Picks up directly after Book 1 ends.
You may call it in this evening
But you’ve only lost the night
Present all your pretty feelings
May they comfort you tonight
And I’m climbing over something
And I’m running through these walls
I don’t even know if I believe
I don’t even know if I believe
I don’t even know if I believe
Everything you’re trying to say to me
– Believe, Mumford & Sons
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Franco Baldwin twirled a butter knife between his fingers, its dull blade catching the light. He was a bit like this knife, he thought. You could do some damage with a butter knife, but it required a great deal of effort.
You had to really want the pain to make it work. You had to crave it. Otherwise, there was no point in even bothering. His own edges might be a bit dulled after all these years, but a blade was still a blade.
“Are you even listening to me?”
Franco blinked, looked at the man sitting across from him whose expression was folded into an irritated scowl. “Sorry, Pops.” He set the butter knife at the side of his blade. “Didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.”
“Yeah, well—” Scott Baldwin stirred sugar into his coffee. “That’s the holidays for you. You do anything for New Year’s?”
“No.” Franco shrugged, bit into his toast, chewed. “Nothing. Kiki wanted me to go to the hotel, but, ah, my invitation seemed to have been lost.” The end of his relationship with Elizabeth had been some sort of dog whistle for other people because all he got were stares and people avoiding him when he came into a room. The only friends he had left were too busy for him. Ava who refused to leave her apartment because of a scar; Nina, who only complained about her husband; and Kiki, who had started medical school that year so at least she had a good reason.
He was right back where’d he started four years earlier when he’d sauntered onto the Haunted Star with a stack of DVDs and an agenda. His blood boiled just thinking about everything that had been stolen from him. He’d find a way to get even—when he was done crushing Elizabeth, he’d go back to Carly who had betrayed him first.
“It wasn’t that much fun, but—” Scott cleared his throat. “Listen. I just—I thought you might want to hear it from me. Before it started getting around town.”
Franco drew his brows together. “Heard what?”
“I don’t know anything for sure, but Jason and Elizabeth disappeared from the party pretty early that night. Maybe they went home, but—”
They hadn’t, but Franco didn’t think his father would be pleased to learn how Franco had acquired that knowledge. Somehow, he thought Scott might disapprove of staking out a house for six hours, waiting for people to slink out.
He’d laid back for months, waiting for the cycle to play itself out as it always did. Hadn’t Elizabeth poured her heart out to him? Her deep fear that no one would ever love her enough to stay? Her parents had planted those seeds, but Jason Morgan had helped them to grow — every time he’d walked away from her, Elizabeth had lost a little bit less conviction that forever could exist for her.
But it had been two months, and New Year’s had just indicated that Franco had underestimated the situation. It might take longer for Jason to shake free of Elizabeth, to return to Sam as he always did.
Franco intended to prove Elizabeth right, of course. No one would ever love her enough to stay — but first, he had to convince her that she’d been wrong about him. That one slip, one little argument with that brat of hers, shouldn’t cost him everything. And when Jason had let her, Franco could be there to slid back in. To regain her trust.
Then he’d grind her into dust by leaving. She would regret trying to shake him off—
He cleared his throat, smiled easily at his father. “You don’t have to be concerned about me, Pops. Elizabeth made herself very clear, and I’m not about to get my windpipe crushed again. She has her life, and I have mine.”
“Good.” Scott nodded, sipped his coffee. “Good. Glad to hear it.”
Garage: Parking Lot
Elizabeth Webber made a face as she slid off the back of Jason’s bike and removed the helmet. “I really hate speed limits,” she muttered, stowing it on the back.
“After,” he promised. He smoothed her tangled hair away from her face and dipped down to kiss her. She sighed, leaning. Two days since everything had changed and there was still a little piece of her that didn’t quite believe that it could be real. That nearly twenty years after they’d met, they could finally have a chance to get it right. He drew back. “After,” Jason repeated. “We’ll go to the cliffs.”
“You might as well let me drive when we’re in the city,” she said, letting him tug her towards the double front doors of the garage he’d closed on the day before — the garage he’d be opening in a few weeks as he reclaimed his life after returning to Port Charles two months earlier.
