Who's Who in Port Charles

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Nikolas Mikhail Stavrosovich Cassadine
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Actor History
July 15, 1996 to July 14, 1999; April 21, 2003 to June 30, 2011 [contract]; July 26 to 28, 2011 [recurring]; March 22, 2013 to June 16, 2016 [contract]
December 2005 [temporary recast]
June 17, 2016 to July 19, 2016 [temporary recast]
Marcus Coloma
October 31, 2019 to Present

Born off-screen on November 5, 1983

Birth year changed to November 5, 1981 in 1996 when he was said to be 15

Birth year changed to 1977 in 2011

Nikolas staged his death on May 26, 2016

Presumed deceased after being shot and falling from a balcony into the sea [Jul 19, 2016; revealed to be alive Oct 31, 2019]


Niall Carradine (while pretending to be a movie star)


Shareholder and CEO of ELQ [Elected Jun 23, 2015]

Head of Cassadine Industries

Former public relations representative for L&B Records

Russian prince


Wyndemere Castle, Spoon Island

One of Victor Cassadine's secret lairs in Europe [Jul 19, 2016 until Oct 31, 2019]

Wyndemere Castle, Spoon Island

Formerly Greece [Dec 2011 to Mar 2013]

Formerly Zurich, Switzerland [Jun 2011 to Dec 2011]

Formerly Wyndemere Castle, Spoon Island [Jul 2004 to Jun 2011]

Formerly a cottage in the woods with Mary Bishop [Mar 2004 to Jul 2004]

Formerly Wyndemere Castle, Spoon Island [1996 to Mar 2004]

Formerly Cassadine Island, Greece [prior to 1996]

Marital Status
Married to Ava Jerome [Jan 1, 2019 to present]
Past Marriages

Lydia Karenin (divorced)

Mary Bishop (invalid; deceased)

Emily Bowen-Quartermaine (Married: Dec 2, 2004; divorced: 2005) (deceased)

Hayden Barnes [Divorced; Married: Feb 3, 2016]


Stavros Cassadine (father; deceased)

Laura Webber (mother)

Lucas Lorenzo "Lucky" Spencer Jr. (maternal half-brother)

Lesley Lu "Lulu" Spencer ( maternal half-sister)

Mikkos Cassadine (paternal grandfather; deceased)

Helena Cassadine (paternal grandmother; deceased)

Gordon Grey (maternal grandfather; deceased)

Rick Webber (maternal grandfather via adoption; deceased)

Lesley Williams (maternal grandmother)

Walter Williams (maternal great-grandfather; deceased)

Lars Webber (maternal great-grandfather via adoption; deceased)

Helene Webber (maternal great-grandmother via adoption; deceased)

Stefan Cassadine (paternal uncle; deceased)

Alexis Davis (paternal aunt)

Kristina Cassadine (paternal aunt; deceased)

Irina "Cassandra" Cassadine (paternal aunt; deceased)

Valentin Cassadine (uncle/paternal cousin)

Jeff Webber (maternal great-uncle; via adoption)

Terri Webber (maternal great-aunt; via adoption)

Anthony Cassadine (paternal great-uncle; deceased)

Victor Cassadine

Cyrus Renault (maternal uncle)

Martin Gray (maternal uncle)

Mike Webber (maternal adoptive uncle; via adoption)

Rick Webber Jr. (maternal adoptive uncle; via adoption)

Aiden Nikolas Spencer (maternal nephew, via Lucky)

Rocco Falconeri (maternal nephew; via Lulu)

Charlotte Cassadine

Samantha McCall (paternal cousin)

Kristina Davis

Molly Lansing

Hayden Barnes

Elizabeth Webber (maternal cousin; via adoption)

Sarah Webber (maternal cousin; via adoption)

Steven Lars Webber (maternal cousin; via adoption)

Lila McCall (paternal cousin; deceased)

Daniel Edward Morgan (paternal cousin)

Emily Scout Cain (paternal cousin)

Cameron Webber (maternal cousin; via adoption)

Jake Webber (maternal cousin; via adoption)

Aiden Spencer (maternal cousin; via adoption)

Petros Cassadine (paternal cousin)


Spencer Cassadine (son, with Courtney Matthews; born 2006)

Unborn child (per Esme Prince Oct 2022)

Flings & Affairs

Sarah Webber (dated)

Katherine Bell (engaged; deceased)

Gia Campbell (engaged)

Mary Bishop (lovers; deceased)

Courtney Matthews (engaged; deceased)

Emily Quartermaine (engaged; deceased)

Nadine Crowell (dated)

Rebecca Shaw (engaged)

Elizabeth Webber (lovers)

Brook Lynn Ashton (lovers)

Britt Westbourne (engaged)

Ivy Gatling (dated)

Rosalie Martinez (pretended to date)

Hayden Barnes (lovers)

Esme Prince (one-night stand)

Crimes Committed

Conspired with Lucky Spencer to hide the body of undercover cop Ted Wilson in a freezer in the basement at Wyndemere [Jul 4, 2000] and then planted it in Zander Smith's trunk [Sep 8, 2000]

Covered up the fact that Gia Campbell ran a red light and caused a car accident [Feb 1, 2002]

Secretly helped Helena Cassadine after she escaped from police custody [Mar 27, 2002]

Helped Lucky try to cover up how Rick Webber had died, thinking that Luke Spencer had been behind Rick's death [Aug 12, 2002]

Helped Luke Spencer escape custody after being arrested for Rick Webber's murder [Sep 19, 2002]

Blackmailed Summer Halloway into distracting Luke's from trying to see Laura Spencer [Mar 19, 2003]

Arrested for the murder of Cody McCall (not guilty) [Jan 7, 2004]

Arrested for assaulting Zander Smith [Jan 14, 2004]

Arrested for the murder of Zander Smith (Zander faked his death) [Feb 23, 2004]

Assault; punched Lucky in a bar [Aug 4, 2004]

Confessed to "killing" Helena by pushing her off a cliff (Helena was alive) [Nov 22, 2004]

Assault; beat up Logan Hayes [Sep 28, 2007]

Assault; threatened Carly Corinthos with a letter opener [Oct 16, 2007]

Assault; initiated a brawl with Jason Morgan [Nov 14, 2007]

Assault; arrested for punching Scott Baldwin [Sep 8, 2008]

Breaking and entering; snuck into Scott Baldwin's hotel room [Nov 3, 2008]

Hit Rebecca Shaw with his car [Dec 8, 2009]

Assault; physical altercation with Luke [Dec 15, 2009]

Blackmailed Rosalie Martinez [Jan 2015 to Jun 19, 2015]

Conspired with Special Agent Kyle Sloane to commit election fraud to ensure that Lomax was re-elected as mayor [revealed Jan 13, 2015]

Corporate espionage to seize control of ELQ [Jan 31, 2015]

Threatened Helena with a knife [Feb 5, 2015]

Ordered a hit on Hayden Barnes which left her in a coma [May 18, 2015; Hayden shot on May 19, 2015]

Framed Shawn Butler for shooting Hayden Barnes May 19, 2015]

Accused in Helena's journal of plotting her murder by having someone on the staff poison her; Nikolas claimed Helena had been paranoid and the journal was a forgery because Helena hadn't kept one [Nov 18, 2015; revealed on Jul 11, 2016]

Assault; instigated a fight with Drew Cain (then known as Jason Morgan) [Dec 21, 2015]

Assault; grabbed Sam McCall and left bruises on her arms [Apr 6, 2016]

Faked his death and framed Drew Cain (then known as Jason Morgan) [Jun 13, 2016]

Kidnapped Anna Devane [Jun 25, 2018]

Kidnapped Hamilton Finn [Aug 3, 2018]

Aiding and abetting a fugitive; helped Cassandra Pierce flee justice [Aug 24, 2018 to Jul 31, 2019]

Bribery; paid a prison guard to get Cassandra assigned to a work detail outside of prison [Nov 7, 2019]

Helped Cassandra escape from jail [Nov 7, 2019]

Paid a henchman to scare Hayden Barnes by attempting to kidnap her [Nov 26, 2019]

Paid a nurse at Shadybrook to heavily sedate Ava Jerome [Dec 4, 2019]

Breaking and entering; broke into the Jerome Gallery [Dec 5, 2019]

Assaulted Valentin Cassadine (in self defense) [Dec 5, 2019]

Held Ava at gunpoint (he was never going to kill her) [Jan 8, 2020]

Vandalized a portrait of Ava Jerome that Franco Baldwin had painted [Aug 14-17, 2020]

Followed/stalked Ava Jerome to her cabin and broke in [Sep 15, 2020]

Threatened Scott Baldwin [Sept 24, 2020]

Worked with Ava to try to kill Ryan Chamberlain in his hospital bed [Dec 11, 2020; failed]

Assaulted Cyrus Renault and pinned him against a door [April 5, 2021]

Tried to shoot Cyrus Renault; assaulted one of Cyrus' goons instead [May 27-28, 2021]

Arranged for Shawn Butler's parole to be denied [June 8, 2021]

Wore a mask and cloak while terrorizing his son Spencer and Spencer's friends at a party Spencer was throwing [Aug 16-17, 2021]

Grabbed Spencer by the arm and pretended to stab him during the party after learning that Spencer had been terrorizing Ava Jerome for months [Aug 17, 2021]

Violated a restraining order Ava Jerome had taken out against him [Sep 7, 2021]

Assaulted Frank, Sonny Corinthos' top bodyguard, in self-defense [Oct 1, 2021]

Blackmailed Alexis Davis to keep quiet about his role in Hayden Barnes's shooting in exchange for Alexis' release from Spring Ridge [Oct 27, 2021]

Lied to the police about his whereabouts on the night Ava Jerome was stabbed (claimed he and Elizabeth Webber were together at the time of Ava's attack) [Aug 29, 2022]

Withheld evidence that Esme Prince, a fugitive from justice, was back in Port Charles [Oct 11, 2022 to Present]

Kidnapping/false imprisonment; locked Esme Prince in the north tower, an isolated wing at Wyndemere [Oct 12, 2022 to Present]

