At the DiMera mansion, a reporter was interviewing E.J. The reporter noted that E.J.'s class action lawsuit had caused him to gain a significant amount of support from the voters. E.J. insisted that he had not filed the lawsuit to help his campaign.
E.J. produced a photograph of a random woman, and he claimed that she was one of John's victims. E.J. said that he had filed the lawsuit to help all of the people who had lost money due to John's crimes. E.J. said that he was going to tell John the woman's story. E.J. added that he was going to demand to know how John was able to sleep at night.
At the prison, John, Carrie, and Marlena prepared for the deposition. Marlena told John that Belle had sent them some pictures of Claire. Marlena sighed as she realized that she had left the pictures at the townhouse. Meanwhile, Carrie received a text message, and she groaned as she realized that E.J. was doing a live interview. John asked Carrie to play the video on her phone.
"The purpose of this lawsuit is to give the working-class families of Salem the opportunity to stand up against the injustices that have been perpetrated upon them by John Black, a coward who didn't even have the mettle to look these people in the eye as he robbed them blind," E.J. said, as he feigned outrage. John told Carrie that E.J. was just trying to rattle her nerves. Carrie insisted that the tactic would not work.
Later, at the deposition, E.J. demanded to know why John had stolen the funds. Carrie raised an objection, and E.J. pointed out that John had already confessed. E.J. wondered what John was trying to hide. John pointedly stated that the DiMeras were the ones who liked to keep secrets. E.J. told John to stop making snide remarks about the DiMera family.
E.J. started to ask about Switzerland, but Carrie warned John not to answer the question. E.J. realized that Carrie was still planning to take the case to trial. E.J. reminded Carrie that John had already confessed, and he wondered what kind of defense Carrie was planning to use.
Before anyone could respond, Carrie received an urgent phone call. Carrie excused herself, and she said that she wanted E.J. to wait in the hallway. After Carrie left, John asked E.J. to stay. "Hypocrisy and the DiMera name kind of go hand-in-hand, but what you're trying to pull off here...I think you've outdone yourself. We both know that I didn't embezzle a dime," John said.
John said that he had managed to catch a portion of E.J.'s performance earlier. John added that he was impressed that E.J. had managed to keep a straight face during the interview. E.J. reiterated that John had confessed. "Oh, cut the act, will you? What happened to those people was a real tragedy, and now you're manipulating them just like a bunch of pawns," John said.
E.J. noted that John's statement was ironic. "Never had a chance, did you? To turn out differently, to be a better man...better than your father. You're billing yourself as the champion of the people now, but all you're doing is using them, making all these promises that you know you can't keep. I gotta hand it to you -- I'm sure you made your old man proud," John added.
"Do you know the difference between someone like you and someone like me? People...they're going to remember you, John, as the person who took everything from them, but they're going to remember me as the guy who gave it back to them," E.J. said. John wondered how E.J. was going to accomplish that feat. "Oh, now, the only way that you could do that is if you were the one who stole it from them in the first place," John noted.
E.J. smiled smugly, and he claimed that John did not have the guts to take responsibility for his actions. John pointed out that E.J. had never actually denied that he had stolen the money. E.J. shrugged and denied John's accusations, but John wasn't convinced. John wondered how E.J. was planning to repay everyone. John pointed out that his funds had been depleted, but E.J. claimed that John was lying.
E.J. feigned indignation, and he claimed that it was sad that John was not willing to accept responsibility for his actions. "Hate me, hate my father, whatever it is he's done to you...but someday you're going to have to take responsibility for the fact that the only person who is responsible for this is you. God, you're a sad, pathetic old man," E.J. added, as Carrie returned to the room. John jumped out of his chair, and he lunged at E.J. with a pen.
A guard quickly rushed in to keep John away from E.J. Carrie chastised E.J. for purposely provoking John, and she ended the deposition. E.J. warned that he was just getting started. "Your good name will be worth nothing as a result of this, whereas the name of my family will be...restored, possibly even revered. I bet you thought you'd never live to see this day, huh? Of course, you are headed off to a prison with the worst reputation in the state, so it's possible that you won't see this reach trial, but I can assure you...it's going to get there," E.J. promised John.
At the Horton Town Square, Will tried to drown out the endless string of painful memories that had been plaguing him. Elsewhere, Marlena warned Nicole to stay away from E.J. Nicole wondered if Marlena was trying to do her good deed for the day. Marlena insisted that the DiMera family would destroy Nicole. Nicole said that E.J. was just trying to clean up John's mess.
Marlena said that E.J. was a self-serving opportunist. Marlena added that it was preposterous to believe that E.J. was trying to help the residents of Salem. Marlena said that she had always considered Nicole to be an intelligent person. Marlena noted that Nicole could have had a wonderful life with Brady, and that she had thrown all of that away for a life with E.J.
Marlena pointed out that she had been dealing with the DiMera family for many years. Marlena insisted that Nicole wasn't prepared for the fallout, but Nicole claimed that she wasn't worried. Marlena warned that Nicole's lack of concern could prove to be a fatal mistake, then she calmly walked away. After Marlena left, Nicole tried to laugh off the warnings.
At Sami and Rafe's apartment, Sami told Rafe that Will had stayed out all night. Rafe reminded Sami that Will was eighteen, and he assured her that Will would be all right. Rafe wondered why Will had trashed Maggie's kitchen earlier. Rafe suggested that Will's outburst might have been a cry for attention. Sami insisted that Will was definitely upset about something.
Sami explained that Will had decided to move out of the apartment. Rafe shrugged and admitted that he didn't have a problem with that idea. Sami added that Will wanted to get an apartment with Gabi, and Rafe quickly insisted that he wasn't going to let that happen.
Later, Will entered the apartment, and Sami demanded to know what had happened. Will shrugged, and he said that he was not aware that he had a curfew. Rafe wondered if Will had spent the night with Gabi. Will shook his head, and he started to walk away. Rafe stopped Will, and Sami reiterated that she wanted to know what had happened the previous night.
Will feigned ignorance, and Sami explained that she had talked to Maggie earlier. Will shrugged and said that he had messed up, then he started to walk away again. Rafe pointed out that Will's behavior had started to change on the day that they had found Johnny, and he wondered what had caused Will to tear Maggie's house apart.
Will sighed and said that he had not torn Maggie's house apart. Rafe amended his statement, and he conceded that Will had only torn Maggie's kitchen apart. Sami assured Will that he could talk to her and Rafe about anything, and she added that they didn't need to fight. Will glared at Sami, and he sarcastically agreed that they were one big, happy family.
Rafe said that he didn't appreciate the fact that Will was taking his family for granted. Rafe added that he and Sami would never do that, and Will laughed. "Oh, really? Really, she doesn't? Do you really believe that? This is such a joke! This is a joke, and you don't even get it! You have no idea how messed up this is!" Will stated incredulously. Rafe wondered what Will was talking about.
Will turned away from Rafe, and he wondered if Rafe really wanted to know what was wrong. "Yes, Will, that's what we've been saying. We need your help in understanding what's going on here. First, we hear about this incident at Maggie's, and then you come home, and you're acting belligerent, and I hear from Sami that you're talking about wanting to move in with my sister," Rafe said. Rafe added that he wasn't going to let Will ask Gabi to move in with him.
"It's too late -- I already did...last night. And you want to know what she said? What her big answer was? She broke up with me. Dumped my ass...in front of everyone there. It was so...humiliating. So...you want to know why I'm angry, and why I don't buy into all this, uh, 'We love each other' stuff? That is why," Will tearfully explained. Sami tried to comfort Will, but Will snapped at her, and he said that he was done talking about the situation.
Rafe assured Will that he understood that breakups were hard, but he added that there was no excuse for Will's actions. Rafe told Will to go over to Maggie's house, and he instructed Will to apologize for his outburst. Rafe added that he expected Will to clean up the mess that he had made. Will refused, and he said that he just wanted to be left alone.
