Am I hiding behind my doubts?
Are they hiding behind me?
I’m closer to finding out
It doesn’t mean anything.
I remind myself of somebody else now
Feeling like I’m chasing
like I’m facing myself alone
I’ve got somebody else’s thoughts in my head
I want some of my own
– Somebody Else’s Song, Lifehouse
Cassadine Estate: Lab
Jake practically skipped into Andre’s lab and smiled broadly as he climbed up onto the examining table. “Hi, Dr. Maddox,” he said cheerfully. “Guess what?”
“Good morning, Jake.” Andre smiled over at his patient, but it was a bittersweet smile. In the last five months, he and the little boy had spent a great deal of time together as Andre had perfected the programming he’d been asked to create for him—along with Andre’s additions.
He and Kita hadn’t been able to have children, but Andre had wanted them. He’d looked forward to being a father, and he thought that these last few months might be the closest he’d ever come to being one.
Today, however, was Jake’s final visit. Andre had completed his work and would be performing a final act that would erase Jake’s memories of him. It was necessary, Helena had told him, since she planned to send Andre to Port Charles in a few months if Jason Morgan hadn’t regained his memories. Once Jake was sent home, Helena had plans for the boy and his family. She hadn’t cared about the man running around Port Charles calling himself Jake Doe, but she’d used him to run errands and commit crimes. Now, however, with his obedience chip removed, it was time for Helena to start the clock on whatever revenge she’d cooked up.
Andre only hoped he’d done enough to stop it from hurting Jake.
“Today is my birthday.” Jake’s grin deepened. “I’m seven.”
“I know. I saw the date in the chart.” Andre returned his smile. “Are you having a party?”
“No. Tana said Mrs. Cassadine was too busy, but she also said that maybe I was going home soon. Mrs. Cassadine is really close to finding my mother.” Jake practically vibrated with excitement. “Do you think my mom misses me? Why do you think she doesn’t know where I am?”
“I don’t know what your mother knows or what happened,” Andre said as he approached the child with the sensors to place at his temple. “Lay down. You know the drill.”
“I think maybe I just got lost, and maybe my mom is looking for me, too. And that’s why Mrs. Cassadine thinks she’s found her. I bet my mom misses me.”
“I’m sure she does.”
“I wonder if I have brothers or sisters. Or if I ever had a dad. I wish Mrs. Cassadine knew more about me.” Jake sighed and laid down, ready to let Andre start the procedure. “She said she found me wandering the island, but I don’t know Greek. So I’m not from here. She tried really hard, but the police didn’t know who I was either. So she took care of me. You think Tana will come with me?”
“Probably not,” Andre admitted as he returned to his work station. There wouldn’t be any place for a Greek governess. “Has she been with you long?”
“Oh, yeah, for a really long time,” Jake said. “She was always here. And Mrs. Cassadine’s family is always nice when they visit.”
Andre frowned. “I didn’t realize you’d visited with her family.” He wished Helena had told him more about Jake’s time on the island. It was so hard to pinpoint which memories he needed to suppress.
He wasn’t going to erase a single minute from this child’s memory—only shove it down for as long as possible. One day, when Helena’s plans had been foiled, Andre hoped that Jake would remember him. Or remember his time on the island. He’d been happy here. And maybe one day, his mother would want to know that he’d remembered her all along. Would that comfort the mysterious Elizabeth Webber?
“I met her son. The creepy one,” Jake clarified. “There are two creepy ones, but one of them looks mean, and the other one is just really stuffy.” He shrugged. “And her grandson. But he only came once.”
Andre frowned. He’d only met Valentin—who—
“The stuffy one went away, though. That happens a lot,” Jake said sadly. “There was a tutor I had before, but he went away after he tried to help me find my mom. I had a second nanny once. But she left, too. I thought she’d found my mom, but I guess not.” Jake was troubled now. “That’s weird, isn’t it, Dr. Maddox?”
“What is?” Andre asked gently.
“Lots of people wanted to help me get home, but then they left me. I wonder why.” Jake closed his eyes. “Are we almost done?”