Health and Vitals

Donated bone marrow to his sister Lulu Spencer [Jul 14, 1996]

Pushed off a trail and nearly fell to his death until Luke Spencer saved him; minor cuts and scrapes [May 12, 1997]

Knocked unconscious; diagnosed with a concussion [Jul 11, 1997]

Shot in the throat with a bullet meant for Jason Morgan and suffered from Broca's aphasia, causing him to be unable to speak for a while [Dec 8, 1997]

Suffered a stroke [Dec 19, 1997; revealed Dec 23, 1997]

Hit by Skye Chandler's car; sustained some minor injuries [Dec 6, 2002]

Hospitalized after he fell during a fight with Lucky Spencer and hit his head on a stone statue; caused severe sensitivity to light for a while [Apr 9, 2003]

Beat up by creditors wanting their loan repaid [Sep 19, 2003]

Assaulted by Zander Smith when Zander saw pictures of Nikolas and Emily making out [Sep 22, 2003]

Beaten by Zander in the interrogation room at the Port Charles Police Station [Jan 16, 2004]

Suffered a head injury and amnesia following a car accident [Mar 23, 2004]

Shot by Emily Quartermaine while breaking into the Quartermaine mansion [May 21, 2004]

Drugged by Helena Cassadine while institutionalized at Shadybrook [Aug 2004]

Suffered laceration to the face when hit with the butt of a gun during hostage crisis [Feb 2007]

Fell ill during the encephalitis plague that hit Port Charles [Feb 3, 2006]

Injected with a lethal poison that required a counter-agent every 24 hours [Mar 16, 2007]

Cardiac arrest and intubated [May 4, 2007]

Received experimental antidote [May 10, 2007]

Revealed that he'd been having blackouts and bouts of rage [Sep 28, 2007]

Strangled with a phone cord [Nov 8, 2007]

Beat up by Jason Morgan [Nov 14, 2007]

Passed out as Emily Quartermaine was being murdered [Nov 15, 2007]

Visions of Emily [Nov 29, 2007 to May 7, 2008]

Diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor [Dec 28, 2007]

Suffered a seizure [Feb 18, 2008]

Began a black-market treatment to stop the growth of the brain tumor [Feb 20, 2008]

Choked with a cord until he passed out by Diego Alcazar (the Text Message Killer) [Mar 5, 2008]

Had surgery to remove the brain tumor [May 7, 2008]

Thrown by his horse and banged up [May 30, 2008]

Hit over the head by Stavros Cassadine and rendered unconscious [sometime between Jan 2013 and Apr 2013]

Shot in the chest by Stavros Cassadine and underwent surgery [Mar 25, 2013]

Injected with adrenaline by Luke Spencer [Mar 28, 2013]

Rendered unconscious by Cesar Faison [Nov 22, 2013]

Beaten by Cesar Faison's associates [Nov 27, 2013]

Choked by Drew Cain until nearly unconscious [Nov 6, 2015; shown on Nov 9, 2015]

A bloody gash on head during an altercation with Drew [Nov 23, 2015]

A cut lip during an altercation with Drew [Dec 14, 2015]

Multiple injuries from falling over the Metro Court Restaurant balcony during an altercation with Drew [Dec 22, 2015]

Suffered contusions and bruises on the face from an altercation with Drew [Apr 6, 2016]

Minor lacerations and bruises when he faked his death [May 26, 2016]

Lacerated hand [Jun 21, 2016]

Knocked unconscious and lacerated head [Jul 8, 2016]

Shot in the chest, tumbled over balcony, and nearly drowned in the sea; presumed dead [Jul 22, 2016; revealed to be alive Oct 31, 2019]

Physically assaulted twice by Jasper Jacks [Nov 14, 2019]

Hit in the back with a fire poker by Ava Jerome [Sep 15, 2020]

Accidentally stabbed in the stomach and then slapped by Ava Jerome [Oct 28, 2020]

Assaulted and held hostage by Cyrus Renault's goons [May 27-28, 2021]

Accidentally pepper-sprayed in the face by Trina Robinson [Jul 2, 2021]

Punched repeatedly in the gut by a guard Ava Jerome hired when she was being stalked [Sep 8, 2021]

Assaulted by guards under Sonny Corinthos' orders after Sonny was tricked by Esme Prince into thinking Nikolas and Ava Jerome were going to run away with Sonny and Ava's daughter Avery Corinthos [Oct 1, 2021]

Had his hand grabbed and twisted by Sonny Corinthos [May 11, 2022]

Brief Character History

Prince Nikolas Cassadine was raised by his Uncle Stefan after his mother, Laura Spencer, escaped Cassadine Island in Greece to return to her husband, Luke Spencer. Laura had been kidnapped by Stavros Cassadine because he had become obsessed with her. When Laura's husband and family presumed that Laura had been killed, Stavros forced Laura to marry him and bear him a child.

As Nikolas grew up, he developed a hatred for his mother and vowed that he would never trust her. However, when he met her in Port Charles in 1996, he wanted to become close to her despite lingering reservations about trusting her. Nikolas' beloved uncle had taken Nikolas to town to save Nikolas' maternal sister's life by donating his bone marrow to young Lulu Spencer.

Luke Spencer had not known about Nikolas until the teenager had appeared in town. Luke despised the Cassadines, and he forced Laura to choose between Nikolas and her "real family." Torn, Laura ultimately chose to remain with Luke and their children. Abandoned yet again, Nikolas was deeply hurt and felt no need to remain in Port Charles, so he asked Stefan to take him back to Greece. However, Stefan threatened to have General Hospital shut down if Laura didn't let the Cassadines remain in Port Charles. Laura reluctantly agreed.

During this time, Nikolas developed a close friendship with Luke's sister nurse Bobbie Spencer. Bobbie later married Stefan, and Nikolas and Bobbie became closer. However, their friendship quickly ended after Nikolas discovered that Bobbie had betrayed Stefan.

Nikolas' next friendship was with Katherine Bell, whom he first met when she went to Wyndemere, the Cassadine castle on Spoon Island, looking for location shots to use in an ad campaign for her company, Deception Cosmetics. When Laura faked her own death to escape the Cassadine threats, Nikolas ran straight to Katherine. Before she could console him as a friend, he pulled her into a passionate kiss. When Katherine was found shot at Wyndemere, Nikolas immediately accused Luke, but in actuality, it had been Stefan who pulled the trigger, thinking that there was an intruder on the island.

Nikolas discovered that Laura had faked her death, and he banished her from his life, but he still remained close to Lulu and Laura's mother, Leslie. Nikolas decided to settle in Port Charles and attend public school. He soon became involved with Sarah Webber, which caused further friction with his half-brother Lucky Spencer, who'd had a crush on Sarah. One night in December 1997, Nikolas attended a party at Luke's club, but the evening ended in horror when Nikolas became the victim of mob violence as he was shot in the throat with a bullet intended for mob enforcer Jason Morgan. Nikolas suffered a stroke, prompting Jason to perform a tracheotomy, which ultimately saved Nikolas' life.

The shooting left Nikolas with Broca's aphasia, and he was unable to speak for a long period of time. During his recovery, Nikolas became depressed and shut Sarah out because he was ashamed to see her. They eventually broke up. One person that Nikolas did respond to, though, was Robin Scorpio. They developed a bond of friendship as Robin helped him with his speech therapy. Stefan, however, did not approve of Nikolas' relationship with Robin. Not only was she a member of the Scorpio family, whom the Cassadines had experienced trouble with in the past, but she was also involved with Jason Morgan. Despite this, Robin and Nikolas remained close friends.

After Katherine recovered, she and Stefan became engaged. Nikolas was happy for the couple because he liked Katherine as a friend, and he knew that she would be good for his uncle. On the night of the Bacchanalia, the party celebrating their engagement, Katherine fell to her "death" off a parapet after overhearing a conversation between Stefan and Laura and learning that Stefan was Nikolas' father. Nikolas was devastated, and once again blamed Luke. However, Katherine was saved when Helena had Katherine's body spirited away. After Katherine recovered, she revealed Nikolas' paternity to him.

Furious, Nikolas confronted Stefan and Laura about their lies and betrayal. However, Nikolas deeply loved Stefan, and once his anger subsided, Nikolas was happy that Stefan was his father rather than twisted Stavros. As Stefan's son, Nikolas was he released from the burdens of being a Cassadine prince, he had the one thing that he had always wanted: a family.

In 1998, an unknown person blackmailed Nikolas' friend Emily Quartermaine, so Nikolas joined forces with Liz Webber, Emily, and Lucky to catch the blackmailer. When they caught the man, they discovered that he had also raped Liz in the park after the Valentine's Day dance. The man was sent to jail for blackmail and taking nude photos of Emily, while she had been unaware. Working together, Nikolas and Lucky realized that they could count on each other, and they began to build a relationship. Nikolas also began to rebuild his relationship with Katherine, which had turned romantic.

Laura and Stefan were not happy when they learned of Nikolas and Katherine's relationship, and they were horrified when Katherine announced she was "pregnant." By then, things had cooled between Nikolas and Katherine, and she announced plans to move to California. Desperate to be a part of his child's life, Nikolas proposed marriage to Katherine.

On October 8, 1999, the night of the wedding, history repeated when Katherine fell from the parapet. Helena had pushed Katherine because Helena was certain that Katherine would ruin Nikolas' life. Katherine succumbed to her injuries, and Nikolas suspected that Laura had murdered his fiancée because he knew how much Laura had despised Katherine and Nikolas' relationship with the older woman. He then learned that Katherine had been manipulating him. Katherine hadn't been pregnant because she'd been barren.

During this time, Nikolas' brother was presumed killed in a fire. Nikolas and Liz grew close as they helped each other through their grief. Nikolas developed feelings for Liz, but he couldn't act on it because her heart belonged to Lucky.

In early 2000, Nikolas discovered that Lucky might be alive. He and Liz went to New York City, where they eventually found Lucky. Lucky was not the same person though. He said that he didn't love Liz anymore and started urging Nikolas to take her, but of course Nikolas couldn't because Liz was still convinced that Lucky loved her. Several months later, Nikolas, Liz, and Lucky realized that Lucky had been brainwashed by Helena and, after extensive therapy, Lucky realized that he did still love Liz, and they got back together.

