The Path to Power

Chapter Twenty Six




Dead Issue




When Dillon comes up to the house the next morning he is dressed in the suit that Faith had picked out for him at Wyndams. They'd evidently put a rush on the hemming and had it delivered the night before. When he woke up he'd seen it hanging on the back of his door. Dillon knocks before coming in the back door into the kitchen. The coffee is already on so he knows someone is up in the house.

"Pour me one." Faith requests as she comes into the kitchen still putting in discreet diamond stud earrings. She is wearing a little black day dress.

"We going to stick around long enough this morning to drink it?" Dillon asks wryly although he does want an answer to the question.

Faith glances at the clock on the stove. "Yeah. We got time."

Dillon takes down another mug and after filling it hands it to Faith. She glances at the front page of the Port Charles Herald that is set on the breakfast bar. It often takes on the unintentional aspect of giving her, her laugh for the day. The Herald is as clueless as most of the sheep in this town. There was no evidence of journalism, or investigation, just a regurgitation of press releases from the district attorney's office. Anything that was actually newsworthy is buried in small paragraphs in small print in the very back of the front section.

Ned comes into the kitchen. He's dressed in another of Roscoe's suits. He picks up Faith's coffee cup and takes a sip. It was surely the safest cup in the house to drink out of. "Anything in the paper?"

"Nothing much." Faith thumbs thru the paper and hands Ned the business section. The Business Section of the Herald is actually the most valuable. With ELQ, J&J, Barrington Enterprises, Cassadine Industries even Morgan/Corinthos Imports this little upstate berg is humming with industry. Course saying that was the most valuable was saying they got maybe half of the story.

Ned takes the section from Faith. Then he glances over at his younger brother and does a double take. "You're all dressed up. What's going on today?"

Faith answers before Dillon can. "I have an appointment with my grandmother's estate attorneys today."

"I thought she left everything to charity." Ned replies. Which is why you had to get money from my grandfather to pay for the hit woman that you sic'd on Corinthos.

"Yeah, but that's bullshit. She isn't going to get the last word. She isn't going to ignore me the way she..." Faith turns the page on the front section of the paper.

Ned puts a hand at the base of Faith's back. "Faith, you don't need her money. You don't need anything from Catherine Flynn."

"Great. It's a good thing I don't, isn't it? Seeing as how the old bag gave everything that should be mine, mine by blood, to Carly Corinthos while she was alive and charity when she was dead. Well it's not gonna fly. I'm going to fight it. I kept every one of my promises that I made my Grandmother..."including the one about not going after Corinthos as long as she was alive. "...and she couldn't even keep one."

"Faith, you... " ...killed her. Ned bites his tongue before he finishes the sentence remembering that Dillon is in the room.

Faith's brows both go up and she looks up from the paper. "Oh?" Daring Ned to finish his thought.

Thinking faster now. "You're giving her too much power over you. You didn't like her trying to control you when she was alive. Why let her control your actions now?"

Faith turns around leaning against the counter so that she is facing Ned. "Dillon, are you listening to the line of crap your brother is spewing?"

"Uh Faith, I..." Dillon shifts awkwardly from foot to foot really not wanting to be the focus of this conversation especially when he knows that today isn't about Faith's grandmother but about Fowler and his brother doesn't seem to have a clue.

"I'm sure he gives you the same advice about your mother and how she has too much power and influence over you." Faith interrupts. She might have put Dillon in the conversation but she never looks away from Ned. "Shame he can't take it or he would have told that old control freak that burned down the gatehouse to drop dead. Or is that what you're afraid of, Ned? That Edward will drop dead and leave all of his money to charity?"

"My grandfather would never!"

Faith gives Ned a rap on the cheek, a sharp friendly pat. "To get you to heel like a little bitch?! To get over on his family and prove to them who really holds the purse strings and controls all of you even from beyond the grave? To make sure that you and AJ never bury the hatchet and keep fighting each other rather than taking out the real problem?" Faith doesn't look at Dillon as she asks the next question. "Oh wait! Next best scenario, Dillon, what is going to happen if Ned and AJ don't start working together before the old man kicks the bucket?"

