwen after Justin left the motel room. "Maeve Wilson actually exists -- she's a girl I went to school with, a real proper bitch --" Gwen explained to Xander. "How is that relevant?" Xander wondered, and Gwen conceded the point before getting back on track. "We're gonna send Justin on a wild goose chase, and you're never gonna be found out," Gwen assured Xander.

Rafe and Jada, still together at the police station, started reading the forensics report they had just received. "Seems like after Xander and Bonnie escaped, the clown went back to the place and cleaned up before our guys got there," Rafe grumbled before perking up after spotting something of interest in the report. "According to this, Forensics found a torn piece of flesh-colored polyester fiber," Rafe summarized before noting that the clown mask was known to be made of latex. "Also found pieces of batting -- Poly-fill," Rafe continued before guessing that the clues were somehow linked to the kidnapper.

Jada was hoping to avoid getting dragged into the Brady family's holiday celebration at the pub, so Rafe extended an invitation to the Hernandez family's holiday celebration. Jada accepted the offer but insisted on taking Rafe to the hospital first so they could watch an old tradition. "My dad always talked about this party -- it was one of his favorite memories from working here," Jada explained to Rafe right before Sarah started reading the Christmas story to the hospital's youngest patients.

Xander started handing out gifts to the kids once Sarah was finished. "I'm surprised a man as vain as Xander would willingly cover up his muscles with all that padding," Jada admitted, prompting Rafe to realize that the clues in the forensics report meant that the kidnapper had also been wearing some sort of bodysuit. "But why?" Jada wondered, drawing a shrug from Rafe.

Justin headed over to the Horton house to pick up the contact information that Gwen had promised earlier -- and Bonnie, who had tagged along, took a glance at the information then laughed. "Rednax is 'Xander' spelled backwards -- what a coincidence," Bonnie mused, stunning Justin and horrifying Gwen.

Victor was alone in the study of the Kiriakis mansion, fiddling with a tablet computer, when Leo entered the room with a yawn and snatched some of the food that was sitting on the coffee table. "What the hell are you doing in my house?" Victor demanded to know. "Haven't you heard? I live here now!" Leo responded.

Leo joined Victor on the couch and wondered when the Kiriakis family would start opening Christmas gifts that day. "About an hour after we throw you out on your sugarplum ass," Victor spat before starting to let Henderson know that a "deranged woodland critter" needed to be escorted out of the mansion right away.

Sonny entered the study while Leo was complaining about the way Victor was treating an invited guest. Victor listened in disbelief as Sonny confirmed that Leo was between residences and had therefore been invited to stay at the mansion for the holidays because the alternative might have been sleeping on the street. "I was gonna tell you last night, but you were already asleep by the time I got home...and this morning, I had to help Ari get ready in time for Gabi to pick her up --" Sonny explained. "Fine. You gave him a warm bed. Now it's time for him to scamper back to Whoville," Victor interjected.

Sonny tried to argue that the holidays weren't over yet, but Victor didn't want to have a "kallikantzaros" like Leo inside the mansion for even a minute longer. "It's a Greek goblin who emerges from the ground each Christmas," Sonny translated for Leo while Victor was threatening to get the police involved, if necessary.

Victor reminded Sonny of everything Leo had done over the years. "I forgave him, Uncle Vic -- just like many people have forgiven you over the years for your many transgressions," Sonny explained before declaring Leo a changed man and a friend. "That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Get rid of him now -- or you're fired," Victor snapped. "I'd rather keep my integrity -- I'd rather help a friend in need -- than bow down to your ridiculous demands," Sonny countered. "Which confirms that your judgment is seriously impaired -- so, until you come to your senses, I'll just replace you with your brother Alex," Victor maintained. "You cannot keep holding this job over my head," Sonny insisted before daring Victor to make good on the threat.

Leo made a halfhearted offer to leave, but Sonny refused to take the out. Victor backed down after some thought, stunning Sonny, who was quick to question the unusual behavior. "Sonny! 'Gift horse in the mouth' much?" Leo advised. "Leo's got a point. I changed my mind because I have a heart of gold. I've made my decision -- which is probably a foolish one -- and you should just accept it," Victor declared.

Sonny shrugged and agreed then promised to keep Leo away from Victor and Maggie whenever possible while they were all living together. "Victor, you have my word -- I will never again hurt Sonny," Leo, who was wearing holiday-themed pajamas, proclaimed. "I don't know how you expect people to take you seriously when you're sitting there in baby jam-jams," Victor countered.

Victor wondered how Will felt about Sonny's "little sleepover party" with Leo. "I...haven't told him yet," Sonny confessed, squirming a bit. "Will decided to stay in L.A. and work instead of coming home for Christmas, so...he doesn't get a say in this," Sonny added with a hint of frustration. "Oh, of course not -- 'cause if he did, this creep here would be sitting on a park bench somewhere...and you, Sonny, would have a lot of splainin' to do," Victor responded.

Victor soon stormed off to another room, giving Leo an opportunity to rave about what Sonny had just done. "It was as much for me as it was for you -- I'm sick of that guy pushing me around," Sonny stressed. "Well, it was totally impressive -- a real Julia Sugarbaker moment...only hotter," Leo declared. "Thank you?" Sonny responded.

Leo produced a gift bag and handed it to Sonny. "Leo, you're broke -- you shouldn't have gotten me anything!" Sonny objected. "Course I should have -- and they gave me 20% off, so it didn't even set me back that much," Leo countered.

Leo grinned while watching Sonny remove a tank top from the gift bag and read the message -- "GAY AS CHRISTMAS MORNING" -- that was on its front side. "I saw it in the store window, and I immediately thought of you," Leo explained.

Sonny thanked Leo for the gift. Leo urged Sonny to try it on right away. "It is Christmas morning, you are gay -- what better time? Besides, if it doesn't fit, I want to return it and make sure I can get you the right size," Leo reasoned.

Sonny shrugged then agreed to humor Leo. "Holy nutcrackers," Leo muttered while ogling Sonny's bare chest. "Excuse me?" Sonny responded, prompting Leo to feign ignorance.

Will burst into the study just then and started to wish Sonny a merry Christmas then stopped midsentence. "I'm sorry -- what the hell is going on here?" Will demanded to know.

This was John Aniston's final episode. It ended with a four-minute tribute that featured a montage of some of Victor's most memorable scenes, as well as the following epitaph: "In loving memory of John Anthony Aniston, 1933-2022. Good Night, Sweet Prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest..."

Sarah learns the truth

Sarah learns the truth

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Abe and Paulina exchanged Christmas gifts in their living room. Paulina glanced at her phone. "Are you expecting a call?" Abe asked. "I keep thinking about Sloan Petersen," Paulina admitted. Abe reminded Paulina that she and Chanel were free of charges. "I can't help feeling like this is a long way from being over," Paulina said. The doorbell rang. Panicked, Paulina yelped that Sloan was there to exact her revenge.

"Take a breath, all right? We don't know who it is," Abe said. Abe promised to deal with the visitor. "Police! Open up!" a voice yelled through the door. "Oh, Lord!" Paulina muttered. When Abe opened the door, Eli laughed as he pushed the twins' stroller inside. Eli hugged Abe and Paulina. "You have no idea how good it is to see you," Paulina said. Paulina noted that it was a pleasure to see the twins smile after the previous month of problems.

"I wish Lani were here to see this," Abe said. Eli asked about Chanel. "She's free. That's all that matters," Paulina said. Paulina explained that Chanel and Allie would be by with gifts. "I should have brought a trailer just for the gifts," Eli joked. Paulina asked Eli not to tell Julie that he had visited Paulina first.

