The woman removes from her purse a folded newspaper clipping and spreads it out on the desk--a photo of André and Kristen on their wedding day. She contemplates the picture for a moment, then removes from the top drawer a large pair of scissors which she uses to cut the paper neatly down the center. She looks at André’s half, smiles, and sets it aside, then picking up the other half she cuts the picture of Kristen into tiny pieces....
When André opens his eyes one of the portraits catches his attention. “Kristen, look at this!”
“What is it?” she asks, turning, and gasps when she sees the portrait. “I don’t remember seeing this one before,” she says slowly.
“It can’t be...” André begins.
“He looks exactly like...”
In shock and amazement André reads the plaque beneath: “Stefano diMera, 1489....”
“A stunning likeness!” Mimi exclaims as she sees the finished portrait. “I dare say, Raphael, that you have captured his very soul.”
“Well done,” Stefano agrees. “But now I must go oversee the preparations for the feast. There will be a celebration tonight, and everyone is invited!”
Mimi ascends the staircase, deep in thought. A celebration, indeed.... These last few weeks have been idyllic for her, trapped in 15th century Fiesole with Stefano and the diMera ancestors Adriano and his sister Cristina, and no way to go back to the 20th century nor contact anyone there--or so she believed. They laughed and danced and made beautiful music -- Cristina would play the lute and Mimi would sing, and sometimes Stefano would join her in a duet -- and always they would engage in lively and animated discussions. At night they would stroll through the moonlit courtyard, with its ornate fountains and sculptures, and stop to admire the rare and diverse varieties of roses in the gardens. Sometimes they would play chess, other times Stefano would read aloud from Petrarch’s sonnets while Mimi embroidered. These were the happiest weeks of her life: they had created their own Utopia, and for the first time Mimi felt that with Marlena out of the picture, perhaps there was hope after all. Until today....
“Mimi! You haven’t heard a word I’ve said!”
She turns and is surprised to see someone behind her on the staircase. “Adriano, please forgive me. What were you saying?”
“I said that for someone who’s supposed to be celebrating, you certainly don’t look very festive. What’s wrong?”
Elsewhere in the palace, Emilia, one of the donne di palazzo, is discussing the new arrivals with her friends the della Scoiattola sisters, Annamaria and Marianna.
“Something is going on here,” Annamaria remarks, “I don’t know what it is.”
“I know what you mean,” Marianna replies. “Something’s changed, within the past couple of days.”
“Cristina mentioned that there would soon be a new member of the court,” Emilia says, “but she did not seem pleased.”
“Another new arrival?” Marianna asks. “This is all so mysterious. First there was Stefano and Mimi, and we still do not know where they came from...”
“I do not believe for a moment that Stefano is the Duke’s cousin from Rome,” Annamaria states. “Cristina never mentioned a Roman branch of the family tree, and besides, there is something very odd about those two.”
“Yes,” Emilia agrees. “Very odd indeed.”
“In a nutshell, the question is this,” Marianna summarizes. “Who are they, where did they come from, and what are they doing here?”
“Of course I’m looking forward to the celebration, I’m sure it will be splendid!” Mimi enthuses, hoping she sounds convincing. Although she and Adriano have developed a friendship since her arrival in the 15th century, she is reluctant to reveal her true feelings. Mimi remembers her conversation with Stefano earlier that day:
“Bringing Marlena back is simple,” Stefano explained to Mimi. “The ring will be passed on from generation to generation with specific instructions that 500 years from now it will be delivered to Marlena. The moment she puts it on she will be instantly transported. Returning to the twentieth century, however, will not be an option. And John will never be able to find her. At last, Marlena will be mine.”
“I’ve just had a lot on my mind,” she finally says.
“I do understand,” Adriano reassures her. “You must miss your friends, your family.”
“My friends and family are here now. You, Cristina... Stefano...”
“You care for him very much, don’t you?” he asks gently.
“After tonight, he will have what he wants most in the world,” she responds with a smile, avoiding the question.
“Yes, the Contessa di Evani. The entire court awaits her arrival tonight....”
“Who could have sent this?” Marlena is wondering aloud when the doorbell rings. Still holding the ring, Marlena goes to open the door and finds Celeste on the other side.
“Marlena, I have come to warn you,” she begins but stops when she sees the ring. “Where did you get that?”
“It was left outside my door,” Marlena explains, holding it out for her to see. Celeste takes the ring and drops it as if it were searing hot!
“Marlena, there is E-VEIL here, I feel it all around!”
John, meanwhile, has come to the door. “Come on Celeste, there’s no more evil in Salem. Stefano’s gone, we trapped him in time. He’s never coming back and that’s a fact.”
“No, Marlena, Stefano will not let go so easily. You must believe me, you are in terrible danger....”
“There was also DiMera’s daughter Kristen,” Tessa mentions, “and another man who was working for Stefano, André, I think his name was.”
“I wouldn’t bother with those two,” remarks Lanie. “We wouldn’t be able to trust anything they said.”
“You’re right,” Josh agrees. “Better that the DiMeras have nothing at all to do with this. But we should contact John and Marlena. After what Stefano put them through, I would personally like to assure them that no one will ever have to suffer like that again.”
To be continued....
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