The Path to Power
Chapter Fifty Four
Growing old isn't a graceful process. It's something that
hits you in the face one day when looking in a mirror and not recognizing the
person who looks back. Truthfully you are only as old as you feel. And she still
felt the way she did back when she'd been meeting Edward on the sly while
Tolliver was off conducting his business. Those long drives in the countryside
with the top down on the convertible. The wind blowing thru their hair. Everyone
knew back then that any day could be the last due to that Horrible Little Man in
Europe. It was imperative to live not looking forward or back because now
might be all anyone had.
The end of The War had given everyone some ease and the oblivion of knowing that tomorrow would come. Routine and Mundane. Thinking more of what was going to happen next than what was happening then: get married, have a family, build a business-- always looking toward the future.
And then it arrived. The day your body betrayed you for the first time. And again facing the reality of your own mortality. Pushing it to the back of your mind. Again and Again until it couldn't be pushed back any longer. She'd had a long run really. It's getting tougher and tougher to push back.
"Yes, Reggie?" Lila answers absently.
"Dawg called. He's already down at the park. He's wondering when you're going to arrive. He evidently has an idea he wants to run by you." Reggie says wryly.
Lila looks at him. "Did he share it with you?"
"No, he knows I'd tell you... since I'm your dude." Reggie grins.
"Have the car brought around." Lila orders.
"I'd like to see Dara Jensen please."
"Do you have an appointment?"
"No, I'm afraid not. It's regarding something that just came up this weekend. But she's actually been expecting it."
"May I have your name please?"
"Quartermaine. Mrs. Lydia Quartermaine."
"And what it's regarding?" Mary picks up the phone to dial Dara's extension.
"Just tell her my name as I gave it to you and she'll know."
Mary Bishop repeats the message to Dara including carefully stating the client's name as it had been given to her. Dara hangs up on her and the door bursts open. "You didn't!"
"We did." Lydia holds out her left hand with the shiny new wedding band on it. "You're the first to know. Although AJ is probably telling everyone in his office by now. And I think he was planning on contacting Skye and letting her know as well."
"He went into the OFFICE?!" Dara's jaw drops. She's aghast by the lack of romance in AJ's soul. Even a Quartermaine should know better than go into the office the Monday after getting married. Oh wait-- we're talking Quartermaine.
"It'll take a little while to arrange the honeymoon and even then I suspect it will be less of a honeymoon and more a fight with the trustees of my grandfather's estate. Besides some might say that we've put the cart before the horse as far as the honeymoon goes." Lydia adds wryly. "Are you ready?"
"Ready or not." Lydia counters. "The element of surprise will soon be lost."
"Did you bring it?"
"Here." Lydia reaches into her purse and brings out the signed marriage license. "It's a good thing AJ knows a judge who was willing to give up part of his Sunday."
Dara looks at her watch. "I think I have enough time to get the ball rolling before I have to leave for court. Mary, could you type this up for me?" Dara hands Mary a tape marked confidential.
"What is your surprise, Darling?" Lila asks Dawg as she brings the wheel chair to a stop on the path that runs thru the middle of the Chloe Morgan Memorial Park.
Dawg pulls a palm sized walkie talkie out of his pocket and gives the word. "Now. Mrs. Q is here." A couple of guys on the roof of a nearby apartment building wave from the top. They start tugging on ropes that pull up a white canvas from the middle of the building to the top creating a blank white wall. Unlike the apartments on the west side of the park which faced the green space, the apartment building on the east side is just a blank brick wall. "If you like it I can have the guys paint the side of the wall so we don't have to mess with the canvas. It'll take longer than tagging but I figure nobody will call the cops."
"It's a movie screen." Lila realizes.
"And I checked it out... you can actually use the same electrical hook up as for the gazebo and the music acts. All really need is a projector and reels of film. So what do you think?" Dawg can't believe it but he is actually holding his breath waiting for Lila's answer.
"Marshall, you are brilliant. Reggie, doesn't Marshall have a brilliant idea?!"
Reggie is slowly nodding. "It's good. I mean it's really good. Another thing for the neighborhood to do."