"I got a confession to make. I took the twins to see Julie last night," Eli said. Eli apologized. "You're here now. That's all that matters," Paulina said. Abe asked Eli about Lani. "[Lani] is strong, but I know it's killing her to not be here with family on Christmas," Eli admitted. Abe said he hoped the next year would be different.

When Eli asked if Paulina and Chanel's legal nightmares were over, Paulina and Abe exchanged a look. "What am I missing?" Eli asked. Abe told Eli about Sloan's threats. Eli offered to talk to Sloan, but Paulina ordered Eli not to interfere. "We just don't want any more trouble than there already is," Abe agreed. "Are you sure you don't need me?" Eli asked. Paulina said that they needed Eli to be a husband to Lani and a father to the twins. Eli reluctantly agreed to steer clear of Sloan.

As it was also the twins' birthday, the family sang "Happy Birthday." Eli blew out the candles on the cake. "I know what they wished for for Christmas and their birthday: For their mom to be home," Eli said. "That's what we all wish for and pray for," Paulina said.

At the Johnson residence, Stephanie and Alex kissed on the couch. "Are you sure you're ready to take the next step?" Alex asked. "We would have ended up in my bed the other night if Paulina hadn't called and interrupted," Stephanie said. Alex told Stephanie that he was not used to being the romantic type. "But from the moment I met you, you knocked me off [my feet]," Alex said. Though Alex and Stephanie agreed they were ready to sleep together, neither was prepared. Alex ran to the store to get condoms.

Stephanie primped in anticipation of Alex's return. There was a knock at the door. "Did you find the candy cane ones?" Stephanie said as she opened the door. Chad was in the hallway. "What about candy canes?" Chad asked. Stephanie laughed nervously. "You look flushed. Are you okay?" Chad asked. Stephanie admitted that she had expected Alex at the door. "He stepped out to run an errand," Stephanie said. Chad gave Stephanie a Christmas gift.

"I didn't get you anything," Stephanie said. Chad explained that the gift was from the kids. "Tell them thank you. It means a lot," Stephanie said. With a nod, Chad started to leave. "Today must be so hard for you," Stephanie said. "It is, but most days are hard," Chad said. Chad admitted that the kids had handled the holiday better than he had. Stephanie said she was sure that Chad had done his best to make Christmas great for the kids. As Chad fought back tears, Stephanie hugged him. Alex returned.

"I'm so sorry. Stephanie said you were going to go grab something," Chad said. "Candy canes. I was craving them," Stephanie said. Alex nodded yes. "Needed them badly for later," Alex said. Alex asked Chad if he was okay. With a nod yes, Chad asked to use the bathroom. While Chad was out of the room, Stephanie told Alex about her conversation with Chad.

"Holidays are rough when you lose someone you love. We obviously can't throw Chad back into the cold if he is hurting that bad," Alex said. Stephanie agreed. When Chad returned, Alex asked him to stay. "I'm not going to be a third wheel?" Chad said. Alex asked Chad to help him beat Stephanie at the racing video game.

"You want to play video games?" Chad asked. "You're my only hope, buddy," Alex said. After a moment, Chad smiled and said he would likely beat Alex worse than Stephanie had beaten him. While Chad and Alex played video games, Stephanie prepared snacks. Stephanie smiled as she listened to the men trash-talk one another playfully.

In the Kiriakis living room, Sonny took off his shirt in front of Leo in order to try on his new tank top. Will returned home to surprise Sonny for Christmas. "You're here," Sonny said. "Looks like you weren't expecting me," Will countered. As Leo chattered about the California weather, Sonny told him to shut up.

"Why didn't you tell me you were coming?" Sonny asked. "I wanted to surprise you. I didn't expect to be surprised myself, or maybe a more accurate word would be 'horrified,'" Will said. Will explained that although the studio had wanted him to stay in Los Angeles, he had hated the idea of not being with Sonny at Christmas.

"I came here as fast as I could because I kept picturing you alone on Christmas," Will said. Leo noted that he and Sonny had planned to be alone until Leo had lost his lodgings. "You're not helping, Leo!" Sonny yelled. "You know what else is not helping? You with your shirt off," Will said. Sonny scrambled to put on a shirt, and he grabbed his gift from Leo. As Will sighed, Sonny said that he understood that Will was upset.

"Why would I be upset? Because I come home to spend Christmas with my husband, and I walk in to find you half-naked with him?" Will asked. Sonny said Leo had given him the shirt as a gift, and he had been trying it on when Will had arrived. "For what it's worth, I think it fits you very nicely. A little tight, which is good," Leo said. "Shut up, Leo!" Sonny and Will yelled in unison. Leo sat back down.

"Why is Leo giving you a Christmas present? And why is he wearing pajamas?" Will asked. Sonny asked Leo to leave him alone with Will. After Leo left the room, Sonny explained that Leo had been homeless and alone. "So, I invited him here for dinner and a place to stay," Sonny said. "Why do you care if he had no place to go? You can't stand the guy," Will said. Will recounted Leo's misdeeds.

"He's not working an angle," Sonny insisted. "How do you know that?" Will asked. Will blamed Leo for their fight. "No, we are fighting because you're not even trying to understand me!" Sonny countered. "Leo is always trying to get between us, and that is what he is trying to do right now!" Will argued. "I don't think you understand how hard it is for me when you're gone," Sonny said. Sonny stressed that he would rather spend time with Will than with Leo.

"But you weren't here," Sonny said. "I thought that we both agreed that I couldn't miss out on this opportunity in L.A.," Will said. Sonny told Will that he stood by that agreement, and that he was proud of Will. "I'm sorry. I should have told you about this sooner. But it kind of happened," Sonny said. Alarmed, Will asked what had happened specifically. Sonny explained that he had become friendly with Leo.

"I think I've come to understand [Leo] a little bit better," Sonny said. Sonny argued that Leo had lived a difficult life, and Leo had made strides to be a better person. "I know that you always try to see the best in people," Will said. Will said he loved that about Sonny. "But sometimes, you have to face reality," Will argued. Sonny countered that Will always saw the worst in people.

"The first thing you thought when you came in here was that I was cheating on you," Sonny said. "Well, you did the same thing in Phoenix!" Will countered. "I had reason to think that. You already cheated on me once!" Sonny yelled. "I thought we had gotten past that," Will said. Sonny apologized. "Leo is just a lonely guy on Christmas, and I'm trying to be a friend to him," Sonny said. After a moment, Will said he believed Sonny.

"Promise that you trust me. I would never do anything to hurt you or our relationship. I love you so much," Sonny said. "I trust you," Will said. Leo returned to the room as Sonny told Will that he did not want to fight with the man he loved. "I'm so glad to see you. And I'm so glad you're home," Sonny said with tears in his eyes. "So am I. But Sonny, now that I am, Leo has to go," Will whispered.

"It's okay, Sonny," Leo said. Leo made a remark about his meal at the soup kitchen, and Will shook his head in frustration. "Thank you, Sonny, for your kindness and your generosity. Merry Christmas. And to you, Will," Leo said. As Leo started to walk out, Sonny stopped him. "I'm not doing it," Sonny told Will. "You're not seriously falling for his sad little Tiny Tim act?" Will said. Sonny admitted that he knew that Leo was playing up the situation, but he did not want to throw him out. "If he's not leaving, I will," Will said. "Will!" Sonny pleaded as Will marched out.

At the hospital, Xander and Sarah ducked into the lounge, clad in their Santa and Mrs. Claus outfits. Sarah thanked Xander for his help at the party. With a smile, Xander opened up his bag to retrieve a gift for Sarah. Inside the box were plane tickets to Greece. Xander noted that he wanted to make up for the present he had picked out with Gwen. "I was hoping you'd give me a chance to redeem myself and that we could enjoy the honeymoon we never got to have," Xander said. Sarah asked Xander how he would pay for the vacation.

