DISCLAIMER: All My Children is the property of ABC. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Rudeboy


Chapter One

April 4th - Night

Bianca Montgomery sat in the kitchen of her large Paris apartment. She knew that her best friend/nanny to her infant daughter, Miranda/roommate, Maggie Stone, was due back at any moment from her night classes at the university. She stood and walked over to the stove to start a kettle of water boiling for tea.

This had already become their ritual in the one short week Maggie had been going to school. She would come home, enter her room by her private outer door, change clothes and meet Bianca in the kitchen. There they would sit and discuss their respective days, over a cup of tea.

Tonight though….tonight Bianca was going to let Maggie go first. She was going to have Maggie tell her about what exciting new thing she had learned about medicine. Or what experiment they were going to work on next. She was going to let her go on and on about whatever, because that would allow her to delay telling her the news she had learned just a few hours before.

April 4th – Evening

Bianca was just preparing Miranda for her bath when her cell phone began ringing. She was guessing it was Myrtle, as she seemed to have a knack for calling during her daughter's baths. While trying to juggle Miranda with one hand, she scooped up her phone, and earpiece so she could talk hands free, and answered.

"Bonjour!" she answered, in a jaunty, happy voice.

"Binks?" replied the somber voice at the other end of the line.

It was Kendall Hart, Bianca's half-sister. "Kendall? Is everything ok? You don't sound right."

"Bianca, I….I…don't even know where to start."

Bianca placed Miranda in the tub. She was too far along in the bath process to do anything else. Bianca gulped before replying. "Start at the beginning Kendall. Whatever it is that's happened, start at the beginning."

"It's Jonathan….Jonathan Lavery is dead."

Bianca felt her jaw slacken. She was not a member of the "Jonathan Lavery Fan Club", that was for sure, but this still shocked her. "How? What happened."

Kendall took a deep breath. "It seems big brother Braden wasn't the only member of the Lavery clan with a screw loose Binks. It's all out in the open now, it was all Jonathan…everything. He shot Ryan…he poisoned Greenlee…he killed Edmund…"

Bianca had been kneeling next to the tub, bathing her daughter. She now fell backwards, landing on her rear end and was in a sitting position. "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Why? What happened? Why in the world would he do any of those things? And how do you know he did?"

Taking another deep breath, combined with a sigh, Kendall continued. "I know all this because I just spent some quality time trapped in a cave with Greenlee and Lily due to his highness, king of the psychos!"

Bianca's head was swimming, she had a million questions, all wanting to come pouring out of her mouth at once. "Ok…I've got the part he did all the things to Ryan and Greenlee and that", Bianca had to pause for a moment while she dealt with the concept of Jonathan as a killer, "….that he killed Edmund, but what's this about a cave?"

"Jonathan knew that Lily had seen him that night in the Wildwind stables. Jackson sent her and Greenlee to Lily's old school, figuring they would be safer there while this got sorted out. On their way there, Jonathan intercepted them and took them hostage."

"And you? How did he get you?"

"I was out for a walk in the woods…long story…and stumbled across the whole thing. Next thing I know I'm locked up in the cave with them."

Bianca got back up to her knees now to quickly finish Miranda's bath. "And at some point during all this, he confessed to…well..everything?"


"So how did he end up dead?"

Kendall paused, and finally replied in a soft voice "Ryan…Ryan had to shoot him Binks."

Bianca could feel the tears welling up, she always had a good relationship with Ryan, and knew what a good man he was, and how desperately he had wanted to help his brother after it was discovered he had abused Maggie. "Is he…is he ok?"

"He's catatonic Binks…god…there's so much more to this story. I'm barely scraping the surface…..we all thought their other brother, Braden, had been behind everything that happened, it turned out he had tried stopping Jonathan, and got himself killed for it….his body was in the cave with us, but we didn't know it until the end."

"HOLD IT! Both of Ryan's brothers are dead? And he just learned of this…when did all of this happen?"

"Really late last night. And we are guessing Jonathan is dead. Ryan's shot didn't kill him. Jonathan had the cave rigged with explosives, strapped ever so lovingly to brother Braden's body. They're still digging for their bodies."

"I can't….I can't even wrap my head around all of this Kendall."

"I know Binks, I know. Look, I have to get back to Greenlee, she's at the hospital with Ryan. Why don't you call some of the other folks who know everything to get some more of the details…call Reggie…he'll be able to fill you in. Or Tad and Aidan. I have got to go though, but I knew you and….oh god Binks!…how are you going to tell Maggie about all of this?"

Bianca lifted Miranda out of the tub, wrapped her in a towel, and once her daughter was fully in her arms, she froze. "I….I…have no idea Kendall…oh god Kendall…this is going to tear her apart!"

April 4th – Night

Bianca had done just as her sister suggested, she had called everyone she could think of, getting the news piecemeal, but she had gotten it. Now, as she stood next to the steaming kettle, she poured water into two mugs with tea bags, just as she heard Maggie's door opening. That was soon followed by the "shave-and-a-haircut" knocking ritual they had established. Bianca knew that she only had moments left to steel herself for the coming storm of Maggie's emotions.

Maggie sat with her hands wrapped around the mug in front of her, staring at it like the brown liquid inside somehow held the answers to everything she had just learned. She hadn't said a word since she had uttered a question to Bianca, a simple "So, anything go on around here today?"

Bianca had started slowly and softly with the news she had learned while Maggie had been in class. Maggie had not spoken a word. Instead she had just sat and listened. She soaked in the information of the man she thought she had loved…the man she had let into her bed…the man she had almost married…was something so dark and foul, that there were not even words to describe his brand of evil.

Maggie hadn't even noticed that Bianca hadn't said a word in well over 5 minutes. It wasn't until Bianca reached across the butcher's block, and squeezed her hand, that Maggie realized she hadn't even been in reality.

"Are you ok? Do you need to talk?"

Maggie remained motionless and silent for another moment. Finally, she stood up, and very calmly walked over to the kitchen trash can….and vomited.

Bianca sat on the kitchen floor, her back against the cabinets and Maggie's head laying in her lap, facing out. Bianca's right hand was slowly moving up and down Maggie's right arm, while with her left, she was pulling all the stray hairs out of her face.

No words had been spoken, no questions asked, no answers given. The kitchen was enveloped in silence, except for the sounds of Bianca's hand moving up down the sleeve of Maggie's shirt.

Maggie opened her mouth to ask a question, but had to close it again, and swallow before her voice would work. "Are….are they alright?"


"Kendall…and Greenlee…and Lily….are they alright?"

"They're fine. They're all fine."


The silence returned again for a few moments before Maggie asked another question. "Did….did I cause this?"

Bianca's jaw dropped. "Did you cause what?"

Maggie sat up now and also leaned back against the cabinets, her legs crossed in front of her. She stared forward, not looking at Bianca. "Did I cause him to go over the edge?"

"No Maggie….NO!" Bianca got up to her knees and grabbed both of Maggie's hands and stared into her eyes. "Do not go there Maggie….you can not blame yourself for this. No matter what, you can not think you caused this to happen."

"But…maybe…maybe if I hadn't broken up with him…." her eyes were starting to squint, trying to hold back the tears.

Bianca moved her arms to Maggie's back and pulled her in as tight as she could in to a hug. "Maggie, you can not think that! You can not think you had anything to do with this. This was all Jonathan. Every last bit of it was his insanity, his doing. It had nothing to do with your breaking up with him!"

"But…but if I hadn't left Pine Valley with you….maybe I could have helped him…maybe I could have stopped this….he could have killed them Bianca."

Bianca pushed Maggie back now. Her hands went to Maggie's shoulders, pinning her against the cabinets. "And if you had stayed in town, it could have been you in that cave. If you hadn't broken up with him, you could have been laying dead in that cave next to his brother."

"But I brought him in to everyone's life…."

Bianca was shaking her head for emphasis. "No you didn't. He was already around. All of this would have happened with or without you. All of it."

Maggie paused for a moment, opening her eyes enough to stare into Bianca's. "No….he wouldn't have threatened you that night at the Miranda Center and…my god…Miranda." Maggie forcefully shoved Bianca aside, throwing herself towards the trash can to once again vomit.

Bianca crawled on all fours over to her friend and sat down. She reached over and brushed Maggie's hair back out of her face. "You can play the 'What if…?' game with yourself all night long Maggie, but it's not going to change the outcome of what happened. You are still better off having left him. You are still better off having left Pine Valley. And everyone we care about is safe now. What happened was the product of his upbringing, and what his father did to him and his brothers. It had nothing to do with your time with him."

"If…if I had just seen it…."

"If you had seen it, you would probably be dead like Edmund is for figuring it out."

This caused Maggie to heave again.

Bianca stood up and grabbed a towel. She ran it under the cold water from the faucet for a moment, and then wrung it out. She walked back to Maggie, and sat down next to her again. She placed her hands on her shoulders and turned her to face her. "Come here…let's get you cleaned up."

Maggie got to her knees and leaned back so she rested on her heels. As Bianca ran the cool cloth over Maggie's face, she went to speak again. "Bianca…I just….I just don't know who to blame for this….if so many things had gone differently…if…"

"Ok, you want a starting point to all this, and someone to blame? Fine. How about you walking in on Babe and I in bed when we were trying to fool JR? Or, you want to go back further? How about we go back to when you told me you loved me and I threw Lena in your face and rejected you? You want to blame someone for setting all this in motion, you blame me, not yourself."

That seemed to sober Maggie up quickly. "Bianca…I…no…you can't….you can't blame yourself."

"See? If you play that game with yourself, it's never ending. You just can't do it Maggie. You can't let yourself think you are at fault for this, because if you do, it's like he still has power over you." Bianca reached up and pulled some of Maggie's hair far enough forward so that she could show it her. "You were getting rid of him Maggie…don't let another of his insane acts pull you back down…if you do, he wins again."

Maggie bowed her head and stared at the floor. There was silence again as Bianca obsessively brushed Maggie's hair back with her finger tips.

"I….I think I'm going to go to bed." Maggie whispered.

"Ok…are you sure you want to be alone right now?" Bianca asked, her voice dripping with concern.

"Yeah….I think I just need to be alone for awhile….thank you Bianca."

"For what? Giving you some of the worst news of your life?"

"For still caring about me."

Bianca fought back what she really wanted to say to that, but instead just softly said, "Always."

Maggie stood up and shakily walked to her bedroom door. As she got there, she paused, and asked, without turning around, "Is there…is there anyway you could take Miranda tomorrow?"

"Of course."

"Thanks." and with that, Maggie disappeared into her room.

Bianca heaved a heavy sigh and set about cleaning up the kitchen. "You know Jonathan, I wish you were still alive….so that I could kill you."

April 5th – Morning

Bianca shuffled around the kitchen, listening intently for any signs of life coming from Maggie's room. Nothing was to be heard.

She picked up the phone and called her new personal assistant, Aurélia, to tell her she wouldn't be in today. She was discovering more and more that she really wasn't essential to the day-to-day running of Cambias, so she didn't especially feel any guilt about canceling her appointments for the day. Being here was going to be far more important.

