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Chapter XVIII


Michael runs on ahead to up to his room to drop off his duffle and then to check in with the staff in the kitchen to let them know that he is back. Carly and Stavros take their time. Carly looks around the entrance to the compound. "Well that was fun but it's great to be back."

"Not for long, my sweet." Stavros brushes a hand over Carly's cheek and tangles a finger in her hair.

"Yep." Carly tilts her head back. "Next step. I have a chat with Sonny and you deal with Jax. Does Puerto Rico work for you?"

"Puerto Rico is perfect. I don't think I like this however... you alone with your husband. You know I have never approved of the way he treated you."

"I have had a few months to get some clarity." Carly says wryly. "I think I can handle it."

"You don't have to handle anything. Morgan strikes me as the type to handle his own business. And not appreciate your intervention."
Carly takes a seat on bench outside the front door. She really doesn't want to have this discussion where there might be listening ears. "Stavros... I love... loved Sonny. If it hadn't been for AJ we would share a child. Michael would have a little brother. Probably with dimples and curly dark hair."

"Little brothers are highly overrated." Stavros says wryly as he sits down next to her.

"Oh I don't know. I adore mine. And I still dream..." Carly tears up and then straightens brushing at her eyes. "Michael wanted a little brother so badly. Michael's like me... greedy. The baby would have been his. I doubt Sonny or I would have even gotten a chance to touch him. But that won't happen now." Carly sniffs and takes a deep breath. "Jason loves Sonny too. If I don't do something then I'll lose both of them."

"Surely one or the other will come out on top." Stavros says calmly.

"And the one that does will be ruined. It would destroy whatever good is in either of them to take out the other. This will work. Sonny will get what he has always dreamed about and Jason will get the territory. It worked before. And Jason will have no trouble pulling the territory together. He did it before and the guys all respect him."

"Morgan will not appreciate your intervention."

"He'll forgive me. He'll yell and cuss me out, but he'll forgive me." Carly says confidently.

"And Corinthos?"

"He'll be safe. That'll have to be enough." Carly reaches over and takes Stavros hand. "So what about you? You ready to take on Jax?"

Stavros pshaws Carly's concerns. "I took the necessary steps prior to our departure. While patience is more Stefan's game than mine... I do know the benefit of allowing a project to... stew in it's own juices. We could wait another week to go to Puerto Rico and that would be all the better."

Carly shakes her head. "I don't know how you can be so calm. I would be climbing the walls. What are you going to do?" Stavros just grins at her. She hits him in the arm playfully. "You are such a tease. Am I going to like it?"

"You are going to adore it. Everything that you told me about Jasper Jacks will be used to bring him to his knees. The Estate will be returned to me and he will be left a humbled, broken man at my feet."

"He's tricky." Carly warns.

"As am I." Stavros reminds. "And are you. Together do you really think that Jasper Jacks will be able to withstand our combined skill, knowledge and cunning? It will be... delicious."

"I want to be there."

"Choices. You are going to be busy with your little problem." He brings Carly's hand to his lips. "But I promise to let you watch when he returns his purloined portion of the estate to me."

"And you're taking steps so that you can get back into the states without being arrested?" Carly worries. "You need to do that so you can be available when Nikolas calls for you."

"You are very confident that he will."

Carly shakes her head. "I get that Nikolas is stubborn; it seems to be a Cassadine trait but he really doesn't know what it is to not have a safety net. He'll call."
Michael bursts out of the door. "Watcha doing sittin' out here? Cook says she is going to make you brunch, Mama, since she knows you never eat on the plane. She was really happy to see me." Michael jumps up on her lap.

"Well of course. Who wouldn't be happy to see you?" Carly teases her son as she gives him a kiss on the top of his head.

"She made up lots and lots of sauce for shrimps and I'm suppose to taste test them for her til she gets it sour enough. I'm gonna make it really sour. The sourest!" Michael makes a pucker face like he just sucked on a lemon.

Carly winces. "Mr Man, Mama likes sour but not super sour. So make sure you make one that you think I'll like. You and Uncle Jason though... tell you what... why don't you make sure that Cook writes down the recipe for your Super Sour Sauce so that you can give some to Uncle Jason the next time you see him."

"When's that, Mama? When is Uncle Jason going to come back and visit us?"

