"Okay, Connor, you've got my attention. Who wants to kill me and why?" Lucy Coe was still firing off questions as quickly as breath would allow. "This is really strange. It's not like I've done anything lately that would seriously offend anybody. I've been as good as gold. Better even. Besides, I've been out of town for a few days." She paused, and looked at him. "This is from California, isn't it? This is connected somehow to the kidnapping, and to whatever is going on out there. This whole thing is interconnected, isn't it?"
"You're right on all counts," Connor answered. "I had to come out and warn you. I've been following Angela's activities for some time. She's killed at least once that I know of, and has tried to kill at least one other time."
"Yes. I take it that you know what's been going on?"
"I know a little," Lucy admitted, "but it's like having a few pieces of a puzzle without knowing what the full picture is supposed to be. I know about Tom..."
"Look, you won't be completely comfortable talking with me until you've talked with Jared Andrews."
"You know Jared?"
"I made his acquaintance recently. He knows what I know now, but you need to hear it from him."
Seconds later, Lucy was on the phone with Jared, who quickly cleared Connor. "So tell me about this Angela," she said to Connor after she'd hung up the phone. "And why is she out to kill me?"
"I met Angela a couple of months ago when I began looking for Tom Hardy. The Real Tom Hardy. I was working with Frisco Jones-who, by the way, is either dead or in hiding, and I don't know which, when we began to suspect that the PC Tom Hardy was a fraud. We got a note from Simone Hardy a while back indicating that she suspected something amiss with him, that he hadn't been the same since he'd returned from Africa, and that she dared not tell anyone else. She told us that strange things were going on, and that she was scared to death. By then, Tom had become involved with Felicia, the Cassadines had come to town, ostensibly to save the Spencer child, that Steve Hardy had died, and General Hospital had come under complete control of the Cassadine family. We began to research Tom Hardy, when for reasons unknown to us, the WSB deleted his file. One day it was there, the next it was gone. Frisco remembered a few things from Tom's time in Africa-things he'd read before, and the times noted had been different from the times that Simone had told him about. Naturally, we became suspicious."
"Naturally. So you've suspected that the PC Tom isn't really Tom at all and didn't tell Felicia or anybody else?"
"Lucy, think about it. People don't disappear and have their places taken by ringers for no reason at all. Plus, by the time we got involved, much of this had already taken place. We backtracked from Monte Carlo, the last place from which Simone got a call from the man she thinks of as her real husband, and learned that the following night, Tom Hardy had been gambling, drinking, and generally partying all over the place, getting noticed by almost everybody."
"The Tom I knew wasn't a party animal. He was a sweet guy-a little stuffy, though."
"Very good, sincere sort of man, from what Frisco said. This was completely out of character, so we figured that there had been a switch made there."
"You don't just make a switch that fast," Lucy pointed out. "Having a double ready would have taken a lot of preparation. In fact, they would have had to set the whole thing up. They'd have had to have lured Tom to Africa."
"You're beginning to understand the depth of this whole thing. This is a very involved, well planned and to this point, well executed maneuver. But, unfortunately, we've only been into this thing for a relatively short time. We couldn't tip our hands to what we suspected, so we let things ride while we dug behind the scenes. I managed to get a lead on a man who had traveled back to San Francisco from Monte Carlo with a sick relative and that's how I managed to find Tom. Frisco was running down some other information when his plane exploded in mid-air. I had to assume that he was dead-I was notified by the WSB."
"God, I hope he's just hiding. But the WSB deleted Tom's file-I don't understand."
"I think that they may have 'deleted' Frisco, too. He thought that the agency had been compromised which is why I contacted Jared. Frisco had given me his name."
"This is spooky," Lucy murmured, sitting down. "And you met this Angela woman while you were looking for Tom?"
"Yeah. I got hired as muscle by some woman named Victoria. She's used several last names, as has Angela. Hell. Lucy-I've been using a different name, too-Scott Drake-anyway, I had to clean up one of Angela's messes-she offed one of her former lovers, and Victoria sent me and another guy to take care of it. Angela was as cool as ever. She thanked me for cleaning up and I knew then that she was a few bricks shy of a full load."
"And you think that she's after me?"
"I think so. She came to Port Charles this morning, and I heard from one of my contacts that she'd been seen outside the restaurant where you staged that scene with Kevin Collins. She was also seen at the airport where you left the doctor at the limousine."
