Aiden rejoined Hope in the town square just as Bree was warning her that even being near him could be deadly. Bree abruptly ended the phone call when she realized Aiden was with Hope.
Hope claimed the call had been disconnected, and she tried to act like nothing was wrong, but Aiden could tell she was lying. Hope admitted that Aiden was right, and she vaguely explained that the phone call had been about him. Aiden wanted to know who had called, but Hope didn't want to talk about the matter in public, so they arranged to meet at the Salem Inn later, since he first needed to pick something up from the courthouse.
While Hope was waiting for Aiden in their room at the Salem Inn, she received another phone call from Bree but chose to ignore it. When Aiden arrived, Hope informed him that Bree had contacted her earlier -- and had stressed that continuing to date him would be a major mistake. Aiden complained that Bree hated him and had done everything in her power to try to get him blamed for Meredith's death. Aiden added that one of the main reasons he had hastily left Portland had been that he had wanted to get away from Bree so she wouldn't have a chance to feed her lies to Chase.
Hope wondered if Bree had ever explained her reasons for being against Aiden. Aiden explained that Meredith had discussed their marital problems with Bree because the women had been close friends, and he had always been depicted as the bad guy during those conversations. Aiden added that when Meredith had died, Bree had blamed him for Meredith's instability -- perhaps because he had failed to get Meredith the help she had needed.
"And Bree -- this woman walks up to me at the funeral, and you know what she said to me? She said, 'I wish you were the one who took that bullet.' Now here she is again[...], trying to stir up trouble. Worst part of it? You believe her," Aiden concluded. Hope insisted that she believed Aiden, but he wasn't convinced, since she kept questioning him every time she learned something new about his past. Hope protested that, while she had always tried to respect Aiden's privacy, things kept cropping up that she simply had to ask about.
Aiden complained that, while Hope had never blatantly accused him of lying, it still seemed like she was always trying to catch him in a lie, and he was tired of having to explain or prove himself to her. Aiden added that he was starting to wonder whether Hope truly knew him at all. Hope insisted that she did know Aiden -- a good man and a great father -- but she admitted that she had occasionally had doubts, and she maintained that he couldn't blame her for asking about his past when things kept cropping up -- such as Bree's cryptic phone call -- that required explanation.
"Do I ask you about Bo? Do I ask you where he went? Why? No. No, I don't, because clearly, you don't want to talk about it, and Hope, I'm okay with that. I mean, obviously, it's a painful subject for you. But I trust that you would tell me anything you thought I need to know. I only wish that the same would apply to me when it comes to my life," Aiden countered. Hope suggested making a pact that she and Aiden wouldn't talk about Meredith the rest of the day. "That's a great idea...until the next time something comes up that you think I'm hiding from you. And I just...can't deal with it anymore, Hope. I -- I -- I can't. I won't," Aiden replied.
Hope warned Aiden not to underestimate how committed she could be when she gave someone her word. Hope sweetened her earlier proposal, offering to refrain from talking about the past for the rest of the day instead of just refraining from talking about Meredith. "It won't work...because it'll still be there. It'll always be there. Hope, I can't do this anymore," Aiden reiterated. Aiden started to leave, but Hope grabbed and kissed him.
In Daniel's apartment, Daniel watched as Melanie helped Parker hang an ornament on the Christmas tree. Meanwhile, Maggie pulled a batch of cookies out of the oven and announced that they were ready to be eaten. While Parker was distracted, Melanie excused herself so she could catch up with some friends at the hospital and find out if her job application had been processed yet.
After Melanie left, Maggie asked Daniel about the packages under the tree, wondering how Melanie had already managed to find time to buy gifts for everyone. Daniel explained that Melanie had asked him to do her Christmas shopping when they had spoken a few weeks earlier -- and it had made sense at that time because it had handily eliminated the delays and expenses typically associated with overseas shipping. Maggie hoped Melanie had at least provided Daniel with a list of items to purchase, but he admitted that he had been tasked with choosing everyone's gifts -- including his own.
Serena ran into Kayla at the Brady Pub, so she reintroduced herself and reminded the doctor that they had met once before, when she had accompanied Eric to a Brady family gathering in New York. Outside, Nicole spied Serena through the window and struggled to figure out why the woman looked familiar. Meanwhile, Brady approached and greeted Nicole, so she asked if he recognized the woman in the pub. Brady barely looked at Serena before declaring that he didn't know who she was, and he abruptly changed the subject, showering Nicole with compliments before admitting that he needed her help.
Brady dragged Nicole off to Club TBD, where he treated her to lunch and explained that Titan was interested in acquiring BBBK, a high-tech firm that was up for grabs. Unfortunately, another company was just as interested, and Brady had heard that the rival company's CEO was planning to use Brady's history of drug and alcohol abuse as a way of getting an edge on the bidding. Brady had decided to play just as dirty, and he wanted to enlist Nicole's help because she had actually already done an investigation on the rival company's CEO -- she had just never aired it.
When Nicole heard the CEO's name -- A. K. Whitmore -- she quickly remembered him as the little sleaze from New Jersey who wasn't just a thief but was also dreadfully boring. Nicole agreed to help Brady, and after a quick phone call to someone -- during which she warned that she knew about Whitmore's offshore accounts and favorite pornographic sites -- she assured Brady that the man was on notice.
Eric contacted Marlena and asked her to accompany him to the pub, but when they arrived, Kayla knowingly informed him that the woman he was looking for had rushed off after receiving a phone call earlier. Confused, Marlena wondered who Kayla and Eric were talking about. "Does 'Serena Mason' ring a bell?" Kayla asked Marlena, who instantly recognized the name.
After Kayla left, Marlena recalled that when she had met Serena -- a sweet, smart woman -- in Central Park years earlier, Serena had mentioned that the Museum of Natural History housed a dinosaur exhibit, which had settled an argument Eric and Sami had been having about which New York museum to visit. Marlena hadn't realized that Eric had kept in touch with Serena, and she wondered what the woman was doing in Salem.
Eric explained that Serena was doing medical research for an article and would be working at the hospital for up to one year. "Hmm. So of all the gin joints all over the world, she's doing research in the little town where you live," Marlena pointedly mused. Eric asked Marlena not to go there, but she reasoned that she was just making what seemed like a fairly obvious observation.
Marlena recalled that Eric and Serena had been quite close before he had joined the priesthood, and she admitted that she had always wondered if he would have proposed to the woman if he had chosen a different vocation. Eric found it hard to believe Marlena had gotten such vibes from one brief meeting in New York, but she clarified that he had given her those vibes because of the way he had looked at Serena -- with the same silly little grin he was once again sporting just from talking about the woman. Marlena approvingly mused that after the year Eric had endured, it was nice to see him smiling again.
At the hospital, Anne and Theresa were looking over Melanie's job application, which had been left on Anne's desk that morning. Theresa complained that she would rather quit her job than see Melanie on a regular basis. Anne wasn't sure she would be able to tell the difference, but she nevertheless promised to prevent Melanie from getting rehired -- and perhaps do some damage to Daniel in the process.
Jennifer overheard Theresa telling Anne that Melanie was worse than Daniel, who at least had the virtue of being a doctor. Jennifer interrupted to hand over a file she had borrowed from Anne earlier, and after Anne finished grumbling that Jennifer had demanded the file instead of asking for it nicely, Jennifer advised Theresa to find a way to get along with Melanie, since they would be working together soon enough. "I have two words to say about that -- nev-er," Anne assured Theresa after Jennifer walked away.
Later, Serena arrived and asked Jennifer to point her toward Anne Milbauer's office. Jennifer instead pointed to Anne, who was standing nearby, sharing a laugh with Theresa about a video they were watching on Anne's cell phone. Serena interrupted, introduced herself, and explained that someone from Anne's department had just called to reveal that Serena had been assigned an office in the basement -- which, according to Serena, wasn't going to be acceptable.
Anne sarcastically wondered if Serena was allergic to basements. Anne added that the basement office was the only one she had available -- and that she might have been able to find something else if someone had bothered to consult with her before hiring Serena. "Oh, gosh. I'm sorry they never told you..., and now your ego's bruised. My deepest sympathies. Believe me, I understand. Who likes to be left out of the loop? And my guess is, with your attitude, this happens a lot. But putting that aside for now, I think it's time you remedy my office situation -- today, Ms. Milbauer," Serena countered.
