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Chapter 1

As the knife sliced through his flesh, Jason Morgan's first thought - besides 'that's gonna leave a scar' - was that for once Carly Benson was right. His bottle-blonde ex-girlfriend, and mother of his child, was always reading her horoscope. And his. She'd even had their charts done, whatever that meant, and used them to try to prove to him how perfect they were for each other. And therefore should be together. After all, the stars said so. And Caroline Benson was all about following the stars.

Every time they got together, no matter what time of the day it was, she was just getting around to reading the paper. And reading meant handing him the news and the sports while keeping gossip, fashion and the horoscopes for herself. She would always read hers out loud to him, emphasizing any mention of deserving romance or that this would be a great day for her significant other to give her a special treat. Then she would read Michael's, whether the little boy was there or not, and then she would read Jason's.

She probably figured that if she did it often enough it would wear him down and he'd actually give in and get back together with her. Jason might be brain damaged, but he wasn't stupid. He could be Michael's father and take care of the little boy and Carly without having to live with them or being romantically involved with his one-time lover. He loved being Michael's father, he loved the little boy, and he loved his friend Carly, but co-habitation and romance were not part of the deal. It simply wouldn't work, and so any time Carly tried to use the stars to get them back together he would tune her out.

This morning as he drank coffee while feeing Michael French toast sticks with peanut butter at Kelly's Diner, Carly gasped dramatically and clutched his wrist in a feigned show of concern. "Jason," she breathed out, "you can't leave today. It says right here, danger lurks today; a change of plans providential. Stay close to home and loved ones."

He'd rolled his eyes and kept feeding Michael his breakfast. Who knew if that's what the paper really said, he didn't read the nonsense, or if it was merely another one of Carly's ploys. Carly was jealous of anybody he spent time with, and it was worse when she knew he had to go somewhere on business. She hated Sonny Corinthos as much as Jason's boss hated her. And she was always trying to keep him from going out on assignments; today had been no exception.

So Jason had merely said he wouldn't discuss business with her; she knew who he was and what he did and if she couldn't handle it then he would have to move her out of town. That shut her up quickly and would buy him some weeks before she started in on Sonny again. She couldn't hope to get him back if she wasn't even in the same town.

Of course, as Jason fell to the ground, his hand instinctively covering his chest and feeling the warm blood oozing over his fingers, he realized he might not be in town for a few weeks. He had a standing agreement with Sonny that whenever he was injured he recuperated out of town. Carly was informed that he was away on business and could reach him through Sonny, but since he only passed on a fraction of her calls Jason got to heal in relative peace.

"Tsk, tsk, Mr. Morgan," Carlos Olive mocked as he stepped up to Jason and planted a boot on his chest, trapping the wounded man's hand between bleeding flesh and unyielding rubber. The pug faced man in Anthony Moreno's old organization, one of the few remaining holdouts who refused to acknowledge that Joseph Sorel couldn't fill the dead man's shoes and wouldn't support Sonny and Jason taking over the territory, wagged his knife at the downed enforcer. "You should take better care. You might bleed to death and ruin one of your Wal-Mart shirts, in addition to orphaning your son."

Apparently the guy was as dumb as he was ugly. People usually knew better than to mention, let alone threaten, Michael. Not to mention Carlos seemed so focused on taunting Jason and pressing on the wound on his chest that he forgot Jason had fallen while holding a gun. Which the enforcer brought up swiftly and aimed it right between the pug's beady eyes.

"Gun trumps knife," he growled and squeezed the trigger. Then he lowered the gun and squeezed off two rounds into the dead man's heart.

When Carlos fell, Jason pushed himself up and approached the man. He spat out pink spittle and probed the inside of his lip with his tongue, wincing when he encountered the cut that occurred when Carlos' partner hit him. "Never threaten my son," he growled at the pug.

Then he pulled out his phone and waited impatiently for Milo to answer. "Haven't you gotten him yet?"

"I'm on my way back," the guard retorted. "Need backup?"

"My guy's down," he informed the younger man. "But don't worry, take your time; it's not like I'm cut and bleeding or anything." He began to feel a little light-headed; maybe that cut was deeper than he originally thought. "I'll just wait."

"I'll be right there," Milo said in a rush, and then the line went dead.

Jason hung up his phone and leaned forward at the waist, gasping slightly at the sting of pain coursing through his body. He looked over at the corpse and growled, "Now I'm really angry, Carlos."

Sonny leaned forward and braced his hands on the marble countertop and sucked in large, greedy gulps of the air still filled with moisture from his shower. He could feel fine tremors still racing through his body and he desperately wanted them banished. He couldn't have anybody see him like this. Not now. Now was too busy, too important, and too delicate as they were absorbing Moreno's territory into theirs. The other members of the Five Families were wondering if Sonny was going to be able to handle the transition and eliminate the pockets of resistance that were disrupting shipments and attracting the attention of the police.

He could not appear weak and unable to control his territory. As the youngest, and newest, member of the ruling families he was not going to give them any excuses to reduce the group back to four. He had earned this place of power and he would show Vincenzo Moretti, the naysayer from Boston, that he belonged exactly where he was.


He looked up at the reflection of the brunette in the mirror, her face showing concern. She came closer and slid her arms around him, her diamond solitaire winking in the overhead lighting. His fiancée pressed up against him, her thin satin tank top the only thing separating them, and he wanted nothing more than to forgo everything and take her back to bed. He could drag her underneath him, sink into her willing warmth and put off everything else. It would be so easy to lose himself in her, but he couldn't.

"Are you okay?" she asked, her warm lips dancing over his shoulder blade.

Turning, he reached up and brushed her hair back, then pressed a kiss to her lips. He pulled back before it raged out of control and nodded. "Yeah."

Samantha McCall, daughter of Shane McCall, the Doyle Family's enforcer from Chicago, frowned at him and said, "Don't lie to me, Sonny. You're not fine. What is it?"

Swallowing roughly, he looked away. Sam made a noise of disapproval in her throat and pierced him with a sharp look after grasping his chin and forcing his gaze back on her. "I'm not going to tell anyone, Sonny. I never have. My dad may be part of the Doyle Family and I grew up playing with Mary and Kevin, but my loyalty is to you now. You are the man I love, the man I'm going to marry. I don't report back to my father or Joseph Doyle."

Sonny hung his head in shame and tightened his arms around her. "I know," he murmured against her temple. "I know. I'm sorry."

"You're forgiven," she told him. "I know you're not sleeping well. So talk to me, Sonny. Let me help you."

"Something's happened to Jason," he finally said. "I don't know what, but something's happened."

"I didn't hear the phone," she frowned, and then her eyebrows rose as she said, "Oh."

Licking his lips he pulled back. "I need to go to the warehouse; make some calls. I don't know how long I'll be gone."

"It's okay," she assured him. "I'll be fine. You take care of this. Is there anything I can do?"

"Handle Carly," he said with a grimace, the woman's name sour in his mouth. "In case she stops by."

"Which she probably will," Sam sighed with a roll of her eyes. "She has him on such a short leash that if she can't reach him she'll come by to make sure he's not ignoring her, or Heaven forbid going out on a date."

Sonny snorted in agreement. "Hey," she said, "we should introduce him to your sister. They'd be wonderful together, I bet."

"No," he immediately shook his head. "My sister is removed from this. She is not going to date my enforcer."

"You have something against enforcers?" she asked with a raised brow and he wasn't sure if she was truly offended, or just pretending to be.

Either way, he would tread carefully. "No. But this life isn't for my sister; you know that. She's different than you, she wouldn't fit in."

"I don't know about that," Sam told him firmly. "I think she's a lot stronger than you give her credit for. She's a little different, I'll admit, but that doesn't mean she can't handle this. I still say she would be good for Jason."

"Anybody who isn't Carly would be good for Jason," Sonny said as he stepped away from her to get dressed. "But it won't be my sister."

Sam made an indistinct noise in her throat before she stripped off her top and turned on the shower. Sonny watched her for an appreciative moment and then finally stepped into the closet and turned on the light. He quickly pulled on a shirt and suit, then reached for a tie. Bypassing the monochromatic ties he normally wore, he spun the rack until his fingers hovered over the one Elizabeth gave him for his last birthday.

It was a muted swirl of colors, not too ostentatious, but certainly a divergence from his normal attire. She claimed she bought it as soon as she saw it, never even bothering to look at the price. It reminded her of their favorite opera and the way the colors danced when the music played. A smile curved at his lips; she always saw things a little differently but there was no denying the exquisite beauty of the fabric.

As his fingers closed over the silk he was suddenly engulfed in a black cloud. Fear, betrayal, and pain washed him over and his hand closed convulsively, like gripping a hot doorknob instead of letting go.

"Elizabeth," he gasped as his knees threatened to buckle. His sister was in trouble.

Jason wasn't surprised when Sonny showed up at the safe house. Even if Johnny hadn't called Milo to let them know, Jason expected his friend to come check on him. It's what he did every time. What was a bit surprising, was how quickly Sonny showed up. Milo had barely shown the doc to his car and thanked him for stitching Jason up when their boss arrived.

"How are you?" his friend immediately asked. "Milo says Doc just left."

"I'm fine," Jason told him. "Cut wasn't too deep, didn't damage any muscle. Just a bit long, and kinda painful."

"A bit long," Milo snorted from the side of the room. "Took thirty-nine stitches and then some butterfly strips to close it."

Both Sonny and Jason frowned at the guard. Only Jason's was accompanied by a glare. Johnny looked ready to cuff the young guard as well, and when he touched the side of his nose, passing on Sam's message to him, Jason understood why. The glare at Milo hardened into a lethal threat that made the younger man swallow. Then he quickly excused himself to do a perimeter check, leaving the three other men.

Jason watched Sonny as his boss walked closer, then settled into a chair near the couch. The man looked a bit tired, tense lines around the mouth, and it was hard to know if it was merely from the stress associated with taking over Moreno's territory, or if it was the start of an episode as Sam worried. Jason cursed silently; they didn't have time for this. It was never a good time for an episode, but now was really not a good time.

"Do you think you're up for an assignment?" his boss asked, his voice a bit hesitant.

Jason immediately sat up straighter, ignoring the stinging pain of his wound. "Yes. What do you need me to do?"

Sonny looked over his shoulder at Johnny and then leaned forward. "I need you to go down to the island."

That was the last thing he expected and Jason's eyes flared. "What? Sonny, I don't need to recuperate down on the island. I'll be fine; it's a scratch."

"I'm not sending you down there to heal," the older man shook his head. "I need you to pick up my sister and bring her to Port Charles."

A babysitting assignment? Jason had long graduated from those and he was angered that Sonny wanted this from him. And a time like now, he didn't want to leave. He needed to be close by to help manage things if Sonny's condition suddenly took a turn for the worse.

"You want me to escort your sister?" he asked incredulously. "Are you-"

He bit his tongue and swallowed the barb he was about to fling at his boss. No matter how trusted Johnny was, they weren't alone and Jason would not disrespect Sonny in front of any employee. Instead, he regulated his voice and said, "Why do you want to send me? Johnny's a senior guard; surely he can be trusted with your sister's safety."

"I need my second-in-command to go," Sonny shook his head with firm resoluteness that Jason knew would be nearly impossible to change. He hated when Sonny got like this. The mafia boss would dig his heels in, refuse to listen to anyone else and many times it was merely easier to just go along than to fight him.

Jason was weighing the merits of such an action now. He would be laid up at the safe house for a day or two anyways, so as to avoid Carly detecting his wound and cause problems. Johnny, Max and Milo would be handling things anyways; would it really make a difference if was at an out-of-the-way location or down at the island? And most of all, if it kept Sonny from getting agitated and losing focus, then it would be worth it.

"Okay," he said finally. "I'll go get your sister. I'll call and get the jet ready."

Sonny shook his head. "I don't want anyone to know you're coming; you need to go commercial." With a smile he conceded, "It can be first class."

With a sigh, Jason nodded his agreement. Sonny, for whatever reason, seemed insistent on doing it just so and he could only go along with it.

"Great," his boss finally smiled. "I'll write a letter for you to take. You give it only to her, do you understand? Keep an eye on her guards; don't let her out of your sight once you get there."

Jason raised his brows slightly. So that what this was about. Sonny suspected dissension in the ranks, especially among his sister's guards. Sometimes he was wrong, or became overly paranoid about a situation, but more often than not the older man was right. He seemed to know when something was about to happen and Jason had learned long ago to give up trying to figure out how Sonny was so accurate and instead just accepted it.

"I mean it," Sonny reiterated, "don't let them separate you. You stand outside the bathroom; you're right outside her bedroom when she changes. Otherwise, she doesn't leave your sight."

"Okay," Jason agreed instantly, trying to calm his friend. "I promise you."

It seemed to work and Sonny let out a long breath. "Alright, I'm going to write the letter, and then I want you to add a few lines, too."

He peered at the other man, baffled by the odd request, but then nodded. If Sonny insisted, then Jason would do it. Looks like he would finally meet his friend's elusive kid sister.

Chapter 2

When the plane touched down, Jason was glad to finally have arrived. He didn't mind flying, but he'd grown accustomed to traveling on Sonny's private jet. After chasing down Carlos Olive and getting injured, he was tired and not in the best of moods. He'd hoped for a little rest; a reprieve from Carly and the incessant demands she'd lately been making on him. He'd planned on taking a day or two to recuperate so he could face Carly without her knowing he'd been injured and having her try to take care of him. Jason would have been able to keep busy on paperwork, avoid her stopping by his penthouse, and hope to heal quickly so he could get back to Port Charles and Michael and be a presence in his son's life.

