The Path to Power
So this is how the other half lives. Penny
wanders around the summer house curiously. Last night had
been a fog. Hopefully she'd closed the diner up tight. And today
was her day off anyway. She gives a little laugh at that. A day
off. It would be par for the course to be getting a phone call
right about now asking if she could come in for a just a
couple hours. She'd learned early on that if she actually
wanted a day off to turn the ringer off on the phone. Course
Bobbie knew where she lived... and if it was a choice between
Luke working or... well she'd been suckered in a few times that
way too. But nobody was going to be able to get hold of her today.
Penny laughs again. "I don't even know the phone number
here, let alone the address and I really doubt the buses run out
Nikolas Cassadine had dropped her off here the night before telling her to just make herself at home that he'd be back today with a lawyer and to just relax and let things settle in. For a place that didn't get used it's pretty well stocked. Penny makes a pot of coffee automatically in the well organized kitchen. Then checks the fridge. Well there is the proof of the didn't get used much part. "Good thing I take my coffee black." Penny mutters.
While waiting for the coffee, Penny contemplates the latest curiosity in her life and it isn't winning the lottery. There were all kinds of sayings. Be wary of Greeks with gifts. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Don't get in cars with strangers. Course Nikolas Cassadine isn't exactly a stranger. He is Lucky's brother. He'd been Bobbie's nephew for half a second once upon a time. He'd pulled Emily's cookies, and Elizabeth's too, out of the fire more than once. That's the thing about Kelly's. Everyone comes thru. Even if they didn't-- their friends probably did. Nikolas Cassadine isn't exactly a stranger. She might not know him but he isn't a stranger. Strange maybe but not a stranger.
Pouring herself a cup of fresh dripped coffee, Penny walks out onto the back terrace and next to the pool. Unable to resist she dips a toe in. "Oh you have got to be kidding me? There is no milk in the fridge but the pool is heated?!" Penny looks around. The place is surrounded by not only fences but hedges-- totally private. She chews on her lower lip. Setting her coffee down on the diving board and pulling the t-shirt she'd used as a nightshirt over her head and slinging it down next to the coffee, Penny walks to the edge of the pool and makes a shallow dive barely skimming below the water before making her way to the far side and reversing for another lap.
"I really appreciate you meeting me." Zander says earnestly.
Gia reaches for her set of keys and unlocks the door to Dara's office. "I don't know why you called me. I'm not a lawyer. I can't even play one without getting in serious trouble from my brother. He's got no sense of humor."
"I just need somebody who is not involved in all this..."
"Oh hell. Involved in what?! Zander!" Gia looks over her shoulder at the guy while putting her shoulder to the door and pushing it open.
Zander holds up both hands. "Look it's old stuff. That's come back to bite me in the butt all right?!" He finishes the last of his comment at a mutter.
"And what do you think I can do?"
"You're right. This is a mistake." Zander starts walking away.
Gia grabs him by the back of the coat and pulls him into Dara's office and then locks the door again. "You're here now. And if it gets too messy at least it's a lawyer's office." She laughs. "And you were just telling me that you had money to burn."
"Not to burn, exactly. Just that I don't have to eat at Kelly's all the time anymore."
"Now if you could just get a decent place to live." Gia says wryly. Since she is the first one in the office she starts the coffee. "Come into the library."
"That's what it's going to be." Gia leads the way into the spare room.
"These are Alexis' books." Zander sees the tag on one of the boxes.
Gia nods and looks at the boxes. "Stefan sent them over here when he closed up Alexis' law office. How is she? How is Alexis?" Gia reads the answer in Zander's face. "Nevermind." Gia sighs.
Zander goes over to one of the boxes and unseals it and grabbing some of the books within puts them on the empty cases that line one wall from ceiling to floor. While he is looking away shoving books onto the shelves, he blurts out the reason why he is here. "I was involved in a kidnapping/assault a couple of years back and coerced a guy into giving his kid up."
