Nick visited with Phyllis briefly at the Grand Phoenix before heading to the gym to try out the hotel's new trainer. After Nick walked away, Jack entered, approached Phyllis, and said he was there to apologize for having made her feel uncomfortable when she'd stopped by his house the night before. Each time Jack attempted to be forthright, Phyllis would interrupt and restate his words to make his overtures seem innocent. Phyllis insisted that he'd simply told her truthfully what was in his heart. Jack replied, "Just to be clear, I was apologizing for possibly making you feel uncomfortable, not for the things I said last night."
Nick approached Phyllis and Jack, and Phyllis greeted him with an exuberant though awkward "Hey!" After Nick asked if he was interrupting, Phyllis grinned and said, "No. We're just talking about stuff." Nick announced that it was time for them to make travel plans to attend Summer and Kyle's civil ceremony. Phyllis noted that two ceremonies involving family members would soon take place in Italy. Nick nodded and said, "There's a lot of love in the air."
After Jack left, Nick seemed distracted as Phyllis tried to engage, even when she offered to put on a lingerie show for him. Phyllis asked Nick what was on his mind. Nick acknowledged that they both enjoyed flirtation and fun, and he asked if it was all they had. Phyllis replied, "I think we have a really good balance of love and fun." Phyllis recalled that they'd paid their dues by enduring a lot, and they deserved an easy relationship. Nick said they were lucky to be on the same page about how things stood. Jack stepped into the entryway just as Phyllis took Nick's hand and said, "I do feel lucky. And I feel grateful." Nick clasped his other hand over Phyllis' and stroked her hand. Jack watched for a moment, and then he walked away unnoticed.
As Ashland waited in the living room at the Newman ranch, he opened a mysterious text message that read, "You're a hard man to keep track of." Ashland quickly tucked his phone in his pocket when Victor entered and apologized for having kept him waiting. Ashland, not wanting to appear weak, reported that he'd been enduring cancer treatments well and felt better and stronger. Victor asked Ashland about his early days in business. Victor mentioned his early days and wondered aloud if Ashland had read about him.
Ashland said he was aware that Victor had grown up in an orphanage after his father deserted his family and his mother had broken her promise to return to get him. Ashland said it was quite a story about how Victor had later changed his name and built an empire from nothing. Victor asked Ashland if any of it had resonated with him. Ashland said that, like Victor, he'd had to jump-start his life when he'd been a teen, though the rest of his story wasn't as gripping as Victor's. Ashland lauded his accomplishments as past history and said he credited Victoria's influence with his resolution to never look back. Victor asked Ashland if he didn't believe that his early experiences had made him what he'd become. Ashland pondered Victor's query.
At Society, Billy approached Victoria and said he had a bone to pick because Nate had received a wedding invitation from Ashland, but he had not yet gotten his. Victoria lamented that she'd added Billy to her guest list because he was focused on digging up dirt on Ashland. Billy replied, "You seem annoyed. Usually, you like sparring. We can end this quickly and quite simple, really, by just telling me about Ashland's history. And I will be out of your hair. I promise." Victoria explained that Ashland had given a generous donation to the hospital, plus he and Nate had hit it off over things they shared in common.
Victoria told Billy she was tired of his fishing expedition after he accused her of avoiding looking into Ashland's past. Billy said it seemed as if Ashland had no record of existence before meeting his mentor, Camilla Rhodes. Billy noted that research so far hadn't even turned up a birth certificate. In addition, Billy explained, no death certificates for Ashland's parents had turned up, even though he'd claimed he'd been a teenager when they'd died. Victoria sarcastically suggested that perhaps Ashland was an alien from Mars. Victoria told Billy he'd wasted enough time searching for something bad, and she advised him not to say anything negative about Ashland to their children. Victoria threatened Billy, warning that if he didn't drop his investigations, he'd learn what she was capable of.
After Ashland and Victoria returned home, he noticed that Victoria seemed distressed and asked her if she was okay. Victoria explained that she'd had an encounter with Billy that had left a bitter taste. Victoria said Billy was convinced that Ashland was hiding something from his past. Ashland asked what Billy had uncovered. Victoria replied that Billy hadn't been able to find evidence of Ashland's birth or any records of his parents' deaths. Ashland's cell phone pinged, and he checked his messages. The message read, "You'll regret ignoring me." After Ashland pocketed his phone, he said, "Billy isn't wrong. There's something you need to know."
Mariah came downstairs just as Abby was strapping Dominic in his stroller. Mariah offered to help, but Abby huffily declined and said, "I got it." Abby left to take the baby to Chancellor Park. Tessa entered and saw Mariah facing the fireplace, crying. Mariah stammered before composing herself and explaining that Abby had taken Dominic to see the park for the first time, and it had made her sad as she'd watched them walk out the door, though she had no idea why she felt sad and worried. Tessa explained that after what Stitch had put Mariah through, it was only natural.
Mariah hesitated to admit that Abby's history with Stitch was the reason why she and "Bowie" had been put in jeopardy. Mariah recalled that Stitch also figured in with the reason Abby had needed a surrogate in the first place. Mariah cried that after all that, Ben had created even more chaos and disaster when he had returned to town. Mariah admitted she feared what Stitch might be willing to do to get Abby back. Tessa agreed that Stitch was terrible, and she asked if Mariah was blaming Abby, too.
Mariah struggled to admit she did blame Abby in a way, explaining that the beefed-up security at the house hadn't set her at ease. Tessa reminded Mariah that Stitch was a wanted fugitive the police were actively searching for. Tessa explained that Stitch would realize he had no shot with Abby once Chance returned. Mariah cried that she wanted to be brave, but she was afraid that negative thoughts had overtaken all the good things happening around her. Tessa offered to do something with Mariah to distract her, but Mariah opted to take some time to be alone.
Jack ran into Abby and Dominic at Chancellor Park. Jack admired the newborn and said he was a perfect miracle. Jack was surprised to learn that Chance was unaware that his son had been born because he was deep undercover. Abby attempted to hide her sorrow and instead stressed that she had a great support system and Dominic to fill the void. Jack offered to try to contact Chance through his connections. Abby said she trusted Christine, though making contact was too risky for Chance's safety. Abby said she knew Chance would do whatever was necessary to get back to his family.
After Abby returned home with Dominic, she told Tessa that the baby had seemed curious about his new environment. Tessa explained that Abby's interactions with Dominic had triggered Mariah's emotions. Tessa said that Mariah was scared and worried due to the kidnapping, and she was struggling with the physical separation from Dominic. Mariah overheard when Abby said there had to be some way to help Mariah get through it. After Abby and Tessa walked away, Mariah remained in the doorway, looking forlorn.
From his office at Newman Media, Adam spoke with Chelsea via video chat. Adam told Chelsea they should tell Connor about their intentions to end their relationship. Chelsea said she thought that, with time, things would get better. Adam acknowledged that they had endured a long and complicated relationship and should go their separate ways. Chelsea disagreed and said they should try again for Connor's sake. Adam reminded Chelsea that she'd so wanted to rid herself of him that she'd attempted to send him to prison.
Chelsea suggested she and Adam talk to their son after she returned home, though she was uncertain when she could leave her mother on her own. Adam said his only solution was to deal with it himself. Chelsea became frustrated and demanded that Adam and Connor join her in Minnesota, so she could be part of the conversation. Adam feared Connor would get the wrong idea and feel crushed when he realized what the trip was all about. Chelsea abruptly ended the exchange after accusing Adam of doing what was easiest for him.
Rey was sitting in the main dining area at Crimson Lights when Sharon entered through the patio. Rey said he was surprised to hear from the barista that Sharon had stepped out. Sharon admitted that she'd gone to see Adam about Connor. Sharon reminded Rey that he'd urged Adam not to put off explaining to Connor about the changes taking place in his family. Rey told Sharon there were plenty of people besides her that could offer guidance. Rey asked Sharon if Adam would ever be out of their lives.