That wasn't going to happen now. He had, instead of getting to rest in a safe house, boarded a plane for the island. Because Sonny was clearly worried about his sister's safety and didn't want to tip anyone off forcing them to take rash or desperate actions, Jason had flown on a commercial jet. He'd had to endure cramped conditions; even though he'd flown first class he couldn't stretch his legs out like he could on the private plane. He'd had to put up with a flirtatious woman across the aisle from him who hadn't taken the hint that he just wasn't interested. The only thing to be thankful for on this trip was that she wasn't seated next to him, not for lack of trying though since she'd tried to get her row companion to switch seats. He'd been relieved when the flight was over and he could finally escape.

Even though he'd arrived in what others would consider paradise, it didn't mean he got to rest. He had to meet up with Sonny's little sister and protect her from possible harm. If she was in danger there wasn't any time to waste. And even if Sonny wasn't correct and there was no threat to her, it still wouldn't do to be negligent. His friend, and boss, had given him a job and Jason would do it.

So as soon as he could, Jason gathered his luggage, got his rental car, and headed to the house Sonny had set up for his sister. It wasn't at the casino he and Jason owned; neither sibling wanted her to live there. But it was close enough to avail her of the guards and other resources the well-stocked hotel and gambling spot had. In all the time Jason had been working for Sonny he had never met the younger woman; there had been no reason to. She didn't always live on the island, so sometimes when he was here, she wasn't, and if she was Sonny visited her alone at her place so she didn't come to the casino.

But Jason knew where her house was and he found it easily enough. When he turned onto the road that wound to the house he was pleased to see the guards immediately step forward to stop his car. Most of the locals knew this was private property and it was connected to Sonny Corinthos, so she wasn't bothered. But some people did turn down the unmarked road and the guards would step forward and tell them to turn around. Of course, they would also note the car, the driver would be photographed by concealed surveillance equipment, and before the person was halfway back to wherever they'd come from the plates would be run and a file opened on the driver. Sonny never took any chances with his sister.

"Sorry, sir," the guard said politely but firmly as he approached the car. The lightweight suit the man wore was unbuttoned, but the gun Jason knew he was carrying wasn't in sight. "This is private property; you'll need to turn around."

When he reached the car and looked inside, he blanched and stammered, "Mi-Mister Morgan, Sir."

"Hello," Jason said evenly, on guard for anything suspicious in the guards.

"We didn't know you were coming."

"You weren't supposed to," he replied, repeating Sonny's cover story. "Check-up on Ms. Corinthos' security."

The guard hid it well, and if Jason hadn't been looking for it based off of Sonny's concerns he might have missed the flicker of annoyance, displeasure and fear that quickly rolled through the guard's eyes before it was quickly shuttered away. In the space of a heartbeat the man was once again professional and stoic. "Of course. Would you like me to call the house regarding your arrival?"

"No," Jason shook his head and put the car into drive. The guard opened the gate, left with little choice to do anything else, and Jason proceeded up to the house.

When he reached the main structure, guards once again went through all the correct procedures regarding an unannounced car. They had their weapons visible as they ordered him out of the car. It all seemed correct, but when they recognized him they responded like the guard at the gate. They were not happy to see him even though they presented a welcoming front.

"Mr. Morgan," an older man said as he approached Jason. "Nobody informed us you were coming."

"That was the plan," Jason stated. "Security check-up. Are you Ms. Corinthos' senior guard?"

"Yes," the man nodded. "Mark Ochoa. How can I help you?"

"I want to review files on all the guards and personnel here and I want to tour the property, but first I want to talk to Ms. Corinthos."

When Ochoa hesitated just a fraction too long, Jason stepped forward and arched his brow pointedly. "Is there a problem?"

"No," the head guard instantly said with a shake of his head. "It's just Ms. Corinthos is in her studio and she doesn't like to be disturbed.

"Well, I plan to tell her I'm here," he stated with cold authority. "I also have a note for her from her brother."

Jason could tell that Mark didn't like it, but he could not find a way to ignore, or disobey, his boss. So he nodded, and led Jason inside. The enforcer didn't know how Sonny knew these things, but it appeared he'd been correct in sending Jason down here. Something was definitely off with the men.

They stopped outside a door that Jason could hear music softly drifting out from and Ochoa raised his hand to knock, but Jason stopped him. "I want the personnel files so I can go over them as soon as I'm done here."

"Alright," the guard stated, even though he didn't sound pleased, and then he walked away. Jason decided that as soon as he was inside the room, he was calling the casino and having some men he knew he could trust head over here.

Jason waited until Ochoa was out of sight and then he knocked on the door.

The color was wrong. All wrong. The blue on her canvas was not the blue she saw when she listened to this song.

Swearing softly under her breath, Elizabeth grabbed the small canvas for testing colors off her easel and tossed it against the wall. The paint was too dry to scrape off and she already had more canvases waiting to go. She'd been trying to find the right color for a while, she was well stocked and it was time to just start over again.

She abandoned her paintbrush and turned up the music after restarting the song. The opening notes of the string instruments drifted out of the speakers, a pale green like spring grass. She had that color blended perfectly, ready to use when she got the final colors just right. As the winds joined the strings a warm, rich red filled the air. That had been hard to match, but she'd finally found the right mix; just a hint of black had been needed to deepen the reds she'd infused together. But the blue that appeared when the percussion started was stumping her. She'd been trying for weeks now and she wasn't any closer to finding it now than she had been at the beginning. There were times she thought she'd found it, but the color would dry wrong. That made her think that perhaps it didn't need to look correct wet, as long as it dried to the proper color. That theory was turning out to be a total bust.

Elizabeth took a breath and held it unconsciously as she waited for the percussion to begin. Her eyes were open wide to catch the very first notes because they seemed to be slightly different and maybe that was the key to the right blend. Just as the percussion started the moment was ruined by a knock on her door. The slight color variation she knew was there and had almost seen was now lost in the discordant interruption.

Angrily she turned off the music and stalked over to the door. As she flung it opened she demanded, "What? I thought I told you-"

Her words died in her throat and her mouth snapped shut. The man standing at her door was not one of her guards. She knew all of them by sight and he definitely was not part of her detail. His strong jaw, cold as ice eyes and stony visage reminded her of her guards, but much more lethal.

"Who are you?"

Her eyes widened when he reached into his leather jacket, but still hadn't spoken. This man was in her house, she hadn't heard anything from her guards; this man could be here to hurt her to go after her brother. Sonny had always worried about this, that's why she had the guards and the fortress. Belatedly, she realized that now, she went to slam the door, but the man stuck his hand out and stopped her.

"Hey," he stated, "it's okay. I'm Jason Morgan."

The panic that had threatened her faded, replaced by confusion. "Sonny's partner? What...what are you doing here?"

A new panic gripped her and she clutched the door tightly. "Is he okay? He's not hurt is he?"

"No," Jason quickly shook his head. "He's fine. He sent me here to get you and bring you to Port Charles."

Suspicion eclipsed her other emotions and she stared at him. "My brother sent you down here to bring me to Port Charles? Without calling me? Why exactly should I trust you?"

Elizabeth could have been mistaken, but she almost thought she saw a hint of a smile tug at his mouth. He extracted his hand from his jacket and handed her a letter. "Sonny gave me this for you."

She took the letter from him and smiled when she saw the familiar hue and strength of her brother's handwriting. Feeling much more relieved now, she breathed out and smiled at Jason. Stepping back and gesturing to the room she asked, " you want to come in?"

"Yes," he immediately nodded and stepped in, forcing her to quickly step back. Once inside, he closed the door and then stood in front of it like a sentry.

Elizabeth raised a brow in question at his odd behavior, but she had a letter from her brother that she suspected she should read immediately. So she put Jason Morgan out of her mind and opened the envelope. As soon as she unfolded the letter and saw the proof that it was indeed from Sonny she sat down on her stool to read it.

It started out with his normal endearment, proof of his love for her and their bond. He apologized for being busy and she wished he wouldn't be so hard on himself, his guilt and tiredness shone through in his words. She understood he was busy and she didn't feel neglected by him, but she always struggled to make him understand that. Then Sonny reached the reason for his letter and why Jason Morgan was in her home. He suspected something was wrong and he would feel better if she was in Port Charles. He'd never asked her to come to Port Charles, in fact he often asked her not to come and visit him. He preferred to come visit her instead. So she knew something was definitely wrong to make him ask it of her now.

That, and worry bled out of the paragraph. The normal colors of his words had turned into a sickly mustard color. Every time he was worried his words took on that hue and she knew his letter was genuine. It ended with him telling her he was sending Jason Morgan down because he was trustworthy. He was the only one Sonny trusted with her safety, and he was the only one she should trust. To make her feel better and ensure her safety, Sonny had given her two methods of how to tell Jason Morgan was really the man in her presence.

"Do you know what Sonny wrote?" she asked the statue by the door.

He shook his head. "No, I only know he was going to write to explain the situation."

Elizabeth grabbed her sketchbook and turned to a blank page. Then she brought it to him along with a pen and held it in front of her. "I need you write something for me."

"Write what?"

With a shrug she answered, "It doesn't matter. You could write Greek or write the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain. I just need to compare what you write now with what you wrote in Sonny's letter."

"Handwriting analysis?" he asked skeptically. "An imposter could just imitate my handwriting."

"Not in all ways," she answered, and then pointed at the paper.

He took the pen from her and wrote a couple of sentences, his begrudging compliance clear in his actions. Then he handed the pen and book back to her and crossed his arms over his chest. Clearly he didn't understand her request; he probably hadn't understood Sonny's either, but she knew he wouldn't show his skepticism to her brother as obvious as he just showed it to her. Well, that was okay. She didn't need Jason Morgan to understand; most people didn't no matter how hard Elizabeth tried to explain it. She knew what she saw, and she'd never met anyone who saw things exactly like she did. So she gave up trying to explain and just did things her way.

With Sonny's letter in one hand and her notepad in the other, she looked at Jason Morgan's handwriting. The words in Sonny's letter were a little faded, but they were undeniably written by the same man standing before her. A strong, bold, rich blue met her gaze on each page, the strongest hue coming from his signatures. An echo of that blue was in Sonny's handwriting when he spoke of his friend and partner; it had always been in Sonny's letters and it had intrigued her. Now she finally understood where it came from; Jason carried this color with him and even just speaking about him infused the letters in his name. Absently Elizabeth noted that she would love to use a blue like this in a painting, but now wasn't the time to think about that. Not when she had to get ready to leave.

She turned back to Jason and said, "I'm convinced. When do we leave?"

"You are?"

"Yes," she answered in the same annoyed tone he'd used with her. "Unless you want to show me the cut on your chest and the thirty-nine stitches."

Jason now knew why he'd never met Sonny's sister; the woman was slightly deranged. She seemed to understand the importance of the safety precautions he insisted on; she didn't fight him or get upset when he went into her bedroom with her and stayed there while she packed. She didn't try to evade him or send him on false errands before sneaking out, she just talked. A lot. In fact, the woman was hardly ever quiet.

He was used to chatter; after all, he had Carly in his life. But he'd gotten used to what she talked about. Elizabeth Corinthos was different. She talked about her art, and while Jason had never understood things like that since the accident, there was something more to her talk. Carly wanted to be an interior decorator - actually, she talked about it, he suspected, just to give her an excuse to go shopping and spend his money, but he doubted she'd ever actually work - and so she constantly talked about colors and what went together and what didn't. He figured art was similar to that, but he wasn't entirely sure.

Yet there was something different about the way Elizabeth talked. She rambled on about trying to match a color to sounds from music and how she loved classical music but couldn't stand atonal music because the colors were as ugly as the noise. All Jason could think was that it clearly was beyond him. But he'd never heard anyone else talk the way she did, and not just about art, so maybe it was just her and that was why she was practically a recluse. Maybe it wasn't just Sonny wanting to keep her safe.

"Are you ready?" he asked as they stood once more in her art studio. She had taken some supplies, but had left more behind than he'd thought she would. Carly would have tried to cram everything into a suitcase for him to lug around.

"Yes," she nodded as she slipped the last box of chalks into her bag. "I don't know how long Sonny will want me in Port Charles, but if it's going to be a while I'd rather just buy canvases and paints there rather than bring them with me. I've got things I can use for now if it's only going to be a short trip."

"Okay," he nodded, looking down at his watch and calculating that the guards he'd ordered over from the hotel would be here and rounding up the other guards.

"Besides," she smiled at him as she zipped her bag shut. "I can always help Sam with the wedding plans if I'm not painting."

"You've met Sam?"

She looked at him like he was an idiot. "Yes, I've met my brother's fiancée. Why wouldn't I have?"

"I...I guess it's because you haven't come to Port Charles. I just didn't think of the two of you knowing each other."

"I've been to Port Charles," she informed him, a bit of Sonny's imperiousness entering her voice, "but they were short trips and always occurred when you weren't there for some reason. It's probably just as well; I was spared prolonged contact with your rabid girlfriend."

"You've met Carly?" He couldn't believe she hadn't mentioned it.

"Briefly. She came to snarl at my brother for sending you out of town on business." Her impression and what she thought of Carly was clear in her voice. "You really should get a better leash for her, or invest in a muzzle."

"She's not my girlfriend," Jason said tersely. He knew Sonny and Sam didn't like Carly, but he didn't need another person giving him grief about her. All of Elizabeth's opinions had probably come from her brother and he wasn't interested in hearing a female version of the rant. Carly would always be a part of his life because of Michael and he was tired of fighting about her. "And I don't want to talk about her."

"O-kay," Elizabeth drawled out with a raise of her eyebrows. "Then we won't. So, what's the plan now that I've got everything packed?"