“Almost. You’ll feel sleepy, and then when you wake up—” Andre hesitated. “You’ll feel better when you wake up.”
And he would remember nearly nothing about anyone he’d met over the last four years. He’d only remember Helena.
“God help us all if this doesn’t work,” Andre murmured, and pressed the button.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Greystone Manor: Driveway
Joss waved at the guard at the gate who let Jason through. “Thanks again for the ride home,” she told him, popping her gum, “but, like, you should know that you are not going to be very popular with my mother when we get inside.”
Jason winced, glancing at the blonde teenager in his passenger seat. “Because I didn’t take her to the PCPD?”
“Yup. I mean, I know what you were doing, and, like, totally the right call, you know, but—” she shrugged. “Thwarting Carly is never a good idea. This can only lead to tears.” She frowned when he didn’t say anything. “You never saw Anastasia, did you? That’s, like, a reference—” She huffed. “Man, I forgot you don’t do pop culture.”
“Why do you call your mom by her first name sometimes?” Jason asked, ignoring the pop culture complaint. “That’s the third time I’ve heard you do that.”
“Oh, well, it helps me keep her in perspective, you know? Like — Mom is my mom. She’s the person that I can go to with problems and stuff. The woman who raised me and all that,” Joss said as Jason parked the car behind one of Sonny’s cars. She pushed open the door, waiting to continue until Jason came around to her side of the SUV. “Carly is a production. An event. The hurricane. And sometimes—” Joss folded her arms, stared at the ground, and kicked at a piece of gravel. “She’s not really the same woman. It helps to keep them separate. Does that sound stupid?”
“No,” Jason admitted. “That’s…actually the way I’ve been able to stay friends with her for so long.” Joss raised her head, her eyes widened. “Because your mom is my friend, but sometimes—yeah, Carly isn’t always fun to be around.”
Relieved, Joss nodded. “So you get it. Cool. You won’t, like, snitch on me?”
“No. But you’re about to miss curfew, so—”
“Frick on a stick,” Joss muttered and hurried inside. She flashed a bright smile at Max, who opened the door. “I made it!” she declared.
“You’re thirty seconds late and you know how your mom gets,” the guard said dryly. “She’s in the living room. Hey, Jase.” Max paused. “Uh, you are Jason, right?”
“Yeah, Max. We got the results back,” Jason said. “Sonny in there, too?”
“Ah, no. Mr. C went over to the restaurant for a few hours.” He glanced at the double doors where Joss had disappeared. “He and Mrs. C had some words earlier, and he left.”
Jason made a face, then nodded. “Thanks.” He looked at the entry to the living room and decided to just get it over with.
“You can’t just decide you’re going to break curfew without permission,” Carly was saying when he came in while Joss muttered something about thirty lousy seconds. She huffed, then met Jason’s eyes. “And I am mad at you,” she snapped.
“Of course you are,” Joss said dramatically. “He just found out he has a secret twin brother who was magically implanted with all of his memories and living his life, raising his kids—oh and the evil doctor behind it all also tried to screw with Jake— but, hey, let’s make this about you.”
Carly’s mouth dropped as she stared at her daughter. “Excuse me?” She looked at Jason again. “What’s going on?”
“Actually—” Grateful to the teenager whose eyes were sparkling with mischief. “It’s pretty much what Joss said. “I’m Jason, he’s Drew Cain. Andre Maddox did something he calls mapping to take my memories and put them into Drew’s brain. He wanted to do the reverse to me, but the brain damage from the accident meant he couldn’t. He worked for Victor, who was also working with Helena, and he put some sort of trigger in Jake to make the Nurse’s Ball happen.”
“So you’re up to speed now. I’m going to go find Sonny.”
But Jason had already walked out, leaving Carly watching him with stunned hurt while Joss fought the urge to cackle behind her. She almost never got to be around for the good stuff.
Thursday, November 2, 2017
General Hospital: Nurse’s Hub
“I’m so sorry I missed your cake last night.”
