Sean Donely turned to the younger man who was in charge of the Paris bureau of the WSB who sat across the table from Robert and Anna, who were both studying him as if he was a rare specimen from an alien planet.
"They know, as do I."
"Do they?" Zandor asked, almost indifferently.
"We do," Robert answered. "But what we want to know, is does he know?"
"Assuming that we are talking about the same 'he'," Zandor answered, "not to my knowledge. He assumed my death, as did the others."
"But things have changed since then," Sean pointed out. "You've brought Alexis Davis into the equation of late."
"I did. She may prove necessary when the time comes."
"Are you certain that you can trust her?"
"As certain as you are that you can trust me."
"Which leaves us all a bit uncertain," Anna added, thoughtfully. "And since uncertainty very nearly led to our deaths not so horribly long ago, it is something that we would like to put to bed, so to speak."
"Very well," Zandor began. "My story starts many years ago when I was rescued from a couple of cutthroats. It seemed that our small family had run afoul of the Cassadines...."
"I'm telling you, Luke," Amy said, sitting across the table at the diner. "Laura is really losing it. Really. You have to do something."
"Do what?" Luke asked, as Tammy poured another cup of coffee. The diner was closed for the day, but Amy was family, and Tammy had allowed her in. He sighed and shrugged. "Tell me what she said, Amy."
"She was yelling about Helena Cassadine, accusing her of murdering Lucky, of being responsible for the bad things that have befallen your family."
"The Cassadines are behind pretty much all of our troubles," Luke admitted. "But, go on. What else did she say?"
"Luke, she doesn't really believe that Lucky is dead. She was babbling on about a lot of things, but she told Stefan that she believed that Lucky was alive, that Helena had done the same thing with her son that she'd done with her-Laura, that is-years ago-faked the death, and then, Laura begged Stefan to help her, to bring her son back. Then, she fainted dead away into his arms."
"Interesting," Luke commented. "Thanks for telling me, Amy. So, what was the outcome?"
"Rumor is that Stefan is going to take her to his country home for a few days-you know, the one not too far out of town."
Amy left, with Luke sitting quietly, contemplating her news. "Message received, darlin'," he whispered. "Loud and clear."
"You are good at this," Alexis told Jax whose fingers danced over the keyboard of his computer, pulling up information at an incredible rate.
"Of course I am," Jax agreed. "It's how I've managed to keep Cassadine Inc. at bay all these years. I've unraveled more twisted up messes than this one, however. You see, Stefan is clever, but he's not overly creative. Still, there is something different this time, something that doesn't shout his name to me."
"Yeah. See, he usually makes the effort to cover things a little better. It's like this time, he's given me a road map to his destination." Jax scratched his head. "I usually have to dig a little harder."
"He has been a little preoccupied of late," Alexis admitted, thoughtfully. "Though that usually doesn't bother him. He works well under pressure."
"Which leads me to believe that this may be a false trail, that somebody is setting him up, or that he wants it to look that way." Jax grinned. "Not a bad plan-I've done it myself, before."
Alexis laughed softly, enjoying Jax's company. "You were one of our more entertaining adversaries."
"Why, thank you. I seem to recall Jerry saying that you were one of the more devious players in the game."
Alexis smiled. "Which is why you and I joined forces in the first place," she reminded him. "I have to admit that I enjoyed our recent trip, even if it did result in a crash landing."
"Same here." He paused. "You never did tell me exactly what it was that Zandor said to you in Paris after you and Ned had your falling out."
"I didn't, did I?"
"No, you just asked for my help and said that it was about saving Ned's little girl."
"And you said that you'd help."
"Which I am. But Zandor told you something that changed your outlook on things."
"Zandor has the ability to clarify certain issues," Alexis told him. "Look, Jax. I trusted you with my life when we started working together a few weeks ago, and you didn't let me down. I trusted Ned with my heart and he threw it back at me when he'd just asked me to marry him. I didn't tell you before, but we'd planned to get married the very night that Brooke was kidnapped. We were just about to leave, when the call came in. A few hours later, he turned his back on me, believed that I could be behind his daughter's disappearance."
"You wouldn't hurt a child, Alexis. Ned is a fool to even entertain the thought, however briefly."
Alexis dashed away a tear and smiled. "Thanks. It's odd, Jax, but I can't imagine being with him now."
"Ned comes from a family where games of intrigue and deception are considered rites of passage."
"Same with the Cassadines, but with one major difference. Where Ned simply turned away from me, Stefan withdrew his protection, and Helena planned to kill me."
"Ned wasn't the right man for you," Jax told her, suddenly. "He is incapable of truly appreciating what you could bring to a relationship, and I don't mean money or connections."
"What else is there?" she found herself asking. "Understanding? I thought we had that. We were both gatekeepers. We both knew that we had to hold our family secrets, to clean up the family messes, to..."
"You're nobody's servant, Alexis," Jax began. "Nobody's poor relation, and it's time that their families learned to clean up after themselves." He grinned. "My family rescues each other, saves each other from various sticky situations, but we clean up after ourselves whenever possible. We don't leave things around for others to...step in unless there's no other real choice. Granted, Jerry isn't as neat as we might like, but he has other talents."
"Sounds like your parents trained you well."
"That they did. They taught me to see things that others miss, to discover treasures that others might miss."
His eyes twinkled as he pulled Alexis closer to him. "Ned is a fool, Alexis. I'm not. Now, I'm also not presuming that you would come to me heart whole and without a past, but I'm a treasure hunter, a corporate raider from way back. I take chances where other men wouldn't dare, when other men would wait too long. I know when the moment comes, and that's when I make my move."
"Ask yourself why you came to me in the first place, Alexis, when you were trying to learn the truth about Helena's secrets. Ask yourself why, when you were in trouble with Ned that you came to me again. You knew that I wouldn't let you down, that I wouldn't walk away if we ran into trouble." He stared down into her eyes. "Then, ask yourself why I was always willing to help."
"Why?" she whispered, staring back.
"This is why," he answered, bringing his mouth down to hers. He kissed her gently at first, then with the unspoken promise of a man who has just discovered that he is holding his heart's desire in his hands.