Chapter Twenty

Mariah eased into the taxi that met her outside General Hospital, leaning back, wondering what she was going to say to her beloved granddaughter, how she was going to explain away her carefully contrived past. Revealing oneself to be a liar was one thing, but on such a grand scheme, was quite another.

"And now, Madame," came the heavily accented voice from the driver who had loaded her baggage into the trunk. "Where would you like to go?" But, before Mariah could respond, the driver continued. "Probably to visit with your so lovely granddaughter, Felicia Scorpio, and her darling daughters, but regretfully, that will not an option today. Or, any other day."

The doors suddenly locked, and for the first time, Mariah noted that there were no handles on the inside of the car doors. As fear and dread washed over her, she ordered, "Let me out."

"Later. First, you and I are going to take a little trip down memory lane."

Ned and Alexis headed to the hotel where Miguel had told him to go, and pounded on the door.

Miguel pulled open the door and allowed Ned entrance. To his surprise, he saw Lois.

"Lois? I thought you...thank God you're alive. Where's our daughter?"

"You tell me. Who has the Quartermaine family pissed off enough to grab Brook Lynne? Huh? Maybe you should tell me."

"You tell me and leave my family out of this. You took our daughter with you because you said that you could do a better job turning her into a decent human being than I could. So, I stood by while you dragged her everywhere, exposing her to God knows what."

"That's not fair."

"Brook being kidnapped isn't fair. She's just a little girl."

"Shut up!" Miguel ordered suddenly. "This isn't about you and your problems. Hey! You know what? I don't give a rat's a$$ about who is right, and who is wrong. Between the two of you, there's blame enough to go around. What I care about is that there's a little girl who doesn't know why she isn't in her own bed or why strangers have her. You two can fight until forever, but that won't change what has happened. Get over yourselves, already!"

Lois looked at her singer with something akin to shock. "Wait just a minute, buster."

"No, you wait a minute. You are always so sure that you know what is right, but tonight, when you knew that it was wrong, you approved a change in baby-sitters without consulting me. You overrode security for no good reason."

"You were getting ready for a concert. I didn't want to disturb you."

"You think that I would put a concert over the safety of your child? The show must go on at the expense of your little girl?"

"That wasn't my intention, and you know it. I would never do anything to hurt Brook Lynne."

"Not intentionally, of course, but the end result was the same."

"Why aren't the police here?"

Miguel shook his head. "They've been here already and are investigating the accident. Now, both of you-and Ms. Davis, you, too."

"Miguel, stick to singing. This is my daughter you're talking about."

Another knock at the door had Miguel answering it. "Ah, mi amigo. Come in. Have we learned anything yet?"

Shaking his head, Frisco Jones entered the room and turned to Alexis Davis. Their eyes met in hostile recognition.

"Fancy meeting you here," she said at last.

"I go where the trouble is," he smiled back. "And once again, we meet."

It was dark, dank and dirty in the tunnels beneath Wyndemere, but Luke didn't let that deter him. If there was something to be found, he was determined to find it. Unfortunately, he'd combed every inch of the area, entered every hidden door and alcove there and had come up with nothing more than the knowledge that his son was not there. Indeed, Luke had even crept into the mansion and checked out the entire house but turned up nothing.

"But that doesn't clear Stefan," Luke told himself as he headed the launch back to the mainland. "Nothing clears him except finding Lucky and having him tell me who did this." Luke looked towards the docks and thought of the many times he and his son had walked there, talking, just being father and son. "Luckster, where are you?"

"She's my mother and I am going to see her," Tracy announced as she approached Lila's room. "I've been here a dozen times and have yet to get to speak with my mother."

"You'll get thrown out if you cause her any problems," came a gruff voice from behind her. "I don't know why you couldn't just stay away."

"It's wonderful to see you, too, Daddy," Tracy shot back as she noted that her father, wheelchair bound, was scowling at her. "How are you doing?"

"I'm recovering."

"And Mother?"

"If you cared, you'd go back where you came from and stay away."

"If you cared, I'd have never gone away."

Edward looked away for a few seconds and then faced her. "The past is the past, Tracy. We can't relive it. We can't change it. There are things that I'd have done differently, if I'd known what the outcome would have been, but that's hindsight."

"Would you have sent me away?" Tracy asked, her voice oddly childish. "I tried to please you, Daddy. I tried to be like you."

"You should have been like your mother," Edward told her. "Lila always gave more than she took, and I took everything she had to give. But, she always forgave me."

"Why? Why did she always do that?"

But, Edward just shook his head. "I was always her hero," he finally said. "I was always her hero."

"It was nice seeing your grandmother again," Amy commented as Felicia looked into Lila's room. She'd arrived shortly after Tracy and Edward had left.

"My grandmother? She hasn't arrived yet," Felicia smiled. "You must be mistaken."

Amy shook her head. "Mariah Ramirez is your grandmother, isn't she?"

"Yes, but her plane isn't due until tonight."

"She was here earlier, Felicia," Amy countered. "I spoke with her and she told me that she and Lila had been friends long ago."

"That's odd-but maybe she was going to try to surprise us. She's probably at the house right now."

Laura stood on her front porch, looking into the sky, wondering why the stars could still remain the same while her life was in utter turmoil. In the house, Lulu was tucked safely into her bed, and the doors and windows were locked. Still, Laura felt unsafe, as if there was an unseen eye watching her every move, recording her every conversation.

She smiled sadly, remembering Luke's lectures on the value of trusting your instincts, on listening to that small voice in the back of your mind that told you that things were not right. That little voice was screaming at her, had been screaming for quite some time.

"It's the same, yet different," she whispered into the darkness. "But what can be right at this point?"

"I can be right, Laura," Stefan said, stepping from the shadows on the porch. "I did not mean to frighten you, but you looked so peaceful staring into the stars that I did not wish to steal what comfort you could take from them. Yet, I could not be silent when I heard you speak."

Laura looked back at him. "How long have you been here?"

"For about a half an hour. I wanted to be near you, but was unsure if you would be interested in a visitor."

She smiled sadly. "You aren't a visitor, Stefan. You're my friend. I can count on you, can't I?"

"Yes," he said, coming closer to her. "You can. There is nothing that I will not do for you, no place that I will not take you. And, if there is something that is in my power to give you, I will give it. You need but ask if I do not anticipate your wish in advance."

"There's nothing you can give me that will make my life any better," she told him, resignation in her voice. "Unless you can give my son back to me."

It was then that Laura saw a suspicious gleam in his eye.