"I'm waiting for some guards to arrive from the casino; they might already be here by now but they're supposed to call when they've completed their assignment. I want your guards taken someplace where we can keep an eye on them and I want some extra people around just in case they try to stop us from leaving."

"Do you really think I'm in danger?" she asked, just a hint of concern entering her voice. She hadn't fought with him, hadn't really reacted except to just accept Sonny's letter and his orders, but he reminded himself that this was her life here and these were people she thought she could trust. Of course she would be concerned.

"I don't know," he said uneasily, never liking a situation with so many variables and ways to go wrong. "But I don't plan on taking any chances with you or your safety."

Chapter 3


He looked up at the sound of Sam's voice, and unlike yesterday morning's pensive greeting, he smiled brightly at her. She was sleep tousled and gorgeous as she loosely tied the belt of her robe. Standing up from his desk, he greeted her at the base of the stairs with a warm kiss that added beautiful bee-stung lips to her ensemble.

"Good morning," he said huskily.

She smiled back at him, but couldn't entirely hide the concern in her eyes. "Did you get any sleep last night? Your side of the bed was cold this morning when I woke up."

"I was on the phone with Jason and some of the guards last night," he answered with a shake of his head.

"Is she alright?" Sam asked as they walked towards the couch, his fingers running lightly over the silk covering her back.

He nodded in clear relief. "Jason got to her without any problems, but it sounds like I was right to be worried. Some of the guards didn't seem happy that Jason showed up, even though they cooperated with him. Things probably weren't in place and they had no other choice."

Smoothing her hand over his shoulder and then resting it at his neck, she lightly massaged his tired muscles. "Do you really think she was in danger from her guards?"

"I don't know," he hedged as he looked away so he didn't have to lie directly to her. "I just-"

"You had a feeling," she said softly and without scorn or disbelief. It still amazed him that she seemed to accept that he sensed things sometimes. She didn't question his unflagging accuracy, just seemed grateful for it. She didn't press him for how he knew, she just accepted it and supported him as he dealt with whatever situation arose.


"Then it's a good thing you sent Jason," Sam said in perfect seriousness with a gentle smile. "I'm glad you trust these feelings and act on them, even if nobody understands how you just know things. You saved my life, Sonny, with a feeling and I will never mock you. Just like I'll never tell anybody about these thoughts that come to you."

Sonny raised his hand, brushing it over her cheek and letting his fingers float through her hair. "Thank you."

Leaning forward, he captured her lips in a warm, reaffirming kiss. Her total trust, faith and acceptance always moved him. "I love you," he whispered gently against her mouth.

"I love you, too," she returned. "Elizabeth is safe now?"

He nodded. "Jason got her out of her house and took her to the hotel. He had some guards from there come to the house to provide back-up. They took Elizabeth's guards with them and they've been isolated and detained. We have to decide what to do with them, but for now we'll keep them there while Bernie runs extensive investigations on them."

"So Jason and Elizabeth are on there way here?"

"No," he shook his head and passed his hand tiredly over his face. "They're at the hotel; at least for another day."

Her eyebrows furrowed. "What happened?"

"My sister happened," he chuckled. "Jason's been awake for almost forty-eight hours and he was cut requiring stitches before he left. Even Jason isn't invincible under those circumstances. Elizabeth said he was pale, looked ready to fall over and she insisted they stay at the hotel and he get some sleep."

Sam's lips twitched with amusement as she asked, "What did Jason say?"

"He insisted he was fine, but he sounded drained. So I told him to stay there for a day. I'm sending the jet down, but I'm not going to rush it there. Elizabeth said he needs some rest."

"Does Jason trust the guards there?"

"Yes, and so do I. So for now, until they can get to Port Charles, I feel better."

Sam smoothed her hand over Sonny's back and then twisted her hands around his arm and curled into his side. "Good. Then because you're the boss, you don't have to go anywhere. And so I'm telling you that you are going nowhere but upstairs and into bed. You need some sleep, Sonny."

His hand smoothed over her thigh, parting the robe, as he asked, "Where will you be?"

"By your side," she smiled warmly as she leaned towards him, her lips begging for his kiss.

Just as they touched, the guard on the door knocked. Sonny groaned and briefly dropped his head onto Sam's shoulder. "Yeah?"

The door opened slightly and Sonny could hear the reason for the morning intrusion even without turning around. Carly was in the hallway.

"No," Sam stopped him with her hand on his face as he started to stand. "I'll deal with her. You go upstairs and as soon as I get rid of the harpy, I'll join you."

"Promise?" he grinned cheekily.

"I promise," she nodded. "But you know she'll leave quicker if I go. She hates me, I hate her, and I won't put up with her. She loves to push your buttons and fight you as much as she loves to spend Jason's money. She'll be here forever arguing if you go out."

"You're right."

She kissed him quickly and stood, readjusting her robe and tightening the belt. "Of course I am. Now go."

Sonny, who took orders from no one, gladly followed her and headed upstairs to their room. He slid beneath the blanket and sighed in relief as he finally gave his body what it had been craving all night but he'd been too tense and worried to allow. He wondered what Sam was saying to Carly, but he didn't get a chance to ask her; he was asleep before she ever made it upstairs.

Sam rolled her neck to release the mounting tension as she approached the door. Glancing over her shoulder to make sure Sonny was upstairs, she pulled it open and stepped out into the hall. Carly was pacing angrily in the space in front of the elevator and Sam's good mood was rapidly deteriorating in the face of the blonde shrew. Jason really needed to cut the dead weight loose from his life. It would help everyone, but especially him.

"Where is he?"

"Sonny?" Sam asked innocently. "He's upstairs asleep."

"I don't care about Sonny," Carly spat out on a sneer. "I want to know where Jason is."

"I don't know," Sam shrugged. "I don't question Sonny on his business. You should try learning that technique."

"Look, you little nothing," Carly advanced, holding up her finger in scolding. "Don't you tell me what I should or shouldn't do, especially when it's about Jason. He's Michael's father and so when Jason's not around to read his son a story or spend time with him, that makes it my business."

"You are some piece of work, you know that?" Sam said in disgust. "You use your child to keep Jason tethered to you and you know that he will do anything you want because he loves that little boy. You want to be Jason's girlfriend; you probably want to be his wife because you want his money and the hot sex you constantly talk about."

Leaning forward, she whispered in mock confidence, "By the way, Carly, it's really tacky to talk about your sex life with strangers and people who aren't your friends. It's considered classless. But then, considering it's you, I'm surprised you haven't made a website detailing all your escapades, real or imagined."

"Like you're the picture of class and elegance." Carly looked ready to do violence, but Sam knew she'd never touch her with the guards present. "Jason and I could be a great family; we should be one."

"There's just one little problem," Sam shrugged with mock sympathy. "Jason doesn't want to be with you that way. That just tears you up inside, doesn't it? He's seen you for the trash you really are and he won't touch you anymore. Especially since you slept with his brother."

Carly pinched her lips together and Sam didn't blame her. It had to be bitter to know that she'd ruined her relationship with Jason when she slept with the one person he hated; his brother. It was after that, Sonny had confided in Sam, that Jason had stopped having sex with Carly. So when she got pregnant a month later, Jason knew that the baby wasn't his. But he'd agreed to claim the child as his own, and thus sealed his lifetime of torture. Because Carly would use his kind-hearted generosity and desire to protect Michael from the Quartermaines against him forever.

Sam wondered how long he would remain firm in his resolve to not live with Carly and just share custody of the little boy. And how soon until Carly realized he wasn't going to change his mind and tried to force his hand. Would she threaten to move away and not let him see the little boy that he deeply loved? Or would she do something even more sinister like threaten to tell A.J. the truth? There were so many things Carly could do that made Sam worried and concerned for Jason. Carly could claim Jason had threatened her; she could say she wanted to tell A.J. the truth but couldn't. Jason could face not only the loss of the boy who called him dad, but jail as well. Sam knew women who used children to manipulate men, and Carly fit the mold perfectly. There was no telling what she might do to get what she wanted.

Sam and Sonny both didn't like Carly, but they knew that Jason wouldn't do anything against Carly or antagonize her because he loved Michael. Jason wouldn't want Michael to be hurt or confused do any animosity between his parents. So Sam and Sonny tried to support their friend however they could and hope that Carly didn't completely destroy his life."

"Shut up, Princess," Carly ordered, her face burning with rage. "You and your fiancé are behind this, aren't you? You probably-"

"Oh, get over yourself," Sam laughed scornfully as she interrupted the crazy accusations. "If Jason's gone on business it means it's important. Sonny trusts and relies on Jason and you know that. You just can't stand not being the center of Jason's world. Sonny doesn't send Jason away on business to get him away from you; that's just an added bonus."

Sam held up her hand and cut Carly's tirade off before it could begin. "You really need to accept it, Carly. Because if your petty jealousies and insecurities start interfering with Jason doing his might not like what Sonny will have to do."

Sam let that threat hang in the air between them and knew it hit its mark when the blonde flinched slightly. Turning back to the penthouse Sam instructed Marco, "Make sure Ms. Benson makes it into a cab, and then please make sure Sonny and I aren't disturbed."

"Yes, Ms. McCall," he replied.

Then she stepped into the penthouse and closed the door, shutting Carly out. Sam sighed, but smiled in satisfaction at the barb she'd hit Carly with. Maybe that would help calm the rabid dog down some. Because while it would take a lot to make Sonny step in and interfere, mostly because he wouldn't want to mess up anything between Jason and Michael, Sam knew that her fiancé would step in if the business was truly in jeopardy because of Carly's actions.

Sam only hoped that Jason would realize he had to be firm with Carly and that he could do so much better than the bleach-bottle tramp. Maybe with Elizabeth in town, Jason would be spending less time around Carly. Sam could arrange some dinners, and since Jason lived right across the hall it made no sense for him to eat alone. Not when Sonny always overcooked and would increase that tendency with his sister present. Maybe if Jason spent some time with Elizabeth, he'd find something in her more appealing than Carly, or at lease realize he didn't have to just turn his life over to the shrew.

Sonny had decreed that he didn't want his sister and Jason together, but he should know by now that love just happens. It wasn't that Sam planned on overtly matchmaking, but if a few well-placed nudges helped things along, then how could she really be blamed? They might like each other, or they might not. She mostly just wanted Jason to see there were other women besides the toxic parasite that Carly was, and she thought Elizabeth was a great example. Besides, Sam truly believed it would be better - safer - for Elizabeth to be with someone like Jason than a person unconnected to the business like Sonny wanted. Sam liked her soon-to-be sister-in-law, for who Elizabeth was, not just as an extension of Sonny, but she knew the artist could get lost in her own world sometimes because she saw things differently than everyone else. Being with Jason would ensure she always had guards and the best security.

But all of that would have to wait until Jason and Elizabeth actually made it to Port Charles. For now, Sam decided as she slipped into bed beside a slumbering Sonny, she would focus on taking care of the Corinthos sibling nearest her.

Carly was seething when she walked into her house that Jason had purchased for her because she'd said Michael needed plenty of space to run around outside when he got older. She barely caught herself before slamming the door; Michael may be asleep and she didn't want to wake him up. Not yet anyways.

She was certain that Sonny had just sent his little tramp out there to talk to her because he knew it would upset her. He lived to treat her with contempt and disdain and insinuate she was nothing more than trash and not good enough for Jason. Sonny never did it when Jason was around and when Carly brought it up to him, he never believed her or dealt with his friend like he should. She had a feeling he would never believe her, and so she didn't push too hard because Jason was loyal to the older man. Who knew why. One day, though, she might have to push harder, but that wasn't now.

Jason didn't always call her when he was out on business, even though she had asked him to. For Michael's sake she wanted to know if she should plan on him visiting or not. When he hadn't stopped by or called in two days she'd tried calling him. But there was no answer so Carly did the next logical thing and went to Jason's house, hoping that Sonny would show he had a heart and let her know if Jason was okay or not. But instead, she got Sam McCall, daughter of a common thug who acted like she was princess of the castle simply because she was engaged to Sonny Corinthos.

Well, she'd eventually get back at Sonny and his little tramp, but for now Carly had to deal with Jason. "Leticia?"

The nanny Jason had hired to help her out came out of the kitchen. "Yes, Ms. Benson?"

"Is Michael taking his nap?"

"Yes," the other woman nodded. "I was just going to get started on lunch. You know how he likes my pasta."

"Did you already start it?"


Carly smiled warmly as she said, "Why don't we save the pasta for tomorrow? You've been working hard lately and you had to cut your day off short last week. So why don't you take the rest of the day off?"

Leticia's eyes widened slightly as she asked, "Are you sure?"

"Yes," Carly nodded. "I don't have anywhere else I need to go today. It'll just be me and Michael."

Leticia hesitated only a moment, but at Carly's further urging she quickly agreed and gathered her bag, then left the house. Carly went upstairs and made sure Michael was still asleep for a little while longer. He was beginning to stir, but wasn't quite awake yet. Perfect. Pulling out her phone she pressed the button for Jason's cell and waited.

"Jason?" she said once his message ended and the beep sounded. "Are you alright? I haven't heard from you and I'm a little worried. I tried to talk to talk to Sonny and see if you were okay but he wouldn't see me."

It was true, she hadn't seen Sonny today. Opening the door to her son's room, she nudged Michael's bed with her leg and the little boy whimpered as he turned over and settled back into sleep. "I'm a little worried about Michael," she said, concern now seeping into her voice. "He seems a little warm and a little fussy."

She nudged the bed again, but gentler this time. Another whimper floated up, but she knew how much she could jostle him and still keep him asleep. "I may call Momma later if he doesn't seem to improve."

Of course, her mother was out of town for a nursing convention.

"I just thought you should know," she concluded. "And I hope you're okay and we hear from you soon."

