chapter twenty-five

***fait accompli***

With the description Dawn gave him, Frisco quickly sketched an accurate drawing of Nikolas, copied it and faxed it to the local WSB office. He didn't tell the agents why the man needed to be found just that Frisco needed to question him. They were not to approach him, but to keep him within their sights at all time. A few hours after parting with Dawn, a couple of agents found Nikolas in the park across the street from GH. When Frisco arrived, he dismissed the agents before he approached Nikolas alone.

"Nikky," Frisco said as he joined the younger man on the bench.

Nikolas stiffened and made a move like he would bolt, but Frisco stopped him with words of reassurance.

"It's okay. I'm Frisco Jones. We have a mutual friend-"

"How is she?" Nikolas turned to look at Frisco, boring intently into his eyes. "Has she been harmed-"

"No, no. She's fine. I just saw her a few hours ago. She's worried about you."

Nikolas shook his head. "There's no need for her to be. It's better for her if I'm nowhere near her. I won't go back to the loft."

"I'm not here to ask you to," Frisco said. "Besides, I agree. For now, you two are better parted."

"Then, why are you here?"

Frisco smiled. "To give you good news. Your brother has been rescued and both he and your father are on a jet bound for Port Charles. They should arrive tomorrow."

A sigh of relief passed from the young man's lips. "This is good news, but is it safe for them to come here? Perhaps, they would be safer in Greece."

"Stefan wants to come back and I agree with him. I've made arrangements for them to be taken to a safe house. Only four agents are aware of its location. You and your family will be safe there."

Nikolas protested, "I can't go."

"I didn't ask," Frisco said quietly. "You must go. There's no question about that."

Nikolas was quiet for a moment. Then, he nodded towards the hospital. "What about my brother and the rest of my family? What about Dawn? Will my going to the safe house guarantee their safety?"

Frisco sighed. He hated questions like these. The answers rarely were good enough to satisfy anyone. "There are no guarantees, but I have positioned agents to guard the Spencers and Dawn."

"I suppose that's good enough. When do we leave?"



Dawn spent most of the morning on the road in the tow truck. The day was unusually busy for the small company she shared with Sly. When she went in, she wanted to tell him of her plans, but it had to wait. Now that the calls for help had died down, she figured that it was best to talk to him quickly before another call came in.

She hopped down from the cab of the tow truck and slammed the door shut behind her. A strange sensation swept over her. She shuddered and tried to shake the feeling off. Brushing her arms, she strode into their front office and plopped down behind her desk.

Sly watched her and then said, "What's up?"

"I decided to take the offer," she said, watching him for his reaction.

He smiled and hobbled towards her. Pulling her from the chair, he gave her a warm hug. "You really are as smart as they say."

Dawn laughed. He released her and limped back to his desk. He perched on its edge, a silly grin never leaving his face. She wagged her finger at him. "This is not the reaction I expected."

"What?" he exclaimed. "You thought I'd cry and weep and moan, begging you not to leave me? Hell no! I want the best for you Dawn. I'll always want that."

Tears caught in her throat at the sincerity of his words. "Stop. You'll make me cry."

His grin faded into a pleased smile. "I don't want you to cry, so cut it out. Seriously, this is great, Dawn. You'll be great. When do you start?"

"As soon as I can find someone to replace me-"

He cut her off with a wave of his hand. "Don't worry about that. I can take care of it."

"Sly, you have a cast on your leg. You can handle the office, but someone has to manage the truck."

He shrugged. "I can hire someone for the truck. The cast will be off in a few weeks. It's not a problem."

"But you need a partner. I won't be here to take care of my responsibilities-"

"You'll be my silent partner," he interjected. "We started this business and it will be ours until whenever. Just because you're becoming an international spy doesn't mean you can't still be part owner of a towing service! Come on, Dawn! Where's your sense of adventure?"

They both burst into laughter. "You're a nut!" she proclaimed. "And I'll miss you."

"I'm gonna you, too."


In a jet over the Atlantic Ocean

Andrèsj went to the lower level of the airplane, leaving Keesha and Stefan alone. Stefan's arms closed around her upon his son's departure and Keesha clung to him. "I'm so happy for you. Soon you'll be reunited with Nikolas, too."

"Yes," he said, kissing her forehead. He dipped his head and placed kisses on her cheeks until ultimately claiming her lips.

His kiss burned Keesha's insides and made her tremble all over. He ignited a flame in her like no one ever had. She became lost in his caresses and whimpered softly when he pulled away.

