The Path to Power
Lydia looks over at Michael. They are both buckled into the back of sedan with a professional driver/bodyguard at the wheel. "Well itís a relief to have that done. Your other little brother or sister seems to be doing just fine." Lydia pats her stomach but then she frowns. "You mustnít worry about your Mumís baby, Michael. Itís a relief to know this baby is fine, but women have been having babies all the way back to Adam and Eve and most of that time without vitamins and ultrasounds."
"Itís a boyĖ Mamaís baby. Heís going to be named Morgan after my Uncle Jason."
"AJ and I havenít even thought of a name. Itís much too soon to even know if itís a boy or a girl. Which is why I havenít picked colors for the nursery. Definitely going to have to do that." Lydia pulls a small journal from her bag. "I havenít another appointment for a month. What about you? What did Dr. Cam say?"
"He wants to see me every week."
"I suspect he will until your mother gets home again." Lydia nods and makes a note. "Same time?"
"Yeah." Michael leans forward and pets Rosie. "Are you going to bring me?"
"Itís looking good for that day." Lydia runs her fingers down the morning. "Itís rather nice to have that hour to myself while you talk to Dr. Cam. I think Iíll bring a book. It can be my reading time. Ever since your father and I married all Iíve been reading is news and business reports and they are just depressing."
"AJís not my father. Heís just biological." Michaelís firm on the subject.
"You see and that doesnít make sense to me." Lydia muses aloud. "Itís lovely to be able to pick your family. I picked AJ after all and heís my family now." She puts her hand to her stomach. "This baby is going to be biological. Your brother or sister. AJís child. There is no just about it. If biology wasnít important why are you so excited about your mother having another baby?" "AJ is your father. Your motherís husband may be your daddy, or your papa or whatever you want to call him. Because AJ is your family too, you never have to worry about being alone while youíre waiting for your mother to come home because youíll have me, and this baby, and your great grandmother Lila. And your biological grandparents Alan and Monica. Your Aunt Skye... we were helping her yesterday. Your cousins Ned and Dillon. Dillon comes over to the house quite frequently. Then there is your biological great grandfather, Edward. I havenít quite figured him out yet."
"Mama said he tried to steal me when I was baby." Michael warns.
"That is very good to know. Weíll have to keep a close eye on him. Thatís the other thing about families..." Lydia sighs. "My grandfather raised me after my parents were killedĖ boating accident. I was about your age in fact. And I did love him. He was my grandfather after all but he was... difficult. Every family seems to have at least one. I guess that your great grandfather Edward is ours."
"Why canít I see Uncle Jason?"
Lydia half turns toward Michael. "There is no reason why you canít see your Uncle Jason. You should call him and have him come over to see you." Lydia gets very serious. "Things are... weird, Michael. Your father knows your mother is still alive. Of course AJ believes your mother is alive because she is just too stubborn to ever leave you for long." Lydia gives the boy an affectionate caress over his red hair but doesnít say what AJ really thinks. And too mean to die. "We donít understand why your motherís husband said she was dead. Maybe heís trying to trick the people who stole your mother. That is what your Grandmother Bobbie believes."
Michael nods at that. It sounds like something that Sonny would do.
"But your Uncle Jason is out there every day looking for your mother. He stopped by the hospital every day that you were there before going out and looking some more."
"And Aunt Courtney?"
"Oh Michael." Lydia sighs. What she wanted to say was directly counter to everything sheíd tried to tell AJ to do. Itís normally so easy to tell someone what to do than to do it yourself. But there would be all kinds of hell if she actually said what she was thinking. If you really want to see her then Iíll bite my tongue and be nice to her just as Iíd expect you to do if you donít like my friends. But you know she married AJ before I did? While I am very happy they are divorced so your father could marry me, Courtney and I are not going to be friends. And Iím afraid that if she said anything mean about AJ I would have to pull all her hair out. Which is not very grown up of me. "If you want to see your Aunt Courtney perhaps you should ask your Grandmother Bobbie to arrange something over at her house. Iím sure your Grandmother Bobbie would like to see your Aunt Courtney as well."
