At the Chancellor home, Mariah said goodbye to Bowie. She apologized to Abby for the way the baptism had ended, and she felt it was better if she and Tessa moved out. Abby suggested that she call Sharon. Mariah shouted that Abby had to stop taking care of her, and Abby needed to take care of Dominic.
Tessa told everyone that the car was loaded and ready to go; however, it wasn't goodbye, but "see you soon." Abby asked if Mariah was certain that she only wanted to distance herself from the baby. Mariah appreciated Abby's concern; however, she felt it was the right move for her. She told Abby she would continue to pump milk for Dominic. As Mariah and Tessa were leaving, the baby had begun to cry. Almost in tears, Mariah paused in the doorway before she and Tessa left.
Abby told Devon she didn't understand how it had happened. They'd all had agreements and plans in place, and she thought they had covered all their bases. Devon said they had all entered the situation with good intentions, but they couldn't have predicted how everyone would feel. Mariah had gone through a traumatic ordeal, and things had probably changed for her after being so isolated. They needed to give Mariah time to figure out how she fit in with Dominic and the rest of them. He said Tessa would take good care of Mariah.
While feeding Dominic alone, Abby told Dominic what a good boy he'd been at his baptism. He had to have felt safe and loved, surrounded by his whole family. They had all celebrated his spiritual beginning. She said she really missed Chance, but Dominic hadn't met him yet and didn't know how to miss him; perhaps that was a good thing. She felt Dominic probably missed Mariah because he and Mariah had spent so much time together. Abby said she would forever be grateful to Mariah for protecting him and for safely bringing him into the world.
Abby suddenly realized that Dominic had been the only person Mariah had been able to talk to while they'd been confined. She felt they had to do something to help Mariah adjust. Abby spotted Mariah's bracelet on the floor. Her immediate reaction was to call Mariah, but she changed her mind because Mariah had said she needed time and space.
On the Crimson Lights patio, Amanda told Nate that Naya had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Nate assured Amanda that the condition was treatable with the right care. Amanda wanted to make sure Naya received the best treatment possible. Amanda said she'd been alone most of her life, she'd lost her twin sister and her father, and she'd discovered that she had a mother she wanted to spend as many years as possible getting to know.
Nate assured Amanda that Naya's condition was treatable, and he would provide Amanda with the best possible options for doctors. She would have plenty of time to spend with Naya. Amanda admitted she was extremely stressed with all the challenges she'd faced recently. She said Sutton's trial was fast approaching, and she was worried how that would impact Naya. She was also worried about Devon because he'd been having conflicting emotions since Dominic's birth. Nate said that Amanda couldn't take on everyone's problems. She needed to offload some of them to people who cared about her. Nate said he was going to get Naya the treatment she needed.
Meanwhile, Adam asked if Sharon had a moment to talk with Connor. Sharon excused herself when she received a call from Mariah. Sharon apologized for not attending the baptism, because of staffing issues, but she was on her way to the reception. Mariah told her the reception was over. Sharon said she was worried about Mariah because it had been an emotional day. Mariah said she wasn't okay and that she'd had to move out of the Chancellor house to process everything that had happened. Sharon wanted to support Mariah and said that she was there whenever Mariah was ready to talk.
After Sharon ended her call with Mariah, she returned to Adam and Connor. She said her plans had changed, and she had time to talk. Connor apologized to Sharon for the things he'd said the previous day and for running off. Adam wanted to make sure Connor understood that Sharon wasn't to blame for what was happening between Adam and Chelsea. Sharon told Connor she understood how confusing it was for him and that she only wanted the best for both of Connor's parents. Connor believed her.
Adam reminded Connor how Sharon had been able to help Connor when he'd had a problem in the past, and she'd done the same for Chelsea. Sharon told Connor that they could meet whenever he felt he needed to talk. Sharon suggested a snack, and then they could chat about anything Connor wanted to. He agreed. Adam sat at a table on the patio to give Sharon and Connor space.
Connor told Sharon he'd felt sorry for some of his friends whose parents had split up, and he'd turned out to be one of those kids. Sharon said it was always sad when parents split up, but she imagined it was scary, as well. Connor didn't know what his life would be like and who he would live with. He said if he moved in with his dad, his mom would be sad. Sharon said it wasn't Connor's job to take care of his parents. She suggested that Connor relax and let his parents take care of him. Connor hoped they wouldn't pretend not to fight when they were around him, because he could tell when they were faking it. Sharon assured Connor that he would spend equal time with his mom and dad, and they would always love him.
Rey entered the coffeehouse through the patio doors, and he wasn't happy to see Adam. Adam explained that it had been rough on Connor to hear that Adam and Chelsea were splitting up. Adam wanted Sharon to talk to Connor and perhaps give him some tools to help him cope. Adam hoped that wasn't an excuse for Rey to get pissed off. Rey told Adam that he and Connor had become good buddies on their road trip and that he cared about Connor. Rey was happy that Adam had decided to be honest with Connor because he deserved to know the truth. Rey told Adam that Sharon would always help where she could. Adam asked if he and Rey had found some common ground where they could actually coexist.
At Society, Sally told Chloe that she'd been out for a run, and she'd seen this kid alone in the park who had appeared to be very stressed. Sally claimed she'd recognized Connor from the photos in Adam's office. Sally said she'd sent Adam a text message alerting him that Connor was in the park, and she was with him. Chloe wondered how Adam had allowed Connor to be alone in the park. Sally claimed she hadn't wanted to pry, but Connor had run off after receiving bad news from Adam about him and Chelsea splitting up.
Sally told Chloe she'd been surprised how easily she'd connected with Connor. Sally claimed the encounter had brought out the mother in her, which had surprised her because she'd always seen herself as a single-minded, career-focused individual. Sally wondered how working parents balanced a career and kids the way Chloe did. Chloe admitted it was a challenge.
Chloe reminded Sally that Chelsea was Connor's mother and Chloe's best friend. Chelsea would also be their coworker when Chelsea returned to town. Sally stated she'd heard Chloe's warning to stay away from Adam. Choe told Sally that Connor was a great kid, and it was all because of Chelsea. Sally didn't doubt that Chelsea was a wonderful mother; however, Chelsea was away, and Adam had to do double duty.
After Sally left, Chloe called Chelsea. During the video chat, Chelsea complained that Adam had told Connor about their breakup without her. She claimed she should have been there. Adam had then had Connor talk to Sharon, and that had upset her. Chloe hoped Chelsea realized it was in Chelsea's best interest not to reunite with Adam. Angry, Chelsea stated that Adam had controlled and manipulated the entire situation. She claimed she should have been there for Connor and that they should have told Connor together about their split-up.
Chloe told Chelsea that the world had opened up for Chelsea, and she could get on with her life without Adam. Chloe claimed they could start kicking butt together at their fashion platform. Chelsea asked how things were working out with Sally. Connor had said he'd met Sally in the park after he'd run away. Sally had calmed him down, and he seemed to like her. Chloe told Chelsea that Sally's talents were more with design than taking care of kids. Chelsea claimed that Sally had been good to Connor at a time when Chelsea hadn't been able to be there, and she wanted Sally to know she appreciated it. Chloe said she would pass on Chelsea's gratitude.
Sally arrived at the coffeehouse. Connor told Sharon that Sally was his dad's friend. She'd been really nice to him. Sharon wasn't happy to see her. Sharon said it appeared that Connor and Sally had quite the rapport. Sharon stood, cleared Connor's plate, and left Connor and Sally alone. Adam and Rey walked in. Adam seemed pleased with the camaraderie between Connor and Sally. Sharon wasn't happy. Adam thanked Sally for spending time with Connor. Together, Adam, Sally, and Conner left for the office.
Once Sharon and Rey were alone, Sharon asked if Rey and Adam had gotten into it on the patio. Rey said he and Adam had been civil, and Adam was of the opinion that they'd found some common ground. Rey asked how things had gone with Connor. Sharon felt that Connor would be okay. However, Sharon wondered if Sally's enthusiasm was about the fashion platform or Adam.
Rey asked if Sharon believed Sally had her sights on Adam. Sharon stated that Sally had a reputation for targeting wealthy men. When Sally had arrived in Genoa City, she had immediately targeted Jack. Sally was the last complication that Adam needed at that moment. Rey asked Sharon if she thought Adam was interested in Sally. Sharon said that Adam had claimed he wasn't; however, Adam was lonely, and that made him vulnerable.
Mariah and Tessa arrived in their suite at the Grand Phoenix. Mariah apologized to Tessa about not wanting to return to their apartment because it didn't feel like home anymore. Tessa was fine with that, since they'd wanted a bigger place, anyway. She suggested they stay at the hotel until they found a place. Mariah claimed it would be a fresh start.
