Sharon stopped by Mariah and Tessa's new home at the tack house on the Newman ranch. Sharon asked about baby Aria. Tessa said she had managed to calm the infant after a doctor had performed a battery of medical tests. Sharon assured the nervous new moms that professionals would successfully treat Aria's hearing problems.
Mariah, tense and concerned, lashed out, crying that until an audiologist assessed Aria's particular issue, they could not be certain. Mariah immediately apologized for her outburst. Sharon consoled Mariah, noting that feeling helpless was the worst feeling in the world. Tessa and Mariah both acknowledged that they had researched hearing loss on the Internet. Mariah recalled that her search had yielded a library of worst-case scenarios.
Mariah changed the subject and asked Sharon about SNA. Sharon announced that SNA would be merging with Newman Media, adding that Adam had made a power play by assigning himself as the company head while relegating Nick and her in secondary positions. Sharon, fearing that Victor might take Adam's side if a war were to break out, said everything was up in the air. Mariah noted that Adam typically ruined whatever was good because everything had to be about him.
Sharon declared that she would not give up her one-third share of the company, adding that she knew how to survive Newman family drama. Mariah praised her mother's strength and said it was an attribute she lacked. Tessa and Sharon corrected Mariah, explaining that she was a fiercely strong woman who never gave herself enough credit. Sharon praised both Mariah and Tessa for being loving, capable, and determined parents to Aria.
After Sharon left, Tessa proposed an outing outdoors as a distraction. Mariah, distracted, cried that all she could think about was why she had not detected Aria's hearing loss sooner. Tessa answered a knock at the door. Devon entered. A surprised Mariah seemed emotionally overcome when Devon explained that Tessa had informed him about Aria. Devon offered to answer questions and help in any way he could. Devon warmly embraced Mariah.
A frustrated Nick stopped by Sally's suite to let off steam about Adam, though he would not elaborate about the latest development. Nick, battling his heated emotions, told Sally that he would rather not talk or think about Adam. Sally replied that her suite was an Adam-free space. Sally distracted Nick by kissing him and unbuttoning his shirt. After the couple made love, Nick told Sally she had the magic touch.
Sally asked Nick if he was still willing to offer funding for her to start a business. After Nick assured Sally he would help her, she expressed concerns that it might interfere with their relationship. Nick brushed aside Sally's concerns. Sally told Nick that she would submit a business plan. Nick assured Sally he had complete trust and faith in her, adding that she had made the right decision not to work for Adam.
Sally admitted to Nick that something seemed off about Adam offering her a position without having consulted Nick or Sharon. Nick reminded Sally that with Adam, it was all about his wants and needs. Determined to change the subject, Nick asked Sally why she had finally decided to accept his help. Sally recalled that early in their relationship, Nick might have felt she was taking advantage of him. Nick, alluding to the miscarriage, noted that most in Sally's situation might have fallen apart, though she had remained strong.
Sally admitted she'd felt she might never smile again after losing her baby. Sally praised Nick for supporting her and allowing her to dream and nurture something of her own that she might leave to the kids she hoped to have in the future. Nick assured Sally that she would soar to success. Nick said he wished he could convince Sally to live with him. Sally replied, "One life-changing moment at a time."
At the ranch, Adam met with Victor. Adam insisted that he, with his father's assistance, serve as CEO of Newman Media after the merger was approved. Adam declared that he was the most qualified to run the company he had created. Adam recalled that he had been the first to envision the merger and deserved a seat at the table. Victor asked Adam if he had consulted with Nick and Sharon. Adam replied that his partners would eventually see the logic in his plan. Victor berated Adam for upsetting the dynamics of merging SNA and Newman Media. Victor explained that the complex process involved a number of people, not just Adam.
Adam complained that his father relished dangling the carrot just out of his reach. Raising his voice, Victor reminded Adam that he had gotten what he had wanted. Adam replied that Nate had been the one who had successfully convinced Victor to approve the merger. Adam asked Victor if his decision was punishment for orchestrating the blackmail scheme. Victor replied, "Can you blame me if it were?"
Victor condemned Adam's methods and asked him how being denied might change his plans. Adam, wrongly anticipating his father's decision, said he had believed that Victor, Nick, and Sharon would have thought it was the best move. Adam agreed to back off for a while, though he advised his father that Audra Charles's position would be redundant in either future scenario, explaining that four in charge of running a company was too many. Victor did not commit to act on Adam's suggestion.
After Adam left, Nikki asked Victor what was going on with Adam. Victor told Nikki about Adam's demand to become CEO of the newly merged companies. Victor explained that Adam's plan would put Nick and Sharon in a position to answer to him. Nikki suggested putting Nick and Sharon in charge while Adam served in a secondary position. Victor did not respond to Nikki's suggestion.
Adam stopped by Crimson Lights and was surprised to find Esther working behind the counter. Esther announced that she was the coffee shop's new manager. Sally entered and greeted Adam. After Sally expressed appreciation to Adam, he guessed that she was turning down his job offer. Sally explained that she had accepted Nick's offer to fund her own business. Adam admitted that Sally's decision was one he had not expected.
Sally cried that it was time for her to create something for herself. Adam told Sally she was making a mistake because she had no guarantees her project would belong to her if Nick funded it. Sally noted that Nick considered it a hands-off investment. Adam asked Sally if she believed Nick. Sally replied, "Yeah. I do." Adam warned Sally that Nick could not resist getting involved, explaining that it was a trait he shared with Victor.
Nikki entered Crimson Lights, beheld the shop's brand-new manager, and exclaimed, "Esther?" Esther quipped that she had become a master barista. Esther added that she still worked at Chancellor-Winters, in addition to managing the coffeehouse while Sharon stepped away to become a business mogul. Esther told Nikki she had never seen Sharon so excited or committed to anything like she was to her new business venture.
Nikki replied, "I'd hold off ordering business cards if I were you." Nikki warned that Sharon's wonderful venture might blow up. Esther asked what had happened. Nikki explained that Adam was once again rocking the boat and was well on his way to sinking it. Esther replied, "Darn him. All the work that Sharon put into it. All the hopes and the dreams."
Though Nikki expressed concern for Sharon, she acknowledged that she was more concerned about her own family. Nikki explained that Adam was dangling the promise of becoming the son his father had always wanted him to be if he got what he wanted. Nikki cried that, as usual, Nick was again caught in the middle.
Esther said she did not understand why anyone expected the embattled brothers to work together, adding that both Nick and Adam had relationships with Sharon. Esther warned that the situation spelled trouble whenever exes worked with exes. Esther cried that her hopes and dreams to spice up the menu, book music performers, and add a piano bar had been kicked to the curb after all the time she had invested. Nikki replied, "Esther, you've been in charge for five minutes. You'll get over it."
At Society, Nick and Sharon discussed their next move. Nick told Sharon that Adam would find other ways to make their lives miserable if he did not get his way. Nick suggested they stay one step ahead of Adam. Sharon asked Nick why they should jump through hoops to keep Adam on a leash.
Sharon told Nick she was sick of dealing with the situation already and could not imagine how much worse it might get later on. Sharon suggested she and Nick take back Kirsten and make it their own company, free of Newman, free of Victor, and free of Adam. Sharon recalled that her initial plan had been to turn Kirsten's company into something positive. Nick replied, "Then you brought on Adam." Sharon acknowledged she was to blame for involving Adam.
Nick admitted that the company could have benefited if Adam had been a normal human being who could work with others. Sharon cried that she had been wrong to assume Adam could be anything more than he had always been. Sharon asked, "So, what are we going to do?" Nick reminded Sharon that because the contracts had already been filed and the merger was near completion, it would be difficult to back out, especially with Victor involved.
Sharon told Nick she had already enlisted attorneys to look over the contracts. Nick warned that lawsuits and family drama might dominate their lives. Recalling that he and Sharon had weathered such conditions before, Nick suggested they grit their teeth and stick with it. Sharon replied, "The idea of that makes me shudder."
