Written by A. Washington-Beeby
Story Consultants: ML Cooks & C. Nathaniel Richardson
The morning edition of the Salem Spectator falls in front of Nicole's door at the hotel. Shortly thereafter, Nicole opens the door and picks it up, while clutching her morning coffee.
Upon opening the rolled-up paper and seeing the headline, she drops her mug.
TITAN'S BRADY BLACK DRUG SCANDAL
Brady's alarm goes off to the sound of the radio blasting a news report. Initially, Brady is groggy, but as he listens to the report, he wakes up fast.
RADIO: ...Brady Black's head may be on the chopping block at Titan today after video footage collected by gossip site A2Z shows Black, highly intoxicated and openly doing lines of cocaine at a Chicago club. This comes just weeks after the disasterous announcement that Titan was acquiring oil and gas firm EnerNext in a multi-billion dollar deal. Executives at Titan are currently in an emergency meeting to discuss the future of Mr. Black's tenure as CEO--
Brady shuts the radio off and lies back in bed, a look of horror in his eyes.
Victor calls the meeting to order, a flurry of activity in the room as the board members take their seats. Kate, Lucas, Tyler, Billie, and Victor are joined by three other board members, as they slowly come to order.
Kate sits between Lucas and Billie, and leans toward them, speaking quietly.
KATE: I guess our hot mess CEO finally got a little sloppy where people can see.
Victor stands at the end of the table. He sounds exhausted, without his usual fire.
VICTOR: This meeting will come to order. As you've probably heard, we have a bit of a crisis on our hands. My grandson has become involved in some things that will put into question every business decision this company has made and will make in the coming weeks, and I propose a solution that will allow us to retain those contracts, and salvage our image. But I will need your help.
Stefano is sitting in the living room of the DiMera mansion, going over paperwork. EJ is standing pensively in the doorway, almost looking right past Stefano. He walks into the room slowly, a coffee cup in hand.
EJ: Good morning, Father.
Stefano looks up, pleased to see EJ.
STEFANO: Elvis! Good morning, my son. I was just looking over the news.
EJ: Regarding whom?
STEFANO: Brady Black. Looks like you aren't the only one who is getting sloppy in your business.
Stefano takes the newspaper and flops it down on the table before EJ. EJ studies the headline carefully.
EJ looks up from the paper, still a bit taken aback by the headline.
EJ: You know, this was bound to happen. I mean, Brady Black has always had a substance abuse problem. Frankly, I don't even know why this is scandalous anymore.
STEFANO: Or why Victor Kiriakis is dumb enough to continue to keep him in the family business. Which reminds me, you might want to be a little more careful in your future extra-curricular activities, if you know what I mean.
EJ rolls his eyes, and closes the doors to the living room before responding.
EJ: Alright, Father. I know you want to talk about this, so have at it. Gloat at how my relationship with Samantha is falling apart around my ears and how much better off I am without her.
STEFANO: I don't have to, you just did.
EJ: But that's the thing. You're just so happy that this has happened, you can't bear it. So tell me. How'd you find out about it, hm?
Stefano wordlessly shuffles some papers around, before opening his desk drawer. He pulls out a green envelope and hands it to EJ.
EJ: What on Earth is that?
STEFANO: Something an associate of mine has been working on. You may be interested in it.
EJ frowns in confusion, before opening the envelope. Inside is a picture of EJ and Abigail in a passionate kiss at the cabin on Smith Island. EJ is stunned by this discovery.
Anne steps groggily to the doorway of her apartment. A long night after her run-in with Daniel's car, and a lack of sleep have left her visibly tired. She notices a letter addressed to her on the floor. She goes to grab it, and feels as she picks up the envelope, an unusual texture to the paper.
It feels rough, almost like sandpaper...but loose, as though unattached to the paper itself.
A sort of powdery texture is across the letter, and Anne reluctantly feels it across her fingertips, as she recalls EJ's threat against her the previous evening.
EJ: Are you seriously going to threaten me?
EJ walks closer to Anne, as Anne leans against her desk. They both have a guarded appearance, almost trying to seem more imposing than the other.