Mariah told Tessa the separation was exactly what she needed to sever the connection she felt for Dominic. She promised to get better. Tessa assured Mariah there was no timeline or pressure. Mariah said she had to prepare herself so that she could see the baby in the way they had originally planned. She said Dominic was Abby and Chance's son, and she needed to be familial, not maternal.
Tessa embraced Mariah. She said Mariah never had to hide her feelings or try to be brave. Tessa said Mariah could count on her to help Mariah make the transition as smooth as possible. Tessa understood that the pain Mariah was going through was gut wrenching. Tessa said she was there for the good, the bad, and the ugly, and to bring it on. It was the next phase of their lives, and they would get through it together. They kissed.
Curled up on the bed, Mariah told Tessa that besides Bowie, Tessa had kept her sane while she'd been held captive. Being home with Tessa had been the one goal that had kept her from giving in to the fear and the loneliness. She said singing some of Tessa's songs to Bowie had calmed her and Bowie down. She'd also dreamed that Tessa had rescued her.
Mariah told Tessa that she remembered Devon telling her how amazing she'd been bringing that little guy into the world. Abby had said Mariah was her best friend, a cheerleader, and the baby's fierce protector. She remembered asking Abby how the baby looked right after Mariah had given birth to him. Abby had called him perfect. Mariah recalled feeding Bowie in the hospital and telling him she hadn't been sure if they would make it out of their captivity. She'd told Bowie he'd kept her sane during that time. She'd also told him she wished she could breast-feed him, but she hadn't been able to because she'd signed a contract. She'd told him it was her milk he was drinking, and it would make him strong and healthy.
Mariah had an epiphany. She told Tessa she'd figured out a way to heal and move on.
When Devon arrived at the penthouse, Amanda told him she'd spoken to the doctors Nate had recommended, and she felt one of them would be able to help Naya. Amanda stated Nate had assured her that Naya's condition wasn't life-threatening, and Naya only needed help navigating her condition.
Devon asked Amanda if she'd thought about what she was going to do once she stopped working for her family. Amanda said that she was going to start her own law firm. Imani was going to take the bar exam and get her law license, then she would become Amanda's junior partner. Devon was thrilled. Amanda said that what would give her the most pleasure would be sitting with her sister and her healthy mother, hearing "guilty" at Sutton's trial. Devon believed that would happen, Amanda appreciated the support that Devon always had for her.
Amanda asked Devon to tell her about the baptism. Devon said he'd been reluctant to talk about it because he was embarrassed. Amanda had warned him that situations such as that could get messy. He's discovered that a contract didn't cover how people really felt. He told Amanda she was free to say she'd told him so. Amanda said she was talking to him as his romantic partner, not his lawyer. They needed to be each other's safe place.
Devon told Amanda the baptism had been rough, especially watching how much Mariah had been struggling. He said that after everyone had left, Mariah had told Abby she had no idea how not to be Dominic's mother. Mariah had moved out of the Chancellor home to distance herself from the baby, and she had no idea how to comfortably fit into their arrangement as it stood. Amanda wasn't surprised because Mariah had lost someone she loved.
Devon told Amanda that Abby had made it very clear that she wanted Mariah in the baby's life. Amanda said that Mariah would never be able to love that baby the way she wanted to, the way she had loved and nurtured Dominic when she'd carried him for nine months, especially when they'd been trapped. She'd been his only protector. Devon said that Abby felt guilty because Mariah had left, and Abby had to deal with the situation without her husband.
Amanda told Devon she wanted to know how the situation impacted him, since he would be spending time with Dominic as his godfather. Devon claimed it was confusing. He said it had felt good to stand in front of everyone and commit to always being there for that little boy, but it had also felt strange because he was Dominic's biological father but not his legal father. Amanda said that as per the agreement, Dominic would always know who Devon was. Devon was his family, and they would forever be connected. Devon knew that, but he wouldn't be the one Dominic called "Dad."
Devon asked Amanda what that said about him. Amanda said it meant that he cared deeply about his friends and their child. Even though he would never hear Dominic call him "Dad," Dominic would always know Devon had given him his heart.
Devon played some music, and he poured wine. He told Amanda they were celebrating her opening her own law firm, and he'd realized that they really were each other's safe place. He claimed he'd been confused about his feelings, and Amanda had been understanding and supportive of him. She could see his heart. Amanda claimed Devon saw hers, and she had no idea where she would have been without him during all her family drama. Devon stated that they were both experiencing uncertain times, but they were helping each other navigate through them. He didn't know where he'd be without her. Devon asked Amanda to move in with him, since she'd been planning to put down some roots.
At Newman Enterprises, Ashland and Victoria admired her portrait, which hung in the spot that Victor's picture had once occupied. Ashland envisioned people walking through the door, looking at her portrait, and seeing what he saw -- a strong, powerful, beautiful woman watching over her empire as the rightful leader of Newman-Locke. Victoria thanked him for the incredible gift and for understanding what it symbolized for her. Ashland proclaimed that it represented a new beginning for both of them.
Victoria reported that the wedding arrangements were falling into place, and Ashland replied that he was counting the days. His phone chimed with a text message, and as he read it, he firmly stated that their wedding would be the "best damn day" of his life. He wished he could stay and chat more about it, but he had a few things to take care of. She mentioned that she had an appointment, and she invited him to walk her out. "On my way," Ashland quickly typed in response to the text message before following her.
Nick met Billy at Crimson Lights. Billy explained that he'd wanted to talk ever since the family meeting with Ashland, since it had only made Billy want to dig deeper into the bombshell Ashland had dropped. Billy proposed that he and Nick join forces, but Nick flatly declined because he thought Ashland's story about his name change made sense. Billy voiced surprise that it hadn't bothered Nick that Ashland had refused to share his birth name. Billy recalled seeing Nick's face when Ashland had finished his explanation, and he believed Nick was no more satisfied than Billy was.
Nick wished that Ashland had revealed more information, but unlike Billy, he wasn't looking to find dirt to make headlines. Nick warned that the way Billy was handling things was upsetting Victoria, but Billy was willing to take a hit to protect his kids. Billy argued that Ashland hadn't said anything to Victoria about his past until he'd been forced into it, and Ashland still wouldn't divulge his birth name or details about how he'd gotten the money to start his companies at a young age. Nick countered that Victoria hadn't found it necessary to take a closer look even after Ashland had admitted he'd lied to her, and he doubted she cared about where Ashland had gotten his money.
Billy thought Ashland's source of cash spoke to the mogul's character as much as creating a new identity had. Billy continued that the guy who might become his kids' stepfather had admitted to erasing his entire history, wouldn't divulge any details of his past, and had suddenly sold the entity he'd spent his life building to a woman he hardly knew before becoming engaged to her. Nick figured that there had been major extenuating circumstances, but Billy contended that every event in Ashland's life had giant question marks hanging over it. Billy refused to turn a blind eye, because the truth mattered.
Later, Rey entered the coffeehouse, and Nick approached him to talk about Victoria's fiancÚ. Nick requested that Rey keep what he was about to disclose between them. Nick revealed that Ashland had confessed that he'd changed his name in his youth to escape an abusive father, and Rey empathized because he knew something about problematic fathers. Nick explained that he was okay with that bit of information, but there had been a series of surprising revelations that had made him wonder if Victoria needed to know more. Nick continued that he didn't doubt that Ashland had real feelings for Victoria, but the speed of their merger and engagement were concerning.
Rey said he understood why Nick was being protective, but he didn't think there were grounds to launch an official investigation, and he didn't feel comfortable proceeding off the record. Nick confided that he was thinking about looking into it himself, and he hoped Rey could point him in the right direction. Nick shared that Ashland had been a closed book about his birth name, but Rey noted that name changes had to be filed in courts and published in a newspaper. Nick reported that his dad and Billy hadn't been able to find anything, and he wondered if the rules were different for victims of abuse.
Rey considered it unlikely that the name change wouldn't be in public records unless Ashland hadn't gone through normal channels. Nick questioned how Ashland could have bent the rules, since it had happened before Ashland had had clout or money. Rey stated that changing one's name was only one facet of changing one's identity, and getting a new birth certificate and Social Security number wasn't easy. Rey doubted someone who was under public scrutiny would be able to keep that hidden. Nick muttered that he had more questions than he'd had before.
