In Victoria's office at Newman Enterprises, Victoria told Ashland Locke that only a few signatures were needed to finalize their business partnership. Victoria suggested there should be bells and whistles, which Ashland suggestively offered to provide. Ashland quickly rose to his feet when Nikki entered and asked Ashland and Victoria if they were ready to share their news with the public. Victoria asked Nikki if she was referring to the merger or to her and Ashland's relationship. Nikki replied, "You tell me."
Ashland was surprised to hear that Nikki was aware of the merger. Victoria explained that Nikki was her right hand. Ashland said he was thrilled to have Nikki's trust and discretion and acknowledged that Nikki was one of two powerhouses leading the way. Nikki dismissed Ashland's compliment as insincere flattery, though he insisted he wasn't one to flatter. Ashland excused himself, explaining that he would spend the afternoon with his soon.
After Ashland left, Victoria said anticipating finalization of the merger was the most amazing feeling in the world. Victoria was exuberant, imagining all that a Newman-Locke conglomerate could achieve. Nikki praised Victoria, though she expressed concern. Victoria insisted she was doing what was best for Newman. Nikki explained that she was more concerned that Victoria was building a deeply emotional connection to a man who didn't have much time left. Victoria coolly replied that she had the situation and her emotions completely under control.
Later, Victoria, alone in her office, dropped off to sleep and had a dream about Ashland. In the dream, Ashland said he'd consulted with a new oncologist and had learned about promising new treatments. Victoria was ecstatic to hear about Ashland's decision to undergo treatment. Ashland told Victoria they would have the time of their lives running their mega-company together. A ringing phone roused Victoria from her dream, and the reality of the situation seemed to sadden her.
At Chancellor Park, Chelsea bargained with Adam, begging him to let Connor accompany her on a stay with Anita to help with her recovery. Adam explained that Victor had already set procedures in motion with her attorney and Dr. Hedges to allow her to leave the hospital. Adam drew the line at allowing Chelsea to take Connor with her to another state. Chelsea said she'd made concessions she thought would build trust. Adam explained that he was more concerned about Connor's stability as he settled into a routine at the Newman ranch. Chelsea expressed thanks to Adam for having arranged her release, which, she acknowledged, was perhaps the best she could hope for considering her circumstances.
Adam met with Victor at the ranch and asked how the arrangements stood with Chelsea's release. Victor reported that Chelsea's attorney had appeared before a judge, having delivered the favorable report prepared by Dr. Hedges. Victor added that Michael Baldwin had also agreed to release Chelsea, though she was forbidden from leaving town without a police escort. Adam said Chelsea had agreed to follow the rules to the letter. Victor seemed uneasy about Chelsea despite Adam standing up for her.
Victor was hesitant about trusting Chelsea, especially after her devious mother had resurfaced again. Adam said he'd checked to make sure Anita was actually recovering from a broken hip at a rehab facility. Victor wasn't certain it might be another of Anita's cons. After Adam said Connor would not accompany Chelsea, Victor condemned Adam's decision to take Connor to see his mother. Victor warned that it was no time for sentimentality, generosity, or weakness because Chelsea was still a devious criminal, as was her mother.
Rey had just stopped by for coffee at Crimson Lights when Abby phoned Sharon looking for Mariah. After the call, Sharon told Rey that Mariah had supposedly left town on a last-minute business trip. Sharon added that Mariah hadn't said a word about leaving to Tessa or Abby. Rey said he assumed Abby was concerned about Mariah because she was her surrogate. Sharon agreed and expressed concern that Mariah had left abruptly without saying a word to anyone.
After Rey left, Sharon was replenishing supplies at the coffee station when she spotted Chelsea and gasped in shock. Sharon cried, "Chelsea, I didn't know that you were released from the hospital." Rey returned, greeted Chelsea, and said he'd stopped by to inform Sharon that the D.A.'s office had released Chelsea on convalescent leave. Chelsea explained that she'd agreed to attend outpatient therapy and to a number of additional stipulations. Chelsea said the timing of her release had worked out well because she'd be able to care for her mother. Rey said he was glad Chelsea would be able to help her mother, though he was curious as to why she'd stopped by the coffeehouse.
Chelsea told Sharon and Rey that it was her first stop, acknowledging that she had come to make amends to Sharon before she could move on. Chelsea said she realized that Adam loved Sharon more than he'd ever loved her, adding that it was a twisted, pathetic, one-sided love. Sharon asked Chelsea if she was blaming her actions on Adam. Chelsea said that even after undergoing intense therapy, she wasn't certain whether her aneurysm or her broken heart had triggered her.
Chelsea told Sharon she should be able to relate because Adam had done terrible things to her, too. Sharon replied, "Okay, I'm sympathetic to everything that you've been through, and I wish that I had tried to get you outside help instead of handling your case myself, but, Chelsea, you chose to do what you did. And if you didn't feel like you were getting the love at home that you needed, you could have left Adam instead of striking out." Chelsea agreed, explaining that she wasn't well enough at the time to see things the way they were. Sharon's feelings seemed to soften toward Chelsea.
Chelsea told Rey she'd regret what she'd done to him until the day she died. Chelsea said she felt as if she'd awakened from a rage-induced haze and was now facing punishment. Sharon, puzzled, said she thought Chelsea had been allowed to forgo prison, so she could heal rather than face consequences. Chelsea explained that Victor and Adam would decide her fate, especially where Connor was concerned. Chelsea cried that she wouldn't be allowed to take Connor with her to visit his grandmother. Chelsea expressed concern that while she was away, the Newmans would indoctrinate Connor and spread lies about her.
Tears welled in Chelsea's eyes when she acknowledged she was not in control and felt as though she was still confined to a wheelchair. Sharon thanked Chelsea for her apology, acknowledging that it couldn't have been easy. After Sharon walked away, Chelsea told Rey things had gone better than expected with Sharon. Rey asked Chelsea about her plans. Chelsea said she'd not return to the penthouse, where her mind had cracked, leading her to make the worst mistakes of her life.
Rey seemed sympathetic when Chelsea strongly expressed her desire to take Connor along while she was away helping Anita. Chelsea said she welcomed time away from Adam and joked that Rey probably would, too. Chelsea told Rey she hoped one day to find a way to repay him. Rey replied, "You just do right by yourself and everyone else." After Chelsea left, Sharon asked Rey what he thought. Rey agreed that with Connor, Chelsea was at the mercy of Adam and Victor, which was almost as bad as being locked up.
Adam joined Sharon on the patio at Crimson Lights after she summoned him to meet her there. Sharon said Chelsea had stopped by. Adam said he should've alerted Sharon, and he explained that Chelsea would be away for a while caring for her mother. Sharon said she hoped Adam might consider allowing Connor to travel with his mom. Adam said he couldn't believe Sharon was pleading Chelsea's case. Sharon acknowledged that she'd welcomed Chelsea's apology and had been reminded of her own psychiatric issues while discussing Chelsea's. Sharon said Chelsea was aware of how far she'd crossed the line. Sharon warned Adam that keeping Connor away from Chelsea would worsen their toxic relationship.
Sharon asked Adam to consider that allowing Connor to spend time with Chelsea might be the healthiest choice for everyone, including him. Sharon smiled when Adam phoned Connor and asked him if he'd like to join his mother on a trip. Chelsea was elated when Adam told her Connor could travel with her. While they waited for Joan, the housekeeper, to drive Connor to Crimson Lights, Victor arrived. Chelsea said, "Where's Connor?" Victor replied, "He's not going with you." Chelsea cried that Adam had said he could. Victor told Chelsea that she could go alone and be gone as long as she wanted, but Connor would stay. Chelsea appeared devastated by Victor's adamant refusal to abide by Adam's decision.
Looking forlorn, Kyle held Harrison's stuffed fox toy as he recalled in a flashback having told Jack how quickly the youngster had changed his life. Jack had smiled while listening to Kyle plan his future with the boy. Jack recalled having quickly bonded with Kyle while embracing the joys of fatherhood. Tara entered and drew Kyle away from his flashback. Tara mentioned having registered Harrison for preschool and sports, noting that she'd used the Abbotts' home address on the applications. Kyle approved, adding that no one was in a hurry for them to leave. Tara noted that family was what Harrison most needed.