"Xander always finds a way. And I talked to Kayla about giving you the week off," Xander said. Sarah kissed Xander, but she did not smile. Xander asked Sarah if she was upset. "You seemed a bit distant today," Xander said. Sarah asked Xander why he had not told her that Bonnie had accused him of the kidnapping. Xander dismissed it as a crazy idea.

"Bonnie didn't think it seemed crazy," Sarah said. "Well, because I said some phrase that reminded her of Mr. Clown?" Xander countered. When Sarah mentioned Mimi, Xander noted that Bonnie's daughter was public knowledge. When Sarah still appeared unsure, Xander asked Sarah if she still suspected him of having been the kidnapper. "I'm sorry. It's just, Bonnie got in my head," Sarah said. Xander pointed out that Bonnie had been picturing clowns everywhere.

"Yes, Bonnie is suffering from some very serious PTSD," Sarah admitted. Sarah apologized. "I know how hard you have worked to become a better man, and you've been honest with me, and I trust you. I know that you wouldn't lie to me," Sarah said. With a grin, Sarah told Xander that she would go change clothes and then give Xander his present at home.

In the Horton living room, Justin, Gwen, and Bonnie talked about Justin's lawsuit against Rednax. Bonnie pointed out that Rednax was Xander spelled backwards. "What about it?" Gwen asked. "Just a funny coincidence, right?" Bonnie said with a chuckle. "I don't think it's funny at all," Justin said. Justin argued that Xander had to have invented the company.

"Why would he do that?" Bonnie asked. "Gwen, any ideas?" Justin said. Gwen remained silent, so Justin asked Gwen about her research. "Everything seemed to check out," Gwen said. "You had no idea the company was a fake?" Bonnie asked. Gwen explained that she had looked at the website, and someone had answered the phone number when she had called. "I've been to that website, too. It looks real, but there are no employee names, including the CEO who supposedly fired Xander," Justin said. Gwen played dumb. Justin asked Gwen about the CEO name she had given him.

"It must have been in the public record, or maybe Xander told me," Gwen said. "I don't think any of that is true. I don't think there is a Maeve Wilson. I think you made it all up to protect Xander," Justin said. With a sigh, Gwen admitted that Xander had lied about his job at Rednax. "I built the website, and I forged his unemployment contract," Gwen confessed. "Which is why he was so against me filing a wrongful termination suit," Justin said. Justin asked why. Gwen explained that Xander had lied because he had been too ashamed to tell Sarah that he was unemployed. "I'm sorry! I was just helping a friend, and I suppose I just took it a bit too far," Gwen said.

After Justin and Bonnie left, Gwen called Xander to warn him he was in trouble. Xander and Gwen made plans to meet in the park. As Xander walked out of the hospital lounge, Sarah watched him.

In the town square, Justin and Bonnie sipped drinks at the café. Justin was distracted. "What's up with you?" Bonnie asked. Justin said he was preoccupied with Gwen's story. "I don't buy it, either," Bonnie said. "What is Xander's secret?" Justin wondered aloud. Bonnie suggested that Xander and Gwen were having an affair.

"When a man lies, it's usually about his paycheck or his love life. And I think Xander is lying about both," Bonnie said. Justin admitted that he had seen the way that Gwen looked at Xander. "I hate to gossip about Xander after he saved me from that crazy clown, but it is crystal clear that he and Gwen share some deep, dark secret," Bonnie said. With a shake of his head, Justin said he did not believe Xander would cheat on Sarah. "Honestly, whatever it is that they're keeping from us, I'm worried that it's' even worse than an affair," Justin said.

When Xander arrived in the park, Gwen told him about her conversation with Justin and Bonnie. "If Justin doesn't believe you, he won't let this go. If he says something to Sarah," Xander said with a shrug. "[Sarah] still has her suspicions?" Gwen asked. Xander said he knew that Sarah doubted his story. "If Sarah finds out what I did to Susan and Bonnie," Xander said. "I already know," Sarah said as she stepped into the clearing. Sarah explained she had overheard Xander on the phone with Gwen in the hospital lounge.

"Let me explain," Xander pleaded. "Maybe you want to start with how you kidnapped Bonnie and Susan, or how you lied to me over and over again, or how you were sneaking around my back with her," Sarah said. Xander stressed that Gwen was just a friend. "A friend who helps you lie to your wife and commit felonies," Sarah growled. Gwen started to speak, and Sarah yelled at her to shut up.

"This is between me and my husband," Sarah said. "This isn't her fault," Xander said. Frustrated, Sarah asked Xander, "Are you seriously defending her right now?" Sarah asked Gwen if Ava had made Gwen recruit Xander for the kidnapping. "That's not how it happened," Xander said. Sarah demanded the truth. Xander explained that Ava had learned about his desperate need for a job.

"I just wanted to prove to you that I was not some loser who couldn't pay his rent," Xander said. "Stop! Don't make this about me," Sarah said. Xander admitted that Rednax was not real. "Was Ava Vitali your boss all along?" Sarah asked. Xander said yes. "What did [Ava] hire you to do?" Sarah asked. "The plan was to kidnap E.J.'s mother. It was supposed to be a simple transaction. I hold her, E.J. pays up, Susan goes free. But there was a complication," Xander said. "You mean Bonnie," Sarah said.

"When I came to my senses, I let [Bonnie] go. And Ava, she swore to me that Susan wasn't gonna get hurt," Xander said. Sarah reminded Xander that Susan was dead. "I know, and I feel horrible about that," Xander said. Xander explained that he had let both Bonnie and Susan go. "How could I know that [Susan] was gonna end up getting in between E.J. and Ava and getting into that car," Xander said. Sarah argued that if Xander had not kidnapped Susan, Susan would be alive.

"So, her blood is on your hands," Sarah growled. "I didn't mean to," Xander whispered. "You didn't mean to? You did. Susan is dead. Bonnie is traumatized. And you lied to me. And everything that I thought we had between us is a lie, too," Sarah said. Xander begged Sarah to go to Greece with him so that they could work through the situation. Sarah refused. "I never want to see you again. Take Gwen to Greece. You two deserve each other," Sarah said.

Eric and Brady prepare to stage Rachel's kidnapping

Eric and Brady prepare to stage Rachel's kidnapping

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

by Mike

Chloe, alone with Stefan in the living room of the Miller apartment, raved about how nice it had been to spend the holidays with Nancy, Parker, and Joy in New York City then noted that the Miami phase of "the trip of a lifetime" was about to begin.

Chloe somewhat jokingly admitted to feeling a bit guilty about having agreed to a New Year's Eve adventure that was going to deprive Stefan of the opportunity to interrupt Gabi and Li's wedding ceremony during the part where objections were allowed to be voiced. "If I were there, I would be cheering at the top of my lungs and throwing confetti. Those two deserve each other," Stefan spat before giving Chloe a kiss then rushing off to run an errand.

Nancy soon entered the living room and fretted that Chloe wasn't even gone yet but was already missed. Chloe and Nancy resolved to visit each other often in the new year.

Chloe observed that Nancy and Mike seemed to be really happy together. "We are," Nancy confirmed. "And so are Stefan and I, as you can clearly see," Chloe stressed.

Nancy started to say something to Chloe then decided that it would be better to just smile and nod. "You were pulling for Brady and me -- hoping we were the real deal -- and you don't think I'm over him," Chloe guessed. "You rebounded and landed with Stefan so fast --" Nancy reasoned. "It really has not been that fast -- we're getting to know each other again, and we're taking things slowly," Chloe clarified. "So, you haven't slept together yet," Nancy translated. "I don't want to have this discussion with my mother --" Chloe protested. "So, you're not in love," Nancy surmised.

