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My Favorite Hostage

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"I thought you might want a few moments to find out what you're willing to do to help poor Doctor Scorpio." A masked figure had said those words to her only hours before. They had circled around in her head even as she tried to calm her father. His threat, and yes, that's exactly what he meant his words to be, sounded ominous; but they did little to shake her resolve. Emily meant what she said to Sonny. She wasn't going to leave until everyone was safe, in particularly Robin. There wasn't a thing the hostage ringleader could do to her that hadn't already been done or tried. She'd survived worse than him and when it came down to it, her survival wasn't the most important thing to her. Saving lives – Robin’s life, her father's, Nikolas – it was their survival that mattered most to her.

Emily was willing to pay the price for their lives. Whatever that entailed she would handle it. At least she thought she would until a choice had to be made. Mr. Craig, as they discovered him to be, had allowed her to operate on Robin with Patrick's help. Not that being coached over the phone was all that much help. She knew he let her help because Carly begged. That was Carly's price to pay, begging for the life of her long-time rival and foe.

Little had she known then that her price would be a choice between her ailing father and pregnant best friend. "You can't do that to her." Emily heard Sonny's words before her senses had narrowed and all she could hear was her father struggling to breath and Elizabeth gasping in pain, her hand clutched protectively over her stomach. He above all others had seen what losing Reece had cost her and Emily knew he was trying to prevent her from going through something like that again.

The world was muffled around her and before she knew what was happening Craig grabbed her and hauled her up. "Emily, darling, you have a choice to make," he told her. His sea-green eyes were unforgiving. She shook her head, denying his words. "Don't disappoint me now," he growled, accent thicker do to his anger. He swiveled her, first making her look at Elizabeth and then her father.

Tears stung her eyes, but she forced them back. There really wasn't an option. Emily knew that as she looked into her father's dark eyes. One life verses two. He was a doctor and she could read his understanding. Still what she said next pained her. "I love you Dad," she declared looking at Alan before she turned to Craig, "I'm going to help Elizabeth." Her tone was defiant but she didn't care.

He had the audacity to smile at her. "That's my girl," he whispered for just her to hear as he pushed her towards Elizabeth.

---

"I'm better," Elizabeth puffed. "The cramping is easing."

"You're pale and your heart rate is elevated," Emily stated studying her friend's face for any hint pain or discomfort. She silently cursed the fact that she didn't have the proper equipment to check on the baby.

"Everyone's heart rate is elevated Em," Elizabeth remarked, her hand gently rubbing her stomach. "I'm good now. We're good now. You should check on your father."

Emily's heart leapt at thought of Alan. Craig had ordered Two to take him back to the office with Lulu in tow. He had been in bad shape then and as much as she wanted to go to him, to help him, she was afraid of being too late.

"You two are being awfully chatty," Craig said as he walked towards them. Once he was near he raised his gun and took a moment to aim it at each of them. "Am I'm going to have to separate you?"

"We have to talk. Without proper equipment it's the only way I can assess Elizabeth's condition."

"And how is Baby's Breath, Doctor Emily? I'm sure everyone would like to know," he said with a grand sweep of his armed hand around the lobby. "Especially your valiant Nikolas. He's had a vest interest in protecting her … Robin, Lulu, Sweet Sam, Elizabeth. That's quite a hero complex," Craig continued. "I think it will become an increasing hindrance don't you?"

As he asked the question he took aim at Nikolas who was now sitting with Robin and Carly. "I think you've run out of time."

"No," Emily shouted as she lunged for Craig's arm. "Emily," Nikolas yelled as Craig shifted and captured Emily around her waist. He pulled her close into him, wrapping his other arm around her so he could place the gun against her neck.

The tension in the room doubled as Nikolas struggled against one of their captors and Carly. "Let her go," he ordered.

Craig ignored his words. Running the gun down Emily's neck he said, "I see he's not the only one with a savior complex." His next words were directed at Nikolas, "If you want Doctor Emily to survive this you need to calm down Nightmare."

"If you hurt her I swear—"

"He said calm down Nikolas," Sonny barked from across the room gaining the Prince's attention. "This isn't about you; it's about Emily, so sit down and shut up."

"I'd take the man's advice," Craig drawled.

Nikolas continued to glare at Sonny. It was easier to look at him then to see Emily in danger. He saw Sonny signal to Carly and allowed her to pull him back down to the floor when she said, "Come on." He took in the sight of Robin pale and dying. It could Emily on the couch, he thought, hell it could be any of them, but he wouldn't be responsible for anything happening to Emily. Resolved his gaze shifted up. Emily was still flush against Craig, he was no longer trailing the gun along her neck; it was pressing firmly in the niche behind her ear.

"It must be true love," Craig stated glibly. "Am I guessing correctly?"

"Yes." Emily's answer came out ragged.

He shifted his head so it came down next to hers. Because he was tempted and knew it would irritate his audience he sniffed her neck. "You do have a way with words," Craig informed her. "I'll let him live ... for now."

Emily gulped as relief flooded her. "I need to check on my father."

His laughter filled the room. "You made your choice already darling. You're going to have to live with it," he said spinning her out and down in the direction of Elizabeth.

Emily managed to brace herself so she didn't land in a heap in the floor. Once she was steady she pivoted to face Craig again and looked up at him. "Please."

Craig hunched down in front of her. In a way far too intimate for her taste he brushed her hair behind her ear. "Don't worry. We'll finish our negations later. Until then attend Baby's Breath here or we'll have no use for her. Do you understand?"

"Perfectly," she replied, her eyes glistening with anger.

---

"This is going to be over soon," Carly whispered. "There's little over an hour until the vault opens; they'll get what they're after and we'll get out of here."

"You don't have to reassure me Carly," Emily said, her voice low so she wouldn't call any attention to herself. Not that she'd managed to do that successfully at all this evening.

