Only Belinda knew why Opal hovered around Adrian like a moth to a flame. Since he didn't understand the secret connection, Tad was frazzled by Adrian's presence around his mother. Tad walked over to the secret agent and blasted him for hanging around Opal. He suggested that he find a new mission---and fast. Adrian wasn't about to take Tad's insults on the chin. He angrily informed Tad that he was helping Opal deal with a problem in her life. Opal didn't want Adrian to spill the beans about her marital woes with Palmer, but by the time she could quiet the secret agent the cast was already out of the bag. Tad looked towards Opal and asked her to explain what was going on. Opal nonchalantly stated that she and Palmer were in the process of getting a divorce. It seemed like a normally enough situation until Adrian told Tad that Palmer was trying to keep Opal from seeing a penny of his amassed fortune and gain sole custody of Petey. Opal was concerned that Petey would overhear their discussion and urged the two men to keep their voices down. Tad was furious with Palmer and stormed out of the house. Opal asked Adrian to round up Petey so that they could slip out the back door and head back to Cortlandt Manor.
Sometimes the presents that don't need unwrapping turn out to be the best gifts. Max jumped onto Hayley's lap and gave her a big hug. As he thanked Hayley for allowing his mother to stay at Wildwind, Raquel looked on unhappily. Mateo picked up on Raquel's uneasiness and asked her what was bothering her. Obviously, Raquel somehow misinterpreted Hayley's present as a way to gain Max's love---as evidenced by the hugs Hayley was receiving. That was not the case and Raquel never admitted that she felt this way. Max turned back towards his mother and asked if it would be okay if he had a piece of candy from his stocking. Raquel pursed her lips together and surrendered to her son's request. She walked Max off to get his stocking. Meanwhile, Mateo looked at Hayley and thanked her for her generous offer. Hayley explained that she did not want to see Max unhappy. She also guessed that she would rarely see Raquel since Wildwind was such a huge house. She did, however, let it be known that Raquel's stay at Wildwind would end when Max became accustomed to living with them. Of course Hayley couldn't be totally serious. A wry smile planted on her face, she mused that Mateo had "married a saint." She then corrected herself and said "almost married," referring to Mateo's still-married status to Raquel. Raquel wandered back into the room and told Mateo and Hayley that she was going to head back to the Pine Cone to pick up some clothing. Hayley told Raquel that she had a few things in her closet that she could wear. She also offered Raquel free choice of anything that was still in Gillian's closet. In the morning, they said that Raquel could return to pick up some of her belongings. Later, Mateo and Hayley were sharing a romantic moment in their bedroom until Matt noticed that Max's teddy bear was in their room. Knowing that his son would be unable to sleep without the stuffed animal, Mateo announced that he was going to run down the hall and deliver the toy. When he opened up the door, he found Raquel standing outside. Donned in one of Gillian's revealing negligees, Raquel explained that she couldn't fit into any of Hayley's clothing. That still didn't explain what Raquel was doing outside the bedroom. She told Matt that Mac had asked for him to read a bedtime story. Mateo smiled broadly and told Hayley that he'd be back in a few minutes. After Mr. and Mrs. Santos left, Hayley kicked and punched the bed in frustration.