Phyllis finished a call as Victoria entered the Grand Phoenix lobby. Phyllis sarcastically asked to what she owed the divine honor, and Victoria huffed that she was there for the spa, not Phyllis. Victoria noted that Phyllis would be heading to Italy for Summer's wedding in Milan soon. Phyllis enthused about spending time in the most beautiful place on the planet, and she imagined that Victoria's wedding would be a glorious affair. Victoria gushed that she couldn't wait to marry Ashland because she'd never felt more positive, secure, or happy in her entire life, and he was the best thing that had ever happened to her.
Phyllis recognized how it felt to be happy with someone after finally getting it right. Victoria admitted that she'd expected Phyllis and Nick to implode by then, and Phyllis conceded that Victoria wasn't the only one who'd thought that. Victoria wondered whether Phyllis had really changed or if Nick was just more of a saint than ever. Phyllis chalked it up to a little of both, and she asked if Victoria had ever thought she'd be with someone like Ashland. Victoria shared that she viewed the world and people in love in a different way.
Phyllis marveled that she and Victoria had evolved enough to engage in an adult conversation, but Victoria hoped Phyllis wasn't suggesting they become friends. Phyllis thought it might take 50 more years, and Victoria responded that she'd consider it in 25 years if Phyllis was good to Nick. Jack entered the hotel and greeted the ladies, and Victoria excused herself to get to her spa appointment. Jack claimed that he'd been on his way home when he'd decided to stop by and see if Phyllis and Nick wanted to fly to Italy with him on the Jabot jet.
Phyllis contemplated how traveling with Jack would be compared to flying with the Newmans, and she readily accepted, quickly adding that she'd have to run it by Nick. She bet Jack was as excited to see Kyle as she was to see Summer, and Jack commented that it would do his heart good to see their kids get the happiness they deserved. Phyllis imagined that Jack wanted that for himself, too, but he considered Kyle's happiness to be enough. Phyllis ordered him not to dismiss it, and she admitted that she'd been thinking a lot about what he'd said the other night.
Jack reiterated that he hadn't meant to make Phyllis feel uncomfortable, but she insisted on getting it all out. She confessed that she loved him, too, and it would never change. He appreciated the sentiment, even though it wasn't the same thing. She insisted that it was the same thing, since she really loved him, and he would permanently be in her heart. Jack got up to leave, and he told Phyllis to let him know what she and Nick decided about the plane ride. Nick overheard, and Jack repeated his offer. Nick accepted, and Jack departed.
Phyllis mentioned that Victoria had been there for a spa appointment and that they'd had a pleasant conversation. Nick shared that he'd been thinking a lot about Victoria's marriage to Ashland, and it seemed like the bombshells kept dropping. Nick grappled with the idea of digging more into Ashland's past, although he would risk Victoria never talking to him again. Phyllis recounted that she'd advised him not to meddle, but she pointed out that his protective brotherly instincts were telling him something. She thought he had two ways to go about it -- either save his sister from potential disaster, or be polite and do nothing. "I know what I would do," Phyllis added.
Ashland entered Society and spotted a man nursing a drink at a table. Ashland anxiously looked around before joining him, and the man remarked that Ashland looked well, given the reports about his condition. Ashland replied that the man couldn't believe everything he read, and he demanded to know what "Gaines" wanted. Gaines bluntly stated that his yearly pension had become due earlier than expected due to Ashland's condition, so they needed to adjust their agreement. Ashland grumbled that he would hardly call blackmail an agreement, but Gaines thought they'd settled into a civil and even comfortable relationship after all those years.
Gaines crowed that he'd gotten accustomed to the lifestyle his $300,000 annual stipend bought him in exchange for his silence, but it looked like the arrangement was approaching an end. He'd thought a man like Ashland would have more time left on earth, and he wanted what should have and would have been his. Gaines offered to settle for ten years of payments in one lump sum of three million dollars in cash by the end of the day, and Ashland could die knowing his secret was safe. Gaines considered it a small price to pay, given what was at stake.
Ashland protested that he couldn't just snap his fingers and get cash in the middle of a massive corporate merger, but he promised to square things after he returned from Italy. Gaines barked that it wasn't acceptable, and he demanded that they settle things before Ashland left the country. Gaines agreed to wait until the next day, and he pointed out that Ashland had proven time and time again that when he wanted something, he made it happen, even if it was seemingly impossible. Ashland growled that he'd take care of it; however, Gaines was never to contact him again, and asking for more money would be the biggest mistake of Gaines's life. Billy peered in from the window and watched the men talking.
Victoria finished a call as Ashland entered her office. She regretted that she wouldn't be able to leave for dinner, and she observed that he seemed tense. He cited the treatment mixed with other things on his mind, and she assured him that everything was fine with their company. Ashland wanted their big day in Tuscany to be an amazing occasion for her. Victoria pointed out that a wedding was just one day, but their marriage and the time they spent together was what really mattered. He sensed that she had doubts about him after what he'd told her about his past.
Victoria swore that she didn't doubt Ashland's love for her and that she wanted to marry him as much as the day he'd proposed to her. He referred to the look in her eyes and promised that he was still the man who'd fallen head over heels for her. He continued that he'd never told anyone about his past, but he'd opened up about things he'd never talked about with her and her family to avoid the look he'd just seen in her eyes. Victoria chalked it up to still trying to take it all in, and he asked what he could do to reassure her. She replied that she needed to know there were no more surprises. Ashland promised that she knew every important thing there was to know about him.
At Devon's penthouse, Amanda was stunned that Devon wanted her to move in with him. She asked if he was sure, since she didn't want to ruin his brotherly bonding time with Moses. Devon assured her that he'd run the idea by Moses, and the teen was more than fine with it. Devon pledged to make his home her home and spend every day with her. He hesitated to pressure her, noting that her lawyer mind liked to analyze everything before making decisions, and he urged her to take time to go through the process. Amanda announced that she'd already decided, and she would love to live with him. They kissed and began to undress.
After Devon and Amanda had sex, she remarked that it had been quite the welcome to the neighborhood. He cooed that the celebration didn't have to stop, and he suggested that they have more wine and slow dance to a rare jazz album. She preferred to go pack her stuff at the hotel so they could officially start living together as soon as possible. As she departed, he called out that he loved her.
Amanda returned to her hotel room, where a panicked Imani tracked her down to talk about their mother. Imani rambled that she was a mess after finding out about Naya's heart condition. Amanda mentioned that she'd reached out to Nate, who had assured her that the condition was treatable and had put her in contact with specialists. Imani was surprised that Amanda had already done that, and Amanda hoped it wasn't a problem. Imani explained that she was grateful and relieved, but it was a new and strange dynamic after growing up an only child. Amanda thought it would take them both time to get used to, but she was very happy she had a sister to lean on.
Imani proposed that she and Amanda have some sister time by ordering room service and watching a movie. Amanda phoned Devon and told him she was hoping to hang out with Imani a bit longer, and she said she'd see him at home later. She thought it sounded weird, but he thought it sounded right. After they hung up, Imani assumed that Devon and Amanda were moving in together, and she congratulated Amanda. Amanda pondered whether she should be worried that she was that happy, but Imani insisted that Amanda deserved it. Imani admitted that she was jealous Amanda had found someone as spectacular as Devon. Amanda considered herself a lucky woman.
In their hotel suite, Tessa was glad to hear that Mariah had ideas about how to move on, but she balked at making any big decisions right then. Tessa reasoned that they'd just moved out of Abby's house and that Mariah was dealing with a lot of emotions, so they could take all the time they needed. Mariah insisted that the answer had appeared like a lightning bolt, but Tessa cautioned that there were no easy answers. Mariah conceded that it might not be easy, but she was adamant that it was the right path forward. Mariah thought they should have a baby of their own.
Tessa reeled as Mariah imagined how great having a child together would be. Mariah recalled that they'd discussed it before, but Tessa clarified that they'd talked about it briefly in the abstract. Tessa was reluctant to make it a reality that soon, since Mariah hadn't even started to unpack what had happened to her. Mariah promised to talk to her mom or get therapy, and she asserted that it was because of her experience that she knew it was what she wanted and needed. Mariah explained that Dominic had made her realize that she had maternal instincts she'd never been aware of before.
Mariah gushed that starting a family with Tessa would be the most wonderful thing in the world. Tessa said she shared the sentiment in a big-picture way, but it had only been a matter of days since Mariah had given birth to Abby and Chance's baby. Mariah confirmed that her doctor had advised her not to get pregnant again for at least a year, and she suggested that Tessa carry the baby to have the life-changing experience of delivering a child into the world.
Tessa gently reiterated that she didn't think it was the best time to have a baby, since Mariah was still emotionally raw. Mariah argued that it was why it was the right time to consider it. Tessa loved that Mariah was thinking about their future, and she agreed to talk more about it when they were both ready. Tessa stressed that the top priority was working through everything that had happened with Dominic and Abby. Tessa insisted on taking care of Mariah, and she encouraged Mariah to just rest, relax, and restore that day. Mariah crawled into bed for a nap.
