At the Horton Town Square, Allie ran into Tripp, who was en route to the Brady-Johnson townhouse. "Don't shoot!" Tripp exclaimed, raising both hands submissively. "You really think that's funny?" Allie snapped. "Who said it was a joke? For all I know, you're coming after me again," Tripp countered.
"But I guess that would be pretty stupid, since you're already facing charges for pulling a gun on me," Tripp conceded. "Didn't you hear? The D.A.'s not pressing charges -- too hard to prove the case, since it's a 'he said, she said' situation. Sound familiar?" Allie replied. "I'm glad the D.A. is letting it go," Tripp declared.
"Maybe now you and I can do the same thing -- just let it go and move on from this," Tripp suggested. "Are you seriously trying to say that this makes us even? What I did to you is nothing compared to what you did to me!" Allie snapped. "I did nothing to you," Tripp maintained. "Yeah, so you've said -- many times..." Allie grumbled.
"You just asked [how you could be sure] that I'm not gonna come after you again, but I could ask you the same thing! You have no idea what it is like -- living with the fear that, at any moment, some man could just take over your body and get away with it!" Allie stressed. "You're right -- I don't know. And I'm really sorry that happened to you --" Tripp replied. "My life is completely different now! I have a baby -- [and], yes, [he's] a beautiful baby boy who I love, but [he's] also a constant reminder of what you did to me! I can't just move on with my life like none of this happened -- and I'm not going to let you move on with your life, either!" Allie declared. "What is that supposed to mean?" Tripp asked. "You'll find out," Allie promised. Tripp watched with a mixture of confusion and concern as Allie stormed off.
Outside the Brady Pub, Claire wrapped up a phone conversation with Belle, who had just reluctantly declined an impromptu mother-daughter dinner invitation in order to finish preparing a motion that was going to be filed on John's behalf the following morning. "Looks like I'm eating alone..." Claire grumbled. "Not necessarily..." Charlie, who had just approached from behind, countered.
Claire happily agreed to have dinner with Charlie, who promised to pay for the meal. After entering the pub and claiming a table, Charlie and Claire started weighing their menu options -- and ultimately decided to order a plate of fries and a plate of onion rings instead of trying to settle on one or the other. "Where did you learn your negotiating skills?" Charlie jokingly asked Claire, who had made the suggestion. "My mom is one of the best lawyers in Salem, remember?" Claire seriously replied, causing Charlie's smile to fade in an instant -- a change that wasn't noticed and, therefore, wasn't explained.
"It's kind of funny -- you and I sharing our food like we're an old married couple..." Claire said to Charlie after their food arrived. "Would that be so bad? Not the 'old' or the 'married' part, but...the 'couple' part kinda sounds nice..." Charlie challenged Claire. "Are you asking me to be your girlfriend?" Claire teasingly wondered. "Yeah, I guess I am," Charlie awkwardly confirmed. "Okay," Claire agreed after some thought, delighting Charlie.
"Tell me about your family," Claire challenged Charlie while they were eating. "Well, there's...not much to tell, really...[but] okay -- I was raised by my dad in Philly, [and] I have a brother, but we're not really in touch..." Charlie revealed. "Are you gonna stay in Salem for Christmas?" Claire wondered. "I don't know yet," Charlie admitted. "Well, I think that you should -- you can spend time with my family!" Claire suggested. "If there's mistletoe, I'm there," Charlie flirtatiously assured Claire after some thought, and they sealed the deal with a kiss -- just as Charlie's cell phone chimed. Charlie glanced at the device but ignored whatever had caused the alert, declaring that Claire was more important. As the dinner date continued, Charlie delighted in referring to Claire as "girlfriend," and Claire delighted in referring to Charlie as "boyfriend."
At the Vitali apartment, Ava tried again to contact someone, but the call again went to voicemail. "You need to answer your damn phone! Call me -- we need to talk about Tripp," Ava said before ending the call -- just as someone knocked on the apartment door. "You don't look happy to see me," Philip observed when Ava opened the door. "I'm not -- I was expecting my son," Ava explained as Philip entered the apartment.
"I'd offer you a drink, but I'm afraid you'd accept," Ava dryly stated. "I saw your picture on the front page of the paper [earlier]. Telling the world you're alive isn't exactly my idea of lying low -- which is what we agreed you were gonna do!" Philip snapped. "My son needed me," Ava reasoned with an unapologetic shrug before telling Philip about what Allie had done to Tripp. "Given what he did to her --" Philip tried to argue. "He didn't do anything to her," Ava insisted. "Course not -- any son of yours is totally incapable of doing anything wrong..." Philip sarcastically conceded. "I already warned you about not pressing your luck!" Ava impatiently countered.
"Leave!" Ava snapped, but Philip stayed put -- and demanded to know if Tripp was aware of their partnership. "My son is studying to be a doctor. He has no interest in the family business, and I intend to keep it that way. The fact is, you don't have to worry about me telling Tripp...but I do need to worry about you not handling Xander," Ava answered. "Xander might not be a problem anymore -- we have a new intern, [and] I caught him going through my computer [recently then] got him to confess that Xander put him up to spying on me...[and] I also convinced him that it was in his best interest to be on my side, [so he agreed] to tell Xander [that] he hacked my computer [but] couldn't find anything," Philip bragged. "Are you sure you can trust this kid?" Ava asked. "Believe me -- with him, it's 'what you see is what you get'; he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer," Philip replied.
At the Salem Inn, Xander filled Sarah in on Ava's colorful past. "I knew that Rolf had brought her back and that she was in the warehouse, but I didn't think she survived when it burned down..." Xander admitted. "Why not? Everyone else did!" Sarah countered.
Xander started to argue that Sarah could no longer be involved in the mission to expose Philip's crimes against Titan because Ava was dangerous, prompting Sarah to tease that there was new information about Philip that Xander would want to know -- and that they could only discuss if they were still partners in the mission. Xander reluctantly gave in -- then expressed outrage after learning that Philip had kissed Sarah earlier.
At the Brady house, Belle received a visit from Allie. "Here to check on your Grandpa John's case?" Belle assumed. "Actually, Grandma already filled me in on that -- told me that he's still out on bail, and you're hoping that you can get the D.A. to not charge him for what he did to Jan," Allie replied. "Right," Belle confirmed.
"[Then] what's on your mind? I can tell something's bothering you," Belle prodded Allie, who explained that it was simply proving to be quite difficult to accept that Tripp wasn't going to face criminal charges in Salem or in London. "If there's anything I can do to help..." Belle offered. "Actually, there is..." Allie admitted.
"I understand if you don't want to do this -- you know, because of what my mom did, unleashing Jan --" Allie began to stress after telling Belle about the plan to take Tripp to civil court. "Honey, I don't expect you or anyone else to be able to control Sami," Belle insisted. "Everyone's responsible for their own actions -- and that includes Tripp," Belle declared.
"So, you're saying to go ahead and sue him?" Allie assumed. "As your lawyer, I'd say you have a really strong case...but as someone who loves you...[well, I just] really want you to be clear about what bringing this suit is gonna do to you, okay? They are gonna make you relive everything that happened that night -- in detail, in public. Tripp's lawyers are gonna do anything and everything they can to decimate your character, [and] they are going to drag out these proceedings for as long as possible, and they are going to make you go over and over and over every sordid detail until, hopefully, you break on the stand," Belle replied.
"I know that this is going to be hard, but...I mean, I don't feel like I have a choice; I can't let Tripp get away with what he did, and I don't know if I could live with myself if I don't do everything in my power to make sure that he pays. So...let his lawyers take their best shot, but I am not backing out, and I am not going to break down," Allie stressed. "Then let's do this," Belle decided before giving Allie a hug to seal the deal -- just as Claire arrived.
At the Brady-Johnson townhouse, Kayla excitedly challenged Joey and Steve to guess what they were going to be having for dinner. "Here's a hint -- it's your favorite," Kayla said to Joey. "Chili!" Joey assumed. "Chili? No!" Kayla protested. "Filet mignon!" Kayla clarified. "But listen -- if chili is your favorite, then tomorrow, I promise you that I will make chili," Kayla stressed. "Great!" Joey exclaimed. Meanwhile, Steve retrieved three bottles of beer from the refrigerator. "Sorry I don't have Champagne to toast you," Steve said while handing one of the bottles to Joey. "Trust me -- this'll do," Joey insisted.
