There’s another world inside of me
That you may never see
There’s secrets in this life that I can’t hide
And somewhere in this darkness
There’s a light that I can’t find
Or maybe it’s too far away, yeah
Or maybe I’m just blind
– When I’m Gone, 3 Doors Down
Thursday, May 1, 2004
Lexington Avenue: Street
Claudia pulled the car into the garage. She waited until the door had closed behind her before removing her sunglasses and turning to her backseat and grinning. “It really should have been harder to sneak a dead man into Port Charles.”
Ric straightened, running his fingers through his disheveled hair with a grimace. “A few more weeks, and I won’t have to do this anymore,” he muttered. He shoved open the door. “This guard better be better than the last one you turned—”
“Hey, don’t knock Cody Paul,” Claudia retorted. “I called it from the beginning. He was only with us for a reason. I told Daddy that he wasn’t committed to our end game, but he thought it was worth a shot. We got what we wanted—”
“We wanted Jason to go after your father and eliminate him,” Ric retorted. He slammed the car door. “Then your idiot brother would be in charge and hand things over to you, and we’d go in for the kill.”
“Who knew the stupid wife would almost die?” Claudia muttered. They moved into the house and she dumped her purse on the kitchen counter. “If she hadn’t ended up in the hospital, Morgan would have gone nuclear. Bad timing.” She leaned against the counter. “But this guy—Richie—he’s the real deal. He was already pissed off when Cody Paul got promoted last summer. Thought it should have been him. And then Morgan pulls Richie just days after he finally gets the nod.” Claudia shrugged. “Just Morgan’s bad luck that Richie can be bought.”
Ric folded his arms. “So he’s on Carly’s club. That can work for us. Thanks to your brother, we know Jason’s agitated. We know he got the bear, took it home, and brought it back—he’s looking for a reason to go after Anthony.”
“Exactly. We roll with the plan, and he’ll head off to deal with my father personally. Then—” Claudia smirked. “He gets rid of my father just like we planned. A few months late, but better than never.” She paused. “I get what I want from this — everyone knows John isn’t cut out for this, but what makes you think you’ll be able to get close to the wife and kid?”
“You leave that up to me,” Ric retorted. “She’s not your problem anymore.”
“Whatever. Just as long your bullshit doesn’t get in my way.” Claudia’s eyes flashed. “I’m too close to what I want to let your revenge screw me over.”
He grabbed her elbow as she started to pass him and yanked her towards him. “Don’t cross me, Claudia. I can end all of this with one phone call. Morgan might want me dead, but he has no problem eliminating women who put Elizabeth in danger. He finds out you’re actually behind all of this? You’ll be rotting next to Faith Roscoe.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Jason rocked Cameron in his arms. “Didn’t I give you power of attorney?” he asked Justus, shifting Cameron to his other shoulder.
“Yeah, yeah, but this isn’t the normal problem.” Justus leaned against the desk. “I think our supply chain is getting screwed with. We’re having shipping issues out of Philly.”
Jason grimaced. “Not Tagliatti again—”
“No, this is coming from Joe Ligambi,” Bernie told him. “He’s still trying to consolidate things after Merlino went inside in ’01.” He sighed. “And he’s not exactly happy about the contract Sonny and Merlino had—he wanted a bigger take—”
“It came up while you were at the lake,” Justus continued. “But we put it away, and I thought Joe sucked it up and let it go, but two of the last three shipments that came through Philly were damaged by the time they got to us. We were able to make our buyers whole—”
“But it’s a pattern.” Jason sighed and went over to set Cameron in the bassinet by the fireplace. He checked his son’s temperature, then turned his full attention to Justus and Bernie. “I wasn’t here when Sonny negotiated with Merlino.” And he barely knew the Philly crime scene. “You know Philly better than I do, Justus. What’s the story?”
“Joe’s trying to do the Sonny Corinthos makeover,” Justus said dryly. “Trying to make the family seem less trigger happy. That’s the crap that got Merlino and Natale in trouble. Every time they offed one of their rivals, it just made the police look at them harder. Joe just wants to look tough, and it’s easy to practice on us right now.”