"And it's so lovely on a summer's evening to be outdoors watching a film." Lila nods. "Darling, I think you should have your friends do the... tagging. That way you don't have to worry if a breeze comes up."
Dawg nods and then pulls out the walkie talkie again. "Mrs. Q wants a screen painted on the wall."
We'll start on it tonight. a voice comes back thru the walkie talkie. The guys up there stayed up there most nights keeping a look out for the dealers. From the rooftop they could see any suspicious vehicles coming up on the guys on the corner. But it got boring, this would at least keep them busy and awake.
"Now, Marshall, I spoke with Ms. Jensen this weekend...." Lila prompts the young man.
And he immediately gets defensive. "I was gonna stop by there today. I got all the information about that community college course. It just took a little longer than I thought it would. They don't make it easy you know. And then I was looking at all the stuff they offer. And I got that gig over at your grandson's. I need to get on that too."
"Do you have the curriculum with you?" Lila asks.
"Yeah, it's over at the gazebo. I was reading it while I was waiting for you."
Lila hits the power on the wheel chair. "I want to see it. Perhaps some of these courses can be applied to what you're doing over at AJ's. Didn't you say that Lydia wanted a water element?"
"Yeah, they had a course in water garden management. I took a real close look at that one but then I realized they weren't talking hydroponics, you know, but like fishponds and stuff. I'm thinking that the greenhouse course will be more on track for the uh... business. But they want you to take all these requirements-- crap like chemistry and computers."
Lila gives him a look.
"Sorry. But I don't see the point." Dawg says sheepishly.
"Darling, you know I am not a fan of chemicals... as it applies to the... business." Lila says significantly. "But you do recall that I did have your soil analyzed so we could find out exactly what the plants were missing. To have healthy plants, you have to have a healthy growing medium-- and know how to amend it to make it so. You have to be able to make your own... tea."
"But I get my tea from you." Dawg counters.
"I'm not going to be around forever, Darling." Lila says realistically.
"You busy?" AJ knocks on Skye's door at the Port Charles Herald.
"Come on in." Skye waves him in.
"Sorry I didn't get back to you yesterday. Lydia and I were out for most of the day. Building a deck, Skye?"
"It wasn't my idea." Skye laughs. "Monday never looked so good. I was so ready to come back to work to rest! I used muscles I didn't know I had and ones that were never used at the gym."
"I don't think I want to know." AJ gets comfortable in the chair across from Skye. "Nice write ups on the stadium."
Skye warns him. "You know I'm going to print the downside too, AJ. It's not going to be a rubber stamp. It's a lot of money. And we aren't exactly talking the best of times as far as the economy is concerned."
"It can't be-- a rubber stamp I mean." AJ agrees. "If you did that it would cause a backlash against the project. And if the people can't trust the Herald to report all the facts...."
"Exactly. Then they won't believe what we do report." Skye nods.
"So ask me what I did this weekend instead of coming over to help you stain your deck."
"Okay. I'll bite. What were you doing, AJ, instead of helping me stain my brand new deck so I could get a hot tub installed today?"
AJ holds up one hand. His left one. He rubs his thumb significantly against one finger... a gold banded finger.
Skye's eyes grow wide. "You sonovabitch-- how could you?!"
"That was not the response I was expecting." AJ says defensively with a frown. He stands up. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea but he'd expected Skye to be happy for him. The ration of gloom and doom would be coming from the rest of the family.
"How could you not?!" Skye comes around the desk and punches AJ in the arm and then hugs him enthusiastically. "How could you get married without me being there?! What were you thinking?! Does this mean you're going to be bringing Lydia out of hiding and letting the rest of the family meet her? Reception... something?! Where are you going on your honeymoon? Why aren't you already on it!"
"You're beginning to sound like a reporter." AJ says wryly as he returns the hug and then extricates himself. "Here. The wedding announcement. The picture was taken by the Judge's wife." He pulls a carefully worded statement out of the interior pocket of his suit jacket.
Skye reads thru it quickly and gets to the part at the end. "...planning on taking a tour of Europe later this summer for their honeymoon."