Joey eagerly gulped down some of the beer then chuckled nervously. "Sorry if I'm being a little weird," Joey said to Steve and Kayla. "I spent so much time alone, and when I wasn't alone, I was with strangers who I didn't want anything to do with, so I guess I just feel a little awkward being around other people -- people I love, I mean," Joey elaborated, prompting Steve and Kayla to simultaneously insist that was understandable. "We'll just take it slow," Kayla assured Joey. "There's probably, like, a couple hundred people who want to see you, but until you give us the word, we'll just do family -- immediate family," Steve assured Joey.
"Yeah, maybe just family for now -- you guys and Tripp," Joey agreed, causing immediate tension between Steve and Kayla. "Tripp won't be here tonight -- he just found out that his mother's alive, so he wants to spend time with her and get to know her," Steve evasively revealed. "'Get to know her'? All he has to do is read her criminal record..." Joey protested. "But I shouldn't say anything -- she is his mother..." Joey conceded.
"I get the feeling there's something you're not telling me --" Joey began to challenge Steve and Kayla -- but Tripp arrived just then, interrupting the conversation, and the brothers reunited with a warm embrace. "The folks were just telling me you wouldn't be here!" Joey informed Tripp. "Yeah, well, I wasn't really planning on it..." Tripp admitted. "Good timing -- it's filet mignon tonight; apparently, it's my 'favorite,'" Joey revealed. "Actually, I just came by to grab my stuff..." Tripp clarified. "I can come back later..." Tripp offered. "Why wouldn't you just stay?" Joey asked Tripp, who didn't respond to the question -- and didn't get any help with it from Kayla or Steve.
"Is this about Ava?" Joey guessed. "Look, Mom, I know you're upset that she got out of the kidnapping charges, but Tripp had nothing to do with that --" Joey objected. "No, Joey, it's not about my mom -- it's about me," Tripp began to explain, confusing Joey. "Your mom doesn't want me to stay for dinner -- she doesn't want me in her house [at all]. She thinks that I'm a rapist," Tripp elaborated with a mirthless chuckle.
"Sorry for spoiling the night," Tripp stressed before starting to rush off. "Wait -- I need to know what's going on!" Joey protested. "Your mom can fill you in," Tripp decided. "I want to hear it from you," Joey demanded. "Go ahead, Tripp -- your dad's here to back you up," Kayla bitterly interjected before starting to aggressively chop some vegetables.
"What is going on?" Joey repeated, finding the tension alarming. "Your cousin Allie accused me of raping her -- but I didn't do it," Tripp summarized. "And you don't believe him?" Joey challenged Kayla, who didn't respond. "There's a good reason for that, Joey, okay? There's a DNA test, all right? It says that I'm the baby's father --" Tripp explained on Kayla's behalf. "No -- it proves that you are the baby's father!" Kayla suddenly interjected, glaring at Tripp. "But I'm not, okay? I never slept with Allie!" Tripp shot back at Kayla. "Look, I know all the evidence is against me about it, but I can tell you -- I can swear to you, Joey -- that I didn't rape her. I didn't!" Tripp stressed while making eye contact with Joey. "I believe you," Joey assured Tripp after some thought.
"[But] I get why you believe Allie," Joey assured Kayla. "And maybe this is too much to ask after everything I've put you through, but...he's my brother -- he's family -- and I'd like for him to stay and have dinner with us," Joey stressed, and Kayla agreed -- then went back to aggressively chopping vegetables as the men celebrated the decision.
"Did you get any tattoos while you were in prison?" Tripp asked Joey, who nervously shushed Tripp -- but Kayla and Steve weren't paying attention. "Thank you, baby -- for cutting Tripp some slack and letting the boys have some time together," Steve said to Kayla. "I didn't do it for Tripp -- I did it for Joey...and for you," Kayla said to Steve.
Tripp contacted Ava to explain the change of plans. "Have fun," Ava, who had been looking forward to having dinner with Tripp, advised. "Are you sure?" Tripp wondered, catching the disappointment in Ava's words. "You and I will have plenty of family dinners of our own," Ava conceded before saying goodbye to Tripp and ending the call -- just as someone knocked on the apartment door.
"I got your messages. You said we needed to talk, so...here I am," Charlie began, showing confidence that had never really been on display before, when Ava opened the door. Ava glared at Charlie.
Ava makes an accusation against Charlie
Ben visited Ciara's gravesite. "I know you're not here. I'm not even sure you really died. But I'd give anything to know the truth," Ben said. A twig snapped, and Ben called out to Ciara. "No, it's actually just me," Shawn said as he stepped out from the bushes. Shawn told Ben that he understood why Ben had hoped he had been Ciara.
"It happened to me the day of the funeral. Everybody left, and I was here alone, and I heard a noise, and I thought that maybe it might be Ciara. That maybe she could be alive," Shawn said. Shawn admitted that he had been regularly visiting the grave.
"I'm just surprised we had not run into each other before," Ben said. Shawn told Ben about when he had seen a woman in town that had looked like Ciara, and he had believed for a moment that Ciara was alive.
"Even though I know it's pretty much next to impossible," Shawn said. Ben said he had seen someone on a motorcycle and had believed the same thing. "Why do we still come here?" Ben wondered aloud. Shawn shrugged. "We might not ever know [what happened to Ciara]," Ben said. Ben said he struggled with the mystery of Ciara's disappearance. Ben told Shawn that he had reached out to Hope, but they had not spoken much.
"[Hope] made it pretty clear to me that she wants to be left alone. I respected that," Ben said. "Me, too," Shawn said. Ben asked about Rafe, and Shawn said that Rafe had tracked down Hope, but she had ended things. Shawn said that Hope would not give up. "I hope that she finds what she's looking for," Shawn said.
"I fully expected to go through life alone. I thought that was just what I deserved. It is what I deserve," Ben said. Ben added that Ciara's love had been a surprise. "You made my sister so happy," Shawn said. With a shake of his head, Ben said he could not believe that Ciara was gone.
At the police station, Nicole talked to Rafe about Allie. "Allie's off the hook," Rafe confirmed. Nicole sighed with deep relief. Rafe explained that Trask had felt that the situation with the gun was another "he said, she said" dilemma, and she had declined to press charges against Allie. "So, it's over?" Nicole asked. Rafe nodded yes. Rafe said he understood why Allie had pulled a gun on Tripp.
"Allie found out that Sami did the same thing when she was in high school when her rapist wasn't brought to justice," Nicole explained. "I think Allie is more like her mother than she would care to admit," Rafe said. With a groan, Nicole warned Rafe not to say that to Allie. "Unlike Sami, I believe that Allie wouldn't have gone through with it," Nicole said. Nicole argued that Allie had reacted out of a need for control.
As Nicole rose to leave, she announced that she was on her way to Christmas shop while the kids were with Maggie. With a grin, Nicole told Rafe she had hired Chloe and Brady to lighten her workload, as well. "With all of that, I would have thought you would want to stay at home and enjoy the night with Eric," Rafe remarked. "I guess no one has told you yet," Nicole said.
After Nicole updated Rafe on the situation with Eric in Africa, she admitted that she was struggling. "Life doesn't always go as planned," Rafe said. Rafe told Nicole that he and Hope had discussed reconciliation before he had left Salem. "Now she is gone," Rafe whispered. When Nicole asked Rafe if he had talked to Hope, he said he and Hope had ended things. Rafe said he understood why Hope did not have room in her heart for him while she was searching for Ciara.
"Don't give up yet. These things take time. I mean, look how long it took for me and Eric to get things right," Nicole said. Rafe asked Nicole when Eric would return to Salem. Nicole admitted that she did not know. "[Eric] will come back when he feels like he has fulfilled his mission," Nicole said. Nicole added that she did not want to put undue stress on Eric.
"I married my first love, and no matter how many mistakes I made, or wrong turns, I still ended up with the most kind, wonderful man in the whole world," Nicole said. "He didn't do so badly himself," Rafe added. Nicole told Rafe that she was there for him if he needed a friend. Rafe hugged Nicole and told her that he was there for her, too.
Claire returned home and found Allie meeting with Belle. Belle told Claire that Allie had decided to sue Tripp in civil court. "So, what good is this going to do?" Claire asked. "At least Tripp will be held responsible for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional harm, distress," Belle rattled off. Allie said she wanted a public acknowledgement that Tripp was to blame so that she could move on with her life.
"I just want someone to publicly say that it's real. That I was raped. That I didn't just make this up," Allie said. When Claire reminded Allie that she believed her, Allie said it was not enough that her friends and family believed her. "I want it on the record," Allie said. Belle promised to fight for Allie in court.