Frustrated, Rey told Sharon he'd hoped to spend time with her during his break, but he had to leave. As Rey abruptly left, Sally peeked through the glass door leading to the patio. After Sally entered the main dining area, Sharon asked what she could get for Sally. Sally requested that Sharon choose one of her favorite drinks. Sally asked if Sharon missed working in fashion. Sharon replied, "Not at all. I have a degree now in psychology, actually, a master's degree." Sharon added that her life was quite full, so she was very content. Sally congratulated Sharon for having a great career and a handsome husband. Sharon replied, "I guess I do. Enjoy your latte."
When Sally turned around, Adam was entering through the patio. Adam told Sally that Chloe had been looking for her at the office, and he declined her offer to wait for him so they could return together. After Sally left, Sharon asked Adam how Sally was working out at Newman Media. Adam said Sally was very enthusiastic. Sharon replied, "She definitely comes off that way, but she also comes off like a handful."
Adam acknowledged that Sally definitely didn't inspire neutral opinions. Sharon said Sally obviously had a crush on Adam. Adam said that after his recent interaction with Chelsea, the last thing he needed was another complicated woman. Adam blamed himself, explaining that he'd failed with Chelsea and with Sharon and was fine being alone. Sharon said it might be Adam's best approach.
Chloe met Sally for a business meeting at the office and said she'd check with Adam about their budget proposal. As Chloe headed toward Adam's office, Sally said, "I just left him at Crimson Lights with Sharon." Sally asked about Sharon and Adam's past. Chloe replied, "You actually have a thing for this guy, don't you?" Sally denied she did and claimed that she was just curious
Chloe said Sally wanted to know if Adam still had a thing for Sharon. Sally said she was curious because she thought she'd picked up a vibe between them. Chloe admitted that Sharon and Adam had had a complicated and profound relationship, which had blown up Chelsea and Adam's relationship and pushed her over the edge. Chloe added that Adam couldn't seem to get Sharon out of his system.
At the Chancellor mansion, Mariah and Tessa were curious about why Abby had summoned them. Devon arrived, and Abby thanked him for being there because he was a big part of it. Abby called a family meeting to order. She explained that she'd hoped to wait until Chance was home, but she didn't know when that would be, and she wanted to fulfill her promise to forge ahead with her and Dominic's lives. Abby announced that she was starting to plan Dominic's baptism, and she'd love it if Devon and Mariah would be the baby's godparents. Devon grinned, while Tessa eyed a stricken Mariah.
Devon exclaimed that he'd be honored to be Dominic's godfather, and Abby gushed about how much it meant to her. Tessa pointed out that it was a wonderful thing to ask, but it was also a big request. Mariah stammered that she would be honored, as well, but she'd never had godparents, so she wanted to know more about what the responsibilities would be. Abby explained that it wasn't like the old days, when godparents took responsibility for the child if something happened to the parents, but it was more like a promise to love and guide the baby through life. Devon proclaimed that he was all in, and Mariah halfheartedly added that she was, too.
Abby declared the matter settled, and she moved on to the next item on the agenda -- choosing a nanny. A shocked Mariah questioned why Abby would hire a nanny to take care of the baby instead of asking one of them to do so. Abby swore that every nanny candidate had been vetted and had excellent referrals, and she promised she wouldn't hire anyone who Mariah and Devon didn't feel comfortable with. Mariah volunteered to pitch in when Abby needed help, but Abby expected Mariah and Tessa to move out at some point, and she thought it was best that Dominic get into a routine.
Abby declared her intent to be with her son as much as possible, but she reasoned that she couldn't take him to Society, and she knew Mariah had a job that she was eager to get back to. Mariah pledged to make herself available, noting that Jack had given her as much time off as she needed. Abby appreciated that Mariah was willing to take time to be with Dominic, but she maintained that she'd made the best decision for everyone. Abby promised that Devon and Mariah would have a vote in the nanny choice, and she was confident they would find the perfect person to keep Dominic safe and healthy. Mariah forced a smile and thanked Abby for including her.
In Chancellor Park, Tessa mused that it had been thoughtful of Abby to ask Mariah to be Dominic's godmother. Mariah grumbled that it felt like a consolation prize, since Abby intended to hire a nanny. Mariah considered every minute the baby had with the nanny to be time Mariah didn't get to spend with him. Tessa was sure that Mariah would still get to see him all the time, but Mariah griped that playing godmother was just Abby's way of throwing her a bone after what Tessa had told Abby. Mariah divulged that she'd heard Tessa tell Abby that Mariah was a mess who was getting worse by the minute.
Tessa protested that she'd never called Mariah a mess, but Mariah recounted that Tessa had said Mariah had been struggling and needed help. Mariah imagined Abby had gotten the nanny idea because she thought Mariah couldn't be trusted around the baby. Tessa apologized if she'd overstepped by confiding in Abby, but she thought she'd been doing the right thing. Tessa insisted that there was nothing wrong with asking for help, but Mariah snapped that she'd told Tessa things in confidence that she'd never tell anyone else. Mariah felt betrayed that Tessa had shared those things with Abby.
Meanwhile, Abby gazed down at the bassinet and murmured that she could watch Dominic sleep all day. She thanked Devon for agreeing to be the baby's godfather, but she was dismayed that Mariah hadn't seemed more excited. Devon inquired whether Mariah was still having nightmares. Abby replied that she didn't know, but she relayed that Tessa had told her that Mariah was still worried about her own safety. Abby had thought it would cheer Mariah up to be asked to be Dominic's godmother, but Mariah had seemed unaffected by it.
Abby lamented that she wanted everything to be perfect, and she contemplated what she could do to fix things. Devon assured Abby that it wasn't her fault that Mariah had been kidnapped or that Chance wasn't there, and he urged her to focus on the positive and the future. Abby said she was happy to be a new mom, but at the same time, her heart was breaking because the friend who'd given her that miracle was struggling. Devon suggested that they all make sure Mariah knew they were there for her. Abby called Devon her rock and voice of reason.
Dominic began to cry, and Abby realized it was time for a feeding. She scooped the baby up, but he wouldn't take his bottle. Tessa and Mariah returned, and Mariah offered to try to feed the infant. Abby handed Dominic over, and Mariah attempted to soothe him, but he continued to wail. Abby and Mariah tried various things to calm Dominic down, and Abby finally suggested that Devon give it a shot. Devon cradled the baby in his arms, and Dominic settled down. Abby asked how Devon had done it, and he figured that they should be grateful because it would probably never work again.
At the Abbott mansion, Jack reported that Kyle and Summer were excited about their wedding, and he invited Billy to ride in the Jabot corporate jet with him to Italy. Billy announced that he wouldn't be attending, and he referred to his complicated history with the couple. Jack argued that Kyle and Summer wouldn't have invited Billy if they hadn't wanted him there, but Billy cited his hectic schedule at Chancellor Communications and mentioned that he'd already be taking time off for Victoria and Ashland's nuptials. Billy added that he was doing his best to be civil and supportive, but his investigative journalists kept digging up reasons that made him believe Victoria was making a terrible mistake.
Billy filled Jack in about how he'd been unable to find anything on Ashland before Ashland's acquisition of the two television stations. Jack commented that it sounded like Victoria had fallen in love with a man as mysterious as her father, but Billy thought it only meant trouble. Billy shared that Victoria had ordered him to drop the entire thing, and Jack advised Billy to back off, since Victoria would only resent it if Billy dug up something. Jack reasoned that Ashland would likely only be in Victoria's life for a few more months, whereas she and Billy would coparent for the rest of their lives. Jack wondered if finding dirt on Ashland was worth Billy risking his relationship with the mother of his children.
At Society, Billy greeted Nikki at the bar and remarked that it was nice to see her without Victor. He voiced surprise that she had time to eat with everything she was juggling, and he asked how the wedding plans were going. Nikki haughtily told him not to pretend to care, since she knew he was looking to find a reason to blow Victoria's wedding out of the water. Billy contended that it was his job to cover what was newsworthy, and the wedding was making headlines.
