Chapter 46

~ The Bittersweet Taste of Success ~

"Tommy?" Lynn didn't really believe Rick when he said that her beloved was on the phone. The teasing glint in his eyes made her doubt him, but she hoped her doubts were in error. She desperately wanted to talk to Tommy and hear his gentle voice again. "Is it really you?"

His deep, rich laugh came to her through the receiver. "It's me, sweetheart. I'm here."

"Hi," she said a little breathlessly. "I was surprised to hear from you again so soon. Did your uncle and aunt arrive without any problems?"

"They're here. Liz wasn't too thrilled to see them at first, but I think she's warming to them. They've told her several times already that they're not going anywhere, but it will take their sticking around for her to believe it," he answered.

"And you?" she asked. She tried to listen closely to his voice for a sign, but none came to her. "How are you?"

"I'm fine," he said after a brief pause. "I'm angry about what happened to her, but the cops caught the bastard. He's in jail. He's trying to deny everything, but the evidence is stacked against him. Joel Michaels won't get away with what he did to her."

"I wish I could be there with you."

"That's why I called," he said, his smile coming through in his voice. "Our separation is about to come to an end."

Butterflies fluttered in Lynn's stomach. Could her dreams finally be coming true? "Has Bobby been arrested?"

"It's better than that, Lynn," he told her. "He won't ever be a threat to you again. During his attempt to murder his brother and two women, he was killed."

"He found Eric?" she questioned. Stunned, she slowly sat down behind Rick's desk. She was thankful for the privacy his office gave her and gave Tommy her complete attention. "Tell me from the beginning what happened. What about my uncle and Bobby's father? What's going on?"

For the next few minutes, Lynn's mind reeled as Tommy described the recent events. She was almost scared to believe that her life on the run was really and truly coming to an end. But from the happiness in his voice, she knew it was real and true. Tommy wouldn't lie to her about something as important as their future. It was really happening. She was thisclose to finally being free!

"...Hawk should return tonight with the documentation that will put Sal away for good. He said that Moreno's name is on a lot of the paperwork. I'm sorry..."

She shook her head as if he could see her. "Don't apologize for him and don't apologize to me. I know what my uncle is. It's sad, but my brothers and I made our peace with it a long time ago. I'm just glad that my ties to him will be severed and I won't have to live in fear anymore. Tommy, this is wonderful news."

"I think so, too," he agreed in a low voice. "I've missed you, Lynn. I can't wait to board that plane and be with you in Hawaii. Are you looking forward to our reunion?"

Lynn smiled, closed her eyes and imagined his handsome face and warm arms. "More than you'll ever know. I love you, Tommy."

"I love you, too."


Jax didn't want to believe the reports from his CFO, but the proof was hard to dispute. Deception no longer belonged to him. Carlotta Christofides of Christofides Cosmetics was the majority stockholder and the dossier he held in his hand told him who her primary assistant was. Pamela Faith Ward. Damn!

He slammed the folder down on the table and stormed from Deception's top floor conference room. His numerous employees averted their eyes as he passed and he didn't blame them. His fury was raw and just one step below uncontrollable. It was to their credit that they didn't call attention to themselves when rage boiled inside him.

The elevators were reached without incident. The Fates were kind and he had the car to himself from the penthouse to the garage. Without pausing to exchange pleasantries with the garage attendant, Jax strode to his Land Rover, climbed in and roared across town to his home at the Port Charles Hotel. Instead of going to his penthouse, he went straight to Pamela's, used his key and waited inside for her.

She arrived a little while later. At first, she didn't notice him. Her movements were sluggish and heavy as she set her briefcase on the floor and removed her coat. When she finally noticed him, surprise registered on her face and then resignation. After drawing in a long breath, she stopped where she was and said, "Jax."

Fearful that he'd break something, he shoved his hands into his pants pockets. His jaw clenched. "Is that all you have to say for yourself today?"

Pamela shrugged and kept her gaze fixed on him. "I gather you know, so what is there to say?"

"You have no excuses?" he questioned. "No reasons why you betrayed me?"

"I didn't betray you," she said in a choked whisper. "It wasn't about you-"

"Then what the bloody hell was it about?" he interjected coldly. "Tell me."

"It was business!" She waved her hands. "That's all, Jax. It wasn't personal-"

"And all those times where we just happened to cross paths...was that mere coincidence?" His voice was as hard as ice. "And the sex, Pamela, was that just an added feature or a part of the plan?"

Her hands clenched at her sides, but she made no move to cross the room and slap him. Jax would have welcomed it, he realized. The righteous indignation of the act would have given them some footing to rebuild what had been lost, but it was not to be. She didn't answer his question and he gave up. He pulled the key from his chain and crossed to the door. He held the key out to her and she took it. Then, he left.


Ellen's hand closed over his and Matt smiled. "I'm fine," he told her.

"I believe you believe that, but I'm not so sure," she said. "He was your brother. I know it matters...somewhere just below the surface, it matters."

Matt squeezed her hand and leaned back against the sofa. He stared sightlessly at the muted television screen. "It doesn't matter as much as you think. I'm just glad that part is over."

"When is the trial?"

"Two days from now," he answered. "The Marshals are picking me up in the morning."

"Why aren't they coming tonight? As least as added protection, just in case."