Maybe the CPS worker understood the stress involved in waiting but she calls right at 9am to let Skye know that sheíll be there within half an hour. She could have called at eight. Hell at seven. Nobody was sleeping in. Skye felt like she hadnít gotten any sleep at all. Even the effects of Cole getting her into the hot tub the night before hadnít lasted long. Cole had made breakfast. Nothing impacted Kyleís appetite but the only reason sheíd had some toast was to avoid throwing up when the civil servant was here. That would have been just fabulous?! Probably put in the report that she was bulimic or something. Skye fluffs a pillow and looks around the spotless living room. Even work hadnít distracted her.
"Iím going to kill that kid."
"Excuse me?" Skye looks over at Cole who is standing in the doorway to the bedroom.
"Quit stressing on this, Skye."
"Youíre so amusing." Skye rolls her eyes and looks around. Is there anything that might put a little asterisk on their application? She looks at the mantle. The shotgun is put away in a locked cabinet which if the stuff ever hit the fan out in the isolated house theyíd be at a disadvantage. Having Javier dead didnít really ease up the concern on that front. "I just wish sheíd get here."
"Kyle felt comfortable going to herĖ thatís a good sign, Skye."
"I know." Skye sighs but then she stiffens as she hears the sound of a car pulling up in front of the house.
"Game on, Babe." Cole comes over and puts a hand at the base of Skyeís back. Theyíd be a united front.
"Donít call me Babe. Iíve heard Kyle start calling Maxie that and itís just not a good practice. He starts doing that to all women and heís going to sound like a used car salesman or worse a movie producer looking for some action on his casting couch." Skye looks at her lover. He rode a close line as far as his dress: white shirt and slacks. It wasnít his court/ funeral outfit but it wasnít his kicking around the house outfit either. Skye raises her voice. "Kyle, sheís here!"
Even as Kyle is coming out of his room, dressed in summer casual but at least nothing heís wearing is ripped or says something inappropriate on the front, the door bell is ringing. Figuring he started this, Kyle gets the door. "Hey."
"Hey yourself." The CPS worker replies. She looks beyond Kyle to the couple standing in the middle of the living room. She knows Kyleís uncle of course but this is the first time meeting Skye Quartermaine. Frankly if there is any hope for Kyle at all it would be his uncleís girlfriend. Coleman Radcliffe under normal circumstances wouldnít ever be considered for a foster parent. A half blind, deaf, one legged octogenarian on a respirator would have a better shot if they were even somewhat blood related to Kyle. Unfortunately for Kyle nobody was stepping forward except his uncle and the girlfriend. "Hello, Iím Casey Marcos. I apologize for the early hour; Iíve court later."
"We prefer early." Skye smiles even though itís strained. "Iím Skye Quartermaine. Welcome to our home. How is this done?"
"Lets start where Kyle will be sleeping." Ms. Marcos replies. "And then I just need to take a quick look around. Then if there are any questions we can clear things up."
Kyle points in the direction of his section of the house and leads the way. The CPS worker follows and Skye and Cole trail after. Marcos is very efficient, but itís an easy home study really. Sheíd walked into hell holes to get kids before: crack houses and meth labs. Held her breath to keep from throwing up from the smell of rotten food or stockpiled dirty diapers. There are elements of her job that are trips to the worst places people can do to each other, worse to their kids.
Kyle has his own room, hell he practically has a suite because the room next door has the overflow of all his things. There is a bed in the third bedroom for guests but it is clearly set up as Kyleís living room. Which explains the pristine condition of the living room sheíd walked into. Here are the computer, the play station, his sporting gear that didnít fit in his bedroom. There isnít a separate entrance but the window would do if the kid decided to cut out in the middle of the night. Going back into the main living area Marcos goes into the kitchen and opens up a few cupboards, there is one whole cupboard set aside for a variety of cold cereals and then the fridge. The fridge is also well stocked.
"I donít cook." Skye blurts out. "I chop things and do the grocery list. Cole and Kyle do whatever cooking gets done."
"Yeah, she took chips off the grocery list." Kyle quips. "Skye figured if I was hungry after dinner I could have cereal since they at least have vitamins in them. And playing soccer, Coach told Skye none of the players can afford to eat crap just for the calories. Ninety minutes is a long time to be running. So when the guys come over they donít get any junk food either."
"I checked. You havenít played soccer for a few years. Why now?" Marco takes a seat at the dining room table and pulls out her paperwork. There are a few blanks that need to be filled in.