Will started to leave, but Sami stopped him. Sami said that Will needed to do the right thing. "That is so funny, coming from you. Okay, you know what? Whatever. I think I will do the right thing, because someone around here should," Will said, and he stormed out of the apartment.
At the Horton house, Bo and Hope started to unpack the Christmas decorations. Hope inspected the new ornament that had been painted for Melanie, and she noted that Jennifer and Abigail were picking out a tree for the house. Hope reminded Bo that they usually waited until Christmas Eve to decorate the tree, and she wondered if it was wise to break from that tradition. "We weren't together last Christmas, so...we have a lot of celebrating to make up for," Bo pointed out.
Hope found a paper snowflake ornament that she had made in elementary school. A photograph of Hope and Melissa was attached to the ornament. Hope recalled that Alice had always loved that particular ornament. "This is something we used to all look forward to every year, you know? Opening up all these boxes. Gran always made it feel like we were seeing these decorations for the first time. I miss her so much," Hope said.
Bo handed Hope an envelope, and he explained that he had anticipated that the day would be difficult for her. Hope recognized the envelope, and she eagerly removed the card that had been tucked inside. "'My darling Hope, my wish for you this Christmas is a beautiful life filled with the kind of love and affection you bring to mine every day. Your amazing grace and determination to conquer any challenge continues to be an inspiration to me always. Love, Gran.' I've read that so many times, when I needed her strength to guide me," Hope said.
Hope thanked Bo for knowing that she would need the card to help her get through the day. Bo admitted that there had been an ulterior motive. Bo suggested that Alice might have been sending Hope a message about the secrets that Hope had uncovered. Bo said that Alice was encouraging Hope to continue to investigate.
Hope said that she loved Bo for suggesting that, but she admitted that she wasn't convinced that the card had a hidden meaning. Hope placed the card on the mantel, then she reminded Bo that they had more decorations to unpack. Bo found Shawn's ornament, and he wondered if Shawn, Belle, and Claire would be able to make it home in time for Christmas.
Hope laughed, and she said that it would take a miracle to get the three of them back on dry land. Bo's expression suddenly changed, and Hope realized that Bo had found Zack's ornament. "I was wondering who'd find it first. You know, Ciara was making out her Christmas list the other day, and...she asked if, um...Santa was going to bring Zack Christmas presents in heaven. Did I ever tell you that...I go into his room every day to say his name? I do -- I need that. Just to hear his name out loud. I need it," Hope said, as she tearfully clutched the ornament.
Bo hugged Hope, and he assured her that they would never forget about Zack. "I'm struggling, Brady. Sometimes I feel I can't live with the pain," Hope added, and she asked Bo to hold her tightly. Bo suggested that it might be time for him and Hope to talk to a therapist about their feelings. Hope said that she was afraid that she would not be able to handle the pain.
Bo noted that he and Hope had a lot of amazing memories of Zack. "That letter that Mrs. H wrote about you, all the things she loved about you...that was Zack. He was his mother's son. His life was an amazing gift," Bo said, as Hope sobbed quietly.
"You know, um...this may sound a little crazy -- especially coming from me, your wife -- but maybe you were right...about taking what Gran wrote in that note as a sign, and keep looking into whatever this connection is between her and Stefano. I mean, Gran had to know that her secrets would eventually come out, correct? So...tell me, Gran -- what is it that I do next?" Hope asked, as she picked up Alice's ornament.
Hope cradled the ornament in the palm of her hand, and she grabbed the string so that she could hold it in the air. The metal cap on the top of the ornament popped off, and Hope noticed that something was sticking out of the top. Hope turned the ornament over, and a small scroll fell into her hand. Hope anxiously unfurled the scroll, which contained a message.
"Please extend to the bearer of this card every courtesy that would be afforded to Stefano DiMera himself," the message read, and there was a phoenix symbol at the bottom of the scroll.
Nicole entered the DiMera living room and found it had been decorated for Christmas. When E.J. crept up behind Nicole, he grabbed her. Giddy from the surprise, Nicole smiled at E.J. as he pointed at the mistletoe hanging above them in the doorway. After kissing Nicole, E.J. escorted her to a table set for supper. Nicole reminded E.J. that they needed to get to the tree lighting ceremony in the town square. E.J. countered that he did not want to work on or talk about his mayoral campaign, and that he wanted to skip the tree ceremony in order to spend the evening with Nicole.
After supper, E.J. presented Nicole with a present. "It's a small box. Expensive jewelry comes in a small box. Hand it over," Nicole joked. Laughing, E.J. tossed the box to Nicole. With a look of concern, Nicole noted that she did not have a present for E.J. in return. "It's kind of a present for me as well. You'll see," E.J. said. Nicole opened the box to find a business card for Nate Berkus. Confused, Nicole asked E.J. why she needed a decorator. E.J. explained that he wanted Nicole to move into the mansion.
"It's where you belong," E.J. said. Nicole remarked that the DiMera mansion was the only place that had ever felt like home to her. Nicole lamented screwing up their family and noted that she realized she had lied "over and over and over again because of Sami." Feeling guilty, E.J.'s smile fell from his face. "You don't think this was Samantha's fault?" E.J. wondered aloud.
Nicole shook her head and noted that Sami was not to blame for Nicole's mistakes. Nicole explained that when she was with E.J., she had felt like he would leave her for Sami. "I know it's not an excuse for what I did, but it drove me crazy," Nicole said. "There are things that we all did," E.J. said quietly. Nicole remarked that she no longer felt like there was anyone between her and E.J. E.J. assured Nicole that she was the woman he loved.
"And Sami?" Nicole asked. "Completely out of my system. 100%," E.J. said. Nicole joked that E.J. had to have realized Sami was not a good match for him when she shot him in the head. As E.J. laughed nervously at Nicole's joke, he thought about his night on the couch with Sami. Satisfied, Nicole agreed to move in with E.J. While E.J. built a fire in the living room fireplace, Nicole changed into Santa-themed lingerie. E.J. and Nicole began to make love on the couch.
At Maggie's house, Daniel and Melanie snacked on cookies while Maggie baked. Maggie thanked Daniel and Melanie for accompanying her to the tree-trimming party at Jennifer's house. As Maggie went to retrieve her Christmas cookie jar, she realized it was one of the items that Will had broken.
In Jennifer's living room, Hope and Bo examined the note from Stefano that they had found inside one of the Christmas ornaments. Curious, Hope announced that they needed to talk to Stefano. As Bo and Hope grabbed their coats, Jennifer entered the living room with Abigail and Chad. When Jennifer remarked that there was tons of work to do before the tree-trimming party, Bo muttered to Hope that Stefano would have to wait.
As Abigail and Chad worked on the tree, Abigail noted that it was strange to have the tree-trimming ceremony prior to Christmas Eve. With a sigh, Jennifer explained that she wanted to have the tree up for longer this year, so she had decided to have the party sooner than usual. Jack bumbled into the living room with an armful of garland for the staircase. When Jennifer asked Jack why he was at the house, Jack noted that he was taking part in the traditional Horton tree-trimming party.
Abigail explained that she had invited Jack. Nodding, Jennifer said that was fine. Maggie walked into the living room with Daniel and Melanie in tow. "Well, I didn't expect to see you here," Daniel said to Jack. "And vice versa," returned Jack. Jennifer took Daniel and Jack aside and explained that she had invited Daniel to be at the party. Jack offered to leave the party. "You don't have to go. We're all adults here, right?" Jennifer asked.
Maggie greeted Doug and Julie at the front door of Jennifer's house. Doug took Ciara into the kitchen to have cookies, leaving Julie and Maggie to talk. When Julie asked about Victor, Maggie noted that he was out of town, but that she was not sure whether he was invited to the party. Julie noted that Victor was family. "Really? I thought maybe now that my last name isn't Horton that I wouldn't be invited myself," Maggie said tentatively. Shaking her head, Julie noted that Maggie would always be a Horton.
