The Path to Power
Chapter Sixty Six
Dr. Lewis had not just been Alexis’ friend but once upon a time potentially more. Now he reports to the court on the drawings of a woman with the mental age of about eight. Sometimes though there are shadows of Alexis, communicating through a journal or in her automatic responses. It’s been a tough adjustment to realize the sister he’d known for years was actually an alter. His true sister had been buried under protective mental and emotional layers arrested to the age when her mind had broken. Penny had come at the situation with a refreshing perspective. Since the limit of Alexis’ culinary ability had been microwave popcorn, she’d already started Natasha on lessons in the kitchen. She saw it as a opportunity to correct what had gone wrong before. It’s a healthier attitude.
“Good Morning, Master Stefan. Will you be requiring breakfast this morning?”
“Yes, please Mrs. Lansbury. And the correspondence, newspapers as well if they won’t disturb Tasha.”
“Every thing is about Miss Barbara’s poor daughter, Caroline. Good lessons in there for Miss Natasha. She’s awake and getting ready for breakfast now.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Lansbury.”
“Oh and Sir? Mr. Marcus called. Poor man is up to his ears in work but he knows Miss Natasha has her appointment this morning and was hoping to stop by and check on her after.”
“Good. Please let me know when he arrives. I would like a few private minutes with the Lieutenant.”
“Very good, sir.” Mrs. Lansbury retreats after a brief nod.
Tasha announces her arrival by running down the stairs. “You weren’t here last night.”
“No, I was on the mainland.” Stefan answers truthfully but doesn’t feel the need to give more detail.
“I told Mrs. Lansbury you should be grounded too because you didn’t tell anyone where you went, but she said you told her.” Tasha watches her brother closely to see if that is the truth or if Mrs. Lansbury is just covering for her brother. Mrs. Lansbury always does whatever Stefan wants and it’s just not fair.
“Mrs. Lansbury knows how to get hold of me.”
“That doesn’t count!” Tasha protests. She puts her ankle up on the chair to show off the ever present monitor. “Mr. Marcus knows how to find me too after the bad lady kills me and stuffs my body down a deep dark hole.”
Mrs. Lansbury had just been about to announce Cameron Lewis but keeps silent as Dr. Lewis had waved a hand wanting to hear what Tasha said. It’s interesting since in fact that is exactly what Helena had done. The bad lady had killed Tasha’s mother and stuffed Tasha down the deep dark hole that is the protective cocoon of her brain. “What would count, Tasha?”
“He should have to tell where he is, like I do. Otherwise it’s rude!” Tasha declares loudly.
“Mrs. Lansbury, it looks like we’re going to have a discussion here.”
“I’ll bring you some scones and coffee, sir.”
“You’re an angel. Let me know if they don’t treat you right.” Cameron comes over to the breakfast table and pulls up a seat. Tasha takes the seat across from him in a more adversarial position although today maybe Dr. Cam would be on her side and Stefan would have to tell where he is going too. Stefan takes a seat at the head of the table but bites his tongue watching, waiting and observing where this is going. “Most people don’t wear an ankle bracelet like yours, Natasha. You wear it because of the bad lady.” It’s not quite the truth but as much as the child like woman could understand. “Most people carry these instead.” Dr. Lewis pulls out his cell phone and puts it on the table. “But it’s rude to answer the phone when you’re talking to someone else. That’s saying the person who is calling is more important than the person you’re talking to.” Dr. Lewis makes a production of shutting off his phone.
“Well why can’t I have a cell phone instead of this?”
Stefan answers this question. “Too many people lose their phones and you are too precious to lose.”
“Oh.” Tasha thinks about that. “Why can’t I have both? That way I can call Zander when I can’t sleep. He says I can call him any time I want.”
“Did you call Zander last night when you couldn’t find Stefan after the bad dream?”
Tasha looks away and doesn’t answer.
“It’s okay, Tasha. Zander told you it was okay to call him.”
“And he made you feel better so you could go back to sleep?”
“Zander says he is going to come see me and bring me another tape. It won’t be of Mama but some of her friends. And he says that the Bad Lady is hiding now cause people are hunting her to beat her up and call Mr. Marcus on her. He says the Bad Lady doesn’t have time for me right now. She’s more mad at other people. He says all I have to worry bout is all the people who don’t like Stefan.”
Cameron winces. “That’s my boy.”
“Which is why Dr. Lewis has pictures of all the people who don’t like me.” Stefan says easily. “Of course these people might get someone else to be bad for them so you have to be on guard, Tasha. If you don’t know someone then don’t talk to them until you are introduced to them by me, Nikolas or Mr. Marcus. Come get us and we’ll be happy to tell you if they are a friend or not.”
“But the Bad Lady, what if she is more mad at Mama or Papa? Shouldn’t they come here now that she’s gone? Wouldn’t it be safer here now?”