Elizabeth looked up, frowning at her former mother-in-law and the hospital administrator, Laura Spencer. “Oh—that’s okay. I ended running out after we ate.” She hesitated. “I went to the PCPD with Jason. You heard about Andre—”
“I did.” Laura folded her arms over the folders she held against her chest. “I saw his hasty resignation letter, and Robert paid me a visit last night to make sure I knew who was working at the hospital.” She shook her head. “We trusted him with Jake. That’s the most upsetting part of all of this. It’s terrible what happened to Jason and Drew, but Jake—”
“I took my son to Andre to help him, and he was the reason Jake was going through any of it in the first place.” Elizabeth made a face. “And now I have to find a way to tell Jake that his friend, that the man he trusted was the bad guy.” She paused. “I thought about not telling him, but—”
“It happened to him, and he’s been through enough. He deserves the truth,” Laura finished with a nod. “I agree. Luke and I might not have done everything right, but we tried to be honest with Lucky when we needed to be about things that put him in danger. Speaking of our ex-husbands,” she added, smiling grimly when Elizabeth made a face, “Luke called me as well. Sonny asked him and Lucky to try to track down Faison.”
“Oh, yeah, that was my idea.” Elizabeth signed a chart and set it aside. “Jason’s trying to find out if Faison was only working for Victor. If we can be sure that Victor and Helena were behind everything—if Andre was just tying up loose ends, this could be over—” She bit her lip.
“But you don’t think that,” Laura pressed gently.
“Honestly, I think every third word out of his mouth was a lie or a half-truth. It would be great if Helena and Victor were the bad guys,” Elizabeth admitted, “but it doesn’t explain why Andre showed up after we knew Helena was dead. Or who sent the men after Jason when he escaped from Russia.” She waited. “And there’s the fact that Nikolas told me Jake Doe was Jason.”
“Now you’re wondering what Helena knew and what she told Nikolas.” Laura closed her eyes.
“I just—he was so far from the man I knew—from the friend that I had counted on for so long,” Elizabeth continued. “What happened with ELQ—and Hayden—I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around any of it. I don’t know why Helena would lie to Nikolas or why he’d lie to me. And if that wasn’t bad enough, there is one Cassadine left who could be responsible for taking over after Helena died.”
Laura’s lips thinned as she pressed them together. “Valentin. I want him to pay for what happened to Nikolas. If you need anything—anything,” she stressed. “Please promise that you’ll come to me. Valentin is a dangerous man, and I can’t bear for him to get away with one more crime.”
“I will,” Elizabeth promised, flashing Felix a smile as he stepped up into the hub, and Laura walked away towards the elevator.
“Everything okay?” Felix asked as he traded one chart for another.
“Yeah, Laura and I were just catching up—” Elizabeth frowned when she saw Felix’s face go still. She turned toward to follow his gaze, grimacing as she recognized Franco by the elevators. Staring at her. After a moment, he turned and walked away.
“It would be great,” Felix said, “if he wasn’t so damn creepy.”
“You watch your back, Elizabeth,” he cautioned her. “Because that man isn’t going down without a fight.”
Davis House: Living Room
Sam frowned when she found her sister lying on her back on the sofa, her phone in her hands. “Where’s Mom?”
Kristina didn’t look away from the screen. “I think she went into work today or something. She said something about needing to deal with paperwork.”
“Oh.” Oddly disappointed, Sam sat on the edge of the armchair. “Why aren’t you in class?”
“Canceled today. Prof had a conference in Rochester, so we gotta write a paper.” Kristina sat up, tossed her phone on the table. “I can’t wait to be done with this semester. One more month. You know, I was thinking — now that you own a huge media corporation, you should just, like, hire me.”
Sam raised her brows. “You hated it when Sonny pulled strings for you—”
Kristina shrugged. “Yeah, well, I also hate business school, but if I just drop out without a plan, Mom will, like, totally set me on fire.” She folded her legs, then wiggled her eyebrows at her sister. “So, how’s it going?”
“Is that supposed to be funny?” Sam asked darkly.
“No, it’s a legit question with a snarky tone of phrase. You and, uh, Drew sticking together? Or are you gonna throw your hat into the Jason ring again?”