It wasn't long before Nikolas' true paternity was discovered: Nikolas was indeed the son of Stavros Cassadine, making Nikolas the Cassadine prince and Stefan his uncle. The deception had been a plan by Helena to gain access to the Cassadine fortune, which had been intended for Stavros' child. She had also enjoyed toying with Stefan's emotions in making him believe that he was Nikolas' father. Although angered about being plagued by Cassadine lies again, Nikolas didn't really care what relation Stefan was to him because Stefan would always be his father.

A few months later, Stefan "died," presumably at the hands of Luke. In truth, Stefan had faked his death in order to avoid Helena's deadly intentions. Nikolas had been unaware of Stefan's plan and continued to mourn his uncle.

In July, Nikolas, Lucky, and Liz became mixed up in a murder when their friend Emily Quartermaine attended a rave. A drugged Emily left the rave with an older man. When Emily woke up the next morning in a seedy motel, the man was in bed with her -- dead. Emily turned to her friends for help, and Nikolas and Lucky decided to take Ted Wilson's body to Wyndemere where they hid the body in a deep freezer. Unfortunately, someone had seen Emily leave the rave, and the person started blackmailing Emily.

Nikolas, Lucky, Liz, and Emily set a trap for the blackmailer who was revealed to be a beautiful young woman named Gia Campbell. Gia's older brother was Detective Marcus Taggert. Taggert had been searching for Ted because Ted had been an undercover police officer. Ted had been trying to keep Emily safe when he realized that she had been slipped a drug in her drink. Nikolas and Lucky decided to frame bad boy Zander Smith for the murder by transferring Ted's body to the trunk of Zander's car. It was later revealed that Zander had been ordered by his mobster boss Joseph Sorel to drug Emily, and it was one of Sorel's men who had murdered Ted.

Nikolas was immediately smitten with Gia, and she regretted blackmailing Emily when she learned what Emily had gone through. Gia was unlike anyone Nikolas had dated. She was loud, brash, and challenged him. When she lost her job working as a nanny and had nowhere else to go, invited Gia to move to Wyndemere rent-free.

When Stefan was revealed to be alive, Nikolas found that Gia was the only one he could talk to. Nikolas was enraged and hurt that his uncle had once again lied to him, and so he shut Stefan out of his life for good. The relationship between Nikolas and Gia continued to heat up. When Liz instead of Gia was named the new Face of Deception model for Deception Cosmetics, Gia was devastated. Nikolas was there for Gia and their budding romance turned serious.

After everyone realized that Helena was still using mind control on Lucky, Nikolas realized he would do anything to get his brother out from under Helena's control. He secretly partnered with Luke and Liz in an elaborate scheme to protect Lucky and take down Helena. In order to fool Helena and protect Gia at the same time, Nikolas broke it off with Gia and began to function as a "true Cassadine." In an effort to prove his loyalty, he had his grandmother "remove" Lucky's love for Liz from Lucky's memory, claiming to want Liz for himself. In the meantime, Helena had managed to revive Stavros from a frozen stasis. Stavros wandered around Port Charles, passing himself off as a man named Lucien Cane.

A brokenhearted Gia tried to move on and even dated Lucien a few times, but she had no idea who he truly was. Meanwhile, Helena decided to test Nikolas' loyalty by ordering him to kill Liz. With some help from Laura and Sonny, Nikolas and Liz staged her death. Despite her best efforts, Gia couldn't give up on Nikolas, and she walked in the charade just as Liz woke up from the drug that had made it appear that she had died. Gia insisted on helping Nikolas take down Helena.

Things reached a climatic conclusion in November 2001 when Helena and Stavros took several people hostage. All the captives managed to escape Helena's underground laboratory seconds before a failsafe was triggered. As the alarm counted down the seconds to detonation, Stavros helped Nikolas and Gia to safety, but Stavros and Luke were trapped inside the labyrinth when the dust settled. The two men fought until Stavros fell down a deep shaft into a bottomless pit and was presumed killed. Helena was arrested, and Nikolas picked up the pieces of his life.

On November 20, Nikolas proposed to Gia, who eagerly accepted. Stefan threw them an engagement party at Wydemere, during which Nikolas' recently discovered Aunt Kristina, Alexis' long-lost younger sister, revealed that she was taking the Cassadine name as her own. Stefan then announced that Nikolas would be running Cassadine Industries because Stefan had made plans to move to Milan. Uncertain at first, Nikolas finally accepted the huge responsibility, and Nikolas and Gia moved into Wyndemere.

In the months following Stavros' death and Helena's defeat, Nikolas was plagued with dreams and thoughts of becoming like his father. Gia did her best to comfort him and even gave up her modeling career to focus on their relationship. The night following her last modeling shoot, Nikolas, Gia, Liz, and Lucky went to dinner to celebrate. Nikolas' former girlfriend Sarah Webber had returned to town, and Gia became jealous. Gia climbed behind the wheel of her car despite having consumed alcohol. On her way home, she ran a red light and collided with another car driven by Courtney Matthews. Courtney and Gia escaped with minor injuries, but Gia's passenger, Liz, had suffered internal injuries.

Gia accused Courtney of running the red light. Nikolas advised Gia to refuse the blood/alcohol test. When Gia's brother asked if she had been drinking, Nikolas covered for Gia and claimed that they had been together all night. Later, Nikolas took further steps to protect Gia by paying off witnesses. As Liz slowly recovered from her injuries, she began to recall flashes of the events that had led up to the accident.

Hurt by Nikolas' betrayal, Liz severed ties with him. Eventually, Courtney dropped her complaint and the investigation was closed. Gia and Nikolas focused on planning a wedding, but it soon became clear that Gia was bored with just being the fiancée of a prince, so Nikolas paid for her to make a comeback on the cover of a big magazine. When Gia found out that her talents hadn't earned her the cover, she started to resent Nikolas for trying to control her life. Gia was determined to gain some independence, so she decided to take a job at Alexis' law firm as a paralegal and return to school to earn her law degree. Unfortunately, Nikolas and Gia continued to drift apart, and Gia left town once the relationship fell apart.

Tragedy struck for Nikolas on August 9, 2002 when his mother slipped into a catatonic state on the eve of her wedding to Luke. While planning the wedding, Laura began to have flashes of memory about her adoptive father Rick Webber and a woman in the attic of her family home. On the eve of her wedding, Laura returned to the attic, and she was assailed by memories of walking in on Rick and his mistress Theresa Carter. As Laura was assailed with repressed memories of Rick murdering his mistress by bashing Theresa in the head with a camera as she lunged for Laura, Rick entered the attic. The past became jumbled with the present, and Laura panicked when she noticed Rick approaching her with a syringe. Laura accused Rick of murdering Theresa, but he denied it. Terrified, Laura grabbed a candlestick then struck Rick.

Luke found Laura in the attic in a state of shock. When he saw Rick's body, he determined that Laura had killed him. Shortly after Luke and Laura left, Lucky and Nikolas showed up looking for their parents. They were shocked when they saw their grandfather's body. The brothers decided to hide the body then ducked out of sight when they heard Scott Baldwin approaching. Afterwards, to protect Laura, Lucky and Nikolas decided to take their grandfather's body with them and figure out a way to dispose of it without the police tracking Rick's murder back to Laura.

Meanwhile, Laura's mental health continued to decline. A few weeks later, Laura returned to the attic wearing her old tattered wedding dress as she hallucinated about getting ready for her wedding. Her mind had snapped because she recalled that she had been the one to deliver the fatal blow that had killed Theresa, not Rick. Rick had enlisted Scott's help to cover up what Laura had done, and she had repressed the memory. When Laura realized that she had also killed her beloved stepfather, it proved to be too much. Laura slipped into a catatonic fugue state that would later be diagnosed as Psychomotor Disassociation. Luke and Laura had never remarried, so Nikolas was appointed his mother's guardian because he was her eldest child.

Nikolas blamed Luke for Laura's condition because Luke had pushed Laura to remember and when she snapped, Luke had hid her out in a barn rather than get her treatment. He was determined to keep his mother and siblings safe from Luke, who had recently gone on a destructive rampage in anguish over losing Laura. Nikolas also believed that Luke chased Laura deeper into mental illness whenever he went to see her, which prompted Nikolas to keep Laura's location a secret from Luke. In an effort to keep Luke distracted and to stop him from potentially hurting Lucky and Lulu, Nikolas secretly hired a call girl who resembled a younger Laura to distract Luke. When it was revealed that the girl, named Summer -- her real name was Laura -- was working with Nikolas, Luke was angry and hurt.

Further complicating matters, Summer had become involved with Lucky. Summer revealed to Lucky that Nikolas had blackmailed her into the scam by promising to reunite her with her long-lost brother. However, Summer's "brother" turned out to be an ex-boyfriend who had worked for Nikolas and stolen some valuable coins belonging to the Cassadines. Nikolas had hoped that Summer would lead him to her boyfriend and the coins. Summer teamed up with Luke and Lucky to try to find her ex-boyfriend, and Nikolas followed them, but it was all for naught because they soon discovered that the coins had been worthless.

When Nikolas returned from his adventure, Emily visited him. She confided in him that she had breast cancer and had resigned herself to die. She had decided to conceal the truth from her boyfriend, Zander, and she wanted Nikolas to help her convince Zander that Emily and Nikolas were in love to spare Zander from having to watch her die. The plan worked, but it took Emily and Nikolas pretending to get engaged, which did not make Stefan happy. Stefan had recently returned to town because the Cassadines were in danger of going bankrupt, since Helena had squandered away much of the Cassadine fortune.

Stefan had been forced to take several loans from less than honorable sources. The creditors wanted their money -- or Nikolas' blood. Nikolas tried to reassure his uncle that he would take care of it, but Stefan had an idea. He invited Lydia Karenin to town to marry Nikolas. Lydia and Nikolas had been betrothed, and they were set to inherit $20,000,000 from Lydia's wealthy father when they married. To ensure that Nikolas married Lydia, Stefan arranged for Emily to be pushed off the cliffs on Spoon Island during Nikolas and Emily's engagement party. However, heavy fog caused the assassin to mistakenly push Summer, who had attended the party with Lucky. In an effort to cover his tracks, Stefan tried to frame Luke for Summer's death.