“I just let you drive a few weeks ago—”
“That was for Christmas—”
Jason unlocked the doors to the lobby and held it open for her. “Special occasions. You want to drive in the city, you need to get a license—”
“I know Jason Morgan isn’t giving me a lecture about following the law—”
He just smirked and fished his cell phone out of his pocket as it rang. “It’s Spinelli—”
Elizabeth let him take the call from their resident technology wizard and went over to flip on the light switch, flooding the small lobby area with bright overhead lighting. She went to the glass doors that separated the lobby from the bay where they’d actually do the work to check those—
“Yeah. Okay. Thanks. No, I’ll let you know. I need to talk to Drew first—”
At the sound of Drew’s name, Elizabeth turned back to see Jason sliding the phone back into the pocket of his leather jacket. “Is everything okay?”
“I don’t know. Spinelli’s been monitoring Nina’s phone — she’s been leaving a lot of messages for Valentin, but Spinelli hasn’t seen a lot coming back the other way.”
Elizabeth frowned. “Do you think it means something?”
“Spinelli does. I don’t know,” Jason repeated. He went towards the back of the lobby, through the door that led to the breakroom and office. She followed. “He says the messages are angry. Nina didn’t know he was going and she’s upset he’s not returning her calls. Just a few texts here and there.”
“Maybe he’s having an affair,” Elizabeth said, leaning against the door frame of the office. “You guys didn’t know why he’d go to Turkey — and didn’t Robert say the WSB didn’t know anything either? An affair would explain it, don’t you think?”
“It would,” Jason admitted. He leaned against the rickety desk. “Robert also said the WSB wasn’t forthcoming. They don’t approve of us investigating on our own—”
“Well, they need to get over it. Their agency funded this damned experiment,” Elizabeth retorted. “They gave the keys to the kingdom to Victor Cassadine and he used it to hurt you—and Drew. They should be lucky we’re only trying to find out what the hell happened and not burning them to the ground—”
“Which is the argument Robert and Anna have been trying to make to Frisco Jones,” Jason said. “They’re trying to get into see Maddox—”
She bristled at the reminder of the doctor who had betrayed her—and their son. Andre Maddox had been the architect of the protocol used to steal Jason’s memory and implant them into Drew—and he’d put the trigger in Jake’s brain, nearly causing their son to unleash a deadly biotoxin—
“There’s nothing else Maddox can tell us that we won’t get from the files. I know it’s hard to wait for Spinelli to decrypt them, and the ones we have haven’t been useful but he’s got what he wants. He got transferred to a cushy WSB prison where he still gets to work for them.” Elizabeth shook her head. “And even when he did say anything, it was all cryptic bullshit—”
“Anna still has hope, and I’m not going to tell her how to do her job,” Jason said, gently cutting in. He held out his hands and she sighed, letting him tug her closer. “I know Maddox is a sore spot. I didn’t know him, but you did. And Jake trusted him. We’ll keep going through the files, but—”
“But you’re getting restless.” Two months since he’d come home and he was no closer to finding out who was responsible for keeping him locked up in a coma for those five years. Valentin was their primary suspect, but they had nothing proving his involvement. It was too easy for Victor and Helena to be the answer — because Jason had been chased home from Russia—someone hadn’t wanted him released from the coma.
But who was that someone? And how many secrets did Helena still keep that could prove deadly? Two years dead in the grave, and she’d still reached out her bony fingers to nearly kill Jake and everyone else Elizabeth loved.
“I’m surprised you didn’t get on a plane to Turkey as soon as Spinelli told you,” Elizabeth admitted. “Is what what you need to talk to Drew about? Going?”
“We agreed to wait a few days until we felt like there was a reason. I don’t know if we have one, but if Valentin is having an affair—if it was that simple, shouldn’t we just be able to find a money trail? He can hide that from his wife—”
“But Spinelli should have found it by now.” She nodded. “I know. I want to get to the bottom of this, you know that. I want you—and Drew—to have your answers.” She brushed his cheek with the back of her hand. “I also want you to be safe. We just got you home. I’m not in any hurry to send you back into danger.” She winced. “That sounds like I’m telling you not to go, I’m not—”
“And I can’t believe I just used that word—” she groaned, let her forehead fall against his. He stroked her arms, sliding his hands up and down the fabric of her white peacoat.
