The Bed You Make
Chapter 38
~ Only Scratched the Surface ~

He would never tell his uncle this, but there was a sense of satisfaction that came from being deferred to by people who had originally dismissed you out of hand.

Nikolas reflected on the board meeting he'd just left. General Hospital was a cause that was close to his heart. Thanks to careless management, it had been on the brink of financial ruin before the Cassadine family had stepped in and rescued it some years earlier. What Nikolas saw as a charitable endeavor to keep the hospital open, his uncle Stefan saw as an investment meant to add to the coffers of Nikolas' financial inheritance. Stefan stepped in, assumed financial control and proceeded to run the hospital with the precision and responsible management that he did all the varied industries underneath the Cassadine business umbrella. In time, the hospital's board of directors had grown accustomed to dealing with his uncle.

After many lost battles and unnecessary skirmishes, the board financially reconciled themselves into Stefan's capable hands. A grudging coexistence was forged based on the proven results Stefan shared in the monthly board meetings. And that was enough for Nikolas' uncle; he did not desire the board's affection, just their compliance.

When Nikolas showed up for the monthly meeting that morning, he had no problem recognizing the curiosity on the faces of the doctors and businessmen assembled. It didn't take long for Nikolas to see how the meeting would go. To a man, they assumed his age and his polite demeanor meant that his presence at the board meeting was a formality and could be ignored. They discussed hospital business, pausing only long enough to offer the token courtesy of pretending to solicit Nikolas' opinions on minor matters. Watching the stunned expressions of the Board as he calmly negated their plans with a few indisputable facts made silently enduring their insulting behavior worthwhile. Age and demeanor aside, he was still a Cassadine. He had been groomed for this since birth. Nikolas doubted that any one of them would forget that fact after today's meeting.

He was on his way now to try and catch his aunt Alexis at her office. He'd left quite a number of messages that she hadn't yet returned. Nikolas was just the slightest bit worried. With Stefan out of the country, it would be the ideal time for Helena to make a move against Alexis. His grandmother was all too aware of the estrangement between Alexis and Stefan; it would amuse her to remind Alexis that she no longer stood beneath the protection of Stefan's security.

Nikolas' driver let out an exasperated curse that drew the young prince from his thoughts. “Ivan,” he queried, “is there a problem?”

“It is our … escort, Prince Nikolas. They drive like the American teenagers. Too fast and too close.”

Nikolas turned and glanced behind them. A non-descript white panel van rode close upon their rear bumper. “Do not worry,” the young prince reassured the driver, “when we arrive at Alexis' office, I will have a word with them.”