Things were not going as planned for Palmer. He had expected that his attorney would have dug up tons of dirt on Opal by now---but that was not the case. Palmer had to cut his phone chat short because Dixie and Junior returned to the mansion. Unaware of her uncle's relationship problems, Dixie casually asked Palmer if he'd seen Opal lately. Palmer shook his head and remarked that he didn't care where Opal was. "Opal Gardner is about to get kicked to the curb," said Palmer colloquially. Dixie was stunned by Palmer's comments. Palmer insisted that his feelings were justified because Opal had turned him in to the Feds during his stolen painting debacle. Dixie was quick to remind Palmer that he had betrayed Opal on many occasions---including his one-night stand with Jane "Janet Green" Cox. Palmer claimed that he's tried to fix his problems with Opal and hinted that Opal was the one who was unwilling to let bygones be bygones. He smiled proudly as he announced that he was following Dixie's lead by "dumping Gardner trash." That was, of course, a reference to the way Dixie and Tad had parted ways. Dixie told her uncle that she and Tad had worked out their differences, a comment that struck fear into Palmer's heart. She warned Palmer that he had better find a way to get back in Opal's good graces because he was not going to find anyone else to tolerate his "crotchety old ways." Braden performed his personal assistant duties by answering a knock at the door. He tried to tell the unexpected visitor, Tad, that "Mr. Cortlandt" wasn't taking any visitors. Tad blinked his eyes in amused bewilderment and walked past Braden without saying a word. Opal, Adrian, and Petey followed a few seconds later. Tad asked Opal to take her son upstairs so that he would not hear what he was about to say. Petey looked up at Tad and asked, "What are you going to do to my daddy?" Tad smiled and assured his much younger brother that everything would be okay. Tad blasted Palmer for trying to skimp Opal out on a divorce settlement. He reminded Palmer that after he went broke, it was Opal's secret fried chicken recipe that helped build up the Cortlandt fortune. Because of that, Tad argued that everything Palmer owned should be handed over to Opal. "Over my dead body," Palmer retorted. Adrian stepped closer to Palmer and said that that could be arranged. Tad threatened to use his spot at WRCW to expose all of Palmer's dirty little secrets. 'Til he was done, Tad said that Palmer wouldn't be able to get custody of a dog let alone a child. Palmer thought Tad was bluffing. Tad wanted Opal to pack an overnight bag and head home with him, but Opal said that she could not leave for fear that Palmer would claim that she "deserted [her] marriage bed." Palmer smiled cockily as Adrian noted that Opal was probably right. He told Tad that he would spend the night at Cortlandt Manor to keep an eye on Opal. Tad stomped out of the house. Adrian walked Opal to her bedroom. Palmer was aghast by the way he'd been treated by Tad. Dixie was unsympathetic and told Palmer that she agreed "with every word" Tad had said. She added that she would never speak to her uncle again if he went through with his plan to steal Petey from Opal. Dixie left. Palmer was surprised that Dixie had sided with Tad, but not Braden. He told his boss that Dixie was not over Tad-and that she probably never would be. Palmer scratched his head and came up with Braden's next project: to make sure that Dixie forgets Tad. Braden chuckled slightly and said that he couldn't accomplish such a feat. Palmer was quick to note that he hadn't asked Braden if he could make Dixie forget Tad---he had ordered him to make it happen. He added a little incentive to his order---if he failed to complete his assignment or refused to do so, he'd be working at the Burger Barn.
Tad returned to his parents' house and was pulled aside by Ruth. Ruth had previously had a heart-to-heart with Jake and told him that she was sorry his relationship with Allie hadn't worked out. Now it was Ruth's turn to help perk up Tad. She compared Tad and Dixie's relationship to the tornado that had ripped apart their home. At first thought, it appeared to be a horrible analogy. Ruth recalled how the tornado had destroyed the home. Every memory was blown away or torn apart. The house had now been rebuilt, but it would never be the same. Still the comparison was unclear. Finally, Ruth explained that while she can never have what she once did, but she could rebuild a new home. She said that while Tad and Dixie might never be able to go back to the way they once were, it did not mean that they could not forge a new future together.
Ryan pulled away from Gillian and apologized for having made an unwanted advance. Gillian took Ryan's reaction the wrong way and assumed that Ryan was still unable to forgive her affair with David. Ryan was silent. Gillian tried to leave the room, but Ryan asked her to stay. He explained that he was the reason they were having so many problems. Had he not ignored her, Ryan felt that Gillian would never have had an affair. He explained that he had learned early in life that sooner or later everyone disappoints him. That lesson had come from watching his parents' numerous squabbles. How he was trying to put that lesson behind him and forgive Gillian. He opted to spend the night downstairs on the sofa so that they could sleep peacefully. Distance would not prevent Ryan from thinking about Gillian. He drifted to sleep, but his dreams were filled with romantic thoughts of Gillian. Myrtle returned home from The Martins' and asked Ryan why he was sleeping on the sofa. She surmised that Ryan and Gillian had had a "spat" and was sure that it wasn't a big fight because she knew that they were very much in love. As so many people do, Ryan opened himself up to Myrtle and explained that he was having a hard time forgiving Gillian for something that she'd done to him. He never said exactly what it was that Gillian had done. Myrtle told him that it was up to him to decide if harboring resentment was what was in his best interest. She explained that Ryan could be angry for years and end up a lonely, bitter man---or he could swallow his pride and allow himself to forgive Gillian. Ryan smiled and called Myrtle a "sweet" woman for helping him out. Myrtle cackled loudly and told Ryan that she was anything but sweet. She apologized for misleading him and gave him a brief synopsis of her carnie days when she was a bit of a hustler. Upstairs, Gillian sobbed to herself until a knock sounded on her door. She assumed that Myrtle was dropping by to ask her to quiet down her blubbering. She was wrong. Ryan appeared on the doorway and told Gillian that he loved her and wanted to be with her. Gillian was certain that she was dreaming and did not want to wake up from the dream. Ryan grinned and told his wife that she was not dreaming. To prove it, Ryan leaned over and kissed Gillian.
