The Path to Power
It’s been a long freaking season and he can feel it in every single one of his bones. Hell even his hair hurt. Kyle tilts his head back in the deep therapeutic whirl pool. He takes a swig of the bottle of champagne. This was probably not what Skye had in mind all those years ago when she’d talked his uncle into him not getting a job if he played sports. If he was good maybe he’d get a scholarship to college. Turned out he’d never gone to college. Not really. After high school he’d headed off to Europe. He wasn’t a Pele, Ronaldo, Zidane or Beckham but he’d managed a career. He’d gotten the endorsements. In most of the world he couldn’t go through an airport without being stopped for an autograph. Every country in the world except his own where NFL is still king. The US has their Super Bowl. The rest of the world has the World Cup. Like the Olympics, they came around every four years. He’d played in three.
The papers are already full of rumors, innuendos and speculation. His contract is up. He wouldn’t be able to collect social security until he was 65 but he’s contemplating retirement at the age of 32. He suspected how it was all going to go down in the press. They’d blame it on Maxie. Say she was homesick or something and that’s why he wasn’t renewing his contract. Nothing could be further from the truth. She’d always been his cheering section. Been there every step of the way– thrown herself into making every move and club change seamless. She’d done two years at Port Charles University before joining him in Milan. It had been the longest two years of his life. His biggest phone bills lead to his first endorsement. Every place they’d been, she’d been right there throwing herself into what made that place different from the rest of the world: Madrid, Milan, Manchester. She could order cabs and room service in about ten different languages.
And if the world had treated him like a rock star, they’d done the same with
Maxie– beautiful, blonde and a fashion plate. If they wouldn’t have had Mac and
Uncle Cole on their asses they might have done something stupid or let all the
money and fame go to their heads. But Dara Jensen had put them both on a plan...
from the time he was broke and just making the team until Maxie joined him when
he’d signed his first decent contract. They’d been planning all along as if it
was going to end the very next day. Mac had threatened to break both his knees
after finding out that Maxie had married him on what as supposed to be a
vacation break. He’d kept his knees by promising that they’d both be working on
getting college degrees. Thank God for the internet and online courses.
Maxie has a masters in fashion design. It took her more than a few years to do it-- transferring from city to city with him. Milan had been a one long lab for her. Just to get Uncle Cole off his ass he’d gotten a general studies degree. But with Maxie going to classes all the time it had gotten to be a habit and he’s got enough college credits to pick up a few more bachelor’s degrees– communication, PE and thanks to a very liberal definition of student teaching he even has a New York State teaching certificate.
Anyone that had known them back in high school wouldn’t be surprised that he is a soccer player or Maxie is frequently seen in the front row of international fashion shows. The taking classes pretty constantly for the last 15 years thing would have them all screaming “what the ****?” But what else are you supposed to do on the plane on the way to another match? He’d gotten the nickname of The Professor because he always had his nose in something whether it was computer, book or tapes.
Course all the folks back in Port Charles have been expecting them to break up by now. Very few thought it would last this long. Hell he hadn’t thought it would last this long. Just then a hand takes the magnum of champagne from him and takes a big swig. “We having the private party here? I got a babysitter for the kids. Presidential suite at the Four Seasons going to waste. Not to mention about a half dozen parties we need to make an appearance.” Maxie pulls up a chair. Then leaning over she plants a liplock on her husband of 12 years. Sitting back on the chair she studies him. “You were awesome tonight.”
“Last hurrah.” Kyle wipes his hands though his hair and then reaches for the champagne bottle.
“Is it?” Maxie asks quietly as she hands it back.
“Yeah. I’m done, babe. It’s all diminishing returns from here. I was better last year than this, next year will be less– maybe 85% would be good enough for some to stick around but....” Kyle shakes his head and takes a deep swallow of the fine vintage that he’s treating like Boones Farm.
“You bring a lot to the field, Kyle, working with all the younger players. Helping them to not only play well but smart.”
“You trying to talk me out of this, Max?” He hands her the bottle.
“If this is a decision you’ve made considering everything, all the factors, then I’m right there. I’ll pack up the house. We can go back to the States. You were already planning on doing that anyway, you’ve got clinics lined up back in Port Charles. You’ve had offers from a half dozen colleges every single year that want you to come coach for them. Nike has been after you forever to rep for them.”
“You’ve been thinking about this a lot.” Kyle realizes.