After taking care of the office, she was just preparing to call Patrick and tell him not to bother with coming to get her, when the intercom buzzer went off. Bianca glanced at the clock, 8:30, it had to be him.

She walked over and pressed the intercom button. "Good morning Patrick. I'm afraid I'm not going in today."

"Ma'am….may I come up?"

"Of course." She pressed the button to open the outer security door, and left the front door of the apartment partially open so Patrick could let himself in. She walked back towards the kitchen to start making some breakfast. She was hoping the smell of food might bring Maggie out of her room.

She walked by Miranda who was sitting in her high chair, quietly playing with a stuffed animal. The little girl had been unusually quiet all morning, almost as if she could sense things weren't right.

Just as she got the eggs out of the refrigerator, she heard footsteps in the entrance hall, and turned to see Patrick walking towards her in the kitchen.

"Good morning Patrick. I'm sorry I didn't get a hold of you in time to let you know I wasn't going in, but it was kind of a last minute decision."

"Not a problem Ma'am. I had guessed something might be going on when I saw the tabloid reporters down stairs."

Bianca shut her eyes and shook her head. She had contended with them once already since being in France, about why she had moved here, and if it had anything to do with JR Chandler. Having spent her entire life being the daughter of Erica Kane, she knew what it was like to live under constant scrutiny, but poor Maggie wasn't used to it, and she was sure to get caught up in this particular story.

Bianca finally opened her eyes, and glanced over the door to Maggie's room and sighed. "I don't think she will even be leaving her room today, so hopefully she won't have to deal with them."

Patrick glanced over at the door also. "May I ask how she took it Ma'am?"

"As well as you could expect anyone to take the news that their fiancée was a homicidal psychopath." She turned and continued with preparing breakfast. Suddenly it dawned on her. "How did you know about it? About Jonathan I mean."

"I am informed of any news regarding yours or Miranda's safety. Though he was Maggie's fiancée, there is enough crossover that I was informed of it this morning when I picked up the car. I thought you might not go in, but felt it best to still come over and check on you both."

Bianca smiled for the first time since last night when she had picked up the phone, only to find Kendall giving her the news. "Thank you Patrick. You've formed quite a bond with Maggie since we got here, haven't you?"

"She reminds me so much of my own daughters. They have both gone off and started their own families, and they do not get to visit often, so it is almost like having them both back taking care of you two." Patrick was silent for a moment as he watched Bianca continuing to get ready to make breakfast. "I should probably give you both some privacy at a time like this." He stood, and turned to leave through the dining room, pausing only once to again look at Maggie's door. "I will be available if you need me Ma'am."

"Patrick, please, sit, have some eggs….I…I could use the company."

Patrick paused for a moment before finally taking a seat at the butcher's block. "Alright…thank you Ma'am."

"Please…call me Bianca….I don't normally cook breakfast for people who call me 'Ma'am'."

"Thank you…Bianca. And I must say, I am not used to my employer's fixing me eggs." Patrick said with a chuckle.

"Really? You mean Alexander Cambias never had you over for eggs?" Bianca asked with obvious, mock sincerity.

"No, I can't say I remember that ever happened."

"Well, you can say you have seen both sides of me now."

"Both sides? I'm not sure I understand."

"Well, right now you are seeing the Montgomery, down-to-earth part of me. The Kane half….well the Kane half you met in the parking garage awhile back when I fired Jean on the spot."

"Ah….well, I must say I like both sides. The few times I have dealt with Jean, I have not been a fan of his attitude, so it did not sadden me to see him get to meet the Kane side." He said with an enormous grin. "And to which ever side is fixing the eggs, I thank you again."

"No problem." Bianca began cracking eggs into the pan while she continued to talk.

Patrick again glanced over at Maggie's door. "Has she done anything to even indicate she is in there?"

"Not a peep since last night. I stayed up for awhile and cleaned the kitchen, but from the time she went in there, it has been total silence." She was scrambling the eggs as she talked, being a little louder with the pan then usual, hoping something, anything, would motivate Maggie to come out of her room.

"And you? How are you doing?"

Bianca stirred the eggs around with a spatula, contemplating the question. "I'm fine…concerned for her…..I just want to run in there and hold her…to tell her everything is going to be ok."

"But you realize you can't." Patrick said softly. "You know you have to let her do this in her own time…her own way. She has to come to you."

Bianca heaved a sigh as she turned off the stove top and served up the eggs on to three plates. "I know…and that's why I haven't rushed in there…but it doesn't make it any easier just sitting by." She used a fourth plate to cover one of the three she had served up, just in case Maggie would choose to join them.

She walked over and handed one plate to Patrick, and set another down across from him for herself. Now Miranda began to fuss at the sight of food, and Bianca pulled the high chair closer so she could give her daughter a couple of small bites from her plate. "I just wish she would do something so that we knew she was in there."

Patrick set his fork down, stood up, and walked over to the door. "Maggie? It's Patrick…could you give us a knock on the wall so we at least know you are alive in there?"

There was a thump on the wall, approximately where her bed would be.

"Thank you." Patrick walked back to the stool and sat down and resumed eating his eggs.

Bianca stared with her jaw slightly slackened. "Well yeah…I coulda done that…I..I was just testing you!"

Patrick lifted another forkful of food to his mouth. "Of course Ma'am." He said with a grin.

Patrick had stayed with Bianca until the early evening, when she finally sent him home. He only agreed to do this, once Bianca had promised she and Maggie would come have dinner with him and his wife some night soon.

Even though she wasn't that hungry, she ordered Maggie's favorite pizza, spicy chicken and olives, as soon as he had left. The mixture didn't appeal to her much, but she thought she might try the food odor trick again to get Maggie out of her room.

Once the pizza had arrived, she stood next to Maggie's door with the box lid open, hoping the fragrance would drift into her room, and lure her out. She briefly had a mental image of a cartoon character being lifted off their feet, and pulled along by some lovely smell. No such luck this time.

As the night dragged on, she thought she finally heard some movement, and then she was sure of it when she heard the distinct sound of empty cardboard boxes being dropped onto the floor. The hollow thud was unmistakable. "Oh no….she isn't packing to leave is she?" Bianca thought. She knew Maggie hadn't thrown out all of the boxes her items had arrived in yet. "Could she be turning around to use them to head back to Pine Valley with?" she wondered.

She walked over to Maggie's door and made a fist to knock, but stopped at the last second. She unclenched her hand and just laid the palm very gently, and quietly, against the door. Patrick's advice of letting her do this in her own time, playing over again in her head. "She has to come to me. I can't rush her though this."

She turned and glanced over at Miranda, who had been a quiet little angel all. Now her eyes were getting heavier by the second. Bianca walked over and picked her up to take her to bed. She figured she could leave her post for a few minutes.

Once in Miranda's nursery, Bianca changed her into fresh pajamas and laid the tired girl in her crib. Reaching into the crib, and stroking her daughters back, she whispered "You were such a good girl today…you have no idea how much I appreciate that…and I am sure your Auntie Maggie would too,"

Bianca had returned to the kitchen after putting her daughter to bed, and continued to sit there until her eyes just got too heavy to fight sleep any longer. Though she could still hear Maggie moving around in her room, she had to head up to bed. She stood up, and stared at the door to Maggie's room for a moment, before she finally turned out the lights, and went upstairs.

She stopped to check on Miranda before heading to her own room. Seeing that all was well with her daughter, she passed through the master bathroom and into her bedroom. She changed out of the jeans and t-shirt she had worn all day and into a nightgown.

As she crawled into bed, she glanced over at her nightstand and saw the book she had been reading for the past week. She loved reading in bed, but somehow the idea of a murder mystery like "The Killing Club" just didn't appeal to her tonight. She reached over and turned out the lights.

Though the room was quiet and dark, she couldn't get her mind to stop going over the hundreds of possible scenarios of what Maggie was doing down in her room at that very moment. She tossed and turned, finding no comfortable position that would allow her drift off to sleep. Finally she came to rest flat on her back, and just stared into the black void of night that drifted above her bed.

Bianca wasn't sure how long she had been laying there when she was positive she had heard a door open and close in the kitchen. Perhaps Maggie had left her room at last? As much as she wanted to run downstairs and see, she knew she had to let her friend handle things at her own pace. She couldn't deny it though, she was dying at the thought of talking to Maggie, making sure she was ok.

Her heart quickened all the more when she could see light spilling in under her bedroom door from the second floor landing lights being turned on. Her temples even began to throb as she heard the distinctive sound of the bare flesh of feet slapping against the stairs just outside of her room. Then, from the sliver of light under the door, she saw the silhouettes of two feet standing there.

Bianca turned to lay on her right side so she could face the door, and see the shadow better. She watched as they shifted nervously, back and forth…back and forth. Once, they even turned around as if to leave, but again they came about to face the door. Bianca heard a sharp intake of breath, as if one was steeling themselves for something. The door knob began to turn with excruciating slowness, but turn it did.

As the door slowly swung open, a sliver of light made its way across the floor of the room. It finally landed where Bianca's head lay, blinding her to everything but shapes. As her eyes adjusted, she made out the form of a back-lit Maggie standing in the doorway to her room. Her right hand still on the door knob, her left foot raised so it only rested on the very tips of her toes.

She couldn't make out her face really at all, but the body language said enough. After a moment of staring at her friend, Bianca shifted her self further away from the side of the bed that was closest to the door. Once enough room was made, she threw back the covers in a silent invitation that Maggie was welcome to join her.

Maggie stood and stared for a moment before finally entering the room and closing the door behind her. She walked over to the bed and crawled in so that her back was to Bianca, but still, she was close enough to be touched. Bianca reached down for the covers, and pulled them over her friend.

Once covered, Bianca was unsure of what to do. If this was anyone other than Maggie, she would immediately drape her arm over them and pull them close to be held. But in this particular case, would that be misread? She finally decided to risk it, and slowly, and gently, hooked her arm over the region of Maggie's waist.

Without saying anything, Maggie slid her arm out from under Bianca's and placed it over the taller girls. She moved so her hand covered Bianca's and….she clasped it. She took it into hers and squeezed for all she was worth.

Bianca took this as a good sign and shifted her body closer so they were in full contact, and lowered head so that it rested against Maggie's. Even though they had never discussed it, what vague memories she had, told her this was much like that night in Maggie's dorm room after Bianca's drinking binge, and her inadvertent, divulging of the secret of her rape.

They laid together like this for a long time, when finally, a dry, cracking voice came out of Maggie and said, "Thank you."

Bianca was taken aback for a moment. "For what?" she inquired.

"For letting me spend a day moping. I needed to get it out of my system."

Bianca smiled. "Well…you can partially thank Patrick for that. He told me I needed to leave you alone, and he kept me company all day, I think to make sure I did just that."

Maggie chuckled softly. "Sounds like him….well no matter what it was…thanks for letting me have today."

"Of course."

The girls laid in silence for several minutes before Bianca finally had the nerve to ask a question. "Maggie….I….earlier I heard what sounded like boxes….in your room….are you…"

"I was packing up all the clothes I bought while I was with him. All of the clothes that looked like his influence."

"Ah…I…I thought maybe you were packing to leave."

Maggie finally turned her head at that comment, and looked over her shoulder at Bianca. "Why would I want to leave?"

