During the drive from the airport to Wyndemere, Nikolas listened to Tommy's report on the recent events. Sleepless nights finally paid off and they had more pieces to add to the puzzle. The connections didn't fit, but at last, they now had names to go with actions and deeds. Both agreed that the acrid scent of vengeance filled the air, but neither could think of a reason for it. By the time they reached Spoon Island and its grand mansion, both good-naturedly complained of headaches.
"What will you say to her?" Tommy asked as he followed Nikolas to his study. "She'll wonder why you disappeared."
"I'll tell her I needed time to think," Nikolas replied. "Do you think that'll be enough?"
Tommy crossed his fingers. "Let hope."
A brisk tap sounded at the door followed by Mrs. Landsbury's voice. "Mr. Cassadine, Miss Webber is in the drawing room."
"Thank you. Tell her I'll be right there."
"That was quick," Tommy responded. "Are you okay?"
Nikolas nodded. "I'm fine. Just don't go anywhere."
"I've got your back," Tommy said with a smile. Nikolas patted his friend's shoulder as he walked past him and out the room.
He dreaded this meeting with her, but it was inevitable. Sex with Sarah opened a Pandora's Box of troubles even while it provided answers to Dominik's whereabouts. The loveless act served a purpose and would not be repeated. He hadn't considered how he would handle her advances not that it mattered. A cure for Dara was his top priority and putting an end to Sarah and her cohorts' reign of tyranny, as there were no doubts the three planned to unleash more bedlam before it was all over. If Fate would have it, their goals would never see the light of day.
With an apologetic smile plastered on his face, Nikolas entered the drawing room. His arms opened to her and without a word, she went to him. He folded his arms around her and murmured words void of real emotion while his mind pondered her punishment and that of her friends.
AJ arrived at the docks early. His bodyguards checked the nearby warehouses and assumed strategic positions to protect him should the need arise. When Carly arrived, she found him sitting on the bench with his head tilted toward the sun. She waved her bodyguards away, silently telling them to give her privacy and then she approached him.
"Carly," he replied. "You're here and on time. I'm impressed."
Her mouth tightened upon his slight dig, but she held her tongue. Pulling her coat close around her, she sat beside him on the bench. "I am willing to try for Michael's sake, but it won't work if you're not willing, too."
"Who says I'm not?" AJ asked. "I'm here, aren't I? I could have slammed the phone down when you called. I didn't. I love my son, Carly. This is important because it concerns him. That's why I'm here."
"I love him, too," she responded quietly. "You always talk like you're the only one who cares about him. Well, that's not true because I care about him, too."
"Yeah, you just have a funny way of showing it."
Carly stiffened. "I wasn't a millionaress who could afford to buy custody of him."
"I didn't buy anything!" AJ said through clenched teeth. "We met before a court of law and I was awarded custody because I was fit. You weren't! You were granted visitation, but you ran out on that. And then later when you changed your mind, you came and snatched him. Did you ever once consider how scared he was? What did you do when he cried out for me? Did you close your ears and pretend not to hear it?
"Dammit, Carly! And you blame me for his refusal to see you without considering how traumatized he was. He had nightmares for months after he came back to Eve and me. For months! And not once did you attempt to apologize...but what else is new, right? You do what you want without apologies and damn the consequences to anyone else."
He abruptly stood and stepped towards the dock's edge. A cold wind ruffled his dark, brown hair, but he didn't seem to notice. His shoulders shook with each ragged breath he took. Carly watched him and waited for him to say more. When he didn't, she said, "What do you want from me? Will an apology make it all better?"
"Sarcasm isn't cute."
She swallowed hard. The bitterness in his voice surprised her and pierced the protective ice shield that was erected around her heart. "What do you want from me?"
"I don't want anything from you. There's nothing you can give me. Before I came, I thought I would ask you for answers, but..."
"Answers to what?" she questioned. "What do you want to know?"
AJ turned around. His hazel eyes darkened as he looked down at her. "What does the word 'friend' meant to you? Does friendship have any value in your life? Do you have any friends?"
"What does that have to do with anything?"
AJ threw up his hands. "So you answer my questions with a question. Gee, thanks a lot."
"Wait!" she called out when he headed for the stairs. "You're so impatient! Friend is a word that hasn't meant much to me. I've only had a few friends and the closest one I ever had was Carly Roberts."
"So all those years ago, we weren't friends?" he asked.
"What are you talking about?"
"When we were neighbors back when you lived with Tony, you'd invite me over... We'd hang out. Talk. Laugh. I thought we were friends, but for you it wasn't about friendship, was it? You were just keeping me close so you'd know if I remembered that night at Jake's. Well, I'll be damned!"
"It wasn't like that," she defended herself. "Not at first."
"Yes, it was. Because if that wasn't it, there's no way you could have done what you did to me. A friend wouldn't betray me the way you did-"
"You were about to remember! I was scared you'd tell Tony!"
"You should have told him yourself!" AJ cried. "Drugging me and leaving me in an alley was evil, Carly! Evil! My sobriety was the only thing I had to call my own back then and you took it away from me! You had no right to do that!"
Tears glistened in his eyes and he blinked them away. "You had no right to play games with my life like that and there's no justification for what you did!"
"Well, what do you want from me now!" She wiped at the tears that now stung her eyes. "That was years ago and I can't change the past. I was young and stupid. I didn't think I had another way and I made mistakes. Forget it and move on, AJ!"
"Why should I forget it?" he asked. "How can I? I look at Michael, I remember that blackout and I am terrified of his being involved with you."
"I'd never do anything like that to him!"
