Written by A. Washington-Beeby
Story Consultants: ML Cooks, Nick Monarco & C. Nathaniel Richardson
Will, stood in the living room of the Kiriakis mansion alongside his fiance Sonny, looks on at Noelle and Alex's cosy togetherness. Stunned, he can barely choke out a response to Alex's introduction of Noelle, his wife.
WILL: I...your wife! I...wow! You...I didn't realize.
Alex laughs at Will's surprise, as Sonny reaches out to Noelle.
SONNY: It's so good to finally meet you.
NOELLE: And you, Sonny.
Noelle breaks free from Alex's arm to give her brother-in-law a hug, as Adrienne steps forward into the scene from across the room, as Victor, still stood in front of the living room bar, looks her way.
ADRIENNE: Well, now that we've all had a chance for introductions, shall I uh...set the table?
VICTOR: Nonsense, Adrienne. Have a seat. Would you like a drink?
Adrienne looks behind her to the chair behind her. She sits herself down as the others follow suit, seated across the sofa, with Maggie taking the easychair opposite Adrienne.
ADRIENNE: Uh, no thank you, Victor. I'll just...wait until dinner.
Maggie senses tension in the air, and tries to break it after a moment of awkward silence.
MAGGIE: Ah, so...Noelle! It's...really nice to see you again. Ah, I was just saying to Adrienne and Noelle in the kitchen that I hadn't seen her since she were a little girl. And now here you are...all grown up--
Noelle looks Maggie's way, smiling, as Victor interrupts Maggie with a snarky remark.
VICTOR: Marrying for money and status, just like her louse of a father.
Maggie immediately turns to Victor, disgust plain on her face, as Victor takes a sip of his drink.
MAGGIE: Victor, we have guests. They may be family, but it is no time to be airing your greivences.
Adrienne chimes in, hoping to reclaim some good humour in the room.
ADRIENNE: I agree. This is supposed to be a pleasant evening, and...
MAGGIE: ...And it's a time for celebration. Alex is back in Salem, with a beautiful new bride, no comment from the peanut gallery, thank you.
Victor scowls as Maggie looks pointedly his way.
MAGGIE: And we have one more marriage soon to come in the family. As Will will soon be part of our family as well.
Will smiles awkwardly as Maggie gets up from her seat to pour herself a soda. Sonny puts a hand on Will's knee, causing Will to look down quickly, before looking up at Sonny. Sonny's eyes are glued to Will's, almost pleading with him to be civil. Will looks at Sonny, lovingly, but with a degree of coldness.
MAGGIE: Adrienne, would you at least like a soda to toast with?
Adrienne looks away from Sonny and Will, as if snapping out of a daze. She responds to Maggie, awkwardly, but pleasantly.
ADRIENNE: Ahh....oh, yes! Yes, thank you!
Maggie turns back to pour the drink, as Victor paces behind the sofa, observing all the tension bubbling under the proceedings. His face tells the story, as his scowl persists.
MAGGIE: There you are. So, to our guests of honour. Will, Sonny, Alex, and Noelle. May they live and love for many years to come.
As everyone raises their glasses, Maggie fixes her gaze on an unmoved Victor, who raises his glass only at the behest of his wife.
Billie picks up a cup of tea from the coffee table in the Horton living room, as Jennifer sits down in the chair near her.
JENNIFER: Billie, I don't see why you're so curious about my feelings for Daniel.
Billie stirs uncomfortably, as she tries to answer Jennifer as gently as possible.
BILLIE: Look...Jenn, I don't mean to pry, that certainly isn't my intention. But...I think you should know...Daniel and I have been...well, we've been seeing each other, and it's been getting pretty serious.
Jennifer keeps a cool exterior, setting down her tea on the coffee table. She nods at Billie and feigns a smile.
JENNIFER: That's great. That's good to hear, Billie. But Daniel and I are through. What he does is really none of my business.
BILLIE: Well...that's where you're wrong.
Jennifer looks at Billie, confused, and a touch resentful at Billie's insistence.
JENNIFER: What do you mean by that, Billie?
Billie looks down at the ground, trying very hard not be tactless in how she answers the question.
BILLIE: Because, based on what I've seen today, it's obvious to me that he's still very much in love with you.
Jennifer looks at Billie, contemplative and a bit frustrated, by Billie's revelation.
Laura knocks gently on JJ's bedroom door. JJ sits at his desk, typing away on an assignment, with her earbuds in, and doesn't hear Laura. Laura, seeing this, lets herself in, walking over to JJ and tapping him on the shoulder. JJ jumps, and upon seeing Laura behind him, takes his earbuds out.
LAURA: Sorry if I scared you, but...I wanted to give you some news.
JJ turns around, as Laura sits down at the edge of JJ's bed.
