Path to Power
Previously on PTP....
It had been a productive day. Lined up Club 101, picked the menu, the invitations are on a rush order at the printers to be delivered as soon as they were printed. Everything's rolling right along and falling into place with Phase II for AJ. After she'd gotten all the errands for the party done, she'd hit a meeting over at Mercy. AJ was right on that. It was a pretty good meeting. Nonsmoking so at least her clothes didn't reek. The time wasn't too convenient for her on a regular basis coming in the middle of the afternoon but definitely handy to have in a pinch. Skye goes to put her key into the lock of the lake house but the door swings open. Skye takes a step back wondering what the hell. She sets aside everything that is in her arms and knowing she is giving into every cliché of horror flicks the world over enters the house.
"Hello... I have a cell phone and the cops are already on the way. They are on the line right now... you want to talk to them?" Skye lies, calling out loudly into the darkened house. The house feels like someone has been there-- it just doesn't smell right. But it doesn't feel as if someone is still there. She reaches over and flips on the lights. Nobody. She moves over to the fireplace and picks up her shotgun. She is about to search the back rooms when she sees something that hadn't been there when she left this morning. "You have got to be kidding me!" She grabs the card.
I wasn't kidding when I said I couldn't be around this thing. Since it's all your fault... Cole
Skye grabs the cue ball and rolls it along the smooth felt of the pool table, into the side pocket, and can't help but chuckle. Who needs a dining room anyway? He better have sent some cues along as well. Or that is all this thing will be... a dining room table with bumpers.
Over at the Quartermaine mansion, Alan looks up from his before dinner drink at the sound of his mother's wheelchair. There is the ever ready smile on his face that he always shows to his should be sainted mother. "My Gawd, Mother what happened to you!" Alan sets down his drink and rushes to his mother's side.
"Oh darling! I've had such a lovely day. Perhaps a little windy." Lila goes to brush a hand over her tousled coif but catches a glimpse at her hands first. She tsks. "I do believe I'll need to clean up before dinner."
"Just tell me you weren't mugged. That you are alright. REGINALD!!!" Alan bellows.
"I'm not deaf you know." Reginald comes out of the kitchen. While Lila merely looks a little dirty, Reginald is positively filthy as if he'd been inside a burning building.
"What on earth?" Alan looks from one to the other.
"I had a lovely day, darling, and I'll tell you all about it over dinner." Lila says cheerfully.
"Sally will meet you upstairs, Mrs. Q."
"Thank you, Reggie." Lila engages her chair heading toward the elevator but she pauses at Reggie and takes his hand. "You are such a good sport, dear."
"It wasn't the worse thing I've done for the Quartermaines." Reggie says wryly as he pats the back of Lila's.
Once Lila is out of the room, Alan starts again. "What in the hell did you do to my mother?"
"Excuse me, shouldn't you be asking what she did to me?" Reggie quips. Then gets serious knowing that the Quartermaines don't play when it comes to Mrs. Q's wellbeing. "Someone told Mrs. Quartermaine about a community garden in the making. We kinda had a field trip today. She had a good day, Dr. Quartermaine. I, on the other hand, I think I strained something." Reggie rolls one shoulder wincing as he does so.
"Get cleaned up. I'll take a look at it for you." Alan offers.
"I'll do that." Reggie heads to his quarters.
Alan shakes his head and walks back to where he set down his drink. Monica comes into the room calling out, "Reginald?"
"He's in his room getting cleaned up. He and mother went out today."
"They did?" It has been an increasingly rare event for Lila to leave the mansion.
"It will evidently be the topic over dinner this evening. Why were you looking for him?"
"I just went down to the Gatehouse, to invite Ned to dinner. There was no answer and when I tried to go in the door was locked. Locked. I tried my key and it didn't work. I was hoping that Reginald knew what was going on."
"You tried to call?"
"I didn't have my phone with me."
Alan goes over to the phone on the desk and calls down to the gatehouse. "Ned, Hello it's Alan. Just calling to invite you for dinner. Monica was just down there to invite you in person... she said something about the door being locked." Alan hears Ned's response and then nods. "Ah. I'll let her know." Alan hangs up the phone.
"Let me know what?" Monica demands.
"Ned's new bride had the locks changed after a visit from Father."
I wish I could get away with that one but someone always lets him back in. "So why didn't anyone answer the door when I knocked?"
"I guess nobody heard. Because I know that no one could ever ignore you."
Ned hands the phone to Faith who hangs it up on the receiver unit sitting on the bedside table. Ned is sitting on the bed having just got out of the shower. Faith grabs a pillow off the bed and throws it on the floor between Ned's feet. "What's that for?" Ned looks up at his bride.
