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.