And that is a whole different can of worms.
Zander had called Luke’s place after talking to Tasha the night before. He already knows that Luke’s more of a night owl than an early bird and he won’t be able to pick up the tape until after lunch. Because of the afternoon appointment he’d headed into ELQ early to get done everything that came under the umbrella of VP in charge of Paperclips. Ever since his deposition had been given to the court so that AJ could get his parental rights back he’d been shadowed by one of Faith’s goons. She was probably hoping to use him as bait to take out one of Sonny’s minions. But Carly’s kidnapping had focused everyone’s energy there. Sooner or later, Sonny would come after him for crossing him. But right now Sonny is a freaking mess, and everything around him is too. It’s a surprise and a statement of Faith’s commitment to her relationship with Ned that she hadn’t jumped into the fray and grabbed power. Whatever Ned and the Quartermaines are offering is evidently sweeter than taking control of The Organization in Port Charles. Either that or she figured that a power grab wouldn’t stop Jason Morgan from putting a bullet behind her ear then go back to looking for Carly.
“You’re in early.” Ned stops by the open door and takes a step in. He looks at the stack of papers on Zander’s desk. The VP in charge of Paperclips had been a ceremonial title when Junyur had held it, but Zander applied his experience as a drug dealer to the position and stream lined contracts that had to do with supplies. A Multinational Corp like ELQ went thru a lot of paper, pens, computers in the course of taking over their piece of the pie. If there was a demand then Zander handled the supply. Nobody had the excuse of needing a shoe for their horse in order to win the war.
“I’m going to see Tasha this afternoon.”
“How is she doing?” Ned comes in and takes a seat.
“She called late last night after she should have been asleep. Bad dream.”
“Does that happen often?”
“She tells me about her bad dreams sometimes but it’s after the fact. She normally only calls me when she’s in trouble with Stefan.”
Ned grins at that. “And what kind of trouble could that be?”
Zander is not amused. “When Nikolas and Penny found Lorenzo Alcazar pushing her on her swing.”
Ned isn’t amused either. “Does Faith know about this?”
“Probably wouldn’t even hit Faith’s radar. Besides she wouldn’t care even if it did.” Zander states matter of factly. “She knows Alcazar is in Port Charles and has been watching people in town: Sonny, Jax, Ric Lansing, Skye. She’d pin a medal on the guy if he took out three of the four. Hell she’d probably pin a medal on the guy if he took out Tasha so that the Nut job wouldn’t ever be around the baby.” Zander’s tone is bitter at the last.
“I think Faith has proven over and over that she is more comfortable with... personality disorder than mentally ill.” Ned doesn’t know if he is apologizing for his wife or not. While Faith is more extreme, he recognizes guiltily that he feels the same way. It’s one of the reasons he hasn’t made more, hell any, effort to see Alexis after the first time out on the island.
Taggart pounds on the door of the Condo that had once belonged to Ric Lansing. Alcazar answers his own door. Course having the PCPD on the other side of the door is not a surprise. He’d been observed from the time he’d left his car down in the garage. “The oh so earnest Mr. Marcus. What have I done today to warrant another visit from the PCPD?”
“It’s Taggart, Lt. Taggart.” Marcus makes it clear. He sees Javier on the far side of the room. “And this is a private conversation.”
Lorenzo waves a hand and Javier retreats from the room but Marcus gets the feeling he isn’t going far. “And now we are alone, Lt. Taggart. What can I do for you?”
“Little birdy told me you may be keeping tabs on Ric Lansing...” among others.
“Just because it was Alexis Davis’ blade that pushed my brother to his death doesn’t mean that I don’t know that she just beat Ric Lansing to it. Lansing may have stayed in Port Charles to bond with his brother but he came here to kill my brother.”
“And yet here you are living in Lansing’s condo.” Taggart indicates with one hand the apartment.
“My Condo now. It was a very good deal.” Lorenzo says coolly. He nonverbally offers Taggart a cup of coffee which is declined and then pours himself a cup. “Has this little birdy been telling you anything else of interest?”
“That Lansing may have had something to do with the disappearance of Carly Corinthos.”
“He is quite the villain isn’t he? So why are you visiting with me? I hope you’re not expecting me to do your dirty work for you and beat the truth out of Mr. Lansing. While I would enjoy the process I believe that wouldn’t be admissible in your Courts. Stalking Horse, I believe it is called. It’s never been a goal of mine to be an Agent of the Police.” Lorenzo smirks in Taggart’s direction.
“There has been a two million dollar reward put out for information leading to the safe recovery of Carly Corinthos. Not even apprehension of the kidnapper. Just getting her back.” Taggart raises his voice slightly. Maybe Alcazar wouldn’t bite. He didn’t need the money but maybe his minion wouldn’t be so picky. “And I’m not asking for anything you might find out from here on out. Agent of the police and all that. But if you happened to have any information from before, from keeping an eye on Lansing...”