Nikki agreed that it was news that two notable people were getting married, but she clucked that Billy's personal agenda shouldn't be making the news. She warned that he'd regret it if her daughter got hurt, but he was adamant that the last person he wanted to see hurt was Victoria. Billy was surprised that Nikki wasn't more concerned about who Ashland really was, given that there was no documented history of the first two decades of his life. Billy realized that Victoria hadn't shared that information with Nikki.
At Newman Media, Nick inquired about Victor's investigation into Ashland's past. Victor wished he had something to tell, but he'd found no records of Ashland's early life until Ashland had started working for one of the television stations he'd ended up buying. Victor shared that he'd tried to draw Ashland out during a one-on-one conversation, but Ashland had revealed nothing except to say he was reluctant to talk about his past. Nick pointed out that there might be a lot of reasons someone didn't want to dwell on the past, but Victor's instincts told him Ashland was hiding something.
Victor refused to jump to conclusions, but he still wanted to know more about Ashland. Nick doubted they'd find anything if Ashland had scrubbed his past clean, and he pointed out that there might be something they had no business knowing. Victor voiced surprise that Nick didn't want to get to the bottom of it. Nick was in favor of finding out if there was something that would harm his sister, but he questioned whether digging around in Ashland's past was the morally right thing to do. Victor asserted that the right thing was to protect his family and his daughter.
At home, Victoria wondered if Ashland had been hiding something, and he admitted that he probably should have shared it with her earlier. She recalled that he'd assured her that he had no secrets that she needed to know about, and he explained that it was something he'd hoped she would never need to know. Victoria urged him not to hold back, and he reluctantly confirmed that there was a reason the trail of information about his past had led nowhere. He confessed that he'd covered it up, since he hadn't wanted the world to know the truth.
Victoria calmly stated that she was there to listen, not to judge. Ashland revealed that it was something he'd never talked about with anyone, and he didn't know where to start. She urged him to take his time, and he confided that the story he'd given reporters about having an ordinary childhood in a happy family had been far from the truth. He recalled that they hadn't been happy or lived in the suburbs, and his father had been abusive and violent while his mother had turned a blind eye.
Ashland continued that his family had subsisted below the poverty line, and any money they'd gotten had instantly been gone because alcohol had been a priority above everything else, including food. Ashland recounted that it had ultimately become too much to take, so he'd left home when he'd been 16 years old, put that life behind him, and never looked back. Victoria wondered how Ashland had survived on his own at such a young age. He recalled that he'd taken odd jobs up and down the Jersey coast, making sure never to stay in one place long enough to attract attention.
Victoria sympathized that Ashland had just been a boy. He conceded that it hadn't been easy, but he'd done what he'd had to do. She couldn't imagine how hard it had been to be alone and desperate as a teenager, but he considered it paradise compared to his life with his parents. Victoria inquired whether his parents had ever looked for him, and Ashland stressed that he'd taken every precaution to stay under the radar because his worst nightmare had been his father finding him and dragging him home. He added that he'd eventually changed his name to escape his past for good, and Ashland Locke had been born.
Ashland insisted that he wasn't looking for pity, since he'd emerged from the "hellhole" he'd called home, stronger and more driven. He recalled that one of his jobs had been at a news station, where he'd found his calling. Victoria guessed that had been when he'd met his mentor, and Ashland reflected back on catching Camila Rhodes's eye after starting at the bottom of her business and working hard to learn the ropes. Victoria marveled that his life had been an incredible journey, from such a sad beginning to buying Camila's stations and building an empire. Ashland started to stand up, but he became weak and fell back on the couch. She begged him to talk to her.
Ashland swore he was okay, but Victoria preferred to call his doctor or Nate. Ashland chalked up the episode to him always getting anxious when he thought about his past, much less talked about it. He requested a minute to rest, and he surmised that what he'd told her had changed the way she saw him. Victoria admitted that it wasn't something she'd ever expected to hear, but she admired him more than ever for everything he'd overcome. She felt closer to him than she had before, like he'd let her in to get to know him in a way no one else did. Ashland insisted that he loved and trusted her enough to tell her everything.
The doorbell rang, and Ashland groaned that he didn't feel like having company. Victoria offered to get rid of whoever it was, and he stepped out to get some water. Victoria let Nikki in and told her it wasn't the best time, but Nikki insisted on talking after her run-in with Billy. Nikki warned that Ashland's past was more mysterious than it seemed, and Victoria demanded that everyone stop digging because there was nothing they could find that would make her change her mind about him.
Victoria threatened to have her wedding without her family there. Ashland returned to the room and promised that wouldn't happen. He stated that the whole thing had been blown out of proportion, and he hated what it was doing to Victoria. He declared that it was time to put everyone's suspicions to rest once and for all.
Jack entered Crimson Lights and greeted Nick, who glumly responded. Nick shared that he'd been wrestling with something, and Jack hoped it wasn't too troubling. "Do Phyllis and I seem like a good fit to you?" Nick asked. Taken aback, Jack asked why Nick was suddenly questioning his relationship with Phyllis. Nick mentioned that he'd gotten someone else's take, and he'd been quick to dismiss it, but he hadn't been able to stop thinking about it.
Nick pressed for Jack's opinion, but Jack thought he wasn't the right person to ask, citing his own history with Phyllis. Nick joked that he hadn't wanted to hear what Jack had to say, anyway. Jack noted that Nick and Phyllis seemed to be in a good place, and Nick confirmed that they were as good as they'd ever been. Nick worried that perhaps things were going too smoothly, and if the past predicted the future, they were fated for another massive train wreck.
Nick contemplated whether what he and Phyllis had was too good to be true. Jack urged Nick not to question it if Nick loved Phyllis and was happy. Nick wondered if he and Phyllis were just playing it safe by staying together, since it was easy and comfortable. Jack said he understood the temptation to question happiness instead of enjoying it, but he stressed that everyone deserved happiness, no matter where they found it. Nick agreed that he and Phyllis deserved to be happy. Nick received a text message from Nikki and prepared to leave. Jack told him to hang in there.
Victor called Nikki because he didn't understand her text message. Nikki announced that they were about to get all the answers they were looking for about Ashland. Meanwhile, Victoria sent Billy a text message, summoning him to the ranch because Ashland had something to tell them.
Jack returned home to a quiet house. He sat down and flashed back to years earlier, when he'd been determined to ignore Phyllis at a party, but he'd ended up being mesmerized by her fire and passion. He'd told her that he'd found his soul mate in her and that he couldn't imagine going through his life without her. He'd pledged to fix whatever problems they had together, and he'd asked her to marry him. She'd accepted, and they'd kissed passionately. Jack snapped back to the present and rubbed his temples.
Victor returned home and asked what was going on, and Nick wondered the same thing. Billy entered, and Victor demanded to know "what the hell" Billy was doing there. Victoria revealed that she'd invited Billy, and Ashland clarified that it was as a courtesy and nothing more. Ashland confirmed that he was aware there had been a lot of speculation about him and his past, and he imagined everyone there was wondering if he was hiding something dark that stood to hurt Victoria. Ashland considered it a valid concern, and he imagined that he'd feel the same way if he had a sister or a daughter who was about to marry someone with a ruthless reputation like his.
Billy assumed that the extended buildup meant only one thing -- Ashland had a secret they didn't know about. Ashland thanked Nikki for gathering everyone, and he acknowledged that there were people in the room who had gone to great expense to investigate every aspect of his life. He intended to save them further expenditure by laying his cards on the table, since they deserved to know who stood before them. Victoria implored everyone to keep Ashland's story private. Ashland proclaimed that he was ready to tell them who the man who'd fallen deeply in love with Victoria really was.
At the ranch, Ashland explained the reason he'd changed his name and why no one could find anything about him online. Victor hoped Ashland understood why Victor had done a background check on him. Victor explained he'd grown up without parents, and that had resulted in him being very protective of his children, especially Victoria. Ashland understood. Victoria hoped Ashland's explanation had put an end to all their questions, which had bordered on harassment.
