"There's definitely something wrong with this whole scenario," Garcia observed to Taggert as the two sipped coffee the next morning down at the police station.
"No **** Sherlock," Tag nodded. His stomach had improved greatly, but his mood had not. "We get dragged out in the middle of the storm from hell, told about a potential crime by some Aussie with his own agenda, and when we finally do grab a perp, the guy's dead and gone and can't tell us who else is involved. I mean, that guy has to have been working for somebody, but Luke and Stefan Cassadine wouldn't offer any suggestions."
"Yeah, well I think it's somebody named Laura Spencer," Garcia suggested.
"You still on that kick? That woman was stabbed. What makes you think that she was behind this affair?"
Garcia sighed. "Tag, amigo, did you barf out your brains with your guts last night? Think about it. There's more going on here than meets the eye. Look-we heard what she did to Luke, and we know that she just swore out a warrant for his arrest only yesterday. Now, here she is, cozying up to him after she gets stabbed."
Garcia shook his head. "No, manipulation. I've seen a few really smooth operators in my time, and I'm willing to bet my badge that she's smoother still." He took another drink of his coffee. "Think about it. We found blood leading into the wine cellar from two separate entrances. We found blood leading from the hallway upstairs where Luke said that he'd returned fire, possibly grazing Laura, into the hidden passage and into the wine cellar. The blood was Laura's, or so we think. We have blood on the slashed portrait of Laura, and blood on the doorknob leading into the cellar from inside the house, but without any evidence of any injury out there. No blood drops, no signs of a struggle. There's no blood on either of the doorknobs inside of the wine cellar, until you get to the one leading out into the passage way that Luke and Stefan took."
"I see where you're going. You're suggesting that the blood inside the house was planted to make sure that Laura was followed."
"Exactly. This whole thing seems orchestrated to me. What would have been the purpose of throwing Laura's body into the water? It sure as hell wouldn't have made her any deader, assuming that murder was the intent. DNA testing would have shown if it were her body, if she'd been trying to fake her death, so that's out. The body over the cliff bit was theatrical, and overkill, in my estimate. Besides, she wasn't the one to take the dive."
"Yeah, that bothered me, too. I mean, why bother to stab her when tossing her over is a sure kill, and why do it when he could see that there were witnesses? Stefan and Luke were running towards him. If he was on a kamikaze mission, why not just pull her over the cliff with him?"
"Better still, why didn't the guy take the gun and off Spencer and Cassadine? What was the business with the knife, anyhow? Silent yes, but not overly efficient the way he went about it. Besides, at that point there was no need for silence. The guy could have done the men, then Laura, and maybe escaped. Laura didn't have much of a stab wound, as stab wounds go," Garcia pointed out. "Certainly not enough to keep her from grabbing the guy's gun and doing him." He shook his head in disgust. "But, I can't prove what I think which is that she blew away her cohort. She shut him up permanently."
"You bust her for that and you'll be fried by the media. She's being hailed as a heroine by just about everybody," Taggert told him. "For saving herself and her family by shooting the bad guy with his own gun. You arrest Laura Spencer for murder on what we have now, and you'll lose whatever credibility you ever had."
"I know, and I also know that there's more trouble on the way. Did you notice how quiet the men were last night? Not a one of them would say whom they thought was responsible for the incident, but from the looks of things, they all see her as the victim. Poor stupid saps. I wonder how soon they'll go after whoever they think is behind this."
"Soon, I'd guess. I've got a couple of guys watching Spencer and Cassadine, as well as a pair shadowing Jacks. He's involved somehow-he had to know that something was going down for him to call us, and he was there, armed-but the connection between him and the others seems vague. He's the odd man out in all of this. He doesn't seem to fit, but there has to be a connection." Taggert turned, responding to the noise of the printer connected to the fax machine. He retrieved the documents, read them and grinned, waving them in Garcia's face. "Hold on. Connection just made! Listen to this. Seems Lesley Webber is in a nursing home in North Carolina. Her daughter says that she's been ill, but one of the aides there reported that Lesley's been saying that she caught her daughter sleeping with a strange dark-haired man-one with an Australian accent, and that's why she's in the home."
"I'd definitely call that a connection, and of the intimate persuasion, at that." Garcia commented. "So, Laura Spencer had yet another conquest. Jerry Jacks has a reputation for being a ladies' man, one with his eye on the main chance and one who will do anything to achieve his end. Or, hers, apparently."
"So that means that there's serious bucks involved somewhere," Taggert offered. "Things are starting to come together. Jacks likes the ladies, but he's always more interested in the bottom line."
"Cassadine is seriously rich," Garcia told him. "And, assuming that Laura is still involved with Cassadine, has had Cassadine kids.... Maybe Jacks is using her to get a foothold in Cassadine Inc? There's got to be more to this than we know. Much more-but every time we try to get answers, they clam up on us. You realize that if we hadn't overheard that stuff about the rape, we'd have hauled Luke's a$$ in and he'd never have been on Spoon Island last night."