“I would have to check with my people.” Lorenzo non-answers.
“You do that and give us a call. It would go a long way toward clearing your books with the PCPD. Sonny Corinthos is one thing but a pregnant woman with a history of life threatening complications....” Taggart is reluctant to say more, reluctant to offer more. It was killing him to offer this much when he would like to shove the guy off one of the cliffs over on Spoon Island.
“I’ll check with my people.” Lorenzo says again.
Taggart leaves. There is nothing more for him here.
Javier comes out of the back. “Playing by the rules doesn’t seem to be working for the good Lieutenant. What would he say about that Panic room in Lansing’s house?”
“Nothing yet.” Lorenzo says absently. “First we have to verify that Mrs. Corinthos is there and make sure it is revealed in the worst possible way for Mr. Lansing. If I decide to reveal it at all-- watching Corinthos organization fall to pieces while he drinks himself into a stupor, Luis would savor this.” Lorenzo looks down at his watch. “First I have an appointment with the owner of the Herald.”
Tasha looks up at the clouds laying back on the grass her head resting on Zander’s stomach. “I love my present.”
“I’m glad.” Zander replies. He’d brought a different player so both he and Natasha could listen to the CD Luke had made. Luke had put together a mix of his own. His record collection might encompass the width and breadth of genres but it’s a little thin in the Opera section. He’d filled in with some early female blues and jazz greats. Definitely more Zander’s cup of tea than listening to women screech in Italian. “How did your session go today?”
“Dr. Cam thinks I should have a cell phone. Stefan has one and that’s why he doesn’t have to tell Mrs. Lansbury where he goes at night.”
“Tasha.” Zander’s voice is stern. He knows his father too well to believe that crock.
“Well I’d still have to wear my anklet because I might lose the cell phone, and Stefan says I’m too precious to lose.”
“Now that I believe.”
“And then Mr. Marcus came over cause he’s always afraid that Dr. Cam will say something that will make me cry.”
“Did he, make you cry I mean?”
“No, we had cookies instead. Mrs. Lansbury makes excellent cookies. But it was very sad. I know you said that the Bad Lady went away but Mr. Marcus told me about the other lady stolen right out of the church. I would have kicked and screamed and made all kinds of noise. But Dr. Cam said the bad person must have given her some medicine that made her go to sleep. Which is why you should never talk to strangers even if they seem nice.” Tasha says righteously. “And when they thought I wasn’t listening Stefan told Mr. Marcus that the bad man who made me be on punishment, he might know who kidnapped the lady from the church. Maybe he did it himself!”
“It’s rude to listen in on other people’s conversations, Tasha.”
“But Mr. Marcus came over to see me.” Tasha looks up at Zander. “Are you mad at me?”
Zander brushes a hand down her arm. “No, of course not. I could never be mad at you. Well unless you locked yourself in the bathroom again.”
“Nope, just that once.”
“Well maybe if you let someone else push you on your swing.”
“Only you.” Tasha crosses her heart. “Nikolas and Stefan don’t count right?”
“Nope. They don’t count. Mr. Marcus either. But nobody else. Nope, I could never be mad at you.”
Tasha turns over on her stomach so she can look at Zander without crossing her eyes. In the process of doing so she gets tangled in the earphone wires and it takes a minute for everything to get untangled. Then she finally gets to tell him. “You’re my best friend, Zander.”
“And you’re mine, Tash.”
Skye decided early on that she was going to make a success of being the editor, publisher and owner of the Herald. It meant trusting the people who head all the divisions and their decisions. Nobody can do it all and she sure as hell isn’t a superwoman. Because the paper is a 24 hour business she can take her Uncle Stuart’s advice and match her hours as much as possible with Coleman so they can spend time together. Kyle is a good kid but finding alone time with Cole is getting tough. Especially now that Kyle is out of school. Thank the gods for soccer practice. And now this. “How is it going, AJ?”
“Too soon to tell.” But AJ’s tone is grim.
“Where are you?”
“Michael and I took Rosie to the dog park so she can play off the leash. He’s throwing the ball for her and for about a half dozen other dogs.”
“Well that sounds okay.”
“He hasn’t said two words to me. You’d think I was the one that kidnapped Carly the way he’s treating me.”
“It took Carly and Sonny six years to make him hate you this much, AJ. You can’t fix it overnight. One day at a time, bro.”
“AA as it applies to fatherhood.” AJ jokes.
“You and I have both been there, AJ. Noticed when we were cute and maybe not even then. Can you think of a better motto for a father? Cause doesn’t that imply that you’re there every day, one day at a time?!”
“I hear you, Skye. And I know you're right. I just don’t know what to do.”