Then she hung up and smiled as she tapped the phone against her chin. That should get Jason's attention and get him to call back soon. And if he didn't stop over the moment the moment he returned to Port Charles, she was going to be extremely upset. She sat down on Michael's bed and ran her hand lightly over her son's back, smiling when he burrowed down into his bed, before rolling over and looking up at her with such wide, brown eyes.

"Hey, Little Man," she grinned at him. "Did you have a nice nap?"

When he nodded, she held out her hand and asked, "Want to share a frozen pizza with Mom for lunch?"

He scrambled to stand up on his bed and she lifted him easily, settling him against her hip. Then they headed downstairs to heat up the oven and wait for Jason to call them back.

Chapter 4


Her childhood nickname slipped through Sonny's lips like a prayer and she barely had a chance to brace herself before her brother swept into a bone-crushing hug. He pressed her to him, her head falling into the crook of his neck as it automatically did ever since she was young. She had sensed his worry in his letter, but she hadn't thought it was this bad. As he brushed his hand over her hair, she rubbed his back in an attempt to soothe and reassure him.

"It's okay, Nito," she said softly. "I'm okay."

"I know," he nodded as he pulled back slightly. "I know."

"What was it?" she asked, keeping her voice low. "What did you see that made you send your partner down with no notice?"

Sonny ran his hands from her shoulders to her elbows and glanced at the two other people in the room. He shook his head slightly, "I...later."

She wanted to roll her eyes at her brother's reluctance. He didn't want to appear weak, and so he was very guarded in his speech. She understood that he didn't want it to be common knowledge, but she thought he could trust his partner. But she wouldn't press this now; they would talk later.

"Alright," she smiled in agreement. "Later."

"Jason." Sonny called out to his friend who was standing beside Sam and talking quietly, letting the siblings have a moment to themselves. The younger man looked up expectantly at her brother and stepped immediately towards him.

Sonny crossed the room and held out his hand to his friend. "Thank you. I know this seemed like a strange request or a step down, but you're the only one I trusted to get Elizabeth."

It was a little surprising, but Elizabeth thought that Jason Morgan actually looked embarrassed as he shook his head. "No, were right to worry. There was something off with the guards and I think that if you sent anybody else there could have been problems."

Elizabeth felt Sonny's tension ease when Jason said that. While he might not know what caused Sonny to do the things he did, he seemed to accept them. And, he also knew how to deal with her brother. By validating Sonny's concerns and orders, it went a long way to easing his mind. To know that someone he respected wasn't going to scoff at him or belittle him - like their father had done.

As his sister, Elizabeth wanted to talk to Jason Morgan. She wanted to make sure her brother was alright, that he was safe because she knew this situation unsettled him. But she couldn't do that. Her brother would be angry and would see it as a betrayal, and she could never do that to him. He didn't like to talk about the things he felt or saw, and she forced herself to respect that. The only thing she could do was be there for him, watch him and help him if he needed her, and just support him. He had always done that for her, she would do that for him now.

She could also talk to Sam and join together with her to watch out for Sonny. Sam knew some things regarding him and she accepted him, trying to make him feel safe. Elizabeth wanted to talk to her brother's fiancée and get her take on this latest incident and how she was doing in general. She wanted to get Sam alone, and now would be a perfect opportunity because Sonny probably needed to talk to Jason and would welcome their removal from the room.

"Sonny?" She caught his attention and smiled at him. "Am I in the same room?"

"Yes," Sam answered. "I'll help you take your things up."

"I can have a guard..." Sonny began to offer.

Elizabeth shook her head, "Sam and I can get them. We're not completely helpless, you know?"

"I keep reminding him of that," Sam laughed and reached for one of Elizabeth's bags. She gave Sonny a kiss and then turned for the stairs.

Elizabeth gave him a hug and whispered, "Thank you for looking out for me. We'll talk later."

Then she turned towards the man she'd spend the last day with, the man her brother had trusted to protect her and who had taken that task seriously. She only knew Jason Morgan by what Sonny and Sam had told her and the reputation she'd heard from the guards she'd occasionally encountered. He didn't speak much, she didn't know if he liked her or not or if he thought she was a complete nut. But she was inclined to think well of him, and certainly respected him for his loyalty to her brother and the way he'd treated her in their brief time together. She hoped she got the opportunity to at least see him a bit more while she was in Port Charles to see if her impressions were correct. Besides, she had a feeling Sonny was going to restrict where she went and how many people she met, and she figured he'd at least approve of Jason talking to her.

"Jason," she said with a small, but genuine smile. "It was nice to finally meet you. Not the best of circumstances, I know, but I'm glad you're my brother's friend and partner and that he could trust you to get me and keep me safe."

"Yeah," he said, his face slightly marred by uncertain confusion.

"I hope you feel better," she concluded. "But since I know you two have things to discuss, I'll get out of your way."

She grabbed her other suitcase and her art bag and headed for the stairs. Once she reached the second floor she headed towards the guest room that was hers every time she visited. It was comfortable, it was secure, and it was also the farthest away from Sonny and Sam's room without being the downstairs maid room. Something all of them appreciated but didn't speak of. As she expected, Sam was waiting in the room for her, her arms wrapped around her waist as she looked out the bulletproof window.

"Sam," Elizabeth said quietly so she didn't startle the other woman. She set her bags down and closed the door behind her.

Sonny's fiancée turned and smiled warmly. "I'm glad you're here, Elizabeth."

"Me too," she nodded. "I like Port Charles, even if my brother tries to keep me away."

"He's just doing what he thinks will keep you safe," Sam replied.

Kicking off her shoes and leaving them in the middle of the room, she sat down on the queen sized bed and nodded. "I know that."

"I'm glad you're okay," the other woman stated as she sat down on the chair in front of the vanity table. "And I'm glad you're here now, it will help Sonny."

"Has it been bad?"

"No, not yet," Sam shook her head. "But it's got all the beginning signs. He's not sleeping well, he's distracted, and he's trying to cover it up. But it makes him short-tempered and irritable."

Elizabeth nodded, all-too-familiar with the symptoms.

"Right now is a very stressful time with the business."

"Which never helps the situation."

"Exactly," Sam sighed. "I don't know how much you hear or what Sonny tells you..."

"I know about Moreno and Sorel. Moreno was a pig, but he was a prince compared to Sorel."

"Sorel is a thug who believes rules were made to be broken and that he can act with impunity," Sam spit out. "He's really causing Sonny problems; and the Families are looking over Sonny's shoulder to make sure they didn't make a mistake promoting him into their circle."

Elizabeth blew out a weary breath. "Too much stress only makes these episodes worse. Everything pushes out and Sonny can't keep it contained which makes him not sleep well and starts the cycle all over again."

Running a finger over the emerald green bedspread she glanced at Sam and asked, "So how did he know to send Jason down to the island?"

"I don't know," the other woman shook her head. "He wouldn't tell me. He...he got up early that morning and when I woke up he was already getting ready to go. He said Jason was hurt and he needed to get to the warehouse. I hadn't heard the phone ring, and all Sonny said was that he knew."

"Ah," Elizabeth nodded.

"Then while I was in the shower I heard Sonny call out. I got out to find him holding that tie you gave him, the one that looks like a painting?" When she nodded, Sam continued. "He said he needed to get you off the island immediately. He was sweaty and shaky and he insisted on leaving right away. That's all he would say. He paced and worried when he finally did come back home, and it was all I could do to get him to rest for a couple of hours while he waited for you to get here."

"Well," Elizabeth said, forcing herself into a cheerfulness she hoped would bolster Sam, "hopefully having me close will help. Between the two of us, and Jason, maybe we can help stem the tide before it gets bad."

"I hope so." She found herself warmed by Sam's words. She knew how much the other woman loved Sonny and she was glad her brother had found a woman who could love and support him like Sam obviously did.

"Sam?" Elizabeth asked cautiously. "How much does Jason Morgan know? How much has he said, or asked, or do you think he suspects?"

"I don't know, Elizabeth," she shook her head. "Sonny doesn't really talk about it with me. I doubt he talks to Jason. As for how much he suspects? He knows Sonny gets feelings or impressions, or just says something needs to be done in a specific way. I think he's curious and wonders why, but the one thing about Jason that's helpful all around is that he's loyal and supports Sonny completely. Very rarely does he question or challenge your brother."

Elizabeth pulled her bottom lip between her teeth as she nodded. That was good, and she said so. But Elizabeth also wondered if it might be helpful for Jason to really understand what was happening with her brother. Would it become necessary to tell the truth, even if she knew Sonny wouldn't like it?

When Elizabeth disappeared upstairs and a door closed a moment later signaling they were truly alone, Sonny turned to Jason and asked, "How are you doing?"

"I'm fine," he said automatically.

Sonny peered at him, scrutinizing him; Jason sighed and tugged on his ear, "Sonny, I'm fine."

"Okay," his friend shrugged not terribly convinced. "When you said you were staying at the hotel for a night, and then when Elizabeth said you didn't look so good, I just worried something had happened."

"Your sister exaggerates a bit," Jason with a laugh to soften his annoyance. He had been ready to get on the plane even though, yes, he was tired and his wound hurt. But Elizabeth Corinthos proved she could be just as stubborn and determined as her brother and she insisted he get some sleep. She suggested, and agreed to any safety measures he would need, but said she wouldn't go anywhere with him until he rested. A guard did her no good if he was passed out.

"I know she rambles a bit, especially if she's excited or nervous, but Elizabeth's not prone to exaggeration. Not about this kind of thing," Sonny said with a firm shake of head.

"When I was getting started in the business I'd come home bruised and bloody and Elizabeth always patched me up. Even when I didn't want her to." Sonny's eyes unfocused slightly, turning inward on a memory. "I got stabbed one time when I went down to visit her. Let my guard down, was cocky and wasn't paying attention. I showed up on her doorstep bleeding and she took care of me. She was scared, but she kept a level head and actually stitched me up because she knew I wouldn't go to the hospital. So if my sister says you looked pale, tired and weak on your feet; then I believe her."

Jason looked away from Sonny's suddenly piercing, don't-lie-to-me gaze and conceded the point. "Alright, I was a little tired and the wound hurt. But I could have kept going."

"But there wasn't a need," his friend said with a shake of his head. "Besides, you'll need your rest to deal with Carly. Now that you're back you know she'll be anxious to see you. And if she finds out you're hurt, you're going to be begging me to send you out on some assignment just to get some peace."

"Yeah," he groaned out wearily.

"She stopped by yesterday," Sonny informed him. "Ranting and raving because you weren't around. I was asleep so Sam dealt with her."

Jason closed his eyes and stifled a pained sigh. Great. Sam and Carly got on like oil and water. Or, more appropriately, a match and gasoline. He could only imagine what mood Carly would be in now and what she would say to him, or did say to Sam.

"Look, Jason," his friend held up his hands. "I don't doubt that Sam lashed out and got in Carly's face, but you've got to deal with Carly. I know you love Michael and have to deal with her because of him, but she can't constantly come over here yelling at the guards or me or Sam because she can't get a hold of you and keep tabs on you. Sometimes I need your absence from town to go unnoticed, or at least not be as conspicuous, and her rantings don't help."

"I know," Jason said dejectedly as he rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. "But you know how she gets. If I tell her up, she says down. Left is right, no is yes and stop means go. If I tell her to back off she pushes harder and it just makes it worse."

"She uses Michael against you as well," Sonny said in a mix of sympathy and disgust. "She knows you'll let her get away with anything because of your son. I know it's a rough situation, but you can't let her go on like this, Jason."

"I know." He was frustrated and tired and really didn't want a lecture on this right now. "I'll talk to her, but let me handle it in my own way and without you or Sam making comments. Please."

"Fair enough," Sonny nodded, his hands held out in peace. "Look, go get some rest and we'll talk about Sorel and his men and Elizabeth's guards later."

"I'm going to have to go over to Carly's," Jason told him. His reluctance came through in his voice even though he tried not to show it. "She left a message yesterday that Michael might be sick; he seemed warm and fussy and she was going to call Bobbie."

Sonny frowned, but was concerned as he asked, "Did she call back?"

He shook his head, "No. I don't know if Michael's sick or not. So I need to call her, and I want to see him."

"Of course," his friend nodded.

Jason appreciated Sonny not saying anything else, but the skepticism was clear in his manner. Sadly, it wasn't something Jason hadn't already thought himself. Was Michael really sick, or was it just a ploy by Carly? Why hadn't she called back to say if the little boy was or wasn't ill? That made him suspicious, but he didn't want to jump to conclusions in case Michael really was sick and Carly had been busy with doctors or taking care of him. But he also knew that Carly liked to create drama where there wasn't any, and she did play on his love for the little boy.

"Listen," Sonny said, putting his hand on Jason's shoulder in support. "Go get some rest, then go see Michael and find out for yourself how he's doing. We can meet later if he's doing alright, or put it off to tomorrow if you need to stay with him."

"Okay," Jason agreed, feeling the weight of the past few days, but especially this conversation, pressing on him. "I'll give you a call later."

Sonny nodded in agreement, then smiled. "Thank you again for getting my sister."

Jason told him he was glad she was safe and with Sonny now. Then he left and headed across the hall to his penthouse, anxious to get inside and just be alone and relax. He needed a few hours of sleep and then he would be fine. His cut would hurt less after some rest, and he'd be able to deal with Carly without losing his temper and most of all, he'd have the energy to play with his son. All he needed was a few hours of sleep now that his assignment was over.

