chapter thirty, part two
The safehouse buzzed with energy and strategies to rescue Dawn Jensen from Philana DiMitri's clutches. While Stefan and Nikolas conferred with the other WSB agents, Keesha took a moment to talk to Andrèsj in private. He resisted at first, but she was able to coerce him into giving her a few minutes of his time.
"I do not understand the purpose of this," he argued. "We should be with the others, helping them find Dawn."
"We will," Keesha assured him, "but I thought this would be a good time for us to talk."
His back stiffened. "We do not have anything worth discussing."
"I have to disagree," she said calmly. "We have our friendship. I think that's worth something, don't you?"
His expression softened and looked down at the floor. "You know I do."
Matters of the heart were so delicate. She didn't want to hurt him, but she knew the next words had to be said. "Drè, I'm in love with your father."
"I know," he clipped.
"And he loves me, too."
He turned away from her. "Why are you telling me this?"
Keesha moved to stand just behind him. "Because you should know. We began a strange friendship when we were in Greece. I don't want you to think everything I said and did was simply for the case in order to rescue you. I do care for you, Andrèsj, but not in the way I think you wish."
"I have never said a word," he said quietly.
"I know, but you didn't have to." She lightly pressed her hand on his shoulder. "I'm not as young as you, and I've had my share of experience. I saw the signs before, but I chose to ignore them. I can't continue to do ignore them now. I want us to be friends, Drè."
"We are," he murmured, moving to face her. "I have the seen the looks that pass between you and Papa. I would never do anything to interfere. He hasn't been happy with anyone in a long time and you make him happy..."
"He makes me happy, too." She gave him a sympathetic smile. "I want you to be as happy as we are. One day, you'll meet a woman who will mean the world to you."
He nodded and she moved to leave him alone. Just as she reached the door, she heard him whisper, "But I already have."
Upon Sabrina's instructions, Jagger pulled over to the side of the road and waited for Zander's response. The young man sat in the back of the SUV with a stunned look on his face. He kept asking her to repeat what she just told him.
"It's true, Zander. You are the son of Alexis Davis and Stavros Cassadine. You are a Cassadine," she told him again. "I found the proof in St. Petersburg, Russia. Before Alexis' death, she learned the truth, too."
"I find this all hard to believe," he whispered. "I'm a Cassadine? What if I don't want to be?"
Sabrina gave him her full attention. "Why wouldn't you want to be a Cassadine?"
She smiled. "I am. I'm your Aunt. Stefan Cassadine is your uncle and you have two cousins who are looking forward to meeting you."
"Where are they?" Zander asked. He looked out the window. "Will they pop out of the woods?"
"They're someplace safe," Jagger told him. "I can take you there, but I won't unless you tell me you're sure you want to go. Too many lives are at stake for any of us to play around."
"Lives are at stake?" Zander repeated. "That's the line Auntie used to get me to come with her. What do you mean by that?"
"The words are clear, Zander," Sabrina said quietly as her patience was wearing thin. "Your life is at stake because you are in line to inherit a fortune. None of us are sure that others know your existence, but to be on the safe side, I asked you to come with me. The fire wasn't an accident. Someone murdered Helena and Alexis, and it's possible that they knew about you. I can't be sure. But I am positive that sooner or later, you'll run out of places to hide. Your best bet is stay with us and to go with us now."
Zander swallowed hard. He balled his hand into a fist. "Who killed Alexis? You know who did it, don't you?"
"Yes," she answered. "It was Philana DiMitri. She was married to Victor Cassadine. Victor was my uncle and he's your great-uncle."
"Where is he now? Did she kill him, too?"
She released a wry chuckle. "No, she wasn't responsible for his death. He died in prison."
He shook his head. "This is all so crazy, but okay, I'll go with you. There's one condition, though."
"What is it?" Jagger asked.
"My girl Emily Quartermaine is in the hospital. I want her to be protected at all times. If this Philana person would come after me, there's a chance she'd go after Emily, too."
Jagger nodded. "It's done." He turned the ignition and glanced at his passengers in the rearview mirror. "Are we ready?"
Sabrina and Zander nodded. "We're ready."
