Jennifer listened in stunned silence as Jack, having explained the origin of the hourglass that had been with her since the day after she had slipped into a coma, proceeded to recount his tireless efforts to keep the grains of sand moving from one end of it to the other in the hope of her eventual recovery -- a recovery that had finally occurred, exactly one year after the first time he had turned it over.
Kayla soon arrived to check on Jennifer, and Jack seized the opportunity to step outside and contact J.J., who was sitting alone in the park at that moment, looking ragged. "You're not gonna believe this -- [your] mom woke up!" Jack revealed, fighting back tears of joy. "Wait, s-seriously? Um... That's, uh... I, uh... That's..." J.J. stammered in a bit of a daze while struggling to keep both eyes open. "Amazing, incredible, miraculous -- yes!" Jack concluded for J.J. "Look, I know it's a lot to take in, but you gotta get over here and see for yourself," Jack continued. "I'm on my way," J.J. promised before ending the call.
J.J. fished an unlabeled bottle of white pills out of a pants pocket and gulped down a handful of them -- clearly not for the first time that day -- then started stumbling out of the park.
Kayla was still in Jennifer's room when Jack returned with a bouquet of flowers to brighten the place. "Gotta give props to the little guy in the corner, [though] -- he's been standing watch over you for the entire year," Jack told Jennifer while gesturing to a jade plant. A short time later, J.J. burst into the room, still looking ragged, and gave Jennifer a hug. "I can't believe it... We've -- we've waited, and waited, and prayed... I made more than a few deals with God..." J.J. said to Jennifer. "It's been really hard without you..." J.J. continued -- just as Abigail burst into the room, causing Jennifer to gasp in shock.
J.J. moved out of the way so Abigail could give Jennifer a hug. "I can't believe that you're here!" Jennifer raved. "I've been [back from Paris] for a few months now," Abigail explained.
After catching up with Jennifer for a few minutes, Abigail said goodbye then left the room, with J.J. in tow. "She's back -- she's really back!" Abigail excitedly summarized while walking toward an elevator with J.J. "I think the four of us -- [I think] this is gonna be the start of something really good and positive for us; [I feel] like we're okay now," Abigail continued, and J.J. responded with a forced smile. "You want to come over and -- and see the kids?" Abigail asked as the elevator arrived. "Maybe some other time," J.J. replied. "Okay -- just asking," Abigail said with a shrug before giving J.J. a hug.
Abigail boarded the elevator and watched with a hint of concern as J.J. reached for something in a pants pocket while walking away.
Meanwhile, Jack started to help Jennifer remember everything that had happened after the impromptu double wedding had ended the previous year. "It's all coming back to me [now...but] I didn't 'fall' from the balcony; I think somebody pushed me!" Jennifer eventually blurted out. "Don't worry -- we know all about it [already]. The police got her, [and] she can't hurt you -- or anybody else -- ever again. That monster is in prison, where she belongs," Jack revealed.
At the nurses' station, Kayla continued a phone conversation. "Honey, yes, it's true -- Jennifer woke up! I'll -- I'll have to tell you more about it later, [because] I have to go check on her right now, but, um, we'll celebrate over dinner, all right? I love you, too," Kayla said before ending the call.
J.J., alone in one of the break rooms, mused aloud, "It's such incredible news -- after this whole nightmare of a year, my mom woke up; she came back to us!" Sighing, J.J. placed a bouquet of flowers on a table then continued, "If only you could come back to me, too..." J.J. reached up and touched a wall-mounted plaque near the table -- a plaque that read, "In loving memory of Nurse Haley Chen."
Abigail entered the DiMera mansion and found Chad in the study, staring at something on a tablet computer. "You look pretty intense," Abigail observed as Chad quickly set aside the device. "I got your message. How's your mom?" Chad evasively replied while greeting Abigail with a hug and a kiss. "It's crazy -- she's really, really back! It's unbelievable!" Abigail raved. "I'm sorry I couldn't get to the hospital -- I just had this...this...you know, business...to deal with..." Chad vaguely explained. "I understand," Abigail insisted.
"I feel like [my mom's recovery] is a sign for us -- [a sign] that there's gonna be nothing but good times ahead for us," Abigail predicted while seizing another hug from Chad, whose expression had turned quite serious.
At Basic Black, Nicole received an unexpected and unwelcome visit from Xander, who was armed with a stack of Titan documents. "I need these signed by tomorrow," Xander stressed while dropping the whole stack onto Nicole's desk. "I'll get to them when I'm ready," Nicole snapped. "Aw, such a mood -- [but I guess it] must be hell, working your ass off to prove yourself... Lucky me -- I don't have to prove anything to anyone, because I have a life to live...and I'm gonna get right back to it. Ciao!" Xander countered before rushing off, leaving Nicole clearly annoyed.
At the Kiriakis mansion, Sarah sat alone in the living room, playing with and gushing over a baby. "I never knew I could be this happy...[and] to think, a year ago, I was gonna leave Salem forever..." Sarah said to the baby while thinking about what had occurred in that same room exactly one full year earlier.
"[So], you are pregnant," Eric said to Sarah incredulously after Nicole blurted out a confirmation of the news. "And Kristen DiMera, of all people -- she told me the truth!" Eric continued, furious.
Eric soon entered the living room, snapping Sarah back to reality. "Good morning!" Eric said to the baby while flashing a smile. "Well, it's not just any morning, because she sat up all by herself [earlier]!" Sarah proudly revealed. "I can't believe she's already six months [old]!" Sarah continued. "She's amazing -- [and] so beautiful!" Eric raved. "Just like her mother," Eric added while locking eyes with Sarah -- just as the baby started fussing. "Hmm... [She's] not hungry, and I just changed her, so...she must want her daddy," Sarah guessed.
"Lucky for her, [he] happens to be right here," Sarah added before handing the baby over -- to Xander, who had just entered the mansion. "What did you do to make my daughter cry?" Xander teasingly asked Eric, who ignored the dig and rushed off after saying goodbye to Sarah. "Seeing Eric in the same room with this baby he has no idea is his... I just feel so damn guilty," Sarah said to Xander once the coast was clear. "You have nothing to feel guilty about. I'm the one who made it happen," Xander reminded Sarah.
"How could you not tell me that you're carrying my child?" Eric snapped at Sarah -- just as Xander entered the living room. "There's obviously been a misunderstanding here -- it's not your baby; it's mine," Xander clarified, surprising Eric -- as well as Sarah and Nicole.
"Thanks to Kristen -- who, for once in her life, did the right thing [by telling me] that she was about to confess all to Eric -- I knew I had to help you, [so I interrupted] and saved your behind...although, when I walked in, I wasn't sure that you wanted saving, [given] the way you were looking at Eric. I was afraid you would confess everything, [but] you sold the lie," Xander recalled, grinning at Sarah proudly.
"How can it be your baby?" Eric asked Xander skeptically. "[After] you dumped [Sarah] -- again -- [she and I] ended up in bed -- again," Xander explained with a shrug. "Somebody is lying here. I don't know if it's Kristen DiMera or you, but I know you both lie as easy as you breathe, so I'm gonna ask Sarah [to settle this]," Eric said to Xander before turning to Sarah -- who, like Nicole, hadn't said anything since Xander's arrival. "Xander's right -- the baby's his," Sarah claimed.
"[Of course], classic pain-in-the-ass Eric just couldn't let it go..." Xander complained.
"[If] you slept with both Xander and me around the same time, [then] how can you be so sure that [this] baby is Xander's [instead of] mine?" Eric asked Sarah skeptically. "Because I know -- for a fact -- that I wasn't pregnant when you left to go find Nicole," Sarah claimed. "I want confirmation that [this] baby isn't mine. I want a paternity test," Eric demanded.
"[And] it didn't help that Nicole knew the truth..." Xander grumbled. "Because of you, brainiac," Sarah stressed. "I was hoping that we could just forget about my lapse in judgment -- [especially since] you already forgave me for [that] idiot move," Xander countered. "Well, you did get Rolf to gussy up those fake paternity tests..." Sarah conceded. "And you did agree to stay in town," Xander replied. "Because you wouldn't stop badgering me!" Sarah summarized. "And...because I...finally actually started to feel a little bit safe," Sarah admitted. "Except for Nicole and that conscience of hers..." Xander complained.
