"This is a bust," Jason growled as he and Sonny lurked inside the confines of a rented Lexus. After having dinner at the Grille and watching Vincent drink alone, the two men had followed Vincent to Kelley's. So far, nothing extraordinary had occurred. Vincent still sat in his car and they continued to observe him from a considerable distance in the parking lot adjacent to the diner. Maintaining an even temperament had begun to take its toll as the excitement of surveillance had lots its appeal several hours ago.
"You wanna call it a night?" Sonny asked. He squinted at his watch. "It's still a decent hour. You can check on Keesha and the kids."
"If I call her this late, she'll think something's wrong," Jason grumbled. "I'll call her in the morning. We've followed him this long. We might as well stick it out until he goes home. Besides, he came here for something. We just gotta wait until it happens."
Sonny smirked. "You think you'll last that long?"
"I don't know, man," Jason said. "I haven't sat still this long in ages. It's killing whatever patience I had."
The older man laughed. "I gotta agree with that."
A companionable quiet settled in the car. The two men continued to watch Vincent in silence. Each speculated on what Santiago was up to, but since they'd worn that discussion to death, neither voiced their thoughts aloud. Sonny turned on the radio, switching through the stations until he found Jazz. Jason stifled a yawn induced by boredom.
"This is killing me," he complained about five minutes later.
"There's a deck of cards in the glove compartment," Sonny told him. "I'll deal first."
"Finally!" Jason exclaimed, opening the glove compartment and pulling out the cards. He gave Sonny the deck as he declared, "Deuces are wild."
"What are we playing?" Sonny asked while shuffling the cards.
"I don't care. It doesn't matter. We can play Go Fish, Old Maid, Blackjack or Poker. Let's just do it!"
"I can't believe you didn't get the chili," Lorenzo complained after Dawn had placed her order for a BLT. "They still use Aunt Ruby's recipe and it's the best in the world. I thought you were hungry."
"Listen you," she said, pointing her finger at him. "I am hungry, but I'm not in the mood for chili. Besides, that suite isn't big enough for both of us to have chili if you know what I mean."
He laughed. "You have a sick mind."
"Flattery will get you nowhere," she returned with a trace of laughter in her voice.
Behind him, the bell rang, announcing that more patrons had entered the restaurant. With his back to the door, Lorenzo didn't see who had entered, but he did notice how the laughter in Dawn's eyes died. Steeling himself, he turned in the chair to see who had put an abrupt end to her lighthearted mood.
A chill swept through him when his eyes connected with Elizabeth's wide-eyed stare. Raw hurt reflected in her shining brown eyes before she masked the pain with a cold, vacant glare. The man beside her whispered something in her ear as he took her hand. She shook her head and headed towards their table. Lorenzo's heart thudded painfully at this unexpected turn of events. His jaw clenched and he sat up straight. Their gaze never wavered.
"Hello," Elizabeth greeted with an edge to her voice.
"Hi, Elizabeth," Dawn said.
"Elizabeth," Lorenzo acknowledged her quietly.
"You've made a remarkable recovery," Elizabeth remarked with contempt as she broke eye contact with Lorenzo to look at Dawn.
"I don't know what you mean," she answered as if she was choosing her words carefully. "I haven't been sick."
"Weren't you shot at a few days ago?" Elizabeth questioned. "That was you, wasn't it?"
Dawn nodded. "Yes."
"And Noelle...?" Elizabeth added. "Your daughter."
"Yes," Dawn repeated. Her voice was strained and tension radiated from her. Her eyes appeared watery for a second but then she blinked. "Yes, shots were fired at us. One of those random acts of violence that we've all read about in the papers. Noelle is fine."
"I would hope so," Elizabeth said, "considering you're here and she's not. It's always a pleasure...seeing the two of you...together. Goodnight."
