The Path to Power

Chapter Nine




"Nikolas Cassadine!" A voice calls from behind Nikolas as he exits the Port Charles Hotel where he'd finally finished the last of his meetings. Nik turns around in time to see a guy climbing from a limo and half running toward him.

"Excuse me-- do I know you?"

The guy whips out a card and offers it to Nikolas. "I'm from ABC." Nikolas looks at him blankly and then offers him back the card after glancing down at it. "You know... the television network?"

"I don't watch television."

The guy's jaw drops at that but he carries on. "Anyway. We've got a show... The Bachelor. You'd be perfect for it. Twenty-five smoking, hot babes that want nothing more than to be Mrs. Nikolas Cassadine. Hell-- Princess Cassadine. It's every little girl's fantasy. The ratings would be thru the roof! Reality Television, guy. That's where it's at."

Nikolas frowns. "And women actually demean themselves to participate in this... reality television?"

"We'd screen the candidates to get it down from a couple thousand to twenty-five. But it's been a big show for us. The Bachelor, the Bachelorette." The guy's voice gets low and confidential. "We had a Joe Millionaire in the works but those bastards at Fox got to it first... that's why we had Are you Hot? instead. I came up with the idea for the laser pointer."

"A laser pointer." Nikolas just looks at the guy like he has crawled out from under a rock.

"Look. I'll be in town for a couple of days. Staying here at the Port Charles Hotel. You're our top guy but there are a few others... Ned Ashton... Eddie Maine. That would really bring in the viewers."



"He's married. " Bigamy hasn't slowed Ned in the past.

"Damn. When did that happen?!"

"Recently." Nikolas shakes his head impatiently. "I have no interest in your... show. Do not contact me again." Nikolas goes over to the valet that already has his jag out front and climbs behind the wheel of the car.

"Damn." The guy can't believe Nik got away from him but there's a fun way to spin this and still generate some interest in the show. He pulls out his PDA to track down the phone number. Juggling the PDA and his cell phone he punches in his neighbor. "Yeah, have I got a scoop for you! Two actually. Did you know that Eddie Maine has married again? Wasn't his last wedding interrupted when the bride to be hitched a ride on a semi heading out of town? Right it was supposed to be the fairy tale... The Powerful Quartermaines merging with the Mega Mysterious Cassadines?
Oh and speaking of Cassadines... Nikolas, that's PRINCE Nikolas Cassadine, is on the short list for the next Bachelor. His people are in negotiation with ABC. But you didn't hear that from me. Love ya! Lets do Lunch next time I'm in town." The guy slaps his cell phone closed and heads in to the hotel. That'd get the ratings up before the show premiered even if they couldn't get Cassadine. A few brownie points with the rags never went amiss; never knew when you might have to call the marker in later.





Coleman slides in behind the hot tight little redhead and nuzzles her neck. "You're a tough lady to track down." He murmurs in her ear.

Skye brings her shoulders up to her ears and brushes Coleman away like shooing a fly. "Knock it off." She looks around. Everyone is minding their own business at Kelly's for once. She knew she should have found a place closer to the meeting to buy coffee. But damn the coffee had been so freaking bad the evening before. Getting Sober was one thing. Getting an ulcer from battery acid masquerading as coffee was another.

"I left you a couple of messages... you never called me back." Coleman takes the seat across from her. "You avoiding me?"

"Why would I be doing that?" Skye rolls her eyes.

"Exactly." Coleman takes Skye's hand and kisses the palm of it then swiftly grabs her day planner that she'd been covering with that hand and reverses it so that he can read it.

"Hey give that back!"

"Fundraiser for the Ward House... my invitation must have gotten lost in the mail."

"Lots of people not getting invited to this one." Skye says flatly. "I've already convinced Grandmother to send her regrets."

"Ahhh... so the old man won't be there." Coleman nods his head. "Smooth. Doesn't explain where my invite is... Do not tell me that you're gonna go sniffing around Jax for an escort."

"Not that it is any of your business but no, Jax isn't invited either. Or Sonny Corinthos. Or dear brother Jason. And I didn't think at $10,000 a plate you'd be interested in attending either."

Coleman whistles. "Baby, for that kinda money you'd better be on the plate."

"You're disgusting." Skye slams her planner shut and starts to stand up.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. What the hell is going on here? I was joking when I said you were avoiding me. But you are, aren't you? You're trying to duck me."

Skye sighs and looking around leans in and keeps her voice low. "Being blamed for Alcazar's murder was a wake up call for me."

"Baby, I was right there remember? I was backing you all the way."

"Maybe... okay yeah, you were but the thing was, is, I wasn't backing myself. I was sabotaging myself. With my drinking, chasing Jax around like some pitiful schoolgirl." Skye flushes. "I'm making... some changes. I'm not going to..." Skye winces. Coleman had been there for her. Listened to all of her drunken ravings, and he had believed that she hadn't killed Alcazar... well hadn't cared if she had which was actually more support then she gotten from the Quartermaines. She wasn't going to tell the guy that she'd banged his brains out whenever she was feeling self destructive. "... keep on using you, Cole."