Tara asked Kyle if he'd heard from Summer since she'd left. Kyle replied, "Not a word." Tara suggested Kyle and Summer could remain friends. Kyle recalled all their breakups and reconciliations and concluded that his and Summer's relationship had come to an end. Tara commiserated, claiming she'd envisioned a future with Ashland and was struggling to deal with the impact of his illness and the giant shadow he'd leave after his passing. Kyle acknowledged that both he and Tara were rebuilding their lives. Tara suggested they both set their heartaches aside and enjoy a picnic in the park with their happy little boy.
At Society, Jack lingered alone after a meeting while waiting to pay his check. He recalled having told Sally his fears about them embarking on a romantic relationship. Sally had agreed, claiming it would be the worst idea ever. Sally instead suggested they could enjoy harmless dates just chatting over drinks. Jack replied, "I would just never use the word "harmless" when it comes to you."
As Jack was leaving, Sally approached and invited him to join her for a drink to celebrate her promotion at JCV. Sally was excited to share that she'd convinced a celebrity to post a selfie on social media wearing a specially styled JCV ensemble she'd had put together. Jack was impressed to learn that the photo had already logged 50,000 hits. Sally said she was determined to succeed, acknowledging that Lauren had gone out on a limb to give her the position. Jack had to forgo having a drink with Sally when he was summoned via text message to join Harrison for a picnic in the park. Sally offered to walk to the park alongside Jack before she returned to the office.
When Jack and Sally arrived at Chancellor Park, Kyle, Tara, and Harrison were already seated on a blanket spread atop a grassy area. After Harrison scampered off to swing, Kyle motioned to Jack to join him for a private chat. Alone together, Tara told Sally that Mrs. Martinez had only packed lunch for four. After Sally said she wasn't staying, Tara coldly replied, "What a shame." Sally asked about Kyle. Tara said Kyle was brokenhearted. Tara changed the subject to Jack when Sally asked Tara if she'd taken steps to turn the situation to her advantage. Sally acknowledged she was taking it slowly with Jack.
Steps away, Kyle questioned Jack about dating Sally. Jack insisted it wasn't a date, adding that he was keeping himself open to happiness. Jack went to fetch snacks, and Kyle had sat down to play with Harrison when Tara asked Sally to record a video of her playing with her son. Sally had just begun recording when Ashland approached. Sally quickly moved away, though she kept recording. Tara told Ashland he'd misread her message and had been scheduled to play with Harrison the next day. Ashland insisted he'd read the message correctly. Ashland suddenly leaned against a pillar and clutched his chest, visibly in distress. Ashland asked Tara to get Harrison away from him. Kyle took Harrison to watch ducklings.
Tara offered help, but Ashland insisted she leave him alone. Tara told Ashland that he'd terrified Harrison by acting as if he didn't want the boy around. Ashland clarified that he hadn't wanted Harrison to see him struggling. Ashland waved goodbye to Harrison and warned Tara to get her dates correct the next time. After Kyle returned, Tara expressed concern that Harrison would be affected by Ashland's continued decline. When Jack returned with snacks, Kyle was folding the picnic blanket and said they should head home, so he could explain. After Jack and Kyle walked away, Sally told Tara she'd only caught a video of Ashland being a jerk. Tara took Sally's phone to delete the video, but she sent it to herself before doing so. Tara asked Sally not to mention that she'd seen.
Victoria caught up with Ashland at Society and asked about his outing with Harrison. Ashland gruffly said he didn't want to talk about it and asked her to leave. Victoria sternly replied, "You know, I don't know who let you get away with this kind of behavior, but you can't pull this kind of garbage with me. If something is wrong, you don't get to take it out on me. I'm on your side. We're in this together." Ashland apologized and said he'd tell her everything.
At the Newman ranch, Moses marveled that he hadn't ridden a horse in years, but Faith assured him that he'd looked like a natural. He jokingly questioned whether it was natural to almost fall off five times, and she teased that he'd done that before they'd even left the stables. Nikki offered the teens some lemonade, and she stepped out to fetch it. Faith bet that Moses had some equestrian talent deep down, but he groaned that he'd seen his life flash before his eyes.
Moses thanked Faith for hearing him out about having second thoughts about pursuing a career in medicine. He mused that he could talk to her about things he couldn't tell anyone else, and she pointed out that he'd done that for her, too. He inquired whether she'd ever thought about what they were to one another. Faith blurted out that they were good friends, and Moses couldn't disguise his disappointment. She awkwardly turned the topic to the first book on their summer reading list, and he stammered that he should get going to start reading it. He forlornly glanced back at her before he left, and she sighed deeply.
Nikki returned with the lemonade and was surprised to see Moses had left. Faith explained that Moses had wanted to talk about what they were to one another, but she hadn't known what to say. Nikki wondered if Faith was interested in taking the friendship to a deeper level, and Faith confided that she was. Faith bemoaned that she'd messed it all up by sending the message that she wanted to keep things the way they were. Nikki counseled that it was normal to be scared about ruining a good thing, and she thought Faith was putting too much pressure on herself.
Faith compared it to the feeling she had when she was riding a horse and about to go for a jump, when there was a split second between knowing she was safe and not feeling safe at all. Nikki pointed out that Faith had made the leap safely a thousand times before, and it had been exhilarating and fun. Faith protested that it was different that time, but Nikki suspected that what Faith was feeling was the anticipation of waiting for something wonderful to happen. Nikki urged Faith not to hide behind her feelings, since that would only ensure she didn't get what she wanted.
At Society, Michael met with Rey to talk about Chelsea's case. Michael explained that he'd had his doubts, but he hadn't opposed her release because her mother's condition had been confirmed. Michael worried that Chelsea had a history of going on the run, and Rey imagined that Michael had made sure a police escort would be with her during her time outside Genoa City. "Not just any escort," Michael replied.
Across the restaurant, Elena told Nate about how she'd blanked on the name of a medication in front of a patient. Nate was sure the patient had known how lucky they'd been to have someone that gifted treating them, and he assured her that the same thing had happened to him many times. She felt better after hearing that someone impeccable like him had made the same mistake. Nate asked if she'd saved room for dessert, and Elena revealed that she'd arranged something special with the dessert chef. She stepped into the kitchen to serve it personally.
Imani entered the restaurant and sashayed over to Nate. She complimented the way his tie highlighted the sparkle in his eyes, and he politely asked if she was meeting someone for dinner. Imani explained that she was picking up takeout for her and Amanda, since they were working that night. She invited him to join her for a drink or dessert while she waited, but Elena returned with her special treat. Imani disdainfully greeted Elena and hoped there was enough for three. Elena clarified that it was dessert for two.
Elena begrudgingly invited Imani to join them, noting that it had to be challenging to be in a new town with no friends. Imani confidently replied that she was making new friends every day, but she declined the offer because her order was ready. Imani cooed that the tie really was Nate's color, and she headed to the bar. Nate asked how Elena had known the dessert was his favorite. Elena purred that she always knew what he wanted. He received a text message and shared that it was some good news he'd been waiting for, but he didn't want to divulge any details until things were locked in.
Later, Nate and Elena were surprised when Moses showed up at Society, and they pressed to know why the teen looked down. Moses recounted that he and Faith had been hanging out and having fun, but she'd shut down when he'd broached the topic of what they could be to one another. Nate reasoned that Faith had had a tough year and might not be ready to jump into something. Moses questioned whether he should just give up, but Elena cautioned that it would be the worst thing to do if he cared about Faith.
Elena advised Moses to make it clear he was still interested, and he'd have to accept it if Faith wasn't, but she doubted that was the case. Elena continued that taking things to the next step was the scariest part of a relationship, but if Moses gave up, he'd never know what would happen. Moses apologized for crashing the couple's evening and departed. Nate questioned whether Elena had been talking about Moses and Faith or about themselves. "Both," she replied.
In the Grand Phoenix lobby, Devon reviewed Naya's confession and considered a Traci Abbott work of fiction more believable. Amanda found the idea that her mother had hired someone to tamper with Richard's brakes ludicrous, and she remained convinced that Sutton had had her father killed to protect his own political future. Devon imagined part of her was holding onto the hope that her grandfather wasn't evil, and he assured her that she didn't have to go through it alone.