"I know you're worried about Alan," the older woman replied. "You'll be able to check on him soon."

The shrill ringing of the lobby phone stopped Emily from replying. The collective gaze of the hostages landed on the phone. They all seemed to wait with baited breath as Craig crossed the room — he'd been trading words with Sam again — to answer it.

"Must we have the manners discussion again?" he inquired.

"Sorry," Patrick replied his voice tired and strained. "I just wanted to know how Robin is."

"That's a tiresome question Doctor Drake."

"Her pulse is holding steady," Emily called out loudly in hopes of Patrick hearing her.

"Emily," Carly hissed and nudged her with her elbow.

"If Emily is with Robin again have her—" Craig ended the call. With his gaze firmly settled on the young doctor he placed the phone back on the desk. "I don't believe I gave you permission to speak Doctor Emily."

"She didn't mean anything by it," Carly informed the ringleader. From the corner of her eye she saw Sonny shake his head. It was clear that he didn't want her to get involved with this latest skirmish. Whether it was for her own good or Emily's she wasn't sure.

Craig haphazardly pointed his gun at Carly. "I doubt the good Doctor needs you defending her. Do you?" he asked of Emily.

"No," Emily answered meeting and holding his gaze.

"I didn't think so," he smirked. "Time for change. Menacing Max I think you're done being a target. Over here with Carly," Craig ordered as he used his gun to direct people. "Mr. Corinthos you've been good with little Lulu."

With quick steps Craig strode over to where he left Sam. "Sweetness," he said with a hint of mockery in his voice as he hoisted Sam up, "you're with Baby's Breath." He pushed her towards Elizabeth.

Mateo caught and steadied Sam, who managed not to flinch at his touch. "Father why don't you join McFarty."

The priest nodded and crossed the room. "Nightmare you're our new target," Craig announced.

Nikolas hadn't moved from his spot next to Lulu so Five gave him shove. "What about Emily?" he asked.

Craig didn't answer Nikolas instead he walked over to Emily. "It's time to finish our negotiations," he informed her. Emily didn't struggle when he took a hold of her, but Nikolas stepped forward again.

"Don't," Lulu hissed.

"If you'd like to see your lady love again I would suggest keeping your cool." Craig enjoyed the flash of fear that crossed the younger man's face before his jaw clenched. Certain that the man knew the stakes he said, "Good," and directed Emily out of lobby and back towards the offices. She didn't protest until they passed the door that lead to her father.

"I need to check on my father," she said trying to pull away from him.

"Darling what you need is of no importance to me," Craig remarked. He opened the other office door and heaved Emily inside.

Emily hit the back of the chair just inside the door with a hard thud. Ignoring the burst of pain she turned. Fury burned in her eyes. "What do you want?" she asked harshly, hating the smug look on his face.

"It's not what I want," he stressed closing in on her. "It's what you're willing to give to see dear old daddy."

He was mere inches from her and Emily felt unnerved by his presence. What did want from her? What could she possibly give him or offer him that others hadn't? "I don't have anything."

A half-smile touched his face. "That's where you're wrong." Before she could read his intent Craig closed the gap between them and ducked his head so his lips could capture hers. Her felt the shock go through her and then her body tensed, but he didn't stop his quest. He pressed his lips more firmly against hers for a moment before pulling back slightly.

She started to let out a relieved gasp and he used that to his advantage. He claimed her lips again. This time his tongue swept into her mouth and he took in the full flavor of her sweetness. Compelled by something he didn't quite understand Craig wrapped his arms around her and lifted her up off the floor, holding her flush against him.

Shaken Emily grabbed onto his biceps to steady herself. She had every intention of pushing away from him, but it was struggle not to respond to his fierce kiss. Rather than forceful it was needy, with a hint of desperation. She didn't understand – not the situation, not the kiss, and certainly not Craig. But if this was the price he wanted her to pay then she'd pay it.

He felt her fingers tighten on his arms. Craig thought she was preparing to pull away and had every intention of holding her in place. He didn't have to though because she began to kiss him back. Her tongue tangled with his as she pressed her lips into his. For one brief flashing moment he was stunned. Then nature took over. The kiss turned carnal as he worked his hands up her back to her hair. They fisted there in her silky tress.

Greedy for the taste of her he nipped her lips a few times, before she invaded his mouth with her tongue. Passion caused everything but her face and the feel of her against to him to go hazy. He took a few precious seconds to enjoy the heady feeling before dragging her way and taking a step back.

Craig could see astonishment and lust, mixed with a healthy dose of disgust, in her eyes as she struggled to catch her breath. "You're a constant surprise Doctor Emily. I can see why your dear Nikolas is so intent on keeping you."

She flinched internally when he said Nikolas's name. She couldn't think about him now. Not after that kiss. Emily could still feel the mark Craig's lips left on hers and it made her want to swipe her hand over her mouth in hopes of brushing that feeling away. It would be a worthless gesture, so she held back, and instead she told him: "I want to see my father now."

He let out a laugh. "By all means darling. You've earned it," he said opening the door.

She took another deep breath before heading towards the door. Craig's arm shot out when she reach him and Emily looked questioningly up at him. "Be sure to say hello to him for me," he said with an amused tone.

---

"He was trapped with the mouthy one," Five reminded his boss.

"I would have said spunky," Craig remarked dryly, his gun raised as the last few seconds until the vault was accessible ticked down.

Five mirrored his boss's stance but he didn't think the guns would be necessary. The blonde girl had been annoying and if Three hadn't shot her by now, he was certain that he had at least knocked her unconscious. He certainly would have.

When the magic hour struck there was a cacophony of clanks and electronic sounds as the vault came out of lock down. Craig signaled Five to open vault. The younger man stepped forward, his gun at the ready, and repeated the steps he performed twelve hours earlier. The vault door opened with a loud hiss as pressurized air was released.

