This the fourth in a series. The series starts here: Steve Stalks Kayla
This part of the Steve and Kayla story is all about trust and faith, suspicion and betrayal. Trusting someone enough to take them at their word. Trusting someone enough to ask them for help. Can Kayla trust Steve? Can Steve trust Kayla?
We start with a relationship that is devoid of trust—Steve’s and Britta’s. They have a final confrontation on the pier where he discovers the pictures she took of his tattoo. He doesn’t know what the pictures are for, but he knows that she had an ulterior motive for seducing him that night. He’s angry at her, but also at himself, for getting “sucked in” again by Britta (for trusting her), and his rage drives him to threaten her life.
This obviously serves the plot purpose of having Kayla overhear and give her a reason to believe that Steve is guilty of Britta’s murder. But it also does much more. As low as Steve sinks here, this is a step in Steve’s redemption. Steve draws a distinction between himself and Britta for the first time. He says, “We’re not the same. I don’t play with people’s feelings the way you do.” And also for the first time, Britta acknowledges the difference. When she says, “I loved you … the only way I know how,” she’s saying she knows her love is lacking, and implying that his is not. This paves the way for Kayla to later honor and value Steve’s love for Britta as something good about him, while realizing that the relationship was bad and unhealthy.
But that’s in the future. When Britta is shot later that night, Kayla has pulled back far enough from Steve, and she has seen enough of Britta and Steve’s twisted relationship, to believe that Steve might have killed her. She says to Roman, “He wouldn’t do something like this … would he?” She doesn’t want to believe it, but she does. She doesn’t have the unquestioning faith in him that she will have later.
But oddly enough, Steve does trust Kayla, at least enough to go to the Emergency Center for help when the cops are after him. And even more, he assumes that she will believe he’s innocent. The betrayal he feels when he realizes his mistake is heartbreaking. (“Why don’t you call me ‘Patch’ like everybody else?”) He wants her faith in him, but he won’t try to convince her, or even ask her, to believe him. In fact he seems to go out of his way to convince her he’s guilty, first by acting like more of a thug than ever, then by telling her, “But I’m a murderer. And I killed somebody that I once loved.”
Soon after, Steve is “arrested” by two cops who turn out to be fake (they’re working for the as-yet-unknown bad guy). Because Kayla is there, they grab her too, and handcuff them together. They escape and take refuge at a hotel (still handcuffed together), where they are mistaken for honeymooners by the slightly loony innkeeper. This little interlude is unique in Steve and Kayla’s history, because even though they’re on the outs, the scenes are light and fun. This is a relief after the heavy drama they’ve just gone through. They have to pretend to be happy and in love for the innkeeper (“Pretend you love me if you love life,” Steve says between gritted teeth), they needle each other and argue about food and sleeping arrangements.
After a night spend handcuffed together in the honeymoon suite, building up unresolved sexual tension—prepare yourselves for a long wait, you two—they deal with the handcuffs, and are ready to go their separate ways. Thinking he’ll never see her again, Steve asks Kayla if she still thinks he killed Britta. At first she makes a noncommital response, which he accepts. Then she asks, “Did you love Britta?” Kayla is trying something here. She’s inviting Steve to convince her he’s innocent. This is what he wouldn’t do at the Emergency Center.
So he opens up, a tiny crack. He won’t admit that he loved Britta, not yet, but he says,”She loved me. I could never hurt her. It’s important to me that you believe that.”
And Kayla does: “I believe you.” Steve takes the tiny baby step of simply asking her to believe him, and admitting that it’s important to him, and she does. Poor Kayla. One little crack in the armor, and she’s hooked for life.
After this, Steve allows himself to be convinced to return to Salem. He takes a gamble and trusts her. And at first it looks like the gamble pays off. Roman thinks Britta’s death is due to “more than a lover’s quarrel” and is part of the larger Stockholm mystery; in fact, he wants Steve’s help in unraveling it.
But the district attorney has other ideas, and Steve is booked for murder. This back-and-forth of Steve deciding to trust Kayla a little bit, and getting burned by it, will be repeated several times throughout their early relationship. Each time his reaction is the same: rage. Kayla has to stand up to that rage, to see past it to the hurt behind it, to demonstrate not that she’ll never hurt him or let him down (that would be impossible), but that she’ll never stop trying to do the right thing by him. That tenacity is what makes Kayla the right woman for Steve, not her sweetness, not her gentleness—though those are also important.
And eventually, Steve is cleared, but the trust issue hovers in the air, unsettled. Was Steve right to trust Kayla? Maybe. But that’s progress.
What distance they’ve traveled is illustrated in a scene that takes place just before Steve, Hope, and Roman go to Stockholm. It returns to the other side of the trust issue: can Kayla take Steve at his word? Can she believe him? She discovers that Steve worked for Victor, that he was spying on her and on Bo. She’s angry and in no mood to listen to explanations. But this time he does try to convince her, not that he’s innocent (he isn’t), but that he isn’t as bad as it appears. Kayla says, “Why should I believe you? You’ve lied to me before.”
And he says, “Because I can’t lie to you anymore.” And it’s like he’s poured out his heart. And Kayla knows it.