Anne refused to take orders from Serena, insisting that she was in charge of deciding where to house staff members -- and that Serena could take the assigned office or leave it but wouldn't be getting a better option. "It's a shame you weren't informed, 'cause it would have saved us both some time -- and you some embarrassment. ... The organization that's funding my research had everything in writing before the project was approved. They're making a large financial contribution to University Hospital..., but it comes with certain stipulations," Serena explained as she retrieved a document from her purse.
"For instance, it says right here that my office shall be on this floor, right down the hall from the research library, because I'll be going in and out so much," Serena continued as she pointed to the relevant section of the document. Anne dismissively replied that it didn't matter what the document said, since she was still the one in charge of making such decisions.
"Wow. Okay. I guess you're in charge. ... Just so you know, please don't worry -- when I have lunch tomorrow with Seth Burns, the hospital administrator, I'll be sure to explain to him why the contribution is being withdrawn. Also, I'll speak to Dr. Kayla Brady -- who happens to be a really good friend of mine -- and I will make sure I point out to both of them that you were just doing your job. So no hard feelings -- thanks for your time," Serena replied before turning to walk away.
Anne quickly stopped Serena, stating that she had just remembered that someone had recently vacated an office near the research library. After admonishing Theresa for failing to point that out, Anne reluctantly excused herself so she could get Serena the key to the office. "I hope you handle that other redheaded bitch a little better than that," Theresa quietly muttered as she and Anne walked away. Anne promised that, while Serena had managed to throw her for a loop, Melanie wouldn't be as lucky.
Impressed, Jennifer introduced herself to Serena and praised the woman for the way she had handled Anne, who had tried to pull the same stunt when Jennifer had started working at the hospital. Jennifer assured Serena that most of the staff members were much nicer. Serena understood, explaining that she already knew some of the staff members -- and former staff members, such as Eric Brady.
Jennifer revealed that Eric was a close friend of hers, and she wondered how he and Serena knew each other. Serena vaguely replied that she and Eric went way back, but before she could elaborate, she received a text message and abruptly excused herself, stating that she would have to pick up her office key some other time.
Later, Jennifer spent some time catching up with Melanie, who was sorry things hadn't worked out between Jennifer and Daniel. Jennifer insisted that she and Daniel were going to be fine. Brady approached and joined the conversation, and Jennifer soon noticed his injured lip. Brady dismissively claimed that he had clumsily bumped into something earlier. Jennifer accepted the explanation and excused herself to run an errand.
After Jennifer left, Melanie inspected Brady's injury and guiltily wondered if he was okay. Brady assured Melanie that he was fine, and she hugged him as she admitted that she would hate herself if anything ever happened to him because of her. Theresa rounded a corner in time to witness the embrace, and she glared at Melanie as Brady walked away. Melanie caught Theresa staring but ignored her and went to talk to Anne, who was standing nearby. Theresa watched as Anne confirmed that she had received Melanie's application. Melanie wondered if her start date had been determined yet. "How about on the twelfth...of never," Anne replied.
Nicole arrived at Daniel's apartment with a load of Christmas gifts but was disappointed to learn that she had just missed Parker, who had gone back to Chicago with Chloe. Daniel assured Nicole that the boy would be back in time for Christmas, and he told her to leave the packages under the tree until then. Nicole apologized for leaving Melanie out, explaining that, while things had gotten better between them after the incident with the casino thugs, they still weren't exactly best friends -- and she hadn't known that Melanie would be spending the holiday in Salem, anyway. Daniel was sure Melanie wouldn't mind the oversight.
Nicole groaned when she spotted a package for Daniel that was identical to one she had been about to place under the tree for him. Realizing that she and Melanie had gone to the same store to get Daniel's gift, Nicole hoped they hadn't gotten him the same exact thing. Daniel informed Nicole that Melanie had gotten him a scarf. Nicole fretted that she had gotten Daniel a scarf, too, and despite his assurances that it was okay for a guy to own more than one scarf, she still feared that her gift wouldn't be suitable, especially after learning that he had picked out the exact scarf he had wanted because he had done Melanie's Christmas shopping.
Nicole wanted to take back her gift and buy something else for Daniel, but he refused to let her do that, insisting that he had the perfect solution -- he would open her gift right away so it wouldn't have to compete with another scarf on Christmas morning. Daniel unwrapped Nicole's gift and exaggeratedly assured her that it was the perfect scarf -- one he had actually considered purchasing before chickening out and going with a safer choice instead. Nicole laughed and helped Daniel drape it around his neck the way she knew he preferred to wear scarves -- and they gazed into each other's eyes as she caressed his cheek, their lips inches apart.
At the Brady Pub, Marlena hugged Serena, who suspiciously wondered if the psychiatrist had a special painting hidden in her attic that was responsible for her enduring beauty. Marlena laughed and started to ask about Serena's work at the hospital, but she received a text message before Serena could respond. Marlena apologetically explained that she was needed at the hospital, and she left after urging Serena to track her down later for a tour of the hospital.
Serena told Eric that it had been a good morning, since she had gotten to see his aunt and his mother. At the risk of giving Eric the wrong impression, Serena asked if they could go to his apartment so they could talk privately. When they arrived there, Serena spotted a piece of art Eric had on display, and she recalled that she had been with him when he had purchased it in Kolwezi. "A lot of memories," Serena wistfully muttered.
Changing the subject, Serena wondered why Eric had decided not to rejoin the priesthood after his name had been cleared. Eric vaguely explained that he had realized he had lost his calling. Serena recalled that Eric had been extremely devoted to the church, and she wondered what could have possibly changed that. Eric evasively replied that, while he didn't really want to get into the details, the bottom line was that he simply couldn't go back to being a priest.
Serena smiled and mused that she had just gotten the answer she had been looking for, but Eric didn't understand what she meant. "Well, it's just -- I -- I wanted to make sure you didn't have...other commitments...before I asked you out to dinner. You know how much I hate rejection," Serena explained.
Serena quickly started worrying that she had been too presumptuous, conceding that Eric might already be in a committed relationship with someone else -- and even if he wasn't, he might not have feelings for her anymore. Eric reassuringly placed his hands on Serena's shoulders and informed her that he was single, and they gazed into each other's eyes as he caressed her cheek, their lips inches apart.
In a hotel room, Hope pleaded with Aiden to believe that she wanted to be with him. Aiden was unsure. When Hope kissed him, his resolve melted, and he kissed her passionately. Aiden and Hope made love. Afterward, Hope promised Aiden that she would no longer talk to Bree. Hope said she liked to make up her own mind about people and that she did not care what Bree had to say about Aiden. Hope thanked Aiden for not pushing her to talk about her life and her husband.
"I'm not out to replace Bo. What I wanted with you was something fresh, something that is just ours," Aiden said. Smiling, Hope kissed Aiden, and the two made love again. Afterward, Aiden thanked Hope for changing his mind about leaving Salem. Hope told Aiden that she was happy she and Aiden could work through their issues. Hope said goodbye and left. Alone in the room, Aiden's face clouded over with a scowl. Aiden called Bree.
"I know what you did, Bree. So consider this a warning, in fact the only one you're going to get. If you contact Hope again and you talk to her about me, I will come after you. And you know what I am capable of. So think long and hard," Aiden said. Shaken, Bree hung up the phone.
Hope walked to the town square and ran into Roman. When Roman observed that Hope looked happy, Hope fidgeted and mentioned her divorce. Roman assured Hope that as much as he loved his brother Bo, he understood if Hope needed to divorce Bo in order to be happy.
As Sonny was walking through the archway in the park, he called Will at the pub. Sonny told Will that he missed him. When Sonny turned the subject to the south side club, a preoccupied Will told Sonny they would talk later. Will hung up the phone and jumped to his feet to greet his editor, Zoe, and the publisher of Sonix, Hal Price. Hal told Will that he liked the articles Will had written for Sonix. When Hal asked about Hollywood, Will swore that his heart was in journalism.
Zoe changed the subject to a new article. As Zoe placed a confidential manila envelope on the table, a curious Will reached out. Hal stopped Will and announced that there were conditions to taking the new assignment. Zoe stressed that Will could not discuss the article with anyone, including Sonny. When Hal learned that Will was married to a man, Hal looked taken aback. Will asked if his marriage was a problem, and Hal explained that Will would need to keep his personal life out of the article.
