The Path to Power
Chapter Sixty Three
"I think me and my little lottery win and the Cassadines are both back under the radar." Penny says absently as she walks out of the cabin kitchen with the Herald that Mrs. Lansbury had left along with some fresh fruit and muffins. She keeps scanning the front article.
"Why do you say that?" Nikolas asks.
Penny turns the paper around so that Nik can see the cover of the paper.
Nikolas whistles. "Kidnapped from a church? Thatís..." He shakes his head.
"... Port Charles." Penny finishes the sentence wryly probably not the way that Nik intended..
"Lucky, did you see this?" Liz comes padding into Luckyís office dressed in flannel pjs, one of Luckyís t-shirts and a robe hanging open.
"You didnít go out to get the paper did you?" Lucky demands. "Youíre suppose to be keeping a low profile."
"Please! Youíre a Spencer. You wouldnít know low profile if it bit you in the left buttock." Liz keeps on reading. "This is better than anything the Intruder ever put out."
Lucky grabs it out of her hands and whistles when he sees the headline. Carly is kidnapped but itís a picture of Sonny above the fold with the headline about Mob Bossí Wife Abducted. Carlyís name didnít even make the headline. "Damn. I need to call Aunt Bobbie."
Liz winces when she realizes she missed a nuance of the story. "Iím sure sheís fine, Lucky. Itís Carly."
"Yeah, Iím sure she is too. Iím more worried about Aunt Bobbie." Lucky dials his auntís number and gets her voice mail. "Aunt Bobbie, itís Lucky. Anything you need Iím there." Lucky sees Liz flagging him down and pointing to herself. "That goes for Elizabeth too." Lucky hangs up the phone. "So who would want to kidnap Carly?"
Elizabeth snorts. "Sorry. That wasnít nice. I guess on the silver lining side. It wouldnít be anyone who actually knew her. Because wouldnít they have to actually be around her? Sonny might make money off the deal."
"The whole thing is just crazy." Lucky shakes his head.
Elizabeth pales. "Oh my Gawd. Itís our fault. We told him it wasnít his baby. Those pictures."
Lucky realizes where Liz is going. "Shit. He said he didnít sleep with Carly."
"Ric said a lot of things."
Lydia makes her way to the Chief of Staffís office and raps on the door before entering. "AJ. Any change?"
"Heís still out of it. His eyes are wide open but he doesnít... see anything." AJ looks up from folding the blanket and putting it back over the comfortable leather couch in his fatherís office. It had to be comfortable. There have been too many times his father had to spend the night on it either for professional or personal reasons.
"Has Michael said... anything?" Lydia hands AJ a bag with his shaving gear and a change of clothes.
"Mommaís gone. Over and over." AJ says grimly. "Until Dad finally gave him a sedative so he could get some rest. I didnít get to see him until Sonny and his goons left after Michael fell asleep."
"Oh Darling." Lydia moves into AJís arms and gives him a strong hug.
AJ rubs her back and then brushes her hair back. "How are you?"
"Fine for now. And if my stomach goes into revolt... well then weíre in the right place. Wilson took Rosie for a walk. And Sally got into my address book even before we were on the plane back to Port Charles."
"Excuse me?!" AJ blinks at that. Lydia is gradually breaking down the old school barrier between employer and staff but he canít imagine any time when it would be okay for the maid to go thru his wifeís address book.
"Security. She knew I was looking into security because of the trustees and the foul leaks they have put out about Grandfatherís will. But then when Dillon came over to the house after the kidnapping to ask if anyone staying in the Garage apartment had seen it." Lydia shudders. "Sheís arranged appointments for us to interview."
"Hell since sheís gone that far. Why doesnít she just hire them?!"
"Because I think she expects us to pay for them. Theyíre former Mossad, AJ. They donít come cheaply."
"Do it." AJ nods resolutely.
"There have already been... overtures from the trustees. They know weíre going to win and donít want to lose everything. Youíve taken care of me. Let me take care of this. Iíll hire the security, AJ. It has to be in place before you bring Michael home, before..." Lydia puts a hand to her still flat stomach.
