With a bag over her head, Tessa sobbed and pleaded with her captors. After the vehicle Tessa and her captors were riding in parked, Tessa cried, "Why did we stop? What do you want from me? I gave you the money, and then Crystal's supposed to be safe. That was the deal." Sharon, sitting in the backseat beside Tessa, yanked off the bag. Tessa was shocked to see Nikki glaring at her from the front passenger seat. Victoria, in the driver's seat, fixed a stern gaze at Tessa, as did Sharon from the backseat. Tessa begged the women to explain what was going on.
Nikki, noting that Tessa had once lived on the ranch, said, "You know the property, including the stable, which burned down." Tessa, struggling for words, declared her innocence. Nikki recalled that since the beginning, Tessa had insinuated herself in their lives and had become increasingly vicious and personal after failing to get what she'd wanted. Victoria demanded to know how Tessa had moved J.T.'s body. Tessa insisted she couldn't have moved J.T. Nikki suggested that Tessa had enlisted someone to help move J.T. and afterward had planted a shirt and a gun on the ranch. Victoria added that Tessa had also framed Victor for murder.
Tessa vehemently defended herself and said all she wanted was to be a normal person with the freedom to live her life. Victoria replied, "That's exactly what you'd say if you were guilty." Tessa swore she was innocent and asked where they thought she'd get a gun. Tessa also insisted she had no reason to frame them because she would've been in trouble for blackmail had she ratted them out. Nikki replied, "This wasn't about the authorities. This was about us busting you, and you wanting to get back at us." Tessa cried that she'd given them the tape and the money they'd paid in blackmail, and she denied knowing the whereabouts of J.T.'s body or anything about new evidence. Nikki said Tessa was adept at lying.
Sharon ordered everyone except Tessa to get out of the car. Sharon whispered to Nikki and Victoria that Tessa didn't know anything. Nikki and Victoria weren't convinced, so the women climbed back into the car. Nikki called Tessa a liar. Victoria said, "You blackmailed the woman who gave you a home and a job. You blackmailed Mariah's own mother." Nikki added, "Any you victimized my daughter with every note you sent and every dollar you demanded." Nikki and Victoria noted that Tessa knew things that could destroy them and their families.
Sharon defused the tense situation when Tessa cried that the women intended to kill her. Tessa pleaded with her captors and insisted she knew nothing about J.T.'s body or a gun. Victoria replied, "We know you don't. We just had to be sure." Victoria instructed Sharon to untie Tessa, put her out, and make her get back to town on her own. Sharon replied, "It's freezing. We're in the woods at night." Tessa sobbed pitifully as Sharon fiddled with the rope.
Nikki mocked Tessa and said she was a fragile flower. Sharon, sympathetic, told Tessa to stay warm and safe. After Tessa got out of the car, Victoria rolled down her window and tossed Tessa's phone into the snow. As Victoria drove away, Sharon said they should be ashamed for terrorizing the girl. Victoria said Tessa should be glad they weren't actual killers. Sharon replied, "That's exactly what we are."
At Crimson Lights, Mariah checked her phone for messages after Tessa failed to show up on time. Just as Mariah was about to leave, Lola slid into the booth across from her and began talking about Kyle, noting her strong attraction to his good looks. Mariah cautioned that it was also important to get to know a potential partner and determine what he or she had to offer. Lola praised Kyle for expressing interest in the things that mattered to her. Mariah mentioned trust and respect. Lola acknowledged that she and Kyle seemed totally different, much like Mariah and Tessa.
Mariah cried that no one should look to her and Tessa as a beacon of romantic bliss. Mariah admitted she'd been waiting for Tessa because she intended to announce the end of their relationship. Mariah mentioned her past missteps with people with whom she'd been infatuated, and she admitted that Tessa had been the first to touch her soul. Mariah expressed remorse for having let down a protective shield she could no longer put back in place. As a result, Mariah cried, she had no choice other than to walk away from Tessa.
Lola offered to take Mariah somewhere to have a drink. Mariah, sounding defeated, said she'd rather go home, pretend to fall asleep, and postpone her breakup conversation with Tessa. After Lola left, Tessa phoned Mariah. Tessa cried that someone had put a bag over her head and taken her to an unknown place. Mariah ordered Tessa to stay put and promised to track her location via her phone. Mariah rushed out to search for Tessa.
At home, Charlie chatted on the phone with Shauna. Charlie bragged that he'd been working out at the gym. To prove his claim, Charlie paused the call, removed his shirt, and began posing for a selfie. Charlie snapped several poses while flexing his muscles. Cane quietly entered the room. Cane crept up and struck a pose behind Charlie. Cane made his presence known and startled his son. Charlie wasn't amused and expressed his displeasure.
Later, Cane apologized to his son. Charlie expressed disappointment with his long-distance relationship and said Shauna would likely get chummy with guys she met in Colorado. Cane offered to help his son maintain contact with Shauna. Charlie announced plans to travel to Colorado to see Shauna. Cane noted that it was Lily's first Christmas away, so visits to Colorado would have to wait until after the holidays. Charlie reluctantly agreed.
At the Abbott mansion, Jack returned home and overheard Billy leaving a message for Phyllis. Jack said, "If you're checking in after hours, I'm guessing you're close on the Rebekah Barlow deal, which is a great get for the Jaboutiques. So, how close is close?" Billy explained that a contract with Barlow would give Jabot exclusive brick-and-mortar distribution, while at the same time allowing access to choice clientele. Billy added that he and Phyllis had worked together on the deal he'd pitched. Jack delved deeper and pointedly asked Billy if he and Phyllis might be getting back together.
Billy said that though he believed the relationship between him and Phyllis was mostly dead, they still shared a rhythm of each knowing what the other needed. Jack reminded Billy that Phyllis had betrayed him, and he'd twisted the knife back at her. Billy admitted that his retaliation had been an immature act. Billy claimed that though he and Phyllis weren't perfect, it was just the way they were. Jack asked Billy how he and Phyllis planned to work their way back from wanting to murder each other. Billy seemed unfazed by Jack's lack of support.
Jack noted that Phyllis was with Nick. Billy said he had proof that Nick and Phyllis weren't serious about their relationship. Billy wouldn't provide details. Billy told Jack that Phyllis had mentioned a second chance. Jack seemed wary. Billy said his hopes were based on the good times he and Phyllis had shared in the past that never faded away. Jack cautioned that the horrible things Billy and Phyllis had done also never faded away.
In Rebekah's suite at the Athletic Club, Rebekah emerged from the bathroom in a revealing teddy and attempted to unbuckle Nick's belt. Nick bristled and explained that they'd gotten their signals crossed. Phyllis barged in and cried, "Oh, no, no, no, no! No, that's not happening." Rebekah put on her robe and told Phyllis she wasn't invited to watch just because she'd arranged the party. Phyllis noted that her boyfriend wasn't a prostitute. Rebekah replied, "Boyfriend?"
Phyllis shouldered the blame for the misunderstanding. Phyllis said she'd thought that Rebekah and Nick, both brilliant and gorgeous, would enjoy having a drink together. Nick agreed that he and Rebekah had enjoyed a nice dinner. A miffed Rebekah replied, "Stellar," before she disappeared into the bathroom. Phyllis whispered to Nick that she'd blown it. Nick agreed. Phyllis sighed heavily.
Rebekah returned with her packed bags and headed toward the door, explaining that the evening had been a humiliating nightmare. Phyllis explained that she'd only considered nailing a contract instead of respecting Rebekah as a person. Rebekah admitted that she was still interested in the contract and had learned not to mix business with pleasure. Rebekah asked Phyllis if the contract would include the best shelf placement and marketing for newly released products. Phyllis assured Rebekah that she'd get everything they'd discussed. Rebekah glanced at Nick and said, "Not everything." Phyllis replied, "No. Not everything. That was a mistake."
After Phyllis handed Rebekah a pen, she signed the contract. Rebekah said, "You're very fortunate." Eyeing Nick, Rebekah added, "Not just about the contract." After Rebekah left, Phyllis admitted that she was aware that Rebekah had expected to have her way with Nick. Nick replied, "Two women said in front of me how awesome I am, so it's a pretty good night, as far as things like that go."
Phyllis checked over the signed contract, looked Nick in the eye, and said, "Would you have done it?" Nick laughed and asked Phyllis how she'd known when to show up, suggesting she'd paid a waiter to keep an eye on him and Rebekah. Phyllis replied, "Yeah. Yeah. That's exactly what I did. He called and said, 'She's half-naked. You better haul yourself over here.'" Nick noted that he'd remained fully dressed.