At Basic Black, Nicole thought about a private conversation with Eric that had occurred exactly one full year earlier.
"How long have you known [about Sarah's pregnancy]?" Eric asked. "I just found out. [And] I assumed you were the father, but I -- I guess I was wrong..." Nicole replied.
Eric arrived just then, snapping Nicole back to reality. "Sorry [if I seem] preoccupied, but Xander was just here, and he pushes buttons that I didn't even know I had," Nicole explained after greeting Eric with a kiss. "I get it -- I just ran into him [when] I went to see Maggie about the [Horton Center] fundraiser," Eric replied. "You saw the baby?" Nicole guessed, forcing a smile. "Yeah. She's adorable. [But I still] can't believe that baby's Xander's," Eric admitted with a shake of the head as Nicole squirmed while thinking about a conversation with Xander that had occurred nearly one full year earlier.
"Congratulate me -- I'm gonna be a daddy," Xander began after joining Nicole in Eric's otherwise unoccupied apartment. "A fake paternity test? How did you pull this off?" Nicole asked after Xander produced an official-looking medical document and handed it over. "Doesn't matter. The only thing that does matter is [that] everyone will [now] believe that Sarah's child is mine -- including Eric. So, all you have to do is keep your pretty little mouth shut and live happily ever after," Xander replied.
"I feel so guilty," Nicole blurted out. "What do you have to feel guilty about?" Eric wondered. "That...that I can't give you a child of your own," Nicole hesitantly explained. "I'm with the love of my life, [and] we have Holly, [and] I couldn't love her any more if she was my own child, [so] no more guilt, [okay]? We have the perfect little family [already, so] what more could either of us ever ask for?" Eric argued while hugging Nicole.
Meanwhile, at the Kiriakis mansion, Sarah watched as Xander burped the baby after a feeding. "You have just been there for me and the baby [so much] over the past year... [I mean], whatever I needed, you were there -- especially that horrible night that she was born," Sarah gratefully acknowledged, and Xander agreed that everything about that night had indeed been quite horrible. "Except for this little cutie," Xander clarified while handing the baby over to Sarah. "Yes -- my little miracle," Sarah lovingly summarized before giving Xander a kiss on the cheek then heading upstairs to change the baby's diaper.
Ben awoke with a start after a nightmare about what had occurred at the DiMera guesthouse exactly one full year earlier. After taking a few deep breaths to calm himself, he settled back down on his bed -- the bottom bunk in a cell at Statesville. "Sorry about the screaming, man -- it's the same damn nightmare I've been having [for] the past year," he said to his cellmate, who was lying on the top bunk, reading a book. "I know you've heard it all before, but...I just can't get it out of my head, man -- I can't believe it's really true; I can't believe she's really gone," he continued with a sigh, still reliving the events of that fateful night.
Ben gently removed a scarf from the dead woman's neck -- just as someone entered the DiMera guesthouse. "When I first saw her body, I thought it was you," Ben admitted between sobs -- as Ciara stared at Jordan's body in shock. "You don't think I did this, do you?" Ben asked worriedly. "I found her like this -- I swear! No matter how scared I was of what she might do to you, I couldn't do this to my sister -- I swear!" Ben tearfully insisted. "I believe you," Ciara stressed while comforting Ben with a hug. "I know the man you are, and I know you're not capable of this -- [not] anymore," Ciara continued.
"Give me your phone so we can call the police," Ciara requested. "When they see Jordan on the ground, strangled by a scarf in my home, found by me... Ciara, they're gonna think this was me!" Ben tearfully predicted while pacing around the guesthouse in a panic. "No, Ben -- [I mean], 'innocent until proven guilty,' right?" Ciara argued. "Not for the Necktie Killer! [Look], this could go very, very wrong, Ciara, [and] I can't -- I can't -- I'm not going back to Bayview; I can't -- I can't lose you [and] this life that we created!" Ben insisted. "You won't, [because] everything's gonna be okay," Ciara promised.
"[But] we have to call the police," Ciara maintained, drawing a groan from Ben, who reluctantly produced a cell phone and handed it over, looking sick.
"Ciara really thought everything was gonna be all right -- she's always so...so trusting in that way -- but it wasn't; no matter how much she believed in me, the cops sure as hell didn't, [which is why I've been] locked up in this hellhole for the better part of a year, [even though] I'm totally innocent," Ben concluded with a sigh after once again recapping the whole thing for his cellmate.
"Yeah -- that's what they all say," Will dryly replied while turning another page in the book he'd been reading the whole time.
Will, Ben, and Eve face a lifetime in prison
Victor talked to Ciara in the Kiriakis living room about a promotion out of the training program to be a junior executive. When Ciara asked about nepotism and the optics of her moving into the mansion, Victor stressed that Ciara was the best candidate in the training program. Ciara apologized to Victor for blaming him for Jordan's murder.
"Yes, you were desperate to believe anything proving that Ben didn't do it," Victor said. Ciara told Victor that she believed him and loved him. Curious, Victor asked Ciara how she felt about Ben. "I don't love Ben anymore," Ciara said. Ciara explained that she had accepted the fact that Ben was a killer and always would be one.
"I was blinded by my feelings for [Ben]," Ciara said. Ciara thanked Victor for giving her space and time to examine her feelings on her own. "You've been so good to me, grandpa. How can I ever repay you?" Ciara asked. "You already have by booting that maniac out of your life for good," Victor said. Victor urged Ciara to focus on her future with the family and on the company.
"I can't have you connected with a man that is never going to see the light of day again," Victor said. Ciara agreed. With a grin, Ciara announced that she needed to collect her things so that she could move into the mansion. After Ciara left, Victor raised a glass in a toast. "Good riddance, Ben Weston," Victor said.
Ben talked to Will in prison about his innocence. "That's what they all say," Will remarked. "Except I'm telling the truth!" Ben protested. Will asked Ben who he believed had murdered Jordan. Ben said Rafe. Will scoffed at the idea. Ben argued that Jordan had poisoned Rafe and that Rafe had had a motive to retaliate.
"I'm not saying that it was definitely Rafe who did it. I'm just saying that there are definitely other possibilities. That's my point. And none of them are me," Ben said. Will asked Ben about the other possibilities, and Ben said that his top suspect was Victor. Will rolled his eyes.
"Your lawyer tried his best to cast suspicion on Victor at the trial, but the jury didn't believe it any more than I do," Will said. Will added that there was no evidence to prove that Victor was involved and that Ben's accusation against Victor made Ben look more guilty. With a nod, Ben noted that Ciara was sticking by his side.
"Is that what you want for her? You want her to spend her life on the outside, just waiting for you?" Will asked. Ben refused to give up until his last appeal was finished. With a shrug, Will said Ben was making him and Ciara miserable. Frustrated, Ben said he did not think he should take advice from Will, since Will had not given up on Sonny.
"At least I admitted what I did and took some responsibility for it," Will said. "I took responsibility for it when I was guilty, too. Now you know what it's like to take a life. It's hard to swallow, huh? You're no better than I," Ben argued. When Will remained quiet, Ben noted that he was waiting for Will to argue that he was nothing like Ben and a victim of circumstance.
"I ruined my life and the lives of a lot of other people with one stupid decision. And yeah, I would do anything to take it back," Will said. A guard approached and announced that there was a visitor. Hopeful, Will asked if the visitor was for him. The guard noted that the visitor was for Ben. With a dejected sigh, Will admitted that he had hoped Sonny was there to visit.
"So much for your advice about no longer caring about the ones you love on the outside," Ben said as he exited the cell. Ben went to the visitors' room and found Ciara there. "You heard about the appeal?" Ben asked. "I was so sure that you were gonna win," Ciara countered sadly. Ciara suggested that they give up on the justice system and go to plan B.
"I told my grandfather that I'd given up on you, and that I thought you were still a killer, and that I didn't love you anymore," Ciara said. Ben asked what had happened. Ciara updated Ben on her conversation with Victor. With a smile, Ciara said she hoped that Victor would let down his guard so that she could prove that Victor had been the one that had killed Jordan. Ben kissed Ciara.