"I wish I could say it was going to be okay." AJ doesnít offer an upside to all this. Heís been burned too many times before. Even if by some miracle he did get custody of his son away from Sonny, the mobster would never stop trying to get Michael back. And Carly, Jason and Sonny had done their work well poisoning Michaelís mind against him.
There is a rap on the door. "I donít want you people to start thinking I make house calls." Dara brings in a briefcase of just the irons that AJ and Lydia have in the fire. The billable hours on this couple is going to buy her a house. "Who is up first?"
"I am." Lydia declares. She gives AJ a kiss but then rubs the back of her hand against his unshaven cheek. "But Iím sure that AJ will be ready in..."
"Twenty minutes." AJ gives Lydiaís hand a squeeze and then smiles at Dara. "We really appreciate you doing this, Dara." AJ leaves to the adjacent full bath to get changed into fresh clothes.
"Well I know there were phone messages when I got home last night." Lydia takes a seat and urges Dara to do so too. "I think it was the pictures of us with the Senator at the opera. The trustees have realized that they have lost. I have fulfilled the terms of my Grandfatherís will."
Dara nods. "The tone of the faxes changed in the last 24 hours but if you had someone else to handle the business I would probably move everything just because theyíve pissed me off. And breeching confidentiality. Unless they come up with a few names, and Iím talking Vice PresidentsĖ Senior Partners whatever, to throw on a figurative sword, they arenít sucking up hard enough."
"Demand an accounting." Lydia nods. "Might as well get all the blood letting out at once. Iíve made it clear that AJ and I are going to be living in the United States so Iím sure that we will soon be courted to move to banks with stronger ties here than in Europe. After everything that has happened with AJís son as well as taking up the reins of the family money, weíll be taking on security. The neighbors on either side of us seem quite lovely but weíll need to get another house on the street for them."
"So the trustees need to seed an account with...?" Dara looks up from her notes.
"The security will be more expensive than the property. They canít be local. Security in Port Charles is... compromised. Five million to start."
Itís like monopoly money really. Itís not like real money that you fold up in your wallet.
Lydia sees Daraís carefully blanked expression. "Itís not just for the security, Dara. Truly. Iím not that out of touch. Although between security and the measures they will demand to protect Michael and our baby from kidnapping-- its not going to go very far. Itís also a test of the trustees. If they so much as blink or ask for an explanation then its going to be a very easy decision when it comes down to it."
It had been a cryptic phone call that brought him to the outback. Nobody would be surprised that he stopped by after all he owned the joint. But the middle of a kidnapping might not be the time to check in on the help. Or that is what the Mayor would be screaming. "This better be good, Lucky." Mac knocks on the door that stands ajar as if waiting for him.
"I appreciate you coming over, Mac."
Mac looks around the room. Lucky had the business for less than a month and already the place was humming with things In boxes, the Out box and the fax spitting out papers.
Lucky sees him looking around the room. "Barrington is up for a Federal contract and donít want any surprises. Full background checks on the principals. Everything they put down ever is being verified. It isnít sexy but itís going to pay the bills."
Mac nods. He always liked the bread and butter of the PI business. Heíd had enough excitement when he was younger. "What have you got for me?"
"Itís not me." Lucky clicks a button on his desk and within a minute Elizabeth is in Luckyís office. "But Elizabeth is keeping a low profile."
"Weíre probably overreacting. Itís just things thrown together with a big conclusion right in the middle." Elizabeth downplays her theory. Now that the Commissioner is right in front of her she isnít quite so sure.
"What is this about?"
"Carly Corinthos. I think, we think, we know who kidnapped her."
Sheís got Macís full attention. "Who?"
"Ric Lansing." Elizabeth hands over the pictures of Ric in bed with Carly. "Someone sent those to me before everything that happened in the park. Ric said he didnít have sex with her but heís a liar and I donít know what to believe."
"We figure he was making Carly think she had sex with him. Itís the only reason he could have been the lawyer for the Cellar. Sonny hates Ric."
"Then I told Ric that this isnít his baby." Elizabeth holds a hand to his stomach. "And he got all crazy."
"Babe, he was crazy long before this." Lucky counters.
"Itís just that Carlyís pregnant and I donít know if itís Ricís baby or not."
