On March 8, 2022, it was revealed that Ryan has been faking his locked-in syndrome. After Ryan was taken back to his cell, Esme steals an access card and secretly visits him. It was revealed that Esme was working to break up Nikolas and Ava under Ryan's orders and it was revealed that Ryan is Esme's father. Ryan implies that he wants Esme to seduce Nikolas. She starts heavily flirting with Nikolas and briefly stayed above Kelly's before she ended up living at Wyndemere with Spencer although Ava wanted Esme out.
On March 29, Sonny has Esme kidnapped. Nikolas and Victor come to her rescue and Esme throws herself into Nikolas' arms while crying over-dramatically.
On April 13, 2022, Esme told Nikolas that her parents were dead and her adoptive parents suddenly died. She was taken care of by her nanny Maggie until she went to boarding school and never heard from Maggie again. Later Esme pulls out a letter written to her at boarding school from her nanny Maggie Fitzgerald who lived in London. Maggie warned Esme about going to Port Charles as Esme's father was nearby proving that Esme lied and she did hear from Maggie again.
Ava is furious that Esme is still there and cancels her vow renewal with Nikolas. He argues that Esme is in danger from Sonny. Ava admits she told Sonny to take Esme. She also has Nikolas sleep in a different room until Esme is gone. Nikolas later reveals that he is onto Esme but she continues to stay close and be clingy with him.
After a couple months of manipulation, flirting, and stroking his ego, Nikolas gives into the temptation Esme offers, and they sleep together.