AJ nods. "Lydia still has some things to settle with her grandfather's estate. So we'll end up going to Switzerland and Monaco at least."
Skye hesitates before asking but can't resist. "AJ... how much of this is because of the announcement in the Sunday paper about Jason and Courtney?"
"I guess I should get used to that question. So I'll be straight with you because I want you to be able to put the rest of the family straight if they should ask. None. Jason and my ex wife had nothing to do with the timing of Lydia and my wedding, Auntie Skye."
Skye blinks and repeats. "Auntie Skye. Wow."
"Confirmed this morning with a home test." AJ grins. "I think I'm going to go buy some cigars after I leave here. Although we are trying to keep that one a bit under wraps until Lydia is further along."
"Don't worry that one comes directly under Auntie privilege and goes no further." Skye crosses her heart. "Are you happy, AJ?"
"So much so it scares me." AJ says frankly. "It's going too well, Skye. Have you ever felt like that?"
"Rarely... but yeah." Skye bites her lower lip. Normally right before the bottom fell out. Married to Jax one day with a beautiful future in front of her as a welcomed part of the Jacks family and the next day him shot, paralyzed from the swelling around his spine and his girlfriend not leaving his side. "So stick with just telling about the marriage, don't even mention the b-a-b-y. The marriage will be enough to get the rest of the hoard to attack and try to talk Lydia into dumping you while the dumping is good and that way things will get back to normal."
"Sounds like a plan."
Cole has stretched his weekend into a long one. Course it wasn't a real weekend. He knew that both Skye and Kyle had raced out of the house today grateful to be back to work and school. Course he still had a list of things to get done and guys coming over to get them done. The new door off of the master bedroom. Wiring for the hot tub, a little romantic lighting, getting the tub itself installed, having the phones forwarded from Kyle's house to here. Sunday and Mondays are notoriously slow at Jake's until Football season opened back up in the fall. Maybe he needed to sponsor a volleyball team or something. Maybe open up a deck. Nah. This is Jakes. Besides he didn't need the bar too busy as long as Kyle is staying with him. Riding herd on the kid would keep him occupied.
"It looks good."
"Wasn't expecting to see you, Commish." Cole shakes his head. And he should have. Between Maxie and Georgie being over on Saturday and Skye admitting she'd given the pictures to the commissioner maybe it's a surprise it has taken so long. "Still waiting on the hot tub delivery."
"That door wasn't there before."
"Yeah, it wasn't there before Skye went to work either." Cole says wryly. "You here about the pictures?"
Mac nods. "Don't clue the guy in, Radcliffe. The only way this can work is if you aren't part of the mix at all. If Alcazar finds out that his cover has been blown... he'll either be pulled back or go the same way as Capelli."
"That doesn't bother me. At all. My only priority in this is Skye. That smarmy little fucker slashed her tire and then stuck around to change it. He could have done anything to her. And he's not getting another chance."
"I'm not suggesting he should." Mac says calmingly. "You already warned the guy off Skye. I'm just suggesting you treat him like any other guy cutting in. Not like a cop killer. I want to bring the guy down, and Alcazar too." Between Luis kidnapping his kids and Lorenzo corrupting and killing cops-- Alcazar isn't a name they'd be laying out the welcome mat for.
"Are you sure about this?" Reggie asks from the front seat of the Bentley. "Faith wasn't exactly rolling out the red carpet the last time we stopped by."
Lila explains. "She was still annoyed at Edward."
"I think she's still annoyed with Mr. Q." Reggie counters. He sees the stubborn tilt of Lila's head and sighs. "You're the boss." Reggie stops at the gate. "Mrs. Quartermaine to see Faith Ashton."
"One minute please." Bruno calls up to the house. After a brief conversation he leans back out of the guard house. "She'll see you. Pull in around on the kitchen side."
"Thanks." Reggie puts the car in motion and pulls around to the back of the house. The cottage is still not handicapped friendly so he has to wonder exactly why they aren't pulling around to the front but figures it's not the time to be asking questions. Mrs. Quartermaine wanted something and he wasn't going to be standing in her way.