With a grin, Claire announced that she had returned home with pie from the pub, and she invited Allie to stay and join them. While Belle went into the kitchen to heat up the pie, Allie and Claire chatted on the couch about Allie's confrontation with Tripp and the gun. "I might have gone through with it," Allie confessed. When Claire asked Allie what had stopped her, Allie told Claire about Ava.
"I guess now we'll never know if I would have pulled the trigger," Allie said. Claire said she did not believe Allie would have shot Tripp. With a sigh, Allie said she had really wanted to shoot Tripp in the moment. Claire asked Allie if the attempted shooting would hurt her civil case. "There is not even going to be a police report about it," Allie said. When Claire worried aloud that Tripp's attorney would confront her about the incident, Allie told Claire that Ava was a criminal and Tripp was a liar. Allie was confident that a judge or jury would believe her over Tripp.
When Belle returned, she informed Allie and Claire that she had needed to make a call about John's case. Belle told Allie to call her if she had any questions or concerns about her civil case. After Belle left, Allie said that Henry was with Maggie, and she was happy to spend the evening hanging out with Claire. As Claire glanced at her phone, Allie asked her why she was preoccupied. With a grin, Claire admitted that she had been hoping to get a text.
"From someone special?" Allie asked. "He is kind of special," Claire admitted. Claire told Allie about Charlie. "You've never mentioned him before!" Allie said. With a shrug, Claire noted that Allie had been busy, and she had not been sure there was anything between her and Charlie. "So, you are like full-on dating?" Allie asked. "I guess you could say he is my boyfriend," Claire said. With a dreamy smile, Claire said she believed Allie would like Charlie.
As Steve, Kayla, and Joey set the table for dinner in their home, Tripp told them about his call with Ava. "She said she was fine [with me having dinner here], but I could tell she was disappointed," Tripp said. "I'm glad you stayed," Joey said. Tripp stressed that he was happy to be a part of Joey's celebration. "I'm really glad you're back, Joey, but maybe I should go," Tripp said. Tripp wondered aloud if the right thing to do was spend the evening with his mother.
"You're going to have plenty of time with your mother," Steve said. "And it would be great to have you," Joey added. Tripp looked over at Kayla. "I'm not sure everyone feels that way," Tripp said. Kayla told Tripp not to worry about her. "It is a family celebration for Joey," Kayla said. "And you are family," Steve added. Tripp thanked everyone for making him feel welcome. "You're always welcome," Steve stressed.
While Kayla finished cooking, Joey, Tripp, and Steve sat down at the table. "I keep thinking I'm dreaming this," Joey said. "You are here with all of us for a family celebration," Kayla said. Kayla suggested that they say grace before dinner. With a nod, Joey and Kayla clasped hands while Tripp and Steve clasped hands on the other side of the table. Kayla looked at Tripp next to her, and she offered her hand to him.
Kayla said grace, and she spoke of her thanks for Joey's return. "And thanks for having my son Tripp here to join in Joey's celebration with us," Steve added. After grace, Steve said, "It really means a lot to me to have both of my boys here. I love you all so much." Steve hugged his sons.
After dinner, Steve made a toast to Kayla. "To the most loving, beautiful woman I know. You are not only the best partner, mother, amazing doctor, but you're also a pretty darn good cook. And every day I ask myself how did I get so lucky? To Kayla!" Steve said. Kayla said that she felt lucky to have such a wonderful family. "There are no words for me to express how much I missed [Joey]," Kayla said. Steve asked Joey if he had plans for the future. With a shrug, Joey said he had only thought about returning home.
Kayla warned Steve not to push Joey about the future just yet. "I'm sorry, Joe. I didn't mean to pressure you," Steve said. Joey admitted that he should have thought about his future, but his release had surprised him. Tripp asked Joey if he intended to finish his college degree. "I do want to finish, but I also know how expensive that is," Joey said. Kayla and Steve reminded Joey that they would support him, but Joey announced that he wanted to work first.
"You're always welcome at Black Patch," Steve said. Steve added that he and John were not getting along. As Tripp averted his eyes, Steve apologized for mentioning it to Tripp. "We don't need to talk about any of this tonight. This is a family celebration, and we are all together, and we need to be in the moment," Kayla said. While Kayla offered dessert, Tripp announced that he should head home to spend time with Ava.
"I know what you all think of [Ava], and you have every right, considering what she did the last time she was here," Tripp said. "She is still your mother," Kayla said gently. "And I make no excuses for her, but I thought she was dead, and now she is here, and Joey, it means that thanks to her, you're free," Tripp said. Joey said he was thankful for his freedom. With a nod, Tripp hugged Joey goodbye, and he thanked Kayla.
"I don't mean for having me over for this dinner. I mean for everything you've done for me," Tripp said. Tripp told Kayla he appreciated all she had done to help him through the years. "Thank you for saying that," Kayla said. Steve offered to walk Tripp over to Ava's apartment. After Steve and Tripp left, Joey thanked Kayla for letting Tripp stay for dinner.
At Ava's apartment, Charlie knocked on her door. "I got your messages. You said we needed to talk, so here I am," Charlie said. "I don't understand, Charlie. How did you get to town so fast?" Ava asked. Charlie explained that he had moved to Salem for Ava. Confused, Ava asked Charlie what he meant. Charlie told Ava about his job at Titan. "I've been keeping an eye on Philip Kiriakis for you," Charlie said. "I never asked you to do that," Ava said. Worried, Ava asked Charlie if Xander or Philip was suspicious.
"Not at all. In fact, I have a lot of useful information for you," Charlie said. Charlie told Ava that Xander knew that Philip had a connection to Ava. When Charlie stressed that he had the situation under control, Ava changed the subject to Tripp. "My son has been accused of rape," Ava said. "I didn't realize that that is what you wanted to talk about," Charlie stammered. Charlie admitted that he had heard about the rape from his girlfriend, Claire Brady.
"Sounds like Tripp is going to be fine, and the whole thing will blow over," Charlie said. "People think that he is a rapist. Tripp's reputation, maybe even his life, could be ruined," Ava growled. When Charlie noted that it had to be difficult for Ava to accept that Tripp could be capable of such a violent crime, Ava yelled, "What the hell is wrong with you?" Ava insisted that Tripp was innocent.
Charlie apologized for upsetting Ava, and he assured her not to worry. When Charlie noted that it was a he said, she said situation, and Tripp had said he was innocent, Ava grew agitated. "You know that for a fact that that is true, don't you, Charlie? Because you did it, didn't you?" Ava asked. Charlie argued that he did not know the woman that had accused Tripp of rape.
"The rape took place in London," Ava said. Charlie shrugged. Ava pointed out that Charlie had been in London at the same time and had been watching Tripp for her. "That's your proof? Do you know how big of a city London is?" Charlie said. When Charlie noted that coincidence did not prove anything, Ava said, "Maybe not. But the DNA test does." Confused, Charlie asked Ava about the DNA.
"They did a DNA test comparing Allie's baby to Tripp," Ava said. "What baby?" Charlie stammered out. Ava smiled. "Oh, you didn't know there was a baby?" Ava asked. Charlie admitted that Claire had not mentioned a baby. Ava explained that the baby's conception matched the date of the rape in London. "Oh," Charlie whispered. Ava noted that Tripp's DNA matched the baby, but he had sworn he had not slept with Allie.
"You got any theories on how that could happen?" Ava asked. "It seems pretty clear to me that Tripp did exactly what that girl is accusing him of. Your son is a rapist!" Charlie yelled. Ava grinned. Ava stressed that she believed Tripp. "How does he explain the DNA?" Charlie asked. "Oh, he can't explain it, but I can," Ava said. Charlie protested that Tripp was not a saint.
"You and I both know that someone else shares a lot of the same DNA, and that is you, Charlie. You share DNA because you and Tripp are brothers," Ava said.
Ava forces Charlie to admit the truth about Allie's rape
At Basic Black, Brady and Chloe each tried -- and failed -- to convince the other to follow Nicole's lead and call it a night. Having reached a stalemate, Chloe and Brady continued working on their respective projects from opposite ends of the office -- and traded awkward glances from time to time, as if being alone together was making them both feel a bit uncomfortable because of their complicated history.
Eventually, the tension began to subside, and Chloe and Brady took turns praising each other on a great first day of work -- although Brady believed that only Chloe was truly deserving of praise. "I've been doing this for a while, [but] you're kind of a rookie at this, and you made a really good impression. I mean, your input for the fall line was amazing -- [especially] that idea to import the sustainable silk," Brady declared -- and, as if on cue, Chloe received an email just then, revealing that the DiMera Enterprises warehouse that was going to be providing the sustainable silk was experiencing an issue with temperature control that might cause delays.
