I had been at the safe house for several days, pouring over the information that Aaron was able to recover for me from Alex's research offices. To be fair, I probably didn't need to have him burn it down, but I wanted to send a message to my husband that I was in fact alive and well, and that it would only be a matter of time before he experienced the same kind of brutality he had given me. Though he had tried to kill me, his information just might have ended up saving my life, though he would get no credit from me. Aaron had been a sweetheart, there for me when I woke up and with me while I slept. Though I was in no mental or physical situation to feel the touch of a man in an intimate and sexual way, I was grateful to have his care. One thing was clear about MysTech; they were not what they seemed to be. Their foray into bio-experimentation was disgusting, but so were some of the characters working for them, characters I had brought into the situation. They weren't working towards a better tomorrow, they were making weapons of mass destruction in the form of people, in the form of VIRAL WARFARE. The only silver lining that I was able to find was the fact that MysTech was wildly cannibalistic. Alex's private journals indicated a rumbling throughout the company that there was going to be a revolt. That Spencer and Marcus and Alex himself lacked the insight to take the company to the heights they were looking to take it. He mentioned the woman in white, Diana, several times as a topic of hot debate. I had never had any real personal encounters with Diana, though she had been at every party. She seemed to be able to do the same thing that I was able to do, get people to agree with me, but there was something very different about the way she did it. She was a member of some PSI force within the company, which essentially made her a telepath, a MUTANT that used her powers in order to assess threats as well as potential assets for the company. This made a world of sense. Part of my own human ability was that I was borderline obsessive compulsive when it came to my "craft". I studied faces and social cues, the way people used their words and how they used their words, in an order to figure out what their agenda was. Though I hadn't given much thought to Diana, outside of her being somewhat of a femme fatale, looking back, I realized that if there was a mutiny, Diana was going to be a part of it. She was positioning herself towards something, there was a reason why she was at these parties when none of the others like her were. But it wasn't always. One random day, she was just there, and she never left. It was during this time that I began a somewhat confusing relationship with mutants. In short, I didn't like them very much. My father often told stories of many a scandal he had faced during his time in office that were near disaster, and many of them involved mutants. Though there was no official department to be found in government, I knew that they had been watching and studying mutants for a long time. People either wanted them dead or wanted to weaponize them, and while I may have went through a somewhat liberal phase in college, and attended a pro "Super" rally or two, I was beginning to come to the conclusion that these people were dangerous, and one look at MysTech told me that I was right. People already wanted to play God, and now they had been given a template of what to aspire to. If mutants began working WITH MysTech, there was no telling of what distances they could go. And there was my inpending crisis of faith, one that I was working towards and also trying to ignore. I was a strong woman, but I was also a human. I didn't want to die. I wanted to live, if only to spite my husband. I was also a woman of duty, of loyalty. Call it stubborn, call it stupid, but I was a Jennings and that meant something to me, as well as the world. My duty to my family was that I had to do as much damage control on this situation that I could, and I was prepared to take it to the grave. If I couldn't beat the devil, I was going to have to dance with him, and that meant finding a way in. Alex, James and Oswald were gifted doctors, scientists, virologists, and I just had a pedigree and a knack for winning friends and influencing people. I needed to find clout, something that I could use against them. I needed to let them know how much I knew, how much was out in the world, and how much the world would end up knowing should I wind up dead. When I said I had a pedigree, I MEANT it. They may have been able to dump a few bodies in the river and kidnap a child, experiment on humans, but they would be HARD pressed to get rid of ME with no trace and without the government busting down their door and burning down their mansion. If I paired that with the right information, I could make this work. There was the small part of me that thought the telepath might just warp my mind and turn me into a vegetable, but every battle scenario had things you couldn't control. War was always a risk, and if I had to get through to her in order to survive, I would. One of the many contracts in the