Nick pondered whether or not he and Sharon could mold McCall and Kirsten into what they had envisioned it could be, adding that they would have to push back against Adam and Victor each time they attempted to mark their territory. Sharon noticed Victor standing nearby, glaring at them. Victor joined Sharon and Nick and said he assumed they had spoken with Adam. Nick recalled Adam having insisted he become top dog at Newman Media. Victor acknowledged that Adam had proposed the same to him. Nick said he hoped his father had turned down Adam's request, warning that if not, he would walk away because Adam was not deserving.
Victor asked Sharon what she thought. Sharon agreed, explaining that Adam would marginalize her and Nick, so he could do whatever he wanted. Victor reminded them that he still ran Newman Enterprises. Sharon, noting that she still owned Kirsten, Incorporated, asked Victor if he believed her company was still crucial to the new business venture. Sharon reminded Victor that he intended to strip down Kirsten to become a cog in a bigger machine called Newman Media. Victor explained that only a stripped-down, lean company could compete in a contemporary marketplace. Nick replied, "Are you talking about the company itself or the three of us working together?"
After Victor later returned home, Nikki said, "You left before we had a chance to talk about my idea." Victor replied, "What idea?" Nikki said, "You know, about having Sharon and Nicholas run Newman Media, and Adam would be reporting to them." Victor explained that Sharon might become the sticking point by pulling out her whole arrangement. Nikki replied, "Can she do that?" Victor said it was legally debatable, though he feared that Nick might follow suit. Nikki asked Victor how dealing with the endless drama might benefit him in any way.
After Sally told Adam about her new plans, she met up with Nick at Society. Sally told Nick that Adam had taken the news as well as expected. Nick did not seem surprised when Sally said that Adam did not trust him. Nick said he did not care what Adam thought and had begun to wonder why he had become involved in the merger with his dad and Adam in the first place. Nick revealed that Sharon was considering pulling the trigger and going out on her own.
Nick said perhaps he should pull out and focus on Sally's new business venture. Sally reminded Nick that she was accepting his offer as an investment and was not seeking a business partner. Sally told Nick that if she could not run the show, the deal was off.
When Sharon returned to Crimson Lights, Esther expected to hear bad news. Esther cried, "It's over, isn't it? You're taking control of Crimson Lights. I had such high hopes for this place, but I understand. It was premature. We got ahead of ourselves, but you never should have gone into business with two of your exes."
After Esther told Sharon she would leave her keys, Sharon replied, "Esther, you do not need to leave me the keys." Sharon assured Esther that nothing had changed because she was not taking back Crimson Lights. Adam entered from the patio and heard Sharon when she declared, "Everything is right on track. In fact, things look even better than they did before." Esther gasped and exclaimed, "Oh, good!" Adam appeared taken aback.
At the tack house, Mariah voiced surprise that Tessa had called Devon. Tessa explained that they had pediatricians and specialists, but they needed a friend. Devon offered to share resources from his own experience with hearing loss, but he stressed that he was mostly there to talk. Mariah informed him that they'd noticed Aria hadn't been reacting to loud noises. Tessa added that their pediatrician had run tests to confirm there was an issue. Mariah lamented that there were still more tests to do.
Devon recalled that he'd been concerned he'd pass down his hearing problems to Dominic. Tessa requested that Devon walk them through what it had been like not to hear. Mariah pointed out that Devon's situation had been totally different, and she objected to him having to relive it. After Devon swore that he wanted to talk about it, Mariah welcomed him to stay and answer the million questions she had.
Devon praised Mariah and Tessa for talking to someone who'd been through something similar instead of going online and scaring themselves with misinformation. Devon pointed out that his experience had been different because he'd been older when he'd lost his hearing. Tessa referenced his bout with meningitis, and Devon recounted that he'd been a teenager when it had happened. He shared that he'd been able to speak and communicate, but he hadn't been able to hear himself or anyone else. Mariah fretted that Aria couldn't say whether she was confused or frightened.
Devon assured Mariah and Tessa that Aria had two people who cared about her, advocated for her, and loved her. Devon cautioned that he wasn't an expert, despite what he'd been through, and he asked if they'd lined up more appointments. Tessa revealed that an audiologist would be stopping by the house. Tessa admitted that it helped knowing that they were doing the best thing for Aria, but every minute was filled with "what ifs" about what would happen. Mariah pondered the possibility that Aria might never be able to hear her mother's beautiful voice.
Later, Dr. George arrived, and Mariah and Tessa introduced themselves. Devon recognized the doctor as a member of his care team from when he'd had his cochlear implant years earlier. Dr. George mentioned that her practice focused on pediatrics, and she remembered his interest in music. He recalled that all he'd been able to think about at the time had been not knowing if he'd be able to hear, and the surgery had been a miracle. Dr. George commented that modern medicine could do wonders, but so could the human spirit. Devon proclaimed that Aria's spirit was stronger than all of theirs combined, so there was nothing to worry about. Devon departed.
After the doctor's exam, Tessa reported that Aria had already passed out. Dr. George explained that she'd performed two types of tests, the first of which determined if Aria's inner ear responded to sound. Mariah surmised that Aria had failed. Dr. George said the absence of auto-acoustic emissions could mean hearing loss, but it also might not. She continued that she'd conducted another test to see how Aria's brain responded to sound, and the results suggested that there was hearing loss connected to an auditory nerve deep in the ear, but it was too early to make assumptions. Mariah asked if the condition was treatable if it was what the doctor suspected it was. Dr. George confirmed it was treatable -- but there was no cure.
Dr. George expected that once she arrived at a definitive diagnosis, they'd start with a hearing aid first, and she'd seen great success with hearing aids in infants and toddlers. Mariah questioned what would happen if that didn't work. The doctor referred to other things they could consider, like a cochlear implant. With a trembling voice, Tessa asked if she and Mariah had done something wrong to cause Aria's hearing loss.
Dr. George assured Mariah and Tessa that from everything she'd seen, they'd been excellent parents, and Aria had likely inherited her condition from a birth parent. Tessa planned to obtain medical information from Delphine. The doctor requested to see Aria in her office for further testing before looking into the best hearing aids for the tot. Dr. George encouraged them not to worry, since Aria was getting the best medical care possible. After the doctor left, Mariah and Tessa tearfully hugged.
Over lunch at Society, Abby asked if Ashley was still living at the Athletic Club. Ashley shared that she and Tucker were looking at real estate, both for a new home and for office space for their new company. Abby inquired whether Ashley's truce with Jack was holding strong, and Ashley indicated it was. Ashley reasoned that it was easier to have peace when she didn't live and work with someone.
Abby considered it a shame that her mother had left Jabot after all the time, energy, and love Ashley had put into the company. Abby questioned whether Ashley was sure she wanted to break away and start over. Ashley maintained that it was impossible for her to work at Jabot with Diane there, so it was time to move on. "Thank God!" Diane declared as she passed by their table.
Ashley testily asked if there was something she could help Diane with or if Diane just intended to eavesdrop. Diane defended that she hadn't been able to help unintentionally overhearing, and it was her business because Ashley's future affected Jack. Diane insisted that she wanted Abbott family harmony, but she understood that some members of the family would never accept her as an Abbott. Ashley snapped that Diane's words meant nothing to her, since some things never changed, and Diane certainly hadn't.
Diane bet that Ashley was so hung up on the past that she stayed awake at night, plotting revenge against the mean girls in high school. Ashley spat that the best predictor of actions was past behavior. Abby ordered them to take their argument elsewhere, since her customers hadn't paid for a show. Abby answered a call from Devon and agreed to meet him in the park with Dominic. After Abby left, Ashley huffed that she was really trying to move on from Diane's toxicity, and she popped a grape into her mouth for emphasis. Ashley began to choke.