"He gets paid to play." Cole shrugs.
"Excuse me?" Marcos brows go up at that.
Kyle is the one that explains. "My Mom used to give me money whenever I wanted. Uncle Cole told me from day one that wasnít going to fly. If I wanted spending money then Iíd have to earn it. Thatís why I work some hours doing clean up at Jakes..."
"Before they open." Skye interjects quickly. She takes a seat too. After she does the guys take seats at the table.
"Because Iím playing soccer, Uncle Cole pays the insurance and stuff on my car and doesnít charge me rent even though he bitches I could eat him and Skye out of house and home. He wasnít going to go for it at first. It was Skyeís suggestion. She said if I was playing sports then I shouldnít have to get a job for the summer. Because if I was good Iíd get a scholarship to college, they do drug testing and she figured that my stoner friends wouldnít be playing soccer."
Marcos nods and covers a little grin. It sounded as if that was a direct quote. And laying things out that way she could understand why Kyleís uncle would go for it. "There is no alcohol in the house. Kind of strange for a guy who owns a bar."
"Iím an alcoholic." Skye declares flatly. "Iíve had a relapse within the last year but before that I was sober for over ten years. If someone wants alcohol they can get it. Thatís a reality of the disease. But I wonít have it in the house. Cole has seen me at my very worst. Both Cole and Kyle have been very supportive of my sobriety."
Cole takes Skyeís hand and twines his fingers through hers offering nonverbal support. Skye didnít try to hid the fact she had a problem with alcohol but she didnít exactly take out a billboard either. "I know youíre not a fan of mine but lets just lay it out there. There isnít a thing Kyle could think of doing that Skye and I havenít tried between the two of us. Because of the bar and because of Skyeís history we can spot impaired at 20 yards. The kid has a roof, a bed, and regular meals. You may not like him working at Jakes and I really donít give a fuck if Kyle hates it. If he hates it then heíll arrange his life so that he wonít be working in a bar or restaurant. And if heís ever down on his luck, I know heíll never starve because heíll always be able to get a job."
"Cole." Skye protests his language with a wince.
"You both work."
Kyle is the one that jumps in here. "Iím not a baby. Sure, Uncle Cole and Skye both work. They even work really screwed hours and they could be called in whenever. We eat dinner late after I get done with soccer practice. If Iím pulling hours at Jakes then Iím up early otherwise I like to sleep in. Itís summer. The guys from soccer might come over because you know, the lake. But my girlfriend canít come over here unless Skye is here. Her dadís idea, not mine. I always have my cell on me and itís always charged or Iím busted. Skye and Uncle Cole are like this..." Kyle winds two fingers together. "... with the soccer coach and Maxieís dad, the Police Commissioner. They know what Iím doing even if they arenít all up in my face."
Marcos continues to ask questions but it only confirms what sheíd seen almost from the get go. This is a vibrant supportive family unit. They werenít the Father knows Best or the Cosbyís but frankly sheíd never seen a family that wasĖ outside of television. "Okay I think I have what I need." She glances down at her watch. "The report will be done by the end of the day and signed off by the judge probably tomorrow to make everything official. Iíll need to know if your mother shows up again, Kyle. Now that you guys are official sheís going to have to answer a few questions before you can move back in with her." Marcos packs up her report and recaps her favorite pen stuffing them both in the messenger style bag that holds her life while she is on the road. "Skye, would you mind walking me out to the car?"
"Of course." Cole is about to protest but Skye waves him off. They were getting what they wanted shouldnít do anything to blow it now. Skye walks the CPS worker out to the state issued sedan.
Marcos unlocks the door and casts her bag onto the front passenger seat. She stands in the open door. "I think you know I was prepared to not be impressed. Between your record and Kyleís uncle..." She shakes her head. "But Iíll admit it. You two are just what that kid needs. Iíve seen too many kids from so called good homes who have been ruined because the parents would rather give them money than time. And it ticks me off. Itís avoidable, and I could be spending my time with the children who really need me, the ones who will be dead or on the street if someone doesnít step in." "I wasnít coming in here totally blind. I have talked to the Police Commissioner, Kyleís soccer coach and his neighbors at the old house. All that information will be in the report too. It makes it pretty damn clear thereís a clear division in Kyleís life. His life when his mother was his sole influence and when his uncle stepped in. Even with my initial reservations, it was a slam dunk that Kyleís uncle would be allowed to foster him. Now that Iíve seen things with my own eyes..." Marco takes a second and then continues. "Iíd really like to convince you and Mr. Radcliffe to become licensed foster parents for just the reasons all of you mentionedĖ we have too many of the older kids transitioning from inpatient alcohol and drug treatment back into the same situations that created them."
