Darkest Before the Dawn - 32
Chapter 32

Stefan haunted the halls of Wyndemere, looking for something, anything that could show him how his grandson was taken from his home. The walls were secure. The grounds untouched. But somehow, someone penetrated their fortress. Overconfidence was their undoing, and now his grandson suffered for their arrogance. Wearily, Stefan rubbed his hands across his face and plodded to his quarters.

Relying on habit, Stefan prepared himself for another day. Sleep would elude him so he didn't consider it. He took a shower and dressed. Trembling fingers buttoned his shirt and adjusted his tie. As he ran a brush through his hair, the telephone rang. Due to the strange hour, he didn't have to think twice to know who was on the other end. With a quiet sigh, he lifted the receiver and spoke. "Carlotta."

"How did you know?" she asked. Her smile softened her voice and brought a breathless quality to her words. "I've missed you."

"I've missed you, too," Stefan stated. Holding the receiver against his ear, he padded across the carpet in sock covered feet. His footsteps brought him to the window. Reaching out, he grabbed the rope cord and the drapes opened. The rising sun colored Spoon Lake with a vibrant rainbow of pink, orange and yellow. Such a stunning sight, Stefan thought, on such a dreadful day. A shuddering sigh slipped from him before he could stop it. Immediately, he braced himself, waiting for Carlotta's questions.

"What's wrong? What did you find out from Dara's doctors? If it was that bad, why didn't you call us?"

Her questions flew from her in rapid-fire succession. Stefan waited until she was finished before he offered his explanation and then summoned his courage to disclose the present situation to her.

"I apologize for not getting back to you as soon as possible, my love. I spoke with Dr. Graham upon my arrival yesterday. She claimed ignorance of Dara's condition; however, upon further interrogation, she revealed that the medication she prescribed for Dara was experimental-"

"Stefan!" Carrie gasped, interrupting him with a gust of indignation. "You should have contacted us immediately-"

"Carlotta, please." Stefan's voice was quiet, but firm when he interrupted his wife's second tirade. "I had the medication examined. It is not the source of Dara's distress. However, there is more to Dr. Graham's involvement than she confessed. Dara never told Alex or anyone, but when the medication proved ineffectual, she pressed Dr. Graham to send her to a facility."

"What did you find out there?" Carrie asked.

"Nothing," Stefan said with a sigh. "When I was finished with Dr. Graham, the facility was closed. I will have it investigated this morning."

"Aren't you going?"

The hurt and accusation in Carlotta's voice chipped at his resolve to be strong. Feeling himself weaken, Stefan lowered himself to the nearby ottoman. White knuckles gripped the telephone as he spoke again. "I cannot visit the facility this morning. Something unexpected has happened. Something none of us were prepared for."

"You're scaring me." Carrie drew in a harsh breath. "What's happened? Did Nikolas retaliate against Lucky?"

"No," Stefan released the word more harshly than he intended. Taking a deep breath, he pushed the words out quickly. "Dominik is missing. Someone stole into Wyndemere and took him while he was sleeping."

"Oh, my God."

Her tears spilled onto the telephone and Stefan could swear that he heard each drop. He wished that he could be there to hold and reassure her, but he couldn't. His place was there to help his son, and he would not leave until Dominik was safe. Carlotta's place was across the ocean to help Dara, and she would not leave until her daughter was cured.

"Carlotta, do not despair. He will be found," Stefan promised. "We will get him back."

"Was there a ransom?" she asked through her sniffles.


"Then, how do you know who took him? What about the surveillance cameras? Was anything recorded?"

"Nothing," Stefan grudgingly admitted. "We do not know who has him, but we will."

"This is unbelievable," she murmured to herself. To Stefan, she said, "How are Dawn and Nikolas? Please, tell me that they're working together on this."

"Things haven't been as they seem, my dear Carlotta," Stefan said. "I will explain the details later, but to answer you, yes. Our children have tempered their differences and are in partnership to recover their son."

"Is it too much to hope that this will unite them again permanently?"

The wistfulness of her voice was almost his undoing. The urge to divulge the truth was so strong, but with amazing strength, he fought against it. Face to face, he would tell her the truth. Across the wire, he had no choice but to lie. He knew that given the circumstances, she would forgive him. "We shall see. Our children are stubborn. Only time will tell how their relationship will culminate."

Carrie accepted his words with a deep sigh. "Give them my love and tell them that I'm praying for them."

"I will."



"You know that you have my love, too."



The door slammed shut behind Alex, causing Matt's papers to sail through the air in disarray. A dark frown creased Matt's brow. A reprimand was on the tip of his tongue when the door flew open by Sonny's hand and slammed shut behind him. Matt's mouth opened to rebuke them both, but Alex's bellow shocked Matt into silence.