Billy told Ashland it was a very touching story, but it wasn't the whole truth. Victoria warned Billy not to interrogate Ashland. She said Ashland had shared his painful past because he'd wanted to put everyone's minds at ease. Victor claimed they still had questions. Ashland stated that he was willing to subject himself to any scrutiny, for Victoria's sake.
Victor asked Ashland what had happened to his parents. Ashland said he'd shut the door permanently to his past. He'd been angry at his mother for not protecting him and for making excuses for his father. While he'd sported a black eye and a split lip, his mother had stood before him and blamed him for provoking his father. He'd severed all ties with his parents as fast as he could, and he'd quickly lost track of them.
Billy asked Ashland if his parents had ever reached out to him, even after he'd become successful. Ashland said that his parents hadn't kept up with the happenings on Wall Street or with the media world. Even if they had, they wouldn't have recognized him. Victor ask Ashland if he'd had any desire to contact his parents to show how successful he'd become and rub their noses in it. Ashland claimed it had crossed his mind several times, but he'd decided they hadn't deserved any part of the success he'd earned in spite of them.
Nick asked if Ashland had ever looked into what had become of his parents. Ashland said he hadn't cared. As he'd grown older, he'd begun to understand the dynamics of abuse. He'd wanted to reach out to his mother to tell her he'd understood she'd been scared, and that she'd felt as helpless as he had, but he'd been too late because his mother had died a few years earlier, as had his father.
Billy asked if Ashland had wanted to pay his respects, if he knew where his parents had been buried, and what name was on their headstone. Billy said that Ashland hadn't told them his real name. Ashland stated he had no intention of telling them his real name.
Ashland told Victor and Nikki that, as Victoria's parents, they would naturally be concerned about their future son-in-law's past. He felt he owed them the truth. Nikki chimed in that he'd only revealed part of it. Ashland claimed it wouldn't serve any purpose to reveal his parents' identities. He said they might had been misfits, but he had no desire to see their names dragged through the mud.
Victor told Ashland that they wanted to know everything about his family, otherwise they didn't know Ashland. Victoria claimed they knew who he was. Everyone knew Ashland Locke in the same way they knew Victor Newman. They had both reinvented themselves, and they had become wildly successful. Victoria claimed there shouldn't be any more questions. Ashland's life had been very public for decades, and that was enough of a track record for anyone. She asked why Victor had to know more about Ashland's childhood than he'd already told them.
Nick told Victoria they knew nothing about Ashland's early career, after he'd changed his name. Ashland reminded them that they'd gone over his career with a fine-toothed comb, and they'd found nothing nefarious. Ashland said enough was enough. Billy claimed it wasn't because Ashland had been given an opportunity to tell them who he really was. Billy claimed if Ashland didn't tell them, he would find out, anyway. Ashland stated that wouldn't happen because he'd taken steps to keep that information private.
Billy claimed that Ashland had underestimated him. Ashland stated it was the other way around. Ashland said that to Billy, the story was something salacious to be put on his website as clickbait, but for Ashland, it was deeply personal and very painful. Ashland said not everyone had been fortunate enough to have John Abbott for a father. Billy asked if he should feel guilty about having a loving family or feel bad that he hadn't had a miserable childhood, just to let Ashland off the hook.
Ashland told Billy that he'd grown up in hell. He was done with it, and he refused to revisit the past so that Billy's "sorry ass" could sell some ad space. Billy stated that Ashland should have been honest with Victoria. Victoria told Billy that was between her and Ashland, and it was none of Billy's business. Billy asked if she was okay that her man was hiding things and if that was what she was going to lower her standards for. Victoria stated that she'd raised her standards considerably since she and Billy had been together, and Ashland made her feel respected.
Billy told Victoria that if Ashland had told the truth, there would be nothing to hide. Victor reminded everyone to keep their voices down, since they were guests in his home. He also reminded Billy that Victoria and Ashland had invited him because he was the father of Victoria's children, and he wasn't part of the family. Billy asked if Victor was satisfied with the answers Ashland had provided. Ignoring Billy's question, Victor warned Billy not to raise his voice to Victor and Nikki's guest. Victor said they needed to support Victoria.
Victoria thanked everyone and said she hoped they could focus on what really mattered. Billy was obviously dissatisfied with Ashland's responses.
After everyone had gone, Nikki told Victor she didn't understand how he could be okay with Victoria marrying a man who wouldn't reveal his real name. Victor said Ashland had glossed over the details of his past life; however, Ashland's past appeared to be similar to his own. Victor claimed that anyone who'd changed their name was obviously trying to cover up a painful childhood, and Victor understood that.
Victor told Nikki that he understood why Victoria would be impressed by Ashland's history. Nikki agreed that she was impressed with Ashland's accomplishments. Nikki was concerned that Victoria was going to marry a man who hadn't been completely transparent with her. Victor stated that if Victoria were there, she would tell them it was none of their business.
Victor said that he and Nikki only had the choice of approving or disapproving the marriage, and he was inclined to approve the marriage because Victoria and Ashland loved each other. Victor felt that it had been an extraordinary decision for Ashland to choose chemotherapy in order to spend more time with Victoria. Ashland valued Victoria, and that was important to Victor. Victor claimed Ashland was "so much better" than the last guy Victoria had married. Nikki claimed that for Victor, the best thing about Ashland was that he wasn't Billy. Victor agreed.
Victor told Nikki that Billy had been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and he'd never accomplished "a damned thing" other than causing messes. Billy was a ne'er-do-well. Ashland had been more of a man when he'd been a kid than Billy would ever be.
At Society, Elena told Lily she was very excited about Ask MD Now and that she'd been making notes. Lily was worried Elena might burn herself out before they got started. Elena assured Lily she was fine.
Lily and Elena discussed Mattie. Lily said Mattie's academics were great, but she had to pick her major soon, and Mattie was a little stressed. Lily said that Mattie had recently talked about becoming a doctor. Elena offered to talk to Mattie if Mattie chose to go to med school.
Nate arrived and greeted Elena and Lily. Lily teasingly chastised Nate for working Elena too hard. Elena said that Nate wouldn't show favoritism for her because it wouldn't be fair to anyone else. If she had to work a double shift, she would do so. Lily said she had to leave and advised Elena to get some rest.
After Lily left, Elena assured Nate she hadn't been complaining to Lily about her schedule. Lily had only been protecting her. Elena understood that Nate would only schedule her for a double shift when it was absolutely necessary. Nate asked if anyone had said anything about their relationship. Elena said not directly; however, people were very careful around her. Nate was certain it would all go away once people realized he wasn't showing favoritism. Elena told Nate she needed to go home and get to bed. He wished her sweet dreams, and Elena left.
At home, Moses told Devon that his mother had approved him staying in Genoa City. He said Sofia had been upset that he wasn't going to become a doctor; however, she was excited that he would be working at Hamilton-Winters. Devon asked if Moses had told Sofia that his focus was on the music side of business. Moses said he hadn't.
Moses told Devon he had intentionally omitted telling Sofia about his interest in music. Devon reminded Moses they'd agreed that Moses would be honest with Sofia. Moses promised he would tell Sofia when the time was right., but she'd been so excited about him working at Hamilton-Winters that he hadn't had the heart to tell her. Devon said Moses belonged in the family business, and no matter what Moses chose to do, Neil would have been proud of him.
At Crimson Lights, Nate asked Faith how she was doing. Faith said she'd almost paid back the money for the damage she'd caused to Victor's truck, and she wanted to prove to her parents that she'd learned from her mistakes. Nate told Faith he'd heard she'd been spending a lot of time with Moses. Faith claimed Moses was the best possible influence and the best friend. Faith hoped that Nate wasn't disappointed that Moses didn't want to become a doctor.
Nate assured Faith he wasn't. He wanted Moses to find something that made him happy, and it looked like it was going to be music. Nate mentioned that he knew about the big date Moses had planned. Faith hoped Nate would reveal information about what Moses had planned, but Nate said it was going to be a surprise.