“Safe.” She made a face. “I said I want you to be safe—this is exactly the crap you pulled on me for all those years, and here I am—”
“I know we think Helena targeted me because she wants—wanted—to punish you. But that does not make any of this your fault.”
“I know. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty.” She tried to smile. “You’re probably enjoying the shoe being on the other foot, huh?”
“Luke and Lucky are already in Turkey,” Jason reminded her, not rising to the bait. “They agree with the WSB. So far.”
“And those are two more people you don’t trust.” She bit her lip. “You want to go, don’t you? Just to be on the ground.”
“Maybe,” Jason admitted. “But—”
“Then you should do it.” She cleared her throat, stepped back. “We’ll keep working the files here, and you and Drew can see if there’s anything to know over there.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. And if Drew can’t go, I will. That might be fun, actually.” She perked up at that idea. “I haven’t been in the field in years, but I held my own the last time—I was so good Helena ordered Nikolas to murder me—”
“If Drew can’t go, you’re the first choice,” Jason promised, and she narrowed her eyes. “What?”
“You’re only agreeing because you know he’ll go and you’ll never have to keep that promise—”
“Hey, if we’re going up against the Cassadines—” Jason drew her in for another kiss. “There’s no one else I want by my side.”
Port Charles High School: Hallway
Cameron Webber slammed his locker shut and slid his backpack higher on his shoulder. “We should get another week of break,” he said.
“Seriously.” His best friend, Josslyn Jacks, leaned against the adjoining locker, and popped her gum. “Should be some kind of law against this. And did you know DiMarino is giving an algebra quiz tomorrow? We just got back—”
“He’s literally the worst,” Trina Robinson declared as she came up to them. She sighed. “I’m going to fail it, and then Dr. Rob is never going to let me see the light of day again.”
“Well, that might not be so bad—” Spencer Cassadine joined them, slung an arm around Cameron. “Since my cousin is about to join the workforce. He’ll have less time for you anyway.”
Cameron glared at his cousin and shrugged off his hand. “Hey, you know, Grandma Laura nearly got Jason to offer you a job—”
Joss snorted. “Imagine Spencer working—” Her snort became a series of giggles as Spencer glowered at her.
“I’m not sure why you’re laughing, Princess,” Trina retorted. “The only person who has softer hands than you is a baby—”
“Oh, please—” Joss waved away that. “I’ve worked—”
“Volunteering at Lila’s Kids during the summer doesn’t count,” Cameron said dryly. “You come and go as you please because your brother runs the program. Spencer has no money anymore. He’s going to have to work somewhere.”
“Who’s side are you on?” Spencer wanted to know.
At the sound of the new voice, the group turned to see Emma Scorpio-Drake approaching, her hands clutching the the straps of her backpack. She smiled hesitantly. “I guess I’m not the only new kid today.”
Cameron stared at her for a long moment, then Joss elbowed him, and he cleared his throat. “Uh, hey. I thought your parents couldn’t come back for a few more weeks—”
“Yeah, Mom thought it might be easier if I started right after the holidays, so I’m with my grandma until they get things settled in Berkeley.” Emma shifted. “I’m sorry. I feel like I interrupted—”
“No, Joss was just being an entitled spoiled princess again, so it’s just another day that ends in Y,” Trina said.
“I thought we had a truce,” Joss complained. “Since when we do we break truces for Spencer?”
“Where’s Oscar?” Cameron asked, wanting a change of topic—the last thing he needed was Joss and Trina start sniping at each other again.
“He texted — he’s gonna miss today. Said he’s home sick.” Joss sighed when the bell rang. “I gotta get to homeroom. I get marked late one more time, I’m gonna end up with a Saturday detention, and I can’t hide that from Mom.”
“Does anyone know where—” Emma pulled a schedule out of her pocket. “Um, Room 319 is? What’s my homeroom—”
“Mine, too—” Cameron and Spencer said at the same time. They glared at each other, and Joss rolled her eyes.
“Oh, great. It’s just like when we were kids all over again. Good luck, Trina.” Joss left, and Trina frowned after her.
“What does that mean?” she wanted to know. She looked at Cameron. “Good luck with what?”
“Nothing,” Cameron muttered. “It’s just Joss being Joss. Let’s get to homeroom.”
