Luke held Laura tightly against him, his hand covering her mouth as he whispered into her ear. "You know why I'm here, don't you? No?" Luke gave a harsh laugh, and turned her to face him. "Don't bother with the tears, darlin'. I'm not buying that act any more. Is that fear in your eyes? Good. You should be afraid, because now, I know the truth."

He removed his hand from her mouth, and Laura stammered, "The truth about what?"

"Good one, Laura. Very smooth. Act innocent like you have no idea what I'm talking about. Make me answer the questions and then you choose the answer that best suits your needs. Damn, you're good."

"Luke, you're scaring me."

"Now, that's a first, isn't it? I mean, if we were both being completely honest, this would be the first time you've ever really been scared of me. You weren't scared of me that night in the disco, were you? Not really, I mean. You wanted to help me, didn't you? Poor Luke Spencer, well on his way to getting ****faced drunk, alone and in you came, all sweetness and light, radiating innocence and purity which you do so well, but you weren't mine. You belonged to another man."

"Luke, let's not do this," Laura began, a silvery tear slipping down one cheek. "We've come so far since then."

"You call this 'far'?"

"We can work it out. I know that I've made some mistakes along the way, but we can get past it."

"Tell me what we're getting past, Laura."

"You know," she tried again, looking away.

"Tell me. Say the words."


"Oh, that," Luke nodded thoughtfully. "The rape. Say it again, Laura. Tell me again that I raped you."

Her eyes met his, and there was a brief flash of uncertainty that lifted the final doubt from Luke's mind, and at the same time, kindled a fire of rage. "Tell me, Laura."

"You...you....raped me.

"No, Laura, I didn't rape you."

"I was raped that night, Luke." Her words were little more than sobs, gasps of emotional pain.

"But not by me."

Laura looked up at him, her tear-drenched eyes begging him to believe her. "I had to say that. I had to do that."

Luke was dumbfounded. "You had to accuse me of rape?"

Laura nodded and began to cry, brokenly. "I couldn't think of any other way to save your life, to give you something to live for. You thought that you were going to die, that there was no reason to go on, and you were drunk. You were so drunk, Luke, that you couldn't have raped anybody, but you didn't know that. You tore my blouse when we fell to the floor, and my mouth was bruised when we bumped each other. I was angry and scared for you, Luke, but never of you. I ran into the park-I was going to try to find someone to help you, but there was somebody in the park, somebody mean, and he....raped me."

"But not me."

"Not you. I let you believe that you had because I knew that you'd feel that you had to make it up to me, and that it would give you a reason to get out of the mob, to find a way to survive. I knew that you wanted me, and that I wanted you. The rape bound us together in a way that nothing else could. You wanted to protect me, to take care of me, and I loved you, Luke. I'd have done anything for you."

"Anything but tell me the truth. You let me believe the worst thing a man can believe about himself short of murder or child molestation."

"I'm sorry, Luke. I couldn't let you go on with the mob-not loving you like I did. Like I still do. I'd have done anything to have you, to keep you. I'd have followed you to the ends of the earth-and I have." She smiled tremulously. "You always told me that survival was the most important thing, and I guess I knew it even back then. You had to survive, Luke, or we'd have had nothing."

"Laura, we weren't together then. You were Scotty's wife."

"Our marriage was over. I told you that. I'd realized that it was you I loved, you I wanted. I lied to protect you, Luke." She dashed a tear from her face. "Oh, I know that it was wrong, but it worked. The fact that you believed that we shared that horrible secret told me that you wanted to believe it, that you wanted to claim me as your own."

"Let me see if I've got this straight. The fact that I believed you about the rape was proof that I wanted you?"

"Exactly. Rape is out of character for you-so out of character that only extreme emotions would have caused it."

"Bull****. Rape is a crime of control and violence against a woman. Up until tonight, I've never felt violent towards you, Laura. Oh, I've wanted to control you, but not enough to force myself on you."

"But you believed me, and you're safe. We've had all these years together because I loved you enough to lie to you. Haven't you ever done that? Loved someone enough to keep the painful truth to yourself, to spare them?"

Luke almost laughed out loud, but he allowed her to continue. "Am I to believe that I had a son because you loved me enough to lie to me about that, too?"

"That was different. I had thought you were dead, Luke, and when I found that you were alive, I had to come to you. When I found that I was pregnant, I had to lie to you. I couldn't give the baby to Stefan, not when I'd worked so hard to escape, to come back to you. You were everything to me, Luke-and you were so happy. I had left Nikolas behind to come to you-so it was like I had to keep Lucky."

"I'm not understanding this, woman. You HAD to keep him? I thought you wanted my baby."

"I did. I do. I mean, I couldn't very well tell you the truth, could I? It was a matter of survival, Luke. If I'd told you, what would you have done? Hated me and the baby? Sent us back to the Cassadines? All I ever was to them was a means to an end, a baby-making machine-but you loved me."

"So that made it right to lie to me about the rape, about the baby, about everything?"