“Why does everyone think I’m going to leave my husband?” Sam demanded. “And don’t say Patrick—”
“Okay, well, there’s also the fact that you trash every relationship eventually to be with Jason. I mean, you and Lucky were solid—”
“He was still in love with his wife—”
“Well, that is the danger of seducing a married man,” Kristina said prosaically. “Sometimes they’re screwing you for nefarious reasons—” Ignoring her sister’s growl, Kristina continued, “and you can’t discount Patrick. You didn’t even like Jake Doe before you found out who he was supposed to be. Any time you think you have a chance at Jason, you take off running to him. So, I mean, what are people to think?”
“They’re supposed to think that I’m not who I was twelve years ago,” Sam said, darkly. “Or that I’ve learned my lesson. I married Jason—” She closed her eyes, took a deep breath. “I married Drew. I married the man. Yes, I thought we had a history together, and maybe, I don’t know—if we had found this out a year ago—I don’t know. I think maybe it would be harder. But he’s Scout’s father, and he loves Danny. He’s a good man, and he deserves my support.”
“Maybe,” Kristina said, “and, like, great for all that, but, you know, Jason isn’t gonna wait around for you to figure this out. You pick Drew now, you’re gonna have to live with that.” She picked up her phone and started to flick through it again. “I heard from Joss that Elizabeth Webber broke up with Franco, so you know—”
“I’m so glad we had this conversation,” Sam retorted, getting to her feet. “Drew’s pissed at me because maybe part of me knew the truth, and it was hard for me, and Mom’s looking at me like I’m crazy, and you don’t seem to respect me—”
“I love you, Sam,” Kristina told her quietly. “I have no room to talk, and I barely have it together, so, like, what’s my opinion worth, you know? I just—I’ve watched you for a long time. I’ve watched you screw up and hurt yourself. Hurt others. And, like, I get it. Drew’s a good guy. I like him. But you’re addicted to danger. Absolutely addicted. And it turns out Drew’s a good guy who wants to run a media company. He’s never gonna give you the high you want. So if you pick him now, really pick him. You don’t get a do-over on this.”
“You,” Sam said carefully, “don’t know what you’re talking about. You said it yourself—you’re a mess who can barely keep it together. You’re not better than me, Krissy—”
“No, but at least I’m not approaching middle age still trying to figure out who the hell I am!” Kristina called after her, but Sam had already slammed the front door before she finished her taunt.
Quartermaine Mansion: Foyer
“Oh, I wish I could stay to talk,” Monica complained as she let Jason in. “I have a board meeting—”
“It’s fine,” Jason told her. “We can catch up later.” He paused. “Michael told you the results came back?”
“Yes,” Monica said with a nod, “and I’m glad it was sorted out so quickly. We’ll have to reach out to Drew and Oscar, but—” She grimaced. “I really do have to go—”
“It’s okay,” Jason told her.
“Call me,” Monica said, buttoning her coat. “We’ll talk—” When his mother left, Jason went to meet Michael in the office, his shoulders itching as he walked into a room he had stayed away from when he’d lived in the mansion. This room reminded him of Edward and the angry disappointment of his grandfather.
He’d wanted Edward out of his life and shoved him out—but now Jason thought he might not mind one more run-in with the old man.
“Hey.” Michael grinned as he got to his feet. “Sorry—I was swamped and couldn’t get away from work.” He gestured at the paperwork on his desk. “Contracts. And I’m trying to get our corporate lawyer to work on ELQ shares now that you’re back and Drew is also a blood relative. Not to mention Oscar—” He dragged a hand through his sandy blond hair. “Not that Drew is ready for that, but I wanted—” He stopped, stared at Jason. “Why are you smiling? What’s funny?”
“Nothing. I just—” Jason sat down and Michael returned to the desk. “I never pictured you doing this, but you look happy. It’s what you want?”
“It is,” Michael said, carefully. “And it made sense with Ned in New York and Aunt Tracy retiring to London. It wasn’t easy, but I’m where I want to be.” He tapped a pencil against the desk. “Spinelli still coming today?”
“Supposed to be here this afternoon. Said something kept him in Portland,” Jason added. He paused. “Have you talked to your mother yet?”
