The Path to Power

Chapter Twenty Four




Edward Quartermaine, scourge of the business world for the last thirty plus years has taken a beating in the last few months. On the business front, Ned had kicked him out of ELQ. And on the personal front, Lila had not only kicked him out of the her bedroom-- not just him but his clothes as well. "Lila." His tone is argumentative but supplicating at the same time. After throwing open the double doors of the family room he is stopped in this tracks. "Who are you and what have you done with my wife?!"

"You looking for Mrs. Q? She and her dude are out in the greenhouse. Getting me some of her gardening tea."

"Her dude?"

"Reggie?" The young black man asserts with an eye roll.

"SALLY!" Edward bellows at the top of his lungs. The young upstairs maid comes running. Edward says under his breath but loud enough to be heard. "Keep an eye on him. If he moves call the cops. And..." He leans in closer. "Count the silver when he leaves." Then stepping away. "REGINALD!"

The young man shakes his head. "That the old man that Reg is always bitchin' about?"

"Yes." Sally agrees simply. If they'd been anywhere but at the mansion, if it had been a dark alley somewhere she would be leery of the young man. But the staff of the house know everything that is going on-- including all of the young men that Lila has working for her on the Chloe Morgan Memorial Park. "So are you MacDaddy or MacDawg?"

"Dawg. Just Dawg. Mrs. Q says she got some plant stuff for me and I was supposed to stop by."

"I know." Sally smiles. "My father works at the senior center doing the Meals on Wheels. I'm the way that Miz Lila knows the details of the program."

"So I guess you and me gonna get to know each other a lot better. You ever get a night off from this place?" Dawg gives her a big grin and turns on the charm as he sits on the arm of a chair.





"What you need, Counselor?" Marcus Taggart meets Dara Jenson coming out of a court room. He looks at the docket that is posted outside of the door and his face gets grim. This judge is doing the restraining orders. There is nothing worse than a domestic. Domestics are like train wrecks waiting to happen. "What's up?"

"I was hoping you could serve something for me... personally." Dara juggles her paperwork to get it into her attaché, keeping out the one file that she needs for her conversation with Lt. Marcus Taggart.

"Somebody messing with you?" As a former ADA it wouldn't be the first time that Dara had received threats and required the protection of the PCPD. And some of the perps were too stupid to realize that she'd left the District Attorney's office.

"No, one of my clients." Dara hands the paperwork to Marcus.

He takes a minute and examines it. "Skye Quartermaine?! This is bullshit right? I talked to her after the Quartermaine gatehouse burned down."

"Good." Dara nods. "Then you're familiar with the situation. Her alibi on that was getting..."

"The locks changed on her place out by the lake." Taggart interrupts. "She had everything changed: doors, window locks, safe. I talked to the locksmith."

"Jax divorced her but when it didn't work out with Brenda, he's been coming around like he's entitled. Skye's moved on with things. She's doing the work putting her life back together. Jax is walking into her house like he owned it. He's spreading rumors behind her back to her family and in the business community that she's drinking."

"Is she?"

"Not that I can tell." Skye has such a case for defamation of character just off of that action. Dara shakes her head.

"Has he laid a hand on her?"

"I don't want it to come to that. I like Jax. I have no idea what is going on in his head; that is why I want you to serve him. Marcus, he needs a wakeup call and Skye deserves a chance. He needs to know what he is doing is stalking. This is just a temporary restraining order."

"You didn't need to take it to court, Dara. I would have had a chat with him without it."

"Thanks for that." Dara smiles and tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. "But he's already had a couple of chances to listen and he's just not getting it."

"I'm hard to ignore."

"I've always admired that about you. Gia told me that you were the perfect guy for the job." Dara adjusts the strap on her shoulder. "When do you think..."

Marcus looks down at his watch. "I'll give you a call at the office, heads up. If you know where he is..."

"Club 101, I think. He didn't start hanging out there until Skye hired the place for the Ward House Fundraiser. Before that you could have found him at the Port Charles Hotel."

"I'll call." Taggart tucks the paperwork into his inside jacket pocket.





