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Risk

Chapter XVI

 



Darkness has already fallen when Jax enters suite 975 of the Port Charles Hotel. He tosses his keys down on the desk and sighs rubbing the back of his neck. Nothing. It was like she'd disappeared-- just what Stavros intended. He checks his messages-- Ned, Kristina, Lady Jane, three business calls. Picking up the phone he starts making calls of his own-- the airport to his buddy there to check the flight plan on the Cassadine jet; to the coast guard to see if anyone had sighted the yacht. Wait, Stefan had counseled. Stavros would be in contact. HA! Well Stefan might specialize in waiting but patience isn't a Jack's family trait and never had been. If he had to bloody Stavros' nose to get his attention so be it. Jax pulls out his laptop and accesses the European markets. Going off his list from when he'd been targeting Helena, he picks one and starts making more calls.

 



Alexis doesn't move doesn't even groan as a cool damp cloth is placed on her forehead. She doesn't flinch as a small bandaid like object is placed behind her ear. "You'll be feeling better soon." Andreas says quietly.

"Oh just kill me now." Alexis counters with a groan. "You sadist."

Andreas smiles ruefully. "It is extremely unlikely that a sadist would have maintained employment on Mrs Cassadine's personal staff, Madam."

"So you're branching out." Alexis opens a bloodshot eye. That's the thing about tossing cookies. It's inevitabley accompanied by tears. "How long is this voyage of the damned going to last?"

"You should have informed me of your difficulty. You've allowed yourself to become dehydrated." Andreas scolds. "The medication will take a short time for the effects to be felt." He pours her a goblet of ice water. Andreas holds it to her mouth until she takes the goblet from him and swallows thirstily. The icy water sooths her raw throat. "Not too fast." Andreas warns. "Or it will come right back up." Leaving Alexis alone, he starts setting the cabin to rights.

"When? When will I see my brother?" Alexis demands.

"At his convenience."

 



Stefan looks up at the brownstone. After his ride with Lucas, Barbara had gathered up her progeny and returned to this locale. He knocks on the door. Bobbie answers grimacing when she sees who is on the other side. "What are you doing here?"

"We should talk." Stefan says simply.

"I'm about all talked out." Bobbie counters tersely.

"Indeed. As am I. But this is about Lucas." Stefan looks behind Bobbie and has a twinge of relief at not seeing the boy. "A conversation best held in private."

Bobbie processes the request while eyeing Stefan suspiciously. Then she finally nods. "I'll get my coat." Bobbie calls up the stairs. "Lucas, I'll be back in an hour. I have my cell phone." Stefan meanwhile has gone to the closet in the entryway and selects one of Bobbie's coats. He holds it for her as she shrugs into the garment. "One hour, Stefan."

"So noted." He places a hand at her back and steer her toward the waiting vehicle.

 



"They were nuts." Carly says argumentatively as she sheds her jacket and throws it over a chair as she enters the hotel room.

"Masada is considered a symbol of Israel's triumph over adversity, over great odds." Stavros comes into the hotel room following Carly into Michael's bedroom. He eases the sleeping boy onto the bed. Carly slides off Michael's shoes and tucks him under the covers. The bath would just have to wait until morning.

Then she goes back into the living area. "Yeah, yeah. I get that. Death before dishonor blah blah blah... it's still crap. Having a bunch of guys decide it's better to kill every man, woman and child than to surrender to the Romans. Drawing lots to see who'd be stuck with the task of slitting the others' throats." Carly shudders. "It's sick. It's the early version of poisoned Koolaid."

"Koolaid?" Stavros quirks a brow.

"Jonestown, Guyana. You would have been either asleep or busy with Laura." Carly pours them both a glass of juice and curls up on the couch after unlacing her hiking boots. "A guy claiming to talk to God gathered up a bunch of his followers and went off into the jungle. When they were about to be busted or investigated or something... they decided to make up a vat of koolaide laced with cyanide. The ones that didn't drink it willingly had it forced on them. By the time the troops showed up all that was there was dead bodies. I was too little to know but Mama, Virginia, told me about it." Carly leans forward. "It's giving up. If you're going to die... then take the enemy with you, you know? Or better yet, don't die at all and come back to kick their ass another day, another way-- Course Mama didn't tell me that part."

Stavros lifts his juice in a toast. "You know I agree." He looks at her consideringly. "You would have been one of the few hiding in the caves."

Carly nods pausing to swallow a sip of the juice. "Oh yeah. It would have been me and Michael hiding out in the caves waiting until it was all over and then coming out and telling the Romans what ever they wanted to hear and getting the heck out of dodge. It was kinda like when Sorel broke into my home and was holding me hostage. Sonny and I lived in a penthouse... it's not like I couldn't have gone off the terrace but that was one of the options I didn't consider."

"I don't think it would have even occurred to you." Stavros says musingly.

Carly shakes her head in agreement. "Not even close. If you're busy figuring out how to die... when do you have time to figure out how to live?"




Stefan holds out Bobbie's chair at the Port Charles Grille. Bobbie takes a seat and looks up over her shoulder at Stefan. "One hour."