Phyllis thanked Nick for his part in helping her secure the contract. Nick said that because he and Phyllis were partners, he'd do anything for her. Phyllis said she'd do anything for Nick, too, before planting a kiss on his lips. Nick glanced at the bed and suggested they make the most of their evening. Phyllis replied, "You know, this is my first huge deal for Jabot, and I cannot let my abiding lust for you get in the way." Nick said he'd be waiting in bed at home for Phyllis after she returned from the office.
Phyllis later met with Billy at the Athletic Club bar. Phyllis shoved the contract across the bar to Billy and proudly announced that Rebekah had signed it. Billy replied, "Congratulations." Phyllis noted that securing the contract, which had been Billy's idea, was a huge credit to him. Billy said he believed Phyllis had summoned him to talk about something else.
Billy admitted that he couldn't stop thinking about their earlier conversation. Phyllis replied, "About how I reacted when you told me you saw Nick with Rebekah? I think you are really looking out for me, not making trouble." Phyllis remembered having mentioned a chance of them trying again. Billy said he'd found it interesting that her mind had gone there. Phyllis said she'd lied to Nick about heading to the office and was instead meeting with Billy. Billy replied, "So where do we go now?"
Phyllis agreed that she and Billy clicked at work, though she said it wasn't enough. Phyllis added that she couldn't forget what Billy had done to Summer, though Summer had claimed Billy wasn't the reason she'd left the country. Billy said he'd apologize to Summer. Phyllis replied, "We burnt it down to the ground, Billy, and now I'm with someone else." Phyllis dumped the five gold rings Billy had given her onto the bar and said, "We're done."
After Nikki and Victoria returned to Victoria's house, Nikki complained about hearing Sharon railing at them all the way back to town. Victoria said that at least they knew Tessa hadn't planted the shirt or the gun. Nikki added that because Tessa hadn't moved the body, it meant she wasn't the only one who knew J.T. had been buried in the park. Nikki cried that Victor remained unreachable while someone was attempting to frame him. Victoria suggested they take a break and get some sleep. Nikki said she'd rather sleep in her own bed, assuring her daughter that she could take care of herself. Before Nikki left, she promised they would hear from Victor soon.
Tessa was crouching in the snow when Mariah arrived. Mariah rushed toward Tessa and asked her if she was all right. Sobbing, Tessa wrapped her arms around Mariah. In the car, Mariah asked Tessa if her ordeal was related to Crystal. Tessa cried that it was all her fault because she was an awful person who'd tried but had failed to change. Mariah assured Tessa that it wasn't her fault for making mistakes. Tessa cried that she'd blackmailed the women who'd taken her in despite knowing it would frighten her victims.
Tessa, still sobbing, said that though Sharon, Mariah, and the others had treated her well, she'd attempted to profit off of them. Mariah said that no matter what, Tessa hadn't deserved to be dumped by thugs. Tessa explained that Nikki and Victoria had put her there because they'd believed she'd moved J.T.'s body. Tessa cried that Nikki and Victoria had looked at her as though she was evil. Mariah recalled Tessa's troubled past and assured her she didn't have to live in that world any longer. Mariah admitted that she'd planned to break off their relationship, but she'd changed her mind. Mariah kissed Tessa and tightly embraced her.
Nikki returned to the ranch. Entering her dark bedroom, Nikki sat on the edge of the bed and sighed. Exhausted, Nikki reclined back against her pillows and stretched out her legs, too weary to even turn down the covers. Nikki finally exhaled and sunk down into the pillows. When Nikki placed her hand on Victor's side of the bed, she felt something she didn't expect. Nikki glanced over, but she couldn't make out what was on the bed next to her. Nikki turned on her bedside lamp so she could inspect closer. Nikki screamed in horror when she saw a man's blood-stained jacket and jeans laid out on the bed next to her.
Reed vows to find his dad's killer
As Nick listened to music on his headphones, Phyllis arrived home, wrapped her arms around him, and kissed his neck. He said he'd been missing her, since he hadn't expected dropping off a contract to take that long. She mentioned tying up some loose ends, and she declared that she was fully available to lavish her attention on him. They kissed passionately.
At the Abbott mansion, Billy stared at Phyllis' rings in his hand. Abby wondered if Dina had left them out, but Billy revealed that they were his. Billy suggested that they go out and do something fun, but they quickly realized that their options for nightlife in Genoa City were severely lacking. He figured that the last thing he needed for his "crappy mood" was to pour alcohol down his throat, and she offered to split the last piece of Mrs. Martinez's apple pie with him. He replied that he wasn't very hungry, and she headed upstairs.
A shaken Nikki showed up at Victoria's house and revealed that the person who'd been tormenting them had been in her house and her bedroom. Nikki pulled out the clothing that she'd found on her bed, and Victoria recognized the clothes that they'd buried J.T. in. Victoria ordered Nikki to put them away, and Nikki shuddered in horror at the memory of turning on the light and finding the outfit sprawled out on the bed. Victoria considered it proof that the same person who had been framing Victor had also moved J.T.'s body from the park.
Nikki suspected that the culprit had been someone they trusted who lived close by, but she couldn't think of anyone that brazen and twisted. A key turned in the front door, and Nikki rushed to hide. Victoria was surprised to see that Reed had returned home from boarding school, and he explained that he'd arranged to take his finals early to have a longer holiday break. Relieved, Nikki gushed that it had been wonderful to see him walk through the door. Reed said he'd wanted to surprise them, and Nikki muttered, "You certainly did that."
Victoria fretted that she hadn't stocked the fridge because she hadn't known Reed would be home, and he assured her that he could get whatever he needed. Nikki reminded him that he had a suspended license, and he said he planned to take the bus or call a ride. Nikki noted that he'd become very self-reliant, and she inquired about what he planned to do with the extra time on his break. Reed announced his intent to find out how his dad had died.
Victoria swore that she'd tried to keep Reed informed about the investigation. Reed acknowledged that his mother didn't like talking about it, but he needed answers. Nikki proposed that they talk the next day, and Victoria took Reed upstairs to get his room ready. Nikki's smile faded as they left the room, and she stared at Victoria's unfinished glass of wine on the table. Nikki grabbed it and took a gulp.
The next morning, Jack provided an off-the-record quote over the phone, not denying the possibility that Rebekah Barlow and the Jaboutiques had formed a partnership. Billy entered, and Jack congratulated him on the Barlow deal. Billy was surprised that word had gotten out because it had just closed, and Jack mentioned that he'd heard legal had been up late to put the contract to bed. Jack raved about the partnership's potential to build new buyers into loyal Jabot customers, and he thought the timing couldn't be better with Ashley about to launch her new line. Jack imagined that Phyllis was ecstatic, and Billy replied that they both were.
Jack surmised from Billy's mood that "the talk" hadn't gone well, and Billy reported that Phyllis was moving on without him. Billy swore that he hadn't been drinking the night before, since it had been part of the reason he'd ended up in the mess to begin with. Billy recognized that he hadn't shown that kind of restraint a few months earlier when he'd lashed out at Phyllis, but the damage had already been done. Jack guessed that Phyllis couldn't forgive whatever revenge Billy had enacted on her, but Billy thought she didn't want to punish him as much anymore. Jack wondered what was holding her back.
Billy figured that Nick was a safe port in the storm, but he wasn't sure whether what Phyllis had with Nick was real or if she was just trying to convince herself that she'd made the right choice. Billy recounted a comment she'd made about what it would say about her if she took Billy back. Billy was sure that she still loved him and missed him, but she'd hate herself too much for taking him back. Billy worried about pushing too hard when she needed more time, and Jack warned Billy not to make the same mistake Jack had by waiting around for something that was never going to happen. Billy understood that Phyllis might never take him back, but he refused to give up.
Jack cautioned that pushing too hard might put a strain on Billy and Phyllis' working relationship, but Billy groused that he'd have nothing left if he gave up his job. Jack reminded Billy that he had two kids who thought their father had hung the moon, and he suggested that Billy pay them a surprise visit and watch their faces light up. Jack doubted that Victoria would mind Billy dropping by more often, and Billy turned the topic to what was going on between Jack and Kerry. Jack indicated that Kerry had been sending him mixed signals. Jack read a text message from Nikki, asking if they could meet. Billy implored Jack to get back out there and find a mate.
