The Path to Power
Chapter Forty Eight
"Was that Kyle?" Skye doesn't open her eyes just knows that Cole has re-entered the bathroom.
"Yeah, he says they aren't going to be able to repair your tire tonight." Cole reaches for a washcloth and dips it in the tub. His movements are measured. All he wants to do is keep things normal and not let Skye in on the contents of the phone call.
Skye leans forward hugging her knees. She rests her head on her knees her eyes close and she sighs as Cole starts washing her back. "Guess I'll just have to take care of it tomorrow."
"You'd probably be better off replacing it." Cole suggests.
"Okay." Skye says easily arching her back like a cat. As long as he kept that up, she'd agree to just about anything.
"I'm sorry about the phone, Babe. I should have had it on me." Coleman's tone is light but his face is grim. "No excuse for you not being able to get hold of me."
Skye can't tell how grim since her eyes are closed savoring the feeling of his hands on her. "There was no way of knowing today would be the day I got a flat. Besides it wasn't like I had a blowout on the highway or something. Hey! Don't stop." Skye demands.
The stroking starts again. "You know what this place needs?" Cole decides to change the subject before he contemplates locking Skye in the lake house and never letting her out into the world where things like blowouts on highways happen.
"A hot tub on a deck right off of your room."
Skye opens one eye to look at Coleman. "Properly shaded for privacy right?"
"Oh yeah." Coleman dips the cloth in the tub again and this time starts washing the inside of Skye's calf. "Completely private." He leans in and kisses Skye, tangling his tongue with hers and then nibbling at her lower lip. At the same time his hand moves from her ankle over her knee and down the inner part of her thigh. Skye's breath catches and she shudders, her legs parting slightly to not impede his progress.
She half turns in the tub so that she can take Cole's face in her hands. She runs a hand over his beard and draws him in close, not kissing him but instead inhaling deeply running her nose from his ear to his chin and down to his collarbone. She can smell Jakes on him: smoke, grease, the salt from the peanuts on the bar. Still a hint of the aftershave he'd splashed on this morning. It's reassuring because what she doesn't smell is guilt-- another woman, a fresh shower, or a new application of aftershave. The piece of paper was probably just someone that he was hiring for Jakes. "Who is Lil?" Skye whispers against Coleman's cheek.
Coleman leans back. The front of his shirt is soaked from transference from the tub and Skye. He's wearing a western style shirt. Not particularly stylish but easy enough to shed. He tugs at the front and the snaps come undone. He tosses the shirt aside. He ignores the question and reaches for Skye again.
She nibbles at his ear and slides one hand down his chest following the treasure trail to the top button of his jeans. "Who is Lil?"
Cole rocks back on his heels and brushes Skye's hand away from his fly.
"I take it she's not someone you're going to hire for the bar."
"No. She's a librarian."
"She's a what?!"
"Lil, the Librarian. Sorry-- that sounds like someone who'd be riding a pole at the Oasis!"
Rick stalks back to the apartment, slamming the door open;, he flips on the lights. Nothing. What the hell?! First that scene with Elizabeth and the so smug Lucky Spencer. Then his car is towed for parking tickets and now this? A blown circuit breaker? Rick lights one of the candles that are meant to be decorative and finding some function and goes in search of the circuit box. Everything appears fine. There are lights in the corridor outside the apartment so power wasn't out all over. He reaches into his pocket to get his cell. First he calls information then has them directly connect him to the electric company. "Hello. This is Ric Lansing..." Ric gives his address. "...I want to report a power outage." He can hear the clacking of keys and a pause as the person at the end considers their information.
"Received a moving notice-- shut off date today's date." The person sounds as if they are reading right off a screen.
"There has been some kind of mistake. I don't know who did that but it wasn't me." Ric protests. "Just turn the power back on."
"Can't do that. All requests for new service must be submitted in person at ..." As the person starts giving the address, Rick hangs up.
He gets it-- someone is making a point at his expense. Probably to get him to move out of town. Well it isn't going to work. He goes to the sink in the kitchen and lets the water run not surprised when it sputters. "Water too." He mutters. He can't stay here. He'll have to get a place at the Port Charles hotel until this is straightened out.
Kyle gives a look to Skye and his uncle. There is something going on. They are both in the kitchen but back to back and not saying a word to each other. There isn't that much space in the kitchen really but he can tell that the space in between the two of them is about as cold as Siberia. Kyle decides making conversation with the other person there is the way to go. "I really appreciate you doing this, Dr. Quartermaine."