"I thought it better to have a private conversation."

"Here?" Bobbie quirks a brow. "Right." As the waiter comes up, Bobbie puts in a request for a pot of tea.

Stefan nods at the waiter dismissing him and then half shrugs in answer to Bobbie's comment. "True. But it is close. Barbara, about Lucas..."

Bobbie bites her lip. "He'll be okay." She says-- having to believe it.

"Of that I have no doubt. He is a resilient little boy... but still a little boy. I have treated him shamefully."

"Stefan?"

"In our preoccupation with the Cassadine/Spencer wars..." Stefan shakes his head. "In my preoccupation..." He corrects himself. "We never pretended to have a love match instead married for the children... for Nikolas, for Lucas. I apologize to you. I have already apologized to Lucas. It was unfair for him to be involved."

"And now Stavros is playing head games with him."

Stefan makes a dismissing motion with one hand. "I wish it was that easy. But Stavros could never had played this game if I had handled the... situation better."

"The situation?"

"I allowed your brother into our marriage and then acted against you because of it. And Lucas is the one who suffered."

"You let Katherine Bell into our marriage." Bobbie reminds.

Stefan half smiles. "If you want to put it that way... does that mean you desire the credit for letting Luke in?"

"No, you can have that too." Bobbie says wryly. "I'll just take the trying to drug you. It was a bad time, Stefan. It didn't show either of us at our best." Bobbie shakes her head. "So much has happened since then."

"Yes." Stefan agrees sadly remembering the deaths of first Katherine and then Chloe-- casualties of the Spencer/Cassadine war. "And while there is a tentative truce between our families.... if Stavros... when Stavros...."

"You think he's coming after Laura. Did you tell her that?"

"Eventually. No matter what inroads your daughter believes she is making. Stavros has never been one to share. He'd rather break a toy than share it. No one knows that better than Laura. Did I discuss it with her today?" Stefan shakes his head. "It was inappropriate with Lucas there."

"You are really not making me feel good about Carly and Michael being anywhere with Stavros."

"Your daughter is a curiosity." Bobbie stiffens at Stefan's comment. "No insult intended." Stefan continues musing aloud. "Not only to Stavros but to me. I had her investigated of course... back when we were married due to her laison with Dr Jones."

"You knew she was my daughter." Bobbie's voice is calm, too calm. When the truth had come out.. the night that Virginia had her fatal heart attack. She'd gone to Stefan for confirmation knowing even though they'd been on the outs that he'd tell her the truth. Maybe because they were on the outs.

Stefan nods. "And that Luke knew as well. But it served no purpose to hurt you-- revealing that information." Perhaps if I had we'd still be married because you wouldn't have believed Luke after his months of lies.

"It was my call. And I'm really tired of you and Luke deciding what the little women can hear." Bobbie tells him directly.

"Noted. Why is your daughter with Stavros? Why is Stavros fascinated by her?"

"Is that why we're here?"

"No. I am here to extend an offer to you. I will... lease Wyndemere from you. Be responsible for the taxes and upkeep. I hope you will continue to have Lucas' horse stabled there."

"Why?"

"I wish to spend time with Lucas."

Bobbie starts shaking her head. "I really don't think that is a good idea. You've already told me that things are going to start heating up between Luke and Stavros again. Carly is up to her eyeballs in this. Bad idea all around. I want Lucas as far away from all this as I can get him and still stay in Port Charles!"

Stefan leans in. "I broke a promise to Lucas. It is unacceptable. I wish to make it right now. The reasons for our marriage still exist, Barbara. Not withstanding Lucas' desire for a family but also because of the potential for future conflict... between the two of us, we have a better chance of safeguarding him from the dangers of both of our families. Do you think Caroline was aware of Stavros' gift to you and your potential reaction?"

"My reaction? Oh hell yeah. Carly knows exactly what it feels like to not know where your child is. I don't think... she couldn't have gone along with this."

"So she didn't know about my brother's gift." Stefan muses. He looks up at Bobbie and reaching across the table takes her hand. "All the more important that we provide a united force at this juncture. You agree that your daughter is... volatile."

Bobbie snorts. "um... yeah." She watches her ex husband stroke his beard. Something he always seemed to do when pondering possibilities. "Why?"

"I would recommend not telling her. While telling would work for me... it would provide Stavros with a distraction dealing with Caroline. The more time he spends dealing with her the less time he is spending on other things including my sister. It would not be healthy for Caroline to go against him. And if she were angry..."

Bobbie blanches. "She already knows. I mean she doesn't know but she knows something happened. I told her that much in the message I left her." Bobbie exhales and shakes her head. "I won't do to Carly what you guys have been doing to me. I'm going to tell her exactly what happened... She has to know, Stefan. She has to know what she is getting into. This might convince her to get the hell out of there."

"Be very careful, Barbara." Stefan warns.




Andreas watches as Alexis has a light meal of broth and toast. Once she is done, he extends the offer. "Would you like to go above, Madam?"

"Aren't you afraid I'll escape?"

"No."

