The Path to Power
Chapter Thirty Five
Alan Quartermaine is in paternal hog heaven. He looks across his table at the Port Charles Grille where AJ is seating his sister, Skye. Course it would have been even better with Emily and Jason. But Emily is at school in California and Jason-- well Jason it had to be enough that he'd trusted his father to look after Courtney when she'd been brought into GH.
AJ, after a quick glance, sets the menu aside. Skye does the same. The waiter descends on the table and efficiently takes their order. So the three of them are left alone to get down to chit chat.
"You did a wonderful job with the Ward House fundraiser." Alan compliments. "Lots of money and volunteers for the House."
"And nobody ended up in their underwear." AJ adds wryly.
Alan smiles fondly at the many memories of Lucy Coe at the Nurses' ball before coming back to the here and now. "Skye--" He glances over at his daughter. "How are things going with Jax? I know Mother tried to talk to him as well."
Skye shakes her head. "The paperwork was filed today. I probably won't need it now, but Dara would have dropped me as a client if I hadn't followed thru."
Alan reaches over and takes her hand. "I can't believe I'm saying this but I think this is for the best. He hurt you, Skye. We all did over Jax and.... I think it's time you took some time just for you."
"Too much time." Skye retorts wryly. "Now that I'm not busy with the fundraiser-- and no, AJ, I won't be your on call dog walker."
"Rosie goes to work with me anyway." AJ counters. "There is always the Courtland Street Community garden with Grandmother."
"Or I can talk to Ned at ELQ." Alan offers.
"I think Jax already did that, Thanks." Skye grimaces at the memory of that particular conversation.
"Honey, Ned knows you're not drinking."
AJ decides it's time to change the subject. "Is it Coleman's bowling night or something? He's been keeping you pretty busy."
"He has some family things going on right now." Skye replies discreetly. AJ gives her a disbelieving glance. Skye returns it with an I'll talk to you later look. "So AJ-- you seemed really chummy at the fundraiser. What's her name?"
"Lydia Kerinan. She's staying here at the hotel."
"She isn't the only one." Alan says grimly. "Tracy's back."
"What?!" Both Skye and AJ's heads turn as Alan gets to his feet.
Tracy strides across the dining room brushing by the manager. "Alan!" She gives him an abbreviated hug and a sharp affectionate pat on the cheek then steps back. She gives him a pat on the stomach. "You're looking prosperous, at least you still have your hair." Then she glances over at AJ who'd risen to his feet as well. "Junior. Hear you are getting back into politics. Definite move in the right direction. Any idiot can get elected with enough money behind him. But smart to start with dog catcher."
My turn. Skye winces but then puts on her poker face. "Tracy."
It really isn't a case of the mountain coming to Mohammed. Faith convinces herself. It is more a case of getting Ned and Dillon out of the house and keeping business separate. That's the reason why she is down in the bunk house to touch base with the guys. "Mouse, I gave you an extra six hours. You better have something juicy for me." She walks into his room without knocking and plants herself on his couch, crossing her legs at the thigh and making herself comfortable.
Bruno wanders in after. He should be on detail with Ned and Dillon since Faith is here with the baby but she'd demanded he stick around. First clue that the shit is about to hit the fan.
"Where do you want to start?" Mouse brings out a stack of folders filled with print outs.
"I'll be kind. I'll start. Capelli's strings are being pulled by the Alcazar family." Faith lets them in on what Zander had told her and what she had yet to discuss with Ned, since he'd been busy getting ready to meet his mother in an effort to keep the peace and play nice for as long as he could. Familial espionage is what it really is.
"Oh shit." Bruno straightens away from the door he had been leaning on.
"Damn! Do you know how long it took me to find that?!" Mouse complains. "You know how hard it is to track wire transfers on offshore accounts?!"
"Well I hope you cleaned out a few while you were there." Faith lifts a brow. Mouse is her kind of guy not only brilliant but with more than a hint of larceny. He'd steal anything that wasn't nailed down.
"Got to pay for expenses." Mouse shrugs, popping a top on his soda.
"What else did you get?"
"Lorenzo Alcazar, Luis' younger but you wouldn't guess it brother." Mouse hands over a grainy surveillance photo that he'd backdoored from the WSB.