“Yeah, I got an angry voice mail last night, and then a crying one this morning.” Michael tipped his head. “She can’t decide if she’s angry at you or at herself, but you know Mom. She’ll come back to being angry at someone else entirely before it’s done.”
Jason did know that, and it was part of the reason he was here. He didn’t need Carly running around, feeling hurt and betrayed because she wasn’t included in every part of his life. “I can’t go back in time and change what I did,” he said. “And I wouldn’t. I just wanted answers last night. And once I knew that Andre Maddox had been arrested—I knew Elizabeth would—” He stopped, shook his head. That wasn’t how it had happened, and Jason didn’t know why he was telling Michael this. He hadn’t known Andre was being arrested when he asked Elizabeth to go with him. He’d just known he wanted her there, not Carly.
But once Jordan had told him that Andre had been arrested, Jason knew it was a good idea to take Elizabeth and leave Carly and Sonny at home.
“You knew that Mom would make a scene, go after Andre, and make it about her. Dad might have been okay, but you couldn’t take him without her.” Michael raised his brows. “And Elizabeth was invested because of Andre and she’s good at doing the moral support thing. You don’t have to sugar coat it with me, Jase. I know—” A strange shadow crossed his face as he took a deep breath. “I know how level-headed she can be in a crisis. And the last thing you need is Mom pulling her Carly tricks—”
He paused. “The thing is,” Michael continued, “that this has been a bad year. I mean—insanely bad,” he added. “I’m not trying to make excuses for her. There’s usually not an excuse for Mom. Believe me. But it’s barely been a year since Morgan—” He leaned back in his chair. “Has Mom talked to you about Nelle?”
“Your girlfriend?” Jason shrugged, shook his head. “No. I know she doesn’t like her, but I wouldn’t expect her to like anyone you were dating.”
Michael’s smile was brief, but humorless. “Well, yeah, but with Nelle, she’s got good reason. Nelle is Mom’s….you know Frank Benson? Her adopted father?” When Jason nodded, Michael continued, “After he left Carly’s mom, Virginia, he had another daughter. Nelle. And it was Nelle’s kidney that saved Joss.”
“Nelle’s—” Jason hesitated. “I didn’t—with Jake being alive, of course—I didn’t even—” He scrubbed a hand down his face. “How did that—”
“Jax bought her kidney on the black market. Nelle was just a kid. She came looking for Mom, and…well, she might not be related to Mom, but I guess revenge grows in the Benson family anyway.” Michael twirled a pen in his hand, staring at it. “She, ah, tried to ruin Mom’s life by going after Dad. You know, pulling one of Mom’s old tricks.”
Jason stared at him, then frowned. There had been so much information in that sentence—how had Jax known about Joss needing a kidney from the black market? And he had the feeling that, once again, Jason was only getting half the story with this Nelle person. “And you’re dating her?”
“I am. Because I saw who she really is,” he said. “You know, how you forgave Mom for all the crap she’s pulled over the years? Sometimes people do insane things and lash out.”
“The point is that me dating Nelle, losing Morgan, and a few other things—Mom is just—she’s doing the best she can. But Jason—Drew—” Michael grimaced. “He was pulling away months ago, and he was never the kind of person Mom could depend on. She’s…had a rough time. It doesn’t make it right,” he repeated, “but I just thought—I don’t know—she’s gonna start crap with Elizabeth because since the Jake Doe stuff and finding out Jake didn’t donate the kidney—”
“She doesn’t feel as obligated to be nice,” Jason finished. “Michael, I’m not trying to hurt your mother. I just—”
“You need to handle all of this in a way that works for you,” Michael said with a nod “Yeah, I get that, Jase, and I’m here to help. Whatever you need. I’m glad you’re back. That you’re safe. That you get to know Jake. I don’t know Danny as well,” he continued, “Sam’s kind of kept him away from us, but I know Jake and his brothers really well thanks to Joss and Grandma bringing them around. He’s a great kid who’s been through hell. He deserves to have you in his life. Just like me and Morgan.”