Mac looks at the pictures. "Does Sonny know about this?"
Lucky and Elizabeth look at each other and shrugs. Lucky is the one that answers. "We have no idea."
"Do you know where the pictures came from?"
Elizabeth shakes her head. "Someone pushed them under the door of my studio and they were gone by the time I got to the door."
"Are you going to be able to get out of here without being seen?" AJ doesnít like Lydia leaving without him. He knows the press has descended on the hospital but the hoard is being held off by Hospital Security. A few cagey members might be able to get around and a few members of the press might get a tidbit of a story from security for a quick bit of cash but most of them are at the exits on the far side of the street so that people with a reason to be there still could get access.
"Dillon is going to borrow the florist van from his former employer and bring it around to the services entrance. He is going to pick me up there." Lydia pulls out her jacket and grabs her purse. "We do really appreciate you doing this, Dara. Hopefully, it wonít be much longer and weíll be able to make office appointments again."
Dara reviews the things she has going with Lydia very quickly on the long yellow legal pad. "Any questions on this we should be able to handle by phone call or fax. Hopefully by the time we need to schedule another appointment Michael will be out of the hospital."
"And that is my cue to get things ready for him." Lydia answers. AJ walks her to the door of his fatherís office, gives her a kiss and a brush of his hand down her arm. Lydia gives his hand a squeeze and then strides off to the bank of elevators at the end of the hall. She is going to have a busy day. Now itís her turn to take care of AJ. Heíd taken such good care of her after the spider bite. This isnít a threat to their new family. Itís an opportunity to bring it closer together. And to bring a new member home... Michael.
"Earth to AJ?" Dara gets AJís attention finally as he had not moved waiting to see Lydia get on the elevator.
"Sorry after Carly gets kidnapped out of a freaking church, I really hate the idea of Lydia going anywhere by herself." AJ turns around and takes a seat across from Dara.
"Nice segue to what we need to talk about. Iíve got it all together in a packet. Everything that Sonny did to get your signature on the papers relinquishing Michael. Petitions to take immediate physical custody of Michael. We can do this, AJ, but itís going to be ugly and itís going to put Michael right in the middle of it."
"Michael is where he needs to be right now, Dara."
"Itís that bad?"
"He is ... not aware. Itís like heís reliving the moment of Carlyís kidnapping over and over again." AJís voice is grim. "Believe me, Dara. All I want to do is grab Michael and get him as far away as possible."
Dara remains very carefully silent waiting for AJ to finish his thought.
AJ sighs. "And I canít do that. What I want isnít what Michael needs right now. Yes, I want custody. But what I really want is for Sonny to not be able to take my son anywhere. Iím not going to pull him away from his doctors. I need to know that Sonny and Jason arenít going to either. If that means police on the doorĖ so be it. Jason hates doctors with a passion, an irrational passion. He pulled Carly out of the hospital two days after she woke up from having Michael and put her on a plane. She was still recovering from almost bleeding to death and a C-section."
"You havenít said anything about Carly."
"Lydiaís been drilling me on this one." AJís smile is wry. "I am not to say a word about Carly that isnít concern and a fervent request for her quick return. This isnít about my ex-wife. Itís about her husband. Heís a danger to my son. Heís already proved that with Carlyís kidnapping."
"She has been drilling you. Iím impressed." Dara nods. "Okay so injunction from Michael being removed from the hospital. Motion to get your parental rights back. From there move for joint custody with Carly: physical, legal, medical. In Carlyís absence that would put you in the driverís seat and as soon as she is back you guys can start fighting for the wheel." Dara pauses. "I hate child custody cases, AJ. Itís one of the reasons I went into criminal law. The last thing I want to be doing is playing King Solomon with othersí lives. You see enough of the ways that people screw up their kids working in the DAís office. It isnít legal advice and it sounds like Lydia is already going there but... donít badmouth Carly to Michael. Donít do to him what Carly and Sonny have done to him about you. You might as well already start a trust fund for the therapy heís going to need for the rest of his life. And if you do manage to get Michael under you roof...."
"When." AJ interrupts to correct.
"When you manage, because everything Carly and Sonny have done since Michael was born, Michael is going to hate you. He is going to fight you every step of the way. Itís going to be hard, AJ. The hardest thing youíve ever done."