By the tree, Melanie talked to Abigail and Chad about Will's explosion at Maggie's house. Nodding, Abigail theorized that Will had been blindsided by Gabi's decision and had overreacted. Chad noted that he was worried about Will. "I know Will's a great guy. It goes to show you, we all have our moments," Melanie said. As Abigail walked across the room, Melanie and Chad chatted about what it would be like to grow up in a place like the Horton household.
"They all seem to like each other," Chad commented. When Chad passed an ornament hanger to Melanie, she fumbled it. Chad and Melanie both bent down to pick up the hanger and their faces hovered close to one another. Feeling awkward, Chad apologized and backed away from Melanie. Nervous, Melanie stuttered that she needed to help Maggie in the kitchen.
Abe and Lexie arrived at the Horton house for the tree-trimming party. Abe informed Bo and Hope about his visit with John. Lexie was furious about E.J.'s efforts to publicize Abe and John's friendship during the election. "I just love watching my brother turn into my father," Lexie complained as she threw her head back. In an attempt to soothe Lexie, Hope commented that Alice would have noted that even someone like Stefano could not be all bad.
"Well, Alice was a saint," Abe countered. "Yes, yes she was. Which is why everyone loved her," Lexie added. Hope asked Lexie if Stefano ever mentioned Alice. Shaking her head, Lexie commented that though Stefano had respected Alice, he never mentioned her. After chatting with the family, Abe and Lexie left.
Maggie took Melanie and Daniel aside and handed them their own ornaments for the tree. Overcome with emotion, Melanie struggled to hold back tears. "I know you're not technically Hortons, but everyone wanted you to feel like part of the family," Melanie explained. "We already did, but this makes it so special. Thank you," Melanie said. As Maggie hugged Melanie and Daniel, Julie tapped her on the shoulder. Maggie turned and found that Julie had an ornament for Victor. Julie urged Maggie to hang it on the tree in his absence.
By the tree, Jack examined his ornament and reminisced with Jennifer about receiving it after their engagement. Jack and Jennifer thought about the moment when Alice had welcomed Jack into the family and handed him his ornament. "She welcomed me into this family when a lot of people had just written me off. I'll always be grateful to her for that," Jack said. "Me, too," Jennifer said quietly as she placed her hand on Jack's arm.
Once the tree was ready, everyone sat down and the ornament-hanging tradition started. Doug called Maggie up first, and she gently placed her ornament next to Mickey's on the tree. With a smile, Maggie placed Victor's ornament on the tree as well. Melanie and Daniel placed their ornaments on the tree next, as Jennifer smiled sweetly in the corner. Bo and Hope placed Zack's ornament on the tree, then helped Ciara place her ornament next to Zach's.
Abigail, Jennifer, and Jack hung their ornaments on the tree next, while a solemn Daniel watched with Melanie from the corner. Doug and Julie placed their ornaments next to Addie's, then kissed one another as Ciara placed Alice's ornament on the tree next to Tom's. As the family stood around the tree, they thought about Tom and Alice hanging their ornaments.
At the loft, Sami, Johnny, Allie, Rafe, and Sydney trimmed the Christmas tree while Will sulked in the corner. When Sami noticed Will was not participating in the merriment, she approached him and asked if Christmas carols would cheer him up. Will declined the offer and noted that he was only there because of his siblings. When Sami offered to call Gabi, Will tersely responded that he did not want to talk about his breakup.
"Why don't you just join in? Maybe you'll get in the mood," Sami said hopefully. "Why don't you leave me the hell alone?" Will responded. Sami warned Will not to talk to her in a disrespectful tone. Confused, Sami asked Will what was wrong, but he said he did not want to talk. Before Sami could push Will for an answer, there was a knock at the door.
Will opened the door and greeted Austin. When Will asked where Carrie was, Austin informed Sami that Carrie was on her way up with a surprise for Sami. As Carrie entered the loft, Sami asked her about the surprise, but Sami fell silent when she saw Marlena in the doorway behind her sister. As Marlena held out a poinsettia plant, Will grinned and greeted her with open arms.
After Marlena hugged the kids, they escorted her to their bedroom to show Marlena their advent calendar. With Marlena and the children out of the room, Sami growled at Carrie, "Who the hell do you think you are?" "Your sister," Carrie responded. Sami was angry that Carrie had invited Marlena to the loft without consulting her. "She's my mother, not yours. How could you do that? How could you bring her here?" Sami said.
Sami reminded Carrie that she had said she was not ready to talk to Marlena. Rafe interjected that Carrie was attempting to help Sami repair her relationship with Marlena. Austin agreed. "In my opinion, she did the right thing," Rafe added. Carrie noted that she had not asked Sami for permission because she had known that Sami would say no. "Right! Because I don't want her here!" Sami exclaimed.
Carrie pleaded with Sami to remember that Marlena was alone since John had been sent to prison. Frustrated, Sami explained that she was upset that Marlena had chosen to allow John into their lives. "You named Johnny after John," Carrie said softly. "Don't remind me," Sami said gruffly. Carrie begged Sami not to shut Marlena out of her life or her children's lives. Upset, Sami explained that the day of the shooting haunted her.
"Instead of trimming my tree, now I have to go kick my mom out of my apartment. Thanks a lot," Sami said to Carrie. As Sami marched toward the bedrooms, Rafe intercepted her and counseled her to think of the kids. "I don't think we should make a bad situation worse," Rafe said. Nodding, Sami relented but added that she was unhappy with Carrie's decision.
"No matter how mad you are at your mom right now, she's family," Rafe said. Rafe noted that there was no way to remove Marlena from the party without upsetting the kids. Rafe asked Sami to let Marlena remain at the party and put her anger on the back burner. "You know how I hate to do the right thing," Sami joked.
Over by the tree, Austin whispered to Carrie, "I told you this was a bad idea." "I had to do something," Carrie countered. Austin cautioned Carrie to realize that it would be difficult to reconcile Sami and Marlena.
When Marlena returned to the living room, she informed Sami and Rafe that the kids had remained in their bedrooms in order to make Christmas cards and snowflakes for John. Marlena headed over to the tree to join Carrie and Austin, while Rafe gave Sami a look urging her to make an effort. With a deep sigh, Sami called out to Marlena and asked her to handle the tinsel. "Nobody decorates a tree better than you," Sami said to Marlena. Relieved, Carrie smiled broadly.
In the kitchen, Will grabbed a bottle of liquor while the rest of the family trimmed the tree. Unobserved, Will poured a large quantity of the liquor into his glass of soda and then poured soda water into the liquor bottle to cover his tracks. Will sipped on his drink while the family decorated the tree. Carrie announced that she and Austin were going to remain in Salem. Carrie explained that Austin had been hired at Salem University and that she was going to continue to work on John's case.
When Carrie glanced over at Rafe, Marlena became suspicious and asked Carrie what was going on. Carrie explained that she and Rafe had discovered that the photo of John in the Paris cafe had been doctored. As Sami listened, Will tripped over something in the kitchen, startling his mother. Sami called out to Johnny and started to run to his bedroom. Rafe grabbed Sami's arm and calmed her down.
When Marlena assured Sami everything was fine, Sami bristled and noted that she was tired of Marlena talking about John. "I hope he rots in prison for the rest of his life," Sami said. Marlena insisted on John's innocence, but Sami disagreed. "He's not a hero. He's a criminal, and he's dangerous," Sami countered. "Do you hate him that much?" Marlena wondered aloud. Sami explained that she could not stop thinking about the shooting. "I really don't care if he is guilty or not. I just want him out of our lives," Sami said.
Marlena noted that John had sacrificed his freedom to protect the family. "You're being disloyal," Marlena said. Upset, Sami noted that everything bad that had happened in her life had happened because of Marlena and John. "You do whatever you want, whenever you want. You don't care about the consequences. You don't care about anyone but yourselves. You are so unbelievably selfish," Sami exclaimed. Frustrated, Will shouted out to his mother, "How dare you talk to her like that? You are such a hypocrite!"