“Last time I was back in Port Charles, I asked Aunt Bobbie for Lydia Quartermaine’s number.” She takes a deep drink and then admits. “I put an offer in for their brownstone. You know the one across the street from Aunt Bobbie, the one that backs up to Queen of Angels. It’s got room for all the kids and has all the security AJ and Lydia put in.”
“Babe, how long have you wanted to go home?!” Kyle wonders.
“We go to Port Charles every year, Kyle. But yeah, I thought it was time we had a home, not just a home base. Somewhere to send all the stuff I buy if nothing else. If you want to play for another five years; it’ll still be there.”
“I hated that my mom always went chasing after her guys and left me and Georgie behind. I’m beginning to hate that the kids aren’t getting to put down roots. They don’t complain– they don’t have to make their own beds and room service is a hell of a lot better than my cooking but it’s not... normal– and either is my husband looking like a prune.” Maxie stands up and grabs a towel. “If this is your last hurrah then we better get out there and party like it’s 2018.”
It’s noon the next day before they return to their place in central Madrid. It does take Maxie both hands to count the number of times that she has left the nanny in charge like this and spent the night away from her kids. She and Kyle have a standing date for their anniversary which is always just the two of them. It had gotten more complicated over the years. When they’d discussed having children, Kyle had been adamant. How many kids do you want to adopt? He asked. There was never any discussion of them having kids the old fashioned way although they did practice the moves regularly. Kyle knows it’s possible for her to have a baby, but not recommended. The drugs she took for her heart are on the iffy side for a developing baby, and a developing pregnancy would put a strain on her heart.
Nobody told her kids are like Hershey kisses. Nobody ever had just one Hershey kiss. There is like a law. Sure, best of intentions. Just going to adopt one- just one. They’d been in Ghana for a soccer tournament, back when Kyle had been playing for Milan. It had been an exposition thing coming up on World Cup. And they’d both fallen in love with a beautiful curious boy who had watched Kyle pass the ball around with the bigger kids. They’d already fallen in love when the nun in charge of the orphanage told them that the boy had a little sister: Andrew and Mariah. That was the first of their brood but not the eldest. The eldest and most recent is Pavel. He’d been in a Ukrainian orphanage. He hadn’t been there long but because he was ten when he entered the orphanage he could be adopted by foreigners.
No matter what her reputation in the league, she didn’t adopt from every orphanage she went to. Really. The thing in Brazil was a fluke. There is just such a need there. So many children growing up if you could call it that... to be put out on the streets: Elena and Rafael– Rafe. When Kyle had been traded to Manchester the local aid to children society had come to her. They wanted someone to do ads and testimony about adoption– Jim. Jim was the best thing to come out of Manchester. She’d hated it there and Kyle hadn’t been happy with the club there either. When the trade to Madrid had come in they’d been doing a happy dance right there in the middle of the living room.
They’d been with Madrid for four years now. Thankful the club had provided a service for finding them housing as part of the trade. Accommodations for a family of eight, are never easy to come by. But the word futbol opens a lot of doors in Madrid. It isn’t about money really. It’s about space. And space is hard in the city. Luckily a friend of a friend of the coach had come forward with a flat within stroller distance of Retiro Park. Serious about the stroller thing– Jim and Rafe had both been a year old. A house is out of their price range especially when the plan has always been to retire back in the US. And there had been no way of knowing how long they’d be there. Four years had flown by. Her babies are ready to be in school full time another reason to head back to the states. Maxie looks at the clock. It’s too early to call Aunt Bobbie to give her the news. They are coming home.
Three weeks later, they fly into Port Charles by way of New York City. It’s actually less complicated than trying to get Kyle through Toronto. And there were a few errands that needed to be handled in the City before they could head home. Their belongs would probably not be arriving for another two weeks, no matter what strings Skye pulled with the Quartermaines’ shipping company. As the limo pulls up to the brownstone, the door is thrown open and not just Aunt Bobbie but Mac, Georgie, Skye and Cole pour out of the house complete with balloons.
“It’s so good to see you!” Bobbie declares enveloping Maxie in a hug before moving on to the kids.
Skye is hugging Kyle but then she also turns to the children half of whom are hesitating to get out of the limo. Every year for the last eight they’d visited Port Charles but the younger children and Pavel are hesitant– it’s still new to them. “Pavel, you’re so tall! Kyle told me you were taller than Maxie now but you’re as tall as Kyle. Welcome to Port Charles. Welcome home.”
Cole look at all of them with his arm around his nephew’s shoulder. “What in the hell did you do, man?”