“What you’re doing now.” Skye counters. “Kyle has a soccer match later. There are normally a lot of families watching. And the younger kids play in the earlier matches. I’m sure you’ve got a hell of a tailgate on that Hummer. But if you bring Rosie she better be on a leash. I don’t want to step in anything.” Skye smiles as she hears AJ’s laughter. “I’ll see you later?”
“We’ll be there.” AJ agrees. “Thanks Skye.”
“Anytime, AJ. You know that.” Skye hangs up the phone and looks up to see the quizzical gaze of Lorenzo Alcazar. “How long have you been standing there?”
“Long enough. Your brother is having trouble with your nephew?”
It’s not worth explaining that AJ isn’t really her brother and Michael isn’t really her nephew. “Michael is traumatized by his mother’s kidnapping. He never had a chance before this to get to know his father so he’s getting a double whammy.” Skye takes a deep breath. “Sorry. This is really none of your business but it’s just so frustrating because Michael is the one that is suffering for the choices that his par... adults made.”
“Isn’t that always the case?” Lorenzo suggests softly. “All I know is from the research that Luis did. Sonny has been parenting his wife’s son?”
Skye snorts at that. “I’ve spent enough time on the couch to not want to call it parenting. More like Alienation of affection. AJ didn’t count. He was just biological. Sonny was the father of choice and AJ has horns and a tail and carries a pitchfork. And that is all on Carly. Dara told AJ he might as well set up a trust fund for Michael’s therapy now... even without the kidnapping.”
“So this kidnapping might actually have a silver lining?” Lorenzo queries.
“I will never say that.” Skye denies. “I hate what Carly did to my brother. Hell what they did to each other. I get it okay. I’m not the only drunk in the family. AJ did some really stupid things when booze had the wheel. But Michael is the sum of his parts, of both of his parents as well as his upbringing. Frankly I’m afraid for Carly because I don’t think this kidnapping is about business. If it were then Sonny could bargain and wouldn’t so obviously be falling apart. It’s not about money. It’s personal. It’s crazy. If something happens to Carly, Michael will blame himself. He already blames himself for not being able to stop this.” Skye blinks and then shakes her head. “Why am I talking to you about this?!”
Lorenzo smiles. “You evidently needed to get it off your chest.”
“What are you even doing here?”
“I was hoping to take you to lunch but it looks as if you have your hands full. Perhaps another time.”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea.” Skye counters.
“We’ll see.” With that Lorenzo leaves.
Zander hesitates by the door to his apartment with the key out and then stuffing his keys back in his pocket walks across the hall and raps on the door. “Hey you want to go out to Eli’s or some...” Zander sees that Gia has company of the brother variety. Without waiting for an invitation he walks in to Gia’s apartment. “I went to see Tasha today. How did your chat with Alcazar go?”
“How did you know about that?!” Marcus glares at Zander suspiciously.
“Have you forgotten that whatever else Tasha doesn’t know... she is still a Cassadine?!”
“Little sneak was listening out in the hall.” Marcus curses.
“Hallway, secret passage. Hell if I know. But I do know that she knew.”
“Why would she listen in on a conversation between Stefan and Marcus?” Gia wonders.
“Because Mr. Marcus came to see her. Therefore Stefan had no business talking to him. Because he’s her friend, not his.”
Gia snorts at that. “Oh I know it isn’t funny but it really is. I worked for Alexis for a year. And her acting like a brat along with Marcus calling her a little sneak is just Outer Limits type stuff.”
“Alcazar know where Carly is?” Zander gets down to brass tacks.
“Police business, Zander.” Marcus counters.
Gia and Zander look at each other and say together. “No.”
Marcus shrugs. “Not even when I mentioned the two million dollar reward. I’m still hoping that is the bait that is going to pull Javier out from under his rock.”
Alcazar hangs back at the top of the stairs by the Harrison fishing pier. He hoped he was wrong but there had been a look in Javier’s eye when he reported where the trigger to the Panic Room was hidden in the book case and the fact that Carly Corinthos was there of all things chained to a wall. The woman was evidently living up to her difficult reputation if Lansing couldn’t control a pregnant woman in a locked room without chaining her to a wall like a bitch.
Money is a strong pull. Javier could make that two million dollars in just a few years of service to the Alcazars but one act of disloyalty, of betrayal and he’d have the money in a Swiss or Cayman island bank account and if done properly maybe he thought the Alcazars would never know. It didn’t work that way. Lorenzo slips the knife smoothly in Javier’s back slicing between his ribs straight to his heart. He doesn’t bother pulling the knife back out. It’s a throwing knife, specialized yes, but not particularly special. The knife would hold the blood in, otherwise the wound would pump the contents of Javier’s corpse, still standing, onto the wooden pier and even on to him. Pressing between the top of Javier’s shoulder blades with his left hand, Alcazar pushes Javier into the Charles River and then walks on.
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