When Hal asked Will how he would respond if the subject of the article asked about Will's wedding ring, Will said that he would tell the truth. Hal reminded Will that the subject of the article was a stranger, and Will did not know how the subject would react. Will agreed to remain anonymous and neutral with the article of the subject. Will added that he would not discuss the article with Sonny.
Hal slid the envelope over to Will. When Will looked inside the envelope at the photo of Paul Narita, he appeared puzzled. Zoe explained that they needed "the story" about Paul. When Will asked about the writer of the first article about Paul, Zoe explained that she and Hal thought that Will would be better suited to write about Paul than the other writer. Hal shook Will's hand and asked him to make the magazine proud.
In the park, a disguised Paul saw Sonny, and he called out to him. Paul took off his hat and glasses and sat on the park bench next to Sonny. When Paul asked why Sonny had not called him back the previous night, Sonny explained that something had distracted him. Paul asked Sonny if he needed anything. Shaking his head, Sonny said he was fine and that he regretted that he had called Paul. With a smile, Paul said that he loved that Sonny had called him because it reminded him of how things had been.
"Things are never going to be the way they used to be. Not for us," Sonny said. Paul apologized. Paul clarified that he felt like Sonny no longer hated him. Sonny said that he had not hated Paul; he had only disagreed with Paul's choices. With a sigh, Paul admitted that he had not been happy since Sonny had left him. When Sonny asked for details, Paul explained that he had not connected with anyone since his breakup with Sonny. Sonny argued that Paul was playing games with women, and he urged Paul to be himself.
In Daniel's apartment, Nicole's hands gently grazed Daniel's cheeks as she fixed the scarf around his neck. When Daniel quietly asked how his new scarf looked, Nicole leaned in for a kiss. Daniel stopped her. Nicole and Daniel agreed that they should only be friends for the time being because it was too important to both of them.
"I am not going to be your rebound guy," Daniel said. Daniel said that he did not want a repeat of their last attempt at dating. Nodding, Nicole said she understood. Nicole added that she did not want to be Daniel's rebound girl either. Nicole reminded Daniel that the last time Nicole had wanted to date Daniel, he had fallen for Jennifer and she had run to Eric. Chuckling, Nicole and Daniel joked that they would never discuss rebounding again. As Nicole turned to leave, she gently caressed the scarf on Daniel's neck. Nicole quietly reiterated that she liked his scarf. As Daniel nodded and stared in her eyes, Nicole turned and left.
In Eric's apartment, Eric kissed Serena softly. Smiling, Serena told Eric how happy she was that she had moved to Salem. As Eric smiled, Roman knocked on the apartment door. When Eric greeted his father, an excited Roman told Eric that he had heard that Serena was in Salem. Eric opened the door wider so that Roman could see Serena. Roman hugged Serena and asked her about her life. Serena apologized and noted that she was late for a meeting. As Serena ran for the door, Eric quietly told her that he would text her with details for their date.
Roman smugly joked that Eric had not taken long. Eric smiled and warned Roman not to push. When Roman asked why, Eric reminded Roman that he had broken Serena's heart and had left her. Roman suggested that Serena could be a sign from God.
At the hospital nurses' station, Melanie asked Anne what her next steps were in the application process. Anne told Melanie that she would not hire her as a nurse. Melanie argued that there was a shortage of nurses and that she was qualified for the job. With a shrug, Anne said that Melanie's records were missing. Annoyed, Melanie said that she would get a copy of her records. Anne told Melanie that it was too late because there was a hiring freeze. Theresa walked over and suggested that Melanie apply at another hospital.
When Melanie suggested that Anne and Theresa were up to something, Brady overheard and asked Melanie to tell him what had happened. Theresa piped up and said that Melanie had been unprofessional with Anne. Furious, Melanie took a couple of aggressive steps toward Theresa, and Brady grabbed Melanie and held her back. As Theresa returned to work, Brady asked Anne to stay and talk to him after he consulted with Melanie.
While Anne tapped her foot, Brady took Melanie aside and counseled her to calm down. Brady said that Anne and Theresa had baited Melanie so that she would overreact. Brady urged Melanie not to make Daniel look bad at the hospital. As Melanie frowned, Brady promised to help Melanie if she would back off of Theresa. Melanie reluctantly agreed and left.
After Melanie left, Brady approached Anne. Anne argued that there was no room at the hospital for people with hostile tempers. Brady countered that there was no room at the hospital for people playing games. Nostrils flaring, Anne reminded Brady that she answered to Seth Burns. Brady added that Seth reported to the hospital board. Brady asked Anne about the hiring freeze. When Anne explained that she had the discretion to enforce the hiring freeze before the January 1st start date, Brady asked Anne whether she was using her discretion for personal reasons.
Anne looked across the room at Theresa. Brady pushed Anne to answer his question. When Anne shifted her eyes around the room, Brady threatened to talk to Seth if Anne did not lift the early start to the hiring freeze and consider Melanie for a nursing position. Anne relented. Furious, Theresa slammed down a stack of folders on the desk. Brady watched as Theresa marched away, and he pursued her.
At Club TBD, Melanie met with Serena to chat over coffee. When Serena asked about Melanie's job at the hospital, Melanie changed the subject to Eric. Noting Serena's smile, Melanie asked Serena if she and Eric had been more than friends. Blushing, Serena said that she had been involved with Eric in Africa. Melanie pushed for details. Daniel interrupted to say hello and ask about the hospital. Avoiding the question, Melanie introduced Daniel to Serena.
When Melanie mentioned that Daniel was a good friend of Eric's, Serena's eyes widened in recognition. Serena told Daniel that she thought he was amazing. When Daniel raised his eyebrows, Serena laughed and explained that she had kept in touch with Eric and knew the story about Kristen and what Daniel had done to help Eric. As Melanie pushed Serena for details about her relationship with Eric, Serena's phone chirped. Serena promised to call Melanie, and she left.
In a hospital lounge, Brady demanded to know why Theresa was scheming to stop Melanie from working at the hospital. Theresa refused to take responsibility and started to leave. Brady grabbed Theresa's arm and warned her that if Theresa wanted him to choose between her and Melanie, he would pick Melanie.
Brady growled that if Theresa went after any of his friends or family, he would take it as an attack on him. Leaning in close to Theresa, Brady asked her if she wanted to provoke him. Close to tears, Theresa insisted that she did not care about Melanie. Brady cautioned Theresa to stay away from Melanie.
Frustrated, Theresa sarcastically thanked Brady for letting everyone in the hospital think she had faked her pregnancy. After Brady walked away, Melanie stormed into the lounge and slammed the door. Melanie asked Theresa if she had faked a pregnancy.
In the park, Nicole sat on a park bench and reviewed a file for work. Nicole dropped the file, and as she scrambled to pick up the papers, she found an old flyer for an event at St. Luke's. Nicole sighed and joked that she did not need any signs. Nicole shoved the folder into her purse and thought about her last conversation with Eric at the pub when he had said that he hated her. With a sigh, Nicole muttered that she was not on the rebound.
When Sonny returned to Club TBD, the bartender handed him a note from Will. The note stated that Will would be late because he was working. Sonny sighed in aggravation. In the park, Will called Paul at the hotel. When Will asked about setting up an interview, Paul asked Will to meet him at his hotel room. Paul added that if Will were stopped in the hotel, he should say he was there to meet George Herman. Chuckling, Will noted that George Herman was Babe Ruth's name. Will removed the wedding ring from his finger and left for the hotel.
Serena met with Eric at the pub for dinner. Eric told Serena that he wanted to be honest with her. Eric added that he wanted Serena to know what she could expect from him. Outside the pub, Nicole walked by the window. She looked in and saw Serena at the table. "Who is that woman?" a frustrated Nicole muttered.
At the hospital, Brady stopped Anne to caution her that -- as he had just warned Theresa -- he would not tolerate anyone harassing Melanie Jonas.