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Lips intertwined, Ryan and Gillian kissed for what seemed like hours. Gillian professed her love for her husband and apologized for her past transgressions. She hoped that Ryan would somehow be able to believe in her again. "I've never felt this way before," responded Ryan, his voice trembling. "Do you love me?" Gillian asked, treading in an area that had caused them so much grief in the past. "I love you so much," Ryan beamed. He went on to tell Gillian how beautiful she was. Gillian was overjoyed and told Ryan that she'd wanted him to think she was beautiful for a long time. Ryan confessed that he's always thought she was beautiful and that he always wanted her. The kissing turned even more passionate as the couple found their way to the bed. Ryan remarked that this would be the first time he's ever "made love to a woman [he] actually loved."
Unable to sleep because of her uncle's tyrannical ways, Dixie sat in the parlor of Cortlandt Manor sipping tea. Braden found his way to the room and asked Dixie why she wasn't in bed. Dixie explained that she was infuriated by Palmer's actions and said she found it somewhat unbelievable that Braden was able to stay in the same house as the feuding couple. Dixie told Braden that she'd had yet another "attack," this time while trying to tuck Junior into bed. She had bent over to give her son a kiss and nearly tipped over because of an onset of dizziness. She hadn't called David to report the incident. Braden sensed Dixie was tense and tried to give her a neck massage. The look of dejection on his face when Dixie pulled away was overwhelming. Dixie wished that Tad was there because she knew that he'd be able to fix everything. Braden looked at the woman curiously and asked her exactly what Tad would do to make everything better. Dixie wasn't quite sure---but she envisioned being able to finally tell Tad that she still loved him. Again, Braden's heart seemed to crumbled. Dixie tired of talking about herself and asked Braden for some personal information---where he was from and his last name. Braden dodged the question, saying that he had an idea of how Dixie could help ease her worry about dying. He insisted, however, that Dixie was not going to die. His idea was never mentioned aloud, but it was said to provide Junior with a lasting memory of his mother just in case she did pass away. Before Dixie adjourned for the night, Braden casually asked her if she would accompany him to the Crystal Ball. Braden claimed that the only reason he was asking was because he knew no one in town. Dixie smiled and gave Braden a hug as she accepted the invitation. Braden looked like he was going to melt.
Kit wandered through the night and ended up at the boathouse. She didn't know it, but she was not alone. "Hey," murmured a voice. "Come here often?" Kit looked up and saw Tad looking back at her. He assured Kit that he had not followed her to the boathouse and said that he'd be going on his way before she decided to make up another claim of being sexually assaulted. Kit asked Tad not to leave, citing "something unfinished" between them. She told Tad that there was something he could do for her. Tad laughed and told his former lover that she should "shop somewhere else." Kit admitted yet again that she had acted irresponsibly when she accused Tad of raping her. Tad rolled his eyes and barely paid Kit any mind. Kit announced that what she wanted most from Tad was his forgiveness. "No," came Tad's forceful reply. HE reminded Kit that she had had him arrested---thrown in jail---for a crime he never committed. Kit had hurt many, many people in her years as a con artist, but she claimed that she felt most sorry for what she'd done to Tad. She asked Tad if there wasn't something that they'd shared in the past that at least offered some hope that he might forgive her. Tad said that he and Kit were never lovers and were not even friends. In short, there was no way he was going to forgive her. Kit said that she wanted to be more like Christine Montgomery and start the New Year off on the right foot. "I wish you well," Kit smiled meekly as she thanked Tad for taking time out to talk to her. In parting, Tad told Kit that the "old Kit" would never have left him leave. Perhaps, he commented, Kit might just be changing.