Skyeís jaw drops. "What did you say?!"
"You heard me. Think about it. Iíll check back with you." Marco gets into the car and with a wave heads down the long drive to the road.
Skye walks back to the house in a daze. Cole jumps to the conclusion that the CPS worker had said something to upset Skye and is instantly furious. "What did that bitch say?!"
"She wants us to become foster parents. Not just for Kyle."
Reggie had referred Faith to the Greenhouse when she showed up at the mansion. The moist, warm climate is the best place for Lila. Being surrounded by plants and flowers raised the older womanís spirits like nothing else. There is a cafť table and chairs set up at the far end of the green house where Lila could take tea or dictate directions to the gardening and landscaping staff. Today Lila is there with Lydia working on the plans for the Fourth of July picnic in the park while both of them keep an eye on the red haired boy wrestling with three dogs on the back lawn.
"Faith, darling! What a surprise!" Lila exclaims cheerfully. "I was hoping youíd call me today and let me know how things with went with Edward. He did have that extra spring in his step last night when he came to bed."
"Too much info, Lila." Faith shakes her head to remove the image. "Ran into Wilson down on Courtland." Lila looks at Lydia out of the corner of her eye and then shakes her head at Faith. Faith gives a put upon sigh and then changes the subject. "What are you two doing?"
"Grandmother Lila was kind enough to share with me the plans for the fourth of July celebration. Since Iíll be doing Thanksgiving this year I did want to get a more comprehensive picture of the undertaking."
Lila indicates a chair with an arthritically curled hand. "Now that Skye has that beautiful house on the lake we should really try to convince her to hold the next Fourth of July celebration at her house. Iím sure itís a wonderful view of the fireworks over the lake."
Faith nods. She already knows Lila isnít planning on being around for the next Independence day celebration. Lilaís suggestions takes on a different weight. "Edward would probably love that. He could cruise up on the boat and avoid the holiday traffic. You think you can get Monica there?"
"I have faith in you, my dear." Lila shrugs. "And Lydia, darling, I donít want to scare you off but in all my years of marriage to Edward we have never managed to have a... peaceful Thanksgiving."
Lydia smiles. "AJ told me the same. Iíve not set my sights as high as peaceful, Grandmother Lila. We agree if I can manage to actually have a turkey on the table without the dogs eating it; the dinner will be a check in the success column."
"True enough." Lila agrees with a smile. "Why donít you take this folder with you. It has all my contacts and the timetable. You can make a copy of it for Skye if she decides to do the Fourth next year. It will have all the information you need for entertaining here in Port Charles."
"Thank you. I appreciate your support on this so much." Lydia replies. She has the feeling that there is a conversation going on between Faith and Lila that neither of the women want her a part of. "I should get Michael and Rosie. Michael seemed to enjoy the soccer match when we went to see..." How does one describe Kyleís relationship to Skye? "...Skyeís young friend Kyle play. AJ wants to take him again." Lydia rises to her feet and starts gathering her things. "Iíll call you later if anyone says anything different from what youíve arranged, Grandmother Lila."
"Even if you just want to talk, Darling or have any questions at all." Lila agrees. She waits until Michael is called in and gives her a kiss on the cheek as a goodbye, after Lydia gives her one to show him what is expected. Only after the two and the big dog are gone and Reggie had corralled Annabelle and Raoul does she give Faith her full attention.
"So whatís your deal with Wilson. I told him I was going to tell you he was still dealing and he was acting like he didnít give a rip."
"Oh dear." Lila sighs. "I had so hoped heíd be done with that by now. Itís so dangerous."
"So you do know about his dealing."
"Of course. And I do hope you will let me know immediately if you find out that he is selling anything other than marijuana. Marshall and I have an agreement that he would not involve himself in the... distribution of any chemicals. We were so hoping by now that he wouldnít be involved in.... retail at all."