"I…I don't know…I just heard boxes being moved, and it made me think that maybe you were moving."

Maggie turned her head again to face away from Bianca. "No…no more moving for awhile. I'm done with running from my problems…my fears."

Bianca hugged her tighter, and again, lowered her head to Maggie's.

"I do have one favor to ask…could you find a charity for me to give all those clothes to? Maybe…maybe an abused woman's home? Just some place where maybe some could good could come out of it."

"I will get Aurélia on it first thing in the morning."

"Thanks Bianca. And you can go back to work tomorrow…promise."

"Are you sure? It's no big deal for me to skip another day, and if you need…"

"No…no more time. Sure, there are more things for me to work out, but I think the best thing for me tomorrow would be some Miranda time."

Bianca smiled. "That's my daughter…the go to girl for what ails you."

Maggie chuckled. "Yeah, who needs a shrink when you have a Munchkin?"

Bianca lifted her head up again, and looked down at Maggie. "You know…you could have one if you wanted…I could find you one…and I'll pay for it."

Maggie turned her head and stared up at her friend with a quizzical look. "A Munchkin? Um..Bianca…"

Bianca threw her head back in laughter. "No! I meant if you wanted to see a psychologist."

"Oh! Ok…you had me wondering there for a second." Maggie turned her head back to face the door. "I…I don't know….can I think on it for awhile?"

"Of course you can, but if you decide you want to, the offer is there. Ok?"

"Ok…again…thanks Bianca….for everything."

Bianca laid her head down again so it lightly rested against Maggie's. "I think you are still ahead in the 'whose owed favors' department."

"I'm not keeping score."

"I know…I'm just saying…anything you need, you should ask without hesitation."

"You know what I could use? For breakfast I mean."

Bianca was puzzled by that. "No clue…what?"

"Some spicy chicken pizza with olives…gee…I wonder if we have some in the fridge."


Maggie chuckled. "I give you points for that one. I swear, as strong as the smell was, you must have been standing right next to the door with the box lid open."

Bianca smiled. "Why don't we try getting some sleep….it's been a long day."

"Good night….Pizza Temptress."

"Good night….best friend."

Chapter Two

April 6th – 6:50 AM

Maggie was awake and laying on her left side in Bianca's bed, facing her best friend who was still asleep. She wasn't sure if she had slept at all during the night, if she had, it was only for a minute or two. Though she lacked sleep, she felt oddly rested and relaxed. Now, with the sunlight clearly bringing the glow to the room that meant the day was starting, she rested here, staring at the source of what had relaxed her….Bianca.

Since they had moved to Paris together, this was the second time she had watched her friend sleep. The first being when Bianca had received the news of Edmund's murder, which, as it turned out, connected to the reason for this second time. Yes, it seemed, all the recent pain in this pair's life could be tracked back to one source, Jonathan Lavery.

Both Bianca and Maggie had tried blaming themselves for being the origin of all the problems; Maggie for being with Jonathan and Bianca for feeling as if she drove Maggie to him. In reality though, all the evil that had come of it rested squarely on Jonathan's shoulders.

As Maggie had spent the entirety of the night and day before lying in her room, contemplating this, she had asked her self numerous times who really was to blame for everything that had happened? Every time the answer was the same, it all came back to Jonathan. No matter if she had dated him or not, he would have gone after Ryan and Greenlee for whatever his reasons were. The only things that would have changed if she hadn't dated him were he would have never had a chance to hit her or had a reason to threaten Bianca and Miranda. Nothing else really would have been different.

In the end, their parts in this whole drama had been Maggie's poor choice of when to confess her love to Bianca and Bianca's not explaining sooner why she and Babe had been in that hotel bed together. Of an equal importance in Maggie's mind, but both were forgivable offenses.

With Jonathan dead, Maggie now felt as if the healing could finally commence in earnest. She had been winning small battles again and again in her fight to purge herself of him. Changing her hair back to its natural color…not wearing any of the clothes he bought her…and most important of all, spending time with Bianca, something he had heavily disapproved of.

So here they were now. The specter of evil gone, the healing process starting, where would they would go from here was the big question. And as Maggie lay in this bed, staring at a peaceful, sleeping Bianca, that question loomed over her like a giant question mark. She knew it was too early to make any life changing decisions, but the time was approaching even faster where she was going to have to confront head on how she felt about her raven haired friend.

She glanced at the clock again and saw it was 7:00. As much as she would love to stay in bed all day staring at Bianca, she needed to get her life started again. As quietly as possible, she slipped out of bed, not wanting to wake her friend. Once she knew she had been successful, she smiled a satisfied grin at her victory. Then, as softly as possible, she leaned over and kissed Bianca's forehead, and followed that with a barely audible, "Thank you for always being there for me."

Turning to her right, she walked to the master bathroom and stopped to freshen up for the morning. She grabbed a hair band, and pulled her hair back into a pony tail. She leaned forward and took a closer look in the mirror at herself. "Wow Stone…" she thought, "two nights of next to no sleep and you could pack a weeks worth of clothes in the bags under your eyes."

She finished her business and went to see if the littlest member of their trio was awake yet. She slowly opened the door and peaked around the corner to find a pair of eyes staring back at her over the bars on the crib. The face quickly smiled and the hands let go of the railing just long enough to smack together in a clap.

"Hey sweetness!" Maggie said as she closed the bathroom door into the nursery behind her. "How is my favorite Munchie Munch doing today huh?" She lifted the little girl out of her crib and gave her a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Gosh, I haven't seen you since…wow…I haven't seen you since before I left for class the other night! I can't believe I haven't seen you in almost 2 days!"

Maggie turned towards the changing table and laid Miranda down to change her and prepare her for the day. It amazed her how much she really had missed seeing Miranda in that time.

Once the little girl was dressed, Maggie picked her up and gave her another tight hug, holding her cheek to cheek. "Ok honey, why don't you and I head downstairs to the kitchen, and I think we'll make your mommy and I some coffee, and maybe, just maybe we'll even remember to feed you!" she said as she tickled Miranda's cheek.

Miranda giggled and pulled her head down into her shoulders to try to escape the dreaded tickling finger.

April 6th – 7:30 AM

Bianca's eyes slowly opened…took a long blink…and opened again. There was still some of the sleep fuzz around the edges, but she could see enough of the room to tell the other side of the bed was empty. It took a few seconds of her brain trying to wake up before she realized what that meant.

It came back to her slowly. Jonathan…the cave…telling Maggie…Maggie crawling into bed with her….Maggie was gone, that was what was missing from her bed. She lifted her head and looked around the room, but there was no sign of her.

Spotting that the clock said 7:30, she surmised that Maggie had already gotten up for the day. She got out of bed, slipped on a robe and slippers, and shuffled off to Miranda's room to check on her. Seeing that her daughter was already gone from her crib, she figured it safe to assume the two ladies in her life had already started their day.

Having woken up with time to spare for once, she decided a morning shower would be nice. She headed off to do just that, to prepare for another fun-filled day of running Cambias Industries in her daughter's name.

April 6th - 7:40 AM

Maggie had already downed half a cup of coffee in the hopes of giving herself some energy. It seemed to be helping, but not a lot.

Just as she finished prepping a travel mug of coffee for Bianca to take to work, she heard the water of the master bathroom's shower start up. She glanced at the clock on the microwave, and said aloud to Miranda, "Wow, I think it's a miracle. Your mommy got up with more than 15 minutes to kill before Patrick gets here!"

With the travel mug ready, Maggie took the whistling kettle off the stove, and poured the water into the bowl of oatmeal that sat waiting for it. "You know Munchie, if I'm not careful, I'm going to look like I actually know what I'm doing around here."

Miranda rocked back and forth in her high chair, not caring what Maggie was saying, so long as the food she could see was delivered soon.

After fanning the oatmeal for a few moments, Maggie walked over and sat down in front of Miranda to begin feeding her breakfast. Since mentioning Patrick earlier, she had been thinking about him. She knew she was going to have talk to him about everything that happened at some point, but she wasn't sure if she was up for going over it all again so soon, but she knew she had to thank him for staying with Bianca all day yesterday. For now, her biggest battle would be getting more of the oatmeal in Miranda than on her.

April 6th – 8:10 AM

Bianca padded down the staircase in her stockings, seeing no reason to put on her heels until she had to. With everything that had been going on, she hadn't had time to send out her suits to the cleaners lately, and she was getting down to just knee length skirts and jackets. The jackets she didn't mind, but the skirts meant higher heels than she normally liked, and exposing her legs, which she was not overly fond of either.

Once at the bottom of the stairs, she slipped on her shoes and headed towards the kitchen to see if Maggie and Miranda were there. The click-click-click of her heels on the wooden floor of the entryway was driving her slowly insane, but she would get used to it.

She passed through the archway to the dining room, and could immediately see Maggie sitting in front of Miranda in the kitchen, spoon feeding her breakfast to her. Maggie was smiling and chatting happily away to Miranda, who had as much food on her grinning face, as she probably had inside her tummy.

"Hey you two….you were up early this morning."

Maggie turned and looked at Bianca with a big smile on her face. "Morning sleepy head." She turned her attentions back to feeding Miranda. "I got up around 7, stopped to check-in on a certain someone, and found she was more than ready to get up for the day. So I figured why not?"

Bianca walked over to Miranda, and leaned down to kiss the top of her head. "Good morning Munchie." She stood next to her daughter, stroking her hair with her left hand, while she finally got a straight on look at Maggie. There were bags under her eyes, but not anything to abnormal for someone in a pre-med program at school. Her hair was pulled back in a pony tail, letting her get a clear look at all of Maggie's facial features. Bianca couldn't put her finger on it, but something about Maggie was just…different today.

Maggie finally felt the eyes on her and looked up at Bianca. She got a self-conscious grin and chuckled out a, "What? What are you looking at?" to her friend.

Bianca grinned and looked back down at her daughter. "Nothing…I don't know…you just seem…different today somehow."

"Different? How?" Maggie inquired as she scraped the last of the food on to a spoon for Miranda.

"I don't know…maybe 'relieved' is a good word…or 'relaxed'."

"Well, yeah, I'm kind of feeling both to tell the truth. In case you hadn't heard, it seems the big bad wolf is dead. The townspeople might feel some relief after that."

Bianca winced at the analogy, but didn't say anything. Maggie always had a tendency to deal with her problems through humor, and it appeared they were at that stage now. "Is there any coffee?" she asked, trying to change the subject.

"Yep. And I already filled a travel mug for you to take to work with you."

"Wow, you've been the busy bee this morning haven't you?"

"Even slopped the hog." she said, as she wiped the oatmeal from around the corners of Miranda's mouth.

Bianca's jaw dropped, and her eyes went wide. "My daughter is not a hog!" After a few more seconds of astonishment, she stood up straight, took on an air of superiority, and uttered, "She is a Kane woman, if she has food on her face, it's a fashion statement."

Maggie leaned close to Miranda's ear, and faux-whispered, "Wow, she almost sounded like she bought into that herself."

Miranda giggled at Maggie's breath hitting her ear, and she threw up her hands to scratch her ear and protect it from further assaults.