At Dark Horse, Jack called Kerry and referred to the wonderful time he'd had with her on Thanksgiving. They made plans to meet for breakfast the next morning.
In Nick's office, Abby excitedly told Nick about an inspiration she'd had after a conversation about wanting to grab a bite to eat and go dancing the night before. She pointed out that since the Underground had closed, there was no local place with a cool vibe and great food to hang out after hours. Abby commended Nick for running the hottest spot in town, and she wanted to do something similar with the building she'd just purchased. She envisioned opening a hip eatery that turned into a club after dinner, but he listed the various downsides and warned that most restaurants failed. She bragged about her building's location, and she thought all she needed was someone with real-world experience to guide her.
Abby enthused that she and Nick would have a lot of fun, and it wouldn't take much time for him because he'd only be advising her. Nick anticipated that it would take more time than she thought, and he declined because he barely saw his kids as it was. She understood, and he urged her to get a strong business plan in place. He saw an incoming call from Summer, and Abby stepped out. Arturo asked what Nick had thought of Abby's pitch, and she grumbled that Nick had thought as much about it as he had about her last idea. Meanwhile, Nick promised Summer that he would find Victor.
Arturo agreed that the restaurant business was tough, but Abby thought it wouldn't be a problem to get the word out with her huge online following. He questioned how she'd turn them into repeat customers, and he encouraged her to consider a steadier business like an upscale grocery store or a salon. Abby scowled at the thought of Mia wanting to be involved, and she resolved to stick with her idea about a late-night spot. She reflected back on a festive place in Miami where Arturo had taken her, and she wanted to provide a place like that in Genoa City. She pledged to find an objective person with experience who wasn't a Newman or an Abbott to help her, and she realized that she knew the perfect person.
At Victoria's, Reed was sorry that he'd missed the kids, who had already left for school. He asked if Nikki had stopped by for breakfast, but Nikki claimed that she'd stayed the night to spend time with him before he rushed off to be with his friends. Reed proclaimed that his first stop would be the police station to meet with Rey about his dad's death. Victoria insisted that she could tell Reed what he needed to know, and Reed pressed to know why she hadn't.
Victoria reasoned that she hadn't wanted to say anything that might upset Reed without being there to help him through it, and he sympathized that it was hard for her. He swore that he didn't mind getting the information from the police if it would be easier on her, but Victoria preferred that he turn to her first. He requested to see a copy of the autopsy report, and she informed him that there hadn't been an autopsy because the police had never found a body. Reed brightened at the possibility that his father was still alive as Victoria and Nikki squirmed.
Reed was skeptical that the police had been able to determine that J.T. was dead from a soil sample, and he theorized that his father had been mugged and hurt. Victoria advised him against getting his hopes up, and Reed questioned how J.T.'s DNA had been in the park when his body hadn't been. Nikki explained that the police believed J.T.'s body had been there but that someone had later moved it. Reed protested that it made no sense that someone wouldn't have been caught, and he asked if the police had a suspect. The doorbell interrupted them.
Nick hugged Reed and regretted that Reed had just missed Summer. Nick griped that she'd taken off for Dubai to work with her grandfather, but things hadn't worked out that way. Nikki asserted that Summer was just fine, but Nick considered it crummy that Victor had lured Summer over under false pretenses. Nick asked when Nikki had last talked to Victor, and Reed panicked that his grandpa had gone missing, too. Victoria insisted that Victor was just on a business trip but hadn't done a good job of staying in touch.
Nikki prepared to run some errands, and Reed requested a ride to the coffeehouse. After Nikki and Reed departed, Nick apologized for not thinking about how Victor's disappearing act would sound to Reed. Victoria informed Nick that Rey considered Victor a suspect in J.T.'s murder, but she didn't want Reed to know. Victoria revealed that the arson investigator had found a man's shirt with J.T.'s blood in the stables, and she suspected that someone was doing a "damn good job" of setting their father up.
Phyllis stopped by after learning that Nick was at Victoria's, and Nick informed her that he understood why his father hadn't returned home. Victoria clucked that Victor wasn't hiding from Rey, and Nick told Phyllis that Victor was a suspect in J.T.'s homicide investigation. Nick thought it didn't sound crazy, since Victor had been mad enough to kill J.T. Victoria argued that going through with it was another thing, but Phyllis contemplated the possibility that Victor had killed J.T.
Phyllis stressed that Rey had found incriminating evidence, and she thought Victoria had high hopes for Victor's innocence. Victoria contended that she would know if the guilt was weighing on Victor, but Nick suspected that their father might feel good about it. Victoria ordered them to stop talking as if Victor was guilty, and Nick insisted that his main concern was Summer. He prepared to get to work, and Victoria claimed that she wanted to pick Phyllis' brain about something. After Nick left, Victoria chastised Phyllis for trying to turn Nick against his father. Phyllis reasoned that no one could prove that Victor had killed J.T. because he hadn't, but Victor being a suspect took heat off them.
Victoria couldn't help but wonder if Phyllis had had something to do with the items that had shown up in the stables. Phyllis denied setting Victor up, but she thought it would be great if someone else was. Victoria told Phyllis about the clothes that had appeared in Nikki's bed, and she explained that Nikki wouldn't get rid of them because she thought they might clear Victor's name. Victoria knew that Nikki would never let Victor take the fall for something Nikki had done, and she advised Phyllis to think about that the next time she accused Victor of murder.
Jack met Nikki at the Athletic Club, and she confided that she'd consumed alcohol the night before. She explained how she'd taken a sip of wine from Victoria's glass, and Jack remarked that they were all one bad moment away from a slipup. Nikki lamented that she'd never been tempted despite everything she'd been through that year, but the fire in the stables had really shaken her up. She recalled that she'd decided to stay at Victoria's, and Reed had shown up suddenly at the front door. Nikki shared that Reed was trying to deal with the pain of losing his father like an adult, but she'd seen glimpses of a scared little boy who'd never had the chance to say goodbye, and it was breaking her heart.
Jack mentioned that he'd heard from Nick that Victor had been incommunicado, and he reminded Nikki that Victor had done it repeatedly before. Nikki revealed that Victor had just hired Summer to head Newman's new real estate division in Dubai, but Summer was still waiting to meet with him. Nikki worried that Victor hadn't even left a note, and no one on staff knew where he was or when he'd be returning. Jack pointed out that Nikki was spending all her time worrying about her children, grandchildren, husband, and horses, and he lectured that she knew what would happen if she didn't take care of herself. Nikki intended to go directly to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and Jack volunteered to go with her.
Across the dining room, Arturo asked Abby how much longer he had to wait to hear her brilliant idea. She inquired how he liked the food, ambiance, and décor at the club, and he had no complaints. He wondered if she was on a research expedition about the kind of place she wanted to open, but she told him that it was a hint about who she intended to approach to be her mentor. Arturo realized that she meant Devon, and he wanted to kick himself for not thinking of it first.
Later, Nikki returned to Victoria's house and expressed doubt that Phyllis was the one framing Victor. Victoria hated how Phyllis had vilified Victor to Nick, knowing Victor was innocent. Nikki wasn't shocked that Phyllis would go that far to protect herself, and she contemplated taking a page out of Phyllis' book. Nikki recalled that she'd kept quiet and hoped for the best, but she'd been playing right into their tormentor's hands. Nikki pledged to take control of the situation by finding another way to prove that Victor was innocent by exposing the planted evidence as fake. Victoria asked how, and Nikki replied, "Watch and learn, my darling. Watch and learn."
Phyllis ran into Billy at Jabot and invited him into her office. She informed him that word about the Barlow deal was starting to get out, and she had the PR department working on a press release. Phyllis added that she'd noticed that he hadn't been in the office that morning, and he chalked it up to oversleeping after all the late nights he'd spent working. Phyllis wondered if he'd been avoiding her after their talk the night before, but he assured her that he wouldn't do that.
Phyllis reiterated that she enjoyed working with Billy, and she'd meant what she'd said about them making a great team, but she didn't want to put pressure on him. He insisted that it would be fine, although he'd thought she might be uncomfortable. She asserted that they both knew where things stood, so there was no reason they couldn't have a friendly working relationship. Phyllis said she'd send the press release his way, and he hurried out, clearly struggling with his emotions.
