At the Horton Town Square, Eli and Lani watched from afar as Evan sat alone at a table outside the café, drinking coffee and reading a newspaper. "This is driving me crazy!" Lani quietly grumbled. "We've been here for hours!" Eli quietly complained. "And we are not getting any closer to finding --" Lani continued -- just as Evan finally stood and walked away.
As Eli followed Evan into a bookstore, Lani contacted Rafe to provide an update. "[Evan's] never gonna lead you to David!" Rafe, who was at the police station, predicted with a sigh. "[I mean, obviously, Evan] must have seen you two --" Rafe continued. "No, I don't think so -- we were pretty far back," Lani assured Rafe, who sighed again then apologized for the outburst.
"Keep me posted," Rafe requested before ending the call -- and immediately dialing someone else's phone number, still convinced that Lani and Eli were never going to get anywhere with Evan.
Evan eventually emerged from the bookstore with a shopping bag and headed toward the nearest bench. A short time later, Eli rejoined Lani at the opposite end of the town square, having exited the bookstore through a back door. Eli and Lani watched as Evan pulled a burner phone out of the shopping bag -- which, according to Eli, also contained two paperback novels -- and dialed a phone number.
"It's me," Evan began after Orpheus answered the call. "Where are you?" Orpheus asked. "The square. [And] I'm being watched, but it won't get them anywhere -- and they can't trace this call," Evan replied.
"How's David?" Evan wondered. "He's still running a bit of a fever," Orpheus reported. "Then get him to an urgent care or a hospital!" Evan demanded. "The police will be all over me," Orpheus predicted. "I don't care! If you don't do something for my son, I will!" Evan snapped. "They're following you. [And besides], look, kids get fevers. His will probably go down soon," Orpheus countered. "Like you're a doctor now..." Evan grumbled. "I promise you, I'm not gonna let anything happen to this boy. He's my flesh and blood," Orpheus assured Evan.
"Man, I really wish I could hear what he was saying..." Lani complained to Eli, who guessed that Evan was talking to Orpheus.
As Lani and Eli started ranting to each other about how easy it was for criminals to buy burner phones, Evan ended the call then started to walk away -- just as Sonny approached.
"What are you doing here?" Evan wondered. "I was hoping we could talk," Sonny explained. "How'd you know where to find me?" Evan asked suspiciously. "I know that you like the coffee at the café," Sonny coolly replied. "The cops sent you, didn't they? I know I'm being watched," Evan countered. "Yeah," Sonny admitted, drawing a scoff of disappointment from Evan, who started to walk away without saying another word.
"You can't go on like this," Sonny called out, stopping Evan. "Why not? David's my son -- mine -- [and] I'm not giving him to Rafe or anybody else!" Evan snapped at Sonny.
"And as soon as I get this matter with Jordan's accident settled, [David] and I are gonna be on our way, so you can just tell Rafe -- or whoever -- that, you know, David's in very good hands," Evan continued. "Yeah? Is Orpheus watching him?" Sonny countered, surprising Evan. "I know he's your father -- and I know that he's alive," Sonny explained.
"[And] so does all the law enforcement in this country [at this point, because he's back] on the Top Ten Most Wanted list. [Now], do you really want your son in the middle of a shootout between [your father] and the Feds?" Sonny continued. "My father won't let something like that happen --" Evan began to insist. "Orpheus wants what's best for Orpheus --" Sonny began to counter. "That is not true -- he risked everything to go pick up medicine for David!" Evan blurted out. "What kind of medicine? What's wrong with David?" Sonny wondered.
"It's just a fever," Evan insisted. "Do you even know how high it is? [Look], I have a daughter -- I've been through this before. If David is sick, he has to see a doctor!" Sonny countered.
"Come on, Evan...or --" Sonny began to beg. "You can [still] call me Evan," Evan stressed with a hint of pain, not wanting to feel like a stranger to Sonny, of all people.
"Even before I got to know you, I could tell how much you love that kid --" Sonny continued. "He's my whole life -- I didn't know anything about having a son until I saw him for the first time, [but then]...all of a sudden, I...I knew why I was here on this earth," Evan confirmed. "[But] having a child is more than a rush, okay? He is a responsibility! You need to put David first [and] do right by him -- no matter what that means for you! That is what parenthood is all about!" Sonny concluded.
Evan didn't respond, so Sonny forged ahead, summarizing all the terrible things that Orpheus had done in 2016 -- and, although it wasn't clear if any part of the recap was actually news to Evan, it seemed to have an effect.
"I can't even believe that you're his son, because I've seen you with your son -- and with my daughter -- and I know what you're like when we're alone...unless you were just faking that --" Sonny began to muse after finishing the summary. "I wasn't," Evan insisted. "Then there's good in you, [despite] whatever happened between you and Jordan --" Sonny continued. "It was an accident!" Evan maintained. "Okay," Sonny replied.
"[Look]...being a parent is about putting the needs of your child ahead of your own needs, [and]...I don't know how to say this, Evan, [but]...you come with a lot of baggage. I'm sorry, but you are not what David needs right now. Rafe needs to be raising that child...and, deep down, you know it," Sonny gently argued, and Evan again showed a hint of pain but didn't bother to dispute the assertion.
"This is not going to end well for you...and if David is sick --" Sonny began to warn. "It's just a virus or something!" Evan maintained. "How do you know it's 'just a virus'?" Sonny countered. "What if this fever spikes, and he needs to go to the E.R.? Do you think Orpheus is gonna put your son's need ahead of his own? Because he is not!" Sonny continued. "Your son could be sitting there right now, getting sicker and sicker, [while] you're doing nothing! Are you gonna be able to live with yourself [if that happens]?" Sonny concluded -- and, although Evan didn't respond, the words again seemed to have an effect.
Having said everything that could possibly be said, Sonny walked away, leaving Evan alone to ponder how to handle the situation.
At the DiMera mansion, Chad demanded to know why Abigail was back in Salem. "I...live here..." Abigail pointed out with a hint of confusion. "That's...not what I meant..." Chad backpedaled. "Well, I -- I missed you, and I missed the kids, and I missed being home, and J.J. was fine, so...I just hopped on a plane," Abigail explained with a shrug. "Without calling?" Chad snapped. "Well, I wanted to surprise you," Abigail reasoned, shrugging again. "You did..." Chad grumbled. "And...you don't seem very happy about that..." Abigail curiously observed. "I'm...happy..." Chad stiffly insisted.
"Are you sure? [Because] you just seem really preoccupied [and] distracted... [I mean], did I catch you in the middle of something, or...[what, do] you have some tramp stashed in here [right now]?" Abigail challenged Chad, clearly joking about the last part. "Two, actually," Chad matter-of-factly declared. "[You're] into threesomes now? I have been gone a long time!" Abigail mused with a laugh, still not concerned that anything bad was really going on. Abigail soon rushed off in search of Thomas and Charlotte, and once the coast was clear, Chad scrambled to stash Kate and Gabi in a room in the secret tunnels.
Abigail returned just as Chad finished the task. "That where you [have been] stashing all your tramps?" Abigail guessed. "Just...looking for my father..." Chad claimed. "Now that he's kidnapped Marlena, he's not gonna be stupid enough to come back through that way and ask for our help," Abigail predicted. "[Maybe, but] now that you're home, I just wanted to make sure that he hadn't gotten back in... [Anyway], all I saw was a couple of rats..." Chad elaborated. "Are you serious? [Then] we have to call an exterminator -- right now!" Abigail insisted with a cringe of disgust. "That's exactly what I was thinking..." Chad agreed.
"[Actually, on second thought], why don't you call someone and seal up those stupid tunnel entrances [for good]?" Abigail suggested. "That would be overreacting," Chad declared.
"Are you saying that I'm overreacting? [Look], this is our home, [and] I don't want rats -- or people like your father -- entering whenever they want! [I mean], my children live here --" Abigail reasoned. "They're my kids, too!" Chad snapped. "I know they're your kids, too! God, why did...why did you say it like that -- [you know, like you're] mad at me or something? Look, I -- obviously, I'm a little rattled right now about all this, [but] even you have to admit that strange stuff has been happening -- Steve getting in this fight with Gabi, and..." Abigail countered before suddenly noticing something.
"Giving you that ring...which you're wearing..." Abigail continued, stunned. "It's all I have left from my father," Chad explained. "But...the man that gave you that is not your father..." Abigail stressed. "I know..." Chad backpedaled. "It's just a ring, honey," Chad insisted. "It's not 'just a ring,' honey -- it's a symbol... [I mean], I understand keeping it, but wearing it -- [that's] like you're...I don't know, marked by him [and] on his side [or something]...and that's not possible...right?" Abigail countered with a hint of concern.
