By the start of 1996, Amy Wilson had recovered from her mental trauma. She testified on Nick’s behalf that she was responsible for shooting Matt after he had raped her. When Matt learned that the police were about to arrest him for perjury, among other criminal charges, he skipped town. The Newman’s were relieved when Nick was released from jail and cleared of shooting Matt. Soon after, he and Sharon married in a formal ceremony and began living together in a reconverted barn on the Newman estate. Nick also took a position at Newman Enterprises, with his step-dad Jack Abbott showing him the ropes.
Nikki worried that Sharon was anxious to get pregnant so that Nick would be further tied to her. By summer, Sharon’s old friend, Grace Turner, from Madison, had moved to Genoa City, anxious to start a new life. With Nick’s help, Grace landed a job at Newman Enterprises. Nick wasn’t pleased when Sharon announced that she was pregnant. He urged Sharon to consider an abortion because he wasn’t ready for fatherhood. Worried about her marriage, Sharon eventually made plans for an abortion. Nick, however, had a change of heart and stopped Sharon at the last minute, saying that he was prepared to become a father. Sharon confided to Nikki that she had skipped taking her birth control pills deliberately. When Doris heard about Sharon’s confession to Nikki, she worried that Nikki would use this against Sharon. Grace began having fantasies about being involved with Nick and tried to undermine Nick and Sharon’s marriage. When Tony, Grace’s old boyfriend, showed up and said he wanted to resume their relationship, Grace resisted his advances.
Jack Abbott was devastated when Luan died from her terminal illness. When Keemo learned that Jack had know that Luan was seriously ill, he accused his father of stealing precious time that he and his sister Mai could have spent with their mother. Eventually, Keemo forgave his father. To Jack’s disappointment, Keemo announced that he was returning to Viet Nam. After grieving over Luan’s death for several months, Jack resumed his relationship with Mari Jo Mason. By summer, Jack and Mari Jo were engaged to marry.
Nikki grew tired of waiting for Victor to express an interest in resuming their romance and she accepted Brad Carlton’s marriage proposal. Victor was shocked when he learned that Brad was the mystery man in Nikki’s life. To retaliate, he bypassed Brad for a promotion at Newman Enterprises and awarded the new position to Neil Winters. Concerned for his friend John Abbott’s health, Victor warned Jill to stop threatening to take Billy away from him. When Victor received a FAX meant for Jack from Keemo, urging Jack to be leery of Mari Jo, Victor confronted Mari Jo about her manipulative ways. Unknown to Mari Jo, Victor gave the FAX to Chris for safekeeping. On Brad and Nikki’s wedding day, Victor was having a late meeting with Chris when he was shot. When Nikki learned of the shooting, she fled the church to be by Victor’s side at the hospital.
As Victor recovered from his gunshot wound, the police zeroed in on several suspects, including Brad and Jill. Brad urged Nikki to marry him and immediately leave for their honeymoon, but Nikki wanted to keep herself available for Victor. Upset, Brad broke off his relationship with Nikki and left town. When the police discovered that the gun used to shoot Victor belonged to Jill, they arrested her. Further investigation, however, cleared Jill and she was released. Victor’s near-death experience prompted him to reevaluate his life. He left Genoa City for several weeks and visited Hope on her farm in Kansas, where she was now married to Cliff. Victor enjoyed spending time with his son Victor Jr., but Cliff made it clear that the boy considered him his father.
Victor returned to Genoa City and began spending time with Nikki, who assumed that they were finally about to reconcile. When Victor received word that Cliff had been struck by a drunk driver, he quickly returned to Kansas to lend Hope support. Hope was grief-stricken when Cliff died. Nikki misunderstood Victor’s reasons for leaving her, and she resolved to break off with him. She became involved with her doctor, Josh Landers, who said that he was a widower. When Josh proposed marriage, Nikki impulsively accepted and they eloped in Vegas. Victor tried to stop the marriage, but he arrived too late, and so he decided not to tell Nikki that he was still in love with her. Eventually, Victor persuaded Hope to relocate to Genoa City with their son.
When Mari Jo realized that Chris had a link to the FAX that could potentially destroy her relationship with Jack, she kidnapped Chris and held her prisoner in a isolated area of Newman Enterprises. While Chris was trying to escape from the gun-wielding Mari Jo, Victor and Paul came to Chris’ rescue. Mari Jo was arrested and committed to a mental institution. Jack visited Mari Jo and made it clear that their engagement was off.
Jack was surprised when Diane Jenkins, a former girlfriend, suddenly showed up in Genoa City. Jack was anxious to romance Diane, but she resisted, fearing that Jack hadn’t reformed his former playboy ways. Meanwhile, Ashley was livid that Jack and Diane were seeing each other again. She tried to pressure Diane into staying away from Jack, but Diane found it difficult to resist Jack’s charms.
