Chapter 1


"You're spoiling me."

Lucky shrugged as Emily hugged the snuffed animal that looked a lot like Annabelle to her chest. She looked so young and happy with the doll in her arms. With the recent loss of her nephew and the physical therapy that was required for her to recover from the car accident, Lucky was more than happy to put a smile on her face. The pleasure of knowing that he brought a ray of light into his dear friend's life warmed him all over and gave him a few minutes to forget the crazy path that his life had decided to take.

"How are you feeling?" he asked, sitting on the edge of the bed. Silky strands of chestnut brown hair brushed against her pale cheeks. His fingers twitched, aching to touch both the locks of brown and her flawless skin. He coughed to mask the direction his thoughts had taken and looked down at the floor. "Has there been any change?"

"In my legs?" she asked. "No. I can't move them, but Dad ran some more tests this morning. The feeling is coming back."

"Well, that is a change!" he said, smiling as he chanced a glance at her face. When did she become so beautiful, he wondered? And why the hell didn't he notice it before?

"I suppose it is, but I didn't want to get your hopes up," she said, setting the stuffed animal on her lap. "I'll walk again, but it will take some time."

"You have a positive attitude," he commented. "That will help and you'll be walking in no time."

"What about you?" she asked. "You come by and visit all the time, but you never talk about you. Have you heard from Lizzie? Have you decided whether or not you're going to the dinner for Nikolas and Dawn tonight? Talk to me, Lucky."

He shrugged again. "Why would I hear from Elizabeth? Tommy told me she's in Colorado with Steven Lars. Apparently, she and Jason weren't as compatible as she thought."

"I'm sorry about that."

He waved her apology away. "You don't have to do that. It was for the best. We were in love with our ideas of each other and that's never a good thing. Look at what it did to my parents. They bought into it for over twenty years and when they realized the truth, it wasn't easy for them to face."

"But they're still friends, right?" Emily asked. "Don't you want that for you and Liz?"

"Sure. When we get our heads on straight, friendship would be cool."

"And what about you and Nikolas and the dinner your Mom is having for him?" Emily prodded. "What gives with that?"

Lucky rolled his eyes. "What? Are you a shrink now?" Emily laughed. "You'd give me a lot to work with if I decide to become one! No, seriously. You keep everything bottled up inside. You don't have to do that as long as I'm around. I care about you, Lucky. I always have and I always will."

Her words wrapped around him like a soothing balm. He would talk to her about Nikolas, the Impostor and everything else, but first, he had to hug her.

She returned his embrace with the same quiet passion as she did most things lately and when it was over, he poured out his feelings of betrayal at being duped by an Impostor and how he wasn't sure if things would ever be made right between him and Nikolas again.


Jason stood on the other side of the two-way mirror that separated him from Carly. Bobbie was quiet as she stood beside him and stared at Carly.

"If there was any other way, Bobbie..." Jason said, his voice low and hoarse. "We can't help her when she's like this. She needs professional help."

"Jason," Bobbie said, closing her hand over his arm, "I know that the staff here at Ferncliff are better equipped to help her, but it's hard... I hate leaving her like this."

"She doesn't know," he said.

Bobbie's fingers dug into his arm and he accepted the pain without batting an eye. He hated what they had decided to do, but there really was no other choice. Losing Sonny and Michael was too much for Carly. She seemed to accept the loss at first, but less than a couple of days later she lost it. Screaming at the top her lungs, she trashed Bobbie's brownstone and grabbed one of the butcher knives. If Jason had hesitated a fraction, she would have severely injured herself or someone else. They had no choice. Ferncliff was the only answer.

On the drive back to Port Charles, Bobbie was quiet for a long time. When she spoke to Jason, he was surprised by her words.

"Please, tell me you won't go after the people who planted that bomb," she quietly pleaded. "Carly needs you alive, Jason. Please, remember that."

"I know, " he said, "but I can't let them get away with what they did. Michael was just a baby and Sonny..."

"Sonny knew the risks," she stated firmly. "He made the choice to live that life and he paid for it. Going after those men won't bring my grandson back and it won't help my daughter. If you die... I care about you like a son, Jason, but if you make a move against those men you'll do it without my support and I won't ever want to see you again."

He pondered her words for a moment. His decision had been made the minute he saw the wreckage and the burnt remains of Michael's car seat. He couldn't do what she asked. Of all the people he'd ever known in the world, he loved Michael and Sonny the most. Turning his back on their deaths didn't sit well with him and it was something he couldn't do. He would miss Bobbie, but he wouldn't change his mind. He owed it to Sonny and to Michael.


The office space in Downtown Port Charles was everything Dara had ever hoped for and more. The view of the skyline was breathtaking and the office itself was to die for. Plush carpet, gorgeous wallpaper and the best furnishings that money could buy. Zarek promised her the works and he hadn't been stingy about delivering. She couldn't wait for him to return from his meeting with Stefan so she could thank him properly.

A knock sounded at the door. She thought it was the movers so she called out for them to enter.

"Hi, Dara."

The faint Australian accent brought a guilt-laden chill down her spine and Dara slowly turned around to face Mac. "Hi, Mac. What brings you here?"

He entered, closing the door behind him. "You," he said, walking towards her. "I heard you were moving in today so I stopped by to see if you needed any help."

"As you can see, everything is done. I just have to show up tomorrow," she said. He looked at her without anger, but there was disappointment in his steady gaze. "Mac, I'm sorry I didn't tell you. Everything happened so fast. Zarek took me to New York for lunch and the next thing I knew, we were married. I should have told you when we came back and I would have but... I wasn't sure what to say."

"The truth is always a good place to start," he said. "Friends tell each other the truth. You could have done that."

She couldn't bear to see the censure in his eyes. She moved towards the picture window and stared sightlessly down at the street below. "I should have done that. Your friendship means a lot to me and I wouldn't blame you if you didn't want..."

"I want the best for you," he said. "Are you sure this Zarek Cassadine is it?"

"I love him," she said "that's why I married him."

"I'm not disputing that," he said, his voice tight. "I just want you to be careful, Dara and to know that I still consider you my friend. If you need me, I'll be there for you."

The door closed quietly behind him and then Dara turned around. She sat on the edge of her desk as the realization that Mac was in love with her came to her. It was a surprise that she hadn't bargained for.

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