“Married a woman with a heart bigger than Port Charles.” Kyle counters.
Bobbie overhears that and comes over to Kyle giving him a big hug then she takes a step back. “You know I have first dibs on Grandma. I’m Grandma Bobbie. And this is Tio Cole, Tia Skye, Tia Georgie.”
“And this is your Abuelo, your Grandpa Mac.” Maxie cuddles into Mac.
Kyle looks up at the huge brownstone. “So this is it. I never thought when I was babysitting Michael Corinthos, I’d end up owning this place. Lets go inside and see what you guys have done to the place.”
“Hey it isn’t easy doing home decorating from across the ocean!” Skye protests giving Kyle a smack in the arm.
Mac opens the door. “Basement is where the laundry room, Maxie’s work room and entertainment room are. Main floor living room– kitchen in the back. Bedrooms one floor up. Kids play room all the way up to the attic. Your names are on the doors to your rooms. Do not jump on the beds. Cake, ice cream and punch in twenty minutes.” There is a race as the kids head upstairs to discover their rooms.
“I can’t thank you enough for doing this for us.” Maxie takes a deep breath.
“Honey, we were happy to do it. Especially me.” Bobbie rubs her hands together. “I have grandchildren across the street!”
“Papa! Papa! Come see.” Andrew shouts down the stairwell.
Cole winces. “And there is a state of the art intercom system installed. You’re going to have to show the kids where that is.”
Kyle grins then goes racing upstairs. The kids had found their rooms and the backpacks they always carry are already on their beds although nothing is put away. The other children had come racing at Andrew’s shout too. Not finding the kids he goes up to the attic. This is the space Lydia had converted into a pirates galleon for Michael. Skye and Bobbie had been hard at work. Because it’s now a soccer stadium complete with goals on either end and a huge score board lit up. Hanging from the apex of the roof are the flags of Ukraine, Ghana, Brazil, UK and USA as well as representative flags from each of the World Cups he’d played in.
“It’s not regulation not even for indoor soccer.” Skye says from behind him. “But then neither is the soccer ball. It’s...” Skye looks around and then whispers. “...Nerf.”
“This is amazing, Skye.” Kyle hugs the woman he thinks as his step mother, foster mother, mentor, everything rolled into one.
“Let me show you the best part. This was added from old photos we had.” Skye tugs him over to one side of the room off in a corner and sure enough there is a mural of spectators sitting under an umbrella in lawn chairs with a big hummer tailgate down in the background. “Although it wouldn’t surprise me if after AJ and Lydia see what we’ve done to the attic if they don’t give you the tailgate end of a hummer and the lawn chairs.”
“Now that would be something.” Kyle laughs then calls out. “Andrew, pass the ball to Rafe; he’s closest to the goal.”
“Papa! He can’t dribble.”
“And if you never give him the ball, he never will.” Kyle gives Skye a kiss
and then jogs to where one of his five year olds is about to throw a tizzy. He
lines Rafe with a clear shot at the empty net and then nods to Andrew. Andrew
softly passes the ball to Rafe who kicks it hard into the goal. Bells go off and
lights flash. “Goal!” Kyle hollars and lifts his son in the air. “Who wants
“Me, me, me.” The chorus breaks out.
“Go find your mother.” It sounds like a cattle stampede down the stairs.
“You’re so good with them.” Skye compliments. “I’m not surprised. You’ve been
coaching since you were in high school. Father Frank went to see your uncle.”
“At Jakes?!” Kyle shakes his head– trying to wrap his mind around the priest in charge of Queen of Angels visiting his uncle’s bar. “Okay. How is he doing?”
“Happy you’re back. Father Frank is a total soccer junky and has been teaching Cole the finer points ever since you signed that contract with Milan. Cole probably didn’t tell you but he had satellite and a big screen put up in the bar for the soccer matches, just soccer.... well and pool.”
“Bet that went over really well.”
“Actually it did. All the regulars knew you of course. Port Charles has always been an international port. The word went out that Jakes is the place to watch soccer. Even with time differences and everything. If it was after hours he’d shut down the liquor service and bring out the sodas and junk food. Maxie evidently emailed Father Frank about registering the kids for school.”
Kyle nods. “The kids have always gone to private school. I’m sure one of the draws to this place was having Queen of Angels in the backyard.”
“Catholic school, Kyle?”
