chapter twenty-two


Carrie sang along happily to the original version of "Lady Marmalade" as she cut and basted the material of her latest creation. When Emma, her assistant, poked through the curtains to get her attention, she was momentarily startled. Then she muted the sound on her stereo and smiled. "What's up?"

"You have a very interesting patron here who's asking about you."

From the expression on Emma's usually bland face, Carrie wondered just who waited for her on the other side of the curtain. "I'll be right there," she said, as she stood and laid out her work on her worktable. She glanced in the mirror and decided that she looked fine. Sweeping through the curtains, her gaze immediately connected with the hippie/New Age chick who stood in the middle of her boutique.

The woman looked away from the display of scarves just as Carrie reached her. She smiled and extended her hand. "I'm Philana DiMitri. My son and your daughter are friends. It's a pleasure to meet you."

Carrie shook Philana's hand and returned the other woman's smile. "I'm Carrie Jensen. Dara told me that I should expect you. The pleasure is mine. Has anything caught your interest?"

Philana looked around the store. "Everything has my rapt attention. Your designs are phenomenal. Have you considered expanding?"

"Yes," Carrie answered. "My husband and I have just returned from Europe. We have a few decisions to make. I think they will be good for business."

"If you're on the market for an investor, please do not hesitate to contact my son or myself. We would be more than happy to watch our profits soar."

"I appreciate the vote of confidence," Carrie told her.

Philana smiled. "I sense things, and from the moment I walked in this store, I sensed that this was a good place. Whatever you decide will meet with success. It's guaranteed. The orange dress here is magnificent. May I inquire as to the inspiration behind it?"

"Of course," Carrie said, somewhat tickled and more than a little flattered by the interest. "Music was my inspiration. My husband plays the harmonica and while he played, I sketched."

"You're a creative combination," Philana complimented. "I like this creation a great deal and what do you think compliments it the best?"

Carrie gestured for Emma to hold the dress for Philana and the two women became acquainted as they perused the store for the remainder of her ensemble.


Joey "Magic Fingers" Patroni heard the news about his cousin's death and became enraged. The stabbing reeked of the Organization. It was personal, painful and passionate. Someone broke through and got close to Joseph. That same someone gutted him like he was an animal. The thought sickened Patroni and he vowed revenge.

He stood in the dark shadows of the abandoned warehouse and waited for Carly's arrival. She wouldn't be long. She was too jittery to make him wait. He sensed it from their last conversation. It didn't matter to him. He didn't want to make friends with her. He just wanted his money. Once he was alone he'd make his plans for handling her husband. Then, he would track down the stoolie who took out his kin.

He heard her footsteps before he saw her. Stepping into the glow of the lamplight, he called out softly to her. "Over here."

"Hi," she said almost a little breathlessly. "I have it. It wasn't easy, but I got it all. Here." She shoved the envelope into his hands. "Go ahead and count it."

He cocked an eyebrow. "I intend to." Quickly, his fingers flipped through the bills. They serial numbers weren't in sequential order and none of them appeared marked. He slid the bulging envelope into the inside pocket of his jacket and moved to leave her.

"Wait," she called out in a fast whisper. "What about it? When will you do it?"

His mouth parted into a cold smile. "Soon, Mrs. Corinthos. It will all be over very, very soon."

Her eyes widened and she gulped. "Okay."

As Patroni turned away, the smile faded from his mouth. The rage he felt because of Sorel's death would have to be curbed. Taking out Corinthos must be untraceable and he'd need a cool head for that. He didn't turn around or think about the Carly as he left her on the waterfront. As far as he was concerned, she no longer existed.


"What did you say her name is?" Sonny asked, frowning as he paced with his cordless telephone to his ear.

"DeLane. Sabrina DeLane," Benny replied. "She's been digging into Alexis' past like you wouldn't believe. I heard it and thought you'd like to know. Want me to get my boys on it?"

Sonny pinched the bridge of his nose and grunted. "What kind of info has she been looking into? Is it my business?"

"No, it's nothing to do with you," Benny answered. "It's mostly stuff that Alexis did a few weeks before she died. The trip to Russia. In fact, DeLane is there now with a cop and Justus."

"Dammit!" Sonny muttered. If DeLane and her helpers dug far enough, they'd find the truth about Zander Smith. Alexis didn't want anyone to know, believing that Zander was safer from the Cassadines if his existence wasn't common knowledge. Sonny would have to do something to make sure it stayed that way.

"Sonny? What gives?"

"Um, do nothing. I'll handle it," Sonny told him. "Thanks."

"Think nothing of it," Benny said before they ended the call.

Sonny punched in the numbers to Jason's cell phone. "Jason," he said as soon as the younger man answered. "Find Zander."