"Well isn't this an interesting development?" Craig stated as Three held his gun on them with the object of the night's events clutched in the arms of the blonde woman his man seemed to be guarding.

"I won't let you hurt her," he warned; his gun moving alternatively between his unmasked boss and Five.

"Don't be stupid Three," Five cautioned.

"Don't be so melodramatic," Craig ordered. "He doesn't want to keep the briefcase. He's smart enough to know that it will self-destruct. Do you really want your new friend to be holding it then?"

"He has point," Maxie chimed in poking her head out from behind Three's shoulder.

"Give me the case and she can join the other hostages in the lobby."

Three palmed his gun before settling it on his boss again. He knew the backup plan. Leave the hostages in the lobby and blow it so they'd be able to escape in the chaos that followed. If he left Maxie in the lobby the chances of her survival where slim. Non-existence really. "She stays with me. All the way."

"Not an option," Five snapped.

Not removing his gaze from Three, Craig aimed his gun at Five. "This isn't your show," he stated.

Five shivered when Three followed One's suit. He didn't like looking down the barrel of gun, let alone two. "Right," he breathed out nervously. Five raised his hands above his head and let his gun dangle by his trigger finger.

"You can have her, but once we're out you're on your own."

"What about—"

"You're on your own," Craig repeated, leaving no room for negotiation.

Three swallowed hard. "Deal," he agreed lowering his gun. "Maxie give me the case," he instructed as he tucked his gun away.

"Are you sure about this?" she asked. Doubt shimmered in her blue eyes.

"It will be fine," Three promised as he took the case from her. He shot her a reassuring smile before he turned, stone-faced, and handed over the briefcase to his boss.

"Good lad," Craig commented as he took possession of the vital shipment. "I want everyone in the lobby. Five go get my favorite doctor and her father." He waited for his order to be followed before continuing. "Three once we get to the lobby you can stick close to Maxie, but I want no signs of special treatment. I hate for our guests to get jealous."

Three nodded his understanding. "Come on Maxie," he said gently as directed her towards the lobby.

"One other thing," Craig said stepping between Three and the girl. "You get mouthy and the deal is off."

"I'm not stupid," Maxie shot back with more attitude then she knew she was capable of at the moment.

"No? Well the others have a heroic streak. Frankly it's boring me. Any of that from you and I will make you my next example," he threaten coolly.

"She won't cause any trouble," Three assured him.

"I'd like to hear that from Maxie."

Maxie felt like wilting under his hard stare. She knew this man could care less if she or anyone else lived or died. He wanted the briefcase, consequences be damned, and she had no intention of being collateral damage. "I'll be on my best behavior," she swore. For added emphasis she gave the sign of scouts' honor.

Craig chuckled at her display. "Happy to hear it," he said before turning and leading them to the lobby. When they entered it he was pleased to see that all the hostages were there. "Take her over by the couch."

Three nodded and started in that direction. He cursed low under his breath when Maxie let out a distressed cry. "Robin," she gasped pulling away from him rushing to the injured girl. "What happened to my cousin?" Maxie demanded.

Craig shook his head in disappointment. So much for the girl's word. He was lifting his gun when Five approached him. "We have a problem," he was informed. As the other hostages tried to sooth Maxie he listened to Five explain how Four was no longer their man.

They'd been infiltrated without incident. He would have been impressed if the move hadn't put a serious crimp in his plan. He took stock of the new Four. Taller and bulkier then his man, but only slightly. In the constant game of the evening he could see how the man managed to sneak in. Craig didn't have time to question who he could be, but he took note of the fact that he was standing near Baby's Breath. Who was supposed to be with Sam. "Damn," he cursed sharply.

Things were unraveling faster than he anticipated. A hostage was missing. One of his men was down and another infatuated with a hostage. They had to leave. Now. But not without some leverage; and Craig knew exactly which hostage with whom he'd like to share some more time. "Doctor Emily. Over here, now."

Emily didn't even turn to give Craig her attention. "I have to stay with my father."

"Darling, don't make me shoot Maxie," he warned raising his gun.

A round of cries went out. Emily turned and faced Craig. "All right," she relented. She turned back to Alan. "You'll be fine dad. You have to be," she said softly touching his face. She cast a quick glance towards Nikolas before getting up and crossing the room.

"Well done," he said with a pleased smiled. "I think you've earned another reward. Nightmare," Craig said shifting his gaze from Emily to Nikolas, "You can take Doctor Robin to get the care she needs now."

"What?" Nikolas questioned. "Wait. Why now?"

Craig signaled to Four to see how much of the game the man would be willing play. The blue-eyed imposter nodded in return and pushed Nikolas towards the couch.

"You want her to die then?" he inquired. "I can arrange it if you like." Again Craig's aim shifted and more cries sounded. He and Nikolas both tuned into Emily's request, "Nikolas you have to get Robin help."

"All right," the Prince acquiesced. He took quick steps over to Robin.

"This is how it's going to work," Craig began to explain. "Everyone is going to get behind the front desk, except for you Emily dear, and Nikolas is going to carry Robin out the front doors."

"The police could fire on them," Carly protested.

"Alan isn't in any condition to move," Lulu reported.

"Daddy can stay put. Everyone else behind the desk," Craig ordered, "unless you want the good doctor's blood on your hands," he stated latching onto Emily.

The collective solemn, tired, and angry gaze of his hostages landed on him. Craig knew he would have their compliance.

They shuffled towards the desk, glances passing between them, and he could tell they were debating on making a move or not. After the hell he put them through he knew a bond a form between them all, beyond the ones they already had. It wasn't about individual survival for them anymore, but collective survival. Unless they could all get out they wouldn't risk a move.

"Nightmare, it's your move," Craig commanded.