Imani arrived at the hotel and reported that she'd run into Nate at Society. She pondered how long it would be before a local magazine put him on a list of the town's most eligible bachelors. Devon pointed out that Nate wasn't exactly eligible, and Imani sourly referred to Elena. Devon left so the women could get to work, but Sutton appeared a moment later and claimed that he was relieved Amanda had finally decided to take on Naya's defense. He requested to talk about it in private.
Amanda, Imani, and Sutton retreated to Amanda's hotel suite. Sutton regretted how heated things had become the last time he and Amanda had talked, and he hoped they could forget about it and concentrate on Naya's acquittal. Amanda asserted that no one wanted to see Naya go to prison for something she hadn't done, and Sutton offered to put his knowledge and experience at her disposal. He pushed to know the approach she planned to take in court, but Amanda refused to discuss her strategy with him.
Sutton argued that he could help Amanda make her case, since he was a powerful man with lots of connections. He ominously stated that he'd hate to be disappointed, and he guaranteed that she didn't want to be the one who let him down. Amanda coolly replied that she and Imani had a lot of work to do, and their dinner was getting cold. Sutton indignantly stormed out.
Imani called Sutton's visit a calculated fishing expedition, and Amanda wasn't sure how long they could keep him from finding out that they planned to go after him as part of Naya's defense. Imani admitted that defying Sutton was hard, but it was the only way to save their mother. Amanda joked that they should both get their brakes checked daily, but Imani warned that there were other ways Sutton could do damage. Amanda declared that he might be accustomed to taking down his enemies, but he'd never gone up against her.
In Ashland's hotel suite, Ashland griped about walking into Kyle and Tara's family time at the park when he'd thought he'd have Harrison to himself. Victoria thought it sounded like a setup, and Ashland shared that he'd been so upset that he'd had trouble catching his breath in front of his son. He lamented that he'd been humiliated when Kyle had needed to distract Harrison. Victoria doubted it had been that bad, but Ashland checked his phone and became incensed when he realized that a video of the incident had gone public.
Ashland made a call and found out that the video had been fed anonymously to media outlets in New York. Victoria assured him that he didn't have to go through it alone, and he thanked her for demanding that he open up. He recalled that he'd always kept his problems and feelings bottled up, thinking it would give him the upper hand, but he was relieved that he finally had someone he could let his guard down with. Ashland contemplated what his life would have been like if he'd met Victoria sooner, but he was just grateful for the time they had.
Victoria swore that she'd never see Ashland as anything other than the most compelling man she'd ever been around. She applauded him for not letting anyone or anything define him, since she was drawn to the fact that he defined himself. Victoria accepted the reality that the video was out there, and she suggested that she and Ashland focus on what they could control. He considered their huge merger a worthy topic to distract themselves with, and she noted that they could quietly finalize their deal while the media was preoccupied with the video.
Victoria thought reaching an agreement would be nothing compared to what she and Ashland had to accomplish to make the merger a success, and he reveled in the fact that they both got off on fine-tuning a business until it ran like a well-oiled machine. Victoria proposed that they travel the globe together, making their way through the greatest cities in the world. Ashland resolved to devote the time and energy he had left to their relationship and making their merger work. He suggested going downstairs and ordering the hotel's best bottle of Champagne. She said she'd meet him there after checking in with the nanny.
At Chancellor Communications, Billy and Lily watched the video of Ashland, and he wondered who had filmed it. Lily informed him that it had been sent anonymously, and Billy imagined it had also been sent to other outlets. He was anxious to beat the competition to the punch, but she protested that the video had no context. Billy argued that scooping their competitors was the most important thing, but Lily countered that posting gossip for gossip's sake wasn't who they were. He lectured that she was having a hard time seeing the big picture.
Billy contended that Ashland was a public figure whose health directly impacted people's livelihoods, and he thought the video gave credence to their article about the mogul's potential illness. He realized that it was hitting too close to home for Lily, whose cancer diagnosis had been made public in court. Billy admired her strength and bravery, but he questioned whether her experience belonged in that conversation.
Lily maintained that, as media professionals, she and Billy had to know everything about the video before they posted it. Billy countered that being professional meant not letting the competition scoop them, but he agreed to get more information before releasing it. They both received notifications on their phones and learned the video was already out there. Billy was determined to find out the agenda of the person who had sent them the video.
Ashland wasn't surprised to see Billy at the Grand Phoenix bar, and he assumed Billy was there to grill him for a comment. Billy divulged that he'd had the video but had chosen not to post it. Ashland imagined Billy expected congratulations for not being pond scum, and he demanded to know what Billy was after. Billy reminded Ashland that there was an offer on the table for ChancComm to acquire Locke Communications Group, but Ashland replied that his lack of response should have been a clue that he wasn't interested.
Victoria joined Billy and Ashland, and Ashland told her that she hadn't missed anything. Billy shared that the video had been sent to him anonymously, and he offered to use ChancComm's resources to find out who had been behind it. Victoria haughtily stated that Locke Communications' resources exceeded ChancComm's. Ashland volunteered to share something with Billy for publication, and he declared that he and Victoria would be making an announcement of both a business and a personal nature in the morning.
Billy returned to ChancComm and told Lily about Ashland's last comment. Billy thought Victoria had seemed surprised by Ashland's little tease, and he continued to worry that she was getting in too deep with the guy.
Meanwhile, Ashland apologized for surprising Victoria in front of Billy, and he revealed that he'd spoken to his lawyer on his way to the lobby. Ashland informed her that the due diligence was finally done, and her attorneys had signed off on every aspect of the deal. "We are one, Victoria," he proclaimed as he held up a glass. He added that all that was left was to share it with the rest of the world. "Then let's do it!" she exclaimed, and they toasted.
At Crimson Lights, Chelsea informed Victor that Adam had decided to allow her to take Connor to Minnesota to see her mother, and she accused Victor of trying to keep her from her child. As Sharon looked on, Adam explained that he'd changed his mind, since he believed Connor needed to know he could still rely on his mother. Victor huffed that it wasn't good enough, but Adam asserted that it wasn't Victor's decision to make. Victor insisted that Chelsea couldn't be trusted with Connor. Rey walked in, and Chelsea begged him to tell Victor that if the judge didn't see a danger with her release, Victor shouldn't, either. Rey revealed that he would be Chelsea's police escort on her trip.
Rey explained that having tight security in place was the only reason Michael hadn't fought the idea of Chelsea leaving the state, and they'd be driving instead of flying to avoid the possibility of her getting lost in a large crowd. Victor objected to uprooting Connor again, but Adam firmly maintained that it was his call, and Connor was going with Chelsea. Victor was appalled that Adam trusted Chelsea after everything she'd done, but Adam was adamant that Chelsea and Connor needed time together.
Rey called Michael to let him know everything was in place, and Michael warned that there was always a possibility that Chelsea would pull something. Rey was confident she wouldn't, since her remorse seemed genuine. After he hung up, he asked if Sharon was okay with it, and she asked if anyone else was available. Rey conceded that he'd rather not go, but he had to see the assignment through. He promised he'd be back before she had a chance to miss him, but she responded that it wasn't possible because she missed him already. She eyed Chelsea with suspicion.
Rey asked Sharon if she was worried about Mariah. Sharon found it odd that Mariah had left town without telling Abby or Tessa, but she shared that Mariah had sent her a text message to explain that she'd forgotten her phone charger. Sharon reported that Mariah was enjoying some time away from everyone hovering. Rey remarked that it made it easier for him to go, and he turned to Chelsea and asked if she was ready. She excitedly sprung to her feet and told him how grateful she was. He replied that getting some distance from Adam would be good. "For everyone," he added as he glanced at Sharon.
At the ranch, Victor groused to Nikki that Adam was taking a chance with his own son when it could backfire on all of them. Nikki thought it sounded like every precaution had been taken, but Victor speculated that it might be the last time they saw the boy. Nikki scolded him for exaggerating, but he asked if she'd forgotten Chelsea's history. Nikki figured that Adam had driven many people to extremes, but Connor only knew that he loved and missed his mother. Adam overheard as he entered the room, and he thanked Nikki for taking his side, even if she'd insulted him in the process.
Nikki hoped Adam wasn't expecting an apology, and he appreciated her honesty. Nikki stepped out, and Adam voiced surprise to hear that Victor was still opposed to the arrangement. Victor conceded that Adam should make the decisions where Connor was concerned, but he still intended to look out for his family. Adam recognized that they'd been treading carefully while working out their new partnership and learning to work together, but he refused to let the lines get crossed or even blurred where Connor was concerned. Victor hoped Adam didn't live to regret his decision. "I'm right there with you," Adam responded.