Brady assured Chloe that there was probably also a Titan warehouse that could provide sustainable silk. "Of course, I would have to call Philip...[but] we're all adults here, right?" Brady grumbled. "Speaking of Philip...I'm glad that you gave me a heads-up that he's back in town, [because] I actually ran into him..." Chloe revealed before sharing the details of the encounter with Brady -- including the part about Philip's gambling debt.
Philip entered the Kiriakis mansion and greeted Victor, who was quick to check the time. "You're out late," Victor observed. "Wouldn't want to slack off and let Titan's stock take a dip," Philip reasoned. "You sure you're concerning yourself with Titan's stock [and not] just sneaking around with your new partner in crime?" Victor challenged Philip.
"Sarah?" Philip hopefully translated. "You make it sound like I'm up to something [with her, but] I just want this concert to be a success, [and] she has a lot of experience in the music industry [and] great connections we can use, [so] I thought it would be a good idea to enlist her help," Philip explained, shrugging innocently. "Son, don't kid a kidder," Victor advised.
"I know exactly what you're doing -- [it's] perfectly obvious," Victor declared. "What's obvious?" Philip wondered, squirming a bit. "Stop the act, son -- I know you hate Xander, [and] every damn thing with you two is a competition, [so] you feel if you cozy up to Sarah, you'll get under Xander's skin. [But] I didn't make you and Xander co-CEOs to see which one could claw his way to the top!" Victor snapped. "I know, I know -- you put us together to make Titan the strongest it could be," Philip summarized, breathing a sigh of relief. "Exactly! [And] if you'd just stop feeling threatened by each other --" Victor advised. "I'm not threatened by Xander -- he's not the reason I'm doing this!" Philip blurted out before starting to admit the truth to Victor -- but Maggie interrupted just then and reported that Ava Vitali was alive and well.
Victor and Maggie were both outraged that Ava was not only alive and well but was also never going to pay for past misdeeds -- and Philip played along, also expressing outrage. "I'm just grateful the Kiriakis family never had any dealings with her -- for once, we don't have a target on our backs," Victor mused, causing Philip to start squirming again.
After Maggie left the living room, Victor wondered what Philip had been about to say earlier. "I guess I just feel like I have a lot to prove to you [after] the way I left things between us [before, so] I want to make things right," Philip claimed, still squirming. "I'll sleep well tonight, knowing that the safety of Titan is in your capable hands," Victor raved, leaving Philip feeling even guiltier -- but still unable to confess.
While en route to the Vitali apartment, Steve and Tripp raved about how great it was to see Joey walking around as a free man again. "I can't imagine what it's like for him -- [I mean], what he went through, it must have been hell..." Tripp mused. "Focus on the future," Steve advised. "[Like Joey's], mine is very uncertain at the moment..." Tripp admitted. "I don't think so -- [in fact], I believe that we're gonna be able to prove your innocence soon, [and then] you're gonna be a fine doctor someday," Steve predicted. "Thanks," Tripp replied.
Steve paused outside a café in the town square and offered to buy Tripp a cup of coffee. "I was hoping we could talk some more," Steve explained. "About?" Tripp wondered. "Your mother," Steve clarified. "I'm pretty sure I know what you're gonna say..." Tripp admitted before agreeing to humor Steve.
Steve and Tripp each placed an order at the café then claimed a table and resumed their conversation. "You think my trying to reconnect with [my mom] might be a mistake -- that I might just be better off cutting her out of my life," Tripp summarized. "But you don't," Steve acknowledged.
"When I was lying in bed last night -- wide awake [and], you know, wondering if I'll ever go to sleep again -- I was trying to figure out why, in spite of everything that I know -- you know, everything that would ordinarily make me want nothing to do with someone -- why I feel this...it's kind of like a compulsion, you know...to get close to her," Tripp admitted. "She's your mother," Steve reasoned. "And she's alive -- after all this time!" Tripp stressed. "Yeah -- [so] it's natural for you to have that compulsion, to want to know the person who brought you into this world," Steve conceded. "Yeah...but part of it is wanting to know myself better," Tripp decided.
"I don't think you're anything like Ava," Steve argued. "I have to be -- I'm genetically half you and half her! And, yeah, given what I know, I'd rather think that I only take after you -- that your decency and honesty and kindness, you know, were all [that was] passed down to me -- but that's clearly not the case, is it?" Tripp countered. "I don't know, son -- I don't know much about genetics," Steve admitted. "Me, neither..." Tripp admitted.
"[Anyway], I just...you know, have this need to get to know her [and] finally get answers...and that's really important to me, so...please, just...don't try to talk me out of this, okay?" Tripp requested. "[It's] up to you -- you're an adult; you make your own decisions. [But just] be careful -- [I mean, I know] you're smart, [so] you're gonna be able to see through her games and her manipulations, but you're also very kindhearted, [so] you're going to want to feel sorry for her [and] help her --" Steve advised. "Why would that be a mistake? I mean, are you [saying] you think she's beyond help?" Tripp interjected. "No -- I don't think anyone's beyond help," Steve admitted. "It might not be as bad as you think!" Tripp insisted.
"I mean, she said that me living with her was a dream come true -- and, yeah, I gotta admit, that got to me, especially the way she said it; I mean, she sounded totally sincere. And, look, I'm not naïve about who she is, okay? I promise you. But she seems to really want me in her life!" Tripp stressed. "I know she does -- [and] I know [she] loves you," Steve conceded.
"[But] she is never gonna be a 'normal' mother -- she's a very damaged person," Steve warned. "I understand that. And I know it's because she had a terrible childhood -- I mean, her father was a monster --" Tripp acknowledged. "That he was -- he held her captive, he controlled every aspect of her life --" Steve began to summarize. "And forced her to give me up," Tripp concluded for Steve.
"I know," Tripp repeated. "I know you 'know' -- but what you may not understand is that, because of all that, Ava is unstable [and] paranoid. You know, she's lost a lot in her life, so she holds on to whoever and whatever she loves -- she holds on at any cost -- and it can be suffocating. I'm afraid Ava has a very warped sense of what love is," Steve stressed. "I can handle it," Tripp insisted.
"Maybe we can give her a chance and not just expect the worst right outta the gate?" Tripp hopefully suggested. "You can -- and you should; she's your mother -- but I need to remind you [that] she was raised in a crime family [and] still has ties to the mob, [so] it would be very easy for her to fall back into that life and drag you down with her," Steve warned. "I will not let that happen -- [in fact], I have already told Mom, straight out, that if she is still involved with the family business, I wasn't gonna live with her...and she swore that her money comes from the legit side of things now," Tripp stressed. "Ava will say whatever she needs to [say] to get what she wants," Steve countered. "Well, since there's no proof that she's done anything but tell me the truth, I'm gonna take her at her word...for now," Tripp decided.
At the Brady house, Claire gushed to Allie about Charlie being sweet, funny, really cute -- and, basically, just the most absolutely perfect guy ever. "It might sound really weird because we really haven't known each other very long, but Charlie makes me feel safe. He's always making sure I'm okay, and he's not just protective of me -- he really cares about my family, too; [in fact], when I told him about what happened to you, he was so --" Claire raved. "You told Charlie I was raped?" Allie interjected.
"I am so sorry -- I never should have said anything to Charlie; it's your place to tell people, not mine," Claire conceded. "I understand. [It's just that] it changes the way people see me, you know? When they know, they start to feel bad for me. And I hate that," Allie explained. "I don't blame you. It's the worst when people pity you -- I hate it, too. And, hey, the only reason why I told Charlie was because I had just found out what Tripp did to you, and I was so freaked out, [and] I couldn't keep it to myself," Claire stressed. "It's okay. I mean, if I go through with this civil case thing, it's gonna be all over the news, anyway," Allie acknowledged.
"Like I said, Charlie was so understanding about the whole thing. And completely on your side, of course. And just wishing that Tripp had got the punishment that he deserved. [And] shocked, like all of us were, that someone we knew could have done something like that -- well, someone we thought we knew, anyway..." Claire summarized. "He sounds like a really good guy," Allie mused. "He is -- [I mean], I didn't want there to be any secrets between us, so I told Charlie, pretty much straight away, about my history with mental illness, and [even with that], he was the opposite of 'judgmental'; he was so supportive and understanding... [Basically, he] knows everything about me -- the good, the bad, the scary -- and he still likes me," Claire raved. "He really is the perfect guy, like you said," Allie decided.
