Chapter Forty-Eight

"I don't like this," says one unseen voice and we see a masculine hand, the fingers drumming on the tabletop impatiently. "It's sloppy! Damned sloppy! Bobbie Jones has apparently awakened from what was supposed to have been a fatal overdose and is talking."

Ryan is on the other end of the phone line, and is openly contemptuous of the caller. "If you don't like the results, then do the job yourself. You said to make it look like a suicide, and I did. It's not my fault that her husband came wandering along to pay homage at his late girlfriend's room."

"You also fouled up the other job."

"What did you want me to do? Point an arrow in your direction? Get real, man! Your precious Tom Hardy screwed up the Kevin situation, and so I had to cover your assets there. I told you that he was a loser, but you had to use him anyway."

"We couldn't use you, and you know it," the unseen voice continues. "You are not only a convicted murderer, but a dead one, as well."

"We could have handled this very differently," Ryan tells him.

"We? You forget yourself." The tone was smug, patronizing, and Ryan grits his teeth to keep from saying the wrong thing. He did, he admitted, still need these people. "I could have changed places with Kevin when we had him in London. It would have been so easy."

And far too dangerous," the man tells him.

"And this isn't dangerous?" Ryan asks. "Tom has managed to all but destroy the operation, and Kevin is still missing. If your mission gets any more successful, you may as well take out an announcement on the front page of the morning paper!"

"We will find Kevin, and until we do, you have to stay undercover."

"And what about Tom and Ms. Bell?"

"They will die of smoke inhalation. Tragic, but it happens."

"I see. You have another operative in General Hospital." There's a pause, and Ryan asks, "I think you should know that I don't consider myself a disposable asset."

Another pause, and he tells the caller. "Nor should you. I've taken precautions against suddenly going missing."

"Nobody will miss a dead man."

"You ought to know." Hmmmmmm

"Robin said that you needed to talk with me," Mac tells Jason who sits sullenly in Mac's office. "Something about an affair with Carly."

"No affair," Jason states emphatically. "Just sex. Mutually agreeable, non-committal. I used protection all the time."

"But she was pregnant, and you were having relations with her during the time she conceived."


"Then you need to have a blood test so we can determine if you were the father."

"What difference does it make?" Jason asks. "I didn't kill her."

"I don't doubt that," Mac tells him, wondering if the old Jason Quartermaine would ever reappear, and just how shocked he'd be at his recent antics. "But if we can show that you're not the father, then we'll know that there is at least one other man who was in her life at that time and have someone else to question in regards to her death."

Privately, Mac was convinced that this was a waste of time, that Carly's death was tied up in whatever was going on behind the scenes, but he had to go through all the usual gyrations to make it seem that he had no clue, to give the real killer a false sense of security. "Sorry, Jason, but that's the way the game is played."

Jason, irritated with Mac and Robin, stalks out of the office, tossing back, "I'll get your sample, and that's it. I told you the truth."

"Thanks, Jason. If you see Robin......"

"I won't." Hmmmm

"Madame," Reggie begins, "Things must be about to heat up."

"Why do you say that?" Lila asks, wheeling her chair closer to the computer. "What have you learned?"

"I just got an e-mail from my cousin, Jean-Pierre, telling me of his arrival, and that I'm not to recognize him, that he'll explain when he can." Reggie adds, "Jean-Pierre is the black sheep I told you about. He has a variety of connections. He's on speaking terms with some of the most powerful men and women in the world."

"How fascinating! I'd like to meet him."

Reggie is a trifle concerned. "Madame, do you think that is wise? Ned asked that we stay completely undercover, so to speak, and that you are supposed to be indisposed."

"That's true, but I'll think of something. I've always had a weakness for handsome Frenchmen."

"What was that?" comes a gruff voice from the door. Reggie whisks the laptop shut and aside as Edward steps into the room.

"Hello, my darling," Lila says, weakly. "How are you doing?"

"More to the point, how are you doing? I've been worried about you," he tells her, coming to stand beside her. "You've hardly left your room for weeks now."

"I'm doing better," she tells him. "Reggie is seeing to my needs, making certain that I take my medication."

"But you shouldn't be cooped up here," Edward tells her. "You need to come back downstairs."

"I will soon," she promises. "Edward, will you stay for tea?"

"I'd prefer a martini," he tells her. "A double."

"I'll see to it," Reggie says, glad to escape Edward's presence.

"Lila," Edward begins, "I've had some bad news."

"What's that dear?" she asks, noting the look on his face. "What's happened?"

"It's Katherine Bell and Tom Hardy."

"They haven't recovered? Don't tell me that they've....?"

Edward nods, and Lila says, "I'm so sorry, Edward. I know that you had a soft spot in your heart for Katherine. Personally, I couldn't stand her, but I'm sorry."

Edward sits down on a chair beside her, and says, "It's damned peculiar, Lila. Alan said that they were showing signs of improvement, and then they both died within minutes of each other." Hmmmmmmmm

Stay tuned!! Is Ryan jeopardizing his future with the unseen conspirators? How many people are actually involved, and just what did Ryan mean by "You ought to know?" Have we stumbled on another formerly dead guy here? And, did Jason really mean that he wouldn't be seeing Robin? Ever?? And, were the sudden deaths of two improving smoke inhalation victims just the odd quirk of fate, or were they helped along on their final journeys? Hmmmmmm