Chelsea and Rey arrived at the ranch. Adam mentioned that Nikki was helping Connor finish packing, and the boy would meet them at the car with his bags. Victor ordered Rey to keep him informed, and Chelsea swore that she wasn't about to jeopardize her chance at legitimate freedom. She thanked Adam again, and he hoped the time away was everything she wanted it to be. Adam walked Chelsea and Rey out. Victor called someone and instructed them not to let Chelsea out of their sight.
At the ranch, Adam told Victor that Chelsea and Connor had arrived in Minneapolis, and Rey would talk to the doctor about Anita's recovery timeframe. Adam planned to visit them on weekends until Anita could function on her own. Victor said Adam had handled things very well with Chelsea, and he'd done right by Connor. Nikki arrived. She told Victor that Victoria and Ashland had a big announcement, and she was nervous about Victor's reaction.
Nikki told Victor she hoped he wouldn't postpone their trip to Italy after Victoria's announcement. She said Nick had asked them to join him and Noah in London before they went to see Summer in Milan. Adam suggested it would be easier for Victor to persuade Noah in person to do their graphic work. Victor assured Nikki he had his priorities in order.
At Newman, Ashland told Victoria that the energy in the executive wing was off the charts. Victoria said the employees were aware that something big was about to happen. She said Ashland should be proud of the incredible legacy he'd created, and it would continue. Ashland thanked Victoria for being there for him at the exact moment he'd needed her.
Before they started their announcement, Victoria wanted Ashland to know how moved she'd been by his faith in her. It had been the most exciting journey she'd ever been on, and she was very grateful to Ashland for trusting her with his life's work. Ashland said his decision hadn't been a fluke, accident, or gift. Victoria had earned it for all her hard work and tough judgment calls to get to the point they were at.
Victoria began the announcement by introducing herself as CEO of Newman Enterprises, and Ashland Locke, CEO and Chairman of Locke Communications Group.
Ashland said he and Victoria had met when he'd decided to sell Cyaxares Media. Victoria had made an offer for the company, but it had gone to a different bidder; however, he and Victoria had stayed in touch. He said he'd been impressed with her experience, poise, and negotiating savvy. They shared the same business philosophies, and Victoria was blessed with incredible foresight and top-notch intellect. She'd been able to translate a vision, and she'd put it into a plan of action. He said she'd built on the foundation of her predecessors and shaped the company she led into a global powerhouse.
Victoria said she had the utmost respect for the communications empire that Ashland had built from the ground up, especially with his commitment to R&D that had kept him at the forefront of technology. She was honored and thrilled to announce that Newman Enterprises and Locke Communications Group would be merging into one company.
Victoria said it would be a merger of equals. Newman Enterprises would directly be complimented with Locke's state-of-the-art communications technology. The combined entity would define the future of infrastructure and media, and it would create efficiency across multiple industries that would be the envy of all their competitors. They would work on developing proprietary and customized platforms for ultra-high-performance communications and service the more rapidly growing sectors of the economy.
Victoria said that she and Ashland had been negotiating for weeks, and they'd reached an agreement that would be satisfactory to both sides. She said she would be proud to present the deal to her board of directors.
Ashland then made a personal announcement. He said that many had seen a video depicting him in a state of ill health and unfortunately ill tempered. He said he found it difficult to convey the contempt and disgust for anyone who would exploit a man's private suffering for their personal gain; however, since the video was out there, he felt compelled to address the rumors. He admitted he'd been diagnosed with a serious illness, but the details and prognosis were private. He asked that everyone respect his desire for privacy during a difficult time.
Ashland said he would remain on the board in an advisory capacity, and Victoria would be the CEO of the new company, since her leadership skills made her the best choice. He said she would guide their companies into the future exactly as he would have, and his legacy would be in good hands. That ended their announcement.
Ashland told Victoria he wanted to focus on the positive aspect of his life, and Victoria was at the top of his list. Ashland said the merger wasn't only about protecting his legacy, but it was also about helping Victoria enhance hers. She deserved all the respect and credit.
Victoria invited Ashland to stay at her house while they launched their new company. She said she had lots of room, and perhaps Harrison could spend the night, as well. Victoria said she liked being with him, and she wanted to spend more time with him. She wanted to wake up with him in the morning because she was falling for him. Ashland felt Victoria was romanticizing the situation. He reminded her that he was going to die, possibly within months, and his condition would continue to deteriorate. She shouldn't have to witness that. Victoria claimed she should decide that for herself. He said things had gone too far, and he had to go back to New York.
Victoria said that Ashland shouldn't be alone, but Ashland claimed he didn't want to drag Victoria down with him. She said she knew what she was doing and told him that resistance was futile. She wanted what he brought to her life, even if she might not have it for very long, but she would make the most of it. Ashland agreed to stay with her.
After watching Victoria's announcement, Victor was obviously angry, and he accused Nikki, as COO of the company, of knowing about the merger and never telling him. Nikki said that, as COO, she was obligated to keep Victoria's confidence. Adam asked Nikki to offer his congratulations to Victoria on the deal of a lifetime. Nikki asked if Victor wanted to do the same, but Victor only stared at her.
Adam left to take a call from Connor. Nikki told Victor that what Victoria had accomplished would go down as one of the top mergers of the decade. Victor asked if Nikki had missed the part where Victoria had made the deal without his involvement. He said his mistake had been to leave his bylaw in place that allowed her to make a deal without consulting the board of directors. Nikki reminded him that it had been the reason he'd written that bylaw.
Nikki told Victor that merging with Ashland's company had been an incredible opportunity that had required an immediate executive decision. Victoria had done exactly what Victor would have done. Victor claimed Victoria had betrayed him, and he wouldn't forget it. Nikki suggested that Victor call Victoria and tell her that he was proud of her. It wasn't too late to bridge the gap between them. When Victor didn't respond, Nikki left.
Adam told Victor that while they'd been preoccupied with Chelsea, Victoria had been laser focused on Locke, but she'd kept the merger in the family. Victor wanted to know what was wrong with Adam. First, Adam had forgiven Billy for the exposÚ, he'd forgiven Chelsea for trying to frame him for attempted murder, and he'd shrugged off a major business rival, his sister, who had beat him on a major deal. He asked if Adam had lost his killer instinct.
Adam assured Victor there was nothing to worry about because he hadn't lost his competitive streak. He still planned to make a play for Locke's company, but the timing wasn't right. He said the merger was a mammoth undertaking, and there were no guarantees it would go smoothly, especially since Victoria and Locke had rushed into it. He said Victoria was so eager to impress Victor that she'd bitten off more than she could chew.
Adam told Victor that Ashland's intentions of helping with the transition would be sidelined because he would be distracted with his health issues. He might not be able to participate in high-level business dealings. Adam said in six months, Victoria would rue the day she'd taken on the merger. In the meantime, he was going to make sure that Newman Media would be ready to seize any opportunity that came their way.
At the Abbotts', Jack asked if Tara had spoken to Ashland recently. She said not since the horrible video. Jack felt the video had been a huge intrusion on her privacy. Tara told Jack it had been humiliating, and she hated that people had seen how Ashland had treated her in front of her son. She said that ugly moment hadn't been the sum of their marriage, or she would have left Ashland much sooner.
Jack told Tara he wouldn't judge her or Ashland. He felt Ashland was under a lot of stress, especially with all the rumors about his health. Jack said that after seeing the video, there was a good chance the rumors about Ashland's health could be true. Tara told Jack that Harrison was on the verge of losing the man he'd loved as his father. Kyle arrived and asked if something was wrong. Tara assured him all was well. Jack left to take a call.
Kyle told Tara he knew she'd been worried about how Harrison would feel after Ashland died. Kyle said if there was anything he could do to make things easier for her, he would help. Tara said Harrison was going to grow up with Kyle and Jack, who were incredible role models.
After Victoria's announcement, Jack noted that Victor, as chairman of the board, hadn't known about the merger. Kyle asked if a merger didn't need to be approved by the board prior to any announcement. Jack felt Victor had set up some leeway when he'd been CEO so that he'd been able to get whatever he'd wanted, and Victoria had used that to her advantage.
