By Kristin Gallagher
Additional Reporting by Tom Stacy
Soap Opera Digest, December 8, 1998
Even by soap standards, the clandestine carryings-on of GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Katherine Bell and her handsome young prince, Nikolas Cassadine, seemed too, too taboo. Sure, it’s not the first time and older woman has fallen for a younger man or vice versa. But have we ever seen a just-back-from-the-dead older woman fall for a younger man who also happens to be her ex-fiancé’s “nephew?” We think not. Now, after weeks of stealing steamy kisses and undressing each other with their eyes, it’s dirty deed time for Nikolas and Katherine. But who’s pulling the strings while these two pull off each other’s clothes?
“Katherine really does care for Nikolas,” insists her portrayer, Mary Beth Evans. “At this point, it’s just snowballed. I think she’s tumbled into this. Her conscience and the things that were telling her not to [pursue this relationship] were there. But now, in the throes of it all, I think she’s let her inhibitions go – at least for the minute – and is just enjoying it.”
A sentiment shared by secret love Nikolas. “The characters play well off each other,” muses Tyler Christopher (Nikolas). “Katherine is the upbeat, spunky type and Nikolas is the serious, soulful type, so they complement each other well. I think it will bring both of the characters up to a different level. It’s definitely brought Nikolas to a more enlightened space. It’s exciting to watch.”
Indeed. Having spent so much time sneaking in passionate exchanges and tender touches, Nikolas and Katherine finally find an excuse to hang openly this week, when he offers to help on Kat’s PR campaign for the Stone Cates AIDS Memorial Wing at the hospital. (A campaign devised by Helena to work against Stefan, improve Katherine’s standing in Port Charles and gain control over Nikolas’s fortune.)
Even better, the opportunity to work together throws Stefan further off-track. “Stefan is aware of Katherine’s involvement,” notes Stephen Nichols (Stefan). “But he knows how much the AIDS work means to Nikolas because of his [HIV-positive] friend, Robin. That’s why Stefan is allowing Nikolas to work with Katherine on the project. Other than that, Stefan is in the dark this time – for the first time.”
And that’s just how Nikolas and Katherine would like to keep it. Or is it? Knowing that Katherine has some serious residual issues with her former betrothed, one wonders whether her motives are… shall we say…pure when it comes to getting hot and heavy with Nikolas. “There is an element of wanting to hurt Stefan, sure,” allows Evans. “But even if there are glimmers of, ‘I can get Stefan back this way!’ that is ultimately not her goal. She has all these incredible not her goal. She has all these incredible feelings for Nikolas and an incredible relationship with him. And even though she tried not to let it happen, it overcame her. Someone who’s offering unconditional love? That‘s pretty overwhelming.”
So, too, were Katherine’s feelings for Stefan at one point. “I think she gets this longing [for Stefan],” sighs Evans. “This sadness of what could have been. She really did love Stefan. It was a disaster what happened, but you probably never get over that. I think that when Katherine sees him, there’s a little bit of longing. There’s so much going on underneath the surface and so much history between them. The Bacchanalia Ball was the best and worst day of her life.
As for Nikolas, stresses Christopher, he remains unaware of this fact, but wary of a hidden agenda on Katherine’s part. “He does suspect that Katherine may be involved in things with Helena that could be detrimental to his uncle,” allows the actor. “But due to the physical attraction between Nikolas and Katherine, he’s willing to set that aside right now. Physical attraction is physical attraction and you have to own that – no matter who it is or who their relationships are with. I think the attraction has always been there, but out of respect for everyone, Nikolas never pursued it further until now. He’ll deal with the consequences later.”
Alas, with Helena as the silent partner in Katherine’s AIDS project, that day of reckoning may come sooner than later. “Nikolas doesn’t agree that Katherine’s alliance with Helena is a problem,” asserts Christopher. “That’s Stefan’s concern, not Nikolas’s. He knows that she’s aligned with Helena, but doesn’t believe it’s in the severe way which Stefan believes.” Adds Nichols: “Stefan is suspicious that Katherine’s involvement with Helena may be detrimental to Nikolas.”
Not so, insists Evans. “Helena wants Katherine to do other things, but Katherine is just trying to come up with an alibi so if Helena catches her with Nikolas, she’ll have an excuse. Katherine is worried that maybe Helena would do something violent to her or Nikolas [if she knew they were romantically involved]. Right now, she’s covering all her bases.”
Whatever the case may be, Nikolas is determined to continue his plan to work with Katherine. On Thursday, he arrives at her “office” at the Port Charles Hotel, which turns out to be one of the hotel’s rooms. “Her real office [in the hotel] is being remodeled,” laughs Evans. So she winds up working out of a hotel room.” How convenient. But instead the sheets (and we’re not talking sheets of paper here), the two get into a discussion about Katherine’s feelings of déjà vu following an earlier visit to Wyndemere. Suddenly, Helena stops by for a friendly visit, which, naturally, prompts Nikolas to take his leave.
The next day, Nikolas returns to Katherine’s hotel room. And it doesn’t take long for business to turn into monkey business. “I think, when a situation like this happens, you do certain things to set the stage,” grins Evans.
In this case, that means talking about arranging a bachelor auction to raise funds for the Stone Cates wing, featuring some of Port Charles’s most eligible young men. Katherine, of course, teases Nikolas that he would raise the most money if he participated. Things turn steamy and that’s when they hit the sheets. “She keeps telling herself that nothing is going to happen,” says Evans. “But then it does. She sets it up, but then thinks, ‘This isn’t going to happen.’ The other times they’ve [gotten close], she’s basically stopped it. “This time,” smiles Evans, “she doesn’t.”