Phyllis returned home and pulled Nick into a kiss to thank him for dropping everything to look out for their daughter. He thanked her for backing him up with Victoria, but he questioned whether Phyllis had only taken his side out of loyalty. Phyllis maintained that it was plausible that Victor had killed J.T., and she swore that Nick could count on her to have his back. She acknowledged that from the outside, it seemed like they were together for the wrong reasons, but she knew she was right where she belonged. They kissed.
At Crimson Lights, Reed thanked Billy for meeting him. Reed pressed Billy to be honest about whether he thought J.T. was really dead, and Billy confirmed that he did. Billy empathized because he knew what it was like to lose a dad, but Reed argued that Billy had lost his elderly father who had lived a long life, so it wasn't the same. Billy advised Reed to be careful with the anger, since it could be explosive and might take over his life by clouding the things that were really important. Reed declared that there was nothing more important to him than finding out who had killed his dad and making them pay.
Lauren gives Fen a wakeup call
Cane arrived at Devon's and apologized for the previous evening and their altercation about Shauna. Cane admitted he could have been more understanding. Devon said he understood that Cane had been concerned about Shauna, and he asked how Charlie was holding up. Cane said that Charlie was heartbroken, but he was managing. Devon asked Cane to excuse him because he had a lot of work to do.
Devon told Cane that he and Neil spoke often. Devon asked if Neil had asked Cane to check up on him. Cane said Neil didn't know that Cane was there. Cane said he wanted to make sure that Devon was okay. Cane also wanted Devon to know he felt bad that Shauna was gone.
Devon told Cane that after Shauna had left, he'd felt that he'd let Hilary down. However, for the first time since Hilary's death, he'd slept through the night, and in the morning he'd received a big hit of clarity. Devon said that he felt lighter and focused. He realized he needed to get rid of all the excess baggage, and he needed to make big changes. Devon said he would fire some of the artists from his label and pull in raw talent that he could nurture and draw out as artists.
Cane asked if Neil was aware of Devon's plans for Hamilton-Winters. Devon admitted that Neil wasn't, but he was certain that Neil would agree with his plan. Devon wanted to strip the company down and start fresh. At that moment, Devon received a text message from Abby. Devon told Cane he had to leave to meet with Abby about a business proposition. Cane admitted that Neil had been concerned and wanted to make sure everything was under control. Devon assured Cane he was fine.
Billy arrived at Victoria's, and he asked to see Reed. Victoria told him that Reed probably wouldn't surface until noon, but at that moment, Reed appeared, grabbed his jacket, and left. Billy told Victoria that he'd met with Reed at Crimson Lights the previous day -- and Victoria might have a problem on her hands. Billy told Victoria that Reed had been lashing out, and his focus was on finding J.T.'s killer and making him pay for killing J.T. Billy said there had been something in Reed's voice that had concerned him. Victoria thanked Billy for telling her about his conversation with Reed and said she had tried to keep Reed away from all the suspicion.
Victoria told Billy that Rey's latest theory was that Victor was the prime suspect in J.T.'s death. Billy said it was within the realm of possibility, since J.T. had tried to kill Victor. It wasn't something Victor would take lightly. Victoria firmly stated that Victor hadn't killed J.T. Billy said Victoria didn't know that for certain, and neither did he. He reminded her that Victor being the prime suspect in J.T.'s murder wouldn't remain a secret for long, and she needed to talk to Reed. Victoria was strongly opposed to discussing it with Reed. She told Billy not to say a word to Reed.
A short time later, Victoria apologized to Billy for her reaction. She said she was sick of the police hounding her family. It was exhausting. She knew in her heart that Victor had had nothing to do with J.T.'s death. Billy said that it wasn't going to be easy for Reed to hear that Victor had killed J.T. Billy assured Victoria that he'd do what he could to help Reed, and he'd do what Victoria thought was best. Victoria said she'd keep her eye on Reed. Billy assured her that no matter what happened between him and Victoria, he would always be there for her and their kids. They embraced.
Kyle arrived at the Athletic Club and asked if Jack was entertaining an empty chair. Jack told Kyle that Kerry had stood him up. Kyle tried to make excuses for her, but Jack told Kyle that Kerry hadn't responded to his voicemail or text messages. Jack said he knew how driven Kerry was. At that moment, Kyle received a text message, and he told Jack he had to get to work. He wanted to leave work early because he wanted to take Lola skating. Jack wished him well. After Kyle left, Jack called Kerry and left her another voicemail.
At another table and over breakfast, Lauren and Fen discussed Fen's decision to quit school and pursue music. Lauren told Fen that she and Michael loved him very much and would support his decision -- but not financially. She said Fen could live with them rent free for the next few months, but if he wanted to be a musician, he had to do it on his own.
Lauren told Fen that she had been a singer at his age. She said the life of a musician was tough. It meant sleeping on floors and doing terrible jobs, but if he had a passion for music, he would do anything to keep it alive. Passing that test would show him he was on the right path. Lauren assured Fen that if he wanted to return to law school, there wouldn't be any shame in it. Fen claimed that returning to law school would be an admission of failure. He said quitting law school hadn't been a mistake.
Devon and Abby met at the bar at the Athletic Club. After telling Devon he looked great, Abby explained that she'd bought a multipurpose building and disclosed its location. Devon was impressed and said she'd get a lot of traffic. Abby told him she wanted to open a restaurant and needed someone with connections and expertise to give the restaurant the buzz it needed to get it off the ground. Devon wanted to know what would set her restaurant apart from others. Abby explained that her restaurant would be open day and night, and she explained about the type of people it would attract. The place would have great food, music, and drinks. She wanted something funky and edgy.
Devon asked Abby about the food she'd sell. Devon said she'd need a chef with a name and clientele, unless Abby had someone who was about to break out. Excited, Abby said she'd hire Lola Rosales. Devon asked if he knew her. Abby reminded him that Lola had catered the Jaboutique launch party, and Devon had probably seen her truck around town. Devon said there was a big difference between running a truck and a restaurant.
Devon told Abby that he'd love to partner up with her because she had a great idea and an amazing location, but unless she had a chef with a name that people recognized, a theme, and a great menu, he couldn't get behind her. He asked Abby to approach him at a later date if anything changed, and he left.
At Crimson Lights, Lola entered covered in dirt. Lola told Sharon that her truck had broken down. She thought it was the transmission, but she didn't have the money to have it fixed. Lola told Sharon that she had a business proposition for Sharon that would solve her own problem, but it would also be good for Sharon. Lola told Sharon that she'd do a pop-up restaurant at Crimson Lights and explained how it would be done. She assured Sharon that it wouldn't cost Sharon a penny. Lola said she'd create her own flyer, and Crimson Lights would be mentioned on it. Sharon asked how often Lola would create the pop-up. Lola said she'd do it over the winter, and she'd start that day. Sharon thought it was a great idea and agreed to Lola's plan.
Abby arrived while Lola was setting up on the patio. Lola told Abby what she and Sharon had decided to do. Abby was impressed and later thanked Sharon for helping Lola. Sharon said it was good business and that one day soon, Lola would run her own restaurant.
On the patio, Lola had been attempting to lift a box when Fen arrived and asked if she needed help. He lifted the box for her. Lola said she'd give Fen a sandwich if he'd get her the box that was outside. Fen agreed. Lola told Fen about her pop-up restaurant, and he offered to work for her as a waiter.
When Abby returned to the patio, she complimented Lola on her progress. Abby told Lola she wanted Lola to cater a private dinner for Devon at his penthouse. Abby wanted Lola to blow Devon's mind with her food. Lola was very excited and agreed to do it. Abby told Lola to buy whatever she needed and to hire the staff she required, as well as a server. Lola asked if there was a reason Abby wanted to impress Devon. Abby said she couldn't tell Lola yet, but she was working on a project. Lola said she needed to cancel a date with Kyle and added that things were going great between them. As Abby was leaving, she held the door open for Fen, who struggled with the box Lola had asked him to take in.
Later in the day, Lola approached Sharon and said she'd sent Sharon a text message showing Sharon's share of the take for the day. Sharon looked at the figure and said she was very impressed. Fen arrived and asked Lola why Kyle wasn't there. Lola said Kyle was actually working. She asked what Fen was doing with his life. Fen said he was a singer, but he wasn't opposed to working a real job.