Jack told Kyle and Tara they would protect Harrison, since Ashland's secret was out; however, he was outraged on Ashland's behalf because Ashland deserved some dignity and privacy, because he was looking at his own mortality.
Tara told Kyle things would be easier, since they no longer had to keep Ashland's health a secret. Kyle noted that Ashland hadn't said he was dying. Tara said anyone who knew Ashland would know he wouldn't hand over his empire unless that was the case. Kyle asked if it had bothered her to hear Ashland talk about Victoria. Tara said that Ashland needed to put his affairs in order, and if Victoria could help him do that, it would eliminate some of her own guilt for not being there for him in the end. She hoped Victoria would honor Ashland's wishes concerning Harrison.
Kyle told Tara that Victoria was trustworthy, and there was no need to worry. Tara said Ashland had said he needed to revise his will. She hoped Victoria wouldn't take advantage. Kyle said Victoria wasn't the type of person who would disinherit a child. No matter what happened with Ashland's estate, as an Abbott, Harrison would always be taken care of. Tara received a text message. She told Kyle she had a meeting to go to, and she left.
At home, Billy told Lily that while Victoria had been devoting all her time to Locke, other aspects of her life had suffered as a result. Lily knew Victoria wasn't the issue, and she asked what was really bothering him. Billy claimed his morning had been more hectic than he'd wanted it to be. Lily said Billy usually took those things in stride, and she wondered if it was the big announcement that had him on edge.
Billy told Lily that whatever the announcement was, it would be good for them because it was news. Lily asked hypothetically, what he would think if the big news was that Victoria and Ashland were getting married. Billy claimed that would be absurd. Lily pointed out that Locke was handsome, charming, and successful. Billy claimed Locke was a ruthless piece of work that messed with people's minds, and Locke wasn't Victoria's type. Lily asked what he perceived as Victoria's type. Billy refused to answer and went upstairs to get ready for work.
After Lily and Billy heard Victoria's announcement, Lily said Billy's instincts had been right on the mark. She said Victoria had gone after Ashland's entire empire rather than just a seat on the board, and she'd won. Billy stated that Victoria wasn't only a player, but a titan.
Lily told Billy that Locke's health announcement had been very sad, and she would have preferred a marriage proposal. Billy felt Victoria had been working on the merger under the radar for a while, because she couldn't put a deal like that together in a couple of weeks. Lily said Victoria had been smart to build a personal relationship with Ashland first. Lily said she couldn't miss the body language between Ashland and Victoria and how they acted with each other. She said they had mutual trust, something Ashland had never had with her and Billy or with Victor and Adam. They'd clearly never had a chance of acquiring Locke Communications Group.
Lily hoped Billy wasn't too disappointed; however, if he wanted to be corporate master of the universe, she suggested he contact Jill and inform her that he wanted more challenges at Chancellor. Billy said tht he loved their partnership and that Lily was stuck with him. Lily claimed that if Billy hadn't wanted more responsibility, he wouldn't have gone after Locke Communications Group, unless he liked going head to head with the Newmans.
At Crimson Lights, Sally watched the announcement. She noted that Ashland had mentioned that he and Victoria shared the same philosophies. Sally said she was sure they talked about philosophies and not how pissed he'd been at his lying and cheating ex. Sally was stunned when she heard Ashland comment about the video in the park. Sally said it couldn't have been the video she'd recorded, and she wanted to know how her deleted video had wound up online.
Jack arrived at the coffeehouse and joined Sally on the patio. Sally told Jack that she assumed the new company headquarters would be in Genoa City, since Ashland would be stepping back. Jack said he knew Sally had been at the park when he'd gone to get food, and he wondered if she'd seen anyone taking a video of Ashland and Tara. Sally claimed she hadn't. Jack said Tara had been very upset about the video.
Billy arrived at the coffeehouse and joined Jack on the patio. Jack told Billy the announcement had been stunning. He asked if Billy had seen it coming. Billy said it had crossed his mind, but he'd been shocked when it had been confirmed. He didn't think it was good that Victoria appeared attracted to Locke because Locke was sick and possibly dying. Jack didn't see anything wrong with Victoria giving Ashland comfort in his final hours, and he didn't begrudge Ashland any happiness. Billy told Jack he had somewhere to be, and he left abruptly.
Tara met Sally in the park. Sally asked how the video she'd taken had wound up on the Internet. Tara told Sally that no one knew Sally had taken it. Sally said she didn't understand how it had happened. Sally realized that after she'd shown Tara the video, Tara had sent herself a copy of it before she'd deleted it off Sally's phone. Tara admitted she'd sent herself a copy because it had occurred to her that the video might be useful, and it had been.
Sally realized that Tara had released the video. She asked if Tara hoped Ashland would show his cards before he was ready to. Tara said she'd done it for multiple reasons, all of them good. Sally hoped it wouldn't come back and bite them both in the butt. Tara told Sally to calm down because there was nothing to worry about, but Sally said until her name became attached to that video.
Tara asked Sally how she thought anyone would find out, since she was the only one who knew, and she wouldn't tell. If they both kept quiet, no one would have the slightest inkling. Sally didn't appreciate being put in that position, and she said they needed to act like it hadn't happened. Angry, Sally walked away, unaware that Billy had been standing in the background.
In Amanda's suite, Amanda told Devon she was convinced Sutton had hired someone to scrub his online profile. She'd only found superficial information. Her investigator had reported the same thing. Amanda berated herself for not having researched Sutton's profile when she'd been representing him. She'd been too focused on Richard's actions. Devon said Sutton had had time to remove any incriminating information.
Amanda told Devon she had to create doubt in Naya's case, and there was no better way than to show that Sutton wasn't as upstanding as he appeared to be. She said she was looking for something that showed Sutton would have been capable of killing Richard through some dirty deals or his connection to the shady person he'd hired to tamper with Richard's brakes. She was frustrated, but she swore she would keep digging until she found what she needed. Amanda told Devon it was the most important case of her life, and she needed the truth about her father's murder to come out.
Devon received a text message from Abby, asking him to come and see her as soon as he could.
Billy met Tara in the park. Tara mentioned the video. Billy said the video seemed to be perfectly timed with the merger and Ashland 's confirmed illness. Billy said ChancComm had been sent the video anonymously, but they'd decided against posting it. Tara reminded Billy that he'd published a story about Ashland's divorce.
Billy told Tara that given Locke's status in the business world, it was news; however, they wouldn't exploit his illness because that crossed a line for ChancComm. They had no idea who had taken the video or why they would want anyone to see it. Billy said it seemed unsavory to him because a child was involved. Tara thanked Billy and said it was good to know that Harrison was part of such a caring family, and she left.
At the Chancellor mansion, Abby anxiously picked up a text message from Jack: "Have an update on Mariah." Abby sent a text message to Jack: "Do you know where she is?"
At Crimson Lights, Tessa told Sharon that all the text messages Mariah had been sending were reassuring but fake, and she knew it was too soon to contact the police. Sharon claimed that Mariah hadn't been gone that long, and she had communicated. Tessa hoped she wasn't making too much of Mariah's absence, but she couldn't understand why Mariah hadn't called her. She felt it was weird that Mariah had only sent text messages to everyone she knew.
Tessa received a call from Abby. She told Abby she was with Sharon. While on speaker, Abby said Jack had spoken to the marketing department, and they hadn't been aware of Mariah's trip. Mariah had sent a text message stating she'd set up an exploratory meeting, and she hadn't said anything because she'd been waiting to see how it panned out. She'd mentioned that she was taking a couple of days off. Mariah had assured Jack that she was fine, but she hadn't provided her location. Abby found that curious. Sharon suggested that Mariah hadn't wanted to hurt anyone's feelings by saying she'd needed some time to herself.
Tessa told Sharon it was odd behavior for Mariah. Sharon suggested that Mariah might have felt overwhelmed by the surrogacy, and perhaps Mariah felt like she was being watched and judged. Tessa claimed that if Mariah had confided in anyone, it would have been her. Tessa told Sharon she would send Mariah another text message telling her that she loved and missed Mariah and that Mariah had infinite support.
After Tessa left, Faith arrived and told Sharon she was waiting for Moses. Faith admitted the last time she'd seen Moses, things had been beyond awkward, and she was surprised he'd agreed to meet her. Sharon said they had a great friendship, and one awkward moment wouldn't ruin that. Sharon told Faith to be honest with Moses, and things would work out. Moses arrived. He and Faith went to the patio.