Gia shakes her head. "What did you just say?!"
"Don't make me repeat it. It was bad enough the first time."
Gia's eyes go wide. "AJ!"
"Yeah." Zander admits grabbing another load of books.
"While you were working for Sonny."
"That's why Em broke up with you."
Gia comes up behind him and smacks him upside the back of the head. "Moron!"
"Yeah." Zander sighs. "Not my finest hour."
"I cannot believe you! What were you thinking?!"
"I think we can safely say that I wasn't."
"Why now. Why is it coming up now?"
"Somehow Faith Roscoe found out about it. She wants me to make a statement. Not in court or anything just a written statement. I figure she's going to leverage Sonny or Carly with it somehow."
Gia grimaces. "I don't know about putting things in writing. I mean you shouldn't even tell me about this!"
Zander shrugs. "AJ knows, Em knows, Sonny knows, Sonny's goons know. Is it really a secret? And with that whole manure not being exempt from the laws of gravity thing..."
Gia blinks and takes half a second to translate back to the vulgar saying before commenting. "Why does Faith Roscoe want to know? Why does she care?"
"She's after Sonny. And well now that she's married to Ned that kinda makes her in that camp, I guess. So is she after Sonny or helping AJ?" Zander shrugs.
"Or Both. Or neither." Gia says wryly. "Do you want some coffee?"
"Sure why not."
"Good Morning, Master Stefan." Mrs. Lansbury makes sure that the maid has properly set the table.
"Good morning, Mrs. Lansbury." Stefan says absently. Then he glances over at the housekeeper. It isn't her custom to initiate conversations without reason even for something as mundane as a morning pleasantry.
"Master Nikolas has already left this morning. He indicated that he had errands in town."
Stefan frowns and nods. "Thank you."
"Of course sir. I'll just go check on Miss Natasha." Mrs. Lansbury gives a brief nod of her head and goes back up the stairs.
After seating himself and starting his breakfast, Stefan reaches for the Herald. The top story appears to be a lottery winner. He makes a derisive sniff. Just the kind of pap that kept the common man throwing good money after bad. Lotteries are poor investments. One had more chance of being struck by lightening.
Skye threads her way thru a crowd outside of Kelly's with Coleman's hand on her back. "What on earth?"
"Maybe the place got robbed?"
"There are no cops just press." Skye counters. She pauses as she gets to the door. Coleman reaches around her and opens the door. "What on earth happened?" Skye demands of the room at large.
Bobbie comes out from the kitchen. "They were here at open this morning. Someone told them that the waitress here won the lottery."
Coleman whistles. "The Big One eh?"
"Course I have no idea who on earth they mean. Nobody has said anything to me."
"No offense, Bobbie, but you really only have one waitress working here." Skye says wryly.
Bobbie blanches. "Oh no. I would be very happy for her of course but..."
"Where is Penny anyway?" Coleman asks looking around.
"Today's her day off." Bobbie muses. "Excuse me. I'll be right with you." Bobbie goes over behind the counter and reaching under grabs the phone and dial Penny's number quickly. It rings about six times and then goes over to voice mail. Bobbie sighs. Oh well school is out soon. Maybe there was a high school kid that needed a summer job. Going thru the folder by the phone she grabs the help wanted sign. Might as well be prepared. Taking the sign and the pot of coffee she goes first to the window by the door and puts the sign out and then walks over to Skye and Coleman's table.
Lucky would have just picked the lock. No.
Lucky would have thought to grab Penny's keys the night before.
Nikolas thinks wryly as he hands over a hundred dollars to the
super of Penny's building and enters the waitress' apartment.
"I appreciate your discretion." Nik shuts the door in
the Super's face. Nik had driven by Kelly's already this morning
and seen the news crews there. It's only a matter of time before
the name of the big lottery winner became public knowledge.