“I wish I’d been here for Morgan,” Jason said, his throat tightening at the thought that the little boy that Carly and Sonny had named after him had died so violently.
“Me, too,” Michael murmured. He flashed his uncle a smile. “But you’re here now, and all we can do is move forward.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“Hey, man.” Curtis nodded at Drew as he closed the door behind him. He grinned at the little girl in the bouncy chair trying to scoot across the room. “Oh, man, every time I see you, kid—” Curtis knelt down, and Scout giggled, bouncing up and down. “She’s getting big.”
“Yeah.” Drew sighed. “I’m sorry I should have called—I shouldn’t have left like that. I guess I don’t really know what I’m doing yet—”
“You’ve been smacked down hard, man. You gotta get back up however works for you.” Curtis straightened, then held out a folder. “Didn’t know if you’d want this now, but it’s the background you wanted on Andrew Cain.”
“On me.” Drew took the folder, stared at it, then over at the little girl with the dark eyes and dark curls. His little girl. He walked over to the desk, set the folder down, then flipped it open, finding the same photo Alexis had shown him a few days ago.
“Distinguished career,” Curtis said. “Lots of medals and honor. And those Navy Seal skills—explains how you were able to live the Morgan life. And why you didn’t really fit into the crime part of it.”
“Maybe—” Drew picked up a photocopy of a marriage license. Andrew Cain had married Cara Sanders on June 12, 2000, in Rochester, New York. Beneath the license lay a photograph of a couple in wedding gear — Drew in the uniform again, and the woman — a beautiful brunette with light blue eyes and pale skin — staring into each other’s eyes. “Oscar’s mother?”
“Yeah. Born here in Rochester, abandoned as an infant. She had some medical issues that kept her from being adopted. Andrew Cain showed up as a two-year-old abandoned a firehouse,” Curtis continued. Drew looked at him sharply.
“Was that—was that my name at birth—”
“Andrew? Yeah. Copy of a birth certificate was dumped — had the right birth date — September 19, 1974 — but a bogus father. Susan Moore is listed as the mother and Scott Maine as the father. I figure—”
“Combination of Scott Baldwin and Alan Quartermaine. She was married to Scott when she was murdered,” Drew said faintly. “Close enough to the truth if anyone was looking for it—”
“I got curious,” Curtis interrupted. “Because I remember you telling me the story about Franco being the twin brother, and I wondered what the plan was. How did you end up in Rochester? How was he involved? Why did Heather give his name? And you were born in New York City—so I did a search—”
He took out another folder from his bag and handed it over to Drew. “I did a deep background on Susan Moore — and found the birth certificates registered in New York on September 20, 1974, the day after you were born. Jason and Andrew Moore. There’s a box on the long-form certificates—single, twin, or triplet. Both are marked as twin.” He paused. “Susan Moore had both of you long enough to name you. She put herself on the birth certificate — but the father was left blank.”
“But that’s proof she knew there were two of us.” Drew frowned. “I don’t get it. She went to a lot of trouble to get a million-dollar trust for me—” He squeezed his eyes shut. “For Jason. If there had been two—”
“She’d have taken the Quartermaines for double. So why didn’t Susan bring you home with her?” Curtis lifted his brows. “It’s a shame that she’s not around to ask, but you know there are a couple of people who knew her. And only one of them is psychotic.” He paused. “Well, I guess that depends on how you feel about Scott Baldwin.”
“I know,” Elizabeth told her youngest son as they trudged towards the diner, “I know she’s a pain, Aiden, but if you’re going to call her names, you need to do it where the teacher can’t hear you.”
“Why am I not surprised that the Maternal’s One advice is so practical?”
Elizabeth turned and grinned at the lanky younger man as Damien Spinelli entered the courtyard from the opposite side, a little girl with curly blonde hair clutching at his hand. “Spinelli! Hey!”
“It’s good to see you.” Spinelli embraced her and kissed her cheek before giving Aiden a high-five. “Where’s the rest of the crew?” His eyes fastened on hers. “Has Little Stone Cold met his namesake?”
“He has,” Elizabeth said, smiling brightly. “It’s been hard, but I think it’s going okay. And look at you, Georgie! How grown up you are!”