Meanwhile, with Nikolas' support, Emily attended a breast cancer survivor group meeting, which inspired her to fight her cancer. It also helped her to decide to tell Zander the truth, and she reunited with Zander, but all the pretending had led to real feelings of love to developed between Nikolas and Emily. Torn between his love for Emily and his duty to his family, Nikolas decided to be a dutiful Cassadine and marry Lydia. Lucky was appalled by Nikolas' decision because he knew that Nikolas really loved Emily.

Soon after the wedding, a second part to the will's clause was revealed: Lydia and Nikolas had to have a child within the first five years of their marriage in order to gain the full inheritance. Nikolas had no intention of sleeping with Lydia because Nikolas was in love with Emily. He stayed close to Emily as her immune system shut down, and she contracted meningitis. As Nikolas focused on Emily, Lucky and Lydia worked together to prove that Stefan had been trying to kill Emily when Summer was pushed. Lydia was able to get a confession from Stefan on tape, and Stefan was arrested. He was appalled when Nikolas refused to help him. Nikolas claimed that his uncle had become a different person when he'd tried to kill Emily.

Emily married Zander as a last gift to him before she died. But a dream in which she kissed and married Nikolas pulled her back from the other side, and she lived. She informed Nikolas that she wanted to honor her marriage vows to Zander, and Nikolas agreed to respect her wishes. However, they were caught on film during a close embrace. When Zander saw the photos, he went to confront Nikolas, but Nikolas was in the hospital after his creditor, Lorenzo Alcazar, arranged for Nikolas to be roughed up.

Emily managed to stop Zander, and she enlisted Jason's help to ensure Nikolas' safety from Lorenzo. Initially, Nikolas plotted with Jason to kill Lorenzo, but he decided to borrow the money from Jason to avoid bloodshed. Stefan was not happy to hear that Nikolas had borrowed money from a gangster, but Nikolas pointed out that Stefan had done the same when Stefan had gone to Lorenzo for a loan. Stefan attempted to kill Lorenzo to wipe out the remaining debt, and Nikolas washed his hands of his uncle for good.

Finally deciding to follow his heart, Nikolas filed for divorce from Lydia to pursue a relationship with Emily. Her marriage to Zander had fallen apart, and she was by Nikolas' side when he learned that Stefan had been killed during an altercation with Luke. Nikolas hid his grief for Stefan from others, but he was plagued with guilt and saddened by his uncle's death. At Stefan's funeral, Helena repeatedly insulted Stefan's memory and called his life a waste, but Nikolas defended Stefan with heart-felt emotion and expressed his gratitude for Stefan's care throughout Nikolas' life, despite the desperate choices that Stefan had made near the end of his life. When Luke sneaked to the gravesite after the service to check for himself that Stefan was truly dead, Nikolas stopped Luke and assured him that the Cassadine/Spencer war had died with Stefan.

Nikolas and Zander continued to fight over Emily, but she made her choice clear following the Halloween costume ball. After confessing her love to Nikolas, Emily ran off. Nikolas followed her to a cottage in the woods where he told her that his divorce was official. He took off his wedding band then made love to her for the first time.

Emily and Nikolas were happy together, but Zander remained a thorn in their side because he resented Nikolas. Nikolas also discovered that Stefan's death had really been a suicide; Stefan had hoped to frame Luke for murder. On December 9, 2003, Emily's divorce was final. On the same day, Nikolas learned that he was destitute, but he realized that all he needed was Emily to be happy. He proposed and Emily happily accepted. As Christmas approached, Nikolas sold Wyndemere and bought Emily a diamond engagement ring. He gave it to at Christmas and she surprised him with the deed to Wyndemere. Emily had bought it. Around this time, it was discovered that a sunken ship that had once belonged to the Quartermaines many generations past has sunk off the coast of Port Charles. Supposedly the Courage went down with a considerable treasure aboard.

Emily and Nikolas told the Quartermaines about the treasure and their intention to split the proceeds with her family. However, Tracy had other plans and hired Sam McCall to recover the treasure. Nikolas, in turn, hired Sam's father, Cody. A few days later, Cody's body was discovered in the tunnels at Wyndemere. Nikolas was arrested and put in jail. Soon, they figured out that Zander had been blackmailing district attorney Ric Lansing to frame Nikolas for the murder. Eventually Ric grew tired of Zander's threats and tossed him in jail when Zander provoked Nikolas into attacking Zander. The charges against Nikolas was dropped, and he was freed.

The treasure from the ship had disappeared during this time. Emily and Nikolas tracked the treasure to a hiding place where Helena revealed that she had stolen the treasure for Nikolas. After Nikolas claimed the treasure, he and Emily decided to auction it off. However, the night of the auction, a fire broke out in the Port Charles Hotel, and the treasure disappeared. The auction attendees had to be rescued by helicopter from the roof, but the last helicopter didn't have enough room for everyone. Nikolas bravely gave his spot to Emily, who tearfully watched as the roof crumbled with Nikolas on standing on it.

Emily refused to believe the love of her life was dead. A few days later, she was at Wyndemere, remembering the good times with Nikolas, when he walked through the door, somewhat battered, but alive. Emily filled him in on the fact that Zander had been killed in the basement by the fire. However, Emily, Nikolas, Ric, and Liz all received letters from Zander stating that each person's significant other had killed him prior to the fire.

It was a ruse. Zander had faked his death, and he wanted everyone to suffer. Emily and Nikolas had betrayed him, while Liz was pregnant with Zander's child and she wanted to raise the baby with Ric. When Emily went to visit the cottage that she had briefly shared with Zander, he appeared in the doorway. He wanted to make a fresh start with Emily, and he claimed that he had abducted Nikolas. Zander tried to force Emily to sleep with him in order to save Nikolas, but he couldn't go through with it, since it wouldn't be out of love. By that time, Ric and the police had arrived, and the place had been surrounded. Rather than be arrested, Zander let Emily go then committed suicide by cop. Emily watched in horror as Zander was shot dead as he reached for his gun.

Nikolas had been returning from an out-of-town business trip when he heard about Emily's kidnapping on the radio. Panicked, Nikolas tried to get back to Port Charles in a hurry, but he lost control of his car and crashed. Later, Nikolas' car was discovered, but Nikolas body was missing. It was presumed that Nikolas' body had been ejected from the car and thrown into the river where Nikolas perished. After the search was called off, Emily tried to accept that Nikolas was gone.

In reality, Nikolas had wandered away from the accident site to a nearby cottage where he collapsed on the front porch. The woman who lived there took him in. When Nikolas awoke, she told him that her name was Mary Bishop -- his wife. She nursed him back to health and continually fed him the past that had belonged to her real husband, Connor. Connor had been killed in the war in Iraq, and he had looked exactly like Nikolas. Nikolas tried to swallow what she told him about his past, but things never felt quite right.

Mary befriended Emily and took a job at GH to support their family, but Nikolas grew restless and ventured out more often. Once, he saw Emily from afar, but he had no memory of her. Mary attended Nikolas' memorial service, so Nikolas followed her. He stood outside the church and listened to the service, but he had no idea that the service had been for him. Later, he took a job painting the church and met Lorenzo Alcazar. Alcazar was puzzled by the fact that Nikolas introduced himself as Connor Bishop. He offered "Connor" a job. Mary tried to dissuade Nikolas from accepting, but Nikolas was intrigued and agreed to work for Alcazar.

Nikolas also wanted to get his relationship with Mary on track, so he proposed to her. Mary and "Connor" were happily planning their wedding when Alcazar had Nikolas break into Jason's apartment. Nikolas got shot, and Alcazar had him patched up by a private doctor. Then Alcazar offered to send "Connor" and Mary on a trip. Nikolas was drawn to a brochure about Mexico and asked to go there. While in Mexico, Mary and Nikolas "renewed" their vows. As Nikolas stood on the terrace of their room, Emily spotted him from the adjoining terrace. Stunned, Emily confronted him, and she realized that he'd been suffering amnesia. Heartbroken that he believed that he was a man named Connor who was happily married, Emily decided to keep quiet.

Back in Port Charles, Nikolas underwent hypnotherapy in an effort to regain his memory. Mary feared that he would remember his past as Nikolas, and she tried her best to discourage him. He had flashes, but nothing that triggered him to recall his life. However, he found himself drawn to Emily, and he gave into his feelings one night and made love to her. Afterwards, Nikolas got a call that Mary had nearly drowned in the river. Guilt-ridden, he vowed to focus on his marriage, stop hypnotherapy, and he told Emily their night together had been a mistake. However, Nikolas' desire to reconnect with his past proved too strong, so Mary suggested that they have a baby to focus on the future.

When Emily found out that Mary was trying to have a baby, she confronted Mary and threatened to tell Nikolas the truth. Meanwhile, Alcazar provided "Connor" with a false history, courtesy of Mary, that painted Emily as a former lover who wouldn't let go of him. When Nikolas returned to confront Mary about it, he found that she had taken an overdose of sleeping pills. Believing that Emily had already told him the truth, Mary called him Nikolas. Caught, Mary was forced to explain what was going on, and she tried to justify her actions, but Nikolas stormed out. He confronted Emily over why she hadn't been the one to tell him the truth first. She confessed that she had feared the shock of the truth would drive him away the way that it had her brother Jason when Jason had suffered a head injury. Nikolas felt betrayed.

Although aware that he was Nikolas Cassadine, he couldn't remember his life as Nikolas. He tried to drink away the pain and betrayal, but Lucky and Emily wouldn't give up even when Nikolas pushed them away. One night, Nikolas turned violent when he saw Lucky and Emily in what appeared to be a close moment. Lucky pressed charges and hand Nikolas tossed in jail for a night. Helena seized the opportunity to try to have Nikolas declared mentally incompetent, so she could take control the Cassadine estate.