Sami urged Will to take a walk with her and talk about why he was angry with her. As Sami led Will toward the hallway, Abe, Lexie, and Theo knocked on the front door. Will opened the door, and Abe and Lexie sensed the tension in the room. Abe started to leave, but Will urged the family to join them in the living room.
Everyone continued to trim the tree except for Will, who remained in the kitchen, drinking. While rooting through the boxes, Rafe found the rope from his wedding ceremony to Sami. Marlena asked about the rope, and Rafe explained that he and Sami had used the rope in their wedding to symbolize their union. Still angry, Sami whispered to Carrie, "Which she would know if she'd asked me anything about my wedding."
Rafe offered to get eggnog and propose a toast. Drunk, Will interrupted Rafe to announce that he wanted to toast Rafe and Marlena for being like saints. "You have to be a saint for putting up with all of her crap," Will said, motioning to Sami. Austin pulled Will aside and asked him what was wrong. Chuckling, Will told Austin that he was also a saint for suffering through Sami's scheme to pass Will off as Austin's son when he was a baby.
Rafe pulled Will aside and cautioned him to stop talking. When Will laughed, Rafe leaned closer and asked Will if he was drinking alcohol. "Busted. You are such a good detective," Will slurred. "You are such a good guy. You deserve so much better than my mom," Will added quietly. When Rafe told Will to stop, Will added, "especially after what she just did to you." When Rafe asked Will what he meant, Will explained that Sami had blamed Rafe when Johnny went missing.
"That's between me and your mother," Rafe said. "I'm just pointing out that she's a bitch," Will said. Furious, Sami told Will to stop. Rafe told Will to apologize to Sami and go to bed. Will apologized to everyone in the room and then turned to Sami, closed his mouth, and walked away. Rafe followed Will into his room to check on him, while Sami wiped the tears from her eyes and apologized for the scene. "There's been so much stress. He didn't mean that," Marlena said to Sami. "I think he did," Sami said quietly.
Doug, Julie, Jack, Jennifer, Abigail, Chad, Maggie, Melanie, Daniel, Marlena, Carrie, Austin, Bo, Ciara, and Hope joined Abe and Lexie in Horton Town Square for the lighting of the Christmas tree. Abe explained the Horton family ornament-hanging tradition to the crowd at the ceremony. With a smile, Abe noted that the tree in the square carried on the Horton family tradition, but the ornaments represented charitable organizations in the community.
"One year, my great friend Alice Horton explained to me the idea behind this. She said that she and Tom couldn't possibly expect everyone to make it home for every Christmas, but the ornaments with the names of the family would serve as a reminder of all the loved ones scattered across the globe or who had passed on. And that's what Salem is all about. It's about family. It's about the ties that bind us all together. It's about keeping our love strong in the face of separations and hardships. Salem, quite simply, is home," Abe said.
Turning toward his son, Abe gave Theo the go-ahead to light the tree. As the tree lit up, the crowd began to sing. Across the square, Rafe and Sami joined the crowd. Marlena was surprised to see her daughter there. With a small smile directed at Marlena, Sami joined in the singing. On the other side of the square, Will glared at his mother. Sami saw her son, and her smile faded.
On the phone at the DiMera mansion, Kate ordered her assistant to meet her in Horton Town Square in half an hour, or his job would be on the line. After she hung up, Kate apologized to Stefano for interrupting his chess game. She noted that he seemed distracted, and not just because of her phone call, and asked if there were a problem that she could help him with. Stefano insisted that everything was all right.
Kate urged him to confide in her, since she was his wife. Stefano politely refused, because there were things he had to keep from her in order to protect her -- and besides, he knew she kept some things from him, as well. Kate insisted that she would never be disloyal, but Stefano reassured her that he knew that, and he trusted her judgment.
As Bo and Hope sat at the Brady Pub, Hope examined the rolled-up note that she'd found inside Alice's Christmas ornament, with a phoenix symbol affixed to the bottom. "Please extend to the bearer of this card every courtesy that would be afforded to Stefano DiMera himself," Hope read aloud. Bo guessed that it had been Stefano's way of thanking Alice for her help when E.J. had been sick as a baby, but Hope couldn't figure out why Alice would have tucked it inside the ornament. Bo declared that he had a way to solve the mystery.
When Bo returned to the table a few minutes later, he explained that he had just gotten Susan Banks's phone number from Marlena, who had treated Susan, and the two women had kept in touch. He dialed Susan's number, and handed the phone to Hope. Taken aback to hear from Hope, Susan immediately wanted to know, "Is my baby Elvis in trouble?" Hope assured her that Elvis was just fine, and explained that she had called to ask Susan about Stefano. Susan became upset, and insisted that she didn't want to talk or even think about Stefano and how he might be influencing her son.
Hope revealed that she had found the letter that Susan had written to Alice, asking for help finding a specialist for baby Elvis. Susan expressed her gratitude for Mrs. Horton's assistance, but asked what it had to do with Stefano. Hope replied that in the letter, Susan had begged Alice not to tell Stefano anything about Elvis. Susan was sure that Mrs. Horton hadn't said anything, but Stefano had known all about Elvis' illness and Mrs. Horton's help anyway. "Which is probably why he went to her later on," Susan added.
A surprised Hope asked why Stefano had contacted Alice even after Elvis had gotten well. Alarmed that she had let something slip, Susan tried to make noises like static on the line, pretending that the connection was bad, and abruptly hung up. Hope was frustrated that she hadn't been able to get any more information out of Susan, but Bo announced that they were going to find out. They grabbed their coats and hurried out.
When Bo and Hope arrived at the DiMera mansion, Stefano correctly guessed that they were there to ask more questions about his alleged bond with Hope's grandmother. Hope spied E.J.'s baby picture on a side table, and informed Stefano that they'd found the same photo in Alice's things. Stefano maintained that it was merely a coincidence, but Hope told him that they knew all about how Alice had helped Susan find a doctor for a sick baby Elvis. Stefano noted that the story had a happy ending, because Elvis had grown up and was running for mayor of Salem.
Bo expressed his theory that there was much more to it than that. "You mean that Hope called Susan in England just a little while ago? Too bad there was so much static on the line," Stefano said. When Hope accused him of tapping Susan's phone, Stefano insisted that he'd simply guessed correctly what she would do next. He then explained that because Susan had kept him away from Elvis back then, Stefano had kept an eye on the two of them, and he had thought Susan had been very wise to ask for Alice's help. Bo and Hope were a little skeptical that Stefano would not have interfered, but Stefano pointed out that he would never refuse help that could save his son's life.
Stefano reiterated that if Alice had wanted Hope to know about any of it, she would have told Hope in the decades that had followed. Hope countered that her grandmother had obviously had a good reason for not telling Hope -- but she had left plenty of clues for Hope to follow. Hope then produced the scroll, and asked why they'd found it in Alice's things. "We've heard a lot of stories about these vouchers, but we always wrote them off as part of your mythology. That's the first time we've actually seen one in person," Hope noted.
Bo asked again why Stefano had given the card to "Mrs. H." Stefano replied that although he understood how much it meant to the Bradys, he had no idea who could have given Alice such a thing. Bo argued, "You're lying. You would never forget who rates a gift like that." Just as Hope began to lash out at Stefano for never telling the truth, Harold, the butler, interrupted to announce that Mr. DiMera had a phone call. Stefano excused himself, and left the room without another word.
Hope nearly exploded, but Bo quietly urged her to keep her cool. He maintained that they had to treat the situation like one of Stefano's chess games, and study every possible move before acting. Hope concurred.
When Stefano returned to the room, he was clearly dismayed that his "guests" were still there. He repeated his advice to Hope to let the secrets of the dead rest in peace, for everyone's sake. As Stefano tried to resume his chess game, Hope offered to finish it for him. Picking up a chess piece and placing it next to the king, she declared, "Checkmate." Stefano chuckled as the Bradys left, but then declared to himself, "No, my dear. This game is far from over."