"This is Luis." Faith hands it back.
"No. That is Lorenzo." Mouse refuses to take it.
Faith looks at it again. "Okay this picture sucks, but how much younger are we talking? Two minutes?"
"I didn't go looking for the birth certificate. Here is everything I could find on him."
Faith starts thumbing thru the information and it's remarkably detailed. But one thing is missing. She tosses it back to Mouse. "This is no good to me. Who is he fucking? Where is his weakness?! All you've given me is that he is an efficient, profit-hungry killer. I don't need to know that. I could have figured that out on my own. Next."
"Carla Soleito." Mouse sets one aside and reaches for another.
"Bruno." Faith pats the spot next to her on the couch. "You're gonna have to handle this one so listen up."
Bruno comes over and sits down next to Faith. Now he knows why he wasn't on detail with Ned and Dillon. And it was making sense. With the threat of Alcazar, looked like he was going to have to take Faith's back where Soleito was concerned. "What do you want, Faith?"
"I want an ally. Because Ned's mother is not going to be. Not for long. But if the little mafia princess thinks she's going to go thru Ned or Dillon to get to Tracy..." Faith shakes her head. "They're mine. She can have Tracy. Hell she can have Tracy running scared, I'll serve her up on a silver platter. That works too. But it's not going to come back on me. Find out what Soleito wants and give her a taste but don't give away the store. And if you get yourself killed..." Faith threatens.
"I'll get it done, Faith."
"I want you to take something with you." Faith pushes up from the couch and goes into the main area of the stables to the gun locker. Opening it up with a quick entry of a code she pulls out a box. "I want you to have this. And wear it damn it."
Bruno takes Fowler's gun. He examines it. It's spotlessly clean but he expected nothing less since Faith had worked it down at Sam's with Dillon. He loads it and sliding out of his jacket allows Faith to help him with a shoulder holster and then puts the gun in the holster. Faith holds his coat for him. "Don't worry, Faith. She wants Tracy. Not you. Not me."
"Tracy should be dead already. She made some kind of deal. You know it. I know it. It sights a little low." Faith refers to the gun. "But that shouldn't matter if you're aiming for center mass. No head shots. Not until you've worked it some."
"And take one of the guys with to drive. So you can read the file on the way." It can only be described as fussing as she waits for Bruno to put his jacket back on, holding it for him.
"And call me every day. Every fucking day, Bruno. I don't want any surprises." Faith warns.
"You hate surprises, Faith."
"Yes. I do."
The six hour flying time from Port Charles to Venezuela is not wasted. Stefan Cassadine uses the time to gather information, make local contacts and decide how this should be handled: stealth or openly. Lorenzo Alcazar has a reputation for being all business. But Stefan is suspicious of that. The Alcazars, when in Europe, are based out of Italy-- the land of Vendetta. Luis had been a familiar face in Sicily and Milan. Lorenzo known in both Florence and Naples. The Cassadines had taken Timoria to heart when they'd move their base of operations to Greece after the Revolution. And that is what this is about to become-- a blood feud. Alcazar had killed Kristina. Cassadine had killed Luis. An eye for an eye, when Luis hadn't paid thru the justice system; Alexis had taken an older form of Justice. It can end now with the scales balanced. Or the Cassadine would wipe them off the face of the map. Caution is called for-- a measured response. The experience with the Spencers would make Nikolas slow to respond, but he would take seriously the threat to those innocents under his protection. There is a discreet buzzing of the internal phone. "Yes?"
"We'll be landing in Caracas in about twenty minutes. A car is waiting to take you to the hotel."
"Thank you." Stefan stars closing down his computer and collecting the information he'll need. As a business man, Alcazar needed to be reachable but because of the business he is in-- not touchable. There is a way in. There always is.
Neither one of them is hungry. But Cole had stopped anyway at Eli's to pick up some ribs and sides. Hell could always have them for breakfast. Coleman places the order, pays and takes a number. He sits down across from Kyle. Cole's comment is abrupt and just kinda thrown out there into the weighted silence. "I'm not ready to talk about this yet. I sure as hell don't have any brilliant answers. Need a little more processing time so lets just... let it ride. I'm not saying its going to be..." Hell who knows what it's going to be "Anyway, we've got time."