Justin met with Eve at the prison to inform her that Jennifer had woken from her coma. "It's about damn time!" Eve growled. Elated, Eve said she was confident that Jennifer would tell the police that she was innocent. "I can go free!" Eve shouted. Justin reminded Eve that Jennifer might not be able to clear Eve. Angry, Eve said she would have remembered if she had pushed someone out of a window. Eve ordered Justin to go talk to Jennifer. When Eve insulted Jennifer, Justin bristled.
"You are my client. Jennifer is the victim in this crime. She almost died! So, if you're going to talk about her that way, find yourself another lawyer," Justin grumbled. Eve stopped Justin before he could walk out. Eve apologized. "You know I'm not a fan of Jennifer, but you are right that none of this was her fault," Eve said. Eve said she hoped that Jennifer could provide the answers they needed.
In the park, Sonny and Rafe watched David play with Arianna and the nanny. Sonny admitted that Arianna was struggling with the separation from Will. "How about you?" Rafe asked Sonny. "I miss him," Sonny said quietly. The nanny, Evan, walked over with Arianna and David. Arianna said that a boy had teased her about her parents. Rafe assured Arianna that she and her parents were good people. Evan told Arianna that the boys were jealous because she had beaten them in the election for student body president. Arianna noted that the boys had said she couldn't be president because she was a girl.
"There's a lot of people out there that say that men shouldn't be nannies, but here I am, and proud of it. Just remember, you can be whatever you want to be," Evan said. Arianna ran back to the swing set, and Sonny thanked Evan for his help with Arianna. Rafe thanked Evan for watching David for him, and Evan offered to watch David if Rafe needed a night off. With a chuckle, Rafe urged Evan to have a social life.
After Rafe left with David, Sonny thanked Evan for watching Arianna, as well. "She's a great kid. Her mom and dad raised her well. Especially considering the circumstances," Evan said. Evan told Sonny that he was sorry for all Sonny was going through. Sonny started to retrieve Arianna from the swings, but Evan stopped him. Evan offered his services as a nanny if Sonny needed him. Sonny promised to consider Evan in the future.
Evan noted that he had worked a lot of nights for Rafe and that he was happy to have a night off without chicken tenders for dinner. With a smirk, Sonny said he knew how that felt. Evan asked if Sonny wanted to check out the new Japanese restaurant near the square, but Sonny declined because he needed to meet with his dad. Sonny thanked Evan again for his help, and he left.
At the hospital, Jack informed Jennifer that the police had arrested Eve for pushing Jennifer off the balcony. "Don't you remember?" Jack asked. Jennifer shook her head no. "Hope" rushed in and hugged Jennifer. "The doctors said you would never wake up," "Hope" said. "I guess they were wrong," Jennifer whispered. When "Hope" looked at Jennifer's face, she asked what was wrong.
"I'm not sure," Jennifer said. Jack jumped in and informed "Hope" that he had just told Jennifer about Eve. "Do you remember that?" "Hope" asked. Jennifer admitted that she remembered everything that night up until the moment she had been pushed, but she did not remember Eve being in the Bistro.
"If it wasn't Eve, who else could it be?" Jack wondered aloud. Jennifer said she did not remember seeing anyone in the Bistro. In tears, Jennifer apologized. Jack offered to go over the events prior to the fall, but "Hope" said she was worried that it would traumatize Jennifer further. Jennifer was anxious to remember. "Hope" explained that the police had recovered footage of Eve at the scene.
"I realize that there are gaps in my memory of what happened that night, but something just doesn't seem right," Jennifer said. Jennifer admitted that she did not know who could have pushed her. "You don't need to keep thinking on this. The police did their job, and they did it really well. Eve's locked up, exactly where she belongs," "Hope" counseled. "Hope" urged Jennifer to focus on her recovery instead. Jack added that he was eager to start his life with Jennifer.
With a smile, "Hope" told Jennifer that she loved her, and she left. Jack urged Jennifer to get some rest, and Jennifer chuckled. "I've been in a coma for a year. The last thing I want to do is rest," Jennifer joked. Jennifer asked why Jack had a wedding band and she did not. Jack explained that he had commissioned someone to make wedding bands from a piece of steel wreckage from the Loretta. Jennifer was delighted.
"I can't even imagine how hard this past year has been for you," Jennifer said through tears. Jack said that the only thing that mattered was that he had Jennifer back. "I'm going to get your ring and put it back on your finger," Jack said. Jack asked Jennifer to rest while he retrieved the ring from home. Jennifer promised to sleep while Jack was gone.
In the hospital hallway, Gina cursed Kayla under her breath. "How many times can one doctor be wrong? Why in God's name did I believe her when she said Jennifer was beyond all hope?" Gina muttered. After Jack left, Gina returned to Jennifer's room. Jennifer slowly opened her eyes. "Hope. You're back," Jennifer whispered. "I had to see you one last time," "Hope" said.
Confused, Jennifer asked what was wrong. "They honestly didn't think you were going to wake up. Kayla told me it would never happen, but here we are," "Hope" said. "Hope" started to reach out when Jack returned. "Hope" explained that she had not wanted to leave Jennifer alone. After "Hope" left again, Jennifer told Jack that she had missed him. With a big grin, Jack presented a wedding band to Jennifer.
"I never stopped believing in you, that you would come back to me. And so here we are," Jack said as he slipped the wedding band on Jennifer's finger. "I am so blessed to call you my wife. Now and forever," Jack said. Jennifer smiled as she stared at the ring. "Happy Anniversary, Mrs. Deveraux, plus one day," Jack said. Jennifer lamented that she did not have a gift for Jack, but he said he had everything he wanted.
In the hallway, Justin called out to "Hope" as she stood outside of Jennifer's hospital room. Justin asked about Jennifer and whether Jennifer had said anything about the night of the accident. "Does she remember who pushed her?" Justin asked. "Hope" confirmed that Jennifer did not remember who had pushed her, and "Hope" added that they already knew that Eve was to blame.
"No, we don't. Eve insists she is innocent," Justin stressed. "Your client is as guilty as sin," "Hope" said. Justin called Eve on the phone to tell her the news. "Are you kidding me? She conveniently remembers everything that happened that night except for the fact that I didn't try to kill her?" Eve asked. Eve shouted that Jennifer was lying so that she could punish Eve. "She is not going to get away with this!" Eve yelled as she hung up the phone.
In the square, Sonny met up with Justin at the café. Worried, Sonny asked Justin if he was okay. Justin said he had just ended an upsetting phone call with Eve. "Are you sure that's what it is?" Sonny pressed with tears in his eyes. "No. I can't believe it was a year ago yesterday that your mother and I got married in this very spot," Justin said. Sonny said that when his phone rang, he still hoped it was Adrienne.
"She was so full of life, dad. So sweet. I just can't believe she's dead," Sonny said. In his cell, Will stared at a photo of Sonny. "I'm sorry for what I did," Will whispered. In the square, Sonny continued, "What's harder to believe is that it was my own husband who killed her." Justin hugged Sonny as he broke down in tears.
At Gina's loft, she worked on a painting and talked about how fortunate it was that Jennifer did not remember the accident. "Jennifer does not recall anything that will contradict the surveillance footage that Rolf so expertly doctored to implicate Eve Donovan. Although the bad news is she could get her memory back," Gina said to herself. Gina wondered aloud whether she should leave Jennifer alone. Gina asked Stefano what he thought. Across the room, a man sitting underneath the portrait of Stefano tapped a cigar in an ashtray.
Eric grows concerned about J.J.
At the Kiriakis mansion, Victor sat alone in the living room, enjoying a celebratory drink. "You are still the man..." Victor mused aloud -- just as Maggie entered the living room and called out a greeting.
