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Chapter 1

"Jason Morgan must die," Sonny growled into the phone.

Claudia Zacharra Corinthos paused outside the door to the room and smiled in pleasure and relief. Her husband was finally going to follow her suggestion. Jason would die, and she would be safe.

Her husband's enforcer was a relentless man and he was absolutely determined to prove that she was responsible for Michael Corinthos' shooting, and he was especially determined to make her pay for it. While she was the person who had hired Ian Devlin, the hit hadn't been for the little boy in the warehouse. Sonny was supposed to pay for what he'd done to her brother Johnny. Devlin was a fool for taking the shot while there was a child present, and Sonny was a fool for sending all the guards away. While Claudia had provided the money, she was not completely responsible for what happened to the boy.

She felt awful for Michael's injuries, but Morgan would never believe that. He was determined to make someone pay and he wasn't content with the fact that he'd killed Devlin. Of course, he would never blame Sonny for not having guards and for being so stupidly arrogant to believe that just because he declared he was out of the mob that nobody would ever come after him. And of course, Morgan would never admit his culpability in this whole affair, either.

Jason needed a scapegoat, someone to blame for Michael's coma, and Claudia was his target. She was the daughter of Anthony Zacharra and her father's sins were hers; at least in Morgan's eyes. He wanted her to be guilty so he could be justified in hating her. The fact that there was some truth in his beliefs made the whole situation extremely dangerous.

That was why she was pushing for his death. Claudia was all about self-preservation, and in order to stay alive, Jason Morgan could not remain in the same state. The man would never give up pushing for the truth, and if he found out he would be relentless in pushing for her death. He might even just decide to act on his own and not wait for an order from his boss; or perhaps he'd disregard whatever her husband ordered. Sonny would be easier to manipulate if he ever discovered the truth, especially since he would be off-balance with his friend's death. She could play on his guilt about Michael, distract him, twist him up inside, and if she got pregnant, then she would have an even greater power over him.

But for all of that to even possibly happen, Jason had to die. So she was pleased to hear Sonny had finally decided to stop avoiding the inevitable and realize that his friend wasn't really his friend. Jason may have given the business back to Sonny, but he wasn't loyal to her husband anymore. He wasn't happy about Sonny's actions, especially in marrying her, and he questioned orders that he should have followed implicitly since Sonny was running things. He was too argumentative, he was too hostile, and Claudia had done her best to make Sonny see that Jason was just biding his time before betraying Sonny again.

It appeared her husband had finally decided to make a pre-emptive strike. He was not going to wait for the next time Jason felt he had the right to take over the business; Sonny was the boss and nobody got away with threatening his power. She was so proud of Sonny for finally seeing that and acting like he should have been all along.

She waited a beat after Sonny hung up the phone and then walked into the room as if she had only just arrived instead of eavesdropping in the doorway. "Hello, Sonny," she greeted him as she put her bag down and walked to the mini bar to get a bottle of water. "How are you?"

He smiled at her mysteriously. "Just fine; just fine. Would you care to join me for dinner tonight, or do you already have plans?"

Surprised, Claudia looked at him before quickly agreeing. If he was actually asking her to join him for dinner she would definitely agree. She hadn't made any plans, but she would have immediately canceled them; no way would she slight her husband if he was reaching out to her. His smile increased in response to her acceptance and she smiled as well. Perhaps if he stayed in a good mood and she reached the right balance of seduction she might get him to visit her bed tonight. It would be good timing for her perhaps she would just prepare a few things.

When Sonny stood and went into the kitchen to work on dinner, she went upstairs. She had some condoms to work on. Sonny would insist on using one as he always did, and she wanted to make sure they weren't working well as they should.

If he were any other man, Ric would have been more offended by the cool reception he received every time he came to Sonny's. It was clear that Max and the rest of the guards did not like him and they did not like that Sonny welcomed him in. Many of them were more loyal to Jason than they were to their boss and Ric had pointed that out to his brother several times. The men would look to Jason for clarification on orders or for permission before acting, and Ric had told his brother that was dangerous and shouldn't be allowed.