ANNE: Well, it seems to me that I hold the cards here. And we all know how hard you're trying to be a "good man" now. So, what exactly are you going to threaten me with?
EJ: I just want to remind you of what historically has happened to those who decide to meddle in the affairs of the DiMera family. It doesn't end well for them.
Suddenly, after spending a moment studying the envelope, she drops it in revulsion. She looks at the envelope on the ground. The DiMera Enterprises crest, the Phoenix, on the top corner next to the return address.
ANNE: That bastard. That sick, twisted bastard.
Jenn brings in the morning paper, and heads into the living room, where Abigail is fully dressed for work. She seems in a haze, which Jennifer notices.
JENNIFER: Hey, Abigail. Ready for work, Sweetie?
ABIGAIL: Ready as I'll ever be.
JENNIFER: How are you liking working at Countess W so far? Is the glamourous world of makeup as exciting as you thought it'd be?
Abigail doesn't even crack a smile at Jenn's comment. She glumly looks down at the table, filing away the last papers into her new bag.
ABIGAIL: Ohhh Glamourous is not a word I would use to describe this job, Mom. Now 'stress', THAT is a word I would use.
JENNIFER: Already? I mean, you've only been there a few weeks, honey. Any new job is gonna be stressful.
ABIGIAL: This, this is a completely different kind of stress.
JENNIFER: You having to work so closely with EJ?
Abigail looks up at Jenn, stunned for a moment.
Jenn puts a sympathetic hand on Abigail's shoulder.
JENNIFER: Abigail, I understand. It's still fresh, the pain that EJ and Chad caused you. It's alright, though. Just work your hardest and you'll be able to move on one day.
ABIGAIL: Oh. Yeah. I hope so.
JENNIFER: You're stronger than you think, honey. I mean, come on, you're my daughter, and Jack Deveraux's daughter, for crying out loud. Some skinny DiMera kid isn't gonna ruin your life, is he?
Abigail finally smiles a bit, and looks over at her mom lovingly.
ABIGIAL: Thanks, Mom.
Jenn kisses Abigail goodbye, but Abigail notices the headline of the newspaper Jenn dropped on the coffee table, and is shocked, pointing at the newspaper.
ABIGAIL: Oh my God. Mom, do you think Theresa had anything to do with this?
JENNIFER: I don't know, honey. But I do know Brady's been getting himself into enough trouble without her help lately. But I wouldn't be surprised if Theresa is part of the blame.
Nicole is in her hotel room, cleaning up the coffee she spilt on herself when Eric comes to her door. Noticing the door is slightly ajar, he pushes it open.
ERIC: Nicole! What happened?
NICOLE: I spilled coffee all over my robe. Thankfully it's not mine or I'd be pitching a fit right now.
Eric smiles at Nicole as he steps into her room.
NICOLE: Stop that, it's not funny.
ERIC: What, are you that clumsy in the morning? Do we need to give you sippy cup until you've had a couple cups?
Eric puts his hands on Nicole's shoulders, laughing at his own jokes. Nicole rolls her eyes, but really doesn't mind Eric's teasing.
NICOLE: I'm fine. I just...I read something.
NICOLE: (sighs) You may wanna sit down for this.
Nicole grabs the newspaper from her desk and hands it reluctantly over to Eric. Eric sees the headline and is stunned and concerned.
Anne scurries into her kitchen, and washes her hands thoroughly in piping hot water. The entire time, she mutters to herself in anger.
ANNE: So either Mr. DiMera is trying to kill me with anthrax-laced letters, which I highly doubt, or he wants me to think he is to "warn me".
Anne finishes washing her hands of any trace residue from the letter and puts on her rubber kitchen gloves. She puts each one on with a dramatic snap as the gloves struggle to fit on her hands.
ANNE: And that, dear Elvis, is not going to work on old Anne Milbauer.
She grabs a plastic freezer bag from the drawer, and walks back into the living room.
Carefully, she picks the envelope up and drops it into the freezer bag, before sealing it up.
ANNE: I don't suffer fools easily, EJ. You better watch your back too.
Anne places the bagged letter in her purse, and hastily heads out the front door, closing it with a slam.
