Helena took a deep swallow of her brandy-laced coffee, and scowled. Then, recalling the inconvenience it was to have wrinkles removed, she returned her surgically rejuvenated face to its carefully schooled expression of indifference. Aging was such a trial, she thought, then pushed that idea aside as well. No, her real trial was Laura Spencer, and for the first time, Helena was beginning to realize just what a trial that woman could be. Last night should have been Laura's last night on earth, but something had gone wrong, very wrong and her instincts told her that Jerry Jacks had been involved in the thwarting of her plan. "Damn him to hell and back again," she muttered. "Along with Laura Spencer and her wretched progeny."

"You can't just go off and kill Helena Cassadine," Jax told his brother. "And don't try to tell me that you haven't decided to do just that."

"I'm not telling you anything," Jerry countered, taking a savage delight in the plans he'd concocted regarding Helena's imminent demise. "As always, the less you know about my operations, the better."

"Be reasonable, you idiot. Everybody knows that you were there last night-you weren't the least bit inconspicuous-running around waving guns all over the place. And, by the way, did you think to get that one back from Lucky Spencer last night, or do I have to worry about Jacks Inc. being sued by whoever Lucky shoots at some future date?"

"You worry too much. I'll get the gun back today."

"No, I'll get the gun. You're going to take care of some problems in Jakarta if I have to tie you hand and foot and stuff you onto the plane myself. Things have turned to **** in Indonesia in the last few weeks, and thanks to your preoccupation with the Cassadine/Spencer feud, our businesses there are in danger of being completely destroyed. I'd hate to think what we've lost already."

"Don't tell me what to do," Jerry snarled. "You have no idea what's at stake here."

"I can guess," Jax snapped back. "I know the way your mind works, but you of all people should be able to anticipate the treachery of a woman scorned."

Jerry looked away, then back at his brother. "And what would you know about my dealings?"

"You think that I really approve of the way you get information? There aren't but a few woman you could have seduced to get the information you've gotten on the Cassadines, and my guess is that you've, shall we say, covered all the bases. Tell me, Jerry. Do Helena, Laura and Alexis have any idea that you've played all three of them?"

"I got the information that you wanted, didn't I? We're on the edge of taking over the entire Cassadine business structure, aren't we? Helena talks in her sleep, and Laura has grandiose dreams of which she was more than willing to hint. Alexis-now there's one tough lady. She was so busy trying to keep me out of her bed that she didn't manage to keep me out of her businesses. I also got the link to the Quartermaines, and, if I remember correctly, you weren't too upset about that."

"Don't push it, Jerry. I've saved your miserable tail many times, but if you go off like this, like Laura's specially aimed weapon to destroy Helena, who do you think will be nailed for it? Do you think that nobody in the entire world knows that you and Laura were lovers? That will come out if anything happens to Helena because you have to know that you, Luke and Stefan will all be suspects! You screwed up big time, brother! You might have gotten away with something if you hadn't dashed to the rescue like some knight in tarnished armor last night, and you saved nobody. All you succeeded in doing was letting everybody know that Jacks Inc is involved. No, Jerry, you leave town immediately, and with no side trips."

"I told you not to tell me what to do," Jerry began, finding himself suddenly lethargic. He sat down abruptly, turning bewildered eyes on his brother. "Damn you, Jax..."

Jax watched as Jerry passed out, and with a rueful smile, took out his cellular phone. "He's out. Come get him." Seconds later, a couple of Jax's men entered the room with a large chest specially equipped with life support devices. "Take him to the retreat in the Caribbean and keep him there for a full week. Completely incommunicado."

With smiles of understanding, the men loaded the trunk with Jerry and left. It wasn't the first time Jax had saved his brother from himself. Probably wouldn't be the last.

"Dad?" Jax spoke into his phone again. "Jerry's out of trouble for at least a week. You want to handle Jakarta? Yeah. I've got a mess to clean up here-and a little profit taking as well, I hope."

Rubbing his hands together in anticipation, Jax began to make his plans.

It was time, Luke Spencer told himself as he stood on the docks looking out at Helena's yacht. No, it was past time that Helena should die. She'd plagued this earth for far too long, poisoned it with her presence, soiled it with her filthy mind. As Luke observed the yacht, he realized that his entire adult life, indeed almost his whole life had been colored by his Cassadine connection.

As a teenager, he'd encountered Helena's peculiar appetites, but had been too young and inexperienced to know that all women weren't like her. Hell, he thought. His own mother had been no shining example of motherhood, finding her escape from reality in a bottle, but at least she hadn't made a practice of seducing young men. Still, Helena had been honest with him about her wants and needs. And, to be fair, she'd been generous in all aspects of their relationship until the moment that she cast him off claiming that she'd found someone more intriguing. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a medallion that he'd gotten from her years ago, had kept in spite of all that had happened. It was to remind himself, he'd thought, of all that he'd experienced at her hands, and to keep him from learning those lessons again. Besides, it had been gold and something that he could have sold, had the need ever been that great.

Luke looked at the golden apple, the engraving barely visible now due to having been kept in his pocket with change and keys. "Temptation," Helena had whispered to him when she'd placed it around his neck on a gold chain. "That's what you are to me. Irresistible temptation."

For six months, he'd known what it was to tempt her, to live in the world where his every demand was answered, where his every wish was granted. Then, she'd tossed him aside like the core of that apple, dropped him from the heights, sending him crashing to the ground with nothing more than the clothes on his back and the medallion around his neck. He'd learned then and there that trust was not something he'd ever give easily again.

"But, fool that I was, I gave it," he mused, thinking of Laura. "How could I have been so completely wrong about her?"

"I assume you're talking about Laura?" Stefan asked from behind him.

Luke turned to view his old nemesis. "What difference does it make to you?"

"Actually, it makes none, but seeing you staring at Helena's yacht, I must wonder if you think that Laura is worth whatever it will cost you to kill my mother."

Luke said nothing, but turned his back on Stefan who continued. "I toyed with the same idea earlier today, but then common sense overcame any notion of heroics. You see, my life is too much of a Greek tragedy already for me to seriously contemplate matricide. You laugh at me for being methodical, Luke, and I have, in the past, derided you for being reactionary. You are cunning, a worthy adversary, but your passion tends to cloud your thinking."

Luke laughed out loud. "My passions? Mine? This coming from a man who kept Laura's portrait in his wine-cellar in some sort of shrine? You must be kidding."

"I understand your skepticism, but take a moment and look around you. Last night, this area was hit by a terrible storm-sort of a parallel to our lives, if you will-and now, the sky is clear. Looking only at the blue, one could be persuaded that all is well. Yet, if you look around, you see evidence of what transpired. Boats have been wrecked, trees ripped apart, and debris is scattered all over."

"Go on."

"The next time you look into Laura's blue eyes, Luke, maybe you will be able to tear your gaze away long enough to look around you."

With that, Stefan walked down to the launch, and headed back to Windemere.