"Iced tea -- I was just having some iced tea," Victor claimed. "'Iced tea' that smells like 30-year-old scotch, even from [where I'm standing]," Maggie skeptically countered. "Sorry..." Victor sheepishly stressed. "Oh, you don't have to apologize -- and you don't have to lie, [either]. I know all about your 'secret' stashes," Maggie revealed before retrieving a bottle of scotch from one of Victor's hiding places. "What are you celebrating?" Maggie asked. "My granddaughter has finally come to her senses and severed all ties with the Necktie Killer! [Oh] -- and she agreed to move into this house! Does it get any better than that?" Victor replied.
"Huh! Well, I know how concerned you were about her, and I'm happy the two of you are close again. And she certainly does put a smile on that face of yours..." Maggie stressed. "You seem pretty happy yourself lately," Victor acknowledged before taking another sip of scotch. "Well, that's because I've spent the last hour in bed -- with my lovely Mickey," Maggie explained, causing Victor to spit out the scotch. "I just can't get used to that name. Who calls a baby girl 'Mickey'?" Victor grumbled after recovering from the shock of Maggie's statement. "I do," Sarah stressed while entering the living room, carrying the baby.
"I'm sorry, sweetheart -- you know how opinionated Victor is," Maggie explained. "I think it's kind of sweet that the old goat is still so in love with you that he's jealous of Mickey after all these years," Sarah admitted. "I'm certainly not jealous of a dead man!" Victor insisted. "[But] what I do worry about is this little girl, because -- and mark my words -- when she gets to be a teenager, with a name like 'Mickey' saddled around her neck, she's gonna insist that all her friends call her by her given name, which is Mackenzie -- [a] charming and altogether appropriate [name] -- and that's exactly what I intend to call her, [too]," Victor added.
"I'm still so touched, sweetie, that you would honor Mickey by naming your baby after him," Maggie stressed. "My stepfather was a wonderful man. He raised me, and -- and he loved me, just like I was his own," Sarah acknowledged. "It takes a very special man to step up and do something so loving and so generous," Maggie declared.
At Basic Black, Nicole received another unexpected and unwelcome visit from Xander, who asked if the documents that had been delivered earlier that day were still waiting to be signed. "Stop bothering me, [okay]? Twice in one day? I know why you're really here!" Nicole snapped. "Your charming personality?" Xander joked. "You want to make sure I don't decide to spill the beans to Eric," Nicole guessed. "It is in your best interest [to stay quiet]," Xander stressed. "[But] the guilt is killing me!" Nicole fretted -- just as Brady arrived.
"What's going on?" Brady demanded to know. "Oh, I left some documents with Nicole earlier [for a] possible joint venture between Basic Black and Titan," Xander coolly explained. "[And] I told [Xander] I would get to them, but I don't make any decisions without my partner," Nicole innocently stressed. "Oh? But, I mean, you're definitely the brains of the operation, so..." Xander said to Nicole while eyeing Brady with disdain. "We're not interested in any 'venture' between us and Titan [in this] relaunch of Basic Black," Brady insisted.
"If you saw the numbers --" Xander began to argue. "I don't need to see the numbers. I don't want to have anything to do with Titan," Brady maintained. "How could you even consider working with this son of a bitch?" Brady asked Nicole incredulously. "So bitter -- all that anger and resentment... Still, you know, I don't blame you -- not after what happened [six months ago]," Xander mused, grinning at the memory of the incident.
"What's this all about?" Brady asked after catching Victor and Xander alone together in the living room of the Kiriakis mansion, looking chummy. "Just a little Titan business," Victor replied. "Well, as CEO of Titan, I would love to know the specifics of [this] business, if you don't mind," Brady requested. "Oh -- actually, I, uh...I mind," Xander interjected.
"You're not part of this discussion," Brady dismissively argued. "But I am," Xander teasingly countered. "Is he being more stupid than usual?" Brady asked Victor. "I'm sorry, Brady, but, uh...I just named a new CEO of Titan --" Victor began to explain. "And that would be me," Xander concluded for Victor.
Brady admitted that it was still difficult to understand why Victor had chosen Xander, of all people, to be CEO of Titan. "Well, you've always underestimated me, Brady...but I've proven Victor made the right decision. Under my leadership, Titan has worked its way back up to the top," Xander bragged. "If it's so successful, then what are you doing here? Why do you want to work with Basic Black?" Brady countered. "Well, if you'd actually read the paperwork, you'd see it makes financial sense for both of our companies -- especially the one that's trying to get off the ground...again," Xander explained.
"Even if I was mildly interested, the DiMera board would not support [this] 'venture' --" Brady began to point out. "I know you're a subsidiary of DiMera...but the fact is, they're struggling; we're not. So, maybe it's time you threw your lot in with the winner," Xander argued. "I'll pass," Brady maintained. "You're a pragmatic woman -- why don't you use your smarts [and] change your boyfriend's mind," Xander advised Nicole.
Shortly after Xander left, Maggie arrived to pick up Brady. "I'm sorry, Maggie -- [our date] slipped my mind," Brady admitted. "For months, apparently...[but] no judgment -- [as I already] told you, I love you, and I miss you, [and I just] want to reconnect. The mansion isn't the same without you there," Maggie stressed. "I miss you, too...[but] I'm better off without him in my life," Brady insisted.
Xander entered the Kiriakis mansion and joined Victor, Sarah, and Mackenzie in the living room. Sarah was surprised when Victor kindly offered to share a bottle of scotch with Xander. "Perhaps you've been too busy, as a new mother to Mackenzie, to notice, but I like to give credit where credit is due, [and] Xander has done a hell of a job as CEO," Victor explained. "He's pretty much been a rock star at the 'dad' gig, too," Sarah raved before leaving the living room with Mackenzie so Victor and Xander could privately discuss business matters.
"Nicole and Brady totally blew me off," Xander revealed once the coast was clear, disappointing Victor. "[Supposedly, there isn't any] chance that Basic Black will have anything to do with Titan, no matter how sweet the pot...[but] I know you wanted to use this deal as a back door into DiMera, so I won't give up. Basic Black isn't really even off the ground yet, so they're vulnerable...even if Nicole is working like a dog --" Xander continued. "'Like a bitch' is more like it," Victor argued. "[Of course], it doesn't help that she and Brady both hate my guts..." Xander admitted. "Oh, they hate me, too -- can't be helped," Victor reasoned with a shrug.
"Besides, being hated isn't always a bad thing," Victor insisted before changing the subject, acknowledging that Xander and Sarah seemed to be getting closer every day. "Mickey has really brought us together," Xander confirmed. "For the love of God, can we please call her Mackenzie?" Victor begged.
Xander ignored Victor's request and steered the conversation back to its original topic. "If we can't get our hook into DiMera through Basic Black, I am working on some other options..." Xander vaguely revealed. "Well, if you need any help, Ciara could be a good asset," Victor suggested, certain that Ciara could finally be trusted again -- a claim that Xander seemed to doubt.
While passing through the park, Nicole ran into Sarah, who had taken Mackenzie out for a walk to get some fresh air. Nicole and Sarah acknowledged how bad things could get for both of them if Eric ever learned the truth.
At the DiMera mansion, Abigail entered the study and sneaked up behind Chad, who was staring at something on a tablet computer. He jumped and quickly set aside the device when she leaned in for a kiss to announce her presence. "You have had your nose in that [thing] for days! What are you so focused on?" she asked. "DiMera business," he replied.
Chad immediately changed the subject, wondering where Thomas and Charlotte were hiding. Abigail explained that both kids were at the hospital with Jennifer. "She begged me to, uh, let them stay, and I said it was fine. [You know, it's nice to see everyone] really happy [again -- well], almost everyone, at least... [I mean, I'm still] worried about [J.J.] -- he's been a mess ever since Haley died, [and] I invited him to get lunch, or have coffee with me, or just to come over and see the kids, [but] he just kind of gave me the [usual] brush-off -- you know, 'Call you later'..." Abigail continued.
"I can just see the pain in his eyes...and I know he probably doesn't want to talk to me, 'cause I'm his big sister, and he thinks that I'm gonna lecture him or something, but...I just -- I hope that he [at least has] someone he can talk to. [Of course, I'm sure] he would much rather his irritating, nosy big sister just butt out," Abigail concluded with a sigh. "Which is why I'm sure his 'irritating, nosy' big sister is just gonna try harder," Chad declared. "Yeah, probably," Abigail confirmed. "That's one of the many, many things I love about you," Chad stressed.