He thought about calling Carly to ask about Michael, just so he would know for certain. But if he did that and she realized he was home, he wouldn't get the rest his body was signaling it needed. She'd be loud, she'd be demanding, and she'd never let him to see Michael and her in a few hours, she'd expect him to come immediately. She'd say Michael missed him, and needed to see his father, and of course she'd pitch her voice loud enough so Michael could hear her and get excited, and Jason would give in because he couldn't bear to disappoint his son. So he had to stifle his desire to know for certain, and content himself with the promise that as soon as he woke up, he'd go over to their house.

He sat down on the couch, and then shifted so he could stretch out fully along its length. The silence of the room was refreshing and the coolness of the leather was soothing, and he let himself just sink into the moment. Elizabeth babbled, sometimes talked because it seemed she couldn't stand the silence; Carly was like that in many ways and he wasn't looking forward to seeing Michael because Carly, unlike Elizabeth, never knew when to give it a rest and just be quiet. He may not have much of an opinion about Elizabeth Corinthos because he barely knew her, but he did know she at least had a little of bit of sense about her. Sadly, he couldn't say the same thing about Carly.

Chapter 5

Her brother was avoiding her. She knew that he was busy, but business couldn't keep him away that much. Sam was commenting on the unusualness of his absence and Elizabeth was now upset. Not because he was avoiding her, but because he was neglecting his fiancée. She liked Sam, and she wasn't going to allow her future sister-in-law, and the woman who has becoming a friend to her, be hurt because of her.

The front door opened and Elizabeth looked up from her sketchpad, watching quietly as her brother finally came home. Jason Morgan was following behind him, listening to Sonny's instructions. When he saw her sitting on the couch, he signaled Sonny, causing her brother to stop talking and look over at her in surprise and a bit of alarm.


"Hi, Sonny," she smiled kindly as she stood. Looking over at Jason, she kept a friendly smile for the man she hadn't seen since he brought her to Port Charles. "Hello, Jason."

"Hi," he returned. "I'll get on the phone with Bernie and get back to you."

"Yeah," Sonny nodded. He darted a quick look over at her and she knew she was going to be dismissed. "Elizabeth, I need to talk to Jason."

She nodded as she stood. She knew that he had to conduct business, and she wouldn't interfere with that. But Elizabeth also intended to let him know she wasn't going to be put off any longer. "I understand. But I need to talk to you and I'm not going to let you avoid me anymore. So I'll go upstairs, but I will be waiting to talk."

She turned for the stairs, but stopped when her brother sighed heavily and called out to her. Turning back to him she saw him look over at Jason, weary and resigned. "We'll finish this up tomorrow. We really can't do anything until we hear from Bernie."

"Okay," the younger man accepted. "Call me tomorrow."

"Thank you," Sonny told him.

Jason merely nodded his goodbyes to both siblings and then left them alone. Elizabeth stayed quiet; she didn't know Jason very well and she didn't want to call out to him and risk upsetting her brother. She stood silently by the stairs, waiting for Sonny to speak so she could gauge his mood.

"Well?" he asked in frustration, clipping the word out. "You wanted to speak. So now that you got your way; speak!"

Elizabeth took a breath, and then tilted her chin up in defiance. "This isn't my way, Sonny. I was going to go upstairs and you know it. So don't act like I've put you out and forced Jason to leave. That was your choice. So don't order me around like I'm a dog."

Sonny lowered his eyes and looked away. "I know. I'm sorry."

He moved towards the wet bar and asked, "Do you want a drink?"

"No thanks," she shook her head as she walked back towards him cautiously.

Sitting down, Sonny held out his hand to her, inviting her to come closer. "What did you want to talk about?"

"Why are you avoiding me?"

She could tell that she'd startled him with her blunt question and made him uncomfortable. But she wasn't going to back down. When Sonny tried to look away, she reached out and forced him to look back at her by placing her hand on his cheek. "Sonny, I understand that you have to take care of things. But you've been avoiding me and Sam for the past five days. You can't be that busy."

He shook his head and Elizabeth sighed sadly, dropping her shoulders. "I won't be the reason you avoid your fiancée, Sonny. If needed, I'll move into a hotel-"

"No," he said firmly.

"Or another apartment in the building."

He didn't interrupt, but he didn't look entirely thrilled with her pronouncement.

"I'm not going to be put off," she told her brother. "But you are not going to use me as the reason you avoid your home."

"I'm not avoiding you," he tried.

She arched her brow, "Sonny, that may fly with other people. But I'm your sister. And you've been avoiding me because you know I want answers."

Elizabeth waited until he stopped looking away to put her hand on his arm and ask, "What did you see?"

For a moment, she thought he was going to not answer, or pretend that he didn't know what she was talking about. Then, he ran a hand over his face. "I...I'd woken up early that day."

"You haven't been sleeping well, have you?"

"No," he admitted. "I knew Jason had been hurt; I saw him bleeding, but didn't know where he was or how bad he was hurt. I saw it just as I was waking up and after a while I didn't even know if I'd really seen it."

Elizabeth didn't entirely believe that. Sonny probably was trying to ignore what he'd seen or downplay it because Sam was there and he still tried to keep this from her. But he was finally talking to her so Elizabeth wasn't going to push him on this. She had told him before he should tell his fiancée everything, that he could, and should, trust her since he was marrying her. Sonny was reluctant to do so, and Elizabeth didn't want to fight about this again today.

"When I was getting dressed," he continued, "I was going to wear the tie you gave me for my last birthday. The one you said reminded you of the Mozart opera."

She couldn't help the smile that tugged at her lips. Sonny was normally a monochromatic, solid color kind of guy when he wore ties. If there were patterns, they were small, subdued and conservative. Her tie had been a swirl of blues, greens, purples and even a little pink. But instead of being unhappy with her gift, he had smiled so wide his dimples had dimples. And the fact that he wore it when she wasn't around just so that she could see it, moved her.

"The moment I touched it..." he paused and closed his eyes, pain and fear falling over his face just from the memory. "I saw you, trapped in the dark and you were crying and scared. You were alone and hurt and I saw a man, one of your guards, toss you some food before he locked you back in the dark."

He squeezed her hands which trembled slightly. They both hated the dark and being locked in it. Their stepfather had done that to both of them, and it had remained a fear for them. Almost debilitating for them.

"I felt your terror and my panic and I knew it hadn't happened yet, but it would soon. I knew I had to stop it and the only person I trusted to protect you was Jason."

"Have you...have you seen other things?" she asked. She was looking at their hands, tracing the tips of her fingers over the nicks and scars he had from the fights he'd gotten into.

"No." He answered her defiantly, a trace of pride in his voice.

"Sonny," she sighed in exasperation. She stood and walked over to the wet bar, grabbing the first decanter she saw and pouring a splash of liquid into the cut crystal tumbler. "Why do you do this?"

"Do what?"

"I am not Deke. I'm not going to beat you and lock you in the closet because you saw something." Anger flashed in her brother's eyes and he clenched his jaw. "Why do you fight this all the time?"

"I'm not discussing this with you," he snapped at her and stood. "Just because you're okay with what you see and don't think you're a freak, well that's fine for you. But I'm not one, and I'm not going to act like I'm okay with what I see."

Elizabeth felt like he'd hit her; she flinched back from his angry words, her body feeling heavy and numb. She put the glass on the bar and then walked towards the door. Pausing only long enough to grab her purse, she stormed out into the hallway. Paul, the night guard, looked up in surprise as she blew past him and hit the button for the elevator.

"Elizabeth." Her brother followed her out into the hall. "Elizabeth, wait. That's not what-"

"Shut up." She turned and pointed a finger at him. "Just shut up and leave me alone, Sonny! Don't say you're sorry and that you didn't mean it. You said it!"

"'Lizbeth," he started towards her.

She stopped him with a vicious epithet and then turned for the stairs. The elevator was taking too long and she wasn't going to stay near her dear brother one moment longer.

"Elizabeth!" Sonny yelled, as the door swung closed, and she ignored his pleas for her to come back.

Jason's door opened moments after Elizabeth disappeared into the stairwell. He frowned at Sonny and asked, "What's going on?"

"Elizabeth took off."


He turned and saw Sam standing in their doorway, her robe tied tightly around her. She started towards him, concern and worry in her deep brown eyes. "What happened?"

"Elizabeth took off," he repeated. "We were talking, she got upset, and she took off."

"I'll go," Jason said. He disappeared into his penthouse only long enough to grab his keys and jacket and then he headed into the stairwell after Elizabeth.

Sam cast a sideways glance at Paul, and then walked up to Sonny and placed her hand on his arm. Gently, but insistently, she pulled him back into the penthouse. "Come on, let's go back inside."

He let himself be led back in, so that they wouldn't be having this discussion in front of the guard. Once inside, she directed him to the couch and then went to the minibar. She picked up Elizabeth's glass, looked at it curious and then set it aside.

"Don't," he said, stopped her from pouring a glass of brandy. He wasn't going to have a drink after he'd chased his sister out of the house.

Her eyebrow went up, but she put the decanter down and came to sit next to him. "What happened?" she asked quietly.

"I called her a freak."


"We were talking about the day I sent Jason down to get her. She asked me a question and I didn't like it so I lashed out."

Sighing, he rubbed a hand over his face and stood. He paced away to stare out the terrace door. Sonny knew that Elizabeth only wanted to be there for him, to help him with this because she knew that the things he saw always disturbed him and he fought against them. Instead of dealing with her question, he'd attacked her. Treated her no better than their stepfather. The echoes of Deke's words filled him, and his stomach twisted; because freak was what the older man used to call Elizabeth. Sonny had stood up to the cop when he'd berate his sister and had been locked in the closet for his efforts; now he'd used the same word against her.

"She was the one who would take care of me after our stepfather hit me. Our own mother wouldn't do it, but Elizabeth would. The two of us would band together, help each other out, try to protect one another. And what did I do tonight? I snapped at my own sister and called her a freak. All because I didn't want to answer her questions; because I didn't want to face them."

Running his hand over his face, he stared into the dark night and tried not to hate himself. "Now I have to hope that Jason and the other guards can find her."

"I know you won't come to bed," Sam said softly as she came up behind him and rubbed her hands over his arms. "Do you want me to sit up with you?"

Letting out a slow breath, he brought his right hand across his body to cover her left hand. Her ring was cool against his palm and he focused on the contrast. "Don't let me keep you if you're tired."

A kiss whispered across his back. "I'm not tired. Elizabeth is your sister, and my friend. I want to make sure she's alright."

She also wanted to make sure Sonny didn't do anything destructive, but for once he didn't call her on it or fight her. As selfish as it may be, he wanted her company since he doubted it would be a long time before Elizabeth graced him with hers.

Of all the stupid, immature things to do. Having a fight with her brother and running off without a guard; apparently his assessment of her as a bit of a flake was correct. He bounded into the lobby, full of anger, causing the guards to look at him in surprise.

"Have you seen Elizabeth Corinthos?" he demanded.

"No," they both said immediately.

"You're sure?"

"We've been here for the past fifteen minutes after Jones did a perimeter check."

Fifteen minutes. She'd passed him upstairs less than ten minutes ago. Jason knew the guards wouldn't lie, they knew Sonny's sister was top priority along with Sam. Jason accepted their answer and issued orders for someone to check outside and call the garage, and then he headed back down the stairs. She could be trying to sweet talk a guard out of car keys and he was going to stop her.

He'd just stepped off the last landing, to take the last few stairs, when he suddenly grabbed the railing and pulled himself to a stop. There, in the dim light, sat a petite figure. "Elizabeth."

A sniffle floated up, echoing off the concrete walls as she straightened up and wiped her cheeks. Slowly he walked towards her, passed her, and then sat down on the step below her. He shifted just enough so he could look at her and not strain his neck. She stubbornly refused to look at him and kept her head bent down, wiping at her cheeks with the shirtsleeves she'd pulled over her fingers.

Now that he'd suddenly found her, he wasn't sure what to say. Jason had expected to have to track her down and deal with the angry and defiant woman he'd seen when he stepped out of his penthouse. He'd heard the shouting and he'd wondered what would make his friend yell like that, especially at his sister. But now that he'd found her in tears in the stairwell, he was scrambling to find something to say to her.

"Your brother is worried about you."

She stiffened and looked at him, and in the dim light he could see the pure fury in her eyes. Apparently, mentioning her brother was the wrong thing to do.

"My brother is a bastard and if you're here to take me back, I will fight you with every trick my guards have ever taught me and a few they haven't." Her words were cold and full of venom. "So you better be prepared to fight me because I won't pull any punches."

He almost laughed, but caught himself. Somehow he figured that would anger her even more, and if she was letting him near her he didn't want to cause her to run from him. "I'm not going to fight you," he told her. "And I won't take you back to your brother's."


"But where are you going to go?" he asked.

She reached between her knees and picked up her purse. "I've got my credit cards. I figure there's a hotel in town."

"You were going to leave without a guard?"

Elizabeth raised her chin in answer to his challenge. "I'm sitting here, aren't I? Despite being upset, I know not to run off without a guard or ditch them. The guards know I'm sitting here, one of them walked by a few minutes before you arrived. I just...I wanted to compose myself before I went and asked them to check in with Sonny. But I should have figured he'd send someone after me, and of course he'd send you."

Maybe she wasn't as flaky as he thought. She hadn't rushed out impulsively, but she was clearly hurt. And hurt deeply. Surreptitiously she wiped her eyes again and he clenched his hands. What had Sonny done to make his sister run off and keep crying even though she was struggling to stop?

"So will you arrange it?" she asked him, piercing him with her broken whisper. "Please?"

Jason knew Sonny wouldn't be happy, but he found he didn't have it in him to take her back upstairs. He stood and held his hand out to her. "Do you want to get anything?"

"No," she said immediately and sharply. "No, I'll just...get what I need from the hotel."