In the waiting room, Melanie confronted Theresa about how she'd faked getting pregnant by Brady. Melanie began hurling other accusations at Theresa, her voice rising in volume until she wrapped up her tirade with a loud assertion that Theresa had to be stupid to think she would have been able to get away with faking a pregnancy. Theresa insisted that it had been a mistake, but Melanie persisted. Theresa finally shouted, "Just shut up!" She tackled Melanie, shoving her into a chair, and Melanie fought back.
Before the fight could become much more violent, an incredulous Brady burst in and broke it up. With tears welling up in her eyes, Theresa insisted that Melanie had attacked her, and Melanie accused Theresa of lying. Brady forcefully ejected Melanie from the room and ordered her to wait for him. After he closed the door on Melanie, Brady warned Theresa that he didn't need the entire hospital knowing what was going on. As the tears spilled down her cheeks, Theresa spat that she didn't need everyone thinking she'd faked a pregnancy.
"If you don't want people knowing about things like that, then stop yelling about them!" Brady barked. Hurt that Brady didn't care what had really just happened and that he had never stuck up for her, Theresa told him to go to Melanie.
Brady left and found Melanie pacing near the nurses' station. As he led her to Horton Square, Melanie ranted about what Theresa had done. Finally Brady interrupted to inform her that he'd gotten her job for her. When the news sank in, a thrilled Melanie threw her arms around Brady. He cautioned her that she couldn't keep letting people get to her, and he urged her to consider what could have happened if someone else had walked by and overheard her screaming match with Theresa. Melanie conceded that Brady was right and asked him not to mention it to her dad.
Brady encouraged Melanie to try to remember that Theresa was a "whack job" who hated Daniel and Jennifer for no reason. "She doesn't brood; she just takes action aggressively," Brady asserted, cautioning Melanie that it was very dangerous to be on Theresa's radar. Melanie promised to be careful, but she refused to forget what Theresa had done to Daniel and Brady. Melanie declared that she wanted to strangle Theresa for lying to Brady about being pregnant. Brady asserted that it seemed as if Theresa had really believed she'd been pregnant, but Melanie didn't buy it, because she had once been just like Theresa.
Theresa was trying to pull herself together when Anne entered the waiting room. "You are worthless," Theresa proclaimed. She angrily reminded Anne that she had promised to prevent Melanie from working there. "Not only do I have to work with that little nurse-thing on a daily basis, but Brady's appointed himself her protector. Yeah, she gets to play the damsel in distress, and I'm the villain in this story," Theresa said, rolling her eyes with dismay. She added that Brady seemed to hate her.
Anne pointed out that Brady did hate Theresa -- because she'd bashed his father's head in and blamed him for it. Anne continued, "You cannot be surprised that Melanie has issues with you! My God, do you even remember what you put her father through?" Theresa wondered whose side Anne was on. "No one is ever on my side. God. Why do all these horrible things keep happening to me?" Theresa wondered piteously. Anne pointed out that Theresa usually didn't care what people thought. Theresa admitted that things wouldn't be so bad if the situation were different.
"With Brady?" Anne guessed. Theresa defensively insisted that she hadn't been talking about Brady. Anne pointed out that Paul Narita had checked out of the hospital without leaving Theresa his number. Theresa asserted, "I'll find him, Anne, okay? Things were going really well for us. Listen, he is my ticket out of here, out of this miserable life and this miserable job."
Theresa promised Anne about Melanie at the same time Melanie was promising Brady about Anne, "I'll steer clear of her, I promise, but if she starts something, if she thinks she can get a piece of me? She is going to be sorry. Really freaking sorry."
When Lucas ran into Adrienne outside Club TBD, she asked if he were excited that Will and Arianna had returned home from California. That news stunned Lucas, who had no idea his son and granddaughter were back. Adrienne fretted that she had ruined it if Will had wanted to surprise Lucas. While Lucas tried to call Sami to find out what was going on, Adrienne went inside.
Meanwhile, Sonny was sending a text message to his husband that read, "Hope u r not working too late. Really need to talk..."
Adrienne told her son what had just happened. Sonny had no idea if Will had intended to surprise Lucas because Will had been very busy since he'd returned from California. Adrienne said that she'd finally talked to Justin, and the two of them would be more than happy to help Sonny out financially. Although he was touched, Sonny declined.
Lucas went inside and told Sonny that Sami was a bit worried about Will, who had been replaced with another writer. Sonny played along as if he already knew about that. Lucas was just happy to have Will and Arianna back in Salem where they belonged.
A dripping-wet Paul emerged from the bathroom in his hotel room. When there was a knock at the door, he assumed it was room service and started pulling on a shirt -- but when he answered the door, he found Will waiting instead. Will introduced himself as the writer from Sonix magazine. After he invited Will in, Paul confessed that he had requested Will write the article about him after reading Will's piece in Sonix on the DiMeras. Paul admitted that he was surprised Will was so young, but he assured Will that it was definitely not a problem.
Will started his digital recorder after getting Paul's okay. Paul reiterated the need for discretion, and he expressed surprise that Will hadn't needed more time for research before the interview. Will explained that he would do some research, but he wanted to get to know Paul a little before reading what other writers had said. Paul was impressed, since most writers seemed to have an idea of what they wanted to say even before they met him.
To give Will some background, Paul said that he had been born in Japan but raised in the Bay Area, and his grandfather, a huge Giants fan, had taught him how to pitch. Will asked if Paul still loved baseball. "Well, it's done a lot of great things for my life. Mostly," Paul hedged. Will asked who else knew about Paul's surgery. Paul said that in order to keep it quiet, he'd only discussed it with his agent, his mother, and his grandfather.
Paul had to make a call to his agent, so Will rose to leave. Paul asked if Will had gotten enough information to know what kind of guy Paul was. "I'll say this: you really seem to be truly comfortable with who you are," Will said. Laughing, Paul admitted, "Well, it's all an act." As Paul shook Will's hand, he let the handshake linger for a moment. The guys' eyes locked briefly before Will pulled his hand away and left.
In the hallway, Will slipped his wedding ring back on. As he cut through the park on his way to the club, Will called Sonny. Without divulging whom the call was from, Sonny stepped away from Lucas and Adrienne to answer the phone. When he learned that Will was in the park, Sonny asked him to wait so Sonny could meet him. Sonny made a quick excuse to his mom and Lucas and hurried out.
Lucas saw something in Adrienne's expression that made him ask what was going on. Adrienne explained that Sonny had been really stressed out about the new club, although Chad had seemed confident that Sonny would be able to make it work, and Adrienne didn't know if she should worry or not. Lucas pointed out that Chad was a DiMera -- and one who'd spent a lot of time with Stefano. Lucas got a text message from Sami, warning him, "Do not tell Sonny that Will was fired!"
The room service waiter delivered Paul's order and encouraged Paul to call if he needed anything else. Paul leered appreciatively as he watched the man leave. He called his grandfather, and after they had conversed in Japanese, Paul spoke to his mother in English. He asked if she and his grandfather would consider traveling to Salem for Christmas. "Then it wouldn't be as lonely," Paul added.
When Sonny got to the park, Will greeted his husband with an affectionate embrace, but Sonny did not really hug him back. Will asked what was wrong. "What's wrong is you lied to me. You didn't come back because you missed me. You came back because you were fired," Sonny said. Will admitted, "Sonny, it was humiliating. I'm not exactly going around just telling everyone about it." Incredulous, Sonny reminded him, "I'm not 'everyone.'"
Will claimed that he'd wanted to wait until he and Sonny had had more time to discuss it. Will explained that he had turned in three drafts, and the notes from the producers often contradicted what they'd told him previously -- and they had hired another writer after Will's first draft without telling him. "They just kept stringing me along because of my mom," Will concluded. Sonny was sympathetic, but he pointed out that he should have known all along what had been going on with Will because he was Will's husband.
Will insisted, "You don't have to remind me of that, Sonny. I missed you like crazy. You know that." Sonny countered, "No, I don't." He pointed out that he and Will had spoken on the phone only three times while Will had been in California -- and all Will had talked about was how busy he'd been and how amazing everything was. Sonny admitted that Will had loved it out there so much that he'd been afraid Will would never return.
Will insisted that he would never have stayed in California unless Sonny could have joined him. Sonny reminded Will, "I told you that wasn't happening." Will pointed out that it had been because of Sonny's clubs and career. "So this is my fault?" Sonny asked in disbelief. Maintaining that wasn't what he'd meant, Will began, "I know that if I had to make a choice --" Sonny interrupted to point out, "But you didn't make a choice. That's the thing. Someone made it for you. That's why you're back." Sonny left to return to the club before Will could protest.
