He’s been very quiet since it happened," Mrs. Lansbury reported as she spoke quickly into her cellular phone. "But he has managed to get Nikolas and Lucky Spencer to move into the house, however temporarily. Unfortunately, he’s brought Bobbie Spencer and her son, Lucas, as well." She listened carefully. "You approve? Very well. I’ll keep you informed."

Bobbie watched the man she’d married once upon a time, and felt sympathy for him, in spite of the callous manner in which he’d treated her. Oh well, what goes around, comes around, she thought. Still, she wouldn’t have wished this on him. Looking around, she noted very few changes had been made since she’d been forcibly ejected from the house. It was still quiet, still museum-like, and still filled with pain.

Yes, that was it. Windemere was a storehouse of pain: pain for what had been, what was going on, and what would inevitably come. It was also filled with regrets for what might have been. Bobbie thought briefly of the blond-haired children that might have filled this place with laughter had things turned out differently. She knew that Lucas had enjoyed living here, exploring the secret passages, riding the pony, and, though the child hadn’t realized it, teaching Stefan to be less rigid, less formal, less unapproachable. Like he was now. Impulsively, Bobbie reached out to him.


He looked up at her, his eyes filled with something she’d never seen in them before.

"Yes, Bobbie?"

"Would you like to talk about it?"

"Talk? Why is it that women think that talking about something can change what happened? Do you think that a few words can alter history? Do you think that discussing anything will..."

"No," Bobbie answered. "Talk can’t change anything, but sharing your pain might. I’ve lost someone I loved before. I lost my husband who was killed. Brock. I haven’t thought about him in years—but I was blamed for a while for his death. He wasn’t a good man—he’d had problems but we’d had some good times. I also lost my daughter, BJ, and I was filled with so much guilt. I’d been preoccupied, well, with my own needs at that time, and for the longest time, I felt as if her death was somehow my fault."

Stefan looked at her in disbelief as she continued. "Sort of like you’re doing, Stefan. I know what went on between you and Laura—sooner or later, everybody is going to know. The truth has this unnerving way of coming out in spite of our best efforts." She smiled at him, but in an understanding way. "You keep thinking that if you’d been with Kat that she might still be alive. You’re angry with yourself, with Laura, and with everybody who is involved. Well, Stefan, I’m going to add a little to your pain, and then I’m going to do what I can to help. Why? Not because you treated me so well that last night, but because of Nikolas and Lucky, and well, for what might have been, once upon a time."

"Go on," Stefan said, intrigued in spite of himself. "Say what you must and then leave me in peace."

"In peace? Not likely. Okay—I don’t know if you know that Kat overheard you and Laura the day she left—the day she was killed. She was hurt, enraged, and she went to tell Luke what she’d found out. She wanted to hurt you, to punish you for your betrayal. She didn’t wait to hear your side, to try to understand what you’d done."

Bobbie smiled at him, finding oddly that she wanted to grant him some sort of absolution in what she saw as Laura’s sins. "Kat was leaving you, but first, she wanted to make you suffer. She knew that the worst thing she could do to you was to tell Luke everything that she’d heard, down to the business about the paternity of the boys, and to the bit about your ongoing affair with Laura. She was setting you up, Stefan. Your blonde bit of sweetness was setting you up to be on the receiving end of Luke’s wrath. Granted, she did meet Nikolas in the park and confessed her actions to him, after she’d cooled down a little. She did have regrets about what she’d done, but it was too late. Not that it would have made much difference. Nikolas had overheard the same things, so you never had a chance to keep this quiet."

Stefan was reeling from the implications of what Bobbie had said, "Kathryn betrayed me?"

"Yes," Bobbie answered, simply. "She figured to give back the pain she’d received. It was a straightforward transaction. You betrayed her, and she returned the deed. Now, I know that you are very able of negating any promises you might have made in the past if you think that you’ve been betrayed." She gave him another cynical smile. "Having made that discovery myself, you understand."

Stefan nodded, his expression foreboding, but Bobbie was on a roll. "So, why am I telling you this? Because you are capable of great things when you aren’t involved in that very Cassadine habit of brooding, or navel gazing, as lesser mortals describe it. My family is possibly threatened, Stefan, and you are capable of getting to the bottom of this. I don’t want to stay here any longer than is necessary, nor do I think that you desire my presence any longer than absolutely required. But, we both have our uses, and as long as that is understood, then anything I can do to expedite things will be to my benefit. Frankly, I’d love to see you suffer a while longer, but hey, I’ll settle for getting out of here ASAP."

"You will remain under my protection until such time as the killer is found and brought to justice." Stefan was both curt and formal, but, Bobbie noted, where there had been pain, there was the gleam of anger. "I have arranged for guards to watch both boys, you and Lucas both on the island, as well as when you are elsewhere."

"Thank you. Now, Stefan, assuming that the killer was out to hurt you through Kathryn, who hates you that much?"

Stefan thought about that. "Luke hates me, but he wouldn’t vent his spleen on Kathryn." He paused. "There is one person who hates anybody that she perceives as a threat to her rule."