As Austin jogged through the square, he literally ran right into Abigail, spilling her coffee all over his tracksuit. He offered to buy her another cup, and she accepted. After getting coffees for the two of them, Austin admitted that he was a little distracted, and he could use Abigail's help. He explained that he had accepted the teaching position at Salem U, but he was nervous about seeming out of touch to his students. He asked Abigail for some pointers on how to relate to them -- for her to be his teacher.
"I would love that," Abigail agreed. After imparting Austin with a bit of inside student information, Abigail suggested that he should casually mention that he used to be a "stud boxer." Chuckling, Austin confessed that he didn't box anymore. Abigail assured him that he would be a great professor. Abigail admitted that she'd done an internship at the hospital because she'd thought about going into healthcare, but she'd discovered that it wasn't for her, so she was considering a career in journalism.
She added that her dad had submitted one of her online articles for a journalism award, and she'd won. Austin congratulated her enthusiastically. Abigail asked if he'd like to go to the award ceremony that evening, so he could meet some of the people from the university. Austin said that if Carrie could make it, they would both be there for Abigail.
Melanie and Gabi arrived at Intensity Day Spa in Horton Town Square, where Quinn greeted them. Melanie explained that although they didn't have an appointment, she hoped she and her friends could still sign up for some spa treatments. Chad entered, and when he saw Melanie, he immediately turned to leave -- but she spotted him. They exchanged somewhat awkward greetings, and Melanie explained that she was treating Gabi and Abigail to a spa day, since Gabi was still a little upset about her breakup with Will.
Chad then inquired about signing up for martial arts classes with Quinn. Quinn cautioned that the classes would fill up quickly once word got out, and offered to comp the girls' spa treatments as well as a massage for Chad in exchange for their spreading the word if they liked the services. They all eagerly agreed. Quinn offered to arrange a couple's massage for Chad and Melanie, but Gabi quickly corrected him that Melanie and Chad weren't a couple. After Quinn left to get locker-room keys for everyone, Gabi wondered aloud why Abigail hadn't shown up yet. Chad admitted that he hadn't talked to Abigail that day, but he was excited about the journalism award she was receiving that night.
Quinn returned with a sign-in sheet for the girls, and then led Chad to the men's locker room. After Melanie signed in, she dug her phone out of her bag to send a text message to find out why Abigail hadn't shown up yet. Just then, the esthetician arrived to escort Melanie and Gabi to the locker room. Melanie set her phone down on the counter to take the locker-room key from the woman, and then accidentally left it behind when the three of them left the lobby.
Later, Melanie and Gabi were wrapped in towels in the locker room. Melanie was about to try reaching Abigail again when she realized that her phone was missing. When Melanie admitted that it was a brand-new phone, Gabi encouraged her to go back to the lobby to look for it. Melanie was worried about being dressed only in a towel, but Gabi pointed out that they were at a spa, so it didn't matter. With a shrug, Melanie agreed.
Quinn, meanwhile, had found the phone, and stuck it behind the counter for safekeeping. Melanie peeked out the locker-room door, and when she was sure that no one else was in the lobby, she hurried over to the desk. She spotted her phone, but had to stretch to reach behind the counter to retrieve it, and when she turned around, her towel fell off -- just as Chad emerged from the men's locker room. Each as surprised and mortified as the other, Chad tried to hide his eyes as he stammered an apology, while Melanie pulled the towel back around herself.
Gabi delivered a robe to Melanie. Giggling uncomfortably, Melanie took it and ran back into the locker room. Gabi asked why Melanie was acting so weird, and an embarrassed Chad filled her in about what had happened. He then mentioned that was going to tell Sonny and Will about the spa, and quickly apologized if he'd upset Gabi by mentioning Will. She admitted that she'd already been upset, but she knew that breaking up with Will had been the right thing to do.
"I want to find a guy who loves me just as much as I love him, and isn't afraid to show it, you know? And I know that he's out there, I just have to find him," Gabi said. Just then, a fully dressed Melanie reemerged from the locker room, and began talking to Quinn. Chad's eyes followed Melanie as he replied to Gabi, "I'm thinking you don't find the kind of love you're looking for. It finds you. When you least expect it, the person you've been dreaming of and praying for will come right into your life." Gabi was skeptical.
Chad then thanked Quinn for the free massage, and exchanged awkward goodbyes with Melanie. Chad and Gabi walked out together, while Melanie stayed behind to chat with Quinn. She raved about the treatments that she and Gabi had gotten, and promised to tell everyone at the hospital about the spa. Abigail finally arrived, and was surprised to hear that Chad had been there, as well.
When Melanie bragged to Quinn about Abigail's journalism award, he offered to give Abigail a free spa day as congratulations -- perhaps in exchange for an article about the spa on the Salem University website. Abigail happily agreed to consider it. After Quinn left, Melanie asked what had happened to Abigail. "I just ran into a friend," Abigail replied casually.
Outside, Gabi said goodbye to Chad, and thanked him for being so nice about her breakup with Will. Chad replied that he just wanted everyone he cared about to be happy, and then emphasized, "And if Will wasn't the guy you're looking for, you'll find him -- or he'll find you."
Melanie and Abigail hugged goodbye outside the spa. Just after Abigail left the square, Chad suddenly appeared behind Melanie. She grinned to see him, but pulled her coat closed in embarrassment.
Kate was waiting in the square when Chris, her assistant, finally showed up. After gushing about how Countess Wilhelmina's styling gel had saved his bad hair day, Chris gave Kate a quick rundown of their agenda for the day. They were supposed to meet over lunch with Glorianne, who ran a salon that was one of the last in the area to switch to Countess Wilhelmina Cosmetics. Chris then just got a text message that obviously upset him, but he insisted it was nothing.
Sami rushed to meet Madison at the outdoor café, but Madison was furious because Sami was late. While Madison was reprimanding Sami, Kate spotted them. Kate gave Chris some cash to get lattes for the two of them, and after he had gone, she hid behind a bush to eavesdrop on Sami and Madison. Sami was explaining that she was late because when she'd arrived at the printer, Madison's order hadn't been ready yet. Then when Sami produced the mock-up in question, Madison criticized her for using the wrong image. Sami insisted that it was the image Madison had requested, but Madison continued berating Sami for her supposed incompetence. As Madison stepped away to take a phone call, she ordered Sami to find the correct image for the mock-up.
Kate seized the opportunity to approach Sami. Sami urged Kate to leave before Madison returned, because Madison would be livid if she saw Sami talking to the competition. Kate demanded to know where Sami's backbone and determination were, and urged Sami to stand up to Madison. Sami pointed out that would only make Madison fire her, and quickly realized that was exactly what Kate wanted. Kate insisted that wasn't the case, because despite their differences, Sami was the mother of Kate's grandchildren -- and until Rafe found a job, those children were dependent on Sami's paycheck. Kate added that being strong and assertive in the business world was the only way to handle things, so Sami should stand up for herself if she believed she was right.
Kate had resumed her eavesdropping position by the time Madison returned. When Madison began barking orders about a shipping emergency, Sami cut her off. "I don't like the way you've been treating me," Sami declared. She firmly stated that Madison needed her, and then produced an email with the instructions Madison had sent, which proved that Sami had done exactly what Madison had requested with the mock-up.
"So you can either cough up that fur ball that is making you so catty, or I will quit, because I am good, and I can find another job," Sami concluded. On the other side of the bushes, Kate said to herself, "Sounds like the Sami I know and loathe is back!" Madison eyed the email on Sami's phone, and although she didn't apologize, she declared, "Well, when you finally do stand up for yourself, you don't mess around, do you? That is exactly why I hired you, Sami: for that passion, for that fire. That's what I want to see from my employees, okay?" The women agreed to pretend that the incident had never happened and return to work.