From outside the Brady Pub, Nicole spotted Serena sitting across a table from Eric and wondered aloud who the woman was. Just as Nicole was about to charge inside, Marlena showed up and asked her to wait. Marlena offered a lame suggestion about joining Nicole. Nicole didn't buy it and asked if Marlena knew the woman with Eric. Marlena confirmed that she did, but she proposed that she and Nicole should discuss it elsewhere. A curious Nicole followed Marlena to the park near the town square.
Marlena wondered why Nicole thought it was so important to know whom Eric was with. She pointed out, "You and Eric are done." Bristling, Nicole retorted, "Next time, can you try to keep the glee out of your voice?" Marlena insisted that she was only trying to help Nicole, who would never be able to move on if she continued to obsess about Eric.
An indignant Nicole insisted, "I am not obsessing! I simply asked for a person's name, and I got twenty minutes of Doctor Phil!" She added that she wanted Eric to be happy, but he hadn't appeared happy talking to the woman at the pub. She vowed never to ask Marlena another question about Eric.
After Marlena left, Nicole complained to herself, "Know-it-all bitch! I don't care about Eric. I am not rebounding. And there is only one person who needs to know that."
Inside the Brady Pub, Eric told Serena that he needed to be honest about what she could expect from him. He began awkwardly, "In terms of the two of us...if it seems I'm a bit hesitant, there's a reason." Serena concluded, "And the reason's name is 'Nicole.'" Serena quickly apologized, noting that it was none of her business. With a sigh, Eric admitted, "Actually, it is." He explained that he wished just hearing Nicole's name didn't have an effect on him and that he could put everything behind him, but his anger seemed to be getting even stronger.
Serena said that Eric's feelings were understandable after what Nicole had done to him. "How could she claim to love you and then keep you from being a priest?" Serena noted. Eric reminded Serena that she had given him up willingly when he'd realized he'd needed to be a priest, and he had broken her heart. Serena asserted that she wouldn't have been able to change Eric's mind. "What does Nicole have to do with us?" Serena asked.
Eric explained that he couldn't get over his anger toward Nicole until he could forgive her, but he became angry at the person he'd become when he was unable to forgive her. Serena asked if Eric wanted to be a priest again but felt he had to sort out his feelings for Nicole first. Eric clarified that he couldn't be a priest again because of his "core anger." Serena emphasized that Eric wouldn't be human if he weren't angry because of what Nicole and Kristen had done to him. Eric maintained that the experience had changed him, and he looked at the world and the people in it with hate.
"You can't be a priest when you hate," Eric pointed out. Serena urged him to give himself a break. "I'm not telling you this to get your sympathy; I'm trying to tell you that I've lost all ability to love and trust anyone," Eric declared. He added that as wonderful as it was to see Serena again, he couldn't bear the thought of hurting her again. Serena noted that Eric had been a bit of a "bad boy" in Africa, but she had fallen in love with the good, decent person inside him.
Serena asserted that she hadn't gone to Salem to get Eric back -- and she wasn't even sure she wanted him back -- but they could be friends and just see what happened. She assured him that she understood his inability to trust, but she hoped that could change. "Maybe one day you can feel strongly again," Serena suggested. Eric admitted that he hoped he could. "I hope so -- because Eric, you are worth the fight," Serena said softly as she got up and left.
Nicole went to the hospital to look for Daniel, but a nurse informed her that Daniel had gone to St. Mary's for a consult. As Nicole was leaving and looking down at her phone, she bumped right into Serena.
Paige contacted J.J. from California while waiting outside a doctor's office for news about Shane's condition. Paige said she missed J.J. terribly, and she complained that she couldn't believe they might actually have to spend their first Christmas as a couple apart. J.J. hoped Paige would at least be home in time for New Year's Eve, but she didn't know if she could promise that.
J.J. wanted to talk to Paige for a bit longer, but she wasn't willing to take the risk because she didn't know how much longer her mother and grandmother would be in the doctor's office, and she didn't want her mother to catch her on the phone with him and figure out that they were still together. "I hate to tell you, but I think that bitch already knows," J.J. muttered after Paige ended the call.
Kimberly emerged from the doctor's office a short time later, but Eve stayed behind to ask him a few questions. Kimberly excitedly informed Paige that Dr. Green was pleased with Shane's progress and was certain Shane would make a full recovery. Paige was pleasantly surprised, since Eve had made the situation sound much more dire than it had turned out to be. Kimberly speculated that, since Eve hadn't even known Shane until she had been around Paige's age, it didn't take much to scare Eve into thinking she might lose him again.
Paige thought Eve's troubled past was also what constantly motivated Eve to want to run Paige's life. Paige complained that, while she knew her mother loved her wholeheartedly, she sometimes wished she weren't everything to Eve. "Ah, I can understand that. Hey, I think your Aunt Theresa feels the same way about me. Yeah, there's something about mothers and daughters, huh? We think we can save our little girls from pain because we've already been through what they're facing, and they just wish we'd leave 'em alone and let 'em make their own mistakes," Kimberly mused with a knowing wink.
Meanwhile, Eve flirted with Green, but when he responded with obvious interest, she admonished him and insisted that he had jumped to the wrong conclusion. Eve produced a document that listed J.J.'s myriad offenses, and she explained that she needed the doctor's help to keep her daughter away from the troublemaker. Eve wanted Green to claim that Shane and Kimberly weren't telling Paige the truth about Shane's condition because it was much worse than anyone had initially suspected, and they didn't want to worry Paige. Eve thought that would allow her to keep Paige in Los Angeles for a while longer.
Green refused to lie for Eve, but she warned that if he didn't cooperate, she would find a way to contact his wife and let the woman know he had propositioned a patient's daughter. Green doubted that Eve would really do that, but she assured him that she would do anything to protect her daughter. Green reluctantly agreed to help Eve, and they proceeded to rehearse the story they planned to tell Paige.
When Paige entered the doctor's office a short time later, Eve was dabbing her puffy eyes with a tissue. Confused, Paige pointed out that Kimberly had said Shane was going to be fine. Green explained that he actually had some bad news to share, at Eve's request, with Paige.
After finishing his last exam of the semester, Rory went to the Horton house and excitedly informed J.J. that he was finally on vacation. J.J. wondered how Rory's final had gone. Rory proudly replied that he might have aced it, but J.J. seemed skeptical. "Okay, I definitely got a lock on a D -- maybe even a C-minus," Rory admitted with a laugh.
Rory could tell that his friend was bummed about something, so he wondered what was wrong. "Everything," J.J. replied with a sigh. J.J. explained that he and Paige were still together but wanted everyone to believe they weren't -- especially Eve, who still hated him. Rory reasoned that Eve couldn't keep Paige in Los Angeles forever, since classes would resume soon enough, but J.J. worriedly predicted that Eve would just find some other way to keep them apart once Paige returned to Salem.
"Man, I don't get it. You've been, like, a model citizen, and she hates you more than she used to. What happened?" Rory asked. J.J. explained that his parents had history with Eve that he hadn't even known about until fairly recently. Rory pointed out that kids couldn't choose their parents, and he wondered why Eve seemed determined to punish J.J. for the bad blood between her and J.J.'s parents.
"Did you do anything to her? I mean, she must be just, like, a total bitch, which is a shame, 'cause she's got this whole MILF thing going on, and I can't even look at her without thinking about what she's like in the sack," Rory mused with a suggestive growl. Annoyed, J.J. told Rory to shut up, prompting Rory to wonder what J.J.'s problem was.
At the Kiriakis mansion, Victor met with Clyde, who gushed that he had been excited to receive a phone call from a man like Victor, whom he had admired since before arriving in Salem. "Well, once you find out what this little meeting is about, you, uh, may not be quite so excited. ... Save your hayseed act for the suckers that buy it. You're trying to use Salem as an outlet for your illicit business activities, and I won't have it. Now, it's time for you to leave town. You've had your fun. If I were you, I'd go back to the Salem Inn, pack your bag, and crawl back under your rock," Victor advised Clyde.