Kyle's expression is a mixture of fury, betrayal and abandonment. A hurricane of suspicion-- his father split; his mother split. What is left to trust? "Whatever."
Cole slaps his hand down flat on the table causing Kyle to flinch but focus on his uncle. "Not whatever. I told you we need time to figure out how to work this and that is exactly what I meant. You are skating on thin ice with CPS; we both are. I get you are pissed but that little hearts and flowers note your mother left didn't exactly spell out who is supposed to be supervising you! You need to be laying low, while I buy us some time. Unless you like the idea of Juvie or a group home?!"
"This sucks." Kyle slouches back against the bench seat.
"Like a Hoover." Coleman agrees. He is distracted by a cop standing at the counter who is listening to a call before he can place an order. He holds up a hand before Kyle can say anything else. "What does that code mean? 10-10?" Coleman calls across the restaurant to the cop.
"Possible crime, in this case a violation of restraining order. Why?" The cop answers.
"That's Skye's place." Coleman is already on his feet. "We're leaving."
"What about your order?" The gal behind the counter demands.
"Deliver it. He's got the address." Coleman points to the cop. He is already out the door and Kyle is at his heels.
Skye's hand is shaking as she hangs up the phone. Jax had left once she said she was calling the police or rather he'd left once he saw she was calling the police and not just saying it. But this has been a day of one thing after another. For Goodness sake they'd just been in court this morning! This Morning! And then Tracy descending with her load of bull in the ladies room before even having a chance at dinner. Skye flinches when there is a knock on the door.
"Ms. Quartermaine, it's Detective Capelli."
Going over to open the door, "He's already left. He left when I called the police. Look I don't want him in jail I just want him away from me." Skye invites Capelli and uniformed cadet Lucky Spencer into the lake house. "Here." Skye hands the paperwork to Capelli and then crosses her arms not so much in a defensive posture but she can't seem to get warm.
"Did Jax get into the house, Skye?" Lucky asks. "Did he make any threats?" He feels like he knows her from his long conversations with Em.
"No, he isn't like that. And I changed the locks before I took out a restraining order. I'm okay. Really." Skye adds emphatically when she sees the questioning look Capelli and Lucky exchange. "I was having a bad day before Jax showed up."
"Is there anyone who can stay with you, Ms. Quartermaine?" Capelli asks as he's handing back the paperwork.
"Skye?!" Coleman comes up the stairs to the deck at a run. "Are you okay?" He gets between Skye and the cops, running a hand over her hair and then shoulders. "We heard the call on a police radio."
Skye lets herself be pulled into a hug. "I'm fine."
Coleman keeps an arm around her as he looks at the cops. "Are you going to talk to this guy-- Or am I?!"
"No, Babe, this is BS and it's been going on too long!"
"He's our next stop, Coleman." Capelli interjects. "I advise you to keep your distance from Mr. Jacks."
"That will be easy enough to do IF he stays away from Skye." Coleman retorts.
Capelli and Lucky leave. Kyle overhears Capelli tell Lucky on the way to the car. "He's one to talk considering he dodged a stalking charge himself. The vic wouldn't press charges after she shot him."
"Well that is reasonable. Besides you know there was more to it than just Coleman stalking Courtney Matthews." Lucky replies. "I'm sure Skye won't press charges on the restraining order if Coleman shoots Jax either."
Kyle comes around to stand in the doorway, once the cops have left. Coleman and Skye are standing, Skye still has her arms crossed but Coleman is running hands over her upper arms in a warming, reassuring motion. Skye rests her head on his chest and takes a deep shuddering breath. This is not the same woman that kicked his ass just a few days ago.
"Are you okay?" Coleman asks softly.
"I want a drink."
Coleman's hands pause on her upper arm and his voice changes to a very neutral tone. "What can I get for you?"
Skye snorts. She lifts her head back up so she can look him in the eye. "I said I want a drink. I always want one. Not that I'm going to have one."
Kyle's first clue. His Uncle's girlfriend doesn't drink, can't drink. Maybe that is why she'd been so insistent about Mom going to the hospital. Kyle doesn't know what draws his Uncle's attention to him.