At the Horton house, Abigail, Gabi, and Jennifer were preparing for the awards ceremony. Abigail noted that Chad wasn't answering his phone, and she wondered if something was wrong. Gabi assured Abigail that Chad would be at the ceremony, but Abigail wasn't convinced.
At the Horton Town Square, Melanie wondered why Chad was ignoring Abigail's phone calls. Chad explained that he was a terrible liar, and he said that he didn't want to ruin Abigail's surprise. Chad inspected the gold necklace that he had purchased for Abigail, and he wondered if Melanie was sure that Abigail would like the gift. Melanie assured Chad that she would never lie to him.
"If you were trying to make me feel better...for dropping major cash on a non-returnable item? Yeah, I think you would," Chad said. Melanie laughed, and she offered to model the necklace for Chad. Chad helped Melanie with the clasp, and he was visibly affected when he saw the necklace on her. Chad stammered, then managed to agree that the necklace was perfect.
Melanie removed the necklace and handed it back to Chad. A man approached Chad and Melanie, and he purposely bumped into Chad. Chad lost his balance, and he dropped the necklace on the ground. The man revealed the gun that was tucked in his waistband. "Do exactly what I say, or you'll both get a bullet in your head," the man warned Chad and Melanie.
At the Brady Pub, Sonny tried to talk to Will about the incident at Maggie's house. Will shrugged and assured Sonny that he was all right. Before Sonny could respond, Artie rushed into the pub, and he warned Sonny and Will that they were in trouble. Sonny and Will recognized Artie as the college student who had helped them find the hidden links on their website.
Artie wondered where the tall guy was, and Will admitted that he had not seen Chad recently. Artie urged Will to call Chad. "If you don't find him, your friend is as good as dead!" Artie insisted. Sonny assured Artie that everything was going to be all right. Sonny pointed out that Will had already shut down the website. Artie told Sonny and Will that they should not have done that.
"I tried to warn you. The guys who are running this gambling site are very...very bad people. The kind of bad people that chop off fingers...and make their enemies disappear. Don't you see? You cut off their cash cow. Now they're gonna make us disappear," Artie said. Sonny and Will were still skeptical, so Artie urged them to try to contact Chad. Will tried to call Chad, and the call went straight to voicemail.
"The gambling site that's linked to yours is much, much more complex than even I originally realized. The guys running it had a whole infrastructure set up, complete with offshore access, which means bookies from all over the world can gain access through the portal on your website, and now that portal's closed," Artie explained. Artie added that Will and Sonny needed to reopen the site right away.
At Sami and Rafe's apartment, Rafe and Carrie introduced Bo and Hope to someone named Jay Jordan. Bo recognized Jay as the quarterback for the Salem University football team. Rafe urged Jay to tell Bo and Hope the news, and he assured Jay that he could trust Bo and Hope.
After hearing Jay's story, Bo and Hope realized just how serious the situation was. "Okay, let me get this straight...some guy approaches you, threatens you, says, 'If you don't throw the game, it'll be your neck.' And this has happened on more than one occasion?" Hope asked. Jay nodded, and he started to tell Bo and Hope about the man who had threatened him.
"He had a partner, and he was smart -- really smart. He knew what he was doing -- like he'd done it before. He knew exactly what to say to get me to...cooperate. He told me if I didn't throw the games, he wouldn't just kill me -- he'd kill my family," Jay explained. Jay said that he had only seen the men in person a few times. Jay added that the main form of contact had been a series of threatening messages.
Jay explained that he had eventually stopped receiving the messages. Jay said that he had assumed that the men had been bluffing all along. Jay said that he had played the best game of his life a few nights earlier, and that he had even set a new school record.
"After the game, I went home to tell my family how well I did...and when I got there, the house was trashed, and they were gone. Please, you gotta help me find my family!" Jay begged Bo and Hope. Bo and Hope assured Jay that they would help him. Jay explained that the men had been using a university website as a cover for their operation. Bo realized that Jay was talking about Will's website.
In an undisclosed location, the kidnapper locked Chad and Melanie in a small room. Chad realized that there was a surveillance monitor in the corner of the room, and he told Melanie that the kidnapper was watching them. Elsewhere, a second man wondered if Chad and Melanie were the right kids. The first man, Horace, assured the second man, Zig, that the situation was under control.
Later, Horace and Zig entered the small room. Chad wondered what the men wanted. "It's very simple. Either your friends put your little sports page back up...or you both get it. Got it?" Horace said. Chad realized that Horace and Zig were the men who had hacked the website. Chad warned the men that he was a DiMera, but Horace noted that Chad had pushed the DiMeras out of his life.
Chad wondered why the men had refused to move on to some other website. "I already have a system in place, accounts lined up...addresses, encrypted info that we can't afford to lose. Too much time and money has gone into this, and I can't let that go to waste, so...no matter what you do, I will get what I want," Horace said.
"Shoot me...and your site will never go up. I handle all the tech, so you leave us alone, you let us go...and you'll have your website up within the hour," Chad assured Horace. Horace laughed, then he punched Chad. Chad fell to the ground, and Horace angrily kicked him. Melanie rushed over to see if Chad was all right.
"I told you, I know who you are...I also know exactly what you're not. Sorry, kid -- you're no Einstein. Will Horton is the brains of your operation, not you. If you want your friend Will to see you walk again...he'll hurry the hell up, 'cause the clock is ticking," Horace said. Before Chad could respond, Horace and Zig exited the room.
Back at the Horton Town Square, Jennifer, Daniel, Jack, Maggie, and Victor waited for the ceremony to start. Elsewhere, Abigail and Gabi noticed the necklace that Chad had dropped earlier. Abigail realized that someone had probably lost the necklace, and she noted that it was beautiful.
Will and Sonny greeted Abigail and Gabi, and Will asked if they had seen Chad or Melanie. Abigail admitted that Chad had not been answering his phone. Gabi added that she had not talked to Melanie, and she wondered if everything was all right. Before anyone could respond, Will, Sonny, Abigail, and Gabi each received a text message.
The message contained a picture of someone who was pointing a gun at Chad and Melanie. Will received an additional message, and he showed it to Sonny. "Put the website back up if you want your friends to live. No cops," the message read. Abigail and Gabi realized that the illegal gamblers had kidnapped Chad and Melanie.
Sonny and Will assured Abigail that they would put the website back online. Sonny promised that Chad and Melanie would be all right. Sonny excused himself so that he could get Abigail some water, and Abigail followed him. After Sonny and Abigail left, Victor and Maggie greeted Will and Gabi. Maggie said that she wanted to congratulate Abigail. Will nervously claimed that Abigail had gone to the restroom.
Victor noted that Will looked pale, and he wondered if everything was all right. Gabi claimed that Will was fine. Maggie wondered if anyone had heard from Melanie. Gabi claimed that she had just talked to Melanie, and she said that Melanie was on her way over to the town square. Maggie and Victor excused themselves, but their suspicions were aroused.
Later, Sonny and Abigail returned, and Abigail told Sonny and Will that they needed to contact the police. Will reminded Abigail that the text message had specifically warned them not to contact the police. Sonny spotted Bo and Hope entering the town square. "Okay, we have a choice to make...we can go to the police, but we will risk our friends' lives...or we can get outta here, and we can handle this on our own," Will said.
Meanwhile, Bo and Hope asked Maggie and Victor if they had seen Will and Sonny recently. Maggie glanced over at the spot where Will, Sonny, Gabi, and Abigail had been standing, and she realized that they had disappeared. Maggie wondered if something was wrong. Hope explained the situation to Maggie and Victor, while Bo went to talk to Jennifer and Jack.
Later, Artie entered the town square, and he recognized Bo and Hope as cops. "I'm in a lot of trouble. I was working on a gambling site, and there were gamblers, and games were fixed, and the tall kid is gone...they're after me. You have to help me!" Artie nervously explained. Artie showed Bo and Hope the picture of Melanie and Chad being held at gunpoint.