Stefan looked away from Nikolas' notes of what he found at Dawn's loft. Frisco's announcement meant that his sister had arrived. He and Nikolas rose in anticipation. It had been much too long since the last time they saw Sabrina and they were all curious about the newest addition to the family.
Sabrina ran to them with her arms wide open. She hugged them both and then took turns hugging them individually. When Andrèsj entered the room, she exclaimed his name and hugged him, too. A quiet young man observed them and Stefan drew his gaze away from the embraces to look at him.
The russet brown hair, narrowed gaze and strange tilt of the young man's head revealed the truth to Stefan. Without Sabrina uttering a word, he knew what he had often feared for Alexis had come to pass. At least once, Stavros forced himself on her and this young man was conceived. He'd seen him with Alexis so many times, but he never made the connection until he now. It was a pity that hindsight always arrived too late to do any good.
He grasped the young man's hand in a firm handshake. "I am your Uncle Stefan."
"I'm Zander," the young man said, his eyes watchful and curious. "Auntie said I have some cousins. I guess those guys are them."
Stefan nodded. "They are. Let me introduce you to my sons, Nikolas and Andrèsj."
Zander frowned and looked from Nikolas to Stefan. "This isn't Nikolas Cassadine."
"I am Nikolas," the true Prince replied. "The man you knew as me is an Impostor."
"Damn! Emily always said that her friend seemed a little weird after his car accident."
"I am Andrèsj, but everyone calls me Drè." Andrèsj shook his new cousin's hand and smiled. "Welcome to the Cassadines."
"Thank you. I think."
Andrèsj chuckled at Zander's response. The others, except for Nikolas, smiled. He moved away from them and grabbed his notes again. He believed that a clue was left at the loft for him. He hadn't found it, but if he thought long enough about it... Surely, it would come to him.
Stefan joined Nikolas and took the notes from him. "I'll review them for now. Become acquainted with your cousin."
"Not now, Father," Nikolas said. "The riddle is there and I must find the answer to it."
The coded ring of the telephone made everyone become silent. Dawn's calls had been rerouted to the safehouse in the hopes that Philana would call again. So far, she hadn't and this was the first time the phone had rung all day. Nikolas glanced at Frisco. The WSB agent nodded and Nikolas grabbed the phone.
Philana's cackle screeched against his ear. "Do you always answer in the affirmative before hearing the question?"
Nikolas' knuckles were chalk white as he gripped the receiver. "I told you before I would do anything to get her back safely. Tell me what you want and it is yours. But please, do not harm her."
"My God," she said in a stage whisper, "I never thought it possible, but Cassadines are capable of love...or perhaps it's lust that has you so willing. I suppose hungering for what you never sampled can create a powerful appetite-"
"Philana," he ground out through gritted teeth. "Like all Cassadines my patience can withstand only so much."
"Settle down," she cooed. "I have a surprise for you. Hold on."
Nikolas heard shuffling noise in the background and then he heard deep breathing. His heart skipped a beat as he said, "Dawn?"
"Dawn, Angel, it's me, Nikolas," he said. "Can you answer me? Can you tell me how you are or what she's done to you?"
There was a pause and a deep sigh. "Oh, Nikky, I don't feel so good. I'm s-so c-cold..."
"Dawn!" he called out as her voice began to fade.
"That's enough," Philana said, coming back on the line. "There's proof. I have her for now, but not for long. In fact, I'm leaving your virgin maiden for the big bad wolf while I rejoice in celebration of my success-"
"What success? Philana, wait!"
She hung up and anxiety gripped Nikolas. He hung up the receiver and looked at the others. Frisco had been listening on another extension and he returned to the room. "Does big bad wolf mean anything to anyone?"
"All I can think of is Little Red Riding Hood," Keesha said. "She met up with a big bad wolf who disguised himself as her grandmother to trick her."
"Disguise?" Stefan repeated.
"It sounds familiar," Steve Jensen said, looking at Nikolas.
"Nick Cassidy!" Nikolas exclaimed. "Dawn's at the cottage!" He ran out the door and Sabrina and Steve ran after him.
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