Always

Chapter 1

Robin gave her mother a cautious smile.

“Go on,” Anna said. “I’m fine.”

Robin saw the emotional glint in Anna’s eyes and she knew better, but she pretended not to notice. “Okay,” she said. “I’ll be back. I’m just going to get a cup of coffee.”

Anna nodded.

As Robin stood, her phone rang. She took a breath before answering. “Hi Dad,” she said, trying to sound upbeat.

“Hey Sweetheart!”

Anna could hear Robert’s voice booming over the line from where she lay.

“What’s up?” Robin asked.

“I’m headed to California for a conference tomorrow and I was hoping to stop by and see you and Patty Cake and that gorgeous granddaughter of mine.”

Robin moved toward the door. “Well, you’re welcome to stop by the house. Patrick and Emma will be there. But actually… I’m in Port Charles right now,” she said. She paused in the doorway and looked at her mother.

Anna could no longer make out Robert’s words, but she knew he would ask why Robin was there. She frowned and shook her head at her daughter.

“No. Just a quick visit with Mom,” Robin said, stepping out of the room.

“Is your mother with you now?” Robert asked. “I need to talk to her.”

Robin was silent for moment.

“Robin?”

“Uh, no,” Robin said as she closed the door to Anna’s room gently behind her. “I’m out right now. I’ll tell her you’re looking for her when I see her.”

“Okay, good. I have some new intel I think she’s going to be very interested in. Listen, I’ve gotta go, Sweetheart. I’m sorry I won’t get to see you.”

“Me too, Dad. We’ll figure out something soon, okay?”

“Okay. Bye, Baby.”

“Bye,” Robin said. She ended the connection and sighed heavily. She hated not being totally honest with her father about her reasons for being in Port Charles. She wondered if he’d bought her answer. Trying to hide anything from either of her parents was usually futile. She slipped her phone in her pocket and headed for a vending machine.

A minute later, Anna’s phone buzzed with a text. She picked it up off the bedside table and read.

  • Call me when you get a second. I have something I think you’ll want to know.

Anna knew she had to answer. Ignoring Robert for too long would only make him more persistent, or worse, suspicious. She texted back.

  • Can’t talk just now. Can you send it?

He answered.

  • We found another alias for Valentine Cassadine. I’m sending the file to you now.

Anna wiped her eyes. Two days ago, discovering Valentine’s history was the only thing she’d cared about. Now, suddenly it seemed almost insignificant.

She sent back a simple answer.

  • Thank you.
  • See, you should be nicer to me. Even if I am your ex-husband.

He ended the text with a winking face, but it still made her regret her comment. He was so much more than just her ex-husband. They both knew it. But to think that was the last thing she’d said to him… She felt obligated to respond.

  • I’m sorry about that.

 

* * *

In his office at WSB headquarters Robert looked at the text. He shook his head and smiled as he read it. “Of course, you’re sorry now,” he said aloud. He leaned back in his chair and watched the status bar as the file on his laptop sent. When it was finished, he went back to the other messages in his inbox. A few minutes later, he got another text from Anna.

  • You know I love you, right?
  • Of course, you do.

Robert chuckled as he hit send.

  • I mean it, Robert.
  • Always

Robert stared at the last two messaged on his screen. He couldn’t explain it, but they made him slightly uneasy.  He had to ask.

  • Is everything ok, love?

He waited, but got no answer. He dialed her number, but his call went straight to voicemail. He reminded himself that she’d already said she couldn’t talk. It was probably nothing to worry about. But his gut told him differently.

He picked up the receiver of the office phone and keyed in an extension. “Yeah, McNevin, do me a favor. Run a detailed location report on Agent Devane’s cell, will you? I want to know her exact whereabouts over the last forty-eight hours. Right away. Thank you.” He hung up and sat back in his chair again, pensive this time.

A few minutes later there was a knock at the door. The door opened slowly and Frisco Jones poked his head in. “I hope I’m not interrupting,” Frisco said.

“Not at all,” Robert said. “Come on in.”

Frisco took a seat in the leather chair that faced Robert’s desk. He slapped a paper file down on the desk.

“What’s this,” Robert asked as he picked it up.

“It’s the stuff you asked for from archive.”

“I didn’t expect you to dig it up yourself.”

“But you might be glad I did. Wait until you see what’s in there. It should be highly classified.

Robert raised an eyebrow. He’d just opened the folder when the notification from McNevin popped up on his laptop.  Without a word, he closed the folder and set it aside.

“Robert,” Frisco protested, “Aren’t you even gonna look at it?”

“In a minute,” Robert said. “I just need to verify something.” He clicked on McNevin’s report.

Frisco watched Robert’s face take on a concerned expression. “What is it?” he asked.

Robert studied the data on his screen. Anna’s phone hadn’t moved from General Hospital in almost two days. “Frisco,” he said, “How do you feel about taking my place at the meeting in L.A.?”

“What? Why?”

“Something’s come up.”

“Robert, I thought you said it was imperative for you to be there to show the other agencies who was in charge.”

“I did say that.”

“Right. So, what else could possibly be so important?”

“Anna.”

Frisco opened his mouth to speak again, but Robert was already on the phone with his secretary.

“Louise, there’s been a change of plans. We’re sending Jones to Los Angeles. I need the first available flight to Port Charles.”

Chapter 2

Eighteen hours later Robert landed in Port Charles. The cab ride from the airport to General Hospital seemed to last forever as his mind raced, inventing scenarios. He had considered asking Anna or Robin outright, but he knew if he stood a chance of getting the whole truth out of either one of them he’d have to do it face to face.

He stepped off the elevator and spotted Robin at the nurse’s station with a young dark-haired doctor.

“Dad?”

“Hi, Baby!” Robert said. He dropped his duffel bag at his feet and held his arms open wide.

Robin rushed into them. “Daddy, I’m so glad you’re here,” she gushed.

Robert felt the tension in her grip and instinctively began to sway her gently to calm her. “Me too, sweetheart,” he whispered.

After a moment, Robing pulled away and wiped her eyes. “How did you know?”

Robert just smiled at her and she realized the ridiculousness of her question. She turned to the doctor standing next to her. “Griffin, meet my father the spy.”

Robert reached out his hand. “Robert Scorpio,” he said.

“Doctor Griffin Munro,” Griffin said, following suit.

Robin jumped in. “Griffin is—”

“Lavery’s son. I know,” Robert said, trying to disguise his unwarranted skepticism. “Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Griffin said. “I’ve certainly heard a lot about you.”

“So,” Robert said, getting back to the matter at hand, “what’s going on with your mum?”

At that, Robin seemed to snap out of concerned daughter mode and into doctor mode. She went on to explain Anna’s condition, a rare type of blood cancer, with a lot of fancy terms, letters, and percentages. Dr. Munro threw in information on symptoms and treatment. Robert listened carefully, waiting for the two doctors to finish, then excused himself, picked up his bag, and headed for Anna’s room.

* * *

Anna turned over in bed at the sound of the door opening, expecting to see Robin or another doctor coming to poke and prod her again. Instead, there he was. He looked a bit older and a bit grayer than the last time she’d seen him. But his smile was as broad and bright as ever.

“Robert? What the hell are you doing here?” she said.

“Nice to see you too, sweetheart,” Robert said with his usual brand of charm and sarcasm. He dropped his bag next to the door and approached. He expected a sharp retort, but got nothing. She only stared at him, obviously suppressing emotion. He sat on the edge of the bed and reached for her hand. “How are you?” he asked.

She forced a smile and pulled her hand away, for fear that even the slightest touch would break her down. “I’m fine, really. How did you know I was here?”

“I have my ways,” he said.

“Of course you do.” She rolled her eyes.

“You can’t keep a secret from me. You never could,” he said.

She rolled her eyes again, this time with exaggerated agitation.

He reached for her hand again.

This time she didn’t pull her hand away, but turned her head, aware that if she looked directly at him for any length of time her eyes would give her away.

“You didn’t need to come all the way here, Robert,” she said. “I’m going to be fine.”

Robert rubbed the back of her hand gently with his thumb “I spoke with Robin and Griffin,” he said.

She nodded, and looked down, picking at a loose thread on her blanket. “So, you’re aware of my… diagnosis,” she said. She swallowed hard as she said the last word.

“Anna,” he whispered.

She peaked up at him and the softness in his face tugged at her heart. If anyone knew what she was going through right now, it was him. She pressed her lips together, her moistened eyes doing all the talking.

Robert waited only long enough for the first tear to fall before he pulled her to him.

Anna was startled by speed and force with which he enveloped her in his arms, but she soon settled into the embrace and allowed Robert’s presence to comfort her. He felt strong, safe, familiar. He felt like home. For the first time since being admitted, she allowed the walls she’d erected to crumble. In the security of his arms, she allowed herself an ugly, tearful, gut-wrenching release.

When it was over, Anna sat back and looked at Robert.

“How do you feel now,” he asked. as he  wiped a lingering tear from her cheek.

She gave a small nod before falling against the pillow with a cleansing sigh. “Better, actually.”

“Good,” he smiled.

“I still can’t believe you’re here.”

“Where else would I be?”

“I don’t know. Geneva. Los Angeles. Burma!”

He stood and went for the nearby chair. He pulled it over to the head of the bed and sat. “Hey, when I was the one in that bed, you flew half way around the world to be with me. Why would this be any different?”

“I came because Robin asked me too,” she reminded him.

She said it to negate his importance to her, but he knew better.

“You’re the head of a major organization, Robert. I have a hard enough time getting five minutes with you on the phone.”

“Anna…” he leaned in and took hold of both of her hands again. He folded his around them and held them as if in prayer. “You’re the mother of my only child—”

“That you know of,” she interjected.

“Ha! Okay, yes. But apart from that… with everything that we’ve been through, you’re the one person in the world who really understands what I do and why I do it.” He saw her eyes starting to tear up again, so he threw on a wicked grin and added, “And, you’re my absolute favorite partner in crime.”

She couldn’t help but laugh. She could tell by his tone he was eluding to more than just their professional relationship.

“We’re kindred spirits, you and I,” he went on. “I know what you’re going through, and I want to be here to help you through it.”

“Until something more important takes you away,” she said.

He said nothing at first, but reached up and placed a hand lovingly on her cheek. Then he stood and placed a single kiss on her forehead. “There is nothing more important than you, Anna Devane.”

Chapter 3

Anna watched Robert pace around the room. His face crinkled as he read the messages on his phone.  “What is it?” she asked.

Robert finished typing a response and slipped the phone into his pocket. “Never mind. Doesn’t matter,” he said.

“Robert…” she moaned.

“Anna…” he said, mimicking her tone.

“Is it the bureau?”

“You don’t need to be worrying about work right now.”

“What else have I got to do?”

“Focus on your recovery?”

Anna rolled her eyes.

“You need to rest if you’re gonna get your strength back,” Robert cautioned.

“I’m not asking you to take me on a mission, Robert. I’m just asking you what the email was about.”

“It was Frisco, all right?”

“Is he upset with you for sending him to the conference?”

Robert didn’t answer.

“You should have gone, Robert. You shouldn’t have come here.”

“Anna, enough. It’s not about the conference. He wanted to know if I’d had time to go through the file he gave me.”

“Did you?”

“I took a look at it on the plane.”

“What was it about?”

He sat next to her. “I don’t want you worrying your pretty little head about it.”

She swatted him and scowled. “Don’t do that, Robert!”

“Don’t do what?”

“Talk to me like I’m some helpless woman who needs to be protected.”

Robert saw the fire burning in her eyes and he knew he’d struck a nerve. But there was bigger reason for her upset. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“Was the file about Valentin?”

“I mean do you want to talk about what’s really bothering you?”

“Arrgghh. Robert!”

“Anna, we both know that I would never describe you as helpless. That’s not what you’re upset about. You’re upset because you feel helpless. I know. I remember that feeling.”

She rolled her eyes again and looked away.

“Anna, talk to me.”

She ran her hands through her hair and sighed. “You’re right.”

“Could you say that again,” he teased.

She swatted him again.

“Sorry,” he laughed. “Go on.”

She pulled her knees up and folded her arms around them. “It’s just frustrating, that’s all. I’m lucky, really. I know I am. I can live with it. It won’t kill me.”

“But?”

“Look at me, Robert. I’m supposed to be a special agent for the WSB.” She stopped to wipe a tear away.

“And an agent’s idea of a full life isn’t the same as most people’s, is it?”

She shook her head. “Robin is so brave and strong, living with her limitations. She is. And I feel so self-absorbed and selfish talking to her, but…” The tears were flowing in full force again. “A few days ago I was fine and now… Now the doctors are telling me I need to stop working because it’s too dangerous. They want me to give up everything I’ve ever known and I don’t know how to do that. I mean, what am I supposed to do, Robert? Take a desk job? That’s not me. I don’t know who I am without a badge and a gun, you know?”

“I do,” Robert whispered. He resituated himself so he was lying next to her and took her into his arms. She rested her head on his shoulder. After a few minutes, he spoke again. “Take away the title and you’re still the strongest, most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen with one of the most brilliant minds I’ve ever known.”

“It’ll do you no good to butter me up now, Robert.”

Robert laughed. “I’m not. I mean it, Anna. That’s why I love having you on my team. And just because you might not be able to go into the field again—because you can’t risk getting shot at—it doesn’t mean you’re not an asset to the me or the bureau. I mean, I not runnin’ around chasin’ bad guys with a gun in my hand every day anymore either, am I?”

“But you can pull your weapon if you need to.”

“Yeah, but I’m not gettin’ any younger or faster, am I? I don’t go lookin’ for trouble these days.”

“It’s different.”

“How?”

“It just is.”

“Anna, look, you can still work a case. You’re an expert investigator, a brilliant researcher, a great strategist. You can still be in on the action, sweetheart. You just have to stay out of the line of fire. We can find a way to make it work.”

“You really think so?”

“Of course I do. Come on, if there’s one thing you and I know, it’s how to handle unexpected situations. We’ve faced a million challenges and we’ve managed to come out on top. We can deal with this.” He gave her a gentle squeeze and a reassuring smile. “Together,” he added.

She scooted down and slid her arms around him to hug him, her head on his chest. “Thank you,” she whispered, as she listened to his heart.

“Anytime,” he said, smoothing her hair away from her face.

“I do love you, Robert Scorpio.”

“And I love you, Anna Devane.”

Sorry I was gone so long,” Robin said, peaking into Anna’s room. She’d expected to find her parents bickering at each other as usual. What she found was quite the opposite.

Robert was in bed with Anna, holding her as she slept. Robin watched him stroke her hair and kiss her on the top of the head. Anna’s lips curled up in gentle smile, even in her sleep. Robin hadn’t seen her look so peaceful since she’d been diagnosed. Come to think of it, she hadn’t seen her look so peaceful in years. She had a momentary flashback to sneaking into her parents’ bedroom to wake them one morning when they were all living in the old Weber house, before her mother had been kidnapped. Before her teenage life fell apart. Robin smiled at the memory and closed the door without a word. She wiped a tear from her cheek.