"My father held this family and this business together --" Chad began to reason. "While he was doing horrible things to good people," Abigail stressed. "My family's been pulled apart since he disappeared, and I'm doing my best to put it back together again, [and] this ring represents his power and his strength -- [like you said], it's a symbol, and it says that I am meant to carry [on his legacy]," Chad continued. "Do you remember what it felt like when you found out that your father passed away? The book that he had finished right before [then -- that] represented a connection between the two of you. This ring is that for me," Chad concluded.
"I respect that [Stefano] is your father, [but] he is doing bad things right now -- currently, in the present -- [and] I see him as a threat --" Abigail tried to argue. "I don't want to talk about my father anymore," Chad insisted before quickly changing the subject, guessing that Abigail would probably like to take a shower and get some sleep after such a long flight home. "[You're right...and] I didn't mean to fight with you. I'm sorry," Abigail replied before suggestively urging Chad to take a shower and get some sleep, too. "I have some things I need to finish," Chad declared without a hint of interest in Abigail's offer.
Taken aback, Abigail wondered what was so important that it couldn't wait until the following day, and Chad reluctantly backpedaled, unable to think of a suitable explanation.
Meanwhile, in a room in the secret tunnels, Gabi lay unconscious on the floor, right next to Kate, who was the first to stir.
"Oh, my God -- not again..." Kate realized with a groan after looking around the room. "Chad got her, too..." Kate observed before trying to rouse Gabi, who eventually responded.
"I know [Chad] hates my guts [and] wants me out of the house [and] the company, but...I never thought he would do something like this!" Gabi admitted after remembering what had happened earlier, prompting Kate to explain that Chad had been acting strange since receiving Stefano's phoenix ring recently. "[And] I found a letter [earlier], written by Stefano to Chad..." Kate continued before producing a piece of paper and reading it aloud -- then groaning at the end, suddenly certain of what had happened to Chad. "You think that Chad tried to kill us because he received a letter from 'Stefano'?" Gabi incredulously summarized.
"[A few] years ago, Andre managed to sneak into a hypnosis session that Marlena was having with Chad, [and then Andre] managed to brainwash Chad into not wanting to have anything to do with Abigail --" Kate began to explain, prompting Gabi to recall the time when Chad had gone after Belle. "That's what Andre wanted [Chad] to do. [Andre] planted a trigger word in [Chad's] brain -- and that trigger word was 'La Famiglia,'" Kate continued, prompting Gabi to recall one of the phrases in Stefano's note to Chad. "This is only a temporary reprieve," Kate concluded, guessing that someone had interrupted Chad's attempt to commit murder for Stefano.
At Maison Blanche 2.0, Stefano realized that the cereus cactus had coincidentally bloomed just as Marlena's microchip-controlled personality had finally emerged in full.
"All hail!" Stefano exclaimed with a grin of triumph, welcoming each Queen of the Night back from a long slumber. "All the more reason to throw a party!" Stefano declared.
"[Well], as soon as [Chad]...removes a couple of people from the guest list, [that is]..." Stefano conceded with a hint of impatience. "Why are we taking people off the guest list?" Marlena wondered. "Well, they are people who are not on our side -- people who are not loyal to the DiMera family, [people] whose only goal is to overthrow us -- so I told Chad to get rid of 'em," Stefano explained with a shrug. "To take them off the guest list," Marlena translated. "I was speaking euphemistically [when I said that]. I told him to eliminate them," Stefano matter-of-factly clarified, drawing a gasp of shock from Marlena.
"Who?" Marlena worriedly wondered. "Gabriella Hernandez [and] Katerina Roberts," Stefano coolly revealed.
"You can't!" Marlena protested, horrified -- but Stefano insisted that both women deserved to die, and Marlena eventually backed down.
Satisfied, Stefano turned on some music and shared a waltz with Marlena -- then leaned in for a kiss at the end of the dance. "I'm so sorry -- I can't do this," Marlena insisted, dodging Stefano at the last possible second. "I think...if we're...having a party, I should go and -- and rest..." Marlena reasoned. "Of course -- you and I have all the time in the world now," Stefano agreed with another grin of triumph.
Orpheus was playing hide-and-seek with David at a new motel when Evan burst into the room. "I told you to stay away!" Orpheus snapped at Evan. "I had to see him for myself," Evan explained while picking up David.
"I'm gonna get you to a doctor," Evan assured David. "The police will have the place surrounded before we even get out!" Orpheus predicted. "It's too late to worry about that," Evan countered before calling out to Rafe and Eli, who had been waiting outside. "Are you out of your mind?" Orpheus snapped at Evan as Rafe and Eli burst into the room. "Actually, I'm thinking pretty clearly," Evan insisted while giving David a hug.
"I love you, little guy -- I always will," Evan stressed before handing David over to Rafe.
Nicole gets Mackenzie's maternity results
At the police station, Justin informed Ciara that he had spoken to the judge on Ben's behalf. When Ciara asked what the judge had said, Ben walked in. "That I was free to go," Ben said. Ciara jumped into Ben's arms. Ben thanked Justin for his help. "All I did was present the facts. This is the one you need to thank. [Ciara] fought for over a year to prove your innocence," Justin said. Ciara lamented that she had not been able to prove Ben's innocence sooner.
After a long night at the hospital, Sarah returned to her room at the Kiriakis mansion. Xander was waiting for her. "I finally figured out what you were keeping from me," Sarah said. Xander shifted with discomfort then he grinned. "You caught me," Xander said as he whipped a sheet off of a child's princess bed. Sarah gasped.
"I finally finished putting it together. It just wouldn't do for a princess to come home without a proper place to sleep," Xander said. "I feel so lucky, because not only am I in love with the most caring and loving man on the planet, [but] I got some very good news," Sarah said. Sarah told Xander that Mackenzie was well enough to leave the hospital.
"Everything is perfect," Sarah said. Sarah told Xander that she was anxious to start planning a life with him. Xander thought about his conversation with Victor about Nicole's suspicions regarding Mackenzie. Xander scowled at the memory.
Suspicious, Sarah noted that she knew Xander well enough to know when something was off. "What's wrong?" Sarah pressed. As Xander stared in silence, Sarah sighed and suggested that Xander was worried about her and Mackenzie. "And I know it had to be hard on you to ask Eric for permission to see our daughter," Sarah added.
"There would be a lot of people that would be happy to see me disappear from your life and Mickey's," Xander said. Sarah stressed, "That's their problem." Sarah told Xander that she had never had a man support her and treat her the way Xander had treated her over the previous year. "That's because no man has ever loved you this much," Xander said. Sarah chuckled. Sarah asked Xander what she could do to help him feel better. Xander kissed Sarah.
After Sarah and Xander made love, she smiled at him as they dressed. "[I can't believe] I didn't see early on that you and I are kind of made for each other," Sarah said. "I used to wonder about that, too. I'm so glad you finally came to your senses!" Xander joked. Sarah assured Xander that no one could ever make her change her mind about him.
In the Kiriakis mansion living room, Will and Sonny joined Victor for breakfast. "The mood I'm in, I probably couldn't hold anything down," Victor muttered. Sonny told Victor that he had convinced Evan to hand over David. Sonny also mentioned that Orpheus had been captured. With a shrug, Victor said he had bigger things to worry about. "In case you haven't heard, my wife is going to prison," Victor said. Maggie walked in.
"I thought Victor's lawyers were fighting to keep you out of jail?" Will asked. "I asked them to stop. I need to take full responsibility for what I did, and not just to your mother," Maggie said. Maggie explained that she needed to make amends with the people she had hurt by her actions. Maggie apologized to Will. Maggie then apologized to Sonny for causing the death of his mother.
"In the beginning, I did blame you for the accident, because I needed to blame someone, because it was less painful for me to be angry than to deal with the grief that I eventually did. And I know that you loved my mom, and she loved you. And if my mom were here right now, she would want you to be forgiven," Sonny said. Maggie agreed that Adrienne had had a forgiving heart. Maggie noted that Adrienne's selfless act to prioritize Sarah after the crash had saved Maggie's granddaughter.
Sonny told Maggie that he respected her "for the good person that you are." As Justin walked into the room behind Maggie, Sonny added, "You mustn't forget that people love you and people need you, [Maggie]." Maggie asked Sonny and Will to promise her that they would not waste any time worrying about her but instead focus on their happiness. Sonny and Will agreed. Maggie turned and saw Justin. Justin said he had heard that Maggie had changed her plea to guilty.