"You make me lose my senses," he complained in a hoarse voice. His hand tenderly cupped her cheek. "I want nothing more than to make love to you. I've missed you, Keesha."

She nodded in agreement. "The time apart has been more difficult than I imagined it would be. I've never felt like this before, Stefan. Everything feels so new and exciting. I can't help but wonder if you've cast a spell over me."

"If there is a spell, I have succumbed to its charms, as well," he replied. "Amidst these chaotic times, I am at peace when I can look upon your beautiful face and I can hold you close in my arms. I was worried about you during the rescue. I am quite certain that Mr. Cates would have given me a sedative to quiet me if he had any available. Your chosen profession will drive me mad, but I dare not ask you to resign. You are good at what you do and I am proud of you."

"Thank you," she whispered. "I couldn't quit. It's what I was born to do. But how will we resolve the rest? Our families have no idea what's happened between us. I won't lie to them."

"I wouldn't ask you to," he told her. "They will accept our relationship because they will have no choice. Now, indulge my avaricious need to hold you in my arms."

Keesha clung to Stefan once more, losing herself to his passionate embrace. With only their clothing separating them, their bodies molded together and their attention was focused solely on each other.

Neither was aware when Andrèsj ascended the staircase to the second level of the jet. His eyes widened in surprise followed by disappointment as he watched them. His chest constricted with pain and for the first time in his life, he knew the bitter taste of jealousy.

Dreams of being the man in Keesha's life had filled his lonely, imprisoned nights with hope. Now, he knew that those dreams would never be. Swallowing down the sob that lodged in his throat, he turned away from them and descended the staircase, leaving them to their private moment.


Philana sat in the backseat of her limousine and watched Dawn as she trekked back and forth in the truck. The young woman was relentless in the execution of her job responsibilities. Philana found the trait admirable and felt a momentary stab of reluctance in her decision to use the girl in the war to obtain her son's birthright.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk," she murmured under her breath. The girl's greatest sin was to fall in love with a Cassadine, but Philana could not fault her for that. Most women were powerless against the charms of the Cassadine men Philana included. She sighed. There could be no other way. Dawn would be the key to keep the Prince in line and she must be used to the fullest extent.

She tapped on the partition that separated her from the driver. He lowered the glass pane and asked, "Yes, madam?"

"We will take her tonight."

"Yes, madam."

Philana's cell phone rang as the driver raised the partition again. She answered with a clipped, "Yes."

"Ms. DiMitri," Cadmus said hurriedly. "I have distressing news for you."

"What is it?" she asked. The man in charge of the Grecian compound was often agitated over the smallest thing. He could be so irritating that way.

"It is Andrèsj, madam. He is no longer here-"

"What do you mean by that?" she nearly shrieked. "You did not kill him?"

"Of course not!" Cadmus exclaimed. "H-He... We had intruders and they have taken him. He's gone, madam. He escaped."

Philana became silent as she processed this new turn of events. She rubbed her temples and willed herself not to lose her temper. Once she was calm, she asked, "Was he injured in the escape?"

"No, madam. At least, I do not think so."

"Very well," she replied. "Carry on as usual."

"Should I have the men go after him?"

"No," she said. "I will take care of him. Carry out your usual duties. Is there anything else?"

"Yes, madam. Keesha Warner is missing. She was the servant who'd become fond of Andrèsj."

Philana's mouth twitched. "No doubt she aided in his escape."

Before Cadmus could respond, Philana ended the call and rapped her knuckles against the partition again. Once it was lowered, she said, "We will not take her tonight."

"Madam?" he asked, sounding confused.

"There's been a change in plans. Take me back to the hotel and then come back here. I want a report of her every move and every person she contacts."

"Yes, madam."

He closed the partition again and Philana became lost in her thoughts. Perhaps, Andrèsj's escape could be used to her advantage and could aid in handling the Dawn Jensen situation. She would have to meditate on it. All would be revealed to her then.


Dara stood still as her mother fitted Carrie's latest creation to her body. Having been stuck by a few straight pins that late afternoon, the last thing she wanted was to repeat the experience. Besides, she had more important things to fret over than stick pins. The two men in her life rattled her nerves and heightened her senses. She had to do something about them before it became too much for her.


"I'm almost done," Carrie said in a distant voice. "I think I see what's wrong with it."

Carrie turned from her and made notes on a slip of paper. "Okay, you can step down now. I'll help you take that off."

She waited for her mother to remove the dress before she said another word. While Carrie laid out the material onto her working table, Dara pulled on her jeans and t-shirt. "What's wrong with the dress? It looks fine to me."