"Well I think he is going to be really busy with work back in Port Charles. So we should wait a little while when he's not so busy and then we'll go visit him. That would be fair right? Since he came to visit us."

"Okay." Michael sighs.

"You have many things to do before then." Stavros reminds. "I didn't have time to make you a book for the Dead Sea before we went. I think perhaps you should talk to the tutor about making your own book with all the things you gathered there. Your Uncle Jason will appreciate that much more than a book someone else had written. So you will have two gifts for your Uncle Jason."

" 'Cause it's polite to bring a present when you visit someone, right?" Michael asks Stavros.


Michael hops off of Carly's lap. "I'll go tell my tutor. Will you help me make it fancy like the one from Istanbul, Stavros?"

Stavros nods. "Of course. But you have to decide which of the pictures you took you want to be in it." Michael goes running off to talk to his tutor.

Carly shakes her head. "I'm getting etiquette lessons from my son. Am I going to recognize him when you get done?"

"I have no doubt. Since you will be there all along the way." Stavros rises to his feet and extends a hand to Carly. "Come. I believe we have a brunch waiting. Once we are finished and Michael is with his tutor... we will have to deal with that." Stavros indicates with his free hand to Carly's purse and the ignored cell phone.

"It won't be so bad. We've only been gone for a few days. Just a bunch of progress reports. And all things considered... I think I'm going to enjoy them." Stavros puts his hand at Carly's waist and escorts her into the compound.


"Babe, you ready to go?" Lucky raps on Elizabeth's door in the room over Kelly's.

The door is thrown wide. "Oh Lucky!" Liz throws herself into Lucky's arms.

"Hey, hey, hey..." Lucky leans back to look at the tearstained face of his girlfriend. "What's going on? What are you so upset about?"

"Someone lied to Bobbie about me..." Liz hiccups a sob and brushes at her face. "... and she fired me. She didn't even give me a chance to explain. Oh Lucky, it was horrible!" Elizabeth turns her head into Lucky's shoulder.

"No way, Elizabeth. You know Bobbie loves you. She's been there for us forever since long before..."

"That's why I can't believe it. She was so... cold."

"Damn. Look I'll fix this. Don't worry about this. It's all a misunderstanding. I'll just call her in the morning and straighten it all out." Lucky brushes a hand over Elizabeth's cheek. "Now go wash your face and put your glad rags on. You need to get out of here and forget all about this."

"Lucky, I don't think I'd be very good company." Liz allows herself to be comforted.

"Then let me cheer you up. Come on... dancing the whole nine yards." Lucky steps back and rubs his hands up and down Liz's arms. "Go. Go wash your face." Lucky ushers Liz toward the bathroom and then when she is out of hearing range dials his Aunt's cell phone.


Bobbie tugs off her scarf and then stuffs it and her gloves into the pocket of her heavy coat. "Mrs Cassadine, Let me take that for you." Mrs Lansbury offers as she sees Bobbie.

"Thanks." Bobbie sighs. "Where is Lucas?"

"He and Master Stefan are just starting dessert. I did as you asked and didn't wait dinner... I hope that is alright?"

"That's perfect." Bobbie nods. "It's more important that Lucas stays to his schedule whenever possible." Bobbie's cell phone starts ringing in the jacket pocket of the coat Mrs Lansbury is holding. Bobbie groans. "It's been that kind of day." She holds out her hand toward Mrs Lansbury. The housekeeper searches the coat pockets and then hands the phone to Bobbie. "If I wasn't expecting a call from my daughter..." Bobbie hits the on button. "Bobbie Spencer."

"I can't believe you fired my girlfriend. She was set up. You know Elizabeth would never do anything to mess up her job at Kelly's." Lucky starts in without even a greeting.

Bobbie winces. "Lucky, this is between me and Elizabeth. She knows exactly why she was let go."

"My dad owns half of Kelly's."

Bobbie gets an annoyed look on her face. "Your father has me managing Kelly's because he can't be bothered and you know it. If he starts second guessing my decisions then he can have it. I have enough on my plate. Really, Lucky, I thought I knew you better than this. I thought you knew me better than this. Why don't you check your facts."

"Well I never thought that you'd be back with Count Vlad either!" Lucky snarks and then winces knowing he's gone too far.