"Lets get the house call portion out of the way then I can reach the do as I say not as I do portion of tonight events." Alan says cheerfully.
"If you're feeling guilty you can always have two portions of salad--" Skye suggests with a raised brow. She keeps chopping up the bits and pieces that are going to make the salad worthy of the steaks that Cole is working on.
"Bite your tongue, daughter!" Alan gives her a kiss on the temple and then follows Kyle back to his room. "Normally a sports physical is just a matter of checking your heart and lungs." Alan gets the physical aspects over. After washing his hands and putting his bag aside he sits down. "Your tests came back."
Even though he doesn't believe there will be any problem , Kyle sits down on the bed abruptly. The word tests coming from the mouth of a doctor is a loaded word. "Yeah."
"The reason for the tests is to rule out. If this test or that is negative then it couldn't be this and such. Scientific method after you know everything it isn't then you know what it is." Alan looks at Kyle. "So you took a battery of tests to rule out STDs and drug use."
"I used protection, Dr. Quartermaine." Kyle says defensively.
"Good." Alan nods. "Now do you want to talk failure rates on condoms? Effectiveness when not used with spermicidal jelly?"
Kyle winces. "Not really."
"Me either." Alan can already smell the steaks out on the grill. But he sighs. "It comes down to respect and trust, Kyle. If you can't trust who they've been with-- who they are or respect them enough to use protection for yourself and them. Then walk away. There will be other opportunities. There is no such thing as safe sex-- only safer sex."
"How much has Skye told you about me, about what happened?" Kyle asks suspiciously.
"Nothing." Alan admits. "All I know is that the tests were ordered and when they were sent to the lab. Not very usual for lab work to be processed at that time of night. I know Skye used my name to get a rush put on things."
"M... She's not like that. The girl I mean. I was stupid." Kyle stutters out.
Alan looks thru his bag and comes up with something close enough. He hands over the questionnaire that is given to anyone who donates blood at the hospital. "You can probably answer all of these questions in about 30 seconds. Most people do-- check, check, check and onto the blood letting and doughnuts. The question is can you answer them for the girl, the girl who is not like that. IF you can't then...?" Alan shrugs and rises to his feet. "You need to spend some time getting to know the person better. Now if you'll excuse me." Alan signs a half sheet of paper and hands it over to Kyle. "I have to see a man about a steak."
Going to Sonny Corinthos is a last resort. Jason might be a stonecold killer but at least he's Emily's brother. Asking favors from Corinthos is like jumping from one shark tank to another. Alexis hadn't endeared herself to Corinthos or Morgan. Nobody could forget the scene at Kristina's funeral. There are a million reasons to not deal with Sonny Corinthos and only two-- he has the information they need. And if it came down to having to have a face to face with Sonny then Stefan would do it. Stefan demanded that he be the one rather than exposing The Prince to the Criminal Element. But they weren't quite there yet. There were still a couple of options available.
"Well Hell must have frozen over." Zander pulls up the chair across from Nikolas. "If I'm being summoned by the Prince."
Nikolas gives Zander a look that has Zander straightening.
"What? What happened?! Is Tasha okay?"
Nik pauses. "Tasha is fine. There is reason to believe Helena is back in the States."
Zander leans and hisses. "What?!"
Nik nods. "We suspected she is funding her reign of terror by selling the Cassadine dower jewels. A stone from one of the sets was sold in New York City a week ago."
Zander swears then adds. "What else?"
"Someone who isn't following Helena's program received a potentially life threatening message."
"The hits just keep coming." Zander mutters. But the little tingle at the back of his neck indicates there is more. Other than the fact Tasha liked him Nikolas Cassadine would just as soon see him take a long walk off the Harrison fishing pier... with weights. Zander glares at Nikolas. The only reason Cassadine would be telling him this is if he wanted something. "And?"
"In addition to tracking what she is selling there is a possibility of tracking what she may buy."
"Ooookkkkkaaaayyyy." Zander draws it out. "And you think it's something I'm selling?"
"I doubt it." Nik says wryly. "Unless you've gone into the Russian Beluga Caviar black market."
Zander is already shaking his head. "I can't help you."
"I haven't even asked..."
"You want me to talk to Sonny Corinthos or Jason and find out if someone's been buying a lot of caviar and I can't do it."