Faith shakes her head and wonders if she has dropped into some alternative reality. "You have got to be kidding me."
"Itís actually good that you found out, my dear. Iím afraid Iím going to have to ask you for your assistance with this as well. Marshall came to me after he was having difficulty with his hydroponic growth. He was over fertilizing the plants and burning the roots. I agreed to supply him with some lovely composting tea that I make myself. Does wonder for plants."
"And." Faith asks impatiently.
"And to make sure that he didnít have any problem with Jason or the police."
"Is this kid another one of Alanís bastards or something?!"
Lila frowns at Faith. "In exchange he agreed to no more chemicals and that he would give me ten percent of his yield. Marshall is very ambitious and knows the real financial reward is in working in wholesale rather than retail. Youíre going to be the best one to take care of this for me after Iím gone. The others just donít have your green thumb, Faith."
Is it possible to preen and be flabbergasted at the same time? Lila wanted her in on this not because of her criminal connections but because she has a green thumb?! "You are getting ten percent of a marijuana crop."
"Consider it a charitable donation, Darling. Marshall will deliver a tenth of his yield to Sallyís father at the senior center. He runs the meals on wheels not just to the elderly but also those disabled because of cancer, HIV or AIDS among other things. I am hoping that by the time Marshall finishes with school that his landscaping business will provide him with sufficient income that heíll be cutting back on the other and giving his entire crop to charity."
Lydia and Skye are set up underneath the huge umbrella with the cooler between them. Ice tea with mint is the beverage of choice as they watch Kyle and the older kids work with the Peewee. Michael and Rosie are both out on the field kicking the ball around and barking up a storm respectively. Lydia leans over. "And then Michael asked me if Aunt Courtney could come over to the house. What am I supposed to say about that? Iím sure sheís a lovely girl but Iíd just as soon invite a mouse into the house?! I knew Carly was going to factor into my marriage until well past Michaelís majority but do I have to put up with all of AJís ex wives?"
"Just Courtney and Carly Iím sure. And Courtney would like to forget all about her marriage to AJ."
"Iíd like to forget it too. AJ told me he wasnít on his best behavior."
"Oh he wasnít. Cole got shot over it. He was keeping an eye on Courtney while AJ was down in Washington trying to get his money back. Keeping an eye on Courtney is an euphemism. He was semi stalking her. AJ wanted to find out who sheíd call if she was afraid. Well he found out. She shot Cole and called Jason. The marriage didnít last long after that. And AJ was drinking back then. AJ drinking is not a good thing, Lydia. I love AJ but if heís drinking then your priority is going to be protecting yourself and the kids."
"AJ would never be abusive."
"Agreed. But he would drive. And he would say mean things he would regret in the morning. AJ for the longest time was what we call in the program a dry drunk. He might not be drinking but he wasnít doing anything to support the not drinking. It was just a matter of willing himself not to drink. Very big with the macho men and very easy to slip into the next vodka straight up thatís offered. This time around heís been working a program and seeking support. But that doesnít mean that heís not an alcoholic. That Michael doesnít have a greater chance of being an alcoholic. That the baby youíre carrying may have a problem with alcohol."
"And hemophilia ran in the Russian monarchy." Lydia shrugs. "Iíll do my reading and be vigilant but see no reason to borrow trouble. Inviting Courtney Matthews wannabe Morgan into my home is borrowing trouble. Oh and Grandmother Lila wanted me to give you your copy of this." Lydia hands over the folder.
"What is this?"
"All her notes for the Fourth of July celebration, the caterer she uses and the like. She thinks your house would be brilliant for next year rather than the park. The view for the fireworks would be amazing."
Skye grimaces. "I know you want to do the whole Thanksgiving thing to bring about world peace or some such crock but Iíve been to the Quartermaine Thanksgiving, the Quartermaine 4th. The reason why the 4th works so much better is because itís held in a public place. The Quartermaines will throw a fit in public-- just look at what happened in the Grille. But in private there isnít even a hesitation before it goes ballistic." She takes the folder anyway and tucks it into her tote that holds her laptop and the rest of her work on the road gear. "Iíll talk to Cole after he sees the 4th in the park. How did it end up with Michael?"
