Kathryn Bell cursed steadily under her breath as she headed into Luke Spencer's blues club, wondering why she had the unerring ability to pick the wrong men. It was enough to make a woman want to scream, or, better yet, exact a measure of revenge against men in general, Stefan Cassadine, in particular. She smiled, seeing the tool of her revenge at the bar. It would come as no small benefit that this would hurt Luke, as well. One had to take happiness wherever one could find it, she told herself. If hurting Luke would do the job, so be it. He'd been willing to use her to get to Stefan, so he'd, no doubt, understand that turnabout was fair play.

Strolling over to the bar, Kat smiled at Mike who smiled back. "The usual, Ms. Bell?"

"Thanks, Mike, but I don't think that I'll be that long. I just wanted to speak with Luke for a moment." She turned to Luke who was eyeing her curiously.

"Ms. Bell. What brings you to my establishment? Tired of drinking exceedingly old brandy, and French champagne? Want to knock back a couple of beers with the boys for a change?"

Kat just looked very smug, and Luke suddenly realized that she was about to drop a bomb on him. It was all there in her eyes-pain and the need to inflict it on somebody else. Apparently, he was the recipient. "You want to talk out here, or in my office, Miss Bell?"

"That's up to you, Luke. Do you want to get bad news out here? Do you want your friends to share in your pain, or would you prefer it to be doled out in private so you can wallow in it by yourself?"

The challenge hung in the air, and Luke studied the hurt in her eyes. "Am I worried about airing my dirty laundry in public?"

"It's a big load, Luke," Kat warned him, but as she stood there, she decided that Luke's anger was essential. "Don't say I didn't warn you."

"You worried about me killing the messenger?" Luke joked. "Okay, Ms. Bell, if it would make you feel better, we can adjourn to the back room." Luke nonchalantly rose from the barstool and led her into the office, out of earshot of the general public. Lighting a cigar, he puffed on it, and then exhaled a cloud of smoke.

"I take it that you've flown the love nest with the Count? What was the problem? Couldn't take a house with no mirrors? That's gotta be rough on a cosmetics mogul. Are you ready to tell all to the PCPD? Ready to put lover-boy behind bars?"

Kat smiled. "No, I'm going to do worse to him. I'm going to sic you on him.

"Ms. Bell, you do know how to make a man happy."

"Not for long, Luke."

At the anger in her eyes, Luke paused. "What did he do to you, Kathryn? I told you that he wasn't worth your effort."

"It's what he did to both of us. An interesting concept, isn't it? Did you know that your wife came back to Port Charles last night? Did you know that she spent yesterday afternoon with Stefan Cassadine, in his study?"

Kathryn continued to smile as she observed, "You didn't know, did you? Hmmm I wonder how many of the other secrets that you don't know. Did you know that Stefan isn't Nik's father? Apparently he thought all this time that he was. Tells you something, doesn't it? Like the fact that Stefan and Laura had something going."

"I don't believe that," Luke said, his tone less than certain.

Kat continued. "And that the something is still going on." Kat picked up an ashtray from Luke's desk and threw it across the room where it broke with a satisfying crash. "Believe it, Luke. I was right outside the door when........." She picked up a half empty glass of water and tossed it after the ashtray. "And, it gets better, or worse, depending on your perspective."

"Spit it out, Kat," Luke said, with the uneasy feeling that he was going to regret it.

"Lucky isn't your son, Luke. He's Stefan's. You've been suckered, Luke. She gave you Stefan's son to rear as your own. She lied to you, and she's still lying to you."

For a moment, Kat regretted breaking the news to him in such a callous fashion, but her revenge on Stefan was contingent upon Luke Spencer's anger, and if she had to fan the flames a bit more, so be it. "The good news is that she didn't say anything about Lulu. Maybe she's isn't yours. Then again, maybe she is. After all, her bone marrow was a perfect match for Nikolas'.

"Oh, and one more thing, Luke. Stefan knows that you raped Laura all those years ago. She told him herself."

With a smile of satisfaction, Kathryn Bell left the room, a stunned and horrified Luke Spencer sitting mute in his chair. As she left the bar, she noted that the afternoon was warm, and a walk in the park would be a nice way to work off a little anger. She didn't hear the torrent of rage that poured from Luke's mouth as he ran past Mike and several patrons a few minutes later.

Nikolas, formerly known as Cassadine, he told himself, paused in the park, sweat pouring off his heated body. Exercise wasn't going to end his pain, he decided abruptly. Heaven knew that he'd been trying to find something that would ever since he'd overheard his mother and Stefan in the study yesterday. He'd been in the secret passage, planning to surprise his Uncle when, instead, he'd been the one to get the surprise. Everything in his life had suddenly changed, and not for the better. What was it about him? Was he some sort of a cosmic magnet for pain?

He began running again, winding in and out of the paved path of the park, around trees, past the fountain, and then starting again, his breath coming in gasps, his anger growing with each step.