"You can play the Emily card with Jason just as easy." Zander interrupts. He taps the table. "They know I work for Ned at ELQ. And the only way I can move back and forth between Kristina and Tasha is if I don't piss off Faith. Sonny's probably figured that out by now." After he received the letter from Dara with my telling about AJ. Zander winces. Rock and a hard place-- is Faith willing to sell out AJ to maybe get Helena? Sell both of us out? Because that is my insurance policy too. "We didn't exactly part on good terms. As soon as Jason got back, Sonny kicked me to the curb." Literally. "I didn't take it well." Zander understates. And there is the whole almost sleeping with his wife. Zander shakes his head. "It wouldn't work."
Lucky comes down the stairs from his room above Kelly's. Seeing Nik and Zander together gives him a start. Knowing it can't be good he pulls up a chair at the table. "So... did hell freeze over?"
Edward looks down at the piece of paper in his hand and then at the brownstone with the sold sign in front of it. He stalks up the steps and pounds on the front door. "Open up, AJ! I know you're in there." His voice drops to a mutter. "I've already been to your office, you... slacker. Already taking time off. Ha! So much for turning over a new leaf. The only thing you can manage to do is block the permits to rebuild my gatehouse."
AJ opens the door. He's wearing a white button down shirt untucked over his slacks and isn't wearing any shoes or socks. "Grandfather. How unexpected."
"AJ." Edward strides into the house brushing by his grandson. "I would have spoken to you at your office... if you had been there."
"Just taking a leaf out of your book, Grandfather. Working from home. Telecommuting is a wonderful thing."
Edward harrumphs but finally has left off enough steam to look around. "I've seen that picture before. And that table."
"And the oriental too I'm sure. Mother and Grandmother have been busy." AJ agrees with a nod and a sigh. Even with Sally's help before he'd been kept busy around the house getting things set to rights... that and other projects. Projects he is still working on, and was probably waiting impatiently. "What can I do for you, Old Man?"
"You shouldn't have burned down the first one. And I think really it's my mother's gatehouse. Dad bought it for her." Alan's son reminds Edward automatically.
"There is no proof I had anything to do with...." Edward says defensively.
AJ interrupts with a shrug. "There are all kinds of easements and requirements of new construction." AJ shrugs again. "Address the building commission's concerns and it'll sail through. Oh and have the owner of the property sign off on it as well. I'm sure Mom will sign no problem." Once she gets a check for the remodeling of the west wing too. "Anything else?"
"AJ..." Edward sighs. "I'm concerned about Ned. His judgment recently has been... suspect."
AJ laughs. "You should be. He's married to Faith. And if she doesn't kill you she will probably kill him. Or she could take kill both of you and take over ELQ."
"That isn't funny."
"No, it's really not." AJ agrees seriously.
"I have enough votes...." Edward stops when he sees AJ shaking his head.
"If it's you? No. If it's Tracy? Hell no. And I'm not going to jump back in that snake pit. Frankly Grandfather, I'm busy. But even if I were interested, I doubt you do have enough votes. Grandmother might be going easy on you to deal with Aunt Tracy. But Dad after what happened with Skye? I don't think so. And if you want Mom's vote... she's planning on remodeling the west wing of the house. Get out the checkbook. The only person who could probably seriously challenge Ned right now with some semblance of family support is Skye." AJ sees Edward's wince. "Which you know already."
"What does she have on you?"
"Who? Faith? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And I'm going to keep it that way." Just don't ask what she's doing for me. "It's been fun, Grandfather." AJ puts a hand on Edward's shoulder and starts steering him toward the door. "And I'm going to have you and Grandmother over real soon. Just as soon as I get my house in order. Have a great night." AJ shuts the door in Edward's face and locks the deadbolt. "I'm really going to have to change the locks." He mutters to himself as he walks back to the kitchen and grabs two glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice and takes it upstairs to the master bedroom, one of the few totally finished rooms in the house.
"Who was at the door?" Lydia asks from the rumpled king sized bed. Since they hadn't been expecting anyone, she'd kept silent with her ears straining to find out if she was going to be trapped by Helena's agents.
"Just my grandfather trying to seduce me into going back to the family business." AJ says wryly handing the juice to Lydia.
"You aren't interested?" Lydia takes the juice from AJ and takes a sip.
AJ sets his juice on the bedside table and strips out of his shirt throwing it over a nearby chair. His slacks soon follow as he climbs back into bed. "There is The family business and then then there is My family business."
Lydia slides a hand under the sheet to caress AJ. "Perhaps I will have better luck seducing you into family business."