J.J. burst into the Brady Pub while Eric was securing a donation from Roman for the Horton Center's annual fundraiser. "Hey, guys! You -- you heard the news, right? My mom woke up! She's back!" J.J. said to Eric and Roman with perhaps a bit too much energy and volume. "We did hear, [and] we're really happy for you," Roman replied before rushing off to the kitchen to take care of something.
"You okay?" Eric asked, eyeing J.J. suspiciously. "Of course! Why?" J.J. replied. "I don't know -- you just...don't seem like yourself," Eric curiously observed. "'Cause I'm not moping around? 'Cause [I'm suddenly realizing] that, just maybe, this world isn't as screwed up as I thought it was, [and that I] can hope for something, and it happens? Well, then, yeah -- damn right I'm not myself; I'm happy! [And] since when is it a crime to be happy [my] mom's out of a coma? [Look], I'm just happy that something's going right for a change," J.J. explained. "[Or]...are you high?" Eric countered.
"I know the signs -- I've been there myself," Eric pointed out when J.J. tried to laugh off the accusation. "Listen, if you don't want to talk to me [about this], how 'bout [you] talk to somebody else?" Eric suggested. "Like your mom, the shrink?" J.J. guessed with a dismissive scoff. "I'm good," J.J. insisted. "All right -- how 'bout not [talking] to anybody at all? I'm running a meeting over at the Horton Center in a little while -- maybe hearing [from] other people who are going through hard times will help you realize you're not alone," Eric continued. "That would be a hard 'no,'" J.J. stressed.
Eric pointedly revealed that, since developing an addiction to painkillers, Jennifer had been worried about the possibility that Abigail or J.J. might have inherited the same susceptibility for addiction. "I'm not saying you're an addict..." Eric clarified when J.J. started to get defensive. "[But] it's a lot easier to address [this sort of thing early instead of] waiting for this habit to be ingrained," Eric continued.
"I appreciate your concern, but I'm addressing my issue just fine," J.J. insisted before starting to exit the pub. "Do you want [your mom] to wake up, after a year-long coma, [and be] worried sick about [you]?" Eric called out, stopping J.J. "Remember what she went through [the last time] you were in trouble? Is it gonna hurt you to go to a meeting? For [her] sake?" Eric concluded.
J.J. gave Eric's words some thought then reluctantly agreed to attend the meeting. While en route to the Horton Center, J.J. apologized to Eric for the earlier tension. "You're right -- [I'm taking] pills, and that's the last thing I want my mom to find out," J.J. admitted while following Eric into the Horton Center -- which Maggie and Brady entered a short time later. As Maggie was raving about Jennifer's sudden recovery, Brady shared a look with J.J., who soon tried to leave, insisting that the decision to attend the meeting had been a bad idea. Eric convinced J.J. to stay then quickly started the meeting.
Brady and J.J. shared another look while Eric was talking. After Eric was done, Maggie took over, revealing what had happened earlier -- and insisting that it really was okay if Victor wanted to have a drink from time to time, since sobriety was a personal responsibility. After Maggie was done, Brady took over, admitting, "The last time I was here -- uh, about maybe six months ago -- I was doing great; [in fact], I was about to become a father again, [and] the mother of my child and I [were] actually, very surprisingly, [back] on the path to being very happy..." Brady soon stopped, getting emotional.
At Maggie's urging, Brady eventually continued, declaring, "I haven't slipped up once -- not once -- since my life went to hell, [and] I find that pretty amazing, [because] I think I've thought about taking a drink about five or six times, [just] before I got here today... I've had my fair share of slip-ups [in the past, and] I've hurt people that I've loved -- horribly...and I've hurt myself, and I have had more regrets than I can count...but I'll tell you one thing -- I've never wanted a drink [as much as I did on] the night my baby died."
At Statesville, Ben warned Ciara that it was going to be difficult to prove that Victor was responsible for Jordan's death. "Victor doesn't get his hands dirty, [so we would] need to figure out who he hired to kill Jordan, [and] the guy has so many henchmen on payroll... [Plus], we know it was a cash payment, so there probably was no paper trail to follow -- and even if there were, it would have dried up a year ago," Ben reasoned.
"What if it wasn't some random henchman? What if it was Xander? [After all], my grandfather has always hated Xander...[but he still] made Xander CEO, [so] how does that even make sense -- unless [he did it] to reward [Xander] for killing Jordan?" Ciara suggested. "[When] Victor ordered Xander to choke me to death, [Xander] couldn't do it, [so] why would it be any different with Jordan?" Ben argued.
"The one thing that Xander has always wanted is to be accepted by the family [and] be a big shot at Titan --" Ciara began to reason. "That's two things," Ben teasingly interjected. "Very funny. [Anyway, as I was saying], what if my grandfather dangled the CEO position, and Xander wanted it so bad that he forgot whatever new leaf he turned over?" Ciara continued. "It's possible, I guess," Ben conceded.
"[But if that's the case, then] these guys are dangerous, [and] I don't want you getting hurt, [so] maybe we should just forget this whole --" Ben continued. "Not a chance in hell, Ben -- are you kidding me? The stakes are way too damn high!" Ciara insisted, shuddering at the memory of what had occurred ten months earlier.
"The D.A.'s asking for the death penalty," Ben, who had just attended a preliminary hearing, revealed while sitting alone with Ciara in a conference room at the police station.
"I thought it was impossible; I thought that the judge would choose justice and do the right thing --" Ciara admitted. "Yeah, well, the jury wasn't convinced...[and] neither was the appeals court," Ben summarized with a sigh. "We can't give up hope -- [remember], you still have one appeal left," Ciara argued. "My last one," Ben stressed.
"That's why I have to do this! [And] whatever it takes, Ben, I'm getting you out of here," Ciara insisted before leaning in to kiss Ben -- just as a guard interrupted to end the visit. "Sucks you couldn't kiss your hot little girlfriend goodbye," the guard said to Ben tauntingly after Ciara left. "Shut the hell up," Ben snapped, scowling. "[I'm gonna] let that slide...since, barring a miracle, you'll be executed," the guard countered, smirking.
Ciara headed back to the Kiriakis mansion -- and found that the living room doors were closed. Ciara eavesdropped from the foyer as Victor and Xander wrapped up their meeting. "Sorry again about the, uh, Basic Black deal," Xander stressed. "Eh, don't sweat it -- Titan's having its best year in ages under your watch. [Plus], you did me a huge favor...[although that's] going to be our little secret," Victor replied.
While lying in bed with Chad, Abigail spontaneously started raving that it was nice to know that they had survived their rough patches and had total honesty in their marriage once again. He eventually interrupted her and admitted, "I've been keeping something from you -- something big -- [and] it's time I told you about it."
Chad tells Abigail that Stefano is still alive
At the Horton Center, J.J. struggled to stay composed as Brady continued talking about the pain of losing a child -- and the pain of losing a partner.
"You need to shut the hell up!" J.J. eventually snapped at Brady, seething with rage. "I'm sorry --" Brady began to say to J.J. "Oh, you're 'sorry,' you son of a bitch?" J.J. countered while glaring at Brady, prompting Eric to try to defuse the situation. "I'm not gonna sit here and listen to another second of your pity party!" J.J. spat at Brady while ignoring Eric.
J.J. stormed out of the Horton Center, with Eric close behind. "I didn't know J.J. was gonna be here," Brady said to Maggie with a sigh. "[But] when I saw that he was, maybe I -- I should have just kept my mouth shut...[or], better yet, I should have gone to a different meeting. [I mean], I wish I could reach out to him, but I don't think that's gonna happen," Brady continued.
Changing the subject, Brady guessed that the earlier confession about Kristen hadn't really surprised Maggie. "Yeah, I knew that you were [developing] real feelings for Kristen," Maggie confirmed. "I was so determined to not get involved with [her again] -- I fought my addiction to her -- [but I just] couldn't help but fall back in love with her [after seeing her] carrying our baby [and] trying to be the best mother that she could be," Brady explained with a shrug. "As toxic as she was in the past, I [still] really, really believed that she could change...[but] I should have known that she would end up breaking my heart," Brady continued, scowling.
