Chapter 56

"Are you crying?" Vincent asked as he joined Carly in the breakfast room. He glanced at the telephone. "Who was that on the phone?"

Carly dabbed at the corner of her eyes with the linen napkin. Clearing her throat, she said, "That was Bobbie. She's not sure if getting Michael back into my life will be easy."

"Surely, you knew that," Vincent said. A servant appeared with coffee and a full plate for him. He accepted both with a smile. "We've known all along that this wouldn't be easy. Caroline, why do you persist in living in a fantasy world?"

"I do not!" She slammed her balled fist down hard onto the tabletop. The ting of silverware clashing together echoed in the small room. She hardly noticed. "I knew it all along, but you kept saying that it would happen. AJ will never let me anywhere near Michael. And Michael hates me so what's the point of it all anyway?"

Carly rose and moved to leave, but Vincent's hand shot out and encircled her wrist. He applied loose pressure while the fierce glittering of his dark eyes screamed of his frustration with her. "The point is he's your son. Why is that so easy for you to forget when the waves began to rock? You have a tongue like a viper, but when a python strikes back you turn tail and run. He's your son, dammit!"

"I can't make him want me in his life!"

He released her and inhaled a deep breath. "No, you cannot, but you can try. From your past mistakes, he has every reason not to trust you. Now that you've evolved—somewhat—give him a reason to love you."

She slowly reclaimed her seat across from him. Her fingers fidgeted with a glass of orange juice. "I don't know if I can."

Vincent stopped eating to look at her. "Why can't you?"

Her shoulders lifted in a half-shrug. "What could he love about me? Eve's been his mother for most of his life, and she's a doctor, too. I can't compete with that."

"Who asked you to?" he questioned. "I doubt if Michael loves Eve because she's a doctor. He loves her because she's there."

A scowl darkened her face. "I would have been there too if AJ hadn't-"

"Caroline!" he snapped. "We're talking about you and Michael. The first thing you should work on is blaming others for your mistakes. AJ did what he did as a result of what happened between you. Now, before you start, I'm not choosing one side over the other, but one thing is certain, you are not blameless in any of this."

"I did what I had to do, too," she reasoned with a pout. "My back was against the wall. You don't know what it was like. I was all alone and didn't have anyone-"

"Why do you refuse to listen?" he asked. "You're a smart woman, but you could be brilliant if you'd only pay attention." His expression softened and he smiled. Pointing at her food, he said, "Eat up. Your breakfast is getting cold."

Carly returned his smile as she reached for a fork. "Careful, Vincent. Someone may think you care."

"Someone would be right…because I do."


"Do you sleep here?"

"Very funny," Lynn replied with a smile to Lorenzo's teasing grin. She pulled off her glasses and set them aside. "I happen to work here. What's your excuse?"

He shrugged. "I'm drawn like a moth to a flame."

Heat flushed Lynn's cheeks. Averting her eyes from his intense sapphire gaze, she looked behind him at the open front office door. "You'd better close that before the flies come in."

"Yes, ma'am." He tapped his head in a mock salute and then closed the door. "How are you? I really hope you weren't here all night."

"I wasn't," Lynn answered. "Tommy asked me to stop by this morning and here I am. I'm well. How are you? If you don't mind my saying so, you look as if you could use a good night's sleep yourself."

"I feel like I could, too," he sighed, lowering himself onto Emily's chair. He ran his hair through his mop of blonde curls and sighed again. "I'm whipped, Lynn, but until we get all the answers, I can't rest."

"I know. Tommy said that things are getting better, though, right? I didn't ask for details, but I get the feeling that there's light at the end of the tunnel…"

"Yeah," he groaned, "but it's not very bright." A short, humorless laugh passed form his lips. "He's right. Things are better. We scored big the other night, but they're still in the lead. I think we're creeping up. I have a few curved balls that are wicked."

Laughing, Lynn rolled her eyes. "Please, no baseball metaphors."

He sat up straight and swiveled the chair around to get a better look at her. "So, you're not a baseball fan?"

"Not exactly."

"So…um…what are you a fan of?" His body was taut with interest.

Once again, his intensity unnerved her. She occupied her hands and focus by cleaning her glasses. Keeping her gaze on her task, she asked, "What does it matter?"

"We've spent a lot of time together over the last few days, but we don't really know each other," he answered. "I'd like to change that."


"Because I make a point of getting to know the people I'd like to call friend."

Lynn swallowed hard. He wasn't kidding about the curve balls. This one was a real zinger. His words said one thing while his voice said another. She doubted he was even aware of the changes. He probably believed every word he said. Did this mean he was ready to move on? Did she want to take that leap of faith?

"You're not saying anything," he murmured. "Maybe you don't want to be my friend. I should have considered that."

"In addition to baseball metaphors, melodrama isn't allowed in here either." She laughed when his mouth dropped open. "We can be friends. I'd like that. In my first act of friendship, I'd like to direct your attention to the printout on the desk right there in front of you. That's from Tommy. The info I've compiled is spooling in the printer and should be ready in just a sec."