At Wildwind, Hayley waited in her bedroom for Mateo to return. She looked longingly at a photo she'd had taken with Mateo and gently caressed the picture. Downstairs, Mateo was on his way back to the bedroom with a midnight snack when Raquel appeared out of nowhere and asked for a minute of his time. Raquel thanked Matt for allowing her to stay at Wildwind. Mateo quickly noted that she should be thanking Hayley, not him. As a gesture of her appreciation, Raquel gave Mateo a picture Max had drawn. Mateo looked at the drawing in awe and said that they should consider having Stuart give Max art lessons. Raquel asked her still-husband if he still drew. She mentioned a drawing Mateo had done many years ago, one of her by a river. The mere mention of the drawing caused Matt to freeze. He bowed his head and said that he had "grown up" and no longer had time for drawing. Matt took Raquel's hand and thanked him for allowing Max into his life. As he did this, Hayley appeared in the doorway. Hayley bowed her head and silently raced away. Neither Mateo nor Raquel even knew she was there. Mateo knew that he was gone far too long and bid Raquel goodnight. Alone, Raquel began to fantasize about Mateo. She imagined that he had come to the realization that she offered him everything he ever wanted---a wife, love, and a child. Mateo told Raquel that he loved her just before planting a kiss on her. Raquel suddenly snapped back to reality, but a slight smile remained on her face. Back in her bedroom, Hayley sighed heavily at what she'd just observed. "The best laid plans get shot to hell awfully easy." She crawled into bed, her face facing the edge of the bed. When Mateo returned with the snack, Hayley claimed that she wasn't hungry. Mateo crawled into bed next to Hayley and asked her what was bothering her. Hayley blandly replied that she was tired. When Mateo suggested that they "sleep in," Hayley reminded him that they would be expected bright and early at the breakfast table. Mateo knew that something was wrong, but he didn't press the issue. "I love you," he said to Hayley. Hayley remained still, her back towards Mateo. "Good night," she said coldly.
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The sun rose on what was now New Year's Eve Day in Pine Valley. Raquel knocked on Hayley and Mateo's bedroom door, but there was no answer. She let herself into the room and meandered around. She headed towards the bed and found an elegant black and gold gown still in its box. Raquel's mouth gaped slightly. She picked up the gown and headed towards a mirror. There, she admired the gown and imagined what she'd look like in it. Hayley returned to the room and was not amused by Raquel's antics. Raquel claimed that she was admiring the dress because she used to work in a dress factory. She snidely remarked that she used to "resent" the woman who wore the fancy dresses she made---but now she realized that not all rich women were blissfully happy. There was, however, a reason for Raquel's impromptu visit to the bedroom. She said that she wanted to ask Mateo if he knew where she could find a sled for Max. Hayley gave Raquel the directions and was overjoyed when Raquel left the room.
Downstairs, Edmund tore into his housekeeping staff for a series of screw-ups in the preparations for the evening's Crystal Ball. The most notable blunder was someone's decision to leave an ice sculpture next to a heater. Mateo entered the room and tried to calm his brother-in-law's jangled nerves. Edmund told Matt that he felt like he was "losing Maria all over again." Mateo informed Edmund that they had already lost Maria and couldn't possibly lose her again. Edmund explained that he had been able to "summon" Maria to his side on several occasions, especially during the time that he was chained inside the aqueduct. Lately, though, Maria hasn't appeared to him. Mateo said that it sounded perfectly normal because the pain of losing Maria was beginning to subside. Edmund shook his head and insisted that any pain was better than forgetting Maria. He strongly vowed to never forget his late wife. Kit entered the room and Edmund seemed very uncomfortable. He turned down Kit's offer to help with last minute preparations for the ball. In fact, he breezed past her, saying that he had things he needed to do. Mateo also headed for the door, but before he could leave Kit had a question for him. She asked Matt if he thought it might be better if she stayed away from the ball. Hayley entered the room and took up a spot next to her husband. She chirped that she would love it if Kit didn't show up at the party. Hayley then told her almost-husband that she had a few errands to run. Kit waited until Hayley left before again asking Mateo for his thoughts. Matt spoke very softly and said that Kit had every right to be there especially since Edmund had invited her. Kit called Matt "very fair" and thanked him for his response. Matt warned Kit that he might not be so fair if it turns out that she's wrongly accusing Ryan of rape. Across the room, Raquel admired Eugenia>'s stash of jewelry. She told the duchess that she did not plan on attending the Crystal Ball. Eugenia wouldn't hear of Raquel skipping out on the event and told her that she had an idea. She took Raquel by the hand and led her off to parts unknown.