Emily blamed Mary, and she suspected that Mary had joined forces with Helena. Helena made certain that Nikolas was drugged, and she attempted to brainwash him into becoming a true Cassadine prince. Emily managed to convinced Nikolas to only pretend to take his medication in preparation of escaping the sanitarium where Helena had sent Nikolas. However, Helena got wind of the plans, and Helena arranged for Emily to be captured and drugged. Nikolas found Emily just as his memories of his life returned. He escaped with Emily, and they hid in the Quartermaines' boathouse, where Nikolas shared the good news.

Nikolas and Emily reconnected as lovers, but Helena was not happy. She teamed up with Tracy Quartermaine then cursed the young lovers. At first, Nikolas and Emily did not take Helena's curse seriously, but Emily's health mysteriously started to fail. The doctors were unable to help Emily, but Nikolas uncovered a way to break the curse. The couple headed to the Garden of Aphrodite located on one of the Greek islands. The curse was broken when Nikolas and Emily kissed in the moonlight as they stood in the garden. Emily started feeling better almost instantly.

Nikolas and Emily returned to Port Charles and announced their engagement, Helena attempted to stab Emily, while Emily stood near the cliffs of Spoon Island. Nikolas arrived in time to see Helena holding a knife to Emily, so he pushed Helena over the cliffs. Although her body was not found, Helena was pronounced dead. Unfortunately for Nikolas, the real Connor Bishop had surfaced, and Connor had seen Nikolas push Helena. Wanting Nikolas to pay for Mary's mental breakdown that had led to a homicidal spree before she was killed, Connor forced Nikolas to confess to the Helena's murder.

On November 22, 2004, Nikolas was arrested, but Mac let him out of prison briefly to marry Emily. While Nikolas was in prison, Emily persuaded Connor to pose as Nikolas to lure Helena out of hiding. The plan succeeded and Nikolas was relieved, but Emily paid a high price. On the night that Helena resurfaced, Connor violent raped Emily. She was forced to shoot him in self-defense, but Emily struggled to look at Nikolas without seeing her rapist. Emily pushed Nikolas away as she tried to grapple with the horrific event.

Nikolas found a sympathetic friend in Courtney Matthews. Her marriage to Jasper Jacks had hit a rough patch because Courtney could not have children, so she and Jax hired Liz Webber to be their surrogate. Courtney was upset over how Jax doted on Liz, and Courtney felt like an outsider. Nikolas felt like an outsider, as well, because Emily was able to talk to Jason Morgan, and his best friend Sonny Corinthos, but not to him.

Eventually, Nikolas and Courtney began an affair. When Emily found out, she divorced Nikolas. Shortly afterwards, Courtney discovered that she was pregnant. Nikolas and Courtney stayed together even when two paternity tests showed that Jax was the father of Courtney's unborn child. Nikolas and Courtney made plans to fight Jax for custody, but Helena surfaced and kidnapped Courtney. Helena believed that Courtney might be carrying the Cassadine heir. Courtney escaped, but she contracted a deadly virus that necessitated her to undergo an emergency c-section.

On February 20, 2006, Courtney gave birth to a baby boy. She and Nikolas were briefly reunited, and they pledged their love to one another. Courtney was gravely ill, and as she was dying, Jax confessed that he had altered the paternity results. Courtney died with the knowledge that Nikolas was her baby's father, but she never got the chance to tell him. Jax, with the help of Carly Corinthos, kept the baby's true paternity a secret, and Jax raised the newborn as his own. Robin eventually learned the truth and told Nikolas. He immediately changed his son's name to Spencer as a way to honor his siblings.

Nikolas slowly adjusted to fatherhood and hired a nanny named Colleen McHenry. She had been secretly recruited by Helena to keep a close eye on Spencer, and feed Helena information. During this time, Emily and Nikolas began to date again, but Colleen became obsessed with Nikolas and jealous of Emily. Desperate for Nikolas to fall in love with her, Colleen drugged him and tried to seduce him. When that didn't work, she kidnapped Spencer. Nikolas and Emily tracked Colleen and Spencer to Colorado, but they were too late. Helena had gotten there first, and she fled to Greece with Spencer. Emily and Nikolas arrived just as Helena was about to baptize Spencer and change his name.

Reunited with both Spencer and Emily, Nikolas was happy -- until he began to experience unexplained rages and blackouts. Despite that, Nikolas moved forward with his plan to propose to Emily at a Black and While bacchanalia ball that he hosted at Wyndemere on November 15, 2007. Unfortunately for the party goers, murderous mobster Anthony Zacchara made an unexpected appearance as did the Text Message Killer. As guests scrambled to safety, Nikolas experienced an episode of rage. Emily's brother Jason was forced to beat Nikolas up in self-defense then he restrained Nikolas to a chair. Emily refused to leave Nikolas' side as mayhem surrounded them. Nikolas blacked out, and when he woke up, he had been freed from the chair and Emily was dead. She had been strangled to death.

Nikolas slipped into a state of deep despair, and he was tortured by the fear that he might have killed Emily. His only solace were the visions that he had of Emily. She appeared to him often, but only to him. Through her visits, Emily convinced Nikolas to seek medical treatment. Nikolas was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which had triggered the visions, rages, and blackouts. Everyone was stunned when Nikolas opted not to have surgery because it would mean losing his last connection to Emily.

Nikolas made a secret deal with Dr. Ian Devlin to get illegal experimental drugs that would keep him alive without taking away his hallucinations. As the rages continued, nurse Nadine Crowell stuck by Nikolas' side. She had developed a crush on the grieving prince and was happy to have any of his attention. She helped him remember exactly what he had seen the night that Emily was murdered. Nikolas recalled seeing Diego Alcazar who had been presumed dead, so he and Nadine teamed up with Jason Morgan to find Diego and expose him as the Text Message Killer. With a clear conscience, Nikolas was able to say goodbye to Emily and have the tumor removed.

Nikolas missed his visions of Emily, but he focused on his son and the clinic that he had built to honor Emily. Nadine continued her friendship with Nikolas and volunteered her time at the clinic. They worked together to get the clinic running, and they used the cover of the clinic to help investigate Dr. Ian Devlin, whose reputation as an upstanding doctor had started to crumble. Nikolas found out just how dark Dr. Devlin's past was when Claudia Zacchara washed up on the shores of Wyndemere.

Claudia had been stabbed and kicked into the water by Jerry Jacks. Nikolas nursed her back to health. In a feverish state, she confessed her involvement in the shooting of Sonny Corinthos' son, Michael, and she named Dr. Devlin and Jerry Jacks as her co-conspirators. Nikolas was unable to turn her in, as she knew about the illegal drugs that he had purchased from Dr. Devlin. After Dr. Devlin left town, Nikolas cut Claudia loose.

Nikolas and Nadine spent time together, and she was hopeful that he would begin to move on from Emily and fall in love with her. Although they did date briefly, the relationship remained one-sided. Everything changed for Nikolas in January 2009 during a hospital lockdown when he saw a woman who looked just like Emily. Nikolas began to worry that the tumor had returned because no one else had seen the mystery woman. Nadine realized that Nikolas' heart still belonged to Emily.

Nikolas was relieved and fascinated when he learned that the woman with an uncanny resemblance was real. Her name was Rebecca Shaw. Nikolas was infatuated with her, as was everyone that had been close to Emily. It was soon revealed that Rebecca was Emily's twin sister, and they had been separated at birth. It was no coincidence that Rebecca was in Port Charles. She and her lover/accomplice, Ethan Lovett, were after the Cassadine and Quartermaine money. They had intended to use everyone's grief over Emily as a way for Rebecca to get her hands on the money.

Rebecca was taken in by the Quartermaines and given a position at General Hospital. The plan had been for her to seduce Nikolas, but Rebecca preferred spending time with Nikolas' brother, Lucky Spencer. Both Liz and Nikolas had a hard time seeing Rebecca and Lucky together. One night at Jake's, Liz and Nikolas had endured enough Lucky and Rebecca flirting, so Liz and Nikolas shared a kiss to make the two jealous. They were both surprised by the kiss, as they had been friends for years and had never thought of one another romantically.

With time, Lucky and Liz rekindled their romance, and Rebecca and Nikolas started dating. It had been Rebecca's plan to become close to Nikolas, but she developed real feelings for him and decided to end things with her secret boyfriend, Ethan Lovett. Before she could confess to Nikolas, Lucky found out about her plan and told Nikolas. Nikolas continued to string Rebecca along until he knew she was in love with him then he broke up with her. Nikolas was not in love with Rebecca. He still had his forbidden kiss with Liz on his mind.

Despite Liz's engagement to Lucky, she couldn't stop thinking about Nikolas. In time, they secretly began an affair, which Rebecca found out about and threatened to expose to Lucky. Instead, Rebecca left town, and Liz and Nikolas continued their forbidden romance. Eventually, Lucky found out about the affair and ended his engagement to Liz. Nikolas and Liz felt horrible about what they had done to Lucky, and they were unable to continue seeing one another.

Soon after the affair ended, Liz found out that she was pregnant. Helena realized that Nikolas could be the father, and she got her hands on the paternity results. Although Lucky was listed as the father, Helena changed the results because she liked the idea of a Cassadine raising a Spencer. Things were strained between Nikolas and Liz because they each carried guilt over the pain that they had caused Lucky, but they learned to get along for the baby's sake. On July 19, 2010, Liz gave birth to a baby boy that she named Aiden Alexi Nikolosovich Cassadine.

Nikolas focused on raising his sons and building his business. He wasn't interested in romance, so he hired Brook Lynn Ashton to be his escort to various business functions. Their relationship started as a business arrangement, but soon turned into more much to Liz's dismay. The relationship between Brook Lynn and Nikolas ended when Brook Lynn left town to pursue her music career in April 2011.