"Mom is going to take over after letting them take each other out. It has a noir quality to it that Mom would love." Dillon says with a sigh.

"I do like the way that boy thinks." Faith looks over her shoulder and smiles at Dillon admiringly before looking back at Ned. "Be careful, Lover. They're nipping at your heels. I need to get going."

Ned sees Faith's black wool coat with the fur trim slung over the back of one of the chairs and picks it up to hold it for his wife. Dillon swigs down his rapidly cooling coffee and gets the door for Faith as she sweeps out of the house. Dillon looks at his brother and shakes his head. "She's just stressed out. Don't worry I'll make sure she's okay." Dillon runs after Faith getting to the car before her so he can hold the door open.

Ned stands in the open doorway watching as Dillon makes sure Faith is seated in the front passenger seat before coming around and climbing in behind the wheel. He mutters to himself. "Tracy, you have no idea what you've done."





AJ flips the light on in his office and leaning over takes the leash off of Rosie's collar. "Go ahead, girl." Rosie is already getting used to the routine of hanging with AJ and goes over to her corner of the office where there are chew toys and a bed already set up. "I figure I have some time before everyone else comes in to get some real work done, that way we'll be able to cut out early and check out what Grandmother is doing down on Courtland street." AJ intentionally doesn't say fun buzz words like walk that might get the golden retriever going.
CEO of ELQ was a more glamorous title and the carrot that had been waved in front of him all of his life. Unfortunately there was only one carrot and lots of family that were going for it: Ned, Tracy, Skye and then him, sucking the hind teat as per usual. It was only after Carly got pregnant that he'd started to dream of something different. And even then ELQ had been a big part of it, something to give Michael. But if it came down to having ELQ or having his son? Then his choice is Michael and anything he had to do to make that happen. Even if it meant giving up the dream of ELQ. Even if it meant throwing in with Faith Roscoe Ashton.
He'd thought she was high when the opening had come up in the building commission but it hadn't taken long for him to see the benefit. The Quartermaine name might make it possible for him to bring his dog to work, but it was his work implementing the city plan that was making him respected in the building. People are starting to look to him when they want to get things done. The Mayor's face was on the front page of the Herald but every building permit of significance had AJ Quartermaine's signature on the bottom of it.
He'd already been able to bury the plans for another Morgan/Corinthos warehouse at the end of pier 52 and suggest a few inspections of the primary warehouse. Coffee is after all-- food. Wouldn't want there to be any vermin leaving so much as a hair in something that was meant to be consumed. Courtland street wasn't anyone's priority but it made Grandmother happy to be busy. And it made one less place where Sonny Corinthos could do his illegal business. Course that hadn't been Ned or Faith's plan, not really. They wanted to dry up all of Sonny's legitimate money to make it more than obvious to the Feds that he was an IRS audit away from prison and away from Michael.

As he goes thru the new pending proposals, AJ snorts and shakes his head. He reaches for the phone. This is too good to not share.





"Keep your eyes on the road." Faith demands feeling Dillon's concerned eyes on her.

"Ned doesn't know about Fowler-- being buried today, I mean?"

"He'd know if he wanted to know." Faith sighs and shifts in the seatbelt so she is more angled toward Dillon. "Ned never liked Fowler. And he has his hands full dealing with ELQ, your grandfather and the Cassadines. He doesn't need to know about Fowler and I really don't want to hear any fake sympathy crap."

"Would it be fake?"

Faith rolls her eyes. "As fake as any tears I'd cry at your grandfather's funeral. For that old goat, I'd probably have to have ammonia on my handkerchief." She is about to say more when her cell phone starts ringing. Faith reaches into her purse and right next to the 9mm is her cell phone. "Yeah?"