Garcia's and Taggert's eyes met. "That has to be important," Garcia continued. "Laura had the chance to accuse Luke of rape years ago, and for some reason, she didn't. Maybe because she couldn't have made it stick, or maybe because she didn't want to give up leverage with Luke. Whatever the reason, she used it to control him-and her making a claim of spousal abuse at this point is out of character."
"You think that she was trying to keep him out of the action?"
"Looks that way. Maybe she didn't want him to interfere with her plans."
"Maybe she was afraid that he'd figure out what she was up to."
"You tell me. But we need to hurry. Something tells me that whatever time table she is on just got a quick nudge."
Taggert nodded thoughtfully. "One more thing. We know about the connection between Laura and Jerry Jacks, but how the hell did he know what was going down?"
"He did seem genuinely relieved when Laura was found alive. I don't think that he was faking that."
"Neither do I, which means that he had some sort of idea about what was happening. That means that he had some outside source of information." Garcia shook his head in disgust. "These people make me sick. Sleeping around and telling lies like politicians, with no more remorse about killing than if they'd squashed a bug. And for what? Money and power."
"In their world, what else is there?"
Lucy rang the doorbell at the brownstone, anxiety gnawing at her nerves. Luke hadn't returned to the apartment the previous evening-not that she'd expected him to-and he hadn't stayed at the hospital, either. So, where was he? There was more than ample reason to be worried, she told herself. She'd seen the look in his eyes, the anger and betrayal that he'd felt, coupled with his horror at nearly killing Laura. Lucy grimaced as she thought of Laura's tears, those crocodile drops designed to lure men to.....
"Lucy?" Felicia opened the door, yawning. "That was some storm last night. Lucy? Why are you standing there with your mouth open?"
"My God, Felicia. You don't know, do you?"
"Know what? Um, Lucy, I was up pretty late with three little girls, and I haven't had my coffee yet. You want to let me know what's going on...Lucy?"
"Laura was almost murdered on Spoon Island last night, but she killed the guy who was trying to kill her only I'm not entirely sure that he was really trying to kill her." Lucy followed Felicia into the brownstone and continued. "You see, I went to Spoon Island to tell Bobbie what we'd learned about Luke not raping Laura."
Felicia was baffled. "Lucy, take a deep breath and start over. You lost me. When did Luke not rape Laura? Wait a minute. That didn't come out right. I didn't know that Luke was supposed to have raped Laura. That is what you meant, isn't it?"
Lucy quickly summarized the situation, noting with satisfaction Felicia's outrage at Laura's deception. "And she's supposed to be such a sweet, wonderful woman," Felicia said. "Luke worshipped the ground that she walked on, and she screwed him over royally. What a bit**! And you say that her kids aren't even his? And he didn't know?"
"That's exactly what I'm saying," Lucy responded. She briefed Felicia on what had transpired the night before, adding, "And he didn't come home last night. There's something wrong, Felicia. Something is really wrong."
"Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. If what you said is true, and I have no reason to doubt you, then it's clear to me that somebody is after the Cassadine fortune." Felicia poured herself another cup of coffee. "Think about it. Jerry Jacks is involved, and we both know that the Jacks brothers are high stakes players, high rollers. The Cassadines are filthy rich. Luke has a long-standing feud with the Cassadines, but it isn't about money. It's about Laura and revenge. Money isn't really involved, as far as Luke is concerned-and by that I mean, he isn't trying to take it from anybody. However, as we know, the Jacks live and breathe money. Jax is a corporate raider, and from what Mac has said, Jerry runs the dirty tricks side of the operation. So far, the only people involved in any of this that have money are the Jacks brothers and the Cassadines. There has to be some connection there, something that both of them want."
"Both of them want money and power," Lucy said, "Money equals power. Laura had neither until she hooked up with the Cassadines, then she had access to both. Lucky is Stefan's son, or so she says, but Bobbie told me last night that Alexis had said that Stefan wasn't Mikkos' son, which would mean that perhaps neither of them are Cassadines, which means that maybe the Cassadine fortune is going to be up for grabs."
"Which would be enough to bring Jerry Jacks sniffing around." Felicia paused. "And, if Jerry knew about the Cassadines, and came to the island, apparently, from what you said, looking for Laura, then it's not outside the realm of possibility that he and Laura are partners. Think about that for a minute and see if it makes any sense to you."
"It makes a lot of sense. Laura would have to have a backer in this-and we both know that the less Luke has to do with the Cassadines, the better he likes it. Jerry could provide financial backing with the expectation of getting a good return on his investment. But, there's one thing that doesn't make a lot of sense. If Lucky isn't a Cassadine, then the only possible link that Laura could claim to the Cassadines would be if Nikolas and/or Lulu are Cassadines. And, if they are, then Laura, as their mother, might be appointed executor of their estates, if they are the only remaining Cassadines. I mean, somebody almost killed Alexis last night, too. Stefan could be closed out completely, possibly along with his mother, Helena."
"Who was probably behind the attacks last night. If she knew, or suspected that she was going to be ousted as matriarch, or permanently impoverished by Laura, then it stands to reason that Laura would be a target. Perhaps with her kids, too."
"Which means," Lucy mused, "that Helena is currently living on borrowed time. Felicia, there were three men last night who were very silent about their intentions. Dead quiet, you might say...."