"Yeah, it was okay, but confused," Carrie responded. "It couldn't decide if it wanted to be sexy or conservative."

Dara chuckled as she stepped inside her Nikes. "Which did you choose?"

Carrie grinned. "Sexy, of course."

"I can't wait to see the finished product," she said.

"Me either," Carrie agreed. She shrugged out of her smock and reached inside her desk for her purse. "Let's have dinner at the Grille. My treat. I have a feeling you need to talk."

"How did you know?"

"Mother's intuition," Carrie replied. "It's for real. You can drive. We can pick up my car afterwards."

They left the boutique and during the drive, Carrie asked, "So, what's up? Is unemployment driving you crazy?"

Dara shook her head. "I have a client. I'm reviewing contracts for him, so I'm not bored or anything."

"Is it that man you've been sneaking around with?" Carrie asked. "The one whose mama came to see me the other day?"


Carrie laughed out loud. "Bingo. Okay, girl. Out with it. Tell Mama all about it."

"Actually, there are two men. Zarek Cassadine is one and Mac Scorpio is the other-"

"Mac?" Carrie gushed. "Ooh, Dara. You are just too damn secretive."

Heat flamed Dara's cheeks. "Mama, it's not like that. He just informed me of his interest since we both quit our jobs. We've only had one real date."


"What?" Dara asked.

"How was it? Did you enjoy spending time with Mr. Scorpio? I gotta tell you that I think Mac is a fine young man, and I do mean fione!"

Dara laughed at her mother's enthusiasm. "I'm gonna tell Steve on you."

"Steve knows I love him, and that I'm not blind. I told him a long time ago that if Mac had a brain he'd stop running around behind that two-timing floozy and see what a wonderful woman you are. It's good to know that Mac does indeed have a brain!"

Dara digested her mother's words and sensed that Mac had already won her mother's approval. She liked Mac a lot, but Dara wasn't sure if she was as enthusiastic about him as her mother was. Especially when just the sound of Zarek's voice made her melt and the sight of him caused her to squeal. She released a long, deep sigh. What should she do?

"Keep talking, Dara," Carrie instructed. "We have a few more miles to go before we're at the Grille. Tell me about Zarek."

She smiled without realizing it. "He seems so worldly at first, but underneath the surface he's so much more than that. He's caring and spontaneous. Funny, smart and sexy. He's handsome, too, Mama. Tall, dark and handsome, but he's younger than me."

"So? Does that make a difference?"

Dara shook her head. "I don't think it makes a difference to him. He treats me like I'm a princess. I've never been so... I guess the word for it is wooed. He makes me feel like I'm the center of his universe. It's an incredible feeling."

Carrie nodded knowingly. "Yes, it is. So, do you know what all this means?"

"I'm not sure," she answered, shaking her head. "I think I know, but I don't think I'm right. I haven't known him long enough to be in love with him."

"Sometimes it happens like that," Carrie said. "Give yourself a little while to think about it and whatever you decide, let Mac know soon. Don't leave him hanging. He's been through enough of that lately."

Dara braked at a red light and glanced at her mother. "You say that like I've already made my decision."

Her mother smiled. "Haven't you?"


Jason and Elizabeth reviewed Johnny's map of New York City while Carlos went out for coffee for them. Johnny grew up in Brooklyn and knew the places where a couple of kids could hide in full view. Although Jason resented the help at first, he soon became grateful for Johnny and Carlos' assistance because he wanted to find Emily as soon as possible.

"So you see here and here," Johnny said, pointing. "Kids hang out there all the time. Giuliani cleaned up most of the City, but he didn't hit every nook and cranny. I'd wager we'll find them in one of these rundown brownstones along here."

"How are they run?" Jason asked. "Will there be problems in the neighborhood? I don't want to put Elizabeth in any danger."

"I'll be fine," she quickly said. "I can handle whatever comes along. With the four of us knocking on doors, we should find them faster, right?"

"Sure," Johnny said. "It shouldn't take long. We may have to use a little muscle, but I doubt it. The kids who go there just wanna get away from their families. They don't want any trouble."

"Would they tell us the truth about seeing Em or Zander?" Jason asked.

Johnny nodded. "Maybe. It's a toss up. There's only one way to find out. Which end do you want? The North or the South?"

"We'll take the South," Jason answered, taking the map from Johnny.

"Okay, Carlos and I will take care of the North. We'll keep in contact with the cell phone."

"Sounds good."


