Chapter 30

Emily Quartermaine lay in bed staring up at the frilly canopy above her. It was pink and white, and matched the wallpaper and carpet of her room. Decorated by the Quartermaines when she first became a part of their family, her living quarters were the epitome of a little girl's dollhouse.

Bit by bit, Emily had begun to make it her own. Change was not easy. Alan and Monica preferred to think of her as the little girl Paige Bowen had left in their care.

She turned her head and looked over at the posters tacked haphazardly all along the wall. Boy bands and teen actors stared back at her, their blond locks and brilliant blue eyes a common factor among them.

Her favorite brother was blond and blue-eyed, in fact. But other than Jason, that combination did not attract her attention these days. All she thought of lately were dark, laughing eyes and dark, curling locks.

Andresj' Cassadine.

Andresj' was Nikolas' adopted younger brother. Correction. Technically, he was adopted. But in the past week or so, blood tests had proven that Andresj' was actually Nikolas' brother by blood.

She knew this because ‘Dre had told her so himself. They had become very good friends since he moved to Port Charles to be with his father and brother. At first she had thought him quiet and reserved. Very much like his father, in fact. But the more time she spent with ‘Dre, the more Emily realized there was a whole other side to him. It was a carefree, mischievous side that appealed to her quite a bit.

Especially now when Nikolas was so concerned lately with her best friend Elizabeth Webber. Emily knew that Nikolas and Elizabeth shared a common bond borne of grief for Lucky Spencer. But still it was awkward to be around them. She always felt like an interloper somehow.

But Andresj . . . When they were all out together, Emily had his undivided attention. He always listened to what she had to say. And he made her laugh.

She turned over onto her stomach and cradled her chin on her hands. A bright smile came to Emily's face at the thought of Andresj' Cassadine. He was like the hero of all her girlish fantasies. Andresj' Mikhail Stefanovich Cassadine. Even his name was romantic.

A deep sigh escaped her. It would be two weeks before she talked to him again. Andresj' had flown to Greece with Stefan in order to correct the legal paperwork filed when he was adopted as a little boy.

Emily tried not to count the minutes until he returned.

The morning rain was falling as steadily as it had been at midnight. Still, the Cassadine jet had taken off as scheduled and now Nikolas and Sabrina sat over breakfast and watched the rain come down. Occasionally a brief comment or observation would be shared between them. But for the most part, silence ruled.

It was broken when Alexis stepped into the room from the hallway. The ends of her hair were wet and she wiped at her briefcase with her fingertips.

“Good morning, Alexis,” Nikolas greeted his aunt.

“What's good about it?” the distracted attorney queried, still focused on drying her wet accessories.

Sabrina watched Alexis with amusement. “What's the matter, Lex? Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed?”

“No,” Alexis shot back sweetly. “Did you wake up in an unfamiliar one? Again?”

Nikolas winced as Sabrina leaned forward and narrowed her eyes at a waiting Alexis. “Tell me, Lex,” Sabrina drawled, “do you even know what the company of a man feels like?” She hastened to add, “Your fantasies about Stefan don't count.”

“You vicious little bitch!” Alexis allowed the briefcase to fall from her fingers. She had barely taken a step toward Sabrina when Nikolas slammed his hand on the table.

Enough! ” he roared, in an imitation of his father. He had witnessed Stefan's handling of the two women on several occasions. Perhaps his version would cut the argument short, as his father's always did.

Sabrina and Alexis were silenced. For the span of a heartbeat. They took a moment to stare incredulously at Nikolas before resuming their argument. He chuckled to himself, shrugged his shoulders, grabbed his glass of juice and left the table.

“Nikolas!” Alexis attempted to call him back. The young man continued on through the door, giving a small wave as he left.

The two Cassadine women turned to each other. “Now look what you've done!” they cried simultaneously.

With a tiny sigh, Andresj' once again hung up the phone. He had allowed Keesha's phone to ring eleven times on this last try. He'd counted along with each tone, silently pleading with the beautiful young woman to pick up the phone.

Where could she be? ‘Dre consulted the Abraham-Louis Breguet wristwatch he wore. Valued at four hundred fifty-thousand dollars and one of only ten in the world, his father's birthday gift to him received no more than a cursory glance.

It was not that he took such an extravagant gift for granted. On the contrary. When Papa had presented him the watch just before the bacchanalia, Andresj' recognized it immediately. He remembered admiring the watch one night during a television newscast. It meant the world to him that Papa had paid such close attention to his offhand remark.

But thoughts of Keesha pressed on his mind. Accepting that a call to her was not to be, Andresj' picked up the phone once more. He dialed a series of numbers, and had barely put the phone to his ear when it was answered.

“Hello?” came the breathless query.

“Hi, Em. It's Andresj'.”

“‘Dre! I thought you were on your way to Greece?”

Andresj' smiled fondly. In the background he could hear the distinctive sounds of Emily moving around in bed. “Don't tell me I woke you up?” he teased. “And don't say that you weren't still in bed. I can hear those creaky springs of yours.”

“No. I'm awake. I was just thinking about you.” Emily began to stutter. “I mean, I was thinking about your trip and how you were doing.”

“It's alright, Em. I know what you meant. Andresj's voice grew husky with gratitude. “And I'm glad.” The thought of Emily always brought a smile to his face. She was a wonderful friend, and ‘Dre was grateful for her presence in his life. “Look Em, I have to go. Papa's signaling to me. But I'll call you again when I can. Okay?”

“Please do,” Emily replied. “Bye, ‘Dre.”

“Goodbye. And take care until I return.”

An hour had passed, more than enough time for them to either kill each other or calm down. If forced to bet which option had been chosen by the two women, Nikolas would have been stumped. Alexis and Sabrina shared a complex, confusing relationship.

There were stories of confrontations between Alexis and Sabrina that dated back to the time of their childhood. Stories that were almost legendary in their proportions. Disaster had generally been averted because his father had stepped in as mediator and peacekeeper.

Father wouldn't be available to help if they were still angry. Nikolas winced. He hoped it wouldn't be up to him to step in. The last thing he wanted to do was get between Sabrina and Alexis. He loved his family, but . . .

Nikolas peered around the door cautiously. The room was as he had left it, and Alexis and Sabrina sat deep in conversation opposite one another.

Alexis was the first to notice him. She smiled warmly and called to him. “Come on in. It's safe.”

“Yes,” Sabrina chimed in. “There are no bodies lying around.”

“I would not expect any,” Nikolas teased, his lips pulled into a devilish smile. “We are, after all, Cassadines. We leave no evidence.”

His aunt shook her head and rose from the table. “As a sworn officer of the court, this is not a conversation I want to entertain. Sabrina,” she turned to her, “remember what I said.”

“Yes, Lex.” Sabrina's voice was long-suffering. “You made your point. I'll behave while Stefan is gone.” Nikolas snorted and Sabrina slapped him playfully on the arm. “Promise.”

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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.*