"Hey! Don't I get a say in this? I live to be used. I long to be used. I get hard whenever I see a pool table now, and it's making it really hard to go to work."

Skye bursts out laughing and shakes her head. "I'm not going to be coming into Jakes." She shrugs her shoulders. "That's a day by day thing of course but..." Skye gets serious. "I'm not drinking, Cole. I'm not going to say that I'm never going to drink... just that I'm not going to drink today. And I'm not going into anyplace that I associate with drinking."

"Or associate with anyone you associate with drinking." Coleman nods. He'd realized the score early on but wanted to hear Skye say it.

"Sorry." Skye gathers up her things. "It's my problem. But you knew all about it when we met." She waits for the threat that normally follows... all the reminders of how he took the rap when she had hit Nikolas Cassadine while driving home from the bar.

"Good luck, Skye." Cole says with a shrug but then he shakes his head. "But I get the feeling that luck isn't going to have anything to do with it. Just hard work."

"Thanks Coleman." The true gratitude in Skye's voice comes thru. He could have made this a lot harder.

"Don't thank me, baby. Just don't lose my number."





Amazing how not scheming for or against Grandfather freed up your time for positive productive pursuits. AJ realizes as he goes through the comprehensive building plan for Port Charles. Someone with some vision had been hard at work here. There were areas that were targeted for revitalization. Areas targeted for green spaces. Every thing was focused and clear and complex. Damn it was definitely someone's life work. Zoning is just the most basic level of the plan. Carving up the zones made sure that things stayed livable. Not like Damian Smith's plan to put a garbage incinerator in the middle of a neighborhood. AJ winces at the memory of that one. Justus should have gotten a medal for that one. Course it would have gone better if he'd planned it a little bit better. Grandmother would have offered up her Sterling Rose beds rather than having Smith go up in a burning building that almost took out Laura Spencer and a couple of kids.

AJ opens up an interoffice envelope and pulls out the crime statistics by neighborhood, one week, one month ago, a year ago. So many of the crimes reported would end up being dead, not resolved. The cops coming along afterward to clean up the mess. Like Sonny's warehouse after Alcazar blew it up: arson, murder, handguns, assault. Lots of folks taken into custody and no convictions. Lots of money spent on cleaning it up and nothing on preventing it. The waterfront is a disaster area. Strike that. The waterfront is a warzone. That needed to change. Need to bring new blood into the area... new businesses, new housing, otherwise the Elm Street Pier was going to go the way of Courtland street. There was still time to turn things around.
Unlike Courtland street which is about ready to be razed. Building by empty building were being used by the Port Charles fire department as training fires as they were taken down to the ground to be started over from scratch. There had to be something that could be done. Should be done. The building commission checked out stuff that came to them. It was more the mayor's office that went looking for projects to move to Port Charles. But there had to be something that could be done. Something to make the properties money makers rather than money takers. AJ picks up the phone and dials the big house waiting to be connected to Lila after taking a ration off of Reggie to not upset the Grande Dame of the Quartermaines. "Grandmother?"

Hello darling! How is your new job going? I am so proud of you! It's such a positive step!

"I want to thank you first for making sure that Grandfather doesn't go to the fund raiser for the Ward House."

Now, Darling, you know that Ward House is very close to your Grandfather's heart.

"I know, Grandmother. If there is anything that touches Grandfather's heart it's you and it's Ward House. And I'm not saying that he shouldn't give a sizeable donation to the cause just that..."

Lila sighs. "He doesn't mean to shift the focus away from the cause, truly darling."

Nice save, Grandmother. "But he does. But we've already discussed this. I have something else for you."

"Something to do with your job, darling?" There is worry in Lila's voice. AJ couldn't have screwed this up already?

"Sort of, Grandmother. But it can't really have our name on it. It might be considered a conflict of interest."

"It sounds fascinating." Lila's love for intrigue comes shining thru the phone lines.

"They are razing some buildings down on Courtland Street... abandoned buildings that were being used by the drug users and dealers... but that's not why I'm calling. Grandmother, the city plan is to replace part of the area with a green space. Not a park really, more of a playground for the kids but with a community garden."

"It's very difficult, AJ, to reclaim land after it's been cemented over." AJ can hear the wheels turning. Grandmother might be confined to the chair crippled up by arthritis, and they didn't make rose colored glasses any thicker than the pair Grandmother wore when it concerned her family-- but when it came to gardens and gardening there isn't a mind sharper.

"You know, Grandmother, screw keeping our name out of it. What would you think of maybe the Chloe Morgan Memorial Park?"

"Darling, I have to go. I have some phone calls to make. REGGIE!!! Bring the Bentley around! We're going out." Lila hangs up the phone.

AJ grins. Grandmother was on the case. And nobody was going to stand in her way... otherwise they'd likely end up with wheelchair tire marks going up their back and if they really ticked her off she'd probably reverse and run over them again.