"I told him heíd have to ask his Grandmother Bobbie."
"Oh passing the buckĖ classic parenting technique."
"I know it was small of me but I just canít do it."
"Do what?" Bobbie walks up on the duo. She pauses to applaud some fun play on the field and gets Michaelís attention and waves at him. "I called AJ; he said youíd be here with Michael. Is Michael going to be taking up soccer? Lucas always played baseball. Iím afraid Iím rusty on this game."
Skye gets up from her chair and goes over to the SUV. There is another folding chair there and she brings it out for Bobbie. Bobbie sets up next to Lydia. "Iím getting better because Iíve been watching Kyleís games since the summer league started."
"I saw a few matches in Europe but frankly the crowds are scary over there." Lydia shrugs. "Michael was asking about Jason and Courtney today. I explained Jason is looking for Carly which is why he hasnít been in as frequent contact. Then he asked about Courtney. Iím sorry. Carly is one thing. She is Michaelís mother but I am not going to have a parade of AJís ex wives thru my house."
Bobbie winces sympathetically. "Just keep telling yourself its not who gets there first itís the one who gets there last. You want me to have a little thing at my place maybe Jason and Courtney both?"
"I would love to say yes but I really need to talk to AJ first. Things are finally settling down a bit. Michael is doing well with his counseling and opening up some to AJ. Having Jason, Courtney or even Carlyís husband bad mouthing AJ or that he is working things through with Dr. Cam would just make Michaelís life hell because he is not going to live back in that environment when his mother isnít there to protect him."
"Look. Look." Skye gets the other womenís attention to what is going on the field. Kyle is feeding the ball to Michael working on passing as they move toward an open goal. At the very last minute Kyle feeds the ball to Michael so he can kick it into the goal. All three women starting cheering like itís the finals of World Cup. Michael shrugs his head down, bringing his shoulders up and his face matches his hair.
"Iíll have to bring a video camera." Lydia sighs as she retakes her seat. "AJ is going to be annoyed he missed that. He had to pick today to start back with full days at work. Heís not going to be here until Kyleís game starts."
"Thatís Kyle right? He helped Maxie close Kellyís when she pulled a double." Bobbie studies the teenager who just made a little boyís day. Sheíd seen him around Kellyís of course but never really got involved in the drama that is the teenagersí lives. "Maxie told me what was going on. I canít believe his mother would empty the house of furniture and not even bother to call her son." Bobbie shakes her head. She's done some stupid things as a parent but had never been intentionally cruel like that. "I canít believe he went to CPSĖ voluntarily." Bobbie shudders. When she was younger than Kyle she probably could have used a little help from the Florida version of CPS but knows she would have run from their intervention. There is no way she would have been separated from Aunt Ruby or Luke even if it would have been for her own good.
"Kyle has always marched to his own drummer." Skye sighs. "And of course neither Cole or I could tell him that it was the wrong thing to do. Because it was the right thing to do. The very complicated, nerve racking right thing to do. But its turned out. The CPS worker that Kyle went to did the home study this morning. She says everything will be cleared through the judge by tomorrow and if Kyleís mother shows up she wonít be able to just snatch KyleĖ which she could have before. So there are a lot more protections for Kyle and Cole both."
"Tell her the rest. That is the best part." Lydia urges her sister in law.
"The CPS worker wants Cole and me to be foster parents. Real foster parents not just for Kyle."
Bobbie blinks and then starts laughing. "What on earth did Cole have to say about that?"
"Well when he stopped gaping like a fish out of water? It was all Hell No." Skye nods. "And I can understand why. He loves Kyle and would walk thru fire for the guy. Heís willing to make the investment in time and loss of privacy for Kyle. He was scrambling for a reason that wouldnít make him sound like a total jerk. Which was entertaining in itself."
"What did he finally come up with?" Bobbie asks.
"I donít have a full year of sobriety in again. According to the program Iím not supposed to be making big changes in my life."
"Oh you mean like buying a newspaper? Moving in your lover and his nephew?" Lydia blows holes in that argument within half a second of Skyeís explanation.
"I let it go. It was so... out of the blue her asking like that. It was a huge compliment but Iím leery about it too. And it is not a decision that should be made in a snap."
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