The Reality, 4

The centennial issue of the world's acknowledged premiere architectural digest contained a 10 page spread all about the visually beautiful home designed by recluse Warner Reinek. Its location was not disclosed (for security's sake), but very little else was deemed off-limits to the magazine’s staff. Perhaps it was because the home's occupant had not yet made the dwelling her daily living place. Security measures had not yet been put in place and the communications had not been updated. At the time of the magazine's visit, each room was exactly as Warner Reinek had left it, all the way down to the toothpicks in the kitchen cabinet.

Now, though, the place looked like it had been torn apart by intruders. Broken glass littered the carpet and an umbrella stand was overturned. The chaos of the room had no place among the precise decor that flowed seamlessly from room to room.

Former supermodel Tori Perrault stood in the midst of the chaos, her breath coming harsh and labored. She had been the storm that destroyed the room. “Hasn't he done enough?” she railed.

The ‘he ‘ in question was her biological father, Viktor Cassadine. Tori always added that particular qualifier when referring to the handsome, autocratic man her mother had chosen to father her two daughters. On those singular occasions she felt driven to personally address him that way, it never failed to provoke a tightening of the muscles around his mouth - a reaction that gave Tori immense satisfaction.

Such impertinence was rare, Tori admitted. Not because of any fear or respect when it came to her father, but because of her mother, Celeste. The older woman had no problems letting her younger daughter know -emphatically- when she had crossed the line that Celeste kept drawn in the sand.

Thoughts of Celeste stoked anger that had momentarily calmed. Tori had just completed a video call with her mother in which Celeste revealed that she intended not to journey to New York but to meet the end of the world at Viktor’s side. She’d gone on to insist that Tori still join the rest of her family at Wyndemere.

That sounded like something Viktor Cassadine must have put into her mother's head. Her mother would have known better than to even suggest such a thing. Celeste was well aware that Tori considered herself merely related to the members of her Cassadine lineage. But family? Not in any way that counted. Which was ironic based on the number of times she'd been assured she was just like them.

‘I see where you get your good looks from,’ a fellow cover model once remarked upon seeing Viktor at some high-level society function. He’d been standing at the far side of the room, resplendent in his black tuxedo. Though he appeared deep in conversation with a French Minister, Tori had no doubt her father was aware of the stunning visual he presented. Anyone who would walk around with that pretentious little lock of black hair so startling against the white had to be aware of his looks. Tori didn't care how many times Sabrina insisted that their father's hair was truly God-given.

Sabrina.

Sabrina had the nerve to compare Tori to Viktor as though her younger sister would find the comparison a compliment. "You know, Tori, you might not want to hear this, but you and Papa are a lot more alike than you think. You both-”

That was as far as Tori allowed her older sister to go with that thought. Sabrina worshipped Viktor, another intelligent woman who inexplicably turned a blind eye to the glaring flaws of someone unworthy of such loyalty. Their father was a topic upon which they would never agree. And despite the number of instances where Sabrina slyly tried to plead their father's case, Tori knew Sabrina was aware she fought a losing battle.

The thought that she might have to choose between being alone at the world's end or being in the midst of people constantly singing her father's praises deflated all Tori's anger. For as long as the young supermodel could remember, Celeste had been her refuge - a safe place that was always there. That her mother would turn her away - for any reason - left her feeling lost. This wasn't like Celeste.

His mark was all over this.

Tori retrieved her phone and (for the fourth time) hit the number ‘1’ on the speed-dial keypad. Just as before, the call immediately switched over to voicemail. “Speak,” the single imperious command instructed. Tori didn't bother. She simply ended the call. She had already left one scathing message for her aristocratic father. There was no need to leave another.

Instead, she pressed the number ‘3’ on the keypad. As with the first speed-dial, she would have been hard-pressed to recount the corresponding phone number. She hadn't bothered to commit either to memory. Both had already been programmed into the phone when the Cassadine Security agent handed it to her.

"Hello, Viktoria."

The male voice that addressed her caught Viktoria by surprise. It was not who she expected. "I didn't dial you. Where is Sabrina?"

"Sabrina is presently occupied."

"Occupied… Let me guess. She's talking to him." Silence greeted her outburst. It stretched out so long that Tori could not maintain the battle of wills. “She's probably congratulating him on persuading my mother to spend her last days on earth with a man who doesn't deserve that kind of sacrifice."

“Celeste is a woman of great self-awareness and will," Stefan finally replied. "I do not believe anyone capable of persuading her to do anything she does not desire."

Stefan's unruffled demeanor in the face of her roller-coaster emotions drove Tori crazy. At that moment she wanted nothing more than to do something – anything – to shake him out of that damn calm of his. “Whatever.” She grated her teeth. “Tell Sabrina to call me when she’s through genuflecting at Pretty Viki’s feet.

“Or don't,” Tori spit out. “The more I think about it, either way is just fine with me.”

 

 

 

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