He grins and nods. “All the kids have actually been adopted out of catholic run orphanages. Maxie got out of us converting by promising that the kids would go to catholic schools... and they always have. It’s better this way. Pavel’s English is getting pretty good even if he speaks with a Ukrainian/Spanish accent. But he’d have a hell of a time in a public school. This is actually a good way to keep things... normal for them.”
“Honey, when are you going to realize that normal just isn’t us?”
“I know. Believe me I know.” Kyle laughs. “And on that note, I know I’ve left my wife alone too long.”
“You think she’s up to something.”
“Always.” Kyle’s replies wryly.
The kitchen has also been updated with the latest conveniences and with the knowledge that a big family is going to be living there. Cole had been the one to do the updating here making sure that there are professional grade appliances and tools. He’d also made sure that the plates and dishes could be handled without regret by a five year old. Kyle and Maxie would have help-- a nanny and a housekeeper but both of them remembered how to run a dishwasher and put together a short order style meal.
Georgie asks the question that everyone wonders. It drops into a brief moment of silence. “What are you guys going to do next?”
“Get unpacked. Get the kids registered for the new school year.” Kyle begins then looks at Maxie and nods.
Maxie is the one that drops the bomb. “I submitted my portfolio to Project Runway– and they accepted me. I’m leaving for New York in two weeks. And I’m scared to death. I’ve never been away from Kyle and the kids as long as they want for the show.”
“The kids and I have talked about it.” Kyle nods. “They know that now that Papa isn’t working that Mama is going to have to step up.” Kyle looks around at the speechless set of elders. “She’s going to win you know– she’s been training for this for the last 15 years.”
“Longer.” Georgie finally says. “Of course you’re going to win. It’s perfect for you.”
Cole stage whispers to Skye. “What the hell is Project Runway?”
A month later.
Kyle is trying to get the kids out the door to school. “How does your mother
do this? Thank goodness the school is just across the alley way.” He jumps into
the back door way blocking the kids from leaving. “Lunches?” Each of the kids
raise their customized bento kits. “Homework?” They raise their bookbags. “Okay.
You guys have an awesome day and I’ll see you after school.” Kyle steps out of
the way and gives hugs and kisses as needed. It’s one of the adjustments he’d
made while being in Madrid. The concept of personal space is much smaller. The
kids, boys and girls, give hugs and kisses on both of his cheeks before running
toward the back gate.
The only reason this is working is because Sally had taken the household in hand. That and the daily phone calls from Maxie telling the kids what they needed to get done the next day. His wife is in the contest of her life and she’s reminding the kids to set their uniforms out the night before. They don’t talk about the contest, but about the kids, the house, everything in Port Charles. The information is personal but not private because the conversations are monitored to be used for the show... or to prove that nobody is getting outside help. Yeah, like he’d know how to cheat in a sewing contest. “Sally?”
“You’re late. If there is no traffic you might be able to still make your appointment with Dara Jensen before she gets seriously ticked.”
“Damn. Okay I’m out of here.” He starts searching his pockets for his keys.
Sally whistles and with an underhand toss throws him his keys. He races out the back door to the garage. There are three vehicles parked there: minivan, Maxie’s Porsche and his restored mustang. The stang starts with the first turn of the key with a throaty purr. Carefully backing out, Kyle heads across town to the offices of Jensen, Campbell and Winthrop. He makes it there with just a couple of minutes to spare as he’s checking in with the office manager.
Mary Taggart glances over to the clock and raises a brow. Kyle grins at her knowing he’s right on time. “Dara is on a call but I’ll let her know you’re here.”
“Thanks.” Kyle takes a seat in one of the comfortable chairs in the lobby. The first time he’d met Dara Jensen it was when his uncle was setting up a trust fund for him. Something to pay for his college expenses. It ended not being for college but it had come in handy when he’d been breaking into the league to have a little extra in the bank every month to cover things like– food, rent. Those first two years had been tight until the big contract had come through. Dara had reviewed that contract, given suggestions for making it more favorable and then got on his ass about saving for a rainy day because he probably wouldn’t be playing past the age of 35. Here they are now. He’s 32 and not worrying about the rain.
“Kyle. Sorry about that.”
“Hey Dara.” Kyle gets to his feet and puts the magazine back. “I was counting my blessings. I just got here.”
“Come on back.” Dara leads the way back to her office that has changed quite a bit over the last 15 years. Mostly at Mary’s insistence, as long as she has a good reading light and a comfortable chair she is good to go. She’s always been more about the courtroom than the office. “So we’re having one of those major life changes need to review everything meetings?”
