FBI Criminal Investigation Specialist Christina Bryson whipped out her Palm Pre and frantically flipped through her contacts list, desperate to find someone, anyone, who might have a lead on her missing partner. But no matter how hard she tried to concentrate, the throbbing behind her bloodshot eyes blurred her vision so badly all she could was throw her phone back onto her desk in disgust.
Damn this infernal hangover, she thought, rifling in the back of her bottom desk drawer for the one thing she knew would put an end to her pounding headache. Pushing her battery-operated personal massager to the side she found what she was looking for; eagerly she wrapped her trembling fingers around the cold steel of a flask of whiskey. She took a long pull and wiped her moistened lips with the back of her hand, leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes in relief.
Christina's thoughts wandered to Hubert Hare's soft hands and smoldering, dark eyes. Though alarmed and confused by the news he shared, his commanding voice and forceful manner stirred something deep within her. "I have Spider-Man on speed dial!" he'd said; the remembrance made her chuckle with pleasure. And his glorious hair, his elbow patches! She was just reaching down to reopen her bottom desk drawer when her cell phone began vibrating urgently on her desk.
"Agent Bryson," she gasped, flustered by the interruption.
But no one was there.
"Hello, this is Agent Bryson," Christina repeated, but still no one spoke. All she could hear was the gentle whisper of wind and the sudden patter of raindrops on a tin roof, rusted.
"Nick? Nick is that you?" The wind began to howl as the rain seemed to drum harder.
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY PARTNER, YOU SICK FUCK?" Her ear rang with a deafening crash of thunder and the steady whoosh of a torrential downpour.
And then it stopped.
Despite being unnerved Christina's years of FBI training kicked in. The sudden ferocity of the storm on the phone and its abrupt end could only mean one of two things, and Agent Bryson was pretty sure it had nothing to do with the Cassadine weather machine. "Mother Nature? Is that you?"
"It is, my child."
Christina was taken aback. She supposed that if she had thought about it before, she would have expected the voice of Mother Nature herself to be wizened, old, but most of all, motherly. The voice on the phone, however, was anything but. She was smug, high-strung, and just a bit vindictive.
"I see that Hubie has dropped by for a visit?" she sneered.
"He just left!" Christina exclaimed. "I can't believe someone would kidnap Santa Claus! And to find out that Nick Noel has actually been Santa all this time? Oh, Mother Nature, what are we going to do?" Her heart thudded with hope; finally she was going to get the help she so desperately needed to find her partner.
But instead of the eager reply she was expecting, her office filled with a high-pitched cackling that rattled her windows and tipped her grandmother's Newcomb vase from the bookshelf so that it shattered on the ground. "Oh, my child," Mother Nature spat. "Things are not as they appear."