“Hey, Robin,” Griffin said, coming up behind her.

Robin jumped, startled.

“Is everything okay?”

Robin took a cleansing breath.“Actually, everything is fine,” she said.

“You look tired.”

“What I am is hungry. I think I’ll go down to the cafeteria and get something to eat. Would you care to join me?”

Griffin looked at his watch. “I can do that. Just let me check on Anna first.”

Robin took Griffin by the arm and led him away. “I don’t think we need to worry about my mom. I think she has everything she needs right now.”

Chapter 4

Anna stuffed her cosmetic case into her overnight bag and zipped the top. She set the bag at the foot of the bed and moved on to the nightstand. She picked up her glasses and phone and tucked them into her purse, then opened the drawer and took out her badge and opened it. She stood staring at it for a moment, still wondering exactly how she was going to find her new normal.

“Anna?” Robert said. He put his arms around her from behind and rested his chin on her shoulder.

She jumped. “Oh, Robert! You startled me,” she said, leaning into him.

“Sorry. You were ah… deep in thought,” he said. He didn’t need to ask why.

“Yeah,” she said, breaking free of his hold and tossing the I.D. onto the bed. She sat on the edge of the bed as she gathered a few more items and stowed them in the purse.

“Are you ready?” Robert asked when she was finished.

She rubbed her hands on her thighs and sighed. “I guess so.”

He took her by the hands and pulled her to her feet and into his arms. “It’s gonna be okay, love,” he whispered as he hugged her.

She returned the hug, exhaling slowly as she clung to him. “Tell me that again,” she said with a slight chuckle.

The hint of fear in her voice would not have been evident to anyone else, but he heard it. He could feel it in her touch. Dealing with a diagnosis in the hospital was one thing, but living with cancer in the real world was a completely different story. He leaned away to look at her and took her face in his hands. He looked deep into her eyes. “Listen to me, Anna. It’s gonna be okay.”

She nodded, but kept her lips pressed tightly.

“We’ll figure it out,” he reassured her. “Together. Remember?”

She nodded again. “Okay.”

“That’s my girl,” he said with a grin so wide it made her smile. He kissed her on the cheek and picked up her bag. “Come on. Let’s get out of here.”

* * *

Later that evening, Anna sat in on the Skype session while Frisco filled Robert in on his trip to Los Angeles.  She and Robert theorized for quite some time about the situation with Valentin and the new evidence regarding the resurrection of Olivia Jerome. They made no plan of attack just yet, but the bureau banter was encouraging, none the less. Afterward, Anna made a pot of tea which she and Robert shared in front of the fire. And as they chatted about Robin and Patrick and Emma and the new baby, Anna found herself feeling almost normal. She realized she hadn’t thought about cancer in several hours. A new record.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Robert said.

Anna looked up and smiled at him. She put her tea cup down, then leaned back on the sofa next to him.  She snuggled up next to him and reached for his hand. “I was just thinking… how good it feels to be home. And… how nice it is to have you here.”

“Aw golly, Anna,” Robert said in his goofiest voice.

“I mean it, Robert. You and Robin really have been the best medicine.”

“I’m glad it helps,” he said, squeezing her hand.

“It does help,” she said. “And I want to thank you, too. For volunteering to stay here with me so that Robin could go back and present her research. You really didn’t have to do that.”

“I took one for the team,” he said with a laugh.

“Watch it,” Anna teased, giving him the eye.

“But I was happy to do it,” Robert added. “For Robin. For you.”

She smiled again. “Do you know what you are, Robert?”

“No, but I bet you’re gonna tell me.”

“Ha! I am. You’re obnoxious. You’re full of yourself. You’re a know-it-all.”

He frowned. “Anna, if you’re trying to flatter me…”

“You didn’t let me finish,” she said. “You make me crazy, you know that?” She paused, expecting him to interrupt again. “But you were… you are… just the what I needed to get through this.”

He turned sideways so that he was facing her. “I’ve always got your back, kid,” he said.

“I know you do,” she said. “And I love you for it. I love you so much.”

He lovingly caressed her cheek.

The touch of his hand on her skin was warm and familiar. It was safe and comforting as always, but this time, to her surprise, it sent the slightest tingle through her body. His lips brushed her forehead in what she knew was meant to be a platonic gesture, but it too stirred things within her.  She sat up abruptly and cleared her throat. She grabbed for her tea cup and took a sip.

“You all right?” Robert asked.

“Fine. I’m fine,” she said. “It is getting late, though. I should get this stuff cleaned up.” She stood and bent to pick up the tea tray.

“You’ve done enough for one day. Let me take care of it.”

“I’m not frail, Robert. I have to start doing things for myself. Robin is gone and sooner or later you’ll be gone too.”

“You keep saying that.”

“Because it’s true.”

“What if it’s not?”

“Robert…” she rolled her eyes at him.

“I’m serious. What if I don’t leave?”

Anna looked confused.

Robert took the tray out of her hands. “Sit down,” he said.

Anna’s stomach did a strange flip, but she sat back down and forced a calm visage.

“We’ve been through a lot together, haven’t we?”

“Yes, we have.”

“We’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve had our share of problems. We’ve had more than our fair share of arguments.”

“Ha! Because you’re pig-headed,” Anna said, regaining her wits.

“Me? You’re the most stubborn person I know,” Robert said.

“I prefer to think of it as strong-willed,” she said.

“You always have to have the last word, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Would you let me…”

“Go on.”

“Thank you,” he said.

“You’re welcome.”

He shook his head and laughed. “See! You just proved my point.”

“Are you sure you have one?”

“Have what?”

“A point?”

“That you always have the last word.”

“I mean other than that.”

“Oh. Right. My point is… We’ve been through a lot. We’ve spent more years apart than we have together. We’ve had other spouses, other lovers. But when the chips are down, it always comes back to you and me.”

“Robert…”

“Anna… I’ve been thinking a lot. About us. About the beach and the mai tais.”

“Oh, my God. Robert…” Anna covered her face with her hands.

“Anna, I can’t help but wonder how many more chances we’re gonna get to make this work. You told me before I left for Bern that you weren’t willing to wait anymore. You were ready to try again. And like an idiot, I walked away.”

“You were an idiot.”

“Yeah. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve kicked myself for that.”

“Robert what are you saying?”

“I’m saying… I’m saying…”

“Spit it out, Robert.”

“I’m saying that I love you, Anna. I can’t make any promises and I know you can’t either. All I know is that I don’t want to walk away this time. So, what do you say?”

She shook her head at him, her lower lip caught in her teeth.

“Look, I know we’ll have to go slow. We’ll have to take things one day at a time, but—”

“Robert, I—”

“I know this is sudden. I know it’s a little scary. But just think about it, will you?”

“No.” She shook her head again. “I don’t want to think about it,” she said.

“You don’t?” he said. His heart sank.

“No. You wanna know what I think?” She stood slowly and began to pace. “I think you’re crazy for wanting to go down that road again.”

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said, following her.

“I think we’d both be insane!” She stopped moving and turned to gaze into his crystal blue eyes. “And you know what else I think?”

“I’m afraid to ask.”

“I think I want you to kiss me.”

“Really?” he said, his eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas.

“Really,” she said.

Without another word, he swept her into his arms and kissed her long and hard. Her muscles tensed, her knees went weak, and Robert had to tighten his grip to keep her on her feet.

“Are you okay?” he asked, all at once nervous, given her circumstances.

“Yes!” Anna laughed, thankful that, for the moment, her dizziness and shortness of breath had absolutely nothing to do with Polycythemia Vera.

Chapter 5

The doorbell rang twice before Anna was able to get to the door.  “Robin!”

“Surprise! I’m back!” Robin said.

“Oh, sweetheart.” Anna pulled her into her arms and hugged her. “It’s good to see you. I wasn’t expecting you back so soon.”

“It’s good to see you too. How are you?” Robin said, stepping back to look at her.

“I’m ah… I’m fine,” Anna said. She averted her eyes as she stuffed her hands into the pockets of her robe.

“Are you sure? You look a little flushed.”

Anna patted her cheeks. “I’m sure it’s just because I was rushing down the stairs.”

Robin consulted her watch. It read five p.m. “It’s early. Were you sleeping?”

“Ah, I was in bed. Yes.”

“Where’s dad? You could have let him answer the door.”

“Oh. I would have, but he was… busy.”

“Doing what?”

“Working,” Anna said, lacking conviction.

Robin sighed. “I should have known! Mom, he promised he was going to take care of you.”

“Robin, he was. He is. No. Your father is taking very good care of me. Trust me.”

“Fine. If you say so. Have you had your second phlebotomy?”

“Yesterday,” Anna said, guiding Robin into the living room with an arm around her shoulder. “You should sit. You must be tired after your long trip. Just look at you!” Anna cooed, touching Robin’s belly.

“I’m okay.”

“Why don’t you put your feet up. Can I get you a glass of water or a cup of tea? Something to eat?”

“Water would be great.”

“Okay. I’ll get your water and then I’ll run up and get dressed.”

“You don’t have to run,” Robin laughed. “I’ve seen you in your robe before.”

“Yeah, well, still…” Anna said. She backed out of the room as Robin settled onto the sofa and closed the doors to the parlor behind her.

“Anna,” Robert’s voice came booming down the stairs.

Anna waved her hands around and shushed him, gesturing for him to follow her into the kitchen.

“I thought you were going to get rid of whoever was at the door,” Robert said, his hands greedily reaching for Anna.

“I couldn’t. It was Robin.”

“Oh, that’s nice! I’ll go and say hello, in a minute,” he said, his hands on Anna’s hips.

“Not like that, I hope.” Anna eyed his attire. “Robert, seriously?” She pushed him away and went to fill a glass with water.

“She’s a big girl, Anna. She’ll understand,” he said, approaching again.

“How could she, Robert? I’m not even sure I understand what’s going on here.”

“Maybe I should show you again, then,” Robert said, his body pressing hers up against the counter.

“Robert…” she breathed.

“Anna,” he whispered lustfully before his mouth took hers in fervent kiss.

The sound of her father’s voice had not escaped Robin, of course. Curious as to what was keeping her parents in the kitchen, she was already debating going to find them. A moment later she heard a loud bang followed by a low whimper and her mother calling  her father’s name. “Oh, no.” Robin pulled herself off the sofa and hurried down the hall. “Mom? What’s wrong? Dad, where are you?”

The moment she rounded the corner into the kitchen she realized that the cry she’d heard was not one of distress. In fact, it was quite the opposite. “Oh, my God!” Robin said, flabbergasted.

“Robin!” Anna screamed, swatting Robert away and sliding off the counter.

“Oh, hey sweetheart,” Robert said, grinning. He stepped in front of Anna to give her cover as she retied her robe.

“What the hell is going on?” Robin asked.

“Look ah… your mum and I were… ah…”

“Never mind, Dad. I can see what you were doing. I guess Mom wasn’t kidding when she said you were taking good care of her.”

“Robin!” Anna said with a frown.

“Mom, what does this mean? Are you two…  sleeping together?”

Robert looked at Anna. “Well, technically I still have my own room,” he chuckled.

“Dad, you know what I mean.” She looked to her mother. “Mom, are you together again?”

Anna shrugged. “It’s complicated.”

“How complicated?”

“I don’t know, Robin. We’re just taking things one day a time. That’s all.”

“And having a little fun along the way,” Robert added.

“Dad!”

“What? There’s nothing wrong with that sweetheart. Your mum and I are both adults.”

“Yes, we are,” Anna said, now ushering the two of them toward the door. “But maybe we could continue this conversation after we’ve had the chance to change into something a little more suitable.”

“Yeah. Sounds good. My retinas have sustained enough damage for one day,” Robin said. She shook her head. “I’ll meet you back in the living room.

Anna gave Robert the side eye and shoved him as Robin walked out of the room.

Robert acted wounded and feigned innocence as usual.

Robert and Anna were under fire for a good forty minutes before Robin finally moved on to another topic of conversation. She then proceeded to enlighten them about her plans to throw a party for Griffin. She said she really wanted to make him feel welcome in Port Charles, like he was one of the family. And she couldn’t think of a better way to do it than to host a huge surprise party for his birthday that summer. She gave Emma most of the credit for the idea, but said she and Patrick had discussed it and were now enlisting her mother’s help to pull it off. “Dad, you can help too, assuming you’re still in town,” Robin said as she headed out the door to visit Jason, Sam, and the baby.

Anna closed the door behind Robin and gave Robert a forced smile.

“What’s wrong, love?” Robert asked.

“Nothing,” Anna said. “Why would anything be wrong?”

“Come on, Anna. I know that look. Robin struck a nerve just now. What was it?”

“Nothing,” Anna said again, brushing past him.

He followed her into the living room. “Anna?”

She sat on the sofa, her hands resting on her thighs and looked up at him. “If you’re still in town,” she said, repeating Robin’s words.

“Oh,” Robert said. He sat down next to her. “Look, Anna, we both know I’m going to have to leave town at some point. That’s business. You know that. But that doesn’t mean that I’m leaving you.”

“Do you promise?”

“I thought we said we weren’t making any promises.”

“I know we did, but… I’m asking for one now.”

Robert looked concerned.

“A lot has happened in the last few of weeks, Robert. And I’ve finally come to realize something. Or maybe I’m just finally ready to admit it. Anyway…” She licked her lips before continuing. “I need you in my life, Robert. I don’t want to lose you again.”

“My Anna,” he said shaking his head. “I don’t want to lose you either.” He kissed her again, this time a series of slow, gentle kisses, broken up by his quiet proclamations: “I need you. I want you. I love you, Anna Devane.” When he felt the smile return to her lips, he sat back to look at her. “Better?” he said.

“Better,” she said.

“Good,” he said. He sat back against the sofa and opened his arms, inviting her to snuggle into them.

She laid her head on his chest. “It’s a nice idea, though—giving Griffin a party, isn’t it?”

Robert sighed. “I guess so.”

“What?” she said, raising her head to look at him.

“What? It’s nice,” he said.

“But?” she said.

He hesitated.

“Robert?”

“But what do we really know about his guy? I mean, how do we know he’s really Lavery’s?”

“We have the results of a DNA test, Robert. What more proof do you need?”

“I don’t know,” Robert said. “Something about the whole situation just doesn’t sit well with me.”

“You know what your problem is, Robert? You’re too cynical.”

“I’m cautious, Anna. There’s a difference.”

“You’re exasperating.”

“But you love me!” he said with a grin.

“I do,” she laughed. She kissed him and settled on his chest again until his cell phone rang and he had to sit up to answer.

“I have to go to New York tomorrow,” he said when he’d hung up. “Just for the day.”

“Okay,” she said.

She was trying not to sound disappointed, but he saw through her act. He thought for a moment, then said, “Come with me.”

“Really?”

“Sure. Why not? We can spend the day at the New York office, then have dinner in the city.”

She smiled widely. “That sounds perfect.”

“Then it’s settled. We’ll leave on the seven a.m. flight,” he said as he stood.