Shortly after Brook Lynn left, Liz's son Jake was hit by a car and passed away. While Liz and Lucky grieved for their son, Liz decided to run a new paternity test on Aiden because several had remarked how much Aiden looked like Lucky as a child. Nikolas refused to believe that Aiden was not his but he handed Aiden over to Lucky and left town with Spencer. A few weeks later, Lulu visited Nikolas in Greece and asked him to return to Port Charles, but he explained that he needed to pursue a life for himself separate from the Spencer and Cassadine feud. In 2013, Nikolas returned to Port Charles when Lulu was abducted. He was reunited with his mother who had recovered from her catatonic state thanks to an experimental drug called LS-49. As Luke filled Nikolas in on Lulu's kidnapping, a sniper shot Nikolas in the chest. Nikolas required surgery, and he remained unconscious for several days, but he survived the assassination attempt.

When Nikolas woke up, he worried about Lulu. Nikolas revealed to Alexis and Liz that his father Stavros was alive. Nikolas explained that Helena had rescued his father after his presumed death, and she placed him in a cryogenic chamber on Cassadine Island to heal.

After several years, Stavros had regained his strength, so Helena had tried to speed her son's recovery with news about Nikolas and Spencer. Helena had even tried to entice Stavros with the news of a new Cassadine heir by falsely naming Nikolas the father of Liz's son Aiden, but nothing had moved Stavros until he had seen Lulu. Nikolas had stumbled across the truth about his father, so Nikolas pretended to nurse his father back to health in order to gain inside information regarding Stavros and Helena's plans, and he had been shocked when Stavros had set his sights on Lulu. Nikolas had returned to Port Charles to warn his sister, but he'd been too late.

Nikolas was relieved when Lulu was rescued and that his father killed. Nikolas appreciated all the support and care that Liz had provided, and he confessed that he still loved her and wished to resume their relationship. They shared a kiss but Liz worried that it would cause Lucky more pain. Liz decided to explore a relationship with A.J. Quartermaine. Nikolas set out to win her back.

Tracy Quartermaine learned that Nikolas still had feelings for Liz, so Tracy suggested that she and Nikolas work together against A.J. Nikolas agreed, and he and Tracy plotted to ensure that A.J.'s success as the head of ELQ was limited. However, Nikolas ended the partnership after he realized that Liz was committed to A.J. As Nikolas tried to move on without Liz, he befriended a single pregnant woman named Britt Westbourne. Britt had been rejected by the man that she claimed had fathered her child. Britt and Nikolas commiserated over their unrequited love.

Nikolas did not know Britt well, but he allowed her to move in with him during the final weeks of her pregnancy. Nikolas questioned his kindness toward Britt after she admitted that she had lied about the paternity of her child in an attempt to win Patrick Drake's love. Before Nikolas had the chance to banish Britt from his property and his life, she went into labor and gave birth to her son at Wyndemere. Nikolas forgave Britt and allowed her and her child to stay. He was hesitant to trust her but they grew closer after Britt's son was kidnapped by her mother and she confessed that Dr. Liesl Obrecht and Cesar Faison were her parents.

Together Nikolas and Britt rescued her son and they bonded over their dysfunctional families. During the rescue mission, Nikolas discovered that Robin Scorpio-Drake was still alive. Her captors included Britt's parents and Jerry Jacks. Nikolas returned home to Wyndemere with Britt and Robin under the direct supervision of Faison and Liesl. Despite the additional houseguests, Nikolas grew closer to Britt and they and became lovers. When Nikolas' involvement with Britt went public, several residents of Port Charles warned him to proceed with caution. He ignored the advice and fell in love with Britt even though Liz was again free. He took Britt's side after Liz secretly ran a DNA test on Britt's son, which revealed that Lulu's husband Dante was Ben's father. Britt claimed that she had no idea that her mother had stolen Dante's sperm sample from the hospital that Liesl used to impregnate her, but Liz was certain that Britt had lied.

Despite Liz's suspicions, Nikolas proposed marriage to Britt, and she happily accepted. Nikolas convinced Britt to celebrate their engagement with a formal party at Wyndemere. Desperate to stop Nikolas from making a mistake, Liz admitted to Nikolas that she was in love with him. She asked Nikolas to give her another chance, but he turned her away because he believed that his future was with Britt. As the date of the party drew near, Nikolas experienced a vision of Emily, and she questioned his feelings for Britt and Liz. He remained adamant that Britt made him happy. However, on the night of the party, Liz made the shocking announcement that Lulu was Ben's biological mother, and that Britt had stolen one of Lulu and Dante's frozen embryos to pass the child off as Patrick Drake's.

Nikolas lashed out at Liz and threw her out of his home. Afterwards, he was devastated to learn that Liz's accusations were true. He ended his relationship with Britt and ordered her to leave his home. Nikolas experienced regret over the decision that he had made to pursue a future with Britt instead of Liz, but his friendship with Liz remained intact. Liz reconnected with her former husband Ric Lansing, while Nikolas started to believe that Britt had given up her duplicitous ways. Nikolas leaned on Britt when Spencer went missing, unaware that she and Spencer had planned the disappearance as a means to ingratiate Britt to Nikolas. The plan worked, and Nikolas and Britt reunited until he learned the truth about what Britt had done.

On December 8, 2014, Britt left town when Nikolas threatened to press charges against her for the stunt that she had pulled with Spencer. Nikolas focused his attention on Helena who had returned to town once again to stir up trouble. Nikolas questioned her involvement with Luke, but Helena warned Nikolas that he would lose everything if he did not go along with her plans. He agreed to assist Luke and Helena in their plot to gain control of ELQ, and he tampered with the mayoral election to ensure that Mayor Lomaxwas reelected. Through his dealings with his grandmother, Nikolas learned that something was not right with Luke. Helena also divulged that Jason Morgan was alive and in Port Charles suffering from amnesia under the alias Jake Doe. Nikolas was torn between his loyalty to his cousin Sam, Jason's "widow," and Liz, who had become involved with Jake Doe. He had his sights set on taking control of ELQ.

Nikolas moved forward with his plans to take over ELQ, and he arranged for a woman named Hayden Barnes to be shot when she threatened to reveal the truth about Jake's identity. Hayden had overheard Nikolas reveal the truth to Liz during the 2015 Nurses Ball. Hayden survived the attempt, and Nikolas moved her into Wyndemere to keep her close. In an ironic twist, Sonny had sent a hit man to kill Jake Doe, so Shawn Butler assumed that his bullet had struck Hayden when in truth his shot had missed entirely and ended up buried in a far wall inside the garage. Nikolas also used coercion and blackmail to become the majority shareholder of ELQ. He ignored the accusations that Emily would disapprove of his actions against family.

Nikolas and Hayden had an acrimonious relationship, but they also shared a strong attraction. Trouble soon found Nikolas when his cousin Sam learned that he had tampered with the mayoral race. Sam tried to use the information to blackmail Nikolas, but he received some help from corrupt police commissioner Kyle Sloane that turned things around. Meanwhile, Hayden began to have flashes of memory about talking to Jake Doe about Nikolas right before the shooting. Nikolas feared that Hayden would piece things together, so he tried his best to distract her. He also wanted to keep the truth about Jake buried because Liz and Jake had set a wedding date, and Nikolas would do anything to protect Liz.

Hayden and Liz despised each other, which made things difficult for Nikolas especially when he started to develop feelings for Hayden. Unfortunately, Nikolas couldn't stop Carly and Spinelli from figuring out that Jake Doe was Jason Morgan. When Carly revealed the truth to Jason on his wedding day to Liz, Jason decided to postpone the wedding until he could make sense of what he had learned. Hayden and Nikolas returned to Wyndemere, and Hayden confessed that she'd been lying about her amnesia for a while -- her memories had returned shortly after she had moved into Wyndemere. Hayden knew that she had gone to see Jake to tell him the truth about his identity but the shooting had stopped her.

Nikolas was relieved when Hayden agreed to keep his secrets. What Nikolas didn't know was that Hayden had been secretly working with Tracy Quartermaine to steal back ELQ. When Jason showed up demanding to see Helena to confront her about his abduction, Nikolas took him to Cassadine Island. Helena was gravely ill. She told Jason that his memory loss had been a result of the car accident that he'd been in when he first arrived in Port Charles rather than anything that she had done to him. Moments later, Helena died. Hayden comforted Nikolas through his grief, and she told him that she'd fallen in love with him. It was a lie. She had been buying herself some time, while a friend of Shawn's investigated her shooting.

When Jason learned that Nikolas and Liz had known the truth about his identity for months, he left Liz. When he encountered Nikolas, Nikolas provoked Jason into a physical altercation that ended with Nikolas tumbling over the balcony of the Metro Court Restaurant. Luckily, the scaffolding broke Nikolas' fall, and Liz was on hand to render first aid until Nikolas was rushed to the hospital. Stunned by what had unfolded, Hayden accused Jason of trying to kill Nikolas. Jason was arrested, but Liz pleaded with Nikolas to claim the fall had been an accident. Hayden resented Liz trying to protect the man who had tried to kill Nikolas, but Nikolas decided to cut a deal with Jason. Nikolas would drop the charges in exchange for Jason's voting shares at ELQ. To Nikolas' frustration, Jason refused.

By this time, Hayden had developed real feelings for Nikolas even though she remained in cahoots with Tracy who had resorted to making threats to force Hayden to cooperate. When Jason turned down Nikolas' offer, Hayden suggested that she and Nikolas get married and transfer the assets to Hayden to safeguard his control of ELQ. She added that they could have an "iron-clad prenup" to make certain that she couldn't steal everything from him. Nikolas was tempted, but he didn't want to sacrifice their relationship for ELQ because he cared about Hayden. As Hayden helped Nikolas recuperate from his injuries, they grew closer. However, Tracy had threatened to reveal Hayden's true identity to Nikolas if Hayden failed to deliver.

Nikolas opened his heart to Hayden. A few weeks after they made love for the first time, Nikolas and Hayden eloped in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Nikolas decided to dig into Hayden's past to unearth her secrets. However, it was Liz who had uncovered the truth and she shared the news with Nikolas that Hayden was Rachel Berlin. Rachel's father's financial crimes had been infamous, and Nikolas was furious that his wife had duped him. Devastated, Hayden warned Nikolas that it wouldn't be easy to end their marriage.