"Stay the hell away from me, Corinthos!" Alex said. His face was red and beads of sweat littered his forehead. Rage boiled from him and electrified the room that was set up as Matt, Ellen and Simone's work space.

"You're a pigheaded fool!" Sonny countered. His black eyes blazed with equal fury and indignation. With his hands resting on his hips, his feet were spread apart, as if he was bracing himself. Matt looked at both men, shook his head and opened his mouth again-

"And you're nothing but a parasite! Sure, they all think you're wonderful here," Alex fired back, his hands spreading out in a sweeping gesture, "and Simone worships the ground you walk on, but I know you! I allowed them to bring Dara here to keep her safe, but there's no way in hell I'm trusting you to do anything else!"

"Grow up, Garcia! Put your wife's needs ahead of your pride-"

"Oh, that's rich coming from you. It's only a miracle that Simone hasn't stepped into the wrong limo at the wrong time."

The reminder of Sonny's first wife's untimely death brought a deadly quiet into the room. Sonny's eyes narrowed to slits as the weight of Alex's words continued to bear down upon them. Faster than anyone could have anticipated, he crossed the room to arrive just inches from Alex. Staring back at the hurting, livid man, Sonny stabbed his finger into Alex's chest. He defined the importance of his words with each jab of his finger. "Don't ever cross the line like that again, Garcia." He balled his hand into a fist and pressed it against his side. "I know that you're scared about Dara, but don't fuck with me when it comes to Simone. I won't tell you again."

The muscles in Alex's jaw worked, but no words passed from his lips. In silence, he returned Sonny's stare.

The time had come, Matt decided. Reaching for his cane, Matt rose to his feet. Not bothering to move from his desk, he said his peace where he stood. "Enough. Alex, Sonny…no more. It affects Dara and it makes all of our efforts useless."

"Matt, I-"

Matt raised his hand to ward off Alex's words. "I don't care. All I care about is making your wife whole again."

Clearly offended, Alex frowned. "I care about my wife!"

"Prove it," Matt said after expelling a low breath. "Ignore Sonny, where we are and focus on Dara. She needs your attention right now. Whatever's going on between you and him can wait-"

"It can't," Sonny interjected. "He knows it and that's why he's fighting me. If he would just listen-"

"Can it, Corinthos," Alex bit out.

"If it doesn't have to do with Dara, it can wait." Matt said the words with authority. His patience was on a string that was being pulled so tightly that he could almost feel it snapping in two. He did not want to waste his time on their juvenile antics any more.

"This has everything to do with Dara," Sonny explained. Turning his back on Alex, he moved to sit on the edge of Matt's desk. "Cassadine faxed over some of Dara's paperwork. She spent some time in a fertility clinic without anyone's knowledge-"


Sonny continued as if Alex hadn't butted in. "The Dr. Graham who was treating Dara signed her up for some additional treatments. Cassadine did all he could with Dr. Graham and now, we need to start in on the quacks at the clinic. Cassadine's grandson is missing, so he has to focus his attention elsewhere. I can go over and-"

"The PCPD can and will handle the investigation," Alex said. "Mac is more than capable of-"

"-botching the whole damn thing up. He's got cop written all over him. As soon as he's on the case, those bastards will know and they will disappear," Sonny reasoned. "I'm smoother than that. I can be in and out with everything they need before they even know what hit them."

"So, now you're the invisible man?" Alex asked with contempt.

Without batting an eye, Sonny replied, "I can be." His attention didn't stray from Matt as he added, "What do you think, doc? You're a smart man. With the department's need for warrants and permission slips, do you think that Dara can wait for all of that?"

He hated being caught in the middle, but Matt would not lie to save the face of either man. Shaking his head, he said, "It would take too long. Whatever can be found out needs to be given to us ASAP. We've stabilized her condition, but we haven't cured her."

Rising from the desk, Sonny kept his back to Alex. "You heard the man. Call it."

"Go," Alex said without preamble, "and I'm coming with you."

"No!" Both Matt and Sonny spoke at once. Alex stared back at them. The flames of anger glowed brightly in his eyes. Matt spoke up before another war began. "Dara needs you here."

"I need to help her. Staying here…" Alex threw his hands up in frustration.

"Staying here," Matt said quietly, "helps her. She can feel you, and when she has good moments, she can see you. She needs you here."

"And you'd only get in the way in Port Chuck," Sonny added. He shrugged when Matt gave him a chilling glare.


"Matt, it's okay," Alex said. "You're right. My place is with Dara. Don't screw this up, Corinthos."

"Not on your life," Sonny promised. "Not on your life."

Chapter 33