Dillon looks over as he hears Faith start laughing. "What?"

Faith doesn't bother covering the mouthpiece on the phone. "Your grandfather just filed to rebuild the gatehouse. It's on AJ's desk right now." There is a voice in her ear that she answers. "No, Dillon is driving me on some errands today. So what are you planning on doing with this rebuild permit? Oh sweet. Good news deserves good news, Junior. I got Zander Smith to give a statement about what happened when you signed away rights to your son. It's locked up tight at his attorney's office. But he's sending a copy of Sonny just for insurance." Faith listens to AJ's reaction to that bit of news. "Not yet. Okay so you got the family car if you can call a hummer that, and you got the dog. Where you planning on stashing this kid if you do get him back? Quartermaine central? You still got time to get your ducks in a row. You'll know when it's time to move. Hell. I'll tell ya."





Skye doesn't naturally wake early. Only back when she'd been drinking the dehydration of overindulgence would wake her at an indecently early hour with a raging case of dry mouth and normally a screaming headache. When she'd been married to Jax he'd done one better-- not only waking early but also cheerful. Thinking back on it, it had been extremely annoying. Only a woman in love would put up with it or consider it cute. Coleman seems to wake early when he has a reason-- like promising to make her coffee but other than that tends to sleep in and snuggle. It's the absence of the furnace at her back and the weight around her waist that brings her the rest of the way out of sleep. Skye rolls over on to her back and mutters sleepily. "Cole?"

"Go back to sleep, Babe."

"What are you doing up so early?" Skye glances over to the alarm clock, then sees that Cole is dressed in a dark, conservative suit. There is no tie and the first button is undone but it's formal for him. "Do you have court or something today?"


"Oh. I'm sorry. I didn't know." Skye says awkwardly.

"Don't worry, Babe." Cole says wryly not wanting her to be overly concerned. "It's just Fowler."

"Faith's guy." Skye makes the connection as she starts to wake up.

"Yeah. Bruno gave me a call last night to remind me. I wouldn't normally go but Bruno says Fowler is being buried next to Roscoe."

Skye sits up in bed bringing her knees up. With one hand she holds the sheet to her chest and with the other shoves the hair out of her face. A thought occurs to her as she is shoving her hair back. "Wait a minute-- you told me they never found Roscoe. What do you mean... buried next to Roscoe?!"

Cole ignores the question and instead puts his watch on.

"Oh Gawd. She's burying Fowler next to the baby, her baby."


Skye half laughs uncomfortable with the whole idea. It doesn't really make sense unless... "She can't honestly believe Fowler would... guard the baby in the afterlife or something?! That's just... bizarre."

"Nah. If Hell exists Fowler punched a one way ticket a long time ago and he'll have plenty of company for the toasted marshmallows but it won't be the kid."

"Because it's kinda comforting to think of him taking care of the baby. Because he would have. I heard Faith on the phone with Fowler once. Even one sided you could tell he really could get thru to Faith without... annoying her. You said Fowler was the one who took her to the hospital."

Coleman sits down on the bed and starts to pull on his boots. "Babe, if there was a chance in hell Fowler would have been guard dogging the baby, Faith would have have punched his ticket herself." Cole says wryly.

"Wait for me." Skye demands. "I'm going with you."





At the cemetery parking lot, Dillon gives Faith a hand. Heels and lawn don't mix. Luckily paths cut thru the bulk of the cemetery. Faith leads the way knowing exactly where Fowler is being buried. She'd visited the neighboring plot often enough. She hates the damn place. Soon she and Dillon are standing by a headstone that reads Paul Roscoe and a single date. The headstone has an angel on it. In the next plot over there is an open hole ready for a casket with rich earth piled on one side and a mahogany box suspended over the hole. The wreath she'd made is at the head of the casket and it's the only flowers there... for Fowler. "I hate this place."

"Seems nice enough." Dillon looks around, like a park but with marble headstones.

