"Holy ****!!" Lucky breathed softly, staring into the equally stunned eyes of his brother.

Nikolas sat down abruptly, speechless, shocked by Laura's revelation. This was all so new, so incredible that he didn't know whether or not to believe any of it. Yet, he knew that it had the ring of truth to it, and that deep within, he'd accepted it the instant he'd heard it.

"You mean he's one of us? For real?" Lucky asked. "Man, is Dad going to be freaked when he hears this!"

"Nobody can hear about this until we're out of here," Laura instructed both boys carefully. "Do you have any idea what the Cassidines would do if they suspected that he was a Spencer? All hell would break loose if they thought that the boy they'd nurtured in their midst, that the Cassidine heir was the natural son of their worst enemy."

Nikolas sat quietly, trying to absorb this latest bit of information. He was a Spencer? Shaking his head, he mulled this over. No, it couldn't be. All his life he'd been the Cassidine heir, the future of that family, and now, it was all for naught. Or, was it? His mother had said that he was legally a Cassidine, hadn't she?

"Nikolas," Laura began, sensing the consternation in her oldest son. "Talk to me."

"About what?" he asked, meeting her gaze with his. "I really don't know what to say. All my life I thought I was somebody else. It's going to take a while for me to digest this."

"Same here," Lucky admitted. "All this time I thought I was the oldest Spencer kid, and now I've lost that job." He grinned. "Guess this means that you're going to have to work for a living like the rest of us."

"A..." Nikolas paused, aware that he'd been about to begin with 'A Cassidine...'. "Look, I'll deal with this in my own way, on my own terms. Just let me alone. Okay?? Maybe you should try to imagine for a moment how you'd be feeling right now if you'd discovered that you were a Cassidine instead of a Spencer."

"I think I'll pass on that," Lucky told him, as Laura flinched at Nik's last remark. "Mom, any other secrets you'd like to unload on us?"

Life was certainly strange, Bobbie thought as she sat beside the mustachioed man who'd introduced himself as Shamus O'Shaunessey. As their small plane lifted off the ground, he turned to Bobbie. "'Tis a fine time the missus and I have been havin' with the wee laddie."

There was something familiar about the man, Bobbie decided. "How do you know Luke?" she asked, finally.

With a deep laugh, Shamus answered, "We go way back, Luke and I."

That did it. There was something about that laugh. Something...... "Sean?" Bobbie asked quietly. "Sean Donely?"

"Lassie," he laughed, his brogue changing. "You've been living with a Cassidine far too long. Yes, Bobbie, it's me. Tiffany has Lucas, and he's just fine."

"Thank God! Will you tell me what's going on?"

"I'll tell you what I know," Sean promised. "Since you're going to lay low until this is over. First off, Mrs. Lansbury arranged for Nikolas to be kidnapped. For what reason, we don't know, nor do we know where he is. We suspect that she may be behind Lucky's disappearance, as well."

Bobbie was astonished. "Mrs. Lansbury? But she's..."

"Working for Stefan as a housekeeper, yet Lucas saw her slip something in Nik's milk and then Nik apparently fell asleep and was carried away by the gardener and somebody Lucas didn't know. Your son is resourceful-he stowed away on a boat leaving the island, saved Foster, and saved a lot of people from being poisoned at Ruby's."

"Do you think that Stefan knows about this?"

"Hard to say," Sean answered. "Lucas didn't think so, but he didn't trust Stefan enough to tell him what he'd seen."

Bobbie sat silently, taking this all in. "So how did you get involved? Did Luke ask you to help find Laura?"

"It's a long story," Sean admitted. "But let me fill you in......"

Sonny Corinthos looked insolently across the table at Stuart Matthews. "You flew all the way out here to inspect my operation? What are you? Nuts? You think that I'm going to show you anything except the door? Hell, you can find that yourself."

"Don't push me, Corinthos," Matthews said softly, icily. "You owe me for the damaged shipment, and I intend to collect."

Sonny sighed and asked, "How many times do I have to tell you that I'm not responsible for whatever happened to your shipment?"

"And what if I can prove that your man, Jason Morgan, was behind the damage?"

"You're lying. Jason is loyal."

"Oh, he's loyal, but not to you," Matthews insisted. "You recall our last conversation? I had somebody check out his whereabouts that night, and I can place him in Beecher's Corners. Along with Robin and a cop. Does the name 'Taggert' mean anything to you?"

Only years of hiding his emotions allowed Sonny to keep from flinching over that particular combination of names. "Yeah, I know that guy. He's a pain in the a** but he doesn't have anything on me."

Matthews smiled, and continued. "You've been screwed, Corinthos. Really screwed."

"I don't believe it."

"Fine. You don't have to believe it. But, you'd better check it out yourself. What if your protégé is really a cop?"

"Jason's no cop."

"Can you afford that kind of faith? He knows your entire operation, doesn't he?"

"I told you, Jason's loyal."

"Fine. Then you wouldn't mind having him meet me and my, uh, operative, who, incidentally, has proof?"

"Well, what will it be? Dead or a hostage? I should inform you that being a hostage of the people who employ me has been known to be a temporary job. Very temporary, and sometimes involves unpleasant experiences."

"Dead, on the other hand," Jack observed, "is a little final for me."

"Good point," Jake nodded, running his thumb across the blade of his knife. "On the other hand, if you're dead, Matthews won't be worrying about you any more."

"But, then I'd be worthless as a bargaining chip."

"Hmmmmm. But, I have to ask myself, do we want a bargaining chip?"

"Besides, if you kill me, then you'll have to dispose of my body."

"No problem. This little cabin we're in is ready to go off like a bomb. In fact, come to think of it, I have a bomb here just for little problems like this one."

"Damned boy scout!" Jack grumbled. "Marty won't let you get away with this."

"Not if she thinks I'm dead, too."


"Jack, for a normally bright guy, you're really being a dim bulb today. Do you think that I'd kidnap her fair-haired boy, do him in and hang around waiting for her to figure it out? Hell no! I have to disappear, too."

"So why didn't you just kill me at the apartment?"

"Too messy. Besides, it occurred to me that you might not enjoy being dead."

Jack shook his head in disgust. "Like I'm going to prefer being dead and blown to bits out here?"

Jake laughed out loud. "How about if everybody just thinks you're dead and blown to bits?"

"Then I don't get to be a hostage?"

"Old buddy, no way would I want to babysit you! How about we just cut you loose, cover that pretty face with a beard, and blow this joint? I was getting really tired of working for Matthews, anyhow.

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