"Nothing will ever make things right with Adrienne gone, but I guess I should say it's the only way that I can go on," Maggie said. "Maggie, I know how profoundly sorry you are, how much you cared about Adrienne, and how devastating her loss has been to you. And that is more than enough punishment," Justin said. Justin added, "Adrienne would want us to go on living and loving." As Maggie fought back tears, Justin hugged her. Maggie hugged everyone goodbye, and Will and Sonny promised to visit Maggie often.
"If you need anything, just let us know," Will said. Justin agreed. Xander walked in with Sarah, and she asked what was going on. Maggie told Sarah that she had pleaded guilty with the court. With a sad smile, Maggie told Xander that she was happy he was marrying Sarah. "You have my blessings," Maggie said. Maggie added that she was glad to know that Xander would be watching over Sarah for her.
After everyone left, Maggie and Victor sat on the couch together. "I'm not the only one playing at being strong," Maggie said. Victor grudgingly admitted, "My heart is breaking right now, because having you in my life, in my home, has become as essential to me as breathing." Victor told Maggie that he was proud of her courage "to do the right thing." Maggie told Victor that she was not worried about him because she knew the family would take care of him.
At the hospital, Nicole paced by the nurses' station, and she thought about her conversation with Xander about the possible baby switch. Nicole spotted the lab technician she had spoken with about the samples she had collected, and she stopped him as he walked by. "Do you have the results?" Nicole asked. The technician confirmed that he would have them within an hour. "I will find you when I have the test results," the technician said.
"Test results?" Eric asked as he approached Nicole. Nicole lied and said she had been at a doctor's appointment. "Are you pregnant?" Eric asked. Confused, Nicole asked Eric why he would think she was pregnant. Eric reminded Nicole that she had told him that she was late. "I'm not pregnant," Nicole stressed. Eric apologized for being insensitive. Shaking her head, Nicole told Eric that he should not apologize for being hopeful. Nicole said she sometimes hoped she could get pregnant, though the odds were against her.
Eric told Nicole that Mackenzie was ready to go home. Thrilled, Nicole hugged Eric. A lab technician interrupted to hand Nicole the test results for Mackenzie's maternity test. As Nicole stared at the envelope, Eric asked, "Aren't you going to open it?" Nicole said she would open it later and that the test was not a big deal.
"Are you not telling me something?" Eric asked. Nicole thought about her conversation with Xander when he had warned her not to follow up on her theory about a baby switch. Concerned, Eric asked Nicole to be honest with him. "Secrets only make things worse, so if there is something you want to tell me, just tell me. We can get through this together. I promise," Eric said.
Nicole assured Eric that she was not ill and that he did not need to worry about her. Relieved, Eric hugged Nicole and told her that he loved her. Eric returned to Mackenzie's room. Alone in the hallway, Nicole looked at the envelope in her hand.
At the hospital elevators, Xander asked an emotional Sarah if she was okay. "No, I'm not. It's just that that whole night was so terrible. All Adrienne wanted to do was help me. All my mom wanted to do was see her grandbaby be born. And why did my sister have to show up that night?" Sarah asked. As Sarah got worked up, Xander calmed her down. "That's all in the past. Nothing we can do about it now. Darling, your mother is a very strong woman. She's gonna get through this," Xander said. Sarah nodded in agreement.
Xander waited in the hallway while Sarah went into Mackenzie's room. Sarah kneeled next to Mackenzie's crib as Eric stood behind her. "I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I do admire her courage," Eric said. "I don't really want to talk about it right now," Sarah said. Sarah suggested that they focus on the good news that their daughter would be okay.
In Hope's hospital room, she startled awake and whispered, "Gina." At the foot of the bed was a visage of Gina. "Good morning to you," Gina said. When Hope asked why Gina was there, Gina told her that Rolf was on his way to reinsert the chip into Hope's brain. "I won't let him!" Hope shouted. "I am here to take over your body and your life," Gina said before she plunged a needle into Hope's arm. Hope sat bolt upright in bed. Shaken by her dream, Hope rubbed her arm.
When Kayla arrived to take Hope's vital signs, she noted that Hope's heart rate was elevated. Hope admitted that she had woken from a nightmare about Gina. "I promise you, Gina is gone. Now that Rolf has removed the chip, you have nothing to worry about," Kayla said. Hope rattled off the list of terrible things that Gina had done in her body. "How do I live with any of it?" Hope asked. Kayla reminded Hope that she was not responsible for Gina's actions. Kayla assured Hope that John would find Marlena.
Hope pushed Kayla to open up about Steve. "Are you afraid that when he is found, you won't be able to get the real Steve back?" Hope asked. Kayla shook her head no. Kayla said that she hoped Steve would have no ill side effects after his surgery, but she would not reconcile with Steve because Kayla was in love with Justin. Kayla told Hope about her romantic relationship with Justin and about Adrienne's death.
"Poor Adrienne. She was such a wonderful woman and friend," Hope whispered. Hope said she understood that Kayla and Justin were a comfort to one another. "We love each other," Kayla added. With a nod, Hope asked Kayla if she was tempted to go back to Steve, since she knew he had not willingly divorced her. "Does it change how you feel about Justin?" Hope asked. Kayla looked over at the doorway and saw Justin standing there.
Kayla jumped to her feet and greeted Justin with a kiss. Justin said he wanted to say hello to Hope. "I'm always happy to see you. You know that," Hope said. Hope's smile fell away, and she told Justin that Kayla had been filling her in about the last year. With a nod, Justin said he had been lucky to have the support of friends and family.
Ben and Ciara walked through the town square, hand in hand. Grinning broadly, Ben said he had spent hours in prison, dreaming of walking through the town square with Ciara. "Now that you are free to do whatever you want, when you want, what would you like to do first?" Ciara asked. Ben talked about visiting David once David was settled back in Rafe's house.
With a grin, Ben said that Rafe was open to him spending time with David. "What if you come live with me?" Ciara asked. Ciara argued that the mansion was big enough to accommodate them, but Ben did not think that Victor would want him under the same roof. "The last thing I want to worry about right now is my future. I just want to be totally in this moment, alone with you. And I really don't care where," Ben said. Ciara took Ben's hand, and led him into the Salem Inn.
After securing a room, Ciara admitted that she was nervous to go into the room with Ben. Ben said he was nervous, too. Ben and Ciara felt one another's heartbeats. "Both of our hearts are going crazy," Ciara whispered. "I think that is a really good thing," Ben said before he kissed Ciara. Ben lifted Ciara and carried her into their hotel room.
Outside the pub, Nicole opened the envelope to look at the test results. "Oh, my God. I don't believe it. I thought for sure that Xander switched those babies," Nicole whispered. "Kristen isn't Mackenzie's mother. She really is Sarah and Eric's little girl, after all," Nicole said. At the hospital, Xander talked to the lab technician that had given the test results to Nicole.
"I know you'll be happy with what is in this envelope," Xander said as he shoved an envelope fat with cash into the technician's hand. "Can I assume that I'll be happy with what's in the one that you gave to Nicole Walker?" Xander added. The technician confirmed that he had altered the results as instructed. When Xander confirmed that he had included a bonus payment, the technician swore to take the secret to his grave. "As will I," Xander whispered.
Nicole seeks advice from Abe
At the Salem Inn, Ciara ordered room service while Ben was taking a shower.
After ending the call, Ciara joined Ben, who had been enjoying the luxury of showering in total privacy for a change but was quick to admit that sharing a shower with someone wasn't always a bad thing.
Later, Ciara and Ben ate Chinese food and drank Champagne while lounging in bed together.
Brady went to the cemetery in search of Kristen, who was in the process of putting flowers on Rachel's grave.
"How did you know I was here?" Kristen wondered after greeting Brady with a hug. "When you...kind of disappear...it's usually about Rachel," Brady explained. "Do you ever think that you're just never gonna get past this -- you know, that life, uh, doesn't have any meaning, and it never will?" Kristen asked. "Let's just say that my faith...yeah, it's been sorely tested," Brady replied. "One thing that keeps me going [is Mickey -- I mean], I'm gonna sound crazy, [but]...as long as she's alive, I feel that Rachel is still here with us," Kristen admitted to Brady, who insisted that didn't sound crazy at all.