Ashley stumbled to her feet and struggled to breathe. Diane raced behind her and performed the Heimlich maneuver, causing Ashley to spit the grape out. Diane urged Ashley to keep breathing and requested water from a server. Ashley coughed and turned to face Diane. "Did you just save my life?" Ashley incredulously asked.
Diane figured that she'd only done what anyone would have done, and she hadn't given it any thought. Diane recommended that Ashley get checked out at urgent care, but Ashley insisted she was fine. Diane cautioned that there could be complications after a choking incident, and she was adamant that she at least drive Ashley back to the club. Ashley realized that she was okay because Diane had saved her.
Diane pushed Ashley to let her call Abby or Tucker, but Ashley reiterated that she was fine. Diane observed that Ashley didn't look fine, and Ashley conceded that she'd gotten lightheaded. Diane refused to let Ashley drive or go anywhere alone. Ashley eventually caved and allowed Diane to take her to the club.
In Chancellor Park, Devon kissed Abby and hugged Dominic. Devon shared that after leaving Mariah and Tessa's place, he'd felt the need to see his family right away. Devon relayed that Aria might not be able to hear, but there was more testing that needed to be done to determine whether there was a solution. He continued that he'd mostly wanted to talk Mariah and Tessa down because there was a lot they didn't know yet. Devon mused that he'd never been more grateful to have a family with Abby, since he knew that what they had could get them through anything. They kissed.
Devon recalled being terrified when he'd lost his hearing, but Dru, Neil, Lily, and Daniel had all learned sign language and tried their best to help him cope. A teenage Devon bemoaned that he'd have to find new ways to pick up girls, anticipating that not many of them would be into deaf guys. Neil typed on a device to communicate that Devon was young, handsome, and smart with a good heart, so plenty of women would be attracted to him. Neil suggested that they shoot some hoops after dinner, but Devon became frustrated when he struggled to respond using sign language.
Neil compared it to how it had taken him a year of studying Spanish before he'd felt comfortable communicating in a new language. Devon vowed to practice all day every day, since he refused to lose a year out of his life. Devon recognized that it had been scary for his family, too, but he hadn't been very good at understanding that. Abby asserted that all that mattered was that they were there for Mariah and Tessa to give them all the love and support they needed. Devon recognized that Dominic wouldn't be there if it hadn't been for Mariah. Abby gushed that she was thankful she had such a loving, caring man in her life.
Later, Abby and Devon dropped off some takeout food for "Team Teriah." Mariah and Tessa informed their friends that the doctor had confirmed Aria had hearing loss and would need a hearing aid or surgery. Abby brightly noted that the ladies had a plan as well as a huge safety net of love and support.
After Devon and Abby left, Mariah and Tessa cuddled with Aria on the couch. Mariah resolved to trust the doctors and take things one step at a time. Tessa couldn't stop thinking about whether she had done something wrong, but Mariah pointed out that it might be something genetic. Mariah focused on doing what was best for their daughter by planning for Aria's future and staying positive. Tessa cooed that she knew Aria couldn't hear her, but they loved her and would do whatever they could to help her.
At the Abbott mansion, Jack and Billy entered the living room after having a work session outside on the patio. Billy remarked that it had been a nice change of pace instead of rushing off to the office, and he marveled at how quiet the house was without any snarky comments or open hostility. Jack surmised that Billy was referring to Ashley and Tucker, and Billy wondered if the couple's lack of communication was a good thing or pending doom. Jack admitted that he had no idea what the odds were that Ashley and Tucker were moving on from their "anti-Diane plan," but he wasn't about to bet on anything.
Tucker appeared in the foyer, and Jack sourly recalled asking Tucker to return his house key. Tucker explained that he was there to pick up some personal items and that Ashley had arranged to move the rest of their things, so they'd soon be out of Jack's hair. Jack had a hard time believing it. Tucker swore that he and Ashley were moving on because Jack and Diane weren't worth the stress. Tucker contended that he'd convinced Ashley that any efforts to save Jabot from Diane would be a waste of time, and their real future was the company they'd run together.
Jack argued that Tucker had convinced Ashley to fight against Jabot as a competitor, even though her justification for fighting with Jack had been to save Jack and Jabot from Diane. Tucker feigned confusion, noting that Jack had seemingly known from the beginning that Tucker's devious plan had been to use Ashley to rekindle their relationship for purposes of acquiring Jabot. Tucker reiterated that Ashley was seeking peace and prosperity, and he was only along for the ride. Tucker added that he'd seen what the war between Jack and Ashley had been doing to her, and he'd helped her see that it was an unhealthy obsession. Tucker warned that during the entire time Jack had been worried about what Tucker would do, the real threat had been a little closer to home. Jack retorted that Ashley was no longer a threat.
Tucker announced that Billy had been ready to sell Jack out for control of Jabot. Jack acknowledged that Billy wasn't Diane's biggest fan, but he vehemently protested that there was no way Billy would choose Tucker and Ashley over Jack and the company their father had founded. Tucker countered that Billy was the kind of guy who was capable of anything if the price was right. Billy hissed that Tucker was wrong and lying through his teeth. Tucker scoffed at the idea that Billy had turned down the opportunity to weaken Jabot from the inside in exchange for the CEO title once the takeover was successful.
Billy stuck to his story, and Tucker guessed Billy was managing to keep a straight face because of his poker experience. Tucker taunted that his instincts were better than Jack's in that situation, since Tucker had heard the hunger and ambition in Billy's voice. Jack wondered why Tucker cared whether Jack's faith in Billy was forever shattered. Tucker claimed that he was doing his brother-in-law a solid by letting Jack know Billy's dislike for Diane went deeper than Billy had let on. Tucker chided Jack for being worried about what Ashley would do when Billy had been ready to stick a knife in Jack's back.
Jack growled that there was only one "backstabbing S.O.B." in the room, and it was Tucker. Jack accused Tucker of trying to create tension between him and Billy to destabilize Jabot, but he proclaimed that it wouldn't work because Jabot was solid. Tucker reiterated that he and Ashley weren't a threat to Jack, and it was Jack's call if he wanted to continue to trust Billy. Tucker quipped that blood was thicker than betrayal, and he headed upstairs. Jack remarked that it was a good thing he trusted Billy, since Tucker had made a "hell of a case." Billy demanded to know what Jack meant.
Billy pointed out that Tucker hadn't said anything Jack hadn't already known, since Billy had played the part exactly the way they'd planned. Jack called it a clever move on Tucker's part to tell him Billy had been tempted by the opportunity to run Jabot, but he suggested they not get into a big argument over it because that was what Tucker was banking on. Billy clarified that he hadn't been trying to steal Jabot, but he'd pretended to be interested in the brass ring to stay on the inside. Jack said no one would be surprised if Billy had been tempted to run Jabot, but he didn't believe Billy would have followed through with it.
Billy concluded that Jack didn't entirely trust him, and he was shocked by how quickly the seed Tucker had just planted had taken hold. Jack swore that Billy had proven time and time again that Jack could trust him, but Billy argued that it had been Jack's instinct to believe Billy had fallen back into old habits. Billy insisted that he'd been in control the whole time, and he contemplated whether the white flag Ashley and Tucker were flying was legitimate. Jack doubted it, and he wondered if that was why Billy thought Jack didn't trust him. Billy was appalled that Jack had thought for even one second that Billy might go to Ashley and Tucker's side after everything Billy had promised Jack.
Jack apologized if Billy had taken what Jack had said that way. Billy snapped that there had been only one way to take it, and he stormed out. Tucker returned downstairs and surmised that "the turncoat" had left. Jack ranted that he and Diane had gone to Tucker and Ashley's wedding, and he'd given Ashley everything she'd asked for. He blasted Tucker for dragging Billy into a plot to destroy the Abbott family company and then trying to sow dissent by telling him that Billy had been the one trying to plan a coup.