"I'm coming back," Nikolas promised Emily before carefully lifting Robin up into his arms. Behind him, as he moved towards the front doors, their captors slowly began to gather for their final move.

When Nikolas opened the door and stepped out Craig whispered, "Ten seconds."

---

Emily had heard Jason call out her name when Craig pulled her down the hallway. Chaos was swimming around them – Elizabeth had cried out in pain and the others were responding to her distress, until Sonny alerted them to the fact that Craig and his men were making their move – everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. She was moving further and further away from her friends, from her brother. How had he gotten there, she wondered.

Then she was outside, Craig's grip was still firm on her when she saw a flash of bright light as the hotel lobby exploded. Emily couldn't hear her own cry of anguish over the sound of the explosion. Jason, her father, Elizabeth, Lulu, Sonny, Max, Carly, Sam, Maxie ... Nikolas! What if Nikolas had made it back in? Her thoughts were frazzled and split, so much so, that she didn't fight when a rough, black cloth was thrown over her head and her hands were tied behind her back. Instead the hot tears she'd been fighting all night over took her. Her body was wracking with sobs as she was dragged blocks from the hotel and then thrown into an automobile.

"Don't wilt on me now," Craig ordered as the engine turned over.

In the dark, with the quiet hum of the engine and low murmur of her captors, Emily lost track of time. They could have been driving for minutes or hours, she wasn't sure anymore. Her disorientation increased when the vehicle stopped and she was transferred into another.

The hard metal she'd been hunching on was replaced by soft leather. Once the car started Emily heard Craig say, "Let's make you more comfortable shall we?" before the hood that had blinded her was removed.

Even though there wasn't much light Emily blinked as she adjusted to it. She noted that the windows were blacked out, making it impossible to see where they were headed. "Better?" Craig inquired.

Refusing to look at him she replied, "No, not really."

"I rather doubt you'd want to be back in the lobby," he commented. Craig noted how she shuddered slightly at the mention of the hotel, but the tears she'd let out earlier did not return. "Speaking of the lobby, Four seemed quite interested in keeping you there. He even called out your name. Would you like to tell me why?"

He waited a moment but she didn't answer him. "I know he wasn't my man," Craig continued, "but he certainly knew you, Doctor Emily. Unless you want things to become unpleasant you'll answer me."

Emily gulped. She'd seen and experienced Craig's handy-work all night. The thought of having his undivided attention unnerved her, but speaking about Jason without knowing if he were alive or dead seemed down right impossible. So many people she cared about could be dead or dying now. The thought chilled her to her core.

"Darling," he whispered in her ear, "this is your last opportunity."

"Ja-Jason," she managed to wobble out his name, her voice low and pained.

The dots connected in Craig's mind. Sonny Corinthos was in the hotel; Jason Morgan was his right-hand man and enforcer. It would make sense for him to try and stage a rescue attempt. What didn't connect was Jason Morgan and Doctor Emily Quartermaine. Brows furled he asked, "Morgan? Jason Morgan?"

Emily nodded. Suspicion confirmed Craig asked. "How does a good little girl like you know him?"

The condescension in his tone had Emily snapping to meet Craig's gaze full on, her eyes blazing, "He's my brother."

Craig let out a laugh. How deliciously perfect, he thought, if Corinthos or Morgan survived the explosion he had the perfect bargaining chip. With glee he couldn't quite contain he stated, "I knew you were my favorite hostage."

---

Her silky brunette tresses rested on her creamy shoulder, bare save for the thin strap of her green dress. His fingers itched to touch her as he done before. To unleash the passion that he knew simmered under her delicate facade. Craig could remember the sweetness of her, but he also recalled how tasting her had almost cost him his control.

That was one thing he was not willing to give up, so instead of reaching for Emily, he grasped the decanter of whiskey in the limo. "Would you like some," he asked his captive. "It's the finest single malt."

Emily had been trying to ignore Craig since he informed her that she was his favorite hostage. She was fairly certain that he hadn't meant it in a provocative way but his accent had a way of changing the meaning of his words, at least for her. She always envisioned British men being debonair and heroic – too many James Bond films she supposed.

Craig couldn't use manners to hide the fact that he was a monster from her. Manners he turned on and off at whim. "No."

"What, no thank you?"

Emily shot him a withering glare. "I'm not the good girl anyone makes me out to be."

Craig smiled over his crystal tumbler. "You'd be boring if you were," he remarked before taking a sip. He watched as she shifted uncomfortably in the seat beside him. There was something captivating about the young doctor and causing her to react to him was quite enjoyable. As interesting as it would be to make her squirm, he needed to know more about her. Her connection to Morgan had been unforeseen and Craig needed to be certain that there wouldn't be any more surprises. "Tell me some more about yourself, darling. Any other important connections?"

"You didn't put much stock in the Cassadine name, so I doubt the Quartermaine name will mean much to you either," Emily answered after a moment.

"You're right. Big fish in small ponds aren't important."

"You under estimate them," she stated.

"Are you expecting to be rescued?" Craig tsked. "For all your family knows you're in pieces inside the hotel lobby."

Her jaw clenched at his words. Her father, Jason, Elizabeth ... Emily shook the thought of them and others inside the lobby when it blew. She couldn't think about them being in trouble or worse yet, dead. She wouldn't be able to make it through this if she did. They were okay. Banged up undoubtedly, but she would see them all again. She had to keep telling herself that, believing that or she would shatter in front of Craig.

Emily was determined to keep that from happening. "I can rescue myself."

"Of that I have no doubt," Craig replied. "But surely you have something better than Cassadines and Quartermaines to offer?"

