Losing ground standing still

“That’s the most relaxed I’ve ever seen your guards.”  Emily Quartermaine stared at the next table.  “Whenever they’re at my house, they stand and glare the entire time.”

“It is nothing personal,” Andresj’ Cassadine replied, “but Pavel and Filipp do not like your home very much.  Your grandmother’s rule that they limit their presence to the foyer causes them a great deal of worry.”

“They’re afraid something might happen to you there?”

Andresj’ grimaced.  “No, not really.  But ever since the bacchanalia and the revelation, security measures for my guards have increased.  And so they prefer to have me in their line of sight always.  Neither man wishes to be the one who must explain to my father if something did happen to me.”

“Would you like me to speak to Grandmother about it?”

“No,” Andresj’ replied.  “Your grandmother’s request is not an unreasonable one.”

“Okay.”  Emily took a french fry from the rapidly disappearing mound on her plate and drenched it with catsup.  “Speaking of grandparents… What did Grandfather say to you just before we left the house?  I saw him stop you while I was on the landing,” she explained.

Andresj put down his fork.  “Emily…”

“Come on.  Tell me.”

“Very well,” Andresj’ relented.  “Your grandfather offered me a ‘cash incentive’ to charm you away from your friend Zander Smith.”

Emily’s mouth dropped open.  She remembered that it was full of half-chewed potato and quickly snapped her mouth shut.  “I don’t,” she swallowed, “believe Grandfather!”  A red flush of embarrassment rose from her neck to the tip of her ears.  “He tried to bribe you?”

“With a crisp, new hundred dollar bill.”  Andresj’ nodded toward the single bill beneath the table’s saltshaker.  He had already decided to leave it as a tip for their lucky waitress.  “I was amused when your grandfather first proposed it,” Andresj’s lips quirked into a smile.  “Now I am not sure whether I am more insulted on your behalf or my own,” he teased.

“Well, anyway, it’s nice to see you smile,” Emily remarked shyly.  “You’ve been pretty serious all afternoon.”

“I am sorry,” Andresj’ apologized.  “It has been a bit difficult to find much to be happy about at Wyndemere these days.”

“Things aren’t any better between Nikolas and Gia?”

Andresj’ shook his head.  It was a gesture that would have garnered his father’s immediate disapproval.  “No, they are not any better.  I have learned these past weeks to be grateful that they have not grown worse.”

“I’m sure that any day now-“  Emily’s prediction was abruptly derailed.  Andresj’s two big Russian bodyguards stiffened to attention.  Simultaneously their heads swiveled toward the entrance of the little diner.

Whatever sunlight had initially been visible at the opening of the door disappeared the moment massive Rodya Jadanov stepped across the threshold.  Easily six and a half feet tall, the stern-faced bearded bodyguard filled the entire doorframe.

Emily unconsciously leaned toward Andresj’.  She recognized the bodyguard striding their way.  The man was a longtime Cassadine employee, and never far from Nikolas’ side.  His sudden appearance at the diner did not feel like a good omen.

In silence Emily listened to the big guard bark out a message to Andresj’ in Russian.  At least she assumed the language he spoke was Russian.  The words were full of hard consonants and vowel sounds that sounded like they were gargled deep in the bodyguard’s throat.


“I must go, Emily.”  Andresj’ rose and was immediately flanked by one of his guards.  “Filipp will drive you home safely.”  He tipped his head.  “I am sorry.”

“It’s not your fault.”  She softly touched Andresj’ on the forearm.  “Is everything okay?”

“I imagine I will find out when I arrive at Wyndemere.  I have been summoned home by the Prince.”

~ One Hour Later, Wyndemere ~