Jack sternly stated that the tension between him and Ashley was a family matter, but Tucker preferred to think he was also family. Jack snarled that Tucker would never be any part of his family, and he promised to destroy Tucker if Tucker hurt Ashley in any way. Tucker recognized that he gave off an air of "not giving a damn about much," but he warned Jack not to cross him. Tucker grabbed his things and left.
Later, Diane led Ashley into the Athletic Club, and Tucker asked "what the hell" was going on. Ashley insisted that Diane had done enough and could leave. Diane reiterated that Ashley should see a doctor. Ashley opted to go upstairs.
In their hotel suite, Ashley sputtered that Diane had done something truly amazing. Ashley told Tucker about how she'd choked on a grape while sparring with Diane at Society, and Diane had jumped into action to perform the Heimlich. Tucker asked why Diane had mentioned the hospital. Ashley repeated Diane's suggestion that she get checked out, but she swore that she was fine physically. Ashley grappled with what to do mentally and emotionally, since the woman she hated more than anyone on the planet had just saved her life.
Back at the Abbott home, Jack left a voicemail for Billy to say he was sorry about the way they'd left things, and he invited Billy to get together for a drink. The front door closed, and Jack was happy to see Diane. He hugged her but sensed something had happened. Diane divulged that Ashley could have died, but Diane had saved her life.
Billy chugged a drink at the jazz lounge. He checked his phone and saw that he had a voicemail from Jack. "Not interested, Jack," Billy muttered bitterly as he deleted the message.
At the tack house, Mariah told Tessa that Aria could feel Tessa's tension even if she couldn't hear it. She told Tessa they would fight like hell to make sure Aria was okay, and they would get through it together. Mariah said that although they had a lot of support from Abby and Devon, she really wanted to talk to her mother.
In the park, Adam told Sharon that he knew that she and Nick were pissed at him. Sharon said she'd known Adam would try to grab power. Adam said he would understand if she was upset with him. Sharon told Adam not everything was about him. She stated that she thought in bigger terms, and that would affect the whole operation.
Adam told Sharon he'd heard her talking to Esther earlier. He said he'd heard her say that things were on track and looking better since she knew what she wanted. Adam assumed Sharon was talking about something other than him assuming the position of sole CEO of the company. Adam said that Sharon either knew about Victor's plan, or she had a new plan of her own. Sharon stated that she would share her plan when Adam, Victor, and Nick were together.
Sharon told Adam she was still working out the details, and she refused to say any more than that. Sharon said she wanted to call a meeting of everyone after she'd spoken to Nick. Adam asked why Nick got to vote on Sharon's plan, and he didn't. Adam said he didn't like being left out of the discussion. Sharon laughed and said Adam had tried to seize power in a company they were supposed to be building together, but he was worried about being left out of her plan.
Adam apologized. He told Sharon it was a logical quest for an attempt at a coup. He claimed he'd created Newman Media, and it was his company that was merging with the new entity. He claimed it made sense that he would be in charge. Sharon claimed "created" was a stretch. She said Adam had turned Cyaxares, Ashland Locke's company, which had been very solid before Adam had taken it over, into Newman Media. Adam claimed to know the ins and outs much better than Sharon and Nick did.
Adam told Sharon he was the one who'd suggested the merger to Victor. He said Victor had seen the logic in it. Sharon said she believed Adam was only looking for whatever excuse he could find to try to rise up through the ranks to get Victor's approval. She claimed Adam would love nothing more than for Victor to embrace Adam and tell Adam he was proud of what Adam had accomplished. Adam claimed it was just good business. Sharon said Adam was framing it in a way that served him. Sharon claimed Adam liked spinning things to suit the way he wanted them to be, but he'd pushed her too far. She said his actions had consequences.
Adam asked if Sharon was punishing him with whatever she and Nick were cooking up. Sharon told Adam he wasn't a victim. She said she'd thought they'd begun to find a balance in their trio, but there was no balance in their trio because Adam continued to take steps to grab his own power. She said Adam shouldn't be surprised when his two business partners decided to take a different direction. Adam accused Sharon and Nick of planning a counter coup.
Adam asked Sharon to admit that they were planning to blow everything up and leave him out in the cold. Before Sharon could respond, she received a call from Mariah. Mariah told Sharon they'd had an appointment with the audiologist, and she asked if Sharon could stop by the tack house. Sharon said she was on her way. Adam insisted on knowing whether there was a potential overthrow in the works.
Adam asked if that was Sharon's new plan -- to pull the rug out from under him. Sharon said they would discuss it later. Adam apologized for all the things he'd done. He admitted he knew how important the new venture was to Sharon. He wanted to know what she and Nick would be talking about. She said Adam would find out soon. She left.
In Audra's suite, Victor told Audra that he was going to merge Kirsten Incorporated and McCall Unlimited into Newman Media. Audra stated that Adam was getting what he'd wanted. Victor assured Audra that Adam would no longer be a problem for her. Audra asked Victor if she was done at Newman Media because of the merger. Victor told Audra he wasn't there to fire her because he had plans for her. He told her that the management structure of Newman Media was in the process of being worked out. He claimed he was there to reassure her.
Audra told Victor that could mean anything, including her absence from Newman Media. Victor assured her he was happy with the work she'd been doing, and he advised her to keep it up. Victor left.
At the ranch, Nick asked Nikki if Victor had informed her that Adam insisted on being CEO of the company. Nikki said she'd told Victor she didn't think he should give in to Adam's demands. Nick snarked that it was another classic play by Adam. He told Nikki that Sharon had had the best of intentions when she'd come up with the idea that she, Nick, and Adam work together, but Adam had blown the whole thing to pieces. Nikki said Victor was worried that Nick and Sharon were going to walk away from the deal. Nick asked if Victor had asked her to question him about his and Sharon's position. Nick admitted that he and Sharon were considering their options.
Nick told Nikki that Sharon was very concerned that Kirsten Incorporated would be reduced to almost nothing under the merger, and that hadn't been what she'd signed up for. Nick said the last thing he wanted to see was Sharon getting screwed over. He said after what Sharon had been through, it was supposed to be her silver lining. After all the years Adam had been involved with Sharon, he hadn't bothered to consider what mattered to her. Nikki stated that what had once been considered a great opportunity had been damaged almost beyond repair.
Nick told Nikki that Victor had gone out of his way to make sure Adam never felt like the black sheep or that he'd been sidelined by the family. Nikki admitted she had no idea what Victor's "current thoughts" were. Nick said Victor was going to give Adam exactly what Adam wanted. Nikki admitted that she'd been trying to make Victor see that making allowances for Adam was a mistake.
Nikki begged Nick to be patient because everything would get sorted out. Nick claimed he couldn't sit on the sidelines and watch what would happen. He confirmed that all his concerns about Adam had been valid. Nick asked if he and Sharon could be blamed for trying to find other options. Nikki said she'd suggested that Victor put Nick and Sharon in charge and bypass Adam completely.
Nick told Nikki that Victor would never let go of Adam, no matter what anyone told him. Nick said the reason he'd decided to join Sharon's company was because Sharon's vision had been so strong. He'd wanted to do Victor a favor by trying to control Adam. He said Sharon could lose everything because no one could control Adam. Nick said he and Sharon had had enough of all the drama. Nikki said Victor knew what he was going to do with the company, but he hadn't shared it with her. Nikki said that ultimately, Victor wanted to keep the family together.
Nick stated that Victor had always felt he was a very powerful man, and most of the time, he'd been right -- until it came to Adam. He said Victor couldn't change, fix, or bend Adam to his will. He said Adam would always try to find ways to cause problems and to be the outsider.