"Maybe it's the company." Faith points to a nearby fenced off portion of the cemetery. "Sonny Corinthos' first wife is buried over there. He visits her all the time and acts like he owns the place. That nobody else could possibly have a reason to be here but him. Bastard. He's the reason I have to come here." Faith shakes it off. "I need some time."

Dillon nods and steps back on the path to give Faith some privacy. He watches as Faith stands next to the Roscoe headstone. Her hand caresses the marble. He can see her lips moving but can't hear what she is saying. Because of all the errands he'd run with Faith the day before he recognizes the funeral director as he is coming up the path. He walks over to the director. "Faith wanted some time."

"Of course." The Director nods. "Mrs. Ashton indicated that she wanted a small private internment with no service. We can begin whenever she is ready."

They wait as Faith walks over to the casket. She runs a single red tipped finger over the length of the casket and then where Fowler's head would be she leans over and murmurs a farewell before caressing the smooth dark wood and straightening. She nods at the funeral director. She's ready now. Walking over, she stands next to Dillon. The funeral director goes over to the casket and pushes the lever that slowly lowers the casket.

Bruno walks up to Faith and gives Dillon a discreet hand movement so the kid moves off again. "I found out what you needed to know." Bruno says quietly.

"Who." Faith says flatly not looking away from the casket.

"Ric Lansing. He's got the tire iron in his apartment. Fowler wasn't the only one beaned that night. He got one in on Jason Morgan too." Bruno sees Faith's look. "I know, I know-- it would have been sweet. But Lansing's got other plans for Morgan, like his prints all over the tire iron that did..." Bruno nods in the direction of Fowler's slowly descending casket.

"Pour some gas in the little war between me and Sonny. Not that it would have taken much. Two can play that game. Fucker. I am so sick of him getting in the middle of my business. First it was hopping on Sonny's little wife spoiling all of Fowler's plans for the slut and then trying to make bad blood between me and Jason Morgan?" Faith laughs. "Redundant." The word is clipped off tersely. "Like Mr. Lansing. Find out what is important to him. And then Take. It. Away. Don't kill him. I want his hands dirty. I want him to suffer." Faith's nails dig into Bruno's forearm as she is talking to him.

Bruno puts a hand over Faith's flattening her hand out so that her nails aren't digging as hard into him. "I told the street-- anything they know we want. I'll get the info, Faith."

Faith looks from Fowler's grave to Bruno. Her eyes are so hot they are practically shooting sparks in his direction. "Payback is a bitch, Bruno. And I don't mean me. He took one of mine and I'll take one of his. Lansing was setting us up to either do his dirty work or die trying. Corinthos is going to pay but I'm not going to be stupid about it. Lansing won't interfere anymore. Sonny is going to lose everything before I'm finished with him. Everything."

"Yeah, so I need to set Lansing up. So maybe Sonny will take him out for ya." Bruno offers hopefully.

"Find out what is important to Lansing and take it away. Make sure if there is a little trail of crumbs it leads right back to Corinthos." Faith orders.





Zander reviews the latest proposals that had come across his desk as Vice President in Charge of Paperclips. The title is a big damn joke but it had actually turned into a job. It was all about supply, and not just paperclips although a Fortune 500 Company like ELQ went thru quite a few. There is nothing a former drug dealer understands better than supply and demand. That old story about a missing nail causing the loss of a kingdom is turning into his mantra. Ned had given him a shot, trusted him with this job and he was gonna make the most of it. There is too much riding on him being legit now. He has to keep the peace with all facets of his life, Tasha and Faith.

"What are you doing in my office?" Ned demands.

"They are doing major reconstruction in the office next to mine. I screw up on one of these it's going to be something the company is stuck with for a year. I needed to be able to hear myself think." Zander explains and then he frowns. "Wait a sec. What are you doing here?!"

"I work here." Ned enunciates slowly. And points to the plaque on the door. "Name is on the door and everything."

