The Path to Power
Chapter Sixty Nine
Cole is in a foul mood when he pulls up to the Lake House. Heíd been ambushed by the CPS worker at Jakes and the worker had tore him a new one. Basically laid it out that he shouldnít get custody of a hamster. And that itís a pitiful choice if he is the best Kyle has. Course if the kid was dead then there wouldnít be an issue. Then he wouldnít be fighting for parking with the kid and all his friends. Seeing AJís hummer blocking the front walk just caps the day.
Kyle meets the car. "Hey Uncle Cole."
"Remind me to kill you later."
"Yeah, but until then can you go in there and give Skye a chill pill? She and AJís wife are talking child proofing the electrical outlets."
"What the hell is going on? And donít bother with the home study. I already know about that one."
Kyle winces. Heíd figured as much but almost hoped that heíd been wrong. "I told Skye right after I talked to the CPS lady. I didnít think I would be opening this can of worms. I just wanted to know how to deal with Mom. Skye told me to clean my stuff out of the other house and get it set up here and then she showed up with AJ, Lydia, the kid and the dog."
It appears to have worked as a bonding moment for AJ and Michael as they both have escaped from the house and are walking around the backyard toward the lake. They are soon joined by the guys from the soccer team who had helped Kyle move his furniture and stuff to the lake house and either put it in his room or in the guest room depending on which was better, his stuff or the guest room furniture that was already there. And being familiar with the property they are already kicking off their shoes and stripping off their shirts and racing for the lake. They race by AJ and Michael. None of them dive off the dock knowing that at the end of the dock itís only about eight feet deep. Instead they go for maximum splash. "Make sure none of your friends are asses around the kid." Cole mutters. "Oh and Kyle?í
"Yeah, Uncle Cole?"
"If that CPS worker wasnít coming tomorrow youíd be sleeping on the porch. And I wouldnít care how thick the mosquitoes were. Family first then everyone else. You got a question? You ask me. You ask Skye. Hell you ask Lil down at the library before getting a cop involved. The only thing you ask a cop for is directions. Got it?"
"I thought real men didnít ask for directions." Kyle jokes.
Coleís face stays serious. "Exactly." He half runs up the steps of the deck to the front door. "Well, Babe, how bad is it?"
"Not so bad I guess." Skye stands defensively in the living room and looks around the cozy house. This place really is her sanity. Having Cole and Kyle here just added to that feeling of security. But having CPS coming-- itís like judging her and what kind of person she is. That put her right back into the mind set of wanting Adamís or Edwardís approval and always falling short. Always. "Unless of course she asks how Kyle got those bruises all that time ago. And the reason why you didnít want to have the emergency home study done when Margery first flew the coop."
Cole kicks back on the couch and puts his feet up on the pristine coffee table with the neatly arranged magazines and understated floral arrangement. "Hmm could it have been my numerous felony investigations? That I had just gotten Jakes a few months before and would have had to put down for previous employment the strip club and stalking AJís ex wife? Babe, you are not the weakest link here. Between Margery splitting. Hell my brother splitting on the kid. My... checkered past and Kyle's foray into starring in his own online porno flick. I wasnít ever planning on getting CPS involved just going to slide under the radar. Margery blew that plan all to hell. Come here."
Skye is slow to walk over and isnít surprised once she gets there that Coleman takes his feet off the coffee table long enough to pull her around and set her down on the coffee table so that she is right across from him. He puts his legs on the outside of hers and then puts his right arm on her shoulder and cups the back of her neck. He doesnít start talking until they are forehead to forehead. Then he keeps his voice soft but very blunt. "Babe, nothing bad is going to happen tomorrow. You donít have a fucking thing to prove. I was living on my own when I was younger than Kyle is now. CPS, unless they are morons, arenít going to take the kid out of here and put him in some foster home or group home just to prove they have bigger balls. Kyle is one year to being on his own. Heís one good lawyer away from being emancipated. And you know a hell of a good attorney." "The CPS worker is going to come in here and sheís going to talk a good game. Sheís going to give us some great suggestions Iím sure on all the things we could be doing better, BS classes we could take or some such crap. Then she is going to file her little paperwork and the only thing that will come out of it is that Margery is going to be called on the carpet if she ever shows back up and pulls anything. And Kyleís ass is covered. Thatís it." Coleman taps his head against Skyeís. Itís an easy tap but he isnít too worried even if heíd given her a hard rap. He doesnít know a harder headed woman than Skye. "You hear me?"