Allie probed for more information about Charlie, prompting Claire to repeat what had been revealed during the earlier dinner date. "What about his mom?" Allie wondered. "He didn't really say much about his mom," Claire admitted. Claire promised that Allie would meet Charlie on Christmas Day, if not sooner. Allie said goodbye to Claire then left the Brady house -- and, a short time later, ran into Steve at the town square.
At the Vitali apartment, Charlie fell silent in the wake of Ava's reminder about Tripp, unable to dodge the matter any longer. "You are both my sons," Ava elaborated as Charlie scowled. "Tripp and I are only half-brothers -- Steve Johnson isn't my father," Charlie stressed. "Oh, please, Charlie -- don't play stupid. You know very well that you and Tripp share half your DNA -- which is more than enough to confuse a paternity test. [So], the only reason it appears that Tripp is Allie's baby's father is because his DNA matches the real father's -- yours," Ava countered.
"Mom, I --" Charlie tried to protest. "Your job was to keep an eye on Tripp. He goes to London, [so] you went to London. Those pubs and clubs that you say he was [partying] at -- you were there, too. And then, when he took Allie home, I'm sure you were right behind him. So, why don't you just admit it -- you raped her!" Ava challenged Charlie.
"There's nothing to admit 'cause I didn't do anything! Allie identified Tripp as the attacker! That plus the DNA evidence -- what more proof do you need?" Charlie shouted. "Want to know what's wrong with that? Tripp stared me in the eye [and] swore to me that he was not the baby's father and [that] he never touched her!" Ava shouted.
"[And], of course, you believe him," Charlie grumbled. "Yeah, I sure as hell --" Ava confirmed. "Why am I not surprised? It doesn't matter what I say, [and] it doesn't matter what the evidence is, because Tripp is Steve Johnson's kid -- [Steve Johnson], 'the love of your life' -- and what am I?" Charlie bitterly began to summarize. "You better watch it!" Ava warned. "I'm the other kid, the one you wanted to forget about...[at least] until you need something, then you snap your fingers, and I come running every single time, hoping that it'll be different, but it never is -- no matter what I do, and no matter what I say, I will always be second-best to Tripp, 'cause he's your golden child, the one that can do no wrong!" Charlie concluded, trembling and fighting back tears.
"Charlie, that's not true -- I love both my sons equally, [and] I always have --" Ava insisted, putting a hand on Charlie's cheek. "You never have!" Charlie argued, recoiling from Ava.
"Stop trying to play the 'devoted mother' act -- you don't even believe it yourself! We both know that Tripp is the only one you've ever cared about! That's why I had to live with my dad -- because you couldn't be bothered to raise me!" Charlie snapped. "I was in a terrible emotional state -- my child had been ripped from me --" Ava tried to explain. "I was your child, too, damn it!" Charlie shouted, again trembling and fighting back tears.
"I needed a mother! My whole life, all I ever wanted was a relationship with you -- that's why I came to work with you, to try to impress you! And then what did you do? You ordered me to watch Tripp! Do you know how humiliating it was when I found out that the person you wanted me to keep tabs on was my own brother?" Charlie snapped. "Is that why you attacked [Allie] -- to get back at me? Or was it your brother -- did you do this to frame Tripp?" Ava asked. "Oh, my God, why are you bringing this back to Tripp?" Charlie grumbled. "I've never seen you so angry --" Ava mused. "'Cause you've never seen me!" Charlie shouted.
"You know what? I'm outta here!" Charlie decided before starting to storm out of the apartment, prompting Ava to block the path. "You're not going anywhere until you tell me the truth. You admit it -- admit that you raped that girl!" Ava demanded. "Fine -- I did it; I raped her," Charlie confirmed with a shrug, drawing a shake of the head from Ava.
"How could you do that, huh? You forced yourself on that poor girl, and now she has your baby --" Ava protested. "I didn't know anything about a kid -- not until you told me," Charlie maintained. "So, I'm guessing that you didn't use protection when you raped her --" Ava summarized. "Stop saying 'rape'! I didn't mean to hurt her --" Charlie objected. "You had sex with her without consent -- that is rape!" Ava stressed. "It's not what you think! I made a mistake, Mom, and I feel awful about it -- but I'm not a bad guy!" Charlie countered.
"You have to believe me...and promise me you won't say anything to anybody!" Charlie begged. "You can't possibly expect me to keep quiet about this! My son is being accused of rape --" Ava protested. "I'm your son! [And] you have never done anything for me! My entire life, I've wanted a mother that would stand up for me when I needed her, [and] you can do that [now] -- you can stand up for me! Please!" Charlie begged again, this time on bended knees. "Oh, I see -- so, you want me to sacrifice my other child to protect you," Ava summarized.
"You're not 'sacrificing' anything -- Tripp is getting off; nothing is gonna happen to him --" Charlie argued. "His reputation has been destroyed --" Ava noted. "He'll get over it!" Charlie countered. Unconvinced, Ava started to rush out of the apartment, presumably in search of Tripp. Charlie scowled and grabbed Ava's left arm. Ava returned the scowl and pulled away from Charlie.
"So, you're just gonna throw me to the cops? Mom, you can't turn me in! I have a life now! I have a girlfriend! Things are finally going my way! You can finally do the right thing for me! You owe me this!" Charlie protested. "I know that you've always loved Tripp more than me -- I accept that. And I'm sorry that he was taken away from you -- I'm sorry I'm not the son you wanted. But you have a choice -- you can clear Tripp's name and send me to hell, or you can be quiet and protect us both," Charlie continued. "You said you love me -- prove it!" Charlie tearfully concluded -- just as Tripp knocked on the apartment door and called out to Ava.
Charlie begs Ava not to tell Tripp what happened to Allie
At the Horton house, Jennifer fretted to Julie about the possibility that Jack was still sleeping with Kate. Julie expressed skepticism, but Jennifer remained concerned.
At the Salem Inn, Kate and Jake raved to each other about their new rendezvous location -- which was particularly appealing because it had a lock on the front door that made it impossible for Chad to ever barge in on them again, although Jake still didn't share Kate's desire for their relationship to be their little secret. "It really is the best thing to do," Kate maintained. "Even if it incurred the wrath of Jennifer Rose Deveraux..." Kate grumbled before telling Jake about what had happened with Jennifer at Julie's Place. "I couldn't tell her about you and me -- it's bad enough that Gwen knows!" Kate fretted.
At the DiMera mansion, Gwen received a text message from Abigail: "My dad and I are stuck covering a city council meeting for the Spectator. Won't be reachable for a while. Could you tell Chad and kiss the kids goodnight for me?" A short time later, Chad entered the study and wondered if Gwen knew where Abigail was hiding. "No -- I haven't heard from her," Gwen claimed with a shrug, drawing a sigh from Chad.
"Abigail told me about your fight..." Gwen casually revealed. "Then you know I'm a complete jackass," Chad regretfully summarized. "Well, I suppose you did see [Abigail's] head in [Jake's] lap, and she was very insistent about inviting him for Thanksgiving, [and] she cheated on you with your brother Stefan, [so] I guess I understand why you'd think that something was going on -- not that it is, of course..." Gwen said, prompting Chad to rush over to the bar and fill a glass with whiskey. "I'm gonna call her," Chad decided after gulping down the drink, and Gwen encouraged the idea with a smirk of anticipation.
Shortly after Chad rushed off, Gwen was forced to answer a call to the mansion's landline so the rings wouldn't wake Thomas and Charlotte. "Good evening," Julie began. "Looking for Abigail?" Gwen assumed. "Actually, I wanted to speak with her father," Julie clarified. "I'm sorry -- he left a little while ago..." Gwen reported. "Kate?" Julie requested. "She left, too... Actually, now that I think about it, I haven't seen either of them since they practically kicked me out of the study a little while ago..." Gwen answered.
"Jen's took the bait," Gwen concluded with a smirk of triumph after Julie ended the call. "Huh?" Chad, who had just returned to the study, said to Gwen. "Did you find Abigail?" Gwen asked as a way of dodging Chad's question. "No -- and I can't seem to find Jake, either..." Chad grumbled. "You're looking for Jake?" Gwen repeated. "Business stuff," Chad stammered. "At this hour?" Gwen protested. "Okay, fine -- I couldn't help myself...[and, as it turns out], both Jake and Abby are nowhere to be found," Chad fretted before stepping over to the bar again. "I'm sure it's just a coincidence..." Gwen reasoned, putting a hand on Chad's back.