Jason hated that thought, but he knew that Justus had a point. They’d weathered the internal storm after pushing Sonny out of the business, but it was going to be harder to shore up their reputation to everyone else. “I’m not interested in doing Joe any favors that make us look weaker. He needs us more than we need him. Pull our shipments from Philly and route them somewhere else.”
“He’s not going to like that,” Justus warned Jason as he scribbled something on a contract. “And our only other option is Baltimore. You in the mood to toss them business? They were part of the Lansing sightings.”
Jason exhaled slowly. “Nicky claimed that he’d been passed the intel by someone he trusted. We can probably swing a better deal in Baltimore than Philly because he wants to make good.” He didn’t want to let a single person who’d passed on false information about Ric Lansing to get away with it, but he had to be practical. Elizabeth and Cameron were safe and healthy. Sonny wasn’t a threat anymore. “Make the offer.”
“Got it.” Justus tossed the contract into his case, then started towards the door. He pulled it open only to reveal Sonny on the other side. Justus stepped back, and Bernie paused as he closed his own briefcase. “Sonny.”
“Hey, I was hoping you had a minute.” Sonny put his hand on the door frame. “I, uh, saw that the guard wasn’t on the door so I figured Elizabeth wasn’t here.”
“She had a doctor’s appointment,” Jason said. “I’ll talk to you both later,” he said to Justus and Bernie. The two of them filed past their former boss, keeping their eyes averted.
“I got a call from a friend in Philly.” Sonny closed the door and shoved his hands in the pockets of his pants. “You remember Stevie Mazzone?”
Jason tensed. “Why did he call you?” That shouldn’t be happening any more, and he’d make it clear to Mazzone.
“I guess to take our temperature on how you’re dealing with Joe’s, uh, offer.” Sonny rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m not trying to get involved, but you know, I got a lot of contacts still. I can be useful, Jason—”
“If I let you back in, even for information,” Jason said, “you won’t be satisfied, Sonny. I know you. You’ll tell yourself it’s just advice. Just a bit of help. But what happens when I don’t listen?”
Sonny’s jaw clenched. “You haven’t been in this game as long as I have—”
“That didn’t bother you when you dumped things on me and left Brenda at the altar.” Jason folded his arms. “I told you, Sonny. You have to be out. You wanna stay across the hall and in Port Charles, fine. But that’s it.”
“You don’t even wanna give me a chance? You know exactly how I’ll act?” Sonny demanded. “You’re just like everyone else—”
Jason exhaled slowly, tried to gather his patience. “I’m just being realistic. I can’t have people calling you and trying to get between us. I already got Joe’s offer. I don’t need to hear it from Stevie—and he has no business talking to you. That’s what got us into this mess—people not going through the channels—”
“You think everything has to be all neat and tidy?” Sonny demanded as Jason turned away from him to check Cameron again. “That’s not how this business works! It’s messy! People get hurt!”
“Which is why we don’t take the risks that aren’t necessary. Baltimore is weaker than Philly and they need us more. I never liked working out of Philly anyway.” The city and the business had been too violent, and it left a bad taste in Jason’s mouth. He was, in a lot of ways, relieved to be pulling out.
“One day, you’re gonna need me,” Sonny told him darkly. “I won’t be there, and you won’t have anyone to blame but yourself—”
“I did need you!” Jason retorted. “Last summer. I needed you to keep the cops off my back, but you decided to drink yourself into oblivion! Where were you when Elizabeth nearly overdosed and died? When she was getting drugged night after night to rescue your wife? Where were you when my family needed you?”
Sonny’s face lost its color. “I didn’t—I didn’t mean it that way—”
“I needed you to hear me when I told you that Elizabeth has a potentially fatal condition that could have killed her and our son at any minute. I needed you to not lock Carly in her room. Do you think I wanted to take over all of this at the same time my son was in the NICU?” Jason demanded. “Don’t tell me that I need you, Sonny. That’s the one thing I’ve learned this year. This business does not need you. I don’t need you. Don’t you come in here and demand to be included. You threw that away over and over again. Get out.”