Always one to multi-task, Stefan's pleasant conversation with Faith in the park covers his actual thoughts which are a review of what he knows about Faith Flynn Roscoe Ashton. Faith's dossier appeared complete-- even her fictional financial information. Of course Ashton has no clue as to whom and what he's dealing. Few men would-- really would. In Port Charles probably only he (and though loathe to admit it Luke Spencer) could truly understand the damage this petite blonde is capable of inflicting.
Baby Kristina appears well tended. The nanny is rough around the edges but competent if somewhat oversexed. While there's no public appearance of affection from her stepmother, there is a vigilance to Kristina' every movement. Between that and the positioning of the guard to protect the child, not the woman, Alexis would have counted her blessings to have been treated half so well as a child. Helena had never been one to take a baby to the park to feed ducks, not even her beloved, Stavros.
They exchange niceties, no reason to be more familiar: discussing the baby, and the weather. Stefan falls silent as Dillon approaches with a young girl. Faith stiffens and steps away. "Excuse me." Faith walks over to the approaching duo, she looks over the teenage girl and then dismisses her with a look a she focuses on Dillon.

Dillon has Georgie wait. He remembers how hostile Faith had been to him when he arrived and how she really does not like surprises. "Here is the bread for the ducks you wanted for Kristina."

"Who is the milkmaid?" Faith demands.

"Her name is Georgie. I met her at the diner." Dillon flushes at the memory of the way he met her, which does not escape Faith's notice. "Thinking of going to a movie, if you don't mind."

Faith looks Georgie over causing the girl to shift uneasily from one foot to the other. "I'll catch a ride home with Alice and Bruno. Don't be out too late I need you tomorrow."

"Thanks Faith." Dillon steps back to take Georgie's hand.

Georgie would love to ask questions. The blonde woman, Dillon's sister in law, had been so cold and rude. But having just met Dillon she doesn't want to rock the boat. She'll ask him about Faith later.

Faith walks back toward Bruno, Alice and the baby. She hands the day old bread to Alice. "Bruno?"

"I'll get the info tonight when he gets back from his date." Bruno says calmly. "Tween me and the boys he'll spill."

"I don't like surprises."

"I'll remind him, Faith." Bruno says earnestly. "He's a good boy."

"If the little slut is getting ideas make sure he's not being stupid."

"He's just a kid, Faith."

"Oh that's reassuring." Faith rolls her eyes.





Taggart strolls into Club 101. It's too early for dinner and too late for lunch. Dara had nailed it. Jasper Jacks is sitting at the end of the bar reading the business section of the paper.

"Hey Lieutenant." Brian, the bartender, acknowledges the cop. Brian moved to Club 101 from the Outback after business fell off there. He'd contemplated moving from here too until the boon of the Ward House Fund Raiser came thru. The Cellar is too small; there always the No Name. The No Name is high risk bartending though even if the tips are good. "What can I get for you?"

"Working." Taggart says simply with a shrug. He walks to the end of the bar. "Consider yourself served." Marcus slams the folded order on Jax's forearm and then on the open newspaper.

"What?!" Jax opens the paperwork. "There is a mistake. Skye would never believe I would hurt her!"

"If you want to contest the order show up for the court date. In the mean time-- do not call her. Do not talk to her. Do not get within 100 feet of her. Do not try to clear this up. If you do-- you will be in jail until the court date."

"It's impossible! This is my club. The fundraiser is being held here." Jax grasps at straws.

And Taggart knows it. "Brian!" He waves the bartender over. "Must be nice to have the boss around, getting all hands on. Who manages now that Mrs. Corinthos and Ms. Quartermaine have left?"

"Me." Brian shrugs. "I've been handling things. This place is small potatoes for Mr. Jacks. He's got to be able to go on a moment's notice."

"Right. That's what I figured. Thanks." Marcus nods. The lieutenant looks back to Jax. "So you want Brian to handle the liaison work or you want Ms. Quartermaine to have someone else handle her end?"

"I won't interfere." Jax says reluctantly.

"Great!" Taggart gives Jax a big grin.

"I would never hurt Skye." Jax says convincingly-- his voice conveying his concern. "I'm trying to help her-- the man she's with..."

Taggart's grin falls away and he holds up a hand in a stopping motion. "Just stop right there. That's none of your business." He makes a tapping motion on the paperwork. "That's exactly what this is about. You don't get to make Skye Quartermaine's decisions. She's a big girl. Hell that's not right either. She's a woman, not a child. Respect her decision or you prove her point..." Taggart pushes off from the bar. "... and I'll prove the Judge's. See ya, Brian."

"Later, Lieutenant." Brian doesn't look up from doing his set up. He'd heard every word but as long as he didn't actually look at the boss maybe it wouldn't be so obvious.

Marcus takes out his cell phone and makes a quick call as he walks up the stairs. "It's done." He snaps the phone shut.