"You know, I've been thinking...and I know it's a long shot [and] probably wouldn't even be able to happen...but, um...why don't we think about...trying to conceive another child?" Brady suggested. "I couldn't -- I mean, it -- it -- it just -- it wouldn't be right, Brady -- [I mean], I feel like we would be betraying Rachel," Kristen admitted, confusing Brady. "The thought of replacing her right now, while she's still [fresh] in our hearts..." Kristen clarified for Brady, who gave a nod of understanding. "[Then let's] set up a charity under Rachel's name [at the hospital -- you know, for kids like Mickey]," Brady suggested, and Kristen excitedly agreed.
At the hospital, Sarah and Eric waited anxiously for a staff member to confirm that Mackenzie was free to leave. "Is everything ready [for Mickey at the mansion]? Need me to do anything?" Eric asked. "No, no -- we're good," Sarah replied. "'We're good' -- you mean...you and Xander," Eric translated. "Yeah," Sarah confirmed. "Nicole said the two of you got engaged," Eric reported. "Yeah," Sarah repeated. "When were you planning on telling me?" Eric wondered. "Oh -- uh, Eric...Xander and I got engaged. [Now], can that be the end of that particular discussion? [Because] my love life is none of your concern," Sarah countered.
"This is about me being a concerned father -- [I mean], when you get all 'stand by your man,' and that man is Xander, it makes my head explode, 'cause you know I've never liked him anywhere near my daughter --" Eric began to stress. "Tell us how you really feel, Padre," Xander interjected, joining Eric and Sarah in Mackenzie's room. "Is that supposed to make me feel awkward? Well, it didn't. In fact, I'd be happy to tell you how I really feel, [which is that you're] still a crook who smuggled blood diamonds, tried to strangle my cousin on her wedding day --" Eric began to counter, hurting Xander and annoying Sarah.
"I've never denied my past, but I'm not that person anymore," Xander said to Eric. "Can't this wait for later, somewhere else?" Sarah begged the men. "Never, ever forget [that] you're not that baby's father," Eric said to Xander. "Not now, not here!" Sarah snapped at the men. "Trust me -- I'm very, very clear about who her father is," Xander said to Eric. "Please!" Sarah urged the men. "I imagine you were 'very clear' that Brady was CEO of Titan, [too] -- right up to the moment that you got Victor to give you the job," Eric said to Xander. "Stop it!" Sarah ordered the men, who both finally listened.
"You have to respect that Eric's concerns are valid," Sarah said to Xander. "[And] you have to respect the fact that just because you're Mickey's father, [that] does not give you the right to dictate my life," Sarah said to Eric. "[Now], because of Mickey, our lives are always going to be intertwined, [so] I suggest that we all try and act like grownups," Sarah concluded, speaking to both men. "I will if he does," Xander promised, glaring at Eric. "And I will if you stop provoking me," Eric promised, glaring at Xander. "Oh, my God!" Sarah snapped at the men, fighting back tears of frustration.
Xander and Eric both apologized for upsetting Sarah -- but continued glaring at each other. "I'm gonna help you get Mickey home [and] get her settled in," Eric insisted. "That's no problem -- I actually have some business to attend to, [anyway]," Xander conceded. "Need to go blow something up?" Eric guessed, hurting Xander again and annoying Sarah again.
"I know that it is hard for you to believe, but...Xander really does love me and Mickey, and there is nothing that he wouldn't do for us," Sarah assured Eric after Xander rushed off. "[But] you're never gonna trust Xander...so, by extension, you will never trust me -- not fully," Sarah guessed. "Look, Eric, it would really help if you at least just tried to accept Xander, because he makes me happy, and he is crazy about [Mickey]," Sarah stressed. "You deserve better," Eric insisted. "Like Rex?" Sarah countered with a bitter laugh.
"So, you think that Nicole can change, but Xander -- he just can't," Sarah summarized. "[Yes], I'm afraid that's what I think," Eric confirmed. "So, Nicole learned her lesson, and she'll never let you down [again, and] it'll be smooth sailing for you two from here on out," Sarah continued, each word dripping with skepticism. "No relationship is perfect, and I'm sure Nicole and I are [still] gonna hit our rough spots, but there's one thing I know -- Nicole's never gonna keep a secret from me again, ever," Eric declared.
A staff member soon interrupted Eric and Sarah's argument to announce that Mackenzie was free to leave the hospital. With nothing left to say to each other, Eric and Sarah settled into an awkward silence and started to rush off together with Mackenzie -- but ran into Brady and Kristen at the nearest elevator. "Any news about Mom?" Eric asked hopefully. "No, I haven't heard anything yet," Brady sadly replied. "Oh. I thought [that was] maybe why you were here," Eric admitted. "No, we actually, uh -- we had a little idea..." Brady began to clarify before telling Eric and Sarah everything -- and, by the end of the explanation, Kristen was in tears.
Sarah comforted Kristen, who eventually recovered. "Eric told me that you asked to hold Mickey --" Sarah revealed. "I'm so sorry --" Kristen began to stress. "Don't be. I -- I -- I totally understand -- [well], I mean, I -- I -- I think I do...[but, of course], how could anyone [truly] understand what you are going through?" Sarah replied. "[Anyway, look]...the hospital has this program where volunteers can hold babies whose mothers can't --" Sarah continued. "Kristen said [that] she didn't want to just give money [through this charity fund]," Brady reported. "Yeah -- [and] that [program] sounds nice," Kristen raved, perking up at once.
"You're gonna try to help other children, [and] you got your marrow tested to try to save a child's life, [even though] you lost yours -- that is [all] very brave in my book, Kristen, [and] I don't think I could ever be as brave as you," Sarah stressed. "If there is anything [that] we can do to help your charity, you have to let us know, okay? Isn't that right, Eric?" Sarah concluded, and Eric forced a smile and agreed.
"Oh, my God -- she was so sweet!" Kristen said to Brady after Sarah and Eric rushed off with Mackenzie. "[Although] she doesn't understand, [because] they get to take their baby home, and we're never going to be able to," Kristen continued -- with plenty of sadness but not a hint of bitterness -- before seizing a hug from Brady.
Outside the Brady Pub, Nicole incredulously repeated the results of Mackenzie's maternity test -- just as Abe approached. "What is that?" Abe asked. "Test results," Nicole replied. "Are you all right?" Abe wondered. "They're not mine -- they're Mackenzie's," Nicole clarified. "I heard she was going to be fine," Abe protested. "Oh, she is -- this isn't about the cancer," Nicole stressed. "Why do I get this...sick feeling of déjà vu? What are you up to now?" Abe challenged Nicole. "That's nice, coming from an old friend..." Nicole grumbled. "I am a friend, yes...which is why I know you're up to something," Abe countered.
"Okay -- if I tell you, will you promise not to say anything?" Nicole asked hopefully. "That depends," Abe carefully replied. "When I tell you this, I know that you will want to keep it between us," Nicole insisted. "It's right here in black and white, but I just don't believe it..." Nicole began to explain with a shake of the head while taking another look at the test results. "Let me buy you lunch, okay?" Nicole offered.
Meanwhile, inside the pub, Roman wrapped up a phone conversation with John -- just as Hattie approached. "[Still] no word on Marlena?" Hattie assumed. "He has no idea where Steve took her," Roman confirmed. "Oh... Well, he'll find her -- he always does," Hattie optimistically predicted. "Let's hope so," Roman glumly replied.
"Listen, Roman...um, in the interest of a little more cheerful workplace...uh, do you suppose that we could be a little less Irish around here?" Hattie randomly suggested. "What's that supposed to mean?" Roman defensively wondered. "Well, I -- I just -- I mean, under all the blarney, it's a pretty gloomy group..." Hattie reasoned. "That is a cultural stereotype -- and not even accurate!" Roman protested. "[Just] look at you -- you always expect the worst possible outcome of things," Hattie countered. "That's not really true...but, unfortunately, sometimes that's what we get," Roman argued.
"I never catch you smiling," Hattie maintained. "I mean, here's a guy that's fallen in love with me, and he's been kissing on me, [and it's like he thinks he's] gotta go to confession about that --" Hattie continued. "Who said anything about falling in love?" Roman interjected. "Well...I did...'cause you never talk about it -- [I mean], you would rather die than have a talk about your feelings, [and] your face gets all scrunched up [whenever] somebody says the word 'relationship' to you!" Hattie replied. "Anyway, you've kissed on me twice, so I got a question to ask you -- is this thing going anywhere or not?" Hattie concluded.
"Abe just came in, and he called about Marlena [earlier, so]..." Roman replied before rushing over to Abe and Nicole's table. "That is a one-woman man [who's] always trying to find the one that got away..." Hattie grumbled.
