Chapter Fifty-Eight

Laura opens her eyes to a new sense of strength, a new purpose. Memories are washing over her at an astonishing speed, and even though some are painful, she is no longer repressing them. All the years as Lasha, the memories of abuse at the hands of Stavros and tenderness from Stefan come flooding back. And, for the first time, Laura recalls the crossover times, the hours of anxiety, days of despair, when she had turned to Stefan as Lasha. She remembers calling him several times over the years, and he'd always come. Always. His support had been unflagging, and now she recalls the loving relationship she had shared with him. He had given her the strength to survive, to go on-he had given, she realizes, unconditional love. No strings attached. Her needs had always come first, and his had never even been mentioned.

For a few moments, Laura is deeply ashamed of her weakness, of how she'd taken from him, and as the memories continue, she recalls when she'd shared the truth of the rape with him. He'd just shaken his head,

"Lasha, my dear, there are men who take what is not theirs by force or coercion, and they are wrong to do so. You must understand that what happened was not your fault. His was the act of a desperate man, but still wrong and inexcusable. His fears did not justify any part of what he did. He wanted the sunlight you bring wherever you go, and he took it. Your nature, Lasha, is to forgive and to love. Luke's nature was to take and hold what he has taken."

"And yours, Stefan?" she had asked.

"Mine is to do what must be done," he had replied simply.

"Regardless of the cost," Laura whispers, realizing at long last the feeling she'd hidden for years. Stefan had been her secret lover, her secret love, the man she'd dreamed about, the man into whose arms she'd fled when her world was shaken. And, she understood, the man who had given her both Nik and Lesley Lu. His had been the healing touch, the one who had brought renewal to her after Stavros had...

Laura shudders, setting that memory aside. So why, she wonders, did she ever return to Luke? She allows those memories to return, and she recalls danger, fascination, pity...and a need. He'd needed her and she had something to give. Somehow, all this had gotten confused for...Laura's eyes widen and she leans back, finally understanding the problem.

"I felt inadequate with Stefan," she whispers. "I brought nothing to him, had nothing to give but my love. He didn't need me....but Luke did, and oh, god, do I want to be loved by a man who loves me, or do I have some sick need to be needed? Maybe Helena was right. Maybe I wasn't strong enough to be a Cassadine. I ran, didn't I?? I should have confronted that old b**** and killed her for what she did to my mother. But, I ran, I abandoned my son and.........I was too frightened to tell Luke about Nik. What kind of a woman does that?"

With tears of determination in her eyes, Laura sits upright, and vows, "This time, I do what's right, not what's expedient. This time, I won't run, unless it's straight into his arms!" Hmmmmmm

"I want my grandson," Helena tells Faison who is taking orders from her, though, he promises himself, only temporarily. Helena's dark eyes are glittering with barely repressed excitement. "And I want Lucky Spencer. Brenda Barrett Jacks and Robin Scorpio, too."

"The Jones girls have arrived along with their grandmother," Faison tells her.

Helena smiles and we are chilled to see that look. "Then it's time to take Reginald, the butler at the Quartermaine mansion."

"That should cover all our bases," Faison smiles. "Soon the bait will be in place, and the plan can be implemented." Hmmmmm

Lucy wakes up from a horrific nightmare. "Doc?" she whimpers, knowing that he's not there. "Oh, Doc, I need you!! There's something horrible about to happen-I can feel it!" Hmmmmmm

Stay tuned!! Whose arms was Laura thinking about?? What does Helena want with the children, Brenda, Maria, and Reggie? What was Lucy's dream?? Hmmmmmm