Her silent companion's mouth twisted into a mocking smile before he followed her to table on the other side of the room. Lorenzo watched them from behind hooded eyes. Elizabeth's pain had hardened her. It grieved him to see the loving, generous woman he once knew riddled with unhappiness and distrust. If Sarah was behind Dominik's abduction, he wondered if she had ever considered what forcing him to pair with Dawn would mean to her sister. When they were teenagers, Elizabeth had been labeled as the disgruntled, troubled teenager. Maybe that label should have been applied to Sarah instead.
The appearance of the waitress with their order broke Lorenzo from his reverie. He thanked the waitress and after she left, he realized that Dawn hadn't said anything since Elizabeth walked away. Pushing aside his bowl of chili, he turned his attention to her.
His heart melted when he saw how her bottom lip trembled and her hands shook as she reached for the glass of water. Long, dark lashes prevented him from seeing her eyes, but nothing could stop him from seeing the wetness that clung to them. He handed her a napkin and whispered, "It's okay to cry."
"Now, it's not," she mumbled in a raw, hoarse voice. "I'm enjoying dinner with my lover. I should be laughing, not crying."
"Want to leave?" he offered.
Dawn shook her head. A tear broke free and rolled down her cheek. She wiped it away with the back of her hand. Breathing deeply, she finally met his gaze. "I'll be fine. She's right about Noelle. She's right about everything."
"No, she's not," Lorenzo disagreed. "She doesn't know everything. Noelle wasn't hurt in the park because you got her out of there. Right now, she's safe and with people who love her. You're a good mother, Dawn."
She shrugged. "Yeah, well, that's enough about me. How are you? You didn't say much. Are you upset to see her with Emily's cousin?"
"Yeah," he replied honestly. "I never liked the kid and now, I like him even less."
"I would apologize, but you told me not to."
He gave her a half smile. "I'm glad you're listening to me for once. Are you gonna eat that?" He pointed at the sandwich that she had begun to take apart, layer by layer.
She looked down and grimaced. "I don't think so. I lost my appetite. Is your chili cold now?"
He put his hand over the bowl. Nodding, he said, "Yep. I don't want mine anymore either. We could ask for containers and see if our appetite improves later. Whaddaya say?"
Her shoulders lifted and sagged. "Sounds okay to me."
"I'll be right back."
He rose and went to the counter. He asked the waitress for doggie bags and for the bill. After paying the check and signing an autograph for the waitress, he grabbed the bag and turned to go back to the table. In that instant, he glanced towards the table Elizabeth shared with Dillon. Once again, his gaze locked with Elizabeth's. Years of misunderstandings, confusion and longing passed between them. Lorenzo felt an acute sense of loss when her brown eyes became cold and she looked away.
Straightening his shoulders, he lifted his chin and went back to the table where Dawn waited for him. He made light conversation as they put their food into the take-out containers while inside his soul ached.
Elizabeth held her breath until the light bell signaled that Lorenzo and Dawn had left. She had shuddered at the sight of them together. She cursed her body for betraying her and her heart for still caring. It wasn't fair that her heart still pounded wildly whenever she saw Lorenzo or she turned to ice as she bore witness to their adulterous affair. She shouldn't even care anymore dammit! Why couldn't she stop?
"We could have left," Dillon said softly. "There was no reason for you to subject yourself to their tasteless behavior."
"If I leave, they win," she said after drawing in a gulp of air. "This way, I win this one."
He smiled at her. "You handled yourself very well. Personally, I think he's a fool for choosing her over you. I wouldn't have."
Shaking her head, she shrugged. "It's water under the bridge now. Lorenzo's wanted her. Now, he has her. I'm happy for both of them. I'm finally free."
"I still say he's a fool."
"Well, I've said worse," she said with a light laugh. She closed her hand over his. "Let's not talk about them anymore. It's ancient history now. Tell me about this trip you're taking. How long will you be gone? Is it for pleasure or business?"