"But if I donít do it now a couple of years from now is going to be too late and heíll be mini mobster and calling for hits on kids that tick him off or something."
Dara grins itís a horrible if hilarious thought. "Get Bobbie on your side. Sheís someone that Michael trusts. Iíll handle the legal end."
"Itís what you pay me for. Iím going to track down a judge and get the injunction filed as an emergency and then try for the first available court date on the motions." Dara packs up her briefcase and leaves.
AJ picks up the phone and his father paged. "Dad, how is he doing?"
"I do appreciate you giving me a lift to the cottage." Lydia tells Dillon.
"Itís okay. Iím getting used to driving." Dillon looks over at the gorgeous brunette in the passenger seat of the florist van. Lydia had hid in the back until they cleared the service entrance of the hospital. "Faith is a firm believer in riding shot gun. How is Michael doing?"
"Not well. AJ says Michael seems to be emotionally locked to the moment when his mother was taken."
Dillon grimaces. "Poor kid."
"I have quite the lengthy list of things to get done before AJ can bring Michael home to the row house." Lydia is trying to duck out of the meeting she is about to have.
"Well then itís a good thing to get Faith and Skye involved in this." Dillon is having none of it. "Both of them know how to get things done in this town." Dillon nods at the guy in the gate and then pulls on thru to the back door where Skyeís SUV is already parked. He notes the cars. "Good Ned isnít here."
"Youíll see." Dillon hops out of the van and comes around to open the door for Lydia. "Just go ahead to the back door. Iíve got to get the van back."
Lydia is kind of bewildered as she goes up to the back door of a very charming cottage. She knocks on the door.
Skye answers. "Good. Youíre here. Faith has the kettle on and Grandmother is going to call in..."
"About five minutes." Faith interrupts. "Time enough to get freshened up if you have to and get settled. Ned is doing duck time with the brat. Alice will call before they come back. Coast is pretty well clear."
"Clear for what? Lydia asks curiously looking from one to the other.
Just then the phone rings.
"Early. The Old Lady is impatient." Faith mutters. She picks up the phone. "Yeah, Lydia just arrived. Let me put you on speaker phone."
"Good Morning, Darlings. Iím sorry I couldnít be there with you today but Edward has put his foot down. Iím to rest and avoid anything that might be construed as news. How is Michael, Lydia?"
"Heíll need to stay in the hospital for a bit longer, Mrs. Quartermaine." Lydia takes a seat at the kitchen table so that she is close enough to the phone to be heard on the other end. Skye takes a seat as well. Faith grabs the tea tray and brings everything over before taking a seat at the head of the table closest to the phone.
"Call me Grandmother, Darling." Lila insists. "I was at Queen of Angels so I know he seemed to be in shock. Alan and Monica were quite concerned."
"He saw it, Lila. You know that. Thatís what has him freaked and that is why he is in danger. He knows exactly who kidnapped his mother." Faith is blunt with the old woman.
Skye glares at Faith. "Grandmother, Alan and Monica havenít left the hospital since this happened. Hospital security has been increased. And Sonny has posted additional guards at Michaelís room."
"Actually Sonnyís guards are there when Sonny is there." Lydia counters. Sheís now ticked by the recitation and she isnít as guarded in what she says in Lilaís hearing. "AJ only got in to see Michael after that bastard had left for the day. Dara is meeting with AJ now to see what can be done legally. AJ is staying in his fatherís office at the hospital until Michael is released."
"Skye? What was the headline of the Herald this morning?" Lila asks.
"Put it on Sonny, Grandmother. Mob boss blah blah blah. Carlyís name wasnít even mentioned until the second paragraph of the story."
"Nothing from the guys that were working late on AJís garage, Lila. If this had been a big op they would have noticed the cars. This was one person coming after them. Really opportunistic and slick. One or two people. One car. Quick in and out."
"Yes, nothing like that Thanksgiving that Tracy threw one year." Lila mutters. "This doesnít sound like Mr. Corinthosí competitors."
Faith shrugs. "Sonnyís got more enemies than just business."
"That is true." Lila pauses before delicately asking. "Faith..."
