I’ve got my memories
Always inside of me
But I can’t go back
Back to how it was
I believe in now
I’ve come too far
Now I can’t go back
Back to how it was
– This is Home, Switchfoot
Friday, May 2, 2004
Corinthos & Morgan Warehouse: Office
“I agree,” Bernie declared. “This doesn’t make any sense unless if it’s someone trying to trash the truce.” He leaned back and looked at Justus. “What do you think? Another member of the Zaccharas?”
“Maybe someone in our organization dissatisfied with how Jason handled things,” Justus suggested. “That would explain Richie.”
Jason scowled. He didn’t like the thought of another guard who’d been near Elizabeth turning on him. Cody, he could understand, but Richie? “What do you mean?”
“Richie wanted you in on this as soon as possible,” Justus said. “But he also brought it directly to your home — which is across the hall from Sonny. Making sure that this happened there meant it was more likely Sonny would know about it.”
Jason sat down. He hadn’t considered that angle. “But who would Richie be working with? Tommy?”
“The Vinnie thing scared him straight,” Bernie said. “He was so worried you’d cut off his balls for even accidentally protecting Elizabeth’s, uh, attacker, that he’s been quiet. I also think Sonny being clearly out has helped. Not that I don’t think Tommy shouldn’t be watched, but I don’t see him going after Carly.”
“Tommy’s more direct than that.” Justus tapped his fingers against the arm of the chair. “What if Anthony is trying to trash the truce himself? He wants to test to see if you’re gonna go after the kid. Johnny doesn’t get any marks on him, that just gives Anthony reason to think you’re weak.”
“So I’m supposed to knock the kid around on the half-chance that Anthony’s behind this?” Jason shook his head. “I’m not going to do that—”
“Well, what if it is the daughter acting on her own? Trying to prove to Anthony that she can play with the big boys?” Bernie said. “You said she’s barely tolerated. Maybe she wants more.”
“Then why fake a kidnapping against Carly? It would make more sense to go after Elizabeth if she really wanted to get Jason riled up. Not that Carly isn’t important,” Justus added, “but—”
“But it’s what Zaccharas do. Anthony’s known for targeting families. She went after Carly because of Richie.” More and more, Jason was convinced that Richie had acted deliberately. Francis trained the guards better than that, and Richie had been with them too long not to know how to play the game. “If Richie had still been guarding Elizabeth, it would have been her last night.” And that thought chilled him to the bone. If not for the blackout making Elizabeth uncomfortable, would it have been her?
He went over to the phone and pressed a speed dial. “Hey, Francis. Can you get Richie over here? Yeah, too. We need to debrief about last night.”
“What if it’s Sonny?” Justus asked quietly as Jason put the phone down. Jason frowned at him. “We know Sonny’s unhappy about being out of power. He still has connections, still has supporters. And he was quick last night. You said he was waiting.”
“No—” Jason paused. “No,” he repeated. “I’m not saying Sonny’s not capable of coming after me, but I don’t think—”
“You don’t think he’d go after Carly?” Justus asked flatly. “He’s done it before, hasn’t he? Maybe he just wanted her grabbed so he could force her into talking. I know he’s supposedly on medication, but doesn’t it sometimes take years to find the right treatment for bipolar disorders?”
Jason grimaced. There was nothing Justus was saying that wasn’t true, but it didn’t—it didn’t click. It didn’t work for him. “You’re not wrong, but what woman would Sonny have asked to carry this out? Sonny barely let Carly in the same room when talking about business. He’s…” He paused. “He’s sexist,” he admitted. “He likes keeping women out of it. Completely. I can’t see him having a woman grab Carly.”
“Okay, that I can understand. I still think it’s worth looking into, even if we end up ruling it out. Outside of this kidnapping attempt, Jason, things have actually been quiet,” Justus reminded his cousin. “And they’ve been quiet for months. Ric Lansing has been the only thorn in our side since last summer. Ric and the Zaccharas. Even through all of it, we kept things together.”
“The warehouse operated, and we still did the job. I’m with Justus. I don’t think we need to look too far for who’s behind this. It might be temping to think it’s a new enemy, but I think we’re looking at an inside job. At least partially,” Bernie offered.
“Yeah, I agree—” Jason paused as the phone lit up. He answered. “Francis?” He grimaced. “How long? Okay. Okay. Yeah, come over. We need to talk about this.” He set the receiver in the hook. “Francis sent Richie home last night with a guard watching. They’re both gone.”