Roman updated Abe and Nicole on the search for Marlena then rushed off to the kitchen, steering clear of Hattie in the process. "Okay, let's try this again -- what are you up to now?" Abe challenged Nicole once the coast was clear. "I got a DNA test on Mackenzie --" Nicole began to explain. "Oh, boy -- why am I not surprised..." Abe mused with a groan, hurting Nicole's feelings again. "You don't think Eric is her father," Abe guessed. "Or that Sarah is her mother," Nicole clarified before explaining everything to Abe. "I have a horrible feeling that I'm right. [I mean], this is Salem -- can we really trust test results?" Nicole concluded.
"I don't deny that Xander is capable of this, but...why? [I mean], I don't think he would do anything that doesn't serve his own self-interest...[although] trying to figure out [his] mind makes me a little bit nauseous..." Abe mused. "I actually think [that], in Xander's own sick way, he really does love Sarah, and he would do anything for her," Nicole guessed after some thought.
"Are you doing this to get at the truth...or to settle a score with Xander?" Abe wondered. "I will never forgive Xander for all the things he did to me...[but] this is not about settling a score -- this is about finding the truth," Nicole insisted. "Do you know how weird it is to feel sorry for Kristen? But I know how she feels, and it's hell. [Look], if Mackenzie really isn't Eric and Sarah's baby, and if Kristen and Brady's baby didn't die, then they all need to know," Nicole reasoned.
"[But] this will affect their lives profoundly --" Nicole acknowledged. "Yours, too," Abe warned. "Yes -- mine, too," Nicole agreed. "[And] that's why I have to be sure -- I have to have proof," Nicole continued. "Well, aren't those test results proof?" Abe argued. "No -- Xander knew I was onto him, so he made sure those test results said exactly what he wanted them to say," Nicole guessed.
"Xander knows you're suspicious, and you know how vicious he is, so I don't think that he is going to sit idly by and let you play Nancy Drew. [Look], maybe you need to tread softly..." Abe advised. "Yeah, you're right..." Nicole agreed. "I've gotta get to Raynor, [because] she's between a rock and a hard place [right now, so] I can easily crack her -- I just have to figure out where she is..." Nicole decided seconds later. "What a surprise -- Nicole Walker, not treading softly..." Abe mused with a hint of amusement.
Nicole thanked Abe for the talk then rushed out of the pub.
Meanwhile, Roman wrapped up a phone conversation with a beer distributor -- just as Hattie approached. "Now that you're [done talking to Abe and you're] off your phone call, [what's next -- you gonna] join the Foreign Legion [so] you can [continue to] avoid my question?" Hattie wondered. "I'm not avoiding any question," Roman insisted. "Well, you sure as hell didn't answer it!" Hattie pointed out.
"[And] it was a yes-or-no question, [so] you can answer it with a single syllable!" Hattie continued. "Hattie! [Look], this is not the time or place to talk about...whatever the hell it is you want to talk about," Roman snapped. "Okay -- if that's the way you feel, [then] I am done with this job, and I am done with you!" Hattie spontaneously decided before storming off to the upstairs bedroom to pack.
Roman chased after Hattie, who refused to open the bedroom door. "I'm tired of talking to you -- and I'm tired of you not talking to me!" Hattie grumbled. "[Then] open the door, and [we'll] talk," Roman countered, and Hattie reluctantly complied. "I get it -- I look like your ex-wife, [but I come] without [her] soul! [Or] maybe there's some unwritten rule about [how] an ex-cop [isn't allowed to] date an ex-con! But whatever it is, I'm done -- I'm done embarrassing myself, 'cause I keep on doing it over and over and over, [so just let me] pack up whatever I have left of my dignity and go!" Hattie snapped. "You should stay," Roman insisted.
Meanwhile, Abe exited the pub -- just as Xander walked away from a chance encounter with Nicole. "What was that all about?" Abe asked. "I just told Xander what he needed to hear," Nicole replied.
Stefano proposes to Marlena
At the Brady Pub, Roman continued trying to convince Hattie to reconsider quitting and moving out.
"You have become very important to me -- [and] the Brady Pub, [and] Marlena, [and] this town. You make Salem better. You have a home here. [And] that's why I don't want you to go -- [because] you have gained the respect of every single person in this town who has gotten to know you," Roman explained to Hattie.
"And as far as the other thing goes...come on -- despite what you think, I sure as hell am not the only guy in the world for you. There are lots and lots of guys out there that would be lucky to have you in their life," Roman assured Hattie. "I bet that's true...[but] the thing is...[well], I'm done with all that -- [I mean], I don't care anymore, [because] I don't need some guy to complete me or make me feel whole, [because] I am fine just the way I am! [So], I know [that] we don't have a relationship, [or] anything really special between us, but...in spite of all that...I'm dumping your ass!" Hattie maintained, surprising Roman.
"You're breaking up with me?" Roman summarized. "Yeah...[but] I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, though," Hattie stressed. "Well...[I mean], it does hurt...[but] I totally understand," Roman replied. "And the important thing is [that] if I hadn't broken up with you, I could make you fall so crazy in love with me [that] you wouldn't be able to see straight!" Hattie insisted. "I have no doubt of that," Roman agreed. "[But] that wouldn't change my life [or] make me feel like I was somebody!" Hattie acknowledged. "No, because you already are somebody," Roman declared. "I guess I am!" Hattie conceded with a grin.
"[So], I was thinking about putting my...you know, my amazing talents...to some sort of, uh...some sort of use...in creating the next chapter for myself...[and, I mean], I'm a really great cook, and I've got this sparkling personality, [so] I was thinking maybe I could do, uh...a cooking show on the Internet --" Hattie began to explain while starting to pack again. "I would watch that," Roman admitted. "[And] I've got this gift of gab -- like Will -- [so] I was thinking maybe I could [also] do, uh...an advice blog --" Hattie continued. "I think you could pretty much do whatever you choose to do," Roman stressed, delighting Hattie.
Hattie soon finished packing then rushed off after a bittersweet farewell exchange with Roman.
Brady and Kristen finished setting up the memorial fund for Rachel then started to leave the hospital together -- just as Kristen's cell phone chimed. "A text from Chad -- something urgent, family matters..." Kristen explained to Brady after checking the device. "When you see him, ask him if there are any leads on Steve, all right? [And, in the meantime, I'll] go check on my dad and see if there's any news on Marlena," Brady replied.
At Maison Blanche 2.0, Marlena entered the living room and tensely greeted Stefano, who was in the midst of a solo round of chess. "I missed you this morning, but I decided to let you sleep -- last night was, uh...emotional for both of us," Stefano began. "Yes -- the evening...was eventful..." Marlena agreed. "I feel we're growing closer every day..." Stefano continued before realizing that something was bothering Marlena. "I had a hard time going to sleep -- I, uh...I kept...thinking about someone..." Marlena explained. "Him," Stefano guessed with a scowl while picking up one of the pawns and squeezing it tightly.
"John is your past, [and] I am your present -- and your future," Stefano insisted. "I wasn't...thinking about John," Marlena clarified. "Then who?" Stefano wondered. "Kate [and] Gabi," Marlena elaborated. "[Them] again..." Stefano grumbled. "If anything happens to [them], I will walk out that door and never look back," Marlena warned with finality.
"Very well -- I know that when your mind is set on something, there is no changing it," Stefano conceded with a sigh of defeat. "[Then] you'll put a stop to this? You promise? No one will be hurt?" Marlena challenged Stefano. "As you wish," Stefano assured Marlena. "[Just] allow me to make a phone call...[and], in the meantime, why don't you go back upstairs and look in your bedroom closet," Stefano continued. "I left you a present [there] -- something I think you'll like, something that is almost as beautiful as you," Stefano concluded before giving Marlena a parting kiss on the cheek -- a gesture that wasn't returned.
At the DiMera mansion, Kate and Gabi remained trapped together in a room in the secret tunnels, both suffering from hunger and thirst. "So, what's Chad gonna do -- [is he just] gonna starve us down here?" Gabi wondered. "Oh, believe me, we're gonna die of dehydration before the hunger gets us," Kate replied. "Oh, God -- that's very comforting..." Gabi grumbled -- just as Chad entered the room, armed with a gun.
"Good morning, ladies. Last night, I was distracted. Today, you have my full attention," Chad began while raising the gun, prompting Gabi to duck behind Kate.