Throughout the long, grueling evening Emily had heard talk about the briefcase in the vault Craig was after; a shipment from Lorenzo Alcazar. Personally she had no use for the man. He had kept Nikolas's identity secret after the crash, bringing Mary and Connor Bishop into their lives, but she couldn't blame the couples actions on Alcazar. They made their own choices, just as she and Nikolas had.

It was simple really. Jason and Sonny didn't trust Alcazar, and thought of him as an enemy, but her loyalties were pulled when Skye decided to move in and make her family work with him. She wanted to support her sister, but she hadn't quite figured out how to do that yet considering the circumstances.

Alcazar was a name Craig would deem important, but Emily wasn't certain if telling him of her slight connection to him would be helpful or a hindrance. She was playing a game with a man who was constantly changing the rules. A man with no scruples who was willing to leave people to die.

"I'm waiting," he said, his tone warning. Emily knew she had to give him some kind of answer or face his promised unpleasantness.

"My sister," she finally spoke, "is Skye Quartermaine. Girlfriend to and mother of Lorenzo Alcazar's child, Lila. She named her after our Grandmother."

"Emily darling," Craig said with grin, "you continue to astound."

---

Stashed hours outside of Port Charles in his safe house Craig watched the reports still coming in on the hostage situation and explosion at the Metro Court; there had been a very uncertain time following the explosion, but they now knew that all but two hotel personal eventually made it out of the wreckage. Their escape had been noted, but so far the police hadn’t been able to track them, and since Three wasn’t mentioned, he could only assumed he made it out without incident.

That was one blessing. Craig didn’t know whether he should be pleased by the survival of Sonny Corinthos and his cohort Jason Morgan. He could certainly use the girl against them if need be, not to mention Alcazar. He highly doubted that his fiery lover would allow her sister to be harmed.

He considered telling Emily about her brother, but he didn’t want to give her undo hope. He had no doubt Morgan would want his sister back, but as long as she was unsure about his and the others survival she would be more manageable. Less capable of thinking clearly and causing problems, though Craig did find the thought of her trying to outwit him rather arousing.

His own pleasures would have to wait. He had a deal to complete and needed to make sure that no one tried to interfere. A few phone calls would arrange that and he decided to start with Alcazar.

After two rings, Skye answered Lorenzo’s phone, “Yes.”

“Skye, I can only assume that since you’re answering this phone that Lorenzo is still indisposed.”

“You … you heartless bastard,” she seethed into the phone. “If it’s the last thing I do I’m going to make you pay for this.”

“You can try dear, but before you make any more threats you might want to consider your sister’s safety.”

“My sis—Emily. You have her?” she questioned hopefully.

“I see your brother hasn’t filled you in. Considering that you’re sleeping with the enemy I can hardly blame him,” Craig remarked.

“Jason’s not my brother. We have family in common, nothing more.”

“Well it’s apparent that Emily is important to both of you. So if you’d like to see her alive and well again you and Lorenzo will lay low, and refrain from saying any more about me.”

“And if we don’t?”

“Ah,” he sighed knowingly. “You think Lorenzo can tell the police everything he knows about me, make himself a deal. If that happens Skye you’ll never see Emily again. Tell me you understand.”

“I understand.”

“Now say we have deal. Your silence in return for you sister.”

“I’m supposed to believe you’ll live up to this deal why? You've already double-crossed Lorenzo once.”

“Valid point. It’s simple,” he explained, “your sister made quite an impression on me during our time together. She’s earned a right to her freedom; however, you must insure it. I’ll compete the deal and release her, but only if you and Lorenzo keep silent.”

“I … I need to talk to her,” she continued to hedge.

“Skye, this is your last chance. Do you want to see your sister again?” Craig asked.

“Yes,” she whimpered.

“Then you’ll keep your mouth shut and see that Lorenzo does the same,” he instructed.

“Yes.”

Craig ended the call the second he had her assurance. He took a sip of the coffee that was steaming on the desk in front of him, before making his next call. Sonny answered his phone after the first ring. “Corinthos.”

“Hello Michael Corinthos, Jr. I must say I’m quite impressed by your survival skills.”

“Craig,” he hissed. “Where’s Emily?”

“Straight to the point. I appreciate that. The good doctor is safe – for now.”

“I want her back.”

“And you’ll get her back after I’ve completed my deal. You do anything to hinder that or try to come to Emily’s rescue and I’ll send her back in pieces."

“Jason will kill you if any harm comes to her,” Sonny warned.

“He can try,” Craig replied. “Now, do we have an understanding?”

“We do.”

“Good,” he said, sounding smug, before hanging up.

---

Forty-eight hours after his unplanned standoff with police Craig had completed the deal. His buyer wasn't too pleased by media attention around the robbery and hostage situation, but there was no way it could traced back to him and as he remarked ever so coldly, "The collateral damage was minimum."

Considering the circumstances it was lucky that only four lives had been lost, including the life of one of his men. He couldn't say that he regretted his actions or the lives disturbed or lost because of them. He had job, he did it, and got paid very well for it. His thirty million dollar payment had been securely transferred to his Swiss account, leaving him with only one thing to handle – Emily Quartermaine.

It had been foolish to visit her while he awaited his buyer, he knew that, but Craig hadn't been able to stop himself. It didn't matter what state he found her in – worried, scared, angry – the doctor fascinated him. Emily would calmly, or not so calmly depending on her disposition, ask for news of her family and friends. She never begged or bartered. Instead she stood her ground and stared him down to the point where he'd have to leave or give into her.

After the first visit he shouldn't have gone back, especially since he knew that no matter the deals he made with Skye, Alcazar and Corinthos he would have to eliminate her. As a hostage and bargaining chip she was no longer of value. The smartest thing he could do was make her disappear and close up the safe house. In few months a convenient fire could burn it to the ground. All traces of what and who had been here would vanish.