Skye sighs. "I hear you."
"You believe me?"
Skye takes another deep breath. "Yeah, I believe it. Sorta. Is it not believing if I have Dara on speed dial just in case?"
Cole chuckles at that. "Itíll be you and me both, Babe. We can have dueling cells." Cole cups Skyeís face with his hands and gives her a deep kiss focusing only on Skye, the feel, smell and taste of her. Skye grips his thighs and leans forward into the kiss.
Lydia retreats back to Kyleís room not wanting to interrupt the couple. Cole had been able to focus Skye in minutes while she and AJ had just managed to keep his sister from coming off the rails... barely.
"This is because you know my cooking right?" Elizabeth jokes as she sees who is at her door. There are very few people that knew where she was staying. And most of them didnít bring take out with them since the cover story was a dinner at The Outback.
"Thought you might be getting cabin fever." Penny nods. "But yes, itís probably best for the baby if you donít eat your own cooking."
"Only because I know youíre right am I letting you in." Elizabeth stands back to let Penny and Nikolas in. "Lucky just went downstairs to put the phones to the message machine. Those Ling Hi Mui seeds have been a life saver. They hit the spot so many different ways. Have a seat. Tell me what is going on out in the world. All I see is what I can see from the roof, and from the Herald Online." Elizabeth takes a seat so that Nikolas will sit down.
"Nik and I stayed in town last night because the pier was blocked off for a murder investigation." Penny goes for the most sensational.
"Who was it?"
"Yeah, Iíd like to know that one too." Lucky asks from the door. Heíd just arrived and going over to the fridge pulls out the glass gallon jar of ice tea that Elizabeth keeps going at all times. There was probably another jar up on the roof steeping now.
"Capelliís replacement in Alcazarís Port Charles Organization Ė Javier." Nikolas gets up to help Lucky. But itís really to get a private moment alone with Lucky. Capelli, while dirty and a user, had been Luckyís training officer on the PCPD. If Lucky had been in the car then he would have died with Capelli. There is no doubt in his mind. Lucky had to be on the short list of suspects really. Nikolas considers Lucky. Is his brother capable of killing? Without a doubt, but it would be in defense of another, not even himself and then face to face. And it would haunt him. Getting Lucky off the Police Force had probably saved his brotherís soul if not his sanity. But Spencer's seldom think of the long term. Nik counters his own internal assessment realizing that the Cassadines on the other hand seldom think of anything but the Long Term.
"Had Javier crossed Alcazar? We already know heís about as hard on his help as Helena."
Nikís eyes narrow. He should have thought of that.
Edward is waiting out front of the mansion. He glances down at his watch. Sheís late. This is all Lilaís idea. And itís not a good one. Lila doesnít know Faith the way he does. Then he winces. And she better never find out how well he knows Faith.
The black Porsche convertible pulls up to the front of the mansion. "Get in." Faith demands. She is dressed in her signature low cut black dress with hose and heels, the better to seduce her favorite coroner into doing what she wanted. Sunglasses are in place. As a defense to having the top down, she is wearing a long silk black scarf wrapped around her head and trailing back behind her. Fine hair is a bitch. If she didnít do something with her hair the wind would tie it into tight little knots.
Edward is barely in the front passenger seat and reaching for the seat belt when Faith accelerates away from the house. "This is a bad idea."
"Tell me about it, Old Man. You think I want your wrinkled fat fingers in my pie?"
Edwardís mouth opens and closes like a fish out of water as he turns bright red.
"Youíre doing this for your wife. Iím doing this for Ned. Weíre going to get along. But know right now... you try to screw me and they wonít find all the pieces."
