"Mommy!" wailed the little dark-haired girl as she looked at Lucky Spencer. "I want my mommy!"
"Same here, kid," Lucky muttered, wondering what he was doing wherever he was, and why. Everything was very strange to him, as if there was time missing, time for which he could not account. "You know, you look a lot like Lulu did a couple of years ago. Killer dimples, too."
The little girl turned huge blue eyes to him and begged, "I want my mommy!"
Lucky looked at the little girl, then knelt beside her, just as he'd done with Lulu countless times in the past. "Everything is going to be all right. Now, what's your name?"
"Brooke," she answered finally, after serious thought. "Brook Lynne Ashton."
Stunned, Lucky continued, "Does your daddy sing?"
"Uh huh," the tot answered. "So does Miguel." She paused, then squeezed tears out of her big eyes. "I want my mommy!"
"I see you have found our newest guest," Faison began as he entered the room. "I apologize for not introducing you earlier, but I was called away."
"Herr Krieg," Lucky began, wondering where the name had come from. Apparently he knew this man. "What are we doing here?"
"I am arranging for your safe passage back home," Faison answered. "There are great dangers, dangers that I hope to avoid on your behalf. And on the behalf of the child beside you."
"I don't understand," Lucky said. "What happened to me? To her? Why are we here?"
"Someone you know has tried to use you as a pawn, and I interfered with the plan. Your father has done me favors in the past, and I saw this as a means of returning the gesture. But, as there is still great danger, we must approach this very delicately."
"My parents?" Lucky asked suddenly. "How long has it been? This is all very strange."
"Indeed it is. Your parents are grieving for you, Lucky, but we will end that soon. For them, for you, and for those responsible for your supposed death, your existence must remain a secret for a little longer. We're setting a trap, so to speak."
"And for Brook? She's Ned Ashton's daughter, isn't she?"
"That she is. Charming child. The same people who sought to use you against your parents are trying the same with Brooke. You see, they think that I am working with them, when in reality, I am working against them. Sort of a double agent."
"But why? Why would anybody want to hurt us?"
Faison shook his head as if in disbelief, himself. "Surely you know by now that the Cassadines are capable of the greatest evil? They need no reason other than that it serves their purposes at any given moment."
"You mean that the Cassadines are behind this?"
"Yes," Faison admitted, gently leading Lucky through the story that he was concocting. "You see, Stefan plans to stage a rescue, to bring you to your mother in hopes of gaining her undying gratitude and devotion."
"But you're going to stick it to the Cassadines?"
"Rather an inelegant term, but essentially correct. I will not explain it all to you, Lucky, but suffice it to say, they offended me deeply. They have done a wrong that cannot be undone. In short, they must pay."
"Works for me. Just leave Nikolas alone. He's my brother."
Faison smiled. "It shall be so. He narrowly escaped death at the hands of Kathryn Bell the other night. It is my belief that Helena plotted his death. You know that she arranged for Kathryn's care during her illness."
"But why kill Nikolas?"
"It all comes down to money and power for the Cassadines. They think that it is their due, but they have gained it illegitimately. They stole from others and it will be my pleasure and honor to return to the legitimate owners."
"I want to help," Lucky told him. "You saved my life...didn't you?"
"I did. It was nothing. Really. Merely a matter of being in the right place at the right time."
"Then just tell me what to do, how to help."
"Little ripples in the water," Faison said gently, watching as Lucky's alert expression changed to one less focused, more distant. "Are you still with me, Lucky?"
"Then listen carefully, and I will explain what you must do."
"You see, Alan, Lila was not my first love, nor was I hers. In fact, we didn't love each other at first. Ours was a marriage of convenience in one sense."
Alan was stunned. "You're kidding. You love Mother. I can see that."
Edward nodded. "I do, and have for many years, but it was not that way at first. Indeed, our beginning was why Lila forgave me my many infidelities along the way."
"I don't understand." Alan looked at his mother who was resting at the moment, her eyes closed, her breathing regular. "I thought yours was a love match."
"It came to be one, but at first, I was Lila's protector. She came to me years ago, and begged me to help her." Edward smiled as he recalled the past. "She was so beautiful then-still is-but she was frightened and hurt, and I'd have done anything for her. She'd been my cousin Elliot's girlfriend, but he'd gone off to war and died, so we lost touch for a little while. Then, she came to me and told me that her father was trying to force her to marry someone she hated, someone that had forced himself on her with her father's blessing." Edward drew a deep breath. "I offered to kill the man, but Lila wouldn't have it. His was a very powerful family, and she feared that would bring down their wrath on me. She was probably right about that, but in a short time, it became apparent that we had to do something. She was pregnant, so I married her, but not until I'd promised that ours would be a marriage of convenience-mine-and that I could do as I pleased. It was her wish, and I agreed."
"But first, we had to get through the pregnancy. She had twin boys which were given up right after birth. She didn't even get to hold them-it was a difficult birth. They were a little early, but both survived. When the man her father had wanted to marry came to us, she lied and told him that they'd been stillborn, and pointed to the family crypt. She was so overwrought that he bought the story, and left, but not without telling her that she'd better be telling the truth." He exhaled deeply. "So, she never dared contact them, never told them the truth, and we never spoke about it, even to you or Tracy. That was how she wanted it. I guess it hurt too much to think about her loss."
"She was depressed for a while, wanting her babies, so I gave her children. We were married, after all, and I was fond of her. She was fond of me-called me her hero-but for the longest time, I didn't know what love was all about. You and Tracy were nearly grown before I realized what a jewel I had, and what a fool I'd been for so long. I haven't strayed since. But, she forgave me because of our agreement, and because she had fallen in love with me." His eyes filled with tears. "I can't lose her, Alan. I can't."
"Mac! Good to hear from you. I was wondering when you'd call. Robin is well and a great help. She's a natural like you said she'd be."
"Glad to hear it. What I called you about is that there's some really strange stuff coming down around here, and I'm guessing that you know about most of it."
"Actually, I was thinking of visiting your fair city soon."
"I see. Then things are as interesting as I'd feared?"
"Probably more so. You know the configuration about which we spoke years ago?"
"Something like that. It appears that Port Charles is in the cross-hairs."