"One sec! Hold your horses!" Skye calls out as she belts the white terry cloth robe. The pounding on the door finally stops. She grabs her hair from her neck and pulls it out over the top of the robe. She checks the window by the door and then opens it. "You're early."

Coleman growls low in his throat and his mischievous gaze goes from mussed hair to polished bare toes and back up again. "You couldn't convince me of that, Babe. I'm thinking I'm right on time."

"Don't call me babe!" Skye demands but she takes a step back. "I wasn't expecting you for another hour."

"I called my relief in early. That phone call earlier got me hot, the though of you, me, a sandy beach with a little bit of suntan oil." Coleman shuts the door behind him but doesn't lose the eye contact. "You been slaving over a hot stove? You did say you were getting dinner tonight."

"Oh hell no. I picked up some deli on the way home. I was just going to jump in the shower and get ready."

"Then I'm right on time." Coleman starts shedding his jacket and un-tucks his shirt.

"Whoa buddy, who invited you into my shower?" Skye puts a hand on the middle of Coleman's chest.

"I'll scrub your back." Coleman offers.

Skye sighs. "Fine. But only until the hot water runs out." Skye screeches half surprise and half laughter. She grabs hold with both hands as she is swept off her feet. "Put me down, you maniac!"

The phone starts ringing and Coleman can feel Skye stiffen. "Ignore it. Let the machine pick up."

Skye? It's Dara. I just received the call from Taggart. Jax has been served. If you have any problems... give me a call After you call the police.

Coleman puts Skye back on her feet. He cups her jaw with his hand and looks into her gorgeous eyes. "You really did it." He says quietly. "Are you okay?"

Skye shrugs. Second thoughts had been plaguing her since she'd given Dara the go ahead. "It's not like he ever laid a hand on me. Or that I haven't given him reason in the past for him to believe that I didn't mean what I was saying."

"Don't second guess yourself, Babe. I may not know shit about this program you've put yourself on but I can see it's tough enough without someone coming along and telling every one you're drinking when you're not. Hell you gave me a big enough ration when I harp on AJ...."

"AJ was pretending to be drinking to get Grandfather's goat." Skye interrupts defensively.

Coleman snorts at that. "Talk about cutting off your nose. He's getting a lot more done now that he's stopped playing games and started playing things straight."

"Oh please, you know my brother is just a pawn in Faith's game to take down Sonny Corinthos."

"One he went into with his eyes open. As far as I know, Faith hasn't asked him to do anything that AJ couldn't live with." Coleman shakes his head. "Why the hell are we talking about Faith and AJ?! Look-- Jax didn't realize how good he had it and now he wants you back, any way he can make it happen." Coleman puts a hand to the middle of his chest. "Believe me, I understand the motivation. Cause I'll take you drinking or sober. Hell I'll take you any way I can get you, Lady. The difference between me and Golden Boy is, I know you're too good for me and he's just figuring that one out. Difference between me and him-- he's trying to bring you down so that you'll need him. Babe, I'm gonna give you the best time you've ever had so you'll need me."

Skye bites the inside of her lip to keep from smiling at her lover's declaration. Cole when he's being sweet and earnest is impossible. He's rude and uncouth and calling him rough around the edges is being kind but he'd never hurt her, always supported her. "Promises, promises." Skye teases. "And don't call me Babe."





"Gia, you better head on out of here. I'll lock up." Dara directs after finishing her call to Skye's machine.

"You think Jax is going to show up here?"

"If he's extremely bright, no. If he's extremely stupid, no, he'll go out to Skye's instead. If he's anywhere in between...."

"Yeah, he'll be stopping by." Gia starts laughing. "Probably to get you on his side."

"Too late. I don't have to like my clients-- thank goodness-- but they are my clients."

"You know when I was dating Nikolas Cassadine he dumped me: hard, publically, involved the press. Turned out the whole thing was a pretense so that he could get next to psycho granny and play his little Cassadine games. He didn't tell me anything. It was all to protect me. Beginning of the end really. He didn't trust me with the truth of what he was doing and I figured out I had to protect myself. We got back together when it was all over but it was never the same."

"The Curse of the White Knight." Dara agrees. "They don't get how demeaning and insulting it is. All they see is the dragon."

Stefan raps on the door which had been slightly ajar. It is rude to eavesdrop but some of the most relevant pieces of information drop into your lap that way, if you just let them. "I don't have an appointment."

Stefan's presence has Gia packing her stuff up in a hurry. "I'm out of here. See you tomorrow, Dara. I'm in class until eleven."

