Nikolas walked over to the door of his new penthouse.
"Who is it?" he called.
"Ria." Nikolas looked through the peephole to double-check.
"Hey," he said as he opened the door. She walked around the living room.
"Fancy place, Nikky-boy."
"So, how'd it go? Did you tell Luke?"
"Yep. He fell for it!" Ria laughed, almost dropping her purse. "Of course," she added, composing herself as she picked up her purse, "He demands a paternity test."
"Which we can easily alter by changing the results."
"I broke up with Sarah Webber," Nikolas said, suddenly.
"It's about time."
"Yeah, well, I needed to."
"Oh? Oh-h. Nikky's got a crush on someone."
"Who is it? C'mon! You can tell me! Who am I gonna tell?"
"You could tell Laura, you could tell Lucky, you could broadcast it over the p.a. at the hospital, you could-"
"Yeah, but I won't. Come on! Who is it? Do I know her?"
"Does Lucky know her?"
"Does Laura know her?"
"Dammit!" Nikolas opened his mouth to respond, but someone knocked on the door.
"Who is it?" he called.
"Nikolas, it is your grandmother." Ria went white as a sheet of paper.
"What is it?"
"Is that any way to address me, my dear boy? Stop acting like a child, and open this door!"
Nikolas turned around in time to see Ria race into the bathroom and shut the door.
He took a shaky breath and opened the door.
"Hello, my boy. Why have you moved from Wyndemere?"
"I wished for more freedom, not having to tell Uncle where I was every second of the day."
"Ah. Whose voice was that I heard in here?"
"A female voice. I heard one in here a few seconds before I knocked."
"The television." Helena glanced around the penthouse, running her fingers over the table.
"Nikolas, there is no television in here. Why don't you just tell me who is here before I have to search the place myself?"
The bathroom door opened like a shot. Nikolas turned to see what the hell Ria was on. Helena turned to see who it was.
"Nikolas, this is bloody ridiculous!" Ria cried in an English accent. Nikolas did a double-take. It was Ria all right, under the darkly made up now green eyes, the new freckles, the different nose, the fuller lips, the seemingly higher cheekbones, and the very pale skin. Her dark hair was loose and curled a bit and she now had three earrings in each ear. She walked calmly over to Helena Cassadine and outstretched her hand. "Zariina Aikmen."
Helena looked Ria up and down, sizing her up.
"I'm so sorry about making Nikolas lie. My father is an eejit and would kick my arse if he knew I was without adult supervision." Ria smiled and turned to Nikolas. "But, Nikolas, really, if it was just your grandmother, then you didn't have to lie!"
"She is quite right. Well, I must be going. Perhaps I shall see you again soon, Nikolas?"
"Goodbye." Helena walked out the door without another word. Nikolas shut the door and locked it.
"What-" Nikolas began.
"I know, I know!" Ria replied, still in Zariina mode. She walked over and grabbed a piece of paper and a pen. "I shouldn't have contradicted you in front of your grandmummy. I'm sorry, Nikolas."
Ria handed him the paper:
"She might still be listening! Check suddenly."
"That's all right." Nikolas walked over to the door quietly.
"So, I am forgiven?" Ria asked. Nikolas opened the door suddenly.
"Super. Now, where should we go for dinner?" Ria interrupted him, still in Zariina mode. She took the paper.
"The Outback? PC Grill, perhaps?" Nikolas replied as Ria handed him the paper.
"If she touched anything, there's probably a bug."
Nikolas walked over to the table and looked underneath it, instantly spotting the small silver bug. He pushed the table over.
"Zariina! Watch where you're going!" he cried, taking the bug and stepping on it.
"Anything else, Nikolas?" she replied, still in her English accent.
"She didn't touch anything else." Ria shook her head at him.
"What would you do without me, boy?" she asked in her normal voice.
Someone knocked at the door.
"Who is it?" Nikolas called.
"Lucky." Nikolas checked before opening the door.
"Hey, Nik. Listen, I-" Lucky caught sight of Ria. "Have we met?" Ria began to laugh. She reached up and pulled her fake nose off, revealing a strange patch of tanned skin in the middle of her pale face.
"You're real cute, Lucky, really." Ria laughed, putting the nose in her purse and taking out some makeup remover.
"Ria? What- Why- How?"
"Helena paid me a visit while Ria was here, so she ran into the bathroom. A few minutes later she comes out looking like that!" Nikolas explained.
"What can I say, it's a talent!" Ria replied.
"How did you do that? I didn't even recognize you!"
"Oh, you two have lived sheltered lives! Don't you people know how to disguise yourselves in five minutes? All you need is some makeup, colored contacts, and a fake nose." Ria counted off on her fingers.
"And an English accent, right Zariina Aikmen?"
"Right-o, Nikolas." Ria replied in her accent.
"Mrs. Cassadine, the bug has been destroyed."
"WHAT?! Already? Play back the recording starting when I left the room!" Helena yelled.
<>Zariina: I know, I know! I shouldn't have contradicted you in front of your grandmummy. I'm sorry, Nikolas.
<>Nikolas: That's all right.
<>Zariina: So, I am forgiven?