Penthouse: Living Room
Drew Cain checked his messages one more time before knocking briskly on the door to the penthouse that had once been his home. It had been hard to leave the week before, to pack his things, and take a room at the hotel—
But necessary. He and Sam were just stuck in one place, and nothing would change unless he did something to force it. They’d argued for weeks over her divorce and custody of the kids—but the moment she’d realized Drew was actually forming a relationship of sorts with his newfound twin brother, it was like a light had gone out for her.
He was determined to fix it—to figure out what was at the root of Sam’s sudden refusal to allow anything—or anyone—related to Jason in her life or the lives of the children.
Sam pulled open the door, her expression blank as she considered him. “Are you here to see Scout?”
“Not specifically, but I’d like to—”
“Well, you can’t,” Sam said flatly. “Kristina and Molly took Scout and Danny to my mother’s. So—” She started to close the door, but Drew slapped a hand against it. “What?”
“I want to talk,” Drew said gently. “Please.”
“I told you—”
“Diane said she revised a revised divorce petition from you—” His throat tightened. “You’re filing for full custody of Scout. Why?”
“Because I can—” Sam closed her eyes, then stepped back. “Fine, come in. Let’s get this over with.”
“I know you’re angry at me—”
“You don’t know anything—” She closed the door behind him. “I wouldn’t have changed the divorce paperwork, but you forced it. Okay? Because you’re screwing around with the Cassadines, and I don’t want the kids involved in it. My mother has spent her whole life dealing with Helena, and I know she’s not the only person Helena made miserable. That family is dangerous—”
“They’re your family—”
“No—my mother is my family. It’s not the same as being connected to the rest of it, okay? Helena never took any interest in me and I thank God for it—but what you’re doing—”
Drew shook his head. “I don’t understand any of this, Sam. It’s not like you to run scared from something—”
“Well, maybe I’m tired of having my life get blown up every few years. I’m tired—” Sam dragged her hands through her hair, and his ire faded for a moment. “Every since I got to Port Charles, I feel like I have to keep starting over. I lost my brother, then I couldn’t have kids, and Lucky and I couldn’t make things work—and then Franco—” Her voice broke. “Then Jason went off that pier. Danny had cancer—I can’t keep doing this, Drew. And I refuse to be the bad guy because I just want everything to stop.”
“I don’t—” He caught one of her hands and pressed it against his heart. “I don’t want you to be hurt, Sam. And I know these last few months have been confusing. I have these memories in my head that don’t belong to me. I have to second guess everything I do or say—I don’t have the answers—”
“You don’t need them—” Her eyes searched his, desperately. “You don’t need them. You have those stupid files. Tell Spinelli to find your memories, take them to a new doctor—maybe Robin, okay? Get them merged with the ones you have now—and let’s just go back to how things were—”
“I can’t go back—”
“Why?” Sam jerked her hand back. “Why? Why can’t we go back? When we launched Aurora, we were happy! We were planning for a future that didn’t include any of this! Why can’t we have that?”
“We can still have—” Drew closed his mouth. “We’re still having the same argument, Sam. And I don’t know how to make it stop. I need to find out what happened to me. Why it happened. And to make sure there’s nothing else out there that’s going to hurt the people I care about. You know what Helena Cassadine is capable of—what she nearly managed at the Nurse’s Ball, even after being dead for two years! How can I sit back and hope it’s over?”
Tears slid down her cheeks, and she turned away, pressing her hands against her face. “You can’t. I know that. I know it’s selfish to want you to.”
“I just don’t know why it has to be with them. Why do you have to work with the people who made this happen?” Sam whirled back. “Laura told my mother that Helena went after Jason—went after you—because of Elizabeth! She’s the reason this is happening—”
“Jason is my brother,” Drew said firmly and she pressed her lips into a thin line. “I know you have some unresolved issues with him, but he’s my brother. And Elizabeth—even if I didn’t count her as a friend—she’s part of his life. Which is the part you’re really angry about, isn’t it?”
“Don’t—” Sam shook her head. “Don’t start with that—I am allowed to hate her. She lied for months about who you were—”
“Who she thought I was—”
“No!” Sam stabbed a finger at him. “You do not get to let her off the hook because she was wrong. She thought you were Jason, and she lied because she knew what would happen. And it did. As soon as you knew the truth, you left her—and we fell in love again. You told me that. You told me you loved me. How can you say it and not even listen—”
“Because you’re not making any sense, and I don’t understand why it all has to be all or nothing. You’re demanding I cut my own brother out of my life after we just found out each other existed. You want me to give up searching for my past. You want me to cut out Jake’s mother, when just months ago, we were co-parenting and managing just fine. I don’t understand why it’s different now. What changed?”