Jason had taken the business away from Sonny several times, always claiming he didn't really want the power, but Sonny had forced him to act. Ric had asked his brother how long until Jason felt that way again? The enforcer didn't like his boss' marriage to Claudia, he didn't like Ric's presence, and his discontent was everybody. He may have handed the business back over, but he could easily try to grab it again simply because he didn't like the arrangement Sonny had made with Anthony. The lieutenants had been taking orders from him very recently; who's to say they wouldn't listen to him again if he decided to take the territory back?

"Sonny?" he called out as he walked into the main room. "Sonny?"

"What are you doing here?"

He looked up towards the angry voice on the landing of the stairs and saw Claudia's most decidedly unpleased glare lasered in on him. He smirked up at her because she was beautiful when she was angry and it would annoy her greatly when he turned a lascivious eye on her. She was happy enough to bed him before, but as soon as Sonny showed an interest in her once again, she kicked Ric out. He knew that Sonny didn't actually want her, his brother just wanted to claim his territory. Claudia was foolish enough to give into his demands because she thought he would somehow trust her and share his power with her. She just didn't know Sonny well enough to know he didn't share any of his toys if he could avoid it.

"I'm here to see Sonny," Ric answered guilelessly. "I had some things I wanted to discuss with him. Perhaps when we're done, you might want to talk with me."

"You need to get out of here," she growled at him. "And you need to stop."

"Stop what?" Sonny asked as he stepped out of the kitchen and eyed the pair.

"I am tired of your brother coming in her and leering at me and treating me like gum to scrape off his shoe simply because I am Anthony Zacharra's daughter," Claudia said, turning a hurt countenance towards Sonny. She was good at playing the wounded dove to him.

Conjuring up moist eyes she continued, "He's like his father that way; treating me like I'm trash. I don't want to fight so I'll just go to my room."

Swallowing, she then said softly, "I suppose I'll need to make other plans for tonight."

"No," Sonny shook his head. "No...Ric won't be here long."

Claudia gave him a tremulous smile and turned. When her husband could no longer see her she flashed a triumphant smirk at Ric before heading upstairs. She had played him beautifully and left him to face an angry Sonny. Perhaps if his brother ever decided to get rid of Jason, Ric would then have to start on the suggestion that the Zacharras, all of them, should be eliminated as well. Then Ric would be Sonny's sole advisor and have some of the power. He knew his brother wouldn't want to share it, but there would be too much for one man wield alone and he would need some help. Ric would be the perfect position to assist.

"What do you want?" Sonny demanded sharply.

"I wanted to talk to you about some shipments through the Zacharra territory," Ric said, immediately getting down to business and trying to put an amount of deference into his voice. He'd have to work to fix Claudia's problems before he could push for more. "Anthony set up some contracts and I discovered them after receiving a call; the person was looking for Anthony and I told him to contact you. I found the file and the information so that when they do contact you, you'll know what Anthony set up."

He pulled some papers out of his briefcase and placed them on the desk. Sonny regarded him and then slowly nodded. "Thank you. I'll look over them later. If you have the number of the person who called, leave it with the files."

Ric had been thanked, and summarily dismissed all in the same breath. He could try to stay, but it would only anger his brother right now. Instead, he merely gave a respectful bow of his head and turned to go. His eyes were drawn to movement at the top of the stairs as he did, but he didn't point out to his brother that Claudia was standing in the shadows looking down at them. He could just make out her smirk and he wondered at it, but Max was holding open the door and looking at him impatiently and he knew that for this round, he needed to bow out.

After bidding Sonny good-bye, he left the house and climbed in his car. He was upset by the failure of his visit and knew that he would have to be careful; Claudia seemed to be gaining power over her husband. If Ric wasn't careful, he could find himself on the outside again and Cluadia would be pushing for his death, just as she was pushing for Jason's. He needed to make sure that didn't happen.

Sonny sat in the living room, staring into the low flames of the fire. It was not really cold, but he'd felt like a fire tonight. Dinner with Claudia had been pleasant, and their time afterwards...even more so. But now he sat waiting, for he had another task to do tonight.