"You don't want to kill us," Kate said to Chad. "Yes, I do," Chad insisted. "No -- you think that you do, [because] Stefano has brainwashed you," Kate countered. "You're desperate, [so] you're reaching," Chad reasoned. "[No] -- I know the truth, because I spent time with Steve," Kate explained. "Stefano," Chad stressed. "Whatever -- [the point is that] I know how he got to you. [I mean], all those mysterious communications that he had with you, [and] the chess games -- [that was all just about him] laying the groundwork to pull you back into his web. [See, he] was brainwashing you the entire time," Kate continued.
"My father didn't do anything to me," Chad insisted. "Show him the letter," Gabi urged Kate, who nodded and produced Stefano's note to Chad. "[See], this is the trigger that sets you into motion -- [the part of the letter that says], 'The most important thing in life is La Famiglia,'" Kate explained to Chad -- who cocked the gun in response. "Why the hell did you do that? Why did you trigger him?" Gabi snapped at Kate, forgetting whose idea it had been to show Chad the note in the first place. "I was trying to..." Kate began to clarify for Gabi before deciding to focus on Chad instead.
"Chad, please -- you're gonna regret it..." Kate warned, but Chad simply raised the gun a little higher in response, deciding to go for headshots.
Kate and Gabi braced for the worst -- but Chad's cell phone rang just then. Chad glanced at the device then left the room without saying a word to Kate or Gabi, who each breathed a sigh of relief.
"Is it done yet?" Stefano began when Chad answered the call. "I was on the verge of eliminating Kate and Gabi [just now]," Chad replied. "[Don't, because] there's been a complication...[and] there are more important things we need to deal with [right now, anyway -- like] the family meeting I requested you set up," Stefano continued. "I left word for Tony and Kristen [but] haven't heard back yet," Chad reported. "We need them on our side, [so] say whatever you have to say to get them to me immediately, without alerting anyone. [Look], I cannot afford any more of your mistakes -- La Famiglia needs you," Stefano concluded. "Yes, Father," Chad agreed.
Meanwhile, Kate and Gabi started bickering with each other again, both still irritable due to hunger and thirst. "I swear to God, if I get out of here alive, I'm gonna make sure that this room is stocked with granola, jerky, and cases of water," Kate vowed while opening a bottle of Champagne -- which Gabi seized and upended. "Why did you just pour out a perfectly good bottle of Champagne? It's the only thing that might keep us alive!" Kate protested after Gabi finished emptying the bottle. "Yes, actually, it might keep us alive -- but that's because I'm thinking about using it as a weapon," Gabi replied.
Kate argued that Chad seemed to be fighting Stefano's influence and would never actually commit murder, but Gabi disagreed.
Meanwhile, Tony and Anna entered the mansion and greeted Abigail, who was in the process of searching for Chad. "What are you guys doing here?" Abigail wondered. "Didn't your husband tell you?" Anna replied. "Chad had asked us to come back from Europe -- said some very important family meeting was taking place," Tony explained. "Oh..." Abigail muttered.
"No, I -- I'm sure that he -- he told me... I just...must have...forgotten..." Abigail claimed, but neither Anna nor Tony was convinced. "I'm sorry -- I know it can't feel good to know that Chad didn't let you know what's going on," Anna acknowledged. "My father has a history of demanding loyalty from his children above all others -- even their spouses," Tony stressed.
"Well, that's -- that's not true with Chad," Abigail argued -- just as Kristen entered the mansion. "Ugh -- I didn't know you'd be here," Kristen said to Anna. "Ugh -- do I really have to act like I'm happy to see you?" Anna said to Kristen. "No, no -- no pretending necessary," Kristen assured Anna before turning to Tony and wondering why Chad had called a family meeting. "[I'm not sure, because] he's nowhere to be found," Tony reported with a shrug. "We've had, uh...a small pest problem [in the tunnels]... I told Chad to call the exterminator, but I think he's probably down there, just handling it himself," Abigail explained.
"What kind of pests?" Kristen wondered. "Rats," Abigail clarified. "Sounds fitting for this place..." Anna mused. "Are you sure that's what is going on in the tunnels?" Kristen challenged Abigail. "What else would it be?" Tony asked Kristen. "Stefano," Kristen guessed. "That was Chad's first thought, as well -- uh, and that's [probably another reason] why he's down there now, checking it out," Abigail reported. "Well, I'd like to see for myself," Kristen requested. "That's not necessary," Abigail insisted. "At least let me go with you -- [I mean, after all], nobody knows [the tunnels] better than I do," Kristen protested.
"She doesn't want you with her, [because] Chad called this meeting and didn't tell her about it, [so] she obviously wants a word alone with him," Anna explained to Kristen on Abigail's behalf, prompting Kristen to back down -- just as Chad emerged from the secret tunnels. "I'm sorry -- I must have been so happy that you were home, it slipped my mind," Chad explained to Abigail after learning of the issue. "Yeah... So, what's this about?" Abigail replied, clearly not satisfied with Chad's excuse. "I'm sorry -- it's a DiMera family matter. I'm gonna need to speak to Tony and Kristen alone," Chad stressed.
"Well, we should have expected this..." Anna said to Abigail, forcing a smile. "We'll talk about this later," Abigail warned Chad before exiting the mansion with Anna.
"We've been summoned for an important meeting. [But] Father didn't give me the details -- [he just] said we'd find out [what it's about] when we got there," Chad informed Kristen and Tony once the coast was clear. "You swear he's not down there in the secret tunnels?" Kristen challenged Chad. "There's nothing but rats [down there]," Chad insisted. "Well, then, where is he?" Kristen wondered.
"Why is it so important for you to know right now?" Chad asked Kristen. "Because I would like to call Brady --" Kristen began to explain while producing a cell phone. "I can't let you do that," Chad insisted, seizing the device. "If you know where Father is, we need to tell John and Brady!" Kristen countered, reclaiming the device. "[And] call the police," Kristen continued, speaking to Tony, who nodded in response then also produced a cell phone. "You will do no such thing," Chad maintained. "Father made it very clear that no one is to know about this meeting -- especially the police," Chad stressed.
"This whole situation is absurd -- [I mean], you're talking as if he's actually Stefano! This is Steve Johnson!" Tony reminded Chad, and Kristen agreed. "He is not Steve -- [I mean], he may look like Steve, but he has our father's consciousness, [and] his desires, his drive, his ruthlessness... For all intents and purposes, he is our father," Chad insisted.
"Chad's right -- [I mean], we need to treat Steve as if he is our father," Kristen said to Tony after some thought. "God, I hope Brady will forgive me --" Kristen fretted, deciding to play by Stefano's rules for the time being. "Not our problem," Chad declared. "Brady and I have come so far, and I am not gonna let the love of my life just slip through my fingers!" Kristen countered. "You think Anna's just gonna be okay with you protecting Stefano?" Kristen asked Tony. "No, it wouldn't go [over] very well," Tony predicted with a shudder. "[And] you could lose Abigail over something like this!" Kristen warned Chad.
"[And yet] I'm not telling her where we're going or what we're doing, [which] should show you how vitally important this is," Chad replied. "[You see]...if anyone breathes a word of this outside this room, Marlena is gonna die," Chad claimed in an effort to finally secure Kristen and Tony's full cooperation. "I don't believe for a second that Father would really hurt Marlena -- [I mean], he loves her," Kristen argued. "I don't deny that, but there's no doubt in my mind that he would rather have her dead than with someone else," Chad maintained. "He said that to you?" Kristen challenged Chad, who ignored the question.
"Kristen, I know that you are not a fan of Marlena...but I [also] know that you don't want her blood on your hands. [And, like you, Tony], I care about Marlena, too, and I don't want to see her hurt, [either -- which is] why we have to do everything Father asks, [and] make him believe we're loyal to him," Chad stressed. "But...we're not, right? [I mean], we're doing this to keep Marlena safe," Kristen said to Chad. "[Look], I know you both just think I'm Father's little messenger boy, [but] if we do everything he asks, [maybe] he'll tell us where Marlena is hidden, [and then] we'll be able to protect her," Chad replied.
"[So], for Marlena's sake, [can we all] agree that we will not tell anyone that we are meeting with our father? [I mean], no one can know where we're headed -- not Abigail, not Anna, [and] certainly not Brady or John," Chad said to Kristen and Tony, who both agreed -- just as Abigail and Anna returned. "We have a meeting to attend [at] DiMera Enterprises," Kristen informed Abigail and Anna. "You're leaving? Now?" Anna incredulously summarized. "Oh, yes -- but not for long," Tony stressed. "Everything okay?" Abigail asked. "It will be," Chad predicted.
"You trust them?" Abigail asked Anna after the DiMera siblings exited the mansion together. "About as far as I could...throw their father!" Anna replied with a scoff, and Abigail sadly agreed.