Alexis winces. "Sure lead on."

Andreas leads her up the stairs to the deck. Getting his own bearings he points off to the right side of the ship. "Land is that direction. Three miles. During the day you might even be able to see it. When was the last time you swam three miles, Madam?"

"I think I was ten." Alexis says wryly. "Stavros threw me out of the boat cause he was sick of me throwing up all over it and told me to go home. Stefan came after me in the raft but I knew that Stavros would take it out on Stefan if he let me in the raft so I just kept swimming. At least I knew if I really got in trouble that Stefan was there."

"The waters are very different here. Colder than home." Andreas comments. "And the dark is all enveloping, it would be easy to become distracted, disoriented. Sharks are an unlikely predator. Not particularly Shark infested waters although closer to shore the territorial sharks do patrol. Jelly fish... they are a problem here as well as at home."

"I get it, Andreas. Jumping isn't going to be doing myself any favors. But do you think Stavros is really better?"

"It is unlikely, Madam, that he will kill you... whatever your transgressions."

"Yeah, I'm sure that is what Ari thought about Helena."

"If you'll excuse me... I have to talk to the captain." Andreas makes a half bow and then goes to the wheel house.

Alexis steps up to the railing. Her hands grasp it in a white knuckled grip. Stefan had tried to drill into her often enough when she was little... look at the horizon, not the waves, not the rocking of the boat. The medication seemed to be working. it's just one step Stavros specialized in head games. This waiting game was just to freak her out. it's working I'm a grown woman. I can take care of myself. I helped Stefan take control of the Estate when Nikolas turned seven. I faced down Sorel. I've taken self defense courses. I know how to use a pistol. I'm a grown woman now. you're a scared rabbit hiding behind Stefan; you've never been able to beat Stavros at anything. Once Stavros is done with me he'll move on to Kristina. Stefan will protect her. like he protected you? Are you going to blow protecting Kristina again?

"Madam." Andreas repeats.

Alexis comes out of her thoughts. "What?"

"Are you ready to return below decks?"

"Fine." Alexis senses the slight change in course. A shift in the yacht under her feet. "What did you do?"

"Directed the captain to move us four miles from shore."

 



Carly goes to the cell phone to pick up messages. Stavros places a hand over hers. "Leave it."

"We can't ignore it forever."

"No, but another day surely. Who will have called-- the estate lawyers, your mother perhaps with more dire warnings. Stefan with his tiresome theories. We're flying out tomorrow evening to implement your plan for your husband. Surely that is soon enough to deal with business. We have one more day of vacation to play at the Dead Sea... and didn't you want to make contacts on getting that line of bath products?"

Carly notices who Stavros didn't say... Nikolas and relents. "Okay. One more day. But I really want to know what Jax is up to. He is who you're going after now right?"

"He can wait as well. I'm sure he has other things on his mind."

 

 


Jax rubs his eyes. The sun was starting to come up. He stretches shifting first his right arm and then his left over his head. All nighters were nothing new but this... stress. Never had it mattered so much... and never had he accomplished so little. The only thing he knew for sure was that he was being stonewalled. Nobody was taking his calls. No. That's not true. They'd take his calls... and talk about polo, or gambling in Monte Carlo but nobody would talk business and nobody would talk Cassadines. Jax bounces on the phone on the first ring. "Jacks."

"Ah My Friend! Perhaps you should tell me... how do the American's say it... How did you step in it? I've been getting calls all day about you."

"Actually I think that's an old polo expression." Jax says wryly. "Thaao. You still talking to me?"

"I have always liked to... ride on the edge. Stavros Cassadine." Thaao makes a tsking noise under his breath. "It was a name unfamiliar to me, not Cassadine of course-- the family is infamous, but Stavros. I had to actually talk to my father... for which you owe me greatly, my friend. He brought up not only my spending but also my lack of a wife. The conversation had all the markings of a particularly tedious holiday gathering."

"What did he say?" Jax ignores Thaao's blathering and cuts to the chase.

"That if I'm not soon married he will cut me off. Oh you mean Stavros Cassadine. Once he got over speaking of Cassadine in the past tense... Stavros is... bad news. He believes in a tight rein and doesn't spare the spurs. Helena might be the most obviously dangerous and psychotic. Stefan is a everything my father wishes I would be... other than his monkish tendencies. My father does after all want to continue the line. Stavros is like a cobra focused on his prey ready to strike... if distracted he will strike at the distraction. And a collector... my father met his bride a beautiful american blonde... Lasha or something.

"Laura. I know her." Jax nods. "She lives here in Port Charles.

"Perhaps, Jax, this is the one you should walk away from. The world is a big place. There are plenty of other toys out there for you... without taking from someone who will cut your hand off once he catches you. While they have a facade of charm... the Cassadines have no sense of humor." Thaao warns. "What are you going to do?"

"Become a distraction." Jax tells his friend. "Thanks for the info."

"Let me know where to send the flowers to Lady Jane." Thaao gives his last warning. "Not many people in the world give my father pause, Jax. You battle one." Without saying goodbye, Thaao hangs up.

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