JJ: Okay, what's up?
Laura smiles, trying to sum up everything she's learned today. Still a bit tense and uneasy with some of it, she decides to start with the good news first.
LAURA: Well, there's some good news, and some...troubling news.
JJ: Alright, lay the bad on me first.
LAURA: Well, maybe I should give you the good news first. I...I don't want to cause you alarm.
LAURA: Look, the good news is...I spoke to Daniel today, and...well, he agreed to look into Liam a bit more deeply for us.
JJ smiles, a look of relief on his face.
JJ: That's fantastic! Do you...do you think this will mean that...maybe there's a chance they'll find their way back to each other?
Laura looks down, a bit worried. She shakes her head.
LAURA: JJ, I know you just want your mother to be happy, but...it's too late for your mother and Daniel.
JJ: But, I mean, he still loves her, right? I mean, he's agreed to help us--
LAURA: ...That doesn't mean that they're getting back together. Look, I know you blame yourself for your mother and Daniel splitting up, but...what's important right now is that we keep your mother safe.
JJ nods, a bit disappointed, but understanding his grandmother's thinking.
JJ: No, you're right. So...what was the bad news, then?
Laura breathes in deeply, hoping the right words will come out.
LAURA: Look, I don't want to...(sigh)...I don't mean to worry you, but...I overheard Liam having a conversation on the phone at the hospital today.
JJ: A conversation? Okay, with who?
Laura takes a second to answer, her eyes staring intensely at JJ as she speaks, worry causing her voice to shake.
LAURA: EJ DiMera.
JJ looks on, more worried for his mom than ever.
Valerie and Jerome step into their new house. Valerie tosses her car keys casually on the table by the door, as she and Jerome step in from the winter cold.
VALERIE: Well...it's not exactly how I planned your welcome. (sigh) But here it is.
Jerome looks around, a smile on his face as he takes in his surroundings.
JEROME: Well, well. Not bad, Grandma.
Valerie turns around, cracking a smile. She puts her hand up to Jerome's face, looking affectionately at him.
VALERIE: I'm glad you're alright. You know, I know it sounds like I'm paranoid but...I mean, you know this, every time you...turn on a TV or look at a newspaper, it's another black person dying in custody, and--
JEROME: Grandma, I told you. You don't need to worry about me.
VALERIE: That's where you're wrong, Jerome. You're dead wrong.
Jerome looks at his grandmother, confused by her persistance.
JEROME: What do you mean, Grandma? I mean, you talk like you're speaking from experience or something.
Valerie sighs, hesitating to answer. She looks unflinchingly at Jerome, a simmering rage inside her that she tries desperately to hold back.
VALERIE: Maybe I am.
Jerome looks on, dumfounded, shaking his head, as his phone rings. The disruption cuts the tension, as Jerome turns to find his jacket, where the phone is.
JEROME: I gotta get that.
Valerie sighs, as Jerome walks over to pick up the phone. Seeing that it's Sheryl, he immediately answers, but quietly.
JEROME: (into phone) Hey.
Sheryl steps off the elevator at the lobby of the Titan building. Her cell phone in hand, as she responds.
SHERYL: (into phone) Hey, where are you?
JEROME: (into phone) Ohhh I'm at my new house. Just settling in after my stint as a hardened criminal.
Sheryl, surprised by the news, scrunches her face in displeased surprise.
SHERYL: (into phone) WHAT? You're joking.
Jerome continues, looking at Valerie, trying to keep the conversation light.
JEROME: (into phone) No joke. Look, I uh...I don't really wanna get into it right now, but...you alright?
SHERYL: (into phone) Not really.
Jerome rolls his eyes, knowing Sheryl's problems will be something petty.
JEROME: (into phone) Alright, spill. What is it?
SHERYL: (into phone) I think Lucas might be onto us. I don't know how but...something's wrong.
Jerome looks ahead, responding without hesitation.
JEROME: (into phone) Meet me at Jordan's in 20 minutes?
Sheryl again furrows her brow, confused by Jerome's request.
SHERYL: (into phone) I can't until morning. Uh...besides, you don't even know where she lives...
JEROME: (into phone) Text me directions now. She and I need to clear the air. You be there at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Bye.
Jerome hangs up abruptly, putting his jacket back on, much to Valerie's chagrin. Valerie starts to head toward Jerome.
VALERIE: Jerome Grant, where are you going?
Jerome opens the front door of the house, barely stopping to explain himself.
JEROME: There's an emergency at the University I have to deal with, Grandma. I'll see you in a bit.
VALERIE: Jerome, wait!
The door slams shut behind Jerome, causing Valerie to flinch, before looking off resigned and angry.
Nick walks up to Stefano's grand leather chair. Resting against the back of it, he watches the fire along with Stefano.