“Where are you going now?”

“To the drugstore. I’m going to need to shave in the morning,” he said, “and I’m all out of razor blades.

“No wonder you’re so scruffy,” she chuckled.

“Yeah,” he said rubbing his chin. “Must be something about this place,” he said. “It happened the last time I was here too.”

She followed him to the door and helped him on with his jacket. “What did?”

“When I was here during the whole Hornsby debacle, I ran out of razor blades that time too. I had to use the razor I found in your bathroom.”

“You did?”

“Mmm hmm. It was a fancy one.”

“The one I bought for Duke?” she said, her face suddenly taking on a very serious expression.

“I’m sorry,” Robert said. “I should have thought about that.”

Anna made herself smile again. “No, it’s all right. Duke thought it was a silly gift anyway,” she said, dismissing it.

Robert regarded her for a moment. Her lips curled up, the smile didn’t reach her eyes. Her eyes were dark and thoughtful. “Are you sure you’re all right?”

“Of course, I am. Go,” she said. She shooed him toward the door.

“Do you need anything while I’m out?”

“You know what? There is something you can get for me.”

“Yeah? What?”

“Stop at Kelly’s and pick up some cheese fries, will you?”

“Anything for you, my darling,” he said. He gave her one more quick kiss before leaving.

She closed the door behind him and fell against it, her mouth agape, her eyes searching for a focal point. She slowly made her way into the living room and sat behind her desk. When the room finally stopped spinning and she’d had a chance to regroup, she took a deep breath and picked up her phone. “Griffin,” she said, “Hi. It’s Anna. Yes, I’m doing just fine. No. I’m fine, really. But there is something you could help me with. I wonder if I could have another look at the letter you showed me—the one from your mother?”

Chapter 6

One day at the New York office turned into a four-day trip out of the country for Robert. For Anna, the days passed quickly, filled with research and visits with Robin. The nights, on the other hand, were long and marked with fitful sleep. Her mind raced with too many questions she didn’t have answers to. She was still at her desk, avoiding going to bed when Robert finally got home.

Anna looked up from her laptop the moment she heard his key in the lock.

A moment later, Robert peaked his head around the corner. “Miss me?” he said with a grin.

“Hi,” she said, taking off her glasses. “How was Dubai?”

“Fine. But I’m exhausted. I think I’m gettin’ too old for this spy stuff.”

“Ha! Getting?

“Not funny, Devane.” He took her hands and pulled her out of the chair, giving her a once over in her silk pajamas. “I missed you,” he said. I’m amazed at how quickly I got used to having you next to me at night. Speaking of which… why don’t we go on upstairs?” He leaned in for a kiss, but found her lips were nowhere near as eager as his.  She seemed distracted.

Despite his best efforts to interest her, she pulled away. “I thought you were exhausted?” she said.

“What can I say? You energize me, my dear.”

“Hmm. I’m gonna make some tea. Would you like some?”

“If that’s the best I’m gonna get,” he said. He followed her into the kitchen and stood while she put on the kettle. “So, what did I miss?”

Anna sighed. “Oh, well, let’s see. Valentin Cassadine was here.”

“What the hell for?”

“He said he wanted to call a truce.”

“What did you tell him?”

“I told him to give me the answers I was looking for and I would be more than happy to oblige.”

“And?”

“And he said that if I didn’t drop the issue, he would remove me from the situation.”

“That bastard. I’ll kill him myself.”

“Relax. You won’t have to.”

“You’re sure about that?”

“Yes. He’s not gonna do anything to hurt me, is he? If he wanted me dead, he could have left me lying on the floor when he found me. Instead he took me to the hospital.”

Robert grunted. “I still don’t like it.”

“I don’t either. I just wish I could remember something, you know? Did you ever have any luck with the alias that you found?”

“No. We did follow up, but it was a dead end. Sorry.”

She shrugged and busied herself with finishing the tea. “At least I managed to convince our daughter that I would be able to survive on my own until you got home so that she could go back to her family.”

“Did she?”

Anna nodded. “This morning.”

“So, you’re saying we’re alone again?” he said slyly.

“Robert, you really do have a one-track mind, don’t you?”

“Well, you have that effect on me.” He patted her behind as she passed him with the tea tray.

Not long after they’d settled down on the sofa with their cups, Anna’s computer dinged with an incoming message. She was up and moving immediately.

Robert watched her cross the room, admiring the view, delighting in the fact that there was nothing under that thin layer of silk.

Anna sat down at the desk and put her glasses on. After a few clicks, her face grew serious. She caught her lip in her teeth as she stared at the screen.

“What is it?” he asked.

She didn’t acknowledge him.

“Anna?”

Still no response. She sat back in her chair, her eyes still fixed on whatever she’d been reading.

“Anna?” he said again. “What is it, love?”

She slowly looked up and took her glasses off again. She rose from her chair and approached him with a small envelope in her hand. As she sat next to him again, he noticed the emotional shimmer in her eyes. “I’ve been thinking a lot about the situation with Griffin.”

“What about it?”

“About what you said, that something just didn’t seem right. I didn’t agree with you at first. I didn’t want to. But…” She swallowed hard and handed him the envelope.

“What’s this?”

“It’s the letter. From Griffin’s mother. The one he said he received after she died.”

Robert opened the letter and read it.

“The first time I read it, I think I just wanted to believe so badly that I didn’t realize, there isn’t a single piece of proof, not one actual fact in the whole thing. It’s all circumstantial.”

“Are you saying you don’t think it’s legitimate?”

“I don’t know, Robert. She talks about Duke’s life before he met me, but there are no places, no dates, nothing to pin anything down or link anything together except for the one mention of Port Charles.”

Her voice was laced with doubt and confusion. But Robert sensed the underlying frustration, too. “Anna, don’t be too hard on yourself,” he said, reaching for her hand.

“There’s more,” she said. She jerked her hand away and ran it through her hair. “I ran a check on Margaret Munro. I don’t know why I didn’t do it before. I guess I was just foolishly hopeful. Anyway, there is no record of any Margaret Munro ever having traveled to New York any time during the time Duke and I were together. In fact, the Margaret Munro who best fits Griffin’s description of his mother didn’t surface in the town where they lived until much later. Neither did Griffin.”

“What?”

“There’s no record of either of them until after you and I were presumed dead. I haven’t figured it all out yet, but he wasn’t born until after Duke was gone. Until after he would have been in that Turkish prison.”

Robert opened his mouth to say something, but she pushed on.

“I never even asked him his exact age, Robert. I don’t know how I could have been so blind. Then again, I don’t know what anyone would stand to gain by tricking me into believing that he was Duke’s son.”

“Tricking you? But you did a DNA test.”

“Yeah. I did. But it was wrong.”

“How?”

She pressed her lips together and looked in his eyes. “The sample I used for the test was from Duke’s razor.”

His eyes narrowed.

She nodded. “The razor that you were the last person to use. I didn’t know that until the other night.”

“Hold on, Anna. You don’t know for a fact that the results were inaccurate. It might have been—”

“No. You see, I do know. Because today… today I took a sample of your DNA. I took your toothbrush. And I asked Dante to run that sample and compare it with the results of the first test just to be sure.”

“And what was the verdict?” Robert asked, though he was suddenly fearful of the response.

“That was the file that I just received. I didn’t tell Dante who the sample was from or why I wanted it. But according to his report, the second sample was a perfect match for the one they used the first time.”

“Anna…” Robert shifted in his seat and fixed his eyes on the floor, contemplating her words.

“I don’t know how, Robert. I can’t explain it. But you were right all along.” She paused, swallowed again, and wiped her eyes. Still, one tear clung to her cheek as she forced herself to say the words. “Duke is not Griffin’s father.”

He looked at her and shook his head. “Anna….”

Her eyes were filled with a thousand questions as she said the words again. “Duke is not Griffin’s father. But you are.”

Chapter 7

“It’s funny,” Anna said, “I kept thinking there was something so familiar about Griffin, you know? I thought it was because of Duke. As it turns out, I had the wrong husband in mind.”

Ordinarily, Robert would have made a snarky comment about the fact that she had too many husbands to keep track off. But given the circumstances, even he had enough sense to let that one go. “Anna… Are you absolutely sure about this?”

“See for yourself, Robert.” She handed him her laptop and he scrolled through the report. “Your name isn’t on the report because the lab thinks the sample belonged to Duke, but now you and I know differently, don’t we? You are Griffin’s father. Which just begs one more question. Who is his mother?”

Robert closed each tab one by one and watched the files disappear. Then he shut down the computer and set it aside.

“What are you doing?” Anna asked.

“No more research tonight, love.” He took both of her hands in his. “We need to talk.”

“There’s no need to look so grim, Robert. I’m not naïve. I always knew there was a chance that Robin wasn’t your only child. I mean, I’m a little surprised at how quickly you must have moved on after I was out of the picture, but…”

She’d been trying to maintain her tough exterior, but he could see it starting to crumble. “It’s not what you think, Anna.”

“Who was she, Robert? Hmm?  Was Margret Munro just an alias? Was she someone we knew?”

“Anna…”

“Did you know about him? That there was a child, I mean?”

“Anna, stop.”

“I know. It’s probably not fair of me to ask. We haven’t been together in decades. It’s hardly fair of me to demand an explanation, is it? I guess I just always thought that with Robin, you and I had something special, something that no one else shared.”

He took her face in his hands and wiped the tears from her cheeks with his thumbs. “Sweetheart, can you please stop talking long enough for me to answer you?”

She stopped as requested and bit her lip.

“First of all, Robin is something special. Even if there were another woman, she would still be something special. Don’t ever question that. And my love for you is just as special. My love for you runs deeper than anything I’ve ever felt for any other woman. None of them could hold a candle to you, Anna Devane.”

“What about Holly? Our marriage didn’t even count because of her.”

“That’s not true.”

“Isn’t it?”

He shook his head. “I served her with divorce papers. Did you know that? I had them drawn up before I left to find you. I chose you, Anna. I wanted to be with you. I loved you. You said you read the letter that I wrote to Robin.”

She nodded. “That letter was what gave me back my memories of you.”

“I meant every word in that letter. I never intended for things to end the way they did. I wanted the happily-ever-after that we never got.”

“But it never happened.”

“No, it didn’t. But not for lack of trying. I would have come for you if I could have. Believe me, my forced arrangement with the WSB was no walk in the park.”

“I’m sure it wasn’t. But enough about that, Robert. Can you just answer my question?”

“I’m gettin’ to that, Anna. Would you just… listen to me for a minute?”

“Go on.”

He focused on her hands and took a breath. “How much do you remember?”

“About what?”

“About the boat and the explosion and what happened after.”

She fell back against the sofa. “Robert, do we have to do this?”

“I’m afraid so, love. It’s important.”

She looked skeptical.

“Hey,” he said. He put his arm around her. “Do you still trust me?”

“You know I do,” she said.

“Okay. So, tell me what you remember.”

She thought for a minute and then began. “Not much. Ah… I remember being in the corridor with you. You were holding my hand. We were running, trying to find a way out. You went ahead to see if it was clear and then… then there was an explosion.” She stopped and wiped her eyes.

“Go on.”

“Robert…”

“It’s okay. Look, I’m here now, right? I’m alive and well.”

She cleared her throat and continued, her voice was thick with emotion. “I remember the look on your face. You turned back to look at me and then… out of nowhere… The flames were everywhere. The heat. The smoke. I heard you call my name. I cried out for you. Then… nothing. I tried to go after you. I wanted to run into that fire. To find you or to… to go with you… I tried, Robert, but someone held me back. I struggled. I didn’t want to leave you, Robert, but they wouldn’t let me go. Then, everything went black.”

He pulled her into his arms and held her.

She clung to him until she stopped crying. She sat up again. “So, why does any of that matter?”

“I know it doesn’t make sense to you right now, but it will. It will. We’re gonna make sense out of all of this, together. You’ll see. Now, Are you sure there’s nothing else? Nothing from before I found you?”

She shook her head sadly. “No. I remember being dragged out of our house. I remember the explosion. But everything in between… Robert… what difference does all this make now?”

“Come here,” he said.

She settled into him again and felt him inhale deeply.

“This is gonna come as a bit of a shock.”

“A bigger shock than finding out Griffin is your son?”

Hearing the words your son made him smile slightly. “Yeah. A bigger shock than that.” He ran his fingers through her hair. “You’re not gonna believe this, but if I had a child who was born any time around the time that we… anytime that after that explosion, then there’s only one woman who could be his mother.”

“Who?”

“You, love.”

“Robert, don’t you think I would know that? Don’t you think I would remember if I’d had another child?”

“You don’t remember being picked up. You don’t remember getting medical attention, or how you got to that cabin in Canada either. You don’t remember months, maybe a year of your recuperation. It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

She covered her face with her hands. “Ugh! This isn’t helping, Robert.”

He peeled her hands away from her face and held them again. “Anna, when I found you on that boat… you were pregnant.”

“Please! Isn’t it more likely that you met this Margaret Munro on one of your covert adventures? Maybe she was using an alias because she was in trouble or…in hiding… I don’t know.”

“No, Anna. There was no one but you.”

“Do you really expect me to believe that you traveled all over the world for the WSB and never wound up in another woman’s bed? Come on, Robert. Let’s not pretend that—”

“Anna,” he said sharply.

She stopped short.

“Cards on the table,” he said. His eyes became intense.

Her heart skipped a beat, wondering what he might be about to reveal.

He took a breath. “I was never out running covert ops.”

“But you told us—”

“I know what I told you. The arrangement was true. Me for you. But they didn’t send me out on assignment.”

“What then? Where were you all those years?”

He looked down. “I was in prison, Anna.”

Her face fell.  “You went to prison…to protect me?”

He said nothing.

“Robert?”

Still nothing.

“Answer me, Robert. You went to prison for me?”

“Yes.”

“What did they do to you? Did they torture you?”

He was quiet again.

“Robert? Did they?”

“It doesn’t matter, Anna. You were safe. That was all that mattered. If I couldn’t get you home to Robin, at least I could keep you alive. Especially considering…”

“Considering what?”

“The fact that you were pregnant.”

“Oh, no! I wasn’t,” she insisted. She shook her head vigorously. “I couldn’t have been. The doctor said I couldn’t carry another baby after what happened with Olivia. Leora was a miracle.

“She was,” Robert agreed, hoping to sooth her. “But she wasn’t the only one.”

“Robert…”

“Listen to me. You were pregnant.”

“How?”

“You know how it happens,” he smiled and caressed her cheek. “I don’t know all of the details. We didn’t exactly have time to talk.”

“Did I tell you I was pregnant?”

“You didn’t have to. It was fairly obvious.”

“I don’t believe you.”

He looked hurt.

“I mean… I don’t believe it.”

“Well, it’s true. I don’t know how far along, but you had to have been pregnant when you were taken, so it must have been to several months.”

“Robert, it can’t be.”