Faith kneels down on the pillow between Ned's knees balancing one hand on his thigh and the other on the back of his neck. "Floor is hard." She stretches up while pulling his mouth to hers.
"It's not the only thing." Ned mutters trailing kisses down Faith's neck while pushing her robe out of his way.
The next morning (I know I'm evil but y'all have better imaginations than I'll ever be a writer)
Edward just about spews his coffee all over the Herald. He'd been glancing thru the paper on the way to the business section when he'd seen the Metro. What on earth? It was like the Quartermaines had taken over the paper and neither he nor ELQ was mentioned once! "REGINALD!!!!"
"What are you bellowing about, Grandfather?" AJ asks going over to the breakfast bar and grabbing a danish and an orange juice.
"Where is Reginald?"
"Did Grandmother lock you out of her room again?" AJ wonders aloud. "Reginald and Grandmother have already left for the day." AJ looks at the paper. "Great picture of Grandmother. And they got Reginald's better side."
Edward looks back down at the picture. AJ is there standing behind Lila while Reggie is kneeling on the ground next to the wheel chair with his posterior toward the camera. He reads the caption of the photo. "Lila Quartermaine with AJ Quartermaine of the Building Commission check out sites for the Chloe Morgan Memorial Park, a cornerstone of the Courtland street revitalization. The BUILDING commission! You couldn't have said ELQ?! You ungrateful pup!"
"ELQ has nothing to do with it, Grandfather. Don't know why it should be mentioned."
"First Ward House and now this! Chloe was a sweet girl. I can do my part!"
AJ shakes his head. "If you have any kind of respect for Chloe, then you'll stay out of it Grandfather. Grandmother has this project well in hand. And it should be about Chloe don't you think? Not you. Not your ego."
"It's not your ego I'm seeing on this page, Junior!" Edward smacks AJ with the paper. "What are you up to? What are you doing here anyway? I thought you moved out."
"Grandmother called me and wanted to touch bases. And now, I really have to get to work." AJ downs the last of his O.J. and with a cheery grin leaves Edward to stew.
Edward flips to the next section of the paper...
the people section. And starts shaking his head. On the right
side of the paper is all about the Ward House fundraiser and the
various good works sponsored by the house and on the left side of
the paper is a picture of Nikolas Cassadine. "Turn to page C4."
Edward mutters and thumbs thru the pages until he gets to C4 and
then opening it up sees what it is a list of eligible bachelors
in Port Charles. Evidently that Eurotrash tops the list along
with Jasper Jacks. Ned and Faith's wedding announcement is a
footnote in the article since Ned had been on the most eligible
the year before. And the family is still represented on the list.
"AJ again." Edward growls. He tosses that section of
the paper aside.
Grabbing the sports section. Normally the business section is right behind sports. "Port Charles Stallions welcome back Former Owner. I'm in hell. No, I'm still asleep and this is a nightmare." Edward tosses aside the sport section without reading it. Finally! The business section. Edward snorts and throws the paper aside. He was going to have to talk to Ned about falling down on the job. Edward stalks out of the living room. Face up on the couch. J&J of Alaska beats performance estimates.
"Skye? Skye!" Jax lets himself into the lake house. "I saw your car out front!" Jax calls out.
Skye comes out of the back of the house fastening an earring and then sliding on a pair of heels. She is dressed in a form fitting knit dress that compliments her slim curves. "There is something so wrong with this picture." Skye goes over to the couch where her purse sits. She checks to make sure her keys are inside. "What are you doing here, Jax?"
"Is that all you have to say to me?"
Skye lifts a brow. "Do you really want me to tell you what I think of you?"
"I thought we settled all this." Jax says impatiently.
"Oh right-- the heart to heart down on the docks while you were convincing me to keep covering for Alexis. Boarding school bonding and all that."
"Skye, I really don't care for your tone."
That stops Skye in her tracks and her jaw drops. How dare he?! She starts getting flushed. She snaps her mouth shut biting her lip to hold it in but you know what-- fuck it "If you don't like my tone then do not walk into my home uninvited. MY home, Jax. I got in the divorce settlement so that you could go shack up with your whore. Oh did that strike a nerve? Well you know I couldn't have said it if you hadn't showed up where you... are... not... wanted. If you have anything to say to me, put it in writing and send it to my attorney. Now if you'll excuse me, I have things to do today." Skye walks over to the door and holds it open.