Sonny stared at him, swallowing hard. “Jason—”
“The worst part of all of this?” Jason interrupted, his voice rough and tight. “I let you get away with the dark moods for years until it nearly cost me everything. So congratulations, Sonny. You were right. I needed you, you weren’t there, and it was my fault. Are you happy?”
“No.” Sonny took a deep breath. “No. I’ll go.” He fumbled for the door and left. Jason stared hard after him, then closed his eyes. He turned back to his son as Cameron started to fuss. He didn’t have the time or energy to deal with this. He couldn’t worry about Sonny anymore.
Buffalo, New York
Joyce House: Front Step
Angela knew why they were there. It was written in every line of her face, in the way her knuckles clutched at the door, curling around the edge. “She didn’t put it away,” she said softly, looking at the man standing just behind Taggert. “Did she, Scotty?”
Scott sighed and tipped his face to the sky for a long moment before focusing on his friend’s widow. “Did you really think she would, Angie?”
“No. No, I guess not.” Angela stepped back and let the two men into the house. “I blame myself,” she murmured. “I should have guarded my tongue better.” She folded her arms as they stood there in the entryway of the house. “It was the guilt. The way she sounded on the phone when I said I wouldn’t come to Port Charles after Lucky was shot, I had to go.”
“You’ve been running scared too long, Ang.” Scott put a hand on her elbow. “Let us try to dig you out.”
“It’s not possible,” Angelia murmured. “I should have paid closer attention when Ollie got that job with the Smiths. He was just happy to have something that paid well. He wanted the world for our little girl, so he stayed. He wanted the best schools, the best clothes—”
“Any father would,” Taggert said.
Angela shook her head. “I just—I believed him when he said he was just doing the legit side of the business, but—” She sighed, then rubbed the side of her face. “You know, he talked about quitting but there were always reasons to stay. He always found a reason. I think he liked it, but he was afraid to admit say so.”
“Liked what?” Taggert asked.
“Power,” Scott murmured, and Angela flashed him a grateful smile. “A powerless kid goes out and tries to get some of it for his own so no one can ever hurt him again.” He paused. “Ollie was a foster kid who scraped and crawled for everything he had. He didn’t want that for Kelsey, I know that. He’d have been proud as hell of her, Angie. Everything she’s done with her life.”
“It’s what gets me through it.” Angela hesitated. “I don’t know what I can tell you, Lieutenant Taggert. I knew who and what Ollie worked for but he never brought it home with him.”
“Then give me some impressions,” Taggert asked. “Tell me about the last few months he was alive. Did he change? Was he worried?”
“He was more anxious. Damian Smith wasn’t fond of Ollie, and he was always concerned that Frank couldn’t protect him forever. Ollie stayed in the job because he was Frank’s choice,” Angela added. “We had dinner with Frank a few times before he went to jail, and Ollie visited him regularly.”
“Was it just Damian that was giving him anxiety?” Scott asked. “He wasn’t all that involved in Frank’s business back then. I thought he was more interested in ELQ.”
“You also know how fickle and dangerous Damian was,” Angela murmured. “But I think Ollie was worried about the girls. He was never a fan of the strip clubs but he tried to make sure they were respectable. He was having trouble with one of the new managers.”
“New managers?” Taggert echoed. Oh, hell. “How new?”
“I’m not sure. Ollie never got into it. He just said that he’d overlooked something but it was bothering him. He said something after Christmas, I think. Or—” Angela paused. “I think it was closer to the spring. Yes, it was in March. The last week of it, because he didn’t want to go on a family trip to Florida we’d planned. He needed to stay home.”
“The last week of March 1994,” Scott repeated. He looked at Taggert. “Karen and Jagger were married that week.”
“Karen?” Angela echoed.
“My daughter, Karen Wexler,” Scott clarified. “Rhonda, Ollie, and I went to high school together. Rhonda never told me about her, not until just before Karen’s wedding.” His heart twisted at the memory of his daughter. “Ollie knew. Rhonda had reached out to him the summer before when she was at the Paradise Lounge—”
“The Paradise—” Angela snapped her fingers. “That’s it—that’s where Ollie was spending a lot of time right before that night. He didn’t trust the manager.”