"I only deal in pleasure," he said with a charming grin. "Of course, it would be infinitely more pleasurable if you could join me, but unfortunately, I must go alone. I shan't be gone long, though and I do hope that you will miss me. Tell me that you will."
"Good!" he said, releasing an exaggerated sigh of relief. His grin broadened. "I would have been upset if you didn't think of me every moment that I was away."
Elizabeth felt herself warming to his affectionate, flirtatious nature. Her mouth curved into a smile. "You can leave knowing that I will think of you every hour on the hour."
"Oh, my dear lady, those are the words that I have longed to hear." He made a dramatic show of kissing her hand.
Vincent released a robust yawn and looked at his watch again. He was tired, bored and the small confines of his expensive racecar cramped his six foot frame. If Dillon didn't appear soon, he'd fire up the ignition and go. Whatever maddening idea the boy wonder had conceived could be discussed in the light of day. Vincent had a stack of reports to read and a trying wife to watch over. In light of the time that he'd wasted, Dillon's meeting had better be worth it.
After ten minutes of flipping through radio stations, Dillon finally showed up. He tapped on the passenger window and Vincent unlocked the door to let him in. Aggravated by the delay, Vincent bit out, "It took you long enough. Do you realize how long I've been out here?"
"Sorry," Dillon clipped in his British accent. "Elizabeth had an unfortunate encounter. I couldn't very well leave her alone after that."
"Is she okay?" Vincent asked, genuinely concerned.
"She's fine now, but I didn't schedule this meeting to discuss her. You are aware that I will be indisposed for a few days."
Vincent felt his temper rise as his blood began to boil. His brows drew downward in a frown. "You called me for this? Of course, I'm aware that you will be gone for a few days. You leave every month around this time, don't you? Hornsby, I'm not in the mood for this."
"That much is obvious," Dillon commented with mild humor. "Patience will serve you well."
A low whistle passed from Vincent's lips and he didn't say anything more.
"Very well," Dillon said. "I have received word that the ELQ stock will suffer a significant drop when the market opens again. The warehouse fire in Jakarta has also caused a good shift at Cassadine Enterprises, but not as low as we hoped. Are you prepared to correct this error?"
Vincent nodded. "There will be a press release that the fire was caused by careless workmanship and cheap materials. Since there was no proof of arson, there can be no denial on Cassadine's part. They have, however, tightened up security in their mainframe. I haven't been able to retrieve any more data."
"When will that be corrected?" Dillon asked, plucking at invisible pieces of lint. "We are to strike now while the head honcho is distracted."
Dillon's brittle laugh caused a shiver to course down Vincent's spine. A spark of conscious brought a bitter taste to his mouth. He swallowed and gave his partner a long hard look. "I've been thinking about that...distraction. Maybe we should reconsider what's been done."
"Don't tell me that you're overcome with feelings of guilt at this late hour?" Dillon asked. "We've come too far to go back now. Besides, I don't want to and if you think hard about it, neither do you."
"I don't like that part," Vincent clarified. "We were kids once. We know what it feels like to lose our mothers at such a young age. There's no justification for putting that boy through that."
"What are you talking about?" Dillon asked, his gaze razor sharp as he stared at his friend. "He hasn't lost his mother and he won't lose her...unless she does something foolish by telling her 'Prince' the truth. In the end, the kid will still have a maternal figure in his life. He will have a family. He won't be alone like we were. Sure, he's going through a rough patch now, but it won't last forever. He'll forget about it in time."
"He'll never forget his mother," Vincent argued. "She loves her kid and is afraid for him."
The other man shrugged. "She really doesn't have a reason to be afraid."
"She thinks he'll be killed if she doesn't divorce his father!" Vincent countered in outrage. "Of course, she has every reason to be afraid."
Dillon released a loud, weary sigh. "Marriage has made you soft. Toughen up, Vin."
"Tell me again that you won't hurt the kid or his mom or the little sister."