The apartment is small, tidy. The furnishings are nothing special. It appears there is nothing in the apartment that couldn't be abandoned on a moment's notice. And if the super would let in anyone with a hundred dollars this is perhaps a silver lining. Nikolas opens the entryway closet and spots a sport bag on the floor. He empties it and goes into the bedroom. Opening one drawer and then the next he starts stuffing clothes into the duffle. Penny wouldn't need much really. Just a few of her own things until a more formal move could be made. Despite a lack of experience, Nikolas swiftly goes thru the rooms identifying possible important mementos and filing them into the duffle. When it is full he takes a last look around the room and then pulls out his cell phone. He calls Dara Jenson's office and leaves a message on her machine requesting she return his call.
Nikolas walks out the apartment and checks the door behind him to make sure it locked and then takes the stairs down. As he is crossing the street to where his jag is parked he sees a news van make a turn onto the street and then park. It would appear Penny's time is up. Nik smoothly pulls onto the street and continues on his way careful to not draw attention to himself.
Zander looks across the desk at Dara Jensen. Not one of this favorite people. She's a step up from Scott Baldwin, several steps up but she still had an antagonistic relationship with Alexis even if she'd come thru lately. "So that's the whole story? And why Gia wanted me to talk to you?"
It would be soooo unprofessional to start pounding my head against my desk. Dara thinks as she licks her lips and then tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. "Have you had some indication that the police are going to be arresting you for these major felonies?!" Dara asks.
"Nope, but I had someone tell me that I'm kinda on borrowed time. This really isn't something that Sonny Corinthos would want getting around. Insurance you know."
"Yes, I know." Dara says dryly.
"So you know in case anything happened to me it could go to the cops or something."
"AJ didn't press charges."
Zander shrugs. "I guess he figured nobody would believe him. And he did tell everyone at Sorel's or was it Chloe's funeral. You can ask Mac. I wasn't there but all the Quartermaines were there and heard it."
"So AJ didn't press charges, nobody believes that it happened. But you think you need insurance?"
"Yeah. And I'm going to need a copy of it too. One in safekeeping with you. One in safekeeping with me. Do you think I ought to send one to Sonny just to let him know not to mess with me?"
Dara closes her eyes and shakes her head. "Don't borrow trouble. Lets just get this statement made and then just hold it. I'll represent you on this, Mr. Smith because it's in the past. I've known you weren't an angel for quite some time."
"I'm getting my life straight now, Miss Jenson. I've got people I've got to take care of now."
"Em..." Dara stops at Zander's shake of his head.
"Em's got plenty of people looking out for her. I mean Kristina and Tasha." Zander shrugs. "I figure with my dad in Tasha's corner as her shrink she's going to need all the help she can get. But especially Kristina. I don't think that Faith would ever hurt her." Zander furrows his brow. "Unless of course she found out Sonny Corinthos is Kristina's father and not Ned."
"WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!" Dara's jaw drops.
"I figure the only people that know are Ned, me and now... you. Even Alexis doesn't know anymore, not really. Maybe my dad but I doubt it."
"Please don't take this the wrong way, Mr. Smith... Have you been smoking crack?"
Zander snickers at that and the look on his attorney's face. He got the feeling that Dara Jensen was rarely taken by surprise. "Carly came to me the night that she found her husband and Alexis in bed together before she drove into the lake. I know exactly when Kristina was conceived."
"Loved Kristina, Alexis' sister and would never have cheated on her. But hated Sonny's guts. And after Kristina was killed in that warehouse... a bomb that was meant for Sonny. Both Ned and Alexis blame Sonny for that. They would both do anything to protect Kristina from Sonny's lifestyle."
"Does Gia know?" Dara asks softly.
"Just you, me and Ned." Zander replies equally soft. "And Ned doesn't know that I know."
"If Stefan Cassadine knew about this..." Dara muses aloud. "This means that Ned doesn't have standing. The only reason why Cassadine didn't go after custody is because he believes that Ned is the father."
