Kayla Brady first appeared in Salem in 1982, as a passing romantic interest of David Banning's. When her relationship with David was over, Kayla became involved with Chris Kositchek. Kayla loved Chris, and even lost her virginity to him. It became apparent that Chris was not as committed to the relationship as she was, and Kayla left Salem.
She returned in 1986 to set up a waterfront emergency medical clinic. It wasn't long before she became involved with Steve "Patch" Johnson. Together with Roman, Bo, Hope, and Shane, Steve and Kayla travelled to Stockholm, Sweden, on a dangerous mission to rescue Marlena, who had been kidnapped.
The following year, generous Kayla invited her new friend Adrienne to stay with her after Adrienne's apartment had been burglarized. It turned out that Adrienne was Steve's long lost sister. Their mother, Jo, had placed Steve, Adrienne, and their baby brother Billy in an orphanage, rather than subject them to the abuse of their father, Duke.
Jack Devereaux, son of Senator Harper Devereaux, came to Salem, seeking treatment for his Hodgkins disease. Kayla was hired as his private nurse, and Jack quickly fell in love with her. Steve and Jo had learned that Jack was actually Billy, but they decided that it was in Jack's best interest that they keep that information to themselves. Because Jack needed incentive to fight his illness, Steve encouraged Kayla to spend time with his brother. Kayla, hurt and confused by Steve's rejection, accepted Jack's marriage proposal. They married quickly, but because of Jack's illness, the union went unconsumated.
Jack's adoption papers were missing, and Harper wrongly assumed that Kayla had stolen them. To keep her from revealing the secret of Jack's adoption, Harper decided to silence Kayla by slowly poisoning her. Steve realized what was happening to Kayla and whisked her away to administer the antidote for the poison. Kayla refused to believe Steve when he told her that she had been poisoned by a Devereaux. Melissa Horton was subsequently charged with attempted murder. Steve however knew that Melissa was innocent of the charges and was determined to prove her innocence. Eventually, Melissa was cleared.
In 1988, Jack ran for State Assemblyman. During his campaign, Steve and Kayla met secretly, unaware that they were being followed by a photographer. When the incriminating photographs surfaced after Jack had won the election, he was enraged. He raped Kayla and hired thugs to beat Steve. Ultimately, there was a confrontation between the brothers on a rooftop, and in the struggle, Jack fell over the ledge. Although he survived his fall, he was seriously injured. Steve donated one of his kidneys to Jack to save his brother's life. Once Jack had recovered, Kayla pressed rape charges against him and filed for divorce.
Eventually, Kayla remembered the identity of the man who had attacked her: Harper Devereaux! By then, however, Harper had gone to Kayla's apartment and taken her and her sister Kim to the rooftop, intent on throwing the women over the ledge. Just as he confessed to them that he was the Riverfront Knifer, Shane Donovan and Steve arrived and apprehended him.
Kayla underwent surgery to recover her hearing, and then accepted Steve's marriage proposal. That summer, in a moving ceremony aboard a boat, Kayla recovered her voice as she was about to say her vows.
The newlyweds honeymooned in the Orient, where they encountered a lost deaf boy named Benjy. Steve and Kayla learned little about the child except that circumstances made it too dangerous for his mother to surface. Ellen, Benjy's mother, watched from a distance as Steve and Kayla returned to Salem with her son and sought to adopt him. Enlisting the help of Orion, the boy's grandfather, Ellen contacted Steve and Kayla, telling them it was vital that she keep Benjy hidden from his evil father. Before she could retrieve Benjy, Ellen was killed. Orion left the country, but later returned for his grandson, much to Steve and Kayla's dismay.
Steve and Kayla had been married less than a year when a mysterious woman from Steve's past turned up in Salem. Her name was Marina Toscano and she claimed to be married to Steve. She wanted him to help her locate the key to her family estate. In order to get her out of their lives, Kayla urged Steve to help her. Pregnant, Kayla wanted no turmoil in their lives when their child was born.
Complying with his wife's wishes, Steve went to Italy and found the key, only to have it stolen by Victor Kiriakis. The stolen key turned out to be a fake. Marina had taken the real key and secretly hidden it at Steve and Kayla's house. After Victor learned that the key he had was a fake, attempts were made on Steve and Kayla's lives, and Marina's was found murdered in her hotel room at the Salem Inn. Desparate to get his hands on the Toscano fortune, Victor kidnapped Kayla in order to coerce Steve into giving him the real key. Steve, Roman and Marina's sister Isabella tracked Victor and Kayla to Miami, where Roman offered Victor the key in exchange for Kayla's freedom.
Steve and Kayla returned to Salem and planned to remarry. A tape recording of Kayla threatening Marina surfaced, and in light of that new evidence, Abe and Roman had no choice but to arrest Kayla, abruptly halting the ceremony. The trial was adjourned when Kayla went into labor and delivered Stephanie Kay. When it resumed, she was convicted of murder.
Steve hired a nanny, Kelly Parker, to care for Stephanie while he tried to clear Kayla. Kelly, however, was really a psychopath named Sheila. She abducted the baby. When Kayla heard that her baby had been taken, she escaped from prison and tracked Sheila to the airport. Steve met Kayla and the two followed the kidnapper to Australia, where they were reunited with their baby in the Outback. While they were there, they received word from Salem that Marina's true killer had been found and Kayla was free.
Jencon Oil built a refinery on the outskirts of Salem. When Bo and Hope Brady's son Shawn Douglas lost his hearing in an accident caused by Jencon, Bo planned to sabotage the company. Under the guise of the "Riverfront Raider", he sought his revenge. When Steve learned of Bo's vigilante activities, he offered his help. He was caught in an explosion intended for Bo. At the hospital, Steve finally came out of the coma into which he had lapsed, only to have his IV poisoned. He died in Kayla's arms.
The following year, after a brief relationship with her sister Kimberly's ex-husband Shane Donovan, Kayla left Salem with her daughter Stephanie and accepted a job in Los Angeles.
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