After Nate left, Moses arrived. He told Faith he would be staying in town. Faith was elated. She said they could go out on an actual date rather than to a going-away party for him. Faith said that Nate had been there earlier, and he'd mentioned their date. Moses became concerned, thinking Nate had told her his plans. Faith assured him that Nate hadn't given anything away. Moses wanted to make sure that Faith was free over the weekend. Faith claimed she would clear her calendar, but the suspense was killing her.
At home, Victoria told Ashland to sit down and rest after the stressful family meeting. Ashland claimed it had needed to happen. Victoria had been impressed with how Ashland had been able to delve into his painful childhood history for her sake. Ashland claimed that as their wedding date drew closer, Victoria needed her family's support.
Ashland told Victoria that in his younger days, he would have thrown caution to the wind, but he couldn't do that because he wouldn't be around forever. He said Victoria's family would be there for her when he was gone. Victoria felt the family had put aside all their suspicions about his past and saw him the way she did -- strong, and resilient. She said that even after the emotional trauma he'd been through, he still had the ability to feel things deeply.
Ashland told Victoria that what mattered most was that her family knew how he felt about her, except Billy. Victoria claimed Billy didn't matter. Ashland felt Billy had to have realized that Billy's paranoia about Ashland stemmed from Billy's jealousy and that Billy didn't want anyone taking his place in Victoria's life.
Victoria told Ashland that Billy was a pain, and she assured him that Billy no longer had a romantic interest in her. She said Billy hated to be wrong; he was stubborn and frustrating. She doubted that anything Ashland had said would convince Billy to back off. Billy also hadn't liked being dressed down by Victor. Victoria claimed that Billy would continue turning over rocks until he could prove he was right.
Ashland told Victoria that was the behavior of an addict. Victoria admitted that was what had driven Billy to gamble, and he'd always believed the next bet was going to be the winner. Ashland told Victoria he needed to talk to Billy alone.
Victoria told Ashland it wasn't a good idea to confront Billy. She said getting in Billy's face would only prove that Ashland was hiding something. It would leave Billy with the impression that he was in control and that he'd forced Ashland's hand. Ashland claimed they should be planning their wedding, and it wasn't fair that Billy had inserted himself in their life. Victoria didn't want to waste any more time on Billy.
Ashland told Victoria it had been his mistake to include Billy in the meeting. Ashland had thought that being courteous had been the way to handle the situation, but clearly, it had emboldened Billy. Ashland claimed he needed to put Billy in his place, and he promised that Billy wouldn't walk away feeling he was in control.
After Ashland left, Nick arrived to make sure Victoria was okay. She told Nick she was very annoyed with Billy because he'd acted like an entitled little brat. Because Billy owned a media company, it didn't give him the right to snoop around in people's private lives. Nick said Billy might be doing it for the right reasons. Victoria said Ashland had gone to find Billy to make things very clear to him. Nick said that wasn't going to end well.
Victoria told Nick she'd tried everything to get Billy to stop snooping. Perhaps Billy needed to hear it directly from Ashland. Nick said it had to have been a shock to Victoria to find out that the guy she loved had a history she knew nothing about.
Lily walked into the office and heard Billy on the phone, instructing someone to take the information he'd given them and to keep digging. Lily asked Billy what had happened at the ranch. Billy said that Ashland had spun a long story about his childhood, which could have been true or complete garbage. In short, Ashland Locke had said that Ashland Locke didn't exist. Billy said he'd left the ranch with more questions than answers.
Billy told Lily that there was more to come, and Lily added the fact that Ashland hadn't revealed his real name. Billy claimed there was no way of knowing whether the story about Ashland's father was true; however, it did resemble Victor's coming-of-age story perfectly. He said Nikki had had an abusive father, and she was buying into it, as well. He claimed he wasn't taking Ashland's story at face value, and they needed to dig deeper.
Lily asked Billy what he would do if the story was true and Ashland had escaped the nightmarish childhood just to survive. They might be hounding Ashland in the final moments of his life for no good reason. Billy agreed there were a lot of "ifs," but he wasn't harassing Ashland. Billy claimed he was discreetly looking into Ashland's past, and if there was nothing there, then they would walk away. Billy believed there was more there. Lily claimed because Ashland hadn't revealed the whole story, it didn't mean there was something sinister in his past. She reminded Billy that they'd run stories about women in abusive relationships and how they'd changed their identity to survive.
Billy told Lily that Ashland's father was dead, so there was no reason to not disclose his real name. Lily said because Locke was a public figure, it didn't mean that every aspect of his life was news. Lily said his childhood should remain private, and she didn't want to reveal the painful moments of a dying man's life. Billy claimed he wasn't out to cause Locke pain; he was simply looking for the truth. If it wasn't newsworthy, they wouldn't run it. Lily claimed that Billy's interest in the story wasn't professional. She asked if Billy would care that much if anyone else was with Victoria. Ashland arrived and stated that Billy wouldn't care one bit.
At Victoria's, Nick wanted to know how Victoria was dealing with Ashland's history and how Victoria wasn't bothered by it. She said that nothing Ashland had shared with the family had been news to her. She asked how Nick was dealing with the information.
Nick told Victoria it had been one revelation after another. Ashland had started with the mysterious death of his mentor that had allowed him to get his career started. He had then literally erased his past and become someone else. Nick claimed it was a lot to digest. Victoria said the information didn't make her love Ashland any less, and nothing and no one would change that.
Nick told Victoria that no one expected her to love Ashland any less; however, he wanted to know if Ashland's story had changed her perspective in any way. Victoria stated that it made her admire him even more. Ashland had carried the memories of a cruel and abusive father. That had to have been unbearable, yet he'd managed to persevere and thrive. Ashland had refused to allow the past to define him in the future. He'd overcome the cycle of violence, and he'd become a wonderful father to Harrison.
Nick asked Victoria if she found it strange that Ashland hadn't revealed his real name. Victoria said she didn't. Nick said if there was one secret, it usually led to other secrets. Victoria chastised Nick, stating that Ashland had revealed something so private and personal, yet it wasn't enough for Nick. Nick claimed it wasn't. Victoria said she was worried about Ashland tracking down Billy and asking him to back off.
Victoria asked Nick to leave and pretend their conversation had never happened. Nick said he really wanted to believe that Ashland didn't have any dark secrets that would hurt Victoria's relationship. Victoria claimed she could take care of herself. Nick wanted her to hold on to the love for as long as she could, but something about it wasn't right.
Victoria understood that Nick was worried, but it was from a good place. Nick stated it was with Billy, as well, because he also cared about her. Nick didn't understand why Ashland hadn't been completely transparent about his past. He felt that Victoria needed to ask what Ashland wasn't telling her and why.
Victoria asked Nick why it should matter what had happened decades earlier. It didn't matter who Ashland had been. She'd fallen in love with the man he was, and she knew him in a way no one else did. She blamed everyone, especially Billy, for inserting themselves into her relationship and creating so much doubt and distrust.
Nick told Victoria she was smart and strong willed; however, if she had doubts, it was because she felt there was more to Locke's story than he'd revealed. Victoria admitted Nick was right. She had a lot of questions, but it felt like such a betrayal to the love she and Ashland shared.
Nick asked Victoria if she'd felt that way before the merger of Newman-Locke. She said she hadn't because they'd done their due diligence. She wanted Nick to promise he would keep their conversation between them and not act on anything she'd told him.
At ChancComm, Lily asked Billy if Ashland was with anyone other than Victoria, whether Billy be as relentless about Ashland's past. At that moment, Ashland arrived. Ashland claimed that Billy wouldn't care at all. Billy told Ashland not to pretend to understand his motives. Ashland asked Lily for a private moment with Billy. Lily said she had a meeting to go to. However, before she left, she reminded them that at the end of the day, they both wanted what was best for Victoria.