Zander left their tiny room early in the morning in search of a job. Emily spent her time trying to make their space livable. It was a hard task. The pipes didn't work properly so water for cleaning was hard to come by, and everything else was pretty much downhill from there. But Emily did the best she could and when Zander returned with their lunch, he noticed the marked improvement and smiled.

"It's looking good, Emily," he said, kissing her cheek. "A lot better than when we first came in. I got some pizza slices from the pizzeria down the block and some lemonade, too."

Emily took the bag from him and laid out their meal on the rickety table in the corner. Zander joined her and they sat down to eat. "Did you find anything?" she asked after taking a sip of lemonade.

"I think so," he said. "There's a diner a few blocks over. The guy needs a dishwasher and busboy. He says that if it works out, I could be a waiter in no time. That means lots of tips."

"In a place as busy as this, it could be a lot of hard work. I remember Lucky telling me stories about his parents' place in Canada," she said. "It was fun, but it had its moments, too."

"I'm not afraid of a little hard work, Em," he said through bites of pizza. "I've been taking care of myself since I was a kid. I can do this. I can support us. Believe in me, okay?"

"I do," she said, reaching out to take his hand. "You know I do, but what about me? I can't sit here all day and stare at these dingy walls."

Zander looked around the room and chuckled. "You're right. The walls are a little gray. I'll get us out of here soon. I promise. This is the best place for us to hide out right now. Sorel's goons wouldn't have a chance in this hood if they're out looking for us."

"That's good to know," she murmured quietly. A chill of fear swept over her and goosebumps sprang over her arms. She tried to ignore the sensation by looking out the window. The sidewalk was crowded with kids their age. "What's up with all those kids down there? Is a school nearby?"

"Nah," Zander told her. "They live here. It's their home away from home. Kinda like us."

"They all live down here?" she asked, in disbelief.

"Yep. They say there's safety in numbers, so they all kinda clump together." He swallowed some lemonade before he continued. "It's really not as weird as it seems. Think of it as another kind of suburbia."

Emily lips turned up into a half-smile. "I suppose I could, but what about a job for me. I'm serious. I can't stay here all day. I need to do something."

"What are you good at?"

"I don't know. I've never worked before, except for modeling. I don't want to do that again if I can help it."

He smiled and said softly, "You won't have to do anything you don't want to. I bought a paper." He pulled it from his back pocket and gave it to her. "Let's see what we can find in here."

She scanned the subject headings of the help wanted ads until one listing caught her attention. Pointing at it, she said, "I could do this. They need an assistant at a pre-school. I love playing with Michael. I wanna check this one out."

"Okay," he said. "We'll go after we finish eating."


Carly glanced at her watch and realized the meeting with Laura would last longer than anticipated. They had the contact sheets of Gia's latest photo session spread across the conference room table. They needed to make a decision for the upcoming ad campaign, but they kept butting heads. Carly released a low groan under her breath and said, "Laura, I need to make a phone call."

Laura rolled her eyes. "We have work to do. Can't it wait?"

"No," she said, drawing the word out. "Besides, it's about Lucky. Isn't he important enough for us to take a break?"

Color stained Laura's cheeks and her eyes flashed with anger. "Of course, my son is important. Why is your phone call about him?"

"I was planning to visit him if you must know," Carly said. She pulled her cell phone from her pocket and went into the hall. She dialed Sonny's private line and was happy when he answered on the first ring. "Hi, babe. How's it going?"

"Things are fine here. Michael has now decided that he doesn't want to knock down the bridges anymore. He wants to use them to connect to...things." Sonny laughed. "How are you? Is the meeting almost over?"

"Not even close," she told him. "I don't know how long I'll be here. If we hope to make visiting hours, we have to go in separate cars. I won't have time to drive back to the penthouse and make it to GH before they shut the doors."

"It's not a problem," he replied. "I can drive myself. I'll drop off Michael at Bobbie's, and we can just meet at the hospital."

Carly smiled. "You think of everything. It sounds good. I'll see you in a little bit. Bye."



Patroni sat in his studio apartment across town and watched the video display from the Corinthos SUV. There was no sound, but he was adept at reading lips. He saw Corinthos put his stepkid in the back of the Suburban and then crawl in beside him. The driver and a bodyguard took the front and soon they were off.

He could detonate the bomb right there. His thumb hovered over the button in anticipation. This would be a moment of great satisfaction, but he had to time it just right. An itchy thumb could mess it all up. Besides, it owed it to Sorel's memory to not let his deceased relation down.

The SUV pulled out of the garage and joined the flow of traffic. The vehicle stopped at a red light and Patroni knew the time had come. He pressed his thumb onto the detonation button and everything went black.


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