Robin sat curled in the overstuffed chair near the fireplace. Holding a cup and saucer of tea in the palm of her slender hand, she sat staring at the flickering embers. Her father glanced at her from time to time as he wondered what troubled her so. He had refrained from asking in the hopes that she'd tell him, but the longer she sat, the more worried he became so broke the silence with a question. "A penny for your thoughts."
"Hmm?" she asked. She drew her brown-eyed gaze away from the flames to look at Robert. "What did you say?"
"I mumbled the words of an old cliché," he said with a shrug, "certainly nothing to worry yourself over. You've been withdrawn today. Care to tell me why?"
"Mac's wedding was beautiful," she began. "Did I tell you I caught the bouquet?"
Robert smiled as he shook his head. "No, you didn't mention that. Should I start saving my funds for your upcoming nuptials?"
She released a low chuckle. "If that's an attempt to ask about my love life, let me tell you there's nothing to say. I'm not seeing anyone right now."
"You still have feelings for the last chap? Morgan?"
Robin sipped the tea before she answered. With a small clatter, she set the cup on the saucer. "I still think about him. I'll always care about him, but the danger around him... Jason... It's complicated, Dad."
Robert crossed his legs and interlaced his fingers. After assuming a comfortable position on the recliner, he nodded his head. "Go on."
"Are you sure you want to hear this?" she asked. Her voice trembled with uncertainty.
"I'm your father," he replied with a warm smile. "I have the impression that something is troubling you. Of course, I want to hear what you have to say. Perhaps, I can help you. Perhaps, saying the words out loud will be what you need. Either way, talking about it can't hurt."
Robin shrugged and nodded. "I suppose you're right."
She spent the next hour or so telling Robert about her past relationships. She began with her childhood crush on Jason then to her first real relationship with Stone and finally to what happened between her and Jason. Nothing was left out and she found the conversation to be refreshingly cathartic. Never had she imagined filling her father in on her private thoughts and feelings could give her the release her heart had craved for so long. Even conversations with Brenda hadn't been so fulfilling. By the time she concluded with the painful breakup with Jason while he lay in the recovery ward after being shot, tears streamed down her cheeks.
Robert pulled a handkerchief from his shirt pocket and handed it to her. He was silent as she dried her tears and blew her nose. When she was done, he said, "It feels good to get it all out in the open, doesn't it?"
"Yes," she whispered in a scratchy voice.
He smiled. "Matters of the heart aren't ever easy affairs to resolve, my dear. Sometimes, years and experience offer explanations. Sometimes, nothing does. But you're a strong young woman. There's a lot of Anna in you and with her tenacity, heartache won't detain you from reaching your full potential. One day a man worthy of you will come along and he'll cherish you the way you deserve."
"Oh, Daddy," she said, fresh tears streaming down her face. "I hope you're right, but I wonder if I will deserve it. There's more I didn't tell you-"
"What?" he asked. "I doubt if it's so bad that it can change whether or not you deserve happiness."
"I suppose it isn't, but... I've seen on the news lately that Jason's son is missing."
Robert nodded. "Yes, I've seen the reports, too. I can't see you having any involvement in an infant's disappearance."
"I don't," she responded, "but they're saying this baby is Jason's. It can't be Jason's and considering the child's mother, I can't help but wonder who the baby real father is."
"How can you be sure the baby isn't his?" he asked her quietly.
"We were together around the time the baby was conceived. Jason wasn't with her while we were together. I know that for a fact, but what I don't know or understand is why he's pretending to be that baby's father. He and Tony have their problems, but for him to help Carly keep Tony away from his child..."
"It isn't right," he finished for her. "No one has the right to keep a father from his child, Robin, and no one knows that better than I do."
"What do you think I should do?"
Robert rose from the recliner and moved to her. He patted her shoulder and placed a kiss on her forehead. "I think you already have the answer to that."
She swallowed hard and clasped his hand. "I have to tell Tony the truth."
Alexis kicked off her pumps and sunk her feet into the plush carpet of her new office. Located on the top floor with wall length windows, she had a picturesque view of Port Charles' skyline and the endless shoreline. Setting up her own space complete with her name on the door and her very own secretary had been a good move. After so many years of living out of a suitcase, she was finally planting roots. With a respected law practice and respectable clientele, she could forge a new life free from the restraints of the Cassadine lineage and the oppressive confines of being within the fold. She was on her own now and life was hers for the taking.
She shrugged off chocolate brown jacket and draped the garment on the back of her high-back, black leather office chair. With the sound of trumpets and fireworks going off in her head, she sat down for the first time behind her desk and began to work. A tiny smile played at her mouth even as she reviewed her client's case and realized that hours of legwork were on the horizon. Alexis felt free and the promise of lots of research didn't bother her in the least.
While busy making notes on a legal pad, the chill of danger zigzagged down her spine. She sat up immediately. A startled gasp passed from her lips as Helena stared down over her from the other side of the desk. "H-How did you get in here?"
A humorless smile parted the older woman's ruby-colored lips. "Do you truly expect to succeed when the first question to come to mind is a ridiculous one? An attorney must be quick-witted, Alexis. Haven't you learned that by now? Tsk, tsk, tsk."
"Get out of here before I call Security!" Alexis threatened through gritted teeth. "That's your final warning."