"No harm will come to the children," Dillon assured him. "The mother is out of my hands. You know that I have no jurisdiction over her," he said with a short laugh. "If she behaves herself and stays away from her hubby, I imagine that no harm will come to her. Remember, I didn't aim the gun at her in the park-"
"And that's another thing!" Vincent's hand clenched into a fist and he pounded it on the steering wheel for emphasis. "You must control her! Shooting at them was stupid and easily traceable! She got pretty damn lucky that no one caught her and no one was hurt. What the hell was she thinking about? Shooting at a little kid, for crissakes!"
"My, my, my!" Dillon tittered. "You are certainly worked up over this. I never knew you were such a fan of the sexy rock star. Had I known, maybe you could have been in the pictures with her instead. Perhaps it's not too late. Simply discard the baggage you have now and get-"
"Hold on, Dillon," Vincent cut in with a deadly tone. "Be careful of how you talk about my wife. I won't remind you again."
Quiet echoed in the car for several seconds. Both men regarded each other with newfound determination in his eyes. Dillon gave a slight nod of his head and apologized. "You are right, of course. Caroline is your burden to bear. I shan't make the mistake of mentioning her again, but I trust you will continue to have a tight rein over her. She behaved herself at the range. I hope that she continues to do so. She won't obtain custody of Michael otherwise...unless you've reconsidered the offer regarding AJ?"
"No wonder you defend that crazy Webber chick. You're just alike," Vincent muttered. "Killing is not always the answer, Dill. You have a good head on your shoulders. Use it and save a few lives."
"Why?" Dillon questioned, his eyes alight with his confusion. "The permanent elimination of a problem is a far better solution. I must get back to Elizabeth. She thinks I came out for a smoke."
"You don't smoke," Vincent said with a frown, watching as Dillon moved out of the car.
Dillon shrugged. "No, I don't, but think how pleased she'll be with me when she thinks I kicked the habit so quickly."
Vincent shook his head at his longtime friend and silent partner in crime. Glad that the meeting was over, he fired the engine as soon as the passenger door closed. Roaring off into the night, he admitted to himself that he was glad that all of their plans were coming together and anticipated the beginning of the final act.
A single knock sounded at the door of the Presidential Suite. Nikolas grabbed his black silk shirt from the foot of the bed and rushed to the door. Impatiently, he pushed his arms into the sleeves before he checked the peephole and welcomed his best friend.
Tommy's piercing green eyes darkened and an eyebrow shot up at Nikolas' state of undress. Relief swept over Nikolas when the younger man kept his thoughts to himself. He fumbled in his attempts to button his shirt and straighten his hair. Nodding toward the bedroom, he moved hurriedly in that direction. "She's back there. I did everything you said."
"Good," Tommy said. Once they entered the bedroom, he moved past Nikolas. Sarah rested against the overstuffed pillows. An ivory dressing gown was wrapped around her and with her eyes closed, she appeared to be asleep. "How long ago did you give it to her?"
"About a minute before I called you," Nikolas answered, hovering behind Tommy. "I put it in that glass of water," he said as he pointed to the empty glass on nightstand. "I emptied the vial into it and she drank it all. She became listless soon after, but she responds when spoken to. Now, what? Can we just ask her about Dominik and Dara now?"
"In a second," Tommy answered. "We need to check her vitals and ask her a few general questions first."
"All right." Nikolas backed away from the cousins and began to wear a path on the beautiful Persian rug that lay on the middle of the floor. When Tommy began to speak, his movements stilled and he moved to stand behind Tommy again. His entire being hung onto every word that was said.
"What is your full name?" Tommy asked.
"Sarah Patricia Webber," she responded in a faint whisper.
"Do you have any siblings?" he asked.
As he asked her more questions, Tommy checked her pulse and asked Nikolas to record the number on the small notepad that Tommy had brought with him. He looked into her eyes and repeated something that Nikolas didn't really understand but scribbled down anyway. When the examination was complete, Tommy told him, "We're ready."