Tensions continued to mount, and on April 11, 2016, Hayden told Nikolas that she had decided to turn him in for the attempt on her life that had landed her in a coma if he didn't sign over ELQ to her. Her investigator had gathered the proof that Nikolas' assassin's bullet had struck her and Shawn's bullet had gone astray. Nikolas wondered what would stop her if he signed the papers, but she promised to give a statement that would clear him of any wrongdoing. After Hayden left, Jason and Sam showed up to make Nikolas an offer. Jason explained that Nikolas had left a trail when he had hired a hit man to kill Hayden, so Jason wanted Nikolas to sell the 50% of ELQ shares that Nikolas owned in exchange for Jason's silence.

When Hayden returned to Wyndemere to collect the paperwork that would give her control of ELQ, she was shocked when Nikolas revealed that he'd sold them to Jason for a fraction of their value. Nikolas and Hayden found themselves at a stalemate, and a few weeks later, the FBI questioned Hayden about her role in her father's Ponzi scheme and a missing cache of diamonds. Hayden claimed that she had no idea where the diamonds were, but it was a lie because Nikolas helped himself to one of the diamonds to cover his expenses when he was slapped with a tax bill for the sale of the ELQ stocks, which had alerted the FBI. Nikolas also filed a lawsuit against Jason, which froze ELQ's assets.

As the Nurses Ball wrapped up, Jason went to Wyndemere in the hopes of working things out with Nikolas. Things were eerily silent as Jason entered the castle, and he heard an ominous thud in the distance. Worried, Jason decided to investigate. Moments later, Sam arrived. She panicked when she heard the sound of glass shattering. She raced to the source of the noise and entered Nikolas' bedroom. Jason stood near the window, which had been broken. At the bottom of the cliffs was Nikolas' bleeding and motionless body.

Sam called 9-1-1, while Jason ran to help Nikolas. However, Nikolas' body had vanished by the time Jason had reached the bottom of the cliffs. The police searched the waters for Nikolas' body but to no avail. Nikolas was presumed dead, and Jason was the prime suspect for his murder. However, Liz warned the police commissioner that Hayden also had a motive to kill Nikolas because Nikolas had found the missing Berlin diamonds. The FBI searched Wyndemere and found an incriminating inventory list detailing the missing diamonds. Hayden claimed that she'd never seen the list, so the FBI decided to have the document examined for DNA, but they warned Hayden not to leave town.

When Hayden's mother, Naomi, arrived in town, Hayden revealed that the diamonds were missing. Hayden was certain that Nikolas had stolen them before he had perished. However, Nikolas was very much alive, and Ava Jerome encountered him on June 13 when she boarded a flight bound for London. Others had begun to suspect that Nikolas was alive, including Jason and Sam because they noticed how surprisingly well Spencer had taken the news of his father's death. In fact, Spencer knew that his father was alive because he'd been in contact with Nikolas by phone.

Ava and Nikolas became unlikely allies as they encountered a man named Huxley Lynch on the flight. Huxley had managed to spirit the pair off to the English countryside where he took them hostage. Huxley was in search of the "Weeping Naiad," which he suspected Ava had hidden in her case. Huxley explained to Nikolas that the Weeping Naiad was an ancient artifact that his ancestors had recovered and brought back to England a century earlier. According to Huxley, the figurine had been stolen, and he was certain that it had landed in Ava's possession. Things turned violent when Huxley lunged for Ava. Nikolas sprang into action to help her, but Huxley grabbed a rapier to defend himself, slicing Nikolas' hand.

Horrified, Ava tossed her case to Huxley then ran to Nikolas' aid with a towel. Moments later, Huxley returned because the figurine in the case had been a replica. He warned Nikolas and Ava that they wouldn't leave alive unless Ava divulged where the real figurine was. Eventually, Nikolas and Ava managed to escape, but Jason and Sam were hot on their heels. Huxley had joined forces with Jason and Sam to hunt the pair down. Nikolas rented a private jet then flew to Cassadine Island with Ava until she could sell the real Weeping Naiad.

Unfortunately for Nikolas, trouble was waiting -- and more followed. Jason and Sam arrived on the island followed by Nikolas' mother and Kevin Collins. Laura had begun to suspect that her son had faked his death. A storm stranded everyone on the island, but things took a dire turn when a man named Theo Hart took everyone hostage. Theo Hart was revealed to be Valentin Cassadine -- Mikkos' illegitimate son and the most feared Cassadine. Valentin wanted what he believed was his birthright, so he forced Nikolas to sign over all claims to the Cassadine holdings then shot his nephew in the chest. Nikolas tumbled over the balcony and fell into the sea. Nikolas was presumed killed and his body washed out to sea.

On October 31, 2019, Nikolas surfaced in Port Charles very much alive. He had been fished out of the sea and nursed back to health. Nikolas had also learned that Helena had persuaded Mikkos to write a codicil to his will that would return everything to Nikolas if Valentin should make a play for the Cassadine estate. Nikolas enlisted Jax and Hayden's help to find the codicil. Jax and Hayden agreed, but they did it for Spencer not for Nikolas. As Jax and Hayden closed in on the codicil, Valentin caught on. He offered Hayden a considerable fortune for information, but Nikolas overheard the exchange. Nikolas arranged for a henchman to make a grab for Hayden to make it appear that Valentin had sent someone to kill her. Nikolas "rescued" Hayden from the "attempted abduction" then persuaded her to leave her young daughter behind and go into hiding until Nikolas could reclaim his rightful place as the head of the Cassadine family.

Jax was furious when Nikolas told him, and he decided that he was through helping Nikolas. Jax had grown increasingly frustrated because Nikolas had helped one of Valentin's enemies escape justice and he had made Carly Corinthos complicit to the secret that Nikolas was alive. Nikolas was unapologetic because he believed that it had been the only way to protect his family from Valentin. Nikolas also paid a nurse to give Ava a powerful sedative, so he could take advantage of Ava's fragile emotional state, while he questioned her about a painting of Helena that held clues to the location of the codicil. Posing as the "ghost of Nikolas," he cruelly told Ava that her murdered daughter would continue to wallow in hell unless Ava revealed the location of Helena's portrait.

However, Nikolas made a mistake. He had dropped his ring with the Cassadine crest in Ava's room at the sanitarium. Once Ava saw proof that her vision of Nikolas had been real, she decided to set a trap. Ava checked herself out of Shadybrook then held a special Friday the 13th auction to sell the painting of Helena. Jax had told Laura about the codicil, and she was determined to find it for Spencer's sake. Laura outbid Valentin for the painting, but as soon as the auction ended, the painting went up in flames. Nikolas was furious as he watched the auction through a live feed in the gallery.

On December 17, Nikolas entered Ava's gallery to confront her. Ava had been expecting him. She welcomed him to the gallery as she pointed a loaded gun at him. Ava confronted Nikolas about his being alive and demanded to know where he had been for the past three years. Nikolas explained that he had been pulled out of the water by a yacht crew and had recuperated in Athens. He revealed that he had learned there about a codicil that Mikkos had left, which would return the entire Cassadine estate to him while disinheriting Valentin. Ava revealed to Nikolas that she had the codicil and said she would give him the codicil because she wanted Spencer to get back everything that was rightfully his. On January 3, 2020 (New Year's Eve on the show), Nikolas rescued Ava from the water after Valentin had pushed her off the parapet during a disagreement. Nikolas busted down the door to the living room and crashed Valentin and Nina Reeves's wedding. Everyone was shocked that Nikolas was alive. Laura and Lulu hugged Nikolas and shed tears of joy, but Nikolas was focused on confronting Valentin. Nikolas revealed that he had the codicil and that Valentin was not the rightful Cassadine heir. Valentin scoffed and said the codicil was fake and that he was the rightful heir, but Nikolas dropped the bombshell that Valentin was not Mikkos' son. According to Nikolas, Valentin was Helena's son with a secret lover, which meant that Valentin was not a Cassadine.

Nikolas explained that Mikkos had made the codicil to make certain Valentin never inherited the Cassadine estate and fortune. Later, Nikolas told Laura, Lulu, and Kevin that after he had fully recovered from his gunshot wound, he had planned to disinherit Valentin and tdestroy his cousin with Mikkos' codicil, Laura slapped Nikolas because he had not returned home sooner, and for putting Spencer through unnecessary grief which had led to Spencer trying in vain to avenge his father's "death." Nikolas regretted his actions but said that while he hated what he'd put his family through, he'd done so for Spencer. Ava walked in and revealed that she and Nikolas were set to get married that very night.

To everyone's shock and dismay, Nikolas and Ava were officially married at Wyndemere. The next morning, Nikolas briefly confronted Ava with a gun and demanded the codicil, but Ava demanded a post-nuptial agreement in exchange for the codicil. Nikolas agreed to her terms. On January 10, Nikolas reunited with Elizabeth, and he told her that he had spent the past three years in Europe and that he was strategizing ways to take Valentin down. Elizabeth was shocked to learn that Nikolas had married Ava and that he had been back in Port Charles since September. Elizabeth was upset that her best friend hadn't contacted anyone during the four months since his return to Port Charles, but she understood that he was trying to neutralize a dangerous Valentin. She told Nikolas that Hayden had a baby girl named Violet and that she can could return home since Valentin was no longer a threat. Nikolas promised to do everything he could to bring Hayden home, despite leaving out the fact that he caused Hayden to leave town for her own protection.

On January 20, Nikolas and Ava visited Spencer in France and when Nikolas revealed himself to be alive, he and Spencer shared a heartfelt hug. When Spencer asked where Nikolas had been, Nikolas revealed he'd been away plotting revenge on Valentin. Spencer grew angry that Nikolas had willingly stayed away. Nikolas said he hated every second of being away from Spencer but Nikolas had been desperate to find the codicil to take Valentin down. However, the damage was done, and the rift between father and son only grew when Spencer learned about Nikolas' marriage to Ava. Spencer blamed Ava for not helping him take down Valentin when they believed Valentin had killed Nikolas.

A heartbroken Nikolas went back to Port Charles with Ava. On the way home, Nikolas signed Ava's post-nuptial agreement, and they agreed to not cheat on each other despite having no desire to be together.