“Mommy’s got a baby in her tummy,” Georgie said before ducking behind her father’s pant leg.
“Oh, man, uh, that is not public information—” Spinelli winced. “Maximista is not telling people that yet—”
“I’ll keep my lips zipped,” Elizabeth promised. “What are you doing at Kelly’s? I thought you’d be glued to Jason’s side—”
“Ah, I’m meeting Stone—” Spinelli stopped as he stared straight, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “Stone Cold,” he finished in a quiet voice. Elizabeth turned to find Jason standing in the slightly open doorway. “It’s—” He couldn’t finish.
“Daddy?” Georgie said, tugging on his hand. “You ‘kay?”
“I am beyond magnificent,” Spinelli told his daughter before grinning, releasing Georgie’s hand and hurtling himself across the courtyard like the twenty-year-old slacker he’d been once. Jason grunted as Spinelli threw himself into his arms.
“Daddy’s happy,” Georgie told Aiden. “He was very bouncy at home.”
“It’s good to see you,” Jason said, drawing Spinelli back slightly, then fully stepping into the courtyard, letting the door close. “Thank you for coming.”
“Wild horses couldn’t keep me away,” Spinelli told him, his voice thick. “I thought you were back—and I’m sorry I married your wife to your brother, my bad—but you weren’t back, and I can see it now, I don’t know why I didn’t before—and I looked, and I looked—I looked so hard for you—” He turned to Elizabeth. “Didn’t I?”
“For days,” Elizabeth said softly. “He was diving in the harbor long after the rest of the world had given up.”
“But you weren’t there to find, and I’m so glad. It kept me up thinking of you like that—” Spinelli took a deep breath. “You’re here. My Yoda is home, and you’ve come to me, the Jackal, for assistance—” He blinked, then turned to put a hand out. “My daughter. Georgie, come meet Daddy’s best friend in the entire world. He saved my life.”
“Spinelli—” Jason began, but Spinelli picked Georgie up and shoved the little girl at him. “Uh, hey.”
“I’m Georgiana,” Georgie said. “Mommy named for my aunt who is in heaven. Do you know anyone in heaven? Daddy says it’s nice and that Aunt Georgie is happy.”
“I know a few people,” Jason said. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Jason.”
“I know. Daddy talks about you a lot. My middle name is Morgan. Did you know that? Georgiana Morgan Spinelli.”
“That is…” Jason paused. “A lot of name for someone so little.”
“Daddy says I’ll grow into it,” she said confidently as Jason set her on her feet. “Ellie says my mouth already did, but Mommy thinks I’m perfect just the way I am.”
“You remind me of your father,” Jason said dryly.
“Why don’t I take Georgie inside for a milkshake?” Elizabeth suggested. “Aiden and I were picking up dinner for everyone back home, and you two definitely need to catch up.”
“Oh—” Spinelli nodded. “Yeah, that would be great.”
“Thanks,” Jason told Elizabeth. “Hey, Aiden.”
“Hey,” Aiden said glumly. “I got in trouble again at school,” he told Jason. “Did you know that even if someone calls you names, it doesn’t count because the teacher only hears you?”
“Charlotte said I was a bastard, so I called her a brat—” Aiden looked at Spinelli and Georgie as if looking for some extra support. “I think she was worse, but Miss Tate says she didn’t hear it and I should have came to her. But I did that last time, and nothing.” He kicked the ground. “I coulda used one of the words Cam does, but—”
“Let’s go inside and discuss new ways to deal with your cousin,” Elizabeth said hastily. “Georgie? What kind of flavor of milkshake do you want?”
“Oh, I like all flavors—” The doors closed as the three of them went into Kelly’s, cutting off Georgie’s answer.
Spinelli wrinkled his nose after them. “That Charlotte kid—Maxie has the worst stories to share—” He shook his head, then focused on Jason. “It’s really you.”
“It’s me.” Jason shoved his hands into his pockets. “I need your help,” he said. “No one follows the money like you do.”
“Well, then,” Spinelli drew up his shoulders and grinned wildly. “The Jackal is reporting for duty.”