Chad soon left the study again -- and went straight to the garage to see if Jake and Abigail were there. "You are an idiot," Chad muttered with a sigh of relief after finding neither Jake nor Abigail in the garage -- and, just then, Gwen arrived. "You must think that I am a terrible husband," Chad guessed. "I don't blame you for being jealous," Gwen insisted. "And Jake -- well, he's got no respect for you or your marriage..." Gwen stressed. "Yeah... Well, maybe we don't have to tell Abby I came down here looking for her," Chad hopefully suggested. "You can trust me, Chad -- keeping secrets is one of my superpowers," Gwen promised with an innocent smile.
Meanwhile, Abigail entered the mansion and joined Jake in the study then started venting about the city council meeting, which had been quite boring. Jake waited for Abigail to finish then seized the opportunity to ask for help with a proposal for DiMera Enterprises, admitting that it would be nice to have a real writer look over it before it was presented to the board. Abigail declined with a flimsy excuse that Jake didn't buy. Caught, Abigail apologetically explained to Jake that, at least for the time being, it would be best for them to avoid doing anything together that could cause Chad to get the wrong idea about the true nature of their relationship.
Jake assured Abigail that was understandable. "From now on, I will do my best to make sure you and I are not seen alone together -- because we don't want to make Chad any more suspicious than he already is," Jake assured Abigail -- and Chad and Gwen approached the study, unnoticed, in time to hear the comment. Gwen hid a mischievous smirk, anticipating that Chad was about to jump to the wrong conclusion again.
At the Horton house, Julie tried to convince Jennifer that Gwen's earlier revelations didn't prove that Jack was still sleeping with Kate. Still fearing the worst, Jennifer rushed off to the kitchen in search of eggnog -- and Julie seized the opportunity to contact a friend who worked at the Salem Inn, hoping to determine if Jennifer was right about Jack being the man Kate had arranged to meet there earlier. Julie's friend confirmed that Kate had a room at the Salem Inn and had met a man there earlier. Julie's friend had heard Kate say the man's name but could only remember that it had started with the letter "J" -- which, of course, was enough to settle the matter for Jennifer when Julie reluctantly relayed the information after ending the call. "Maybe I should just put this relationship to rest and move on...because it sounds like he certainly has," Jennifer grumbled.
At the Horton Town Square, Steve apologized to Allie for having failed to reach out at any point since the matter with Tripp had begun. "I wasn't sure if you'd want to hear from me," Steve explained.
"But please know -- I am so sorry about what happened," Steve stressed. "But you're still standing by Tripp," Allie guessed. "I am...but that doesn't mean I don't believe you --" Steve began to respond. "Sorry, Uncle Steve, but you can't have it both ways -- you can't believe me and believe Tripp at the same time; one of us has to be lying. And I'm telling you right now, it is not me," Allie countered.
"I don't think either you or Tripp is lying," Steve revealed, confusing Allie. "I just feel like I'm missing a piece of the puzzle, [so]...maybe it would help if you told me your side of the story," Steve carefully suggested. "I have zero problem with that -- because maybe, if you hear my side of the story, you'll realize that I have been telling the truth this entire time...and that your son is the liar," Allie confidently agreed.
Allie fought back tears while telling Steve the same things that others had been told when they had asked for Allie's account of the night in question. "For a while, I didn't remember what happened that part of the night -- [the part when I was raped]. It wasn't until I was telling Nicole about [how Henry was conceived] that, all of a sudden, I started getting these flashes in my head -- [of] Tripp hovering above me in the bed, [and] me saying no, [and] a hand holding me down by my wrist --" Allie explained near the end of the tale. "'A' hand holding you down? Are you sure it was Tripp's hand?" Steve interjected, surprising Allie.
"Of course it was Tripp's hand -- who else could it be?" Allie snapped. "Listen, I know this is hard, but I want you to think carefully about this -- I mean, you said you've only had a few flashes of memory from the assault, [so]...are those memories from the same moment, or could they have been from two different moments over the course of the night?" Steve challenged Allie. "I don't know..." Allie stammered.
Allie quickly recovered. "No -- there's no way that Tripp isn't the one who assaulted me, okay? There's DNA that proves he's Henry's father, so I don't even know why we're doing this -- there's no other explanation!" Allie stressed, fighting back tears again. "Okay. I'm sorry. Thank you for talking to me -- I know how hard it is, [and] I appreciate it," Steve gently replied before saying goodbye to Allie then walking away.
A short time later, Allie ran into Kate, who had just exited the Salem Inn alone after having instructed Jake to use another exit so they wouldn't be seen together. "What are you doing at the Salem Inn?" Allie wondered. "Work-related," Kate claimed before quickly changing the subject, asking if Allie had given any more thought to the idea they had discussed earlier. "I actually just talked to my Aunt Belle earlier -- and she agreed that I have a good case, [so]...with her help, I'm going to sue Tripp Dalton; I'm gonna make that monster accountable for what he did to me," Allie excitedly informed Kate, who was pleased to hear that.
"I know how difficult it's going to be to tell your story in court, [but] I promise you, I'm going to be there for you every step of the way," Kate stressed. "Thanks, Grandma...but I actually already got some practice with the third degree..." Allie replied before starting to tell Kate about the earlier encounter with Steve. "You didn't tell him that you're planning to sue Tripp, did you?" Kate hopefully interjected. "No -- I don't want to say anything about that until Aunt Belle has officially filed the paperwork," Allie admitted. "Good thinking -- [though] I just wish you hadn't really said anything to him [at all], because I'm afraid he could take it and get Tripp's lawyers to twist it around and use it against you," Kate fretted, prompting Allie to continue revealing the details of the earlier conversation with Steve.
"What, does he think there was another hand -- [that] another person attacked you? Because that's ludicrous! The DNA results -- I mean, it proves that Tripp is guilty!" Kate protested at the end of the tale -- and, after a moment of uncertainty, Allie agreed. "Of course it has to be Tripp -- who else could it have been?" Allie reasoned.
At the Vitali apartment, Ava quietly and apologetically reiterated to Charlie that Tripp -- who was still knocking on the front door -- deserved to know the truth about what had happened to Allie.
"Mom, please..." Charlie tearfully whispered, but Ava just turned away, ready to let Tripp into the apartment and reveal everything. "Don't do this to me!" Charlie begged, grabbing Ava's left arm. "I made one mistake -- one! " Charlie stressed. "I don't want to go to prison for it," Charlie fretted. "If you love me at all, Mom, please -- don't say anything!" Charlie requested, still gripping Ava's left arm tightly.
Meanwhile, Tripp continued knocking on the apartment door. "Mom, are you in there? Is everything okay? I don't have a key, so you're gonna have to let me in..." Tripp called out before thinking to fiddle with the doorknob, just in case -- but, of course, the door was locked. "Let go of me," Ava ordered Charlie. "But Mom --" Charlie protested. "You and I are going to tell Tripp the truth -- that you raped Allie -- and then we will deal with the consequences," Ava insisted. "You can't --" Charlie objected. "Let go of me," Ava sternly repeated, and Charlie reluctantly complied.
Ava turned away from Charlie again and started walking toward the apartment door -- and Charlie seized the opportunity to pick up a nearby vase and smash it against the back of Ava's head.
"Oh, my God -- what am I doing?" Charlie shakily muttered, staring at Ava's motionless body with a look of horror -- and, just then, Tripp started pounding on the apartment door insistently. "Mom? Mom, what was that? I thought I heard a noise! Are you okay? Are you in there? Come on, I'm starting to get a little worried here!" Tripp called out. "Go away -- please, just...go away!" Charlie quietly begged.
Tripp suddenly thought to place a call to Ava's cell phone -- but the ringer was off, and Charlie sent the call to voicemail. "Hey, Mom -- it's me, Tripp. I'm standing outside your door. I've been knocking for a while. I thought I heard a noise, and I'm a little worried that you fell. I'm not sure if I should call the police or just break down the door..." Tripp said, and Charlie heard every word.
Fearing that Tripp might indeed break into the apartment, Charlie quickly but quietly searched for another weapon -- and ultimately settled on a pair of scissors that had been left out on a table, sensing that there wouldn't be enough time to figure out where Ava's knives were kept in the kitchen. Charlie waited near the apartment door, shaking with adrenaline and prepared to strike with the scissors at any moment -- but, on the other side of the door, Tripp decided that breaking in wouldn't be the best move. "She's probably in the shower or running an errand or something..." Tripp conceded, drawing a sigh of relief from Charlie.
