by:  Leigh Russell

            All My Children's Gillian hasn't had much reason to smile, lately.  What with her husband off in a war-zone, and the man she loves right there in Pine Valley with her, yet she's unable to be with him, who could blame her?  As if having her heart torn between obligation, to Jake, and passion for Ryan weren't enough, Gillian is now fearing for both Ryan and Jake's lives, as Ryan heads to Chechnya to bring Jake back--so he can end Gillian's heartache once and for all.

             From the moment she arrived in Pine Valley, Gillian has had a way about her that has captured the heart, and imagination of every man she's been involved with.  Even David and Scott were taken with the princess' charms, though her relationships with them hardly reached the level hers did with Jake and Ryan respectively.  Falling in love was something Ryan and Gillian never planned to do.  They married for her green card, and so that he could get the money he was craving.  But hearts don't lie, and neither do bank accounts.  Though Ryan and Gillian initially married to run a scam, their passion for each other ignited on their honeymoon night, and the fire these two burn when together--it shows no signs of slowing.  But all good things must come to an end, at least for a little while, in the soap world.

             Gillian's world came crashing down around her, when her beloved Ryan was accused of raping and assaulting Kit.  Ryan beat the wrap, but not before demons from his childhood past came back to haunt Ryan so severely, he ended things with Gillian.  The months that Ryan and Gillian were married, this Hungarian faux princess turned into the real thing.  But her break up with Ryan brought out a defensiveness in her that was long buried.  She quelled her passion for Ryan by resuming an affair with David that she had ended.  It also broke Gillian's spirit when she, in effect, prostituted herself to David, in order to get money for Ryan's escape.  Her relationship with Ryan remained as complicated as it was, steamy, and sensual.  Ryan and Gillian's break up was almost as methodical as a recipe--through a string of arguments, misunderstanding, and miscommunication, Ryan and Gillian were divorced.

             Unable to imagine her life getting any worse, Gillian was shocked to hear her cousin, and father figure, Dimitri, was dead.  After having been orphaned by her mother, and neglected her entire life by her gambling-addicted father, and then being divorced from Ryan, Gillian had no one left to turn to.  Enter Jake Martin, who gave her the attention and respect that a princess deserves.  A good natured friendship developed between the two, and once Gillian was sure her marriage to Ryan was over, and she suspected him of seeing Hayley, Gillian went ahead with a tentative relationship with Jake.  They were off to a very slow start, not even sure if they were seriously dating, when Gillian found out a shocking secret about Jake. The child he was supposedly the father of, Colby, had really been sired by Adam Chandler, Jake's biggest rival.  Gillian and Ryan couldn't stay away from each other, and were in the middle of one of their usually explosive exchanges, when Gillian rushed out to find Jake, and tell him the truth.  Ryan, now somewhat over his feelings for Hayley jumped into the car with Gillian, and she sped them straight into the horrible car accident that would take her speech and keep her from telling Jake the truth about Colby.

             Jake was Gillian's rock, and he kept her going, eventually helping her learn to speak again.  As she began to grow and change, Gillian became the sophisticated woman that was so obviously inside.  She chose loyalty over passion, and agreed to marry Jake and help him present a united front to the judge, who would decide little Colby's fate in a custody battle.  Jake found out the truth about Colby, however, and at the same time, he found out Gillian, his wife of mere weeks, had kept this information from him.  Heartbroken, Jake pulled away from Gillian, unsure of whether or not he would continue their marriage.  Ryan, on the other hand decided to pursue Gillian relentlessly, and let her know in no uncertain terms how much she meant to him, and how much he loved her.  Jake flew to Chechnya to be of some use to war refugees, and to get away from his problems in Pine Valley.  This opened the door for Ryan and Gillian's reconciliation, once they got past Greenlee's manipulations.

             But what is it they say about good intentions and the road to hell?  Gillian and Ryan's relationship, though rekindled with an unbridled fire, has been an uneasy, and secret one.  Their hideout in one of Wildwind's gothic towers is romantic, but it's not the one thing they need it to be, and that's public.  Now Jake has gone missing, and Ryan is off to Chechnya, to bring Jake back once and for all--so he and Gillian can say their goodbyes, get their divorce, and Ryan and Gillian can move on to the love they so richly deserve.  But will it happen? Will Ryan come back alive, and with Jake? Or will she lose both men?  And what about Dimitri? Other than the end of her marriage to Ryan, Dimitri's loss was by far Gillian's most devastating blow.  How will she react to the knowledge that he's actually alive.

             This has never been a better time for Esta Terblanche, who has brought a beauty, sexiness, and vulnerability to Gillian that makes her one of daytime's favorite stars.  Gillian has grown in so many ways, no longer the selfish princess who came to the Emergency Room for a splinter, but now the hospital volunteer, who takes her job so seriously, and is so dedicated.  If it seems as though Gillian's life has revolved around her relationships, it is because it has.  Ryan was and continues to be her life, and protecting Jake, at one point in time, was all that matters. This woman is completely selfless when it comes to the men in her life, that she loves.  Whatever challenges lie in Gillian's wake, we know she's strong enough to weather the storm.