"The only reason Iím doing this is so that you donít make a mockery of Lilaís work at the Park." Edward says righteously.
"Donít lay that line of bull with me, Old Man. The reason youíre doing this is because itís what your wife wants. Itís a chance to get over on Jax and because youíre bored out of your gourd. But lets be crystal clearĖ Iím in this to make money and if Jax ends up curled up in a corner sucking his thumb... oh well."
Edward eyes Faith suspiciously. Really there is no other way to eye her. "Did you really slip Jax a mickey so that he ended up my daughterís bed?"
Faith glances over at Edward and grins. "Would I do that? And if I did would I admit it? And really if it makes Mother Quartermaine happy and out of my business..."
"Tracy is the boysí mother."
"And if Jax makes her happy... well what is a good Daddy to do?"
"Grind him into the dust."
"Exactly." Faith looks over at Edward and sniffs. "You should have worn a hat. Iím not putting the top up even if you do get sunburned." The trip down to Courtland Street is made in short order. The first thing Faith does is cruise the area slowly moving out from the Chloe Morgan Memorial Park. She and Bruno had already cruised the neighborhood after dark to check the trouble spots. "Ned found out what buildings Jax is interested in. Jax mentioned them while he was visiting Ned at ELQ."
"Sorry day when that Aussie Raider can get into the company I built and I canít." Edward sniffs.
Faith is unsympathetic. "Guess that will teach you to not play with matches."
"Youíre not going to make any money if you get in a bidding war with the Aussie."
"Who says Iím going to pay more?" Faith sees a familiar face and pulls over to the side of the street.
"What can I get for ya..." The street dealer sees who is actually in the car and changes his tune rapidly. "Um... hey Mr. Quartermaine. How is Miz Lila doing today?"
"Fine, fine." Edward recognizes the young man from his many trips out to the Mansion to see his wife.
"Well isnít this just interesting. And I wonder what Lila would say about her favorite landscaper doing deals on the corner?" Faith thinks sheís got something on the guy but then at his cocky smirk narrows her eyes behind the dark shades. There is story there that she doesnít know.
Dawg shrugs. "I was on my to class anyway." He winks at Faith. "Iíll tell Miz Lila I saw ya." He strolls off.
"Your wife is up to something."
"Wasting her time on that hoodlum. No gratitude for all the things sheís done for him!!" Edward blusters. "Lila made phone calls for him to get him out of jail when he was arrested right before the opening of the park. He should be in jail. Not going to college on a scholarship my wife arranged!"
"Heard it said more than once that your wife has a thing for scoundrels." Faith gets out of the car and comes around to the curb. There is a young man about the same age as Wilson hanging on one of the stoops. She opens up her purse and pulls out a fifty. She tears it in half and makes sure she gives the guy the short half. "The other half is yours when I get back and my car is just the way I left it."
"And if itís not?"
Faith smiles as she takes off her sunglasses and puts them in her handbag leaving her hand in it. "That car was a present from my husband for my birthday. Iím afraid I couldnít go home without it. Unless of course I brought him back the eyeballs of the guy who was supposed to watch it and didnít." She opens the butterfly knife with a quick flick of her wrist and then just as fast flips it back around, closing it and putting it back in her purse. Then pulling out her cell phone she takes a quick picture of the guy and saves it. Pulling the scarf down so that it is temptingly wrapped around her neck, she brushes her platinum blonde hair back with her fingers and then hitting the buzzer on the building waits for the super to buzz her in.
Edward finally realizes she isnít getting back in the car and races to catch up with her and holds the door as it opens. Faith strolls thru the door. "This one? This one is a dump."
"Then the price will be right. And isnít real estate all about location, location, location?"
Itís the only way she gets to see him. Dillon is supposed to be her boyfriend but with everything that is going on with his family and his job and all the guys that live out at Nedís house she never gets to see him. Itís pitiful when you wish for school to start up again when itís only been out for three weeks.
"Dillon, your little girlfriend is here." The owner of the video store draws attention to Georgie.
