Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Port Charles Municipal Building: Courtroom B
Gia set down her files next to a fresh note pad and pen.
Then she straightened them.
“Everything all right?”
Anna Devane’s clipped British accent broke through and Gia turned to her, flashing what she hoped to be a confident smile. “I have all my ducks in a row. Just a bit anxious to get it started.”
Anna nodded, paused for a moment before she began to speak. “Gia, we’re all aware that you’re going out on quite the limb in order to prosecute Britt on these charges. We don’t expect success—we’re merely hoping for it.”
“It’s tricky,” Gia allowed. “I have to draw a very fine line between all embryos and this one particular embryo, and hope the judge will see I’m not trying to make case for all circumstances. I’m betting on the general disgust Britt Westbourne’s actions have engendered to make my case. It may end up being reversed on appeal.”
But she looked down at that. “Which is why I’m hoping, if we manage to get the charges sustained today, she’ll agree to a plea deal, which precludes any appeal. Having this overturned on some other day by some other defendant doesn’t bother me as much.”
“As long as Britt pays for what she’s done, and Dante and Lulu retain custody of their child,” Anna murmured as she moved to sit in the front row of the gallery.
As Gia stepped behind the desk, another familiar face strode down the aisle from the back doors. Though she had moved back to Port Charles nearly a month ago, it was the first time she had come face to face with her former fiancé.
She arched a brow. “Nikolas, I wondered if I would see you today.”
He stopped in front of her, looking almost the same as he had nearly a decade before when they had called it quits and gone their separate ways.
“Gia.” Nikolas slid a hand in his trouser pocket. “I was surprised to hear you returned to Port Charles.”
“I missed practicing criminal law,” she admitted, “and there are few places better than here to find criminals.”
“That’s certainly the case lately.” He hesitated a moment. “Does the fact Sonny Corinthos is a prime suspect in a murder case have anything to do with it?”
“Why would it?” Gia asked, blinking. She flashed him a smile. “I barely know him.”
“No,” Nikolas allowed, “but your brother considered him an enemy,” His brow furrowed, but his expression remained stoic. “I wonder if you’re hoping to close the book on him.”
“I guess we’ll see where the evidence takes us.” Gia gestured towards the table. “If you’ll excuse me, I’d like to look over my notes one last time.”
“Of course.” Nikolas bowed his head slightly. “Good luck.”
She flashed one last smile before taking her seat and opening her folder.
Anna had been so relieved to have a district attorney who wasn’t personally connected to Sonny Corinthos, but she and the mayor had forgotten what Nikolas clearly had not.
For years, Gia had watched her brother’s love for the legal system and his belief in justice erode until he had left law enforcement altogether.
Sonny Corinthos had destroyed an essential part of Marcus Taggart’s soul and Gia couldn’t wait to invite her brother to watch her closing arguments as she nailed Sonny Corinthos to the wall.
Metro Court Hotel: Fifth Floor
Lucy tapped her legal pad and paced in front of the large conference table. “We need a name.”
Accustomed to this change in topic, Laura leaned back in her chair. “What’s wrong with Deception?”
“The spa will be just part of our brand.” Lucy stopped and gestured at the window, at the view of the park. “We’ll be known as the experts in everything from fashion to entertainment—”
“I don’t think that’s necessary, Lucy. We have the spa, and you’ve allowed me to co-host the Nurse’s Ball because you’re the traditional mistress of ceremonies.” Laura shrugged a shoulder. “If we want to branch out later, we can. For now, Lucy, let’s focus on a set list for June. We have to get enough ideas so we can nail down performers.”
“Good, good. This is why I’ve brought you on board,” Lucy said, taking a seat across from her, jabbing a pen in her direction. “You’ll keep me practical.” She flipped open her portfolio. “So, the basic format I’m looking at is nine numbers with two intermissions. We’ll serve dinner during the first and have some dancing during the second.” She pursed her lips. “I missed that last year, I truly did. We eliminated the orchestra for budgetary reasons, but with the Cassadines footing the bill, we can bring it back.”
Laura reached for a pen. “Have any ideas for your numbers? I assume we’ll do three sets of three.”
“I’d hoped to convince Ned to bring back his old standard, Power to Believe,” Lucy said. “I know Sabrina Santiago has a lovely voice, and so does Patrick. Maxie has a passable voice—” She tapped her chin. “What about some Broadway numbers? Some huge theatrical moments?”
