Chapter 2

~ Succor ~

A soft tap sounded on Carlotta's door. Stefan quickly noted that her slumber had not been interrupted. He eased himself from her bed and went to the door. Mrs. Lansbury stood on the other side.

"Dr. Hardy just rang. She said that the nurse and the nurse's aid should arrive within the hour."

"Very good," Stefan said. "Did she leave the name of the nurses?"

The expression on the older woman's face became unreadable as she nodded. "Yes. Ms. Barbara Spencer will serve as Miss Christofides nurse and her daughter, Carly Benson will act as the nurse's aid."

Stefan's jaw tightened. This blunder was inexcusable. His former wife and her troubled daughter to assist his beloved and their unborn child? He would have to contact the hospital himself for a suitable pair. He turned to the housekeeper. "Would you sit with Carlotta? She's asleep now. If she calls for me, I can be reached in my study."

"Of course."

He left Carlotta in Mrs. Lansbury's capable hands and moved quickly to his study. He opened the door and was surprised to find Petrukas seated behind his desk.

"May I help you?" Stefan asked, not bothering to hide his irritation with Carlotta's father.

"I've been waiting for you," Petrukas stated. He remained glued to Stefan's chair. His dark eyes glittered as he glared at Stefan. "I thought my anger would have abated by now, but it has only grown stronger. How dare you toy with my daughter's safety as if her life is of no consequence!"

"I assure you Carlotta's safety has always been my priority," Stefan said in a low, cool tone. The older man's accusations ripped through him. Petrukas should know him well enough to know that he loved Carlotta with all his heart and would never risk her life. She was to be his wife! Surely, the man knew how important she was to him.

"So you make it easy for your ex-lover to attend the Bacchanalia and put a dagger to my Carlotta's throat?" Petrukas pounded the desk. "Security should have been impenetrable! Alarms should have sounded. Dogs should have torn that Katherine Bell to shreds! If Carlotta hadn't acted quickly, she would have fallen from that loosened parapet! I will not allow-"

"Petrukas!" Stefan's calm left him as he bellowed the older man's name. "I respect you and know that you love your daughter dearly, but I will not allow you to disrespect my intentions toward her to my face or in my home. You know that I would give my life for hers. I agree. Security should have been impenetrable. There was a lapse and I fully intend to discover why and who was at fault. The police said that the parapet was loosened on purpose and I highly doubt that Carlotta was its intended victim. Not that it matters. Thank God, Carlotta acted quickly and removed herself from harm's way. She's upstairs resting and I would prefer that she continue to do so. If we must argue, we should schedule it away from Wyndemere."

"My intent is not to disrespect you, Stefan," Petrukas told him, "but I will not sit idly by while my daughter and my granddaughter's lives are placed in danger. Find the culprit or I will!"

Petrukas slammed out of Stefan's office. The windows shook and books trembled on the bookshelves. Stefan inhaled a deep breath and slowly exhaled. He refused to give Petrukas permission to take charge of his domain. He dialed the number to Terranova's cell phone. "Vincent, has there been any progress?"

"Not so far," Vinnie answered. "The police were right about the railing. It was loosened, but whoever did it wore gloves. There are no fingerprints here. I'm still investigating the Wing. If I find anything, I'll let you know."

"Please do."


Nikolas was heading toward the kitchen when Ivan, one of the butlers, summoned him.

"Sir, there is a Miss Spencer and Miss Benson waiting in the drawing room. I looked for Mr. Cassadine, but I..."

Nikolas smiled. He and most of the staff were aware of Ivan's fear of Stefan. Nikolas wasn't surprised that the older man came to him instead. "I will see to them. Would you take a pot of herbal tea and a plate of scones to my quarters, please?"

"Of course, sir."

"Thank you."

As Nikolas went to the drawing room, he wondered why Bobbie and a Miss Benson would visit at this time of night. Seeing Bobbie at the Bacchanalia had been a surprise, but for her to come back now... Nikolas hoped it didn't mean something had happened to his mother and baby sister.

"Hello, Bobbie," he said with a smile. A year ago, he wouldn't have been so happy to see her, but in the time that passed, he was able to forgive her for betraying his uncle and lying to him. Forgiveness hadn't come easily for him, but it did arrive eventually. "Hello, Miss Benson," he said, giving the twentysomething blonde woman a quizzical glance. "Why are you here so late? I hope nothing is wrong with Lesley Lu or Laura."