That had been the plan. The plan he was now struggling to carry through. It wasn't the warning he received about Morgan that had him hesitating. He knew how to hide. Hell his name wasn't even James Craig. He had no name. At least not one anyone would ever be able to find. He could slip out of this identity and into another one becoming completely untraceable. He knew Morgan would never be able to find him.

No, what held him back was Emily herself. He hadn't lied to Skye when he told her that Emily had made an impression on him. There was something about her, something he couldn't put his finger on; he found himself spellbound by her. He wanted to figure her out. That's why he couldn't stop himself from visiting her and why he found it so difficult to follow his own protocol.

Letting Emily live, returning her to her family would be a mistake, of course he had plenty of witnesses out there already. He knew working the American East Coast would never be an option again.

Craig knew was trying to rationalize releasing Emily. That would be he his only option if he let her live. Keeping her with him, no matter how tempting that sounded, was out of the question. She wouldn't fit into his world and perhaps that's why he was so fascinated by her. He'd never spent time with women like Emily Quartermaine before, normally he wouldn't even consider them.

They'd been thrust together because of circumstance, something elusive had sparked and foolishly he'd extended their contact because the spark had captivated him.

Craig knew he had a decision to make. Including Emily in the process was imprudent, but that was becoming a habit with him when it came to her. He couldn't help himself, not that he wanted to, he realized.

Craig entered the room in which he'd been holding Emily in and announced, "Now that everything is in order the only detail left to handle is what to do with you fair Doctor Emily. Would you like to make any suggestions?"

---

"The obvious one," Emily answered with a hint of irritation. She was tired, physically and emotionally. More than anything she wanted know how everyone was doing, to be home with them.

"I doubt our obvious solutions are the same," Craig replied as he closed and locked the door. The key to the door was on a simple metal chain which he tucked back under his shirt before continuing, "So how do you see this ending?" Since the only piece of furniture in the room was a heavy oak bed – so that an ordinary item couldn't be used as a weapon – he leaned against the wall.

"You'll let me go," Emily answered, "with a warning to keep my mouth shut, which I'll do. I won't tell the police or Jason anything."

"Won't tell Jason. And why is that?" he inquired.

"You endangered pretty much every person Jason cares about," Emily informed him. "You put us through hell and you left everyone to die. That's enough for Jason to want you dead."

"I didn't leave you," Craig reminded her, glossing over Emily's assertions about her brother. Her absolute faith in Morgan wasn't of interest to him now.

Emily tried to ignore the innuendo in tone. It's the accent, just his accent, she assured herself. "You needed leverage."

"True, but I chose to take you," Craig stated.

"I was the safe bet," she pointed out. "Carly's too mouthy, Lulu to unpredictable, Elizabeth was cramping and Robin was in no shape to move."

"That's a compelling argument," he said pushing off from the wall, "but I knew Carly's value. She was the safe bet."

As he closed in Emily felt the mood in the room shift. Something was different – dangerous. There was little she could do to escape it except for taking a step back for each one Craig took towards her. "You wouldn't have made it out of there with Carly. Sonny would have seen to that."

"I didn't want Carly. I wanted you Emily," he informed her. Craig watched her eyes widen in disbelief. She shook her head slightly as she bumped into the wall. "Just like you want me."

"Want you?" Emily scoffed, coming back to herself. "I loathe you."

"Prove it," he challenged.

She was about to protest. To tell him that there was no need to prove him wrong when his lips came crashing down hers. Panic bubbled inside Emily. She wasn't scared of what Craig would do to her; rather she was concerned about what she would allow him to do to her. When he kissed her before at the Metro Court it had been unwanted, but she had kissed him back. At the time she was certain that it was the price he wanted her to pay. What she hadn't anticipated was her own reaction to him. It seemed wrong to feel desire swell considering the situation – or maybe it was the situation that caused it in the first place.

She'd been scared and frustrated and his kiss wiped that all away. Just as the intensity of his kiss now was doing. The feel of him, pressed so close to her, blanked out every thought in her head. Her only recourse was to feel – the heat of him and the ferocity of the moment.

His hands skimmed over the bare flesh of her back as he lowered her dress but Emily didn't protest. Something primal had taken over – he sparked a hunger in her, it was dark and dangerous and oddly mixed with an element of tenderness.

His movements were firm, leading them forward but not demanding. She could say no – and knew she should – but each kiss; each nip at her neck was a request.

More. Further. The allure of him and everything swimming inside her was too much to resist. She found herself responding with her own exploration of his body. Making quick work of the buttons on his shirt, her fingertips grazed the firm muscle underneath, and felt them react. She then felt the sleekness of his skin she ran her hands down his arms removing his shirt.

Emily caught Craig's gaze – his eyes were full of desire – and she could tell that the passion was as much a surprise to him as it was to her. This wasn't a game or a price to be paid. It was flickering moment in time, a moment where they could have each other, no strings attached. If she didn't seize it Emily knew she would spend the rest of her life wondering and wanting.

Of course she could also spend the rest of her life regretting it. As mistakes went giving into this need could be the biggest of her life. "I'm not bartering for my freedom," she informed him.

A sad smile touched his lips. "I wouldn't ask that for you."

Emily nodded. "Good," she said before stepping into him and kissing him of her own volition.

Craig thought her words were going to put an end to this moment of insanity. Instead they had emboldened Emily and he found himself wanting to argue with her. To remind her that he wasn't good for her and that whatever had sparked between them could not survive outside this room, outside of this moment.

He found it impossible to make that case when her blunt teeth bit his shoulder. With that action they were both beyond reason. Craig thanked whatever higher power there was that Emily wanted him just as much as he wanted her. Yet, as their tongues tangled he couldn't escape the fact that this was his one chance to have her and he planned on making the most of it.

They met each other kiss for kiss, stoke for stroke. There was a desperate urgency to their lovemaking. Each touch, each nibble, each thrust could be their last – the longing for more, to make it last went unspoken, but they both felt it. They pushed higher and gave more to each other than either had before. Every second was excruciatingly erotic.