John entered the Brady Pub and asked Roman about a takeout order. "You know, [lately], I can set my clock to you coming through that door [and] asking for the daily special to go," Roman mused. "Come on, man -- you're not gonna rag on your favorite customer, are you?" John protested. "And my most loyal one, so hell no!" Roman admitted.
"How's it going?" Roman asked John sympathetically, apparently for the first time in quite a while. "Well, I'm not gonna B.S. you -- it's been a rough couple months... But you know, better than anybody, that Doc and I have had our fair share of challenges over the years," John replied. "I would lay everything I own [on a bet] that you and Marlena are gonna get through this just fine," Roman optimistically encouraged John. "I'm right there with you, pal -- it's just that...I don't know, Doc and I just haven't exactly been connecting lately," John explained with a sigh.
"Well, she's had a hell of a year -- [and] now, with Will in prison for killing Adrienne... Hell, it takes the wind out of me, just thinking about it," Roman stressed. "Yeah... You know, Doc's not one to have favorites, but Will -- he...he owns a big chunk of her heart," John acknowledged. "That's not the only reason she's struggling, though; she's worried about Arianna, also -- you know, having to grow up without her daddy," John continued. "[At least she's still] got her other dad [and] her mom [around]," Roman pointed out, but John didn't seem to find that particularly comforting.
"It seems like everyone is struggling right now," John mused. "Isn't that the truth! [You know], after everything that has happened in Salem in the past year, I can't count how many sad, lost souls have walked through that door, coming in to drown their sorrow," Roman agreed -- just as J.J. approached the pub, clearly in search of a drink.
After peeking through a window and seeing who was inside the pub, J.J. decided to just pop a few pills instead -- but Eric arrived just in time to stop that from happening. "I told you I didn't want to go to that damn meeting, but you couldn't take 'no' for an answer!" J.J. snapped at Eric while stuffing the bottle of pills back in a pants pocket. "Did you know that bastard was gonna show up?" J.J. asked. "I had no idea," Eric replied. "[Yeah, well], here's an idea -- leave me the hell alone!" J.J. demanded before starting to storm off. "Wait --" Eric began while reaching out to try to stop J.J., who threw a punch in response.
"I'm sorry I lost my temper," J.J. stressed a short time later, while Roman was handing Eric an ice pack inside the pub. "I know you're [just] trying to help," J.J. continued.
"Would somebody like to [clue] us in on what's going on here?" John interjected. "[It's] between J.J. and me," Eric stressed. "I'd like to try to help if I can," John offered. "It's about your damn son!" J.J. blurted out. "Brady's made some mistakes this year...[but] we all have --" John began to point out. "That makes it okay? [If] we all screw up, [then] who cares if [Brady] is one of the reasons my life is pretty much over?" J.J. countered. "I understand that you're struggling --" John patiently tried to acknowledge. "You know, I'm getting really tired of people telling me they understand! You couldn't possibly understand!" J.J. snapped.
John backed off and left the pub after again offering to help if J.J. ever needed anything. "I want you to know [that] Brady's just as upset about what happened --" Eric tried to stress. "Yeah, well, screw your brother and his pain! What about mine? Haley was my life, and now she's dead -- [and] where does that leave me?" J.J. snapped before storming out of the pub, ignoring Eric's protests.
While passing through the park, Eli stopped to pick up a piece of paper, which turned out to be a flier for a Veterans Day celebration. "Don't miss the fireworks," Eli read aloud from the flier before crumpling it and tossing it in a nearby trash can with a sigh, remembering a different fireworks display -- the one that had begun just as Lani had accepted his marriage proposal on the Fourth of July, approximately sixteen months earlier.
As Eli started walking again, Abe approached from behind and called out a greeting. "How have you been?" Abe asked. "Good," Eli replied.
"I haven't seen very much of you since you left your job as commissioner," Abe continued. "I didn't really have much of a choice. [Being around Lani every day] was never gonna work. That's why I resigned," Eli reminded Abe. "I know...[but] that's not an issue anymore," Abe pointed out. "[True, but] by the time Lani left town, I had already accepted a new position," Eli countered.
"I've moved on," Eli summarized with a shrug. "I understand...but there will always be a place for you at the Salem P.D., if you're interested," Abe stressed. "The voters made a good decision, reelecting you...but you [already have] a commissioner that's doing a great job," Eli acknowledged as a way of politely declining the offer. "True, but you're a great detective -- one of the finest," Abe argued.
"If I'm such a fine detective, how come I could never figure out why your daughter dumped me?" Eli countered. "If it's any consolation, I [still] have no idea why [she] left you, either," Abe admitted. "She didn't [just] leave me. [You know], I proposed to [her] right here...then literally chased her right back [to this same spot after] she burned my ass at the altar in front of our friends and family, and all I got for it was a -- was a bunch of tears and -- and words that made no damn sense," Eli bitterly clarified before starting to walk away.
"How is she?" Eli asked after stopping, unable to resist the urge to satisfy the curiosity. "I really haven't spoken to her in quite some time... Her mother says she's okay, but she's closed herself off from friends and family, [so]..." Abe replied. "I, um... If you happen to talk to her, tell her that I'm... Never mind. It was good seeing you," Eli said before continuing to walk away. "You, too," Abe called out.
At the DiMera mansion, Chad prepared to confess something to Abigail -- just as Gabi burst into their bedroom. "What the hell?" Chad snapped. "You couldn't knock?" Abigail snapped. "Sorry -- I didn't think you two would be in the sack [right now]," Gabi explained with a shrug. "A little, uh, privacy wouldn't be terrible," Chad stressed. "Wow -- that almost sounded like the lord of the manor [talking], except...this is my house now, and you two are just guests," Gabi countered. "We are both very aware that you own the mansion now...but I don't think it's too much to expect that our host knock before entering our bedroom," Abigail argued.
"I didn't think you'd be here," Gabi reiterated. "I was just, uh, trying to find Arianna's doll. She left it [in here] while she was playing with Charlotte," Gabi explained while looking around the bedroom. "Does she need it right this minute?" Chad asked irritably. "It's her favorite," Gabi shamelessly replied before suddenly spotting the doll on a chair. "I would say 'carry on with the fun'...but, uh, Chad, you promised me those European market projections, and the clock is ticking," Gabi stressed while exiting the bedroom. "You're the boss..." Chad acknowledged. "Yes, I am!" Gabi bragged.
"That's it -- that is it!" Abigail said to Chad once the coast was clear. "I can't slap on a smile anymore and pretend that that bitch didn't totally try to destroy our lives! I'm done, [okay]? We are moving -- today!" Abigail continued. "We can't leave this house," Chad insisted. "Yes, we can -- we'll...we'll just pack up the kids, and we'll go to my mom's for a little bit...or maybe we can go back to Paris, [since] my mom's better --" Abigail argued. "Listen to me -- [there's] nothing I want more than to be out from under this roof with Gabi, [but] we can't," Chad maintained.
"Why the hell not?" Abigail demanded to know. "[Because of] that secret that I've been, uh, hiding from you... [See], it's about my father. [He and I have], um...we've been, uh...in touch...for a while now," Chad revealed. "How is that even possible? [I mean], we weren't even sure he was still alive!" Abigail protested, stunned. "He reached out to me a few months ago," Chad admitted. "He called you?" Abigail assumed. "No... I mean, our only contact has been [through] instant messaging..." Chad clarified, prompting Abigail to realize why Chad's tablet computer had seen so much use lately.
"If he's back, what does -- what does he want? [And] where is he?" Abigail wondered. "I don't know where he is -- I haven't seen him," Chad admitted. "[Then] maybe it's not even him," Abigail pointed out. "I am absolutely sure that this is my father. Look, I've had my doubts, [but] I've tested him, [and] he's given me details about our most private conversations. [We're talking about] memories that only he and I would have access to -- which means my father is very much alive," Chad insisted. "[And] he wants me to help him take down Gabi Hernandez DiMera," Chad revealed.