“Yep. We were about due. Haven’t had one since Maxie and I adopted Pavel.”
Dara knew what the meeting was going to be about so she’d updated all the files and pulled them. “Here are the trusts for the kids and the current balances. Even if you didn’t put in another dime they’re seeded well enough to get them through the college of their choice. Yours and Maxie’s retirement accounts are doing well. We’ve updated your life insurance policies to cover any bite that the government might want to take. Gia has been reviewing the current offers but she really needs direction on what you want to do now: broadcasting, coaching, pitch man for shoes and deodorant, real estate, open a chain of restaurant/bars?”
“I should have an answer for you, Dara, but I don’t. All I know for sure is
that I can’t do anything out of town for the next three months because Maxie is
doing that Project runway gig. Being retired now, the endorsements are going to
dry up within about a year. Might still be able to sell gear to programs but not
the tv, magazine thing.”
“The coaching or the broadcasting offers are getting intense, Kyle. The US is going to be making another bid for host country of the World Cup.”
“How in the hell do you know that?” Kyle asks his lawyer.
“One of my clients is a former soccer player. I pay attention. So if you’re interested in that, I know it’s 4 years down the road but we should start positioning you now.”
Kyle winces. “Dara, I don’t know how I’m going to feel in six months but right now... I’m happy to be home and this is where I want to be. If I can’t sleep in my own bed at night, I’m really not interested.”
“I’ll let Gia know so she can use that as a gauge.” Dara nods. “It’s good to have you home, Kyle.”
“It’s good to be home.” Kyle agrees.
“Why am I not surprised to find you here?” A feminine voice gets Kyle’s attention from the spot he’s taking at the barstool of his uncle’s bar. He’d gotten advice from Dara now he needed to touch base with Uncle Cole on what the hell he is going to do with the rest of his life. “Recognized the ‘stang when I was driving up.”
“Knew I should have took the mini-van. It isn’t kewl but nobody looks for it.” Kyle mutters. “Hey Ms. Marcos. You still kicking ass on little kids?”
“Nah, just their parents and punk teenagers. How old is that coffee, Cole?”
“I’ll make a fresh pot.” Cole offers already reaching for the supplies. ‘How’s business, Marcos?”
“Booming.” Marcos says grimly.
Cole slowly turns around. “What’s happened.”
“Your wife will be reporting on it in tomorrow’s Herald I’m sure. One of the group homes blew the hell up today.”
“I’m guessing you’re not talking a gas leak.” Kyle gets serious.
“The woman running it brought in her new boyfriend. She didn’t inform us, worse than that she hid it from us. No back ground check. I was checking on one of my kids at school and I just got that sick feeling in my gut.”
“How bad? How many?” Cole demands.
“We’re still trying to figure out the fallout. How many of these kids this SOB played his sick games on and how many had to watch. But they’ve all got to be moved. I got 8 kids I’m going to need to do emergency placements on.”
“Eight? You had eight kids in one house?”
Marcos makes a face. “Don’t get me started on that. Skye volunteered you guys
for three, Cole. She’s already left a message for Chandy to get their rooms
ready when she gets home from school.”
“****.” Cole grimaces but doesn’t argue. It isn’t the first time they’d taken emergency placements for Marcos. Normally they are very short term. Just long enough for a parent to get through inpatient treatment and get their feet back along with their sobriety. “Guess I’m stopping at the grocery store on the way home to stock up on cold cereal.”
Marcos looks at Kyle consideringly. She’d arranged for home visits in three different countries along with translations into Ukrainian, Portuguese and Spanish so that Kyle and Maxie could adopt. She knows as much about their house as she does with most of her foster parents. More even. “So what you doing these days, Kyle?”
“Okay-- I know Maxie told Sports Illustrated we’re planning on adopting a soccer team; she was exaggerating. Besides Maxie is out of town right now doing that Project Runway program and I’m doing the single parent thing. I am not qualified.”
“We need to get you qualified.” Marcos mutters consideringly.
Kyle can already sense he is going to be pulled into this mess. “Look you had the SOB arrested and the foster mother too right? Have they made bail?”
“I can’t take the kids. I can’t handle the kids not without Maxie. But the dog, the cat, the gerbils or gold fish. That way when Uncle Cole brings the kids over my house they can see the pets.”
“Done!” Marcos says quickly before Kyle can pull out. She is so going to get him through foster parent training. Him and Maxie both. They’d have their soccer team or her names isn’t Casey Marcos.