Nikki asked how Nick was doing, because he'd gone through a terrible ordeal with Faith, then Sally had lost her baby, and he'd been eased out of Newman Enterprises by Victoria. Nick laughed and said he hadn't been eased out; he'd been tossed out by his sister in favor of a man no one in their family should trust. He stated he found himself in the middle of Adam and Sharon vying for control. Nick claimed the situation only existed because Victor was blind to Adam at the expense of his other children.
Nick asked Nikki whether Victor would have been as tolerant with the perpetual mutiny from him or Victoria. Nikki hated to hear Nick talk that way because she was worried that he would pull away from the family again. Nick told Nikki he felt that he needed put distance between himself and all the business because it was wearing on him. He said it was one thing to have all that drama in his personal life, but his professional life was another thing. He said it had been the reason he had walked away from Newman Enterprises in the first place.
Nikki asked Nick to wait until he saw how things played out. She said the company needed him, and she and Nick were the only balanced ones in the situation. Nick claimed that balance was never appreciated in their family because Victor always sided with Adam, despite Adam's manipulations. He said Victoria had kicked him out, she'd given him a leave of absence, and she'd given away his job -- for good. He asked what would happen if the chaos never ended and it was a never-ending cycle of power plays with Victor, Victoria, and Adam. Nick said he couldn't and wouldn't live that way.
Victor arrived and asked if he'd interrupted anything. Nick said it was nothing that Victor didn't already know about. Nick said he wasn't happy about how things were going within the company, and he was sick of the fact that Adam never faced any consequences. Victor claimed he handled Adam as he saw fit. Nick told Victor to do what he felt he needed to, but Nick couldn't guarantee he would be part of it anymore. Victor asked what that meant, but before Nick could respond, he received a text message. Nick left.
Victor told Nikki he knew Nick was upset with Adam. Nikki said he was angry enough to pull away from the family, and she couldn't have that again. She told Victor that Nick was hurt, and despite Nick's efforts, Victor continued to be the problem because he gave Adam one chance after another. Victor claimed he'd tried to do what was best for his children. Nikki said that to Nick, it looked like preferential treatment.
Nikki told Victor that Victoria had abruptly pushed Nick aside, Adam was up to his old tricks, and Nick saw it as Victor allowing it to happen. She said Nick was questioning his place in the family and in the company. Victor claimed he'd tried to facilitate them working together, but they had fought him every step of the way. Nikki stated that they hadn't -- Adam had, and that could drive Nick away. Victor said he would come up with a solution later that day, but they might not like it.
Victor told Nikki it was done. He hugged her and told her he loved her. Nikki asked what he was up to.
In the Newman office, Nate sent a text message to Victoria: "Hope things are going more smoothly in Los Angeles. I miss you." Nate received a phone call from Audra, who told him Victor had just been to see her, and something was up.
A short time later, Nate arrived at Audra's suite. Audra confirmed that Victor was going to fold Kirsten and McCall into Newman Media. Audra complained that Victor wouldn't confirm the status of her position when the merger went through. Nate claimed the details were still being worked out. She was sure Nick, Adam, and Sharon would take over Newman Media, and she would be pushed out. Nate claimed Victor would have been direct about it. Nate asked if Victor had said anything about her job performance.
Audra told Nate that Victor had said he'd been impressed with her work. Nate assured her he had her back, and there might be something better on the horizon. He stated that things had been working out for both of them, and they would continue to work out. Audra said she really appreciated Nate's encouragement and support. She said she felt "so much better" with Nate in her corner. Nate told her not to stress herself out, and he left. Audra sent Kyle a text message: "Dinner tonight?" Kyle responded, "Can't do dinner. Maybe drinks before?" Audra responded, "Guess that will have to do."
At the tack house, Mariah told Sharon the audiologist was excellent, and she'd been on the team when Devon had had his cochlear implant surgery. Mariah said the audiologist had told them Aria's hearing loss stemmed from her inner ear and was not curable, but they didn't know anything for sure.
Mariah told Sharon that Dr. George wanted to do more tests in the office, but if it was what she thought, there were treatment options that would start with fitting Aria with hearing aids. Tessa said if that didn't work, they would have to consider a cochlear implant. Mariah and Tessa were concerned because it was a surgical procedure, and Aria was very young. Sharon suggested they not jump to the alternative solution until they'd tried the first option. She suggested they try the hearing aids, since the specialists had obviously had success with them.
Sharon told Mariah and Tessa that they had had really good days with Aria, and that would continue. She told them to attend all the appointments and consultations, and eventually Aria would get hearing aids. She said she knew it was really scary, but they should take things one step at a time.
Sharon asked Mariah how profound the hearing loss was. In tears, Mariah said she didn't know, but the hearing loss had happened after they'd brought Aria home. Sharon said all that mattered was that they were doing what they needed to for Aria. She reminded them that they were surrounded by love and a lot of support. She said they would get Aria to a better place.
After Sharon left, Mariah asked Tessa to pretend that Mariah was Aria, and she asked Tessa to sing to her. Mariah leaned against Tessa, and Tessa began to sing. Mariah told Tessa that she could feel every vibration.
Nate bumped into Adam at Crimson Lights. He asked Adam how the new venture was going and said he'd heard a rumor that the merger with Newman Media might be going through, after all. When Nick arrived, Nate suggested that perhaps Nick could provide more information. Adam asked if Nick wanted to respond to Nate's query about SNA merging with Newman Media. Nick stated that the merger was back on the table; however, everything was on hold, and it might not happen. Adam accused Nick of being in on it.
Nate said he assumed Adam was the ultimate cause for the merger being put on hold, since Adam was the one making all the underhanded moves. Adam suggested that Nate walk away. Nate stated that Adam had resorted to blackmail to get what he'd wanted, and it showed his weakness. Nate said Adam had shown how pathetic he really had been by trying to take advantage of Audra.
Nate said he hoped that whatever Nick was up to, it involved keeping Adam as far away from Newman Enterprises as possible. Sharon entered as Nate was leaving. She told Nick she needed to speak to him privately. Adam insisted they couldn't ice him out. Nick asked what Adam planned to do about it.
After Adam left, Nick told Sharon that Adam was very close to pushing him over the edge. Nick asked if Sharon had made a decision on how she wanted to proceed. Sharon claimed she knew exactly what she wanted. Nick acknowledged that Sharon wanted to get Kirsten Incorporated out before the merger was finalized. Sharon understood it wouldn't be easy, but she wanted out because Adam had become untenable. She said it wasn't what she'd imagined when the three of them had first gotten together. Nick admitted that Sharon had had good intentions, but Adam tended to stomp all over them.
Sharon told Nick her main concern was Victor and whether he would return her company to her. Nick assured Sharon he had her back and would make Victor understand she should have what was rightfully hers. Sharon asked what Nick was up to. Nick said Nikki wanted him to return to Newman Enterprises, despite everything that had happened. Simultaneously, they both received a text message from Victor asking them to come to the ranch immediately.
At the Athletic Club, Audra congratulated Adam on getting what he'd wanted. She said Victor had told her the merger would happen, and she asked if she was about to lose her position. Adam told Audra he had no idea what was going on. She asked if it was possible that all his actions had caught up to him with Victor and if she and Adam were both about to be unemployed. Adam received a text message from Victor asking him to come to the ranch immediately. He told Audra he was about to find out exactly where he stood.
At the ranch, Sharon, Nick, and Adam met with Victor. Nick commented that Adam seemed to be in a good mood for someone who'd attempted to screw over his partners. Adam denied it. He said he'd made a play, and it hadn't worked, so it was time to move on to the next. Nick and Sharon commented that they might not be part of the "next." Adam said the ones who remained were those who knew how to run a media company, and Victor knew Adam was the only one who could turn Newman Media into the powerhouse it should be. Victor entered the room.