"I know that everyone's been on their best behavior, and we're tiptoeing around each other, [but] don't think, for one second, that I have forgotten the hell that Gabi put you through. I haven't forgiven her -- that's why I kept my position at DiMera, and that's why I moved us back into this house," Chad stressed. "Enemies closer," Abigail realized. "[Exactly -- and that's] why we need to stay put, so we can have a front-row seat to everything 'Gabi'...[and] I can make sure that I'm in a position to exploit [any] kind of, I don't know, personal or professional weakness," Chad explained.
"[And] when I find it, me and my father, we are gonna make her pay for every single tear that you shed," Chad promised Abigail.
Meanwhile, in the study, Gabi stared at a framed photograph of Stefan while thinking about Lani. "I kept my promise to you, my love -- I avenged your death -- [and], just between us, I enjoyed it," Gabi admitted.
"I was wondering where my head of security was," Gabi began in lieu of a greeting when Eli entered the study a short time later. "I have been tied up with my old FBI contacts, trying to find Kristen DiMera...but, um, no luck -- you know, I swear, it's like she just fell off the face of the earth..." Eli reported. "Right now, I want to talk about some other members of my late husband's family -- Mr. and Mrs. Chad DiMera. I'm concerned that [they're] plotting something," Gabi admitted with a scowl. "You got anything to go on?" Eli asked. "My gut," Gabi replied.
"We're being too damn polite to one another, and [Chad's] never gonna get over what I did -- [after all], he's a DiMera," Gabi elaborated. "[But] you have no proof," Eli summarized. "[True], but I tried to get some -- see, I left Arianna's doll inside of their bedroom to see if maybe I could walk in on them [and] hear [or] see something...[but] I got [a different kind of] eyeful," Gabi revealed, and Eli cringed after realizing the implication.
"I know that there's -- there's something wrong here," Gabi maintained. "Maybe you're just paranoid," Eli suggested. "No -- [I'm] proactive," Gabi countered. "I fought off Kristen. [And I also] ousted Tony, [who's now] tucked away in some corner in Europe with that nut job Anna. [So], I am not gonna let my guard down [now with Chad and Abigail] and possibly ruin everything that I've gained this year. [They] can play nice all they want, but they have a million reasons to hate me, and they have a million reasons to bring me down --" Gabi continued before realizing that Eli was no longer listening.
"I ran into Abe on the way over here, [and] we talked about Lani," Eli revealed to explain the lack of focus. "I know it was really hard for you when Lani left you," Gabi acknowledged.
"But...if she hadn't, then I'd never be able to do this," Gabi continued before seizing a kiss from Eli.
At the makeshift palace, the mystery man, who was wearing a phoenix ring, smoked a cigar while modeling for Gina's latest painting. "Hmm... Truly one of my best, if I [may] say... Eh -- perhaps a bit more shading, though..." Gina mused as the man started to stand. "Not so fast -- sit [back] down. I am not done," Gina snapped, and the man complied. "You are so impatient...but, Steffy, no peeking -- you will not see it until it is done!" Gina insisted. "Oh, it is so vibrant -- [such] an improvement... Your old portrait was...well, if the truth be known, a bit out of date... I wonder if your family is even missing it..." Gina continued.
The mystery man soon said something that angered Gina. "No, Steffy -- absolutely not! And I do not -- do not -- want to hear another word about it!" Gina snapped. "John may have been nothing more to you than a pawn, but to me, he was everything; he was my prince," Gina continued with a look of sadness and longing. "Do not forget [that] our interests align, Steffy. I have worked tirelessly to maneuver myself between John and Marlena -- and have succeeded seamlessly! [And] once I have my prince, then you shall have your Queen of the Night," Gina promised.
"Cat got your tongue? You do not wish to speak of Marlena?" Gina guessed when the mystery man didn't respond right away. "[Then let us talk about] whatever it is that you and your son Chadwick have been corresponding about back and forth on that [tablet] of yours," Gina suggested. "Oh, do not look so surprised -- it is quite obvious the two of you are plotting to take back what is rightfully yours," Gina continued.
"A few more sittings, and your portrait shall be complete," Gina declared before stepping away from the canvas. "I have worked up quite an appetite -- and I know exactly how to satiate it..." Gina mused -- just as the mystery man's tablet computer chimed, announcing the arrival of a message from Chad's tablet computer. The man silently read the message -- "Father, I can't communicate with you any longer unless we meet in person" -- without any way of knowing that Abigail had sent it against Chad's wishes as a way of finding out if Stefano truly was still alive.
After getting cleaned up, Gina left the makeshift palace and headed over to a townhouse -- which John soon entered.
J.J. was alone in the park, seething with rage and preparing to pop a few pills, when Brady approached and seized the opportunity to try to apologize again for what had happened earlier. "Kristen DiMera is a sore subject with you --" Brady started to acknowledge. "You think?" J.J. snapped before popping the pills, unconcerned about having Brady as a witness to the act. "I'm sorry --" Brady tried to reiterate.
"You keep saying that, [but] do you even know what you're 'sorry' for, or is this some blanket 'sorry'? Because 'sorry' doesn't even begin to make up for the fact that the woman you [were] whining about losing murdered the woman I love! Haley is dead because of your miserable, homicidal ex-girlfriend, and I swear to God, I will never stop hating her -- or you!" J.J. spat.
At an undisclosed location, a woman entered a chapel, dressed as a nun, and approached another woman, who was also dressed as a nun.
"I was thinking of Eli again," Lani -- the second woman -- admitted. "Why don't we pray together for strength?" Kristen -- the first woman -- suggested.
Julie suffers heart trouble
At a convent, Lani and Kristen, dressed as nuns, talked about their respective struggles to forget the men they still loved. "When I saw you in the piazza all those months ago, I could see that your soul was as tortured as mine," Kristen said. Kristen added that running away had been their only option, but it had not let them stop feeling pain.
"You can't outrun pain," Lani said. Kristen mentioned baby David, and Lani noted that her relationship with Eli would have been very different if their baby had lived. Kristen said she understood. "If our baby girl had survived, Brady and I would still be together," Kristen said with a voice that cracked with emotion. Lani told Kristen that she had hurt for Kristen when she had learned about the loss of Kristen's daughter.
"I wanted a child for so long. Brady's child. And it should have been the happiest day of our lives," Kristen said. Lani told Kristen that she did not believe that God had taken Kristen's child in order to teach her a lesson. "Sometimes, there's just no way to understand why things happen the way they do," Lani counseled.
"I don't see a future for myself outside of this convent," Kristen said. When Lani asked about Brady, Kristen noted that she could not get past the loss of her daughter. Kristen observed that Lani was still in love with Eli, and she asked Lani why she had dumped Eli at the altar. "I guess I just didn't love him enough," Lani said. With a grin, Kristen reminded Lani that she could not lie in front of God. Kristen asked for the truth.
"I never wanted Eli to suffer, but he, and everyone he cares about, would have suffered terrible pain if I would have married him," Lani said. Kristen reminded Lani that she still had time to change her mind because neither had taken their final vows with the church yet. "Before you do, you have to make sure that you are ready to make a total commitment to God," Kristen said. "There's no turning back for me," Lani said. Kristen urged Lani to confess anything that weighed on her soul.
"I have sinned. We all have, and I've asked God for his forgiveness for what I have done, but my sins don't compare to those who have sinned against me," Lani said. Kristen pushed for details about who had wronged Lani. "Gabi Hernandez, and I hope she burns in hell for what she has done," Lani growled.
In the park, Brady apologized to J.J. "All I know was that Kristen was in deep pain after losing our baby," Brady started. Furious, J.J. warned Brady that he did not want to listen to Brady defend the woman that had killed Haley. "That woman was a maniac. She should have been locked up a long time ago," J.J. muttered. Brady told J.J. that he wished he could change events from the past year.
"Where is Kristen?" J.J. asked. "I don't know where she is or what the hell she was thinking," Brady said. J.J. asked if Brady would let J.J. know if Kristen reached out to him. With a shrug, Brady noted that he would have heard from Kristen already if she had ever planned to return. J.J. grumbled that he hoped Kristen was suffering wherever she was hiding.