As Tessa worriedly watched Mariah sleep, she received a text message from Abby, who wanted to give Mariah space but also wanted to check on her. Tessa wrote back that Mariah was napping and promised to update Abby later.
Mariah awakened to Tessa strumming her guitar. Tessa apologized for not playing softly enough, but Mariah swore that it was the best sound in the world to wake up to. Tessa observed that Mariah seemed more at peace, and Mariah chirped that knowing they had a plan was a huge weight off her heart. Tessa looked stricken, and Mariah realized that her girlfriend wasn't on board with having their baby.
Tessa explained that she had no problem with the idea of starting a family, but the timing was very sudden. Mariah argued that it wasn't sudden for her, but Tessa reasoned that what Mariah had gone through as a surrogate had been very different from what it would mean for them to have a child, and it was too important to rush. Mariah didn't understand what Tessa was talking about, since they loved one another. Tessa considered waiting to be what was best for Mariah. "I really need this," Mariah pleaded.
At the Abbotts', Jack told Traci his wedding invitation had been addressed to "Jack and guest." It was the umpteenth wedding he'd gone to alone. Traci claimed it was a cycle. He would fall in love, something would go wrong, and he would swear off love. He would feel lonely, and he would begin yearning for romance. Traci claimed that Jack had been at his lowest point since Dina's death. Traci claimed the universe wouldn't allow someone with a heart as big as Jack's to be alone too long. Traci left.
Alone, Jack muttered that his son was getting married, and he was still single. Jack sat down. Suddenly, he heard Dina's voice say, "They grow up so fast, don't they?" Jack said, "Hello, Mother."
Jack fell asleep, and in a dream, Jack told Dina he'd been thinking about her. He claimed Dina should be at the wedding. Dina asked who said she wouldn't be at the wedding. No one had ever stopped her from crashing a good party. She promised Jack she would have a bird's-eye view. Jack agreed that kids grew up fast. Dina told Jack he needed to cherish every second, and he needed to always follow his heart.
Suddenly, Jack was in the Chancellor home with Abby, Dominic, and Traci. Abby told Dominic his favorite great-uncle, the patriarch of the family, was there. Abby wanted Dominic to grow up and have a heart as big as Uncle Jack's. Abby claimed she'd never known she could love someone as much as she loved her baby. Traci said the love between a child and parent was innocent, pure, and untainted by heartbreak.
Jack told Traci that, as parents, they tried to live up to the promises they'd made in the first moments of their child's life: "I'll always keep you safe. I'll never let anyone harm you. I'll never let anyone break your heart." Traci told Jack those were promises that couldn't be kept. Children couldn't be protected from heartbreak. It was part of the human experience that helped them overcome pain and move on.
Traci acknowledged that Jack had had his heart broken many times, yet he kept coming back because he loved being in love. Jack asked if that wasn't what everyone wanted, to love and be loved. He claimed he'd never found the right person. Jack heard a heartbeat. When he turned to ask if Traci heard it, Abby and Traci were gone.
Jack heard a noise. He turned and saw Phyllis blow him a kiss, then she disappeared.
Jack heard music. He told Dina they were playing her song. Suddenly, he was home again. Traci told Jack that Dina and John had loved that song. She remembered how John and Dina had arrived home from the club, still dancing and laughing.
Traci asked Jack how John and Dina had appeared so happy when they hadn't been. She asked if it had been a fašade. Traci was looking for answers. Jack said the answers came from the most unexpected places. Traci claimed when it came to love, Jack had always been the eternal optimist. He said it might have been a fašade, just like John and Dina had shown them, while they'd been falling apart inside.
Traci asked if Jack believed that John had known that Dina had planned to leave and follow her own heart. Jack felt that John had to have known how unhappy Dina had been. Traci asked if John and Dina's love had changed or if John and Dina had. Traci chose to believe that John had felt their love had been strong enough to work things out and that Dina would have found happiness with them.
Traci said it was what Jack had believed and the reason he'd never become jaded after all he'd endured. Jack said Traci always saw a happy ending, even when there wasn't one. Traci said she believed in love. Jack hadn't given up on the concept. Traci knew if Jack had, he wouldn't be yearning to find love.
Suddenly, an angry Nick turned Jack around. He asked if Jack had believed Nick wouldn't find out what was going on. Jack asked what Nick thought was going on. In response, Nick shouted, "Phyllis!" He asked how Jack could do that. Jack yelled that he hadn't done anything. Nick said that he and Phyllis finally had their relationship in a good place, and they were in love. He accused Jack of trying to ruin it. Nick yelled that Jack wanted to remind him that he'd gone after Phyllis while Jack and Phyllis had still been together. Nick asked if Jack was trying to justify his actions. Jack stated he hadn't done anything.
Nick yelled that Jack had put thoughts in Phyllis' head, and everything had changed because Jack was standing between them. Jack stated he wasn't making a play for Phyllis. He'd only wanted to be honest about his feelings. Nick was wrong if he believed everything had changed. Nick claimed that Jack had overheard Nick talking about his relationship with Phyllis and about his concern that they were fated for a disaster again. Jack admitted he'd heard the conversation; however, Nick had admitted that someone had put doubts in his head. Jack said Nick was a strong, self-assured man, and no one would have put those doubts in his head unless Nick harbored some of those doubts himself.
Nick accused Jack of doing everything he could to cast blame away from himself. He asked why Jack had told Phyllis he was madly in love with her. Suddenly, Phyllis appeared. She shouted for Nick to stop. She claimed Jack wasn't the reason for everything going on between her and Nick. Nick asked Phyllis what was going on between them. Jack warned Phyllis not to say anything rash.
Jack told Phyllis he might have crossed the line by admitting his feelings. He hadn't meant to cause trouble between her and Nick. Phyllis claimed Jack wasn't responsible for any of it. Jack said he'd had no right to blurt out his feelings to her. He shouldn't have dumped his issues in her lap. Phyllis said Jack had told the truth. Jack apologized to Nick and admitted he'd never been able to let Phyllis go.
Sally appeared. She stated Jack should have let Phyllis go a long time before. Sally claimed she and Jack could have had a chance if Jack had moved on. She claimed she would have loved Jack more than Phyllis ever had. Sally claimed that Jack had made a huge mistake. Jack could have had her; instead, Jack had made a painful error in judgment because he'd chosen Phyllis.
Sally claimed that she and Jack had had a lot of chemistry, and they could have been Genoa City's power couple. Jack claimed Sally didn't remember what had really happened between them. Sally stated she had total recall; what they'd had had been magical, but Jack had blown it. She claimed she might have made a mistake or two, but Jack had been mostly to blame. She had genuinely cared about him, and part of her still did. She told Jack he needed to shut the door on his past, or he would miss more opportunities.
Jack said Sally had almost convinced him that he'd ruined his chance of spending his life with her, but it had been Sally's lies, deceptions, and sabotaging Kyle's relationship that had done it. Sally claimed that wasn't fair. Nick asked if Sally remembered Summer. Sally claimed she'd gotten Summer a fabulous job in a very glamourous city. Jack stated that Sally had had enormous potential. He wished she could have done things without all the dirty tricks.
Jack said Sally didn't trust her own talent. She had a moral compass but failed to check it. Jack said Sally didn't know who she was or who she wanted to be. Sally claimed she knew who she was, the good and the bad, and she accepted it. She asked if she'd done anything worse than what Phyllis had over the years. Sally asked why Phyllis got a free pass. In unison, Jack and Nick said, "Because she's Phyllis."
Sally told Jack she was sorry he couldn't forgive her the same way he'd forgiven Phyllis, because they could have had fun. Nick said that fun and games couldn't last forever. Sally stated that Jack didn't have a date for the wedding, and perhaps he should ask Phyllis. Through gritted teeth, Nick told Jack not to think about it.
Jack turned, and he was suddenly at the ranch. He saw Nikki about to drink vodka. He grabbed the bottle and asked "what the hell" she was doing. He asked why she was drinking and what Victor had done. Nikki stated it wasn't Victor. She said that through all the ups and downs, she and Victor had each other, and Jack had nothing. Jack said he had plenty of things that brought him happiness.
Jack told Nikki that his grandson, Harrison, made him happy. Nikki said Harrison was in Italy. Nikki claimed that Jack was jealous of her and Victor because she and Victor had love and devotion, something Jack wanted. Nikki said that thanks to Jack, Phyllis had broken Nick's heart. She wanted to know how Jack could do that to Nick.