Clyde disappointedly stated that he had been hoping to befriend Victor, since he had expected Victor, of all people, to be able to appreciate the fact that Clyde had started out poor but had eventually managed to make a better life for himself and his family. "You're trying to set yourself up as Horatio Alger when, actually, you're just a two-bit drug dealer, trying to set up shop here in Salem. And the timing is interesting on that, too -- right after E.J. DiMera was shot by a drug addict who overdosed shortly thereafter. You supplied him with the drugs, right? Maybe even the gun that he used to kill off the competition?" Victor knowingly mused.
Clyde innocently claimed that he had barely known E.J., and he pointedly added that Victor, on the other hand, was the head of a family that had been feuding with the DiMeras for decades. Victor assured Clyde that he wasn't nearly as concerned about the past as he was about Clyde's future -- specifically, whether the man planned to leave Salem immediately or spend the next ten to twenty years in a penitentiary.
"Um...well, you see, sir, uh...neither one of those options really appeals to me...at all. But I'll tell you one thing -- if I were to spend the next ten years in prison, um...I'm young enough so that I think I'd be alive when I got out. Could, uh, you say the same thing, Mr. Kiriakis? ... Several of my employees listed you on their résumés, and one of them, in particular, has a very good memory. Shared with me a good many details about your...um...illicit activities. So...seems to me, sir, you and I are like a couple of badgers on opposite ends of the same log in the middle of the river. If one of us is to fall off, we'd both be sunk," Clyde mused.
"I'm a very good swimmer," Victor coolly replied. Looking around the living room in admiration, Clyde warned that Victor would need to be, since it would be a shame to leave such a nice place for a nine-by-nine cell. Clyde showed himself out after adding that getting to know Victor had been a pleasure -- and that he hoped his hayseed ways hadn't been too much of a trial for Victor. "Bastard," Victor grumbled after Clyde left.
Kate ran into Jordan in the town square and took the opportunity to congratulate her on snagging Chad, who was a great catch -- and a rich one, too, as Jordan probably knew from reading the Sonix article about him. Jordan insisted that she didn't care about Chad's money. "Right, because you believe in true love that lasts forever, don't you? Like with your storybook romance with Rafe. How's that going, anyway?" Kate mockingly asked.
Jordan stormed off, refusing to talk to Kate about Chad or Rafe, but Kate followed her. "I really don't understand your code of ethics. ... I mean, it's okay for you to tear into me because I'm having a relationship with your stepfather, but I can't mind the fact that you're sleeping with my business partner? ... That's right -- you have no secrets from me. Everything you've done [and] everything you're going to do is fair game. You see, Chad and I have a very important job that involves a lot of risks, and I am not going to let a lying, hillbilly girl like you screw it up for me," Kate warned Jordan.
Jordan argued that her hillbilly stepfather was the king of all liars -- and that Kate wasn't as smart as the businesswoman liked to believe, since she had allowed him to charm his way into her bed. Kate dismissively replied that she was sure Jordan's life had been really hard -- and that she was also sure Jordan had often dreamed of finding a rich man like Chad who would make everything better. "Oh, you see, you're confused, Kate -- you're remembering your own life, when you were Stefano DiMera's favorite hooker," Jordan countered.
Kate shrugged off the insult and predicted that Chad would soon tire of Jordan, just as Rafe had. Jordan clarified that she had broken up with Rafe because he had insisted on defending Kate, but Kate countered that Jordan and Rafe's relationship had ended because Jordan hadn't been able to satisfy his needs in bed the way Kate had. Jordan pointed out that Kate was contradicting herself, suggesting that Jordan was a prude who had been unable to keep Rafe satisfied and a temptress who had seduced Chad. "What you are is out of your league, Tammy Sue. Accept that," Kate advised before walking away.
At the DiMera mansion, Chad received a phone call from Stefano, who congratulated him on bedding Jordan. Chad assumed Stefano was having him followed, but Stefano clarified that he had simply heard that Chad hadn't spent the previous night at the mansion. Chad protested that he didn't want to discuss his sex life with his father.
"A man should revel in his conquests. ... What's with this newfound modesty? ... You had no such inhibitions after you found out that Ms. Ridgeway's brother was sleeping with Abigail Horton, hmm? You were happy to tell me what you had planned for them," Stefano pointed out. Meanwhile, Harold interrupted to announce that Rafe was waiting to see Chad.
Stefano assumed he wasn't the only person who knew where Chad had spent the previous night, but Chad knew Rafe wanted to talk to him about something else, since the detective had visited the mansion once before in recent days. "Since you seem to know everything that goes on in this town, you mind telling me what you did that has Rafe thinking he can put me in jail?" Chad asked.
Stefano wanted to know what Rafe's latest round of empty threats had been about, so Chad explained that they had been business-related. "Hmm. He's tilting at windmills again. Ignore him," Stefano dismissively advised, but Chad remained concerned, since Stefano wasn't able to return to Salem due to pending tax evasion charges, and E.J. would have been facing the same charges if he had not been killed before the case had gone to trial.
Stefano insisted that those were trumped-up charges based on evidence that Sami and Kate had fabricated. Stefano assured Chad that Rafe was simply blowing hot air -- unless, of course, the detective knew that Chad had agreed to help Victor cover up Sami's fraud. "You didn't think I knew about that, did you?" Stefano guessed with a laugh.
Before Chad could respond, Rafe barged into the study and smugly declared that it was time to put a DiMera behind bars. Chad abruptly ended the call and guessed that the detective was just harassing him because he had slept with Jordan the previous night. Ignoring the comment, Rafe retrieved a document from his jacket pocket, and Chad jokingly wondered if it was the detective's fishing license.
Rafe clarified that it was actually a search warrant, and he summoned a forensic specialist into the room to start searching Chad's laptop. Chad wondered what Rafe was looking for, and Rafe replied that he would let Chad know once they found it. "Aw, that's cute -- so you are fishing," Chad concluded.
Harold soon returned to announce the arrival of Mr. Bronson, who explained that he had documents that were relevant to Rafe's search warrant. "To summarize, the actions involving the company formerly known as DiMera Enterprises clearly predate Chad DiMera's appointment as co-CEO, so Chad DiMera's involvement and any statements he made were while he was an individual stockholder of the company. His actions were in no way ordered or sanctioned by Stefano DiMera," Bronson added.
Rafe wasn't surprised to learn that Bronson was an attorney Stefano had retained. Rafe was disappointed when the forensic specialist, who had gone to law school for a few years, confirmed the legitimacy of the documents. Rafe didn't want to leave empty-handed, so he instructed the forensic specialist to seize Chad's laptop, anyway -- just in case.
After Rafe left, Chad contacted Stefano to thank him. "Ha-ha. No need to thank me; I will always, always protect my son," Stefano assured Chad. Meanwhile, Harold escorted a visibly upset Jordan into the study, so Chad abruptly ended the call and asked her to tell him what was wrong. Jordan admitted that she was worried because Rafe was on the warpath. Chad kissed Jordan and assured her that everything was going to be fine.
Kate met Clyde at his hotel room, where he was waiting with dinner and champagne. Kate guessed that Clyde's meeting had gone well. "It was very productive. I always like it when I can bring people around to my way of thinkin' and keep it all nice and civil at the same time," Clyde replied.
While passing through the park, Rafe contacted Victor for an update on the situation with Clyde. Victor admitted that he had tried something, but it hadn't panned out. Victor promised to keep digging, although he warned that it might take some time. Rafe wanted to know why, but Victor told him not to worry about it. "All you need to know is I'm going to find a way to deal with Clyde Weston," Victor vowed before ending the call.
At the hospital, Serena apologized for bumping into Nicole, who dismissed the concern and innocently mused that the woman looked familiar. Serena revealed her first name and asked for Nicole's, but Nicole dodged the question, claiming that her cell phone was vibrating. As Nicole walked away, Maxine approached and greeted Serena, and they talked for a few seconds before parting ways.
After Serena left, Nicole returned to the nurses' station and asked Maxine for a piece of paper. As Nicole started scribing a note for Daniel, she casually informed Maxine that she was thinking of doing a feature on Serena. Maxine disinterestedly assumed that Nicole would be covering Serena's medical research contributions, and Nicole played along, innocently wondering if Maxine could tell her exactly how to spell Serena's last name. "Oh, tough one -- M-A-S-O-N," Maxine sarcastically replied before walking away.