"Conversation over." Bobbie clicks the off on the phone. She hands it to Mrs Lansbury. "I want to have dinner with my son. I want to find out how his day went. I want to know all the silly fun things he did with Stefan and Thunder that I missed because I was at work. Unless it is my daughter... please just take a message."

"Of course, madam." Mrs Lansbury says sympathetically. "I'll take care of it. Only Miss Caroline."

"Thank you, Mrs Lansbury." Bobbie says gratefully.

"You just go on into the dining room, and I'll have your dinner brought out, Mrs Cassadine." They separate with Bobbie going into the dining room and Mrs Lansbury taking the shortcut to the kitchen.

As soon as Bobbie enters, Stefan is on his feet. "Barbara."

"Hey." Bobbie says on an exhale.

"You seem tired."

"It was a long day." Bobbie puts on a smile. She allows Stefan to help her with her chair and then waits as he retakes his own. One of the maids comes out with a plate of exquistely prepared food... there is no evidence that it is warmed over or something equally disgusting. "This looks wonderful. Thank you." Bobbie turns to Lucas. "What are you having?"

Lucas has sat back down after leaping up when he saw Stefan do the same. "We already had dinner... Mrs Lansbury made a raspberry sorbet with lemon cookies. It's really good." Lucas offers his mother a bite across the table.

Stefan winces and shakes his head a small smile growing. Lucas is loving and generous boy... but all boy. Bobbie takes the lacy crisp cookie from Lucas and takes a bite. "Oh yum that is good."

"It tastes like summer."

Bobbie nods finishing the cookie. "Yes. That's exactly what it tastes like. So what did you two do today? Did you have fun?"


Gia is laughing as Nik holds open the door for her to pass into Kelly's. "We are going to have so much fun tonight. When was the last time I went dancing with you?" She gives him a quick hug and then nips the end of his earlobe.

A shiver goes down Nik's spine. "Too long. You ready to paint the town red, Sparky?"

Gia parts the tie on her coat. "Would I be wearing this if I wasn't?"

Nik whistles. "It's going to be a hot night." He makes a fanning motion. "But you're not gonna dance with anyone but me, right?"

"Now if the band will just cooperate. Ned's heard good things about them?"

"Yep. He heard the demo tape but wants to see how they do in front of an audience before he makes them any offers."

"Doesn't he normally do this himself?"

"Yeah, but he's sticking close to the gatehouse for some reason." Nik frowns. "And I think Kristina is staying with him again. I wonder if something is going on?"

"They'd tell you." Gia says automatically and then groans. "Oh no they wouldn't. Look. Tomorrow. You can find out what is going on tomorrow when you give Ned your report. Tonight we're going to have fun and nothing but fun... even if you are working... technically."

"uh-oh." Nik looks over Gia's shoulder to where Lucky and Liz are coming downstairs from the rooms above.

Gia turns around and sees the grim faces of Nik's brother and Liz. "Oh you have got to be kidding me." She mutters under her breath. "Everyone ready?" she says with fake cheer. "Why don't we take both cars?" Gia suggests. then if this goes as sucky as their expressions indicate we can split up

"Yeah, we'll follow you." Lucky agrees.

Gia refastens her coat belt and turns around. Nik grabs the door for her and she makes her way back to the jag. Nik seats her in the car. "Why do I get the feeling we might as well go to Jake's so someone can cry in their beer?"

"I'll find out what is going on." Nik slides into his own seat and fastens his seatbelt. "Lets just cut them some slack until then."

"Right. Cut them some slack. You know it's Elizabeth. Lucky was fine when he left the cottage. He was in a great mood."

"I'll find out what is going on."


"Oh I'm stuffed." Carly comments as she collapses behind the desk into the overstuffed leather chair. "I hope you pay that woman a lot. She's not only a great cook but she's good with Michael."

"I'm sure we do." Stavros shrugs. He kicks back on the couch. Carly stretches her fingers and then cracks her knuckles. Stavros winces. "You know I don't believe that is good for your fingers."

"I know but it feels good." Carly winks at him. She opens up the laptop figuring that the first call on the cell phone would be from the estate lawyers. It normally is. Then she pulls the cell phone out of her bag. Sure enough the first one is from them. Carly makes a quick notes of the content of the call... typing faster than making notes by hand. She clears the message and goes on to the next one. "It's Mama."