Jack told Nikki that all he'd done had been to tell Phyllis she was still in his heart. Nikki knew that Jack had said he'd never stopped loving Phyllis. Jack wanted to know why it mattered how he felt. He said he would never do anything to jeopardize Nick and Phyllis' relationship. Nikki said Jack had gone to Phyllis and bared his soul to her. She accused Jack of wanting to destroy Nick's relationship so that he could take Nick's place with Phyllis. Jack denied it.
Jack told Nikki he'd had one too many glasses of wine; however, that didn't absolve him. He thought the alcohol had lowered his inhibition. He regretted telling Phyllis everything he'd felt, but he didn't know why it mattered to Nikki because it was something very easily forgotten. He didn't understand why it hadn't been. Nikki told Jack to be honest with himself.
Victor appeared. He told Jack to stop pretending he was a saint. Jack had fooled too many people for too long. Victor claimed that Jack was devious, and he always put a sheen of respectability and righteousness over everything to get what he wanted. Victor admitted that he, himself, was ruthless, but he would never whisper sweet nothings into his old flame's ear, knowing she was involved with someone else.
Jack said he wasn't going to argue with Victor about Phyllis. He claimed Victor had agreed with Nikki that he had interfered with Nick's relationship with Phyllis. Victor stated that Nick would move on as he always had. Nikki claimed it didn't make it less painful. She asked for everyone else's opinion. When Jack turned, he saw Traci and Sally. Nikki said they all had an opinion about what Jack had done.
Jack told Nikki he didn't regret what was in his heart; it was part of who he was. Jack said that as long as he didn't act on those feelings, it was none of anyone's business. He admitted it would have been nice having a partner rather than spending his life alone; however, sometimes loneliness was part of life. Traci said Jack could find love again, just not with Phyllis. He needed to keep looking. Victor called Jack a hypocrite; Sally claimed he'd made a huge mistake. He could have had her.
Jack said he knew how everyone felt; however, he wasn't looking for sympathy, nor did he care what anyone thought. Jack shouted that he hadn't hurt anyone, nor had he broken any laws when he'd told Phyllis he still had feelings for her. He yelled that he had love in his life, and it was more than enough for him.
Suddenly, Jack and Phyllis were alone in the dark. Phyllis asked Jack to stop saying what he wanted the truth to be. He needed to admit that the love he had from family and friends wasn't enough. She knew Jack didn't want to go to the wedding alone, and he didn't want to be alone anymore. She said what he wanted more than anything was to be with... Jack woke up with a start, still sitting in his chair. He appeared confused. Jack sent a text message to someone: "Can we talk? It's important."
At Crimson Lights, Jack remembered the night he'd told Phyllis the reason he hadn't moved on with his life. He said he'd been with the most amazing woman he'd ever known, Phyllis. Phyllis hadn't wanted him to say things he didn't mean. Jack claimed he'd said it because it was true. He'd never stopped loving her, and he didn't think he ever would. He knew their time was over, and she'd moved on. She was happy with Nick, and he had to live with that.
Nick met with Jack on the patio. Jack thanked him for responding to Jack's text message. He told Nick that after the Newman Media celebration, he'd been talking to Phyllis after he'd had one too many drinks, and he'd told Phyllis that she was still very much in his heart and that he'd never stopped loving her. When Nick didn't appear surprised, Jack asked if Phyllis had already told him. Nick said she hadn't needed to because he'd known how Jack felt for quite some time.
Nick said Jack and Phyllis had spent a lot of time together because of the situation with Summer and Kyle. It had been natural for Jack to have been reminded of what he and Phyllis had had. Nick said it was understandable that Jack still had feelings for her, because Phyllis didn't make it easy to forget her. He'd always known that what Jack and Phyllis had had had been very special.
Jack told Nick that the best years of his life had been spent with Phyllis. Nick said it was normal for Jack to remember what he'd had with Phyllis. Nick admitted he did the same with Sharon. He could reminisce about the good times and the mistakes. Those things made them who they were. Nick said they could look back and grow. He claimed his relationship with Phyllis was very different from when they'd met and even different from after Summer had been born. It wasn't any better or worse, but it was okay. They had to evolve.
Jack asked why Nick had asked him about Phyllis, knowing how Jack felt about her. Nick said maybe he'd been testing Jack. Nick smiled and said that Jack had failed miserably; however, he assured Jack they were good. He asked Jack what would happen in the immediate future. Jack assured Nick he would never act on his feelings. Jack said he felt he'd needed to tell Phyllis, and he'd also needed to tell Nick. Nick appreciated it, especially since he didn't deserve the same kindness from Jack.
Jack asked why Nick would say that, since they had a history that Jack always recalled fondly. Nick did, as well; however, where Phyllis was concerned, Nick admitted he'd done Jack wrong, and he'd always carried that guilt. Jack said they couldn't control where the heart went or where the heart wanted to go. Nick commented that Jack had been able to control his feelings for a long time, whereas Nick had acted on them. Jack suggested they put the past behind them. Nick agreed. Jack claimed it had been a bump in the road, and he was happy their friendship had survived.
Nick was sorry Jack hadn't found a woman that he loved as much as he loved Phyllis. Jack said a lot of people had said that, and he felt it was a theme. Nick was happy other people knew that Jack deserved an incredible woman in his life. Nick knew Phyllis was a tough act to follow, but he knew there was someone out there for Jack. He really hoped Jack would find her. Nick left.
In their suite, Nick told Phyllis that Jack had told him about the conversation Jack had had with her when he'd told her he would never stop loving her. Phyllis was surprised that Jack had opened up to Nick, but she was happy Jack had told him. Nick asked why Phyllis hadn't said something. She said it had been personal to Jack, and it hadn't been her place to tell Nick. Phyllis mentioned that Jack had been drinking and had probably said things he hadn't meant to.
Phyllis told Nick it had nothing to do with them, and she'd been caught off-guard by Jack. Nick said he knew that she and Jack had bonded over Summer and Kyle's move to Italy. Phyllis assured Nick she hadn't known how Jack had felt. She was happy it was out in the open. She assured Nick that nothing had changed between them and asked Nick to stop thinking about it. She knew how to make sure their relationship was okay. She kissed him passionately.
At home, Jack called Kyle and said he wouldn't be bringing a guest to the wedding, but he would be surrounded by all the people who mattered to him. Tearfully, Jack said he loved Kyle and would see him soon.
Jack heard Dina's voice saying he would be okay. She promised he would find love again because he was yearning for it. She said she loved him. Jack said he loved her, too, and he put their photo back.
At Society, Lily warned Billy to be careful how he investigated Ashland because she didn't want them to get uninvited to the wedding. Billy claimed he wasn't intimidated by Ashland. Lily felt he should be. He reminded Lily of all the empty threats from Victor and Adam about coming after ChancComm, and there had been nothing.
Lily reminded Billy that Victor held an intense grudge against him, and if things became ugly with Ashland, Victor would side with Ashland. Billy said Victor saw Ashland as a younger version of himself. Lily asked Billy not to take any unnecessary risks. A man arrived at Society, and Billy recognized him as the guy who had met with Locke the previous day. Billy gave Lily the heads-up.
Lily told Billy the guy looked very ordinary, but Billy had made him sound sinister. Billy claimed that guy and Locke had had an intense confrontation. Lilly suggested that it might have been a business deal gone sour. Billy claimed that Ashland would have turned on the charm, but their meeting had been different. It had appeared that Ashland didn't like the guy. The two men were adversaries, which meant the new guy might be very useful to them.
Lily told Billy they didn't know the guy's name. At that moment, the hostess picked up the man's payment. Lily told Billy she'd be right back. At the bar, Lily asked the hostess for a menu because she wanted a takeout order. The hostess placed the guy's payment on the counter, and she left to get a menu. Lily discretely looked at the name and stepped back when the hostess returned. Back at her table, Lily informed Billy the guy's name was Jesse Gaines.
Billy did a search on his phone for information about Jesse Gaines, and he found a Jesse Gaines Jr. from Toms River, New Jersey. Lily recognized that Toms River was the location where Locke had acquired the first two stations. Billy noted that Jesse seemed younger than Ashland. Lily wondered if Jesse worked at one of the stations and if Locke still owned them.
In his suite, Nick walked out of the bathroom, and he realized Phyllis had left him a note that she would see him downstairs.
Nick had a flashback to a conversation from the previous evening with Phyllis. Nick asked why she hadn't told him that Jack had said he was still in love with her. Phyllis said it was up to Jack to tell Nick something that personal. She said Jack had been drinking, and he'd probably said things he hadn't meant. Phyllis claimed it had nothing to do with her and Nick. She said she'd been caught off guard. Nick told Phyllis he was aware that she and Jack had bonded over Summer and Kyle's move to Italy.
