Diane wandered curiously toward the piano in the corner. She paused to examine the wealth of photographs that sat upon its well-polished surface. Various pictures of a smiling youth with brilliant blue eyes sat upon the piano's lid. More recent photos of the now buzz-cut young man showed him posed with a little red haired boy.
'These must be two of the Ward House residents,' Diane thought. Justus had mentioned how his grandmother always became attached to the children she helped.
Mary Mae Ward was an elegant woman. She could tell that just by looking at the framed photograph she held. Justus had obviously inherited some of that from his grandmother, she thought. The man knew how to wear a suit!
"Who the devil are you?" A gruff voice interrupted her musings and nearly caused her to drop the picture she held. "Speak up, young lady!"
Diane stared in confusion at the white-haired gentleman she'd first seen Justus with.
Spying the contents of her hands, Edward quickly took the photo of Mary Mae and replaced it tenderly upon the piano.
Diane shook off her confusion. "I am Diane J-"
"Reginald!" Edward bellowed at the top of his lungs, interrupting her introduction. "Now see here, I don't know how you managed to waltz past the guards," he waggled his finger at her, "but heads are going to roll for this. Reginald!!"
"I'm right here," Reginald rolled his eyes as he stepped inside from the patio. "There's no need to bellow."
"Did you know that while you were off neglecting your duties, this young woman just waltzed into the mansion?! What if she came to burgle the place?"
"Don't worry, you're safe, Edward," Justus interjected as he escorted Lila in from the patio. "And Diane isn't a stranger, she's with me."
"Hello, my dear." Lila Quartermaine maneuvered her motorized chair around until she was right before Diane. She extended her hand. "Justus was just telling me about you. Welcome."
Diane accepted the gracious welcome. "This is Lila Quartermaine," Justus explained, crouching down beside her chair. " She rules the family," he added with a twinkle in his eye.
"Go on, now," Lila admonished him gently. "My dear, Justus is quite the rascal. I am terribly fond of him."
"Yes, well," Edward grumbled, "you have a soft spot for hooligans."
"Obviously," Reginald muttered as he left the room.
"Did you hear that?" Edward was outraged. "I'm telling you, Lila, we should fire the whole lot of them."
Justus stood up. "This is Edward Quartermaine - Lila's husband and my grandfather."
It was a curious situation. On a night like tonight, when the crowd was scarce, Dara most often felt comfortable about performing. The setting was friendly and intimate, with diners occasionally pressing song requests wrapped in dollar bills into the waiters' hands.
For the next few days when word got out that she had wowed the crowd with another impromptu performance, the Outback would be flooded with calls for reservations. The tables would be filled to overflowing with people who hoped that the Assistant District Attorney might decide to perform again. Which was unlikely as long as they continued to fill the place.
Mac Scorpio shook his head. He'd tried every argument he could think of, but Dara would not be swayed. And as much as he appreciated the extra patronage, it wasn't worth risking their friendship over. So they had come to an agreement. She had the use of the band any night she chose, with no pressure from Mac to perform any other time.
And though she loved to sing, Dara's performances at the Outback were scarce enough to qualify as a special occasion. Tonight was only the fourth or fifth time she had chosen to sing so early during the week. She usually reserved her performances for the slow periods later on.
As Dara came to the close of an older couple's song request, the band swept right into another number. Laughing, she gracefully acknowledged their attempt to prolong the evening's jam session. "Well," she began, "the guys want one more number before we say goodnight. So, let's pick up the mood around here before we go."
Sabrina DeLane listened as Alexis repeated all the points Stefan had just finished covering. Ad nauseam. "Stefan, is all this necessary?" she interrupted. "Andresj' is already legally a Cassadine."
He corrected her impatiently. "An adoption based upon inaccurate information, Sabrina. My son is a Cassadine by blood. I want the records to reflect that I am his biological father."
"This is overkill."
"Well," Alexis drawled wryly, "there are those of us who take pride in our Cassadine name."
Sabrina's eyes narrowed at Alexis' thinly veiled barb. "This is true, Cousin ," she replied sarcastically. "And there are those of us who don't need their self-worth boosted by hiding behind a powerful name."
"Sabrina," Stefan reminded her gently, 'you promised to behave."
"So I did," she purred, slanting a flirtatious glance his direction.