Bianca smiled. She was glad to see Maggie smiling and laughing, but she couldn't tell if this was a front she was putting on or not. Somehow she was doubtful that one day of being locked in your bedroom, and a night of sleeping with your best friend would cure the hurt, pain and confusion she had been feeling not even forty-eight hours ago. "Maggie….I hate to bring it up, but….are you sure you're ok with me going back to work today? It's not too late for me to change my plans and stay home."

Maggie grinned at her. "Thanks for the concern…really….but…." her face took on a more serious tone. "I can't let this set me back…not now…not when I was just getting over everything he had done to me."

"No one would blame you if you took a few more days to yourself."

"I would. I just got into school. I'm not going to start messing things up this early, especially not because of……him."

Bianca could almost hear the venom drip off that final word. "Well…ok, but what about Miranda? Do you want me take her to work today so you can study and do your work?"

Maggie grinned and reached out with her left hand and stroked the back of the little girl's head. Miranda was smiling and kicking her legs back and forth. "If it's ok with you, I'll go ahead and resume my nanny duties, I think. I didn't realize until I saw her this morning how much she adds to my day."

Bianca smiled a warm, loving smile at the two girls. "Of course I don't have a problem with that. If you feel up to it, than you do it."

"All settled then!" Maggie looked over at the clock and got out, "And just in time since…." The buzzer for the downstairs door went off. "Patrick will be buzzing for you at any second." she finished.

Bianca walked over to Maggie and took both of her hands into hers and looked her squarely in the eyes. "He can wait a minute. I just need to know one last time…you are ok with me going?"

Maggie looked up at Bianca, who stood higher than usual in her heels. "I'll be fine…I promise. Now, you go to work and buy a company, or whatever it is you do all day."

Bianca leaned forward and planted a light kiss on Maggie's forehead, and then in turn leaned down and kissed her daughter. "Do you need me to send Patrick back after he takes me in?"

"Naw…I don't plan on going anywhere today that I can't walk to, and I need to get my homework done for class tonight. Do tell him I said hi though, and that I will talk to him very soon."

"Not a problem." Bianca started to walk out through the archway, as Maggie picked up Miranda out of her high chair so they could follow Bianca to the door. Bianca stopped and turned to look back at her friend, "You're sure?"

"GO!" Maggie bellowed as she walked up to Bianca, turned her around with her free hand and started pushing on her back.

"Fine! Fine! You don't need to shove!"

They arrived at the front door, Bianca grabbed her briefcase from the table, and her coat from the rack in the corner. She exited the apartment and pushed the button for the elevator as Maggie stood with Miranda in the door way and waved "bye-bye" to mommy as Bianca got on the elevator. They watched as the doors closed and Bianca said quickly, "I'll call and check on you later!"

The elevator gone, Maggie shut the front door and turned to walk to her apartment. As she did so, she looked lost in thought for a moment, finally turning her head to Miranda. "You know…I just realized your mommy's wearing a skirt today. She should do that more often…her legs look good in skirts."

The girls walked off through the dining room for a fun filled day of studying.

April 16th - Evening

"You're sure about this?" Bianca asked.

"I'm here aren't I?"

"I know, but…it just seems so soon."

"So soon? I can't stop living my life Bianca just because my psychopath ex-boyfriend is dead. Never mind it's been almost 2 weeks now. I have to do something besides go to school and hide in my apartment all the time."

"I know, but …."

"I'm sorry for Ryan, and I'm sorry for everyone Jonathan hurt, but that's all I feel at this point."

"Ok ok."

"Besides, Patrick is so excited we are finally coming over for dinner. It's all he's talked about for two days."

The cab pulled up in front of the address they had given the driver. Bianca paid him as Maggie stepped on to the sidewalk holding Miranda in her arms.

Patrick appeared as if from nowhere. "Ah, I am so glad you two made it." He looked over the cab with an arched eyebrow. "I still wish you would have let me come and pick you up."

"Not on your own time you don't." Bianca said as she walked to the trunk with the cabbie to retrieve Miranda's stroller.

"Yes, but Miss Montgomery…"

Bianca shot him a look "How many times do I have to tell you, Miss Montgomery during work hours! I'll let that one slide, but you have to call me Bianca in the off hours."

Maggie chuckled and elbowed Patrick. "Gee, this sounds familiar."

Patrick took the stroller and opened it up while mumbling, "You two are going to be the death of me."

The quartet rode up in the elevator, Bianca and Maggie chatting about how gorgeous Patrick's neighborhood was and Patrick would mumble an affirmative, "mmhmm" every so often.

Bianca and Maggie both leaned backwards, and looked at each other behind Patrick's back with puzzled looks about his sudden silence. Finally they leaned forward again, and joined him in his silence.

The elevator finally dinged, notifying them that their ride was at an end. The foursome exited the elevator and walked down the hall a short distance to Patrick's apartment door. He took a deep breath and muttered under his breath, "Here we go."

He unlocked the door on a spacious apartment, larger than either girl imagined, and Patrick called out, "Giulia. Sono qui."

A very tall, slender, dark headed woman walked out of a room into the entry hallway, and immediately the girls were assaulted by a flurry of Italian words. They were both grabbed by the shoulders and kissed on both cheeks. Miranda had her cheeks pulled on until it seemed her eyes would bug out.

Through a think accent, Maggie heard her name and it was followed by an onslaught of words, which Patrick tried to keep up with in translating. "Maggie…it is a pleasure to meet you…Patrick has told me all about you…you are more beautiful than he said…that is my husband for you, too somber and not enough zest for life…I am going to keep talking, because I know he feels obligated to translate every word…".

Giulia turned her head and blew Patrick an exaggerated kiss, which made him chuckle. She turned now to look at Bianca, and Patrick said something to his wife that made her smile broadly. She began speaking French to Bianca, which seemed to relieve her a great deal. Though the words were similar, Patrick still translated for Maggie's sake so she wouldn't feel left out.

"I actually caught one or two words!" Maggie said, beaming a proud smile.

Patrick smiled at her. "Ah, so you are not as slow as I first thought!"

Maggie suspected he was starting to enjoy being punched in the arm for his comments.

After a brief tour of the apartment, everyone gathered in the kitchen, while Giulia finished preparing dinner. Bianca presented two bottles of some very expensive wine she had brought with her to Giulia, who was visibly impressed. She showed them to Patrick who in turn muttered something along the lines of "dear lord." Maggie guessed they must be good to rattle Patrick, but to her, wine was wine.

Patrick opened the bottles while Giulia stirred the pasta. She looked at Maggie and Bianca, muttered something in Italian which made Patrick laugh. He turned to look at the pair from Pine Valley and filled them in. "She is concerned that you two don't eat well, you are so skinny and short." Giulia said a few more things in Italian that Patrick translated, though he grimaced and stepped back from Maggie. "She is not sure how you will ever have a child with those hips."

Maggie smiled a sweet, yet unsettling, smile at Patrick. "Tell her I appreciate her concern, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it."

Patrick was concerned by the smile, but translated anyway. Giulia laughed and said something to him that made him turn and walk towards the cabinet across the room. On his way there, he was treated to another punch in the arm. He stopped, looked at Maggie, and asked, "Could you at least change arms once in awhile so I don't bruise?"


There was barely any table visible under the amount of food that had been laid out for the honored guests. Bianca and Maggie sat across from each other, Miranda in her mother's lap, while Patrick and Giulia sat at either end of the table.

As they all got settled, Giulia served her and Patrick modest helpings, but gave the girls helpings that almost overflowed off their plates, and made their eyes bug out. They looked from the plates, to each other, and back down to their plates. Giulia repeated, "Mangi! Mangi!" over and over, which Patrick told the girls meant, "Eat! Eat!"

Bianca smiled and said to Patrick, "So, I doubt she is going to want to hear I am trying to watch my figure?"

"I'm not sure that sentence exists in the Italian language actually." he replied.

As the food and wine got started, the conversation began to flow as it does when people break bread together. Patrick and Bianca kept trying to translate everything being said, but it was hard to keep up with so many streams of conversation going on. Maggie finally told them not to worry, and only translate what was being said to her directly.

Miranda tried taking a bite of every food item that passed over her mother's place, but got more sauce on her face than anything. Giulia finally stepped over and asked Bianca if she could hold the little girl for awhile.

"Now you've you done it! She will be wanting to be have another one! We've already raised two." Patrick moaned.

"How did the two of you meet?" Maggie inquired.

"Well, she tells the story much more fully than I, but since she can't relay it in English….it was when I was in the military, I was in Italy for a while on assignment. I saw her from across a room, and…well, you can imagine the rest of the story. We have been together ever since."

Giulia asked Patrick what was being discussed in French, and he replied. She smiled and looked from Bianca to Maggie and finally back to Bianca. She asked a question in French that made Bianca immediately blush and get suddenly fascinated with twirling some pasta around her fork.

Maggie noticed, and looked to Patrick for a translation, but saw that he had tensed up. "What did she say?"

"Um…nothing, nothing, don't worry about it."

Bianca finally replied to Giulia, in a very lengthy dose of French. Maggie had been in France long enough now she had learned a few words, and she picked out for sure both their names, "couple", "knows" and "future". She wanted to ask what exactly what had been asked and replied, but decided to drop it for now.

Through Bianca's whole answer, Giulia had just nodded in the affirmative, and glanced at Maggie every so often. She would just smile back, but she had to admit that it did make her a bit uneasy.

Dinner slowly returned to what passed for normal, but Maggie made a mental note to follow up on this particular part of the conversation at a later time.

Dinner over, and the table cleared, everyone was again gathered in the kitchen. Bianca holding Miranda, Giulia rinsing off dishes and Maggie bringing in the left over items from the dining room.

Once the table was cleared, and the dishes stacked, Giulia again took Miranda from Bianca, and they got into a deep conversation about children being raised in Paris. Feeling out of place, Maggie went to see where Patrick had gotten off to.

She spotted him on the small balcony outside the living room, and went out to see what he was up to. She noticed as she opened the door, his left hand quickly shot down to his side, but she didn't make much of it.

"What are you doing out here?"

Patrick shrugged, but said nothing.

"Patrick…are you ok?"

He nodded "yes", but still said nothing.

Maggie leaned on the railing, a suspicion starting to sink in. "You know…you can't hold it in forever."

Patrick opened his mouth, a massive exhale escaping, along with cigarette smoke.

Maggie shook her head and laughed. "You're hiding it from Giulia aren't you?"

"She thinks I quit years ago, but I still allow myself one day, and only one a day, and it is always after dinner."

"And you hide it from her?"

"Yes." he said, as he retrieved an ashtray out of the plotted plant in the corner. He snubbed out the cigarette he had in his left hand, and put the ashtray back. "She had me quit for my health…and she is right, but…I just hold on to that last one a day habit for memories."

"Patrick, Patrick, Patrick…I'm so ashamed of you."

"Please don't tell her, ok?"

A grin crossed Maggie's face. "Ok, I won't….but you have to do something for me."

Patrick hung his head, and asked in a defeated tone, "What?"

"Tell me what the conversation in French was at dinner, after I asked how you two had met."