Nick asked if Phyllis was certain she'd had no idea how Jack felt. She asked Nick how she would have known. She told Nick that Jack's feelings had nothing to do with them. They were solid. Phyllis kissed him passionately and claimed she knew how to convince him their relationship was solid.
Nick arrived in the lobby. He accused Phyllis of taking off without saying goodbye. Phyllis explained there had been a few hotel issues that had needed to be taken care of. Nick was happy they were okay, but Phyllis claimed they were better than okay.
Phyllis told Nick she wanted to say one last thing about Jack. She said her heart ached for Jack because she knew he was lonely and alone; however, she believed he would find his perfect match. Phyllis wondered why Jack hadn't given her the heads-up about telling Nick or told her to share the information with Nick. Instead, Jack had bared his soul to Nick without letting her know. Nick said Jack had felt he'd owed it to Nick.
Nick told Phyllis that Jack had kept the information hidden every time their relationship had come up in conversation. Jack had a vested interest in the outcome. Phyllis was shocked about their relationship being the topic of a conversation. Phyllis was certain it hadn't gone over well with Jack after Nick had told him how well they were doing. Nick said Jack felt more comfortable with everything being out in the open. Phyllis was ready to put the topic of Jack to bed for good. Nick agreed, and if she wasn't too busy, he wanted her to meet him in the park. He told her to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Phyllis agreed. Nick left.
Jesse Gaines arrived at the Grand Phoenix. He asked the hostess if there were any messages for him. Billy and Lily entered the hotel, and Billy approached Jesse. He said, "Jesse Gaines. What a blast from the past." Billy claimed his father had known a Jesse Gaines. Billy believed he'd been a lawyer in Jersey. Jesse said it might have been his father. Billy acted surprised. Jesse said he'd taken over his father's practice after his father's death.
Billy introduced himself to Jesse and said John Abbott had been his father and the founder of Jabot Cosmetics. Jesse wondered what had led their parents to do business together. Jesse said his father hadn't been in the cosmetics industry. Billy rattled off a few possibilities, like advertising, and he mentioned television stations. Jesse confirmed that his father had handled a couple of news stations.
Jesse commented it was amazing that Billy remembered Jesse's father's name after so many years. Billy had to have been very young. Billy asked what had brought Jesse to town. Jesse said it was a personal matter.
Ashland arrived, and Lily greeted him at the door. She asked him how the wedding plans were going. Ashland said they were going very well. Ashland saw Jesse talking to Billy; he excused himself and entered the hotel. Billy saw Ashland and commented that Ashland Locke and Jesse had a meeting. Jesse reiterated that he was there for personal reasons. Billy asked if Jesse had family in town. Jesse said none that he knew of.
Ashland joined Jesse, and he stated that Billy had met one of his many lawyers. Jesse was in town to handle some of the merger issues with Locke Communications Group subdivisions. Billy told Ashland that Jesse took lawyer/client confidentiality very seriously, and he hadn't said a thing. Billy said they had discussed Jesse Gaines Sr., who'd done some work for some news stations in Jersey. Billy assumed they were the same stations that Ashland had owned after Camilla Rhodes had passed away. Billy said maybe Jesse Gaines Sr. and Ashland had worked together with her.
Ashland told Billy that Jesse's father had been a good man. Ashland suggested that he and Jesse go somewhere quieter, where they could get some work done. After Ashland and Jesse left, Lily joined Billy. Billy told her there was definitely something going on.
At Newman, Ashland was on the phone with someone named Douglas. He said he needed half a million dollars in cash within the hour. He explained that he needed it for a rare and exquisite purchase for his beautiful bride. The seller was old-fashioned, and he insisted on US currency. Ashland claimed that as he got older, he cared less and less about the IRS and jumping through their hoops. He knew Douglas would find his way around the cash. Douglas was a very clever fellow, and that was why Ashland kept him around.
Ashland was stunned when he turned and saw Victoria standing there. Ashland asked Douglas to text him when the money was ready. Ashland ended the call. Victoria guessed she wasn't supposed to have heard that, but the call had sounded very mysterious. Ashland claimed he should have been more clandestine. He would hate to spoil the surprise. He asked Victoria to pretend she hadn't heard anything. Victoria wasn't sure she could do that because she was curious. She asked if it was another wedding present. Ashland said she would have to wait.
Before Ashland left, he told Victoria he hoped that Nikki had adjusted to the fact that he hadn't revealed his real name, and he understood that Nikki would have concerns. Victoria said she and Nikki hadn't discussed it, and she made her own decisions. Ashland knew how important it was for Victoria to have her mother's support.
Victoria told Ashland she was aware that he'd revealed the truth about his past in order to protect her relationship with her family, but it was up to her parents how they reacted. She said she couldn't control what people thought or did. Ashland claimed most people went through their entire life and never figured that out. He invited Victoria to join him for lunch later, and he left.
Outside Victoria's office, Ashland appeared concerned about how much Victoria might have overheard.
Victoria stared at her portrait. She had a flashback to the day Ashland had given it to her. Ashland told her it was a congratulatory combination merger and early wedding present. Ashland opened the box and said he wanted Victoria to replace Victor's portrait to exemplify the changing of the guard. Victoria loved it. She became excited when she recognized the artist. Ashland claimed there was nothing he wouldn't do to prove his love for her.
Nikki arrived and interrupted Victoria's thoughts. When Nikki saw Victoria's portrait where Victor's had been, she said it was beautiful and that Ashland had exquisite taste. Victoria gushed that Ashland was extremely thoughtful. Nikki wondered what Victor would think of it because it made quite a statement. Victoria said it should because Newman Enterprises was hers.
Once Nikki and Victoria finished discussing business, Nikki turned the conversation to wedding plans. She showed Victoria a photo of the new landscaping. Victoria loved it. She realized the wedding was really going to happen exactly the way she'd envisioned it. Nikki asked if Victoria had a reason to doubt that it would or should happen. Victoria said she had no doubts about the wedding at all. She suggested that Nikki was the one with the doubts.
Nikki denied it. She told Victoria it had been unsettling about the monumental secret Ashland had been keeping. She said that she and Victor were both survivors of their fathers' cruelty, so she could relate. Victoria claimed that Ashland deserved more than that from them. Ashland's childhood had been hell. When she thought about the resilience and the resourcefulness it had taken to overcome that situation, it made her respect him more. Nikki asked if it bothered Victoria that Ashland lied so easily.
Victoria told Nikki that Ashland had explained everything. He had told the invented version of his early life for so long that it had begun to feel real to him. It bugged her that he'd had to "confess" to everyone. It should have been his decision. Nikki asked if Victoria believed he would have told her on his own. Victoria said they would never know, since Billy had backed Ashland into a corner.
Victoria told Nikki that Billy made her very angry when he stuck his nose into her private business whenever he wanted. Nikki told her to forget about Billy. Nikki questioned whether Victoria was making decisions for all the right reasons and not because of sympathy for Ashland because of what he'd been through, or her anger for Billy and what Billy had put her through. Victoria assured Nikki that she wasn't marrying Ashland for any other reason than the fact that she loved him. He made her happy, and he understood her in a way no one else did.
Victoria asked Nikki who else would have thought to give her a portrait of herself. She said Ashland hadn't said anything, but he was probably wondering what would happen if he didn't survive his cancer. He wanted to give her something as a daily reminder of how he'd seen her. Victoria claimed Ashland was also planning something big and extravagant for her.
Nikki told Victoria that Ashland reminded her of Victor. Victor had loved dazzling her with his grand gestures and the look on her face when he'd surprised her. Nikki assured Victoria she would be there for Victoria no matter what Victoria chose to do. Victoria asked if it had been Nikki's subtle way of saying Victoria was making a mistake by going through with the wedding. Nikki said Victoria needed to trust her instincts and her strength to get through whatever happened. Victoria claimed she could trust Ashland's love for her. She might not know the name he'd been born with, but it didn't matter to her. She knew what was in his heart.
Phyllis arrived at the park, and Nick informed her they were going to have football practice. Nick said he'd signed up to coach Christian's football team, and he wanted Phyllis to be his assistant. Nick was excited that Christian was old enough to play football. He and Christian wanted her to be involved. Nick said Christian adored Phyllis almost as much as he did.
Phyllis reminded Nick that she knew nothing about football. Nick claimed he knew everything, and he would teach her. Nick and Phyllis threw the ball around. Nick claimed Phyllis was getting the hang of it. Nick was over the top with enthusiasm. Phyllis was not. Nick suggested a pizza party for parents and kids because that kind of camaraderie was everything in sports.