Nicole went to Club TBD and used her tablet computer to research Serena Mason. In addition to a list of Serena's degrees, Nicole also managed to find a list of awards the woman had received for a series of articles written about the civil war in the Congo. Nicole realized she had seen Serena in some of Eric's photographs from his time there. "Oh, my God -- she's the one he was with before he became a priest. And now she's here. Great," Nicole sarcastically muttered.
Nicole started to leave, but when she turned to grab her purse, she saw Eric standing behind her. Nicole tried to casually hide her tablet computer under her arm as Eric acknowledged that he had been a bit abrupt during their last encounter. As Nicole nervously assured Eric that she understood, she moved her arm back a bit too far, knocking over her cup of coffee -- and prompting him to reach for her tablet to prevent it from getting damaged.
"You want to tell me what you're up to?" Eric demanded to know when he saw that Nicole had been reading an article about Serena. Nicole tried to explain that she had simply been researching Serena -- whom she had bumped into earlier -- because she had been unable to figure out why the woman had looked familiar, but Eric suspected there was more to the story.
Conceding that he was probably wasting his time, Eric nevertheless asked Nicole to stay out of his life. "I am staying out of your life, whether you believe it or not. And you know what? Get over yourself!" Nicole countered before storming off, declaring that she was done. "I bet you are," Eric doubtfully muttered.
Later, Eric met with Serena in the town square. Daniel had invited Eric and Serena to have dinner with him and Melanie later, and Serena was eager to get ready so she could hopefully not be late for once in her life. Eric halfheartedly agreed, prompting Serena to wonder what was wrong. Eric claimed that he was fine, but Serena skeptically reminded him that she could tell when he was upset.
"It's how I am a lot of the time these days -- especially after running into Nicole," Eric explained. Eric revealed that he and Nicole had fought about Serena earlier that day. Confused, Serena reminded Eric that Nicole didn't even know her. "You met her today. ... She just made sure you didn't know it," Eric replied.
Nicole went to see Daniel, and as she entered his apartment, she informed him that she had been thinking a lot about their earlier conversation. Nicole stressed that she wanted Daniel to know that whatever happened between them would just be about them -- and that he wasn't her way of getting over Eric. Daniel observed that it seemed like Nicole was riled up about something, but she denied the suspicion -- and proceeded to kiss him.
At the hospital in California, Eve claimed to Paige that her grandfather was a lot sicker than they'd thought, so they could not return to Salem. Dr. Green, Shane's doctor, lied at Eve's behest that Shane's condition could be life-threatening, and they needed to treat it aggressively. Dr. Green left for rounds but allowed Eve and Paige to remain in his office to speak privately. Laying it on thick, Eve declared that she would never be able to forgive herself if something happened to her dad while she was halfway across the country.
Paige understood that Eve wanted to stay to be there for her father, but Paige didn't get why she needed to stay, as well. Eve suggested that Paige could take her finals online then transfer to a college out there for the spring semester and go to Stanford in the fall, as she'd planned. Paige was dismayed when she realized that meant she'd never go back home -- and when she learned that Eve was returning to Salem without her to make all the arrangements. "I wish it was something that Theresa could take care of, but we both know she can't handle that," Eve pointed out.
Paige asked for permission to return to her grandparents' house, and Eve agreed. "Oh, honey, I just want your granddaddy to be okay. I am so, so lucky to have you to take care of me," Eve declared as she hugged her daughter. Dr. Green returned as Paige was leaving. Once he and Eve were alone, Green remarked, "I thought I was a pretty good liar. Got nothing on you."
Eve joined Kimberly in the waiting room. Eve divulged that she'd met with someone from a company that paid lump sums in exchange for settlement rights from lawsuits, and she was eager to do that so she wouldn't have to wait on the royalties from Jack's book sales. Eve continued that she needed a copy of her settlement agreement before the company could proceed, so she had to return to Salem to get it, but Paige was staying in California -- and the two of them wanted to spend the holidays with Kim and Shane. Kim was thrilled about having a family Christmas, even though Theresa couldn't get away to join them.
Kimberly wondered how Paige felt about Eve's decision to stay in California. Eve insisted that Paige knew it was the right thing to do, but Kimberly didn't buy it. Eve confided, "Can this stay between us? Paige is upset about a boy, and I just want her to have a fresh start." Eve added that she also wanted the opportunity to make up for the way she'd messed things up with her dad and Kimberly. Kimberly said that she appreciated that. Eve requested that Kimberly not say anything to Paige about how well Shane was doing.
"Are you asking me to lie to your daughter?" Kimberly asked. Eve claimed that ever since Paige's father had left, it had been difficult for Paige to deal with the thought of losing someone else she loved. Eve continued that even though Paige was aware that Shane would make a full recovery, Eve thought it was best to pretend his health scare had never happened. Kimberly agreed that it would please Shane if they talked about other things. Kimberly embraced Eve, optimistic that Christmas and the new year would be wonderful for the whole family.
At the Horton house, while Rory and J.J. were talking about Paige, J.J.'s gesticulations caused him to spill soda on himself. He asked Rory to go to the kitchen and get some paper towels. After Rory left the room, J.J. headed through the entryway for the stairs, pulling off his damp shirt as he went. Just as J.J. finished peeling off his shirt, Abigail returned home from shopping -- with Melanie in tow. "Well, at least this one has pants on," Melanie noted with an embarrassed chuckle.
As Abigail escorted J.J. into the living room so he could put on a fresh shirt, she explained that the other woman was her friend and Daniel's daughter, Melanie. J.J. got a call and eagerly grabbed his phone, but he was disappointed when he saw that the caller ID said "unknown number." Abigail guessed that he'd been hoping to hear from Paige and asked what was wrong. J.J. insisted that everything between him and Paige was fine. After first making sure that J.J. was decent, Melanie entered the room.
A few moments later, Rory returned, attempting to open a huge package of paper napkins because he'd been unable to find paper towels. The instant he looked up and spotted Melanie, the package burst open, spewing napkins everywhere. When Abigail learned that Melanie was heading to her dad's, she offered to go along to drop off some Christmas presents. Rory stood in the doorway and surreptitiously ogled the girls as they left.
Rory exclaimed to J.J., "Dude, I can't believe your life... Your mom's hot, your sister's hot, and now your sister's friend is, like, off the charts! Totally doesn't suck being you." Rory continued musing about Melanie until J.J. told him to shut up. Unperturbed, Rory headed out.
Paige called J.J. from Shane and Kimberly's house to tell him that her grandfather was sicker than they'd thought, and she wasn't going home. "Not even for New Year's?" J.J. asked. "I think we're staying a lot longer than that," Paige admitted tearfully. J.J. offered to go to California, but Paige reminded him that her mom thought they'd broken up. She added that she couldn't leave her mom, who was really worried about Paige's grandfather.
"So you have to stay there, and I can't come out there. It almost sounds like -- like you're breaking up with me. Is that it? Is this you saying goodbye?" J.J. asked. Paige insisted that wasn't the case, but she worried that it wasn't fair to J.J. because she had no idea when they'd be able to see each other again. J.J. assured her that he could wait. Paige had to hang up when someone knocked on her bedroom door.
Will was on his laptop at home, trying out a headline for his article about Paul: "All-star Free Agent to Test the Market...But Should the Buyer Beware?" When Sonny returned home to retrieve the keys to the new club, Will closed his computer to try to talk to his husband. A cold Sonny accused Will of lying about the real reason he'd returned from California. Will defensively insisted that he really had missed Sonny, but Sonny pointed out that Will had barely returned his phone calls -- and when Will had deigned to phone, he had talked only about himself.
"I'm going through a really hard time right now," Sonny declared, the hurt evident in his eyes. Will asked why Sonny hadn't just told him that. "Because I want you to ask! I want you to give a damn about my life!" Sonny asserted. "I never stopped loving you, and it is crazy for you to think that I don't care," Will insisted. Sonny had to leave because he was paying workmen who were waiting at the new site for him to let them in. Will asked if the two of them could talk later that night. "Sure. Whatever," Sonny muttered on his way out the door.