"No, I mean what are you doing here today -- now?! I thought you'd be with Faith."

Ned shakes his head. "Okay. I'm getting there is something important about today, now. But I'm not getting why it would be different than any other day. I know that Faith had appointments today and took Dillon to drive her. She didn't say anything about wanting my company."

"Yeah, I guess you could call it an appointment. Faith is burying Fowler today. And yeah, he was a sonofabitch but I can't imagine Faith..."

The way that Dillon had been dressed this morning starts to make sense. Why hadn't Faith told him? "Lock up when you leave." Ned turns a 180 and starts to leave then he turns back around. "You wouldn't happen to know where?"

"The cemetery by Queen of Angels is where Roscoe is buried. I figure she'll use the same one for Fowler."

Ned nods and races from the building. Once in the car, he calls the cabin. Alice picks up the phone. "Alice, what's going on at the house?"

"Everything is peachy, Mr. A." Alice says cheerfully. "Me and the little Miss are just kicking around the house today since Bruno and Mrs. A had appointments they couldn't put off. I called and made that pediatrician appointment Mrs....

Ned clicks off the phone in mid sentence cutting off the nanny. "Please, please, please don't let Faith be killing someone today."





Bruno's eye starts twitching. He had to tell Faith today. Had to let her know that there was proof of what Lansing had done but damn. Faith had been stewing before the news and she was about half a tic from a full scale explosion. And he can see it coming. The cops are here, Mac Scorpio with that Capelli dude. The Police Commissioner showing up at the burial of a thug. Maybe Fowler would get a kick out of that wherever he is now but it was making his life hell. And Faith knowing who had killed Fowler but the cops being here rather than putting Lansing in a box. Oh man. Please, please, please don't let Faith be killing someone today. Not with all of these witnesses.

A possible answer to his prayer arrives just then. Coleman and Skye come up the path toward them. Coleman stops by Bruno. "Well that's quite the picture."

"Thanks for coming."

"When did the cops show up?"

"After I told Faith who killed Fowler."

Coleman winces. Skye leans in. "Where is Ned?"

"He doesn't know. I don't think he even knows that Fowler is dead. Or if he does it's not on his radar."

Skye looks at Cole. Cole puts a hand on Skye's wrist and leans in to whisper in her ear. "Stay close to the kid. Don't even breathe on Faith until I find out what's up and that it's okay for you to be here. You might be one unexpected person too many after those guys." Cole nods in the direction of the cops. Then he sees just what he doesn't want to see. Faith making a move toward the cops. "Oh Shit." Cole steps up the pace.

"Are you here, Commissioner, to tell me who killed my husband? No? How about that you've found him so I can have something to bury under that headstone?! Who in the hell do you think you are to show up here?! Don't you have a donut shop to shake down? TELL ME! TELL ME THE PERSON WHO KILLED FOWLER IS IN JAIL. TELL ME OR GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY FACE!"

"Mrs. Roscoe..." Capelli takes a half step in front of his boss. The Blonde is nuts even when she wasn't grief stricken if that is what this is.

"It's Ashton." Dillon steps up next to Faith. "Faith Ashton. And I believe my sister- in- law asked you a question. Have you found out who killed Mr. Fowler?"

"We're following a number of leads, Mrs. Ashton." Mac says quietly. He'd found that being in control of himself often lead the person he was talking to bringing themselves back under control as well.

Faith rolls her eyes. "You've got nothing. You are nothing. Nothing. You aren't even a player in this town. Sonny Corinthos runs this town because you don't have the balls to take him on. Look around you, Commissioner, You're the one filling the cemetery because you don't do your job. But hey it's just mobsters right? Just mobsters."

Coleman steps up. This was going to a place that was going to get ugly. "Sorry, I'm late, Faith." He puts a hand at her back and starts rubbing it soothingly. "Tell you what... why don't we go down to Jake's and I'll get you drunk and we'll tell tall tales about Fowler. We both brought our designated drivers. I ever tell you about the time Wynonna sprung a surprise on him for his birthday? Never saw a guy so happy to be caught with his pants down." He starts steering Faith away from the cops.