Jill was shocked when John’s first wife, Dina, reappeared in Genoa City. John resumed his romance with Dina and proposed remarriage. Although Jack was elated that his parents were involved again, Ashley, who had also returned to Genoa City, and Traci, who was visiting from New York, both opposed the reconciliation. The stress that John suffered while dealing with Jill caused him to have another heart attack. However, he quickly recovered. Jill and John finally agreed to divorce and Jill made plans to live in a new home with her son, Billy. Dina surprised her family by suddenly leaving town again.
Ashley resumed her job at Jabot and enjoyed a brief flirtation with her new work associate, Adam. When Ashley was attacked, and nearly killed by two thugs, while walking through the woods, she was rescued by Kurt Costner, a mysterious stranger, who had been doing odd-jobs at the Chancellor estate in exchange for room and board. The thugs shot Kurt and fled. Ashley and Kurt were rushed to the hospital, where a grateful Ashley arranged to cover Kurt’s medical expenses. Ashley became intrigued with Kurt and tried to find out more about him, and she turned to Victor for help in trying to put Kurt’s life back on track. While Victor was out of town on a business trip, he asked Kurt to watch out for Hope and his son.
Phyllis was heartbroken when Danny announced that he was still interested in divorcing her. Phyllis reluctantly agreed to Danny’s request, but at the divorce hearing, she testified that she believed that their marriage still had a chance. The judge postponed making a decision until after Phyllis and Danny had marriage counseling. Sensing that her counselor, Dr. Tim Reid, was attracted to her, Phyllis slept with him. On the day that Tim was scheduled to testify that he felt Danny and Phyllis should divorce, Phyllis blackmailed him with a videotape of their lovemaking. Tim testified on Phyllis’ behalf that her marriage to Danny had a chance, but he later recanted his testimony. Phyllis finally accepted the inevitable, and her divorce from Danny was finalized.
To make Danny jealous, Phyllis became involved with Tim, but she didn’t reveal her lover’s identity to Danny. When Tim proposed marriage, Phyllis accepted. Her son, Daniel, became seriously ill and was hospitalized for several weeks. Phyllis and Danny held a vigil by his bedside and, in the process, became closer. They were relieved when Daniel’s health recovered. Touched by Phyllis’ love for their son, Danny began dating his ex-wife. Soon after, Phyllis ended her engagement to Tim. But Phyllis and Danny are a bit nervous about their new growing closeness.
Paul and Chris made plans to marry. On the day before the ceremony, Chris made love to Danny. Paul discovered them in bed together and canceled their wedding. Chris made it clear to Danny that their lovemaking was a mistake and that she was no longer in love with him. Eventually, Chris and Paul patched up their differences and married. Their Caribbean honeymoon, however, was nearly destroyed by Phyllis, who was also visiting the island with Tim. Back in Genoa City, Phyllis apologized for her behavior and pleaded with Chris not to tell Danny. Chris reluctantly agreed.
Dr. Olivia Hastings began treating Keesha, who had contracted the AIDS virus from a former boyfriend. When Olivia inadvertently discovered that her husband, Nathan, had been having an affair–and that Keesha was the other woman–she blasted both Nathan and Keesha for their illicit behavior. Olivia, who had been trying to get pregnant again, worried that Nathan might have exposed her and their son to HIV. Meanwhile, Malcolm, after learning of Nathan and Keesha’s affair, ended his romance with Keesha.
Keesha soon developed full-blown AIDS. Seeing Keesha’s physical deterioration, Malcolm’s attitude toward her softened. Realizing that Keesha was near death, Malcolm made her dying wish, to be married, come true. Soon after the ceremony, Keesha died. Olivia and Dru were initially angry at Malcolm for showing sympathy toward Keesha, but eventually the two sisters forgave him. A bitter Olivia, however, made it difficult for Nathan to see their son. Frustrated, Nathan kidnapped the boy and disappeared. After several weeks on the run, Nathan decided to return Little Nate to Olivia. When the boy wandered away from his father on a crowded street, Nathan rushed to find him and was fatally struck by a car. At the hospital, Nathan struggled to apologize to Olivia for hurting her and then he died.
Dru was offered a lucrative modeling contract, but her husband, Neil, insisted that she turn it down so she could focus on being a full-time mother and wife. Behind Neil’s back, Dru signed the contract and began secretly accepting out-of-town modeling assignments. Malcolm, who was hired to be the photographer for Dru’s shoots, reluctantly agreed to keep the secret. But Neil suspects that perhaps Dru signed with the agents.
Victoria’s marriage to Cole was headed for trouble when she began enjoying secret kisses with Ryan at work. Ironically, Cole was also falling for Ryan’s wife, Nina, who was working as his assistant. When Nina learned that Ryan was still attracted to Victoria, she ordered him out of their home. Meanwhile, following Victor’s orders, Cole asked Victoria to give their marriage another chance and she agreed. Even though Cole made it clear to Nina that he wanted to remain married to Victoria, Nina struggled to fight her attraction for him.