When they were finally spent, left panting for breath that seemed too much to take in after giving so much away, regret was the last thing on Emily's mind.

---

He dozed. It had only been for a few minutes, but he allowed himself to completely relax with his arms around Emily. When he awoke, Craig found himself alone in the room, with the door ajar. He couldn't help but wonder how Emily managed to escape him so quietly. No alarms had been raised and his men knew to contact him before taking any action. He waited. After five minutes he got up and dressed.

Craig made his way to the door. The key was in the lock. He slipped it out and back around his neck. It was his last connection to Emily.

He waited another fifteen minutes before he emerged from the room. He was convinced that Emily was safely off the property. Though he had decided before stepping into the room that afternoon that he couldn't kill her, he had thought, however foolishly, while he held her in the quiet after their lovemaking, that he might be able to keep her.

He known better of course, and apparently, so had Emily. Still he had hoped for something more between them – words of goodbye. It was a silly notion. Emily had no reason to feel nostalgic about him. He'd been the man who held her and the people she loved hostage. The man who made her choose between her father and best friend. The man who kidnapped her from the hotel making her leave the people she cared about to their possible deaths.

Craig knew he wasn't a man Emily would want to remember, but she would. The spark between had been undeniable. A flame they couldn't control. His only wish was that she would not think back on their time together with regret. He certainly wouldn't. For a fleeting moment he had her. It would never be enough to satisfy him, he realized, but it would have to do.

He had to leave country, destroying all traces of this place and his James Craig identity. There was a job in Malaysia waiting for him ... rather waiting for Bronson White. Getting away from James Craig – his deeds and his memories – would be the best thing for him.

---

Two hours later everything was in place for his departure. He was picking up the meager suitcase he'd be carrying to fly to Mexico with when he heard a gun cock. The sound didn't startle him, but he had to admit to some surprise. The gunman's identity wasn't in question. It was Morgan undoubtedly, but how he found his safe house was the question.

As he set his case back down, he unbuttoned his suit jacket. He had a holster for a Derringer there. He wore it in such a way that it was undetectable to the naked eye; tough Morgan was rumored to have sixth sense about weapons. Luckily for him the man was also off his game. He had his beloved little sister after all. At least Morgan thought he did.

"Mr. Morgan," he welcomed cordially as he turned to face his intruder. He was greeted with a gun barrel and icy stare. "You do look rather formidable. I rather imagine you've earned your reputation."

Jason ignored Craig's words. He wasn't here to talk or to make deals. He was here for his sister and he wasn't leaving until had her. "Where's Emily?" he demanded.

"Straight to the point. Normally I prefer small talk, it's the small pleasantries in life that separate us from the rest of the animals on this planet, but I am under a bit of a time constraint." Morgan's jaw flexed. It was the only outward show of temper and he had to admire his restraint.

Jason took a step forward, his aim steady. "Emily," he repeated her name.

Morgan was focused, he would give him that, not to mention efficient. He hid himself carefully. To be found at all he considered a feat, but within two days – that was talent and dedication. Granted there was good reason behind it. If Emily was his, he would spare nothing to find her either. That was James thinking, he reminded himself. He was no longer that man. At the moment he was no one, he was nothing beyond a man trying to survive.

"She not here," he answered. He heard talk that Morgan could tell a lie when he heard it, but he was an excellent bluffer. Having to sell each new identity he had to be. "She's in transit back you. I made deal after all, and I always hold up my end. Of course if I don't leave here alive you won't be seeing your sister again."

"You're not walking away from this," Jason informed him.

"Yes I am," he countered. "It's quite simple Mr. Morgan. I leave, unharmed and un-followed, or you don't see Emily again." When Morgan took another step towards him, he continued, "You can threaten me if you like. Hurt me if you find pain necessary, but I won't be able to tell you where your sister is. You see I left the route up to the errand boys and they know not to deliver unless they hear from me."

There was something off about what Craig was telling him. Jason could sense it, and yet he was having trouble not believing it. He had yet to see the man's tell. He was cool and collected. There was gun aimed at him and it appeared that he could care less. Jason could tell that Craig had every confidence that he would get out of this situation. That's what was tripping him up. Maybe he was lying about not knowing the route or about having to call to the men, but he wasn't lying about Emily not being there. That was truth, which meant the likelihood of the rest being true was higher.

Still there was something off about Craig. He seemed different than he had the night at the Metro Court. The way he held himself. The cadence of his speech. Slight changes, but changes nonetheless. Maybe that's why he was having trouble weeding out the truth from his words.

"I'm going to pick up my suitcase," he said, "and then I'm going to walk out the door. You're not going to follow me. Once I'm on my flight I'll call my men and your dear sister will be safely returned to you. It is going to happen exactly like that or it's not going to happen at all," he warned.

He waited a moment, but Morgan said nothing. Did nothing. Morgan's gun was still trained on him, but he was certain they had come to an understanding. He nodded, and then proceeded to do just as he said. He picked up his suitcase, turned towards the door and started to walk out. He heard no movement from Morgan. He felt no need to look back as he exited the room; he knew he wasn't being followed.

---

He ran his hand over the face in the glossy photograph. She wore her dark hair short now, it barely touched her shoulders, and there were brassy streaks in it. The new look complimented her soft chocolaty eyes.

Emily.

Though he had pushed the memory of their time together to the very recesses of his mind, he could at any moment pull them forth. They shared a precious few moments, but each second was well preserved. He could play them like a technicolor movie in his mind.

Thinking about her he could lose his entire being and once again be James Craig. The man who had her. The man who wanted more. Even after three years, dozens of other women and a life and death experience or two Emily remained the one he could never have.