Phyllis realized that Nick wanted a distraction from Victoria's upcoming wedding. Nick said Phyllis hadn't been there when Ashland had told them about his crappy childhood, his abusive dad, and a mother who hadn't protected him. It had reminded Nick of when he and Victor had confronted Victor's dad. Albert Miller had been one of the most awful people Nick had ever met. Albert had said some crazy things to Victor, and it had been one of the rare times he'd seen his dad fall apart and cry.
Nick told Phyllis that if Ashland's story about his childhood was true, then Nick understood why Ashland would do everything he could to get away from it. He told Phyllis that he'd spoken to Rey about it. Rey had felt that if Ashland had been a kid who had wanted to get away from abusive parents, Ashland should have revealed his birth name already.
Nick told Phyllis that changing one's name involved the legal process of filing paperwork and placing an ad in the newspaper, but since they hadn't been able to find any information in that regard, Ashland probably hadn't used the regular channels to make that happen. Nick said it might not be anything, but he couldn't stop thinking about it and what that could mean.
Nick threw the football, and Phyllis finally caught it. Nick said she was going to be an amazing coach. Phyllis said it wasn't going to happen. She claimed she was too competitive, and she didn't want to get into a little boy's face and make him cry. She promised to be at every game to cheer them on. She suggested that Nick do a father-son thing with Christian, and t they could do a family thing for the three of them. Phyllis told Nick if he needed a supersleuth to find a certain billionaire's identity, she was his girl.
At the park, Ashland told Jesse he'd spoken with his banker, and all he could get in cash was half a million dollars for that day. He promised Jesse he would make monthly payments in the same amount for the next five months; Jesse would have his three million dollars, and then they would be done. Jesse asked if Ashland wanted him to believe that a man of Ashland's resources couldn't get his hands on three million dollars. Ashland said he didn't want to draw attention to their arrangement. The point of blackmail was to keep it quiet.
Jesse asked Ashland what would happen if Ashland died the following week. Jesse thought Ashland would have moved heaven and earth to be done with him. Ashland said he would live long enough to make Jesse a wealthy man. Jesse said it was obvious that Billy Abbott was suspicious, and he'd written the exposÚ on Adam Newman. Jesse was certain Billy would love to give Ashland the same treatment.
Jesse told Ashland that if Billy discovered how Ashland had bought Camilla's stations and that Ashland had been paying Jesse off for many years to keep Ashland's secret, it would make a very juicy story. Ashland said he couldn't wait to end all contact with Jesse. Jesse said he would take the down payment, but he wanted the other 2.5 million dollars within three days, or he would go to Billy and sell his story to ChancComm. Jesse walked away.
In their suite, Phyllis purred that Nick was a natural at massaging her feet. Nick stopped. He asked if Phyllis had meant that she would help him find out who Ashland Locke really was. She said she definitely would. Nick asked why she wanted to help. She said because it mattered to Nick, and he wouldn't let it go until he had answers.
Nick told Phyllis he had a feeling that Ashland was hiding a lot more than just his name. Nick said if they found something major, he would tell Victoria, and she could do whatever she wanted with the information. Phyllis agreed. She said that unlike Billy, Nick only wanted to protect his sister. Nick gave Phyllis the go-ahead to find out who Ashland Locke was and how he'd become Ashland Locke.
In Phyllis' hotel suite, Phyllis hunched over her computer and prepared to uncover Ashland's true identity. Nick pointed out that she wasn't the first expert to go digging, but she intended to be the first one who succeeded. Phyllis assured him that sleuthing and spying were in her wheelhouse. She added that she was madly in love with Nick and wanted to see him happy, and he replied that it was a two-way street. Phyllis checked out legal databases that would contain information about a young man who'd changed his name a few decades earlier, but she found nothing. Nick mused that something very strange was going on.
Nick contemplated how a young guy would even know how to begin to form a new identity. Phyllis reasoned that going through any legal channel would leave a trail, and she tapped into a national database to search for a record of a real Ashland Locke who had died years earlier. She found nothing, but she pointed out that it was easy to pay someone off to get them to look the other way. Nick argued that the identity switch had happened before Ashland had become successful, and Ashland hadn't had any resources when he'd been trying to escape a rough childhood with an abusive father.
A skeptical Phyllis asked if Nick really believed Ashland's story. Nick shared that Victor did, probably because it hit close to home. Nick stated that nothing they'd discovered that day pointed to a legal name change, and he assumed that Ashland Locke had been a real person with an established identity. Phyllis wondered if the real Ashland Locke had known that someone else had stepped into his life, and she guessed that he'd wanted to disappear. Nick pondered whether the real Ashland Locke was dead.
Phyllis pressed for any other information Nick had about Ashland. Nick indicated that Victor's private investigator had turned up that Ashland had begun his meteoric rise in the industry at a television station in New Jersey. Phyllis easily found Ashland's employment records at a station in Toms River, and she reported that he'd started working there at age 20. Nick thought the big question was how long it had been between the time Ashland had assumed a new identity and when he'd taken the job at the station. Phyllis searched for a list of deceased males around Ashland's age and planned to eliminate those who didn't fit.
Phyllis narrowed the field down to three guys around Ashland's age, and Nick considered one of them to be a promising lead that fit the profile that best supported their theory. Phyllis questioned whether he was sure he wanted to do it, and she cautioned that it could change everything. Nick felt that he couldn't walk away. Phyllis pointed out that it seemed like Victoria knew something shady was going on but didn't want to admit it, but Nick remained determined to see it through. Phyllis turned back to her computer and marveled that one of those three men might have been the real Ashland Locke. Nick wondered who the man who was about to marry Victoria really was.
At Society, Ashland ordered someone over the phone to have $500,000 ready. As he hung up, Abby approached his table, and he cheerfully greeted her. She noted that he'd been there often, yet they hadn't done more than exchange pleasantries, even though he was about to become her brother-in-law. He looked forward to getting to know her better, and she asked if she could join him. He replied that it would be delightful.
Abby and Ashland chatted about Dominic, and Ashland noted that the tot seemed to have been born into the role of an ambassador. Abby figured that she'd played that role most of her life, having a Newman father and an Abbott mother. She recognized that she might be biased, but she thought Dominic was a perfect angel, and she was the kind of parent who took pictures and videos all day long and showed them to everyone. Ashland requested to see some photos, and Abby prompted him to tell her about how his relationship with Victoria had turned from business to romance. Abby chirped that there was nothing better than a good love story.
After Ashland told the story about how he and Victoria had met, Abby couldn't believe that Victoria had even spoken to him again after he'd chosen Victor and Adam over her. Ashland recalled that he'd admired Victoria even back then, and they'd shared a spark and connection from the beginning that poets tried to put into words. He continued that the first time they'd kissed, he'd known that he'd found the one person on the planet who made him happy to be alive. Abby looked away, and Ashland apologized if he'd said something upsetting. Abby explained that she'd just been thinking about her own wedding and how much she missed her husband.
Ashland sympathized that it had to be tough for Abby not to have Chance around, especially with Dominic in the picture. Abby insisted that she was happy for Ashland and Victoria, and she prayed their love lasted forever. Abby admitted that she'd had reservations about him and Victoria because everything had happened so fast, but she saw why her sister had fallen in love with him and why Victoria was willing to take the next step, even after everything she'd been through. Ashland assumed that Abby was referring to Billy.
Abby clarified that she loved her uncle and that Billy's heart was normally in the right place, but she felt that Victoria had spent an inordinate amount of time putting out fires because of his gambling, drinking, and affairs. Abby acknowledged that relationships had their ups and downs, and she commended Ashland and Victoria for dealing with his health issues together. She added that he'd shown how much he admired Victoria's business acumen by agreeing to merge their companies, and Ashland confirmed that it was one of the many reasons he loved and adored Victoria.
Ashland credited Victoria with convincing him to move forward with treatment when he'd been dead set against it. He said he was willing to endure the chemo because he wanted more time with her, and he planned to cherish every minute. Abby saw in his eyes how much he loved Victoria, but she also knew his reputation wasn't unlike her father's. Abby warned Ashland never to lie to Victoria the way Billy had, since Billy hadn't done it to protect Victoria but to protect himself. Ashland agreed to take Abby's advice to heart. She left to get home to Dominic.