Taggert grimaced. He’d wanted this to lead anywhere else, but it looked like he had no choice but to see it through. It always came back to Sonny. “Kelsey told us you were threatened directly the morning after your husband was murdered. Did you know the man who threatened you?”
Angela cleared her throat. “Not by name. Not then,” she said softly, “but I’d seen him around the clubs. I went to pick Ollie up one night, and he was outside with him. But then, later in the papers—I’ve seen his face.” She paused. “That’s why I couldn’t go back. He’s still there. He murdered my husband and told me that if I ever said anything, he’d make sure it was the last words I ever spoke.”
Scott went over to her, took her hands in his, squeezed them. “I can’t bring back Ollie. I can’t even promise you justice. I wish I could. But I can promise that you can trust the lieutenant and I to look after you.”
Angela drew in a deep breath, her eyes intent on him. “Sonny Corinthos. He stood over my husband’s dead body and threatened our daughter. I had to run, Scotty. I had to let Ollie go so that Kelsey would be safe.” Her face crumpled. “I didn’t have a choice.”
Corinthos Penthouse: Master Bedroom
Sonny slammed his bedroom door, his hands shaking. He dragged them through his hair and started to pace the room.
I did need you—
I’m not interested in giving you a break—
I don’t really have an interest in getting to know you better—
Needed you—I can’t—I’m sorry—that’s just how it is—
The voices of Jason, Carly, and Dante rolled around his head, repeating over and over again until Sonny wanted to scream—his fist was aching—why did it hurt—
He squinted down at his fingers, then slowly stepped back, wiggling them as he focused at the hole in the wall.
He’d done that. He didn’t remember.
“It should have been you.”
The soft voice that was always with him swirled around him. Sonny turned and found Lily sitting on the edge of the bed, in the silky pink sheath dress she’d worn that fateful night, her lovely face unchanged. He could still remember her, dangling the keys with a bright smile as she walked towards the car.
“You shouldn’t be here.”
“You think the pills keep me away?” Lily leaned forward, her eyes amused. “We both know better, don’t we, baby? I’ll be the last face you see.” She flicked to something behind her, and Sonny turned around to find the first woman who had haunted him standing there.
Adela. His mother. “Mami—”
“Mi hijo.” Adela’s mournful expression. “Still lost. Still in the dark.”
“No. No,” Sonny repeated forcefully. “I got out of the dark. I made it happen—”
“Didn’t matter who you had to hurt to make that happen.” A new voice made him jump as Brenda Barrett sauntered across the room and sat next to Lily. “We’re all just collateral damage, aren’t we, Sonny?”
“You—” Sonny swallowed hard. “You’re not dead. You shouldn’t be here—”
“You’re the one that makes the rules.” Brenda arched a perfectly plucked eyebrow. “You always had to be in control.You have a real problem with hurting women, don’t you?”
“I have never hurt—” Sonny gasped.
“We both know that’s not true.” A hand slid over Sonny’s shoulder and he turned to blink at Carly as she sat next to Brenda. “Not slapping a woman around doesn’t make you a saint, Sonny. You don’t get a cookie because you didn’t turn into an abusive asshole like your stepfather.”
“He could be good sometimes,” Adela said softly. “You never wanted to give him a chance—”
“You—” Sonny’s throat was tight as he squeezed his eyes shut. “None of you are here. All of this is in my head. I know this. I know you’re not here. You can’t be—”
“That’s right, Sonny,” Brenda’s voice was sardonic even as it faded into nothing. “Wish us away. That’ll work.”
When he opened his eyes, he was alone in the bedroom again, the only sound his ragged breathing.
Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom
Elizabeth removed her necklace and set it in the tray on her vanity, then twisted on the stool as Jason emerged from the bathroom, Cameron already swaddled in his bedclothes. “The bottle is warm,” she told him.