At the gatehouse, Faith tucks the belt of the black satin kimono a little tighter as she walks over to the vanity and grabs a bottle of lotion. Things were moving right along. Now if Ned would just hold up his end and move things along with ELQ. AJ has a firm grasp on the concept of freezing Sonny out of everything that might white hat his image. No access to Ward House. Piss Sonny off for her and white hat AJ's image instead. Raise his profile in the community so by the time it came around to getting his son back that no judge in the land would remember all the falls that had brought him to having to plead thru the courts. And it would kill Corinthos to lose his precious Michael. Raising one leg to the seat of the chair, Faith starts rubbing lotion with long strokes into her calf. There was something off there. AJ had just signed custody of his kid over like it was nothing. Seemed out of character. Unless he'd been drunk at the time?

"What do you think you're doing?" Edward grumbles from the doorway.

Faith continues to apply lotion working it up the inside of her thighs. "You'll have to be more specific, Eddie. I'm doing lots of things. I think you call it multitasking."

"I gave you a million dollars, little girl."

"To spend time with your grandson." Faith shrugs and doesn't bother to pull up the satin that falls off of one shoulder baring the creamy white top of one of her breasts. Might as well give the old fart a peek for his money. It wouldn't be the worst thing she'd ever done "And I am."

"You weren't supposed to MARRY him!" Edward snarls.

"He wasn't supposed to ask. What was I supposed to do? Say no?" Faith changes legs and pours more lotion into the palm of her hand.

Edward comes around so that he is facing Faith but quickly decides that is a mistake as the robe gapes away from her body and provides a distraction that he can't work around. The little snip might be able to multitask but there was something about a blonde that put him on a single track. He wanders around the master bedroom of the gatehouse ogling Faith out of the corner of his eye. "Exactly."

"I guess you should have been more specific. If I would have known you were so against the um... merger... I would have contacted you to find out if you had any... counter offers. I did ask you what your plan was. You refused to tell me remember? What's a girl to do?" Faith shrugs again but this time shoves the garment back up on her shoulder and retightens the belt. Edward decides he isn't getting anywhere with Faith and starts to exit the master bedroom to head to the nursery. "Where do you think you're going?"

"To see my great grandchild." Edward keeps on moving.

Faith moves faster and blocks the hallway. "I don't think so."

"Get out of my way."

"No." Faith doesn't even bother with the cutesy games now. "And you try it, Ned and I will be out of here so fast your head will spin. I'm getting real sick of people walking into this place like they were the ones living here: you, your daughter in law. Who is next? Ned's mother?"

"God Forbid." Edward mutters. "You've got no say here, Faith."

"Exactly. So push me and we'll be moving someplace where I have a say." Faith's eyes narrow while her voice is both low and sharp as she threatens Edward. "Fact is I think that would be a real good idea anyway." She steps closer to Edward twining an arm around the old man's neck. "Do you really think that Ned would turn me down if I asked him at just the right... time?" Faith grinds her hips against Edward.

Edward takes a quick step back, flinging Faith's arm off of him. "You haven't heard the last of this, Missy."

"Oh take it up with my husband." Faith gives him a little wave. She follows Edward back down the stairs and shuts the front door after him. With fury guiding her steps she goes into the small kitchen where the bodyguard is drinking coffee and looking at the pictures in a Hogs and Hooters magazine. "That's two." She snarls.

The magazine is quickly shut and dropped onto the breakfast bar and the bodyguard stands up. "Um... Faith... I don't..."

"No, you don't. I should just kill you now and put you out of your miserable existence!" Faith stalks the bodyguard backing him up against the wall.

"What did I do... I mean I know I screwed up with that guy in the park I should have seen him coming... but he was like a ninja or something, Faith, it wasn't my fault."

"Will you stop your infernal whining?!" Faith backhands the bodyguard who shrinks even further from her and hunches his shoulders up to make himself a smaller target. "That old pervert Edward Quartermaine just walked into my bedroom. Walked in."

"I'll take care of it." The guard tries to slide around her.

"I already took care of it you..." Faith bites her tongue. When she speaks next her voice is calm... too calm. "I want the locks changed. If there is going to be an open door in this house then you are going to be reading your titty magazine right in front of it. Are we clear?"

"Yeah, Faith. I'm really sorry. It won't happen again." The guard says sheepishly.

"It better not." Faith tightens her belt yet again. "The locks. Within an hour. Or you won't have to look for another job."

"I know a guy." The guard reaches for the phone.

"Then I guess you're good for something."





It had been a productive day. Lined up Club 101, picked the menu, the invitations are on a rush order at the printers to be delivered as soon as they were printed. Everything's rolling right along and falling into place with Phase II for AJ. After she'd gotten all the errands for the party done, she'd hit a meeting over at Mercy. AJ was right on that. It was a pretty good meeting. Nonsmoking so at least her clothes didn't reek. The time wasn't too convenient for her on a regular basis coming in the middle of the afternoon but definitely handy to have in a pinch. Skye goes to put her key into the lock of the lakehouse but the door swings open. Skye takes a step back wondering what the hell. She sets aside everything that is in her arms and knowing she is giving into every cliché of horror flicks the world over enters the house.


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