Tom Hardy stared back at Zandor, a tiny smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
“Answer him, damnit!” Robin injected. “Do you know where my mother is?”
“Yes, Robin, he does,” came a shockingly familiar voice from the doorway. “As do I.”
“Sean? Sean Donely?”
“In the flesh,” Sean answered, but his normally cheerful voice was gravely serious in tone. “Fully recovered, but semi-retired. I’m no longer a field agent for the WSB. I’m top dog.”
Robin was stunned. “Somebody had better tell me what’s going on right away.”
“Seems like Zandor has a pretty good handle on things right now.” Sean walked in and took a seat. “If you’ll get comfortable for a few minutes, Tom and I’ll fill you in on the relevant details.”
Robin, however, was hardly satisfied, “All these years you let me think that my mother was dead, and she wasn’t? How could you?”
“Robin,” admonished Zandor calmly. “Think before you speak. You do not have sufficient information to level accusations.”
“Sorry,” she muttered. “But I want answers.”
“And you’ll get them,” Sean promised. “But let me take you back a few years. You recall that your mother had been involved with Faison on a business level for some time. She’d at one time been a double agent, but good sense and her love for your father, and for you, had changed that. Sadly, in Robert’s eyes, she was hopelessly compromised. I confess that I had more to do with that than I should have, but that’s water under the bridge. I can’t take that back. You know the rest, how your parents got back together, and how Faison’s machinations were thought to have led to their deaths.”
“But they didn’t die?”
“No, Robin, they didn’t. However, when we got to Anna, she was catatonic. Unresponsive. Physically, she was fine, but mentally—we had no idea what had happened to her.”
“But the explosion?”
“Happened. The pictures were real. We didn’t find out the truth until much later.”
“When?” Zandor asked, wondering if his suspicions as to the time table would be confirmed. “Perhaps a little before Tom’s affair with Felicia came to a screeching halt? Just before he returned to Africa?”
“Right,” Tom answered. “They’d found Anna on a small island in the Caribbean where she was being kept alive by Robert. They’d been stranded for quite a while. Robert was frantic, and Anna was completely out of it. Whatever Faison had done to her, it had worsened an she was critically ill. It was decided on the spot that since everybody already thought that they were dead, that they’d stay dead. It seemed safer that way, and besides, until the WSB knew exactly where things stood, death continued to be an option. An ugly truth, but truth, all the same.”
“Robert and Anna knew from the beginning that compromise was not to be tolerated,” Sean told Robin. “They knew the rules. You, on the other hand, were young and the people at the top decided that you weren’t to be given information that…”
“That I couldn’t be trusted,” Robin finished.
“You were hanging out with the associate of a mobster,” Sean reminded Robin. “Sonny Corinthos was not on our ‘people to be trusted’ list, and your association with him put you on the same list.”Robin scowled, then nodded. “I understand. I don’t like it, but I understand.”
“Good. Anyhow, your mother was bad off, and Robert was determined to get to the bottom of it. He knew that Faison had given her something, but he didn’t know what. He also knew that Tom Hardy had helped her in the past, so he asked for help. Tom dropped everything and came.”
“I couldn’t tell anybody, not even Felicia,” Tom told Robin. “Leaving her was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I love her still, but she’s married to Mac now and I won’t bother her.”
“You may have no choice,” Sean pointed out. “After all, Felicia’s situation is why Zandor called.”
“Indeed,” Zandor nodded.
“But my parents,” Robin injected. “Where are they?”
“I thought you’d never ask,” Robert said from behind her.
“Hello, darling,” Anna greeted, her eyes sparkling with tears. “We’re back!”
Ned cast a disgusted look at Lois who was talking on the telephone again. “I don’t care who you have to kill to get the information, I want my daughter back, and I want her back now. Miguel…..don’t go talking Spanish like that. You know that I don’t speak it well….what do you mean, that’s a good thing? Huh? …Look, jut ask your WSB buddies, and don’t deny you’re WSB. That cat’s well and truly out of the bag now. Anyhow, ask them who’s got my Brooke Lynn and then tell me….Damn!”
She slammed down the receiver and turned to Ned. “This is your fault, Ned. Hanging out with Cassidines when you knew what they were.”
“Don’t get started with me again, Lois,” Ned told her. “I’ve had enough from you. You’ve done nothing but yell at me and everybody else since Puerto Rico and I am not interested in taking it anymore.”
“I don’t care what interests you, Ned Ashton. All I’m interested in is getting Brooke Lynn back.”
“And you think I’m not?”
“I don’t see you doing anything.”
“I don’t need you to see me doing anything for me to be doing something.”
“Um," V began as she entered the gatehouse quietly. All calls had been funneled there, and the story of Brooke’s kidnapping had been kept quiet. Not even the rest of the Quartermaine family had been informed, for fear that the story would leak out to Lila and Edward. “Um, Mr. Ashton, there’s a call from Paris.”
“Put it on speaker phone,” Lois ordered. “I want to hear everything.”
“I’ll take it privately,” Ned countered. “I want to be certain to hear whatever is said, and I can’t do that with Lois yelling nonstop.”
“Please, Mrs. Um…”
“Cerullo,” Lois snapped. “Ms. Cerullo.”
“Keep her out of my way, V.” Ned told his assistant. “Do whatever it takes, up to and including the inflicting of bodily harm.”
Ned left the room while V stood between Lois and the exit through which Ned had left.
“You’re not stopping me,” Lois said, moving to follow Ned.
“Au contraire,” V answered. “You aren’t interfering with his call.”
“Au contraire, my ^&*,” Lois told her. “If you think that another woman could keep me from finding out about my daughter.”
V just shook her head. “You’ll find out soon enough. But, I’m keeping you from being a bigger pain than you already are.”
“Why you little…”
“I warned you,” V muttered a few seconds later as she sat down on Lois, one of Lois’ arms held behind her back. “Now, if you move, suddenly or otherwise, this will hurt a lot worse.”
“Not likely,” V said as Ned reentered the room. He looked at Lois who was seething somewhat less than silently, but carefully. V met his eyes and suddenly, for the first time, Ned saw his assistant as more than a mere assistant. Hell, any woman who could best Lois was clearly someone special.
“Shall I let her up now?” V asked. “Or, would you like her out of commission for a little while longer? Or, a lot longer? We can be flexible here.”
Ned knelt beside his ex-wife and asked, “Promise to be good, to not strike me or V?”
Somewhat chastened, Lois nodded. ”Who was that on the phone?” She asked as V released her. Lois made a mental note to take any threats she issued seriously in the future.
“Nobody you’d know and there is no news. Look, Lois, I really don’t have the patience to deal with you, given all that is going on at present. Do you understand? The people who have our daughter tried to kill you once, so it’s obvious to me that they consider you unnecessary to their purposes, whatever they may be. Brooke is leverage, probably against me. We’ve already figured that out.”
There was a knock at the door, followed by the entrance of Jax and Alexis. Both looked at Ne who was clearly upset. Jax told him. “I’ve been looking into a few financial maters, Ned. I heard about the problem from Alexis a little while ago. She figured that a man like me, a corporate raider, might come in handy on your team, especially since it appears that somebody is likely making a hostile takeover attempt. I’m damned good at it, Ned. Let me help. NO strings and I don’t want your company—at least not this time. This one is on the house. You can consider it a belated baby gift.”
Lois sighed. “Some people get white knights. We get a poison pill.”
“Whatever works,” V told her. “So put a sock in it and let’s listen to what he has to say.”