Dressed in a sparkly, white skirt and blouse, Erica laced up her skates and prepared for a quick lap or two around the pond. Before she could head out on the ice, Dimitri appeared by her side. Erica smiled and invited Dimitri to join her on the ice. Dimitri chuckled to himself and proposed a "counter offer" to Erica. He told Erica that he would have to forgo the skating, but said that he would like to have her accompany him to the Crystal Ball. Erica was caught off guard by the invitation. She told Dimitri that Edmund probably would not want her in attendance, but Dimitri reminded Erica that her presence wasn't desired the year before either. Last year, a fresh from jail Erica waltzed into the ball and stole the spotlight. Before Erica could respond, Dimitri had a suitor of his own---Brooke. Brooke told Dimitri that she'd been looking all over town for him. With a half smile on her face, Brooke told Dimitri that she wanted to give him "the honor" of escorting her to the Crystal Ball. Erica rose from her seat on the bench and told Brooke that she was "a day late and a dollar short" because she had already accepted Dimitri's invitation. She made it a point to note that Dimitri had asked her to go to the ball with him---not the other way around. Brooke nodded her head understandingly and she and Erica then exchanged barbs about watching out for thin ice. Erica told Dimitri that she'd see him later and skated off onto the pond. Dimitri told Brooke that he would gladly have gone with her to the ball had he known that she was going to ask him to be her date. He was under the impression that he and Brooke had no future together. After all, that was what Brooke had told him. "I was a fool," Brooke shrugged. Dimitri promised to save a dance or two for Brooke before heading home. Derek appeared a little while later and told Brooke that he needed her help. He explained that the investigation into Kit's rape had hit a snag because Jack had lost his objectivity in the case. What the detective wanted to know was whether or not Brooke believed what Kit was alleging. Brooke calmly and assuredly told Derek that she believed Kit. Just then, a phone call came through from forensics. The results of Ryan's DNA test were in.
Belinda dropped by Cortlandt Manor to discuss divorce strategies with Opal. In addition to thanking Adrian for arranging her brief phone chat with Noah and Rose, Belinda kept a running tally sheet of all the valuable items tucked away in the mansion. Adrian was a bit of an expert when it came to assessing the value of antiques. A pair of Minh vases, he said, were worth twenty thousand dollars. Opal laid on her belly on the floor looking for a special thread in one of Palmer's Turkish rugs. The thread was supposed to signify that the rug was the real McCoy. Braden and Palmer strolled into the room. Palmer looked at the trio and accused them of trying to walk off with his possessions. Tad burst into the house and flipped when he saw his mother sprawled out on the floor. He raced to her side, thinking that Palmer had slapped or beaten her. Someone had left an urgent message for Tad asking him to drop by Cortlandt Manor. The only thing was that no one in the room had left the message. Dixie appeared in the doorway and said that she'd been the one who'd called. Dixie explained that she needed Tad's help in resolving the conflict between Palmer and Opal. Meanwhile, Opal and Palmer traded pointed remarks. Palmer at one point warned Opal to be careful when walking down the steps and on the loose cobblestone driveway and paths. Opal urged Palmer and his zombie (Braden) to run along and "play Wall Street." Palmer countered by telling Opal and Adrian to "go play whatever it is [they] play." Tad told his mother that she should pack her bags and leave the mansion, but Opal insisted that the house were hers---and that Palmer should be the one to leave. The only way Opal was going to get the house, said Palmer, was if it "falls on top" of her. The reference, of course, was to the Wicked Witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz. Dixie had the solution to the problem: Tad had to move into Cortlandt Manor. Palmer, Opal, and Tad all nixed that idea very quickly. Adrian blasted Tad for not being worried about his mother's welfare. Opal and Palmer continued their tete-a-tete. Dixie and Belinda tried to regain some order, but Dixie couldn't yell loud enough and Belinda was not able to muster one of those loud-be-quiet-now kind of whistles. Dixie did find a way to get everyone to shut up. She hoisted one