Patrick sighed. "I figured that was it." He looked back over his shoulder, and saw that Bianca and his wife were seated on the couches, far away from the doors, so they would not over hear this conversation. "Giulia…..wanted to know how you and Bianca became a couple."

"Yeah…that's what I thought it was."

"Bianca informed her you were not yet a couple, but maybe someday, who knows in the future."

"And….did she say if she wanted us to be a couple."

Patrick stared out at the city for a moment. "Should I be the one to tell you that, or should she?"

Maggie turned around, leaned back to rest on the railing, and placed her hands behind her to support herself. She stared through the glass in the doors at Bianca, who was facing her direction on the couch. "I….I know what she has said in the past, but…so much more has happened…." Bianca spotted Maggie looking in and smiled at her, Maggie returned the gesture. Maggie again turned around to look out over the city with Patrick.

Patrick turned his head and stared at Maggie. "You love her….don't you?"

"With all my heart."

"Then, why haven't you done anything about it?"

"It's….it's complicated Patrick."

"What is so complicated? You love her, she obviously loves you…why not become a couple?"

"Because…I don't know what type of love it is. And…I don't know if I'm gay, or if it's just her. There's so much I don't know."

"Do you really have to know more than that you love her?"

Maggie turned her head to look at Patrick. "What did she say Patrick? Please tell me."

Patrick sighed, and pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and lit one.

"I thought you had only one a day."

"Normally yes, but this is what you do to me. You drive me to two!"

"Patrick, look at it this way, she said it…out loud…if I could speak French, I would already know what was said, but I don't. So all you are doing is repeating what was said in front of me."

Patrick took another drag off of his cigarette. He looked down at it and studied the ember on the end. "She said…..she said that she hopes someday you two will be a couple, but that you were the one who had to let her know the time was right."

Maggie nodded. "Thank you Patrick…and your cigarette secret is safe with me." She moved over and wrapped both her arms around him. "Your daughters must have turned out to be wonderful people…I would like to meet them someday."

Patrick wrapped his right arm around Maggie's shoulders. "No you wouldn't. Imagine my wife and I combined into one person…they are like whirling dervishes of destruction!"

Maggie laughed and squeezed Patrick tighter. "I couldn't have hoped to have found a better friend when I moved here." She let go and stepped back. "Now….what's this about you and the military?"

Bianca and Maggie stood in the front hall saying their good-byes to Giulia, as Patrick had already headed down to get them a cab. She reluctantly gave Miranda back to Bianca, and hugged them both in one big hug. She said some things to Bianca in French, that again made her blush, especially when she had nodded her head towards Maggie. Maggie tried to pretend she hadn't noticed.

It was then Maggie's turn for the hugs and kisses. Giulia said something in French to her that made Bianca's eyes light up. "She says it was a pleasure meeting you, and hopes that we will both come again. She also hopes that Patrick's smoking on the balcony didn't bother you too much. He's so cute how he thinks she doesn't know."

Maggie got embarrassed and laughed. "Um…could you tell her I had a lovely time, and that I have no idea what she is talking about?"

Bianca relayed the message and Giulia just laughed and winked at Maggie once she had heard it all. Again Bianca translated for her. "Don't worry, I am not mad at him. He gave up his serious habit for me, I think I can ignore his one a day, but try not to drive him to a second one again."

Maggie looked at Bianca with some astonishment. "Damn! She's good!"

Down on the street, Bianca and Maggie said their goodbyes to Patrick and thanked him for a lovely evening. As Bianca was having the stroller put in the trunk, Patrick hugged Maggie. "Think about it….are you happy with this…or do you want more?" he whispered in her ear.

She whispered back, "I'll think on it…promise. Thank you Patrick." After she broke away, and was getting in the cab, she stopped for a brief moment and turned to Patrick. "By the way…I didn't tell her, but she knows about the smoking."

As the girls drove away in their cab, they turned to wave to Patrick. Maggie commented, "Wow…you can see how pale that made him even from here!"

Chapter Three

May 23rd – Evening

Bianca hated when she worked past 5:30, and now it was getting close to an hour past that. She wanted to get home to Miranda, as she was all she could think about during the day. Well…and maybe another person as well. She gathered up her papers, slipped them in her briefcase and turned off her desk lamp before heading out.

She had already sent her assistant, Aurélia, home for the night, so it was just her in the office. This caused her to be a bit shocked when someone knocked on her office door, just as she reached for it. She opened it to find Ethan Cambias standing on the other side.

"I know. Last person you expect to see?....I need your help. I won't lose Kendall."

After getting over the initial shock of even seeing him standing there, his words began to sink in. "Well first off….'hello'. Secondly, what do you mean 'lose Kendall'? What happened now?"

"Can I come in to discuss this?"

"Well…" Bianca looked at her watch, "actually, no. I'm heading home, but you can come with me if you want."

"Ok…probably a better setting anyway, as this will take some time."

Bianca walked out of her office and closed the door behind her. "Fine…but could you wait here for a minute? I need to drop some papers off down the hall and I will come back for you."

"Of course." He replied, and Ethan took a seat on the love seat in Bianca's outer office as she left to go down the hall. Once she was at a safe distance, she pulled out her phone and called down to Patrick so he wouldn't be surprised by the arrival of the surprise visitor. Then she placed a call to Maggie.

"Bon jour!" came the chipper voice at the other end of the line.

Bianca smiled. "Don't say that unless you are prepared to a hold a full conversation in French."

"Caller ID dummy, I knew it was you. What's up? Are you delayed again?"

"No…well….yes….I don't know. I'm bringing someone home with me and thought I had better warn you."

"Oh! Did you go to a bar and pick up a hot girl?" she asked in a teasing voice.

Bianca smiled at the ease Maggie joked about her sexuality. "Oh they're hot, but this isn't exactly a girl. Ethan just showed up at my office door out of the blue wanting to talk to me about Kendall."

"Um….ok….I'll set another spot for dinner and change into something that doesn't look like I have been writing a paper for two days in it….since that is exactly what I have on."

"Thanks…..Maggie." Bianca said, catching herself almost saying 'honey'.

"No problem! Oh! And you better warn Patrick before you get downstairs!"

"Mind reader! I already did…see you in a bit."

Down in the parking garage, Bianca grinned at the sight of Patrick as she and Ethan walked to the limo. Patrick was standing at attention with the door open, and was even wearing his chauffeur's cap, which he hated, and only wore when Maggie would tease him about it.

She allowed Ethan to get in first. As he did, she and Patrick shared a wink. He was quickly becoming more like family than an employee, but with Ethan about, they were silently agreeing to play their assigned roles of employer and employee.

Ethan had taken a seat on the long bench as there was only room for one on the main seat, due to the presence of Miranda's car seat. "Sorry about that." Bianca said. "I just leave it in here all the time, as I never know when I will need to take her some place, and it is a real pain to take in and out."

Ethan smiled his crooked grin. "No problem. How is my little cousin?"

"She's fine. Maggie looks after her during the day, then I take over in the evenings when she heads off to class."

Ethan looked down at his trousers and picked off some imaginary lint. "So….you and Maggie are…."

"The very best of friends." Bianca said curtly, indicating he should watch what subjects he inquired about. "Are all the crews back on the Miranda Center as promised?"

Now it was Ethan's turn to feel the stab of an unwelcome question, and to realize that she did have the Kane instinct of going for the jugular. "Yes. They are all back as promised."

"Good. So, now what is this about Kendall that you felt the need to fly all the way to Paris to talk about it?"

"Well…" Ethan flashed a look towards Patrick. "Excuse me, driver? Could you put up the privacy screen please?"

"Of course sir." replied Patrick as the screen lifted into place.

Bianca frowned slightly, but said nothing as Ethan turned to face her again. "You were saying?" she inquired.

"Well, it seems Kendall is going to marry my father to help him get his gambling license back, and then they will sue me for my half of Cambias."

Bianca wasn't sure, but she felt as if she had just stepped into a whole other world. A world she had left behind when she and Maggie had departed for Paris. Now, it was as if she was right back in the thick of the craziness that was Pine Valley.

Ethan stood in the kitchen, his suit jacket and tie off, his sleeves rolled up and was pacing while drinking some white wine, talking with Bianca. "You have to help me with her Bianca."

Bianca was sitting at the butchers block with Miranda in her lap. "I don't have to do it Ethan, but I will. If you love her as much as you say you do, and she's making all these crazy decisions, then yes, I will talk to her and see what I can do for you."

Just then, Bianca's cell phone started ringing. "Hello? Mom? Mom…what? What? Slow down…slow down…hold on a minute." She stood up and walked over to Ethan. "Could you take her into Maggie for me? It's my mother and she's rambling something about a wedding and a banyan tree." She handed her daughter over to Ethan, which he gladly accepted. Bianca walked out of the room with her cell phone, repeatedly saying "Slow down mom!"

Ethan walked over to Maggie's room, and before knocking, read the sign that hung there that said "La Hutte de Plaisir"…"The Pleasure Hut". Ethan smiled and looked over his shoulder at Bianca, who was standing in the dining room. He mumbled "'The best of friends' huh?" and chuckled. He knocked on Maggie's door and asked if he could enter. Once he heard a "sure", he walked on in.

The room was large, and eclectic in its decoration. From a lava lamp on the bed stand, to the Pachinko machine in the corner, the room screamed young American. The distinctly French furniture though leant the room a bit of the city that surrounded this American's oasis.

"Sorry to disturb your studying…." Ethan began as he walked over to her with Miranda, "but Bianca's on the phone with her mother and asked me to bring Miranda in to you."

"Oh lord, if it's Erica, this could go on for awhile." She stood up and took Miranda from Ethan's arms. Miranda quickly cuddled up to Maggie and nestled her head in the crook of Maggie's neck. Maggie smiled a gentle grin and rested her head against Miranda's.

Ethan slid his hands in his pockets and smiled at the two ladies in front of him. "She really seems to have taken a liking to you."

"Yeah, well we spend just a wee bit of time together." Maggie said sarcastically, as she sat back down at her desk. Maggie nodded with her head towards her bed. "You can have a seat if you want, she'll probably be a little while."

"Thanks." replied Ethan as he sat down at the end closest to Maggie. "So…things are going well for you over here?"

"Yeah…school's going well, I've got these swanky digs to live in and I get to hang out with the two most beautiful girls on the face of the planet everyday!" she said as she turned her head and kissed the top of, the now drowsy, Miranda's head.

Ethan caught the plural form of her comment about the 'beautiful girls', but smiled and kept his thoughts to himself.

Just then Bianca came storming into Maggie's room. "Ok everyone, battle stations….my mother has lost her mind!"

Maggie and Ethan looked at each other, and then to Bianca. Maggie asked, "This is news to you? I always thought you were bit quicker on the uptake…."

"Oh no, this is a whole new level for her. Ethan…could you call the pilot and see how soon the jet could be ready to leave?"

"Do I need to leave already?"

"Oh no, not like that. I do…and Miranda…and you….and Maggie if you would like to come."

Maggie and Ethan looked at each other again, and then back to Bianca. "Um..Bianca…would you mind joining us in our reality and tell us just a few more details?"