Tripp walked away from the apartment with a chuckle, musing that breaking down the door would have been an embarrassing overreaction to the situation -- and, once the coast was clear, Charlie collapsed to the floor with another sigh of relief then dropped the scissors and crawled over to Ava's motionless body. "Oh, thank God -- you're alive!" Charlie exclaimed after checking Ava's pulse.
"I'm so sorry, Mom -- I hope you know that," Charlie stressed between gasps for breath, still shaking with adrenaline. "I love you," Charlie declared while crawling on top of Ava. "I would never hurt you. But I couldn't let you tell Tripp the truth. Claire is the best thing that's ever happened to me. I can't lose her," Charlie whispered while lying on Ava's back. "How can I make you understand that? How can I convince you not to say anything?" Charlie wondered while cradling Ava -- who groaned just then, prompting Charlie to back away with a gasp of shock.
Tripp went to the Brady-Johnson townhouse in search of Steve, who grew concerned after hearing about what had happened at the Vitali apartment earlier. "It's probably nothing," Tripp conceded. "Trouble has a way of following Ava, [so] let's go check out that 'nothing' together," Steve countered.
While en route to the Vitali apartment, Steve gave Tripp a bit of information about the earlier encounter with Allie -- but refused to elaborate until after they figured out what was going on with Ava. Upon arriving at the Vitali apartment, Tripp knocked on the door again and called out a greeting -- and when Ava didn't respond, Steve proceeded to pick the lock.
"No sign of trouble," Steve concluded after helping Tripp search the apartment -- which was otherwise unoccupied and was also clean. "Looks like she was planning to have dinner with you," Steve observed, showing Tripp the dishes that had been left out on the kitchen table. "Yeah, I could tell she was disappointed when I said I was having dinner with you instead -- maybe I hurt her feelings, [and then] she took off somewhere?" Tripp suggested. "That's possible -- Ava is hypersensitive -- but if she did take off, where'd she go?" Steve mused.
Meanwhile, at an undisclosed location, Charlie rejoined Ava, who was tied to a chair and had just regained consciousness. "Oh, good -- you're awake!" Charlie cheerfully observed. "Charlie, what the hell are you doing? Untie me -- right now!" Ava snapped. "Mom, I really wish I could, but...you brought this on yourself," Charlie coldly declared.
Gwen puts Jake in an awkward situation
Kristen called Lani from the Statesville rec room, and she encouraged Lani to make up with Eli before the babies were born. "You do really need to work this out," Kristen said. Lani promised to think about it. As Kristen ended her call, she turned and found Rolf waiting behind her.
"Merry Christmas, my dear," Rolf said. "This is the women's wing -- how did you get in here?" Kristen asked. Rolf said he had done a favor for someone high up who had given Rolf access to Kristen in return. Kristen warned Rolf not to do anything to lengthen her jail sentence. With a grin, Rolf said he had no ill intent and that he only wanted to give Kristen a gift.
"Why would I accept a gift from you after you tried to shoot Chad?" Kristen said. Rolf told Kristen that he regretted his actions. "I got carried away because of my devotion to Stefano," Rolf admitted. Rolf told Kristen she did not need to fear his gift. Hesitantly, Kristen took the envelope and opened it. It was a photo of Kristen, Chad, and Stefano together. Kristen gasped.
"This was taken at Christmas, years ago," Kristen whispered. Kristen thanked Rolf for his generous gift. "If you hear from Chad, tell him I have one for him, as well," Rolf said.
Kate sneaked into Jake's room at the DiMera mansion to leave a present on his bed, but she was interrupted when Jake exited the bathroom in a towel. "Ho, ho, ho," Jake said with a chuckle. "I didn't think you were going to be in here," Kate said. Kate explained that she had not wanted to give Jake a present in front of anyone in the house.
"Merry Christmas, Jake," Kate whispered. Jake walked over to Kate and kissed her. "I have a present for you, too," Jake said. Jake said he still needed to wrap Kate's gift. "I like my presents unwrapped," Kate purred. Kate grabbed Jake's towel and yanked it off. Jake and Kate tumbled onto the bed, and he began to undress her as they kissed. After, Jake teased Kate about the secrecy of their relationship being an aphrodisiac.
"I suppose it really depends on who you are sneaking around with," Kate said. Kate asked Jake to open up her present. It was a tie. "I thought if you're a rising mover and shaker in DiMera, you should dress the part," Kate said. Jake thanked Kate for the thoughtful gift. Jake insisted on wrapping his gift, and he showed Kate the paper and ribbon he had gotten for it. "If you're lucky, you'll find your present in your bedroom tonight. And if you're even luckier, you'll find me in there with it," Jake said.
Abigail and Jack shopped in the square for Christmas. "I hate to think that you and Chad are having problems like this right in the middle of the holidays," Jack said. When Abigail noted that she was not sure how to get past Chad's accusation of infidelity, Jack countered that he did not want to see another broken relationship in the family. Jack told Abigail about his conversation with Chad.
"[Chad] realized that he let his imagination run away with him. He knows he insulted you by making a baseless accusation, and he feels absolutely terrible about it," Jack said. Abigail told Jack that she had forgiven Chad but that he seemed to be giving her the cold shoulder. "Are you sure you're not imagining it?" Jack asked. With a shrug, Abigail noted that Chad had not talked to her since the previous evening.
"Since when is he so insecure?" Jack asked. Jack suggested that someone had put the notion of the affair in his head. Abigail dismissed the idea. "Then how do you explain the sudden insecurity?" Jack asked. Abigail said that she suspected the insecurity was left over from Stefan and the arrival of Jake.
"So, when Chad sees Jake, and I think the pain of that whole scenario just comes rushing back, along with a very healthy dose of paranoia," Abigail said. Abigail added that she had realized that instead of anger, she should have shown Chad reassurance. When Jack encouraged Abigail to give Chad what he needed, Abigail announced that she would go home and do just that.
"I just want us all to have a really wonderful Christmas," Abigail said. "I don't know how wonderful mine is going to be without your mom," Jack lamented. Abigail told Jack not to give up on Jennifer. "I will not ever. I just want to focus on now, on something good. I'm so grateful that you and I have reconciled, that my precious daughter has found it in her heart to forgive me," Jack said. "And mom will, too," Abigail countered. Abigail told Jack to give Jennifer time.
In the DiMera living room, Chad stared at his phone. Gwen walked in. "So, this is how the DiMeras do Christmas," Gwen said. A sullen Chad admitted to Gwen that he could not stop thinking about the conversation he had overheard between Abigail and Jake. "How they don't want me to be more suspicious than I already am. What do you think that means?" Chad asked. Gwen asked Chad why he had not confronted Abigail.
"I didn't want to make the situation any worse than I already had, you know? I already upset her enough," Chad said. Gwen asked Chad what was next. Chad said that Abigail was out Christmas shopping with Jack. Chad admitted that he had not responded to Abigail's text because he was not sure if he should mention what he had overheard between Abigail and Jake. Gwen encouraged Chad to wait until Abigail returned home to talk to her.
When Chad thanked Gwen again, he explained that Gwen had cheered him up. "I'm starting to get the Christmas spirit back," Chad said. As they chatted, Gwen casually maneuvered Chad under the mistletoe in the doorway, and she chuckled.
"Speaking of Christmas spirit, look at that. Oh, dear. We seem to be under the mistletoe together," Gwen said. Chad shifted with discomfort, but thankfully, Tony and Anna walked down the hallway. Chad's face lit up as he rushed to greet his brother. "What are you doing here?" Chad asked. After a round of hugs, Chad escorted Tony and Anna into the living room.
"We decided to surprise you. Hoping it is a welcome surprise," Tony said. Chad said he was thrilled that Tony and Anna were there, but he did not have any presents for them. "We don't need any presents," Anna insisted. "Just being here with the family is a gift in itself," Tony said. While Chad and Tony talked, Anna walked past them over to Gwen.
"I'm assuming you're not family, because I've never laid eyes on you before," Anna said. Anna introduced herself. Gwen shook her hand. "And I'm Tony DiMera," Tony said as he shook Gwen's hand. Chad explained that Gwen was the nanny. Chad added that the children were at a playdate while Abigail was out with Jack. Tony suggested that he and Chad should visit Kristen at the prison. "I feel terrible, too. I haven't visited her at all," Chad confessed. Tony invited Anna, but she opted to stay behind and get to know Gwen.
