~ Gone in Sixty Seconds ~


Alexis leaned back on her hands and just enjoyed the warm sunlight. She sat directly on the grass. The contact made her feel connected to a grander design than herself. She needed that. She had awakened from a mid-afternoon nap feeling pretty good. Such instances, while not rare, were few and far between of late. Alexis was determined to enjoy this interlude from nausea and fatigue.

A picnic basket lay on the throw folded beside her. One of the guards had brought it out and, without a word, placed it on the blanket. It was Mrs. Landsbury's not-so-subtle reminder that Alexis needed to eat more. The watchful Cassadine housekeeper had crammed the basket with all Alexis' favorite foods, hoping to spur her appetite. The smell of herb-roasted chicken tickled her nose and she realized that Mrs. Lansbury might have been successful.

Alexis poured some pomegranate juice from the silver thermos included in the offerings. Appreciatively she sipped the rich, dark liquid, enjoying the almost soothing way it bathed tastebuds rendered dull by the powerful treatments needed to destroy the invader in her body. Alexis savored the simple pleasure of enjoying a taste. She hadn't realized when she began treatment that things she had taken so for granted would be denied to her by her own body.

She tore a strip of meat from a drumstick. The chicken was still warm and slowly she placed it in her mouth. To her surprise, it tasted savory and delicious, with none of the metallic overlay that everything she ate contained. Alexis fought back tears. How many weeks had it been since she'd felt normal? She took another cautious bite. Alexis was almost afraid that the first bite had been some kind of delusion brought on by the latest round of harsh chemicals coursing through her weakened system. To her immense joy, the second bite of chicken was more flavorful than the first and she nearly bit her tongue in her haste to sample Mrs. Landsbury's various offerings.

A shadow fell over the picnic basket. "I was robbed."

Alexis started. She had been so intent on celebrating the day and the return of her appetite that she had not heard Samantha's approach. Her daughter stood above her, hands against her hips, lips pressed together in an angry line. "Somebody," Sam repeated, "robbed me."

"Have you called the police? Did you tell Nikolas so that his security can look into it?"

Sam snorted. "I didn't see the point, Mom." The word was spit from the young woman's lips. "The only people interested in what was taken would be the Cassadines."

"The Cassadines?" Alexis' brow furrowed in confusion. "Why would we rob you?"

"Because you have never been happy with me finding you, so you took the only thing that proves I'm your daughter!"

Alexis' mind raced. Something existed that proved Samantha McCall was her child? Beside DNA? How could that be? Only minutes after giving birth, her father Mikkos had informed Alexis that upon his instructions any tangible connections to her newly born child had been destroyed. From that moment forward it would be as if Alexis had never been pregnant. For a moment Alexis thought she spied sorrow in her father's eyes. But just as quickly as it appeared, Mikkos' face grew stony with resolve. By day's end, he said, not even he would know the details of the baby's fate. 'That is best,' he'd asserted.

"...even listening to me?" Alexis returned from her thoughts just in time to hear the tail end of Sam's exasperated cry.

"What was it that was taken?" Despite her legal training, Alexis could not disguise the eagerness in her voice. Her child's early journey in life remained a complete mystery to the lawyer thanks to the thorough job done at her father's bidding. If Sam was in possession of something tangible binding her to the Cassadines, perhaps Nikolas' investigator could be put on the newly-discovered trail her proof revealed.

The thought filled Alexis with cautious hope. Here was a chance to answer some of the questions that plagued her ever since the day she'd given birth. It wasn't enough for her that Sam had stumbled her way into a reunion with the woman who'd given birth to her. Alexis needed to be able to understand for herself just what steps her father had taken to so thoroughly obliterate any trace of a trail connecting her to her baby.

"What was taken?" Sam repeated her mother's question. "A document. Something that proves that you were off somewhere having me." Her face hardened. "And then giving me away."

Alexis did not address her daughter's accusations. She had tried before to convince Sam that she'd had no choice in the matter but the young woman's ears were deaf to Alexis words. "Please, Sam. Exactly what kind of document was it?"

Sam shook her head. "Forget it. After all, the Cassadines didn't have anything to do with this, right?" She turned to leave. "But don't think that stealing my proof is going to help cut me out of your life. Again."

"Why does it matter that you think we stole your proof that you're a Cassadine?" Alexis wondered aloud to Sam's retreating back. "You have the most irrefutable proof there is. You have DNA." Alexis pulled her cellphone from her pocket. "My blood is on file at General Hospital. I'll call and arrange for enough to be released so that you can test your blood against it. Then you won't need whatever it was that was stolen in order to prove your paternity."

Sam's only acknowledgment of her mother' s offer was a curt wave of her hand. With angry strides, she continued on her way toward the launch. Alexis sighed and watched her go until she could no longer see the resentful young woman that was her daughter. Alexis dialed General Hospital and, using the weight of her family' s investment in the once-struggling institution, bypassed the regulations that normally made such a request a paperwork nightmare.

Satisfied with their compliance, Alexis put away her phone and tried to recapture her earlier carefree mood. She closed her eyes and turned her face up to the sun. What had previously felt warm and soothing now felt hot and smothering. Alexis dipped her head and took another bite of chicken. The taste of the delicately roasted meat was now ashes on her tongue. And just like that, Alexis' appetite was gone.

She waved off the guard and began to gather up Mrs. Landsbury's carefully prepared containers of food. Alexis did not look at any of the contents too closely; she'd swung from having an appetite to becoming slightly nauseous at the sight. The kindly housekeeper would be disappointed that Alexis really hadn't touched her offerings. Alexis hoped on both their behalves she would have another opportunity to make up for it.