“I liked Rent,” Laura offered as she began to flip through the playlist on her smart phone. “’Seasons of Love’ is a beautiful number, and it’s appropriate, considering the source material—oh, and maybe we can do something from Newsies. We can get a mixture of adults and children. My grandson takes tap lessons.”
“Your—” Lucy arched her brows. “Not—not Spencer?”
“No.” Laura smiled. “Jake. Elizabeth’s middle son. He started them last year, but hasn’t wanted to tell many people. A bit embarrassed, but he might change his mind.”
“Oh, I just love it!” Lucy responded, clasping her hands in delight. “I just knew this would be fun!”
ELQ: Tracy’s Office
Tracy looked to her eldest son. “Has my head exploded?”
Elizabeth pressed her lips together. “Tracy—”
“Mother,” Ned began.
“Because surely, hearing that you signed away our best leverage to get that woman out of our lives—” Tracy leaned forward. “You don’t know what Sam McCall is capable of, Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes. “I know you’re angry, Tracy. I’m sorry. I wasn’t expecting her to show up at my door—but it’s fair. Danny is Jason’s son. He has the right—”
“He only has the right to what Jason left him,” Tracy spat. “He reviewed his will after he knew Danny was Sam’s son. If he wanted him provided for—”
“He didn’t know he was Danny’s father,” Elizabeth protested.
“Well, that didn’t seem to bother him when it comes to Cameron,” Tracy snapped.
“Mother.” Ned held up his hand. “Let’s just….take a step back.”
“Fine.” She waved a hand. “Where does this nonsense leave us? Provided Ric can get Alan’s will sorted.”
“Not much worse off than we were before.” Ned took a seat at the table, and flipped through a legal pad. “Taking into account the proxy votes—Michael has fifty percent—”
“Elizabeth, controlling for her children, has fifteen percent—”
“Wait, what?” Elizabeth blinked.
“Dillon and I have ten percent. Sam has Danny’s ten percent proxy, and you have five percent, Mother, from Brooke.”
“How does Michael have fifty percent?” Tracy snapped. Damn it. She should have shut up about her brother’s will.
“He has his own twenty percent,” Ned told her. “Plus he has Skye’s ten percent. And then five percent each from Lila Rae, Maya, Monica, and Alice.”
Tracy closed her eyes. “So much for loyalty,” she spat. She looked at Elizabeth. “You see this? I have enough problems on my hands to keep Michael from staging a coup. You’ll likely throw your lot behind him—”
“I haven’t decided what I’m going to do,” Elizabeth admitted. “I’m uncomfortable with having any stock in ELQ, much less the second largest voting bloc—” She bit her lip. “Tracy—”
“And you gave Sam all that money—” Tracy rose to her feet. “She’s a con artist, Elizabeth. And you bought it.”
Elizabeth also stood. “You think I don’t know what Sam is capable of?” she demanded. “I watched her play Jason and Sonny like a violin during her pregnancy. I watched her guilt Jason into staying with her while I was pregnant. And then she kept her mouth shut while Jake was kidnapped. She hired a man to hold a gun on my children to scare me away from Jason. I’m aware of what she is, Tracy.”
“Then why give her the time of day?” the older woman shot back. “You say you know better? You’re sure as hell not showing it.”
“You think part of me didn’t want to slam the door in her face?” Elizabeth retorted. “Had it just been Sam, had it only been her begging me for Jason’s money, I would have sent her to hell and signed it all over to Carly just to spite her. I don’t want any of it. I’m only taking money for Aidan, so he’s not the only one without a multi-million dollar trust—”
“Let’s just all take a step back.” Ned stepped forward. “Elizabeth, I can understand why you decided to give in for Danny’s sake. And I know my mother is relieved that Monica will have access to Danny.” He flashed Tracy a dirty look. “Right? As her newfound champion?”
Tracy scowled, the bitterness rising in her throat. “How do we know she’ll even keep her word?”
“If you think I’ll let Sam draw up the paperwork and stipulate exact terms, you really do think I’m an idiot.” Elizabeth narrowed her eyes. “As we speak, Diane is drafting the terms of the settlement. On behalf of Jake, Jason’s legal next of kin, Monica and I will be petitioning to have Jason declared legally dead. Because of the police case, Diane says it should only take about a month, maybe six weeks to complete it.