Back at the Horton house, Abigail, Sonny, Will, and Gabi tried to plan their next move. Will wanted to put the site back up, but Sonny urged Will to reconsider. "Even if we put the site back up, how do we know they're gonna keep their promise, huh? They could still kill Chad and Melanie. We're gonna find 'em...and we're gonna take care of this ourselves," Sonny said.
Back in the locked room, Melanie sobbed as she realized that the men were going to kill her and Chad. Chad hugged Melanie, and he kissed the top of her head. "I promise you, I'll get us out of here. No one's gonna hurt you -- no one," Chad firmly stated.
Horace and Zig monitored Chad and Melanie from a separate room. Zig reminded Horace that they wouldn't be able to hold Chad and Melanie forever. "No, not forever...just till we get what we want, and then we'll let them leave -- in body bags," Horace explained.
Jennifer, Jack, Daniel, Maggie, and Victor were gathered at the Brady Pub. Jack and Daniel tried to reach their daughters by phone, but had no luck. Because it had been a while since Bo had been in touch with them, Daniel decided to head back to the square to see if Bo had any more information about the kids. As Daniel left, Jack and Victor announced that they were going with him. Maggie and Jennifer held on to each other, and anxiously wondered what was going on.
In Horton Town Square, Bo produced the picture of Chad and Melanie being held at gunpoint, and showed it to Rafe and Carrie. Bo and Hope quickly updated Carrie and Rafe about the illegal gambling ring linked to Will, Sonny, and Chad's website, and explained that the gamblers were holding Chad and Melanie hostage until the site was operational again. Bo's first priority was to find Sonny and Will, and make sure that the boys didn't try to handle the situation on their own.
Victor, Daniel, and Jack entered the square, and demanded that Bo tell them what was going on. Bo had nothing to tell them that they didn't already know, and the men became frustrated and angry. Daniel stated that he and Jack had been trying to reach Melanie and Abigail, but neither girl was returning their phone calls, which was unlike either of them.
Bo reminded them that he was a father, too, and promised to tell them as soon as he had more information. After the other men left, Hope gently questioned Bo, "Don't you think Daniel has a right to know that his daughter could be in danger?" Bo pointed out that if Victor knew that Melanie had been kidnapped, Victor would order his men to take action, and the police would lose control of the situation.
Austin arrived then, and noted that Carrie and Rafe seemed worried. Rafe and Carrie quickly caught Austin up, and then Rafe stepped away to call Sami. Austin aired his annoyance that Rafe had involved Carrie in something that might be dangerous. Carrie maintained that she had simply been at Rafe's apartment when the basketball player had shown up to tell Rafe and the cops about being forced to throw games by the same guys who had hijacked Will's website. Carrie asked why Austin was at the square, and he reminded her about the ceremony for the journalism award that Abigail was receiving. Carrie admitted that she'd completely forgotten about it.
After Bo called the station to have the cops track down a lead, Rafe informed Hope and Bo that he hadn't been able to reach Sami or Will. Bo got a call back from the police station just then, and learned that someone had been trying to access the server for the website -- from Alice's house. Rafe was ready to head out with the Bradys when he remembered that he wasn't on the force anymore. As they hurried off, Bo and Hope promised to keep Rafe posted.
While Austin went to get coffee for himself and Carrie, Carrie noticed Rafe sitting dejectedly by himself. When she asked, Rafe admitted that he wished he could help Bo and Hope. Austin returned just in time to see Carrie rubbing Rafe's shoulders sympathetically. Austin approached and demanded to know why Bo and Hope had just left in such a hurry. Rafe stated that he didn't think he could divulge anything, and Austin practically exploded. "You don't seem to have a problem talking to my wife about it... I'm worried about my nephew, and if something dangerous is going down and Carrie's involved, you can bet your ass I'm going to know about it!"
Carrie tactfully asked Rafe to give her and Austin some privacy. Once they were alone, Carrie assured Austin that she was not in any danger, and urged him not to blow things out of proportion. She asked him to understand that she was going to see the situation through to the end. Austin replied hotly that she could do whatever she wanted, but he didn't have to like it -- because her involvement in whatever was going on with the kids was not part of her working with Rafe. Carrie asked her husband if they could continue the discussion later.
When Victor, Jack, and Daniel returned to the pub, they dejectedly informed Maggie and Jennifer that Bo hadn't been able to tell them anything more. Jack believed that Bo knew a lot more than he was saying. Privately, Victor promised Maggie that if the police continued to keep them out of the loop, he would use his contacts to find out what was really going on.
Later, Victor admitted to Maggie that his patience was running out, so he was putting his men on alert -- because he didn't like the feeling he was getting about the situation.
Jennifer returned to the square with Jack and Daniel, and they were frustrated to see that Bo and Hope were no longer there.
At the Horton house, Abigail, Gabi, Will, and Sonny worried about their missing friends. Will set up his laptop on the desk and began to put the sports site back online, but Sonny fretted that the kidnappers might kill Chad and Melanie anyway. After a while, the girls became frustrated because they thought Will was taking too long to put the site back up. Will informed them that when he'd dismantled the site, he'd made it so that no one could put it back together.
Abigail pointed out that despite the kidnappers' threat to hurt Chad and Melanie if they went to the police, the police probably already knew everything, since Bo and Hope had been trying to contact all of them. Sonny then got a text message from the kidnappers that read simply, "Tick tock." Abigail became even more anxious, and Sonny tried to calm her by reminding her that the kidnappers would not hurt a DiMera. Sonny then asked how Will was doing, and Will worriedly stated that he needed more time.
Sonny suddenly remembered that the threatening text messages had been sent from Chad's phone, which meant that they might be able to track Chad and Melanie's location using the GPS on Chad's phone. Sonny sat down at the computer and ran a trace on Chad's phone; he soon determined that the signal was originating from an abandoned building at the end of the pier. Sonny was ready to head down there on his own, but the girls insisted on accompanying him, while Will had to stay behind to try to get the website back online.
After the others had left, Will continued working as quickly as possible to get the site running again. His cell phone rang, but he glanced at the screen, and ignored the call. Bo and Hope arrived then, and informed Will that they'd learned what was going on from Artie. Will warned them that the kidnappers had said "no cops," but Hope tried to reassure him that it was just a scare tactic.
Bo started to take Will's computer, but Will refused to let him. Just then, Will got another text message from the kidnappers, and showed it to Bo and Hope. The message read, "Time's almost up." In a shaky voice, a terrified Will warned the Bradys, "If you don't let me finish, then Chad and Melanie are both going to die."
While Bo and Hope discussed what to do next, Will tried to call Rafe, who had left his cell phone on the table when he'd left to give Austin and Carrie some privacy. Seeing that it was Will calling, Austin answered Rafe's phone. After his initial confusion passed, Will admitted that Sonny had figured out where Chad and Melanie were being held, and Sonny, Gabi, and Abigail had gone there to look for them. Jennifer showed up in time to overhear Austin chewing Will out for letting Abigail and Gabi get involved in such a dangerous situation. He asserted that Will should have called the police as soon as he'd learned that Chad and Melanie were being held hostage.
Austin demanded to know where Chad and Melanie were, and once he had the information, he ordered Will to stay where he was. Jennifer hid until Austin had left, and then grabbed Rafe's phone off the table. Daniel arrived as Jennifer was looking through the call history, and asked what was going on. "It's worse than we thought," Jennifer replied anxiously.
By the time Rafe returned, Carrie and Jack were also there. Daniel demanded to know if his daughter was being held hostage. Rafe admitted that Melanie had been kidnapped -- and Sonny, Abigail, and Gabi were in danger, as well, if what Austin had said was true. Rafe added that he couldn't do much to help the parents, because he wasn't on the force anymore. Jack began to panic, so Daniel tried to calm him. Daniel's attempts to touch Jack almost backfired, but Daniel knew just what to say and do to keep Jack from going off the deep end. "No one is going to hurt your baby girl. No one," Daniel declared in a calm, soothing voice. Jack finally managed to relax just a little.