Victor told everyone that he'd given them an opportunity to work together productively and professionally on the new venture, but they'd made a mess of it. He said he had to step in to fix things and make drastic changes. Nick said it was thanks to Adam resorting to lies, blackmail, and a blatant power grab for Newman Media. Adam said he'd staked a claim on what he'd believed was rightfully his. Victor commented that all they did was bicker. He asked for each of them to explain their vision for the company. Nick asked if it would impact Victor's plan. Victor said no.
Adam slipped into a daydream. Victor appointed Adam as CEO of Newman Media, which would acquire the assets of McCall Unlimited and Kirsten Incorporated, and Sally Spectra would be Adam's COO. Nick claimed that was outrageous, but Victor told him to accept it. Nick asked if Victor's plan involved Newman Enterprises. Victor stated that Nate would no longer be involved with Newman Enterprises, Nikki would be the new director of R&D at Newman Media, and Victoria would be his COO because he was taking back the reins of his company.
Nick complained that Adam brought nothing but pain to all their lives, and he thrived on deception and blackmail. Victor stated that Adam was his son and that Nick wasn't as capable as Adam. He said he was proud of Adam. Sharon asked what it meant for her and Nick. Adam assumed they would report to him. Victor agreed. Nick reminded Victor that he and Sharon were part of Newman Media, but Adam stated they wouldn't be happy there. Adam indicated he wanted them out, but contractually, he couldn't do that. Victor said they would talk to a lawyer about it.
Adam suggested that Sharon could open her own practice for therapy, and he would be happy to set her up. He said alternately, she could return to Crimson Lights. He said she was brilliant working with people because that was her arena, not media. Adam claimed Sharon was against him because she couldn't accept the fact that he was best suited to take over. Sharon reminded him that she'd been the one who'd given him a chance, but he'd turned his back on them. Adam said it was nothing personal, but Sharon shouted that everything with Adam was personal because he thought the world owed him something.
Nick said he refused to work for Adam. Adam claimed Nick was a plodder, and without the Newman name, Nick would be struggling to pay the rent. Adam stated that Victor had seen Nick's limitations.
Nick accused Adam of being an arrogant son of a bitch. Adam agreed that he was smug and arrogant, and he could be a son of a bitch. He insisted that was how one got what one wanted and took it. He said nice guys finished last. Victor agreed. Nick got up and punched Adam, and he asked how Adam liked that from a nice guy. Adam snapped out of his daydream when Victor asked if he was boring Adam. Adam claimed he'd been thinking about his answer.
Sharon said she had serious concerns about moving forward with Victor and Newman Media. Sharon pointed to Adam, and she said the three of them didn't work well together because of the conflict, the power grab, and the mistrust. She claimed whenever she thought they'd made progress, Adam blew it up.
Sharon told Adam she'd suggested they work together and bring the two companies together, but he'd made her regret that decision. Adam claimed he'd done what he'd felt had been necessary, and it was just business. Sharon stated it wasn't just business because they were three people who had history together. She claimed it would always be a challenge putting that baggage behind them, but Adam had made it impossible.
Sharon asked Victor whether he honestly cared what she thought. Victor said he did because he needed new perspectives. Victor said he wanted to know where they should go in the future.
Sharon slipped into a daydream. Adam admitted he'd made a complete mess of everything, and he apologized. He stated he didn't have the right to believe his apology would be accepted because he hadn't done anything to earn their trust or forgiveness. He said he was trying to take accountability. He admitted that Sharon had brought the idea to him, and all he'd done had been to try to sabotage her. He admitted that Sharon had seen the best in him and believed he could be something more. He admitted he'd betrayed her every time she'd let him in, and he'd punished her for her kindness and generosity. He said this time hadn't been different.
Adam said Nick had tried to make it work, but Adam had spit on Nick's goodwill and his optimism. He admitted trying to grab power as if it had been his right, but it wasn't. Adam said Victor had never given up on him and had never seen him as a lost soul, no matter how many horrible and twisted things he'd done. He said he'd fought Victor when Victor had tried to teach him and to love him, but he'd pushed Victor away. He admitted he was sorry for that.
Adam acknowledged it probably rang hollow, but he swore it was sincere, and he was truly sorry. Adam held out his hand to Nick and asked if they could start over with Sharon, Nick, and himself because they could make something remarkable. Nick shook Adam's hand in acceptance.
Sharon snapped out of her daydream when Nick called to her. Sharon said she wanted out. Victor asked if Sharon wanted to renege on her contract. Sharon said she didn't trust Adam, and she wasn't sure she should trust Victor. She said she wanted to take Kirsten and turn it around on her own. Sharon claimed she had an opportunity to create something positive and lasting after all the evil Cameron had brought into the world, and she needed to do that on her own.
Sharon said Victor never wanted all of Kirsten because he wanted to strip it down to the bare essentials and use it as a support platform for Newman Media. She said "streamline" meant cutbacks, layoffs, and the bottom line. Victor stated it was about business, not some charity. Sharon said he was talking about the Newman world. She said SNA would become a cog in the Newman family machine, which was about success and wealth at all costs. She said that wasn't what she'd signed up for or what she was interested in.
Sharon told Victor she believed there was a way of being compassionate and still turning a profit. She asked Victor to let her leave with Kirsten, and she would turn it around on her own. She said Newman Media would be fine without Kirsten and her. Victor stated that Kirsten would stay within the purview of his company because it had certain assets that he would utilize. Victor offered to buy Sharon out. Sharon refused.
Nick reminded Victor he'd acquired Kirsten for free, but because he hated to lose, he wouldn't give Kirsten back to Sharon. Adam claimed buying Sharon out was a good move because Kirsten had some key elements that Newman Media could use. He said he knew which ones Victor had referred to. Nick accused Adam of sucking up to Victor, hoping Victor would make Adam CEO. Victor said Adam had given Sharon some good advice, and she should take it. Sharon shouted that she didn't want to be bought out. Nick agreed with her.
Adam claimed Nick countered all his ideas because Nick had no faith in Adam's judgment. Nick claimed everything Adam touched turned into a disaster. Sharon reiterated that there was no way the three of them could work together. She said she needed to get out with her company intact. Victor reminded her they had a contract.
Sharon told Victor she wouldn't just roll over and allow Victor to decide what her company should be. Victor stated he'd made his decision. Sharon said the only good thing to come out of the Cameron nightmare had been the possibility of using his business for something good, but it had become another Newman turf war. She said she wanted nothing to do with it because it was too important to her. She said she would hire an attorney to fight for what was hers. Sharon left.
Nick reminded Victor that Sharon had put her own life at risk to protect his granddaughter, and he reminded Victor of the way she'd gotten the company. Victor said it was business. Nick claimed it wasn't business but was what Victor wanted. Victor claimed if he'd gotten what he'd wanted, the three of them would have gotten along beautifully. He said it was strictly business. Adam wanted Nick to tell them how he saw things playing out with the new company.
Nick slipped into his own daydream. Adam wanted Nick to tell him and Victor what he wanted. He was sure Nick would want to get rid of him first. Nick said not this time; the only thing he cared about was making sure Sharon got what she deserved. Nick asked what kind of people they were, that others felt they needed protection from them. He claimed that was what they should be looking at, not how much more power and money they could accumulate.
Nick said he thought it was a waste of time giving Victor his vision of what Newman Media should be because Victor had already made up his mind. He said ultimately, Victor would drop the hammer and do whatever he wanted, and he didn't feel he needed to participate.
When Nick's daydream ended, he told Victor that Sharon was right; SNA would just be another cog in the Newman machine focused on wealth and success. He said he understood why Sharon wanted out, because he was beginning to think he did, too.
Victor asked why Nick always had one foot out the door. Nick said Victor kept playing the idea that he and Adam could work together, but they couldn't. He said it would never be one big happy family business because of the way things were. Adam said it sounded like Nick doubted the actual business, and maybe he was better off in his nonprofit world where he received a trophy for just showing up.