“Once Jason’s will is read into record and the money is transferred to me, I will be creating a trust for Danny and Aidan equal to Jake and Cameron. Jason’s stock was split between myself and the boys, leaving Cameron with two and a half percent, and Jake twelve and a half total. I’m signing my five percent over to Danny.”
Elizabeth set a copy of the terms in front of Tracy. “While Sam technically controls Danny’s shares, she agrees not to vote the proxy on her own. She’ll consult with Michael or Ned first, getting one or both of them to sign off on her vote. She also guarantees Monica two visits a month, of which should be overnight if it fits Monica’s schedule.” She arched a brow. “I protect my children’s interests, and, whether I like it not, ELQ is part of that.”
Tracy exhaled slowly, lowering herself back into her seat. “I can see I underestimated you. This doesn’t preclude her from tossing support to Michael, but he already has a basic majority as it stands.” She pressed a hand to her forehead. “But she can’t leverage her proxy or sell on Danny’s behalf?”
“The only way Danny’s stock gets sold is if Michael and Ned agree to it. They both have to sign off.” She flicked her eyes to Ned. “I thought that might be the best way to deal with opposing interests. You two may not always see eye to eye, but I believe you both want the best for ELQ.”
“It’s not bad,” Ned said. “It could have been much worse.”
“How did you get her to agree to any of this?” Tracy asked. “Did she want his money badly enough?”
“She wanted the penthouse and the money,” Elizabeth responded coolly. “She’s getting just that. She thinks she played me, Tracy. But the only way I agreed to give money to Danny is that his proceeds from ELQ go into his trust, just as Jake and Cameron’s will. I’m the executor on all three.”
“You control Danny’s money?” Ned demanded. “That can’t be right—”
“She’s learning those terms when she signs the paperwork. If she wants to balk at it,” Elizabeth said, “that’s her prerogative. She can take me to court. She’ll get what I think she deserves and nothing more. Jason didn’t protect Danny, so I’ll do it on my terms. I don’t trust her.”
“Hell….” Tracy mused over the terms. “These are pretty rock solid. You’re not giving her penthouse. She’s only leasing it.”
“If at any time she violates the custody agreement with Monica, she loses the penthouse.” Elizabeth took her seat. “If she attempts to gain access to Danny’s trust, she loses the penthouse. I’m retaining the deed. We’re selling the island home to Carly—she thinks Morgan may want it someday. The proceeds are being split between Danny and Jake.”
“I like you,” Ned said, grinning. “You should be in our business. This is ruthless.”
“I apologize,” Tracy said slowly. “You…haven’t given her much wiggle room.”
“I can’t stop her from taking the money and leaving Port Charles, violating the custody agreement,” Elizabeth admitted. “But she has roots here, with her parents and her sisters. I’m banking that she won’t do it and disappoint Alexis. But I’ve done what I can to protect Danny and ELQ.”
“Shareholder meetings are going to be so much more fun with you around,” Ned said as Tracy pushed the terms toward Elizabeth.
“These are acceptable. I hope she signs.”
“If she wants to renegotiate—” Ned began.
“She has no leverage,” Elizabeth interrupted in. “If she declines to sign as stipulated, we’ve lost nothing. I’ll still join Monica’s petition to have Jason declared legally dead, putting things into motion. I don’t have to give away my half of Jason’s money. I could easily split it between my own children. I’m choosing to do what I believe is the right thing.” She hesitated. “For better or worse, Jason chose her. He married her. He had a child with her. We have to deal with that.”
Michael’s Apartment: Living Room
“It’s been a week.”
Starr gently closed her laptop and set it aside on the table. The preliminary flyer design for the Haunted Star’s reopening would have to wait.
“And it took her nearly three times as long to admit what she knew,” she reminded Michael. “Your mother doesn’t make the right choice easily, not when it goes against all her instincts, everything she’s taught herself. I know how hard it is to turn in someone you love. My father has done horrible things for most of my life.”
She hesitated. “Though the most terrible thing turned out to be perpetrated by my uncle, who was posing as my father. It still boggles the mind how we could have accepted him, how we could have missed the signs. He took away my daughter, let me believe she was dead.”