"He's in New York, Sonny," Jason told him. "I'm on it."

"NYC is a big place," Sonny replied. "I'm sending help."

"I work better alone," Jason ground out.

"I'm sending help anyway. Johnny and Carlos will be there in the morning."

Jason must have heard the desperation in Sonny's voice, as he offered no further protest. "Okay. I'll see them in the morning."


Nikolas released a low growl of complete satisfaction and Dawn blushed. She balled up her napkin and threw it at him. He laughed as he caught it. Wagging her finger at him, she scolded, "Dinner wasn't that good, so stop toying with me."

He leaned across the table and took her hand. In a husky murmur, he told her, "This isn't toying, but if you'd like me to…"

The look in his dark brown eyes left nothing to her imagination. The innuendo curled her toes. Suddenly, her mouth was dry and she moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue. "I'd like a lot of things."

His fingers drew circles on the back of her hand. Lightly, he traced the lines of her veins, slipping underneath to trail lines on her palm. Dawn shivered and his eyes smoldered, looking at her hungrily. "What things?" he asked.


A sensual smile came to his full lips. He raised her hand to his mouth and kissed the palm of her hand. His teeth nibbled on the sensitive flesh, causing her to cry out. He then pressed her hand to his stubble-covered jaw. "You have me, but I'm a virtuous man, so you'll have to wait until we're married."

Dawn giggled even as her body was assaulted with stimulating sensations. "I look forward to being your wife. I hope…"

"What?" he asked, as she became quiet "What do you hope?"

"That it happens," she said quietly. "I'm a little afraid that this may turn out to be a fairy tale where we're concerned, and fairy tales seldom come true."

"We're reality, my Angel," he said, "and I have just what's needed to prove it to you."

He stood up and helped her rise to her feet, too. Without saying anything more, he reached inside his t-shirt and pulled out his medallion. He slipped the chain over his head and slipped it over hers. She tried to take it off, but he wouldn't let her. "No, " he said, sliding his arms around her waist. "This is yours. Consider it your engagement ring until I can give you a proper one."

"Nikky," she murmured, "I don't know what to say. If I should even keep this… This is a family heirloom."

"You're my family," he said as he kissed her cheek, "and I love you. Now, before I forget I'm a virtuous man, I'd better start on these dishes."

Dawn didn't argue with him. A little space would do them a lot of good. He went to the sink and she headed to her bookcase. The symptoms Lucky and Nikolas exhibited reminded her of something she'd researched in graduate school. She planned to review her old textbooks to refresh her memory. The telephone rang a few minutes later.

"Hello," she said, balancing a heavy medical book in her lap.

"Is this Ms. Dawn Jensen, WSB candidate extraordinaire?"

She laughed. "Frisco?"

"Yes!" he said, teasing her. "You got it right on the first try. That brilliant mind is being wasted in the cab of a tow truck."

"Please," she said, her laughter fading. "Not you, too."

"I won't say another word, but my mind is working overtime," he told her. "Just know that I need an answer soon."

"Is that why you called?"

"Not exactly."

Dawn became instantly alarmed. "Is it Daddy?"

"No, sweetheart. Steve's fine," he said quickly. "I'm sorry I scared you. I'm calling to see if your schedule is clear for lunch or dinner tomorrow."

"Um..yeah, I can do that. I haven't seen you in a while. It will be nice to be treated to a fudge brownie sundae in lieu of a nutritional meal."

Frisco laughed. "I've learned that lesson, Miss. I won’t make that mistake again, but then again, you're not a little girl anymore. I won't have to fear your mother's wrath this time."

"No, you're safe from Mama now. Um, Frisco, could I ask for a favor?"

His voice became serious. "You know you can ask me anything. What's going on?"

"Lucky Spencer had a psychotic episode which might have been induced by a hallucinogenic drug. Could you find out for sure? I think there's something in his apartment. We were there earlier, but I didn't find anything. I'm sure you can."

"I will. Take care of yourself. I'll see you soon."

"See you soon," she said, ending the call.

Nikolas sat beside her on the futon. His forehead creased into a frown. "Who was that?"

"He works in the WSB," Dawn answered. "His name is Frisco Jones, and he's one of my dad's closest friends. He'll be here tomorrow. I asked him to find out what's wrong with Lucky and to see what he can find at the apartment."

He laced their fingers together and said softly, "Thanks."


Waiting for nightfall was hard for the trio of WSB agents, but especially difficult for Keesha. Over the last few days, she'd grown closer to her beloved's son and watching the light dim in the boy's eyes grieved her soul. As an agent, she knew that forming emotional ties in her assignments was against the rules, but not only that, it was stupid. But caring about Andrèsj Cassadine was unavoidable, since she had already fallen deeply in love with his father.