Bruno, Dillon, and Skye too, form a wall between the police and Faith. Dillon is too young in Skye's opinion and Bruno well he looked like the thug that he is even in the well cut Italian suit. "Thank you for stopping by, Gentlemen. I will relay your condolences, I know you have no intention of making this any harder on Faith or her family than it already is and have somewhere else to be. Goodbye." Skye says politely but firmly.

"Tell Mrs. Ashton that we'll be in touch." Capelli answers with a growl as he follows Mac from the cemetery.

"That a promise or a threat?" Dillon asks wryly after they are out of sight. It's a rhetorical question but Bruno answers anyway.

"Both. They didn't like what Faith said. Specially since it's the truth. PCPD doesn't get a damn thing done. They spend their time either with a hand out for a bribe or jacking off."

Skye winces at the vulgarity. "I don't want to hear about it. But if that guy was threatening Faith, I'm sure she'd like to know if he is taking bribes and who is pulling his strings."

Bruno looks at Skye with new eyes. He was finally beginning to see what Coleman would like about her. He'd always thought it was just her being a natural redhead, probably a wildcat in the sack. "Yeah, I'll look into that."

"Where is Ned?" Skye looks from Dillon to Bruno.

"Faith said he has enough going on." Dillon offers. "Besides, she says that Ned didn't like Fowler anyway."

"From what Cole says nobody liked Fowler."

"That's true." Bruno agrees with a shrug.

"Well someone told him." Skye sees Ned coming from the same direction as the cops had left, from the look on his face he must have run into the cops. Ned seems to be looking past them to where Cole is distracting Faith. "Let me guess. He doesn't know that Cole and Faith are tight either?"

Bruno shrugs again sheepishly.

"Great. Just Great." Skye straightens and gets in Ned's path. "I'm so glad you're here." She stops Ned in his tracks. "Did you see the police on your way in? Can you believe them coming in here and upsetting Faith?! As if today wasn't bad enough."

"What are you doing here? How did you know about Fowler?"

Skye keeps her voice low and talks fast. "I was at Kelly's when they found Fowler's body in the dumpster. I called Faith to let her know." course she already knew but that's neither here nor there. "I've know how important Fowler was to Faith ever since he talked Faith down after Edward burned down the gatehouse and you had to move to the cottage."

"What is he doing here?" Ned refers to Cole who is standing too close to Faith.

"He came with me." Skye says quickly. "You know I... well anyway... I'm glad he did. I couldn't have dealt with Faith and the cops. And really I was the only one who could deal with the police. No offense guys." Skye looks from Bruno to Dillon.

"Nah, it's kewl. She handled the cops like a pro, Mr. A." Bruno agrees with a nod. "Ain't that right, Dillon?"

"Yeah, couldn't have done it without her."

"We're going to talk." Ned says to his brother flatly.

"I figured. Look. Faith really does have an appointment with the attorney later. She didn't think this morning would be so freaky. It was just the cops showing up, Ned."

"Maybe if you took her home, Ned. Let her spend some time with the baby not be around all this..." death. Skye waves a hand around indicating the cemetery rather than finishing the sentence aloud.

Ned looks at Dillon.

Dillon makes a half shrug. "I'll drive Faith's car home. No problem."

Ned walks toward Faith and Coleman. Coleman sees him coming and stops talking before Ned arrives. He indicates with a nod that Ned is approaching.

Faith turns around and sees Ned walking up. "If I knew there was going to be a party I would have booked a band." Faith snaps.

"I saw the police as I walked up." Ned nods. "Are you done here? Why don't I give you a lift back to the cottage? I talked to Alice and she said that she and the baby were staying close to home today."

"I have that attorney appointment."