A soft knock sounded on the interior door, and Jason walked into the room, answering his summons. Sonny took a sip of his scotch to hide his smirk. The other man came running whenever Sonny called, even if he didn't like it. Jason really could be so blindly loyal; except when he had those moments of treachery and betrayal. It was for those times that the younger man would pay. But Sonny would have a little sport with him first.

"You came," Sonny stated.

"You said you needed to see me," Jason answered with a slight shrug. "Why are you surprised I showed up?"

"I figured late at might be busy," he shrugged nonchalantly. "I know Sam's been around lately."

The other man grimaced, and then made his face blank. "Spinelli and Sam opened a private investigation firm; she's meeting with him."

"I thought the two of you worked together during the hospital crisis," he said innocently.

"She helped me because there was nobody else," Jason shook his head. "You weren't there, I couldn't use the guards...she was there."

"Oh," the older man tilted his head to the side. "I thought perhaps there was more. I haven't seen you near Elizabeth lately...not since Sam helped you find Jake. When you were working with Sam...I thought maybe it was bringing back memories and you were thinking of getting back together with her."

The other man's jaw clenched and Sonny kept pushing. "Elizabeth obviously got scared because of what happened and ran...I thought maybe you decided to be with someone who can handle things. Maybe...maybe you could even one day think about having a family of your own."

Jason looked ready to rage, but once again he swallowed it down and asked through clenched teeth. "What did you call me about? I thought you wanted me to do something; not talk about my personal life."

"Hey," Sonny said gently, acting innocent in the face of the younger man's anger. "I didn't mean to upset you. I care about you, Jason, and I know that you care about your son. I thought you cared about Elizabeth, but when you stopped seeing her, I didn't know. I guess I was wrong about you and Sam."

His enforcer licked his lips and shook his head. "Don't worry about it. There's nothing between me and Sam...or me and anyone. Now...what do you need me to do?"

"Ric got a call about some shipment Anthony arranged back when he was running things. He found the files," he gestured to his desk. "I want you to look through them…see what they're really about. I don't trust Ric to tell me what's really going on...he's upset Claudia and I think he'd cause problems with business just to be around more."

The other man's jaw clenched at the mention of Claudia, but Sonny decided to overlook it. He'd already angered Jason enough for tonight. Plus, the younger man hated Ric and would focus on him more than Claudia. He would go after the chance to prove Ric was lying before he'd go after this vendetta he insisted on against Claudia.

"I'll check it out," Jason vowed, moving over to the desk to look at the files. "Let you know what I find."

He nodded. "Great. Let me know, and then I may have you handle the shipment if we decide to go through with it. Carly wants to talk about this surgery for Michael and I'm gonna have to keep her and Claudia apart and you know that's not going to be easy."

Jason's jaw clenched again and he said, "I'll look into this."

"Okay," Sonny said and watched the other man leave. After the door was closed he let a pleased smirk cross his lips. Jason had been so easy to play; Sonny wondered why he'd never done this before. With Jason working on the shipment, he would know where the other man was almost all the time; that would be helpful when the time came.

Standing, he turned off the fire and the lamp before moving toward the stairs. He was almost there when his cell phone buzzed with a message. He picked up the device and looked at the screen. It was from a blocked number, but since very few people could get this number Sonny hoped that this was what he was waiting for.

Will help with your problem. Highly skilled in extermination.

Sonny smiled and texted back. Another text soon followed with a price and an account number. It took a little longer to make the transfer than Bernie would have done, but Sonny wasn't going to have anyone in the organization know what he was doing. Someone might decide to be more loyal to Jason than to him. Sonny used an account he'd inherited from Zacharra, so Bernie wouldn't be monitoring that one as closely.

He made one more text and offered a bonus if the problem was handled soon. Then he turned off the lights once again and headed upstairs. As he neared Claudia's room he paused and looked in. She was barely covered by the sheet and Sonny felt a stirring as he watched her. She was dangerous and untrustworthy, but he couldn't deny that she was a pleasurable pastime.