Chloe groaned but didn't deny either of Nancy's suspicions. Nancy made up an excuse to start gushing about how romantic the ending of When Harry Met Sally was, but Chloe saw through the manipulative change of topic and insisted that it wasn't going to work. "My life is not a movie," Chloe pointed out. "It could be!" Nancy countered.

Stefan returned while Nancy was trying to convince Chloe to rush back to Salem and surprise Brady with the sort of romantic New Year's Eve reunion that could work as the perfect ending for a screenplay. "What'd I miss?" Stefan wondered. "Mom and I were just talking about New Year's," Chloe responded.

Stefan handed Nancy a box of bagels from Zabar's then apologized for the wait and explained that the place had been packed. Stefan fretted to Chloe that they weren't going to have time to eat breakfast because they had a flight to catch. Chloe gave Nancy a farewell hug while Stefan was carrying luggage out to a waiting taxi. "This is what I want. I'm over Brady. I really am," Chloe whispered. "If you say so," Nancy muttered. "I know that you thought that we were meant to be -- I get it -- and I thought that, too, for a while...but I just don't anymore," Chloe insisted while fighting back tears.

Kristen headed over to the Salem Inn to wish Li luck with the wedding ceremony. "I'm gonna need it," Li fretted to Kristen, feeling nervous after a nightmare in which their brainwashing scheme had been exposed. "Dream or no dream, what makes you think that Stefan's gonna find out what you did? I'm certainly not gonna tell him!" Kristen assured Li, who clarified that other people also posed a threat.

Kristen was horrified, but Li insisted that neither Wendy nor Johnny would ever say anything to anyone. "I hope your confidence is justified," Kristen grumbled.

Gabi entered the kitchen of the Hernandez house and saw that Rafe was cooking breakfast. "You promised you wouldn't go to any trouble for me today!" Gabi objected. "I lied," Rafe countered.

Rafe wondered if Gabi was truly over Stefan and ready to move on with Li. "There was never a choice for me to make," Gabi reminded Rafe with a shrug before adding that everything Stefan had done since returning from the dead had made two things crystal clear. "That even before he got shot, everything was a lie -- and that he never really loved me," Gabi concluded with a sigh.

Gabi complained that Rafe needed to start dating again soon because it wasn't fair for only one of them to be open to such uncomfortable interrogations. "I am actually enjoying my bachelor status," Rafe declared. "Are you? 'Cause I happened to have detected a little something between you and Jada at Christmas," Gabi argued. "That was either your imagination or the eggnog," Rafe countered before adding that, in any case, Jada was a subordinate and was therefore off-limits. "Rules don't apply when it comes to true love," Gabi insisted before starting to send Jada a text message about Rafe being in search of a date for the wedding ceremony.

Rafe snatched Gabi's cell phone and claimed that a person could be arrested for that sort of interference. Gabi wondered why it was a crime to want to do something to prevent Rafe from turning into "a wallflower" and wasting an entire New Year's Eve. Rafe checked the time then rushed off to work as a way of dodging Gabi's question.

Wendy headed over to the DiMera mansion to talk to Johnny about Gabi and Li's wedding ceremony. Wendy, who was wearing the silk scarf Johnny had picked out, raved that it was the best Christmas gift of the year then added that it was going to be worn to the big event. "When I start to feel guilty about keeping Li's secrets, you can use it to gag me and keep me quiet," Wendy explained. "Only if you promise to do the same for me," Johnny responded.

Wendy considered faking an illness as an excuse to skip the wedding ceremony, but Johnny thought that might look suspicious. "Maybe the only way to justify keeping this secret is to realize that coming clean is just swapping out one form of guilt for another," Johnny suggested. "Yeah, I know -- if I break my promise to my brother, I'll ruin his life," Wendy agreed. "And you'll have the rest of your life to live with it," Johnny elaborated.

Brady met up with Eric at the Brady Pub so they could work out the details of their plan to use Rachel as a bargaining chip to force Kristen to hand over the orchid. Brady was stunned to learn that Eric wanted to set the plan in motion right away. "Kristen will be tied up at Gabi and Li's reception. It should be the perfect diversion...I guess," Brady conceded after some thought. "I just need to relieve John and Marlena from their babysitting so they don't realize what we're doing," Eric noted.

Brady acknowledged that the plan could fall apart if Kristen decided to leave the wedding ceremony early. "I could steal her car keys," Brady suggested. "That's a good idea, but I got a better one...though you're not gonna like it," Eric countered. "You want me to take Kristen to the wedding as my date," Brady guessed. "I know it sounds crazy, but just imagine you showing up with the she-devil on your arm as I kidnap the thing that she loves the most, her daughter -- it can't fail," Eric reasoned, ignoring Brady's attempts to warn that Jada had just entered the pub and was within earshot.

Jada interrupted and sarcastically apologized for having ruined Eric's plan -- the one that had been keeping them from crossing paths with each other lately. "That was close. Are you okay?" Brady whispered to Eric after Jada claimed a table far away from theirs. "I don't blame Jada for being bitter, but we need to focus," Eric responded, drawing a nod from Brady, who soon rushed off in search of Kristen.

Eric approached Jada's table and insisted that there had been a misunderstanding. "I haven't been avoiding you -- I just haven't been staying here since --" Eric tried to explain. "You got out of jail," Jada concluded for Eric.

Eric conceded that it wasn't particularly surprising that Jada had heard about that incident. "I also heard that your lawyer is...a 'full-service' attorney," Jada revealed.

Eric started to respond, but Jada interrupted. "Look, I don't care -- you live your life, I'll live mine -- but I know why you got arrested, and I'm not interested in being the reason why you're spinning out," Jada stressed. "I'm not 'spinning out' -- and you're not the reason why I got arrested. The last few weeks have been a struggle for me," Eric clarified.

Eric hoped to eventually have a friendship with Jada again. "We'll never see eye to eye on the pregnancy, but that wasn't the real issue between us," Eric admitted. "In your opinion, what was?" Jada wondered. "My getting involved with you when I had unresolved feelings for Nicole," Eric elaborated before apologizing to Jada for that lapse of judgment.

Jada was not yet ready to try being Eric's friend again but was willing to give the idea some thought. Jada apologized for having given Eric a cold greeting earlier then started to rush off to work. "Try to stay out of jail," Jada teased Eric before leaving.

Li headed over to the DiMera mansion to make sure that Johnny was still willing to keep quiet about the brainwashing scheme. "I have a promise from Wendy, and it would keep me from sweating through my tux if I had yours, too," Li explained. "I already gave you my reassurance," Johnny answered. "Just covering my bases," Li reasoned. "You know, you're a pretty crappy brother. Wendy's tied up in knots because of her loyalty to you," Johnny grumbled.

Li snapped that Johnny had no right to say such things. "I'm a good brother to Wendy!" Li insisted. "Yeah, just like you're gonna be 'a good husband' to Gabi, right? Starting off the marriage with a lie? Which, by the way, they've got their way of coming to the surface, so you might as well just level with her now and take your chances," Johnny countered. "I can't do that," Li protested. "Your call...but I have a feeling you're gonna live to regret it," Johnny advised.

Gabi was alone at the Hernandez house, staring at a digital image of Stefan that had just been delivered from an app that sent out random reminders of old photographs, when Wendy arrived to help with the last-minute wedding preparations.

Gabi breathed a sigh of relief, grateful for the distraction, then forced a smile and greeted Wendy with a hug and an over-the-top declaration of excitement about the impending nuptials that would make them sisters-in-law. Wendy, having apparently bought the act, noted that Gabi seemed happy. Gabi confirmed Wendy's observation. "Then I'm going to do my very best to help make this a day you remember for the rest of your life," Wendy promised before gulping down a lot of Champagne.