At the prison, Kristen rushed into their arms and hugged her brothers when Tony and Chad arrived. "How lucky am I?" Kristen said. Chad apologized for not visiting sooner. Tony told Kristen that he and Anna had been traveling, but they had returned to Salem for Christmas with the family. "And that involves me?" Kristen asked. "Of course, it does. Why would you even ask?" Tony said. As Chad and Tony sat down at the table with Kristen, Chad saw the photo that Rolf had given to Kristen. Kristen told Chad about Rolf's message.
"[Rolf] seemed genuinely remorseful for what he did to you," Kristen said. "Well, he should be, the crazy old bastard," Chad muttered. Chad smiled as he looked at the photo. "I remember this day. I had just beaten [Stefano] at chess," Chad said. "And he was still speaking to you?" Tony joked. Kristen recalled that Stefano had been proud of Chad's win that day. Tony lamented that he had not been there for the picture. Chad noted that it was lucky that Tony had not actually been dead. "And I shall be eternally grateful for that. Also, for Anna, who never did give up on me. What a beautiful, loving soul she is," Tony said.
At the DiMera mansion, Anna invited Gwen to join her on the couch in the living room. "Tell me about yourself. I want to hear everything," Anna said. Anna gently probed Gwen with questions, and Gwen attempted to excuse herself to go clean the playroom rather than answer.
"Don't go yet, dear. Come on, keep me company. Besides, they'll just get those rooms messy again, right?" Anna said. Gwen scowled, but she reluctantly sat back down next to Anna on the couch. Anna asked Gwen why she was not with her family at Christmas. When Gwen hesitated, Anna apologized for being too nosy.
At the prison, Chad met with Rolf. Rolf gave Chad a copy of the photograph. "I know that your father would have wanted you to have it. Just lucky for me that you happen to be visiting Kristen today," Rolf said. Rolf apologized for what he had done to Chad. "I lost control, and I deeply regret it. Could you ever forgive me?" Rolf asked. Chad told Rolf that he did not hold a grudge. Rolf asked Chad if everything was good. Chad said all was well, and he announced that Tony, Anna, and Jake would be joining in on the holiday festivities.
"I'm surprised to hear that. I know you didn't want Jake around during Thanksgiving," Rolf said. "How did you know that?" Chad asked with suspicion. Rolf thought about Gwen's call to him at Thanksgiving. "I know because your sister Kristen mentioned it to me earlier," Rolf lied. "And how did she know that?" Chad asked. With a shrug, Rolf said he did not know. Chad theorized aloud that Kristen might have talked to Jennifer.
In the women's wing of the prison, Kristen sat in the rec room and stared at her family photo. "I may not be able to be with my family tonight, but I'll be with you all in spirit," Kristen said. Kristen clutched the photo to her chest and cried.
"We're home," Abigail yelled out as she returned to the DiMera mansion with Jack. When Abigail walked into the living room and saw Anna, she gasped with joy. "Are you here for Christmas?" Abigail asked. "Tony and I both are here for Christmas and beyond," Anna said. Gwen offered to take the packages upstairs and wrap them.
"I do hope that my questions weren't too offending to you," Anna said to Gwen. "Not in the slightest," Gwen said as she grabbed the bags and walked out. In the hallway upstairs, Gwen watched Kate leave Jake's room. After Gwen wrapped up the presents for Abigail, she returned to Jake's room.
"What the hell are you doing in here?" Jake asked. "I just saw your girlfriend sneaking out of here," Gwen said. Annoyed, Jake asked Gwen if she should be with the kids, and she said they were out on a playdate. Gwen noticed Jake's new tie, and she teased him about his gift from "granny Kate."
"I don't recall you ever buying me anything you couldn't find at a dollar store," Gwen said through gritted teeth. Jake let Gwen complain for a moment before he wished her a merry Christmas and asked her to leave.
Downstairs in the living room, Anna told Jack and Abigail that Tony was at the prison with Chad, visiting Kristen. When Anna asked why she had not gone, Anna reminded Abigail that she was not close with Kristen. Anna asked about Jennifer. Before Jack could answer, Kate walked into the room. Everyone stood in silence.
"Hello? Can somebody please tell me where Jennifer is?" Anna asked. Abigail said that Jennifer was at the Horton house, decorating. Anna turned to Kate and asked about her Christmas plans. Jack took the opportunity to say goodbye to Abigail and sneak out. Kate told Anna that she would be in the DiMera house for Christmas.
"You're not going to spend it with your family?" Abigail asked Kate. "That's right," Kate said. As Anna asked Kate if she had a special man in her life, Jake walked in, and Kate called out his name in greeting. Kate introduced Jake to Anna. "Oh, my God! You are the spitting image of my husband's dead brother," Anna said. Tony and Chad returned home, and Anna pointed Jake out to her husband. Jake looked at Chad and asked for an introduction.
"Tony, Jake," Chad said curtly. "Nice to meet you, bro," Jake said with a wide smile as he shook Tony's hand. "I cannot get over the resemblance. Boy, do I have a zillion questions for you, brother-in-law," Anna said. Gwen returned with the packages, now wrapped. "I know that you're not opening presents early, Abigail, but I believe this one is for you," Gwen said. Jake and Kate shared a look as they realized by the wrapping paper that Gwen had given Jake's present meant for Kate to Abigail.
"Are you sure this is for me? It doesn't have a tag on it," Abigail said. "It must have fallen off then," Gwen said. Abigail declined to open the gift, but Gwen insisted. Kate stewed in the corner and looked over at Jake. "Chad, what do you think?" Abigail asked. "Go for it," Chad said. Abigail opened the box and found a diamond bracelet. "Chad, this is so beautiful. Thank you so much!" Abigail said. Chad gruffly said the bracelet was not from him.
"Actually, it's from me," Jake said. "You bought my wife a bracelet?" Chad said angrily. Jake explained the gift was not for Abigail. "I bought the bracelet for Gwen," Jake said. "For me? Why?" Gwen asked. Jake said it was an apology for everything. "I find that very hard to believe," Gwen said. Abigail handed the gift to Gwen. "Help me put it on," Gwen said to Jake with a wicked smile. Kate stared daggers at Gwen.
At the Horton house, Lucas wished his sister Jennifer a merry Christmas. Lucas explained that he had stopped by early because he was not sure if he would be able to attend the ornament-hanging ceremony. Jennifer asked about Allie. "[Allie] is looking ahead, and I guess she is healing," Lucas said. Lucas asked Jennifer if she believed she could patch up her relationship with Jack.
"I don't think so," Jennifer admitted. "I guess it doesn't help that he is genuinely sorry for what he did?" Lucas said. Jennifer told Lucas that Jack was still sleeping with Kate. Lucas grimaced, and then he laughed. Lucas said it was not possible. "I have two solid pieces of evidence that prove otherwise," Jennifer said. Jennifer told Lucas about Julie's friend at the Salem Inn, and that he had confirmed that Kate had been at the inn with a man whose name started with a J. Lucas reminded Jennifer that a lot of names started with a J.
"If you really want to find out what's going on, you've got to do it the old-fashioned way. The reliable way," Lucas said. When Jennifer asked Lucas how, he offered to go confront Kate. Jennifer begged Lucas not to talk to his mother. "I know you're afraid of what you might find out, but don't worry about it," Lucas assured Jennifer. "I have an idea," Jennifer countered.
In the square, Lucas pointed out the clerk, Saul, from the Salem Inn to Jennifer. Jennifer asked Saul about Kate's companion. "Do you remember if that man's name was Jack?" Jennifer asked. "I believe that Jack sounds right to me," Saul said. Jennifer's face fell. Jennifer started to walk away, but Lucas stopped her. Lucas pulled out his phone and showed Saul a picture of Jack.
"No. I'm absolutely sure. I may not have a memory for names, but I absolutely never forget a face," Saul said. Lucas thanked Saul for his help. Jennifer cried happy tears and said, "I'm so glad you had that picture on your phone." Lucas asked Jennifer if she felt better. Jennifer said she was relieved that she had been wrong.
Jennifer returned home to the Horton house, and she was surprised when Jack knocked on the front door. "I know you don't want to see me, and you don't want me here when you're hanging ornaments. And I won't stay, of course, but it's Christmas Eve, and I brought you something," Jack said. Jack held out a box. Jennifer hesitated, but she took the gift. "Merry Christmas, Jennifer," Jack said before he walked away. Jennifer closed the door and whispered, "Merry Christmas, Jack."