Sharon was pleasantly surprised when Stitch arrived. She wanted to know everything he'd been up to. Stitch said he worked in a great hospital, but there was no room for promotion. He asked Sharon not to say anything, but he'd received a call from Memorial, informing him they were considering him for his old boss's job. He'd been asked to go for an interview. Excited, Sharon said he might be calling Genoa City his home again. Sharon was sorry to hear about Max's condition.
Stitch told Sharon that some of his happiest moments had been in Genoa City. Sharon asked if the reason he was hesitating was because of Abby.
Stitch promised Sharon that it wasn't Abby. He'd moved on, and Abby deserved pure happiness. He didn't want his presence to remind Abby of the pain they'd gone through after they'd lost the baby. Sharon said they couldn't make a decision based on their exes, and no one's life was pure happiness. Stitch said Abby seemed to have gotten close with Chance and the boy Mariah was carrying for them. He didn't want to disrupt that. He said it was a generous gift Mariah was giving Abby and Chance. He also said Sharon had to be very proud. Sharon said she was.
Stitch noticed Sharon's expression and asked if he'd said something to upset her. Sharon explained that Mariah had left on a mysterious business trip, and she'd sent Sharon a text message stating she was fine; however, everyone was concerned because she wouldn't say where she was.
On the patio, Moses asked why Faith had invited him. Faith said she wanted to hang out. He hadn't realized they were still doing that because of how weird things had become at the ranch. Faith apologized and said she'd become self-conscious because she'd thought he'd been about to say something about where their friendship was headed. She'd thought about saying some things, but things had happened so fast. After everything she'd been through recently, she needed to go slowly.
Moses told Faith he understood completely. She asked Moses if, for the time being, they could hang out a lot. Moses agreed.
Sharon smiled when she saw Faith and Moses having a good time. Sharon sent a text to Mariah: "Thinking of you."
Billy arrived at the Grand Phoenix. Billy asked how well Phyllis knew Tara Locke. Phyllis surmised Billy's interest was in Victoria and Ashland, but Billy said he wanted more information on Tara. He wanted to know what made Tara tick and felt that Phyllis would have an interesting perspective, given that Phyllis had been in the middle of the Kyle and Summer situation. Phyllis asked if he'd had a secret baby with Tara. Billy denied it, but it was exactly what he was looking for.
Amanda and Devon exited the elevator. Amanda didn't want to interrupt the intense moment between Billy and Phyllis, but after she'd seen Billy, it had given her an idea. She told Devon she knew how to solve the Sutton problem.
Billy told Phyllis that Jack had gathered the family together to meet Harrison and welcome Tara into the fold. Billy said he wasn't feeling it. It hadn't been anything Tara had said or done. She'd been extremely nice. Phyllis said Tara worked very hard at being effortlessly gracious.
Billy told Phyllis he'd felt there was something else going on. Billy said no one else felt it, not even Ashley, the human lie detector. Everyone was doing what they could to make sure Tara felt welcome. She'd worked her way into the Abbot circle in record time, and Jack and Kyle had been falling over themselves trying to take care of her. Billy claimed that Tara appeared to be a good mother, and Harrison was a sweet, adorable kid.
Billy told Phyllis he didn't blame Tara for wanting to give Harrison some stability in the middle of a divorce, especially with Ashland's confirmed illness. Phyllis asked if Tara was doing it for her kid or for herself. Billy wanted to know what Tara wanted and how far she was willing to go to get it. Phyllis asked if he was planning a big exposÚ, but Billy said it was about protecting his family and keeping Tara from taking advantage of them. He also wanted to know how Sally was involved. Phyllis wanted to know why he'd mentioned Sally.
Billy told Phyllis he'd seen Tara and Sally in the park. He'd gotten the impression they were more than casual acquaintances. He hadn't been able to hear what they'd said, but it had seemed a little intense. Phyllis claimed that Sally was still trying to worm her way into Jack's life. Phyllis agreed that they both wanted to know what Tara had up her sleeve. Billy wondered how that impacted Summer's sudden departure.
Billy told Phyllis that he'd run into Summer at Society before her departure and that she'd had mixed feelings about leaving and breaking up with Kyle. She'd asked Billy to be a friend to Kyle. It had raised questions about why she'd left so quickly. Phyllis was sure Sally and Tara were behind it. Phyllis knew how to deal with the situation. She asked Billy to let her take the first step. Billy agreed, and he left.
Devon arrived at Abby's. Abby said they were waiting for Mariah to let them know where she was. Devon said she'd only been gone a couple of days, and she'd been in contact with Abby. Abby felt it was out of the blue, and perhaps Mariah wanted some time alone before the baby arrived; however, it didn't explain why she'd barely communicated. Abby said it appeared that something had seriously upset her, and Abby didn't know what to do. She said Chance would know what to do.
Devon told Abby he understood how difficult it was not having Chance around, but there was no point in Abby driving herself crazy, because they didn't even know if there was a problem. Abby said something felt off. Devon asked her what Chance would have said to her. She said if Chance were there, he would tell her to be strong, and he would tell her a stupid joke to make her laugh. Devon saw she was feeling better and assured her Chance and Mariah would be home soon.
Tessa arrived and told Abby and Devon that Sharon felt that Mariah might have felt she'd been under a microscope and under pressure. Abby asked if Tessa meant her and that she'd driven Mariah away. Tessa said it wasn't just Abby. Tessa admitted she'd been on Mariah constantly about nutrition, exercise, and vitamins. Voice raised, Abby agreed that Tessa had been more intense with Mariah than Abby had been. Devon intervened and said they didn't need to blame each other. They needed to work together to get through it.
Tessa explained to Abby that she'd had a terrible thought on her walk. She wondered if Mariah had left because something terrible had happened to the pregnancy. Abby said if that had happened, Mariah wouldn't want to face Abby because Abby hovered too much. Tessa exploded and said not everything was about Abby. It was about Mariah and what she could be going through.
Abby yelled at Tessa and said she was extremely worried about Mariah and the baby. Devon asked why they were attacking each other. They all wanted the same thing. He said Mariah had said she needed some space. He told Tessa and Abby not to assume or guess what that meant. He said that when Mariah returned, they would have their answers. The last thing Mariah would want to know was that she'd caused so much stress for them. Tessa and Abby apologized to each other. Devon asked if they were good, and Tessa and Abby said they were good. Devon left.
Abby was surprised to see Stitch when he arrived. She'd thought he'd left town. Stitch said Sharon had told him what was going on with Mariah. He asked if there was anything he could do.
Phyllis arrived at the Abbotts'. Phyllis told Tara that she'd just returned from Milan with a gift for Jack from Summer. Phyllis apologized and said perhaps she should have called first. It seemed like Tara didn't want company, and Phyllis claimed she hadn't meant to intrude. Tara claimed she hadn't meant to be rude, but she had a lot on her mind. Tara asked if Phyllis wanted to stay and chat. Phyllis said she would love to because it was time they had a chat.
Tara asked Phyllis about Summer. Cheerfully, Phyllis said Summer loved her new job. Tara knew Phyllis was broken up about Summer leaving, and she felt that somehow, she'd played a part in that. Tara hated to think that she'd caused damage to Kyle and Summer's relationship. Phyllis denied it. She was proud that Summer had realized she wasn't ready to be a stepmom.
Phyllis told Tara that the timing of that job opening at Marchetti's had been a coincidence. Phyllis said she didn't blame Tara, and she understood Tara's position. Tara was trying to rebuild her life, do the best for her son, and make sure the little boy felt safe and secure. Tara said she was grateful that all the Abbotts had been so good to her and Harrison. She said she had a brother, but they weren't close. Tara was worried how Harrison would react to Ashland's illness.
Phyllis told Tara that it would be very traumatic for Harrison to see the only father he'd known decline. Phyllis suggested that Tara have Kyle be the new man in Harrison's life. Tara claimed she felt the same way. She had no idea how difficult Ashland's journey would be, but no matter what, Harrison needed support and continuity. Kyle had assured her that he would be there every step of the way for Harrison for years to come. She said they were a family.