"Thanks." Dillon goes over to the cart of DVDs to be put back on the shelf and makes his way down the aisles shelving them to give himself some time away from the counter and with Georgie. "How is it going?"
"Other than never seeing you?" Georgie protests. "Fine I guess."
Dillon winces. "Sorry. I know itís been crazy."
"At least if you were still working for the Florist I might be able to go on deliveries with you." Georgie sighs as she grabs some of the DVDs and starts putting them back on the shelves too. "Iím going to ask my dad if I can work at the Outback. I might as well have a job and make some money for clothes and stuff. Although Maxie might be working at the Outback soon too because of what happened down at the Pier."
"Kellyís isnít that bad."
"Thatís what Maxie tried to tell Mac. But then between what happened and then finding out that Kyle drove her home...."
While Dillon is no fan of Kyleís, he gets the feeling that there are no Miranda rights for a guy dating one of Commissioner Scorpioís daughters. They didnít have the right to remain silent. They didnít have the right to an attorney whether they could afford one or not. Breathing became a privilege. Faith and Ned would probably be the same way when Kristina hit the age when she wanted to go out on dates. Course Kristina would have a hell of a time too. He doubted that Faith would have lost any of... it by the time the poor kid started dating. Her dates would be drooling over Faith instead of keeping their attention on the date.
"Everyone is going out for Pizza tonight: Lucas, Maxie, some of the guys from the soccer team." Georgie hints.
Dillon knows it and normally heíd give in to keep the peace even though he doesnít like Kyle or the guys from the soccer team particularly. But giving in today would create a bigger war at home. "Iíd love to go with you..." not really "...but Faith is cooking tonight for the guys and if Iím not there Iíll be on the menu."
Georgie doesnít bother waiting for the invitation that would not be coming. Faith hated her. She sees Maxie at the mall side opening of the video store. She is holding up her bags in the nonverbal successful hunting signal. It also means that sheís ready to head back home. "I have to go."
"Georgie." Donít be mad.
"Itís fine. Iíll talk to you later." Georgie doesnít look back.
Lydia looks over her shoulder to where Michael and Rosie are both half sacked out in the back seat of the hummer. It had been a long afternoon getting everything ready but the boy and the dog had both managed to get in the muck of the lake even the application of the hose after hadnít gotten them truly clean. "Michael, Rosie will need a bath before she goes to bed tonight. You both will. Will you take care of that?"
AJ is about to protest but waits as Lydia squeezes his thigh.
"Really? You want me to give her a bath?" The one thing Michael isnít used to is reasonable responsibility. Leticia always takes care of everything. His only job was to make sure his mother was okay and heíd blown that one.
"It would probably save time if you did the both of you at the same time. Wash the dog, AJ can dry Rosie off while you take your shower. Iím sure the dog will attempt to make you even more filthy in the process of giving her a bath. Next time we go out to visit your Aunt Skye at the lake we shall have to bring the proper clothing. But I really didnít think that youíd both end up going swimming!"
"Sorry, darling." AJ brings Lydiaís hand to his mouth and presses a kiss to the back. "It was cold but it did feel good."
"It was probably freezing." Lydia had done her own share of swimming in lakes in Switzerland. It didnít matter if it was almost July it takes months of warm weather for melted snow runoff to actually be warm. "At least Rosie is wearing a fur coat. The two of you..." She shakes her head.
AJ glances back at this son and gives him a grin and a quick roll of the eyes. "Women."
"Yeah, women." Michael agrees with a grin and then remembers who he is talking to and looks away.
For a moment there he had him. AJ squeezes Lydiaís hand. Maybe it isnít one day at a time like Skye said. Maybe it was one moment at a time. Lydia squeezes back. "And all of you. No tromping through the house or Sally will have both of you drawn and quartered. The bathroom off the kitchen. Iíll bring more towels and spare clothes. And youíll have to take the car tomorrow to get cleaned."
"Detailed. Thatís what they call cleaning a car inside and out."
"Yes, thank you, detailed."