"Not until this afternoon. Come on, Faith, let me take you back to the cottage. We'll kick back with the baby. Relax." Ned runs a caressing hand down her arm. "Lock the door. Unplug the phone." He twines his fingers thru hers. He can feel the hesitation. The weakening. Ned looks over to Coleman and lies thru his teeth. "Thank you for coming." With a steady pressure on Faith's hand he starts back down the path. When Faith is even with him he puts an arm around her shoulders and silently walks her to his car. Assists her in taking the front passenger seat and then comes around. He glances over at his silent wife before buckling up and starting the engine. "I would have come with you today."

"You've got enough on your plate." Faith says absently. She has her head half resting on her fist and the glass of the door window.

The fact that Faith is so quiet is making Ned leery. He starts the engine and starts driving back to the cottage.

"AJ called." Faith says out of the blue.

"What did Junior want? Has he screwed up that job you found him already?"

"Oh I'm so glad you said that to me rather than to anyone else." Faith retorts wryly.

"Why is that?"

Faith turns to look at Ned. "Cause you would feel real dumb after saying that to AJ. This is really good information. He was calling to tell me the rebuild permit for the gatehouse is on his desk. The Old Goat is going to have to work real hard to get that gatehouse rebuilt and it's all because of AJ and that job. Do you see how perfect it is?! How perfect it is to have him there? I just wanted him there to screw with Corinthos and his legitimate business but this is icing... pure butter cream icing."

Ned reaches out with his free hand and runs it along the back of Faith's neck, tangling his fingers in the silky smooth hair at the nape of her neck. "I've been thinking about what you said about Grandfather." Ned admits. "What I've been doing with the Old Man hasn't been working, hasn't worked ever."

Faith snorts at that and raises a brow in a nonverbal duh.

"And yes, the idea of Junior doing anything right is so beyond my personal experience...." Ned shakes his head. "Teaming up with AJ is just... wrong."

Faith slides a hand between Ned's thighs cupping the thigh nearest to her. "I'm not asking you to team up with AJ. I'm not teaming up with AJ. I'm working him. He is a cog in our plan, Lover. I don't need him to take Corinthos down. AJ just makes it sweeter, smoother-- easier. I got him out of ELQ for you. You don't have to deal with him at all but I don't want you to split his focus either with this family feud. Hell he's even making your grandmother happy with her little community garden."

Ned brings his hand from the nape of Faith's neck to rest on top of her hand that rests on his thigh. "Okay. Tell you what... I won't undermine Junior if you don't ever count on him."

"Which ever way he jumps I can make work for us." Faith counters. "And whatever way he jumps it won't be back in the direction of Edward. So do what you're going to do with ELQ-- while the Old Goat is alive. He will try to pull the rug out from under ya when he's dead-- just like my grandmother."

Ned stews on that one until they arrive at the cottage. He comes around and gets the door for Faith, escorting her up to the front door. He opens the door and Faith crosses the threshold first. The first thing she sees is Kristina playing on one of her blankets in the middle of the floor under Alice's watchful eye. Faith walks straight over to Kristina and picks her up, inhaling the fresh powdered baby smell. Kristina reaches out and grabs a hold of Faith's hair and gives it a steady tug bringing it to her mouth. Ned comes up behind the two of them and extracts Faith's hair from the baby's grasp. Then he looks over to Alice. "We've got it from here, Alice if you've got something you need to get done."

Alice looks from one to the other. "You know I think I did hear the buzzer go off on a load of clothes. You just give a holler if you need anything." She goes upstairs.

Faith sits down on the couch with the baby in her lap. Ned sits down next to her. "I am sorry about Fowler, Faith. I didn't like the guy but I know he was important to you."

"It's okay." Faith says in a fake cheery voice as she makes a smiley face at the baby. Then she starts baby talking. "I know just who did it. Yes, I do." She rubs noses with Kristina. "And they are going to be really, really sorry. Yes, they are. Yes, they are."

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