Chapter Twenty-One

Laura quickly turned her gaze back to the stars, willing her tears to begin anew. Once more, her instincts were screaming at her, but this time, the hair on the back of her neck rose as if in chorus as Stefan moved closer.

"I would do anything for you, Laura. Anything within my power."

Laura repressed a shudder as she felt his warm breath on her neck, then his mustache gently brushing her nape. Finally, his lips touched her bare skin, and Laura knew a moment of sheer panic. She began to tremble.

"Laura?" Stefan whispered, pulling her back into his arms. His breath was close in her ear. "Have I done something to frighten you?"

"No. It's just that make me think of when we were together on the island, and I....feel like I should not feel alive when my son is dead." She stammered, hoping that he bought her answer. Surely she hadn't seen what she thought she saw in his eyes only moments ago, but deep within, she knew that she had. She'd seen a glitter of something that was not balanced, that was not entirely sane.

"Lucky would not want you to mourn him forever," Stefan whispered. "He would want you to celebrate his life by living yours to the fullest." Stefan's mouth moved to her ear, and she felt his lips tracing its shell like shape. "He would want me to help you, if possible. He knew that we were growing closer, and he approved."


"And he would want me to provide for his little sister as I did for her brother, Nikolas." Stefan suckled gently on her earlobe, sending conflicting shivers coursing over her. "And he would want me to take you away from this place, away from the painful memories and the sadness of your yesterdays."

Laura nodded as if considering his words. "I'd like that, but not just yet. I can't leave yet."

"Soon," Stefan murmured, kissing her neck before backing away. "Soon we will begin anew what we started long ago."

"Soon," Laura agreed. She watched as Stefan walked out of sight, disappearing into the darkness as though he simply became a part of it. Laura hugged her arms closely around herself and felt as alone as she'd ever felt. What was that old song, "The Night has a Thousand Eyes"? How many were staring at her, watching her at Stefan's behest?

But, more importantly, what had he done with Lucky?

"I didn't bring the trouble," Alexis countered, staring back at Frisco Jones. "In fact, I just got here."

"Didn't we play out this little scenario once or twice before?" Frisco asked. "Once in London, and again in Nice? Both times, someone was missing, and someone else died. And, both times, Cassadine Inc. got a little bigger when their front company bought up the shares that came onto the market as some suffering person tried to raise ransom money to save someone he loved."

Ned listened carefully to what Frisco said, watching Alexis as Frisco continued.

"There was the newborn baby boy who disappeared from his nanny's care in London. His mother, already suffering from post-partum depression, committed suicide, believing that she'd never see her son again. He was returned, unharmed that same afternoon. Then there was the fiancée of a certain CEO in France who went missing for weeks during an unanticipated hostile takeover. The proposed alliance between her family's company and his crumbled as did his fortune. His brother and partner was killed in a fiery automobile accident en route to deliver the ransom. The fiancée spent the next several months in therapy and refused to ever see him again. Cassadine Inc. got the company at bargain basement prices."

"That wasn't my fault. Neither of those were my fault."

But, Ned looked at Alexis, noting the whiteness of her face, the furtiveness of her eyes when he turned her to face him. "Alexis?"

"I almost forgot Venezuela," Frisco added. "Only in that particular gambit, you were the fiancée, and an old friend of mine was the mark. His company went under and his father died of a heart attack."

"I didn't set him up," Alexis countered. "I don't know what happened. We were...Ned, you have to believe me. None of this is how it seems."

"What it seems like is the Trojan horse routine," Frisco pointed out.

"No, more like the Trojan whore routine," Lois spat angrily. "Beware of Greeks and all like that."

"Just a damned minute," Alexis shot back. "At least I didn't jump his bones on our first date."

There was the sound of a stinging slap across her face as Lois held a fist in her face. "Next time it'll be a knuckle sandwich, sister."

Frisco held Alexis back as Miguel pulled Lois away. "Calm down, ladies," he ordered. "Catfighting is all well and good, but we have bigger fish to fry."

"Where is my daughter?" Ned demanded, staring at Alexis as if she was a complete stranger. "I swear to God, Alexis, if you've had anything to do with this, you or any of your disgusting relatives, there'll be hell to pay."

"I won't be responsible for my, as you put it, disgusting relatives, and I have had nothing to do with it. But, with God as my witness, I will help you get to the bottom of this, and then you and your disgusting family can go straight to hell."

"Alexis, you'll have to come with me," Frisco told her. "And no, this trip is not optional."

"I wonder if hell is big enough for both of their families?" Miguel mused as he watched Alexis depart with Frisco.

Hannah strolled down the docks again, taking her time, pausing to enjoy the cool evening air. The night was not the same everywhere, she'd discovered. Some places it was thick, black and heavy, like a smothering blanket, the stars all but concealed by the jungle. Other places it was light, fragrant and exhilarating, while in still other places, it was dirty, gray and never entirely dark, light pollution vying with the other sorts of pollution brought by humans. This place had its own scent-rivers, a bit of diesel, some lingering fishy odors-not too strong, but still there. Places were like people in that each had its own distinctive smell.

Inhaling deeply, she noted that there was the slightest hint of a scent that she'd trained herself to recognize, to identify. It was his. Sonny's. It was musky, but not overly strong. It was clean. It was male. And, she noted, it meant power. Tightly leashed power. Power that she intended to control before the night was out.

Turning, she met his eyes as he walked towards her.

"We meet again."

She turned to walk away, knowing that Sonny could not resist the challenge.


She paused, then turned back to him. "Was there something that you wanted?"

"I was thinking that it might be something that we both wanted."

Their eyes met in a heated appraisal, and she smiled. "If it is a cold drink, then maybe."

"That can be arranged."

"On the waterfront."

"No problem."

"And no strings."

"Hey, I'm not a puppetmaster. What would you like?"

"Surprise me. I'll be interested to see what you choose for me."

"Wait here. I'll be right back."

Hannah nodded as she watched him walk away, knowing that in a few minutes, he'd be hers to command. She turned back to the river and again, inhaled deeply. Life was good.