"Not everything, Luke. I never lied about loving you. To love you, Luke, I'd have done anything. I'd have told any lie, done anything. I'd always intended to tell you the truth about the rape, Luke, but after a while, it seemed that things were going so well that dragging it up would have been worse. Then, when I understood how much you wanted honesty between us-how could I tell you?"

"So now it's all my fault that you never told me the truth? God, woman! What was your excuse for letting Lucky believe that I'd raped you? For telling Stefan that I'd raped you?"

"I can explain all of that," she whimpered. "I knew that I was going to have to tell you the truth when Nikolas found out. I had told Stefan that because he knew that I'd been raped, and it was a means to make him be gentle with me. If he thought that I was frightened, that I'd been abused, then he'd be gentle with me to gain my trust. I thought you were dead, Luke! That nothing I said would ever matter to you. I figured that you'd laugh about it if you knew because I was deceiving the Cassadines and you were helping me do it."

"You are kidding."

"Do I look like I'm kidding?" Laura nearly screamed. "My whole life is coming apart! My sons both hate me, you're having an affair with that...that..tramp, Lucy Coe."

"Don't go there, Laura. Don't call my very good friend a tramp, especially since you have no room to talk. Besides, thanks to that fine woman, I have the chance to have a life again. She returned my self-respect to me."

"She told you? Lucy knows about us?"

"There is no US, Laura. There never was."

"But we were together. We were a family."

"We were together when you had a son by Stefan Cassadine, and Lulu..." Luke paused there, looking at the picture of the little girl who bore his surname, his heartache warring with his anger. "Who is Lulu's father, Laura. I have to know."

Her eyes gleaming with tears and something that seemed alien to Luke, Laura answered, "I did it for us, Luke. I did it all for us."

Reading his answer in her eyes, Luke turned away. "You'll be hearing from my attorney, who, by the way, is your ex-husband. For what it's worth, Scotty told me the truth. He and Lucy worked it out. Ironic, isn't it?"

"Don't do this to us, Luke," Laura begged. "You were the one thing in my life that I could count on, the one man that I could trust. You were the reason that I survived the Cassadines, the reason I came back. You're the reason that I did everything I did."

"Frankly, my dear," Luke said, turning the doorknob to exit the house. "Your reasoning sucks."

"Did I hear what I thought I heard?" Bobbie asked as she approached Stefan. "Did Alexis say that she was taking over?"

"She did," Stefan answered. "She has documents, forgeries, I am certain, that indicate that Mikkos is not my father."

Bobbie blinked at that. "You're not his son? That would mean that you're not a Cassadine-and she's Natasha-that could be a problem."

"Indeed it could be," Stefan answered, "if her documents could be shown to be legitimate."

"She thinks that they are?"

"So it would appear. She must be convinced that they are. Her demeanor has changed dramatically since I cast her out of the family. She is planning to challenge both me and Helena. Either Alexis has gone mad, or she is convinced that her challenge will win in court."

"You will fight this?'

"Of course," Stefan. "If the case makes it to the courts. Alexis' challenge is not unexpected-she is Mikkos' child. I have prepared a case against her in anticipation of this eventuality. She is his bastard daughter, and his will indicates that his estate passes to his male issue."


"His estate goes to.....we do have a problem. Laura has indicated that Nikolas is neither Stavros' son, nor mine. According to Laura, Lucky is mine, but his birth records show Luke as father."

Bobbie smiled in spite of herself. "That's been what this is all about from the beginning, isn't it? It's all about money and power, and who wields it. Something tells me that you goofed when you kicked Alexis out of the family."

"She betrayed me," Stefan stated.

"So did I, and so did Kat. When are you going to realize that blind loyalty isn't all it's cracked up to be? Face it, Stefan. You were obsessed with Laura, and she led you around by your...um...zipper."

"Bobbie, your lack of delicacy, of..."

"Get over yourself, Stefan," Bobbie chuckled. "And for once, own up to the fact that you aren't perfect, aren't omniscient. I've forgiven you-though I hadn't realized it until now. I've made mistakes-far too many of them for one lifetime, but I don't pretend to be perfect. You've worked all your life to be exactly what a Cassadine should be, and the time you slipped from perfection, fell at Laura's....feet, well, let's just say that the repercussions are significant."

"Your use of understatement is staggering, and your forgiveness is...gracious."

"Not that you asked for it," Bobbie remarked, finding her conversation with Stefan invigorating. "But it's freely given. You've got enough on your plate at the moment, what with losing Kat and all the mess that Laura has created." She paused at that. "You don't suppose that Laura is behind this, do you?"

Stefan looked at Bobbie and answered. "It is entirely possible, though what she hopes to gain from this, I don't know. She told me that Lucky was mine, and that Nikolas is not even a Cassadine. If she is behind this...if she is behind this, she is also challenging Helena, and she is either supremely confident, or an utter fool." He met Bobbie's eyes and finished. "There is an old saying about not suffering fools gladly. Helena could have penned it herself. Laura is either on a suicide mission, or she has extremely damaging information, which, when dealing with Helena, is the same thing."

Bobbie shuddered. "You're serious, aren't you?"

"Deadly serious. Tonight, of all nights, you and the boys must remain on Spoon Island."