NICK: You know...you remember those...photos I sold you? Those ones Percy took of Abigail and EJ doing the do? Whatever happened to those?
Stefano laughs heartily, never taking his eyes off the fire as he answers Nick.
STEFANO: Ohh I have them in a very safe place. And if Elvis plays his cards right, they won't move from that place.
Jennifer gets up from her seat, arms crossed, pacing the room uncomfortably as Billie looks her way, hoping to find a way to calm her nerves.
BILLIE: Jenn, I'm sorry if I upset you, but...
Jenn shrugs, shaking her head, deep in her own thoughts, almost not answering Billie, but just verbalizing her inner thoughts.
JENNIFER: No, it's...it's okay, Billie. it's not your fault, and I'm sorry it's gone this way. But Daniel and I can't be together...I can't trust him. Besides, I've moved on.
Billie looks Jenn's way, uncertainty in her eye.
BILLIE: Jenn, I mean...maybe it's my insecurity talking but...it doesn't sound like you have.
Jenn stops pacing, clicking back and turning to face Billie. She puts her hand over to meet Billie's, which rests on the top of the sofa near where Jenn was pacing. She smiles warmly at her longtime friend.
JENNIFER: I have. And I've met a wonderful man who loves me and...it feels like we've known each other forever.
Billie cracks a smile, as Jenn walks around to the other side of the sofa, never letting go of Billie's hand as she goes to sit on the sofa next to Billie, where she begins to gush about Liam.
BILLIE: That's...GREAT. Tell me more!
JENNIFER: Oh, Billie, I mean, you know, I know, I've..moved on kinda fast but...this guy, we talk about he just...he understands where I'm coming from, and he...I mean he even remembered Abigail's birthday a couple months ago, I like...I barely remember mentioning it to him. (laughs)
Billie doesn't join in Jennifer's gushing, schoolgirl laughter, though she tries momentarily. The realization hits her, that this was what Laura was talking about to Daniel. She tries to hide her concern.
BILLIE: What a...sweetheart.
JENNIFER: He really is. Billie, I can't wait for you to meet him.
BILLIE: I'm sure I will soon. He uh...he works at the hospital as well?
JENNIFER: Yeah! He's a uh...pharmaceutical rep.
BILLIE: I see.
Billie nods in feigned approval, before starting to get up from the couch.
BILLIE: Look, I need to get going, but I'm glad I stopped by. It's good to see you again.
Jennifer gets up from the couch as well, smiling widely. She reaches quickly over to hug Billie.
JENNIFER: It's SO good to see you. Ohhh my gosh, you, Daniel, Liam, and I...we should get together sometime soon.
Billie smiles, nodding in strained agreement.
BILLIE: Yes, we...definitely should. And...again, I'm sorry if I upset you.
JENNIFER: No! Sweetie, never. I know what you're feeling right now. You're going through a lot of emotions. You're feeling...vulnerable. Insecure. It's okay. I understand that. And if you need me, I'll be there for you. Okay?
Billie smiles earnestly, almost blushing at her friend's warmth and caring.
BILLIE: Thank you.
Billie turns and heads for the door, as Jennifer stays behind in the living room, an intense, thoughtful look on her face, as Billie heads out the door.
Outside, Billie stands in the doorway, more concerned than ever.
BILLIE: Alright, Billie. Time to find out who this Liam Frasier guy is...and what he wants.
JJ gets up from his seat, his worry about his mom's safety palpible, he starts to panic as he speaks, building himself up into a bit of a frenzy, which Laura can't bear to watch, worried she'll be worked up herself.
JJ: Grandma, what are we gonna do? I mean...if this Liam guy is really working for the DiMeras...I mean...mom could be in serious danger...and Abigail. I mean...she's working for them already. What if they're spying on her. What if this trip to Italy was...what are they gonna do to her?
Laura looks at JJ, welling up with concern for her family, she can no longer hold back. She stands up from the edge of JJ's bed
LAURA: I don't know, JJ. But I do know one thing for sure, is that you need to be kept safe from all of this. And I promise you, I will keep you safe, no matter what it costs me.
Laura leans over and takes JJ in her arms, holding her grandson tightly.
Maggie continues to try to cool the frayed nerves in the Kiriakis living room, trying to keep the mood light with banter, which falls on deaf ears to the rest of the party.
MAGGIE: So it looks like The Penthouse Grille reopening will be ready to go by the spring. Isn't that great?
ALEX: That's fabulous news, Maggie. I can't wait to see the place.
Just then, Justin walks in the doors of the living room. Upon seeing his son looking back at him, Justin's face lights up, as does Alex's.
JUSTIN: You gotta be kidding me! Come here, big guy!
