chapter thirty, part one


Dara woke up with a start. Her heart pounded inside her chest and beads of perspiration wet her forehead. Careful of Zarek's sleeping body curled around her, she rolled onto her side and looked at the bedside clock. It was late. Too late to give into a nagging feeling that plagued her subconscious until she woke up. She curved against her new husband once more and closed her eyes. Unfortunately, sleep refused to come. She gave up and turned on the lamp. Softly, she said, "Zarek. Sweetheart, wake up."

He mumbled incoherently in his sleep and tightened his hold around her. She patted his corded biceps, nudging him until his eyes fluttered open. "What is it?"

"I can't sleep-"

He gave her wolfish grin and reached for her. "My insatiable wife..."

She allowed herself to indulge in one of his drugging kisses before pulling away. "It's not that. I'm sorry, but I think we should go back to Port Charles right now."

Zarek frowned. "Right now? What about spending a few more days in the city?"

"We can always come back," she said, rising from the bed. She pulled on her robe. "I have a funny feeling."

"About the marriage?"

She shook her head. "No, of course not. I just feel weird like something is happening and my family needs me. Please, Zarek. Let's just go back."

He stood and went to her. His arms closed around her and pulled her against him. "We'll leave as soon as possible."

"Thank you," she murmured, hugging him.


Morning arrived in the Jensen household with an ominous telephone call. Steve listened closely to Frisco's calm voice tell him that everything would be all right and then he hung up the phone. His hands shook as he tried to measure coffee for the Mr. Coffee machine. Carrie shuffled into the kitchen with a yawn. She teased Steve about the mess he was making and pushed him aside to do it herself.

"Carrie, wait," Steve said in a low, gravelly voice. He closed his hands over her shoulder and turned her around to look at him.

She reared back from the expression on his face. "What's wrong?" she asked, her voice trembling with worry.

"That was Frisco on the phone," he began, leading her to the chair behind the kitchen table. "You should sit down."

"I don't want to sit, Steve. Just tell it to me straight."

"Okay," he said with a nod and weary sigh. His hand grasped hers. "He was calling about Dawn. She's been abducted and possibly poisoned-"

"What?" Carrie gasped. "That doesn't make any sense! She hasn't even been trained for the WSB. No one would kidnap her."

"This doesn't have anything to do with the WSB," Steve told her. "Dawn is involved with Nikolas Cassadine and he has an enemy who kidnapped our daughter."

"I don't understand," she said. "Is this Nikolas related to Zarek Cassadine?"

"Yes, they're cousins. Why? How do you know about him?"

"Dara called me last night. She and Zarek eloped. We have to reach her! She could be in danger, too!"

Steve felt like he'd been sucker punched in the midsection. He released a loud rush of air and squeezed Carrie's hand. "It's Zarek's mother who kidnapped Dawn."


The previous night's dinner with Tommy Hardy had proved to be rather enlightening for Sabrina. He was one helluva man and after his goodnight kiss, she knew he could prove his worthiness in more ways than one. There had been times in the past where she'd taken things fast when it came to matters of the heart, but this time, she planned to take it all slowly. Very slowly.

She greeted her secretary with a smile on her face and entered her office with a faint sway to her hips. There was no need in reminding the other medical staff of what they couldn't have, she thought with a naughty chuckle. Soon after she'd reviewed the list of appointments for the day, her cell phone rang. She answered it with a smile. "Hello."


The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, but not from fear. From excitement...and relief. In a quiet whisper, she responded to Stefan with a single word. "Brother."

"Yes, we are safe."

She said a silent prayer of thanks. "I know we shouldn't speak for long, but my trip to St. Petersburg proved to be advantageous. There is another Cassadine who has no idea of his lineage."

"Where is he?" Stefan asked.

"He's here in Port Charles," she replied. "Should I try to contact him?"

"T'would be in his best interest if you did," he said. "Someone else will contact you soon and provide you with further details. Take care, dear sister."

"I shall."


"Hi, Em." Zander closed the door after him as he entered the hospital room. Her eyes fluttered open as he drew near. Even without a word passing between them, he felt the distance between them. He supposed she blamed him for what happened. He never thought anyone would find them. He never thought a car would hit her. "How are you?"

"I'm okay," she said. She allowed him to hold her hand. "I'm sore all over though, but otherwise..."

"I'm sorry this happened," he said in a rush, cradling her small hand within his. "I should have been there when they came. We should have gone further."

"No, Zander. It's not your fault. I don't blame you. It's okay."