Justus got to his feet. “The other guard?”
“Chuck Ohlendorf. Pull his file. I want to know what the hell he’s worked on for the last few weeks. Either Richie killed him and escaped or they were in on it together. Francis said Chuck volunteered.” Jason clenched his jaw. He was done with people inside the organization coming after him.
He’d get to the bottom of it, once and for all.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“Hey.” Elizabeth stepped back to let Carly and Michael in. “Jason had to go into work, so he’s not going to be here.”
“Oh.” Carly chewed on her bottom lip, clutching Michael’s hand in hers. “That makes sense, I guess. After last night.”
“Mommy?” Michael tipped up his head. “Can I still meet my cousin?”
“Yeah, sure, Mr. Man.” She ruffled his blond hair and smiled weakly at Elizabeth. “I think Aunt Elizabeth said some more of Cam’s family was going to come by. You know Jason’s mom?”
“Yeah.” Michael nodded. He bounced over to the sofa. “Where’s Cam? Can I hold him?”
“Monica is on her way up,” Elizabeth told Carly. “The front desk called while you were in the elevator. Does he remember—”
“I don’t know. He might.” Carly folded her arms. “But that’s my problem. Why don’t you go get Cameron? He might distract Michael.”
“Okay. I’ll be right back. Michael, I’m going to get Cam now.”
Elizabeth had just disappeared around the landing when the knock came. Carly braced herself, then opened the door to find Monica and AJ waiting. “Hey. Elizabeth just went to get the baby, and, um, Jason had to go into work.”
Michael slid off the sofa, his eyes furrowing as AJ came in after Monica, his steps hesitant. “Mom.”
“Michael, this is Uncle Jason’s brother. You, um, remember him, I guess.” Carly’s palms felt sweaty. “He came over to meet his nephew.”
Michael cleared his throat. “I thought you and Daddy didn’t like him.”
To AJ’s credit, his face didn’t change at the mention of Sonny, though Carly’s stomach lurched. “People can be wrong, baby. And I was. AJ’s a nice guy. He’s—I mean, we’ve talked about him.” She went over to the sofa and tugged Michael towards her so that he focused on her. “We talked about families are all different, and that some families are made because of blood, and others because we pick each other. Right?”
“Right. You said he—” Michael slid a suspicious glance at AJ who put his hands in his pockets. “You said he was my family by blood.”
“He is.” She pointed at Monica. “And that’s your grandmother.” Was she doing this wrong? How did you undo six years of damage, she wondered. Six years of lies and betrayal. “Jason and AJ are brothers. It’s why Cameron is your cousin. You’ve got a lot of family you haven’t spent a lot of time with.”
“How come? Didn’t they want me?”
Monica sucked in a breath, and Carly flinched. “They wanted you. They always wanted you. I was just so scared—” She squeezed her eyes shut. “I was scared they’d take you from me. But I was wrong.”
“Oh.” Michael didn’t really know what to do with that, but he’d learned to roll with the punches these days. He looked back at AJ and Monica, some of the suspicious gone. “You didn’t meet Cam yet either?”
“I have,” Monica volunteered, her eyes lighting up as she took a few steps forward. “I’m a doctor and I got to see him at the hospital. But—” She touched AJ’s shoulder. “He hasn’t. You’ll get to meet him together.”
“He’s very little,” Michael told AJ seriously. “He was born before he was done cooking. That’s what Uncle Lucas says.”
“I know, we have to be careful with him.” AJ crouched down in front of his son. “You have a new little brother, don’t you? So you know all about being a big brother and being careful.”
Michael beamed. “Mommy says I’m the best big brother. Right?”
“The best of the best.”
“Can you help me?” AJ wanted to know. “You’ll hold him first? And show me how?”
“You got it.”
“Sorry,” Elizabeth apologized as she turned the corner, carefully coming down the second set of stairs. “We had a diaper situation.”
Monica hurried over to the foot of the stairs, her hands outstretched in case Elizabeth needed her. “How is he this morning?”
“Perfect.” Elizabeth was smiling as she stepped off the bottom step. “Hey, Michael.” She flicked her eyes to AJ. “AJ.”
“Elizabeth.” AJ rose to his feet. “Michael’s going to show me how to hold a baby. I haven’t done it in a while.”