Faith comes out of the back of the house carrying Kristina. Ned is at work, Dillon at school. Alice is working on her project putting in as many hours as she can although now she has the baby monitor with her incase she was called back to work. She's already walking back to the house from the garage wiping her hands on a rag and then pocketing the rag.
Reggie assists Lila from the car and into her chair.
"Faith. Hello Kristina." Lila holds a hand out to the baby.
Alice looks at Faith waiting for her nod before bringing the baby over to Lila.
After a brief renewal of acquaintance, Faith interrupts. "I suspect you had a reason for coming over, Mrs. Quartermaine."
Lila looks to Alice to take the baby back. "Reginald, I need to speak to Faith privately."
"Mrs. Q..." Reggie sees Lila's resolve face and sighs. "So... Alice... rebuild any carburetors lately?"
"As a matter of fact.." Alice nods, with the baby on her hip she leads the way. "Come check it out."
Faith takes a seat on the back steps of the cottage surrounded by the herbs that she'd potted up the day before. "Floor's yours."
Lila waits until Reggie and the rest are out of earshot. "I'm dying."
Faith just shakes her head in disbelief. "Why the hell are you telling me?"
"Because I'm not planning on telling anyone else. And it's time for you to make peace with Edward."
Faith laughs. "Not even over your dead body."
"It's Cancer, Faith. My doctor tells me I have six months-- maybe a year, more or less."
"You're refusing treatment." Faith declares flatly realizing where it's going. If she had inoperable cancer she'd probably do the same-- if she didn't blow her brains out first.
Lila nods. "It's a quality of life issue, frankly. I've talked to my doctor, gotten the second opinions. They all say the same."
"Monica or Alan..."
"I'd be poked and prodded until the day I died and gain... weeks... probably of agony. Alan, Monica... Edward... they can't make those kind of decisions. Not for me-- they wouldn't know when to let go. I'm grateful that my doctors have given me sufficient time to put my affairs in order. Ned and Dillon have you. Skye has the newspaper now and if I'm not mistaken that charming scoundrel Cole as well. AJ is dating a lovely girl and has a new job. Jason is getting married. Emily is doing well at Stanford. But I'm worried about Edward and my dear, you're the only one in the family that can handle him." Lila waves a hand. "Oh I know that Emily can cajole him sometimes but he'll tell her what she wants to hear and she'll believe him."
"Yeah, like I'd ever let him get away with that."
"Precisely." Lila exchanges a secret smile with Faith. One capable woman to another. "And you've already drawn your line in the sand with Edward. Oh he would push it without a doubt but he wouldn't be... out of control." Lila hesitates to ask the next because Faith had been suspected of being overeager in the past. "There may come a time when I need your help."
Faith shakes her head. "It won't come to that. You'll only need my... help if you're in pain. By the time it comes down to it they'll all know. And Ned will make sure that you're not in pain because I'll make it crystal clear to him what will happen to you if you are."
Lila nods. "Yes, that will work. There will be nothing for you in my will, Faith. I don't want any suspicion to fall on you."
Faith nods. "I wasn't expecting anything. I already have the million dollars your husband gave me before I married Ned."
Lila gives Faith the closest thing to a sour look that she can before she continues. "Yes, that reminds me. Make it clear to Edward that if he starts dating anyone younger than our daughter after I'm... gone that I'll be back to haunt him." Lila catches Reggie's eye and waves him over. "It was good talking to you, Faith. I hope you will bring the baby to the grand opening of the Chloe Morgan Memorial Park."
"Bruno would never forgive me if I didn't. He's a fan of your work." Bruno had called for relief and is just walking around the corner of the house.
He hears what Faith says. "I am, Mrs. Quartermaine. What you've done down there is just flat out amazing."
Bruno and Faith watch and wait as Lila is settled back in the back of the Bentley and even give a wave as the car pulls out.
"Get that remodeling crew together. I want wheelchair ramps on the front and back doors. By the time they get done with what I want done around here, I'll be ready to get to work on a property down on Courtland." Faith doesn't wait for an answer but instead gets up and brushing off her shorts goes back into the house.
"You got it, Faith."
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