Closing the door, he crossed to her bed and grabbed the end of the sheet. She woke as the silk was pulled down her body; at first frightened, her eyes then glowed with pleasure when she saw him. She purred as she stretched out, giving him an unabashed view of all she was offering him. He quickly shed his clothes and crawled on the bed until he was hovering over her. She readily welcomed him and he was wild and frantic, heady with the knowledge that if all went well, Jason would no longer be a problem by the end of the week.

Chapter 2

Jason knocked on the brightly colored door and waited. It wasn't long before Carly threw it open enthusiastically and grabbed his arm to pull him inside.

"I'm so glad you're here," she said.

"What's going on?" he asked as he sat down on the couch where she'd dragged him to. "You said it was urgent; I got here as soon as I could."

"I need your opinion," she said as she sat down beside him. "I need to know if I'm doing the right thing, Jason."

He tipped his head and asked, "About what?"

"Am I doing the right thing with Michael?" she demanded of him desperately.

He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. Looking at her he asked in exasperation. "You called me over for this? You made it sound like there was a crisis, Carly. I thought something was wrong."

"There is something wrong, Jason," Carly insisted. "You're the only one I can talk to about this. You're the only one who can help me."

"Carly," he sighed once again with a shake of his head. "Why do you do this? You have a husband you talk to; you should talk to him. Jax loves you and Michael and he would talk to you. You could talk to Sonny-"

"No, I can't," she insisted angrily. "Sonny doesn't understand this. He's so filled with guilt about what happened to Michael that he can't function. I-I know I wasn't fair to him at first, but he refuses to make decisions or do anything about Michael. He leaves everything to me and sometimes I wonder, am I making the right decision? Am I truly doing what's best or am I letting my emotions rule me? Sometimes I need to talk to someone and have them talk to me and not just placate or leave every decision up to me. How am I knowing if I'm really doing the right thing?"

Jason swallowed at her words, at the uncertainty that colored her voice. It touched a part of him because it was an echo of the many times Elizabeth would express doubts and ask him to help make decisions. He would always say she had the most to lose and so he would push it back on her, but the reality was he was frozen just as much as Sonny. How could he be responsible for the hurt rained down on innocent lives?

"Why can't you talk with Jax?" he asked, fighting his feelings and trying to redirect her. "He's your husband; he would talk with you and help you make sense of things."

"But he doesn't understand," she said plaintively. "He loves me and my children, but he has never liked Sonny or this life. He doesn't always see clearly in these times. He thinks I'm getting stuck in the past as much as Sonny refuses to even acknowledge it. He thinks we should focus on Morgan, on our family and the baby, and do the best we can for Michael, but he doesn't look into new procedures or go to visit Michael as much as I do. Should he have to be stuck in a bed forever if there's something we can do to help him?"

"The operation is risky," Jason breathed out.

"So we shouldn't even try?" she demanded of him. "We should let fear trap us and never let us move forward?"

"How will you feel if the operation doesn't work?" he asked wearily. "What if he doesn't wake up, or is even worse? What if the procedure kills him? Will you be able to live with that?"

"And what if it works?" she asked, grabbing his arm. Her hand convulsed around it tightly. "What if it works and he could wake up and recover and be back with us? What if it could happen and it doesn't because we're too afraid to take that chance? How are we supposed to live with ourselves wondering what could have been but we threw it away because we were too scared to do anything? We wouldn't be living; we'd just be pretending while we stuck our head in the sand."

His friend paused for a moment and her hand twitched. "You should understand how hard this is... I know what you've given up, Jason."

"Carly," he rasped out with a shake of his head. She couldn't bring up Jake and compare their situations. It was because of Michael that he'd walked away from his own son.

"I know how much you love Michael and I know how hard it was when he wasn't your son anymore. You try to act like you're okay just being his uncle, but I know how hard it is each time you see him. We could be making this decision together-"

She stopped when he stood up abruptly and glared at her. "You think this is just about Michael? That he's the only child I've given up?"

Her eyes widened and she stood up as well, her hand covering her mouth. "Jason...I didn't mean...of course you would think about...I know how hurt you were when you gave up Jake."