Victor arrived at Newman Enterprises and hoped Victoria wasn't too busy to see him. He stopped in his tracks when he spotted her portrait hanging on the wall. He recognized the work of the artist and remarked that it was "so damn good." Victoria admitted that she was still getting used to looking at her face all day, but it kept her focused on getting the job done. Victor called the portrait beautiful, and Victoria shared that her mom had been worried that he wouldn't be enthusiastic about it. Victor declared it a fitting symbol of Victoria's new position, running the company into a bright, prosperous future. Victoria informed him that it had been a gift from Ashland, and Victor announced that he had a gift for her, too.
Victor handed Victoria a document, and her jaw dropped when she saw what it was. He proclaimed that it was the deed to his villa in Tuscany, which would become hers on her wedding day. Victor hoped she and Ashland spent many happy years there, and Victoria said she didn't know how to thank him for the gift and what it represented. She acknowledged that he'd been doing his fatherly duty by digging into Ashland's past, but the gift showed that Victor supported them and their marriage. Victor stressed that he loved her, and he wanted her to enjoy the villa. He added that he hadn't seen her that happy in many years, and he wanted her to continue to be happy.
Victor reiterated that he'd been moved by what Ashland had shared about his childhood. Victor asserted that he'd always prided himself on his ability to read people, and he'd seen how painful it had been for Ashland to talk about his past. Victor praised Ashland for extricating himself from the abuse and becoming a successful business tycoon. Victor blasted "Billy Boy" for making Ashland relive all of it, and he expected that Billy wouldn't stop digging into Ashland's past because he was insanely jealous of Victoria's relationship with Ashland. Victor warned that it had been a giant mistake to invite Billy to the wedding, since Billy only wanted to attend to spoil things for her.
In the Grand Phoenix lobby, Billy approached Gaines and declared that they needed to have a serious conversation about Ashland. Gaines muttered that he was busy, but Billy suggested that they go somewhere private because it would be worth Gaines's while. Billy promised that Gaines wouldn't regret giving him ten minutes, and Gaines led him to the elevator.
In Gaines' hotel room, Billy shared that he'd done some digging into Gaines after they'd met. Billy knew Gaines's law license had been revoked for malfeasance, yet one of the biggest businessmen in the world had just claimed that Gaines was one of his attorneys. Billy questioned what else Ashland was lying about, and Gaines wondered why Billy was that interested. Billy considered it his job to shine light into dark corners and expose what was really there, not just what the rich and famous would like to be there.
Billy recalled that Gaines had known who Billy was when they'd met, and Gaines pointed out that Billy had already published an exposÚ on Ashland. Billy suspected that there was much more information that Ashland had been hiding for decades, and Gaines thought Billy's interest sounded personal. Billy explained that Ashland was about to marry the mother of Billy's children, yet Billy had found no evidence that the man who'd be spending time with his kids could be trusted. Billy sensed that Ashland was hiding something monumental and that Gaines knew something about it.
Billy was certain that Gaines's reason for being in Genoa City had to do with Ashland, who was keeping something hidden. Gaines claimed that he was a consultant on retainer, but Billy suspected that Ashland and Gaines had an agreement and that Ashland was willing to pay Gaines to keep quiet. Billy concluded from Gaines's silence that it was true, and it was only a matter of digging before he found out the rest of the details. Gaines contended that there was nothing to uncover, but Billy crowed that he could have his highly motivated and well-funded team investigate. Billy proposed that he and Gaines reach a lucrative financial agreement instead.
Billy promised to keep Gaines's name out of it as an anonymous source, and Gaines asked what he'd have to do. Billy implored him to fill in the blanks about how Ashland had been able to finance the purchase of the television stations that had started his career. Gaines wondered how much it would be worth to Billy, and Billy offered $100,000. There was a knock at the door, and Ashland gruffly called out to Gaines. Gaines scribbled down a figure of $500,000 on a pad of paper.
Ashland stepped off the hotel elevator and hovered at the bar. Victor entered the lobby and observed that it looked like Ashland had a lot on his mind. Ashland claimed that he'd just finished meeting with one of his attorneys to tie up some loose ends, since the only thing he wanted on his mind on his wedding day was Victoria. Victor mentioned that he'd just seen the magnificent portrait of Victoria, and he was impressed that Ashland had gotten a renowned artist to paint it. Ashland was glad to hear Victor's reaction, since he'd been hoping they wouldn't have to dig out the boxing gloves. Ashland exclaimed that skills in the ring were part of the legend of Victor Newman, and he suggested that Victor teach him the ropes one day.
Ashland noted that he and Victor hadn't spoken since Ashland had revealed the events that had led to his name change, and he hoped the revelation hadn't changed Victor's opinion of him. Victor confirmed that it had, but not in a negative way. Victor recognized that what Ashland had lived through could have led Ashland to follow in his father's footsteps by living a life of abuse and addiction, and he respected that Ashland had pulled himself out of that mire and become a successful businessman. Victor welcomed Ashland into the family, and Ashland said it meant the world to him.
Victor hoped Ashland understood why he'd needed to look into Ashland's background, and he vowed to always look after his daughter. Ashland expected nothing less, and he pledged to protect Victoria just as fiercely because she meant everything to him. Ashland assured Victor that there was nothing to worry about regarding him or his past. Victor suggested that they look forward to the future, and Ashland decided that it called for a drink.
Billy stepped off the elevator and called Victor and Ashland two captains of industry about to be joined by law, since the wedding date was fast approaching. Billy remarked that there were a lot of moving parts, and it was funny how forgetting one small detail could send things crashing to the ground. Victor warned that if Billy caused one second of heartache for Victoria, Victor would crush him. "Good to know," Billy flippantly replied, and he walked out.
Victoria was startled when Phyllis entered her office. Phyllis noticed the portrait and called it a statement, and Victoria proudly announced that Ashland had commissioned it. Phyllis guessed it hadn't scored any points with Victor, but Victoria indicated that her father loved it. Phyllis wondered if Victoria still had Victor's portrait, since Nick needed a dartboard for the rec room. Victoria dryly thanked Phyllis for the laugh and asked what she was doing there. Phyllis pulled out a bracelet that Victoria had left behind while getting a facial at the spa. Victoria voiced surprise that Phyllis had delivered it in person.
Phyllis claimed that she'd been running errands in the neighborhood, and she urged Victoria not to make a big deal of it. Victoria was suspicious that Phyllis had been kind and civil for two days in a row, but Phyllis told her not to get carried away because Phyllis had a reputation to uphold. Victoria thought Nick would be just as surprised to hear about Phyllis' friendly behavior -- unless there was something else going on. Phyllis swore that she just wanted them all to be happy. Victoria's phone rang. Phyllis assumed it was the groom, but Victoria revealed that it was Abby. Phyllis stepped out.
Abby explained that she hadn't been able to let Victoria marry a guy without having a heart-to-heart talk with him first, but she'd seen why Victoria had fallen in love with Ashland. Abby recounted the way his face had lit up every time he'd mentioned Victoria's name, and she believed the stories about him being a monster were total garbage. Abby called Ashland a sweetheart, and she pledged to defend him to anyone who said otherwise. Victoria called her the best sister in the entire world. Abby squealed that she was happy Victoria had found a smart, funny, powerful man who was her equal.
Victoria thanked Abby for calling, and they planned to get together soon. She hung up as Ashland entered the office, and Victoria told him that she'd been starting to worry before she'd gotten a call from Abby. Victoria indicated that Ashland had made quite the impression, and he said it had been good to get to know her sister better. Ashland mentioned that he'd postponed some personal business, and Victoria assumed he meant the surprise he'd been arranging earlier that required a large amount of cash.
Billy arrived at Chancellor Communications while on a call with Lily. He informed her that Gaines knew exactly what Ashland was trying to hide, and he recalled the look on Ashland's face when he'd seen Billy talking to Gaines. Billy relayed that Gaines had promised to give them an exclusive if the price was right, and he anticipated it would be worth every penny. Billy said he would be meeting with Gaines in a bit to discuss it further, and he'd update her later. "So much for the big Italian wedding," Billy murmured.
Nick wrapped up a call as Phyllis returned to her hotel suite. She observed that he'd already packed, and he told her that the Newman jet was ready to fly to New Jersey. He planned to go down to Toms River to follow up on the three men and find out whether one of them had been the real Ashland Locke. Phyllis worried that it was happening really fast, and she considered the position Victoria was in. Nick asserted that Victoria would be better off knowing the truth, no matter what it was. Phyllis hesitantly repeated that he was doing the right thing. Nick hoped he returned with answers.
Gaines sipped a drink in his hotel room. There was a knock at door. "Finally," he griped as he opened the door. He found Victor standing there, and Victor surmised from Gaines's expression that he recognized who Victor was. "Let's talk about you. What are you up to?" Victor asked.