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Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI

As we get into Salem, Gwen’s wrapping up a work call when “Matty” shows up on her door with a scoop — so long as she hires him. “As what??” He wants to be a newsman! Gwen goes through his “scoops,” which end up being little more than town gossip about other characters. She tells him no go, The Spectator is respected news. Leo offers to write under a pen name “Lady Whistleblower” and convinces her to at least talk to Jack.

He’s desperate for a job, though, and Gwen starts feeling bad. He fills her in on almost working for Sonny, but they both realized it would be a disaster. Will’s still around and Leo’s trying to avoid “personal complications” after all that Craig and Abigail stuff. Plus, Sonny’s married — which is exactly his type, Gwen tells him. He’s smitten.

Fine, he admits, but they’re in the midst of a do-over — just like her and Xander, Gwen says. Then she nearly spills her ex’s secrets to Leo but pulls back. She can’t, even though she still has feelings for Xander. They tell each other to be careful and Leo leaves for an AA meeting “just for coffee and free donuts.”

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Elsewhere, Alex shows up on Stephanie’s doorstep with flowers, which she swoons over. She tells him she’d rather stay in than go out… so he walks into a romantic dinner setting. Steve and Kayla are still in Seattle, and she even cooked dinner for them. “You’ll learn I’m a woman of many talents.” They then toast to Sonny taking back over as CEO of Titan. Alex says he’s fine with it and with having less responsibility. He’d rather be with Stephanie, though he doesn’t quite buy it.

They make some flirty double entendres, then set their drinks down and start kissing. Alex’s shirt comes off almost immediately, but he pulls back and double checks if she’s ready for it. Just as they head to the bedroom, Paulina calls from jail.

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Over in the square, Chad and Sonny meet up for a beer. It’s Sonny’s first day at Titan and Chad’s last working with Stephanie. “She’ll be fine without me.” Chad loved the work and Sonny points out that he got along well with Stephanie. A little too well. It’s too soon after Abby and he told Stephanie that. Now she’s moved on with Alex. He says he’s fine with it, as he takes a swig of beer. No, Sonny notes, he definitely isn’t.

“So my best friend and my big brother both want the same woman. Talk about a conflict of interest.” Wrong, Chad tells him, only one of them wants to be with her. He tells Chad that love doesn’t always wait until you’re ready. He should give it a shot and let Stephanie decide who she wants to be with. But Chad looks at his wedding band and tells Sonny he can’t. OK, fine, but Chad needs a new job now? That’s a specialty of Sonny’s.

But Chad flips out when he finds out that Sonny’s talking about Leo. What?? They’ve been hanging out and Leo feels terrible. Sonny thinks he’s turning over a new leaf, he’s funny, he’s — No, Chad says. Just no. How does Will feel about this? Not good, but they aren’t in the best place anyway. Work always comes first for him. Just be careful about Leo, Chad says, he’s not trustworthy. He gets a call from Stephanie, and she tells him he needs to come over ASAP to draft a statement about Paulina stepping down as governor.

Stephanie and Alex say a romantic goodbye and reluctantly part just before Chad shows up and sees the romantic setting.

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More: Meet the ‘Million Dollar’ guest star

Maggie, Bonnie and Sarah get together for a girl’s night out and Bonnie teaches the ladies about coquito, a traditional Puerto Rican Christmas drink. (Editor’s note: Can confirm. It’s delicious. If you have a friend who knows how to make it.) Bonnie, though, is having a hard time getting into the swing of things. She knows they’re trying to cheer her up and get her over her kidnapping trauma. But knowing what happened to Susan Banks, she just can’t get over it that easily. She’s still afraid her kidnapper is out there.

But no, she’s going to drink up and put it all behind her. While she’s gone, Maggie asks about Xander, and Sarah tells her what happened. Xander denied it and she found proof online that he’s innocent. Maggie’s relieved and Sarah’s sorry she doubted him. Bonnie comes back and talks about how afraid she still is that the kidnapper could come back for her at any time. Maggie and Sarah assure her that Susan was the target, not Bonnie. She’ll be OK.

They toast “to being safe and getting buzzed!” But Bonnie sees the clown approach the table and starts shaking. She screams, grabs the tray of coquito, and starts attacking her kidnapper, only for Maggie and Sarah to pull her away and have her realize she just knocked Roman to the ground. She tearfully apologizes, but he gets up and tells her it’s fine, just leave a bad Yelp review next time. But Bonnie breaks down.

Sarah tells her she should talk to someone about her PTSD. Bonnie promises she’s fine, then sees three clowns in place of her friends. She rushes out of the pub.

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Over at the seedy motel, Xander’s on a cockroach killing binge. Justin shows up at the door looking dour and tells Xander he spoke to Bonnie and he’s in big trouble. She told him about the debt collector at the house. Oh, that! Yeah, he’s in debt, oops. Justin, though, is proud that Xander had “the moral fiber” to quit his job when they asked him to be unethical. And he can help Xander get money too… by suing Rednax for wrongful termination.

Xander just wants to forget the whole thing happened, so let’s not. Justin pushes and Xander thanks him, but he really, really doesn’t want to go there. Justin apologizes for pushing and says they’re family and also friends. They’ve got each other’s backs. Xander just wanted to give Sarah a good life, but he’s made such a mess of everything. Xander comes close to telling Justin, but instead says he’s upset about losing his job and facing creditors and he just can’t provide for Sarah. He’s not used to being vulnerable. He’s got a reputation to uphold. Justin tells him his heart shouldn’t be hidden, “but your secret is safe with me.”

He then assures Xander that he’s still going to look into Rednax. He’s pitching in whether he likes it or not and he’s going to keep going until he can help Xander. “Whether you like it or not.” He leaves and a panicked Xander calls Gwen asking for help her create a fake employment contract for Justin. She’s all too happy to using an online template. They’ll have to meet in person, though, for it. It’s best not to leave an electronic trail.

In the show’s last few moments, Leo finds Sonny sitting with two plates in front of him. When Sonny says Chad had to run and couldn’t finish his dinner, Leo happily sits down to join him. Stephanie and Chad, meanwhile, work on the press release and when she rests her hand on his shoulder, he gives her a confused look. Dinner’s ready and she offers him the meal she made for Alex.

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More: Is Chad really ready for romance with Stephanie?

Alex and Justin eat pizza and drink beer back home. Things with Stephanie are going well, Alex says, but a work emergency messed up their date. Maggie arrives and says girls night got cut for “some issues.” Sarah arrives “home” to find a note from Xander saying he went for a run. “Dark and cold for a run…” He’s waiting for Gwen in the park, freezing in just a hoodie. She preps the contract with an official looking “Rednax” folder. Distraught, Bonnie reaches the park and hears Xander growling about something, then realizes it’s the same voice as the clown. “My God, Xander, it was you!”

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