"Good grief," Lucy said. "I was safer in California."
"I don't think it would matter to her," Connor said. "She's fixated on you-and I think that it has something to do with Stuart Matthews."
"I know that name," Lucy said. "But I don't recall meeting him. He's into medical research."
"Yes. Stuart Matthews was also at the restaurant that night. From what I've heard, he was watching you, and apparently, she was watching him. The man Angela killed was a former employee of Matthews' Medical Research, and apparently he was working on something extraordinary."
"Drops," Lucy said. "Tom said something about drops that killed, and drops that brought him back to life. He mentioned a beautiful woman..."
"Poor devil," Connor commented. "By the time I found him, he'd been drugged for months. I had no idea if the antidote I gave him would work, or if it did, if he'd have any sort of mind left."
"He's making progress," Lucy told him. "Okay, Connor. If we can get this Angela woman, maybe we can get her to talk."
"Lucy, it's not that easy. There are bigger things going on here. Angela isn't stable enough to pull this off by herself. I think that she's a small cog in this thing. We're talking about international high rollers in this. Higher than Matthews. No, Lucy, we have to find out who is behind this thing. We need to identify and bring down the big spider in this web of deceit."
"Come to Grandmama," the red-haired woman said to Lulu who cast troubled eyes to her mother, Laura Spencer. The little girl clung more tightly to her mother, while Laura sought inner strength. Nothing in her entire life had prepared her to deal with the madwoman who stood wearing her mother's face.
"What do you want from me?" Laura demanded. "And where is my mother?"
Helena Cassadine chuckled and responded, "Laura, or, shall I call you 'Lasha'? Yes, I know all about my son's pet name for you. I know all about your shameful affair with him, how you tricked him into loving you, how you seduced him into betraying me."
"Where is my mother?" Laura asked again. "Did you kill her?"
"Laura, why ever would I do that? What good is she to me if she's dead? A dead pawn is useless, unless everybody thinks that the pawn is alive. At any rate, your mother's whereabouts is my business, not yours."
"Why did you bring me here? Why did you kidnap us?"
"Laura, my dear, that's a nasty accusation. Let's just say that you have your uses, as does your darling daughter. You know, I've always wanted a granddaughter."
Laura held Lulu more tightly, and the child began to whimper, sensing her mother's discomfort. "It's okay, Lulu," she whispered. "Daddy will find us."
Helena chuckled. "Luke? Do you really think that he'll care the slightest about you when he finds that Nikolas is Stefan's son? And that Lesley Lu looks just like her brother? Your paranoid husband will assume that she's Stefan's, too."
"Stefan won't let you hurt us."
"Stefan is hardly a man you should choose as your savior," Helena told her. "Did you know that since your absence, he's been making a complete ass of himself over some blonde named Katherine Bell? No, he'll have his hands full when his wife finds out about that. Laura, my dear, it's payback time now. All those years of thinking that you could get away with what you'd done-you were never completely out of my reach. But, why punish you then? It would have been so easy-I could have had you killed at any time-you, or your miserable husband, or that brat son of yours. No, Laura, I let you go on living, on building a life so that when the time came to exact my revenge on you, that you would have something to lose. I want you to hurt, Laura, to live in the kind of mental pain that will cause you to suffer greatly, and I intend to see that you live a very long time."
Helena motioned to one of the men who had helped her kidnap Laura and Lulu. "Take my granddaughter, Erik. Laura, I suggest that you don't resist. Erik is quite adept at inflicting pain, and he rather fancies blondes. I won't hurt the child. She'll be completely safe with me, safer than she would have been with Stefan. Did you know that he arranged her illness earlier? Don't look so stunned. These things are very easy to arrange, as are heart attacks." The woman smiled as she cooed to the whimpering toddler. "It's all right, little one. Grandmama will see that you have everything that a little girl could possibly want. Don't cry, you'll forget all about her as quickly as she forgot about your brother." Turning to Laura, Helena asked, "What will you tell Luke this time? Yes, I'll be letting you go home, but without my granddaughter. A Cassadine should be with Cassadines, not with Spencers!"
Laura stared at Helena in horror. "You can't have my daughter."
"I already have her, like I already have your sons." She smiled slowly. "Both of them."
8,935 Fans of "Web of Deceit" visited us previously