Nick told Adam he was proud of what he'd accomplished, and it sounded like Sharon had the same idea for Kirsten -- a positive media tech company that gave back. Victor said it sounded like Nick felt Victor should give Sharon the company back, but that wouldn't happen. Nick asked Victor to tell them his plan. Victor said they hadn't heard from the one person whose opinion he valued most. Nikki entered the room. Victor asked Nikki's opinion about Nick and Adam working together.
Nikki said both Nick and Adam had caused Victor a lot of pain and distress, despite being given every opportunity. Nikki said Adam was one of the most ungrateful people she'd ever known. She said his sense of entitlement was staggering, and nothing was ever good enough for him. She said he wore the chip on his shoulder like a badge, and he cried that no one understood him. She told him to "grow the hell up." She understood he'd been through hardships, but so had everyone in that room; they didn't look for others to blame their mistakes on, but Adam seemed to think it was his right. Nikki insisted it wasn't.
Nikki said Nick seemed to have one foot out the door. She said if he didn't like how something was going, he should stop complaining and try to make it work, but if it didn't, he should walk away. She said he shouldn't leave everyone hanging, waiting for him to make a decision. She told him to own it and be committed to something.
Nikki told Victor she couldn't fault him for wanting to create a family he'd always wished for, but it was time he recognized what he had. She said she didn't know what Victor's plans were, but she would be angrier than Victor had ever seen her if he put Adam in charge. Adam rolled his eyes. She said Victor had given Adam every opportunity, and Adam had disappointed him every time; that had to stop immediately.
Victor said he had no intention of placing Adam in a position of power. He said that once they had successfully folded SNA into Newman Media, Nikki would be CEO of Neman Media, and Audra would be her COO; Nick would return to Newman Enterprises and assume the co-CEO position. Adam stated he was odd man out again and claimed he should have known Victor would pull something like that.
Victor said Adam had brought it on himself. He said he'd given Adam a chance to show he could work with his brother and respect the family, but Adam had made sure everyone knew how much he was owed. Adam shouted that he hadn't realized that merging two powerhouse media companies, which he was the most qualified to run, had offended Victor's sense of family loyalty. Victor shouted for Adam to stop acting like a child. Adam stated that having an audience present was a master stroke of humiliation. He said Victor could have sent him a text message or emailed him, but it was world-class cruelty, even for Victor.
Victor said Adam knew that hadn't been his intention, because all he'd ever asked of Adam was to show him an ounce of humility, but Adam had failed to do so. Adam claimed Victor had left him with nothing. Victor said Adam had left him with no choice. Adam said Victor would regret it. Victor warned Adam not to ever make idle threats. Adam claimed the threats were real. Adam left.
Nikki wished Victor had warned her about the position. Victor claimed the company needed her. Nick agreed. Nikki asked what Victoria would say about it. Victor assured her that Victoria's position was secure -- "for now." Nikki said she didn't like the "for now." Nikki said she needed to think about the CEO position.
Victor asked Nick how he felt. Nick said he wouldn't commit until he'd spoken with Victoria. Victor asked Nick to close his eyes and take a leap. Nick said he'd done that before, and it hadn't always served him well. Nick left.
Alone, Victor stared sadly at a photo of Adam. Later, in front of his punching bag, Victor stated that no one would defeat him, and he began to furiously punch the bag.
At Crimson Lights, in a voicemail for Michael, Sharon said she was in a serious conflict with Victor. She needed some legal advice on how to move forward and a good attorney to represent her.
When Nick arrived, he asked if Sharon was going to take Victor to court. Sharon said she wouldn't back down. Nick said Victor was wrong for denying to return Kirsten to her. He said Victor was trying to make a point, but Nick wasn't sure what it was, nor was Victor budging. Sharon asked what she'd missed after leaving. Nick said Victor had kicked Adam to the curb, and Adam was out of Newman Media.
At home, Adam poured a drink and said if Victor wanted a war, Adam would give him one.
At Crimson Lights, Summer told Nikki that she and Kyle were moving forward with the divorce. She said Kyle had moved on with Audra Charles. Nikki was stunned, and she couldn't believe that Kyle would do that to Summer. Summer admitted she'd betrayed Kyle's trust, she'd lied to him, and she'd pushed him away. She said that was a lot to come back from. Nikki pointed out that she and Victor had been through a lot over the years, yet they were proof that love could overcome anything.
Summer told Nikki she had hoped for that to happen and had tried, but she had to accept that wouldn't always be the case. Nikki said the new information about Kyle and Audra had perfect timing because it gave her an opportunity to put that woman in her place. Summer asked Nikki not to follow through with her plan for Audra on Summer's account, but Nikki smiled and gave Summer an innocent look. Summer said Kyle had moved on, and that was what she wanted to do, as well.
Summer told Nikki she wanted to keep things peaceful between her and Kyle, for Harrison's sake. She said she'd learned through Phyllis that she could either have drama or a happy life, but not both. Nikki assured Summer that if Nikki decided to stir things up with Audra, it would be about a lot more than Summer and Kyle's situation. She said Audra needed a healthy dose of humility.
At the Athletic Club, Nate arrived and interrupted Kyle and Audra. He asked if Audra had spoken to anyone from the Newman camp. Audra said she hadn't, but she had a meeting with Nikki shortly. Nate suggested they have a discussion in private, but Audra said Kyle should be part of the conversation if it was about Newman Media.
Nate said he didn't want Audra to say anything to Nikki about what he was about to tell Audra. He said he'd just ended a call with Victoria, and Victor was rearranging furniture -- again. He said Adam was out, and SNA would be folded into Newman Media, as planned; Nick was returning to Newman Enterprises as co-CEO. Kyle said Victor would never fire Nikki, but he probably had something better in mind for her. Audra guessed it was Newman Media. Nate confirmed that Victor had offered that position to Nikki, but she hadn't accepted it yet.
Audra told Nate that Nikki wouldn't turn it down, which meant Audra was out, and Victor had lied to her. Nate told Audra she would be Nikki's second in command. Audra wasn't happy because she would be second in command to a woman who didn't trust her. Kyle asked where that left him if all went according to plan. Nate said Kyle's name hadn't come up. Audra told Kyle not to worry because she would speak to Nikki later on his behalf. Audra asked Kyle if there were any problems or vendettas she should know about.
Kyle told Audra that he and Nikki's granddaughter were getting divorced, and he had no idea whether Nikki knew that he and Audra were involved. He said when Nikki found out, things would get ugly. Audra promised she would have Kyle's back. Kyle said if things didn't work out, he needed to put together a plan B. Nate told Kyle not to get ahead of himself. Audra agreed.
Audra asked Kyle to wait and see how things played out and to give her time to do her magic; she noted that it wasn't like Kyle needed to work. Kyle left. Nate asked if Audra realized that Kyle wouldn't survive it. Audra replied that it would be what it would be. She said they weren't in a serious relationship, and they had a clear understanding they were just having fun. Nate asked if it was clear to both of them. Rather than answer Nate, she said she had to meet with Nikki, and she left.
Jack was visibly shaken when he arrived in Ashley's suite. He told Ashley that Diane had informed him what had happened at Society, and he wanted to make sure Ashley was okay. Ashley admitted she was still shaken, but she didn't know what was more shocking, almost dying while choking on a grape or being saved by the woman she was convinced wanted her dead more than anyone on the planet. She said Diane had saved her life, and that was so ironic that it was almost cruel.
Jack told Ashley that Diane was still shaken because watching Ashley almost die had "scared the hell out of her." He said as soon as Diane had seen Ashley choking, the acrimony and ugliness had left, and all she'd cared about had been saving Ashley's life. He said if the situation had been reversed, he knew Ashley would have done the same for Diane. Jack couldn't believe he'd almost lost her. He said he was grateful Diane had saved her. Ashley said she was, too.