AJ shook his head and his voice became quiet. "How do I know? I can't take your word for it. I learned from you back then that your actions speak a helluva lot louder! Even now, you're not accepting responsibility. You don't even have the decency to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Who's to say you won't take away his very soul and then trample on it like you tried to do to mine? I love my son too much to let that happen to him!"
Carly crossed the platform to stand in front of him. Wringing her hands, her large brown eyes pleaded with him. "I've changed, AJ. I'm not that girl anymore. Life has showed me what's important. Family is important to me now. I'm making amends with Bobbie and I want to do the same with Michael and with you. If it helps, I am sorry for what I did to and beg your forgiveness. Please, AJ, accept my apology and let's find a way to work together for Michael's sake. I want to be in his life and even if he doesn't realize it now, he needs me."
"What about the drinking?" he asked.
"I can stop. Cold turkey."
He didn't agree. "Not good enough. You have to get clean. There's an AA meeting tonight. Go to it. Take that first step. If you want, I can go with you."
"You'd do that for me?"
"No," AJ said quietly, "I'll do it for Michael."
Since making the connection, one thought kept returning to Lorenzo's mind. He had to see Elizabeth. He had to know that she was safe and just how close she and Dillon were.
Driving around Port Charles hadn't revealed to him the right approach to use with her. She would more than likely slam the door in his face, but it was a chance he'd have to take. The need to warn her had grabbed hold of his heart and refused to let go.
When he reached the Hardy home, he wasted no time. There was no 'right approach'. He just had to hope for the best. After pressing the doorbell, he took deep breaths and waited.
"What do you want?" Elizabeth asked when she pulled open the door.
"I need to talk to you," he explained. "It's important. May I come in?"
Her mouth was drawn into a grim line as she shook her head. "No, Lorenzo. You should have talked to me months ago, but it's too late now. I've moved on with my life and I don't want to see you again. Ever!"
"Elizabeth, please!" Lorenzo stuck his foot in the door just as she was about to close it.
"I told you no!" She cried, her dark eyes flashing with anger. "Whatever you want from me...well, you can't have it. Now, go away!"
This turned out to be harder than he imagined. Of course, she was justified in feeling this way. He hurt her deeply and the chasm between them was too wide and nothing would bridge the distance. Maybe Tommy could get through to her. He wouldn't bother her again.
"Be careful, Elizabeth," he advised before he removed his foot and left.
"Where have you been?" Sonny asked as Lorenzo entered Tommy's waterfront hotel that now served as their meeting space. "You look like hell."
"Thanks," Lorenzo mumbled. He gave Stefan a mock salute as the older man handed him a mug of coffee. He swallowed some of the dark, steaming brew before he answered, "I went to see Elizabeth. She and Dillon are chummy now and I had to warn her about him-"
"That wasn't wise," Stefan commented. "She could warn him now and our efforts will be for naught. What would possess you to speak with her? Thomas is her cousin. You should have waited for him to approach her."
Lorenzo's face reddened upon Stefan's reprimand. He turned away from the two men's staring eyes and went to the window. "I know that. It was an impulsive move. It won't happen again."
"What happened?" Sonny questioned.
"Nothing," Lorenzo answered. "She kicked me off the place and told me she never wanted to see me again. I didn't even mention Dillon, so we shouldn't have anything to worry about it."
"What if she mentions your visit to him?" Stefan asked.
"Stefan, I know what I did was stupid. You don't have to keep reminding me!" Lorenzo ground out. "I doubt if she'll mention me and I'm gonna hold on to that."
"Look, let's settle down," Sonny suggested. "He made a dumb move. He knows it and nothing can be done about it now."
"What's up with Nikolas?" Lorenzo asked as he left the window and perched on the edge of the desk. "Did he re-connect with Sarah?"
Stefan nodded. "Thomas called. Sarah arrived at Wyndemere moments after they did. As far as we know, she's there still."
"Any clues on how they all tie-in together?" Lorenzo asked.
"It's a vendetta," Stefan said quietly.
"Against whom? All three of them have something against Nikolas?" Lorenzo questioned. "I don't buy that."
"Good, 'cause we're not selling it," Sonny told him.
"The three are working together to obtain a common goal," Stefan replied. "What that common goal is we haven't discovered, but this is what we have surmised so far... Sarah and Dillon banded together to destroy Nikolas and Dawn's marriage and your engagement to Miss Webber. Sarah would get Nikolas and Dillon would have Elizabeth."
"Okay, and how does Vincent figure into this?" Lorenzo asked.
"We don't know," Stefan answered. "We found out that he and Dillon met in Europe at a boarding school about ten years ago."
"Do you know anything else about him?" Lorenzo asked. "Why was he at Lily's grave? What was that about?"
"I don't know," Sonny murmured. "Lily and Miguel had a son who'd be about his age, but...he died years ago."
"Is it possible that he is Lily's son?" Stefan asked. "Perhaps, he did not die as you were led to believe."
Sonny's face darkened. "Anything's possible. If he is Lily's son, then that changes things. I could be figured in with this vendetta, too. So could Simone and maybe Tommy."
"I've been thinking about Thomas..." Stefan began. "As I recall, Dillon's mother was involved with that underground imprisonment where Simone, Thomas and countless others were held. Tracy Quartermaine's involvement came to light when Thomas led the rescue which ultimately led to her death."
"Then all of us could be on their list," Lorenzo said. "We all helped rescue Simone, Gina, Keesha, and the other women who were locked down there. If he's pissed about what happened to Tracy, he won't stop at Thomas."
"But Tommy would be his primary goal," Sonny said. "Simone, Gina, the children..."
"Are you certain they're safe at your Casa?" Stefan asked. "If not, we must make arrangements."
"They're safe. There's no safer place for them to be."
"Then we must make inroads to put an end to this immediately," Stefan said.
Lorenzo nodded. "Agreed."
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