Michael clambered onto the sofa, tucked himself in the corner so that he could hold up his arm and then waited. Elizabeth carefully set Cameron into his arms, then stepped back. “He’s so little,” the boy said in awed voice. “Is it because he didn’t cook all the way?”
“Yeah, but he’ll catch up and one day, you won’t even be able to tell.” Elizabeth stepped back. “And he’s gonna need you and Morgan. He doesn’t have any older siblings of his own. You okay with that?”
“I’ll show Morgan how,” Michael said. He looked down at Cameron. “Hi, Cam. I’m Michael.”
Carly stepped back and watched as AJ gingerly stepped forward and sat next to Michael on the sofa. Her breath came a bit easier as Michael’s smiles seemed genuine.
“Thank you,” Monica murmured. Carly turned. “For this.”
“Don’t thank me for doing the right thing. I should have done this years ago.”
“As someone who made mistakes of her own as a new mother—” Monica took a deep breath. “Better late than never.”
“This is becoming a regular occurrence,” Luke grumbled as he let Taggert in. “What do you want?” He went over to the mini bar and poured himself a water, though he was tempted to reach for the whiskey.
“Oliver Joyce knew that Karen Wexler was Scott Baldwin’s daughter,” Taggert said. He rested his hands on the top of a chair in front of Luke’s desk. “He found out sometime in the fall of 1993. Rhonda was worried about Karen, and wanted Oliver’s help.”
“Okay.” Luke paused. “So?”
“And according to the widow, Oliver was having issues with the new manager of the Paradise. The new manager installed by Frank Smith as a favor to Joe Scully.” Taggert paused. “Sonny was that manager. The problems began, as far as I can tell, around the time Oliver found out that Karen was Scott’s daughter.”
“Hell.” Luke sat down at the desk. “Damn it.” He reached for a cigar, placing the tip in his mouth.
“And Angela Joyce identified Sonny as the man who threatened her in the morgue the morning after he was murdered—”
Luke yanked the cigar out of his mouth as it dropped open. “The hell it was—”
“I wasn’t sure either, but then I started thinking about it. This was personal, Luke. Even you didn’t know anything for sure, and no one was closer to Sonny than you. Someone threatened her. I believe that much. Who would Sonny have trusted to do that? It had to be him.”
“Christ.” Luke put his head in his hands. “There’s enough truth in that—”
“Angela Joyce isn’t going to come forward at this point. Not to point the finger at Sonny,” Taggert continued. “I can’t do anything with what I have so far. All I have is rumors and speculation.” Taggert met Luke’s eyes. “I know you’re out of the game, Luke, but you know things. I need a reason to get him into interrogation. It’s the only chance I got.”
“Sonny’s never going to admit to anything, Taggert—”
“Maybe not. But it’s the only card I got left to play. Everything leads to him. Ollie worked for Frank Smith for years, and clashed with Sonny after learning Karen was the daughter of an old friend. Ollie was murdered by someone he’d get into a car with, and the case was covered up by a corrupt cop who was always Sonny’s guy and never Frank’s. I need you tell me what you know.”
Luke twirled the cigar in his hands and thought about his own family. His parents—the sweetness of his mother, the cruelty of his father—if there was a chance that young Luke could have brought Tim Spencer to justice for what he’d done, would have he have done it? Were old loyalties to a man who didn’t understand the meaning of the word enough to stay silent?
“I’ve told you everything I knew for sure,” Luke said after a minute. “Sonny was close to challenging Frank Smith, and he didn’t want anything getting in his way. I needed Sonny to win that war, Taggert, because getting rid of Smith would keep my family safe. He had to be gone, and I’m not sorry I was the one who did it.” He smiled thinly. “That’s off the record, by the way.”
“I’m not here on that case, Luke. I just want Kelsey to have some answers.”
“I know.” Luke sat up and reached for the lighter. “You have to trust people in that life, Taggert. Maybe that doesn’t make sense to you, but you gotta know someone’s got your back. Sonny—back then—he had my back. And I kept his secrets. He kept mine. He never screwed me over. It’s hard to let that go. It’s a code—”
“But I can’t walk around pretending I’m a better man if I don’t do right by Ollie and his daughter now. By Scottie and his kid, either. Laura wants me to tell you everything. She wanted it from the start, and I keep trying to slip past it.”
Taggert studied Luke for a long moment. “What haven’t you told me yet? What secret are you keeping?”