of the vases above her head and let it drop to the ground. Within a split second, the room was so quiet that they could have easily heard a vase, er, pin drop. Palmer and Opal were both up in arms over the destruction of the valuable artifact. Dixie was furious with them for being so wrapped up in a piece of prized pottery. Life, she said, was far more valuable. That led to yet another verbal battle between Opal and Palmer over who owned what in the house. Dixie screamed for them to be quiet at the top of her lungs. The stress of the situation had finally gotten to her. She began to shake noticeably and her face turned at least one shade whiter. Tad and Braden both noticed Dixie's deteriorating condition. Braden slowly walked to get Dixie a glass of water. Tad continued to watch her carefully. There was some assemblance or order---for at least a few minutes. Everything fell apart when Palmer said that divorcing Opal would prune a "diseased limb" off of the Cortlandt family tree. The bickering ensued. Tad scurried over to Dixie and told her that he'd decided that he would, in fact, move in to Cortlandt Manor.
>Check out our Family Trees section for a look at the Cortlandt Family Tree---and others!
Ryan and Gillian awoke in each other's arms and found themselves wondering what they'd be doing several years down the line. Ryan had hinted that he wanted to start a family, but not until he was able to provide for a child. Gillian told Ryan that she had a confession to make. Fearing the worst, Ryan asked his wife to reconsider before dropping a bombshell. Gillian grinned and said that she had a good confession. She said that this was the first morning that she was actually pleased to wake up next to someone she'd went to bed with. Hayley knocked on the bedroom door and called out to the couple. Ryan and Gillian donned their robes and let Hayley inside. Hayley asked the couple why they were not in the guest list for the Crystal Ball. Ryan remarked that they were not welcome at Wildwind---let alone a glitzy gala. Hayley insisted that the pair had to attend in order to show that they were not going to bow down to anyone. The implication was that since Ryan had not done anything wrong, he did not need to hide under a rock. Gillian and Ryan both claimed that they had "better things to do" than attend the ball, but Hayley managed to win them over. She told the pair that since she was unable to get rid of Raquel---at least for now---she would take on Pine Valley's "other upstart," that being Kit. As she was leaving, Hayley grinned broadly and said that New Year's Eve would be "one hell of a night."
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With the Crystal Ball just a few hours away, final preparations were being made around Pine Valley. At Cortlandt Manor, Tad searched high and low for Opal, but he couldn't find her anywhere. Dixie slowly approached him and informed him that Opal had left for the party earlier with Stuart and Marian. Seeing that Tad was struggling to tie his bow tie, Dixie stepped in to assist Tad. Tad knew that it must have been awkward for Dixie to have asked him to move in to Cortlandt Manor. Instead of a reply, Dixie noted that it must have been equally awkward for Tad to have accepted her request. Tad admired Dixie's gown, saying that she looked like "two dinners on one plate." Dixie grinned and told Tad that he didn't look bad himself. Things warmed slightly and Tad eventually offered to give Dixie a lift to Wildwind. Braden stormed the room and bellowed that he was going to be Dixie's escort for the evening. Braden handed Dixie a gardenia corsage and offered to pin in on her---but Dixie coldly stated that she'd pin it on her purse. Tad wasn't without a date for the fete. A few minutes later, Paige Turner, an actress that Tad had reportedly met on the set of The Cutting Edge, waltzed into the mansion. Dixie was irked by the beautiful blonde who instantly took her place on Tad's arm, the same way Tad had been irritated when Braden bragged that he was Dixie's date for the Crystal Ball. Tad and Paige headed off to the ball. Dixie was furious with herself for letting Tad drive her crazy. Dixie scurried upstairs to kiss Junior goodnight. Meanwhile, Palmer snuck into the parlor and told Braden that he was doing a poor job of making Dixie forget about Tad. Braden insisted that he was doing the best he could. Dixie returned downstairs and, unaware of what the two men were actually arguing about, ordered her uncle and her escort for the evening to stop bickering and enjoy their evening.