"Finish your orange juice." AJ growls but he is already reaching for her.
"That girl has entirely too much energy." Taggart collapses on a couch in the living room of Wyndemere.
Stefan smirks although they'd both been saved by the bell when Mrs. Lansbury had taken custody of Tasha when it was time for her to get to bed. "And yet I remember Alexis protests about Jane Jacks and five mile hikes."
"We did at least that today. And she was talking the whole time." Taggart leans forward on the couch. "Okay. What's up? You didn't make near the scene you normally do when I show up unannounced."
"Putting the information regarding the dower jewels into your system has born fruit."
"One of the jewels was... fenced a week ago in New York City."
"Nothing showed up..." on his system Taggart nods realizing the answer to his question. "Faith."
Stefan doesn't answer that question but instead continues. "She received $75,000 for the gem."
Taggart whistles then gets serious. "Gimme a name, we'll put surveillance on the fence, pick them up the next time someone shows up with a stone."
"With respect, Lieutenant, I believe it unlikely your scenario will succeed." Stefan states. Stefan has grown tolerant of the big cop because Taggart had proven over and over again to have Tasha's best interests at heart and equally impressive was his apparent incorruptibility. "My mother will not be the one selling the stones. She will send a trusted representative: male, young, handsome."
Taggart winces catching Stefan's drift. "Right."
Stefan says with some regret. "I was never able to place an agent in her service. The most I was ever able to accomplish was to make her think Mrs. Lansbury would be willing to sell my secrets."
"Would she?" Taggart's voice is cold.
"Never." Stefan says flatly and then continues with bitter confidence. "Between the information regarding the stone, and Lydia Karenin being bitten by a black widow spider while staying at the Port Charles Hotel-- the only thing we can surely say is that Helena is near."
Ned sighs as he comes into the bunkhouse. "Is there room for one more?" He'd shed his jacket up at the cabin but the atmosphere had been so hostile he'd decided to take a walk.
"You get kicked out of the house, Ned?" Dillon asks what the guys are all thinking.
"No." Ned pauses before he continues. "I left on my own. So you guys willing to deal me in?"
Everyone looks at Bruno. "Sure." Bruno shrugs. "Pull up a chair."
"So what happened while I was at school?" Dillon inquires. "Because Faith was on the warpath before but now..." He shakes his head. Dillon shuffles out the cards for the rummy game that is constantly going down at the bunkhouse. Because it was constantly going anyone could join at any time. The scores rose and fell with people's luck and taking the lead was always about a hand away.
"Yeah, while I was at work." Ned asks.
Manny looks at his cards. "You gonna tell them? It's all your fault." He prompts Bruno.
"My fault?! Mouse was the one that told me to go get the stuff." Bruno protests. "How was I to know?!" He says with an expression of victimized innocence on his face.
Ned looks from Manny to Bruno. "Does this involve a surprise?"
Bruno sighs. "Yeah. We were trying to make that Cassadine guy look bad. You know the one that looks like he should be working at a funeral home?"
"Right. So Faith gets the idea maybe we can track that Helena broad by the caviar she baths in or something."
"Good idea." Ned likes it so far. He sorts his cards.
"Only I probably should have told her before I told Cassadine that the biggest supplier of caviar in NE New York... hell all the way to Toronto is Sonny Corinthos."
Ned starts protesting. "No. You're kidding right?! Sonny Corinthos?" He looks around at all the grim faces.
"I wish." Bruno draws a card. Examines it against his hand and discards. "Should have known. Hell-- Mouse should have known. It's all his fault really. Anyway the caviar is a dead end unless I can get one of the five families to front for us and not clue Corinthos in. Unless you want to talk to Morgan, Mr. A?"
The door had opened just in time for that remark to be heard. "No, Ned doesn't want to talk to Jason Morgan. Not about anything that involves a favor." Faith says coolly. "Where is Mouse?"
"Back in his hidey hole." Bruno nods in the direction of the hall.
Faith makes eye contact with Ned. "I won't be long."
"Last hand." Ned shrugs.
Manny looks at Ned. Normally he'd make a quip about the guy being totally whipped. If it had been any woman but Faith. Whipped took on a more literal meaning around her. "You know you'd be doing us all a big favor if you managed to have Faith let off a little steam."
"You guys asking me to take one for the team?" Ned jokes as he looks around the table and sees all of them nodding. Their faces are serious.
"Yep." Dillon agrees.