Fen asked Lola if she'd go to a movie with him later. Lola said she was busy, but then she had a second thought. She asked if Fen wanted to be a server at a private dinner she would be catering later that evening. Fen said he'd forgotten about a root canal he'd had scheduled. Lola explained that it would be at Devon's penthouse. Fen nearly jumped out of his skin with excitement. He said that Devon was like the Bruce Wayne of Genoa City. Fen also saw his opportunity to get into the music business. He said he'd be honored to help her.
When Kyle arrived, Lola told him she wouldn't be able to go skating with him. Kyle opted to have hot chocolate by the fire instead. Lola said something had come up. At that moment, Fen ran in and asked Lola what time and what he should wear. Lola told him to wear black slacks and a black shirt. Fen told Kyle that he and Lola had plans later. Lola explained about the dinner at Devon's. She said that she'd needed a server, and Fen had offered.
Lola told Fen she'd send him a text message later about the time. Fen grabbed her phone to give her his number, and he made fun of Kyle and his skates. Fen said Kyle would have to find someone else to go skating with, and Fen left.
Lola told Kyle that it was a job, and she'd be bossing Fen around. She said it wasn't a date. Kyle said he knew it wasn't a date and showed her what a date looked like. He kissed her while Fen stood in the doorway and watched.
At Cane's, Mattie was finishing applying her makeup when Charlie entered and asked what was wrong with her. Annoyed, Mattie said nothing was wrong. Charlie claimed he'd figure out her secret. When the doorbell rang, Charlie rushed to answer the door. He wasn't happy to see that Reed was back in town. He wanted to know why Reed was back. Mattie told Charlie to stop interrogating Reed because he didn't know what Reed was going through. She said that Reed's dad was gone. Charlie apologized and said that at least Lily would return home.
Reed acknowledged that with Lily in jail, things were rough for them, as well. Charlie apologized again, said he had to be somewhere, and left. Mattie told Reed that she'd been nervous about sending him any text messages after what had happened to Lily. She said she was sorry about J.T. Reed said that when J.T. had been on the run, Reed had been mad at J.T. for abandoning him, but he didn't know what to do anymore because J.T. was dead. Mattie took Reed's hand.
At that moment, Cane walked into the kitchen. He wasn't happy to see Reed. Cane said Victoria was happy to have him at home. Mattie said Reed didn't have to leave, but Cane pointed out that Mattie had a big week coming up. She had her finals to study for. Cane was certain that Reed didn't want to distract Mattie. Reed admitted it hadn't been his intention. He told Mattie he had to get going and that it had been good to see her.
After Reed left, Mattie told Cane that she couldn't believe how he'd spoken to Reed. Cane said he knew that Reed was going through a lot. Mattie wasn't placated and said that Cane had practically pushed Reed out the door. Cane asked why Reed had been there. Mattie told him that they had gotten over what had happened in the past, and they were friends. Cane said he preferred them being friends a thousand miles apart rather than in his kitchen. Mattie reminded him that it was her kitchen, too.
Cane told Mattie that things were very difficult with Lily not being there. Mattie said that Reed understood that. She explained that she and Reed had a lot in common, and they each understood what the other felt. Cane said he didn't want Reed to hurt her again. In tears, Mattie said she wished Lily was there because she'd understand. Mattie ran to her room.
Jack arrived at Jabot and found Kerry in Phyllis' office. He said that since he was still on the board, he often popped in. He introduced himself as Jack, the guy Kerry had stood up at breakfast. Kerry apologized. Jack said he didn't want her apology. He wanted an explanation for why she'd stood him up. Kerry claimed it was a bad habit. She said she would get caught up in her work and forget things. She said her coworkers and clients understood. Jack said he was neither a coworker nor a client. He wasn't sure what he was.
Jack told Kerry he thought they had connected well on Thanksgiving until she had done her vanishing act, and she couldn't blame that on work. He said that she either didn't want to date him, and he'd be disappointed but would deal with it, or she was playing games with him and leading him on for reasons he didn't understand. If that was the case, Jack said he wasn't interested. He walked out of the office.
Kerry ran after Jack and stopped him at the elevators. She admitted that Jack's reaction had been fair, and she admitted it had been disrespectful to leave him hanging. Kerry assured Jack she wasn't playing games. She said her life was complicated. Jack countered they were all grown-ups and that life was complicated. Kerry admitted that she'd handled things poorly, but she really liked Jack and asked him for another chance. Jack said he appreciated the apology. He said he'd let her get back to work, and he left.
Victoria and Billy sat at the table, and, over a glass of wine. Victoria commented that she and Billy had been through a lot. Billy agreed, and he appreciated that she'd preserved their relationship. Billy warned Victoria about being in denial about Victor. Victoria assured Billy that he'd realize that Victor hadn't harmed J.T. Billy said the police had evidence that linked Victor to J.T.'s murder. Victoria said she was aware, but the police were mistaken. She wanted Billy to promise he wouldn't discuss Victor with Reed. Billy promised.
After Billy left, Victoria was watching Billy through the window when Reed stepped out of the shadows and accused her of lying to him. He demanded to know why she hadn't told him that Victor had killed J.T.
Nikki befriends Mia to help Victor
At Crimson Lights, Fen asked Lola if his outfit was what she'd had in mind. Lola declared it perfect, and Mia approached, looked him up and down, and agreed. Lola introduced Mia to Fen, and Mia wondered where Kyle was. Lola explained that she was working and that Fen had offered to help. Lola hoped that the dinner she was cooking for Devon would lead to fancier gigs, and Mia suggested that Lola facilitate an introduction for her to assist Devon's singers with their hair and makeup. Mia bragged that she'd be mingling with the A-list that night, as well, since a prominent Genoa City resident had booked a beauty consultation with her.
At the Athletic Club, Abby informed Devon that she'd taken his advice to heart, and she'd found an amazing chef from Miami who happened to be in Wisconsin to check out sites for a potential new venture. She claimed that she'd convinced the chef to give Genoa City a try by cooking a private dinner for Devon that evening at his penthouse. Devon wondered who the chef was, and Abby stated that she didn't want a famous name coloring Devon's reaction, since it should be all about the food. Devon agreed to a blind tasting, and he instructed Abby to let herself in early to allow the chef to prepare. He wanted Ana to be there, since the food would have to blow her away for him to get behind the project. Abby was confident it would.
Later, at Devon's penthouse, Devon exclaimed that his intrigue and appetite were beyond piqued, and Ana gushed that she'd never had a bigtime chef make her a meal at home. Abby enthused that they were in for a treat -- four courses of trendy Cuban cuisine. Fen introduced himself and said he'd be looking after them that night, and Abby stepped out to let the chef know they were ready for the first course. Ana thanked Devon for inviting her to join him, and he insisted that her opinion was very important to him.
In the kitchen, Abby slapped Fen's hand away from Lola's first dish and told him that he could get first pick of the leftovers if he did a good job. Lola prepared to take out the appetizers and reintroduce herself to Devon, but Abby blurted out that Lola couldn't leave the kitchen. Abby covered by saying the dinner was about her pitching a massive business idea to Devon, who hated interruptions. Abby requested that Fen do as little talking as possible while serving and that Lola stay in the kitchen until after dinner, when Lola could take a bow. Lola protested that it was customary for chefs to introduce themselves, but Abby pleaded with Lola to play it her way. Lola looked crestfallen.
Abby asked for feedback about the appetizer, and Devon remarked that they should have saved it for dessert, since he didn't know how the chef could possibly top it. Ana marveled that it had been the best fish she'd ever had, and Abby proclaimed that the journey was only beginning. Fen took the empty plates into the kitchen, and Lola anxiously asked what the diners had thought. He reported that they were both raving about the food, but he suspected that Ana was more interested in him than the meal. Lola encouraged him to get Ana's number -- but not until he'd served the meal of their lives. Fen assured Lola that she was rocking it, but she acknowledged that she was only as good as her last course.
Devon and Ana praised the fig ravioli and a shrimp dish, and Fen inquired whether he could get them anything else before dessert and coffee. Devon suddenly realized that Fen was Michael and Lauren's son, and Fen said he'd thought he'd met Devon as a kid. Fen coyly added that he had become a musician, and he just happened to have a demo of the stuff he'd been working on. Fen handed a thumb drive to Devon, and Abby sternly told Fen that they were ready for the final course.