Ashland told Billy that Lily was a smart woman. Billy needed to listen to her. Ashland said Victoria's interests should come first. Ashland stated that he'd told his story because he'd wanted to take the pressure off Victoria, because those who mattered to Victoria wanted to know there was nothing to worry about in his past. He'd told the Newmans everything there was to know, and Billy, as the father of Victoria's children, had been included as a courtesy. He said Billy might want to reciprocate that courtesy and stop digging where he had no business digging. Billy stated he wouldn't because he was certain there was a lot more to learn about Ashland.
Billy claimed Ashland's resistance to complete transparency had led Billy to believe Ashland was hiding something that could hurt Victoria and his children. Ashland claimed Billy didn't have a shred of evidence to support his theory. Billy said he had a gut feeling, and Ashland's story had whet his appetite even more. Ashland said everyone had secrets that they wanted to remain buried.
Ashland asked why Billy had appointed himself as arbiter of what should or shouldn't be revealed about another person's life. Billy guaranteed that Ashland's past would come back to bite him or cause collateral damage to things he valued the most. Ashland stated that Billy was painting himself to be a savior and Ashland as the villain. Billy claimed Ashland had cultivated himself as the villain his entire career. Ashland agreed and added that Billy definitely didn't want Ashland as his enemy.
Billy asked Ashland what Victoria would say about Billy being threatened by him, especially since Ashland claimed he had nothing of consequence to hide. Ashland stated she would support him because she respected him for what he'd endured and what he'd done to change his life. Victoria knew his reasons. Ashland claimed Billy needed to be more concerned about his relationship with Victoria, because Billy was well on his way to alienating her.
Ashland told Billy that Lily had to be thrilled about Billy trying to undermine his ex's engagement. Billy told Ashland to leave Lily out of it. Ashland stated that it didn't feel good when it hit close to home. Ashland suggested that it would behoove Billy to keep both eyes open to the realities of the present and let go of the rest. Billy asked what Ashland could possibly do to stop him. Ashland said Billy didn't want to find out, and he left.
Billy was deep in thought and flashed back to a memory. He told Lily that Ashland hadn't existed until that woman had become his mentor. Lily told him there could be a reason for that. Billy felt it wasn't possible for someone to have no record of the first 20 years of his life unless he was deliberately hiding it, or perhaps he'd destroyed those records. Lily said it was another hypothesis with nothing to back it up.
Lily asked Billy who really cared why Ashland was hiding where he'd come from. Billy claimed that if it was true, then Ashland's whole empire was a lie. It was a big story that people wanted to hear. Most importantly, Victoria needed to hear that. He claimed he didn't need any more motivation than that, and he was simply looking for the truth. If it wasn't newsworthy, they didn't need to run it. Lily claimed Billy's interest in the story wasn't professional. She asked if Victoria had been with anyone else but Ashland, whether Billy would care that much.
Lily returned from her meeting. She asked Billy how things had gone with Ashland. Billy claimed that Ashland had wanted to shut him down, and Ashland knew it wouldn't happen. Billy claimed Ashland was terrified that whatever he was hiding was about to be exposed. Billy said Locke had threatened him, not directly, but his intention had been clear. It meant Locke was desperate.
Lily told Billy the situation was serious. Billy claimed he wasn't afraid of Locke, and he was only worried about Victoria and his kids. It was very clear that Locke was hiding something. Billy asked if Lily thought it was a mistake to continue investigating Locke. Lily couldn't discount Billy's suspicions. Things had gone beyond Locke trying to keep his life private. She understood why Billy wanted to continue digging, and she wouldn't ask him to stop.
Lily told Billy she was in it with him, but she was worried about him. Billy claimed he could handle Locke. Lily asked if Billy had forgotten what Locke had done to Jabot when he'd found out about Tara and Kyle's affair. He'd almost brought Jabot to its knees. Billy claimed that was Locke's character, and they needed to keep investigating him. Lily stated that Billy had no idea how Locke was going to retaliate if Billy continued digging up the past that Locke wanted to stay buried.
Lily warned Billy that Locke might take the situation more personally than Tara cheating on him. She said Billy had no idea how Locke would respond when he'd been crossed. Billy said they would find out.
At Crimson Lights, Sharon received a call from Adam, informing her that he was nervous about breaking the news to Connor. Sharon told Adam to keep it simple, and everything would be fine. She wished him luck but said that if he needed help, she was available.
At the ranch, Adam ended his call with Sharon as Connor entered the room. Adam said he wanted to talk to Connor. Connor asked if it was about Chelsea. Adam admitted it was.
Adam told Connor that Adam and Chelsea wouldn't be living together when she returned to Genoa City. Connor said he'd felt something had been wrong for a while, but he'd never imagined it was that bad. Connor asked if Adam was sure they couldn't work it out by spending more time together and talking. Adam told him it wouldn't change anything.
Connor asked Adam if it had been his fault -- if he'd done something wrong. Adam assured Connor that Connor had had nothing to do with it, and Adam and Chelsea would love him just as much as when they'd been together. Adam explained that sometimes people grew apart, even when they tried not to. Connor demanded that Adam try harder. He said Adam couldn't just give up. Connor said Adam hadn't been around when he'd been little, but when they had reunited, Adam had promised they would always be together.
Connor asked if Adam had lied. Adam explained that some promises were impossible to keep. Upset, Connor wanted to know why he had to keep his promises when Adam got to break his. Adam suggested they go see a friend that would help them talk about their situation.
At Society, Victor told Nate that Nikki was a genius at persuading people to part with their money for their favorite charity. Victor stated that the new wing of the hospital would be equipped with the most modern surgical equipment. Nate said that he'd been floored with Nikki's experience and connections, and he had a lot to learn.
Victor asked Nate what his impression of Ashland was. Nate said that he and Ashland had struck up a friendship and that he and Elena had been invited to the wedding. Nate said the more he learned about Ashland, the more he liked him, especially since he had a better sense of the man behind the myth. Nate said he respected the grace Ashland had shown in the way he'd chosen to handle his illness and treatment. Victor stated that despite Ashland's treatments, his case was terminal.
Nate told Victor he didn't know the details of Ashland's case, but the survival rate was very low; however, with luck, Ashland would celebrate his first anniversary. Nate said Ashland was willing to fight for that. Love was a very powerful motivator. Victor agreed.
At the coffeehouse, Sharon joined Adam and Connor. She said she'd heard that Connor had received some difficult news earlier. Connor was shocked that Adam had told Sharon. Adam explained that Sharon had helped Connor with past issues, and he hoped she could help Connor again. Connor asked why Adam always called Sharon whenever there was a problem.
Adam explained to Connor that Sharon had trained to deal with situations such as theirs. Connor said there were lots of people trained to do what Sharon did, but Adam always chose Sharon. Connor was certain that Chelsea didn't like it. Connor said he'd heard Chelsea talking to Anita about Adam and Sharon, and he wanted to know if Sharon was the reason Adam and Chelsea were breaking up.
Adam told Connor that what had happened between him and Chelsea was complicated. He promised to answer Connor's questions honestly. Adam admitted that he and Sharon had had a romantic relationship years earlier, but they had remained friends. Adam said there had been times that Chelsea had struggled with that, but Sharon wasn't the reason Adam and Chelsea weren't together anymore.
Connor said he didn't believe Adam. Connor wanted to know why Chelsea had been talking about Adam and Sharon. Connor claimed Adam had hurt Chelsea, and Adam hadn't been there for Chelsea when she'd needed him because of Sharon. Connor said Adam and Sharon had broken Chelsea's heart. Connor ran out. Adam ran after him.
Connor stopped in the park to catch his breath. Sally was out for her run, but she stopped when she saw Connor sitting alone. She introduced herself and said she worked with Adam. She asked if Adam knew that he was there alone. Connor hung his head without answering. Sally sat down and sent Adam a text message: "Connor's alone in the park. I'm with him and I won't go anywhere."
Moments later, Adam and Sharon arrived. Sharon told Adam that Connor looked calm; however, it would be better if Adam approached Connor alone. Adam agreed. He thanked Sharon for her help. Adam thanked Sally for hanging out with Connor. Sally claimed she'd learned a lot about lacrosse.