"Skye, Kyle and I were at Eli's picking up some ribs when we heard the call."
"Great. So you guys have missed dinner over this too."
"Nah, Uncle Cole just told them to deliver it out here." Kyle gives an awkward grin not knowing what his reception is going to be.
"Have you eaten?" Cole asks Skye.
"That's a long story." Skye sighs. She looks down at herself. Dressed for dinner at The Grill and hadn't even had a chance to have salad. "I'm going to go change into something... comfortable. You know where everything is." She gives Cole's hand a lingering squeeze and then pulls away to go back to the bedroom.
"Well that went well." Kyle releases a breath.
"You think she was going to plant her heel in your butt again?"
Coleman puts him in an affectionate headlock. "Come on lets get everything ready. Should probably call Eli's and make sure they have the address." Coleman picks up the phone to make the call then realizes there is someone else on the line. And normally he'd hang up but there is something about Skye's voice that puts the hair up on the back of his neck.
"Rae, It's been so long since I've seen you. So much has happened. Any chance of maybe arranging a little mother/daughter weekend? I just had dinner with Alan and he asked about you."
Cole can hear the temptation in Skye's voice, the lure set. And isn't surprised when the other woman agrees to come to Port Charles. He waits until both of them hang up before making the call to Eli's. After he hangs up the phone. "Kyle, do me a favor and wait for the delivery guy. I'm going to see what is keeping Skye."
Kyle takes a look around the lake house kind of casually before being drawn out onto the deck. This place must really rock during the summer. Maybe Uncle Cole's girlfriend isn't so bad after all.
When Skye comes out of the bathroom dressed in a dressier than sweats lounging set, she is half zipping the jacket up over a tank top. She isn't surprised to see Coleman reclining on the bed. "Did you get an earful?"
"You want to tell me what exactly happened tonight? And I don't mean Jax. What happened at the Grille?"
"Do you know who Tracy Quartermaine is?" Skye comes over and leans on one of the posters for the bed, wrapping her hand around it so tight that her knuckles are white.
"A pain in Faith's ass." Coleman replies with a shrug. He sits up and rests his arms on his knees and laces his fingers together.
Skye grins. "Yeah, she's got a lot of company on that one. Auntie Tracy has never like me. Never. But this is huge even for her."
"What happened?" Cole demands. He takes Skye's other hand and pulls her over to him so that she is standing between his knees. His hands rest on her hips. "I can't fix it if you don't tell me what is going on."
Skye bites her lower lip. "She says Alan is not my father. I am not a Quartermaine. She couldn't wait to get me alone to drip her poison." Skye puts a vicious twist on her tone. "And she was so smug. But hey she's willing to keep quiet about it. All I have to do is pay her five million dollars."
Cole whistles. He really should be used to the measuring sticks that the Quartermaines used by now but it's just too unreal. "Five million dollars."
"Whatever Tracy Quartermaine is... cheap isn't one of them." Skye pushes her hair back. "Smug, Cole. She knows something."
"You aren't going to pay her."
"Hell no. If she's starting at $5mil what is going to be the next payment?!"
"You want me to..." Cole shrugs.
"No. No. You've already done too much for me. I have to find out why she thinks she can pull this crap. And that means the one person who was there-- Rae."
Cole nods. "And you can take it from there."
"It would explain so much." Skye muses. "If it's true I mean. It would explain why Edward sold me when I was a baby. Why he basically pimped me out to Sonny Corinthos when I first came to town. Say what you like about Edward but he's all about his family and I've never made the cut."
Kyle raps on the slightly ajar bedroom door. "The ribs are here."
"Okay we'll be right out. Don't eat them all." Cole says quietly. He waits until Kyle leaves.
"I guess I should let you guys get back to Kyle's Mother." Skye gives Cole's shoulder a pat. "I'll be fine."
"Ummm Babe, about Kyle's mother..." Cole gets up and starts heading for the door holding it open for Skye. "She decided that she couldn't take care of the kid until she could take care of herself."
Skye turns around abruptly so she can read Cole's face. "You're kidding."
"Nope. And just to let you know we're staying here too. At least the night. The kid can crash on the couch. I don't want you by yourself after Capelli has a little conversation with your ex."