“Thanks.” Jason sat down and began to feed the baby. She studied him, squinting. He’d been quiet since she’d returned from the doctor, but she knew it wasn’t about her or Cameron. His energy was quiet and subdued, but it didn’t feel directed at her.
She went over to the dresser to pull out a pair of sweats to change into for bed. “Did I tell you today was the last appointment with Kelly?” she asked as she shimmied into the pants, wincing slightly as they rubbed against her c-section scar. “It feels weird that the next appointment is just with Monica.”
Jason looked up. “But she said everything was healed, didn’t she?”
“Clean bill of health, and she doesn’t think I should have to have another c-section if we decide to have another baby.” Elizabeth smiled as Jason set the bottle aside and set Cameron on his shoulder to gently pat his back. “When she said that, I almost laughed. It feels so weird to be able to think about it.”
Jason raised his brows. “Are we thinking about that?”
“Eventually. If this surgery goes well. I asked Monica and she said that to be safe, she’d advise waiting at least two years.” She twisted her fingers. “I mean, I know my siblings were crap, but I think that’s mostly how our parents raised us, you know. In competition with each other.”
“Yeah. AJ said that once about Monica and Alan,” Jason said. He set Cameron in the cradle, then removed the spit towel from his shoulder and tossed it in the hamper. “He said they were doing better with Emily.” When she frowned at him, Jason continued, “After the accident, there was a time when AJ and I could talk to one another. I think he was always hoping I’d remember Jason Quartermaine.”
“I bet. Jason Quartermaine always seemed to have AJ’s back, even when AJ didn’t deserve it. To lose the person that supported and loved you best and to know it was your fault—” Elizabeth shook her head. “Anyway, I see the way you and Emily love each other. And Luke and Bobbie. Lucky and Lulu. I’d like that for Cam. But if it doesn’t work out, he’ll have Michael and Morgan.” She paused. “Did something happen today? I mean, I’m not asking about work, it’s just—”
“Sonny came by,” Jason cut in. “And we—” He sat on the bed next to her. “It didn’t go well. He was angry because I wouldn’t take advice from him about a business thing, and I—” He grimaced. “I lost my temper.”
“I’m sorry. I know how hard it is for you to keep Sonny in the dark and out of things—”
Jason shook his head. “It’s not hard,” he told her. “I thought it would be, but it just makes sense. And I don’t need his advice. That’s what Bernie and Justus are for. I told him he can’t be someone that weighs in. It complicates things.” He hesitated. “And then he told me that one day I’d need him, and he wouldn’t be there. That it would be my fault.”
Elizabeth reached out for his hand and held it between her own. “I can’t imagine that went well,” she murmured.
“I told him that time had already come and gone. I needed him when Carly was in that panic room. He had just one job — to keep the police on him and not me. But he didn’t do that. So Capelli focused on you and me.”
“Then planted that story,” Elizabeth finished. “If Sonny had been distracting him—Jason, Capelli was always going to be watching us—”
“If I could have just taken a minute that week, I might have thought of the real estate agent, the panic room—how many pills did Ric give you because Sonny couldn’t do anything?” Jason pushed himself to his feet, drawing his hand out of her grasp. “Then when you got sick, he could have taken the weight off me. If he’d dealt with his mental health after the panic room—”
“He wasn’t ready—” Elizabeth nodded. “But okay. I get it. You needed him and he didn’t show up.”
“There has never been a single moment since I came to work for him that I didn’t stand by him,” Jason said roughly. “When he dumped everything on me, including jilting Brenda, I did it. When he wanted to go back into the business, I did it. When he wanted to me to keep secrets from you, I did it. But it’s never been equal.”
Elizabeth got up and went to him, wrapping her arms around his waist, and leaning her head against his chest. “I’m sorry,” she said softly.
“I needed him, he wasn’t there, and it was my fault. I could have done what Carly did. Months ago. In December, when he locked Carly in that room — I could have done more. I should have done more to force him to get help.” He kissed the top of her head. “I can’t go back and fix my mistakes. All I can do is try not to make the same ones over and over again. I’ve always protected Sonny. Time after time. All he does is take. I can’t give him anymore. I have nothing left.”
