Chapter Twenty-Nine

"This cannot be allowed," Stefan says, and for the first time, we see a glint of something frightening in his eyes. "Tom Hardy cannot be allowed to treat Lasha." His hands grip the phone and we note that his knuckles are white with tension as he disconnects one call and makes another. "Alexis? Tom Hardy must be greatly inconvenienced immediately. Excellent idea...That should effectively tie his hands." He hangs up the phone and calmly sits back in his chair. Hmmmmmm

"They've what?" explodes Tom Hardy a little later as he takes the call from the hospital at Felicia's apartment. "They can't just cancel my insurance...I thought... Africa?... but...! @#$%^^!!!"

Felicia watches his angry reaction and asks, "What's wrong?"

"I'm temporarily barred from practice until we can get this insurance problem taken care of." He angrily picks up the phone again and makes a call. Felicia makes a mental note of the numbers he's entered, and is surprised that she doesn't recognize them.

"Do you mind?" he asks Felicia, and rather stunned, she steps into another room, but she can't help listening in.

"I'm having insurance problems and I can't practice at all until it's taken care of."

Intrigued, Felicia listens even closer.

"I thought the African affair was taken care said that the files were clean.. well, somebody found out...."

Shocked, Felicia strains so as to miss nothing.

"Look, damnit! I have the chance to treat Laura Spencer. Do you know what that means to us? She's a gold-mine of information. Where?..1/2 hour....I'll be there."

He hangs up and Felicia scrambles to look as though she's been concentrating on anything else.

"I've got to run a few errands," Tom tells her. Then, without so much as a good bye kiss, he leaves.

"This is very strange," Felicia comments as she grabs her purse. The baby is with the sitter so Felicia is free to follow Tom. "There's something going on here," she says, "and I'm going to find out what it is." Hmmmmm

It's 6:30 in the evening, a fine fall night in Paris, and Lucy, in what she deems a creative disguise, is loitering near the Arc de Triomphe. She's just turned away another proposition, and observes, "I could have made a fortune already."

Clad as her mental image of the quintessential French lady of the night, Lucy is a stunning sight in the slinky black dress, fishnet hose, and stiletto heels.

"Mademoiselle," wheezes an old geezer who has ambled over to see her. He reaches out as she turns her back on him, and pats her posterior. "Mighty fine," he gasps as his cloud of cigar smoke billows over the area.

"Ooooohhh," she shrieks, about ready to belt the old goat when she recognizes the gleam in his eyes.

"Cash Kinkaid," he croaks, coughing as he leans towards her, his gold-handled cane helping him stand.

"Uncle Cash," Lucy squeals, throwing her arms around him. "Lose the cigar," she whispers as she hugs him. "It reeks!! Oh, and by the way, I'm Cookie Fortune."

"Cookie." 'Cash' yells "My darlin' niece. You look mighty fetchin' tonight!"

"Why thank you, Uncle Cash." Hmmmmmm

Tony is sitting in his office, exhaustion and strain evident in his face, his body, his entire demeanor. There had been no change in Bobbie's status, and Tony is holding onto little hope. He looks at the picture on his desk and tears begin to course down his cheeks. Had it been so short a time when they'd been a happy family of four? Now, BJ was dead, Bobbie was fighting for her life, and Lucas was, for all intents and purposes, an orphan. Tony functioned as a physician, but his life stopped there. His mind wandered to Carly, and tears start afresh.

Cursing his own weakness, Tony wonders if a man could die from emotional pain. But, he can't do that. He can't run from it, can't hide from it, just had to deal with it. Thank heavens for Lucas, he realizes. At the moment, for all the distance between them seemed to disappear, and Tony understands that he must hold on for the boy. Bobbie had fought so valiantly for him, loved him so, and her love for Lucas might be the only thing that could keep her holding onto life.

Wiping the tears from his face, Tony vows that somehow he'll get through this for Lucas.

Suddenly, a familiar voice asks, "Tony, can I have a minute?" Tony nods, and Mac notes Tony's physical appearance. "Tony, we need to talk."

"So talk."

"This isn't going to be pleasant."

"Just get it over with. Things can't get much worse unless Bobbie...."

"How is she?"

"The same. It's like she's lost the will to live. Actually, she's stabilized, but it's too soon to tell. What did you come here to tell me?"

"Tony, I know that you were going to take care of Carly's arrangements."

"I am."

"But her adoptive mother has come to claim the body."

"Her mother? She said that she was an orphan."

"Her name was really Caroline Benson."

"What?" Tony is clearly shocked.

"Tony, this gets worse, but you need to know as you're going to find out soon. Did you know that Bobbie had a daughter when she was sixteen? She gave the child up for adoption."

A horrified look crosses Tony's face. "You don't mean...?"

"Caroline a.k.a. Carly, is, that is, was Bobbie's daughter."

"Oh god...."

"Tony," Mac says, seeing the anguish on his friend's face. "I thought you should know."

Unable to speak, Tony nods and Mac leaves. Hmmmmm

Stay tuned!!! Why doesn't Stefan want Tom Hardy to treat 'Lasha'? With whom was Tom arranging to meet? What is the truth behind the African Affair, and why is it causing problems for him now? Will Cash Kincaid and Cookie Fortune, that formidable team of Luke and Lucy manage to come up with the answers that they seek? Now that Tony has learned the truth, how will he react? How much more can he take?? Hmmmmm