Jax walks by her standing in the open doorway. "I don't understand this bitterness, Skye. I know that things didn't work out between the two of us. But you need to move on."
"Who came to whom, Jax? Lose my phone number, lose this address." Skye slams the door and rams the deadbolt home. She'd just wait a minute before going out to her car.
"I wanted to talk to you about the Ward House fundraiser!" Jax hollers thru the door.
"Put it in writing and send it to my ATTORNEY!" Skye hollers back.
Jax hesitates and then walks down to where his car is parked. "What is it about my exs and their personality switches?"
Skye listens for the sound of her ex's car to start and drive away. Only then does she go out to her car staying vigilant the whole time. And her day had been going so well. She climbs into the car and before starting it, she pulls out her cell phone and hits a pre-dialed number. "Jax is trying to horn in on the Fundraiser."
"How do you know that?" AJ asks.
"He was out at the lake house. Walked in like he still owned the place." Skye says bitterly.
AJ whistles. "Maybe you need to take a page out of Faith's book?"
"What book is that? Pistols at ten paces?" Skye snarks.
"She changed the locks on the gatehouse after one too many visits from Grandfather. Mom was raving about it last night at dinner. You should have been there."
"Pass thanks. Change locks. Yep, should have done that as soon as he served me." Skye mutters. "Gotta go see a woman about a locksmith."
Dara eases back in her chair. It had taken days to find the right chair for her office: that fit her back, that fit her butt, that eased back with just the right tension. No flopping back or having to push off to get it to lean back but smooth. And not leather. Leather is great for pants, for skirts but it's awful for chairs. Sure, it's nice, warm and conformed nicely to the seated but it had a bad habit of making flatulent sounds at the worst possible times. "Lieutenant Marcus Taggart please. I'll hold." Dara works on some miscellaneous paperwork that she kept around for just this purpose. Might as well work in some billing hours while she's on hold. But it doesn't take long. "Marcus! Consider your ass chewed for dropping by Spoon Island unannounced."
"That's it?" Marcus' smirk practically comes over the phone line.
"Yeah, you know, in case anyone asks." DA Baldwin "You can tell them I really roughed you up."
Marcus laughs. "Natasha still roughs up better than you do."
"When I went out to the island she had me down in the stables looking at the horses."
"But... Marcus, aren't you allergic to horses?"
"Yeah, but you try telling her no. Next time I'll just make sure I take a pill before I head over there."
Dara gets serious. "Marcus, how is she-- really?"
There is a long silence. "She reminds me of a lot of Gia at that age." Marcus snorts. "What am I saying?! She reminds me of Gia when Gia was a kid. Smart, curious, game for anything. Dara, I don't like having her over there with those Cassadines. That whole family is a bunch of blood suckers. They'll ruin her life. Again."
"Is it better than Ferncliffe? Better than the lock up at the PCPD?" Dara hears Marcus growling on the other end. "I know you'll keep checking on her. And make sure that nobody goes over to the island that might upset her."
"If I have any problems, I'll let you know." Marcus says finally. "Gotta go; perps to bust; warrants to serve."
"Right. Same old, same old. Talk to you later." Dara hangs up the phone.
There is a knock on her door and Dara looks up to see Skye standing there in her open doorway. "The front was unlocked. Do you have a minute? Not business. Not really."
"I wanted to give you this." Skye hand delivers the invitation to the Ward House Fundraiser. "Don't worry about the donation. AJ and I have that covered. Just kind of a Thank You for all your help. Figure you'll be able to shake some hands and pass out a few business cards." Skye says awkwardly.
"This isn't necessary." Dara looks up from the invitation. "Jax has already paid your bill."
Skye winces and then bites her lip. "Well actually about that.... I know if I want a shrink head over to GH but really that's not my style. Something you said the last time I was in here struck a chord. Something that I should have known. That I did know. Anyway that's not important to anybody but me. The point is... Jax is a slippery slope that leads right back into a bottle for me, and I can't have him involved in my life." Skye reaches into her purse and pulls out her check book. "So how much do I owe you, go ahead and add on whatever it's going to cost you to cut Jax a check."
"You're trying to avoid Jax?" Dara asks curiously. At Skye's nod, Dara leans back in the chair. "This might not be the way."
"The first thing he's going to do when he receives the check is find out why he's getting it."
Skye groans and closes her eyes collapsing into the chair on the other side of Dara's desk. "He walked into the lake house today. The house I got in our Divorce settlement. Without knocking-- like he still owned it."
"Sounds like you need to change the locks." The former prosecutor comes out in force for Dara. "Do you feel like you're in physical danger?"