Rafe approached Jada at the police station and extended an invitation to the wedding ceremony. "Since you and Gabi hit it off," Rafe reasoned, prompting Jada to agree that being with the Hernandez family on Christmas Day had been nice.

Brady tracked down Kristen at the town square and staged a collision, using a fake phone conversation as an apparent distraction. "I was trying to make sure that Gabi and Li's wedding gift was delivered on time," Brady explained. "It's okay -- you can bump into me anytime," Kristen stressed.

Brady claimed to have been planning to call Kristen next. "I don't know why this didn't occur to me before, but you and I are gonna be leaving the townhouse at the same time for the wedding, and it's kind of silly for us to go separately --" Brady elaborated. "Are you asking me to go with you?" Kristen sputtered.

Brady wondered if Kristen thought that was a bad idea. "It's just...I can't figure out why you're asking me," Kristen clarified. "Well, I kind of wanted to beat you to the punch, Kristen, honestly -- I figured with your access to the orchid, you would probably force me to go somehow, so I guess I just wanted to do it on my own terms," Brady reasoned.

Kristen conceded that Brady's move made sense. "I hadn't thought of that," Kristen claimed. "Do you want to go with me or not?" Brady snapped. "Yes -- very, very much!" Kristen answered.

Kristen wanted to include Rachel so the outing would be a true family event, but Brady insisted that wasn't going to work. "The wedding is at night, it's New Year's Eve, the reception is probably gonna go to the wee hours of the morning --" Brady explained. "Too late for Rachel -- you're right," Kristen conceded. "Dad and Marlena, they're already set to babysit her, so we should just stick to that plan...and maybe the two of us would have a little bit more fun alone, anyway," Brady argued.

Kristen grinned then linked arms with Brady so they could exit the town square together -- and they passed by the Brady Pub without noticing that Eric was inside, arranging to watch Rachel so John and Marlena could celebrate New Year's Eve.

Rolf tries to get a warning to Li right before the wedding

Rolf tries to get a warning to Li right before the wedding

Thursday, December 29, 2022

by Mike

Chloe and Stefan arrived in Miami and checked into their hotel then headed up to their room to drop off their luggage. "We went from record low temperatures in New York City to record highs in Miami. I'm melting in these clothes," Chloe grumbled. "Take 'em off," Stefan advised. "You know, Stefan, we haven't really even had a chance to eat anything all day --" Chloe sputtered. "Which is why I was suggesting that we get out of our clothes and into something fancy so we can go have a nice dinner and see where the night takes us," Stefan clarified, drawing a sigh of relief from Chloe, who liked the sound of that idea.

Rafe headed over to the Salem Inn to help Li get ready for the wedding ceremony. Li received a phone call while showering and told Rafe that it was probably the justice of the peace. Rafe answered the call for Li and was stunned to hear Rolf's voice on the other end. Li emerged from the bathroom in a robe while Rafe was demanding to know the reason for Rolf's call.

Li intervened after realizing that Rafe was talking to Rolf instead of the justice of the peace. "How the hell did you get this number?" Li snapped at Rolf for Rafe's benefit. " gave it to me. I didn't think you'd be so foolish as to allow someone else to answer your phone," Rolf responded before starting to warn Li about something. "It's my wedding day, and I'm not about to talk business -- with anyone, let alone you! Goodbye -- and don't call back!" Li yelled before hanging up on Rolf. "The nerve of that man -- he said he wants DiMera to fund his new lab!" Li explained to Rafe with a shake of the head.

Brady phoned Eric from the living room of the Evans-Black townhouse and recorded a voicemail message while keeping an eye on the door to Kristen's bedroom. "Kristen and I are gonna leave in a couple of minutes. I plan to keep her at the reception at least until midnight, so that should give you more than enough time to get Rachel out of here. I hope we're doing the right thing, man," Brady whispered before ending the call.

Kristen soon emerged from the bedroom, wearing a robe, and informed Brady that there had been a change of plans. "You're not going to the wedding?" Brady sputtered. "Well, I'm not gonna leave Rachel alone -- and I just saw John and Marlena driving off --" Kristen explained. "Oh, I forgot to tell you! Okay, I felt bad -- they love going out on New Year's Eve -- so I just asked Eric to come babysit instead," Brady clarified.

Kristen observed that Brady seemed to be really invested in making sure that they would be able to go to the wedding ceremony together. "Maybe there's a part of you that wants to walk in with me on your arm," Kristen suggested, drawing a scoff from Brady. "Like I said before, I half expected you to force me to go with you, anyway," Brady maintained, but Kristen still chose to view the gesture as a hint of what the future held for them as a couple.

Rafe and Jada met up at the Brady Pub and each got a bit flustered after seeing the other in formalwear for the first time. "I have never been to a Salem wedding...but I did take a two-semester course for Salem weddings at the police academy," Jada informed Rafe. "They do tend to be high drama," Rafe stressed. "And high risk, apparently," Jada recalled. "Well, let's hope tonight is the exception to that, right? For my sister's sake," Rafe declared.

Wendy started preparing a batch of cookies at the Hernandez house while Gabi was helping Arianna get ready for the wedding ceremony. Gabi eventually rejoined Wendy in the kitchen and requested a cup of tea for Arianna then started fretting about having a serious case of pre-wedding jitters. "I just can't shake the feeling that something is gonna go horribly wrong," Gabi elaborated.

Wendy wondered if Gabi was having second thoughts about marrying Li. "I love Li very much, and I'm very happy," Gabi insisted. "It's just been a crazy couple of months...and maybe I feel like I don't deserve to be happy," Gabi continued. "I'm just being weird. And it doesn't help that Ari's wholly wired. Maybe this will calm her down," Gabi concluded before walking away with the cup of tea.

Johnny phoned just then to find out the color of Wendy's dress. "I'm trying to pick out a tie," Johnny explained. "Just pick one you like, okay? I'm sure it'll be fine!" Wendy snapped, prompting Johnny to wonder if something was wrong. "I suppose I should have turned down the Champagne," Wendy admitted. "Gabi started the party pretty early -- and she's lots of fun, but I was already a bundle of nerves...and now she is, too," Wendy continued. "I think...deep down, she's having doubts about marrying Li," Wendy continued. "And I'm having a harder time than ever, knowing that I'm keeping a secret from the bride," Wendy continued as Gabi approached from behind.

Wendy wrapped up the phone conversation with Johnny after sensing Gabi's presence. "Exactly what secret have you been keeping from me?" Gabi wondered. "The Li's been planning for your wedding night. I've been helping him with it. Gabi, he would kill me if he found out I ruined it, so could you just forget you heard anything?" Wendy responded, drawing a nod and a smile from Gabi. "I can't wait to see what it is!" Gabi declared. "Neither can I," Wendy muttered while Gabi was changing the subject with the reveal of a gift box that contained a custom bracelet. "The inscription here -- it says 'hermanas,' and that translates to 'sisters,'" Gabi explained before giving Wendy a hug.

Gabi soon rushed off to check on Arianna, and Wendy waited until the coast was clear then sighed and donned the bracelet. Gabi returned a short time later and informed Wendy that Arianna had just started vomiting. "I should have known it was more than just nerves -- I mean, there's been a stomach virus going around," Gabi acknowledged before fretting to Wendy that Arianna couldn't attend the wedding ceremony with a contagious illness but also couldn't stay at the house all night without any supervision while sick. "I could stay with her!" Wendy offered, but Gabi insisted that was too much to ask of a maid of honor. "Postpone the wedding?" Wendy suggested -- and Gabi didn't immediately object to that idea.