Abby and Fen headed to the kitchen, and Lola panicked when Abby reprimanded Fen. Abby insisted that the food had been flawless, unlike Fen's judgment and listening skills, since he'd foisted a music demo on Devon during the service. Lola snapped that he'd be out on his butt if she didn't need him to deliver the last course. Fen defended that he hadn't been trying to sabotage anything. Abby warned him against trying anything else, or he wouldn't need an elevator to reach the sidewalk.
After dessert, Abby observed that Devon and Ana had clearly enjoyed the dinner, but she inquired if it had been exceptional. Devon confirmed that it had been one of the most exceptional meals in his life, but Ana clarified that it hadn't been one of anything, since it had been the best dinner she'd ever eaten. Abby excitedly asked if they were going to open the hottest, hippest place in town, and Devon stipulated his terms, including wanting to meet the mystery chef.
Abby dramatically revealed Lola as the celebrity chef, and Devon flatly stated that Abby had lied to him. Lola was taken aback, and Abby announced that it was a big win for all of them. Abby informed Lola that she and Devon had decided to open the hottest restaurant and hangout in Genoa City's history, featuring Lola's food. Abby continued that Devon had wanted a name chef for an easy sell, but she believed Lola's food would sell itself, and she'd proven her point with a blind taste test. Abby heartily congratulated Lola, and Fen and Ana tentatively clapped.
Abby worried that Devon would back out, and he admitted that he wasn't thrilled that she'd played him. He conceded that she'd been right about it being about the food and not how famous the chef was. Devon warned that it would still be difficult, and Abby vowed to work her butt off. Abby pleaded that she could only do it if Devon and Lola were on board, and she apologized for not being completely honest with them. Devon only agreed to do it if Lola would continue to cook the way she had that night. After a moment, a stunned Lola accepted and wondered if it was really happening. Abby hugged Lola.
At Victoria's house, Victoria explained that she hadn't told Reed about Victor being a suspect in J.T.'s murder because she'd hadn't wanted Reed to get upset. "Or know the truth," Reed spat, but Victoria insisted that the police were wrong. Nikki added that Victor was being framed, although they didn't know who was doing it or why. Victoria figured that the police were just looking for a solution, and Nikki bemoaned that Victor had made a lot of enemies. Reed barked that he'd be at the top of the list if Victor was found guilty.
Victoria lectured that vengeance wasn't the answer, and Reed stated that he just wanted the truth. He intended to honor his father's memory by finding J.T.'s murderer and making them pay, and he stalked off. Nikki murmured that she and Victoria weren't interested in the truth or justice -- just protecting Victor and themselves. Nikki worried what would happen if Reed ever found out, and she lamented that Reed was off from school for weeks with nothing to do but obsess over his father's death. Nikki intended to impress Victor's innocence upon Rey, starting that night.
Later, Reed returned downstairs and assured Victoria that he wasn't mad at her. He added that he believed her and Nikki if they were sure Victor hadn't killed J.T., but he didn't understand why his mom hadn't just told him that Victor was a suspect. Victoria conceded that she still saw Reed as her handsome little boy, but he'd earned major maturity points for talking to her instead of resenting her over social media. He was glad that she, unlike Cane, had noticed he'd matured. Reed revealed that he and Mattie had made up as friends online, since she'd needed someone who understood everything she was going through with her mom.
Victoria was glad that the teens had one another to confide in, but Reed complained that Cane had made it crystal clear that Reed wasn't welcome in his home. Reed insisted that he'd become responsible and productive, but Cane didn't care. Victoria asserted that Reed needed friends like Mattie, and she inquired whether he had plans that night. Reed mentioned that he and Mattie had intended to go out for pizza, but he figured that he'd just have one delivered and crash early. Victoria suggested that he sleep in and hang out with Mattie the next day, since Victoria had some very serious meddling to do on his and Mattie's behalf.
At the Ashby home, Charlie recognized that Reed was a sore subject, but he proposed that they lighten the mood by putting up Christmas decorations. Charlie anticipated that Sam would enjoy it, but Cane grumbled that it didn't feel right to make the house bright and festive with Lily in prison. Mattie inquired whether her father intended to ignore the holidays, but Cane maintained that he just couldn't celebrate.
After Cane left, Mattie feared that Cane's reaction had stemmed from her calling him a horrible parent who didn't understand her at all. She wondered if an apology would open him up to the concept of Christmas, but Charlie didn't want to waste any time. Charlie intended to get the ball rolling on his own, and Mattie agreed to help him.
Cane and Victoria met at Crimson Lights, and she referred to everything that had happened to both of their families since Reed and Mattie had dated. Victoria didn't see ancient history repeating itself, but Cane was afraid because that time could be worse for both kids. Victoria contended that Reed was a more responsible person who had owned up to his mistakes. Cane couldn't forget how Reed had hurt Mattie, and he was worried that it would happen again, since Mattie was even more emotional with her mom away. Victoria mentioned that Reed had just learned that his father's death had been labeled a murder, and she believed forbidding the teens from hanging out would only lead to more bad behavior.
Victoria thought Reed and Mattie were one another's emotional support, since they were going through similar pain, and they had been in touch since Lily's accident. Victoria considered it to be a positive thing, and she planned to tell Mattie that she was welcome at Victoria's house anytime. Cane confided that Mattie hadn't told him any of that, and he was mortified by how out of sync he was with his own daughter. Cane wailed that there was a hole inside him that he couldn't fill, and it was just getting bigger with Christmas approaching. Victoria advised that she'd just been taking it one day at a time, finding something every day that made the kids happy. Cane asked how it was working, and Victoria replied that once she'd made the choice to do it, she'd felt the difference right away.
Charlie and Mattie looked around their festively decorated kitchen, and she remarked that the main event was in the living room. Charlie thought their mom would approve, and Mattie believed Lily would have strongly disapproved if they'd made zero effort. Cane entered and announced that he'd just spent three hours looking for an enormous tree, which he carried in. Mattie happily asked what had changed his mind, and he confessed that he'd received an infusion of Christmas spirit from the last person in town he'd expected to get it from.
Nikki arrived at Mia's apartment and thanked Mia for fitting her in on short notice. Mia squealed that it was her first private consultation in her new home salon, and she indicated her openness to meet at Nikki's home, as well. Nikki declared that she was happy to have a change of scenery, and there was nowhere else she'd rather be that night. Nikki claimed that Mia had made an impression at her party, and Mia politely offered her a candy cane cocktail. Nikki declined, and Mia volunteered to brew some hot tea instead. Nikki agreed but eyed the schnapps.
Mia pressed to talk about Nikki's makeup needs, and Nikki envisioned something new for the holidays to get her noticed at events around town. Mia asked for advice as a newbie on the social scene, and Nikki shared that things in Genoa City tended to be on an intimate scale. Mia questioned how she could get invitations if she couldn't network during the holidays, and Nikki suggested that Mia socialize with the right people. Mia hoped that Nikki would put in a good word for her after a successful beauty consultation. Nikki swore that she'd love to introduce Mia to the social scene, but she wasn't sure what she could or should say because of Mia's husband.
Mia was surprised when Nikki informed her that Rey thought the Newman family was linked with J.T.'s murder case, and Nikki bemoaned that Rey was fixated on her husband even though Victor was completely innocent. Nikki called Rey a good man and cop who was devoted to his job, and she feigned concern that Victor was a ruthless man who wouldn't blink an eye before retaliating. Nikki hoped that Mia could do something to make Rey realize that he'd made a mistake. Mia mentioned that Rey was tightlipped about work, but Nikki suspected that a resourceful, good-looking woman like Mia could find out just enough to stop the insanity to save both of their husbands from unnecessary ugliness.
Nikki implied that she didn't want things to be awkward when she and Mia were just getting to know one another, and Mia promised to do her best to help. Nikki thought anyone willing to go that far was a real friend, and Mia suggested that she finish transforming Nikki. Mia stepped out to get some beauty products, and Nikki scurried across the room and poured some liquor into her tea before taking a long drink.
Later, Mia asked if Nikki was pleased with her makeover results, and Nikki said she felt better since they'd talked. Nikki admired her new hairstyle and thanked Mia for being a good listener. Nikki added that Mia reminded her of herself at Mia's age, and Mia considered it a supreme compliment. Nikki recalled that she'd been a working-class girl living a less-than-luxurious life, and the only job option she'd had had been working at a dive called the Bayou. Mia guessed that Nikki had been a bartender, but Nikki divulged that she'd been a dancer. A flabbergasted Mia wondered how Victor had found out Nikki's secret, but Nikki crowed that she'd been onstage when Victor had first seen her.