Bianca took a deep breath. "Uncle Jack 'kidnapped' Mom to talk some sense into her, he took her to Boca Raton by yacht, where they found a gorgeous banyan tree and now mom wants to get married under it and wants all of us there so they can get married as soon as possible." She let her deep breath out.

Ethan stood up, made a little bow to Maggie and Miranda, and turned back to Bianca. "I think I'll just call the pilot. I caught Boca Raton in there…that should be enough information." He patted Bianca on the shoulder as he passed her.

"So….can you come?" Bianca asked.

"I wish I could…really…we've only been waiting for this marriage for years now, but I have got to finish this paper." she said with a frown. "You aren't upset are you?"

Bianca lifted her hands and pushed locks of hair behind both ears. "No! Of course not! Leave it to my mom to spring this on us with no warning!

Maggie stood up and walked over to Bianca. "You're sure you aren't mad?"

"Disappointed? Yeah, of course I am. But mad? How can I be mad when it's homework?" She pulled Maggie into a light hug so as not crush Miranda, and Maggie returned it, one-armed. After breaking the hug, Bianca asked, "Could I impose on you for say an hour to help me pack though? I have got to leave tonight!"

Maggie smiled an evil grin. "Is it even possible to get one Kane woman ready in an hour, let alone two?" she asked with a nod towards the baby in her arms.

Bianca rolled her eyes. "Come on." And with that, all of them exited Maggie's room.

"You are only going to be gone a few days Bianca! You have enough clothes packed to move back, and…..wait a minute…is there something you aren't telling me?" Maggie bellowed from the closet of the main bedroom.

"No, but with my mom you have to plan for every possible contingency!"

Maggie walked out of the closet, more clothes in hand. "True! I grabbed your black bikini…just in case. Florida and all that, she might want to go to the beach or something." She paused long enough to throw some more clothes in the luggage. "Man…now I wish I could go, but I have to hand that paper in first thing Wednesday. Of course after that, THEN I have free time!" she said while throwing her hands up in frustration.

Bianca was bent over one of her suitcases, zipping it up. "I know, but nothing can be done. Even if I sent the jet back for you, you wouldn't arrive in time." she said with a frown.

There was a soft knock at the door. "Bianca…whenever you're ready. Your driver is downstairs, and the jet is ready for us."

"Thanks Ethan….could you take one of these bags down for me?"

"Only one? It looks like your ready for an around the world trip!"

"What can I tell ya Ethan…that's the Kane women for you." Maggie piped in.

Ethan groaned under the weight of a bag in each hand, but he made it out the door. "I'll see you downstairs." he said over his shoulder.

"Are you sure no one's head is going to explode when you arrive with him?" Maggie asked.

"I hope not, but he seems to really love Kendall, and this whole crazy plan she has with Zach….I have to see what I can do Maggie."

"That's our Saint Bianca. Anyway…you have room for one more small bag?"

Bianca looked around puzzled. "Didn't we get everything put away?"

"You did, but I have gifts for everyone that I have been slowly buying for when the wedding was supposed to happen. Can you just take them with you?"

"Of course! We'll just grab them when we get downstairs." Bianca tilted her head and pouted a bit. "You realize….this will be the longest we have gone without seeing each other since we got here."

Maggie looked down and fiddled with the zipper on one of the bags. "Yeah…not sure how I will feed myself with the language barrier." she said with a soft chuckle.

Bianca walked over and pulled her into a big hug. "I need a big one this time so I don't go through withdrawl."

"You're trying to make me cry aren't you?"

"NO! I…" she pulled back in the hug so she could look at Maggie, but kept her arms around her. "Well…since we got here, and got the whole living arrangement problem settled…I've just gotten so used to seeing you everyday. It will be rough going without."

Maggie blushed. "Me too…this has been really good for me Bianca. I feel like I'm getting back to healthy finally."

Bianca pulled her close for another hug, but this time nothing was said. Both girls closed their eyes, and tears began to well up. They stood like this for several moments before it was finally broken. Each reached up with the backs of their hands to brush away their own tears while laughing in embarrassment.

"Boy, aren't we mature…can't go a couple days without each other!" said Maggie.

"And that's all it is…a couple days. I promise."

"Good! I would hate to have to hunt you down!"

Her tears gone, Bianca bent over to pick up a suitcase and saw her briefcase lying on the bed. "Oh! Could you do me a favor on Wednesday? After you turn in your paper of course."

"Sure. What do you need?"

"Can you drop some papers I had to sign off at the office?"

"Oh yeah, not a problem! And it will give me a chance to harass Patrick at work!" she said with a chirp. "Now, you go on downstairs, I'll grab Miranda out of her crib, and you'll be ready to attend the tenth Erica Kane wedding!"

Bianca closed her eyes and shook her head. "It's amazing how you can make everything sound so normal."

May 25th – Afternoon

Maggie was strolling down the sidewalk near the Cambias building. She had dropped the papers off like Bianca had wanted, and Patrick said he would meet her down the street at the coffee shop after he had run an errand. Since she had only ever driven in and out of the Cambias building, in the back of a limo, she had thought to take the train this time so she would be to actually get out and look around for once. Now she was just taking a slow stroll down the street, looking in the windows of the small boutiques that lined either side of the avenue.

As she stopped to look in the window of a jewelry store, she thought she saw someone staring at her out of the corner of her eye. When she turned to look, they were gone. She just chalked it up to her imagination, and continued down the street.

It was a gorgeous day, just a few clouds, and not too hot, or too cold. The perfect day for a walk. With her paper turned in, she had decided this was the perfect way to spend a Bianca & Miranda-free afternoon. She really had not had much of a chance to explore the city, and she still occasionally had to remind herself she actually lived in Paris now. Her! Maggie Stone! Living in Paris! She grinned for a moment as she looked around. "And that teacher, Mrs. Branbridge, said in third grade that those Stone girls would never get anywhere in life. HA! Take that you old battle axe!"

She stopped to look in another window. Just as the grin had appeared suddenly, it now disappeared. Though the reflection in the window was her own, it made her think. "Oh Frankie….if only you were here…". She was shocked out of her daydream as she again felt as if she was being watched, but when she turned her head, no one was there except normal pedestrians passing her by. No one was staring at her as far as she could see. She shrugged her shoulders and moved on down the street.

When she reached the coffee shop, she got in line figuring she would go ahead and get a latte in her before Patrick arrived. All the time she was in line she kept trying to work out the words to place the order. She had slowly been picking up more and more words, but they still did not come naturally to her. And with Bianca gone, it was a little disconcerting being in a city with this many people, and still feeling alone and isolated because she did not speak the language.

When her turn at the counter arrived, she blurted out what she thought was an order for a latte, but the barista looked at her perplexed. She tried it again. He still looked at her puzzled. From somewhere behind her a voice said something in French, the barista smiled and began making a latte.

"You were very close to having it correct Maggie, it's just the enunciation needs a little more work" said the voice.

Every hair on her neck stood on end. She slowly turned, knowing who it was, but still hoping she was wrong. She looked up slightly at the short, pixie like hair-do, the deep dark eyes and that smirk of a grin she had always wanted to slap off her face. "Hello…..Lena."

Chapter Four

May 25th – Early Afternoon

Maggie's head filled with cotton. She could hear things that sounded like voices, and she could make out forms of people moving. What was in front of her though was in crystal clear focus. Lena Kundera.

She hadn't seen Lena since she had left to go back to Poland to be with her sickly mother. Though Bianca and she had parted as girlfriends, the distance finally got to be too much, and they broke up. Maggie had never said anything, but it didn't exactly choke her up. Sure, she was sad for Bianca, but she had never exactly been a member of the 'Lena Fan Club'.

It wasn't even that she so much had anything against Lena, it was more…who was she kidding, she disliked Lena…a lot. From the association with Michael Cambias to making Bianca choose her family or even her telling her she had to come to Poland to keep their relationship going. It all irked Maggie, but, if you pressed her to answer, there was probably a dash of jealousy also.

It wasn't until Lena smiled at her, and moved forward, that she came out of her stupor. Her vision returned to normal, and sounds once again flooded into her ears. Not sure of what Lena was up to, she stepped aside and saw that she was grabbing up two lattes and paying for them. She turned and handed one to Maggie. "Over your shock of seeing me yet?" she asked.

Maggie took the latte from her and said, "Getting there."

Lena smiled, and her eyes lingered with Maggie's for a moment. She broke the look and glanced around the café. "There's a table over there if you would care to join me. I would love to catch up with you."

"I guess I can…." she said, glancing at her watch. "I'm supposed to be meeting a friend here in a little bit."

"Of course. I would just like catch up on what has happened to both of you." She gestured with a hand towards the tables and led the way to a couple of empty ones towards the front. Maggie took a seat at the second table in from the front door, and sat with her back to the entrance, Lena sat opposite her. "I had no idea you were even in Paris!" Lena exclaimed excitedly as she settled in her chair.

Maggie wrapped both her hands around her cup, and stared at it, refusing to make eye contact. "Really? So you just happened in to me walking down the street?" she asked, her tone suspicious.

The question was innocent enough on the surface, but Lena caught the implication. "I am working as a financial officer for a company that has offices in several countries. I am in Paris for a few days of training on our new computer system, and our offices are just down the street." She reached for her purse and fished around inside of it "Ah…here is one of my business cards. It is in French, but it shows the address."

Maggie took the business card and gave it only a cursory glance before shoving it in the pocket of her school bag. Sure enough, even in French, she recognized the address, it was just two doors down from the Cambias building. "So…I take it your mother must have gotten better if you are working again." Maggie scooted her chair forward, feeling the one directly behind her hitting the back of hers as someone sat down.

"She did get better, but either way I needed a job again to pay all her bills."

"So here you are…" Maggie began spinning her cup around in her hands, still staring at it, "in Paris…a new job…your mom's better…and only a few doors down from Cambias…"

Lena smiled. "Running into you was pure chance Maggie. I knew Bianca was working at Cambias, but I had not planned on calling her. Too much time…too much…everything." She paused and stared at her cup. "You know though…I had no idea you were here until I saw you on the street. I followed you for a little ways not believing my eyes."

It clicked in Maggie's head finally that she had been watched on the street. She lifted her cup to take a sip. "Well, sorry to break it to you, but Bianca is gone for a few days to Florida…" she took a long drink of her latte. "Erica is finally marrying Jack."

"Really? That is wonderful!"

"So unless you are going to be around past the weekend, you won't be running into her."

"Like I said Maggie….I wasn't going to call her. I…I have someone else now."

Maggie cocked an eyebrow, not sure whether to believe her. "Really? Tell me about them." She purposefully left the gender out since she remembered Lena had said she was bisexual.

"Her name is Tola." Lena smiled broadly. "It means 'priceless'. She works in the same building as me, but in a different division. We clicked instantly and have been together now for four months."

"Always going for the co-workers huh?" she asked, with an obvious indication to how Lena and Bianca had both worked at Enchantment when they first met.

"It does seem to work out that way, yes."

Maggie nodded and went back to spinning her cup.

"So….why did you not go to Florida with Bianca?"

"School work. I had a paper to turn in today."

"I would have thought you could have arranged something so you could go with your partner to her mother's wedding."