“Starr…” Michael looked at her, his face softened as it always did when she brought up her beloved daughter. “I know, but—”
“I’m not saying you should wait forever.” Starr stood. “I’m saying that you cannot allow this to rule your life. You suspected for weeks that your—that Sonny had done this. It tore you apart. Now you know. I don’t know if it makes it easier—”
“I just—” Michael looked down at his fists. “I don’t want to be angry all the time, I don’t want this for myself. I want to get on with my life, and I will.” He met her eyes. “I’ve been working hard with Tracy and Ned to figure out the mess with Grandfather, Alan and my father’s estates. We think we’ll have it resolved by the shareholder’s meeting in a few weeks. I have been thinking about other things—”
“I know.” Starr pursed her lips. “But you’re so angry all the time. AJ wouldn’t want that for you, you know that. He loved you. He’d be so proud of the way you’ve worked with the family, the way Monica and Tracy have come together after all of this. That Jake is finally going to be part of the family. That’s how I got through what happened to me, to Cole and Hope. Losing them—” She closed her eyes. “It was so hard to put my life back together. I couldn’t face going home to Llanview, to all those memories—”
“Hey.” Michael touched her shoulder. “I get it. And you’re right. I just want to put this behind us—”
“And we will.” Starr took a deep breath. This was about Michael. “You know Sonny is the prime suspect. Anna isn’t going to give up. Neither are Monica and Tracy. They want justice, and they’re going to dig until they find it. Your mother will come through. She told my father, who encouraged her to tell you. She did that, knowing you’d want her to take the next step. You just have to give her time.”
“If she hasn’t come through by the end of the next week,” Michael said after a long moment, “I may just tell Anna to go after her myself. One way or another, my father is going to have justice for everything Sonny Corinthos stole from him.”
Quartermaine Mansion: Family Room
Monica had only just set her phone down after a gleeful conversation with Tracy regarding the way Elizabeth had put a noose around Sam’s neck when Alice announced Sam’s arrival.
Monica wasn’t entirely sure if she approved the way Elizabeth had gone about getting her visitation with her grandson, but she sure as hell wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
“Monica.” Sam stepped in, her hand in Danny’s as he toddled forward. “Hello. I thought—I wanted you to meet your grandson.”
Monica nearly scoffed at that lie, but decided not to say anything. “I’m delighted. Hello, Danny.”
“Hi.” Danny smiled at her, then dipped his head. Oh, how he looked like her Jason. Looked like his older brother.
“Danny, this is your grandmother, Monica.” Sam released Danny’s hand and prodded him forward. “She’s your daddy’s mother.”
“’Kay.” Danny mumbled. He toddled forward a bit, then stopped and plopped on the ground.
“Ah.” Monica looked around. “I don’t believe I have anything from when my children were younger—or even when we last had young children in the house.” Which likely would have been Michael all those years ago. “If I had known you were coming, I could have had something set up. I only have toys that Elizabeth’s boys play with.” She stood. “I can send Alice for Aidan’s toys—he’s four, only a bit older—”
“I’m surprised Elizabeth didn’t tell you the terms of the agreement,” Sam all but snarled at her. Danny blinked up at her, and she winced before continuing. “Considering that she’s threatened to evict me from my house if you don’t have visits with him.”
“Well, I didn’t ask her to obtain visitation for me,” Monica said dryly. “But I’m aware that she asked you to have Danny meet Jake, to spend some time here, that you declined. As you have for the last two years since Jason died.” She narrowed her eyes. “That you denied me the right to bury my son because you wanted his money.”
“Don’t act like I’m a filthy gold digger,” Sam retorted. “And don’t pretend you’re much better than me. You married Alan for his money—”
“What I may or may not have done decades ago is of no consequence,” Monica cut in. “And none of your damn business. Alan and I raised our children—”
“And Jason wanted very little to do with you, particularly after his accident. I should have ignored his wishes?” Sam demanded. “The only reason I’m here is so Danny gets what’s rightfully his—”
“You’re here to keep the cushy lifestyle my son gave you.” Monica stepped closer. “Don’t you dare pretend you gave a damn about him—”
“Oh, like your precious Elizabeth?” Sam rolled her eyes. “She brought her sons to you, of course you’re on her side—”
“Elizabeth has been a member of my family before you swindled your first sugar daddy in this town,” Monica retorted. “Beginning with Emily, and yes, she mattered a great deal to both my sons. Her boys are part of my family because Jason and Emily considered them part of theirs. But you wouldn’t understand that, would you, Sam? Someone like Elizabeth is foreign to you—”
“You think I don’t understand exactly who Elizabeth is?” Sam swept Danny into her arms. He started kick and struggle, as if he could feel his mother’s ire. “I thought she and I came to an agreement, I thought we were on the same page, but I saw the contract she wants me to sign, I saw the way she wants to control me—”
“Not control you.” Monica tilted her head. “You just don’t get it, do you, Sam? You can’t even comprehend this. You act as though Elizabeth had to do anything. I could have had Jason declared legally dead without you. Elizabeth could have evicted you and your son and left you to starve. I can’t speak for why Jason declined to provide for you, but he did. And it was none of our concern to do any differently.”
