Meta Bauer Roberts was devastated when her second husband, Joe, died of cancer on Christmas Eve, 1955. After the customary mourning period, her sister-in-law, Bert Bauer, tried to match Meta up with Mark Holden, a handsome and dynamic structural engineer who had a business relationship with her husband and Richard Grant. Mark was in his early 40s and had never married but was devoted to his younger siblings, Fred and Alice. Mark took a liking to Meta and convinced her to move Joe's favorite chair down to the basement so she could get on with her life. Over the course of a few months, Meta and Mark grew closer and considered marriage, but Meta put him off because she wanted her stepdaughter, Kathy Roberts Grant, time to adjust to their plans. Mark had not yet met Kathy, who was still traveling, having placed her daughter, Robin Lang in a school in Switzerland. He became angry with Meta over her inordinate concern for her stepdaughter and insisted on being first in Meta's life. Meta, though, still felt guilty for marrying Joe without Kathy's knowledge, and she didn't want to make the same mistake twice. Meanwhile, Kathy was spending a lot of time in New York dating a man named Dan Clark
When Kathy finally returned to Los Angeles, Meta introduced her to Mark. Not only did Mark and Kathy get along, but they were instantly attracted to one another!. Fate kept throwing them together at every turn, and Meta never suspected that her fiancé and stepdaughter were harboring intense mutual feelings. Finally, Mark and Kathy had to face the fact that they were both considering marriage to people they didn't love. Things came to a head when Dan, who had come out from New York to be with Kathy, realized that Kathy and Mark were in love and bitterly told Meta. Kathy and Mark became engaged, but Mark soon realized that he'd stepped into a sticky situation when Robin returned from school in Switzerland. A spoiled, belligerent preteen, Robin immediately locked horns with Mark. The lives of Meta, Kathy, Mark, Robin and Paul were about to take some fascinating and unexpected turns.
Robin manipulated Kathy insufferably with guilt and threats to run away, all in the interest of keeping Mark and Kathy apart. In truth, Kathy wanted to spare Robin the pain she had known as a teenager when her father married Meta without her approval. Mark was not one to be pushed around, however, and he saw Robin for the precocious and manipulative child she was. Mark convinced Kathy to marry him, but the new Holden household was a battleground from day one. Robin continued to dictate to Kathy, while Meta constantly coddled Robin and undermined Mark's authority. Mark's teenage sister, Alice, came to stay with the Holdens, and Robin took an instant dislike to her despite Alice's efforts to be friendly. When young Mike Bauer (Bill and Bert's son) became interested in Alice, Robin started flirting with him just out of spite. Meanwhile, Kathy learned she was pregnant but held off telling Mark and Robin for fear of escalating the conflict between them. Unfortunately, one day, a somewhat vindictive Alice didn't hang up one of the phones in the Holden household, trying to get Robin into trouble. Robin picked up the receiver, only to eavesdrop on a phone conversation between Kathy and her obstetrician. Robin blurted the news to Mark, who was furious with Kathy for keeping it from him!
By the end of 1957, the feud between Alice and Robin over Mike Bauer would lead to tragic consequences. One day, Alice loosened one of the chairs in the kitchen, hoping that Robin would fall. Unfortunately, Kathy stood on the chair, herself, while putting up shelves in her kitchen. Sadly, Kathy fell, lost her baby and became paralyzed. Mark was flabbergasted when he found out about Alice's involvement in Kathy's accident and threw her out of his house and sent her back to her parents Meanwhile, Dr. Dick Grant recommended that Kathy undergo surgery on her legs, but Dr. Paul Fletcher knew Kathy had only one chance in a thousand of walking again and accused Dick of offering her false hope. Kathy and Robin were more comfortable with Paul's direct approach than Mark was. In the meantime, Mark was not happy that Robin had latched on to Paul as a father figure, and he blamed Paul for widening the gap between him and Robin. Fortunately, Kathy's paralysis jolted Robin into accepting Mark as her father and he happily adopted her.
Unfortunately, in 1958, tragedy struck. While Kathy was outside in her wheelchair, two children on bicycles accidentally knocked her off the sidewalk into heavy traffic. Kathy was killed instantly. Her horrible death brought Meta and Robin even closer together, to the point where Meta took Robin into her home. Insecure, and desperate to have a stable family life, Robin tried to bring Meta and Mark together at every turn. At the same time, Nurse Janet Johnson shamelessly tried to pursue Mark right after he buried his wife -- but, Mark would soon realize how awful Janet truly was.
As 1958 continued, Mark’s life took on a new focus. Although he was being pursued by both Meta and Janet, Mark was quite taken with his soft spoken new housekeeper, Ruth Jannings. Before long, Ruth agreed to see Mark socially, much to the consternation of Meta and Robin, both of whom still harbored delusions of Mark marrying Meta. As 1959 began, Bert tried to make Meta and Robin accept Mark and Ruth's romance, but to no avail. Ruth wanted to cool the relationship for Robin's sake, but Mark refused to let Robin call the shots. Ever the suffering diva, Robin climbed onto a balcony in the rain and purposely aught pneumonia. Paul placed the blame squarely on Meta for having fed Robin's fantasies about reconciliation between Meta and Mark. For once, both Bert and Mark agreed with Paul, and the three angrily told Meta to get on with her life. Meta finally came to terms with the fact that Mark would never love her, and she accepted Bruce Banning’s long standing marriage proposal. Mark and Ruth eloped to San Francisco, telling everyone that it was a business trip.
At the same time, Mike Bauer asked Robin to the senior prom. When an excited Robin called Mark's hotel, the operator told her that Mark was out, "but Mrs. Holden is in." Her security shattered once again, Robin ran away. To make Mark feel guilty, she sent him a fake ransom note to lead him to believe she had been kidnapped. Everyone realized it was a hoax, however, when Robin showed up at her grandmother Helen Allen's apartment in New York. By the fall of 1959, Robin found a permanent home, at long last, with Meta and Bruce, who were now happily married. She continued to oppose Mark and Ruth's marriage until Ruth's son, Karl Jannings, arrived in Los Angeles to attend college. Unlike Robin, he was delighted with the marriage and convinced Robin to accept it -- or so she led him to believe. Mike befriended Karl and watched him become emotionally involved with Robin. However, Robin had no true feelings for Karl and was only leading him on with the intention of hurting him -- all to get back at Ruth for marrying Mark. Meanwhile, Robin felt trapped, for Karl was a controlling young man who kept his emotions close to the surface. She let Karl press her into an engagement she didn't really want, and soon she began to suffer from fevers and headaches. When Robin consulted Paul for treatment, he instinctively knew that her symptoms were a sign that she didn't love Karl. Dick was helping Robin, too and advised Karl to postpone the wedding, but Karl angrily refused. Torn and guilty, Mike confided to Bill that he loved Robin but could not bring himself to hurt Karl.
By the spring of 1960, Robin finally took control of the situation, albeit impulsively. She admitted to Karl that she had never loved him and broke their engagement. Without missing a beat, Robin talked Mike into eloping! When the newlyweds returned and revealed the news to Karl on Meta's patio, Karl lunged at Mike, fell on an iron table and sustained severe head injuries. Karl died on the operating table and Mike was charged with manslaughter. Happily, he was cleared when the death was >ruled an accident. Anxious for a new life together without Robin's constant machinations, Mark and Ruth left town.