days ben claire charlie ciara collage

Jill Johnson/JPI

It’s hard to deny the connection forming between Ciara’s niece and “widower.”

First things first: Nobody believes that Days of Our LivesCiara is dead. Not mom Hope, who is off searching for her daughter. Not Ben, who can’t deny that somewhere deep down, he is keeping the faith that his beloved wife somehow survived Vincent’s multiple attempts to do her in. And most of all, not fans, for whom the only real question is whether Victoria Konefal eventually will decide to reclaim the role or Ciara will come back to Salem looking a little bit different.

This being a soap, however, Ben will have to move on sooner than later.

Meanwhile, there’s Claire, who has been nothing but supportive of Ben, in part out of guilt for how awful she was to both him and Ciara before getting the help she so desperately needed. At the moment, Claire’s thanking the heavens for having brought good guy Charlie into her life, completely unaware that he’s actually the monster who raped her cousin, Allie.

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Over the past few weeks, it’s become clear that even as Ben and Claire were forging their own paths, fate was putting them on a collision course. Never was it clearer than during the holidays, when she was there to help the hunk through his first devastating Christmas without Ciara. It was Claire who brought him her aunt’s ornament, and it was Claire who convinced him to join the Horton family as they decorated the tree.

Ciara helps Ben put his ornament on the tree on Days of Our Lives

And perhaps most important of all, when Ben’s vision of Ciara faded, it was Claire — who had stayed behind after everyone else departed — who understood the emotional maelstrom through which he’d just sailed.

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Now, although Claire is trying extra hard to deny the truth about her boyfriend’s involvement in Allie’s rape, even she will have to accept the facts at some point. Having only just forgiven herself for trusting nutjob Jan, how will Claire feel once she realizes that she was duped by beau Charlie, too? And who better to turn to when her world falls apart than Ben, whose own pain is as raw as a third-degree burn?

On the one hand, it’s almost impossible to imagine Claire and Ben coming together as more than friends. Yet perhaps Charlie, who immediately bristled upon seeing the two of them interact, picked up on something that even they haven’t yet acknowledged. A connection lurking just beneath the surface, waiting to catch them by surprise.

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The big question may be whether Days of Our Lives fans can accept the idea of Ben and Claire slowly, over time, becoming romantically involved. Of course, this would only pave the way for even bigger drama ahead if — oh, who are we kidding… when — Ciara returns. It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which Claire, having fought to deny her budding feelings for Ben before eventually giving in, is as gutted as she is thrilled by her aunt’s resurrection. It’s equally easy to picture Claire fighting to prevent her darker instincts from once again resurfacing under such complicated conditions.

So what do you think… could you accept Claire as the new woman in Ben’s life, whether temporarily or more longterm? Share your thoughts in the comments, then check out the gallery below in which Konefal reveals her thoughts on everything from being part of a supercouple to Ciara’s life before Ben.