pipeline that MysTech was beginning work on, though things were still in their infancy, was that with Cassadine Corporation, a VERY well connected weapons and technology manufacturer. If MysTech were able to secure a partnership with Cassadine Corporation, it would be a done deal. This wouldn't just take them to the next level, they would be on a new playing field altogether. Thankfully, I had a very direct and natural connection to The Cassadines, one that was a little outside of the box, but one I was hoping would pay off. Though, I was somewhat panicked to leave the only place that had brought me comfort and peace to heal my physical and emotional wounds, I told Aaron that I needed to get to The Hamptons as soon as possible. The Cassadine Estate in The Hamptons was one of the most beautiful and luxurious properties in the area. While Stavros had made the place a beacon for wealth and power, his wife Lara Cassadine somehow managed to make it a home. Lara Cassadine was like a New York Urban Legend. She was absolutely stunning, charming and gracious, well spoken and yet completely unassuming. She attended the big parties, but she spent much of her life's work dealing with the rehabilitation and care of some of the most beautiful horses in the world, and it was a rare honor to see Lara ride on the countryside of her property, looking like a supermodel. As Alex drove me up the long and winding driveway, we headed towards the east of the property where a proper horse ranch was located. This was where Lara held her fundraising events and showed off the work that she did. I knew that I would find her here. Aaron: "You sure you want do to this, Kris? It doesn't seem very safe." "Stavros is on business out of the country. It's just her and the child. And Lara isn't involved with his business. That's why I'm counting on her to help me." Aaron placed a small communication device in my hand as he interlocked his fingers with mine. Nervously, I pulled my hand back, experiencing a bit of post traumatic stress from the recent developments of my life, and I smiled softly. "I'll ring at the first time of trouble. Just trust me, Aaron..." I began to get out of the car before looking back at him. "And thank you...for everything so far..." Aaron: "Don't mention it again. I'll help you see this through, even if it means I lose you forever." I couldn't muster up anything sentimental or nice to say, which made me feel terrible. I wasn't sure I would ever be able to love something ever again, to feel sexual or aroused or even like an actual woman. What I had went through changed me, what I was about to go through would change me again. There didn't seem like any room for that in my world. Pulling my cream colored Ralph Lauren trench coat over me fully, protecting me against the windy breeze that blew through The Hamptons, I adjusted my Chanel sunglasses and headed over towards the entrance of the barn, where I could see Lara in the distance. Lara was there, with her daughter Ava, looking happy and fulfilled. That was one regret I had during all of this. Never getting the chance to tell Alex that I had been pregnant with our child. Maybe that would have stopped him from beating me. Stopped him from raping me. Stopped him from killing our unborn child. Though Lara's daughter, Ava, was beautiful and so joyous looking, seeing her caused a chill to go up my spine, causing me to take pause. Adjusting myself I made myself known. "Well this would certainly make a lovely photograph. Always an honor to see you, Lara. Ava! You are looking positively chic. I swear, Lara, she's grown at least a foot since the last time I saw her." Lara smiled with her perfect smile, tucking a bit of her perfect brown hair behind her ears. Lara: "It's all this fresh air. Does the body good. Ava, sweetheart, why don't you go with Haleigh to feed the horses. I'll come get you in a little while." Ava: "Yes, mother!" The bright and bubbly little girl who was incredibly articulate for her age trotted off behind the barn and away from sight. Lara now began to look me up and down as I took off my sunglasses to reveal the still healing bruises on my face. There was a bit of pain and confusion in her face before she returned to her normal hundred watt smile. "So it appears that we both are going to need a drink. Thankfully, in The Hamptons, every hour is happy hour. Let's go to the guest house, I've prepared a little spread and it will offer us some privacy." Lara wrapped her arm around my shoulder, the first human touch I had felt in days that I didn't immediately recoil from. I had known Lara for many years, even attending her wedding to Stavros a few years before. If there had ever been a day that Lara looked more beautiful than today, it was definitely her wedding day. As they made their way to an impeccably decorated guest house that was bigger than most people's actual houses, they sat down in a breakfast nook with floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the green pastures of the ranch. Two martinis were already sitting on the table, chilled to perfection. I was relieved. I may have been in a vulnerable