Instantly, the documentation claimed his attention. Pivoting the chair around to face the desk, he quickly reached for the papers. His finger trailed a path down the sheet before he flipped the page, moving on to the next one. "Did you read this?" Lorenzo asked. "Do you know what this says?"

Lynn grabbed the sheets from the printer and set them on the desk. "I didn't look. I wasn't sure if I should."

"I think it's fine," he answered. "You've helped with so much already. This info is about the guns. Remember how Tommy contacted his friend south of the border? Well, here are the finished goods. Their benefactor is connected to Port Charles."


"Vincent Santiago. It looks like Sarah had help from the mob."

"That's not the only place," Lynn replied. She pointed at the printed image that had been emailed to her that morning. "Take a look. I recognize that face. Do you?"

Lorenzo's eyes narrowed as he focused on the printout. "Where was this taken? It's kinda grainy."

"I cleared it up as best I could. The photo is from the surveillance camera of the shop where the film was bought."

"What film?" he asked, continuing to stare at the image.

"The film that was used to take those photos of you and…well, you know!"

"Oh!" he gasped as realization set in. "I asked the shopkeeper for everything he had. He said there wasn't anything. How did you get it from him?"

"I pulled a few strings. Eventually, he jerked. It doesn't matter. What matters is that face!" She pointed to it again. "Tell me you recognize him."

"He's wearing a hat, Lynn," he said with a hint of sarcasm, "and the picture's fuzzy. He could be anybody. It looks like you have a good idea. Tell me. Who do you think it is?"

"Emily's cousin Dillon," she quickly answered. "I've only seen him a few times, but that looks too much like him to be a coincidence. Don't you think?"

Lorenzo held the printout up to the light. "It looks like him and you're right about coincidences. They're just too damn many of them lately. I'm agreeing with you. But I don't get it. Sarah, Vincent and Dillon… What do those three stooges have in common and why are they going to such lengths to destroy Nikolas and Dawn's family?"


"You are the most incorrigible man I've ever met!"

Stefan watched Carrie's retreating back with a twinkle in his eyes. Her immediate, passionate response never ceased to stir him. Even in irritation, her body moved with fluid grace. Shapely copper tanned legs peeked through the slit of her ankle-length silk robe as she paced across the carpeted floor. His arousal throbbed in response to the tempting display she unwittingly provided. He wanted her and now in hindsight, his teasing might prove to be foolishly executed. Rising from the large, comfortable king size bed, he glided in front of her and blocked her path. "Carlotta, are we not adults-"

"Oh, no, you don't!" She jabbed her index finger into his well-defined abdomen. "I will not stand for any lectures from you on maturity or lack thereof!"

"But dearest," he implored, trying his best to bit back a smile, "I only wish to-"

"I don't want to hear it," she interrupted him again. Spinning on her heel, she slipped the dressing gown off her shoulders and climbed into the bed. Her back became a buffer when she rolled onto her side away from him.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk." He climbed in after her and lifted the sheet and comforter over them. His hand closed over her bare, creamy milk chocolate shoulder. A familiar shiver of awareness rippled through him. "We agreed never to go to bed angry, did we not?"

"I'm not angry."

His hand swept down her arm in a trembling caress before dipping lower to press against her taut thighs. "I would beg to differ," he whispered against her.

A low throaty moan passed from her lips as his hand moved underneath her negligee. Then in a dry, husky voice, she said, "I may be a little upset, but I'm not angry."

The roaming hand vibrated with a mind of its own. Stefan sighed as she stirred against him. Finally, anger was giving way to passion. She'd utter the words soon, he reasoned. And he would find much delight in drawing them from her. Warm and wet, his tongue flicked her ear, pausing to suckle hungrily on the lobe.

Carrie moaned again. "This isn't fair, Stefan."

"All's fair in love and war." Between each word, he planted kisses on her shoulders, neck and face. "Are you still upset?"

"No." She shifted onto her back. Her hands closed around him, easing him down on top of her. His aroused member settled between her welcoming thighs. She breathed in short, ragged spurts. Dark brown eyes stared up at him, dazed with desire. "Not anymore."

He pressed his mouth into the base of her throat just as a triumphant smile twitched at the corners of his mouth. She mustn't know that his seduction served a twofold purpose. Time for that would come later.

His mouth parted over hers in a slow, drugging kiss. Their tongues collided in a feverish duel of explosive passion. The unexpected response nearly sent Stefan over the edge, but he quickly regained control. Taking his time, he nibbled and sucked on her bottom lip before bringing an end to the kiss.

She murmured in protest, "Stefan…"

"My dearest Carlotta," he growled against her neck. "Say the words, my love."

"This isn't fair," she groaned again as a shudder wracked her body.

"I know," he agreed with a seductive smile, "but say them anyway."

Carrie paused for only a millisecond. "You were right about Nikolas and Dawn. You were right to keep pressuring them. Dammit, you were right!"

"It would seem the female ego is as stubborn as the male, would it not?"

"Not that again!" Carrie exclaimed. "Would you stop preening like a cockatoo and love me?"

Stefan nodded. "Oh, yes, with pleasure."

[Author's Note: Click on Stefan & Carrie to read the excerpt from "Life After Dark" which inspired this small battle between them.]

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