Overwhelmed by the turmoil that Ava is putting his parents through, Joey heads for the hospital and slips into Ava’s room. There, he takes a pillow and smothers her. “Joey is driven by a combination of emotion and alcohol,” previews James Lastovic (Joey). “He’s completely irrational and in a pretty unconscious state of mind. Joey’s frustration has been building up for the past couple of months. Everything he wants is being pulled away from him. His parents’ relationship is in trouble because of Ava, who Joey fell in love with. He’s a ticking time bomb and he finally explodes.”

Steve enters the room and catches his son in the act. “Steve’s reaction is all-encompassing, a feeling of horror,” states Stephen Nichols (Steve). He quickly tears Joey away from Ava. “When his dad comes in and makes contact with Joey, it sort of wakes him up from the nightmare that he’s been in,” describes Lastovic.

Steve checks Ava’s pulse and realizes that she is dead. “Steve’s primary concern is protecting Joe,” asserts Nichols. “He needs to talk him down so he can get him out of there [and] away from the scene of the crime — safely.” Lastovic adds, “Joey is dumbfounded by what just happened. When his dad tells him to go home, he just does it. He leaves in shock.”

Joey arrives home and Kayla can sense something is wrong. As she questions Joey, the phone rings with word of the crisis at the hospital. Kayla rushes out of the house, with her son by her side. At the hospital, Steve — who has taken responsibility for the crime — is being questioned by the police. “Kayla is shocked by what has happened,” shares portrayer Mary Beth Evans. “As a doctor, Kayla would never wish death upon anyone. But she doesn’t have time to think about it because she is concerned about Steve.”

Joey’s demeanor suddenly changes when he figures out what’s going on. “I don’t think Joey realizes until he gets back to the hospital that his dad is trying to take the blame for him,” says Lastovic. “By that point, Joey’s focus switches. The only thing he’s worried about is his dad. Joey’s immediate instinct is to confess. He can’t stand the thought of his dad taking the blame for what he did.”

Steve manages to have a private moment with Joey and urges him to keep mum. “If it were up to Joey, he would confess, but Steve is pretty adamant about Joey keeping quiet, so he listens to his dad,” explains Lastovic.

After Steve is taken to the police station, the situation weighs heavily on his son. “He tries to hide what really happened from his mom, but the pressure from the guilt that Joey’s feeling builds up,” Lastovic details. Finally, Joey tells Kayla the truth. “Kayla is horrified for her son,” Evans says. “He’s traumatized and she desperately wants to protect him.” Later, Kayla and Steve have a chance to talk. “Kayla lets Steve know that Joey has told her the truth,” notes the actress.

“She’s thankful that Steve is willing to protect the family by taking the fall for their boy. She works with Steve to make sure people do not find out the truth, but she also tries to prove that Steve was in the right to do it because he was acting in self-defense.”

Like Steve, Kayla’s utmost concern is Joey. “She wants to protect him at all costs,” stresses Evans, “which means she will lie to her brother Roman and let Steve take the blame. Her head is spinning with the ramifications of all this. She doesn’t know how Joey will live with the guilt and the pending loss of Steve, if he is convicted and locked away.”

Roman questions Steve further about Ava’s murder, pressing him for more details because there are pieces that don’t add up. Specifically, why was Joey’s blood found on the pillow used to kill Ava? “When Roman questions Steve about the blood that was found, Steve tells Roman that Joe came in after Steve had smothered Ava and that he remembered Joe had a cut on his hand,” offers Nichols.

Alone in his cell, Steve weighs the various angles, wondering if there is a way to get himself out of the mess that he’s in. “Steve has fought so hard to get back with his family, he will do anything to stay in their good graces, but his first priority is protecting Joe,” reminds Nichols.

When things seem at their worst for Steve, an interesting twist develops. Nichols teases, “Unbeknownst to Steve, someone is working behind the scenes to get him off.”

Who’s Going

Days of our Lives

Tramara Braun (Ava Vitali): Joey (James Lastovic) killed Ava, marking the end of Braun’s third stint in Salem. See page 6 for more. “It was so great,” enthuses Braun of her latest run. “I love working with Stephen [Nichols, teve] and Mary Beth [Evans, Kayla]. I didn’t get to work with Kristian [Alfonso, Hope] this time but we had such a good time last time, so it was good to see her. There’s so many great people over there and I got to see a lot of people so that was wonderful, and to be welcomed back by them was, too.”