“What if it can? Sweetheart, look, I can’t explain it all either. But I know what I saw on that boat and I know if Griffin was born sometime after that explosion, if he really is mine, then you’re the only one who could be his mother.”

“Why?”

“What do you mean, why?”

“If you really believed I was pregnant, why didn’t we ever discuss this before? If you remembered it, why didn’t you look for the baby?”

“You mean after I got out?”

She choked back a sob. “Oh, God. I’m sorry.”

He let out a painful sigh. “I did. The report I received said it was a still birth. Considering what you must have gone through with the trauma of it all, it made sense. I never looked any further. I never brought it up for the same reason I didn’t tell you about my incarceration. I thought it would be too hard on you. I didn’t want you to feel guilty about a past that neither of us couldn’t change.”

“I’m so sorry, Robert,” she said.

“See, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. I don’t want you to do that. Everything I’ve done, I’d do it all over again tomorrow if it would keep you safe.”

“You can’t do that,” she said.

“Why not?”

“Because you’re too old to go to prison fifteen more years,” she said with a weak laugh.

“Very funny!” he said as he touched his forehead to hers. He could have been offended, but he wasn’t. If anything, he was glad she was able to find any humor in the situation.

A moment later, Anna stood and began to pace, wheels turning. “Do you really think it’s possible that it wasn’t still born? That Griffin could be that baby?”

“I think there are still a lot of questions. I think we have a lot to figure out before we can say anything to Griffin, but yeah. I think it’s possible. We’ve seen stranger things in our line of work, haven’t we? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time we’ve discovered falsified information.”

When she finally stopped, and turned to look at him again, her eyes shined with new hope. Tears of a new kind ran down her cheeks. “We have a son?” she whispered.

He crossed the room and wrapped her up in his arms. His blue eyes glistened too, but his smile grew wide. “We have a son.”

“And he’s a doctor. We have two doctors,” Anna said with a small smile.

“I don’t know about the priest part,” Robert chuckled.

“You need all the help you can get, Scorpio.” She gave him a playful shove.

He tightened his grip on her and shook his head. “I need you, Devane. More than anything else in this world.”

She ran her hands lovingly through his hair as she examined the creases on his face, the evidence of the passing of time in the face that she had loved for so long, evidence of experience and wisdom. “I love you, Robert,” she whispered.

“I love you, too,” he said. “God, how I love you!” And then he kissed her.

The warmth of his kiss spread over her entire body, forcing a soft moan.

He continued, his lips moved down her neck and across her collar bone.

“Robert…” she said.

“Hmm?”

“Let’s go to bed.”

“I thought you’d never ask.”

“Assuming you’re not too exhausted,” she teased, making quick work of the buttons on his shirt.

“I’ll tell you what,” he said “Let’s skip the stairs. It’ll save time and energy.”

“Oh!” she cried as he slid his hands under her behind and lifted her up. “Oh!” she cried again as he laid her across the glass-topped desk. “It’s cold!” she laughed.

“Then we’ll just have to heat it up,” he purred.

She laughed again as she whipped off his belt, knocking over the Union Jack picture frame on the desk.

“Oops!” he said.

“Forget about it,” she said, reaching for his zipper.

“Already forgotten,” he said. “Who the hell is that dog, anyway?” He really couldn’t have cared less. At that moment, the only thing he cared about was the gorgeous woman, whose legs were wrapped around him.

“Ha! It came with the frame… it was a gift from…” She tried to say “Emma”, but let the thought go as his mouth found hers again. In fact, she let all thought go. There were plenty of questions to be answered, plenty of explanations to be sought. But they would wait until morning. For now, there were more pressing matters to attend to.

Chapter 8

Anna walked into the bedroom the next morning with a hot mug in one hand and her laptop in the other. She set them both down on the nightstand and perched on the edge of the bed. She leaned over and kissed Robert softly. His lips responded to hers before he’d even opened his eyes.

“Good morning,” she whispered. Her breath was warm on his face.

“Mmm. Good morning,” he said.

She tried to sit up again, but he quickly wrapped one hand around her neck and pulled her back down to kiss her again while the other hand worked its way up her thigh. His lips hit her teeth as she laughed.

“What?” he said.

“Don’t get carried away, Robert. We have work to do. We need to get busy.”

“That’s exactly what I’m trying to do.”

“Ha! Not that kind of busy.” She pulled away. “Coffee?” She offered him the mug.

“Do you know what you do to me, Devane?” he said. He accepted the cup and took a drink, but his eyes danced at her over the rim as the fingers of his free hand continued gently massaging her inner thy.

She flinched, unable ignore the pleasurable sensation, but she refused to give in to his advances. “Not now, Robert,” she said.”

“When?”

“Later,” she said with a wink.

“Promise?”

“Yes, dear,” she patted him on the cheek. “But first…” She snatched the cup out of his hand as he tried to bring it to his lips for a second time and thrust the laptop in his direction. “I need your security clearance.”

He sighed. “You’re using your influence with me to access highly classified files from the World Security Bureau?”

“A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.”

“And what if I refuse?”

She raised her eyebrows playfully. “Would you rather I hack in instead?”

“Fine!” he grumbled as he tapped in his password.

“Welcome, Director Scorpio,” the computerized voice said.

Anna’s face lit up. “Thank you!”

“You’re welcome. So, what are you looking for this morning?”

“I thought I’d start with the medical records,” she said “I tried to access them from my account and it said they didn’t exist. The only file I could find from before 2000 was one operative’s report about my arrival in Canada and periodic updates that reported no change in status.”

“Anna…”

She was too absorbed in her search to hear him. Her fingers flew over the keyboard as she typed one thing after another into the system search box. After several attempts, she groaned. “Damn it!” she said.  “Robert, I just tried multiple points of access and it still claims the that the files don’t exist. How can that be?” She shifted to look at him. “Robert?” she said, concerned by the somber look on his face. “You said you saw my file yourself after you…”

“You can say it, sweetheart. After I was released from prison.”

“You said you saw it,” she repeated.

“I did.”

“So, where is it?”

“It was sealed by executive order at my request. Your file and mine.”

“Why?”

“Like I told you, I didn’t want you to get hurt by what was in those files.”

“Can you still get access to them?”

“If I wanted to. But… Anna…”

“Robert, we can’t confront Griffin about this without proof. If we’re gonna find out the truth about what happened, I think those files are the best place to start. Don’t you?”

He let out a breath and held out his hand.

She handed him the computer and waited as patiently as possible while drafted and sent a message.

When he was finished, passed it back. “You should have it within the hour.”

“Thank you!” she said again. She set the laptop on the bedside table and climbed onto his lap.  “You want to fool around while we wait?” she said teased.

He looked up at her and gave a weak smile. “No.”

“No?” her mouth fell open. “Tu ne me veux pas?”

He laughed, instantly reminded of the terrible hotel they’d landed in as the first stop on their second honeymoon. He reached out to stroke her hair. “Of course, I want you,” he said. “But… Are you sure you’re ready to look at those files?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

“It could get a little rough, that’s all.”

“I’m a big girl, Robert. I’ve  been diagnosed with cancer and I’m still standing. I can handle this. We can handle this. Together.”

“Together,” he repeated.

She bent to kiss him. A moment later she heard the incoming message alert and was off his lap a second later. “That was fast.” She grabbed the laptop and sat on the edge of the bed.

He watched in silence as she opened the file.

It wasn’t long before her eyes began to tear up. He moved over to make room for her and she scooted up next to him without a word. He leaned over and read too. Seared lungs, asphyxiation, thermal burns, severe head trauma. He’d spent time in a private WSB medical facility with similar, injuries before being transferred to holding. He was familiar with what she must have gone through. But the thought of the attached images still made his stomach churn. He could only imagine what they might do to her.

Her cursor hovered over the link. “The pictures. That’s how they knew I was alive,” she reminded herself. “This is the evidence they used to send you to prison.”

He put a hand on her wrist. “Anna…” he cautioned.

“I want to see it, Robert.”

Her tone was firm. He knew there would be no changing her mind. “Okay, he said, letting his hand slip off hers.

She took a deep breath and opened the link. She forced herself to keep breathing as she stared at each of the shots. One of the flames after blast. One of a figure in black carrying someone off the boat. The last, a zoom of the man in black carrying her limp, battered body. Sure enough, as Robert had said, the rounded bump in her middle made it obvious that she was with child. She quietly closed the picture window, wiped her eyes, and returned to the text file.

She scanned the laundry list of injuries again, then the treatments. She scrolled through the entire document before finding what she was really looking for. August, 1992—Still birth. She wiped her eyes again and re-read the second to last entry. “Patient remains comatose and unresponsive. That’s why I don’t remember it,” she whispered.

Robert put an arm around her and kissed her softly on the temple.

“I gave birth to our child and I didn’t even know it.”

“Don’t do that to yourself, Anna. It wasn’t your fault.”

With a lump in her throat, she clicked on the tab at the bottom of the page, launching separate file. Her voice trembled as she read it aloud.  “Baby boy Devane. Mother: Anna Devane. Father: Unknown.” She swallowed to hold back a sob, then continued. “Male. Six pounds, three ounces. Born at 2:32 am. Still birth. Estimated time of death less than eight hours prior to delivery. Robert… What if this report is accurate? What if our son died and we never got to see him, or hold him, or tell him we loved him?”

Robert fought to keep his voice calm and steady. “If that’s the case, we’ll deal with it. But if your test results were accurate, he didn’t. Right? And you have two sets of results that seem to say that.”

She nodded. “Right,” she said, trying to convince herself. “So, what do we do?”

“What we always do. We focus on what we know and look for evidence to support our claim.”

She nodded. “You’re right.” She turned back to the file. “Robert…” she said a moment later, “there’s another page here.” She clicked on a third tab.

Robert scanned the page. “It looks like a duplicate,” he said.

Anna quickly clicked back and forth between the two. “No, Robert.” she said. “It’s not a duplicate. Look.” She pointed at something on the screen, looking as if someone had just knocked the air out of her.

Robert’s eyes followed her finger. “Bloody hell,” he murmured as he read it. “It can’t be, can it?”

“2:41 am. Six pounds, eleven ounces,” Anna breathed, barely able to get the words out. “Robert… there had to be…”

Robert finished her thought. “Two babies.”

Chapter 9

Robin watched over FaceTime as her mother’s figure blew by the screen, stacking slacks and tops in her overnight bag. “Mom, I just don’t know if this is a good idea. You’re just getting adjusted to your treatments. Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

Anna paused only momentarily and looked directly at the iPad that was propped on her bedside table. “It’s fine, Robin,” Anna assured her. “It’s only for a few days.”

“I know. But what if something were to happen?”

“It’s Switzerland, Robin, not the Congo. They have very good doctors and very good hospitals.”

“Yes, they do.”

“But what?” Anna asked, knowing there was one.

“Mom…” Robin waited for her mother to stop and look at her again, but Anna only hurried about her packing. “Mom, you just got out of the hospital. And you want to run off on a mission already. I thought we talked about this.”

“We did talk about it,” Anna nodded, still avoiding the screen. “We did.”

This time it was Robin’s turn to wait for the “But…”

“It’s a just a fact-finding mission, sweetheart. I’m not going into combat.”

“Then why do you need that?” Robin asked as Anna pulled her badge and gun from the drawer, checked the safety, and laid it on top of her clothes in the bag.

“Never leave home without it,” Anna said, this time smiling directly at Robin. She picked up the iPad. “Look, your father is going to be with me the entire time. He’s not going to let anything happen to me, all right?”

“Why doesn’t Dad just go on his own?”

“Because…” Anna paused, wishing she could tell Robin exactly what this mission was about, but knowing it had to be kept under wraps until they had some kind of proof. “This mission… it’s important. To your father and to me. It’s something we need to do together, okay? Can you just trust me about that?”

“I do trust you, Mom. That doesn’t mean I don’t worry about you.”

“I know you do,” Anna said. “And I love you for it. But I promise, you do not need to worry about this.”

“Okay,” Robin said reluctantly.

“I love you so much, you know that?” Anna said. “And I promise I will keep you posted and let you know as soon as we get home. Now, I have to go or we’re gonna miss our flight. I’m sure Daddy is already waiting downstairs and you know how impatient he is.”

“I do,” Robin laughed.

“Okay. Bye Sweetheart,” Anna said.

“Bye, Mom. Be careful.”

“We will,” Anna said. She blew a kiss at her daughter and hit end. She covered the iPad and stowed it in the bag, then threw the bag over her shoulder and rushed out of the room.

* * *

An hour later Robert and Anna were climbing aboard the WSB-issued jet bound for Switzerland. Robert tried to busy himself with work during the flight, but his mind was as restless as he knew Anna’s must be. He glanced over at her. Her eyes were closed, but he knew she wasn’t asleep. He watched her as she exhaled slowly and rolled her shoulders. Her grip on the armrests told him everything he needed to know about the anxiety she was feeling. He hoped they would find some answers at the clinic, but he wasn’t confident. They were following an ice-cold trail that had been long-hidden, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

* * *

“Are you ready for this?” Robert asked Anna as they paused at the front door of the clinic.

“As ready as I’m gonna get,” Anna said.

“Then let’s do this,” he said, opening the door and allowing her to pass.

They approached the reception desk.

“Robert Scorpio to see Dr. Von Valtier,” Robert said with a flash of his badge.

“Just a moment,” the woman answered in a thick French accent. She picked up the phone and dialed a number.

A few minutes later, a middle-aged man in a white coat emerged through a door at the back of the waiting area. “Director Scorpio,” he said, his hand outstretched.

“Thank you for meeting with us, doctor,” Robert said, returning the gesture.

“Of course,” Dr. Von Valtier said. He escorted Robert and Anna to his office and invited them to sit, then took his place behind the desk. “Now, what is it that you think I can help you with?”

Robert cleared his throat and shifted in his seat before answering. “I don’t know how much you’ll remember about this, doctor. But my…” he caught himself and stopped, his lips still curled in a “w” formation. He could feel Anna looking at him. “My… ah… partner was a patient of yours many years ago.”

“Yes. She was brought in after an explosion,” the doctor said. “She was with us for many months. A very memorable case,” he added, smiling at Anna with kind eyes. “I’m very pleased to see what a wonderful recovery you appear to have made.”

“Thank you,” Anna said softly.

“You have some questions for me about your time here?”

“That we do,” Robert said. “What can you tell us about—”

“There are still things about my treatment that I can’t remember,” Anna interrupted, her hand on Robert’s forearm.

“That is only natural,” the doctor said, “considering the severity of the trauma.”

“Yes, well… I was hoping that you would help us fill in some of the missing pieces.”

“If I can.”

“Good,” Anna said with a smile. “From what I understand, when I was brought in, I was pregnant.”

“That is correct.”

“What can you tell us about the pregnancy or the birth?”

“Not much, I’m afraid,” he said as he reached for the folder on the corner of his desk. He paged through the file. Except that you were able to carry to term despite all that your body had been through. Your obstetrician Dr. Freiberg said to me once that it was the miracle of a mother’s love. We were— all of us—saddened to learn that your babies did not survive.”