>door opens, closes<
<>Nikolas: Yes, Ri-
<>Zariina: Super. Now, where should we go for dinner?
<>Nikolas: The Outback? PC Grill, perhaps?
<>Nikolas: Zariina! Watch where you're going!
"Damn!" Helena whispered.
"Jason, it's Luke." Rinaldo announced.
"OK. What's up?" Jason asked as Luke came into the room.
"I need a favor. Do you have any spare guys floating around?"
"A couple. Who do you need to be watched?"
"Laura and Lucky. Something weird is going on and I don't want either one caught in the crossfire."
"Another Cassadine thing?"
"Probably. I'm not sure."
"OK. I'll stick Remi and Alec on Lucky and Cather and Mark on Laura."
"Wait, who's Cather? New guy?"
"Yeah." Jason glanced upstairs as he heard Michael begin to cry.
"Is that Michael?"
"Yeah, listen Luke, he's getting kind of upset, so I need to check on him."
"Sure. Thanks Jas- Man, that kid has a set of lungs on him!"
"All right, Zariina, you back to normal?" Lucky asked sarcastically.
"Oh, shut up." Ria replied. "Luke fell for it, hook, line, and sinker."
"Great. He demands a paternity test, though, right?" Lucky asked.
"Right, which we, of course, can change. Lucky, what's his next move going to be?" Nikolas asked.
"Hmm, knowing Dad's paranoia, he's probably going to ask Jason to put a couple of guards on me and a couple on Mom."
"What are we going to do about that?" Nikolas asked.
"I'll yell at him, try and get him to take them off. You know, pretend I spotted them." Something began to ring.
"Uh, Lucky, your backpack's ringing." Ria said.
Lucky grabbed the phone out of his backpack.
"Spencer.... Crap. OK, thanks, Emily. I'll be over in five minutes." Lucky hung up the phone.
"What did Emily want?" Nikolas asked.
"Ned's coming home. I've got to get out of the gatehouse. Uh, Nikolas-"
"You can stay here, don't worry." Nikolas replied.
"Thanks." Lucky grinned, running out the door.
"Sarah! What's wrong?" Elizabeth asked, coming into her sister's room to flaunt that she had flawlessly passed her driving test.
"Nikolas and I broke up!" Sarah cried.
"What? Why?" Elizabeth cried.
"He said his feelings changed! But I think it's another girl!"
"This girl he was hanging around with a lot. Ria something." Elizabeth turned around, trying to hide her laughter, remembering her promise to Lucky.
"Maybe he was telling the truth, Sarah. People's feelings do change."
"That's the truth, Lizzie. What did I ever see in him?"
"He's so snobby and arrogant. What possessed me to choose him over..." Sarah trailed off, a pensive look in her eyes.
A horrified look came onto Elizabeth's face. She knew where this was headed. She had to get away from Sarah.
"Uh, Sarah, I'm gonna take the car out. I-I have to run an errand."
"The keys are downstairs, Lizzie." Sarah replied, distracted.
Elizabeth raced downstairs, grabbed the keys, and was out the door in a matter of seconds.
"Hey Sarah. Is Elizabeth here?" Lucky asked when Sarah opened the door.
"No. She left a few minutes ago."
"Oh, thanks." Lucky started to leave.
"Can I talk to you?" Lucky checked his watch.
"Sure, I have a few minutes. What's up?"
"I think I made a mistake."
"Me? Sarah, what are you talking about?" Lucky asked. His eyes widened. "Listen, Sarah, can we talk about this some other time? I just remembered something I have to take care of."
"I- I'm not sure right now. I've really got to go. Bye."
Lucky hightailed it out of there.
Lucky walked all over Port Charles, looking for Elizabeth. It wasn't like her to stand him up like this. He was walking across the street from Luke's Club when he heard it.
The brakes screeching. The crunching sound. Lucky turned around quickly, although he felt as though he was in slow motion.
Then he saw it.
He knew that car. He realized that Audrey and Sarah were at home. That meant-
"Liz!" he whispered, wanting to shout. He raced over to the car. The other vehicle had sped away, leaving the Hardy car behind.
"What the hell?!" Lucky heard someone shout. Without turning around, Lucky shouted back.
"Dad, call an ambulance NOW!" He banged his fists on the glass of the drivers' side door. Elizabeth was lying unconscious on the seat. He tried the door. Locked.
Lucky sniffed the air. Gas. The car could explode at any moment.
"Oh, shit!" he cursed.
"Ambulance is on the way." Luke said, coming up next to his son.
"Go back into the club, Dad. Get me the first aid kit behind the bar." Luke ran back into the club.
Lucky gritted his teeth and punched the window open. He reached in and unlocked the door so he could open it.
He started working on Elizabeth's seat belt.
Luke raced inside, grabbing the first aid kit. He was glad that Lucky was talking to him again, but did it have to involve someone in a car accident?
Luke ran back outside.
Then the explosion came, the force knocking Luke to the ground.
Then everything was silent.
The crackling of the flames began a strange discord with the approaching sirens.
Chapters 21-25 | Return to Lifelike Main Page | Chapters 31-35