"Thanks for all your help, Gia." Dara waits until Gia leaves. "She doesn't like you much."

"I've noticed. I have nothing against Miss Campbell."

"Right. Now that she isn't engaged to your nephew."

"You say that as if you believe that I am a racist, Ms. Jenson." Stefan quirks a brow.

Dara looks at him carefully. "No, that would be too easy. I think you believe nobody is good enough for your nephew. Too bad. It's a cold sterile existence you are sentencing him to, especially if he starts thinking the same way. What are you planning on doing? Importing some rich girl from an old family, not old American of course cause there is no such thing, but old European... she'll probably be good enough. But will she make him happy?"

"Americans and happiness." Stefan shakes his head.

"Hey, it's guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence, not happiness of course but the pursuit of it-- bunch of hedonists those good old white boys from 1776." Dara says wryly. "We've been pursuing it ever since. But I doubt you're here for a history lesson. What can I help you with this..." Dara looks at the clock. "...evening, Mr. Cassadine?"

"I was hoping to discuss any issues you might have with Alexis' practice, estate after having time to go thru her paperwork in detail over dinner. I just spent an... interesting afternoon with Faith Ashton and Kristina at the park. Nikolas and I have made a pact to not conduct any kind of business on the island."

"Where Alexis might run into someone she ought to know but doesn't." Dara nods. "Have you had any more trouble with Scott Baldwin?"

Stefan shakes his head and his eyes narrow. "No, do you think he's... due?"

Dara's laugh is a derisive snort. "Scott has a short attention span and he likes to win. He isn't going to win here. He'll move on. Probably to using the office in his vendetta against Luke Spencer and Sonny Corinthos." Dara's eyes narrow. "Corinthos I think. He couldn't get Jason for Luis Alcazar's demise. He'll find something."

"It shouldn't be hard." Stefan agrees.

"Pot and kettle there. Please remember I did work at the DA's office for quite a few years. If it wasn't Spencer or Corinthos then it was Cassadine." Dara can see that Stefan is insulted by that. "If you don't like the company then you shouldn't take the reputation of being above the law. It's something you all have in common. Which really annoys the rest of us who actually do follow the rules."

"Dara!" Jax strides into the office without even slowing down or bothering to find out if there is anyone else with the capable attorney.

Dara gives Stefan a look that is impossible to misunderstand. See what I mean?! "Hello Jax."

"I need to talk to you about a... private matter." Jax demands.

Stefan looks at his watch significantly. "Ms. Jensen and I were just about to leave for dinner. Dara, did you want me to wait..." He indicates the open door that has become the library thanks to Alexis' books.

"Thanks." Dara nods. Course the dinner isn't a sure thing but it gave her an out when Jax started to get annoying.

"You aren't actually dating him are you, Dara? I know even without being married to Alexis that the Cassadines..."

"Haven't you had enough restraining orders filed on you for one day?" Dara suggests coolly.

"Then you know about this." Jax pulls the paperwork out.

"Of course I do. Skye is my client. And you were warned about getting into her business, Jax. More than once. It shouldn't have come to this."

"I have never laid a hand on Skye!"

"Are you or are you not divorced from Skye Quartermaine?" Cross examinations had always been her specialty. And might as well get it done now rather than actually have to take it to court.


"It's a yes or no." Dara says flatly.

"Yes, but..."

"Since the divorce has Skye ever come to the property granted to her in the divorce and found you inside it?"

"Yes, but..."

"Have you gone to her family: Ned Ashton, Alan Quartermaine-- and told them that she is drinking?"

"You don't understand."

"No. I think you don't understand. It's trespassing. It's defamation of character. It's illegal. It's harassment. It's stalking, and it's going to stop. Right now." Dara punctuates every sentence with a sharp poke of her well manicured finger in the middle of Jax's chest.

"Ow! Knock it off." Jax takes a step back.

Both of Dara's eyebrows go up. "Exactly. Knock it off, Jax. I couldn't have said it any better. Now if you'll excuse me. I have to see a man about a steak dinner." Dara goes over to hold the door for Jax. He stands there undecided for a moment before walking out the door. As soon as he's gone, Dara goes over to the spare office. Opening the door she sees Stefan putting books up on the shelves.

"I would have thought that you'd have these up by now." He looks up from the books.

"Other priorities." Dara shrugs.

"And have you slain your dragon, Ms. Jensen?"

"I've worked up an appetite, Mr. Cassadine. Is that offer still open?"

"Of course." Stefan puts the book he is holding away. "Let us depart."


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