Justin and Alex laugh and share a warm hug, as Adrienne gets up from her seat to greet her husband.
JUSTIN: And I'm assuming you brought Noelle with you?
JUSTIN: Noelle! It's been awhile.
NOELLE: (laughs) Yes, it has.
Justin steps over to Noelle, giving her a kiss on the cheek as a greeting. Adrienne, awkwardly stands near Justin, finally piping up.
ADRIENNE: Ahh, Justin. Sweetie.
Justing and Adrienne quickly kiss on the lips, Justin smiling warmly at his wife, though sensing her tension.
JUSTIN: Yes, my dear.
ADRIENNE: Could I, uh, speak to you in the kitchen a moment.
Justin shrugs casually, pouring himself a quick drink before taking off.
Adrienne leads Justin out of the room into the side room. Inside the living room, Will's eyes follow Adrienne and Justin out, an air of suspicion as he watches them leave. Victor walks back around toward his previous seat.
VICTOR: God, I hope dinner's soon. All this fretting and suspicious behaviour is working up my appetite.
Maggie, starting to lose her cool, begins to crack, her voice raising in irritation not just as Victor, but everyone.
MAGGIE: Victor, I swear to God. One more snide remark out of you--
VICTOR: ...And what, Maggie? You'll divorce me?
Maggie gets up from her seat, finally blown her cool.
MAGGIE: Don't press your luck, Kiriakis!
Noelle sits, revelling in Victor's misery, but Sonny thinks better of the situation and gets up as well to try to calm things down.
SONNY: Okay, maybe we should go set the table. I think Chef is nearly ready for the starters, so...
Will follows suit, still more fixated on Adrienne and Justin's whereabouts, but using this as an opportunity to spy.
WILL: Yeah. Yeah, I think that's a great idea, Sonny.
NOELLE: Ohh, and miss all this great together time? Victor will be so disappointed. Won't he?
Victor stands stoically by the bar set. Taking a sip of his drink, he casually retorts.
VICTOR: Blow it out your nose, Hussy.
MAGGIE: That does it! I've had enough. Victor, I hope you enjoy the poolhouse, because that's where you're staying tonight.
Victor looks at Maggie, incredulously.
VICTOR: What on Earth are you talking about, woman? This is MY house!
MAGGIE: And I own half of it. Remember? I'll be in the kitchen.
Victor scowls in defeat, as Maggie steps around Victor, heading to the kitchen to join the others in preparing dinner.
Victor lingers in the living room, alone, save for Noelle, who has stayed behind, a smug smile on her face. Once the last of the group leave the room, Noelle begins to clap at Victor's misfortune.
NOELLE: Great work, Victor. I have to say...that's one for the books. You've managed to alienate your entire family before the first course is even served. That's got to be a new record. Even for you!
Victor looks away from Noelle, shaking his head slowly, before quickly downing the rest of his drink.
Will and Sonny head for the kitchen, but Will stops just short of the kitchen. Sonny looks back in Will's direction, and Will motions to him, holding one finger up to tell him to hold on a moment.
WILL: Just need to have a pit stop for a moment.
Sonny disappears through the saloon doors into the kitchen, while Will hangs back, spotting Adrienne and Justin chatting in the garden. Being sure not to be seen, he hides around the corner, just close enough to overhear their conversation outside.
Adrienne stands stone still. Arms folded, staring straight ahead, as Justin tries desperately to discover what's wrong. He walks up behind Adrienne, putting his hands tenderly on her shoulders.
JUSTIN: Hey, you alright?
ADRIENNE: (sigh) I hope so.
Justin, unsatisfied with his wife's answer, resists his urge to roll his eyes, as Adrienne continues.
ADRIENNE: I uh...I think I must be losing my mind.
Adrienne momentarily laughs at herself a bit, before carrying on.
ADRIENNE: Yeah! Well...see...you know how I've always....had some misgivings about Will and Sonny being together.
Justin nods, worried that he knows the direction this conversation's headed.
JUSTIN: Yyyes. And we've reminded you to stay out of it. Let the boys handle it.
Adrienne spins around quickly, almost cutting Justin off.
ADRIENNE: Yes! Exactly! And I told you over and over again that Will is just...he is too much like Sami, and Lucas has not been a much better example for him.
JUSTIN: Okay. I mean, Lucas has had his fair share of drama, but...you know...so did we.
Adrienne looks seriously into her husband's eyes. She inhales deeply while she works out her next thought.
ADRIENNE: Well, I didn't realize how right I was...not until tonight. Justin, this wedding CANNOT happen. I won't let it happen.
Justin looks on, stunned by his wife's sudden emboldened, and passionate plea.
Will, meanwhile, hides around the corner, enraged by Adrienne's pointed disapproval.