It was the next day before Luke returned to the police station where he looked at the records that Garcia placed in front of him. The amounts of money that Laura had paid to Damian added up to a considerable sum. Where had she gotten that much money? Oh, he could have given it to her himself, but she'd never asked, never intimated that she needed it.

"So you know nothing about this?" Taggert asked, watching as Luke read the information. "You realize that this makes a firm case against Laura for the murder of Damian."

"You might as well drop that one," Luke told them sick to his stomach for what he saw revealed. Fortunately, the law officers didn't know the extent of Laura's lies, and fortunately, Luke knew the truth. Or, he mused, at least he thought he did. "You can't try her for that again."

"True, but we can use this information to make very sure that nothing you or your slick mob lawyer does will spring her from jail while we finish building the case."

"Speaking from the perspective of the slick mob lawyer," Justus smiled as he entered the office, "I beg to differ. We've had the handwriting samples analyzed, and our consultant, the same one that the PCPD uses has decided that the suicide note is a forgery. Since it's very unlikely that Laura would have forged a note implicating herself, we felt very comfortable asking the district attorney to drop the charges against her. It is very clear that somebody has been trying to blacken the good name of my client, in order to frame her for the killing."

Dara nodded ruefully. "This is an obvious forgery, and as it is our only evidence linking Laura to the case, we are dropping the charges for now."

"That means that we're still looking for a suspect," Garcia reminded Luke. "Which reminds me-Kat was a very wealthy woman. Who inherits her estate?"

Stefan and Nikolas sat quietly in the offices of Kathryn's attorney while the lawyer scanned the documents that he'd drawn up only a few months previously. "It's very simple," he said, finally. "With the exception of Deception, which Kathryn chose to leave elsewhere, and five million to the Nurse's Ball Fund, Nikolas is the heir to her entire estate. Her holdings were not extensive, but there are multiple savings and investment accounts and you are now a very wealthy young man." He quoted a sum that seemed staggering to Nikolas, in spite of the fact that he had been brought up in wealth.

"All that is mine?"

"Except for what taxes take, and even at that, you're still quite wealthy."

Stefan looked at the young man who had suddenly become financially independent of him, and felt Nikolas slipping farther and farther from him. It was both saddening, and disheartening. "Kathryn thought very highly of you."

"And I of her," Nikolas replied. "She has given me the means of righting a few wrongs, and the first one will be to bring her killer to justice." Turning to the attorney, he said, "But I do want to make arrangements to settle some of this on my family. I would like you to draw up some papers for me..."

A little later, Lucy looked at the attorney and asked, "Are you kidding me? She left me Deception?" Lucy studied the papers, which returned her first company to her, her hands shaking. "Are you certain?"

"Quite. Seems that Ms. Bell thought that at some point she wanted you to have it back. She enclosed this note in explanation." He handed the envelope to her, and said, "it's for you."

Lucy opened the letter, and read quickly, recognizing the handwriting as Kat's. For a few minutes, she recalled the brief moments of camaraderie that they'd shared, those few occasions standing out in sharp relief against the rivalry which had been all consuming for the rest of the time they'd known each other. The letter was brief and to the point.

"Dear Lucy, If you're reading this, then things have not turned out as I'd have liked, and I'm no longer in charge of Deception. That being the case, I'm returning it to you, better than it was when I got it, but not as great as I trust you'll make it. Why am I doing this? Because I know that you loved this company and, well, frankly, I got it from you through treachery. I owed you, Lucy, for clearing my name all those years ago. Besides, if I'm dead now, then I probably need a few good deeds to offset some of the bad things that I've done in the past. I don't expect you to cry over me, but if at some point you'd lift a glass of champagne to the fun we had at the Nurse's Ball...I'd appreciate it. Oh, by the way, I'm leaving five million to underwrite it this year and in the years to come. I'm counting on you to invest it for me. Thanks, Lucy.

Love, Kat."

"Thanks, Kat," Lucy whispered, brokenly, to the ghostly memory of her one-time arch-rival. "I won't let you down."

"I'll probably bring Lulu around later," Luke told Laura as he unceremoniously dumped her off at their house. Odd how strange the place looked to him.

"Then you're coming home?" she asked, her eyes filled with hope.

"I have no home," Luke informed her, icily. He looked at her with contempt. "I don't see how you think that we can work around this, Laura. If I'm not mistaken, our relationship was based on trust. Trust. Don't ask me if I can trust you, Laura. I think that you know the answer to that."

"But I trust you, Luke." Laura came to stand beside him, her lower lip trembling, tears ever close to the surface. "Even when....even when you......hurt me...I trusted you."

Luke backed away, fists clinched. "Enough, Laura. I've paid enough for that particular sin. You can drag it up twice an hour until the end of time, and I can't change it, so let it go."

"You never would have said that before Lucy Coe came along. How could you, Luke? Of all people, how could you have chosen Lucy?"

Luke laughed mirthlessly. "What is this, Laura? You're not angry that I've been with another woman, only that I chose Lucy? For crying out loud, Laura. Lucy saved my life! I'd have died for certain, if not for her. She's bright, brainy, and damned sexy. Why wouldn't I choose her?"

"But that's over now, isn't it? I'm back, Luke. We can work all of this out."

"What do you mean? You cheated on me, so you're willing to overlook Lucy so long as I come home like a good husband? I'm not believing this, Laura. It's almost like you're glad that there's Lucy Coe. Like somehow my relationship with her evens out yours with Stefan."

"Doesn't it? Luke, I did what I had to do-someday maybe you'll understand. You did what you did-maybe out of gratitude-maybe out of loneliness-I understand that. I'd have done anything to come back home to you. Luke--that's all behind us. We have to go on."

"Just like that? Go on? Like nothing happened? Like before? Good God, woman! Lucky knows all about us and has disowned us, I find that he's not even my son, and that you've been sleeping with my mortal enemy. And you think that we're just supposed to go on? Get real!"

He turned to walk away, only to hear Laura's voice. There was something different, something almost threatening in her tone. "Don't you walk out on me, Luke Spencer. You promised that you'd be with me always, no matter what. We took vows, Luke. Made promises. I only did what I had to do-not because I wanted to, but because it was a way to survive. We're survivors! Both of us. Haven't you ever done anything distasteful so that you could survive? Aren't there distasteful things in your past, things back when you and Bobbie lived on the streets that you'd rather forget? I know that Bobbie was a prostitute, but I've always felt that there were things that you wouldn't share, things that marked you very deeply, very painfully. I wouldn't hold them against you, Luke. But please, understand-- that's how I feel about Stefan. Do you think for one minute that I wanted to be with him?"

"I don't know what to think, Laura."

"Don't think, Luke. Just feel." She moved closer to him, putting her arms around him, drawing his head down to hers, his lips to hers. She pulled him into a mind-drugging kiss, sending him reeling with desire, waves of need crashing over him. "Just feel, Luke. You know how it is for us. How it's always been. It can be like this again. Just trust me."

"Trust you?" asked Lucky who had just arrived. "Are you kidding? Hey, Foster, old boy! Bet you thought that I'd forgotten you. Never. Come on, buddy. We've got a new place to live, at least for the time being. You're gonna love it. Water everywhere, and horses! Even a couple of cats to chase when you get bored." He turned his back on his parents, or at least the people he'd formerly thought of as his parents and walked away.

Looking down at Laura, Luke peeled her from his body like an ill-fitting garment. "Kid's got a point." With that, he turned and walked away.

As she watched Luke climb into his car, Laura seethed, "Nobody walks away from me, Luke Spencer. Nobody!"