"Not unexpected." Stavros says calmly. "I'm sure she is filled with just as many dire predictions and portents of doom as she was when she was here."

"I think I'll do that one last." Carly frowns. There is something in Bobbie's tone. Stavros is probably right-- more dire warnings. She clicks thru a number of messages from Bobbie getting more concerned as it goes on. Finally one from Stefan. "Stefan wants you to call him."


There are about twenty different calls from around the world that Carly makes notes of on the laptop for Stavros to peruse later. "Oh. A call from Gia." Carly nods. "Jason says he's fine. Told Sonny my number and he's staying out of it." The next message is from the company in Istanbul. Carly calls them straight back and has a hurried conversation with them. "It's working! Laura is freaking. She's beginning to realize she only has three months of product and that Istanbul has her over the barrel!"

Stavros nods. "And she will renegotiate the contract at any price... weakening the company's resources to fulfill Deception's obligations. Not knowing that every dime she sends their way is going in your pocket."

"And then she will need cash." Carly crows.

"But your husband will be unavailable." Stavros makes a mock sad face.

"Too bad ain't it?" Carly laughs. "And she won't go to Edward.. he'll want all of the company. Scottie is out... let him try and we'll get him nailed for raiding his daughter's trust fund. Luke would freak if she went to Stefan. You think she would go to Nikolas?"

"Do you believe it possible?" Stavros sits forward on the couch.

"Yeah, I think she might." Carly frowns and then her face lightens. "I think I could work with him. He at least knows something about business and Deception specifically." Carly shakes a finger at Stavros. "You get that gleem out of your eye right now. Deception is mine. And if I end up working with Nik that doesn't make it part of the Cassadine Estate."

"Of Course." Stavros says with just a hint of condescension knowing it will get Carly riled.

"I mean it. You keep your sticky fingers off." Carly goes on to the next message. "Sonny." She tells Stavros. "I'll do that one later." Then she holds a hand up to Stavros and clicks her fingers to get his attention. He comes over to the desk. "You have to hear this one." She pushes the button for repeat and holds the phone out to him.

Stavros smiles at the voice on the other end. "So that is Jasper Jacks."

"He sounds really ticked." Carly looks up at Stavros curiously. "And he said that he has something you want... made it sound like a hostage negotiation or something."

"It is. One weighted in my favor. I have something Mr Jacks wants back. Now I'll find out if he wants it more than the things he stole from me." Stavros hands the phone back to Carly.

The next phone call is more notes from the estate lawyers. "I bet these guys charge you for every call." Carly mutters as she types. "I think they make work. The world has entirely too many lawyers all they do is muck things up."

"I couldn't agree more."

"Another call from Gia." Carly nods. "About Laura freaking on Istanbul."

"Gia is reporting to you about the company?"

"Not really. She is more informing me of what is going on. She's like Switzerland... neutral."

"Not too neutral if she is passing on information."

"It's probably a two way street. There is nothing stopping her from telling Laura everything I'm doing." Carly shrugs. "Fact is I told her to go for it. I don't care if your wife sees me coming before I mow her over. Fact is that might be more fun." Carly shuts the cell phone. "That was the last one. Here why don't you go over these see if there is anything you need to deal with. I'm going to go out on the terrace and call Mama back."

"If her calls are going to upset you..."

"Then they are. That's just me and Mama. Don't worry about it. I'd just as soon be screamed at in semi privacy."

"I won't disturb you then." Stavros comes over to the desk and holds the chair for Carly as she rises and then takes her seat.

Carly goes over to the terrace and shuts the french doors behind her. This was such a beautiful spot. A fountain, marble statues. Tons of flowers. Off to the side is a table and chairs for light working lunches. Carly takes a deep breath and then dials Bobbie's cell phone number. "Mama?"


Mrs Lansbury comes into the dining room. Bobbie has reached her dessert portion. Stefan and Lucas are keeping her company. Stefan with a brandy and Lucas with a hot chocolate. "Mrs... Barbara." Mrs Lansbury decides to be discreet in front Lucas. "The phone call you were expecting. Do you want to take it in the study?"

"I think that would be best." As Bobbie rises she puts a hand on Stefan's shoulder keeping him seated. "It's Carly."

"Be very careful, Barbara."

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