Paul took off his ball cap and glanced around nervously as he entered Club TBD. Theresa spotted him and asked if he were looking for her. Guessing that Paul was afraid of being recognized, Theresa led him to a private table and seated him with his back to the door. After getting coffee for the two of them, Theresa told Paul that she'd tried unsuccessfully to find out where he'd gone after he'd left the hospital, but Jordan had refused to divulge even when his next physical therapy session was.
When Paul admitted that he was staying at a hotel, Theresa offered to visit him there. Paul informed Theresa that although he was glad to see her, someone from his past was back in his life. "And you think maybe you're still in love with that person, don't you?" Theresa guessed. Paul admitted that he wasn't sure, but he wanted to find out. Paul worried that he had let Theresa down, but she lightheartedly patted his knee and said, "So what? I mean, come on, we had fun, right?"
Abigail walked in as Paul was leaving, and she thanked him for his generous donation. After Paul left, Abigail observed Theresa sitting alone and looking miserable, and she couldn't resist rubbing it in Theresa's face: "[My Christmas] just got a whole lot merrier...knowing that another guy saw you for what you actually are." Theresa pointed out that what had happened between her and Paul was none of Abigail's business. While the women were bickering, Sonny arrived and started on some paperwork at the bar.
Reminding Theresa that they'd both signed confidentiality agreements, Abigail asserted, "Paul being in Salem is nobody's business." Theresa insisted that Paul had been there when she'd arrived. Abigail countered skeptically, "And hitting on him had nothing to do with the fact that his name is Paul Narita, right?" Sonny looked up, curious, when he overheard Paul's name. Theresa maintained that Paul had been totally into her until someone from his past had gotten in touch with him.
"He was afraid that if he hung out with me, it would ruin any chances he had with his old flame," Theresa asserted confidently. After making a snide remark about Abigail dating a barista, Theresa left. Abigail walked to the bar and said hello to Sonny, who casually asked, "So what was that about?" Abigail explained that the guy was a "huge flirt," but Theresa had scared him off by stalking him. Sonny asked how Abigail knew that. "Because he said what every guy always says when they're trying to let a girl down easy. You know -- one of his exes came back into his life," Abigail said, her disdain for Theresa, as well as for most men, quite clear.
Abigail gave Sonny a large shopping bag filled with wrapped gifts and explained that they were Sonny, Will, and Arianna's Christmas presents. Sonny apologetically admitted that he'd been too busy to shop. Abigail divulged that she'd gotten an email from Gabi -- who wasn't doing well because Will hadn't taken Arianna to visit her since he'd returned from L.A.
Will arrived at the park, set his satchel down on a bench, and blew on his hands to warm them. He suddenly remembered that he was still wearing his wedding ring, so he took it off and stuck it in a pocket, moments before Paul showed up. Will apologized for the cold, but he said that he'd thought Paul might have wanted to get out of his hotel room, and that part of the park was usually quiet. Will explained that he wanted to get some more background for his article -- especially about Paul's love life.
Will asked how long Paul's relationship with a supermodel named Fiona had lasted. Paul replied that it had been a little over a year, but much of that had been during baseball season, and Fiona had also spent a lot of time modeling in Europe. Will wanted to know why the two had broken up. Paul maintained that with the demands of their careers, they'd both realized that a serious relationship between them wouldn't have been possible. Will asked if Paul regretted not trying harder to make things work.
Paul maintained, "I'm a little too young for regrets. I'm also a little too young to be tied down...don't you think?" Will wanted to know more about Paul's romantic history after his breakup with Fiona, but Paul didn't want to answer any more questions until Will gave his opinion about whether Paul was too young to be tied down. Paul offered a trade: he would answer three of Will's questions in exchange for one answer from Will. An uncomfortable Will hedged that his life wasn't very interesting.
Before Paul could press much further, Will got a text message from Sonny that read, "YOU HAVE TO GET HOME RIGHT NOW! IT'S ABOUT ARIANNA." Will mumbled an excuse and made a hasty exit after promising to get back in touch with Paul for a follow-up.
In Horton Square, Eric informed Serena that she had met Nicole earlier that day, except Nicole had made sure Serena hadn't known it. He added that he'd also caught Nicole researching Serena online. With a shrug, Serena pointed out that a lot of people did that when they met someone new -- and besides, Serena maintained that they had nothing to worry about because she had nothing to hide. She assured Eric that she could handle Nicole. Taking Eric's hand, Serena said, "Nicole is a part of your past. I'm hoping to get you looking forward to the future."
Eric said that he just didn't want Nicole inserting herself into whatever the future held. Serena proposed that they table the discussion about Nicole because she didn't want to spend their time at Daniel's, talking about Nicole. Eric admitted that Daniel and Nicole were friends. Serena asked if the same were true for Nicole and Melanie, but Eric said that he'd never heard Nicole mention Melanie. "So tonight can be about me getting to know your friend, you meeting my friend, and the four of us having a good time -- nothing about Nicole," Serena suggested. Eric concurred.
At Daniel's apartment, after Nicole kissed him, Daniel pointed out with a chuckle that there was no mistletoe in sight. Nicole started fumbling through an explanation about how they needed a plan, and Daniel deduced that she was asking him on a date. Nicole affirmed that she was and suggested that they do it that evening. Daniel informed her that he and Melanie were having Eric and Eric's friend, Serena Mason -- who was also a friend of Melanie's -- over for dinner. Daniel apologized for not being able to invite Nicole to join them.
Nicole understood, pointing out that Eric could barely tolerate being in the same town with her -- plus Daniel's history with dinner parties was not exactly good. Daniel suggested that he and Nicole should postpone their date until after the holidays -- that way, he would also have time to talk to Jennifer first. Nicole seemed surprised -- especially when Daniel offered to talk to Eric, as well. After pointing out that Eric didn't care, Nicole declared, "I know what I want." She kissed Daniel again to demonstrate.
After Nicole had gone, Serena and Eric arrived at Daniel's. As Daniel was welcoming Serena and ushering her inside, Eric spotted Melanie getting off the elevator with an armload of shopping bags and a giant plastic tub. Melanie tumbled backwards out of the elevator and onto the floor, dropping her parcels. Eric rushed over to help her up. He picked up the tub as Melanie began a rapid-fire explanation that it contained a gingerbread house that she thought would be fun to put together with her brother. Eric interrupted, "You must be Melanie."
Realizing that she was talking to Eric Brady, Melanie apologetically assured him, "I'm usually much more adorable than -- than I was just being." Eric led Melanie inside, and Daniel and Serena greeted them with glasses of wine. The foursome clinked glasses. Serena and Eric related the story of how they'd met while working in Africa, and even though they had been far from friends at first, things had changed after rebel forces had moved in. "I'm grateful our paths have crossed again, and this time, nobody's life is in danger," Eric told Serena.
Privately, Melanie remarked to Serena that she had failed to mention how "hot" Eric was or how strong the connection between them was. Serena pointed out that she wasn't even sure that Eric was fully available, plus he was still dealing with leaving the priesthood. Melanie offered to do whatever she could to help move things along. "You know, maybe there is," Serena said. She requested of Melanie, "Tell me everything you know about Nicole Walker."
Nicole sat alone at a table in Horton Square and told herself that Eric would never tell Daniel that she'd "kind of stalked" Serena. She tried to convince herself not to do any more research about Serena, but she wondered where Serena had been the previous few years. "There's a story here. I just know it. Who is she, really?" Nicole muttered as she picked up her tablet. A few minutes later, Nicole dropped the tablet on the table in frustration because she hadn't been able to dig up any dirt on Serena.
Just then, Nicole's coworker, Sally, spotted her and asked what was wrong. Nicole confided that even though she was completely over Eric, she'd recently run into one of his old friends. "I sort of questioned her, and I didn't tell her who I was... And now Eric's mad at me," Nicole explained. Sally suggested that Nicole should simply apologize to the woman, but Nicole thought it was too late for that. Nicole suddenly remembered that Serena and Eric would be at a dinner party at Daniel's for the next few hours.
As Nicole walked away from the table, she paused to look at an orchid plant on the florist's cart, then she called Serena's hotel. "Hi, I just checked in, and I totally forgot my room number... Mason. Serena Mason," Nicole told the clerk.
A little later, Nicole showed up with the orchid outside Serena's hotel room door just as an employee was leaving. Nicole stopped the man and declared genially, "Just the person I need to see... I have to get in that room."