Nikki recounted that she'd had to learn a lot to mix in with the society set, and she imagined that Mia could do it, too. Nikki advised Mia to fight for and protect her family and closest friends, since they were the most important people of all. Nikki sipped her tea, smiled at her reflection in the mirror, and handed Mia cash for her services. Mia balked at accepting such a generous tip at Nikki's first appointment, but Nikki chirped that it was Christmas. Mia exclaimed that it had been her best night since moving there, and Nikki looked forward to a long, mutually beneficial relationship.
Nikki returned to Victoria's house and called out for Victoria. She approached the bar when there was no response, but she quickly stepped away when she heard Victoria arrive home. Victoria observed Nikki's new look and asked if her mother had secret late-night plans, and Nikki shared that her makeover had been her ticket in to start fixing things for Victor. Nikki revealed her plan to get close to Mia so that Mia would influence Rey and slip them tidbits about the case. Victoria worried that Nikki would become the top suspect if Rey got the slightest idea about what Nikki was doing, and she thought involving Mia might have been a fatal mistake.
Mariah arrived home and stopped in her tracks when she saw Tessa curled up in bed. Tessa cried out in her sleep, and Mariah awakened her. Mariah guessed that Tessa had been having a nightmare, and Tessa considered it karma after all the nightmares she'd caused. Mariah thought it had to do with Nikki and Victoria terrorizing Tessa, and she begged Tessa to tell her everything. Tessa opted to go out to get some air. Tessa stopped at the door and recognized that Mariah couldn't trust her, but she swore that talking about what had happened to her was a bad idea. Tessa left.
Later, Tessa returned, optimistic because she'd seen that the Athletic Club was hiring holiday servers. She hoped that Devon hadn't blacklisted her, but Mariah turned the topic back to how traumatized Tessa had been. Tessa figured that she'd survived worse, but Mariah sympathized that Tessa had been attacked by women they knew. Tessa wanted to drop the subject permanently, but Mariah suggested that they tell Sharon what had happened and then confront "Princess Victoria and the richest ex-stripper in the world" together. Tessa admitted that she hadn't told the whole truth, since Sharon had been there, too.
Tessa recalled that Sharon had been obviously uncomfortable with the situation, but Mariah angrily wondered how a social worker who helped counsel battered women could have done that to the woman Mariah loved. Mariah refused to give Sharon a pass, but Tessa surmised that Nikki and Victoria had forced Sharon into it. Tessa preferred to put it behind them, but Mariah hissed that Sharon couldn't get away with saying nothing while watching the other women torment Tessa.
Jack and Kerry share a kiss
Mariah barged into the cottage and demanded to know what Sharon had been thinking, since Tessa was an emotional wreck after the "hell" Sharon, Victoria, and Nikki had inflicted on her. Sharon muttered that she was sure Tessa would survive, since vermin usually did. Mariah questioned whether Sharon had been fine with threatening Tessa with physical harm or worse, but Sharon defended that they'd had to make sure Tessa wasn't the one who was trying to frame Victor. Mariah called her mother heartless, but Sharon argued that Tessa had blackmailed them and lied about everything. Sharon contended that Tessa wasn't an innocent victim, but Mariah spat that Sharon had been the one who'd taken part in a murder and cover-up.
Mariah sarcastically thought she should be thanking Sharon, who was the reason Mariah and Tessa were still together. Mariah revealed that she'd been waiting at the coffeehouse to break up with Tessa, but Tessa hadn't shown up. Mariah continued that a sobbing Tessa had called from the middle of nowhere, and Sharon sourly guessed that Mariah had dropped everything to run to the defense of a scam artist. Sharon insisted that Tessa didn't love Mariah, since their relationship had long con tattooed all over it.
Sharon suspected that Tessa had used what had happened to keep Mariah with her, and she referred to Tessa's history of doing unforgivable things. Mariah begged Sharon to leave Tessa alone, but Sharon refused until Tessa was out of Mariah's life for good. Mariah warned Sharon not to make her choose between the two of them, but Sharon wouldn't stop until Mariah put an end to it. Mariah angrily walked out.
As Rey prepared for work, Mia, wearing sexy lingerie, held up his badge and suggestively asked if it was what he was looking for. She was pleased by his reaction, and she cooed that she'd missed that look, like he'd walk through broken glass to have her. Rey conceded that she was a beautiful woman, and Mia asserted that they belonged together. He reminded her that everything had gone bad at some point.
Mia insisted that she and Rey had gotten back on track, and she could see it in his eyes every time he looked at her. She moved close to him and sensed that he felt it, too, and she begged him to stay. He argued that he didn't have the kind of job where he could just call in sick, and she griped that she sometimes thought he loved his job more than her. She recognized that he gave 100 percent to whatever he loved, and he said he would see her that night.
Kyle raced into Crimson Lights and told Abby, Arturo, and Lola that he'd gotten there as fast as he could. Lola groaned that she didn't think she'd ever get her truck up and running again, and Kyle urged her to focus on her pop-up restaurant. Lola informed him that she wouldn't have the time because of her new job -- head chef of her own restaurant. Abby announced that she and Devon were the owners, and Arturo marveled that his little sister would be running the kitchen. Kyle enthused that it was what Lola had always wanted, and she said she'd wanted him to be the first person to know. Kyle proclaimed that he wanted the whole town to know, and he stood on a chair and announced that the next round was on him, in honor of his girlfriend, who was Genoa City's newest chef sensation. The patrons clapped as Kyle kissed Lola.
Arturo and Abby threw around ideas about the restaurant. Mia approached and squealed that she had news that would knock them out, since they were looking at Nikki Newman's new personal stylist. Abby scowled, but Arturo told Mia it was fantastic, and Kyle congratulated her. Mia bragged that it was the start of something big, but Abby declared that Lola had exciting news of her own. Lola looked uncomfortable.
Mia plastered on a smile when she heard about Lola's new job, but Lola tried to downplay it as not being a big deal. Abby boasted that it wasn't every day that Devon opened a restaurant, and she expected that celebrities would be fighting for reservations. Lola assured Mia that it was just the beginning for both of them, but Abby cattily pointed out that Mia was starting out small, whereas Lola was starting at a top-tier restaurant. Arturo asserted that both ladies had a lot to be proud of, and Lola imagined that clients would be banging down Mia's door when they found out who was behind Nikki's new look. Mia embraced Lola and stepped out.
Arturo and Abby headed to work, and Kyle remarked that Lola deserved it because she'd worked hard. Lola anticipated that the hard work was just beginning, and she only had an hour until the lunch rush. Kyle suggested that they celebrate at Jabot's Christmas party, where she could be catered to instead of doing the catering. She gushed that she'd be with her favorite guy at her favorite time of year, and they kissed.
Mia returned to her apartment and broke down in tears. She wiped off her makeup with a tissue and peeled off her fake lashes. She stared at her wedding photo and sobbed.
At the police station, Sharon made plans for a business lunch over the phone. After she hung up, she informed Rey that she had lunch plans with the director of a shelter, but she didn't want to step on his case. "Then don't," he flatly replied, but he quickly apologized, explaining that it had been "a hell of a morning." Sharon understood because she'd already gone a round with Mariah that day. Sharon worried that Mariah had missed every red flag sent her way, since the object of Mariah's affection was a manipulative, backstabbing liar.
Sharon wondered what Rey would do if Lola were in Mariah's position, and Rey imagined that he would do everything within legal limits to erase the guy from Lola's life. Sharon commented that it was too bad he didn't have kids, since he'd be a great dad. Rey's phone rang, and Sharon implored him to take the call because she had to go. Rey answered, and Mia tearfully recognized that he was busy at work. He asked what was wrong, and she wailed that everything was. Sharon waved goodbye, and Mia cried that she needed to see Rey. He promised to be there as soon as he could.
Rey arrived home and found Mia sitting on the couch, holding a beer. She handed him the bottle, and he noted that he hadn't seen the brand in years. She mentioned that she'd gone to a little store that sold craft beers, and he thanked her. Mia thought that they'd been unstoppable when they'd first gotten married; she'd been trying hard to make it all work, but she'd kept running into walls. She shared her enthusiasm about landing a new bigwig client and being excited to share her news with Arturo, Lola, and Abby downstairs, but all anyone had been able to talk about was Lola's even bigger, more fantastic news about becoming a chef at a fancy new restaurant. Rey gasped in astonishment, and Mia started to cry again.