Sam looked away, her face pale. “Maybe that’s the problem. Nothing has changed. Except for everything. “And I’m tired. You’re looking for me to explain something that I just can’t. I just know I can’t do this. Not with you. Not with them. I don’t want to.”
“Well, until you can explain it,” Drew said tightly, “we have nothing to say to each other. You’re not keeping me from my daughter. I’ll have Diane contact Alexis from now on.”
“Good.” Sam opened the door. “So you can go—”
“Just one more thing—” Drew looked at her. “I know our lives exploded. I know that it’s going to take for it all to settle. When it does, I hope you’ll remember that I love you. That you love me—”
“Are you sure? I wonder.” Sam exhaled slowly. “Can you love something that doesn’t even exist? You don’t even know who you are. And I don’t think you know who I am, either.”
“I guess we’ll find out how much of that is true.”
“I guess we will.” And then she closed the door.
Quartermaine Estate: Foyer
Michael strode from the study, his eyes focused on the contract in his hand, thinking about the board meeting that night—
And then the front door swept open, ushering in a swirl of bitter January wind. Michael snapped his head up and grimaced. “I thought I smelled sulfur.”
“And I thought I smelled bullshit,” came the retort of the woman who stalked inside, slamming the door behind her. “Just like every day of your tenure—we should be lucky there’s still an ELQ to screw up—” Tracy Quartermaine unbuttoned her coat slowly. “Where is my useless sister-in-law?”
Michael scowled. “She’s in the family room. What do you want with her?”
“I don’t speak to children.” Tracy dismissed him with a wave of her hand as she passed him. “Go play in the shallow end with the other infants.”
He considered following her, but his grandmother could hold his own—and he had a bad feeling his aunt would make a surprise visit to the offices. Michael returned to the study to double check the agenda.
Tracy found Monica sitting at desk in the family room, her pen moving swiftly over a notepad. She closed the door behind her, and Monica looked up. “How did you mess this up?” Tracy demanded.
“I did nothing.” Monica gripped the pen more tightly. “You were the one who handled all the paperwork—there never should have been anything to find—” She got to her feet. “Tell me how every time I asked you to find him, you could find nothing—and Robert Scorpio found a link between Andrew Moore and Andrew Cain in two months?”
“He’s WSB.” Tracy shrugged. “They have better resources—”
“Don’t bullshit me, Tracy,” Monica snapped, her eyes lit with fury. “I begged you repeatedly to find Alan’s son—”
“Yes, you inquired a few times,” Tracy said. “But I don’t recall hearing a single word from my brother.”
Monica closed her mouth and Tracy nodded. “Exactly. You never said a word about what we did because you knew Alan would never forgive you. If you had told him Jason had a brother, Daddy and Alan would have torn apart the world looking for him.”
Monica exhaled slowly, sat back down at the desk, and a single spiral of pity slid through Tracy. “Monica, we made a decision a long time ago when we were different people. We wouldn’t do the same today—”
“I somehow think that’s not going to matter very much to Drew. Or to Jason.” Monica closed her eyes. “I did ask you to find him. You know I did.”
“And I tried.” Tracy winced. “Maybe not as hard as I could have,” she allowed. “The past is the past.” And Andrew Cain had no memories of that past which suited Tracy quite nicely. “We’ll find out what they know, and make sure what they don’t know stays buried.”
Tracy hooked her coat over her arm. “Speaking of buried—have they reopened the murder case itself?” she wanted to know. “Or are they just poking around at Drew and Jason’s birth records?”
“No.” Monica rubbed her chest. “It wouldn’t matter if they did.”
“Not to me, no. I wasn’t in Port Charles when Susan Moore died. Would it matter to you?”
“I told you then—” The anger, mixed with exasperation. “I didn’t kill her! Why would I do that when I knew it meant I’d be stuck with her bastard children —” Monica curled her hand into a fist. “Why is it that you bring out the worst in me?” she demanded.
“A gift. Relax, Monica. I’ll fix everything. Just like I always do.”