Jack asked Ashley if they could use that incident as a wake-up call and stop the incessant fighting. She reminded him she'd already ended the conflict, but Jack noted it had been by walking away and turning her back on the family and "Dad's company." He said it hadn't been a solution he'd ever hoped for. He said he couldn't get it out of his head that he'd almost lost her. She claimed Jack was making too much of the situation, but Jack countered that his love for her was so much stronger and deeper, and so much a part of who he was than all that anger they'd been sharing. He said losing her, even for a second, was more than he wanted to think about.
Jack begged Ashley to let that gift of life be the olive branch that had been eluding them. He asked her to return to where she belonged. Ashley admitted she'd hated being in that battle as much as Jack had. She asked whether, if she returned, that would mean Jack would accept Tucker, because he was her husband. Jack said he was willing to try. She asked if Jack understood that she'd been trying to save his life because she'd believed Diane would be the death of Jack. She confessed she'd given up the idea that Diane wanted to kill him for his fortune. She admitted the postnup was legitimate, and Diane had saved her life. Ashley said she would give Diane the benefit of the doubt -- "for now."
Jack said that he and Ashley could be kind and tolerant because they hadn't always approved of each other's choice of partners, like Phyllis and Victor. She said if Diane proved to be what Jack claimed, Ashley vowed to bury her sword, but if all her fears about Diane were true, she would return with a vengeance. Jack was confident it wouldn't be necessary. He said he missed his sister and fighting about the important things, like who got the last cinnamon roll. Ashley confessed that she'd missed him.
Jack asked Ashley where they went from there. He asked if she was still determined to start a new company to compete with Jabot. She said she needed time to think and talk to Tucker. He told her to take all the time she needed, and whatever happened, happened. He said he only cared about them not being enemies. They hugged.
Alone, Ashley recalled a conversation she'd had with John many years earlier. John said he was worried about her and Jack and what was happening between them. He said the animosity wasn't good for her or the company, and it had to stop. He said he counted on Ashley to make the first move.
Back in the moment, Ashley sent Tucker a text message: "Are you up for a trip to Paris? Honeymoon? Meet me at the airport. I need to get away from all of this." To herself, she whispered that she needed to figure some things out.
In the jazz lounge, Billy remembered his earlier conversation with Jack. Billy denied he wanted to steal Jabot from Jack, but when Tucker and Ashley had offered him the brass ring, he'd pretended to be interested because it had been the right thing to do to stay on the inside. Jack understood, but he said that no one would be surprised if Billy returned to form and might be tempted to run Jabot.
Billy asked if it was because his last go-around hadn't ended the way everyone had expected, and it was his opportunity to redeem himself, especially because his name was Billy Abbott. He claimed Jack didn't trust him 100% because Tucker had planted a seed, and Billy was shocked at how quickly it had taken hold. Billy claimed Jack believed Billy might go to their side, and go against everything he'd promised to the company, their family, and their father's legacy, and the promises he'd made to Jack.
Billy snapped out of his reverie when Adam joined him at the bar. Billy chortled and told Adam that for the first time, he could see the world through Adam's eyes, and it wasn't pretty. Billy said he had empathy because it was hard to live in the shadow of someone who believed one would never measure up.
Adam guessed Billy was referring to Jack, but if he was referring to Adam's relationship with Victor, it was worse than Billy could imagine. Billy said he was referring to Adam's whole family because Adam had never measured up to any of them. Adam asked if Billy was going to tell him what was going on with Jack. Billy said he'd had a fleeting moment of empathy for Adam, but it wasn't an invitation for them to call each other "bro." Adam said he found it interesting that Billy had seen the similarities between their families' situations.
Adam said when it came to him and Billy, there was no comparison. Billy asked what that meant. Adam explained that he was a cold, manipulative narcissist, and Billy was just a screw-up; however, Adam had heard Billy had turned a corner and was the only sane and rational executive at Jabot at that moment. Adam asked if Jack wanted to take that away from Billy. Billy said Jack was waiting for him to screw up again, and that was getting old. Adam claimed there was a difference, "Victor giveth and taketh away," but Jack was a much fairer boss. He said if one earned one's position, respected it, and did right by the company, Jack wouldn't cut them loose. Adam asked if Jack was waiting for Billy to screw up or if it was Billy.
Billy asked Adam about the information he had on Tucker and Adam and if he was willing to share it for the right price. Billy said he was open to any suggestions Adam had. Adam said, given his situation, he was reconsidering the offer and keeping that information for himself.
After Billy left, Nate joined Adam at the bar. Adam sarcastically claimed that Nate was the Newman golden boy. Nate admitted he'd impressed Victor because he worked hard, and he was "damn good." He said he hadn't gotten promoted, but he'd kept his job. Adam said he hadn't, and it was ironic -- Victor Newman's son was out, and Nate was in. He said nepotism was overrated, after all. Adam told Nate not to get too comfortable. Adam left.
Nikki welcomed Audra when Audra arrived at the ranch. Nikki immediately asked "what the hell" Audra was doing with Kyle. Audra said she was pleased Nikki had brought up Kyle, because she wanted to say what a great job he'd been doing at Newman Media. She said he'd been a very smart hire, "if I do say so myself." Nikki said Audra's coy act might work on the men in her life, but it didn't get anywhere with Nikki. She said Audra knew Nikki wasn't referring to Newman Media but was talking about the fling Audra was having with Kyle.
Nikki asked if Audra realized Kyle was married to Nikki's granddaughter. Audra said she understood Kyle and Summer were divorcing. Nikki warned Audra not to split hairs. Nikki said if Audra was as smart as some said she was, then Audra realized that Kyle was merely playing a game with her to ease the pain of his breakup, and Audra was standing in the way of a possible reconciliation. Audra claimed Kyle was a grown man who made his own choices about what and who he wanted in his life. She said it was her understanding that Nikki's granddaughter was hardly blameless in the couple's problems.
Audra told Nikki she wasn't unsympathetic to Summer because she knew firsthand how painful that could be. Nikki said Audra had broken her grandson's heart. She asked if it was the Newmans who brought out the self-serving viciousness or if that was just Audra's nature. Audra claimed Noah hadn't told Nikki the whole story. She claimed things had been complex between her and Noah, and in the end, they'd broken each other's hearts. Audra said she wasn't comfortable discussing her private life with her new boss. Nikki realized that Nate had provided Audra with that information. Audra asked Nikki if she was in or out.
Nikki told Audra that every instinct was screaming for her to get rid of Audra. She said she had issues with the way Audra lived her life. Nikki said she knew it was none of her business, which would be true if Audra didn't target the people Nikki loved. Nikki admitted that the work Audra had done had been impressive, and Audra had reached out to Victor when Adam had tried to blackmail her. She said Victor was impressed with Audra, and Nikki said she would give Audra a chance; however, there was one condition: Audra had to leave Kyle alone -- or her future at Newman Media was over.
Kyle saw Summer in the park. After an awkward greeting, they talked about Harrison, and then Kyle said he'd heard Chloe was at Marchetti, while Chelsea was working remotely. He asked how that was working out. Summer said it was going really well. She asked about Newman Media. Kyle replied that it was hard to say because there seemed to be a shakeup at Newman in general, and it remained to be seen how it would affect Newman Media -- and him. Summer said she was sure he would survive; he always did.
Summer told Kyle that Heather was staying in Genoa City for a while, and Heather had agreed to be Summer's divorce lawyer. Kyle said he was sure it was for the best. Summer agreed. She said they needed to move on. They parted and went their separate ways.
Billy walked into the coffeehouse. When he saw Jack, Billy ignored him and sat at one of the tables. Jack approached Billy, but Billy claimed he wasn't in the mood. Jack said he'd left several messages apologizing for their misunderstanding. Billy asked if Jack saw his comment about Billy reverting back to form as a misunderstanding. Jack told Billy he and Ashley had reconciled, and he wanted to do the same with Billy.