On Common Ground

Chapter 12

 

Stefan came home in a good mood. Business had gone well and now he was looking forward to spending the day with Zander. But the moment he entered the house, Mrs. Lansbury was upon him.

"Zander is gone!" she wailed.

"What?" Stefan grabbed her by the shoulders. "What are you talking about?"

Mrs. Lansbury took a deep breath to calm herself. "He went out last night and never came home. Then this was delivered for you, first thing this morning. I...I opened it. I was worried."

Stefan nodded. "It's all right." He took the note card and read it.

*Dear son...
I have something that belongs to you. Lovely boy. You know where to find me.
Love mother.*

"Son of a bitch!" Stefan roared, and he felt Mrs. Lansbury flinch. He turned to her. "Call for the helicopter, tell them to fuel up and we leave immediately." Stefan was about to head for the stairs to pack a few things when Alexis strode into the foyer. "What are you doing here?" Not that he wasn't happy to see her, but he had to get to Zander.

Alexis waved a familiar note card in his face. "This was delivered this morning. What the hell is going on, Stefan?"

He took the card and the note was similarly vague and taunting.


*Alexis dear,
Zander Smith sends his regards. Perhaps you would like to visit? Stefan knows where to find me.*

"What's going on, Stefan?" Alexis repeated.

"I don't know." Stefan rubbed a hand over his face. "But apparently my mother has extended an invitation to the both of us. The helicopter is being prepared as we speak."

Alexis was tearful. "How did Zander get mixed up in all of this? What on earth does Helena want with him?"

Stefan sighed. "It's my fault. I should have known better. Do you have a bag?"

"In my car."

"Then let's go. You know my mother hates when people are late." Stefan guided Alexis out the door.

* * * * *

Zander came awake to a hand stroking through his hair. He opened his eyes and was surprised by the face staring back at him. Stefan's mother, Helena Cassadine. He said nothing but simply glared at her as he struggled to sit up. His muscles felt weighted.

"Rest easy, Zander," Helena purred. She stroked a fingertip over his face and laughed when he smacked her hand away. "So...you are Stefan's new lover." She laughed again at the stunned expression on Zander's face. "My son always did like them young and beautiful. In that regard he chose well." Helena's hand now stroked down Zander's bare chest. Again it was slapped away. "But your...pedigree...leaves much to be desired. Your father is, to put it bluntly, a pompous ass. He does come from money though, as do you. Not old money...but still. You've led the life of a hooligan, Zander. Sad."

"What the fuck am I doing here?" Zander snapped.

Helena blinked at him. "Such language, dear. Tsk tsk." She tapped a fingertip to his lips. "But I'll train you myself and I'm betting you'll be a fast learner."

Zander frowned. "Train me? What are you talking about? Why am I here?" She hadn't answered his question.

"Let's just say that you're home now and leave it at that."

"Home? This is not my home and I sure as hell am NOT Staying here!" Zander made to get out of bed to prove his point, only to realize he was naked, so he stayed put.

Helena looked disappointed. "Stefan will be here soon and we'll all talk about your future." Helena rose from the bed and headed for the door. "You may shower and there are clothes for you, choose what you like. I'll send someone in with a tray. You must be starved." With that Helena left the room.

Zander glared at the closed door after she left, hearing the click of it and knowing it was locked. Then he rose from the bed to explore a bit, taking a blanket with him. The room was huge and had a connecting bathroom. It was twice the size of his room at Wyndemere. Zander missed the place and he missed Stefan. He was worried about what was to come. He knew he had to get out of here somehow. If he stayed he knew that Helena would use him in some power play against Stefan and Zander wasn't about to let that happen. He pulled open some drawers and found some clothes. No jeans and tees, but he found a black pullover and black pants. He grabbed socks and briefs and headed for the bathroom.

While he let the warm water wash away the after effects of the drug in his system, Zander thought about Stefan. He couldn't shake the way Stefan had touched him when they made love. And that was how he looked at it, as making love. It wasn't just sex, it was something more meaningful, more beautiful. Something more permanent. Zander could still feel Stefan inside of him. It was so strange and yet it felt right somehow. Zander would always love Emily, he would always love women, but making love with Stefan allowed him to move forward. To shake his hold on the past and consider living again.

And that was all Stefan's doing. Zander realized he had strong feelings for the man. Feelings that scared him a little. Stefan treated Zander with respect and as an equal. He listened to him and he got in his face. He cared about him in a way that Zander wasn't used to. Only Emily and Alexis had ever cared about him in that way before, but not in the same way. Because Stefan was a man, because he was a second son, he understood Zander in a way no one else could.


The image of Stefan's face danced in Zander's head. He had never thought about another man being attractive before, or being attracted to them, but he felt stirrings for Stefan. He saw a beauty in the man that he saw reflected in Stefan's eyes for himself. What he felt for Stefan shook Zander. He didn't want to care this much again. Didn't want to risk the hurt. Yet, somehow, he knew he could trust Stefan not to hurt him. Not intentionally. But sometimes fate ruled over good intentions. "I'm sorry, Stefan," Zander whispered, as he turned off the shower spray. "I won't let your mother use me to get to you. I promise." He stepped out, dried off and got dressed.

When Zander came back into the bedroom, he saw a tray on the side table, laden with food. Zander ate a bit, drank some tea, while making faces, then he decided on a plan.

Moving to the door, Zander pounded on it. "Hey you! I know you're out there! I want some coffee! Hey!" He heard the key in the lock and backed up behind the door as it opened. As the guard moved to close it, Zander whacked him in the face with the heavy, silver tray. The guard went down. Zander grabbed the gun from his shoulder holster and ran.

 

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Shelly 2004