“Babies,” Anna whispered. “Twins?”

“Yes, two boys,” the doctor said.

She’d read it in the WSB files herself, but having confirmation was somehow more than she was prepared for. Anna put a hand to her mouth and gulped back a sob.

Forcing himself to stay strong, Robert stepped in and took control of the conversation again. “Was there any indication of a problem before the birth?”

Dr. Von Valtier glanced down at the file again and shook his head. Dr. Freiberg performed a complete examination just the day before. Both babies appeared to be healthy and growing as expected. There was no medical explanation. Dr. Freiberg was very distressed by this.”

Anna pressed her lips together, still struggling to suppress her emotions. She wiped a tear from her cheek.

“I’m sorry,” the doctor offered.

“We’d like to speak to Dr. Freiberg,” Robert said.

“I’m sorry,” Von Valtier said again. “I’m afraid that won’t be possible.”

“Why not?” Anna said, regaining most of her composure.

“Dr. Freiberg is gone.”

“Surely you must have a forwarding address, a phone number… something.” Robert said.

“You don’t understand, Mr. Scorpio. Dr. Freiberg is dead.”

“How long?” Anna asked, though she didn’t know why is mattered.

“He was found just a few days after the delivery. Suicide.”

Anna exhaled and shook her head.

“That’s unfortunate,” Robert said. “What about another doctor or a nurse who might have been there?”

“There must have been a nurse,” Dr. Von Valtier said, “But for some reason I do not have that name here.”

“Is there some way that we could get a list of the nurses who might have been there?” Robert asked.

Von Valtier looked hesitant. “Forgive me, Mr. Scorpio, but is this a personal matter, or a professional one?”

Robert contemplated the question. Something about the whole conversation didn’t sit well with him. He had a sneaking suspicion there was more to the story than previously believed. He made eye contact with Anna again. She said nothing, but her gut was telling her the same thing. He could read it in her eyes. “Let’s just say it’s a professional investigation of a very personal nature.”

* * *

That evening Robert and Anna sat at the small table in their hotel room, laptops open, chopsticks in hand, pouring over the list of names that Dr. Von Valtier had shared.

“Where are those egg rolls?” Robert asked.

Anna handed him a small brown paper bag with one hand and picked up a mouth full of lo mein with the other without ever taking her eyes off her screen. A few minutes later she shoved the chopsticks into the open takeout container and ran her fingers through her hair and gave an aggravate sigh.

“Anything?” Robert said.

“Not yet,” Anna said. She took her glasses off and stood. “It would help if we had some idea what we were looking for!” she said as she crossed the room.

“That is the challenge,” Robert admitted.

“I’ve cross-checked every name on the list. Not one of them has a record. They all appear to be upstanding medical professionals.”

Robert nodded, wiping his mouth with a napkin. “Maybe so. Doesn’t mean they don’t know something. We may need to talk to them. See what they know.”

“Good luck with that.”

“What do you mean?”

“They’re all dead.”

“Bloody hell. Foul play?”

“No. I don’t think so. Freiberg, yes. It’s too coincidental. But these women… One died from old age, three had cancer, two heart attacks and one went MIA during a tour in Afghanistan. The only one left is Elise ten Brink.”

“What’s her story?”

“She had a stroke last year and is now in a convalescent home in Amsterdam.”

“Does that mean we’re headed to Amsterdam?”

“I don’t know, Robert!” Anna said, pacing. “She may not even be able to speak to us.”

“So, what do you want to do?”

Anna flopped down on the bed and lay staring up at the ceiling with her feet still hanging over the edge. “I don’t know,” she said again. I don’t know anything. I don’t even know how much of this is real? Do we have two sons out there somewhere? And if Griffin really is one of them… Who the hell Margaret Munro and how did she end up with him? She’s wasn’t one of the nurses. Unless it’s a false ID. And what happened to the doctor? We traveled half way around the world and we’ve still got nothing. My God, Robert…”

Robert got up from the table and approached the bed. He took Anna’s hands and pulled her up again. “Listen,” he said, “I know it’s frustrating right now. But we’ve been in worse spots than this. We’re gonna find something.” He pulled her into an embrace, which she readily returned.

“I hope you’re right,” she said over his shoulder.

“Hey, I’m always right, remember?” he teased.

“Shut up, Scorpio,” she laughed.

“What? You don’t believe me?”

“Ha! That you’re always right? No, I don’t.”

“Come on!”

“I love you, but—”

“So, I’ve got that goin’ for me,” he said, sneaking a quick kiss.

“Yes. You do.” She gave up the fight sooner than usual and kissed him back, but the kiss was interrupted by an incoming message.

Robert reluctantly pulled away and returned to his computer. He perused the information, then said, “Devane… you owe me an apology.”

“What for?” she said.

“Because I was right again. Look at this!”

Anna grabbed her glasses and looked over his shoulder. “Maggie Hughes?”

“Otherwise known as Margaret or Maggie Fitzhugh and Margaret Munro.”

“I ran a check on her before, but this is new,” Anna said.

“Well, I had McNevin do a little more digging,” Robert said. “Just in case. As it turns out, Maggie Hughes—”

“Was a patient at the clinic?”

“Mmm hmm. The same time as you.”

“What do suppose this means, Robert?”

“I’m not sure, but I intend to find out.”

“But Margaret’s dead too.”

“So, we start with her next of kin. Other than Griffin, that is.” He picked up his phone and dialed. “Louise… Yeah… Agent Devane and I are going to need the jet again tomorrow morning. No, we’re not going home just yet. We’re going to Greenville.”

* * *

Robert sat hunched on the edge off the sofa, his hands clasped between his knees.

Anna ambled around the living room without saying a word. She stopped in front of the fireplace to examine the framed photos that lined the mantle. She picked one up for a closer look.

“Here we are,” Isobel Fitzhugh said as she entered with the tea tray.

“Thank you,” Robert said. “This is very kind of you.” He poured himself a cup.

“My pleasure,” Isobel said. “Now, what is it you think I can help you with?”

“Agent Devane and I were hoping you could help answer some questions about your daughter.”

“Maggie? Why?”

“Well…” Robert stalled, not certain he’d come up with a plausible reason for their visit. He’d considered the truth, but “Your daughter may have raised our son” didn’t seem like the easiest inroad.

He was rather thankful when Anna stepped in. “Is this your grandson?” she asked, approaching the framed photo in her hand. It was a picture of a woman she knew to be Margaret and what must have been a very young Griffin.

Isobel’s face took on a concerned expression.

Anna continued. “His name is Griffin, isn’t it? Griffin Munro?”

“Yes.”

“He’s the reason we’re here.” Anna said. She crossed the room and caught Robert’s eye for just a moment as she handed him the frame. Her eyes were soft with emotion, but her face was all business. She gave him an almost imperceptible nod.

“Is Griffin in some kind of trouble?” Isobel asked.

Robert studied the child in the photo and exhaled. “We hope not,” he said. He passed the photo to Isobel, then sat back on the sofa and nodded to Anna, knowing she had the situation under control.

Anna took a seat in the chair nearest Isobel. “Griffin is a friend of mine. We met in Port Charles, New York.”

“Oh, yes,” Isobel said. “He wrote to me a few months ago and told me he’d taken a position at a hospital there. Please tell me why you’re here.” Her voice shook slightly. “Is my grandson all right?”

Anna reached for the woman’s hand. “Yes, he’s fine. He’s absolutely fine.” she assured her. “But there are some questions about his past… questions that we’d like answers to in order to protect him from any future harm.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Ah,” Robert joined in, “what she means is… we have reason to believe there could be some dangerous people in his past and we’d like to be able to protect him from those people. That is… should it ever be necessary.”

“Why would it be necessary?” Isobel said.

Anna took a breath. “Because the man Griffin believes to be his father had known connections to the mob.”

“Brilliant,” Robert said under his breath.

“Oh, my Lord!”

“Listen to me, Isobel. It’s okay,” Anna said. “It is, all right? Griffin is not in any immediate danger, I promise. But if Duke is his father—”

“Who?”

“Duke Lavery,” Anna said. She pulled an envelope from her small over-the-shoulder bag. “Griffin received this letter after Margaret died.” She handed it to Isobel, then sat quietly while the woman read it.

When Isobel was finished, she carefully put the letter back in the envelope and returned it to Anna.

Anna gave her a quizzical, but expectant smile.

Isobel picked up her tea cup but didn’t drink it. She stared into the cup for a few moments, before meeting Anna’s gaze.

“What are you thinking?” Anna asked, her tone soft and friendly.

Isobel shook her head. “I don’t know. I’m just trying to make sense of it all.”

“Of what?” Robert said.

The Isobel looked at him and then turned back to Anna. “Maggie and her father never saw eye to eye. He was strait-laced and respectable with political aspirations. Uptight, as Maggie called him. She was a free spirit. He thought she was rebellious. He wanted her to go to college and study political science. She wanted to be a writer. She left home after high school graduation. She changed her name. We didn’t see her for almost six years after that.”  Isobel stopped talking and reached for the tissue box on the table near her chair.

Anna put a comforting hand on her knee.

Isobel patted Anna’s hand and forced a smile. “She wrote to me sometimes. Told me about her travels mostly. She said she’d met a writer.  That he took her on his yacht and showed her the world. I never shared the letters with her father.”

“Mrs. Fitzhugh…” Robert started to interrupt, but Anna gave him a gentle wave of her hand and a silent “shush” with her lips.

“Go on,” she whispered to Isobel.

“When she finally came home, she had the baby—Griffin—with her.”

“Did she tell you anything about the pregnancy? When it happened or…”

Isobel shook her head again. “Not much. She and her father fought about it. He wanted her to give him up, but she refused. She moved into her own place and started using my maiden name. Probably just to spite her father. Though he didn’t seem to care. He seemed more relieved.”

“What about you? Did you want her to give him up?”

“He was my grandson. My daughter’s only child. I would have done anything for either one of them. But her father… didn’t make things easy for any one. My relationship with both of them became… strained.”

“I’m sorry,” Anna said with a sympathetic turn of her lips.

Isobel sniffed. “Do you have children, Agent Devane?” she asked.

It was meant to be a simple question, but it brought a lump to Anna’s throat. She swallowed the lump and nodded. “I also have a beautiful granddaughter,” she said.

“Oh…no!” Isobel said.

“What?”

“You’re too young to be a grandmother.”

“Ha! No. I’m not. Her name is Emma. And she has a brother or sister on the way.”

“Then you can imagine how much I wanted to be close to them. To be a part of their lives.”

“Yes. We can,” Anna said, glancing at Robert as she wiped a tear from her cheek.

Isobel considered the two of them carefully, the way their eyes spoke to one another, and finally made the connection. “Grandpa?” she said.

“Yeah,” Robert admitted with a proud grin.

“That I believe,” Isobel said. She patted her own gray hair as if in solidarity and chuckled as she said it.

Anna and Robert both laughed before picking up their line of questioning again.

“Mrs. Fitzhugh,” Robert said, “did your daughter ever talk about Griffin’s father? About Duke?”

“I never heard the name before today. Or of any affair in Scotland. It’s possible, I suppose. But, I always assumed the writer was his father.”

“This writer… what was his name?” Anna asked.

“Maggie never said.”

“Really?” Anna said.

“I did ask once. But she said he was very private and would rather not be identified. He visited a few times when Griffin was very young. But I only met him briefly.”

“Can you tell us what he was like?”

“He kissed my hand and said he was delighted to meet me, but he avoided any real conversation. He was an odd man. Charming, but odd.”

“In what way?” Robert asked.

“I don’t know. He was polite, but… aloof. He seemed almost irritated. Like we were all beneath him.”

“Anything else?” Anna said.

“He dressed well and drove a fancy car. He smoked funny, European cigarettes.”

Robert suddenly felt his stomach tighten. He watched Anna’s body stiffen.

“He spoke with an accent, Isobel said. “But I didn’t recognize it. It wasn’t Scottish. I’d have known. My father spoke with a thick Scottish brogue—”

“Is this him?” Robert said, pulling up an image on his phone. He passed the device to Anna, who gave Isobel a closer look.

Isobel examined the picture. “He looks older, but… Yes. That’s him.”

Anna and Robert engaged in another silent exchange.

“What is it?” Isobel asked. “He’s not another mobster, is he?”

Not wanting to worry the poor woman any more than they already had, Robert shook his head and said as calmly as possible, “No, he’s not.” He stood, buttoned his jacket, and walked over to her chair. He took her hands and helped her up.

Anna rose too.

“Mrs. Fitzhugh, I want to thank you,” Robert said.

“Of course. But…”

“Thank you for your hospitality and for all of your help.”

“Yes,” Anna said. “Thank you so much. You’ve been more help than you know.”

“Should I be worried?” Isobel asked.

“No,” Anna said. “I don’t want you to worry, all right. Because we now know that Griffin is in no danger as far as Duke Lavery’s enemies are concerned. We know exactly who we’re dealing with. And I swear to you that we will never let anything happen to Griffin. Okay? No harm will come to him. Not on our watch.”

“But we do need to get going,” Robert said.

“Okay,” Isobel said as she escorted them to the front door. “Just do me one favor, will you? When you see my grandson, will you give him a hug from me?”

“I will,” Anna promised. She smiled until Isobel had closed the door behind them. She kept herself together as she and Robert rounded the corner to their parked car. But once they were safely inside the vehicle, she let her face fall. “How can this be happening?” she groaned.

“I don’t know.”

“I should have known!”

“You couldn’t have known, Anna.”

“Please! That man is responsible for everything that has ever happened to our family. He has torn us apart time and time again, Robert!” She dropped her face into her hands and let out an frustrated cry.

Robert leaned over the console that separated them and did his best to take Anna into his arms. He tried to think of the right words to comfort her, but he found none. She was right. The man had done his best to destroy them at every turn and he hated him for it. Damn you, he thought. Damn you to Hell, Cesar Faison!

Chapter 10

Anna had said nothing from the time they climbed aboard the jet. Robert waited until they’d reached cruising altitude before breaking the silence. “You’re awfully quiet,” he said with a hand on her knee. “You all right?”

Anna shrugged. “I don’t know, Robert,” she answered without looking at him.

“You ah… you were brilliant back there. Using Duke’s history as an excuse to get her to talk. It was the perfect angle. You got her attention and got her to cooperate without having to bring her daughter’s maternity into question. Very impressive.”

Anna gave him a half-smile. “Thanks.”

“But calling him out as a mobster… I imagine that wasn’t easy for you to do.”

“It was the truth,” Anna said, wiping a tear from her cheek.

“Yeah. But…” Robert trailed off.

Anna turned to look at him then, wondering what he was about to say. He added no words, only met her eyes. In the silence she heard, “I know you loved him despite his choices. I’m sorry he’s gone. But I’m here. And I love you.” She reached for his hand.

He smiled as he laced his fingers between hers. “You know what else is true?” he asked.

“Hmm?”

“It’s true—what Isobel Fitzhugh said. You don’t look at all like a grandmother,” he said, his smile taking a wicked twist.