“Please. Elizabeth must have enjoyed dictating those terms to Diane, drawing them up, tightening her control over me. She controls my home, my son’s trust. I can’t do anything at ELQ without someone holding my hand—”
“If you don’t like it, Sam, don’t sign it,” Monica said simply. “Go and make your own money. Go live with your mother. No one is forcing you. You wanted a cut of Jason’s estate. These were her terms. Can you blame us for not trusting you?”
“I’ve never done a damn thing—”
“I know all about you, Sam,” Monica said, casting her voice low. “And not just the things you’ve done in Port Charles, which included standing by while some unstable woman kidnapped my grandson. I mean the things you did before you came here. The men you swindled.”
“I had my reasons—”
“And I know there are warrants out. Not all the statutes have lapsed.” Monica stepped back. “You decided to tangle with the Quartermaines, Sam. If you want Jason’s money, then I’m sorry to say you have to accept the terms we’ve provided you. You’re free to decline.”
“Don’t tempt me. I’ll have my mother bring him next time,” Sam said, calling over her shoulder as she swept from the room, Danny crying in her arms.
Port Charles Municipal Building: Courtroom B
“Please be seated. The Honorable David Walters presiding.”
Gia stood, smoothing a hand down the waist of her slim and simple dull gold dress. This was it. This was her moment.
“Please be seated,” Judge Walters boomed over the relatively small as he took his seat. “Call the first case.”
“Your Honor, the state of New York versus Britta Westbourne, one charge of kidnapping in the second degree, and Liesl Obrecht, one charge of aiding and abetting. Bail has been set at one million for both defendants.”
The court clerk passed the file to the judge, who opened it, and put on his reading glasses. “Counselors?”
“Gia Campbell for the state, Your Honor, and we are ready to proceed with a preliminary hearing,” Gia said as she stood.
“Thomas Fennimore for defendant Westbourne and Obrecht. You have our motion to dismiss in front of you.”
“I do.” Judge Walters was quiet for a moment as he organized his notes. “Ms. Campbell, tell me why we’re wasting the court’s time here this morning.”
Gia ignored Lulu’s gasp of worry. “Your Honor, I believe that’s why you granted the defense a preliminary hearing.” She arched a brow. “Or are we all wasting our time?”
“Proceed, Ms. Campbell.” The judge leaned back in his chair, and Gia knew she would have a mountain to climb.
“Penal law states that a person is guilty of kidnapping in the second degree simply if they abduct another person,” Gia began.
“And the State seeks to define a fertilized embryo as a person,” Fennimore said, rising to his feet. “Surely you can see we’re heading down a slippery slope—”
“I am not seeking to define all fertilized embryos as persons,” Gia interrupted. “I am saying that Britta Westbourne knowingly took a fertilized embryo from Dante and Lulu Falconeri, carried the child to term, then gave birth to a child which she continued to withhold from that child’s legal parents. I am not saying that the kidnapping happened at the time of conception, but rather at the time of birth.”
“My client had no surrogacy agreement in place,” the other lawyer shot back. “This is a case for family court, not criminal—”
“Your client had no surrogacy in place because she knowingly stole their embryo,” Gia cut in. “And she knew that Lulu Falconeri could not reproduce another embryo—”
“Counselors, to your corners,” Walter said, finally drawing their bickering to a close. “Ms. Campbell, perhaps you could start at the beginning. Without interruptions this time.”