Maggie stopped spinning the cup. "Well….that was about as subtle as a hammer up side the head."

Lena smiled and took a drink.

"For your information, she is not my 'partner'. We are still just friends."

"I see…I just assumed…well…most people don't move to a foreign country just to be with their 'friend'."

"Some….things… happened to me, and I felt like this was the best place until I could get my balance back. Also, the timing worked out well. I had just gotten out of a very unhealthy relationship, Bianca was moving here with Miranda, and so along I came. Now I go to school and watch over Miranda, so there are a lot of reasons for me to be here."

Lena was intrigued by the 'things' that had happened to her, but did not feel comfortable pushing it any further. "Miranda…how is she?"

"She's a little over a year old and about as cute as can be."

Lena smiled. "I am glad she is doing well. As for you and Bianca, I am sorry I assumed. I am sure you can see how I would reach that conclusion with everything that happened back in Pine Valley and then finding you just outside the building she works in."

"I was just dropping off some papers for her. The trip was very last minute." She looked up and studied Lena for a moment. "What do you mean by 'everything that happened back in Pine Valley'?" Maggie asked before taking a sip of her drink.

"Well….your jealousy of Bianca and I."

As was Maggie's tendency, she nearly spit some of her latte across the table, but kept her mouth shut. "Man, I have got to stop eating and drinking when having these discussions." She grabbed a napkin and wiped her mouth with it. "I was not jealous of you two."

Lena laughed so hard she had to cover her mouth. "Oh please Maggie! If there was such a thing as a real stare of death, I would have been killed many times over!"

Even Maggie had to laugh at that. "Maybe I just didn't like you."

"I am familiar with that gaze from others Maggie, yours was very much a look of jealousy. I am sure you would recognize it…as I looked at you with that same stare many times."

Maggie was puzzled by this comment. "I saw you shoot looks at me, but I always just thought it was hatred."

"No…honestly Maggie, I always liked you. If it hadn't been for Bianca, we might have been friends under other circumstances. But I was always very jealous of your relationship with Bianca."

Maggie was shocked by this statement. "Why in the world would you be jealous of our relationship? We are just friends."

"Because you were still number one in her heart Maggie. She never got over her feelings for you, and if you had ever given her a sign that you were interested in her….I am fairly certain I would have been gone from her life."

Maggie gulped. "You…you can't really think that can you? She loved you. There is no way I could have broken that."

"I think you would be surprised Maggie. I don't think you would have had to do very much to convince her."

Maggie took a deep breath, her voice shaky, and asked, "Then why did she reject me….twice?"

Lena's jaw dropped slowly, but no words came out.

Maggie felt the blood rushing to her cheeks in a sign of embarrassment. She looked down at her hands, and there was a long silence before she continued in a voice, not much above a whisper. "It was the day Bianca was thinking of leaving the country because of everything happening at the murder trial for Michael. I was rushing out…well, more like running actually, and almost ran you down. You gave me a suspicious look, like you thought something had just happened between Bianca and I?" Lena nodded in the affirmative. "Well, something did...I'd just kissed her, totally on impulse, just before you got there...I was afraid she was going to leave for Europe with you and..."

"I knew something had happened. I could feel the tension in the room and Bianca was clearly upset about something. And you...you were...what was it Bianca always said? 'freaked out'..."

Maggie chuckled. "You don't know the half of it. I kept replaying that kiss over and over again in my mind and, while I was distracted with those thoughts, I backed out of my parking spot right into Jamie...and then...then I…well…I tried to prove some things to myself with him." She took a long sip of her drink.

"Trying to prove to yourself that you were who you always claimed to be? Defining yourself as a straight girl? That can't still be how you're trying to define yourself, Maggie. Maybe it is, if you shared only that one moment, but…"

"Well…then there was the second time she and I talked about us."

Lena threw her head back in a laugh. When she looked at Maggie again, she could see the anger in her eyes. "I am sorry Maggie, I really am. I am not laughing at you, I am laughing at myself. I had no clue."

Maggie's expression eased some. "That's ok. It is kind of funny when you think about it. You thought she would run into my arms…so did I."

Lena moved her cup to the side and leaned forward, resting on her forearms. She asked, in a soft, encouraging voice, "When was the second time?"

"Last summer. You…" she started spinning her coffee cup again and staring at it, "you and she were still together. We had been playing a drinking game called 'Truth or Dare', and one thing led to another, and…and I told her I thought I was in love with her." She stopped spinning the cup, but continued to stare at it. "Which…I know was wrong of me Lena, but both times…it was just so spur of the moment…"

Lena smiled and leaned further forward, placing her right hand on Maggie's left. "It's ok Maggie…really. I'm not upset. I'm not upset you kissed her on impulse, and I'm not upset you told her you loved her. That's what love is, that's the core of it, you no longer control what is happening. If you felt it for her at those moments, and you did what was in your heart, then who am I to say you were wrong for doing it?"

Maggie looked from Lena's hand to her face and studied her for a moment. "Can I ask you something?"

"Of course."

"Were you this easy going when you were with Bianca, and I just didn't notice, or did this happen since you left Pine Valley?"

Lena retracted her hand and smiled a softer smile. "As I already said Maggie, I think if we had met under other circumstances, we could have been friends. We just always felt like adversaries because we both were in love with the same girl."

Maggie heaved a sigh. "If only I felt it was that clearly defined."

Lena's smile turned to more of a smirk. "You can not tell me you are still confused about her! Not after this long."

Maggie took a drink of her latte and said nothing.

Lena lowered her head and shook it, mumbling something in Polish. She looked back at Maggie. "Do you or do you not have feelings for her?"

"I love her…I just don't know how I love her."

Lena leaned her head back in frustration, and then leaning forward again, she locked eyes with Maggie. "Is it because you still find men attractive?"

Maggie leaned back in her chair, not sure of what to make of what Lena was doing. "P..partially."

"And do you think admitting you love Bianca would be announcing you were gay?"

"Yeah, I suppose that's part of it."

Lena arched her eyebrows in an expression of disbelief. "Maggie…have you never heard of the word 'bisexual'?"

"Of course I have…" she said with an exasperated tone.

Lena cut her off, quickly firing back. "Then why do you feel loving Bianca would automatically make you 'gay'? You could be in a loving relationship with a woman for years and still be attracted to men. Just because you are with one at this time does not close all the doors." Lena leaned back in her chair some. "Don't forget, I was with one man and hitting on another when I feel for Bianca."

Maggie sneered at the thought of Michael Cambias. "Not the best case study Lena."

Lena's mouth narrowed into a thin line as that comment did sting some. "I know….all I am trying to say Maggie is…sexuality is fluid, ever changing. Like anything in life, it is not a black and white subject. Just because I do prefer women doesn't mean I don't still look at the occasional man. For instance, there is a very handsome middle aged man sitting behind you right now. Just because I am with Tola, it doesn't mean I don't look at men still. And just because you would be with Bianca doesn't mean you would forever be locked into that." Lena sighed, relaxing her face, and her voice at the same time. "Maggie, society is the one who makes and issues the labels. If your heart feels a certain way, why should you care about what the rest of the world will think, or call you?"

Maggie started drumming her fingers on the table and screwed her face up in concentration.

Lena felt uncomfortable under this stare and shifted uneasily in her chair. Finally she asked, "What? What is it?"

Maggie continued to stare for a moment. "I am trying to figure out, number one why I should listen to you and number two, why your advice is actually making sense to me."

"Because, Maggie, I only want what's best for Bianca, and that, no matter how much you fight it, is you." Lena looked at her watch. "Ah….I have to get back to the office for another round of training." Lena stood up and collected her things.

Maggie stood up to bid her farewell. "Thanks Lena. I can honestly say when I woke up this morning, I did not expect to be getting advice on my love life from you of all people."

"Maggie, I….I know this couldn't have been easy for you….to sit down with me I mean."

"I've done more painful things, I promise." she said with a crooked smile.

Lena cocked her head to one side and smiled. She spread her arms slightly. "Maggie, may I….can I give you a hug?"

"Promise you don't have a knife in one of your hands?" she said with a nervous giggle, her eyes darting back and forth between Lena's palms.

Lena put her arms around Maggie and hugged her tightly. She put her lips near Maggie's ear and whispered, "We both know Bianca is loyal...to a fault even. I know she did love
me, in her way, as much as she could. But I was never the love of her life. That's you, Maggie. It was always you. Once you accept that, you can accept yourself."

Maggie broke the hug and looked into Lena's face, trying to decipher if she was sincere. It appeared she was. "What….do you…do you have any messages for Bianca?"

Lena became straight faced, and almost sad. "I tell you what Maggie….why don't we just agree she never needs to know today ever happened? I won't tell if you don't. Agreed?"

Looking deep into Lena's eyes for any sign of betrayal, she finally said, "Agreed. You had better go, you don't want to be late."

"Good-bye Maggie." And with a final squeeze of Maggie's shoulder, Lena departed the café.

Maggie stood there for a moment, staring after her. She looked down at the man who had been sitting behind her for the majority of the conversation. "You moving over to my table or not?"

Patrick turned and looked at her. "I didn't want to interrupt."

"I figured. Move over here and you can give me your opinion."

Patrick stood and swung around Maggie's small table, taking the seat that had been occupied by Lena. Maggie sat down again in her chair and looked at Patrick. "So….I assume you know who that was."

He rested his forearms on the little table and interlaced his fingers, knitting his hands together. "Yes. When it was first discovered she was working with Michael, I was briefed on her to make sure she never came anywhere near Alexander Cambias. She is also in Bianca's dossier."

"And what do you think of the advice she gave me? About defining myself." She lifted her cup and took a long drink from it.

"Well, I think she was oddly sincere. It sounded to me as if she did only care for what would make Bianca happy. And you do make her happy."

Maggie lowered her cup and set it down. She stared at the table top, and said in a low voice, "And she makes me happier than I ever thought I had a right to be."

"Isn't that the root of the problem then? That you don't feel you deserve to feel this way? Or do you think it is because you can't define your sexuality?"

"I have no clue Patrick. I really don't."

Patrick smiled a broad, fatherly type smile at Maggie. "Well, it is certainly not anything you have to figure out today." He paused for a moment, then asked, "So, if I may ask, are you going to tell Bianca you saw her?"

"Part of me wants to, part of me is afraid to and yet another part of me knows she will find out someday anyway. When I got up today, the last thing on my mind was Lena." She paused to take a drink. "And I do have to admit, it kind of creeps me out she followed me."

"Don't worry…I was following her." he said with a grin. "I got done with my errand sooner than I thought, and as I was walking here, I spotted you quite a distance ahead, and then I spotted Lena, and thought it best I hang back and see what she was doing."

Maggie smiled. "Chauffer…father figure…guardian angel…is there anything you don't do?"

"Cook. We already covered this, remember? Speaking of, why don't you come home with me for dinner tonight. Guilia has been asking about the both of you, and I am sure it can't be any fun sitting in that big apartment by yourself."

Maggie went silent for a moment, thinking that very subject over. He was right, it wasn't. She had barely wandered past the kitchen for fear of being swallowed up by the void that was the rest of the domicile. "You know, that does sound like an awfully good idea. However…I'm not joining you on the balcony if you're smoking." she said with a grin.