"Really appreciate it." Manny agrees.
"We'd owe ya big time." Bruno promises.
Alan has already headed home. Kyle is in his room studying for finals. Or at least that is what he said he's doing. Skye puts the last dish in the dishwasher and starts the cycle. Ignoring Cole she stalks by him and back to the master bedroom. Cole grabs his coat and feeling the pocket finds the phone that had caused all the problems today and a crumpled up piece of paper. He examines it and then slams into the master bedroom. "This is what tonight was all about?!" He demands waving the paper in Skye's face.
"You want to take women's phone numbers. Not my business." Skye says nonchalantly.
"Pick up the fucking phone and call the number!" Coleman demands. He hands her the handset to the phone forcing it into her hand and the piece of paper.
"Fine!" Skye stabs out the number and then rolls her eyes as she listens to the phone ringing.
You have reached the Central Branch of the Port Charles Library. Hours of operation are... Skye hangs up the phone. Before she can apologize Cole is already talking.
"I don't have to lie to you, Skye. Ever. If I ever want to screw another woman you will be the first one to know. If I have the strength after dealing with you to fuck another woman, you'll be the first to know!" Coleman yells at the top of lungs.
"Keep your voice down!" Skye demands in a hiss. She goes over and slams the bedroom door shut.
"Lets get this straight right now. I have been working in bars, whorehouses and around strippers for... years! Hell decades! You might not think much of me, but it takes more than a sweet rack and tight piece of ass to get my motor running. I got over letting the little head think for the big one a long time ago."
"What do you mean I don't think much of you?!" Skye demands honing in on the part that ticks her off the most.
"Well you don't think I'd be hanging out in a library evidently." Coleman says bitterly. Nevermind that he really doesn't spend all that much time in the library until recently.
"It wasn't exactly where we met!" Skye reminds him. She holds up both hands in a surrendering motion. She takes a step back and a deep breath. Then another one, then she calmly asks. "Cole, why are you getting on a first name basis with a librarian at the Port Charles Central Library?"
"Before she left town again, I had a little chat with your mother...."
Skye interrupts in a disbelieving screech. "RAE?!"
"Only one I know about. Lil showed me how to check the archives of the Herald to find out if maybe I could figure out who your father is if Alan Quartermaine isn't-- with the clues that Rae gave me."
Skye's jaw drops. She snaps it shut and then it drops again in disbelief. She shakes her head trying to clear the fog that is settling in her brain. "Why? Why would you do that for me?"
"You're not going to be blindsided again. Not while I'm around." Coleman says flatly.
"Except by you." Skye comes up to Coleman and wraps her arms around his waist. "I'm sorry." She kisses him on the jaw, on the collarbone. "I was being a bitch. I come with a lot of baggage."
Coleman snorts at that but she's impossible to resist. He starts rubbing her back. "Babe, you've got steamer trunks."
"Yeah." Skye rests her head against Cole's chest. "I'm so sorry, Cole. I should have just asked the question and not gotten all suspicious. I just don't... understand why you put up with me and I get a little crazy, I guess."
"I can handle a little crazy."
Skye tilts her head back so she is looking Cole in the eye. "Admit it."
"Lil, the Librarian sounds like a nom d'pole."
Cole starts laughing and nods. "Yeah, okay, I give you that one: hair up in a bun held up with one comb, half glasses, charcoal suit with white shirt, little tie-- maybe, bending over to shush the audience at the start, black stockings..."
"That's a given." Cole nods. "Higher the better."
"hmmm. Van Halen Hot for Teacher." Coleman says consideringly.
"You do know how to set a scene." Skye says admiringly.
Cole leans in and starts whispering in her ear creating another scene for the two of them.
"What do you know?" A distant voice asks.
"A message was given to Lansing. He is not popular in this town. If he were to disappear there would be many suspects and much deniability."
"Just watch him. What else?"
"Your brother died a lucky man to spend his last night on earth with Skye Quartermaine. The woman is very beautiful with delicate porcelain skin... you can see every vein beneath it. Hair like fire. If the Cassadine woman hadn't killed Luis, perhaps Skye would have been able to break Brenda's spell on him."
"I don't believe I've ever heard you wax so poetic, Javier." Still Lorenzo is intrigued. "Keep your eyes and ears open. I'll be there soon enough but I want to know about all of them-- Sonny Corinthos, Jasper Jax, Ric Lansing, Alexis Davis.... and yes, I want to know more about this Skye Quartermaine."
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