“In November 2012, Dr. Britta Westbourne was contacted by Dante and Lulu Falconeri. They sought to use a surrogate, Maxie Jones, in order to have a child. Mrs. Falconeri was unable to carry to term. Dr. Westbourne extracted and fertilized three embryos at that time. The first of which was implanted in Ms. Jones.”
Gia paused. “Ms. Jones then miscarried on New Year’s Eve under the care of Dr. Westbourne, who knew then that her patients were no longer expecting a biological child. Before Ms. Jones could tell her friends or arrange for a second implantation, she became pregnant herself. I believe the facts of that case are already known to the court.”
“Yes,” Judge Walters remarked dryly. “They are. Proceed.”
“After the Falconeris lost custody of that child, they returned to their doctor, hoping to find that their other two embryos were able to be used in another surrogate. At that time, a medical examination revealed that Mrs. Falconeri could no longer produce eggs and they were told their other embryos had been lost.”
Walters pursed his lips. “But they were not lost.”
“No,” Gia said. “Despite being aware that Maxie Jones was no longer carrying the Falconeri’s biological child, Dr. Westbourne implanted herself with one or both of the embryos, removing their chance to utilize either. The third embryo has never been found. The defendant became pregnant and passed the child off as someone else’s. In December of 2013, Dr. Westbourne became aware that her patient could no longer produce eggs—future embryos fertilized by her husband were no longer a possibility. In the interim, that September, she had given birth to their biological child without either their knowledge or their permission. By retaining custody of their biological child, a child she was in the unique position of knowing they intended to have but were unable to do so, it is the State’s position that Britta Westbourne kidnapped Ben Westbourne.”
“Your Honor,” Britt’s lawyer began, as he rose to his feet. “If I may—”
“Does your defendant deny any the facts Ms. Campbell laid out? Is she willing to dispute that Ben Westbourne is the biological child of her former patients?” Walters asked.
“Ah, well, no. A simple blood test—” Flustered, Fennimore looked down. “The facts are not in dispute, but rather the State’s interpretation of the law—Ms. Westbourne did not intend to abduct anyone—”
“I think Ms. Campbell can make a case. Her patients wanted a biological child. Your client not only knew that fact, but also appeared to know that their chosen surrogate was no longer carrying that child. She impregnated herself with one of their embryos and said nothing when they discovered they could not have a biological child.” Judge Walters leaned back and was quiet for a moment. “I have considered your briefs submitted before as well as the argument today. I believe I have seen enough evidence to take the charges to trial.” He hesitated. “However, I don’t find enough evidence to bind Dr. Obrecht. Charges are dismissed for her. Trial date to be set.”
Ava’s Apartment: Living Room
Ava strode out from her bedroom, and stopped short, barely managing to stifle a scream. “Jesus Christ, don’t you ever knock?” she demanded, stalking forward.
Victor Cassadine turned, a tumbler of Scotch in his hands. “Why Ava, I was not aware we had to stand on ceremony.”
She glared at him. “You haven’t returned my phone calls for days. This entire plan is falling apart—”
“I’m aware.” Victor sipped his Scotch. Ava Jerome had been such a disappointment to him. She had appeared to be cool, calm and collected, but once she had arrived in Port Charles, she had done nothing but screw up.
“You have to do something about Carly,” Ava told him. “Sonny said she’s been quiet for days, and if Carly Jacks is quiet, there’s a reason to worry. If she goes to the police or her son, Sonny will be arrested and the territory will be in chaos—the police will be combing through his files. I’ll lose my chance—”
“No, you’re quite right. Carly has already told her son.” Victor set the tumbler down. “She has not yet told Anna, but you can be sure that if Anna gets to Sonny first, you’ll go down with him.”
“Precisely.” Ava nodded, smoothing down her skirt. “So what do you plan?”
“It’s not about what I plan,” Victor replied. “It’s what I intend for you to do.” He reached inside his suit packet and withdrew a slim case. “These are the missing security discs from your hallway and a special…extra one from inside this room.”
Ava narrowed her eyes, then cast her eyes to the ceiling. “Where is it? How dare you spy on me?”
“You know when we started this that we were going to do it my way. Did you think I would allow you to go unsupervised?” Victor shook his head. “You disappoint me, Ava.”
“I want to see those before Anna—”
“These will be delivered to Anna shortly after you make your statement to her.” Victor slipped them back inside his suit.
