Chapter 8


Visitors to General Hospital agreed that the Michael Cates Wing, with its open courtyard, was the among the most beautiful pieces of architecture to be seen. For the staff, the courtyard was a place to relax and regroup during breaks, or to sit and enjoy nature while they ate.

Andresj' liked going there because the guards were able to allow him more personal space. From their point of view, the courtyard was the most secure area within the hospital's grounds. And it wasn't that he disliked Anton or Arman; but every now and then he enjoyed the sensation of being on his own.

Like now. Closing his eyes, he raised his face toward the afternoon sun and enjoyed its warmth on his face. All too soon, though, a shadow blocked the source of his pleasure. Sighing, he opened his eyes.

"What a handsome man you have become."

"Hello, Grandmother," Andresj' replied, pushing back from the table and rising from the elaborate metal chair in which he sat. Obediently he kissed the cheek Helena presented to him. "Are you here to see Papa?" he asked.

"No. I have come to see you."

As Andresj' prepared to pull out another chair from the table, he was forestalled by his two guards. They had returned to his side immediately upon Helena's approach.

"Mrs. Cassadine will not be staying," Arman stated. Turning to Helena, he continued. "Mr. Cassadine has ordered it so."

"See, your papa wishes to turn you against me though I have done you no harm," Helena pointed out to Andresj'. "I only wanted to give you your birthday present. I have no doubt now that I will not be allowed to participate in this milestone in your life."

"Papa does what is best for me," Andresj' replied uncomfortably.

"Some day," Helena replied cryptically, "you may change your mind about that." Handing him the small box, she turned and allowed Anton to escort her back to the hospital.

"Another pointless confrontation with Laura," Stefan remarked to himself. It seemed that their every conversation lately followed the same pattern. Laura would accuse him of some horrible deed while he was left to defend himself time and again. How amazing that she demanded complete loyalty of him, while at the same time watching -and sometimes abetting - Luke as he regularly tried to destroy the Cassadine family. Stefan wondered, not for the first time, just what had bound him to Laura all those many years ago. What had he seen in her that had driven him to obsession, willing to sacrifice anything and everything for her?

Willing to sacrifice anyone. What an appropriate choice of words . . .

- flashback -

Blood was everywhere, on the walls and on the floors. It was as if someone had taken a giant pail and simply splashed it haphazardly throughout the room. After his initial glance, Stefan tried to ignore the two bodies lying lifeless before him. While the constable put forth his theory regarding the murders, Stefan concentrated on surreptitiously looking for any sign that Helena - or her henchmen - had been there.

He realized that the constable's conversation had ceased, so he forced his attention back to their discussion. "I am sorry, Constable. You were saying?"

"I said that it looks like the woman was killed first. The blood near that slash across her throat is pretty sticky." The Constable noticed Stefan's wince at his graphic description. "I understand that this is not pleasant for you, Mr. Cassadine, but the sooner we gather information the better chance we'll have to catch whoever did this."

"Yes, of course. How may I be of assistance?"

"I was asking if you knew of anyone who would wish to harm your employee and his wife?"

Stefan answered carefully, "I am not privy to all the details of my employees' personal lives. But I am not aware of anyone that Piotr or Ariana might have harmed."

"Is there someone who might have wished to send a message to you or your family with this act?" the constable delicately inquired. He had no desire to alienate the man standing before him. To be on the wrong side of the Cassadine family was a dangerous thing.

Stefan felt a prickle of apprehension. "What would lead you to ask such a question?" he asked, as neutrally as he could.

"Your employee's last words were intended for you, it seems. My officer arrived on the scene moments before Piotr Leonivich died. He would not answer questions about his attacker, but instead insisted that you be given a message."

"What was the message?"

The constable made a show of consulting his pad, as if he hadn't studied the words many times over. 'Tell Stefan I didn't betray him.' "What do you think he meant by that?"

- end flashback -

Diane had lost track of the number of books on the large wooden table. Anyone observing from across the room would have trouble locating the person using them, so high were they stacked.

'It's been almost twenty years,' Diane thought, pushing back a stray lock of hair from her face. 'How am I supposed to find him? It's one thing to search for someone here in the United States. Looking for him in another country is a different matter altogether.'

"May I help you?" a confident young voice inquired. Looking up, Diane saw a dreadlocked young man smiling at her. "I'm Kris. I volunteer here during the summer."

"Was it so obvious that I needed help?" Diane asked.

"A little."

"Well," she began, "I am trying to locate the son of a friend. She is deceased now, and the only information I have to go on is very vague. I have the boy's first name and one or two other family names. But I don't know where to begin searching for him. I'm afraid these books weren't very much help."

"Greece, Italy, Europe . . . " he read aloud. "You're looking for someone overseas. That changes the game plan." Kris began gathering an armful of books. "Let's put these on the cart to be re-shelved. Then I'll introduce you to our library's latest resource - the internet."

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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.*