"But who is going to tell him? Won't be me. Won't be Ned. And really there is absolutely no proof. Lived with Alexis long enough to know how much stock you lawyers put in proof. If it comes down to it I'll go to Cassadine myself and tell him. Thing is-- it was the Cassadines that put Alexis in this spot. What they did to her. Don't think they should get a chance at her kid."
Just then the phone rings. "Sorry, I have to take this. Gia has already gone to class and I'm expecting a call from a judge." Dara rolls her eyes. Normally she would have put the phones on to voice mail but she'd been looking for an excuse to get rid of Mr. Smith right up until he'd dropped this baggage on her. "Dara Jensen." Dara's face goes hard. "Call Taggart and call her doctor. Do not leave her alone with him and don't let her say anything! I'm on the way, make sure the launch is on the right side."
Zander is already on his feet. "What is it? Has something happened to Alexis?"
"Scott Baldwin just showed up at Wyndemere." Dara says grimly.
"I got to go." Zander races out of the room.
Dara sets the phones to voice mail and is right behind her new client. Unless Zander decided to make a swim for it she'd meet him at the launch anyway.
"Mrs. Lansbury, show in Mr. Baldwin." Stefan indicates with a nod as he hangs up the phone. "And as soon as you've done so-- contact Lieutenant Taggart at the PCPD and Dr. Cameron Lewis and inform them of Mr. Baldwin's presence. Ms. Jensen is on her way please inform the launch pilot.
"After you have made the calls stay with Natasha. She is not to come downstairs until I come to get her."
"Of course sir." Mrs. Lansbury nods. "I'll take care of the Miss."
"Mrs. Lansbury, Natasha cannot go out of the range of her anklet but I would prefer her to not speak to Mr. Baldwin are we clear?"
Mrs. Lansbury nods. the tunnels it is-- if needed. "I'll get Mr. Baldwin sir." She walks back to the front door and opens it to the impatiently pacing district attorney.
"Well it's about time. I was going to call the PCPD to break the door down." Scott pushes past the housekeeper who gets out of his way and shuts the door.
"This way sir. Mr. Cassadine is waiting in the front room." Mrs. Lansbury leads the way. As soon as Scott is in the same room with Stefan Mrs. Lansbury keeps walking and goes straight up the stairs grabbing her cell phone from her suit pocket as she does so and makes the phone calls that Mr. Cassadine had directed.
"Mrs. Lansbury, see what I made?!" Natasha gets up from the table in her room and brings her journal. "See it's a picture of Petunia. I should show Stefan!"
"There will time enough for that, child. Mr. Stefan has a business meeting downstairs and cannot be disturbed. But I did talk to Lieutenant Taggart and Dr. Cam both and they are coming to see you today. Perhaps you should be making pictures for them."
"Alright." Natasha agrees and goes back to the table.
Mrs. Lansbury goes into the attached bathroom and grabs Tasha's brush. She never seemed to get the back of her hair and the front is always hanging in her eyes. Perhaps Master Stefan would permit her to give Miss Natasha just a little trim to get her hair out of her eyes.
Downstairs, Scott has made himself at home on one of the davenports in the front room. "So how long is it going to take to get the faker down here?"
Stefan stiffens even more so. Taggart was bad enough. His presence tolerated because on advice of counsel it was a necessary evil to allow his sister a semblance of normalcy. And Taggart had proved useful as Natasha liked him and Taggart appeared to be willing to keep the family informed if there were any problems with Baby Kristina. But this... "Excuse me?"
"You heard me." Scott looks around. "Nice dodge your sister is pulling. She ought to be in a six by eight waiting for a needle. Is she even here or perhaps she jetted off to Europe?"
"My sister is in compliance with the judge's order."
"Then where is she?"
"It is... inappropriate for you to see her without her lawyer." illegal, unethical, inadmissible.
"Just a friendly visit." Scott grins showing his teeth.
"You are not friends with my sister. Why are you here?"
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