Chapter 30

"They're doing an extensive search," Stefan's personal attorney, Olivia Frye-Cudahy said. "So far, we've been able to anticipate their movements. Are you sure you don't want me to contact Bobby and let them know we're aware of what they're doing?"

"And expose our hand prematurely?" Stefan said. "No, let's enjoy the game of cat and mouse a little while longer."

"Katherine is doing everything she can to stay out of jail. She picked the right firm for the job. Bobby Donlan and his associates throw ethics out the window when it comes to their defense."

"I'm aware of his tactics. Sonny Corinthos is a free man," Stefan commented. "Whatever is required, Olivia, I do not want Katherine's deeds to go unpunished."

"Understood," Olivia replied. "I'll call you before the end of the week with developments."

Stefan placed the telephone receiver on its based. He breathed a faint sigh of relief, but an aura of tension refused to abate. Unease stirred inside him. He had intended to review General Hospital's financial statements and then join Carlotta upstairs. But now, he doubted his ability to concentrate on work.

He surrendered and left his office. As he reached the staircase, Mrs. Landsbury appeared at the head of the stairs. Flushed and breathless, she called out to him.

"Hurry! Mrs. Cassadine is in labor!"

~*~

Simone received the page just as she was returning from a late lunch with Tom. She headed straight for the ER and waited for Carlotta's arrival.

"Rumor has it you're the boss's personal physician," came a low gravely voice at her ear. "Interesting."

Simone inhaled a quick breath and quickly regretted that move. Doug's cologne was unlike any scent she recognized, yet, it tantalized her senses immediately. She hated that he was in the ER. The man zeroed in on females like a wolf chasing a lost sheep. Relentlessly. And coupled with the less than satisfactory lunch she shared with her husband...

"Dr. Ross--"

"Yes?" he asked, a smile shining distinctly in his voice. "May I be of service?"

She frowned and turned on her heel to face him. "I don't need your service."

"So you expect an easy delivery?" he asked, the expression of innocence. "My specialty is pediatric medicine, but I can be quite useful in a delivery room."

She gave him a tight smile. "Thanks, but no thanks."

His dark eyes glanced briefly at her mouth before connecting with her wary gaze. "I'll give you a rain check on that."

A nurse called him over and he left. Simone stood, staring after him. Shaky and a little breathless.

~*~

Nikolas left for General Hospital as soon as he received his uncle's call. Childbirth was never to be taken for granted, and since he loved Carlotta dearly, anxiety raced through him. If Dawn were there... Dawn should be here to celebrate in her sibling's birth. If it weren't for Nikolas, she would be. His chest heaved. He had no idea he could miss someone this much.

He swung his Jaguar into a space close to the entrance and then raced inside the building. He nearly collided into his Aunt Amy as she was rounding the Nurseís Station.

"Whatís the hurry?" she asked, gripping his upper arms. "Are you okay? Youíre not having a relapse, are you?"

"A relapse?" Nikolas frowned. Then, he understood. The stroke. "No, Iím fine. My uncleís wife is in labor. She was brought here. Do you know where I can find her?"

"Oh!" Amy pressed her hand to her open mouth. "So, thatís what everyone is all hush-hush about! Sheíd be on in delivery. Thatís on the seventh floor. Would you like for me to come with you?"

He gave her a grim smile. Her propensity for gossip was well-known. Nikolas cared for his aunt, but he was not in the mood for her questions. "Iíll be fine. Thank you, Amy."

"Okay, well if you need me, you know where to find me."

Her sincerity was evident and Nikolas responded with a genuine smile. "Thank you."

He found Carlottaís room without any problems. The duty nurse informed him that the delivery was going fine, but Nikolas could not fathom what she meant. The woman said the words calmly, but could her demeanor be a ruse to reassure him? He wished that he had a moment to see for himself that all was well. With Dawn gone, he felt responsible for her mother. He wanted to help.

"Nikolas!"

Every muscle in his body tensed. That voice. That woman! How dare she intrude upon this treasured moment? With considerable effort, he held his temper in check and faced Caroline. Like a tidal wave, she came roaring down the hallway. Her arms wrapped around her swollen waist and her blond hair flying wildly around her face. Nikolas waited for her to reach him.

"Did I make it in time?" she asked, through ragged breaths. "Mrs. Landsbury told me that Carlotta was in labor. Has she had the baby?"

"What are you doing here?" he asked. "You have no reason to be here."

"But I want to be here for you."

He stared coldly into her brown eyes. "I donít want you here. Go back to Wyndemere or to the boutiques or whatever it is you do in your free time. You should not be here."

"Yes I should!" Her eyes blazed and her nostrils flared. "My place is with you. I will be your wife. You need to remember that."

"Do not ever, as long as you draw breath, tell me about my needs." His voice was cold and exact. "Ever."

Her cheeks flushed with anger. "Donít take that tone with me! Or else youíll never see this baby."

"Is that a threat you truly have the capacity to see to fruition?" Contempt radiated from him. "I doubt that, but try me, Caroline. Attempt to keep my child from me and you will fully know what it is to suffer the wrath of a Cassadine."

A panic stricken look crossed her features. "What would you do?"

"Whatever it takes."

Her expression softened. Tears filled her eyes. "Why are we fighting? We don't have to fight. We both want what's best for our--"

Her words came to an abrupt halt. She clutched her abdomen. "The baby!"

Then, she collapsed into his arms.

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