“Ha!” Anna laughed. “You never stop, do you, Scorpio?”

He leaned in closer. “Would you really want me to?”

She leaned in too, letting her forehead to touch his. “No,” she whispered, still somewhat surprised at how easily he could set her heart a flutter, even under the most stressful of circumstances.

The proximity of her lips made it difficult for Robert to resist kissing her, but he knew it wasn’t really the time. He knew Duke would not be only man on her mind. His free hand rose to cup her cheek and he felt the tension in her jaw release beneath his touch. “We’re gonna get through this, Anna. We’re going to find our boys. He’s not gonna win this one.”

* * *

Robert wrapped his arms around Anna from behind and leaned down to look over her shoulder at the laptop on her desk. “Any luck?” he asked.

“None,” she answered. “Faison is still nowhere to be found. I’ve been through all the clinic files again and not one lead.”

Robert stood up straight again and began to work the knots in her shoulders with his thumbs. “Faison had to have had a connection at the clinic, but with all the nurses on the list dead or incapacitated…” Anna leaned back and sighed, letting herself enjoy the massage. “What do we do now, Robert?”

“We start with the closest connection we have.”

“Obrecht?”

“The one and only.”

“I’ll call her,” Anna said, reaching for her phone.

“I already did,” he said as the doorbell rang. “Speak of the devil.”

“Well, if it isn’t Scorpio and the scarecrow,” Obrecht smirked when Anna opened the door. She shoved her way past the two of them and sauntered into the living room.

Robert and Anna followed. “Thank you for coming, Dr. Obrecht,” Robert said. He gave her his most charming smile.

“Can I get you some tea?” Anna asked.

“Please, save the pleasantries,” Obrecht grumbled. “Let’s get to the real reason you asked me here, shall we?”

“Do you know what we want to talk to you about?” Anna asked.

“Not exactly. But I’m sure it has something to do with Cesar. As it usually does.”

“We need to know how to get in touch with him,” Robert said, cutting to the chase.

“I’m afraid I cannot help you.”

“We’re not interested in bringing him in, if that’s what you’re worried about,” Robert assured her. “We just need to speak to him. It’s a fairly urgent matter.”

“I don’t care what your reason is. I cannot help you. Even if I wanted to. I do not know where he is.”

“Come on, Liesl,” Anna said. “Do you really expect us to believe that he’s wandering the globe with your only daughter and you have no idea how to get in touch with either of them?”

“That is the truth. I have not spoken to Britta or Cesar since they left Port Charles.”

Anna turned away from Obrecht, hands in her hair, and gave Robert a frustrated look.

“Maybe you can help us, then,” Robert said. He approached her with a file folder in his hand and gestured toward one of the nearby chairs.

Obrecht cocked her head to one side and, seeing no room for negotiation in his eyes, reluctantly took a seat.

Robert sat opposite her. He leaned in and spoke in a low, calm voice. “What do you know about a Doctor Freiberg?” He opened the folder to display a photo.

Obrecht glanced at the photo, but turned up her nose and dismissed it almost immediately. “Nothing. Why should I know him?”

“He worked at the clinic in Bern some years ago. We thought, maybe, given that you practiced medicine for so many years in that area…”

She looked at the photo again. “I’m sorry. I never dealt with obstetrics in my research.”

Robert looked over his shoulder at Anna who raised her eyebrows at him. “So, you do know of him?” he said.

“I didn’t say that.”

“But you knew he was in obstetrics. I never said that.”

Obrecht knew she’d trapped herself. She stood quickly and began to button her coat. “We may have crossed paths once. But that would have been many years ago. Are we finished here? I must be going. I have a very busy schedule with my responsibilities at the hospital.”

“Of course,” Robert said with a phony smile. “We wouldn’t want to keep you from your patients.” He knew they would get nothing else out of her today. He walked her to door, then rejoined Anna in the living room where she was now wearing a path in the floor, pacing in agitation.

“She knows something, Robert!” Anna exclaimed the moment she saw him.

“I agree with you.” he said.

“Do you think she could have been in on it from the beginning?”

“It’s possible. But what I can’t figure out is what she or Faison would stand to gain.”

“Besides torturing me? Torturing us? God!”

“And how does Margaret Munro fit into their tangled web?”

Anna’s mind was still stuck on Obrecht. “I’ll tell you something else, Robert. She’s has realized we suspect her. She’s never gonna talk, now.”

“Anna—” He tried to reach for her but she pivoted and walked other way, getting more riled by the second.

“It’s so frustrating! We’ve got nothing! Damn it! I just wish I could remember, you know? I mean—”

“Anna!” he shouted.

The sheer volume got her attention and she turned to face him then.

He crossed the room and took her into his embrace. “Listen to me, sweetheart,” he said softly, one hand cradling her head gently as she clung to him. “We’ve added Obrecht’s piece to the puzzle. That’s something.”

“I just wish I could remember,” she repeated as a tear rolled down her cheek onto his sleeve.

It wasn’t until her phone began to ring that she broke away from him. She picked it up and looked at the caller ID.

Robert stood quietly at the window and listened to Anna’s end of the conversation.

“Hi Maxie. I’m okay. How are you? Yes. Thanks so much for calling. Robin wanted me to ask you about helping us out. We’re thinking of throwing a party for Griffin for his birthday in August and we were hoping you would help us plan because, you know, you’re so good at that sort of thing. When? Ah, sometime around August seventh. What? You’re kidding?”

Hearing the surprise in her voice, Robert looked over at Anna, who now made direct eye contact with him, the phone still held to her ear.

“Really, Maxie,” Anna said, her eyes widening, “I had no idea Nathan and Griffin had the same birthday.”

Chapter 11

“Thank you so much,” Anna smiled at TJ as he set her cup of coffee on the table in front of her.

“No problem, Ms. Devane. Can I get you anything else?”

“No, thank you.” Anna shook her head.

“Anyone?” TJ asked, looking around the table at Maxie and Nathan.

“I’ll take a BLT to go,” Nathan said with a smile. “Long shift comin’ up,” he added, looking to Anna.

Anna nodded. “I don’t miss the overnight shifts,” she said, popping a remaining French fry into her mouth.

“I hate the overnight shifts,” Maxie exclaimed, reaching over to squeeze Nathan’s arm.

He turned his head and coughed.

“Are you sure you should even go to work with that cough?”

“Max—”

“I think you should stay in bed and—” Maxie’s protest was cut short when her cell phone rang and she jumped up to answer it. “Sorry. Duty calls,” she said as she scurried away from the table and stepped outside.

Anna watched Nathan’s face as his eyes followed Maxie adoringly and chuckled.

“What?” Nathan asked.

“Nothing,” Anna smiled.

“Come on!”

“No. Nothing.” Anna fiddled with her napkin. “You two are cute.”

“Cute?”

“Mmm hmm.”

“I’m a cop. I’m not supposed to be cute.”

“Love can have that effect on the toughest of men.”

“What about the toughest of women?”

“Who? Me?” Anna acted surprised.

“Yeah. Maxie said you and Robert Scorpio have rekindled your romance.”

“Mmm. I don’t know.” Anna shrugged as if it were no big deal, but she couldn’t stop the smile from spreading across her face.

“Ah ha! See!” Nathan teased.

“What?”

“That smile!”

“It’s not what you think,” she said, fiddling with her napkin. “I just couldn’t help but laugh at the idea of Robert and romance.”

“Why?”

“Because… Robert and I… it’s not exactly what I’d call romance.”

“What would you call it?”

“I don’t know. Love, yes. Respect, definitely. But it’s more of a ‘can’t live with him, can’t live without him’ kind of thing.”

“Well, if it works.”

“Yeah. It does, really.”

“Good. He’s a highly respected guy. Maxie’s told me a lot about her uncle Robert. I hope I get the chance to sit down with him some time and get to know him.”

Anna cleared her throat. “I hope you do too,” she said. “I think you’d like him.

“I’ll tell you what else I’d like,” Nathan said, picking up an extra napkin. “I’d like to get rid of this cold.” He blew his nose and tossed the napkin down on his empty plate with a sigh. “Listen, I’d like to stay, but I should get goin’,” he said. He pushed his chair out and stood with the to-go box TJ had stealthily delivered.

“Yeah. Sure.” Anna said. “Maxie and I can finish up.”

“Take care.” Nathan nodded and turned to leave.

“You too,” Anna said. “Feel better.”

She waited until he was safely outside, then pulled a plastic glove and an evidence bag from her handbag. “Almost too easy,” she mumbled as she dropped Nathan’s used napkin into the bag. She stowed the evidence just as Maxie returned and took her seat.

“Sorry about that,” Maxie said. “Now, where were we?”

“Appetizers,” Anna said.

“Right! Should we do hot, cold or a combination of the two?”

“You’re the party planner,” Anna smiled.

* * *

“Did you miss me?” Robert asked, sweeping Anna into his arms as he walked into the kitchen.

“Like an idiot misses the point,” she teased.

Robert feigned injury, clutching his chest. “Oh, that hurts, Devane!”

As Anna laughed, Robert pressed her up against the counter and took her mouth until she moaned with pleasure, then stepped back to observe the dreamy look on her face. “You missed me,” he snickered, pleased with himself.

Like the dessert misses the rain. She thought it, but she didn’t say it aloud. Instead she said, “It’s only been a few hours!” Still, her playful smile was enough to satisfy him.

“How was your day?” he said. His hands roamed up and down her back as he spoke.

“Fairly productive.”

“Yeah?”

“Mmm hmm. I had lunch with Maxie and Nathan. Maxie and I got started on the plans for Griffin’s party.”

“It’s early. You’re really getting a jump on things.”

“Well, you know Maxie. She’s very intense.”

“So I’ve heard,” Robert said, but he knew it was more than Maxie’s quest for perfection at work. He knew Anna saw this as her first opportunity to do something for Griffin—as his mother—and she wanted it to be perfect too.

“I also took the opportunity to get a sample from Nathan.”

He raised an eyebrow. “That’s my girl. Did you send it to our guy at the lab?”

“Yep. I asked them to cross reference it with our samples and Griffin’s just to be sure. They put a rush on it. We should know by tonight.”

“If he’s our son?” he said. His tone was somehow hopeful and skeptical all at once.

Anna nodded, her eyes suddenly filled with emotion. “It’s a long shot, isn’t it?” she said. “I mean, what are the odds? That both boys would end up in Port Charles.” She said it to keep from getting her own hopes up, but she knew if Faison and Obrecht were involved, anything was possible.

Robert pulled her to him and hugged her tightly.

After a moment, she broke away. “What about you? Did you find out anything today?” she asked.

Robert sighed and shook his head. “Nothing new. Still no traces of Faison until he surfaced as Krieg in the late nineties. Nothing on Obrecht during that time either. Everything we have on Griffin and Margret—places they lived or worked—it all checks out.”

“Except we still don’t know why Margret would involve Duke in all of it, or if she even knew him.”

“Or how she came to possess our child in the first place,” Robert added.

They sat down to theorize over a cup of tea and before their cups were empty, Robert’s phone buzzed with a message. He pulled it from his pocket, read the display, and looked at Anna. “Our results,” he said.

Anna took a deep breath and wiped her hands on her pants as he opened the file on his laptop.

They both stared at the screen for a moment in silence.

Robert spoke first. “Congratulations, Mum. It’s a boy,” he laughed nervously.

Anna smiled, tears coming to her eyes.

Robert cupped her face in his hands and wiped the tears away with the pads of his thumbs. “We found them both,” he whispered. He kissed her softly, then brought her into his embrace and held her until she’d let out all the emotion she’d be holding inside.

With their feelings of uncertainty, frustration, and regret now overpowered by relief and joy, Robert led Anna upstairs and they made tender, sweet love.

Anna drifted off to sleep in Robert’s arms feeling more complete and at peace than she had in years. That is, until she woke from a dream in a cold sweat, confused and sickened by a vision of Cesar Faison. She sat up in bed, her eyes darting around the room as she adjusted to the idea that she was safe in her room. Seeing Robert sleeping soundly beside her, she gave a sigh of relief and lay back down. But the moment her eyes closed, his face was there again. Not the face of the deranged Dane they’d trapped in the hole, but the creepy, somber face of the man who’d held her hostage so many years ago. And in the still of the night she heard his haunting words over and over in her head. “Don’t worry, Anna my love. I promise you, I will do whatever it takes to protect our child.”

Chapter 12

By the time Robert awoke the next morning, Anna was already gone. He found her in the kitchen with her laptop, a cup of black coffee and an untouched piece of dry toast. “Good morning, gorgeous,” he said with a smile.

“Morning,” she said, without looking up.

“After last night that’s all I get?” he joked, but she still paid him no mind, even when he bent down to kiss her. He noted the article on her screen: The Elusive Art of Interpreting Dreams. He left a kiss on her cheek and sat down. “I take it you didn’t sleep well?” When she still didn’t respond, he reached over and put a hand on hers. “Anna, sweetheart…”

“Oh, sorry,” she said. Did you want coffee?” She closed and went to pour him a cup.

She set the mug on the table in front of him and tried to walk away, but he slipped an arm around her waist and pulled her onto his lap.

“Oh!” she exclaimed.

“Where are you this morning, love?” he asked.

“I’m right here.”

“No, you’re not. You’re far away. What’s up?”

“I couldn’t sleep. I had a… a nightmare, I guess.”

“You wanna tell Bobby about it?”

“No,” she said immediately. “I mean… no. I don’t know. I’m sure it’s nothing. Just a bad dream.”

“About what?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“If it’s bothering you—”

“It’s not. I’m fine.” She smiled but sounded almost defensive. She forced a smile then. “You should get going, shouldn’t you? What time does your flight leave for New York?”

“In two hours.”

“Mmm.” She stood and busied herself with the coffee pot again. “When should I expect you?”

“Late tonight.” He joined her at the counter and slipped his arms around her from behind. “You could go with me.” He nuzzled her neck.

“I can’t. I need to see Obrecht today. I need to question her.”

“She can wait.”

“She could. But we can’t confront the boys with anything until we have answers, Robert.”

“Fine,” he reluctantly agreed. He moved in to kiss her—his consolation prize—but stepped back in defeat when she yawned instead. “You used to find me exciting,” he said.

She smiled and ran her fingers through his short gray hair, lost for a moment in the memory of when it was longer and still brown. “I still find you exciting, Scorpio. I just didn’t sleep last night. That’s all.”

“You never said what the dream was about.”

She shook her head. “You don’t want to know.”

“Of course, I do.”

“No. You don’t.”

“Anna…”

She combed her fingers through her own hair and sighed. “Faison.”

“What about him?”

“That’s what the dream as about. Faison.”

“And?”

“I don’t know. It was him, but the younger version of him, you know. And he was rambling. His usual crazy talk.”

“About what?”

“He kept promising to…”

“What?”

She looked away before answering. “He was promising to protect our child.” Wide awake the dream was no less scary. She wrapped her arms around herself and closed her eyes.

