Chapter One

New Years Eve around 8:30 PM St. Luke's Church, Salem

"A man never forgets the day his world is changed forever. I knew from the first moment I laid eyes on you that you were going to become a very important part of my life. Regretfully, I didn't realize exactly how important you were to me until I lost you. When you were gracious enough to give me a second chance and agreed to be my wife once more, I completely screwed up, again!"

Nicole beamed at her husband EJ as the two of them stood before God, and a small group of family and friends, reciting their revamped wedding vows. He looked devastatingly handsome in his black tux but she wasn't sure if his attire in fact had anything at all to do with how incredible he looked. He was happy, hopelessly in love, and he was hers which made him the sexiest man alive.

He cupped her face in his hands as he continued to speak unrehearsed and from the heart. "Most couples probably wouldn't survive what we've been through but, you know as well as I do you and I were never your average couple. I know there are probably some out there shaking their heads, wondering what the hell we are thinking, saying, "Those two crazy kids are at it again," and placing their bets on how long we will last. I think it's pretty damn near obvious that the answer is 'forever.' I think we've both finally seen how this crazy little thing called love works. Without it, we wouldn't be here today."

Nicole's face was all aglow as he tipped her chin up just slightly with the tips of his fingers. "I promise from this day forward to be the husband you deserve. I will die to protect you and our family and I will always love you more than words could say. That is my honor."

Nicole took his hands in hers and squeezed tightly as she prepared to state her own vows. "Well, first time I saw you, two words came to mind, 'hot' and 'rich." She laughed nervously from the stares of several disapproving DiMera family members, namely Stefano and Kate. "Oh yes, I thought of the many ways I would let you wine and dine me so I could wrap you around my little finger and take you for all you were worth. That's the way the old Nicole operated. Not necessarily because she was a money-hungry golddigger but because she believed that she would never meet anyone who would love and accept her just the way she was. You however managed to do something no man before you had done. You made me fall in love with you and that scared the hell out of me, so much that I refused to believe you would ever feel the same way. It is because you are still standing here by my side today that I can no longer deny that what we have is real, for it takes something very special to weather the storm that we've been through. I promise you from this day forward, my undying love and unquestioning faith as long as we both shall live."

In the small crowd of guests, Chloe took Philip's arm by the sleeve and began to blot away the tears of happiness she'd shed for her friend as she watched Nicole and EJ exchange a new set of rings then become liplocked in a deep embrace a good 30 seconds beyond what was appropriate for a church ceremony, forcing poor Father Matt to fake a throat-clearing just to break it up.

The newly reaffirmed Mr. and Mrs. DiMera then proceeded to walk down the aisle past their guests, pausing behind the closed front doors of the church.

"Are you sure you're ready to go out there, tiger? It's gonna be a jungle."

EJ chuckled and wrapped an arm around her waist to pull her in close to him with one grand swoop of the arm. "I will have the most wonderful woman in the world, my wife, by my side. What could possibly go wrong?"

"Weeeell, I hate to put a damper on your optimism Mr. Wannabe Mayor but according to tweets from the Salem Spectator earlier, they're very anxious to get the story about how we reconciled, you know, especially since I had you thrown in jail for abusing me and all. Yeah, uh, sorry about that, by the way. I'm afraid I don't know how to counter-act that one."

"I'm sure you'll think of something, sweetheart," EJ said with a wink. "You always do."

"Yes, I suppose I do my best work under pressure. Shall we?"

EJ could harldy swing the door open from the crowd of reporters gathered on the steps, each one eager to be the first to get the scoop, and all of them with their attention focused on Nicole. For the first time she got the gist of what it felt like to be a celebrity. All she could hear was her name being shouted repeatedly, followed by the bright lights of cameras flashing in every direction. The questions were coming every which way, though there were so many voices demanding information all at once that their requests became nearly indecipherable. The next thing EJ knew was his arms reached out instinctively to catch Nicole as she began to fall to the ground. Her eyes were closed and she appeared to have fallen unconscious.

"Oh my god, Nikki!" He could feel his body breaking into a cold sweat. She and the babies had just been given a clean bill of health. What could possibly be wrong. "Quick, somebody call for help!"

Immediately all reporters began primping themselves before taking place before their cameras. He could hear them all broadcasting similar "breaking news" stories of Nicole's collapse, back to their respective stations. Meanwhile, he began to panic, wondering if any of them had even bothered to call 911 before getting started.

"Sweetheart," he cried desperately, pleading with her to wake up. He was about to reach the point of sheer hysteria when he noticed Nicole's right eye suddenly popping open just long enough to catch his eye and offer him a quick wink before falling back into a "deep state of unconsciousness." It took every ounce of self-control to keep himself from grinning devilishly as he followed her lead. "Please, get someone, hurry! She's pregnant!"

Jack Devereaux was the first to swoop in to get the full scoop, dropping to his knees next to EJ who was cradling Nicole in his arms. "EJ, can you confirm that we heard you right? Did you say that your wife, Nicole, is pregnant?"

"Yes, thirteen weeks. We're having twins. Please, she needs help! Doctor said absolutely no stress. Oh god, this is all my fault. I should have never dragged her into this bloody mess."

Jack Devereaux hopped to his feet and began waving his hands over his head as he began to shout over the swarming crowd of curious onlookers. "Alright people, break it up! Let's clear a path here so the paramedics can get through."

EJ adoringly brushed the hair away from Nicole's face and watched with silent amusement as she fought the urge to smile. "Nice job, honey," she whispered, loud enough only for his ears.

"Shhhh, sleeping beauty, it's not time for you to wake up just yet."

"Am I going to get my kiss?"

"I think she's coming to," EJ shouted, causing the reporters to ignore Jack's request and once again gather around the scene. Nicole began to moan and shake her head from side to side as she began to "drift back into consciousness."

"Sweetheart, come on, open your eyes."

"EJ," she mumbled, nearly incoherently. Her eyelids fluttered as she seemed to struggle to open them.

"I'm right here, darling, Please, Nikki, come back to me." He reached down and planted a brief, but very loving and affectionate kiss on her lips. "Miraculously," her eyes fluttered open. Her face lit up with a bright smile when her eyes locked gazes with her prince charming.

The crowd of reporters and New Year's Eve party attendees just couldn't get enough of the drama unfolding before their eyes however, one guest in particular had seen quite enough of the revolting display before their eyes and vowed to take whatever means necessary to put an end to the union of EJ and Nicole, before someone could get hurt.