"No," Bobbie quickly told him as they hugged. "I'm here for medical reasons. Dr. Hardy requested round-the-clock care for Ms. Christofides so I offered and my daughter, Carly is here to help, too."

"Your daughter?" Nikolas repeated, frowning. "I wasn't aware you had one."

"It's a long story," Carly said quietly. She extended her hand to Nikolas. "Hello. I'm Carly."

"Nice to meet you." He tugged his hand free of her grasp. Her eyes raked over him boldly, and he didn't like it at all. He looked away from her and shoved both his hands into the front pockets of his slacks. "I wasn't aware that Aunt was so ill as to require twenty-four hour care. Is there anything I can do?"

"You can show us to our patient," Bobbie said, sliding her arm through his, "and you can tell me how you're doing."

"I'll have one of the servants attend to your valises." He led them up the staircase to Carlotta's quarters. "I'm fine, but the entire episode has upset Dawn."

"Is that who we're taking care of?" Carly asked, giving Nikolas a wide smile of interest.

He frowned at her. "No, Carlotta is her mother. Dawn is my betrothed."

"Oh." Carly's disappointment was evident in her voice. "I see."

They reached Carlotta's room. Nikolas reached for the doorknob just as Stefan called out to them. The trio turned to look at him, surprised by his outburst.

"Aren't they providing Aunt with medical care?" Nikolas asked.

"Yes, but I must speak to Barbara alone first-"

"It's not necessary," Bobbie told him. "I agreed to take care of Ms. Christofides fully aware that she's to be your wife. I hoped that bygones would be bygones, Stefan. I have no intentions of hurting your fiancée, and I am the best nurse at General Hospital, so... Do you really want us to leave?"

Stefan sighed. "No, Barbara. You may stay. A room adjacent to Carlotta's has been prepared for you. I will show you and Miss Benson to it. Thank you, Nikolas."

"You're welcome. Goodnight, Bobbie. Miss Benson."

"Carly," the younger woman said softly. "You can call me, Carly."

Nikolas gave her a tight smile and a stiff nod before turning on his heel to join Dawn in his quarters.


Marcus spent a few hours at the precinct before heading home. The accident at Wyndemere had been labeled a full-fledged case and since he and Keesha were the first officers on the scene, it was theirs. He circled around the block a few times until he found an empty spot a few houses down from his apartment. He lived on the top floor in a sparsely decorated studio, and he loved it.

After locking his car and setting the alarm, he sauntered down the sidewalk. Bits and pieces of his conversations with Robin Scorpio came to his mind and he tried unsuccessfully to brush them aside. The girl was too young for him to even give a second thought. She was also a little on the selfish side and to top it off, Sonny Corinthos was one of her best friends!

"Hell, no!" he said aloud. "I gotta leave that alone."

"Talking to yourself now?"

Marcus stopped in his tracks. Sitting on the steps of his brownstone was his kid sister. He hadn't seen or heard from her in weeks. What was she doing there now, so long and so far away from home?

"Didja run away again?" he asked, folding his arms across his chest as he stared down at Gia. "Mama should just handcuff you to the house."

"It didn't work for you as I recall."

"As if you would know anything about it," he said. "You weren't even born when I was giving Mama hell. And speaking of her, does she know you're here?"

She shrugged and her braids bumped her shoulders. "Does it matter? You'll call her as soon as we get upstairs anyway."

"True dat," he agreed. "Come on. Let's get it over with."

Marcus unlocked the main door and held it open for Gia. She followed him inside and they both ascended the three floors to his apartment. He opened the door and they entered. He flipped on a light and pointed to the telephone. "Call her now."

True to form, the teenager rolled her eyes and plopped on the futon. "Do you have anything good to eat?" Turning up her nose, she looked around. "I remember this place being bigger than this, and what do you gotta leave alone? Some girl? Who is she? Do you have a picture of her? What if I don't approve?"

"Call her now or I'm taking you down to juvenile hall," Marcus told her, refusing to be stalled or swayed.

"Spoilsport!" she muttered.


"Brat!" he retorted. "I don't know what you're up to, but after you talk to Mama, you've got some serious explaining to do. I see that tattoo on your ankle and I know all about that gang. Oh, yeah. You've got a lot of explaining to do."

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