Meanwhile, Carrie vented her anger to Rafe that Austin had taken off without telling anyone where he was going.
As Horace and Zig watched Chad and Melanie on video monitors, Zig wondered when Horace planned to release their captives, since they couldn't keep the kids locked up forever. Horace replied, "No, not forever -- just until we get what we want. Then we'll let them leave -- in body bags." Zig asked if kidnapping the kids had been the right way to handle things. Horace declared that he was just doing what was necessary to keep the money flowing -- including Zig's cut of it -- and he wasn't going to let a bunch of "punk kids" ruin it.
In the filthy locked room, Chad pounded on the door and yelled for help, while Melanie crouched in a fetal position and sobbed. Realizing how terrified Melanie was, Chad gently caressed her cheek, and promised that he would free them -- and that no one would hurt her. He put his arms around her comfortingly, and tenderly kissed the top of her head. After a while, Melanie began banging on the door, and expressed her inability to understand why the kidnappers were still holding them, because surely Will and Sonny had been able to put the website back up.
Chad hesitated when he mentioned getting out of there, and Melanie picked up on it. She suddenly realized that they had seen the kidnappers' faces -- which meant that the men would kill them instead of letting them go. Melanie became frantic and began to freak out, so Chad did his best to calm her down. He pulled her away from the door when she started pounding on it again, and wrapped his arms around her tightly as she wept. After apologizing for her erratic behavior, Melanie admitted that it was hard for her to be around Chad after they'd kissed.
Chad tried to dissuade her from talking about it, but Melanie pointed out that she had to tell him how she felt in case she never got the chance again. Chad said that if it were time for confessions, he wanted to tell Melanie that he felt the same way. He admitted, "That kiss on Halloween wasn't exactly a mistake... Because he moment we kissed, I knew you weren't Abigail. I knew it was you the whole time. I should have stopped, but I didn't, because I liked it -- because I liked kissing you. I can't stop thinking about that -- or you."
Melanie confessed that she had been feeling the same way, although she had felt guilty about it. "All I want to do is feel the way I felt that night," she continued. Simultaneously, Chad and Melanie agreed that when they had kissed, it had felt like it was "meant to be." They agreed that neither of them wanted to hurt Abigail. Chad added that he didn't know how to stop feeling the way he did when he was around Melanie -- and he didn't know if he wanted to stop.
Melanie seemed uncomfortable for a moment, but Chad maintained that he didn't regret telling her how he felt. Melanie pessimistically declared that they had no reason to regret anything, because they weren't going to make it out of there alive anyway. Chad pulled her to him gently, and tenderly began to kiss her, caressing her face as he did so. Giving in, Melanie wrapped her arms around him and kissed him back.
As Sonny, Abigail, and Gabi arrived on the pier, Sonny pointed to the warehouse indicated by the signal on Chad's phone. Abigail was worried because the building was so huge that Chad and Melanie could be anywhere. Sonny instructed the girls to wait outside while he went in to search. Abigail and Gabi wondered why the kidnappers had grabbed Melanie and not one of them, since Melanie wasn't even involved with the website. Suddenly, Horace appeared. He grabbed Gabi from behind, while he pointed a gun at Abigail. He warned them that if either of them made a sound, they were dead, and while dragging Gabi, he ordered Abigail to follow.
Sonny returned to the spot where he'd left Abigail and Gabi, and got worried when he found one of the girls' earrings on the ground.
When Bo and Hope found Sonny outside the warehouse, Sonny admitted that he'd just been trying to call them. Sonny quickly informed Bo and Hope that the kidnappers had Gabi and Abigail in addition to Chad and Melanie, but his search of the first floor of the warehouse had so far turned up nothing. Hope got a phone call, after which she informed Bo that Austin was on his way there, as well. Frustrated at their lack of backup, Bo and Hope began to rush into the warehouse, but first Bo ordered Sonny to stay put -- and to make sure the others stayed outside, too.
Back at Alice's, Will rejoiced when he finally got the website back up and running.
Chad and Melanie were still kissing when they suddenly heard a noise outside. Horace arrived in the hallway with Gabi and Abigail, and informed Zig that he'd found the girls snooping around outside. In the locked room, Melanie had begun to cry again. Chad apologized for not being able to save them, as he'd promised. Sitting next to her, he put his arm around her. Just then, Horace and Zig entered with a terrified Abigail and Gabi. As the door slammed shut behind the kidnappers, Abigail rushed into Chad's arms, while Gabi and Melanie embraced. Abigail admitted that the picture had scared her, and she was very glad that Melanie and Chad were all right.
When Austin arrived outside the warehouse, Sonny informed him that Bo and Hope wanted them to wait outside. Austin asserted that Bo and Hope could use some backup, since it was a big warehouse. The guys headed inside together.
Horace checked his phone, and discovered that the website was up and running again. "It's time to get rid of the witnesses," he gloated to Zig. Horace went back into the locked room and grabbed Melanie, and shoved her into another room in which the kidnappers had already locked Gabi. The girls huddled together and worried about what the men planned to do with them.
Outside, Horace and Zig were discussing what to do next when they heard Bo and Hope arriving. Realizing that the pair were cops, Horace ran back into the room and grabbed Melanie. Chad and Abigail heard Melanie's shrieks, and worried about what was happening to their friend. While Horace dragged Melanie away, Zig went back for Gabi.
In the other room, Chad realized that he hadn't heard the deadbolt when the men had taken Gabi and Melanie. "I think I can get us out of here," Chad told Abigail, and with a couple of well-placed kicks, he managed to open the door. As the two ran into the hallway, Chad instructed Abigail to head for the exit while he tried to save Melanie.
Horace dragged Melanie through the alley outside, where Sonny was crouched behind a dumpster. Sonny crept up behind Horace and bashed him over the head, then grabbed Horace's gun. A relieved Melanie rushed into Sonny's arms.
Zig had his gun aimed at Gabi when suddenly Chad rushed through the door and disarmed the thug. Gabi grabbed the gun while the men struggled, and shakily aimed it in Zig's direction. Before she had to figure out what to do, Bo charged in, and quickly disabled Zig. Bo shouted for Hope, who hurried into the room. Hope gently took the gun away from Gabi, while Gabi thanked Chad for saving her life. Chad and Gabi quickly filled in the Bradys on where they thought the others had gone. Bo rushed out, while Hope tried to comfort Gabi.
As Abigail got lost trying to get out of the warehouse, Horace had apparently recovered quickly, and found her. He grabbed Abigail in a chokehold, just as Austin showed up. Horace threw Abigail to the floor, and Austin attacked him. The men fought violently, but Horace underestimated Austin's pugilistic skills, and Austin quickly got the upper hand. He had just disabled Horace when Bo showed up. Bo demanded to know where Melanie was, and Horace admitted that she was in the alley. While Bo radioed in that the area was secure and both suspects were in custody, a sobbing Abigail ran into Austin's arms.
When Gabi arrived in Horton Town Square, Rafe embraced her with utter relief. Will showed up just then, and seemed genuinely happy that Gabi was all right, although he walked away without speaking to her. Daniel, Jack, and Jennifer hopefully watched Rafe and Gabi's reunion. Abigail appeared a few minutes later, and together, her parents grabbed her in a grateful hug. Austin arrived right behind Abigail, and she thanked him earnestly.
Suddenly, Daniel heard, "Dad! Dad!" He turned just as Melanie ran into the square, and, sweeping her off the ground, caught his daughter in a fierce embrace, as she clung to him desperately. She gave Chad a little wave when he arrived. Victor commended Sonny's heroism, while Carrie hugged Austin gratefully. Jack and Jennifer thanked Bo and Hope with wordless embraces. Hope then placed her hand lovingly on the plaque bearing her grandparents' picture, as she and Bo looked around appreciatively at the joyful reunions happening all around them.