Brady entered the Evans-Black townhouse and greeted John, who was inspecting a document. "Divorce decree -- dated today," John summarized while handing Brady the document. "These papers have, uh...a notary seal..." Brady observed. "Yeah, Carter Wilson -- never heard of him," John replied. "I've heard of him," Brady admitted before starting to rush off in search of Carter. "I'm gonna check out the security footage [while you're gone] -- hopefully we can zero in on who dropped this package off," John told Brady before revealing that a note from Stefano had been included with the divorce decree.
"You are but a pawn, John Black. The queen is mine, now and forever," the note read.
At Maison Blanche 2.0, Stefano joined Marlena in one of the bedrooms. "Do you like it? I had it designed just for you," Stefano said as Marlena eyed a wedding gown. "It's all happening way too fast..." Marlena protested. "Not for me, it isn't -- I have waited my whole life for this," Stefano replied. "Now, I know you have had your doubts, [but] I did as you asked --" Stefano continued. "You stopped the killing," Marlena translated, relieved. "[Because] I made you a promise. [So], I have shown you my devotion...[and] now it's time for you to show me yours," Stefano concluded before suddenly getting down on bended knee and proposing to Marlena.
"I'm still married to John," Marlena protested. "Your marriage to John Black is over," Stefano revealed. "[But] I never signed any papers," Marlena objected. "I've taken care of everything," Stefano explained.
"[So], the party you were talking about -- that's...that's a wedding; that's...that's our wedding," Marlena realized. "Yes -- and I want my children there to witness the moment when you become Mrs. Stefano DiMera, Queen of La Famiglia. [Now], all you have to do is say yes," Stefano replied, and Marlena hesitantly complied.
Stefano rejoiced then started to rush off so Marlena could change into the wedding gown. Stefano paused in the hallway and watched with a hint of suspicion as Marlena removed the wedding gown from the bedroom closet. Stefano soon continued heading back to the living room, seemingly satisfied -- and found Chad, Kristen, and Tony waiting there. "So, Father, what is this family meeting all about?" Kristen wondered. "Actually, it's not a family meeting -- it's a wedding. [See], I'm marrying my Queen of the Night -- [and] I want you all to be a part of it," Stefano clarified, surprising Kristen and Tony but not Chad.
Brady returned to the Evans-Black townhouse and greeted John again. "The cameras were disabled, so no way to tell who dropped that package off," John reported. "It was Steve [who] brought in the divorce decree. [He] was alone, [and he] paid in cash [and] convinced [Carter] to put the seal on the document, despite some...inconsistencies... [Anyway, this all] happened this morning," Brady reported.
John excitedly predicted that Stefano couldn't have gotten very far since then -- and might even still be in Salem.
"[Steve told Carter] it was urgent that [the divorce decree] be delivered to you today...[because] otherwise, he and his 'fiancée' wouldn't be able to get married tonight," Brady continued, horrifying John, who doubted that the divorce was legal but feared that wouldn't matter, since Stefano ultimately just needed to convince Marlena that it was legal. "The ultimate goal here is not just to marry her [but] to consummate that marriage, [which means] I gotta find her tonight, son -- I gotta stop this sham of a marriage, and whatever Stefano thinks is gonna happen afterwards!" John fretted.
At Maison Blanche 2.0, Marlena finished putting on the wedding gown -- and suddenly heard John say, "Don't do this, Doc -- don't marry him!"
Stefano marries Marlena
Anxious to leave the hospital, Hope hurried to the elevator. Kayla stopped Hope and told her she was not ready to be discharged. "I don't care. John and Marlena need my help," Hope said.
In the penthouse, Brady assured John that Marlena's connection to John was unbreakable. "I want to believe that, but I know how Stefano operates. And I know the one thing that he has always wanted that he's never gotten," John said. John noted that Stefano wanted to possess Marlena. "I'll be damned if I let that happen," John said. There was a knock at the door. It was Hope and Kayla.
Hope apologized for what she had done to John and Marlena. John took Hope by the hand and assured her that he did not blame her because she had been brainwashed. John hugged Hope and told her, "I'm just glad that you're okay." Kayla asked about Marlena. John showed Hope and Kayla the divorce papers.
"They can't be valid!" Kayla objected. "It kind of looks like Stefano's endgame is marrying Marlena and taking her to bed," John growled. Kayla worried aloud that Marlena had been chipped or brainwashed. Kayla argued that none of Steve's decency remained in his body. "He is Stefano DiMera, 100% pure evil," Kayla said bitterly. Hope urged Kayla to have hope that the chip could be removed from Stefano. Shaking her head, Kayla shared her concern that Steve would vanish.
There was a knock at the door. In the hallway was an invitation to Stefano and Marlena's wedding at Maison Blanche. "Didn't that place burn down?" Brady asked. "Doesn't the Phoenix always rise from the ashes?" John countered. Brady said he would fuel the jet for a trip to Louisiana.
"Something is coming back to me," Hope said. John asked Hope if Steve had ever talked to her about Maison Blanche. Hope remembered that Stefano had told her about his plans to build a castle for Marlena. In the conversation, Stefano had told her that he had recreated Maison Blanche in Crystal Lake outside of Salem. Hope and Kayla wanted to go with John and Brady, but John insisted that Hope was in no condition to run into danger.
"For God's sake, you need backup!" Hope said. Brady promised to back up John. "Promise me that you won't hurt Steve," Kayla pleaded. John promised he would do everything he could not to hurt his best friend. With a nod, John ran out with Brady.
A frustrated Hope complained that she should be helping John with the search, but Kayla reminded Hope that she should still be in the hospital. "Maybe I would remember something else. Maybe I could get through to Steve," Hope wondered aloud. "No one can get through to Steve," Kayla countered. Kayla urged Hope to sit tight with her and wait for an update.
"The marriage won't be valid," Hope argued. Kayla noted, "It doesn't matter. Steve is just using it to get Marlena in bed." Kayla said she was sickened by Steve's actions. "The man who is preying on Marlena is not Steve," Hope assured Kayla. Kayla admitted that the thought of Steve coercing Marlena into bed was upsetting. Kayla added that she refused to fall apart because she did not want Justin to see her emotional over Steve.
In the DiMera living room, Abigail told Anna that she believed Chad's priority would be the safety of her and the children. "I hope you're right, but I still don't like it," Anna said. Anna texted Tony and asked him to return home. Anna complained to Abigail that Chad's insistence on family solidarity did not include her or Abigail.
"It's just a DiMera business meeting. It's not like Chad is in any real danger," Abigail said. "I used to be naïve about this family, too," Anna said. Anna warned Abigail that they needed to extract their husbands from the family meeting. Before Abigail could respond, her phone beeped with a text from Will. Will said Gabi had failed to pick up Arianna.
Concerned, Abigail remarked to Anna that it was unlike Gabi to miss a pickup. When the nanny and staff confirmed that they had not seen Gabi in 24 hours, Abigail returned to tell Anna. Abigail added that she had not seen Kate, either.
Abigail explained that Kate had been adamant about having an outfit pressed for an event but that the outfit was still untouched in Kate's room. Abigail told Anna that Chad had behaved strangely when she had returned from South Africa. Abigail added that Chad had also joked about having two women hidden in the house and had been wearing the Phoenix ring.
"Why would [Chad] want to be connected to a man who is so evil and corrupt and who has wreaked havoc since he has returned?" Anna wondered aloud. Suspicious, Abigail said she was going to check the tunnels and make sure there was nothing there. While Abigail checked the dungeon, Anna called Tony, but there was no answer on his phone.
In the dungeon, Gabi planned to hit Chad over the head with a champagne bottle when he returned. "You just don't get it, do you? [Chad] is a victim of Stefano's, just like Marlena," Kate argued. Gabi countered that Chad was a Manchurian Candidate targeting them to die, and she wanted to act first.
"Once I hit him over the head with this, you can stay. Talk to him, reason with him, if he comes to, but you know by that time, I'm going to be long gone," Gabi said. As Gabi waited behind the door, Abigail unlocked the room and walked in. Gabi hit Abigail over the head and knocked her out. As Kate rushed to check on Abigail, Gabi winced as she realized what she had done. Kate roused Abigail awake.
"Gabi knocked you out," Kate said. "It was an accident," Gabi countered. Abigail said she was fine, and she asked why Kate and Gabi were locked in the room. "Chad locked us up in here," Kate explained. Gabi helped a wobbly Abigail upstairs to the living room with Kate close behind. "Are you okay?" Anna asked as she saw Abigail. Gabi explained that she had accidentally hit Abigail when she had thought Abigail was Chad returning to kill her and Kate.