"Okay," he said, and led her over towards the guards who were clearly watching for something near the stairs. "I'm taking Ms. Corinthos to the Port Charles Hotel. I'll call Sonny and let him know. I need you to get me the keys to a-"


He turned and saw Elizabeth by his Harley, her hands hovering appreciatively just above the chrome like a woman about to worship her lover's body. Her eyes shone with something he recognized by the feeling it evoked in him.


"Whose Harley is this?" The words rolled off her tongue like sex on a warm night. It caught him off guard when a throb began beating in his blood.

Trying to get some control back to a situation he felt was rapidly spiraling out of control he crossed his arms over his chest and bit out, "It's mine. So don't touch it."

Chapter 6

Elizabeth smirked at the blatant possessiveness that entered Jason's voice as her hands continued to hover above the gleaming chrome. She could almost feel the steel, cool and sleek against her skin. She looked up and rolled her eyes. "Stand down, Morgan. I won't touch your precious bike."

She circled it, and he mimicked the move, the motorcycle staying between them. Then, she appraised him, her artist's eye taking in all the details. Tilting her head to the side she drew in her bottom lip before releasing it on a drawl, "Yeah, it fits you. I wonder why I didn't see it sooner. The motorcycle boots that are scuffed from obvious use, not just worn as a fashion statement. The leather jacket, high quality, instead of a wool jacket that could easily cost just as much. The spiky hairdo that screams windblown instead of it-took-me-an-hour-to-look-this-mussy. You are the epitome of a Harley man, and the antithesis of my brother. When Sonny slums, it means he drives his Jaguar instead of being chauffeured in his limo."

"There's nothing wrong with that," Jason shook his head.

"I know," she countered shortly. "It's who my brother is. But I don't want to talk about him. I'd much rather talk about this gorgeous machine."

"You like motorcycles?" he asked as if he couldn't believe it.

"Motorcycles and their riders," she murmured as she turned back to the Harley. "Of course, Sonny hates it, tells me I can do better, and frowns any time I talk about it. If I didn't genuinely like them, I'd act like I did just to ruffle him. But that's not your problem; I doubt you have many problems when you have a Harley like this."

Giving it one last appreciative look, she walked towards him. "Are we leaving? Because frankly, I'm ready to be gone from Big Brother."

"Yeah," he nodded as he reached into his pocket. He didn't walk towards one of the cars that were so obviously part of Sonny's fleet, but towards the motorcycle behind her. "You want to go?"

"On that?" she asked in surprise as she turned. "Are you serious? What happened to 'don't touch or I'll break your knuckles'?"

When he raised his eyebrow, she shrugged. "Alright, so I added the last bit. But are you serious?"

All he did was jingle the keys in response. She grinned and felt like she could float away. "So if I told you that I have a motorcycle license will you let me drive?"

He leaned back, eyeing her skeptically and then laughed, "Don't push it. Nobody drives my bike but me."

Elizabeth wasn't going to risk not going on the Harley and so she quickly shut up. She would gladly take a ride on a motorcycle over one in a limo. She waited by the bike expectantly as he climbed on and then handed her a helmet to wear before he helped her climb on behind him. Moments later they were emerging from the garage and Elizabeth felt the fight with Sonny and her hurt and anger melt away into the night.

"Did you find her?"

Jason was barely inside the door when Sonny pounced with his question. Sam knew he was worried, but Sonny could have at least let the door close before asking.

"Yeah," Jason nodded as he shut the door and put his hands in his jacket pockets.

"Where was she?" Sonny asked, then frowned as he realized Elizabeth wasn't with Jason. "Where is she?"

"I found her in the stairwell on the way to the garage," Jason began. "She wasn't going to run off without a guard, she was just upset."

Sam winced. Why did Jason say that? Couldn't he see that Sonny was already upset and feeling bad? Did he have to add to the guilt his friend was already feeling? But as Sam took in the hardened jaw of her fiancé's friend, she wondered if that's exactly what Jason was doing. While part of Sam appreciated Jason's quick defense of Elizabeth and his desire to take Sonny to task for yelling at a woman, this was not the time for such a dressing down.

Sam stood in the hopes of getting Jason's attention. When his eyes flickered over to her she looked at him intently, and brushed the side of her nose and shook her head deliberately. Then she turned away and went to the wet bar and poured Sonny a glass of water. He didn't need any alcohol right now and she hoped that if she was the one supplying him with drinks he would be distracted enough to accept the water. Sam knew that sometimes it was just the weight of a glass in his hand he craved, and if she could provide that, maybe he wouldn't need to seek out liquor.

With the glass in hand, she walked over to Sonny and pressed it into his grasp. She ran her hand over his back and was relieved to feel a little tension seep out of him. Softly she cleared her throat and asked Jason, "Where is Elizabeth?"

He softened his own stance and answered, "I took her to the Port Charles Hotel. I put Max outside the penthouse suite I rented for her and Johnny will relieve him in a few hours. Then I'll go back in the morning and talk to her."

Sonny swallowed a sip of water and then let out a relieved breath. "She's safe?"

"I rented the entire floor," Jason assured him. "She knows not to leave without a guard. That's why she stopped on the stairs; she was going to ask to be taken to a hotel, she was just upset and trying to calm down."

Sam felt the guilt wash over Sonny as he looked away. "So she'll come home tomorrow?"

Now it was Jason's turn to look away as he scratched his cheek with his thumb. "I don't know."

Sighing, Sam knew this was going to be difficult to resolve. Somehow she'd known Elizabeth wouldn't just going to come running back home after tonight. She was an adult, something that she knew Sonny wasn't deliberately trying to ignore, but that he sometimes had a hard time accepting. Elizabeth was, and always would be, his baby sister. While she might have grown up, pursued a career and wasn't living with him the majority of her time, and hadn't for years, when she was in town Sonny's perspective always changed.

He wanted her close, which meant under his roof. She once again became the little girl that Sonny protected and stepped in between her and Deke's fists when their stepfather hit her after the little girl cried, and wouldn't stop, because she didn't like the paint in her bedroom. She had refused to sleep in the room assigned to her in the family's new apartment. She said it tasted bad and when she wouldn't just shut up and go to sleep like Deke insisted, he'd hit her. Then he'd hit her again when she cried about that. Their mother had stood by, and finally tried to cajole Elizabeth into the bedroom, but she never tried to stop her husband. It had been Sonny who stood up and defended his sister, and he would always be that preteen boy protecting his crying, little sister.

But Sam also knew what Sonny had said to Elizabeth during their fight and she knew that the other woman had insisted she would not come between Sam and Sonny. With all that pressing on her, Elizabeth wouldn't be coming back tomorrow. And maybe not ever again. While Sam wouldn't blame her, she also knew it would crush Sonny and would add to his already precarious mental state.

"You don't know?" Sonny repeated.

"She was upset," Jason rubbed again at his cheek.

"Maybe I should go see her tomorrow," Sam volunteered. "Just see how she's feeling. Who knows," she tried to be positive, "she may be ready to see you."

"Or maybe not," Sonny sighed dejectedly.

Sam looked at Jason, her eyes thanking him for all he'd done, but also pleading with him to go now. "Will you call me when you go over to see her?" she asked him.

He nodded and looked over at Sonny, but she shook her head. Sonny just needed to be left alone with her right now, and thankfully Jason understood that. He quietly let himself out and Sam wrapped her arm around Sonny and hoped they could make it through tonight.

Jason walked into his penthouse and rubbed the back of his neck tiredly. Slipping off his jacket, he draped it over his desk chair and tossed his keys by the phone. It was late and he wanted to get some sleep before he had to go back to the PC Hotel and see what frame of mind Elizabeth was in.

He had meant to take her straight to the hotel, but it hadn't worked out that way. She hadn't been playing him when she said she liked motorcycles. Once they were on the road, he felt a change in her. She moved with him and the machine seamlessly. She wasn't stiff and uncomfortable like his ex-girlfriend Robin, and she didn't use the ride as an excuse to mold herself up against him and sexually tease him in a prolonged attempt at foreplay all on the road to seduction like Carly. Elizabeth held on, but not too tight, and it was comfortable and relaxed.

Because she clearly had been so upset earlier, Jason made the unconscious decision to keep her relaxed, maybe even try to cheer her up. At a stoplight, he braced his legs against the pavement and then took off his leather jacket. She looked at him in confusion when he told her to put it on, but she complied and donned the article of clothing. Once she had it on, zipped and her arms were back around him, he turned in the opposite direction of the hotel and headed out of Port Charles. Her squeal of delight told him he'd done the right thing.

They rode up the cliffs and when they stopped at the old bridge he was surprised at how brightened her eyes were. It wasn't from tears like earlier that night; it was from pure, unadulterated joy. He'd seen anger, worry, defiance, but never such happiness in the short time he'd known her. Seeing her face so bright and gleeful he was reminded of how much younger than her brother Elizabeth was.

Jason didn't ask her questions, he didn't even try to get her to talk. He felt she didn't want to discuss what happened, and he didn't know her well enough to do anything but follow her lead. Her body language conveyed her earlier anger and her desire for silence now, and he stood quietly by as she looked around. Eventually, though, almost as if she couldn't stand to be still and not talk, she began to babble.

What she said didn't make much sense to him, and didn't reveal much that he didn't already know. She'd fought with Sonny and now she was upset. Her words were disjointed and halted more than they actually went forward, but she did say one thing that caught his attention and gave him a clue about what happened.

"How could he call me that?"

Jason looked over at her curiously. She had been quiet for several minutes and the words were soft and tortured, barely floating up into the night. "What?"

"Deke used to say that. How could Sonny-" Abruptly she stopped, looked over at him and then turned away in a mixture of shame and embarrassment.

Deke. Jason knew about Sonny's abusive stepfather, and knew what the cop had done to his friend. That Taggert admired the man didn't entirely surprise Jason, given that Taggert was an idiot. But even though Jason knew Sonny had a younger sister, he'd never thought about what Deke might have done to her. It sounded like he'd been verbally abusive towards least. Whatever Sonny had said, it upset Elizabeth deeply because it mimicked what the older man had once called her. It made Jason wonder if Deke had also hit Elizabeth like he had Sonny, and if he had, it was no wonder his friend had hated, and killed, his stepfather.

Jason felt protective towards Elizabeth, and had even contemplated staying in one of the other suites at the hotel just because he didn't want to leave her alone. Then he told himself he was being ridiculous. Elizabeth would be inside her room all night, she probably wouldn't even be aware he was staying in the hotel. Just because they'd spent a few days together and had shared a motorcycle ride didn't make them friends. Why would she confide in him or want him around?

Jason would look out for her like he did Sam; as Sonny's family they deserved that from Jason. And if Elizabeth did not want to be around her brother, then Jason would step in, if necessary, to get his friend to calm down and give her a little space. But that all hinged on how Elizabeth felt, and there was no point in thinking about it anymore tonight. Because he had no idea how she would react to a situation, and he already had one woman in his life that gave him a headache trying to predict how she'd react at any given time. He didn't need to start doing the same over Elizabeth Corinthos.

"Are you going to come to bed?"

Sonny shook his head as he stared into the fire. He lifted his hand towards the stairs and told Sam, "Go ahead. It's late and you're probably tired. You get some sleep."

She stepped just into the periphery of his vision and even though he wanted to ignore her, he turned his head. "Sonny," she coaxed, "don't do this. She's safe, and I'll talk to her tomorrow. If she does want to talk to you, then you need to be rested. You know how the two of you can get, don't take a chance by being tired."

Everything Sam said was logical, and it bugged him. Because he didn't want someone to be rational around him. He deserved to be yelled at, told he was horrible and awful after what he said to his sister. He knew Sam would never do that, and while she wasn't patronizing towards him, he hated that she was being so rational and controlled. So he did what he always did in these situations; if nobody would punish him, he'd do it himself.

"She's not going to see me," he shook his head. "We both know that. So what does it matter if I sleep tonight or not?"

"Sonny, don't do this," Sam repeated, this time her voice outright pleading with him. "You'll apologize and tell Elizabeth you never meant what you said. She'll see the truth and she'll forgive you. Now, it may not be tomorrow, but she will forgive you. She's your sister and the two of've been through so much together, and you were all the other one had for so long. You won't lose her over this and you know it."

"I want..." He trailed off and swallowed roughly. His voice felt rusty and broken, and if it had been anybody else he wouldn't have continued on because he wouldn't be weak in front of them. "I want so badly to believe that. But my heart and my head...they're fighting each other. I'm scared. I can't lose her, Sam."

She sat beside him immediately and ran her hand soothingly over his arm. "You won't, Sonny. You've never lost her before and you won't now."

Her small hand came up and smoothed over his worried brow. "You won't do yourself, or her, any good by staying up all night to punish yourself and convince yourself you deserve it."

"Sam," he sighed. He loved her and he appreciated all she was trying to do, but he just wanted to left alone.

"No," she stopped him, her voice firmer now. "I'm not leaving you alone right now, Sonny. So if you plan on staying down here, then so will I. But I'd rather you came upstairs."

When he gave her a dubious look, she rolled her eyes. "Mind out of the gutter, Corinthos. I just want to hold you tonight. So what's it going to be?"

If they went upstairs and lay down, she might eventually fall asleep and get some rest. So he stood and helped her to her feet. Turning off the gas fireplace, he then held out his hand to her and together they ascended the stairs. If he was going to be awake all night, at least he could have the comfort of Sam beside him.

Chapter 7

Jason pulled open his front door expecting to see Sam since he'd just called her and told her he was going to the PC Hotel, but instead saw Carly standing on his doorstep. His brow furrowed at her unexpected appearance. She was hardly ever up this early, and that was usually only when there was an early bird sale at Wyndham's. So why was she here now and what was she up to?