Steve was due to arrive at midnight. She glanced at her watch and saw that the hour was at hand. The other occupant in the bedroom she shared was fast asleep. Keesha rose from her bed fully dressed from head to toe in black. She pulled her night visor from underneath the pillow and retrieved her semi-automatic pistol from its hiding place inside the mattress. Walking on her toes, she moved to the door. It opened without making a single creak.

The individual bedrooms and the hallway were void of surveillance equipment, so Keesha had no concerns about any unseen eyes watching her movements. The primary challenge would be Drè's quarters. The map he drew would give them an advantage, but there was always a possibility he missed something. An extra video camera or infrared alarms that booby-trapped his room would be at the forefront of the agents' thoughts, reminding them that speed and caution were their allies. As well as skill.

Keesha sucked in air as she moved quietly down the hallway to their rendezvous point. She found that Steve was waiting for her, right on schedule. The agents spoke in hand signals and Steve took the lead. She had already provided the team with blueprints of the estate so Steve knew where Andrèsj was located.

They reached Andrèsj's quarters and Steve picked the lock open faster than Keesha could blink. They knew that somewhere in the house alarms sounded so they kept moving. Keesha roused Andrèsj from the bed. The young man's face was expressionless as he grabbed the pair of jeans that Steve tossed him. While Andrèsj dressed, Keesha went back to the door. There were no sounds in the hallway, but that didn't mean a thing. They had only seconds to escape.

She glanced over her shoulder at them. Steve knelt at Andrèsj's feet, working furiously on the electronic shackle that was wrapped around the young man's ankle. Drè's face was pale in the dim lighting of the dark room and his features were drawn. He hadn't uttered a word, but Keesha sensed his emotions all the same. Excitement, fear and hope coursed through him and she prayed that the agents wouldn't let him down.

Keesha felt vibrations on the carpeted floor and whispered into her mouthpiece, "Movement. Time?"

"Soon!" Steve grunted in a tense whisper.

He couldn't rush disabling the device around Andrèsj's ankle as one wrong move could trigger a number of responses. Keesha didn't want to press Steve, but she wanted him to hurry. They had no idea as to how many men would arrive and she could only handle so many at a time. Please, God, help!, she silently prayed, and she raised her weapon in preparation.

"Got it!" Steve whispered.

Keesha turned and Steve and Andrèsj were right behind her. Once again, Steve took the lead with Drè in the middle and Keesha in the rear and guided them through their escape route. He took twists and turns that Keesha had barely noticed during her time undercover there. She realized that Frisco was right. Steve Jensen was one helluva an agent.

Finally, they came to his initial point of entry. Steve instructed Keesha to go through the window first followed by Drè and then himself. She grabbed Andrèsj's hand and they ran like the wind across the courtyard. She glanced a few times over her shoulder to see if Steve was behind them. He trailed a few feet behind. With hand signals, he told her to go left to the stone wall. A large tree was on the other side of the wall and its huge branches extended over the wall.

Adrenaline pumped at an all-time high inside her veins. The thrill of the escape was exhilarating, and success was close at hand. Just another minute or two and they'd be home free. Keesha smiled at Drè and mouthed, "We're almost there."

He nodded briskly in response. His eyes were wide and dark against the pallor of his handsome face.

Steve reached them and held up four fingers, which meant that he'd disabled four of the guards. Their time was running short. More would replace the four, and Keesha moved into position to cover the two men again.

It seemed like minutes had passed when she felt the hard tap on her shoulder. She turned and saw that Steve had thrown a hook into one of the branches and held a rope in his hand. He thrust it at her and she took it. After strapping her weapon, she began to pull herself up the rope.

The muscles in her upper arms burned from her weight, but she worked through the pain. Finally, she cleared the wall and jumped the six feet to the ground. She landed with a small thud and quickly tossed the rope back over the wall. Andrèsj joined her a minute later, and Steve followed him. Once they were all on the other side, the trio broke into a run, heading for an alley.

A black SUV waited for them and Keesha smiled as Jagger waved at them. Stefan stood beside him, and as she reached them, she saw tears glistening in his green eyes. He grabbed Andrèsj and the younger man's arms closed tightly around him. Only then did Andrèsj utter a singe word. "Father."

Jagger took the driver's seat, Steve rode shotgun and Keesha climbed into the back with Stefan and Andrèsj. Then, they sped away to safety.

General Hospital ©ABC
Kismet (and all original characters) © 1998-2001 niklovr
Sabrina DeLane © 1998-2001 Pamazon
Andresj Cassadine © 2000-2001 jpenfoldg
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