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Chapter 23





"What do you have to tell me?" Marlena said as her tears stopped and fear gripped her face.

"It's Sami. It seems her honeymoon with Lucas was short-lived," Roman said.

"Oh no, did Lucas leave her AGAIN?" Marlena said throwing her hands up in the air. "You know, Roman, I tried to get her to tell Lucas the truth before the wedding. I tried to get her to see that THIS TIME she needed to go into her wedding vows with all her secrets out in the open..."

"No, Doc, it's not that. Sami did tell Lucas everything and they still went on their honeymoon," Roman explained. "It's just when they got to New Orleans Sami disappeared. Left Lucas a note saying she was running off with E.J. Wells and she was having his baby. She told him she wanted Lucas to leave her so she wouldn't feel guilty about being with him. She said she thought it would give her family, give us, a reason to accept her decision to spend her life with a Dimera."

"Oh no..." Marlena moaned covering her mouth with her hand.

"But I don't believe it, Doc. Not for a second. Something just ain't right," Roman said. "This whole thing. New Orleans. The Dimeras. It actually kind of reminds me of that trick Stefano pulled. With us."

Roman and Marlena shared a long painful stare as they contemplated Maison Blanche and how even though their marriage was already on shaky ground before that happened, they knew that was the final straw that ruined any chance of them staying together.

"Well, what does Lucas think?" Marlena asked desperate to think about something else.

"That's a good question," Roman said. "Lucas came back here to Salem after he found the note and was pretty upset with Sami, but I had a talk with him and now we're going to head down to New Orleans tomorrow to try to search the house they were working at to see if there's anything there we can use to track em down."

"How are you getting there? Do you want to use John's plane?" Marlena asked.

"Well now that you mention it... that was something we were hoping..."

"On one condition," Marlena interrupted. "You let me go with you."

Roman sighed. He worried about Marlena heading into this house and getting sucked back in to another one of the Dimera's schemes.

"Are you sure, Doc? What if E.J. is just helping his old man to use Sami as bait to lure us back there? Lure you there?" Roman said. "I'm not sure that's a good..."

"Roman, you know me," Marlena stopped him. "You know you aren't going to be able to talk me out of this. You also know that I can handle myself pretty well against Stefano. The Dimeras have been coming after me for a long time and they haven't beaten me yet. Like hell I'm going to let them win now."

"Well, all right," Roman said accepting but not liking the risks he knew Marlena was willing to take for her children. "See you tomorrow."

He sighed and started heading out then paused at the open doorway. He looked back at Marlena but she had already turned her attention back to John.

"I guess I should head back home now and start packing for New Orleans so I can help Roman and Lucas try to find Sami, but I'll be back to you just as soon as I can, John," Marlena said to herself as she caressed John's face. "Now I need to leave right now to take care of things and let the pilot know to get ready for our flight to the Big Easy..."

Marlena kissed John's forehead and got up to leave before turning back to look at him.

"Big Easy... ha!" Marlena said heading out. "This isn't going to be easy at all, is it?"

If Marlena had shut off the light of John's hospital room just one second later maybe she would have seen. Maybe she would have stopped as John's eyelashes started fluttering and his lips moved.

"Marlena," John murmured through labored speech that had guttural tone. "Marlena, doooooon't gooooooo."



Lucas put on a half-hearted show of enthusiasm about her sister's unlikely sudden success as they walked back to her office, but Billie was too oblivious to notice her brother's jealousy.

"So here it is, bro," Billie said as she paraded around the office. "I am the new president of Countess Wilhelmina. Titan is bringing back the brand and they are letting me spearhead the whole thing. Except this time it's not just cosmetics... it's fashion... it's accessories... it's everything I've ever wanted. Oh it's just SO great to be back working here again! To really get back to my roots, you know. I wish I had never given it up."

"Yeah, Billie, that's great," Lucas said flatly. "I can see you're really excited about this opportunity. But what about Century Cell and everything you put into your security system? I mean when did Titan even decide to restart Countess Wilhemina? It certainly wasn't something that was even in the idea stages six months ago and here they've already got you working on the relaunch?"

"Well, for that I have Century Cell to thank, actually," Billie said.

"I don't understand."

"Well you know how mad I was at Phillip for using my security equipment to spy on Bo and Hope?" Billie asked.


"Well Bo and Hope were even angrier with Phillip when he got back from Tinda Lao," Billie said. "But Victor and I reached an agreement where I told Bo that I was wrong when I talked to him before. It wasn't Phillip but E.J. and E.J. alone who was responsible for bugging their house."

"And Victor's end of the agreement was this?"

"You betcha," Billie said proudly. "I decided to put up my Century Cell shares as seed money while Titan provides backing for the whole thing and now I get a shot to finally really make something for myself without relying on Bo, or Mom, or E.J. for help."

Lucas nodded then looked down. A printed e-mail on Billie's desk caught his eye.

"Oh no, Billie," Lucas said. "Not you, too?"

"Not me, too, what?" Billie said squinting at her brother's strange mood swing.

"This," Lucas said picking up the piece of paper and waving it at her furiously. "After you're finally free of that bastard E.J. Wells now you're going to work for Tony Dimera?"



Sami wondered what sort of book would be kept that had no title and no author noted on the outside. Then she began leafing through the pages and got her answer.

Sami browsed past several pages of the book without much care until she stopped on a page about a quarter through the book and made sure to read every last word on the page.

"Stefano, how could you?" she said slamming the book back shut.

She couldn't read anymore. Just when she thought the man couldn't be more vile, more insane or more cruel for what he was doing to his son, E.J., in allowing his memory of the last year to be erased, she had to go and learn that he was capable of this...

That Stefano had lied to his entire family all these years because E.J. was actually the son of Tony and Anna Dimera!

She had to tell E.J. what was going on, she thought. But then she worried. E.J. might not believe her. He might hate her for ruining his idea about his family or maybe E.J. would confront Stefano so that Rolf would wipe E.J.'s memory clean again and she would just back where she started... or worse. No, she couldn't tell E.J. She would have to keep it a secret from him just like Stefano had.

Sami sat down on the floor next to the bed and wrung her hands in frustration as she contemplated how she always knew how cruel the Dimeras had been in keeping people in her family apart because of Stefano's sick vendetta against the Bradys, but she wondered was it really so important to him that he would do this to his son and grandchild?

She cursed Stefano.

But then she paused. She thought harder about what she had read. She picked up the diary again and tapped her fingertips across the cover. She thought some more.

And she thanked Stefano.

Because she could use this diary to convince TONY to let her go. That Stefano wasn't worth saving after all so that she and her baby's umbilical cord blood weren't needed to save him. She smiled as she formulated ways to go about executing the scheme.

But when Sami started diligently reading the diary again she became so engrossed in the material she didn't hear the rustling outside the door or the door opening until E.J. was already standing in the doorway holding a tray.



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