“My statement?” Ava demanded. “You’re crazy if you think—”
“Your conscious cannot stand it anymore,” Victor said, smoothly cutting in as if she hadn’t spoken. “You’ve watched poor Michael in agony, wondering about the truth. You want to make that truth known. AJ was in your apartment. There was an argument—”
“About what?” Ava demanded. “AJ and I barely knew one another. Why—”
“Perhaps he suspected you were behind that business with Lauren Frank last summer,” Victor mused. “You were once involved with her supposed father, after all. Perhaps you were aware of her true paternity and allowed her to vote her shares in favor of AJ.”
“Why would I give a damn about ELQ?” Ava shot back.
“I am not the one who killed Connie Falconeri, so I am not concerned with whatever reasons you give Anna for AJ’s presence in your apartment,” Victor told her. “You decided that on your own. Had you successfully framed AJ for it, we might not be in this predicament at the moment.”
Ava sniffed. “I’ll want protection. If I turn in Sonny—”
“I’ll see to it that you have all the protection you require.”
She pursed her lips. “And having me turn in Sonny puts our plans back on track?” she asked.
“My dear, it suits my purposes perfectly.” Victor paused. “But not quite yet. Refine your story. I have one chess piece not yet in play, and I cannot have Sonny arrested until he is.”
Ava narrowed her eyes. “I don’t like the way that sounds.”
“I don’t really care what you like, Ava. You either work with me, or against me.” Victor stopped at the door and looked back. “And how long do you think you’ll last against a Cassadine?”
Cassadine Island: Robin’s Lab
Robin muttered a curse, then pushed her notes away. It had been a few days since Victor had put her back to work on Helena and Stavros.
She had performed admirably thus far, she had been told. Now that Jason and his supposed twin brother had woken up, they could regain their vigor and strength without her.
Victor had told her once she had saved Helena and Stavros, she could go home. But that was before she had learned his true purpose.
Would she never be able to return home? Was the life that had been stolen from her more than two years ago gone now?
Patrick would never forgive her, she knew that now. But she didn’t want her daughter to grow up without her, the way she had without Anna.
She wanted her life back.
There was a knock at her door, and Robin glanced up. “Jason! Why are you—”
But she stopped. Because it wasn’t Jason standing in her door way. The man had Jason’s eyes, his face. His hair color. But his build was a bit lankier—all the months being frozen, she surmised. There was an almost unholy light in his eyes, a cocky grin on his face.
How had this man fooled them all this time?
“I suppose you’re the so-called twin,” Robin said, venom spilling from her lips. “Victor called you Preston St. James. But that sounds fake.”
“Maybe it is.” Preston offered a shrug of the shoulder as he entered the room and lowered himself into a chair by her work table. “Victor decided to let me loose around the complex—not much damage I can do now that I’m mostly superfluous to his plan.”
She narrowed her eyes. “What kind of man gives up his life to take over someone else’s? If Jason is supposed to be your brother—”
“You doubt it?” Preston gestured to his face. “Plastic surgery doesn’t work this well and I assure you—” He tugged at his skin. “It’s no mask.”
“You didn’t answer my question.” Robin leaned forward. “You destroyed Jason’s life—”
“Please.” The man actually snorted and leaned back, lounging in a way that was so not Jason, Robin could barely wrap her mind around any of this. “What was there to destroy? I met the people in his life. His sister was dead. His friends were soul sucking losers who couldn’t wipe their own asses without them, he had that vapid whore dangling after him for his money, and he was too stupid to enjoy that money.” Preston shrugged. “So what did I really take from him?”
“You tried to take his son,” Robin snarled. “You told Elizabeth to shut off those machines, to let Jake die. How could you do that?”
Preston studied her a moment, then nodded. “Elizabeth is like a sister to you. I get it. Hey, you saved my life twice. I can give you some reasons. You wanna know why I told her let the kid go? Why I did whatever I could to make Elizabeth miserable?”
“Yes,” Robin said, her teeth clenched so tightly, her jaw was sore. “I want to know—”
“The first rule of any con game—particularly something so long and complex—is to know the players. Sonny and Carly? Sam? You? Your relationships with Jason were open books. Once I went to prison to protect Michael, no problem. Most people didn’t look back. I could even play Spinelli a bit once I got the hang of it. But Elizabeth Webber?”