"Jason," she smiled brightly. She started to take a step forward, but stopped when he didn't lower his arm to create an entrance for her.

"What do you want, Carly?" he asked.

Pouting, she tipped her head so she could then bat her eyelashes at him. He knew she did these things to try to entice him or get him to feel sorry for her. They didn't work, but he never told her that or that he knew what she was doing.

"Aren't you going to let me in?" she asked, keeping the pout going.

"No," he shook his head. "I was on my way out."


Sighing, he rubbed his temple. "Carly, you know how this goes. I can't talk about work, so why do you ask?"

"Work?" she raised her brow dubiously. "At this time?"

"There are no fixed hours," he told her pointedly. "You know that, so why do you do this all the time? Why are you here and what do you want?"

"I wanted to see if you were free today and wanted to have breakfast with me and Michael. Then Michael was hoping we could go to the zoo. You know how much he loves watching the giraffes and elephants." She paused and then continued in a wistful, but clearly manipulative tone. "He may not remember the stories you read him when he was a baby, but you helped shape his interests. He loves the Africa travel book you gave him, and looking at animals found there."

Jason sighed. She did this, he knew she did, and always would; yet he found himself being pulled in. He loved Michael, more than he ever thought possible. It didn't matter to Jason that Michael wasn't his biological child; Michael was his in all the ways that mattered. He had agreed to say he was the father of Carly's baby because he knew how A.J. and the rest of the Quartermaines would be. They would see her child as a fresh opportunity, someone they could mold into however they wanted him to be. Edward had always thought A.J. was a screw-up and worthless, not competent enough to run ELQ, but with the possibility of a new heir for him to shape in his image, that would all change.

So Jason had given Michael his name, and he provided for him and Carly, and he did it because it felt it was the best thing for Michael. The little boy shouldn't be used as a pawn by the Quartermaines, and yet Jason - despite what Sonny and Sam thought - wasn't insensible to the irony that Carly used Michael as a pawn again him. She played on his love for her son, and gloated at her power over him.

The problem was that Jason didn't know how to counter Carly or stand up to her. Because if he resisted too much or pushed back too hard she would begin with the threats. Maybe he didn't want to be Michael's father anymore. Maybe she and Michael should leave, or maybe she should tell A.J. the truth. Because he knew it would hurt Michael, and because he knew Carly would regret doing it and then do something stupid and destructive, he would do what he could to keep her happy. He knew he was playing into her hands, and knew she knew it as well.

He couldn't give in just to placate her this morning, though. Jason needed to go over to the hotel and check on Elizabeth because he had promised her he wouldn't let Sonny show up on her door unless she wanted to see him. If Jason didn't go now, Sonny would get anxious, and do something stupid and then Jason would have to deal with his boss, who was already teetering on the brink, falling completely into a dark place and that wouldn't be good for business. If he was busy putting out fires before they burned out of control he'd have even less time to be with Michael. So he had to do this today, now, because taking care of Sonny and his family sometimes did come before his own. Not knowing how long this whole thing could take, or if Elizabeth would even talk to Sam, he couldn't offer to meet Carly and Michael later.

"You should have called, Carly," he sighed. He'd said it before, and he knew it wouldn't take, and he'd have to say it again. Because she'd ignore it because she knew it was harder for Jason to say no in person than over the phone. Carly knew it, and she played it because she was selfish. He'd long ago accepted it as the way she was, even if it drove him crazy.

"I have to go," he told her gently, hoping to avoid a fight with her. "I'm sorry. I'll call you and try to schedule a day at the zoo another time. But I've got..."

Sonny's door opened and Sam stepped out into the hallway and Jason trailed off. She looked over at the pair in the doorway, and Jason was grateful that she didn't say anything; just pressed the elevator button and stepped on with her guard. He knew she'd wait down in the garage for him, but she'd decided not to antagonize the situation with Carly.

The blonde watched Sam board the elevator and then turned back to Jason with a sneer. "She's up early. Is your business with her?"

"Don't," Jason shook his head. "Carly, you should have called. I have to leave; I have things that I have to do and I need to go."

"Fine," she huffed. "I'll just tell Michael you're too busy and hopefully he'll understand."

"Maybe you shouldn't promise him I'll be there until you talk to me," he bit out. He hated when she did this. He did feel guilty for disappointing Michael, even though he wasn't the one making the promises. "You know that, Carly."

"Come on, Jason," she sighed, putting her hand on his chest. "You're his father. Of course he wants to spend time with you."

"I see him nearly every day," he said, feeling anger rise in him.

"Sometimes it's only for half an hour before bed," she shot back at him. "How that being there for him?"

Jason grabbed his jacket and keys and stepped out, forcing her to step back. He locked his door and then started for the elevator. He looked over at her, his blue eyes locked on her pouting brown ones, and said tersely, "Don't start on this, Carly. I'm his father and I love him, and if I'm so bad then I guess we'll have to discuss what to do in the future and if you want to change it."

The elevator arrived and he allowed her to step on. Then he reached in, pressed the button for the lobby, and stepped back. She looked at him in betrayal as the doors closed and she disappeared behind them. Then Jason turned and for the second time in twelve hours he pounded down the stairs to the garage. This time he needed to work off some of his anger before he met with Sam and headed over to see Sonny's sister.

Carly kept calm as she exited the elevator into the lobby even though inside she was seething. Jason was lying to her. He wasn't heading off to an assignment for Sonny Corinthos; he was meeting someone. A woman.

She had smelled perfume on Jason, maybe from his jacket, as he'd stood refusing to let her into his house. The house she and Michael should be sharing with him. Her fingers clenched around the keys in her hand as she walked to her car. Jason better not have had some little tramp in the place. Maybe that had been why he wouldn't let her come in. But she had discarded that idea when he locked the door; Jason would never leave someone else in his house.

When he'd put Carly in the elevator and leaned past her to punch the button, she'd looked on his collar and neck for lipstick or marks, but didn't see any. She did, however, get another whiff of the perfume clinging to him. It was a scent she'd never smelled before, and Carly loved perfume. She had her favorites, and she eagerly collected samples of new ones. So the perfume wasn't hers and it wasn't that hussy Sam's. What was the perfume, who wore it, and how, when and why was it transferred to Jason's jacket? It was eating at her.

Carly could have asked Jason, but he would have lied to her. Or just not answered her question. She didn't think Jason could, or would, lie - especially to her, but Carly recalled that he was lying for her. So he was being deceitful and it couldn't really be that big of a stretch to conclude he was lying to her.

Sitting in her car and watching the exit to the underground garage, Carly waited. When Jason came out she was going to follow him. And when she had proof that he was cheating on her she'd confront him. Then she'd demand he end the affair immediately and let her and Michael move in with him or she'd take Michael away. While he may balk and he may not love her, he did love her son. And once they were all living together again he would grow to love her once more. She'd remind him of how good they were together, and she knew he wouldn't be able to resist her in the end.

Then Carly would finally get everything she wanted.

As she watched the exit, she leaned forward when one limo emerged and turned onto the street heading away from her and another one appeared right behind it. That one signaled to turn in the opposite direction of the first limo. Frowning, she leaned forward even more and glared at the cars. Jason rarely rode in a limo, but two of them were leaving simultaneously. One had to be Sam and one had to be Jason. Where was he meeting his little tramp at that he needed a limo?

Carly dismissed the first car; Jason was a gentleman and would let Sam go first. He would obviously be in the second one, so she waited for it to pass her, started her car and executed a u-turn out of her parking spot so she could follow Jason. He may be trying to fool her that he was really on business, but she knew better. The limo wound its way away from the waterfront - where his business would be - and into the upscale business district near the Port Charles Hotel.

It pulled to a stop in front of the French bakery she had told Jason about. If he was going there to pick up something for his little tart she was going to be very angry. That was their place. She bought treats for them to share and she could not believe he was doing this to her. Using her find to romance someone else.

Then the driver stepped out and opened the door...and Sam McCall exited the limo. Carly's eyes went wide and she hit the steering wheel as she cursed in anger and frustration. As Sam flounced to the door, her hooker curls bouncing behind her, she paused on the sidewalk. Turning, she looked directly over at Carly and smirked as she waved a mocking of a greeting. Then she continued on into the store and Carly sat fuming in her car. Now she had no idea where Jason had gone and Carly was going to have to find a new pastry shop. There was no way she was going to frequent the place after Sam had tainted it with her presence.

Elizabeth had expected Jason to show up much earlier in the morning. Maybe he figured she was a late riser like her brother, or that she'd be tired after the night before. Or maybe he just got a late start to the day. Whatever the reason, by the time he did call to say he was coming over, room serving was already clearing her breakfast tray and she was bored by the drivel on TV. So by the time he finally showed up, she was ready to get this meeting over with.

Finally, she heard the knock on the door and she opened it to see Jason standing there conversing with the guard who had practically frightened the bellboy this morning when her breakfast had arrived. They ceased talking at her appearance and Elizabeth contemplated an annoyed retort, but let the thought die. Jason was just trying to keep her safe and help her out when she'd all but forced him in the middle of her situation with Sonny. And he'd taken her riding for hours on his bike last night; he didn't have to do that and she wasn't going to repay his kindness with snippy comments.

"Morning," she smiled politely at him. "Come on in."

He followed behind her until they reached the living room of the suite and then took a seat when she did.

"So," she said with a raise of her brows after a few moments of silence.

"I told you I'd come by this morning to see how you were and what you wanted to do."

"And here you are." When he didn't say anything else she realized it was going to be up to her. "I'm not moving back in with Sonny."

He quirked an eyebrow, but didn't say anything.

"I think it's best for everyone if I get my own place. I love my brother, but living with him long-term isn't something I want to do; even without the fight. So I guess we need to find me a place to live."

"Yeah," he nodded. Then offered, "We own several floors at the Towers. Some of the guards live there, some are just empty on the floors we have for security reasons. We can move you into one of them."

"That's fine," she agreed. "I thought that might be your suggestion. It keeps me close, and most of all, you can control the security with few problems. So until it's ready, can I stay here?"

Jason scratched one eyebrow with his thumb. "Yeah. It shouldn't take more than a couple of days to get one of the units ready. Do you want to choose your apartment?'

She thought for a moment, weighing whether or not she wanted to turn one of the rooms into a studio. She was picky about where she worked, but she'd give it a try. "Sure," she nodded at last. "You give me several options, and I'll make the final decision."

"Do you want me to tell Sonny?" he asked, the first time this whole meeting was anything but cold and impersonal.

"No," Elizabeth shook her head wearily. "I'll tell him. I'll..."

"Sam's waiting downstairs to talk to you," he told her when she faltered for words and went silent. "She thought you might not want to talk to Sonny but would talk to her."

She laughed slightly. "Yeah, I'm not really ready to face Sonny; at least not at the penthouse."

"I'll call her." Pulling out his cell phone he called her brother's fiancée and then closed his phone.


He looked up at her soft voice. "Yeah?"

"Thank you. I know you probably don't understand any of this and you hardly know me, but thank you for not pressing me last night, or this morning. And," she let a grin tease her lips, "thank you for the ride last night; it really helped."

"You're welcome," he told her gently.

"I don't want to put you in the middle of me and my brother, but I just wanted you to know that I appreciated you listening to me and not just doing what he told you. I know few people in Port Charles and last almost felt like a friend."

She thought she might have actually embarrassed him with her words, or maybe she just made him unduly uncomfortable. She wasn't sure and she didn't get a chance to find out because Sam knocked on the door. He followed Elizabeth as she went to let her almost-sister-in-law in and she had a feeling he'd leave now that Sam was here. She felt oddly alone at that thought.

"Hello, Elizabeth," Sam said as she gave her a hug. Then she looked over at Jason and rolled her eyes. "You were right. She followed me to the bakery and looked furious when she saw it was me."

Jason sighed, his shoulders sagging as if someone had just dropped a sack of bricks on them. Pinching the bridge of his nose he said, "I figured she wouldn't just go home."

"You should talk to her, Jason."

"I need to look into apartments at the Towers for Elizabeth."

Sam looked over at Elizabeth sharply and she didn't know if it was because of the information or because of the woman they were talking about. "Jason, if you need to deal with something, an extra day won't matter."

He shook his head at her, "It's Carly. And right now I'm upset with her and don't want to get into it in front of Michael. Look...I need to go."

Both women nodded their understanding. Turning to Sam he asked, "Can you make sure Elizabeth has my numbers?"

"Sure," she answered, a bit of puzzlement in her voice.

"You can all me if you need anything," Jason told Elizabeth. "Even just to talk."

Then he was out the door and Sam turned towards Elizabeth, a curious smile quirking the corners of her mouth. "What was that about?"

"He was kind last night and just let me talk," she shrugged. "I guess he's just being nice and offering to listen again if I need it."

"That's Jason," Sam smiled brightly. "He's a great listener and a very nice friend. But what's this about moving? That's going to crush Sonny, you know."

"It's not my intention, Sam," she sighed as she walked away from the door and over to a window looking out over the city. "But I just think it's for the best. For all of us. You guys need your space...and so do I."

"You're pretty angry at him, aren't you?"

"I'm more hurt than angry," she clarified. "Even if it didn't mean it...he still said it. He could have been talking about himself, but he knows that's the word Deke used to say to me."

"Elizabeth," Sam said gently. "He's beating himself up over this."

"I figured he would," she sighed. "That's why I can't really be angry. He'll do it for both of us. I just...Sam, I need my own space. Sonny and I will do better if we're not living together. And then he won't avoid you anymore just because of me."

Turning back towards the other woman she said, "Trust me, Sam. It's really better this way."