“Hey,” Robert said. “You know that’s not real, right?”

She nodded, but the uncertainty shown in her eyes.

“Robin is ours. Griffin and Nathan are ours. We have the DNA to prove it.”

“I know.”

“It’s just your subconscious trying to explain his involvement. Nothing to worry about.”

“I know. You’re right.”

“Of course, I am,” he laughed. “Now, give us a smile.”

She couldn’t help but smile at his goofy grin.

“That’s my girl. How about a kiss too?”

She indulged him and allowed herself to relax and enjoy the moment. When she’d seen him to the door and they’d said their goodbyes and I love yous, she returned to the kitchen to pour one more cup of coffee and make a few calls.

An hour later, she was dressed and ready to go. Her original plan to see Obrecht cast aside, she grabbed her handbag and headed out for her appointment with the one person who might actually be able and willing to help her find some answers about those missing years—Andre Maddox.

* * *

It was almost midnight when Robert crept quietly back into the house. He sneaked over to the sofa where Anna lay and bent to give her a kiss. As he did, her arm struck out, landing her elbow in his solar plexus.

“Jesus, Anna!” he gasped, staggering backward.

“Robert! Oh my God! Honey, are you okay?” She jumped up off the sofa and rushed toward him.

He was bent over trying to catch is breath. He put a hand out to stop her from getting any closer.

“I’m so sorry!”

“It’s fine.” He staggered a few steps forward and sat on the end of the sofa.

“I’m so sorry,” Anna said again as she took a seat next to him. “You really should know better than to sneak up on me, Robert.”

“Call me crazy, Anna,” he said shaking his head. “But somehow I imagined I could come home after a long day and kiss my sleeping lady without getting the shit kicked out of me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m just glad you weren’t packing heat under your pillow,” he laughed. He wrapped a hand around the back of her neck and pulled her face toward him, but his kiss was not met with the usual fervor. “What’s wrong?” he said.

She tucked her hair behind her ears with both hands, her bottom lip caught in her teeth. “I was trying to wait up for you.” She looked at him with sad eyes. “We need to talk.”

“What is it?” he asked. He tried not to sound worried, but the look on her face did nothing to comfort him.

“I don’t how to say this, so I’m just gonna… you know… get it out there.”

“What?”

“We’ve always been honest with each other, right?”

“Always.”

“Okay. So… I decided not to talk to Obrecht after all. ‘Cause she’d probably just lie anyway. And I … I went to see Andre instead. I thought that if I could get him to hypnotize me again I might remember something.”

“And did you?”

“Not a lot. Not yet, anyway. But…” She stopped and took a breath. “I figured out why I saw Faison in my dream. Why I heard him say those things.” She took another breath trying to quell the wave of panic that was swelling up inside.

“Go on,” he said.

“Because…” She dreaded finishing the sentence.

“Because what?”

“Because it wasn’t just a dream.”

“What are you saying, Anna?”

“I’m saying… Robert… I think I know why Faison thought he needed to protect his child.”

“Why would he ever think that—”

“Because I told him the baby was his.” Her eyes began to tear.

“He’d have had no reason to believe that unless…”

Anna’s voice quivered. “Unless I slept with him.”

“Exactly.” He waited for her to deny theory. But she didn’t. “Anna?”

“I’m so sorry, Robert,” she mouthed as the tears began to fall.

Chapter 13

Robert hung his head, unable to make eye contact with Anna. “How could you, Anna?”

“I’m sorry, Robert.”

“How could you do that?” he repeated, this time much louder, his voice beginning to tremble.

Anna frowned. “The details aren’t really all that clear, you know? My memories right now, they’re more like… flashes. Bits and pieces.”

“But you remember sleeping with him?” he shouted.

Anna flinched. “Not… Not exactly,” she stuttered.

Robert took a moment to regain his composure, then asked, “Exactly what do you remember?”

“Do you really want to hear it?”

“No.” He shook his head. “But tell me anyway.”

Anna stood and walked away from him.

Robert watched her pace, arms folded in front of herself, from his place on the sofa.

“I remember being on his boat. I remember being afraid. I remember thinking that I had to protect the baby.”

“He was infatuated with you. You knew that. He would never have hurt you.”

“It felt different this time. I don’t know why. He was angry. Jealous.”

“Jealous of what?”

“Of you, maybe. I don’t know. He was… vengeful. I must have thought that… that our baby was in danger.”

He heard the angst in her voice, but it did little to put out the fury that burned in his gut. “So, your solution was to jump into bed with him?”

“Robert, please! I had to play nice with him. I had to protect the baby.”

“Play nice. Yeah…” His head bobbed back and forth as he gave a phony laugh. “That’s one way to put it.”

Anna forced herself to go on. “I remember putting on a nightgown that he’d given me. I remember being in the room with him. I remember turning over the next morning and finding him there.”

Robert shook his head and stared at the floor. “Is that it?”

She nodded. “It was all we had time for today. I have another session with Andre next week.”

“I can’t wait for the rest.”

“Robert, I know this can’t be easy for you. It’s not easy for me either. You have to know that. I can’t stand the thought of him… God! It makes me sick!” One hand clutching her throat, she shivered. “You know I would never have let him touch me if I didn’t have to. Please, just…”

Robert put a hand up as Anna moved toward him. “Enough. Enough for tonight, Anna. It’s been a long day. I’m going to bed.”

Anna swallowed and gave another small nod. “Okay. I’ll be up a minute,” she said. She watched Robert walk out of the room, then turned off the gas fireplace and the lights. The knot in her stomach tightened when she heard the door to the guest room close.

* * *

The next few days were filled with tension. Robert promised he understood. He said he believed that she must have felt pressured, but he was distant. His eyes were cold. His smile intentional. He’d slept in the guest room every night since she told him. Anna knew him well enough to know why. Intellectually, he did understand. But emotionally, he hated Faison as much as she did. And given their history, she imagined he was just a s tortured now as he was twenty-five years ago, when he thought she’d slept with Faison. Back then the images had been planted by Faison. These images were no hypnotic trick they were real.

At the end of the week Anna carried a pile of laundry into Robert’s room and found him packing his duffle bag.

“Going somewhere?” she asked, her arms folded across her chest.

“Hmm? Yeah. I took a job on assignment. They could use my help with this poaching ring.”

“Where?”

“Outback.”

“I see.”  How long?”

“A month. Maybe two. I can’t say for sure.”

Anna nodded, but looked down at the floor. She had every intention of remaining strong, but she knew what was happening. He was leaving, and she had no one to blame this time but herself.

Robert read the fear and insecurity in her body language. “I just need some time, Anna,” he assured her. “Time to come to terms with what I see every time I close my eyes.”

She nodded again, wiping a tear away.

“I’ll be back,” he said.

“Promise?”

He put a hand on her cheek and forced a small smile, but he took no such oath.

The silence did not go unnoticed, but Anna opted not to push him. Years of experience had taught her better. As stubborn as he was, it was rarely a matter of winning him over. It was more about waiting him out.

They walked out of the room and down the stairs hand in hand, him carrying the duffel bag and her carrying his computer bag. At the front door she hugged him, swallowed the lump in her throat, and told him she loved him.

“I love you too,” he whispered. “You know I do. Always.” He placed a kiss on her forehead and turned away.

She closed the door behind him leaned her head against it, trying hard to convince herself there was no need for tears, even as she imagined him walking away on the other side. A moment later something caught her eye. She took the object off the table next to her—a house key on a small chain in the shape of a boomerang. She closed her fist around the key and clutched it to her chest. With a heavy sigh, she cast her eyes upward. “Don’t let this be goodbye, Robert. Please. I can’t lose you again.”

Chapter 14

Sure enough, a month turned into two and then to three with no word from Robert. Anna’s contacts with the WSB assured her they’d had word and promised her he was fine but insisted there was no way for her to contact him in the Outback.

So, while she waited, Anna continued to work with Andre to chip away at the block in her memory. As difficult as it was, she was determined to uncover the secrets of the past, to piece together the full story. As far as she could see, it was the only way she would be able to explain what happened, not only to Griffin and Nathan, but to Robert.

It was a slow, stressful process, but, by August she had finally made progress. On the day of Griffin’s party, she finally had the breakthrough she’d been hoping for. There were still many questions to be answered, and she was beginning to think she might never get all the answers, but she left Andre’s office feeling hopeful nevertheless. She dialed her contact at the WSB, eager to share her findings with Robert.

The hope quickly turned to dread when the voice on the other end of the phone informed her they no longer had a location on Agent Scorpio. Dismayed, she demanded to speak to Frisco, who was acting director while Robert was on assignment. And he too confirmed that Robert was no longer at his post and had been incommunicado for over forty-eight hours. He assured her they were doing everything they could to locate him and swore to call her as soon they had any information.

“Thank you, Frisco,” she said. “When you find him, I want you to tell him one thing for me, okay?” She delivered the single-sentence message and hung up. Shaken, but determined not to assume the worst, she headed home to dress for the party.

* * *

When Anna arrived at the Metro Court in her strapless, split-leg, black jumpsuit, Maxie was in full-on party-planner mode, overseeing the decorating and ordering servers around. She greeted Maxie with hugs and kisses. Maxie responded in kind, then quickly shooed her out of the way.

Leaving the expert to do her job, Anna found her way to the bar and took a seat. As she waited for the bartender to notice her, her mind drifted. How she wished Robert were there with her. He should be there with her. It was their sons’ birthday after all. Even if it wasn’t public knowledge. In fact, all the more reason he should be there, she thought.  But where the hell was he? She waffled between worry and irritation. Worry quickly won out.  Out of nostalgia, she ordered a Kir Royale. With the first sip she was transported back in time. Lost in thoughts of him and their history, a smile filled with longing spread across her lips.

When her phone dinged with a message on the bar in front of her, she grabbed it immediately, willing it to be Robert. It wasn’t. It was Robin.

  • Mom, we’re here. Where are you?

Anna’s face lit up. She sent a message back.

  • In the bar.

Moments later she heard the voice of her sweet little angel call out, “Grandma!”

Anna hopped off the stool and braced her body for collision with the ball of energy racing toward her. “Emma!” she cried as she scooped the girl into her arms. “I’ve missed you so much! Gosh, look how you’ve grown!”

“I’ve missed you too, Grandma! Is Grandpa Robert here?”

“No, darling. I’m sorry. But he sends his love and a kiss for you,” Anna said. She kissed Emma on the cheek.

By that time Robin and Patrick had caught up with baby Noah.

Anna bent to kiss the baby on the forehead. “Hello, sweet boy,” she said with a smile.

Noah let out a happy squawk.

Patrick greeted and hugged Anna and took Noah from Robin, so she too could manage a proper hug. “Emma, will you come with me and help me change your brother?” he asked, taking the diaper bag from Robin.

“Sure, Daddy. Don’t worry, Mommy. I’ll make sure he puts on the cute outfit we picked.

Anna and Robin both laughed as they watched the trio walk out. “Don’t be long,” Anna called after them. “I need to hold my grandson!”

Robin cut to the chase as soon as she had her mother’s ear. “Where’s Dad?”

Anna forced herself to maintain a slight smile, but her stomach tightened anyway. “He’s not here.”

“Is he coming?”

“No.”

“Where is he?”

Anna shook her head. “I don’t know.” She shrugged and picked up her things. “Shall we go see if Maxie needs any help?”

“Maxie doesn’t want help, Mom. What do you mean, you don’t know?”

Not wanting to worry Robin, Anna beat around the bush. “Oh, you know your father. He’s off on assignment somewhere. I’d hoped he’d be back by now, but… he must have gotten held up.”

Robin tilted her head and regarded her mother curiously. Spy or no spy, she couldn’t fool her as easily as she thought she could. “Mom, what’s going on?”

“What do you mean?”

“The last time I was in Port Charles you and Dad could barely keep your hands off each other and now you’re telling me you don’t even know where he is?”

“We’ve been out of touch for a while. That’s all. While he’s been… working. You know how it is.”

“How long has he been gone?”

Anna sighed. She was close to breaking down. “About three months. But, he’s been on assignment in the Outback, you know, so—”

“Robin!”

“Uncle Mac!” Robin rushed toward Mac and flung her arms around her and Anna breathed a sigh of relief, thankful for the interruption.

“It’s great to see you! Where are the kids? And Patrick?”

“He’s changing Noah. They’ll be out in a minute.”

“Felicia is in the ballroom with Maxie. She can’t wait to see the baby. It’s all she’s been talkin’ about all day.” He leaned toward Anna and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Anna, you look lovely as always.”

“Oh, thank you, Mac. Good to see you,” Anna smiled with a gentle hand on his bicep.

“How’s the treatment going?”

“Fine, Mac. Thank you for asking.”

“Mom and I were just discussing the fact that Dad is nowhere to be found,” Robin chimed in.

“Now that you mention it… Where is the old man?” Mac asked.

“Still off saving the world,” Anna joked. “He hasn’t called you, has he?”

“No. Should he have?”

“No. It’s fine,” Anna lied. She glanced at her phone. Still no messages. “It’s getting late. We should all move into the other room. The guest of honor will be here soon.”

“Mom, did you know that Nathan’s birthday is today too?” Robin said as Anna ushered her out of the bar.

“Ah… I heard. Yes,” Anna said.

“Kind of a funny coincidence, considering their history,” Mac laughed. “I’m surprised Maxie was able to convince Nathan to come tonight.

Anna forced a chuckle, but she felt slightly sick at the thought. Even if she and Robert were able to explain what had happened in the past, there was no telling what might happen in the future. At the moment, it didn’t look like the two men were interested in ever becoming friends, let alone family.

* * *

For most of the night Anna chatted with Emma and played with Noah. She watched happily as Robin and Patrick moved about the room catching up with all their friends. And she kept an eye on her boys from a far. They seemed contented, both cheerful and smiling, surround by friends and family. She was pleased. Maybe not so much by the fact that two of her three children seemed to have an over-developed soft spot for Sonny Corinthos, but in general. Once again, she found herself wondering what it would do to them to find out that she and Robert were their parents. That they were brothers. It would turn their worlds upside down. And how do you even begin to break that news, she wondered.

After the cake and been cut and Happy Birthday had been sung, Anna downed the last swallow of the tall scotch she’d been nursing and took two small, wrapped packages from her bag. She made her way through the crowd toward Griffin and presented him with the first one.

“Anna, thank you so much,” Griffin said politely. “For everything. The gift and the party. I know you and Robin must have put a lot of time into planning.”

“Oh, not really,” Anna smiled. “Maxie really did most of the work.”

“Still, I appreciate it more that you know. It’s nice to know that I have friends like you, especially now that my mother and father are both gone.”

Griffin stared at her, smiling as if he were waiting for her to say something, Anna could get no words past lump of emotion in her throat. She could only smile back, her lips pressed together to keep from letting too much out.

“Should I open it?” Griffin asked, motioning with the box.

“Please,” Anna squeaked out.