"I should have gotten a military style hummer." AJ shakes his head. "Then we could have just hosed it out. Iíll drop it off on my way to work tomorrow. What are the two of you going to be doing?"
"We both have checkups tomorrow. Nothing drastic." Lydia is quick to reassure. "Not even an ultrasound and then your Grandmother has asked us to stop by. She is making the final preparations for the Fourth of July Picnic. I believe it will be a good... dry run for Thanksgiving."
"Nice thought, Lydia, but not even close. For some reason the Quartermaines are actually nice on the Fourth. Maybe itís since the fireworks are already provided." AJ again catches Michaelís eye. This time using the rear view mirror. "My Grandmother has two dogs. Theyíre getting kind of old but they still like anybody who will throw a ball for them. Reggie keeps a supply of old tennis balls around." AJ arrives at the back alley to the property and slows way down. Even with the modifications to the garage the hummer is a tight fit. He eases into the garage and hits the remote to shut the door behind him. Michael and Rosie are jumping out of the car while he comes around to help Lydia from the vehicle. They hold hands as they make their way to the back door to the house.
Sally is there to meet them. "Michael told me and heís already headed to the shower with the dog."
"Good. AJ will supervise. Iíll get them both a change of clothes. Warm drinks and a snack in the study?"
Sally nods. "Itíll be ready when they are."
Alice and the baby are up in the cottage. Ned is out at his club with Edward playing nice. Faith as is her custom waits until the guys have had their supper including dessert. The talk is general and fun the teasing give and go of a bunch of guys who know each other too well. Only after the last bite of dessert is eaten and everyone has their second glass or cup of whatever does Faith get up to talk. Manny gets up too and pulls the dry erase board into place. He and Mouse had been working on it earlier. Mouse had also set up a power point presentation using his lap top and a projector. This is the first full fledged meeting Dillon has been at but it seems to run along the same lines of the dinner breakdown that happened the night that Jax and his mom had come over. Cept this time it isnít the dinner menu being dissected.
"Iím not going to spend a lot of time talking." Faith tells the guys. "I spent enough time on this meal that I donít want to ruin anyoneís digestion." There is a chorus of laughs and some applause. Faith mocks a curtsey and goes on. "I said it before. It comes down to three things. 1) Finding the Old Hag. I want verification she is gone or she is buried. Either of those two things would make her not our problem. 2) Cutting Corinthosí organization off at the balls. And 3) Making some money. Mouse, youíre up."
Mouse takes a quick sip of water. Faith had hired him for his hacking skills not his public speaking. "Tracking most of the Cassadine dower jewels is back burner as a possible lead. There are just a couple of pieces unaccounted for. Could be that the broad fenced them before we started looking or she was wearing them at the time she went back underground. Got the net out on those. PCPD just updated the FBI and Interpol that Helena Cassadine may be of interest in the stabbing down at the docks."
"Really." Faith leans in at that.
Mouse nods. "About three years ago, unsolved murder, guy stabbed in the back. Helenaís former boytoy. They think she did that one herself. Iíve updated my file on her to include all the information our source inside the FBI could give us. Used that as a bouncing off point." Mouse clicks on the projector and it comes up with a picture of Helena with a bulls eye over her face. Then there is a listing of crimes sheís been suspected in all the way back to showing up at Luke and Lauraís wedding in Port Charles. "The crimes listed in red are the crimes believed to be linked to Helena coming from the PCPD, FBI and Interpol. The one black one is actually a conviction." He makes another click. "These are very similar unsolved crimes and the tracking is about right as far as movements." The amount of crimes triple. Mouse clicks on another slide. This brings up the globe with highlighted points at each of the crime points. "We donít have the resources to actually take her out anywhere but in Port Charles."
"Keep tracking those like crimes." Faith nods. "I want to try to pinpoint her location. If sheís here then Iím taking her out. If sheís abroad sheís the Cassadines problem. Get a listing of the Cassadine holdings and lay it over the crimes. See if there are any other hidey holes like the Summer house."