Patrick turned pale. "Thanks for that reminder." He grumbled.

May 28th – Late Night

Maggie was standing in the kitchen, fidgeting nervously. She was excited Bianca and Miranda were almost home, but she was trying to calm herself so she didn't seem too anxious. It obviously wasn't working as she had jumped at the sound of the elevator rumbling up the shaft. Unable to contain herself, she went to the entrance hall and opened the door.

The elevator doors opened and the first thing she saw was a sleeping Miranda in her stroller, followed by an exhausted looking Bianca, and finally, a suitcase ladened Patrick.

"Aw! Look what Miranda brought me from Florida! A tired mommy and a pack mule!"

"Lovely to see you too." Bianca mumbled back.

Patrick shot Maggie a look indicating Bianca, and then shook his head with an emphatic 'no'. Maggie caught the gist, and cut the usual smart ass tone. She looked at Bianca. "Are you ok? You look exhausted. Here….let me take Miranda for you." She took the stroller from Bianca and wheeled the little girl into the apartment.

"Thanks." came the tired and hoarse reply. "I think the trip was too fast of a turnaround time for her, she is all messed up in her sleeping. She was wide awake for the entire flight. She only closed her eyes in the car on the way here."

"Aw…poor thing!" Maggie said, lifting Miranda from her stroller. "Well, I will go put her to bed after I clean her up and change her. You just go on up to bed."

"Wish I could! I'm tired, but also wired at the same time. Plus, Patrick brought along some paperwork that Aurélia says needs my immediate attention. So, I think I'll take a shower and play it by ear." Bianca looked over at Patrick. "Again, thank you so much for picking me up so late."

"Not a problem ma'am. I will just take these bags upstairs for you."

"Thank you Patrick." Bianca again turned back to Maggie. "Are you going to be up for awhile?"

Maggie and Bianca started walking towards the stairs as they talked. "Yeah. I'm going to put Munchkin down, and then I have some homework to do."

"Ok, I'll knock on your door if I come back down, and I will fill you in on all the gossip."

As they crested the staircase, and turned to go to the separate bedrooms of Bianca and Miranda, she said over her shoulder, "alright, but only if you're not too tired."

"Oh trust me, there are a few things you'll want to know."

Bianca and Maggie were seated on opposite sides of the butcher block. Bianca's hair was wet and slicked back, and she was wearing a turquoise colored, silky robe. Maggie was in the ever present 'Tigers 35' jersey, and sweat pants, her hair pulled back in a ponytail.

After her shower, Bianca had gone down to the kitchen and asked Maggie to join her for some tea. She gave Maggie all the highlights of the wedding first, and then broke into the gossip.

"So let me get this straight….not only did Kendall give up on 'love' and Ethan…she's trying to marry Zach Slater, Ethan's dad for crying out loud, for 'business reasons'?" Maggie inquired, making air quotes with her fingers for the last two words.

Bianca nodded in the affirmative as she flipped through the paperwork Patrick had brought her.

"Well, would have been nice to have had that little tidbit of info about Ethan and Kendall when he was here." Maggie snarled.

"Oh trust me, he heard about that from me. Nothing I like better than an unknowingly ambushing my own sister. She did finally calm down, but I still felt bad doing that to her."

"Of course you did." Maggie shook her head and laughed. "Man, I so do not miss Pine Valley some days."

Bianca smiled, still looking at her papers. "You and I both. Things are so much calmer here. Multi-million dollar company or not, there is a lot less drama around this place."

Maggie set down her tea cup and went a little bit quiet, her mind darting back to her conversation with Lena. "Yeah….less drama."

Bianca looked up from her papers for a moment. "Everything ok?"

"Yeah…of course…just think I'm getting tired is all."

"Well, don't stay up on my account! You're not the one with jet lag."

"Actually, I need to go finish up some homework and send it over to my professor, so I think I will go do that real quick, and then hit the sack." Maggie stood up, putting her arms above her head and stretching from side to side. All done, she picked up her tea cup and walked over to the sink to wash it later.

As she turned around, she looked at Bianca and smiled as a thought crossed her mind. She stepped over to stand next to Bianca, placed her hands behind her back and while rocking back and forth on her toes, she cleared her throat."

Bianca looked up at her and laughed at her. "What?"

"I believe…" she said, biting her lower lip, "I am owed…" she squinted one eye, and looked deep in thought, "I think it's five hugs. Pay up woman!"

Bianca laughed, stood up, and pulled Maggie into a hug. Though she wouldn't say anything, even this small amount of closeness always felt good. Breaking the hug, she looked at Maggie. "Do we just do one long hug, or five distinct hugs?" she asked with a devilish grin.

"Oh five distinct hugs young lady!" her face looking stern. She stepped back, paused, and stepped forward again to have another hug. They repeated this little dance three more times until they were all done, and both in fits of giggles.

"You know what?"

"What?" Maggie replied.

"I think that's another reason I'm glad I'm no longer in Pine Valley. You're not there."

"Let's not get into a 'which came first' discussion at this hour! I would be there if you were there….if you weren't there would I be there…yadda yadda yadda." She said, waving her hands back and forth like a ball being batted back and forth.

"Oh fine…go do your homework." Bianca said with a laugh.

"Yes mom!" Maggie said, her voice deepening and her eyes shooting skyward. As she turned to leave, she felt her hand get grabbed at the last second. She looked down to see Bianca holding it.

"All kidding aside Maggie…it does feel good to be….home."

Maggie smiled warmly. "And it's good to have you home."

Their hands lingered as the silence deepened, their eyes locked, but neither said a word. Finally, in a mutual break, they parted ways.

Maggie stared at the cursor blinking at her from her laptop screen. In time with it, she said, "I mock you…you know nothing…no smarts here…ha ha…"

She groaned in frustration and stood up to walk over to her bed and grab another book from her school bag. As she picked it up, something fell out and hit her bare foot. She looked down, and not recognizing the item she picked it up…..it was Lena's business card.

Landing hard on the bed, she sat down and stared at it. She hadn't thought about it since the other day, and had actually forgotten she had it. She looked up from the card, and over at the door to the kitchen. Bianca was still in there, she could see the light from the kitchen under the door, and it would be so easy to walk in and hand this to her…

"No! Lena had said she wouldn't tell her, so why should you?" Maggie thought. "Because you also know, the way things work with you and Bianca, the truth always comes out some time."

Maggie leaned back and laid herself down on her bed. She lifted the card above her face, and held it with both hands. "Silly girl…it's just a card. Just paper with ink….why not give it to her?"

She rolled over on to her stomach, placing the card on the bed, and supporting her chin with her hands, continued to stare at it. "Yeah..a piece of paper with all the vital info needed to bring Lena back into Bianca's life…leaving you where in that picture?"

Heaving a sigh she stood up, grabbed her book, and walked back to her laptop. "That can wait, this paper can't." she mumbled out loud to herself. She plopped down in the chair, and went back to staring at the cursor.

The blinking continued to mock her, but slowly, the wording changed. "Tell her…she deserves to know…you will always question 'what if' if you don't….". She ran her hands over her pulled back hair and groaned.

Turning around in her chair, she stared at the card lying on her bed.

Bianca continued to flip papers, some of them making sense, some of them not. She was finally starting to feel tired, but not entirely. Some of the words on the pages were starting to mush together, but she thought she could make it.

She lifted her right hand, and rubbed her eyes with her fingers. When she looked down again, sitting on top of the papers was a business card written in French. She picked it up and studied it. She looked up from it, and saw Maggie standing there, hands clasped behind her back, biting her lower lip, but now, looking concerned, instead of happy as she had earlier.

Bianca smiled at her. "Is she doing ok?"

Maggie sucked in her breath, not expecting that question. "Yeah…she has a new job…her mom's better…and…..she's dating a co-worker….her name's Tola, and they have been together for awhile now."

Bianca's smile grew even wider. "Good." She handed the card back to Maggie. "If you don't mind, could you send her a couple pictures of Miranda? If you think she would want to see her that is."

"Uh….yeah…of course."

Bianca grinned. "Thanks for telling me…I appreciate it." She looked back down at her paperwork and flipped through it again. "All done with your homework?" she asked.

"What's going on here Bianca? Are you mad at me I didn't tell you sooner?"

"No…NO! Not at all!" she said looking back up.

"Well then why do you want me to email her? Why are you giving me back her card? Don't you want to contact her? She might still be in town!"

"Maggie…." she softened her voice more than usual, "if she really wanted to talk to me, don't you think she would have made the effort?"

Maggie hung her head, staring at the floor. "I guess. I….I just don't get this." She held up the card at waist height and looked at it again. "She's right here Bianca….all you have to do is call her."

Bianca sighed and stood up. She placed her hands on Maggie's shoulders, and bent at the knees to try to look into Maggie's eyes. "Will you listen to me for just one minute?" Maggie nodded yes. "I loved Lena…I really did, and a part of me always will, but that's over now. She has someone new in her life, and I have everything I need in mine for right now. I have my mom finally married off to Uncle Jack, I have a new brother, two new sisters…"

Maggie snorted a laugh, and raised her head to look at Bianca. "Lucky you. You get to claim Greenlee as family now."

Bianca smiled, and raised back to her full height, since Maggie had finally looked up. "Yep. She's family now. Let's see…I have the best relationship with Kendall that I've ever had. And then there's here. I have a beautiful daughter upstairs, and I have my best friend with me. What more do I really need right now Maggie?"

"A girlfriend." she said sheepishly.

Bianca cupped Maggie's right cheek with her left hand, and smiled at her. "Not right now….I have everything I need in my life at the moment."

Maggie finally smiled, and croaked out a hoarse "ok".

Bianca pulled Maggie into a hug and squeezed her as tightly as possible, Maggie returned the gesture. "Thank you for telling me Maggie. And someday, when you feel up to it, you can tell me the whole story of how you even ran into her."

"I can tell you know if you want."

Bianca pushed away from her. "Did you send your work off to your professor?"

"Um…well….I…I kinda got distracted by this…" she said, holding up the business card she still had in her hand.

Bianca spun Maggie around by her shoulders, and placed her hands palm first on Maggie's back, shoving her towards her bedroom door. "March! No story telling until you finish your homework young lady!"

Maggie dug her heels in and raised her voice to the imaginary pitch of a small girl. "You can't make me! I don't wanna! Read me a story! I want a glass of water! Where's my blanky?"

Laughing, Bianca said, "I take back what I said earlier….it seems I have two daughters! And here I was telling everyone at the wedding how giddy you were about being back in school!"

Maggie went spread eagle, holding on to the door frame. "You can't make me!  I'm a big girl now!"


"A big girl with a foot up her behind!" Bianca raised her leg, placed her foot on Maggie's backside and uncoiled her leg shoving Maggie into her room with her foot.  She reached over, slammed the door and let out a triumphant, "HA!"


Maggie scratched at the door from the other side, moaning, "Meanie!".


Bianca had to fold her arms over her stomach she was laughing so hard.  Very quietly, under her gasping breath, she muttered, "She's almost back...Maggie's almost back."

Part 5

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