Mia bemoaned that she didn't know what she'd been thinking, since she didn't belong there. She complained about the cold people whose hearts were frozen to anything new, and she felt like there was an invisible bubble around everything she wanted, so she would never fit in. Rey soothed that it would just take some time, but Mia cried that she had never felt so lonely in her life, and she was loneliest when she was with him. She admired him for taking their marriage vows seriously, but she thought they should go their separate ways if his heart wasn't in it. She sobbed that the limbo they were living in was killing her, and he tried to comfort her. She swore that all she'd ever wanted was for him to be happy, and she understood if he was happier without her there. Rey murmured that he'd never stopped loving her, and they kissed.
After having sex, Mia and Rey cuddled in bed and said they'd missed one another. She swore that nothing would keep them apart ever again, and he vowed not to let it. She insisted that they had to communicate with one another, and he encouraged her to tell him everything she'd been holding back. Rey referred to her new gig, and Mia excitedly stated that it was with Nikki. Rey suddenly bolted upright, and Mia gushed that Nikki was nothing like she'd expected, since Nikki had started with nothing and gotten everything she could wish for.
Rey grumbled that Nikki didn't have a husband who would return from wherever he'd run off to, since Victor was the main suspect in J.T.'s murder. Mia pointed out that Rey didn't have enough evidence to back it up, and she warned that Rey only stood to embarrass the Newman family and make the man his enemy. Rey incredulously asked if Mia had discussed it with Nikki. Mia reported that all Nikki had said was that Victor was innocent, and Mia had believed her. Rey ranted that Nikki was pulling Mia in because Mia was the wife of the lead detective investigating Nikki's husband. Mia argued that Nikki was doing everything it took to protect the man she loved, just like Mia was doing right then.
Rey wanted to know exactly what Mia had told Nikki. Mia maintained that she hadn't said anything because he hadn't told her anything, but it was part of her job to lend a sympathetic ear to her clients. Mia insisted that Victor wasn't as guilty as Rey thought, but Rey barked that the Newmans were using Mia. Mia warned that they didn't want the Newmans as their enemies, but Rey refused to ignore evidence of a murder just so they could be her friends. Rey snapped that Nikki wasn't her friend and never would be, but Mia reiterated that she was only trying to help him.
Abby and Arturo arrived at Dark Horse, and he called her out on making it seem like Mia's news had been nothing. Abby scoffed at the idea of bending over backwards to act like Mia had hung the moon because she was plucking Nikki's eyebrows, but Arturo empathized that it wasn't easy to move to a new place and start with nothing. Abby only saw a woman who had destroyed her marriage and ruined Arturo's relationship with his brother. Arturo reminded her that he'd had an equal role in it, and he recalled that Mia had grown up with nothing, so she was just an insecure kid with big dreams underneath it all. Rolling her eyes, Abby dryly retorted that she was dying to hear more about how he saw Mia.
Arturo assured Abby that Mia wasn't a threat to them, and Abby said she'd never thought Mia was. Arturo warned that it would only put a wedge between them if Abby continued to make Mia feel minimized, and he knew that Mia fought back ugly when she got hurt. Abby asserted that she wasn't afraid of Mia, and Arturo rambled about how he just wanted everyone to be happy. Abby was still miffed that Arturo felt the need to protect Mia, and she believed Mia needed to realize that her old way of doing things wouldn't fly in Genoa City because someone would take her down.
Arturo swore that he was crazy about Abby, and he loved that she believed enough in them to fight for them. He fretted that if she kept baiting Mia, it wouldn't end well for anyone. Abby huffed that she'd dealt with plenty of women like Mia, but Arturo warned that if she knew Mia like he did, Abby would be worried, too.
At the Athletic Club, Tessa ran into Sharon and mentioned that she was applying for a job there. Tessa appealed to Sharon to hear her out, and Sharon assumed that Tessa knew Mariah had been about to break up with her on the night they'd gone into the woods. Sharon wondered why Tessa was still there, and Tessa responded that she loved Mariah. Sharon huffed that Tessa had no dignity if she stayed, knowing Mariah had been about to dump her.
Tessa explained that Mariah had been there when Tessa had needed someone, and Sharon growled that it said something that Tessa hadn't had anyone else to turn to. Tessa implored Sharon to accept that she and Mariah were in love, since Sharon would destroy her own relationship with Mariah if she didn't. Sharon suspected that Tessa was a "special kind of smart," since Tessa wasn't smart enough to leave, but she was smart enough to know that Mariah was only staying with her out of guilt. Sharon barked that it showed how little Tessa cared about Mariah.
At Crimson Lights, Tessa jumped when Mariah approached her. Tessa lamented that she'd been jumping every time someone got near, and Mariah kissed her head and assured her that she was safe. Tessa thought she'd never feel safe again, and Mariah insisted that she'd always have Tessa's back. Tessa mentioned that she'd just been filling out job applications, since she hadn't heard anything from the Athletic Club, despite having a great interview.
Tessa pledged to find another job, but Mariah sensed that there was something Tessa wasn't telling her. Tessa revealed that she'd run into Sharon at the club, and she thought Sharon hated her and always would. A suspicious Mariah asked when Tessa had seen Sharon, and Tessa recalled that it had been after her interview. Mariah snarled that Sharon was out of control, and she knew exactly why Tessa hadn't gotten the job.
Mariah returned to the cottage and ranted that every time she'd thought Sharon had sunk to a new low, Sharon managed to outdo herself. Mariah accused Sharon of preventing Tessa from getting a job at the club, and Sharon replied that she'd told the truth about Tessa being a liar and a blackmailer. Sharon reasoned that she'd been helping the club, just like she was trying to help Mariah out of love. Mariah insisted that Tessa loved her, too, but Sharon maintained that Tessa was manipulating Mariah. Sharon asserted that if Mariah refused to get out of a relationship with a criminal and Tessa wouldn't let Mariah go, then Sharon would make sure they had no other choice.
Jack looked around the Abbott home and smiled at the decorations. He praised two staff members for their efforts, and he pointed to photos of the prior year's decorations to use as a guide. He mentioned that the tree should be arriving any second, and he told them that just when they thought they'd put on enough lights, they should hang one more strand.
At Dark Horse, Jack stepped off the elevator while on the phone with a colleague, who wanted to get together to celebrate closing a deal that night. Jack balked at the timing. Meanwhile, at Jabot, Kerry found an envelope with her name on it. She opened it and discovered a formal invitation from Jack, requesting her presence at dinner. Kerry started to send a text message to Jack about looking forward to the dinner, but she was distracted by a call from Phyllis.
Kerry rang the doorbell at the Abbott mansion, but there was no response. She contemplated leaving, but the door opened, and Jack appeared in a tuxedo. She remarked that she was glad she'd stuck around, since it had definitely been worth the wait. Kerry admitted that the last thing she'd expected was a fancy dinner invitation delivered by a courier, since she'd thought Jack might have decided she wasn't worth the effort. He clarified that just because he wasn't interested in playing games didn't mean he wasn't interested in her.
Kerry asked if Jack was interested in her smile or her eyes. He mentioned being intrigued by her dossier, since she was a respected scientist with a brilliant list of achievements, but no one had told him about her eyes, grace, or wit. He claimed that every expectation he'd had had gone out the window when he'd met her. She recalled thinking of him as a titan of industry who would be all business all the time, but no one had ever mentioned his smile. He proposed a toast to digging deeper.
Kerry complimented what Jack had done with the place, and she inquired when the bare tree would get the full Abbott Christmas treatment. He explained that it was already supposed to be decorated, but the tree had arrived late. He suggested that they check out the spread in the dining room, but she had something far more exciting in mind. Jack and Kerry decorated the tree together, and he voiced surprise that a scientist would approach the task in such a haphazard way. She assumed that he'd rather have butlers and engineers make sure everything was just so, and Jack joked that the butlers and engineers would fix everything while they were sleeping.
Jack placed a star on the top of the tree. He turned off the rest of the lights in the room, and he took Kerry's hand as she declared the tree to be perfect. Jack confided that he hadn't felt any holiday spirit until then, and he declared that Kerry was full of surprises. She asked if he could stand one more and led him into the foyer. She looked up, where mistletoe hung over them. She recognized it as a parasitic plant that was poisonous, but she referred to a Christmas tradition that accompanied it. She implied that they shouldn't break tradition, and they tenderly kissed.