He shook his head. “The only things I knew about Elizabeth Webber was that she had slept with Jason, that they had been around each other for years, and maybe the kid was his. That’s it. Everything about them was off the record. An unknown. I could feel it from the first time I talked to her—I was never going to get the rhythm. She’d see right through me.”
“If you stayed around her,” Robin murmured. “So you broke her heart to keep your ruse?”
“Basically. And the best way to kill the bond between her and Jason? To make it clear he didn’t gave a damn about her or their son. I think I accomplished that.” His mouth twisted. “But then Sam’s kid was supposed to be dead, and she blamed me. Elizabeth was there again. She’s a gorgeous woman. I thought maybe this time—maybe enough time passed…” He lifted a shoulder. “But Victor pulled me before I could go any further.”
“I just…you destroyed the way she felt about Jason. She loved him so much, and you killed it. Even if he goes home and tells her the truth, I’m not sure she can go back.” Robin shook her head. “And the time you’ve stolen from Jason, the lies—”
“Your first mistake, Robin, is thinking that I give a damn.” He leaned forward. “And I don’t.”
“No shock there.” She frowned. “What is Victor’s plan anyway? Why is he going to all this trouble? What does he want?”
“Hey, he offered me a lot of money and a challenge.” Preston shrugged. “Don’t really give a damn about that either.”
Port Charles Municipal Building: Courtroom B
Britt Westbourne would face trial for kidnapping.
Judge Walters brought down the gavel as Gia sighed in relief. First hurdle met.
“What does mean?” Britt demanded from across the aisle. “I thought you said this would be dismissed?” She rose from her chair as she grabbed at her lawyer’s suit jacket. “I thought you said I was okay.”
“Britta,” Liesl murmured. “Control yourself.”
“Be quiet, Mother. This is all your fault,” Britt hissed. But a deputy came and pulled her away to return to lock up.
“Well done, Gia.” Anna reached over the barrier to squeeze Gia’s hand. “I knew you could do it.”
“What happens next?” Lulu asked as she crowded next to Anna. Beside her, Dante, Olivia, and Laura were waiting, their expressions a mixture of excitement and trepidation. “Britt stays in prison?”
“For now, unless she can come with bail. She’s a flight risk due to her family.” Gia gathered her notes. “I give her some time to stew, and hopefully, we’ll be able to come to some sort of plea agreement.”
“You don’t plan to go to trial?” Laura asked, frowning. “Do you think you’ll lose?”
“If I can get her to a plea agreement,” Gia told her former boss, “then I can preclude her from appealing the judge’s decision. A jury will probably convict her. I don’t know that the argument I made here today will stand against that appeal. But if she’s convicted, then it’s likely a few years before an appeal will be heard. She’ll serve time in prison either way.”
“Then why go for the plea?” Lulu asked.
“Custody,” Dante said, his eyes on Gia. “You want custody to be part of any plea agreement.”
“I want her to renounce her rights, yes.” Gia slid her notes into her bag. “You’ll likely prevail in family court as well, but if I can get her to a plea agreement, I not only save the state time and money, I save you all stress and money. You deserve your son, Lulu.”
“Thank you.” Lulu squeezed her hand.
“It’s about time we had ourselves a capable attorney,” Olivia declared. “I just know you’re going to make sure my grandbaby stays where he is.”
Across the room, Nikolas caught Liesl’s arm before she could exit the court room. “Dr. Obrecht. May I congratulate you on avoiding jail?”
Liesl arched a brow. “You may, though I doubt your sincerity. I will be back at the hospital—”
“And may I also take the opportunity to inform you that the board has voted to terminate your contract due to the morality clause.”
He took in the pleasure that sentence brought as her eyes widened. “But you cannot! I have been cleared!”
“Charges were dismissed because you could not be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt.” Nikolas offered her a smile. “But in a civil court? Why, continuing to employ you opens us to all sorts of lawsuits, particularly by my sister.”
“Your sister would not—”
“She would. If I continued to employ you or Britt. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that.” He leaned in. “Flee, Liesl. Your reign of terror is at an end. Your daughter is going to prison.”
“You are more like your family every day,” Liesl murmured. “You have the same cold heart as all the rest of them.”
Nikolas just smiled at her, but her words had hit their mark. He knew them to be true.
He was a Cassadine at heart, and it was time he accepted that.