"Will she remember this? The questions we ask?" Nikolas needed to know.
Tommy shook his head. "The serum is a relaxant and will put her in an almost slumber state. When we're done with the questions, she'll fall asleep and forget everything. It will be like it never happened."
Relieved, Nikolas muttered, "Good."
"Do you want to ask the questions or shall I?" Tommy offered.
Nikolas realized that his agitation was obvious and that Tommy's question was asked out of concern. He gave his friend a half smile as he handed him the pen and paper. "I can't write worth a damn right now, but I can question her. Can I start anywhere?"
"Yeah. Go for it."
Tommy rose from the edge of the bed and Nikolas replaced him. Taking a deep breath, he quickly plunged in with his questions. "Sarah, how do you feel about me?"
"I love you," she replied softly. A serene expression softened her face.
She grimaced and her whisper was harsh. "I hate her."
The grimace faded and her mouth curved into a smile. "I adore him."
Nikolas glanced at Tommy before he asked, "And Noelle?"
Her mouth thinned into a grim line. "She reminds me of her mother."
A muscle flicked angrily at his jaw. Holding himself in check, he asked in as even tone as he could muster, "Do you wish for me to divorce Dawn?"
"Did you send me pictures of Dawn and Lorenzo in a compromising position?" he asked.
His eyes narrowed and he quickly looked to his right at Tommy. Tommy motioned for him to keep going.
"Did you take pictures of Dawn and Lorenzo making love?"
"No," she replied again.
He released a quiet sigh and continued. "Did you hire someone to send me pictures of Dawn and Lorenzo in a compromising position?"
"No," she answered.
"Did you know that the pictures existed...that they were sent to me?"
Her mouth parted into a wide smile. "Yes."
"Did you know about the threats that Dawn received in regards to me and the children?" he asked.
Again, she smiled. "Yes."
"Do you know who shot at Dawn and Noelle?"
"Yes," she said, still smiling.
"Who shot at them?"
"It was me," she answered matter-of-factly.
His dark eyes bore into her, blazing with rage. His voice was dangerously low when he asked, "Did you take Dominik from Wyndemere in an effort to force Dawn's hand?"
"Has my son been harmed?"
Golden strands brushed against her cheeks as she shook her head. "No. Dominik is safe."
"Where is he?" Nikolas asked, on the verge of losing control.
She frowned. Her lips parted, but no sound came from them.
Nikolas' hands clenched into fists and stood up abruptly. Tommy grabbed him by the shoulders, applying pressure until Nikolas' hands relaxed. Swallowing hard, he asked again, "Where is Dominik?"
"He's safe. He's at the house near Hudson Falls."
He breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, answers! From the corner of his eye, he saw that Tommy had done the same. "Was Dara poisoned?"
"Yes," she replied.
"By whom?" he asked.
"Her doctor," she said.
"Is there a cure?"
"I don't know," she murmured, yawning.
"Who does know?" he questioned.
She shrugged and sunk deeper against the pillows. Her breathing became deep and even.
He refused to give up. "What can save Dara?"
"Nothing," she murmured. "I'm sleepy."
"I think it's too late," Tommy said as he moved to stand over Sarah. "She's out."
"But, we have to get answers about Dara," Nikolas said. "We don't even know who helped her with this. Can't we wake her up and make her keep talking?"
Tommy nodded. "We could, but if we do, we run the risk of her remembering. Maybe we can give her some more later."
Nikolas' face clouded over. He didn't want to live that night over again. Slipping the truth serum into her drinking water hadn't been easy. In fact, it was one of the hardest things he'd ever done. His jaw clenched and he turned away from Tommy and Sarah's sleeping form, heading for the living area.
Tommy followed him. "Dawn and Lorenzo are two floors up. Let's get them and go."
"Yeah," Nikolas agreed. "Let's."
The two men grabbed any evidence of their presence and left the suite without looking back.
Home | The Stories | The Dark Series | Message Board | Email Me