Sally told Adam she'd been about to ask Connor what was troubling him. Adam claimed bad news was hard to hear. Sally said that sometimes people wanted to blame the person who'd given them the bad news when it hadn't been their fault at all. Connor asked if that had happened to Sally. Sally told Connor about a party she'd attended, and she'd made someone so angry that they'd dumped a whole bucket of ice on her head. Sally said she'd survived, and so would Connor.
Adam said that Connor had scared him. Adam said Connor could never do that again. Adam understood it was difficult for Connor, but they would work it out. Connor wanted to go home and call Chelsea. Adam agreed, but he wanted to talk to Sally first.
Adam thanked Sally for alerting him about Connor and staying with him. Sally said if there was anything she could do to help, she would be around. Sally left.
Ashland arrived at Society. He received a text message from someone stating it was time to meet. Nate approached Ashland and asked if everything was okay. Ashland said he'd talked about some things from his past with Victoria's family, and old memories could be painful. Nate informed Ashland he would be honored to be Ashland's best man. Ashland was delighted.
Ashland returned home. He asked if Nick was there to follow up with Victoria about his history. Nick admitted he had more questions. Ashland told Nick that his past was his own business. He warned Nick to stay out of his life. He said he'd shared everything with everyone in order to put an end to "that crap." Nick told Ashland to calm down. Victoria said Ashland had a right to defend himself. He shouldn't have been put into that position in the first place, since they were going to be family. Nick said it appeared that the most concerned person about Ashland's past was Ashland. Nick left.
Ashland apologized to Victoria for attacking Nick. Victoria had assumed he'd been on edge after his encounter with Billy. Ashland said Billy had done everything Victoria had predicted; however, Ashland claimed he'd gotten his point across. Ashland didn't want to spend time talking about anyone. At that moment, Ashland received another text message: "I won't go away just because you pretend I'm not here." Ashland lied to Victoria and said he'd received a text message from Nate agreeing to be Ashland's best man.
At the ranch, Nick asked Victor if he'd meant it when he'd said he was okay with Locke's relationship with Victoria or if it had all been for show. Victor said that Locke was the kind of man who carried more than his share of pain. He felt sorry for Locke, but he didn't believe Locke had told them everything. Victor said he had no intention of delving further into Locke's past.
Nick asked Victor why Locke got a pass. Victor said he supported Locke's relationship with Victoria because Locke loved her, and his love was reciprocated. Nick claimed he was concerned about the holes in Locke's story and how it affected Victoria. Nick said he'd seen Victoria earlier, and he knew she wasn't okay with the situation. Nick said that when Ashland had returned home, he hadn't been happy to see Nick there. Nick had no idea why Locke wanted to keep his birth name a secret, but the reason had to be huge if he wanted the man he'd been to disappear. Nick claimed he wouldn't trust Locke until he knew the truth.
Nikki greeted Victor as she entered the Newman ranch with an armload of shopping bags. She reasoned that there wasn't a baptism in the family every day, and he asked if she'd bought the "whole damn store." She flashed back to Nick's baptism, when she'd gushed that she and Victor would always be together in their son. Victor remarked that there was no such thing as too many gifts on such a joyous occasion, and Nikki requested that, before meeting her at the church, he pick up some baby-themed cupcakes that she'd ordered from Society. Victor feigned shock that she would ask a busy business tycoon to drive over to pick up cupcakes, but he agreed to do it for her and for Abby.
Victor added that the gesture had been nice of Nikki, and he wished his son-in-law would be there that day. Victor griped that Chance hadn't been there for the birth of his son and wouldn't be at the baptism, and he supposed Dominic would lay eyes on his father when the boy was in preschool. Nikki recognized that Victor was frustrated, but she urged him not to get mired down in negativity on such an important day for their family. Nikki pointed out that the baby had many other male role models, but Victor clarified that he was most concerned about Abby.
At the Chancellor mansion, Abby rattled off a list of details she'd tended to, and Ashley prepared to leave to check on the chapel before the ceremony. Abby planned to do it herself, but Ashley instructed her daughter to take a deep breath, get rid of her phone, and focus on her beautiful son. Nina added that it was time for Abby to relax and enjoy, and she and Ashley headed out as Jack arrived. Jack dropped off a gift and asked how Abby was doing. She reported that she was a bit overwhelmed but otherwise good, and she could hardly believe she was finally christening her baby boy that day. Jack mused that he could already see what a wonderful mother she'd be.
Jack asked how Mariah was doing. Abby sensed that Mariah wanted everyone to believe she was fine, but she believed Mariah was still struggling. Abby relayed that Tessa had confirmed it, and Jack remarked that it hadn't been like Mariah to extend her leave of absence. Abby bemoaned that Mariah wasn't herself, since the weeks before the birth should have been joyous, but Mariah had been locked in a room with no idea who'd kidnapped her. Jack called Mariah a survivor with an excellent support system, including a mother who was a counselor.
Abby imagined that it would take time for Mariah to recover, and Mariah wasn't there yet. Abby mentioned that she'd invited Mariah and Devon to help her interview nanny candidates, but she'd found a strong choice that she'd hired on the spot. Abby hoped it would give Mariah relief to know Dominic would be in good hands when Abby wasn't with him. Jack promised that he wouldn't pressure Mariah to return to Jabot, but he thought it would do her a world of good. Abby believed that Mariah would get through it if she had something to focus on.
On the Crimson Lights patio, Tessa asked how Mariah felt about the christening, promising no judgment. Mariah chirped that she felt much better about things, and she was excited for the ceremony and happy to be Bowie's godmother. Mariah declared her intent to keep using the nickname, and Tessa affirmed that there was nothing wrong with it. Mariah considered it part of the bond she had with the baby, and she saw the role of godmother as someone who took a special interest in the child's well-being. Tessa admired the way Mariah was looking at it, and Mariah observed that Tessa seemed relieved.
Mariah questioned whether Tessa had been concerned that Mariah wouldn't be able to handle the day. Mariah understood Tessa's concern, especially after Mariah had confided that a tiny bit of her blamed Abby for what Stitch had done. Mariah hated that she had those thoughts, but Tessa pointed out that Mariah had gone "through hell." Tessa encouraged Mariah to keep opening up about what was really going on with her.
Mariah explained that she'd felt like she was drowning, with irrational thoughts and a million emotions in her head all at once. Mariah described fear, resentment, and anger all tangled up with giving birth to an innocent baby, but she maintained that she was doing better. Mariah admitted that she'd been thrown when Abby had asked her to be Bowie's godmother, but she was happy to have an official role in his life. Tessa thought Mariah would be the coolest godmother ever, and she couldn't wait to see Mariah in action. Tessa stepped inside to get a refill before they headed to the chapel, and Mariah's smile quickly faded.
Devon arrived home and called out for Moses, stating that he had coffee and bagels. "Well, that sounds delicious," Amanda purred as she descended the stairs, clad in one of Devon's shirts. She mentioned that she'd gotten back from her trip while he'd been at the market and that Moses had already left for school. Amanda wondered if Devon wanted to join her in bed or if he was too hungry. He dropped the bag and raced to the stairs.
Later, Devon told Amanda that he was happy to hear that she'd had fun with her mom and sister. She noted that it had been great to get to know them better without any drama to contend with, and their trip had been serene and relaxing until the day before. Amanda shared that Naya's doctor had called with some test results, and Naya had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Amanda considered it a double whammy with Sutton's trial about to start, and she intended to find her mother the best possible care. Devon offered to help in any way he could.
Amanda turned the topic to the baby. Devon grinned and reported that Dominic was great, and he bragged that he might be a "baby whisperer" because he'd been the only one able to calm the infant down. Amanda wasn't surprised, since Devon always knew how to make her feel better. He invited her to attend the baptism with him that day, but he said he understood if she wasn't up to it. She enthused that she'd love to be part of something positive and life-affirming, and she recognized how important it was to him to be Dominic's godfather.