Alexis rolled her eyes at the doctor's behavior. From youth, Sabrina had fawned over Stefan in the most unseemly manner, unconcerned with anyone's opinion of her behavior. Aggravated, Alexis picked up her legal pad and began her recitation from the point where she'd been interrupted. "So I will contact the Bureau of Adoptions tomorrow and get-"
"I think you are sending out the wrong message." Once more Sabrina cut into the lawyer's conversation. She ignored Alexis' outraged expression and spoke directly to the head of the Cassadine family. "All this emphasis you are putting on the Cassadine name . . ." she trailed off, unable to clearly articulate her objections.
"I have never understood," Stefan responded, "why you have chosen not to adopt our family name, Sabrina."
"Not that we aren't grateful," Alexis muttered under her breath.
"Still," Stefan continued as if he hadn't heard his sister's comment, "I would think that you were capable of understanding why I would seek complete accuracy in a case such as this."
"I do. But be careful how you approach all this with Andresj'. I don't like the fact that his first few days adjusting to the news of his paternity will be spent in judge's chambers or legal offices."
"My son will understand both my haste and the legal ramifications of why I am doing all this. I do not believe I need to worry that Andresj' will think that these legal maneuvers will change anything between us."
"Well," Sabrina began doubtfully, " if you are sure that this is the way to go, then of course you have my support." A bright smile appeared on her face. "Beside, if you need proof that legal status doesn't change feelings, you can just show him how Alexis continues to moon over you even though she knows she's your sister."
Stefan closed his eyes in defeat.
"Why, you little-" he heard Alexis begin.
"Enough!" Stefan barked. "Sabrina, go to bed. Please." He appealed to her affection for him.
"Of course," she replied as she rose from her chair. Sabrina strolled leisurely across the room to where he stood and kissed him gently on the lips. "I'll be waiting." With a gentle sway of her hips she headed for the door, pausing to throw back over her shoulder, "Goodnight, Lex."
I feel so foolish, I never noticed
You act so nervous, could you be falling for me?
It took a rumor to make me wonder
Now I'm convinced I'm going under
The crowd was definitely into this last song. The band was performing with an infectious exuberance. And Dara, Mac thought, well Dara's performance was something to behold. From the first word of the song, her attitude changed. She strutted across the small platform with a cocky little step, making it apparent to anyone present that she was declaring herself in charge.
Thinking 'bout you every day
Dreaming 'bout you every night
Hoping that you feel the same way
Now that we know it, let's really show it, darlin'
It wasn't his imagination that Dara looked directly at him each time she sang the chorus. She was sending him a message.
He got it.
Let's give 'em something to talk about
A little mystery to figure out
Let's give 'em something to talk about
How about love?
Diane suddenly thought she knew how Alice must have felt when she fell down that hole in Wonderland. Nothing was like she had imagined it to be. She had barely gotten past the first hurdle - accepting that the abrasive man before her was Justus' grandfather. Not because of the racial aspect, although that was a momentary surprise. Her inability to reconcile the two men was because they seemed to be so different. Edward was loud and pushy. Even with her limited exposure to him, Diane could tell that he was a manipulator of the first degree. No, Justus was actually more like Miss Lila.
She'd taken a liking to his step-grandmother and was looking forward to conversing quietly with her. But fate had intervened in the form of Justus' Uncle Alan and his wife Monica, and his cousins Ned, Alan Jr. and Emily. One by one they had all wandered into the room to meet her. Diane suspected that their appearances were far less coincidental than they claimed to be.
As soon as the polite introductions had concluded, the gloves had come off. Beginning when Alan Jr. mentioned that his ex-wife would not be joining them for dinner that evening. His mother chimed in with a heartfelt 'Hallelujah!' and all hell had broken loose. Now Diane sat shell shocked in the middle of the assemblage and watched as all the family but Lila took potshots at one another - Justus and Ned, Alan Jr and his parents. Edward simply moved from argument to argument.
"So what do you think of our family?" Emily asked, amused at her expression. Justus' friend looked like a deer caught in headlights.
"Is it always like this?" Diane gasped.
"No. You should see them when they're really angry."
Song – ‘Let's Give ‘em Something to Talk About' – by Bonnie Raitt.
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*General Hospital and its characters are not mine. I make no profit from this. The characters Andresj' Cassadine, and Diane Jennings are my creation.*