Kristen entered the wedding venue with Brady then groaned while looking around. "I don't know why you felt you had to rush us out of the house -- hardly anyone is here!" Kristen grumbled. "At least a few people got to see you walking in on my arm," Brady responded. "No one we know!" Kristen countered, prompting Brady to lead the way to a couple familiar faces in the small crowd of people.

Kristen didn't seem to care about showing off Brady to E.J. or Nicole. "You and Brady look so...domestic...together! Or is it just that Brady looks so domesticated?" E.J. teased. "You know, at first, I felt hurt that you excluded me from your mother's funeral, but it looks like I dodged a bullet -- or a bomb," Kristen countered. "It's always about you, isn't it?" E.J. observed before storming off with Nicole. "Was it something I said?" Kristen wondered. "People get a little touchy sometimes when you make jokes about their dead mother," Brady explained. "Such thin skin!" Kristen muttered before changing the subject, telling Brady that they needed to take a selfie together so they could send it to Rachel.

Kristen uploaded the selfie to a social media account -- and Chloe, who was fiddling with a cell phone at that moment, received an alert because Brady was tagged in the post. "I really should unfollow Brady," Chloe admitted to Stefan with a sigh before turning off the device. "That's not a picture of two people having fun at a wedding -- that's a picture of a blackmailer and her victim," Brady stressed, but Kristen argued that body language told a different story.

Rafe and Jada entered the wedding venue together, prompting Nicole to drag E.J. off to the bar. "Ooh -- this could be uncomfortable!" Kristen raved to Brady. "Nicole's been saying that her living situation with E.J. is purely platonic, but here they are at my sister's wedding as a couple!" Rafe grumbled to Jada. "Wherever she lays her hat is home," Jada muttered to Rafe.

Wendy entered the wedding venue and pulled Rafe aside then apologized for the wait and explained that Arianna was sick. Rafe was relieved to learn that Sonny was watching Arianna so Gabi could proceed with the wedding ceremony. "The groom thinks that she has cold feet," Rafe revealed. "I bet," Wendy muttered.

Johnny approached Wendy after Rafe rushed off to update Li. "Hanging in there?" Johnny wondered. "Barely," Wendy responded before explaining what had happened earlier.

Johnny hoped that Gabi would forget about Wendy's claim that Li's secret was a surprise that would be revealed after the wedding ceremony. "Maybe the universe wanted me to tell her then, when I had the perfect chance," Wendy fretted to Johnny.

Kristen continued gushing to Brady about their selfie. "I still melt when I see you smile," Kristen admitted. "You can force me to smile, Kristen, but you can't force me to love you," Brady snapped.

Kristen challenged Brady to guess what Chloe might be doing with Stefan in Miami at that exact moment -- then helped out with a hint that any sex act would probably be a safe bet. "You just love rubbing salt into a wound, don't you?" Brady grumbled, drawing an innocent shrug from Kristen. "It's kind of pathetic, if you ask me. Yeah, you've managed to screw up my life seven ways from Sunday, but just because you've temporarily derailed Chloe and me, that doesn't mean you're gonna keep us away from each other forever," Brady declared, annoying Kristen, who threatened to leave but reconsidered after getting an apology.

Chloe apologized for having mentioned Brady earlier, and Stefan dismissed the concern with a reminder that Gabi had also been a topic of discussion that day. "I guess I just still can't understand why he left me the way that he did," Chloe explained. "Gabi felt the same way about us -- she was desperate to know why my feelings for her had changed so completely," Stefan responded.

Chloe pointed out that not even Stefan knew the answer to that question. "Maybe a little time and perspective was exactly what I needed to realize just how damn toxic she is," Stefan theorized. "I've never heard being dead called 'time and perspective' before," Chloe teased, drawing a laugh from Stefan. "Leaving you for Gabi -- that's one of the stupidest things I've ever done in my life, and I'm certain that it's a mistake I'm not gonna make again," Stefan declared.

The wedding ceremony soon began, and the justice of the peace was quick to ask if anyone had any objections to share. "I thought we took that part out --" Gabi snapped at the justice of the peace. "I have something to say!" Wendy announced.

Li started squirming -- and Nicole noticed that E.J. also seemed nervous. "I just want to happy I am for my brother," Wendy continued after glancing at Johnny. "And Gabi -- I always wanted a big sister, and I couldn't ask for a better one," Wendy concluded while fighting back tears. "That might have been more appropriately said as a toast, Jing-Wen!" Li snapped. "Do you always have to be so harsh on her? Give her a break!" Gabi protested.

Li apologized then joined Gabi in expressing appreciation for the "lovely" words, but Wendy seemed to sense that one of them was really just grateful that certain things hadn't been said.

The justice of the peace resumed the wedding ceremony -- and even managed to finish it, although Gabi did get distracted with thoughts of Stefan during the vows.

The reception was being held at the same venue and therefore began right after Gabi and Li shared their first kiss as a married couple. Rafe was quick to give a toast, wanting to catch up to Wendy. "Marriage can be tough at times -- things will happen that you just didn't see coming," Rafe grumbled during the toast, drawing a sigh from Nicole. "But I know that together, the two of you can get through anything, 'cause I see how open and honest you are with each other," Rafe concluded -- and, as if on cue, Li's cell phone started ringing just then. "Dr. Rolf again?" Rafe guessed. "He called me about funding his new lab -- I guess he won't take 'no' for an answer," Li explained to Gabi. "I had no idea you two were even in touch," Gabi admitted to Li.

Li apologized for the interruption then sent the call to voicemail, drawing a groan from Rolf. "I really wish you'd pick up -- you need to know that I just learned CRS-17 can wear off in mere weeks with certain triggers!" Rolf explained before ending the call -- and, just then, Gabi felt a memory start to surface.

Gabi dropped a glass of Champagne while trying to figure out why Rolf's name was causing such confusion. The sound of the breaking glass served as a second trigger, clearing more of the fog from Gabi's memories -- because, of course, they were from an incident that had begun with that exact same noise.

Gabi had always remembered visiting Rolf's lab in Salem months earlier but suddenly realized that it hadn't been a friendly visit. Gabi recalled having broken some of Rolf's lab equipment in an effort to force an honest conversation about the theory that Stefan's resurrection had involved some brainwashing sessions.

Gabi soon remembered that holding a scalpel to Rolf's neck had proven to be a more effective tactic. Gabi finally started sharing the memories with the confused wedding guests, revealing that Rolf had admitted that Stefan had been brainwashed and that Kristen had been involved. "You're hallucinating," Kristen insisted. "Yeah, she must be -- imagine you doing something underhanded," Brady muttered before wondering what Kristen's motivation for participating in the scheme could have been. "She wanted to break up you and Chloe," Gabi recalled after a bit more thought. "Ask a stupid question," Brady grumbled.

Kristen admitted to having been present for Stefan's resurrection. "But if Rolf did brainwash him, it wasn't my idea," Kristen insisted, prompting Gabi to give the matter even more thought.

Li advised Gabi to get some fresh air but was ignored. Johnny and Wendy exchanged anxious glances while waiting to see if Gabi would remember the rest of the story. Nicole again noticed that E.J. seemed nervous.

Chloe and Stefan finished eating dinner in their hotel room then started kissing and undressing each other -- just as the last of Gabi's suppressed memories resurfaced. "This was your idea -- you did this!" Gabi snapped at Li.

Gabi tears into Li at their wedding

Gabi tears into Li at their wedding

Friday, December 30, 2022

At the penthouse, Eric and Rachel ate popcorn and watched Road Runner cartoons. "Mommy says [the coyote] should get explosives from another company," Rachel said. "She would know," Eric muttered under his breath. With a giggle, Rachel said her parents were "getting back together."