He shook his head. "No, it isn't. You shouldn't be in a hospital bed, Emily. And here we are back in Port Charles. You know what that means-"

"It means we can stop running," she interrupted. "Didn't you hear the news? Sorel was found murdered in his home. It's over."

"But what about the rest?" he asked. She didn't seem upset and he knew how much she loved Michael. Why wasn't she crying about her nephew's death? "You don't have to be strong in front of me. You can lean on me."

"What rest?" she asked. "What are you talking about?"

His mouth dropped open, but the words didn't come. He debated whether or not to tell her and decided to keep quiet. Instead he asked, "Have your parents been here?"

"Yeah, they're around. They had breakfast with me. They're suppose to come back for lunch." Her brows creased into a frown. "What were you talking about?"

"Nothing." He gave her a faint smile. "I wanna find out about your injuries. I'll be back." He bent forward and placed a kiss on her forehead. "Rest, okay?"


Zander smiled again before he left her alone. He headed toward the Nurse's Station to ask them to page the Quartermaines. Just as he reached the counter, a slim, attractive woman approached him. Her brown eyes stared at him and Zander felt a weird vibe coming from her. It wasn't a bad vibe, but it was definitely strange.

"Are you Zander Smith?" she asked in a husky voice.

"Yeah," he replied, looking her up and down. "Who wants to know?"

"I'm Dr. Sabrina DeLane," she answered, extending her hand to him. They shook hands and then, she said, "It's very important that I talk to you."

"Is this about Emily Quartermaine?" he asked. "Was she hurt worse than she's letting on?"

The doctor shook her head. "I'm sorry, but I don't know anything about her case. What I have to tell you concerns you and not Emily. Will you come with me? We can't talk here, but it's imperative that we have this discussion now."

"I'm not sure about that..." he hedged. She didn't seem dangerous, but too many weird things were happening. A guy could never be too careful. Life on the streets had taught him that.

"I don't want to hurt you," she said. "I'm trying to save you. Please, come with me. I promise you won't be disappointed."

"What about Emily? I shouldn't leave her."

"I'll inform the staff to page me if anything changes with her." She paused for a moment and then added, "Will you come?"

He guessed he didn't have anything to lose. "Sure, I'll go with you."


Lucky watched as his parents interrogated Dr. Ramsey and his diagnosis. He supposed it was nice seeing how much they cared about him, but it was irritating, too. When it came to Luke and Laura Spencer's involvement in his life, Lucky preferred that it be kept to a bare minimum. Their way of life wasn't his. He didn't crave excitement and adventure the way they did. Besides, the doc was probably right. A virus had mixed him up and now, the virus was gone. 'Nuff said.

"Okay, enough," Lucky said, grabbing his duffel bag from the foot of the bed. "I'm outta here."

"Cowboy, wait!" Luke called out. "You're not leaving here until we get some straight answers."

Lucky rolled his eyes. "We've gotten the answers. You just don't like them."

"Lucky, that's not fair," Laura scolded. "We care about you and what this doctor says doesn't make sense. You forget that your grandparents were doctors-"

"No, I haven't," he interrupted. "Grandma Leslie and Grandpa Rick were doctors. Not either of you. I feel fine and I have my discharge papers. I'm gone. Thanks and I'll see you around later."

"Where are you going? You're not going back to Vlad, Junior's cave!"

"Luke," Lucky bit out, "he's my brother. Remember that! And no, I'm not going there...for now. I have another stop to make first. Like I said, I'll see you both later."

He left the room fast to avoid further protests from his parents. Moving quickly, he went to Emily's room. He wanted to see her again before he headed out to Nikolas' cottage.

Knocking on the door once, he opened it when he heard a muffled "Come in."

"Hi, Emily," he said with a smile, but the smile faded when he saw the tears running down her ashen cheeks. He dropped his bag on the floor and rushed to her. He sat on the edge of her bed and opened his arms. Continuing to cry, she rested her head on his shoulder. "Oh, Emily, what's wrong?"

"Zander was here, but he didn't tell me," she sniffled. "I knew something was wrong. He should have told me the truth."

"What truth?" he asked, stroking her hair.

"About Michael and Sonny," she choked out amid her sobs. "Oh, Lucky! They killed my nephew..."

"I know," he said, holding her close to him, "and I'm so sorry. Is there anything I can do? Should I get the doctor or nurse?"

"No, I don't want them. Please, just hold me. Can you do that?"

He swallowed hard and nodded. The feel of her slender curves pressing against him was maddening, but he wouldn't turn her request down. He couldn't. "Yes, I can do that."

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