"Oh no, Jax would never lay a hand on me. Shatter over ten years of sobriety, belittle me, discount me, treat me like something he'd wipe off the bottom of his shoe, but he'd never lay a hand on me. And as for the locks..." Skye pulls out her day planner and opens it to today's date. Right there in big letters is Get Locks Changed. "And I did tell him this morning that if he had anything to say to me that he could put it in writing and send it to my lawyer."
"Good. Look go ahead and write me a check for your bill." Dara plucks a file out of her desk drawer and finds the total billable, quoting it to Skye. "I'll send a letter along with the refund check indicating your wishes. Send it out by certified mail. That way I'll know exactly when he gets it. That's me doing my part..." She just gives Skye a look.
Skye taps the day planner. "I'll take care of the rest."
At one corner of the lot there is a pristine tent set up that keeps the wind off of the General directing the action. Lila Quartermaine has rolled to the opening of the tent. She has beside her an old style dictation machine that she tapes her thoughts, plans and orders into. Reggie would take care of the rest. He'd wanted to get her one of those wand style digital recorders but the buttons are just too small. She'd end up beating it against the side of the chair to get it to turn off. The temporary fencing is already up protecting the sight. Those lovely young men on the corner had volunteered to check the site for her; they really should be in school but Reggie had rushed to tell her that wasn't something to ask about. Even now they were going over every inch with the rented metal detectors. Wouldn't want any of the babies to step on an old nail that hadn't been hauled away along with the rest of the junk.
"Yo, Mrs. Q, what you want me to do with this?" One of the lovely young men asks her holding up a Glock 9mm. He is very careful to not put his prints on it. The only reason such a fine piece would have ended up in the lot would be if it was tied to something that nobody wanted a part of.
"Oh dear." Lila mutters. "Not another one. That's the third one this morning. The shell casings are one thing. They'll probably make lovely wind chimes. But all these handguns. And the police constantly showing up to deal with them is just slowing us down! What do you think, Mr. MacDaddy?"
"I know I don't like talking with them. Tell ya what... why don't you just have that Reggie dude put them in individual ziploc bags and give them to the cops at the end of the day after we're all done."
"Yes, that does seem to be best." Lila agrees.
The man tilts his head back getting the attention of the child that is watching the Bentley. "Run up to the corner store and get some Ziplocs." The kid turns and starts to run but is grabbed by the scruff of the neck. "Gallon size not the sandwich bags."
The kid's eyes go wide imagining how much rock you could fit into a gallon Ziploc bag, but he nods and races off. "Shouldn't he be in school?" Lila asks curiously.
"Teacher in service." The man says glibly.
"Oh." Lila nods.
"I'll just leave this with you and get back to my section." The man examines Lila's chair and sees a pocket on the side. He tucks the handgun into it. "Nice ride. How fast you get that thing up to?"
"My reflexes aren't what they used to be, Mr. MacDaddy. I don't push it." Lila pats the arm of her chair.
"I got a cousin that could use one of those. Actually there are a few guys in the neighborhood..." Occupational hazard.
"Really." Lila nods and hmms. "Well that changes things a bit." Lila brings up her recorder and switches it on. "All elements of the park must be handicapped accessible and a portion of the garden space should be raised beds." She switches it off. "Very good to know, Mr. MacDaddy." The guy leaves to go back to his section and another comes up, pouring himself a paper cup of Gatorade after sorting his finds into the recycling tubs outside the tent.
"Mrs. Q, That Reggie guy says you're like... all that... when it comes to growing stuff."
"Mr. MacDawg isn't it?"
"I just go by Dawg, ma'am. Anyway... what do you know about hydroponics? I live in an apartment and you know not much space... and I do like being surrounded by plants. And every time I try... well they just end up turning yellow and then dying."
"Too much water, dear. You're loving them to death!"
"Really." The guy nods kinda rocking his whole upper body.
"I'll bring you a nice book on hydroponics tomorrow but until you have your system set up; I want you to bring me a soil sample from one of the pots that the plant died in. I can have that analyzed to find out if there was something missing from your soil." Lila starts musing. "Might be not enough lime. What were you using as fertilizer?"
"I was using that miracle grow stuff. I read the back of the bottle." The boy says defensively.
Lila tsks and shakes her head. "Oh no, Mr. .... Dawg. I have something at home that is so much better." She pats him on the hand. "Bring me in a soil sample tomorrow."
"Thanks Mrs. Q. You know-- you alright."
"No problem, dear. And I think you're quite lovely too. Anyone that likes plants is a friend of mine."
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