Suddenly, as he came around yet another turn, he plowed into another person, sending that person flying off the path and into a tree.

"Kathryn?" he asked, as soon as he saw her lying on the ground.

"Nikolas?" She asked, sitting up. Her white silk blouse was torn and stained, with grass and leaves, while her skirt was equally damaged. Her nylons were ruined, and her shoes were scraped.

"God, Kathryn. I'm so sorry! I didn't see you."

Meeting his eyes, she knew a moment of guilt, knew that the avalanche of anger that she'd just unleashed on Luke would bring pain to the young man standing before her. Then, looking closer, she read the knowledge written on his face.

Feeling uncomfortably exposed, Nikolas looked away. Then, he looked back, realizing that she probably knew the source of his anger and pain. "You know, don't you?"

Kat nodded, taking his hand as he helped her up. "I know-that's why I'm leaving Port Charles. I should never have allowed him to talk me into coming back-I was kidding myself and I knew it."

"I may do the same," Nikolas admitted. "I can't go back to Wyndemere and look at him-or at her. She's still there, I guess. All those tears of remorse-just so much salt water, and with her, it's a never ending supply."

"Then you heard it all?" At his nod, she asked, "Secret passage?"

Nikolas nodded again. "I suppose that I should be grateful that I know the truth."

"Do you?" Kat asked. "She's lied before, hasn't she?"

At that, Nikolas paused. "Apparently she has. She. I can't even stand to refer to her by name anymore."

Kathryn hesitated briefly. "Nikolas, I should warn you-I told Luke all that I heard yesterday."

He met her eyes and nodded. "You were angry. I don't blame you-but it is going to cause trouble."

"I know. That was my intent, but now I'm not so certain that I should have done it. There are innocent people involved, people who will be hurt because of the actions of others."

"That's how life is, Kathryn."

"But you and Lucky..."

"We'll deal with it," Nik told her. "We have no choice. Have you told Uncle...that is, Stefan, that you're leaving?"

"What's the point? He made his choice painfully clear to me yesterday, and while he doesn't know that I know, he'll figure it out. I don't intend to be subjected to more of his lies or deceptions, or his vague explanations. All I wanted was the truth, and now I have it. Granted, it wasn't what I wanted to learn, but it's what I got." She smiled and reached out to him, touching his face. "You're somewhere between the son I always wanted, and the brother I never had. I'll regret leaving you behind, but it's time for me to move on."

"You could stay, or we could go together," Nik suggested.

"Stefan would never let you leave-not while you're underage, and we both know that." She saw the pain in his eyes, and said, "I can't believe that I'm going to suggest this, but Bobbie has never lied to you."

"She tried to poison Stefan."

"That's his story," Kat said with her newfound wisdom. "Why don't you ask her for her side of the story? I know that she treated you quite well when you were injured, and that she cares deeply for you."


Kat shrugged. "Besides, it's sure to make Stefan angry. Something tells me that Bobbie is a veritable fount of information that you're going to need in the future. She was here back when your parents met. Ask her, Nikolas. As much as I've hated her in the past, I've come to a new appreciation of her. At least she was always honest with me."

With that, she smiled once again. "I'm going now, Nikolas. I took what I could carry, and the rest can be sent to me."

"Wait, Kathryn," Nikolas said. He took the chain from around his neck, the Cassadine medallion, and handed it to her. "I want you to have this-not because it's a Cassadine symbol-that you should hate, but because it's mine. Just think of me now and then."

"I'll never forget you, Nikolas," Kat said softly, accepting the chain and medallion. Then, turning away, she headed away from him, tears trickling down her cheeks.

Nikolas turned the other way, and with an air of resolution, began to run towards the brownstone.

Kathryn, clutching Nikolas's necklace in one hand, headed back down the path towards town, tears falling from her cheeks. Odd, she thought. The tears felt good, as if they were draining away years of lies and deception, of pain and anger. She wept for herself, for the way she'd been used, and for Nikolas, for all the hurt she'd seen in his eyes. He was a truly good person, she reflected, one of a handful that she'd met in her entire life. Not that she was that great a judge of human nature herself, having done many of the things for which she'd condemned Stefan. She'd lied, manipulated, schemed, and cheated for her entire life. Small wonder that some of it should come back to haunt her, just when she'd thought that she'd had a shot at happiness.

Kat thought of Laura, a woman who had Luke and Stefan both at her feet, a woman with the ability to move men to great passion and despair, a woman who had lied to and used both men to her own ends. Kat ground her teeth as she considered the buckets of tears that Laura had cried, tears that had been as phony as the love she'd professed for her sons.

As she turned around a tree-shrouded area on the path, she sensed another presence. The small hairs on the back of her neck stood up, and she stood still, suddenly terrified.

He stood before her, a smile on his face, and Kat knew that it was the face of death. Her death. He nodded, the cord held between his hands pulled taut. Kat whirled and tried to run, but it was too late. Her last thought was one of regret for the child she carried, the infant that she'd never hold in her arms.