In another hemisphere with a combination of intuition, information and bribery, Stefan arranges to be exactly where Lorenzo Alcazar will be for the evening. There are two topnotch authentic Italian restaurants in Caracas. One is designed more for couples complete with traveling violins and the other is more low key. Stefan had used bribes not to the manager but to a nondescript server to verify Alcazar's patronage. Then arranges to be waiting in the private dining room, a small cup of espresso growing cold in front of him.
Lorenzo Alcazar walks into the room accompanied by two bodyguards that wait at the entry. There is a brief hesitation at the invasion of his routine, but then he continues to the lone table in the room. "I don't recall having an appointment this evening." Alcazar says coolly taking a seat across from the interloper.
"Stefan Cassadine." Stefan replies smoothly introducing himself. He doesn't offer his hand to shake. "You've shown an interest in my family. I thought it best we meet."
Lorenzo's eyes narrow. This was coming too close on the heels of the update he'd received from Capelli. "Oh?"
"If you have questions about my sister's health please refer them to me. Detective Capelli as a source of information has been compromised I'm afraid." Stefan tsks. "The person who overheard the conversation was... induced to mention the conversation to others within the police department."
"By you?" Lorenzo suggests. He leans back so that the server can place a glass of wine in front of him.
"No. By his current attorney. Anything Capelli tells you about Corinthos is of no interest to me. Anything that happens to Corinthos is of no interest to me. " Stefan wants to make it perfectly clear where the line is drawn for him and the Cassadines. "The same is not true of my sister."
"She killed my brother."
"Your brother killed my sister, Kristina."
"That was an accident." Lorenzo realizes Cassadine is trying to makes this even and over.
"She's still dead." Each of them take a break to ease back from the escalation. Lorenzo takes a sip of wine. Stefan a sip of the cool coffee. Stefan observes the man across from him. He's more familiar with Luis having investigated Brenda's whereabouts. Lorenzo is a mixed message. His appearance is rough even vulgar with a full untrimmed beard and garish jewelry. His table manners would serve him however whatever the company. If eyes are the windows of the soul then there is cause for concern. Alcazar has piercing blue eyes that announce his intelligence, and that he is a hunter-- but give little else away.
Alcazar interrupts Stefan's thoughts. "So how is your sister? Since I should ask you."
"Broken." Stefan says flatly. "Long before your brother left her in the snow to deliver her baby alone. Unfortunately nobody knew how broken until after...."
"The report is that she had a... psychotic break."
"I have little use for psychiatrists and their labels." Stefan replies quietly weighing the truth vs. subterfuge. If Alcazar is an honorable man he would leave Alexis alone and if he is not then he had to know that there would be consequences. "Did she break? Yes, but it was decades ago and covered well until the trauma of losing Kristina and then almost losing the baby. She has the mind of a child now." Stefan exaggerates slightly knowing that Dr. Lewis has been able to makes some contact with Alexis but then only on a limited basis. Now is all about protecting Natasha. "She does not leave the island and is constantly supervised via ankle monitoring, as I'm sure you're aware, in compliance with a court order. But she is supervised also for her own protection. She no longer knows who her enemies are."
Knowing his close resemblance to Luis, Lorenzo suggests. "And if she saw my face?"
Stefan's eyes narrow as he contemplates the scenario. "Probably nothing. She'd walk up to you as easily as a puppy expecting to be petted. Which is why she is never alone." Stefan warns.
"I am a business man, Mr. Cassadine. There is no profit in Vendetta." Lorenzo announces with a shrug.
Stefan nods and rises from the table. "Thank you for your time." He doesn't breath easy until he is in a car on the way to the hotel and even then believes it was too easy. Alcazar had been too reasonable. Yes, he is a businessman but he is a man in the business of arms-- of death.
Back in the restaurant, Lorenzo waits until after the server has delivered his main course and left before getting Javier's attention. "Go to Port Charles."
"Alexis Davis?" Javier inquires with a significant tone in his voice.
"Not yet. Business comes first-- Corinthos. And remind Mr. Lansing that my brother's death does not relieve him of his debt to the Alcazars one way or another he will pay."
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