“Ollie didn’t like me, going back to the breakup of Scottie and Laura’s marriage. He always gave me the stank eye when we came around, but he finally confronted me one day. Wanted to know how I could be around Sonny when he was hurting women.” Luke swallowed hard. “He knew about the girls. Karen wasn’t the only. Not the first. But maybe the last.”
“Did Ollie get in Sonny’s way?”
“Yeah. Yeah, he did. He was planning to go state’s witness. I couldn’t tell you how Sonny found out—maybe Ollie trusted the wrong guy. But Sonny found out, and then the next thing I knew, Ollie was gone. The papers said it was a car accident.”
“Did you know it wasn’t?”
Luke exhaled a long waft of smoke and looked at the glow of the cigar tip. “Not for sure, mind you. But Sonny was worried, and then he wasn’t. I suspected it, but I couldn’t let myself think about it. I’m pretty good about locking up unwanted thoughts and bad memories.” He looked over at the lieutenant. “I considered Sonny a friend for a long time, Taggert, but I always knew he’d sell out his own mother for power. He’s been chasing it for too long, and I think he’s forgotten how to live without it. I didn’t know for sure that Sonny was the trigger man, but if Ollie was going after him because of Karen — I think maybe Ollie might have tried to be fair and give him a chance to come clean.”
“That would have been a mistake,” Taggert said. He straightened. “Would you go on record with a statement that Oliver and Sonny were fighting around the time of the murder? Because it’s thin, but it’s enough to request an interview.”
“On the record,” Luke repeated. He set down the cigar, and thought again of his family. Of Laura and the little she’d asked of him. “Yeah, okay. On the record.”
The Star Lounge: Upstairs Apartment
Johnny paced the small living room area, dragging his hands through his hair, waiting impatiently as the phone rang. If Claudia didn’t pick up, he was going to drive down to Crimson Pointe and—
“What’s up, little brother?”
“What’s up?” Johnny bit out, pitching his voice low because he wasn’t convinced this apartment hadn’t been bugged. “What’s up is someone tried to grab Carly Corinthos last night, and Jason came to the club looking for me—”
Her voice sharpened. “Are you somewhere safe? Does he think you were involved?”
Johnny stood still as the truth sank in. “What the hell are you up to, Claudie? I know Dad wouldn’t sanction this, and Jason knows it, too—”
“You don’t need to worry about any of that—”
“The hell I don’t—maybe Jason wouldn’t slit my throat, but he’s not the only guy around. I get the feeling that there are people who wouldn’t mind seeing me down for the count just to stick it to Dad. Did you go after Carly?”
“No. Oh my God, John, why would you think I’d do anything to put you in danger?”
“Because everyone is banking on Jason Morgan being a soft family man, and I think that’s a fucking mistake,” Johnny retorted. “The fact that he has a family makes him more dangerous, and if he doesn’t come for me, he’s coming for you, Claudie. And I don’t think he’s gonna care that you have tits.”
“Don’t be so crude, John—”
“And don’t be such a bitch. You told me to come up here—” Johnny closed his eyes. “Fuck me, I’m a plant, aren’t I? This is all a game. You sent me here knowing that anytime you tried something, Jason would come to me looking for information. You wanted to see his reaction.”
“You’ve always had an active imagination, little brother. I wasn’t ready for Jason to kill Daddy yet, and I knew you being there would buy me time—”
“Being an unwitting source was just the icing on top?” Johnny demanded. “It stops now. I’m going to tell Jason—”
“I wouldn’t do that.”
Her voice had flattened and the hairs on Johnny’s neck stood on end. “Claudia.”
“You think I haven’t been keeping tabs on you? I know you’re enjoying your life up there. Running that club, looking at your investments to see if Jason will let you buy into it. You think I don’t know you’re planning on throwing in with Morgan?”
Johnny looked out the window, his heart beating faster. How the hell could she have known any of that—
“I know you too well, little brother. You went to Port Charles to get away from Daddy, and you found something you liked. Keep your mouth shut and I won’t ruin it for you. If everything goes the way I want it to, Daddy won’t be a problem anymore for either of us.”
Johnny swallowed hard. “You’re framing Dad for all of this, aren’t you? Just like Dad framed Ric?”
“I learned from the best, didn’t I?”