It was foolish to hang on to her, he knew. She wasn't even a memory at this point. She was ghost who haunted each new incarnation he became – he was Kenneth Hart now, and had been half a dozen other personas. While he'd forgotten most of what made them tick, James Craig still existed inside him. He couldn't erase that part of himself, because he didn't want to give up Emily.

His hand slid from the photograph to the worn key on his desk. He'd kept it around his neck for months until he nearly lost it on a deal. Unwilling to give up the only physical proof of his time with Emily, he taken to his base of operations, a small privately owned island in the Caribbean. If he considered one place home, this was it. He returned one or twice a year and every time he did a file was waiting for him.

As was the key.

Like he done so many times before, he palmed the key. He flipped it a few times before it came to rest between his index and middle finger. His thumb absently rubbed over the ridges of key as he read the report.

In the seven months since he last checked in on Emily not all the much had changed. Her second divorce to Nikolas Cassadine had been finalized. It seemed that their second attempt at matrimony hadn't worked out any better than their first. They made it to their first anniversary this time, but just barely, and Cassadine had contested the divorce to the end.

He couldn't blame the man though. Emily had claimed irreconcilable differences – a cop out if he ever heard one and that wasn't his girl, which meant that whatever reason she wanted a divorce wasn't something she wanted to share. Mostly likely because it would hurt someone.

Guilt came to mind. Even if Emily hadn't come to regret their time together, she would feel guilty about it. Mostly because she would have no one to confide in. No one would understand, not even her beloved brother. He'd been the bad guy, the man who shot one of them and took pleasure in tormenting them all. Admitting to an attraction, let alone acting on it, would be entirely out of the question.

Of course he could be wrong. He could simply be over inflating the importance of their time together because he couldn't let go himself. There was no way to know for certain barring paying her a visit which was out of the question. "Completely," he said aloud for emphasis. He was already being foolishly sentimental enough.

Still he found it interesting that she was not linked to anyone romantically. There was a close friendship with Patrick Drake mentioned in the report, but he was reeling from the loss of his wife, Robin. A flicker of memory ignited ... Robin Scorpio Drake. He shot her. That he knew, but only a vague image of a short, brunette came to mind. That and the fact that Doctor Drake had been intent on saving her. Apparently he only managed to do that for so long.

Other than that Emily was working tirelessly at the hospital, and continued to play peacemaker amongst her combative family. She was an attentive aunt and godmother. A loyal friend. A brilliant doctor.

She also happened to be alone. He doubted she was lonely. Emily had too many people in her life for that, but she went home to an empty apartment as he came back alone himself. Coincidence? he wondered, or did it perhaps mean something ... or did he only wish it did?

---

Patrick picked at the shells in soft brown sand. He'd never seen sand that dark before or covered with so many seashells. They lined the Italian beach in long stretches. Idly he watched Emily sort through them as the warm sea water hit his bare feet. For the first time in months he was actually glad to be alive. "Maybe you were right about the change of scenery," he told her.

"Best friend here, of course I was right," she replied, shooting him a grin.

It was true. Over the last few years Emily had become his best friend. He and Robin had both been so grateful to her after the hostage situation at the Metro Court. It seem natural after that for them hangout – mostly as a couples, Robin and him with Emily and Nikolas. Though the girls still had their nights outs, though he and Nikolas never became buddies, not the way he had with Emily. She didn't have the stiff manners he did, so more likely than not, when they weren't out as a foursome, he was with Emily and Robin was with Nikolas.

"This is nice," Patrick commented looking back out on the water.

"Yeah it is," Emily replied throwing back her head and taking a deep breath of the salty air. "But I know something that will make it better."

"What's that?"

"Gelato. Chocolate gelato," she elaborated.

"Sounds good," Patrick agreed.

"You guard my stash," Emily said placing the myriad of shells she collected next to him. "Are we taking every shell on this beach back to Port Charles?" Patrick teased. She ignored his comment and continued on as if he hadn't interrupted her, "While I go up to the restaurant to get it."

As she was walking towards the building she heard Patrick call out, "Two scoops." It was the first time in weeks there was a lightness about him and Emily was grateful for it. Losing Robin had been hard on everyone, but Patrick suffered the worst. Robin had literally come into his life and changed it. He wouldn't be the man he was today if not for her. When Robin died he lost his true best friend, his wife, his rock, his soul mate.

For a while there, a very nerve-wracking few weeks, Emily hadn't be certain if Patrick would survive his loss, but he was finally turning a corner. He would always miss Robin, always love her; but he would find a way to live without her because that's what she would want – for Patrick to live, to be happy.

Mastering happiness was something she had yet to learn herself. She had it with Nikolas. The boy she had admired, the man she'd fallen in love with – he'd been her fairy tale come to life. Her prince charming, and with Spencer they had a beautiful little family. She had been happy living that life, but simmering underneath it all was a moment she hadn't told anyone about. A lie of omission that ate away at her.

Emily knew that she couldn't expect anyone to understand when she didn't really herself. Something had sparked inside her, it had been raw and unexpected, impossible to resist. She had tried in vain to extinguish that spark, but it continued to burn inside her. Changing her, until it became clear that living the happily ever part of the fairy tale wasn't what she wanted.

She couldn't explain that to anyone – not Nikolas or Elizabeth, not even Jason – but it all led back to her time with Craig. Their time together had changed her. It had just taken her a while to understand that and accept it.

These were the thoughts Emily was lost in as walked up to the gelato stand. Her feet moved automatically forward as did her hand when she reached for the door. It was only the feel of a warm hand covering hers that brought her back to reality. Confused, she looked behind her and honed in a pair of sea-green eyes. Her began to heart race, "Ja ... What are you doing here?"

"I needed to see you," James answered, for that's who he’d chosen to be and would continue to be no matter how this brash action turned out.