"I understand your anger. You should know that Kristen, the woman that I knew prior to her giving birth, was not the same woman we remember, the one that tormented this town," Brady said. "Who was she?" J.J. asked. Brady said the baby had changed Kristen into a more empathetic person. "Not enough to keep from pushing Haley down the stairs," J.J. countered. Brady told J.J. that he was sorry for J.J.'s loss, and he offered to be there for J.J. if he needed anything.
"You weren't the only guy that lost someone that day. I lost my kid. I'm really gonna miss not being able to watch her grow up," Brady said before he walked away. Alone, J.J. sat on the park bench and took another pill. J.J. took out his phone and stared at a picture of Haley on it. "I don't care what Brady says. I'm going to find Kristen DiMera and make her pay for what she did to you," J.J. whispered to the picture.
Gabi and Eli kissed in her office at the DiMera mansion. "When we got back together, I thought you weren't going to get over Lani," Gabi said. "I'm sorry it took me so long to truly accept that it was over," Eli countered. Gabi called Lani heartless. Eli said he could never be with Lani again after how she had hurt him. Eli added that he had been reluctant to believe that Gabi had wanted to be with him because she had not been able to get over Stefan's death.
"His murder, you mean," Gabi said gruffly as she gently pushed Eli away. "I still think it was an accident," Eli countered. Frustrated, Gabi told Eli that it drove her crazy when Eli defended Lani. "I only defend her when it comes to the shooting," Eli stressed. Eli said that Lani had been a very different person than he had thought. Gabi told Eli that she was sorry that Eli had gone through so much pain with Lani.
"I still don't get it. Why did Lani wait until that moment to tell me? Why would she humiliate me in front of all those people?" Eli wondered aloud. Gabi thought about when she had warned Lani to dump Eli or let Julie suffer a heart issue from her pacemaker. With a shrug, Gabi told Eli that she had no idea why Lani had hurt him. Eli said he was relieved that Lani had left Salem.
"Good, because she was never worthy of you," Gabi said. "I'm much happier with you. Good riddance, Lani, wherever the hell she is," Eli said. Eli changed the subject to Gabi's request to investigate Chad. With a grin, Gabi locked the door to the office. Gabi kissed and started to undress Eli. As the lovers fell onto the couch, Gabi tucked her phone underneath the couch cushions.
Doug and Julie talked about how happy they were to see Jack and Jennifer happy and together again. "So much has changed in the last year," Julie said as she and Doug looked at the restaurant sign for the remodeled Doug's Place. The sign read, "Julie's Place." Inside the restaurant, Julie reminded Doug how thrilled she had been when Doug had surprised her once the remodel of the restaurant had finished.
"It's a fitting tribute to the woman that makes my life worth living," Doug said. "Whatever name is on the door, it is because you were the magic man who made this place so important to Salem and me," Julie countered.
In the square, Kayla talked to someone on the phone about dinner. "I'll see you at home," Kayla said. Kayla walked over to Julie's Place and greeted Doug and Julie. "I just want some take-out. I haven't mastered the stove at my new place yet," Kayla admitted. "It's so good to see you happy again, and him, too. You really helped him so much, Kayla," Julie remarked. With a nod, Kayla said that Justin was still struggling with Adrienne's death.
Kayla told Julie that she was impressed with the healthy menu at the restaurant. With a laugh, Julie said that after all Kayla had done for her heart health, the menu was the least she could do to thank Kayla. While Eli and Gabi kissed at the mansion, their movement on the couch activated the app on Gabi's phone that connected to Julie's pacemaker. At the restaurant, Julie clutched her chest as her heart raced.
Kayla examined Julie and confirmed that she was not having a heart attack. Concerned, Doug asked Kayla why the pacemaker was not keeping Julie's heart from racing.
After Eli and Gabi had finished making love on the couch at the DiMera mansion, Gabi grabbed her phone and gasped. Gabi hurriedly adjusted Julie's pacemaker on the open app back to normal. "What is it?" Eli asked. Gabi lied and said she had almost butt dialed someone. "That would have been a disaster," Eli said. "Yeah," Gabi said with an emphatic nod.
At Julie's Place, Julie told Kayla and Doug that her heart felt normal again. Kayla confirmed that Julie's heart sounded good. Julie confirmed that she had not had any problems since after the pacemaker had first been inserted. Worried, Doug asked if he should take Julie to the hospital, but Kayla suggested that they make an appointment with Julie's cardiologist instead. Doug retrieved Kayla's food from the kitchen, and she left.
Doug asked Julie if she was okay, and she nodded yes. "I'm so happy to see Kayla like this. She was alone for so long!" Julie commented. When Eli and Gabi arrived for dinner, Doug told them about Julie's pacemaker problem. Julie insisted she was fine. "Thank God," Gabi said. Julie and Eli told Gabi that they were thankful for her decision to give Stefan's heart to Julie. Julie threw her arm around Gabi.
"A year later, and I'm still going strong!" Julie said. "I'm just glad that you're okay," Gabi said. Doug told Eli that Kayla had been in the restaurant and had helped Julie. With a grin, Julie explained that Kayla had been there to pick up dinner for her new "main squeeze."
At Kayla's new house, she unpacked dinner on the table. "Just in time! I've got all your favorites here," Kayla said as Justin walked in. "You're too good to me," Justin said. Kayla kissed him.
At the penthouse, John and "Hope" had dinner together. "Hope" toasted "to us." As John sipped the wine, he got a faraway look on his face. "Doc and I just didn't do this kind of thing often enough," John said quietly. "You still miss her, don't you?" "Hope" asked. John thanked "Hope" for convincing him that he could not stand in Marlena's way when she had been offered a position at a job on a panel out of town. Unknown to John, "Hope" had paid the psychiatric institute a donation that was conditioned on Marlena's part on their panel.
"Someday, she is going to come back. In the meantime, well, you have to keep living, right?" "Hope" asked as she poured more wine. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," John said. After a couple glasses of wine, John told "Hope" that he was glad that she was there to keep him company during Marlena's absence. "Hope" told John that she was grateful he had taken her in after her house had flooded.
"Hope" thought about how she had talked to John at the Brady Pub seven months before about her plumbing issues and her frustration over living in the full Horton house. When "Hope" had said she planned to move into the Salem Inn, John had asked "Hope" to move into the penthouse instead. John and "Hope" smiled at the memory.
"I never in a million years thought we were going to be roommates, but it's a good thing, because I like hanging out with you," John said. "I always felt close to you," "Hope" admitted. John said he was happy to have someone to talk with. With a nod, "Hope" said it was odd that Marlena had not communicated more with John. "I sure would like a letter now and then," John said with a chuckle.
Unbeknownst to John, Marlena had sent a letter, but Gina had intercepted it. "You will not be receiving this one, either," Gina had said as she'd bundled the letter with the others she had confiscated. With a smile at the memory, "Hope" told John, "You really are lonely, aren't you?" As John rose from the couch, he wobbled from the wine. John stared at a photo of him with Marlena. "Hope" noted that it was hard to be the one left behind.
"I haven't been with anyone since Rafe and I broke up," "Hope" admitted. John laughed. "Hope" playfully smacked John on the arm. "In all seriousness, sometimes I feel like I'll never be with anyone again," "Hope" said. "You're far too beautiful to be alone," John said. John started to add that if he were single, he might be interested, but he stopped himself and commented that he had had too much wine. "Hope's" face fell in disappointment.
"I hope I didn't say anything to make you feel uncomfortable," "Hope" said. John shook his head no. "Hope" told John that his friendship had meant a lot to her, and he agreed. With an unsteady gait, John walked into the kitchen to reheat their dinner. "You want me, John, but you are too good of a man to act on it," Gina said. With a devilish smile, Gina poured wine on her shirt, then started to remove it. When John returned, "Hope" was standing in the middle of the room in her camisole.
"I'm such a klutz. I am so sorry. I spilled my wine," "Hope" said. John handed his unfinished glass of wine to "Hope." As "Hope" took the glass, their fingers lingered on one another. Marlena walked in. "Am I interrupting something here?" a confused Marlena asked.