Helena tilted her head back and laughed. Her cackle bounced against the windows and echoed after she'd stopped. "You've become quite amusing. Your dalliance with the Quartermaine stud must have enhanced your limited sense of humor."
Alexis reached for the telephone. Faster than lightning, Helena's hand shot out and covered the younger woman's with more force than someone her size and age should have possessed. Her emerald eyes glittered with rage and a faint flush colored her ivory cheeks. "Providing me with amusement is wise. Inciting my ire is not."
Alexis swallowed hard and hoped that her fear of the Cassadine matriarch was concealed. In a hard voice, she asked, "What do you want?"
"Your response isn't perfect," Helena commented, "but it's better than the last one. I want to know about you and Stefan."
"You wish to pour salt into the wound?" Alexis asked. "You know that he refuses to have anything to do with me."
"I'm aware of that. After years of wasting his time on the charity case that is you, he has finally seen the light-"
Alexis bristled. The insult hurt even now. "Is that's all?" she interjected. "I have work-"
"I will inform you when my visit has reached its conclusion," Helena informed her. "Now, back to my question. You and Stefan...you've been seen with him recently at the hospital. I want to know why."
Alexis' mind worked quickly. Telling Helena the truth would result in certain death for Stefan and she would never let that happen. He'd been her savior for so long. Betraying him again was not an option. She loved him too much to risk his life. So instead, she came up with the best and most fitting lie that Helena would accept. "I went to him and begged for mercy."
"And?" Helena's eyebrows arched as she folded her arms and waited.
"You know him," Alexis responded in a quiet voice. "None was forthcoming. He'll never forgive me for forging the documents about Katherine and I'll never stop begging him to change his mind."
Helena cackled with unrestrained glee. "You're such a peasant. Such a little fool. If you didn't provide entertainment, you would no longer waste space on this planet. I suppose I won't prohibit you from begging Stefan for mercy. Obviously your visits antagonize him and the more agitated he is, the better it is for me. Carry on."
The older woman swept out of the room as soundlessly as she entered. When the door closed behind her, Alexis pressed her shaking hands against her forehead, bowed her head and prayed.
Stefan closed the door to his study and leaned against it. Releasing a deep breath, he rubbed his hands across his face. Nikolas was distraught over his recent altercation with Lucky Spencer. Telling the boy the truth about Luke had burdened Nikolas and left him guilt-ridden. Some remorse was expected, but Stefan refused to allow Nikolas to believe he had spoken out of turn. The truth was bound to be exposed one day and would have been difficult regardless of who spoke it. Stefan hoped that his words penetrated through to Nikolas and when the younger man said he wanted to spend the rest of the day with Dawn, Stefan couldn't have been more relieved.
Within the confines of Wyndemere, Nikolas would be safe from any further attempts of Spencer's misplaced rage. After Stefan dealt with Luke near the launch the previous night, he added more guards for Nikolas and Wyndemere's other residents' protection. Stefan could handle Spencer man to man, but he didn't doubt that someone who could force himself on an eighteen-year-old girl would have any qualms about causing harm to defenseless women. And Stefan would kill Luke before he'd allow him to harm a hair on any head of those dear to him.
Thoughts of changing Carlotta's mind about his proposal and avenging Dawn's injuries had left him little time for business. He'd always been conscientious about his productivity regardless of personal difficulties. With so many of Port Charles' residents in opposition to his role at General Hospital, he worked extra hard to prove their opinions worthless.
A faint smirk tugged at his mouth as he sat down behind his desk. The report for the next quarter would once again prove his business acumen. Under his leadership, the hospital's worth had risen and profits soared. Healthcare had never been better and patient satisfaction was at an all time high. Stefan allowed himself a small chuckle. Being right always felt so damn good.
He pulled out a handful of folders from his briefcase. A few slipped from his hands and landed on the desk. A frown darkened his brow when he noticed the handwriting on the post-it notes that were attached to the top folder. Alexis' large scrawl jumped up at him and he felt a faint twinge of regret. She'd been closer to him than anyone except Carlotta during his adolescent years. Her betrayal stung him like nothing else ever had. For her to taper in his private, personal affairs in such a depraved manner... He brushed the thought aside. Trying to understand her motives would give birth to a migraine. He had work to do-
But her voice kept coming back to him. The last time he saw her, she gave him those documents and told him that he was the true Natasha. The idea was absurd, but his curiosity had been aroused. With a good evening's worth of General Hospital documentation to review, he cast it all aside to leaf through Alexis' notes and paperwork.
Hours later, Stefan's mind spun. If what she'd given him was true, her words were not lies this time. One of his father's many liaisons did produce an illegitimate child and that child was him! His tumultuous relationship with Helena was finally explained. She wasn't his mother even though Mikkos led her to believe she was. Perhaps, the bond between mother and child was stronger than anyone ever realized and deep inside, Helena always knew.
Stefan's heart pounded with boundless energy. He couldn't rest until he knew the truth for himself. He'd have to find a way to have DNA tests done on him and on Helena without her knowledge. Then if it was true...if he was truly not her son, Alexis' warnings of doom were only the tip of the iceberg. Helena could never know and he would have to do everything within his power to protect his family from her wrath.
"Take heed, indeed."