Griffin carefully removed the paper and opened the box to reveal a stunning pair of sapphire cuff links. “These are exquisite,” he said. “Did they…they probably didn’t.”

“What?”

“Did they belong to my father?”

“Ah… no,” Anna said. “Actually, they’re from Queensland, Australia. Your father visited there once, and he claimed their sapphires there were the most beautiful gems he’d ever seen.”

Griffin’s face lit up then. “That’s wonderful. Thank you!” he said, pulling Anna into a hug.

Griffin had no idea who she really was, or what truth she’d just revealed about his father. But she did. And standing there in his arms, the emotion became too much for her. There was nothing she could do to conceal it any longer.

“Are you okay?” Griffin asked when he saw the tears in her eyes.

“I’m fine,” Anna answered quickly. “I just… I wish your father were here too.” She managed another smile and a happy birthday and excused herself.

She made her way back to the bar, careful to avoid Robin on her way. After a few more swallows of liquid courage, she went back to the party and found Nathan and Maxie in one corner of the room. They appeared to be involved in a rather serious conversation. But decided she couldn’t let the night end without having wished both boys well.

She stepped up cautiously and put a hand on Maxie’s shoulder. “Hi, Maxie. Sorry to interrupt. I was just about to go but I didn’t want to leave without saying goodnight to you and thanking you for putting together such a lovely party.”

“Thank you, Anna. It did turn out well, didn’t it?”

“And Nathan,” Anna said, “Thank you so much for joining us. I know it probably wasn’t your idea of a fun way to spend your birthday.”

“Hey, anything that involves Maxie is my idea of fun,” he said. “And the food and drinks aren’t bad either.”

“Do you see why I love this man?” Maxie said, throwing her arms around him.

“I do. Absolutely,” Anna said. “Oh, I also have a little… something for you, Nathan.”

“You shouldn’t have,” Nathan said, surprised as he took the box. His eyes grew even wider when he saw what was inside. “Wow! You really shouldn’t have,” he said.

“Yes, you should have!” Maxie said, grabbing the box from his hands. “Aunt Anna, these are gorgeous! Are these Australian sapphires?”

“They are!” Anna laughed. “You really know your stuff.”

“Uncle Robert has a pair just like this.” Maxie said.

“He does,” Anna nodded.

“Wow!” Nathan said again. “I can’t thank you enough. This is an incredible gift.” He leaned in and hugged her.

“You’re very welcome,” she said over his shoulder. “You’re part of the family now, so…” She stopped, unsure of how to finish the sentence. Instead, she wished him a happy birthday and bid him and Maxie good night, proud of herself for surviving the encounter without breaking down again. She was about to walk away when she heard an unexpected, yet unfortunately familiar voice behind her.

“Herzlichen Glückwünsch zum Gerburtstag, mein Kind!”

Anna whipped around to face her. “Liesl, what are you doing here?”

“Hello to you too, Anna,” Obrecht said. “I only came to wish my son well on his birthday.”

It may not have been evident to others present, but Anna saw the masked venom dripping from her lips. She glared at Obrecht as she proceeded to gush over Nathan. Her stomach churned as she listened to her go on and on about how proud she was of him and how much she loved him and wished she could have raised him, if only she hadn’t feared for his safety. As much as she wanted to drag Liesl Obrecht from the room by her hair, the last thing she wanted to do was ruin party. So, she waited for a break in the conversation, then stepped up and took her arm.

“Liesl, I wonder if I might have a word with you?”

“For Heaven’s sake, what is it?”

“Outside,” Anna said sternly as she propelled the other woman toward the door.

Once out on the balcony, Obrecht shook free of Anna’s hold.

“All right. We are outside. Now, what do you want?”

“I want to talk to you.”

“About what?”

“I want to know what you know about my pregnancy.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Cut the crap, Liesl. You were there.”

“Where?”

“You were there on the ship.”

“How much have you had to drink, Anna?”

“You were there. Faison brought you on board his boat to examine me after I told him.”

Obrecht had no response.

“That’s right, isn’t it? Huh? You see, I remember now!” Anna said, tapping her index finger on her temple.

Obrecht shook her head. “I don’t care what you think you remember.”

“Enough, Liesl.”

“Yes. It is enough. I’m leaving.” Obrecht turned to leave, but Anna grabbed her by the arm again.

“You’re not going anywhere until I get some answers. You owe me that.”

“I owe you nothing. I only came here tonight to see my son on his birthday.”

At the sound of the word, Anna snapped. Without another thought, she slapped Obrecht across the face.

“How dare you!” Obrecht grumbled.

Anna didn’t stop to apologize. Instead, she grabbed her by the lapels of Obrecht’s suit jacket, spun her around, and shoved her up against the rail of the balcony. “He’s my son and you know it, you bitch!”

“You’ve gone mad!” Liesl said. She tried to sound tough, but Anna knew she had held her at a disadvantage.

Anna shifted her weight and leaned overt Obrecht so her top half was hanging over the rail. “Like hell! My babies were born while I was in a coma in that clinic and if I were a betting woman, I’d bet you were the unidentified nurse in that delivery room.”

“Get off me, Scarecrow!”

“I’m done playing games, Liesl,” Anna said, shaking her. “Tell me the truth, damn it! Were you there when I gave birth?”

Realizing that the maternal strength and adrenaline pumping through Anna’s veins would be enough to push her over the edge, Obrecht finally gave in. “Yes!” she spat.

“I knew it!” Anna stepped back and pulled Obrecht upright. She let go and rolled her shoulders and neck to shake off some of her anger, but she maintained her position of power with Obrecht’s back to the city several stories below. “Why did you do it? Hmm?” Anna asked. “Why did you take our sons?”

Obrecht, still stuck between a rock and a hard place, found no point in lying any longer. “Because Cesar begged me too.”

“He begged you to kidnap them?”

“Not exactly. When the tanker exploded, we were able to escape, thanks to Cesar’s resourcefulness. We made it to safety. But he knew he would have to go underground to survive. He knew he would never be able to raise the baby. So, I made him a promise. To keep his child safe, no matter what it took. I did it for him.”

“You want me to believe that you gave my son to your sister for safe keeping?”

“I had to. It would have been too easy for them to connect the child to Cesar if I had kept him.”

“And what about the other one? How did Margaret Munro fit into all of this?”

“That was just a happy coincidence.”

“How so?”

“She was Cesar’s assistant. She was in love with him, but he didn’t even know she existed. No one existed for him except you.”

“Shut up!”

“She agreed to raise the second child in hopes that she could win his love.”

“How did she end up in the clinic the same time I was?”

“Just some careful orchestration on my part. To make it look like the woman left the hospital with her own child instead of yours.”

Anna shook her head in disbelief or disgust. “There one problem with this story. You knew that Faison wasn’t the father. You knew when you examined me that I was farther along. Didn’t you?”

“And you were terrified that I would tell him the truth. I could see it in your eyes,” Obrecht admitted with a smug grin.

“So why follow through with your promise to him? Why keep them from me all this time?”

“Don’t be angry, Anna. You should really thank me. Neither you nor their father would have been of any help to them those first fifteen years. I did you a favor.”

“Shut up!” Anna said again. “Why? What did you stand to gain?”

Liesl leaned in closer and looked into Anna’s eyes. “Justice,” she laughed. “I finally had the opportunity to take someone you loved the same way you took Cesar from me.”

“You are sick!” Anna said, tears of anger in her eyes.

“Yes, she is, I’m sorry to say.”

Anna turned around to see Nathan stepping out of the crowd that had gathered behind them. “How much of that did you hear?” she asked.

“Enough,” he said.

“I’m so sorry, Liebchen,” Obrecht cooed.

“Save it, Mother. Or should I say Doctor Obrecht? Did I understand correctly? Is Anna… my mother?” He looked from Obrecht to Anna.

Obrecht nodded. “Yes. I’m sorry, Nathan. I do love you, you know.”

“Stop. No more lies.” He pulled a pair of handcuffs from his jacket pocket and approached her.

“Nathan, what are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m arresting you for kidnapping and probably a few other charges to be named later.” He read her rights and was about to escort her out when Griffin stopped them.

“Wait. What about the letter from mother? The one she left for me about my father? Duke?”

“Margaret Munro never knew Duke Lavery,” Obrecht said. “I wrote the letter. To throw the Scarecrow off the scent. And she fell for it. As you say… hook, line, and sinker.” She snickered at Anna over her shoulder.

Anna charged at her then, forcing Nathan to hold her back as Dante appeared to escort Obrecht away.

Slowly, the crowd began to dissipate, leaving Anna surrounded by her children and the rest of the extended Scorpio family. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to cause a scene at the party…” She stopped and took a gasp-like breath. “I didn’t mean for any of you to find out like this. I was trying to find the right way… the right time. I’m so sorry.”

For a moment, the entire group just stood looking at her. It was Robin who finally broke the silence. “Mom, is it all true? Did we hear correctly? Are Griffin and Nathan really… brothers?”

“Fraternal twins,” Anna said softly.

“Are you really their mommy, Grandma?” Emma said.

Anna swallowed and smiled at her. “Yes, sweetie. I am.”

Griffin looked confused. “But if Dr. Obrecht wrote that letter and Duke Lavery isn’t my… or our father, then who is?”

Before Anna could answer, another voice did it for her.

“I am.”

Chapter 15

“Robert! Oh, thank God, Robert,” Anna cried, her hands crossed over her heart. She took a step toward him, then hesitated.

He gave her an unusually coy smile and opened his arms in response. When she ran into them, he lifted her right off the ground and spun her around 180 degrees before putting her down. “It’s okay, love. I’m back,” he whispered into her hair as she clung to him. He looked at everyone over her shoulder and smiled. “Ah, listen, Griffin, Nathan, I’m sure you two have a lot of questions. I have a few myself. We’re gonna do what we can to answer every one of them. But first, I wonder if you all could grant me a few minutes alone with this lady here.”

When no one moved, he looked to his brother. “Mac?”

“Oh, right. Sorry, Robbie,” Mac said. “Folks, let’s give these to a few minutes of privacy, huh?” He waved the family back into the ballroom and closed the French doors behind him.

Robert freed himself from Anna’s grip and stepped back to look at her. He ran his hands over her strong, bare shoulders, then traced the chain of her diamond necklace down her décolletage with his finger and grinned. “You are a sight for sore eyes,” he said. “You look beautiful.”

He looked tired, but she didn’t say it. She caressed the stubbly beard on his cheek. “Are you all right?”

“It’s been a rough couple of months. But I am now.”

“What happened? I called. I left messages. Have you talked to Frisco?”

“No. I’ve been busy trying to get home to you.”

“It’s been three months Robert! I was so worried about you. About us. And the last time I called, Frisco told me they couldn’t find you and I was afraid that something had happened to you.” She gave him a frustrated shove.

He grabbed her hand and kissed it. “I’m sorry about that, love. But the thing is, Frisco wanted me to continue the mission. He wanted me to follow the perps to Vanuatu. But I couldn’t do it. I knew I needed to come home and deal with things.”

“So, you shook the WSB?”

“Not that hard. I booked a commercial flight under an alias they didn’t know I had and took the battery out of my cell phone.”

“You disabled their tracking device?”

“Yep.”

“Brilliant,” she laughed.

“Thank you! Frisco may not think so, but I’ll deal with him tomorrow.” He took her face in his hands. “Right now, I want to deal with you,” he said in a low, sexy voice. He leaned in slowly and kissed her.

It was the type of kiss that said, “I missed you, I want you, I need you.” The kind of kiss that melted your insides and left you week in the knees. And by the time his lips left hers she was breathing heavily. “Does that mean we’re okay?” she said between breaths.

“I’m sorry you had to ask that,” he said. “I’m sorry I left things the way I did. I just needed time to figure some stuff out.”

“And did you?”

“Yeah. I did,” he said, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “I figured out a lot while I was out there alone.”

“Like what?”

“Like… I love you, Anna Devane. Whatever happened with Faison—”

“Robert,” she interrupted.

He put a finger to her lips. “Just… let me finish here, would you?”

She nodded.

“Whatever you did or thought you had to do… it doesn’t change the fact that I need you in my life. We’ve both had other spouses, other lovers. But that didn’t change it either. I love you, Anna. I always have. It’s time I admit that nothing is ever going to change that.” He kissed a tear that fell from her cheek, then moved to her mouth, savoring the taste of her.

“Robert,” she said when he came up for air.

“Hmm?”

“You didn’t talk to Frisco.”

“No.”

“So, you didn’t get my message.”

“What message?”

“I didn’t do it.”

“That’s the message?”

“Yes! I didn’t do it. I remember now, Robert. I remember all of it. I was afraid. I did want to protect the baby. Or… babies. I did convince Faison that he was the father. So that he would feel responsible for their safety.”

“Anna, it doesn’t matter anymore, sweetheart.”

“I appreciate you saying that. I do. But it does matter. It matters to me. All right? I didn’t sleep with him. Or, at least we never had sex. I only let him think that. I drugged him with some pills I found in his desk and let him pass out in my bed so that he would think something had happened between us. I should have trusted myself in the first place. I should have known that I could never have done that to you. I loved you too much.”

“Loved?”

“Love. I love you too much. I always have.”

“Promise me something?”

“What?”

“No matter what happens from here on out, promise me I’m never gonna lose you.”

“Not even if you try,” she said.

“I mean it, Anna. I don’t care if we get married or live together or sell all our worldly belongings and join a convent—”

“A convent?” she laughed.

“Or a monastery!” He chuckled, and she laughed even harder. “Whatever! It’s you and me, Devane. Forever. Got it?”

“Got it!” she beamed. “Together.”

“Forever.”

“Always.”

They sealed the deal with one more kiss as their impatient family watched from inside. Robert looked over her should and laughed again. “I think we’d better get in there and try to work things out with our children and rest of the curious mob.”

“Let’s do it,” she said.

“Oh, and Anna?” Robert called as she started inside.

“Hmm?”

“One more promise.”

“What’s that?”

“After we address the inquiring minds in there, promise me we can go home and go straight to bed.”

“The night is young, Scorpio. Are you tired?” she asked with a coquettish lilt to her voice.

“On the contrary,” he teased. “You and I have a great deal of undercover work to discuss.” Then, he leaned over and whispered. “And it just might keep us up. All. Night. Long.” He gave her a love tap on the behind for good measure and walked inside.

 

 

 

 

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20 thoughts on “Always

  1. More, more, more please I am not known for my patience. Two thumbs up, great chapter and story. Not only is Anna getting some much needed love but TANKER BABY LIVES!

  2. Ok you did it again, I’ve read chapter 8 three times, let alone rereading entire story again, it’s that good. I have to complement you, you are excellent at cliff hangers. Great chapter now needing to read more!

  3. Way to go with that chapter ending it came at me from out of nowhere BAM!lol. Great chapter, great cliffhanger, wish you were writing this Anna’s secret child story. Can’t wait for your next instalment.

  4. Yay! Thank you so much for the updates. A good Robert & Anna fan fic is definitely needed right now! Loving this …can’t wait for more! ❤

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