“What stops me from going to Jason right now?” Johnny demanded. “Why shouldn’t I turn you in? Make the truce real—”
“Because I know that cute little blonde likes hot chocolate and walks along Elm Street Pier before starting her shift.”
The chill slide down his spine as Johnny struggled for form words. “What are you talking about?”
“Now, I know you’ll tell me you and Nurse Nadine have only had two dates, but I know you, little brother. You’re a romantic, and those pink roses you sent to her today—she loved them. I know which vase she used and where those flowers are. Right next to her bed. Have you been in yet yet? That yellow comforter looks soft.”
Johnny closed his eyes. “She has nothing to do with this—”
“No, she doesn’t. But if you even sniff at Jason before I’m ready to make my move, I’ll make her the star. I’m doing this for us, John, even if you can’t see it. I’m not planning to hurt Jason or anyone else. I just want what’s mine and what Daddy refuses to give me. You don’t want the business. It should be mine. You don’t have to do anything but sit there and let it happen.”
“Don’t hurt her, Claudia. Please.” He didn’t even know Nadine that well beyond her pretty smile and sparkling eyes, but he’d be damned if she’d end up as part of all this because of his sick and twisted sister.
“It’s all in your hands, little brother. I’ll be in touch.”
The line went dead, and Johnny stared at his phone for a long moment. What the hell was he supposed to do? If he made one move towards Jason, Claudia would know.
And unlike Jason, Claudia wasn’t bluffing. She’d let John live for betraying her, but Nadine would pay the price. Just like his mother had when she’d tried to step between Johnny and his father.
He couldn’t let another woman suffer for him. Jason was going to have to solve the problems in his organization himself. Johnny only hoped that Claudia wasn’t lying this time.
But that was the trouble with Claudia. Even when she was telling the truth, she somehow managed to lie.
Rain Lounge: Bar
“You know,” Lucas said as he and Dante approached the bar to get a round of drinks. “I gotta say, I was surprised when Lu said you were coming tonight.”
“Yeah?” Dante gestured at the bartender. “Three appletinis,” he said, “a virgin Mary, and two raspberry margaritas.” He focused on Lucas again. “Why?”
“I don’t know. It’s a gay bar.” Lucas shrugged. “You’re a cop.” When Dante grimaced, Lucas shook his head. “You’re a cop, Falconieri. Don’t start. You’re just on a break.”
“Yeah, well—” Dante laid his credit card on the bar so the bartender could put it on his tab. “I wish I could have found a way to tell Brooke that I supported her. She should be here tonight.”
“Yeah.” Lucas looked back at their table where Kyle and Felix were talking about something in Kyle’s pre-med program while Lulu and Maxie laughed. “A year ago, I thought Kyle was an asshole. He was one of the reasons I didn’t wanna go out that night, you know? I just figured he’d be a dick. With Maxie dating him, it made me want to forget ever telling anyone.”
He shook his head. “When Brooke told me—when she realized I was gay—I thought—this was great. I wasn’t going to have to hide. We could—we could support each other. I’m sorry neither of us ever got the chance to do that.”
The bartender set the tray of drinks down and took the credit card away. Lucas lifted the tray and started back towards the table, but Dante frowned because he thought—
He thought he saw someone he knew at the other end of the bar.
“I’ll be right there,” Dante told Lucas who looked back at him. He started to walk over just as the man turned and froze.
His roommate and best friend swallowed hard. “Dante. Uh. What are you—”
Dante gestured towards the table. “I’m here with Lu and her friends. It’s Felix’s birthday—” He hesitated. “You, uh, alone?”
“Yeah.” Cruz cleared his throat. “Yeah. I just wanted to, uh—”
“You can come over and hang with us if you want.” Dante lifted his brows. “I mean, we got the space, and you know everyone.”
“Hey, what’s taking—” Maxie bounced up to them and then blinked at Cruz. Then she grinned. “Hey! I thought Dante said you had to work!”
“I, uh, got my shift covered,” Cruz said, his cheeks flushing at being caught in an obvious lie.
Lulu joined them, sliding an arm through Dante’s. “You should come over and help us settle an argument,” she said. “Kyle—who is wrong—says that the best song ever written was Hotel California.”
“Hotel California?” Cruz winced. “Oh, man.”
“Right? I tried to explain that everyone knows that ‘N Sync is the greatest band ever—” When Cruz just looked at Dante helplessly, Maxie erupted into giggles. “Oh, man, your faces! Come on, Cruz. Help me gang up on this sad man who needs our help.”