“All right.” She leaned up on her toes to brush her lips against his, lingering. “Don’t blame yourself. Maybe you could have done more, but Sonny still had to be ready to accept help. If he’s still not there, then there’s nothing else we can do.” She paused. “It was my last appointment with Kelly today,” she reminded him. “And I have a clean bill of health.”
Jason drew his brows together, then his eyes widened as that sank in. “Really?”
“Yeah, and Cameron only sleeps an hour at a time, so we should make the best of it.” She kissed his jaw. “I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you, too,” he murmured, leaning down to kiss her again.
Lulu sighed for the third time, and Dante glanced over his shoulder from the sink where he was finishing the last of the dishes. “What?”
“You said that the first two times.” Dante dried his hands and turned to her, leaning against the counter. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. It’s just—it’s Friday night and we’re working.” She made a face. “It sucks. Listen, if I make sure I’m off next weekend, can you do the same? We’ll go do something that is not this.”
“We’re going down to Rochester tomorrow, remember?”
“Yeah, but that’s with everyone else—”
“You just look for things to be annoyed about, don’t you?” he asked. He walked over, took her face in his hands and kissed her. “Relax.”
“Hey, I don’t have to look for things. This crazy—” She grinned and nipped at his mouth. “It comes naturally. And you signed up for it.”
“Yeah, well, you know—I’m a glutton for punishment—”
Someone cleared their throat from behind them, and Dante and Lulu turned to find Carly standing in the doorway. “Oh…” Lulu blinked at her cousin. “We’re, um, closed.”
“No, I know.” Carly was smiling faintly. “Sorry. I parked in the back, and the Cellar’s outside entrance goes to the front. I didn’t feel like walking all the way around. Sorry to interrupt.”
“No, no, it’s cool.” Dante stepped back. “You want me to walk you to your car?”
“No, I’m just outside.” Carly hesitated. “Listen, Dante—Alexis told me she reached out to you about Kristina—and I—”
“I don’t expect anything,” he said quickly, expecting her to tell him her boys weren’t part of the deal. “I’m not even sure I’m going to really take Alexis up on her offer—”
“Oh. Well, I just—I wanted to tell you that I should have said something earlier. Michael saw some of the papers, and he’s asked about you. He’s, uh, kind of interested in having an older brother.” Carly smiled. “He thinks you can give him some tips so he can do a good job with Morgan.”
Dante blinked at her. “Oh.”
“Think it over,” Carly told him. “There’s not a lot of upside to being related to Sonny,” she continued, “so you might as well as take the good where you can find it.”
“Thanks,” Dante said.
“Lu, walk me out,” Carly said. “I wanted to talk to you about something for Mother’s Day.”
“Oh, cool. I wanna do something awesome for my mom.” Lulu hopped off the counter. “I’ll be right back,” she told Dante.
Outside in the alley, Carly turned to Lulu. “Hey, we can talk about Mother’s Day another time. I actually wanted to ask you if Sonny has been annoying Dante since he got out.”
Lulu folded her arms and walked with Carly towards the back lot. “Why didn’t you ask Dante?”
“I didn’t think he’d tell me. I just—I know he’s got a mother of his own,” Carly said. “But that doesn’t stop me from being worrying.”
“Sonny came by once, but Dante made it clear—”
Lulu frowned as a pair of headlights washed over them—She shielded her eyes, temporarily blinded— “What the—”
Brakes squealed as a car swerved then came to a screeching halt. The passenger door flew open and someone rushed out—towards Carly—
Someone—a woman—Lulu thought—grabbed Carly’s arm and started dragging her towards the car. Carly screamed and Lulu grabbed Carly’s other arm to hold her back. “Help!” Lulu screeched.
Footsteps pounded towards them as Dante ran up, shoved the woman back, Lulu and Carly falling to the gravel—the woman snarled, then got back into the car. It peeled out of the lot—
“Get the license plate!” Lulu panted as Carly struggled back to her feet.
“Damn it, it’s too dark—” Dante scowled, looked at them. “What the hell is going on?”
Shakily, Carly swallowed. “That’s what I’d like to know.”