"And who might that be?"

"My mother. Helena Cassadine. She’s killed before, Barbara Jean. And, she’ll doubtless kill again."

"You think that your mother might be behind this?"

"It is entirely possible."

Bobbie was stunned. "Your mother? I know that Luke always described her as some sort of monster, but a killer?"

"For once Luke and I are in agreement, though it pains me to admit it. My mother is, how can I put this—criminally sane. She knows that what she does is wrong, illegal, but her power is such that she has been able to operate with impunity for years. I thought at one time that I had been able to stop her, to confine her actions to the family island, but she escaped and now she has her own forces which enable her to move about at will. She is wealthy, willful, and utterly without scruples. There is no depravity to which she will not stoop."

"Then why don’t you stop her?" Bobbie was enthralled by Stefan’s words, at the manner in which he described his mother.

"I have tried, Barbara. But her tentacles are far reaching, and she is owed favors by many. For all my power, I am incapable of doing what she finds easy. In spite of what Luke tells you, I am not a murderer."

Helena listened in on the conversation, and shrugged. "One does try with one’s children, but apparently, Stefan simply does not have the ruthlessness that is required of the truly great."

She looked down at the old picture that she’d kept for many long years, and sighed. "This one had promise back then. I looked into his eyes and saw a hunger to match my own, a passion as deep as the ocean, and as wild as the wind. We had something very special back then, something that even Mikkos could not end." She ran one long finger down the cheek of the young man in the picture, and sighed. "I sent you away to save you, my love. Mikkos could not understand what we shared. He’d have killed you, had he known. As it was, he made me believe that he killed our daughter, but I’ve finally found her, my darling. The proof of our passion, of our great love exists, and soon we’ll be together again, a family dynasty that will take what should have been ours all along. Stefan cannot hold out against my will. He will falter, and I will take everything back. The plan is in action, my love. Soon it will come to fruition."

Garcia turned to Taggert and said, "You know something? I just got the strangest phone call. Seems that one of Stefan Cassadine’s people has been found dead—suicide—but you’ll never believe who was named in the note as having given the order for the hit on Kat."

"I’ll bite. Who?"

"The note says that the order came from Laura Spencer, acting on behalf of Stefan. The guy was supposed to do the deed, and then frame Luke Spencer. Apparently, he did the deed, then found out that Stefan hadn’t given the order. So, in fear, he offed himself."

"Makes sense to me. So, how soon do we bust the broad?"

"That was some song and dance you concocted for Laura earlier," Luke said to Lucy who was sitting across from him in the small apartment that they now shared. "Even had me believing it."

"I’m a woman of many talents," Lucy grinned. "Seriously, Luke. I meant it when I said that bit about her using guilt to control you. She’s really had you where she wanted you for the longest time. True, you had done something reprehensible, but nobody died, and you spent the rest of your life trying to make up for it. Tell me. Does she always tear up like that? Just turn it on and off like a faucet?"

"She does cry easily. Her emotions are very close to the surface. It always made it easy for me to see what she was thinking. At least, I thought it did. Now, I’m not so sure."

"Luke, I think that you’ve been had," Lucy remarked, taking a bite out of the salami sandwich that Luke had prepared. "Pass the mustard, will you? And the dill pickles."

"It’s hard to see myself as a victim of control," Luke told her. "Especially since I’ve been accused of having done all of the controlling myself. That’s what rape is said to be—a crime of violence and control. But, I never felt violent towards Laura—never, but I will confess to having tried to bend her to my will from time to time. She’s one stubborn woman."

"And that night?" Lucy was concerned. "Tell me about that night."

"I remember almost all of it. I was drunk—but not drunk enough. Lucy, I really don’t want to think about this again. It’s not something that I’m proud of."

"Okay, just tell me what was going through your mind at the time of the act."

Luke shook his head. "Even I can’t go there, Lucy. I guess it’s some sort of punishment for myself, and at the same time, the one thing that keeps me sane. I sort of lost it at that point. Everything gets black, and I don’t recall anything until I came back to myself and saw her there, her shirt torn and her face bruised."

"So you don’t recall the actual act?"

"No, Lucy, I don’t. I tried to touch heaven, and it’s been denied to me, okay?"

"But she said that you raped her."

"She was raped that night. We were together. I got rough with her."

"Do you remember tearing her shirt?"

"No. Like I said, I don’t remember much past dancing and then we were falling to the floor."

"And you were drunk?"

"Pretty well lit."

"Okay. How were you dressed when you remember what came next?"

Luke thought for a moment. "My shirt was open...my shoes were on..."

"Your pants?"

"Everything was secure," Luke told her. "Really, Lucy, this isn’t something that I want to discuss."

"But you don’t recall the actual act."

"No, Lucy. I don’t recall. Just leave me alone about it, will you?"

"One more thing, and then I’ll leave you alone. What happened next?"

"She ran out of the club, and apparently into the park. That’s where she was found."

"Interesting," Lucy commented. "Very interesting."