Maxie reached for his arm and Cruz allowed himself to be led over to the table, as Dante and Lulu followed in the wake of Hurricane Maxie who never knew how to let anyone sit by themselves when they could be with friends.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Jason set the takeout containers on the desk when he came in that night, smiling at the sight of Elizabeth on the sofa with Cameron. He was awake and she was reading to him from one of the travel books Jason had read to Michael when he was a baby. He’d recognize those dogeared pages anywhere.
“Hey,” Elizabeth said, pausing on a section about the crocodiles of Egypt. “I wasn’t expecting you home yet. Where’d you stop for dinner?”
“Eli’s,” he said. He hung up his jacket and locked up the gun. “You said this morning you were thinking about ribs.”
“Mmmm, that does sound good.” Elizabeth marked the page and set the book aside.
“How was the hospital?” Jason asked, bringing the containers over and sitting down. “Any news on the surgery?”
“Yeah, Monica is going down to Temple next week to observe one of the procedures and meet with the doctor who’s going to be performing it.” Elizabeth went over to set Cameron in the bassinet by the fireplace. “June 28.”
Jason frowned. “June 28?” Something about that day stuck in his head and he couldn’t remember why.
“They gave me a few dates to work with, and I picked that one.” Elizabeth paused. “It’s the day we found Carly and I had the embolism.” She twisted her wedding ring. “It felt, I don’t know, symbolic. I can’t face Ric and make him pay for what he did to me, but I can be done with the rest of it. Exactly one year later. And then I won’t have to think about him anymore.”
“I’m looking forward to that,” Jason agreed.
“Exactly. I’ll have to be in the hospital for about a week after the surgery, but Monica said as long as there aren’t any complications, I’ll be good around the beginning of August. Which—” Elizabeth paused and smiled. “I thought maybe we could use those tickets to Italy. We’ll take Cameron with us. Dr. Devlin said he was doing great, and should be okay to travel.”
“And we’ll be back before classes start at PCU,” Jason reminded her, and she nodded.
“Exactly. That’s what I want. I want this condition to be gone, at least as best as possible. I’ll need to be on blood thinners pretty much forever,” she said with a grimace. “And there’s a possibility I’ll develop hypertension again, so if we do end having more children, I’ll have to keep a close eye on all of that. I won’t ever—” Her throat tightened. “It won’t ever really be gone, but it’s as close to a cure as possible.”
It killed him that all the money in the world couldn’t really take this weight off her. Jason drew her in for a hug, kissing her forehead. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. It really is. I’ve been feeling better since Cameron was born, and Monica said that my vitals are better now than they’ve been since before I got pregnant. I’m okay.” She squeezed his hand. “I’ll go get something to drink.”
He had the dinners set up when she returned with a bottle of beer for him and a glass of water for herself. “You haven’t asked about last night,” Jason said after they’d eaten and he began to clean up.
“If there’s something I need to know, then you’ll tell me.” Elizabeth drew her brows together. “Is there something I need to know?”
“Maybe.” Jason paused, then wiped his hands on a napkin. “Richie’s gone. Along with another guard. I think they set up last night.”
Elizabeth drew in a sharp breath. “Richie set Carly up to be kidnapped?”
“Yeah. Looks like your instincts were good,” he said. “He couldn’t be trusted. Even with security on the club. I don’t know—” He paused. “I don’t know who he’s working for or if this was something he did on his own, but when I wanted to ask him more questions—he was in the wind.”
“That’s disappointing,” Elizabeth grumbled. She leaned back against the sofa, drawing her legs up. “Carly and I were thinking that something wasn’t right. She said it didn’t even really feel like a real kidnapping attempt. Like whoever it was hadn’t tried hard enough.”
“Yeah. That’s what I think, too. I think whoever it was wants me to go after Anthony Zacchara.” Jason’s mouth twisted. “I just wish I knew who or why.” He looked at her. “I might have to go down to Crimson Pointe. Anthony will just lie if I do this on the phone or refuse to come here. If it’s not him, it’s someone who’s trying like hell to see him dead.”
“He might be invested in knowing who that is,” Elizabeth reminded him. “When will you go?”
“I’m going to try to track down Richie first. I want to know more before I go. Maybe on Monday or Tuesday.” Jason shook his head. “Every time I think we’re out of this, something else happens.”