David arrived at Liza's loft and gushed over how beautiful she looked in her dress. Liza rolled her eyes and told David that he'd better not say that she was glowing because, in her words, she was not "a radioactive isotope." Liza allowed David into her home and listened as he delicately hinted that he should be the one to escort Liza to the ball. It came as no surprise that Adam had already filled that role, but David still tried to wheedle his way into Liza's heart. David warned Liza that Adam would "shatter" her trust, but said that he would be waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces. Liza chuckled slightly and assured David that she could handle Adam. "I can send him to hell all by myself," said Liza. "And I look forward to the trip," Adam laughed from the doorway. Adam rushed David out the door. Liza, however, was a bit nicer and hinted that she might save David a dance. "We'll see you at the ball," Liza smiled. David nodded and smiled sinisterly.
At the boarding house, Myrtle made her way to her newest tenants' room and announced that she'd heard "the most disturbing news" about Ryan. Ryan and Gillian knew instantly what Myrtle was about to say. Ryan vehemently denied that he had raped Kit Fisher. Myrtle explained that she would not usually listen to idle gossip, but this gossip had come from a very reliable source---Brooke English. Ryan was careful not to attack Brooke's character, saying simply that Brooke had received unreliable information. Ryan also informed Myrtle that he had agreed to take a DNA test and that he was certain the results would prove him innocent. Myrtle said that she believed that Ryan was on the up and up. "You're no more of a rapist than the man in the moon," she said confidently. Meanwhile downtown, a police officer delivered the results of Ryan's DNA test to Derek's desk.
While getting ready for the ball, Hayley had flashed backs of catching Raquel sizing up her dress and of Raquel and Matt's little hand-holding session in the parlor. A beaming Mateo returned to the bedroom with the intention of escorting Hayley to the party, but he was in for a rude awakening. Mateo said that he wanted to take his wife to the ball. "Which one?" Hayley snapped coldly. Matt knew that something was wrong and asked Hayley to talk to him. After a few minutes of hesitation, Hayley blurted out that she caught Mateo "playing paddycake" with Raquel the night before. Mateo immediately knew what Hayley was referring to, but he claimed that she'd misinterpreted what she'd seen. Mateo first insisted that Raquel had taken his hand---and went on to say that they had been discussing Max. Mateo then asked why he would move Raquel to Wildwind if he was carrying on an affair with her. Leaving her at the Pine Cone, he snapped, would make much more sense. "I'm sorry," Hayley mumbled. "I'm an idiot." She bowed her head and was unable to look at her lover's face for several minutes. Mateo apologized for putting himself in a position he should not have been in and assured Hayley that he never wanted to hurt her. The two then shared a kiss and prepared to head downstairs to the ball. Elsewhere in the castle Wildwind, Eugenia> loaned Raquel a gown she'd worn to her very first gala. "Your dance card will be full," Eugenia beamed when Raquel worried that she might not look nice in the gown.
With her hair up, Kit looked quite different. She entered the party early and thanked Edmund for her invitation. Edmund smiled proudly and said that he wanted all of his friends to be present. He also said that he was sorry that Jack was unable to see her "debut" into Pine Valley society. Kit said that she wished her big brother could be there to hold her hand. Edmund reached out and took Kit by the hand. "Let me play big brother for the night," he smiled. Janet and Trevor were the next to arrive. They were introduced to Kit and, as expected, there was a bit of friction. "It's nice to put a face to the reputation," Trevor muttered. Janet smiled civilly, but said nothing. Next to arrive were Stuart and Marian. Marian thanked Edmund for allowing her to attend the ball, saying that it was much better than her night in front of the television last New Year's Ever. Stuart had to step in and inform Edmund that Marian was his fiancé when he introduced them to Kit as Stuart and "his friend" Marian. Wearing a black sequin dress with a scallop-cut neckline, Brooke waltzed into the party solo. She told Kit that she was pleased to see her in attendance and gave Edmund a quick smile. Brooke looked around the party, but saw no sign of Dimitri. Edmund hadn't either and couldn't begin to figure out where his brother had scurried off to. As if on cue, Dimitri appeared in the doorway with Erica by his side. Dimitri and Erica walked directly to Edmund, Kit, and Brooke. Surprisingly, there were no fireworks. Erica smiled at Edmund and asked him how his Christmas was. Edmund told Erica that Santa had been good to him. Erica then told Kit that she was sorry that Jack could not be there with her. She and Dimitri then walked to the other side of the room. Dimitri appeared to be slightly stunned at the way Erica had acted. He called her behavior "very generous." Erica claimed that she would not ruin an evening dedicated to Maria's memory simply because she did not like Kit Fisher. Erica smiled happily and she explained why she'd accepted Dimitri's invitation to be her escort. "Because you are the most fascinating man I know," praised Erica, sounding like an advertisement for People magazine. Dimitri saw one additional reason that Erica might have overlooked. Being his date allowed her the chance to "stick it to Brooke one more time." Dimitri looked across the room at Brooke and commented that Brooke looked radiant. Erica blinked her eyes several times and made a funny face before she and Dimitri both erupted into laughter.