"Why would you think that?" Eric asked. "Because they went to a party tonight," Rachel said. Eric explained that although Eric and Kristen had gone out together, it did not mean that they would reconcile. "That's what Daddy says," Rachel agreed. Rachel argued that because it was New Year's Eve, her parents would have to kiss.

In Miami, Stefan and Chloe decided to make love in their hotel room, but after a moment, Chloe stopped. "I'm sorry. I can't do this," Chloe said. Chloe apologized. Stefan assured Chloe it was fine. Stefan noted that they had both been through traumatic shifts in their lives. "We would be idiots to expect ourselves to be rational or fair or, in any way shape or form, predictable," Stefan said. "I was never really rational to begin with," Chloe joked. Stefan chuckled.

"I just want to make sure that we can remain friends," Stefan said. "Of course," Chloe said. Chloe told Stefan that she was grateful for all he had done for her. "Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I came on too strong," Stefan admitted. Chloe argued that neither one of them should be sorry.

Stefan suggested that they go out. Chloe assured Stefan that he did not need to pretend that he was not disappointed. "I did not bring you to Miami to sleep with you. I brought you here to start the New Year together," Stefan stressed. Stefan suggested that they go dancing. "I just want to be with you," Stefan said.

At Gabi's wedding, she started to recover her memory of her conversation with Rolf about Stefan's brainwashing. Gabi confronted Kristen about her part in the scheme. "You're hallucinating," Kristen said. "Question is, why would you do this to Stefan?" Brady muttered. After a moment, Gabi remembered that Kristen had wanted Stefan to break up Brady and Chloe.

"I'll admit I was at Rolf's lab when Stefan woke up. But if Rolf did brainwash him, it wasn't my idea," Kristen said. "Then whose was it?" Brady asked. Gabi thought about her confrontation with Rolf again, and she remembered that Rolf had told Gabi that the brainwashing had been Li's idea. With a look of horror on her face, Gabi turned to face Li.

"You did this!" Gabi yelled. "What are you talking about?" Li stammered. Gabi demanded the truth. "I remember. Rolf admitted that this was all your idea," Gabi said. "So, you were right. Stefan was brainwashed," Rafe said. Gabi explained that Stefan hated Gabi because Rolf had made Stefan hate her. "That doesn't make any sense. Why would [Rolf] incriminate himself like that?" Li asked. "Because I had a scalpel to his throat," Gabi said. Li argued that Rolf had lied to save his own life.

"I could never do something like that to you. Please, believe me," Li said. Gabi remembered that Rolf had explained why. "[Li] didn't want to risk losing you to Stefan, to the extent that he tried to murder [Stefan] in his sleep," Rolf had confessed. Gabi gasped and shook her head no.

"You didn't just try to brainwash Stefan. You tried to kill him," Gabi said. "What?" Rafe said. Gabi announced what Rolf had said. "You tried to murder the man that I love!" Gabi yelled. Furious, Gabi argued that Li's backup plan had been to brainwash Stefan. "And you lied to me over and over and over!" Gabi said. Rafe asked Gabi if she wanted to leave.

"Rolf told me what you tried to do to Stefan. [Stefan] was just lying in that bed, defenseless!" Gabi said. "Gabi, you can't believe I'd do something like that. It must be some kind of false memory," Li countered. Li reminded Gabi that after her talk with Rolf, she had told Li that she believed Rolf had not brainwashed Stefan.

"Rafe, you were there. That's what she said, isn't it?" Li said. "Yeah, and it seemed weird to me, because why would anyone, especially Gabi, ever believe anything that Rolf says," Rafe noted. Gabi shook her head with confusion. "And if I really did [try to murder Stefan], why didn't you remember before now?" Li asked. Gabi remembered that Rolf had drugged her.

"[A drug] that made me forget what you did to Stefan. But I remember now," Gabi yelled. All the wedding guests watched in silence. "How could you do this to me? I trusted you. I believed you when you told me you loved me. I married you, for God's sake!" Gabi said. When Li reached out to Gabi, she warned him not to touch her.

"Come on, we can work this out. Please," Li said. "You're not going anywhere. Neither are you, Mrs. DiMera," Rafe said. Kristen rolled her eyes. "This is ludicrous," Kristen said. "You really going to arrest us?" Li asked. "Based solely on the recovered, perhaps fabricated memory of clearly an unstable woman," Kristen said.

As Jada slapped handcuffs onto Kristen, she asked, "Do you want me to read you your rights, or do you have them memorized from all your other Salem weddings?" Jada shoved Li toward Rafe, who handcuffed him. "I think it's best that we both do this by the book," Rafe said. Rafe asked Gabi if she was okay. "I'll be fine. Just get him out of my sight," Gabi grumbled. Rafe and Jada led Li and Kristen out in handcuffs.

As Gabi took deep breaths, Wendy asked her if she was okay. "Please, don't try to tell me that I'm wrong about your brother," Gabi said. Wendy said that she believed Gabi. "Really? I just said your brother tried to murder somebody," Gabi said. Wendy offered to take Gabi home, but Gabi said she needed to talk to Stefan. Wendy handed Gabi's phone to her. Gabi called Stefan, but there was no answer. Gabi left a voicemail that asked Stefan to call her urgently.

Across the room, E.J. and Johnny talked quietly. "It's only a matter of time before Stefan learns the truth," E.J. said. E.J. noted that Gabi's recollection was that Rolf had only implicated Li and Kristen. When E.J. noted that there was no need to tell Gabi about his part in the situation, Johnny scoffed.

"Obviously, I don't want anyone to know, especially Stefan. But if you think it's necessary, well, that's up to you," E.J. said. "And I bet you hate that," Johnny said. "Quite a bit," E.J. admitted. Johnny looked over at Wendy, and he stated that Li had started everything. "I don't see a reason for you to be arrested, too," Johnny said. E.J. thanked his son.

Johnny offered to take Gabi to the mansion. Gabi explained that Stefan was in Miami with Chloe. When Nicole confirmed the hotel for Gabi, Johnny offered to drive Gabi to the airport. As Gabi walked out, Nicole whispered, "Chloe is going to have one heck of a New Year's."

Over a game of cards at the penthouse, Rachel asked Eric, "Didn't you want to go to a party, too?" Eric asked Rachel if she wanted to go on an adventure with him. When Rachel asked for details, Eric would only say that it was a secret. "So, I can't tell anybody? Not even Mommy?" Rachel asked. "We can tell her afterwards. It's kind of like a surprise for her," Eric explained. Brady called Eric from the police station, and Eric confirmed that he was at the penthouse.

"Good. You haven't left yet," Brady said. Eric confirmed that he was ready to enact the plan, but Brady asked him to stop. "This is not the time to get cold feet," Eric said. "There's been an unexpected development. Kristen's been arrested," Brady explained.

At the police station, a nervous Li fidgeted in the interrogation room as Kristen paced. Li asked Rafe to check on Gabi. "[Gabi] is falling apart," Li said. "She's not falling apart. Is she upset? Hell, yeah, because the man she just married tried to play God with her life," Rafe argued. "Oh, so now you are the cop, the judge, and the jury?" Kristen asked. When Kristen asked about lawyers, Rafe explained that there were no charges yet.

"This is just a preliminary investigation, although there have been some very serious charges about both of you, so we need to do a follow-up," Rafe said. Rafe dropped a pad of paper in front of Li, and he ordered Li to write down his history with Rolf and a list of everything that Li had done to Stefan. When Rafe asked for the same from Kristen, she shrugged. "I've done nothing but rejoice in [Stefan's] return from the dead," Kristen said. Kristen demanded her lawyer. Li asked for his lawyer, too.