"Chad is not a fan of yours, but to kill you? Really? I mean, don't you think that's a little extreme?" Abigail asked. Kate confirmed that Gabi was right. "[Chad's] father told him to," Kate said as she pulled out the letter from Stefano and handed it to Abigail. Abigail read the letter. Kate argued that Stefano had brainwashed Chad through the letter, using the trigger words "La Famiglia."
"So, basically, all Steve has to do is say the magic word, and Chad does whatever Steve orders him to do. Like murder us," Gabi said. Abigail did not believe it. Kate stressed that Chad was completely under the control of Stefano. Abigail frowned. "He has been a little off since I got back from South Africa," Abigail admitted. "I told you it wasn't just a meeting," Anna added. "I need to find my husband before Steve does," Abigail announced. Abigail swayed on her feet when she stood up. After a few phone calls, Anna confirmed that none of the DiMera family had been spotted at the office.
"So, Chad lied to me," Abigail said. Abigail wondered aloud what the real purpose of the meeting had been. Kate theorized aloud that Chad had escorted Tony and Kristen to see Stefano. "I am hoping [Tony] has the courage to save Marlena from whatever horrible fate Steve has in mind," Kate said. When Abigail could not reach Chad on his phone, Anna offered to check her "Find My Phone" app to locate Tony's phone.
"I'm calling the police. I'm sorry," Abigail said. Anna gasped, and she noted that she'd found Tony's location on her phone. Kate suggested that they call the police, but Anna walked out to find her husband. Abigail followed her. "She just left without giving us the location, didn't she?" Gabi yelled. Kate groaned in exasperation.
In the bedroom of the new Maison Blanche, a wedding dress-clad Marlena stared in the mirror at her reflection. "Don't do this, Doc. Don't marry him," John's voice whispered. In the mirror, a vision of John appeared behind Marlena. Marlena smiled. "John. Thank God. You've come for me. I knew you would. I don't know what's happening. I can't explain it, but now that you're here, it's going to be fine. I love you so much!" Marlena said. The vision of John told Marlena that she was safe, and he urged her not to go through with the marriage to Stefano.
"You belong by my side, not Steve's," John said. "I love you, too," Marlena said. As Marlena turned to face John, he was gone. Marlena called out John's name, but there was no answer. Marlena thought about Stefano's proposal.
Downstairs in the living room, Stefano informed Kristen and Tony that they were there to witness his wedding to Marlena. "You can't marry Marlena. She's already married to John Black," Tony objected. "[Marlena] loves John. She's never going to marry you," Kristen added. Stefano smirked.
"Where is your faith in the power of my love? After all these years, Marlena finally understands that I will lay the world at her feet, and she returns this love," Stefano said. Stefano assured Kristen and Tony that Marlena was getting ready. "My Queen of the Night will be my wife," Stefano said. Furious, Tony argued that Rolf had brainwashed Marlena.
"Mind-melding Marlena would be the only way she was ever going to come close to loving you," Kristen said. Stefano said he was disappointed but not surprised by Kristen and Tony's lack of support. "You are ruled by your stupid wife, and you, I came to you, asking for your help, and you refused me," Stefano said to Tony and Kristen. Stefano stressed that only Chad had been loyal to him.
"If you cannot share in my joy, if you can't bear witness to my becoming one with the woman who is my heart's desire, perhaps I should have security take it from here!" Stefano grumbled. "Like hell. I'm calling the police," Tony said. Chad pulled out a gun and warned Tony to stop. Stefano noted that Chad was the only one that understood the importance of "La Famiglia." Stefano urged Kristen and Tony to follow Chad's lead. Kristen lashed out at Chad, but Stefano warned Kristen to calm down.
"This is a night of celebration of this family, of our legacy, of my queen, and I will have my children be a part of it," Stefano growled. Chad demanded that Kristen and Tony give him their phones. At gunpoint, Kristen and Tony reluctantly obliged. Kristen approached Chad and whispered to him that he was "not acting like the Chad I know." Chad stared blankly at Kristen.
"Father? What have you done to our brother?" Kristen asked Stefano. Tony pleaded with Chad to explain his change of heart. Stefano explained that Chad had a better understanding of the world and the legacy of the family. Kristen asked Stefano to let Chad speak for himself.
"Father has shown me that our family was weakened by pretenders and interlopers. It is time to restore La Famiglia back to its former glory," Chad said. "You brainwashed him," Tony said. With a grin, Stefano noted that Chad was his favorite child and, as such, would perform the wedding ceremony. Marlena entered the room. "My queen. You have never looked more beautiful," Stefano said.
"Nothing can make me happier than becoming your wife," Marlena said. Kristen covered her mouth as if nauseated. "Marlena, you don't quite sound like yourself. Are you okay?" Tony asked. Marlena said nothing would make her happier than marrying Stefano. Marlena told Tony and Kristen that she was glad they were both there.
"You're in love with Brady's father, John Black. The love of your life. Does that ring a bell?" Kristen asked. "I love Stefano now," Marlena said. "She's definitely brainwashed or worse," Kristen whispered to Tony. Tony asked Stefano not to take advantage of Marlena. Stefano asked Marlena if she loved him, and Marlena beamed. Stefano ordered Kristen to act as maid of honor and Tony as best man. Kristen wanted to leave, but Stefano stopped her. Chad handed the rings to Tony and a bouquet to Kristen.
"This is so wrong," Kristen growled. Chad handed another bouquet to Marlena, and he started the ceremony. Kristen stared daggers at her father. When Chad asked if there were any objections, Tony interrupted. Chad reached for his gun, and Kristen quietly assured Chad that Tony had no objections. Tony remained silent as Stefano said his vows to Marlena.
"I have waited for decades for this moment to experience the joy of loving you completely. For devoting myself to worshipping you for the rest of my life as my Queen of the Night. Together, we will rule as DiMeras for all eternity," Stefano said. Marlena chuckled and said that she had not prepared any vows. Stefano urged Marlena to speak from her heart. "I don't know what to say," Marlena said. Stefano prompted Chad to read the usual vows instead.
After a moment of hesitation, Marlena said, "I do." Stefano and Marlena exchanged rings. As Chad started to pronounce Stefano and Marlena as man and wife, he hesitated. Chad appeared to fight an urge before he said, "My great honor to pronounce you as husband and wife." Stefano kissed his bride. Stefano poured glasses of Champagne.
"To my Queen of the Night, named for the flower that is as intoxicating as you are and as rare as our love," Stefano said. "He does realize that the flower withers and dies with the light of day, right?" Tony whispered to Kristen. Kristen warned Tony not to say that to their father. Stefano announced that he had arranged for a celebratory feast. With a grin, Stefano said he was ready to begin his honeymoon. Marlena hesitated to leave, and she had a puzzled look on her face. Kristen told Marlena that she did not need to go upstairs. Marlena tossed her bouquet at Kristen.
"Maybe one day, you and Brady can find the same happiness I found with your father," Marlena said. With a wide smile, Marlena took Stefano's hand and led him upstairs. "Wake me from this nightmare," Tony whispered. Tony asked Chad to retrieve another bottle of Champagne. With a scowl, Chad went into the kitchen. Tony whispered to Kristen that he had turned on the "Find My Phone" app on his phone before he had given it to Chad.
"What are you whispering about?" Chad asked as he returned with a fresh bottle of Champagne. All smiles, Kristen lied and joked that "catching Marlena's bouquet is not the kind of luck I want." Chad said Stefano wanted to return the family to its former glory.
"What is it going to take to get through to you? Stefano is dangerous and unpredictable. He's got nothing to lose, but you do!" Tony argued. Kristen stepped forward and slapped Chad across the face. Kristen asked Chad to snap out of his spell. Chad gripped Kristen around the throat with one hand, and he raised and cocked his gun with the other hand. As Chad leveled the gun at Tony, he muttered, "That was a big mistake."
"You are the one that is dangerous and unpredictable. The Phoenix can't take that risk. Consider this an early wedding gift," Chad said. "Chad!" Brady yelled as he walked in and pointed a gun.
Upstairs, the lingerie-clad Marlena stood before her new husband. Stefano took Marlena's hands in his. "I've waited my whole life for this moment. My Queen of the Night. You are finally mine. Forever and always," Stefano said. Stefano kissed Marlena, and she pulled away. After a moment, Marlena kissed Stefano. "Let me make love to you," Stefano said. Stefano and Marlena fell back on the bed, kissing. John burst in and stared at the scene with disgust.