Mateo and Hayley finally made it to the party even though they lived the closest to the ball! Hayley again apologized to Mateo for acting like a fool earlier in the evening. Suddenly, Eugenia appeared in the doorway and asked for everyone's attention. "One thousand years ago," she began coyly, "I made my debut at a ball." She announced that a young lady would be making her debut at the Crystal Ball, much the way she'd done many years earlier. Suitably, the gown the young woman would be wearing was also the same dress she'd worn to her coming out. With that, Raquel materialized next to Eugenia wearing a beautiful charcoal colored satin dress. There was no applause or fanfare, but there were several warm smiles. Hayley wasn't one of them. She rolled her eyes and grimaced. Raquel walked towards Edmund and assured him that her grand entrance was all Eugenia's idea. She said that she felt very special to be a part of an evening dedicated to Maria---and seguéed into a story about Maria. Edmund listened intently to Raquel's tale. He then took her by the arm and said that he'd like to hear more about her memories of Maria. He then led her outside to the terrace.
Brooke noticed that Kit was standing by herself. She walked over to her new friend and told her not to be nervous because she was "among friends." Ironically, Tad and Paige walked through the front door at that moment. Brooke and Kit both glanced in Tad's direction and sighed.
Opal smiled proudly at Adrian and Belinda, calling them a "picture perfect couple." Adrian brought up his impending departure yet again. Belinda told Adrian that she'd miss him when he was gone. Opal, however, was silent.
Trevor and Janet shared a private toast. Trevor recalled that it was one year ago that he first popped the question to Janet. Janet's lips wrinkled as she reminded Trevor that she'd turned down his marriage proposal. Trevor laughed as he said that he "chased [Janet] down and wore [her] out."
Edmund returned to Kit's side and tried to cheer her up. He told her not to have "stage fright" because midnight would usher in a brand new era for her. The New Year, he said, would be about building a new life and forgetting the mistakes she'd made in the past. Tonight, he added, was about celebrating the return of Christine Montgomery.
Tad tracked down Erica and told her that he'd had the misfortune of bumping into Kit. "Don't let her ruin your night," Erica stated. She told Tad that Gillian had been kicked out of Wildwind as a result of Kit's allegations. She stated that she and Bianca both liked Gillian very much and that Gillian's only mistake was "falling in love with a wrongly accused man." Tad decided to forget about Kit and turned the topic to more pleasant things. He asked Erica how she was doing. Erica claimed that she "couldn't be better." Tad looked into Erica's eyes and told her that if Peggy were present, she'd probably say, "God love you for a liar."
The partygoers all gathered in the ballroom for Edmund's formal speech. He promised them that there would be no magic tricks or disappearing women like there'd been at last year's Crystal Ball. He thanked everyone for coming out to honor Maria's memory, saying that the presence of his friends "does good for her memory." Edmund stopped mid-sentence and gazed towards the back of the room. One by one, the crowd turned to see what Edmund was looking at. A silence fell over the party as Ryan and Gillian strolled into the room.
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Due to the New Year's holiday, All My Children will not be shown. We'll rejoin the show on Monday where Thursday's show left off.
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