Ashley ran into Victor in Chancellor Park, and they compared notes about the christening. Ashley considered it momentous, given everything that had needed to happen to get to that day. She praised Abby for overcoming all the obstacles and not letting anything stand in the way of her dream. Victor remarked that their daughter was determined, and he wondered where she'd gotten that from. Ashley commended Chance for willingly accepting help from Mariah and Devon, and she wished Chance could return home. Victor groused that Chance's assignment had gone on too long, since Chance had other obligations that should take precedence. Ashley couldn't argue, and Victor suggested that they put their heads together and do something about it.
At the chapel, the priest had Abby, Dominic, and the baby's godparents step forward. He welcomed everyone to the baptism and declared that they'd hold Chance in their hearts and keep him in their prayers. The priest called the child a gift from God, and he cited the joy on Abby's face whenever she spoke about her son. He asked what name she'd given the child, and Mariah looked away as Abby rattled off Dominic's lengthy moniker.
The priest presided over the baptism ceremony, and Devon and Mariah confirmed that they accepted the responsibility of becoming the baby's godparents. The priest welcomed Dominic to the church and blessed him by gently touching his forehead with holy water. Mariah squirmed as the priest implored the baby's parents and godparents to accept their duty with faith and love.
After the christening ended, Abby's family and friends gathered at the Chancellor mansion. Abby cooed to Dominic that she was proud of him for being good at the baptism, and Devon proudly noted that the tot hadn't made a peep. The guests took turns praising the simple but lovely ceremony, and Nikki called Dominic the living embodiment of Genoa City's four most prominent families, including the Winters clan. Abby promised that she and Chance would raise their son to be humble like his grandparents, whom she felt blessed to have in her life. Victor proposed a toast to his newest grandson, and everyone raised their glasses. Mariah looked forlorn.
Victor remembered when Abby had been born, and Ashley recalled that Abby had wanted to be there in time for the holidays. Victor was grateful that he'd been there to rush Ashley to the hospital, where he'd been the first one to hold Abby. Devon recounted that he'd held Dominic right after the baby had been born, and it was a moment he'd treasure for the rest of his life. Nina anticipated that Chance would be overwhelmed when he heard what Devon and Abby had done to deliver his son into the world, and she admired Mariah's incredible bravery.
Nina knew Chance would have been there for the special day had it been in his power, since he knew how important it was to be surrounded by love, whether people were blood relatives or not. Ashley shared that Traci had called that morning and reminded her of how smitten John had been with Abby at her christening. Jack imagined how proud John and Neil would be if they were there, and Devon told Amanda that Neil had been Abby's godfather. Amanda was in awe of their families' connections, and Abby added that her godmother was Nate's mom, Olivia, a dear friend of Ashley's.
Abby exclaimed that she was glad her own good friend was Dominic's godmother, and Mariah stammered that she was honored to have been part of the special ceremony. Abby firmly stated that Mariah would always have an important role in Abby's son's life, and Mariah mumbled that it meant a lot. A shaken Mariah attempted to set her glass down on the mantel. but she ended up dropping it. It shattered on the floor. Dominic began to cry, and Abby insisted that everything was okay. Mariah rambled about being a klutz and apologized for upsetting the baby. Abby picked up Dominic as Tessa led Mariah out. Abby exchanged a worried glance with Devon.
Tessa followed Mariah to the park. "What is wrong with me?!" Mariah bellowed. Mariah babbled that she'd thought she could do it, and she'd really tried, but all the efforts to include her had just made things worse. Mariah wailed that she couldn't be around the baby without her heart shattering into a million pieces. "I don't think I can do this," she cried.
Meanwhile, Abby got Dominic back to sleep, and Victor questioned why Mariah had overreacted. Abby cited the fallout from the kidnapping, and Jack recommended that they all show Mariah as much love and support as they could. Ashley suggested that they proceed with the party, since the last thing Mariah needed was to return and find them dissecting her behavior. Ashley grabbed a private moment with Abby and asked if she was all right. Abby admitted that she was handling a lot, and she thought she was doing it well; however, it would be easier if her husband were there because it was exhausting to deal with everything alone.
Abby recognized that Chance was doing everything he could to get back to them and that worrying about it wouldn't get him home any faster. Ashley said she was proud of Abby, who was grateful to have Nina, Ashley, and Victor. Mariah and Tessa rejoined the party, and Mariah apologized if she'd ruined the celebration. Abby swore that Mariah hadn't, and Ashley added that Mariah had nothing to apologize for. Jack commented that they all had their moments, and Nina joked that she sometimes had them multiple times a day.
Mariah excused herself to head upstairs, but she encouraged everyone to keep celebrating. The guests started to head out, and Nina retreated to the kitchen. Devon stayed behind to make sure Abby was okay, and Amanda left without him. Once Abby and Devon were alone, he sympathized that the day hadn't gone the way she'd hoped. Abby felt like she'd done everything she could have to make things better for Mariah, and Devon said he was worried about Mariah, too.
Mariah and Tessa descended the stairs with their suitcases. Mariah announced that they were moving out and would be back for the rest of their stuff another time. She pledged to keep pumping and storing milk so it would be available when Abby needed it. Mariah whimpered that she knew it was a shock, but she just couldn't stay there anymore.
Abby reiterated that she wasn't upset about the party, and she pointed out that Mariah and Tessa had agreed to live there for at least a few months. Abby insisted that they were part of the family, and nothing had changed. "For you," Mariah replied. Mariah explained that she'd told herself she could be the best surrogate and part of the baby Chancellor team, since she'd wanted to make Abby's dream become a reality. Mariah continued that it had been a dream she'd never allowed herself to dream, but everything had changed when she'd given birth. Abby wiped away tears and said she wanted to help make things better for Mariah.
Abby offered to do anything Mariah needed, but Mariah responded that there was nothing Abby could do to make it easier. Mariah recalled that she'd been the one who'd carried the child and talked to him when he'd still been inside her, and she'd promised to keep him safe. Mariah swore that the last thing she wanted to do was hurt Abby, but she couldn't stay there and pretend it wasn't killing her to step back and watch. Mariah acknowledged what she'd agreed to, but she cried that it physically hurt to be there day in and day out because all she wanted to do was be the boy's mother. "It's Bowie. It's my Bowie," Mariah sobbed, repeating that she couldn't stay there anymore.
Abby expressed sympathy for everything Mariah was going through. Mariah requested to say goodbye to Dominic, and Abby invited her to take all the time she needed. Mariah stepped over to the bassinet, picked up the baby, and held him close. She told him she had to say goodbye but that they would always be connected, since they had a special bond like no one else.
Mariah envisioned a time when she was stronger and more together, and she could be a part of the baby's life. She added that even though it broke her heart, she needed to keep her distance for a while so she could get to that place. Abby, Devon, and Tessa looked on helplessly as Mariah kissed Dominic's forehead and sobbed, "My Bowie. Oh, my Bowie, I love you so, so much."
At the Abbott mansion, Ashley lamented that her heart went out to Mariah, but Jack surmised that Ashley was uneasy about how Mariah's trauma would affect Abby and Dominic. Jack considered it a truly selfless act on Mariah's part to have carried Abby's child, but Stitch had put Mariah "through hell." He expected that it would take time, and he pointed out that Mariah wasn't just Abby's friend or surrogate but part of their family. Jack asserted that they looked after family, even when it was challenging. Ashley agreed that it was what the Abbotts always did.
Victor and Nikki returned to the ranch, and she noted that he'd been quiet on the drive home. He voiced concern about Abby standing alone at the baptism, and he wondered "where the hell" her husband was. Nikki respected Abby for rising to the occasion beautifully, but Victor imagined it hadn't been easy for Abby. He predicted dark clouds on the horizon, and Nikki guessed he was referring to Mariah.
Victor pointed out that Abby had a new baby with an absent father, and she shouldn't have to take on Mariah's problems on top of it. He didn't like the fact that an emotionally unstable Mariah was living in the same house with Abby and the child. Nikki argued that it was a child Mariah had given birth to, and she couldn't think of anything more healing than Abby offering a caring hand if she had the strength to do so.