Faith is blunt. "No. When it comes to my feelings about Sonny; they arenít this subtle. When I go after that son of a bitch it wonít be through his stupid cow of a wife. Ned asked me to put my plans on hold as long as Helena Cassadine is sniffing around. Heís afraid the old hag will come after Kristina."
There is a long pause as Lila considers Faithís comment. Then she sighs. "Ned is right, Darling. You definitely canít take the lead on this. The baby has to be your priority. I do hope youíll give Lydia some sound advice though so she knows with whom she is dealing. While Mr. Corinthos has lovely manners; he is a scoundrel who has robbed the family of my great grandson."
"AJ told me what Corinthos did to him. Mrs. Quarter... Grandmother." Lydia interjects. "Sally has already arranged appointments, and Iíll be interviewing for additional security later today."
"I could give you a recommendation there." Faith suggests.
"Thank you for the offer but no thank you." Lydia says calmly meeting Faithís eyes evenly. "They will be... imported and uninfluenced from any of the... players in this town."
"Mossad trained?" Skye asks curiously going for the guys with the sternest reputation.
Faith shrugs. She isnít going to be able to infiltrate them the way she had the construction crews. "Let me know if they need a shooting range. I know all the best in the area."
"Grandmother, Faith is going to be busy with the baby. Lydia is going to be getting her house in order. What do you want me to be doing?" Skye asks.
"Youíre already doing so much keeping both Carly and Michaelís names out of the paper. They are both the victims in this. Long before the kidnapping, because of Mr. Corinthos business. I know heís done such good works with his donations to the hospital in his dead wifeís name over the years and at the nursesí ball. But he does seem to be a magnet for ill will. And the timing of this when AJ is doing so wellĖ new bride, new house, new job, the team. Edward says everything went lovely in Washington. Heís already been on the phone to the Senator. AJís funds should be released back to him in just a couple of weeks. Although you should probably wait on announcing that."
"Wouldnít want to jinx it, Grandmother." Skye agrees. "It may not be news but it is a fact that AJ is Michaelís biological father. So maybe more on that and him not leaving the hospital while his son is ill."
"So risky, Darling, because it cuts so close to putting Michael in the paper." Lila worries.
"Iíll figure away around it, Grandmother. And Kyle has already offered to talk to Maxie about what might be going on over at Mac Scorpios."
"Hell. She could probably have Coleman talk to Mac Scorpio. I think theyíve bonded over all the stalkers Skye gets." Faith suggests snarkily.
Skye glares at Faith and isnít surprised by Lilaís next query.
"Oh dear. Jax isnít still making a pest of himself is he, Darling? Do you want me to talk to him again?"
Since one good turn deserves another. "No, Grandmother as far as I know Jax is trying to snag all the property down on Courtland St. before Faith can get it all so they can land speculate low income housing to replace where the New Stadium is going to be built."
Faith mouths a quick "Bitch" in Skyeís direction.
Skye is surprised by Lilaís response to the less than charitable action on Faithís part. "Darling, you should get Edward involved in that with you. Heís been grumbling about only being able to play so much golf." Before Faith can protest, Lila continues. "If we donít keep Edward busy then you know he will find something to keep himself busy. And heís been so good about ELQ lately. Going Mano a Mano as he likes to say against Jax would be such a nice distraction."
Faith mouths a quick swear word but then says loud enough to be heard. "Iíll think about it." Shaking her head and silently cursing. Just then Coleman raps on the door and comes into the kitchen. He goes over to the fridge and helps himself to a soda before leaning up against the breakfast bar. Faith rolls her eyes but then says, "Coleman just showed up. Weíre going to have to cut this short."
"It was so good to talk to you, Darlings. I hope next time weíll be able to get together in person. Maybe at the Garden Club Meeting? And Skye, as many meals as Coleman has been feeding your father we really must return the favor. Bring him over for dinner next Sunday."
"Yes, Grandmother." There is a chorus of byes and then Lila hangs up the phone on her end.
Faith disconnects the speaker phone and then looks over at Coleman. "Oh for Christ Sake. Get your head out of the gutter."
"You three just make it so easy." Coleman shrugs. "Just call me Bosley."
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