“You’ll figure it out, and then maybe things will be actually quiet and calm. I mean, I know things have been for a while, but it hasn’t felt real,” Elizabeth said. “Since you told me Ric was dead and it was over, I couldn’t really let myself believe it. It’s just felt like the quiet before a storm.”
“I know what you mean.” He leaned back and stretched his arm along the back of the sofa, then she curled in his side. He stroked her hair, and they sat in comforting silence — until Cameron fussed for his next bottle, and his phone rang with news from Francis that Richie and Chuck had emptied their bank accounts on their way out of town. No mistake about it — they’d been involved and were now on the run.
How many more snakes were in his organization? Jason wondered as Elizabeth snuggled up next to him to feed Cameron. Would he be able to find them all and keep his family safe?
Lexington House: Living Room
Claudia peered through a slit in the front curtains, glaring at the suburban houses on the street. “I hate this place,” she muttered. She turned to find Ric studying blueprints on the table. “How many times are you going to look through those? There’s no way into the Towers.”
“There’s always a way,” Ric muttered. “You find those guards yet?”
“Not yet,” Claudia said darkly. As soon as they’d fallen under suspicion, Richie and Chuck had disappeared, likely knowing that with their cover blown, Claudia had no use for them. She needed to find them first before they could report to Jason about her dealings. And it went without saying that Jason was looking for them, too.
She was feeling restless. Time was running out, and Ric was procrastinating, looking for the perfect plan to snatch Elizabeth and the kid. Ric had been a useful tool, she reflected, and she’d delighted in watching Jason and Sonny fall apart over the mere mention of him.
But he was a perfectionist. He’d made a mistake the year before when he hadn’t killed Carly’s little demon child. If the little bastard hadn’t seen Ric and been able to tell Jason and Sonny that Ric had snatched his mother, everything would have been different. They would have searched for her longer—blah, blah.
She’d heard it over and over again.
She knew better. You couldn’t make anything perfect. You just had to seize your opportunities.
It was time to seize hers.
“I’m telling you,” Claudia said to Ric. “Jason is suspicious. Right now he doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, but he thinks I’m involved.” And eventually he’d take those suspicions to Anthony or Johnny would decide that he could protect his lady love better if he had more power.
“I warned you pretending to kidnap Carly wouldn’t work,” Ric said. “Not only did you end up blowing both your inside sources, but you did it yourself. Carly probably already identified you—”
“I’m working with it. Every failure gives us more information. Jason’s smarter than I thought he’d be. I thought he’d immediately go for Daddy.” But he hadn’t. He was patient and smart. A combination that Claudia whole-heartedly hated.
She had to force Jason into action. Had to make him get up and do something. If she could get her hands on the wife—
Claudia looked back at Ric. “How much do you want Elizabeth?”
Ric frowned at her. “What are you talking about?”
“You want revenge on her, sure, but wouldn’t it be more fun to torture her first?” Claudia asked. She sat down. “What if we can find a way to make sure Jason leaves the kid alone? That he’s not with either of them. You want the kid more than you want her.”
Ric’s mouth tightened. “She’s going to keep her promise to me.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Absolute psycho, Claudia decided. “The kid never leaves the penthouse. One of them is always with him. If we can grab Elizabeth, Jason will absolutely go after her—”
“That doesn’t solve my problem of getting inside—”
“And that’s where you should have trusted me.” Her lips curved into a wicked smile. “Because Zander Smith gave me three names, and he was right on the money. Little Mikey is still working for Jason, and he’s already on my payroll. I just haven’t called him up from the minors yet. And guess where Mikey works.”
Ric’s eyes burned into hers. “The Towers.”
“In the security room.” Claudia folded her arms. “We grab the kid, and Jason will go straight for my father. He won’t have a choice. Even if he thinks I’m behind it, he’ll still go for Daddy. Maybe he kills him, maybe he won’t. But I can be there when it happens, and I’ll finish the job and make it look like he did. And Elizabeth will have to live with the fact that her precious miracle baby is in your hands.”
And then Jason would hunt Ric to the ends of the earth to get his son back, Claudia thought. Which meant it would be in Claudia’s interest to deliver Ric to Jason in exchange for letting her take over her father’s business.
Everyone would win in the end.
Well, except for Ric, but those were the breaks.
All they had to do was wait for the little bitch to leave the penthouse and give them an opening.