state, but I was a wasp, a blue blood. Martinis were as big a part of me as my hair. Sitting down, I took a sip of the martini which was neat and crisp as Lara cross her hands on the table and swung her leg over her knee. Lara: "I'm assuming this isn't the first time he's done this.. son of a bitch, Kristen. I really thought you had one of the good ones. Are you okay? I have to admit...I'm grateful that you came to me, but forgive me for sounding so...confused, but I--I guess I didn't realize that we were that good of friends..." Lara was visibly nervous about this conversation, which essentially what I was looking for. I had to catch her offguard, I had to get at her emotions and I had to give her a reason to want to help me. Once again I felt a little bit of who I was fade away, even though I was just doing what I always did, find an opening, find a way in. Small tears began to well up in my eyes as I weakly laughed for a moment, before shaking my head and touching the bridge of my nose with my fingers. "I know, Lara...and really I'm so sorry for the inconvenience, it's just...I don't have many real friends, and when I thought of who I could call and talk through something like this with, and you just crossed my mind. You are one of the only people that might be able to actually help me." Lara: "Kristen..I'm not sure I understand. I mean, what could I possibly offer you that you couldn't secure yourself? And I don't mean that to be rude...but you are a VERY well connected woman, and I don't mean that lightly." She was invested now. "I came to you, because you have Stavros' ear." I watched her look me up and down, incredibly confused by what I had just said. I couldn't tell for a second if she was angry with me or if she felt sorry for me, and I didn't care. All that mattered, was her agreeing to help me. I watched her stiffen up for a moment. Lara: "I don't get involved with my husband's business, and if I'm being honest, though I'm sympathetic of your situation, I don't appreciate you coming to my home and asking me to involve myself and my husband in your life." "Change the tone of the conversation, Kristen, you're losing her." "Lara. I don't have much to lose these days, so I'm just going to be honest with you. You know what being married to a man like Stavros is like. I don't mean that to be offensive, but we BOTH know the fine line we have to walk in order to be married to the men that we are.." Lara: "I don't know what you're talking about...I think it's probably time for you to leave, you're making me uncomfortable." She began to stand up. "Go in for the kill." "You know exactly what I'm talking about, Lara. You don't get to hold the Cassadine name without one hell of a sacrifice. The rumors of dark business dealings, dubious associates, a gross underbelly hidden under marble and horses. If there's anybody who understands that, it's me. It's why they chose us as their wives. It's because we have the charm and the class and the warmth to distract from the fact that they've built their empires on the bones of others. So we attend parties, we maintain immaculate households, we talk them up at parties, we convince people to invest in their cause, because surely, women like US could never be with men like Stavros and Alex if they truly WERE the monsters they've heard they were..." Lara sat back down in her seat. "I saw something I wasn't supposed to see, and this is what happened. Brutalized by my own husband, a man that I all but BUILT. Tell me that doesn't ring one HELL of a bell. I was left for DEAD, the fact that I am even sitting before you is nothing more than an act of sheer WILL on my own part. He took everything I thought I was, everything I thought I knew about myself and he destroyed it!" I gripped my fist in anger before composing myself immediately. I could tell that Lara felt bamboozled, but I could also sense that there was a deep part of her that identified with what I was saying, which is exactly why I had came to Lara. I felt bad for essentially guilting a woman I considered to be a friend into helping me, but desperate times called for desparate measures, and in the endgame I saw for myself, this was nowhere near the level I was willing to sink in order to survive and exact my revenge on my husband. I gained control over myself as I smooth the bottom of my dress and crossed my legs, letting out a long sigh. Lara took a long sip of her martini and set it on the table delicately. She stared at me for a few moments, blinking mindlessly before her gaze became more intense, as if she were weighing the character of my soul in her mind. After what felt like forever, she spoke. Lara: "I can't promise anything...but what do you need me to do?" "Thank You GOD!" I took a sip of my martini as a victory lap. "Your husband...is thinking of going into business with my husband, or so my husband thinks. Now, please, listen carefully, because you WON'T be able to write this down, and I won't be able to repeat it..." And in a guest house on one of the most beautiful properties in the Hamptons, I began to clear the path towards freedom, or so I thought.