Phyllis told Tara she was happy they'd had a chance to chat. Phyllis said even though she missed Summer, she felt things had worked out the way they'd needed to for Summer and Kyle. Tara has happy Phyllis saw it that way. Phyllis said she saw things clearly, and she left.
Amanda arrived at ChancComm, and she asked Lily to do a deep dive into Sutton's past. Amanda said she was representing Naya because Naya had confessed to Richard's murder. It had been a false confession. Sutton had gone to extremes to keep Richard from finding out about her and Hilary. Amanda was convinced Sutton would have done everything to keep any information from being exposed. Lily asked if Amanda was defending Naya and implicating Sutton in Richard's murder. Amanda said she was.
Amanda told Lily she was trying to channel her emotions, and she needed to find something substantial proving that Sutton was the guilty party in Richard's murder. Lily was certain Sutton, being a powerful man, had covered his tracks. Amanda said after she'd seen Billy, she'd realized she knew a couple of people who were an outstanding and discreet investigation team. She would have asked Billy, but he'd been in an intense conversation with Phyllis.
Lily told Amanda they didn't do that kind of investigation. Amanda said she'd hoped that Lily had some veteran reporters who had connections and resources that went way back, someone who could shed light on Sutton's backroom politics. Lily claimed they didn't have anyone like that on staff. Lily asked if there was anyone in Sutton's circle who could help Amanda. Amanda said possibly Victor Newman.
Lily asked Amanda how Victor could help her. Amanda said that initially, Victor hadn't appreciated her implication that some other employee had committed the murder to cover up the payoffs to Sutton. When Amanda had realized she'd been wrong, she had admitted it to Victor, and he'd understood. Victor had tried to help her get closure about Richard. Lily said Victor was used to dealing with men like Sutton, and he knew how to uncover dirt and push buttons.
Billy arrived and asked how Amanda was. Amanda said she was fine and that Lily would fill him in. After Amanda left, Billy asked what was going on, but Lily wanted to know what had gone on with him and Phyllis.
Billy explained to Lily that he and Phyllis were on the same page regarding Tara and Sally. Phyllis was going to do her thing and keep him in the loop. He said there was a possible story in it, but for the moment, it was personal. He didn't want to see Jack or Kyle get hurt. Lily had thought when he'd said it was personal that it had meant Tara's connection to Ashland and how that led back to Victoria and the merger. Billy said that was more business than personal.
Billy received a text message from Phyllis that she'd met with Tara, and she wanted to see Billy.
At the Chancellor mansion, Abby fretted to Stitch that it made no sense that Mariah had just taken off. Tessa entered the room and reported that Mariah hadn't responded to her voicemails and text messages begging her to return home. Abby introduced Tessa to Stitch, who recalled that Mariah had beamed when she'd talked about her girlfriend. He offered to help in any way he could, and Tessa voiced surprise that he was still in Genoa City. He explained that the hospital had waylaid him by offering him a job, but he wasn't sure if he was going to take it.
Tessa received a text message from Sharon, who also hadn't heard from Mariah. Stitch shared that he'd run into Mariah while she'd been jogging in the park, and it had likely happened right before she'd left town. He didn't remember anything out of the ordinary, but he recounted that she hadn't been thrilled to have him lecture her about the benefits of exercise during pregnancy. Abby guessed that everyone's constant opinions had gotten to Mariah, who'd needed a break from the hovering. Stitch hoped he hadn't been the straw that had broken the camel's back.
Tessa couldn't help but wonder if someone had taken Mariah, and Abby thought it was time they talked about the possibility that something bad had happened. Abby questioned who would abduct Mariah and why, and Stitch encouraged them not to panic because there was no evidence of a kidnapping. Tessa referred to Mariah's bizarre and sporadic responses that didn't sound like her, and she considered the story about a work trip to be a lie. Stitch inquired whether they had any suspects in mind.
Tessa admitted that Mariah had done some sketchy things in the past, but she noted that the cult leader Mariah had lived with was still locked up. Abby recalled that there had been a stalker fan who'd thrown a brick through the coffeehouse window when Mariah had hosted GC Buzz, but Tessa replied that he'd left town. Stitch pointed out that Tessa was an established singer with fans, and he theorized that she was the target. He asked if Tessa had any enemies who might want to hurt her through Mariah, and Tessa panicked that Mariah might be in danger because of her.
Tessa conceded that she'd made enemies when she'd been trying to free her sister, who'd been forced into a prostitution ring. Stitch contemplated whether someone Tessa had encountered during that time had resurfaced, and she couldn't rule it out. Tessa cringed at the prospect that Mariah was paying the price for those dark days, but Abby insisted that there had to be another explanation.
Tessa decided to try to track Mariah's cell phone location, and she departed. Stitch noted that it sounded like Tessa might have people from her past who wanted to do her harm. Abby argued that it had happened years earlier, but Stitch imagined the criminals had seen Tessa making it big and living in a mansion. Abby realized that it might have made Mariah a prime target.
At Crimson Lights, Sally picked up coffee at the counter. On the patio, Phyllis griped to Billy that Tara was moving in on the Abbott family before her divorce was even final. As Sally lurked nearby, Billy thought Phyllis' instincts were right, since he also considered Tara to be a piece of work. Phyllis noticed Sally and sweetly asked if she could help Sally. Sally claimed that she was just on her way out, and she congratulated Billy on the story about the Lockes. After Sally departed, Phyllis cautioned that it was double trouble if Sally and Tara were working together, and she resolved to figure out a way to stop them.
Phyllis groused that Sally had wormed her way back into Jack's life again, since he was too forgiving. Billy cited the many times Jack had forgiven Phyllis, and he refused to judge his brother for having a big heart. Phyllis vowed to figure out a plan, and Billy thought they had to be smarter than Sally and Tara. Phyllis huffed that the women weren't even in her league, and Billy replied that he was no slouch, either. She called them strange bedfellows, but he recalled a time when it hadn't been strange at all.
Phyllis reminded Billy that there were reasons things hadn't worked out between them. He reported that he and Summer had buried the hatchet after a long conversation about what had happened. Billy saw no reason why two semi-reformed exes couldn't work together to take on people who were working on the dark side. Phyllis stated that she was glad he was on her side, and Billy chalked it up to their common goal of protecting Jack and Kyle. "And Summer," Phyllis added. They clinked their coffee cups together and agreed to take no prisoners.
At Newman Enterprises, Victoria instructed Nikki to coordinate interviews with their PR department to make sure there was a consistent message about the merger. Nikki inquired whether Victoria had talked to her father yet, and Victoria hoped Nikki would give Victor the message in case reporters contacted him for a comment. Nikki pushed Victoria to give him a call herself, but Victoria was sure he was too busy holding Adam's hand after Chelsea had left town with Connor. Victoria turned the topic to some good news she had to share, and she announced that Ashland was moving in with her.
Nikki remarked that it was quite a decision, but Victoria doubted that was her mother's only response. Nikki swore that she only cared that Victoria and the kids were happy, and she had no objection if Ashland's presence gave Victoria joy. Nikki added that Johnny and Katie's father was the one Victoria should be talking to about it. Victoria expected Billy to give her enough opinions for both of them.
At Devon's penthouse, Amanda relayed to Devon that Lily had told her ChancComm's reporters couldn't vet Sutton any better than Amanda could. Amanda considered contacting Victor, and Devon enthused that Victor had a ton of resources and could be a great ally against Sutton, especially if it meant clearing Newman of any suspicions. Amanda decided to give Victor a call.
At Society, Jack greeted Victor and asked how everything was going. Victor reported that his family was good, and his business was thriving. Jack mentioned that he'd heard about the Newman-Locke merger. Jack hesitated to congratulate Victor when it had likely been Victoria's doing. Victor chuckled and remarked that Jack knew "damn well" that the merger wouldn't have happened without Victor.
Victor excused himself to take Amanda's call, and Jack stepped to the bar. Amanda told Victor that she appreciated him talking to her about her family's situation and reminding her how important closure could be. She asked if he'd help her find some of that closure.
After Amanda hung up, she informed Devon that Victor had agreed to meet with her, and she hoped to get some insight about Sutton and his threats. She reluctantly informed Devon about the vague warning Sutton had issued about not disappointing him, but she swore that she hadn't taken it seriously. Devon cautioned that if Sutton was guilty of orchestrating a murder, he was capable of anything. Amanda promised that she would watch her back, and she left. Devon looked worried.