He brought her hand to his mouth and kissed it. The kiss started off as chaste, but became passionate when he slid his tongue across he palm. Ellen shivered and a low moan passed from her lips. Matt smiled with satisfaction. He pressed her hand against his stubble-covered cheek and murmured, "Because I asked them not to."

"Why?" she asked, her voice a breathless whisper.

"Because they would crowd us," he answered. "Grace's death and Bobby's made some things very clear to me, Ellen. Nothing is promised and all you have is right here and now. I don't want to waste another moment. Do you?'


Sliding his hand into her reddish brown locks, he drew her to him. His mouth swooped down to cover hers and he shuddered with the divine ecstasy of the first taste of her on his lips.


The recent coup over Deception left a bittersweet taste in Carlotta's mouth. Certainly, she was pleased with her business acumen. She had accomplished what she set out to, but grudgingly she had to admit that the success wasn't too thrilling without someone special to share it with.

She could have confided in a number of people. Quentin, Spenser, Dawn...but it wouldn't have been the same. They would have been happy for her, or course, but she wanted more. She wanted warm, moist lips placing a congratulatory kiss onto hers. She wanted a hot, hard body molding against her. She wanted the love of an old friend and occasional lover to share her victory with. Quite simply, she wanted Stefan.

"Damn!" she muttered, pushing the door to her quarters closed behind her. What an awful conclusion to make, she decided. Their friendship was perfect. How could either of them entertain thoughts of making the broad leap towards matrimony? Hell, she knew how he could. He was obviously having a mid-life crisis. But what was her excuse? She'd been level-headed since her wild younger years. Surely, succumbing to the part of herself that screamed yes would be her downfall... And if so, then why was she so close to giving him the answer he craved?

A knock sounded on her door and she said, "Come in."

"Carlotta." Stefan stood in the doorway for a moment, his emerald eyes raking boldly over her and then he stepped inside. He closed the door behind him. "I wasn't aware that you had returned. Will you be dining here for dinner?"

"I was planning to," she answered. Her mouth watered as she drank in the sight of him. The black on black suit he wore complimented his healthy skin tone and hid the well-toned body that lay coiled underneath. An image of his nude form came to mind and she became hot. "Why do you ask?"

"I wanted to escort you in the hopes that we could talk privately. Is that agreeable to you?" he asked.

"I have no objections." She pointed towards the small round table and its two matching chairs. "Shall we?"

Stefan held out the chair for her. Once she was settled, he sat, too. In a move that was uncharacteristic for him, he seemed uncomfortable and agitated. Normally, he kept a tighter rein over his emotions. Seeing him act thusly worried Carlotta. She reached for his hand and he gave it to her. "Stefan, what's wrong? Is it the children?"

He squeezed her hand between both of his. "No," he said with a faint smile. "The children have been in Nikolas' quarters most of the afternoon. They will not be dining with us. Nikolas requested that dinner for them be served there. I hope you do not mind that it will be just the two of us tonight."

She smiled. "I enjoy your company. Of course, I don't mind. What is it?"

"Am I so transparent?" he laughed humorlessly. "I suppose to you, I would be. I trust you more than any other person on this planet save for Nikolas. You know this, do you not?"

"Of course," she answered. "As I you..."

"I can see from your puzzled frown your mind is creating numerous scenarios. I assure you that there is nothing too horrible that you need worry."

"You said horrible and worry in the same sentence," she reminded him. "What has Helena done?"

He laughed again and this time, there was mirth. "Your wit is a blessing, my love. My mother—That is in error. Helena has not done anything, but I fear that she will."

"Why?" Helena's dislike for Stefan was the one thing Carlotta hated most about the woman. She didn't understand how she could display so much hostility for her own child. It boggled Carlotta's mind and made her love Stefan even more for being a loving man despite Helena's treatment of him. "Is this about Nikolas?"

"No," he said in a gravelly whisper. "Her attack should it happen would be about me. It has recently come to my attention that I am not her son even though she believes that I am."

Carlotta's hand gripped his. "I don't understand."

He gave her a tight smile. "Allow me to explain. Mikkos had an affair with Helena's younger sister of which I am the product. At the same time, he impregnated Helena. Both women carried their babies to term, however, Helena's was stillborn. Mikkos switch me with that child and allowed Helena's sister to believe her child died. Subsequently, she committed suicide."

"I-I'm sorry, Stefan. How did you discover this?"

"Alexis. She provided me with proof and I found it to be true."

She frowned. "How did she know?"

"She refuses to tell me which leads me to believe Luke Spencer was her source for this information. If so, there is a strong possibility he will tell Helena and thus, put all of our lives at stake. It is imperative that you and the children leave Wyndemere at first light. Your travel arrangements have been prepared and a jet is being fueled. The destination is Kavàlla."

"Very well, I will take the children to the Christofides castle, but what about you?" she question, her heart lurching with concern. "Where will you be?"

"Here," he answered. "I must remain here."

"I don't want you to face her alone. Please, don't."

Stefan raised her hand to his mouth and brushed his lips across her knuckles. He smiled. "I won't be alone. You will be with me here." He pulled her hand towards his heart and held it there. "As you always have been."

General Hospital and Port Charles ©ABC
Wiseguy © Stephen J. Cannell Productions
Magnum, PI © Universal Studios
Spenser: For Hire © ABC
The Right Way(and all original characters) ©2000-2001 niklovr
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