"And so it begins," Faison whispered to himself as he carefully read the e-mailed message from Alexis. "It's all in place, and soon, I'll control……" Closing his laptop computer, he walked over to the bar where he poured himself a vodka. A half smile danced across his mouth as he contemplated all that had led him to this place in his life. For so many years he'd searched for one woman, and actually thought he'd found her at one time. Indeed, Anna Devane was all he'd ever wanted, desired, or fantasized about in a woman—dark haired, mysterious, intelligent, beautiful, and, of Russian descent, with a grandmother named Anastasia. He'd fallen in love with her, done everything in his power to seduce her, but, he reflected calmly, he'd been wrong. She wasn't the woman he sought, and fate had graciously intervened to keep them apart.

It had taken years, millions of dollars, and complete dedication to his cause, and now, after forging the most dangerous of alliances, he stood on the threshold of his new life, of the realization of all his goals. He'd found her at last, and nothing would keep them apart. This was his destiny, this was the purpose for which he'd been born. Laura Spencer was to be his, and if that meant killing off the entire Cassadine family, so much the better. He was finding Helena tedious at best, in her Lesley Webber face, and no matter what she thought of Stefan, Faison knew better than to underestimate him. Alexis—now, it would truly be a pity to kill her, but something told him that she could be difficult. He'd eliminated most of the rest of the people who had caused him trouble in the past, and he still had Luke Spencer to eliminate, but that would be simple enough when the time came. The problem would be Laura's children, but, Faison shrugged, accidents had been known to happen, and he'd give her more children. His.

The phone was ringing when Mac got back in early the next morning. "Scorpio."

"Mac? Thank heavens!!"


"Yes! Mac, I'm so sorry to call you again, but I think someone's following me. I'm in Port Charles—I didn't leave the country—I just couldn't."

"Slow down, Miranda. Where are you?"

"I'm at the drug store about a block away."

"I'll be there."

Within minutes, Mac had Miranda back at his house, where she insisted on staying away from windows and doors. "Somebody has been following me for days now."

"Who and why?"

Miranda looked away, her eyes dark with despair. "I can't tell you."

"Yes you can," Mac said, turning her to face him. "You have to. We've played this game before, Miranda, and I'm not doing it again. Either you tell me, or you take your chances alone."


"No buts. I'm serious, Miranda." He stared down into her tear drenched eyes, and finally, helplessly, at her mouth. "What the hell….." he muttered, covering it with his, something he'd only dreamed about, hating himself for even thinking the thoughts consciously. Then, pulling away, he asked, "I can't play games with you, Miranda. Now you know." He turned his back on her and continued. "Do you have any idea how I felt watching you watch Jax, watching you eat your heart out over him when I was wanting to do what I just did? No, I was wanting to do a lot more. And, I was wanting to have you look at me and want me, too. It hurt when you left, but I got past it, knowing that you were alive and well. This time, Miranda, if you want to play head games with Jax, you can count me out."

"But I don't know what else to do. Mac, they tried to kill me once before—and damned near succeeded."


Miranda looked at him, fear in her eyes, remembering the horrors of those nightmarish days, and whispered, "The Cassadines."


"The Cassadines. My own family tried to kill me," she told him. "Because I know something that I'm not supposed to know."

Peter Castles looked at the woman in front of him, shocked. "I thought you were dead."

"The reports of my death……and all like that," she responded, calmly entering his hotel room. "It has come to my attention that for once, we might well be working towards the same end."

"Perhaps you're confusing me with someone else?"

"Hardly. Peter Castles of NETCo is the same Peter Castles who runs WIN, who sells intelligence to the highest bidder, always legal, but often just barely so."

"I've done nothing illegal, and you know it."

"You've closed your eyes and winked at some things," Marty told him bluntly. "You know it, as do I." She watched as all pretense left his face. "But I'm prepared to offer you a way out of your current situation."

"You know nothing of my current situation."

"Peter, you do underestimate me. Always have," she grinned. "Does Suzi know about this particular venture of yours?? Does she think that NETCo provides your only income?"

"Don't go there."

"Peter, I'm prepared to go anywhere given the gravity of this situation. The question is, are you?" She studied him. "I know all about P.J. and I have a pretty good idea where he is, and with whom."

Just then, Suzi entered the hotel room, startled to find her husband with another woman. A woman she'd believed dead. "Hello, Suzi," Marty greeted. "I'm here to help you and your husband get your son back. And, maybe your lives back, too." Turning back to Peter, Marty said, "I'm about to make you an offer that, should you accept, will be mutually beneficial to all of us."

"It's about time you got here," Jared said to Jack, their eyes meeting for the first time since Jack had stormed out of Marty's office. "Uh, I , that is, we, I'm sorry, son."

Jack grinned back at Jared, not daring to speak for a few seconds. It was all there in Jared's eyes, the pride, the acceptance, and the love that he'd always hoped he'd see.

"It's okay, Dad. I always thought you'd come around."

Suddenly, they were hugging each other, holding each other. Then, brushing aside what they both asserted were tears caused by allergies or dust, they stood back, laughing.

Jake was looking on, smiling. "Now, can we get to work? We need to get this thing wrapped up soon so I can get back to that gorgeous blonde I plan on marrying."

"Speaking of marriage," Jared said, "Son, you got a problem being my best man? That is, if your mother will have me."

"You haven't asked her yet?"

"I was getting around to it."

"Getting around to what?" came a voice from the door. "Taking down the Cassadines once and for all? Tell me I'm not too late for that party!"

"Frisco? It appears that you're not 'late' at all." Jared greeted him warmly.

"In the circles I run in, sometimes it's better to be late than never."

The men laughed, and shook hands, making introductions all around, when Jake pulled Frisco aside. "Fair warning, Frisco."

"What's that?"

"Leave Felicia alone."

Frisco was about to say something, when he caught a familiar look in Jake's eyes. It was the look he'd seen before when Jake had warned another man that to undertake a particular course of action would result in his death. As the man had died shortly thereafter, Frisco didn't take this warning lightly. "So it's like that?"

"It's like that. She doesn't know it yet, but I do. You had your chance, and you blew it. She's gutsy, gorgeous and soon to be mine."

"I see. One thing about Felicia," Frisco told him calmly. "She doesn't take orders worth a damn. She'll be yours only if she wants to be. If she does, I won't stand in your way. But, if she'll have me back…"

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