On January 30, Dr. Hamilton Finn confronted Nikolas about orchestrating Hayden's disappearance and leaving Finn and Hayden's daughter Violet behind. When Jax told Elizabeth that Nikolas had been responsible for Hayden's disappearance, she demanded that he find Hayden and bring her home.

After Laura was shot, Nikolas visited his mom at the hospital, and he poured his heart out to an unconscious Laura. He confessed to feeling guilty for having stayed away from his family, and for allowing everyone grieve for three years. Nikolas said that without forgiveness, he had no hope. Laura woke up, and she told Nikolas that she would always love him, and that she forgave him.

On May 4, Nikolas got a letter from Spencer that contained an ultimatum -- Spencer would allow Nikolas back into his life if Nikolas divorced Ava. Nikolas told Ava, who thought it was good news, but she stood by the post-nuptial agreement, which led to an argument. After Nikolas talked to Laura and Kevin, Nikolas called Spencer to give him his answer.

On August 13, it was revealed that Nikolas and Spencer had been working together to make Ava feel so guilty that she would divorce Nikolas without taking any of the Cassadine fortune. On August 17, Nikolas and Spencer's scheme backfired when Ava overheard Lulu and Dustin Phillips talking about Nikolas and Spencer's scheme..

On September 15, Nikolas followed Ava to Sonny Corinthos's cabin where she and her daughter Avery were staying. When Nikolas sneaked in, Ava hit Nikolas in the back of the head with a fire poker. Nikolas and Ava had another argument but the two ended up reconciling and sleeping together.

A week later, Nikolas went to the pier after he had received a text from someone anonymous who had sent him a photo of Nikolas and Elizabeth kissing. The blackmailer was revealed to be Scott Baldwin, demanding to be paid $125, 000. Unbeknownst to Nikolas, Scott had also blackmailed Ava for the same amount of money since he knew that Ava had kissed Franco Baldwin while Nikolas had kissed Elizabeth. In truth, Franco and Elizabeth had been behind everything to payback Nikolas and Ava for having manipulated Franco and Elizabeth in the emotional games that Nikolas and Ava had played with each other.

On October 1, Ava received a collect call from serial killer Ryan Chamberlain at Pentonville. When Nikolas and Julian Jerome learned that Ava had been talking to Ryan, Nikolas tried to take the phone. Instead, Ryan blackmailed Ava into paying him a visit at Pentonville, and he threatened her with consequences if she refused to visit him. After the call ended, Nikolas and Julian pleaded with Ava not to see Ryan. After Julian left, Nikolas reminded Ava how sick and twisted Ryan was, and he told her the only way to beat Ryan was to not engage with his mind games. Ava snapped at Nikolas and she reminded him of the time he had gaslighted her and used Kiki's death against her. Nikolas said it had made him sick to think about what he'd done to Ava over Kiki. Ava apologized for having compared him to Ryan. Ava acknowledged that even on his worst day, Nikolas had never been anything like Ryan.

Later, while Ava visited Ryan, Nikolas stormed into the visiting area at Pentonville, which led to a heated argument with Ava. Nikolas was genuinely concerned for Ava and didn't want to leave her in the visiting room with a psychopathic Ryan, but Ava promised Nikolas that she was fine. She eventually convinced Nikolas to let her finish her business with Ryan.

On Halloween (shown on October 29), Nikolas went to Charlie's Pub to talk to Julian. Nikolas offered to help Julian disappear and start a new life in order to help Ava. Nikolas correctly guessed that Ryan and Nelle Benson had gotten close in Pentonville and that Nelle had given Ryan incriminating leverage against Julian. Nikolas wasn't certain what it was that Julian did.

On November 4, Ryan was about to tell Sonny Corinthos what Julian had done, but he ended up stabbed in the back before he could. Ryan was taken to General Hospital and fell into a coma.

On November 18, while at Sonny's mansion, Sonny, Nikolas and Ava talked about Ryan's stabbing in Pentonville. Nikolas lied and claimed that he had been the one who'd arranged for Ryan to be stabbed. The real culprit had been Nelle, and it had been planned as a means for Ryan to escape.

On November 25, Lulu fell into a coma when she was injured during the explosion of the Floating Rib. Julian had planted the bomb under Cyrus Renault's orders in an effort to kill Jason Morgan. Dr. Portia Robinson informed Nikolas and his family that Lulu had survived brain surgery but that she was in a coma and might never wake up.

On November 30, Ava went to the hospital to support Nikolas and his family. Nikolas updated Ava on Lulu's condition. Ava comforted Nikolas, who told Ava that he would make arrangements to get Julian out of town. Ava told Nikolas that he had enough on his mind and to let her worry about her brother. On December 1, Nikolas said goodbye to Lulu before she was taken to a long-term care facility out of town.

On December 3, Nikolas found Ava on the parapet. He noticed that she was troubled, so she confessed that Julian had been responsible for having blown up the Floating Rib.. Nikolas believed Ava when she denied any involvement, but he grew angry that Ava had hidden Julian at Wyndemere. Ava admitted that she hadn't known the full extent of Julian's latest crime until it had been too late. Once she learned the full extent of Julian's involvement, Ava had returned to Wyndemere to kill Julian herself, but Julian had escaped by jumping off the parapet when Sonny and Jason arrived. Ava confessed that she had chosen Nikolas, prompting them both to admit that they were in love with each other.

Unfortunately, Nikolas and Ava's marriage continued to hit a few rough patches. In in early 2021, Ava began to receive ominous gifts from an anonymous sender. As the gifts grew increasingly threatening, they seemingly pointed to Ryan Chamberlain as the sender despite the fact that Ryan was reportedly suffering from locked-in syndrome In July, Spencer returned to Port Charles, and he was soon followed by his girlfriend Esme Prince. Tensions between Spencer and his father were at an all-time high, especially when Victor Cassadine was revealed to be alive in the fall of 2021. Victor dropped the bombshell that Valentin was Victor's son, and Valentin had been conceived during a brief affair between Victor and Helena. It was also revealed that Victor had been the one who had fished Nikolas out of the water when Valentin had shot Nikolas, and Victor had nursed Nikolas back to health and hidden his great-nephew in one of Victor's secret lairs.

Shortly afterwards, Spencer -- with help from Esme -- was exposed as Ava's stalker. Spencer had hoped to force Ava to divorce Nikolas by threatening to torment her until she had left Nikolas. Spencer took full responsibility for the crimes, he and went to jail. However, Victor arranged for Spencer to spend the few months Spencer had been sentenced to at Spring Ridge, a minimum security facility where Ryan Chamberlain was. Nikolas desperately tried to repair his relationship with Spencer, but Spencer refused to consider it until Nikolas divorced Ava. Nikolas stood by his wife's side, but their troubles were far from over. When Ava's protégé Trina Robinson was arrested for posting revenge porn on the Internet, Ava was certain Esme had been responsible for the deed.

Ava was right, but Nikolas not only defended Esme, he gave Esme a place to stay at Wyndemere. Furious, Ava moved out and refused to return until Nikolas had evicted Esme. Nikolas dug in his heels, and he began to fall under Esme's spell. By June 2022, Nikolas and Ava had reached a stalemate, and they were on the brink of divorce. Nikolas gave into temptation, and he slept with Esme unaware that Ava had decided to move back in and give their marriage another chance. Nikolas was elated that Ava was back at Wyndemere, but he was desperate for her not to find out about his tryst with Esme.

Esme used the situation to her advantage by blackmailing Nikolas to do her bidding. However, Esme's house of cards collapsed when a man that Esme had attempted to kill with an overdose, woke up from a coma, and testified that he had sold Esme -- not Trina -- the burner phone used to record the illicit video of Josslyn Jacks and Cameron Spencer's first intimate moments. Trina was cleared of wrongdoing, and Esme was forced to flee town. Unfortunately for Esme, Ava caught Esme at Wyndemere moments before Esme was able to make good on her escape. After a heated argument that led to a physical confrontation on the parapet, Esme stumbled backwards and fell. Nikolas arrived on the parapet in time to see Esme fall.

Nikolas searched the shores for Esme's body, but there had been no sign of her. Desperate to protect Ava, he covered up what happened, and everyone accepted that Esme was a fugitive of justice. Nikolas decided to come clean to Ava about the affair in the hopes that his honesty would show Ava that he was a changed man. It didn't. Ava was furious, and she vowed to end their marriage once and for all. Nikolas' troubles only mounted when Spencer learned of the affair. Even though Spencer no longer had romantic feelings for Esme, he was deeply hurt by his father's betrayal.

Shortly after Ava walked away from Nikolas, she was attacked by a hook-wielding killer. Ava barely survived the brush with death, but the horrific incident gave Nikolas an opportunity to prove he was a changed man. He wrote -- and recorded -- a full confession claiming to have pushed Esme off the parapet during an argument. Nikolas wanted to show Ava that he would do anything to protect her. Ava's anger began to wane, and even though she had moved in with Nina, Ava did not file for divorce.

In October 2022, Nikolas was surprised when he caught Esme breaking into his safe at Wyndemere, but the bigger shock was Esme's announcement that she was pregnant with their child. Esme happily showed him her pregnant belly to assure him that she wasn't lying about the baby. Nikolas warned Esme that she was wanted for questioning about framing Trina for the revenge porn, so Esme demanded that Nikolas hire the best attorney available to fight the charges. She didn't hesitate to use her unborn child as a bargaining chip. Nikolas agreed, and he took her to the castle's north tower on the pretext of providing her with a safe space until she could talk to an attorney.

It was a ruse. Once Esme was in the closed off wing, and safely in a suite of rooms, Nikolas informed Esme that she would remain imprisoned until he could decide what to do with her and the baby. Esme warned Nikolas it would be a mistake because her father knew she was in Port Charles, but Nikolas was certain she was bluffing. Nikolas was unaware that Esme was Ryan Chamberlain's daughter.

Meanwhile, Victor had learned about Nikolas' gesture of love to Ava, and Victor stole the written confession. Victor confronted Nikolas about the danger Nikolas had put himself into, and Victor demanded that Nikolas divorce Ava. Victor threatened to deal with Ava himself if Nikolas refused to comply.

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