Chapter Twenty-One
Final Chapter

Greta's gasp of horror was covered up by John's exclamation of disbelief. "Your daughters?" The confrontation was also being witnessed by the remaining party guests. They were listening with growing fascination at the scene that was unfolding in front of them.

Marlena looked puzzled as she glanced quickly at Greta. "Lexi is the only daughter you have in Salem right now." Marlena was genuinely confused, so she did her famous eye-fluttering trick again.

Stefano smiled triumphantly, clearly enjoying this moment with two of his enemies. "There is no need for me to come for Alexandra. She is aware of her importance to me. No, I have returned to Salem to pursue a relationship with my other daughters. I am aware of their position in my life, and I would like to claim my daughters before all of Salem. It is time for their heritage to be acknowledged and for them to come together as sisters and as DiMeras."

Brady, who had remained quiet through most of the conversation, was frustrated with this whole episode and asked sarcastically as Marlena and John remained quiet in disbelief, "All right, all right, I'll bite. Who are your "secret" daughters?"

"I am delighted that you asked that, little Black," Stefano said with a malevolent grin at Brady's sarcasm. "The truth, as many people say, shall set you free. In this case, the truth will allow my daughters to realize and accept their newfound family."

Greta wanted to flee as far away from this sight as she could, but her feet remained rooted to the floor. There is nothing I can do, there is nothing I can do, was the refrain that kept running through her mind as she waited for her worst nightmare to be confirmed in front of the very people she never wanted to find out.

Chloe felt an alarm go off in her head at Stefano DiMera's words. Could he…she thought and then immediately dismissed the thought. Never. She looked at Greta, who was looking decidedly pale. Oh, my, she thought in sudden concern, she must be one of them!

"Yes," he confirmed, "I have two other daughters. They happen to be full sisters because they share the same mother and father. I know," Stefano chuckled in an aside note to his surprising companions, "that seems to be a rarity in Salem. Most families are so complicated in this charming town, but I digress."

"Oh, where was I? That's right. I want to share with you important background information on my daughters. My daughters could not live with me or their mother because a dangerous enemy would have threatened their very lives. That enemy has finally been taken care of. They did not live together either. Instead, a colleague hid them well for their own safety. I was not even aware of their location. One daughter was hidden too well. It has taken me a long time to discover her whereabouts." Stefano met the disbelieving glances of the people in front of him in obvious enjoyment as he continued, "One daughter will be surprised when I reveal her true identity. I know both are aware of each other's existence but not of the very special bond that exists between them."

"DiMera, we are all hanging on your every word," John interrupted impatiently.

"Anyway, my sole purpose for coming to Salem this time is to inform them of their correct parentage and to welcome them into my family. Would you care to know their identities?" Stefano inquired inquisitively.

Marlena and John eyed each other. Both knew that Stefano was completing the first phase in some sort of scheme, a scheme that would affect many lives in Salem permanently. They were beginning to experience a large amount of trepidation about Stefano's revelations. Where would it lead? Who were his daughters? And why was he revealing the identities in front of them?

"You will tell us whether we want to know or not," Marlena said as she held tightly to John's hand. "They are the reason you came back to Salem."

Stefano nodded as he responded, "I will take that as an agreement." He then proceeded to prolong the moment by taking another sip of champagne. "I have been anticipating this moment for years, the moment when I can finally claim my long-lost daughters."

Greta whimpered slightly as she braced herself for the unveiling. Chloe heard her this time and gently held her hand in support. It would be devastating to have this man as a father, Chloe thought as she lightly squeezed Greta's hand.

"My daughters share the same mother. You knew her very well, John, once upon a time," and Stefano eyed him meaningfully.

John caught the hint as he met Stefano's triumphant gaze. "Princess Gina," he said in sorrow. All eyes turned to Greta, who closed her eyes in resignation. Marlena felt sympathy well up in her for Greta, even though part of her was the tiniest bit glad that John was not Greta's father!

"Yes, Greta is the older of my two daughters in question," Stefano clarified. He could tell that Greta was not overjoyed to have her identity revealed. "But Greta already knew."

Greta nodded her head in confirmation as she whispered lowly and in total resignation, "Yes."

"My other daughter does not know the identity of her father. She has never known, and has wondered about it for a long time. Of course, she believes that the wrong woman is her mother. She is the one who was hidden too well," Stefano clarified, and then continued the riddles to the identity of his other daughter. "I have spent a long time looking for her, and have recently received unerring proof of her relation to me. She was adopted and, later, raised in an orphanage, which I deeply regret. The adoption agency has offered me all of the proof I need to claim her. She never knew the comforts of a happy home."

Chloe felt shivers race up her spine as her face went pale. She dropped Greta's hand and took a step back from the group as the puzzle pieces were becoming horrifyingly clear to her. The roses, the e-mails, this disturbing conversation…she thought as she listened to Stefano DiMera continue in growing fright, "She was "rescued" from the orphanage by the woman she believes to be her real mother. Of course, I can prove that she is wrong. She is beautiful, smart, and intelligent, just like her older sister, Greta. We also have something important in common, a unique bond that pleases me immensely. My other daughter and I both share a profound love…" Stefano paused dramatically. No one else had picked up on the pieces yet, but he could tell that Chloe had. "…of opera."

"No!" Chloe exclaimed as she heatedly denied what everyone else was starting to piece together. Her eyes immediately flew to Brady as she watched the dawning horror take shape on Brady's face as he realized the importance of the shocking information Stefano DiMera dealt them.

Stefano stepped closer to Greta and Chloe. Chloe continued to look at him in disbelief. "Greta already knew who her parents were, but you did not, Chloe." He attempted to brush his hand across her cheek but Chloe stepped back, away from his contact. "You are not Nancy Wesley's daughter. I have recently discovered that her daughter died of natural causes two days after she was born. You simply took that baby's place when you were hidden away by a colleague to keep you out of harms way. I have the papers from the adoption agency as proof of your true identity."

Chloe listened in disbelief as she dropped her eyes to the floor from Stefano's face. She couldn't bring herself to meet the faces of the people she cared about around her. She didn't want to see the disbelief, disgust, horror, or shock that would be reflected in the eyes of everyone around her. She stepped back one more time and looked Stefano, her father, squarely in the eyes, and simply said, "No." Chloe then turned and fled from the ball.

Greta watched the Blacks as they gazed in shock at each other. Brady looked paralyzed with it. She then thought about Chloe and the pain and disbelief she must be going through. "I'll take care of her," she whispered to no one in particular, and followed Chloe's path out the door.

To Be Continued in The Storm.