Later, Nikki and Victor finished lunch at Society, and she prompted him to stop avoiding talking about Victoria. Nikki admitted that she had concerns about their daughter's relationship with Ashland, but she felt she couldn't speak honestly with Victoria, who dug her heels in deeper whenever Nikki voiced any objection. Victor figured that Victoria never listened to him, and Nikki questioned whether that was why he hadn't spoken to Victoria since the merger announcement. Victor claimed that he'd been busy with Adam and their new company. Nikki clucked that she'd never understand why a father would ignore his child's accomplishments, and she stormed off. "What the hell happened?" Victor asked himself aloud.
Phyllis ran into Jack at the bar and mentioned that she'd dropped off a gift from Summer for him at the Abbott house. Phyllis said she was touched by the love and support he'd given both her and her daughter, and he was grateful that he and Phyllis could still be friends. She thanked him for letting her talk him into having dinner the other night, and he was glad she hadn't spent the entire meal telling him to stay away from Sally. Phyllis recalled that she'd had a chance to chat with Tara at the house, and she'd found Tara to be very focused and determined. Phyllis thought she'd gained an understanding of why Summer had canceled her engagement and taken a job overseas.
Phyllis reported that Tara had been polite and even borderline sweet when talking about Summer, but Tara had also staked her claim on the Abbott home. Jack contended that he and Kyle were happy to have Tara there, since Harrison was the newest member of the family, and they didn't want Tara to move back to New York with him. Phyllis lectured that Jack had seen how difficult it had been for Summer with Tara entrenched in their lives and Kyle taking on a fatherly position in an alternate family. Jack had sympathy for Summer, but he didn't think Tara had done anything malicious. Phyllis swore that she was happy he was able to spend time with his grandson, but Jack seemed skeptical.
Billy appeared in Victoria's office doorway and congratulated her on the merger. He offered to do his best to forgive her for not giving ChancComm the exclusive, and he proposed that she make it up to him by giving him inside information about how she felt about Tara Locke. Victoria responded that she didn't have time to discuss Ashland's ex, and she revealed that she'd asked Billy there to talk about the kids. She hoped he could be flexible with their custody schedule and have Johnny and Katie stay with him more often. Billy surmised she'd be traveling more due to the merger, but she informed him that she'd invited Ashland to move in with her. Billy protested that she was inviting a dying man into her home while kicking her kids out.
Victoria resented Billy's tone and the accusation behind it, since she was putting her kids first by making sure the transition went smoothly for them. She swore that she wasn't glossing over the complications, and she hoped he would help the children adapt. Billy stressed that he would always do everything he could to love and support their kids, but he balked at the idea of her inviting a dying man to sleep in her bedroom. Victoria was sure a wonderful father like Ashland would be great with Johnny and Katie, and she argued that the kids were very accepting of their parents seeing new people.
Billy pointed out that he and Lily had been together for months before they'd moved in together. Victoria requested a little good faith to help with the kids, and she assured him that she planned to spend plenty of time with Johnny and Katie. She added that she'd look out for them and protect them like she always had, and she reasoned that it would only be for a few months. Billy realized that was how long Ashland had left, and he worried that Victoria was setting herself up for a world of grief. He asked if she loved Ashland, but she refused to discuss her personal life with him. She maintained that the kids were her priority.
Nikki returned to the office and told Victoria that Billy hadn't looked happy when she'd passed by him in the hallway. Victoria invited Nikki to pile it on by giving her reasons why inviting Ashland to move in was a bad idea. Nikki admitted that she was worried about her grandkids, but she'd witnessed how strong Victoria was. Nikki commended Victoria for making Newman even stronger than it had been when Victor had stepped down, expanding her power with grit and hard work while nurturing her children with an enormous heart.
Nikki recognized that Victoria was opening that heart to a man who might not have much time left. Nikki was concerned about what it might do to Victoria, but she trusted Victoria to make the right choices for herself and her kids. Nikki counseled that when the heart was involved, there was a chance it might get broken. She admired Victoria for putting everything on the line, and she questioned what life would be without taking chances.
Later, Nikki and Victoria returned after a meeting and found a beautiful bouquet of flowers had been delivered to Victoria's office. Nikki praised Ashland for showing his appreciation for Victoria, and she headed out. Victoria opened the card, which read: "Congratulations. Love, Dad." She thoughtfully stared down at the blooms.
Tara scolded Sally for showing up at the Abbott mansion, since they shouldn't be seen together. Sally figured that they could say they were talking about the shoe line as a cover, but Tara asserted that they weren't covering up anything because they were pretending that they'd had nothing to do with the video. Tara snapped that they had nothing to talk about, but Sally warned that Tara had bigger problems than her.
Sally recounted that she'd heard Tara's name when Phyllis and Billy had been talking, but Phyllis had shut down the conversation when she'd seen Sally. Tara shared that Phyllis had been there earlier, pretending to be friendly while obviously fishing for dirt. Tara continued that she'd been just as fake as Phyllis had, but she was afraid Phyllis would convey her concerns to Billy. Sally proposed that they use it to their advantage, and she insisted that she and Tara keep helping one another. Sally implored Tara to find a way to keep Phyllis from trashing Sally to Jack.
Later, Jack returned home and found a distraught Tara, dabbing her eyes with a tissue. He asked what was wrong, but she claimed that he'd just caught her at a bad moment. He insisted that she could share anything with him, and she whimpered that Phyllis had been there. Tara cried that Phyllis blamed her for Summer's departure and broken engagement, even though it couldn't be further from the truth. Jack chalked it up to Phyllis aiming fire in every direction without thinking it through, but Tara wailed that she couldn't even repeat the things Phyllis had said. Tara begged Jack to forget the whole thing, and she tearfully ran off.
At Newman Media, Amanda thanked Victor for seeing her, and he indicated that he'd been stunned to hear about Naya's confession and arrest. Amanda swore that there wasn't a chance her mother had been involved in Richard's death, and Victor sensed there was more to it. Amanda apologized for attempting to implicate him and Newman, and Victor acknowledged that she'd simply been doing her job. He imagined that her father's death weighed heavily on her, and she confided that she believed Sutton was the guilty party.
Victor referred to his own trials and tribulations with his biological family, and Amanda told him that it meant a lot that he'd felt comfortable opening up to her. He implored her to tell him why she was really there, and she explained that she wanted the whole truth about her family to be out. She hoped Victor could push Sutton into a tight enough spot to force him to reveal something. She thanked Victor for his time and headed out.
Devon confronted Sutton in the Grand Phoenix lobby. "I'd like to talk to you, you son of a bitch," Devon growled, and Sutton replied that he'd been called worse. Devon asked if Sutton knew who Devon was, and Sutton identified him as the young billionaire who was dating Sutton's granddaughter. Devon implied what his money could do if Sutton ever threatened Amanda again. Sutton denied that he'd threatened anyone, and Devon testily asked if Sutton was calling Amanda a liar. Sutton chalked it up to an emotionally charged situation where Amanda was taking everything personally.
Sutton added that he admired Amanda's professional skills, and Devon contended that Naya was lucky to have Amanda defending her. Sutton cautioned that Amanda was treading in territory she didn't understand, but Devon spat that if anything happened to Amanda, Sutton would have to deal with him. Sutton snickered and questioned who Devon was to talk to him that way. Devon barked that only a coward would threaten his own granddaughter, and he expected Amanda to expose Sutton for the coward he was. Devon stalked off.
At Crimson Lights, Devon admitted to Amanda that he'd lost it with Sutton, and she realized that she'd never seen Devon like that before. He figured that while he tried to take the high road most of the time, the gloves were off if it involved someone he cared about. He hoped Amanda wasn't upset with what he'd done, but she was touched he'd stood up for her. Devon reiterated that she wasn't alone and that she had people in her life who cared about her.
Amanda marveled that she'd never had a knight in shining armor defend her honor before, and she insisted that it was a two-way street, since she'd be there with all the legal weapons in her arsenal if she ever had to defend Devon. He asked how things had gone with Victor, and she found it strange that she had more trust in Victor than she had in her own grandfather.
Meanwhile, Sutton arrived at Newman Media, surprised that Victor had called him. Victor cut to the chase by announcing that Sutton had a serious problem with Amanda Sinclair -- and Victor had a solution to that problem.