EJ looks at the photo incredulously. He shakes his head and inspects the photo carefully, as though he would be able to find it was a fabrication with the naked eye.
EJ: Father, why do you have this?
Stefano walks around EJ to grab a drink. He pours the drink, casually sipping it as he talks with EJ, and paces the room.
STEFANO: Well, you see, I wanted to be absolutely sure that you would keep your promise to me to keep our family together, and to honour me as your father. And so, when I heard about all this nonsense with Nicholas Fallon that you, Katerina, and Samantha have all been involved in, I became concerned.
EJ: So you had someone follow me.
STEFANO: I had to make sure you were taking care of things correctly. There is a strange old man in the woods that's been making noises about Titan buying his land. I heard he was quite a photographer. So I made him a deal.
EJ: Blackmail photos of me in exchange for the funds to fight Titan to keep his property.
Stefano nearly spits out his drink at EJ's suggestion of blackmail.
STEFANO: Blackmail is such a strong word. In my family, we do not blackmail each other.
EJ, sensing the complete absurdity of Stefano's statement, turns to Stefano, exasperated, his voice raising quickly.
EJ: Well, what would you call it then, Father? Shall we go out and get a nice frame for this? Maybe blow this photo up and put it up on the wall next to your portrait? What else do you call this BUT blackmail?!
STEFANO: Insurance! Naturally, we cannot rebuild my family if you are working to undermine me. And besides, this way, I have someone working on the inside at Titan to try to take them down.
EJ sits down on the couch, worn out by the revelations Stefano has just laid out for him.
EJ: I don't believe this. You do realize you've essentially hired Nicholas Fallon and his lapdog to spy on me. The same man who very nearly destroyed Will's life because he didn't like the idea of two men raising their own child together. You do realize how easily this could blow up in your face, right?
Stefano, unfazed, shrugs, before sitting back down at his desk.
STEFANO: As long as Nicholas Fallon and Percy Ruggles work for me, you have nothing to worry about. Just remember, Elvis, I can and will help you keep these secrets no matter what. But you must support me as well. It's all in your hands.
EJ: My God. It's all about control with you, isn't it? You can't love people normally, you have to manipulate them to love you the way you want, or else it's not good enough. I...I cannot...
EJ seethes with anger over his stupidity, and prepares to let off a further tirade at his father, when Harold opens the doors to the living room, causing EJ to turn around with a start. Harold is careful upon seeing EJ's reaction and enters slowly.
HAROLD: Pardon me, Sir. Uh...but...a Miss Hernandez is here to see you.
Gabi follows Harold into the room, she is made up and dressed for the day, but her face wears the burden of the previous night's realization, and her eyes are those of a woman who hasn't slept.
GABI: EJ, I need your help. Badly, it's an emergency.
Victor continues to speak as the emergency board meeting at Titan continues. Kate continues to ignore the proceedings as she speaks to Lucas.
KATE: Honestly, I can't wait to see the look on Brady's face when he finally wakes up from his drug-fuelled haze and realizes what's going on.
Victor is too exhausted to chastize Kate for her gossipping, and continues speaking to the board overtop of her chatter.
VICTOR: My motion is simple, we shall have Brady replaced as CEO at Titan with myself, with Tyler Houston running the EnerNext division, while my grandson submits to an extensive rehabilitation program. Brady will only be considered to recommence his duties as CEO upon sucessful completion of the program, provided the board is satisfied with the arrangement. During this time, Brady will retain his seat on the executive board, and will be compensated using sick benefits. If Brady's rehabilitation is unsuccessful, we shall proceed with a new vote to find a new permanent CEO for Titan. All in favour of this motion.
The board unanimously raises their hands to Victor's motion. Victor looks around for dissenting voters, but, solemnly, he prepares to complete the motion. As Victor begins speaking, Brady opens the doors to the board room, overhearing Victor's announcement.
VICTOR: Then it is so...as of today, the 27th of July, 2014, Brady Black is temporarily relieved of his duties as CEO of Titan Industrie--
The board turn around in shock at Brady's outburst, minus Kate, who half-expected this, and looks up in calm curiosity. She leans over to Billie, whispering not-so-quietly to her.
KATE: Right on cue, as always.