"Trying to pin Javierís murder on her whether she did or not is a smooth move by the PCPD. Taggartís prints are all over it. Heís been spending a lot of time over on Spoon Island with the munchkinís psycho mommy."
Bruno asks what the others are thinking even though itís not on the agenda. "You go see the Coroner today, Faith?"
Faith grins. "You know I did. Dillon, I need to borrow you for a second." Once Dillon stands up, Faith stands behind him. She makes as if she is going to stab him in the back. "One entry wound right here. Straight to the heart. Throwing style knife left in the wound so he wouldnít pump out. Javier was dead standing up. No defensive wounds, no time to yell." There is a chorus of whistles. Itís good work. Slick. Nobody in the room could do it. Not even Faith, well Faith probably could but it just isnít her style. Mouse starts frowning. "You got something to say, Mouse?" Faith asks. She pats Dillon on the shoulder and he retakes his seat.
"Iím all for the PCPD trying to pin this latest one on Helena but itís not going to fly long term. The boytoy was taken out with the same... stroke. It was a longer, serrated knife, probably a steak knife. And this Javier dude was a doer. I donít think too many people could have come up on him."
The guys take a moment to digest that one. Faith looks around and decides itís time to move on to point two. "Corinthos."
"Heís been fucking up ever since his wife got kidnapped." Manny starts. Manny had been over at AJís house doing surveillance the day of the wedding. "Everyoneís seen it. The drunk in public. The blonde bimbo. Losing custody of the kid to AJ. Saying his wife is dead to the news?!"
Bruno is the one that interjects here. He and Fowler both had long made a study of the hotness that is Carly Corinthos. "There is no way heíd be declaring Carly dead; itís too soon. Hasnít she been dead before and always come back? She drove her car into the lake right? And everyone suspects Ric Lansing has Carly. So why is Corinthos going on the news and saying something different? And as far as keeping Michael, he basically did everything wrong, step by step. He could have put up a much better defense to keep AJ away. Heís not just fucking up; heís fucking her over."
Mouse is the one that puts it on a business setting. "Corinthos doesnít have his head in the game, in any game really. Morgan is kicking ass on only one thingĖ finding the Missus. I donít think heís figured out that Corinthos is covering Ricís ass for whatever reason. AJís only been working half days at the Bureau of planning but heís still managed to block anything that might give Morgan/Corinthos a legitimate income to cover the business. There are rumblings from the families. Normally they can get thru to Morgan if Sonnyís too... busy- not the case this time. And then Sonny doing that press conference with the FBI?"
Faith tries for wide eyed innocent with one hand to her cheek. "Oh my! Do you think that maybe Sonny is going to make a deal with the FBI to get his wife back? Why what could Sonny possibly offer? Weíre old news and he wouldnít turn on himself or Morgan..."
There are some slow grins around the table. Sonny would have a tough time getting help from any of the five families.
Bruno rubs his hands together. "Now for the good stuff. Bring on the bucks."
Even if it wasnít written into his prenup, itís an easy wind down from a long day and it gave him a chance to consider and plan his next move. At least for a little while.
Lydia groans her head is back over the arm of the couch and her eyes are closed. "That feels so wonderful." She draws the wonderful over about six syllables. Like Rosie at the soccer match with Michael she isnít going to do anything that might make AJ stop. This is her little slice of heaven and just about the most fun you could have with your clothes on-- well except for shoes.
AJ caps the peppermint lotion and continues with the foot massage. "It was a good day. I feel for Skye. I havenít seen her this stressed out since Jax was shot and her marriage fell apart."
Lydia straightens and lays one hand along the back of the chaise. "Do you think she believes that Coleman will leave her if this home study doesnít go well?"
"Who knows." AJ shrugs. "Coleman will get that thought out of her head. He is not the guy I would have picked for SkyeĖ ever. Heís bad news...."
"But darling, sheís in the news business." Lydia grins as she interrupts and leans in. AJ leans in as well and their lips meet in a slow kiss. Whatever he was going to say about Coleman just doesnít seem as important now.
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