Sam frowned slightly, her displeasure clear. "I don't really like it, but that's also because I like having you around."

"I'll still be around, and we'll keep planning your wedding," Elizabeth smiled. She wanted to soften the blow, and she also liked knowing that Sam didn't just tolerate her because she was Sonny's sister.

"So, should I pack some things for you?"

"I'd appreciate it," she said gratefully. "And when you come can bring Sonny? I'll talk to him, but I don't want to come back to the penthouse."

Chapter 8

"Are you sure this is what you want?"

Elizabeth glanced at him with a look that conveyed her irritation without actually rolling her eyes. However, Sonny did feel properly scolded by her huff and arched eyebrow. "Yes, Sonny," she said with long-suffering patience that was nearly at its end. "I'm sure. Now, are you going to let me pay rent?"

No way. His sister was not going to pay rent on a place he was already in ownership of. Especially since it was his fault she was moving out in the first place. If he hadn't lost his temper and lashed out at her, she wouldn't have felt the need to run. He hadn't meant the word, and he hadn't actually directed it at her, but the word freak had been used, and he knew it had hurt her.

Deke had taken great delight in telling her she was a freak and that she should be locked away because she was different. Nobody else talked like she did, saying they could see colors when music played, or heard paintings like a band. Their stepfather had threatened to beat her deformity out of her, and Sonny had always stepped in to deflect the blows and draw them to him.

If their mother wasn't going to protect her children, especially her daughter, then Sonny would. And he had. Sonny had learned to defend himself and Elizabeth by getting fighting tips from the older kids in the neighborhood, and he became quite good at it. Sonny had been his sister's biggest defender, and he had hurt her by blindly lashing out.

"Elizabeth," he sighed, "I own the apartment. I don't need the money, and I'm not going to take money from my baby sister."

Her eyebrows went up once again, this time in a decidedly stubborn tilt. "Sonny, I have money and either you take the rent, or I move somewhere else."

"Fine," he sighed after a moment and rubbed his hand over his eyes. She was going to give him a headache and it wasn't even noon yet. "I'll take the rent."

He would have Benny put it in a high yield interest account and slowly funnel it back into her personal accounts. If she was going to be stubborn, then he would show her they were certainly related. He could understand her paying for her utilities, but there was absolutely no reason for her to pay him for something he'd already purchased. He didn't need the money and he wasn't going to have her waste hers for his own folly.

"Good," she smiled. "I'm glad we understand each other."


Perhaps he'd agreed too easily, because his sister tilted her head to the side and eyed him suspiciously. "Hey," he smiled, spreading his arms out. "I believe that you'd go someplace else and I want you in my building. So I'm agreeing, even though I really don't like it."

Elizabeth sighed and ran her hands through her hair, twisting it into a messy knot to get it out of her face. "I know you don't like this, Sonny, but I'm not doing this to punish you."

He swallowed and looked away. That may not be what she was doing, but it felt like it. He felt like he'd failed her, like he'd become one of the people she had to hide from instead of her brother she could count on.

"You and I," she went on, "we just don't do well in long periods of togetherness. We're both independent, used to getting our own ways, and we know how to push each other's buttons."

"'Lizbeth." The word was heavy and full of penitence.

She placed her hand on his arm, the first time she'd touched him since that night almost a week ago, and smiled at him. "Please stop. You know I'm right and that it's really better this way. I'll be close enough that you can keep constant watch on me, but I'll have my own space. I can spread out, have paint brushes all over the place, play my music as loud as I want and stay up painting until four in the morning without disturbing anyone."

"You are never a disturbance to me," he told her, his voice dropping a notch. Slowly he reached out, almost afraid she'd pull away from him, and placed his hand on her shoulder. When she didn't stiffen or move away, he pulled her into a hug and felt tears burn his eyes when her arms came up hesitantly around him.

"I love you, Nito," she told him, using her childhood nickname for him.

"I love you, too, 'Lizbeth."

She sniffed and pulled back, turning briefly to wipe at her cheeks. When she looked back, she spread her arms out and asked, "So, do you like it?"

The apartment had come furnished, but she had swapped out a few things and had already added touches of color to put her unique stamp on it. Sonny knew she wanted this to just be temporary, to be able to return to her house down on the island, but she was accepting that she could be in Port Charles for a little while so she was working to make herself comfortable. In no time, he was certain, Elizabeth would make this place completely hers. He decided in that moment, that this apartment would always be hers. Whenever she came to Port Charles to visit, she could have this place to stay in instead of his guest room.

"Yeah," he smiled, putting his arm around her shoulder. "I like it."

"Good. Now that I'm settled in, it's time to turn our attention to you."

He looked at her in question, "Me? What do you mean?"

"Sonny, do you love Sam?"

"Of course I do," he nearly scowled at her. "Why would you ask that?"

She shrugged innocently and then crossed the room. He knew she was doing this deliberately and he worked to remain patient and not become angry at the impertinent question.

"How long have you been dating Sam?"

"Almost two years."

"And living with her for how long?"

"About a year."

Folding her arms over her chest, she asked, "And how long have you been engaged?"

Sonny thought for a moment, "Four months."

"Well then, Sonny," she circled back close to him, pausing to rock forward on her feet, "don't you think it's time to set a wedding date? Sam's been patient, but I think it's time you showed her you were serious."

"I am serious," he insisted on a growl.

"Then why not set a date?" his sister asked. "Sam can't pick a dress or order flowers because she doesn't know if she's having a winter or summer wedding. Should she choose spring or fall colors? See what I mean?"

"Alright, alright," he chuckled as he held up his hands. "I'll talk to Sam tonight and we'll pick a date."

"Good," Elizabeth grinned with a satisfied bob of her head. "Then I'll have something useful to do when I'm stuck on a painting. So go," she shooed him out the door with her hands. "Go."

"Yes, ma'am," he smirked, and told her good-bye.

Then he stepped out into the hallway and nodded at the guard on the door. He clapped his hand on the man's shoulder, "Keep my sister safe, Francis."

"Yes, Mr. Corinthos. You know I will."

Sonny smiled with surety. "I know."

With one last look at Elizabeth's door, and feeling better - like he and his sister might be able to work things out - he boarded the elevator. His sister was right; it was time to set a wedding date with Sam. He knew they could have The No Name for the reception any time they wanted it, and he knew Father Coates would work with them to get a date at Queen of Angels and wouldn't argue about security. He had a smile on his face when the elevator stopped at the penthouse level, ready to sit down with Sam and get this all started.

"Hello, Andrew," he greeted the guard on his door and touched his shoulder on the way inside his home. He quickly drew his hand away like he'd touched a live wire, but didn't react beyond a nod to the man as the guard went to close the door.

Once it was closed, Sonny took a deep breath and clutched the edge of the desk. He forced himself to remain still and not open the door and beat Andrew into the ground. Once his fear and anger were reined in, he picked up the phone and punched in Jason's number.


"Jason, I need to see you right away."

"What is it?" the younger man immediately asked, giving Sonny his full attention.

"Andrew's on my door, but..." He paused and took a breath. "Something's not right with him; we need to investigate him and get him off my door."

"I'm on it," Jason promised. "I'll be over there as soon as I can."

"Thank you," Sonny said in relief. Knowing that Jason was now dealing with it helped him released the edge of the desk and relax somewhat. It didn't negate the danger Andrew posed, but at least he knew the situation would be dealt with quickly.

As Jason hung up the phone he knew, without even looking, that Carly was going to be angry. He had told her he'd cleared the day with Sonny so that he'd be able to spend it with Michael. But he'd also told her that if an emergency came up he would have to go. Well, something had come up, and he did have to go.

After slipping his cell phone back into his pocket, he turned around to meet the furious gaze of Carly. "No way," she declared. "No, Jason. You promised."

"Carly, Sonny wouldn't have called unless it was an emergency." And it was. If a guard who was supposed to be protecting Sonny and Sam's door was on someone else's payroll then he needed to be reassigned and watched while they investigated him. And it couldn't wait.

"Everything with Sonny is an emergency," she sneered. "And it's especially an emergency when you're here with your family."

Getting tired of this argument and needing to leave, Jason huffed out a sigh. "That's not true and you know it. Sonny will often call other men when I'm over here visiting Michael or he's at my penthouse. He called because there's something going on and I need to be involved."

"Yeah, fine, whatever," Carly waved her hand dismissively. "You just keep blindly believing perfect Sonny Corinthos can do no wrong. When are you going to realize that he doesn't want you to be with your family? He hates us."

"Sonny doesn't hate Michael," Jason shook his head, "and he doesn't call just to take me away from my son. I'm going to go see him before I go."

Jason bounded up the stairs quietly, and then slowly opened the door to Michael's room. The little boy was having his nap and Jason's shoulders relaxed as he looked down at his son. Biology didn't matter to Jason, and he didn't regret his decision to claim Michael; he knew how the Quartermaines would treat him and he was trying to spare Michael of going through what he had when he woke up from his coma. Sometimes he wished he could see the little boy more, but he knew it wasn't possible. Carly wanted more than he could give her, and so he kept this living arrangement so she didn't get the wrong impression. Not that it didn't stop her from trying to get more out of days like this and getting upset when he had to go. Even if Sonny hadn't called him away today, she would have picked a fight; no matter when he left, it would have been too soon for her.

He resisted the urge to brush his hand over the little boy's red hair; he didn't want to disturb Michael's nap. The toddler was a light sleeper sometimes and it wasn't worth waking him up just so Jason could say good-bye. With a regretful sigh, because he didn't know how busy he'd be and when he'd get to see his son again, Jason turned and closed the door. When he got downstairs, Carly was sitting on the couch, angrily flipping through a magazine to show her displeasure.

"I'm not sure when I'll be able to come by," he said, stuffing his hands in his pockets. "But I'll call you."

"Yeah, sure," she replied without looking up. He knew she was trying to pick a fight and he wasn't going to let her goad him.

"Listen," he told her. "I'm going to put an extra guard on the house. He'll go with you anywhere you go. Do me a favor and please don't fight them and don't ditch them. There are some things going on and I want to make sure you and Michael are safe."

She looked up at him, and he could tell by the confusion and concern that flickered across her face, dispelling some of the anger, that he'd gotten through to her. For whatever her faults were, and Jason knew she had them, there was no denying the fact that Carly loved her son. If Jason was assigning her an extra guard and asking her to be careful, he knew she would.

"I have to go," he said, and then reached for his jacket before leaving her house.

As he drove toward the waterfront and the penthouse, Jason wondered how Sonny knew that Andrew needed to be investigated. Benny and Stan were always running random checks on the different employees, but every-so-often, Sonny would tell them to look into someone in particular. Those checks always turned up information of a questionable nature that resulted in the man being dealt with.

Andrew had been with them for two years, he'd always passed every investigation and he had ties to the Doyle family in Chicago. Sam knew him from her father; it was how he had become one of her guards. For a man like Andrew to turn meant he wasn't just betraying their organization, but the Doyle's as well. Jason knew they were still loyal to Sonny; Joseph Doyle considered Sam one of his own children, he was even her godfather so there was no way he would do anything that would put her in jeopardy.

When he reached the parking garage, Jason called Johnny, their head bodyguard, and told him he needed to pull Andrew and send someone else over to Sonny's. Johnny knew the code and would handle the situation. Guards were always being rotated, sometimes in the middle of their shifts, so no one questioned when Johnny called with a new assignment. Andrew would be reassigned to an area where he couldn't create much conflict, and his two co-guards he thought were helping him on the assignment would actually be watching him.

While he was being watched, Benny and Stan would concentrate their research efforts on the guard until he was either exonerated or they unearthed something on him. Given Sonny's track record, Jason knew it would be the latter. Once they figured out what Andrew was up to and with whom, Jason would eliminate the threat and send a message. Don't betray Sonny or this will happen to you as well.

Once the call to Benny was made, Jason boarded the elevator and went up the fifteen stories to the Penthouse level. He didn't go to his apartment, though, he turned towards Sonny's and was surprised to see Francis standing beside Andrew. Francis had been assigned to Elizabeth, so that meant she was inside Sonny's. He must have had Sam invite her up so Francis could come and keep an eye on Andrew until he was reassigned.

"I need to see him," Jason told Andrew as he approached. Keeping his words short, clipped and all business conveyed that this was a situation. It would help Andrew accept Johnny's call easier; he would feel that he was being trusted to help out with something important.

"Of course," Andrew nodded and knocked on the door before opening it. "Mr. Morgan's here."

Jason stepped into the room and waited until the door was shut. "I called Benny and Johnny; they'll get started on it right away."

"Sorry I had to call you," his friend said regretfully. "I know you planned on spending the day with Michael."

"It's okay," he told him. "I know it's important. If Andrew's turned, then we need to deal with it right away."

"I want to know who's coming after me and my family," Sonny said, emphasizing his frustration by hitting the arm of the chair with his fist. "Less than two weeks after you saved my sister from men who were about to turn her over to someone, we still can't find out who. They won't give up the name despite every persuasion technique we've used. We can't unravel the paper trail, despite knowing they were getting payoffs from someone."

Sonny launched himself angrily out of his chair and paced across the room. "How is it possible? How can my men not find out who's paying these snakes?!"

"We'll find it," Jason said, despite not knowing when that would happen. Hopefully it would be before someone got hurt. "Benny's said his brother Bernie might be available to help out. Maybe we should bring in some extra manpower on this."

"Yeah," Sonny sighed wearily. "Maybe. Have Benny talk to him."

"Okay," he nodded. "In the meantime, we'll rotate the guards more. Double people up. It's all we can do, until we finally crack someone and get them to talk."

His friend flexed his hand before rubbing it over his face in frustration and helplessness. "Yeah...I guess so."

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