Denise Maynard came to Oakdale to find her daughter, whom Denise regretted selling at birth. Upon her arrival, she immediately sought out her old friend, Ben Harris, and became close to the Snyder family. Soon, Denise became close with the Snyders and was very concerned with the health of their daughter, Hope. Denise was later shocked to discover that Hope Snyder was actually her child! After much soul searching, Denise decided that Hope was better off with the Snyders and prepared to leave town since she couldn't stand to be in the same town as her daughter. Sensing how much Denise loved her daughter, Lily Snyder returned Hope to Denise.
Fearful that Hope’s father, Andy Dixon, would demand custody of Hope, Denise kept the child's paternity a secret. After a while though, Ben convinced Denise to tell Andy the truth. Denise did and her worst fears were realized. However, the threat didn't come from Andy, but his father. Fearful that she would lose Hope in a custody battle, Denise spirited Hope to New York, only to get arrested. Surprisingly, Denise's greatest supporter at this time was Andy who believed that Hope belonged with her mother. As the stress of the situation became greater, Denise started to resent Ben's interference and she blamed him for the situation since he was the one who pressured her to reveal Hope's parentage. Denise then returned Ben's engagement ring and married Andy to secure custody of her daughter.
However, throughout the marriage, Denise's heart belonged to Ben. Finally, not long after the marriage, Andy was involved in an accident and was confined to a wheelchair. Not wanting to hurt Andy or the Hughes family, Denise agreed to stay married to him to help his recovery. However, the stress of trying to help Andy put a strain on her relationship with Ben who was convinced thatAndy was faking his paralysis. It turned out that Ben was right: Andy was faking. Upon learning the truth, Denise forgave Andy and the two parted ways.
After ending her marriage to Andy, Denise distanced herself from Ben as well. She and Rose D'Angelo opened Raindancers, a dance studio for children, inside Java Underground. Denise had a flirtation with Underground owner, Ben’s brother, Isaac; he went as far as to kiss her during Halloween 2000. In the end Denise chose not to pursue a relationship. Offered a position at a prestigious dance company in Chicago, Denise said her goodbyes to Bob and then Ben in the Hughes kitchen, leaving Oakdale with daughter Hope.