While Li and Kristen waited in the interrogation room, Jada asked why the lawyers had not arrived. Rafe admitted he had prevented Li and Kristen from calling their lawyers. "They clearly asked for legal representation," Jada noted. "I know. But you can't always get what you want," Rafe said. Jada cautioned Rafe to act rationally. "The only thing we have right now is what Gabi said she remembered. And the longer we hold them here without just cause, the more likely we will have their attorneys screaming false cause," Jada said. Rafe agreed.

"So, why the delay?" Jada asked. "Think about it from their point of view. They're in there thinking that we're out here feverishly scrambling to get a warrant. Then, when we let them go, they're gonna think that we weren't able to make the case," Rafe explained. "A false sense of security," Jada said. Rafe looked at his watch, and he noted that they had held Li and Kristen long enough.

"First thing tomorrow morning, I start building a case against Mr. Li Shin, to put him away for a very, very long time," Rafe said. Brady walked in the bullpen, and he asked for an update. "We're letting them go," Jada said. As Rafe and Jada returned to interrogation, Brady called Eric. "The plan is back on," Brady said.

In the interrogation room, Li started to panic. "Rafe is going to keep us here as long as possible, but he knows he needs to let us call our lawyers," Kristen advised. Kristen confirmed that Rafe would hold them overnight. "You do understand that [Rafe] is going to play hardball? You wronged his sister," Kristen said. "I love his sister," Li stressed. Frustrated, Li yelled that he needed to find Gabi.

After Li calmed down, he told Kristen that he had believed that Wendy would stop the wedding. "But she changed her mind," Li whispered. "Probably realized what outing you would do to the Shin dynasty fortune," Kristen said. Li called Kristen cynical. Kristen argued that Wendy's motives were immaterial, since Gabi had remembered her chat with Rolf. "How could her memory come back like that?" Li said. Li remembered that Rolf had called him before the wedding.

"Do you think [Rolf] was trying to warn me?" Li asked. "I mean, would it have made a difference? Come on, Li. Gabi's memory came back. And your brother-in-law is the commissioner," Kristen said.

After E.J. and Nicole returned home, Nicole noted that E.J. appeared calm. "Disastrous weddings are par for the course in this town, aren't they?" E.J. said. "I mean you don't seem very taken aback that Li had your brother brainwashed," Nicole clarified. E.J. noted that his family's sordid history kept him from getting shocked. "Police are handling it. What else can I do?" E.J. said with a shrug. Nicole told E.J. to fire Li. E.J. explained that he could not do anything because Li's father was chairman of the board.

"This is your family's company. And Li tried to murder a member of that family. I don't think it's a hard sell to send him packing," Nicole said. "It's not that simple," E.J. said. Suspicious, Nicole asked E.J. why he was not angry. After a moment, Nicole sighed. "Unless it's because he can take you down with him," Nicole guessed. Nicole noted that it was unlikely that E.J. had been unaware of Stefan's brainwashing.

"So, when you went over to Johnny after Gabi made her big announcement, you weren't talking about the canapes," Nicole said. E.J. chuckled. "You know me so well," E.J. said. Nicole asked E.J. about his part in the scheme. E.J. admitted that he had been in the dark until after Li had brainwashed Stefan. "But I chose to keep quiet," E.J. admitted. Nicole asked why. "Well, I didn't know until tonight that Li tried to kill him. And they had already redirected Stefan's affections," E.J. explained. E.J. said that he had wanted Stefan's votes to oust Gabi from the company.

"You probably think I'm a terrible person now, don't you?" E.J. asked. "I've always thought you were a terrible person," Nicole said. E.J. and Nicole laughed. "I think that I'm a terrible person, too. Maybe that's why we get along so well," Nicole said. E.J. argued that Nicole was a decent person. "None of my other ex-husbands would agree with you on that," Nicole countered. E.J. told Nicole that none of her other ex-husbands deserved her.

"So, how long has Johnny known?" Nicole asked. E.J. frowned. Nicole reminded E.J. that he had made a beeline to Johnny after Gabi's accusation. "He knew that I knew," E.J. said. E.J. explained that Johnny had promised to keep the secret. "It's only a matter of time until Stefan knows everything," E.J. noted.

After Johnny and Wendy dropped Gabi at the airport, they returned to the wedding reception to retrieve Wendy's scarf. With a sigh, Wendy wondered aloud what would happen when Gabi arrived in Miami. "All this time feeling horrible about not telling Gabi what Li had done, and it all came out, anyway," Wendy said. "At least we didn't have to be the ones to say it. But you almost did, didn't you?" Johnny said. Wendy said yes.

"I didn't know if I could live with myself if I didn't speak up. But then, I saw my brother's face, and I realized how much he loved Gabi, and I couldn't go through with it," Wendy said. Wendy asked Johnny if it was true that Li had attempted to murder Stefan. "I don't know," Johnny said. "Please, God, don't let it be true," Wendy whispered. As Johnny walked Wendy home through the square, she admitted that she would not have kept Li's secret if she had known the whole story. Li approached.

"I thought you were at the police station," Wendy said. "They let me go. Do you know where Gabi is? I have to talk to her," Li said. Wendy told Li that Gabi had flown to Miami. "I imagine that [Gabi] feels that Stefan has the right to know what happened to him," Wendy said. Li attempted to explain his actions, but Wendy cut him off. "From now on, you're on your own," Wendy said.

Brady and Kristen returned to the penthouse. "When you actually decided to screw with Stefan's head, your brother's head, did that bother you at all?" Brady asked. "I did it to be with you and Rachel. And this is before I knew anything about the orchid," Kristen said. "So, Stefan was just collateral damage," Brady said. Frustrated, Kristen announced that she was going to kiss Rachel goodnight and go to bed.

In Miami, Gabi knocked on Stefan's door. "I know you're in there, and I know you're with Chloe, but we have to talk," Gabi yelled through the door. When Stefan did not answer the door, Gabi muttered that she would find a way into the room. After Gabi marched away, Stefan and Chloe returned to their room.

"I can't believe I forgot my phone," Stefan said. Stefan looked around, and he spotted his phone on the table. "Is something wrong?" Chloe asked. "Message from Gabi," Stefan said. When Chloe asked why, Stefan said he did not care. Stefan announced that he would book a second room, but Chloe told him not to bother. "I had a really amazing night with you. And I don't want this night to end," Chloe said. Chloe grabbed Stefan and kissed him.

At midnight in Salem, E.J. and Nicole watched the countdown on TV, and they wished one another a happy New Year. E.J. kissed Nicole. Outside the Brady Pub, Rafe and Jada rang in the New Year. "Next year has to be better. Nowhere to go but up," Rafe said. Rafe smiled at Jada, and they wished one another a happy New Year as fireworks exploded overhead.

In the town square, Johnny and Wendy watched the fireworks. "Happy New Year," Johnny said. "Happy New Year," Wendy whispered. As Wendy looked into Johnny's eyes, he kissed her. At the Salem Inn, a disheveled Li stumbled around his hotel room as fireworks exploded outside his window. Li stared at his wedding ring.

At the penthouse, Brady watched the New Year's festivities on TV alone. Kristen rushed into the living room. "Rachel's gone," Kristen said.

In Miami, Stefan and Chloe lay in bed after having had sex. "It seems like you were more ready to move on from Brady than you thought, huh?" Stefan said. "Brady who?" Chloe said with a grin. As Stefan and Chloe started to kiss again, Gabi used a key to enter the room.

Recaps for the week of January 2, 2023 (Following Week)


The Bold and the Beautiful's Matthew Atkinson is back
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