"At least you can remember his name," he said. "And he's why I can't help you make this decision. I'll support you in whatever you decide, but I can't make the choice for you. I'm not his father...I can't even be one to my own son. So stop trying to make me a bigger part of your children's lives than I already am."

"You're my friend," she insisted.

"I am," he told her, "but I'm not your husband or the father of your children so stop relying on me for everything. Rely on your husband because I have things I need to do to protect everybody."

He turned for the door and she called after him. "I'm sorry, Jason. I wasn't... I just needed your help."

Letting out a sigh and not entirely concealing his irritation he said, "Well I have things I need to do."

"I'm going to do it," she declared as he put his hand on the doorknob. "If you won't talk to me, then I have to follow my gut; I'm going to do it."

Jason didn't say anything, he just opened the door and went to his bike. Starting it and releasing the brake, he spun out of the driveway angrily. Why did she do this to him, and why did he let her?

"Elizabeth, could I talk to you for a minute?"

She looked up at Patrick as he stood on the other side of the nurses' station and nodded immediately. "Of course."

He gestured to the empty waiting area and she followed him. Robin and Epiphany soon joined them and Elizabeth wondered what this meeting was about. Patrick let out a tired breath and ran his hand through his already messy hair.

"Robin knows I've been talking with Carly a lot lately about Michael's condition," he began and Elizabeth felt her stomach clench as it did whenever a subject got near to Jason. "There's a new technique we've learned about that we think might help Michael. We've discussed it with her, given her information to read and she spoke with another doctor as well. She's decided to go with the surgery for him; I just got off the phone with her."

Her palms became clammy as Patrick went on, explaining about the procedure and its expectations. He also outlined possible complications and Elizabeth felt her heart ache for Carly; this had to be so hard for the other mother. She had witnessed Carly's anger and sorrow when Michael had been shot and went into his coma. Now, a year later, there was a procedure that could potentially help him, but it also carried a great risk.

Elizabeth had always worried about Cameron and Jake's safety when she was with Jason. Even though she trusted Jason and would have gone forward with him, she could also remember her fear. She could remember that heart-stopping moment when she was in the operating room and she saw Cameron on the table instead of Michael. Then Jake had been taken again and nearly died in an explosion. It had been harrowing and that was when she and Jason had decided to part ways, even though they still loved each other and it was a hard decision for them to make.

She had kept her distance from him since that day in the courthouse, even though she was hurting; she felt it was the best for her boys. They would be out of the line of fire, not targeted by Jason's enemies, so they could grow up to be healthy and happy children. That way she would never have to be in the same position as Carly; a position that no mother should ever have to be in.

It was simply that it was hard for Elizabeth to live with their decision. Jason could still be with Carly and her children, and Elizabeth knew that he would be at the hospital for Michael. This was going to be hard, extremely hard, to see him sit by Carly at Michael's bedside supporting her and her children while Elizabeth barely had any acknowledgement from him. And she knew she would encounter Jason based on Patrick's requests.

"I'd like you two to be on Michael's team," the doctor said, looking at her and Epiphany. "You helped with his original surgery; I'd like you on this next one. I'd also like you two to be the main nurses on his case, pre and post-op. I don't want endless nurses shuffling through his room and having to familiarize themselves with his case; this is too important to lose a test result or not know what a change in his vitals means. I know we will have to have other nurses, but, Epiphany, I want you to work this schedule so that you and Elizabeth are the main ones handling his case."

It was a testament to how important everyone thought of this case when the normally prickly charge nurse merely nodded her agreement instead of arguing with Patrick over the requests he was asking her to make to the schedule she'd already done. "Okay. I'll take nights, put Elizabeth on days so she can be with her boys and I'll make sure that we only have one or two other nurses on the case."

Elizabeth was grateful to her friend and boss for giving her days so that she would be able to put her boys to bed in their rooms at night, but she also dreaded it. During the day she would see Carly, and possibly Jason. She was a professional and she would focus on her patient and provide the best care she could for him, but she couldn't deny it would be difficult to focus solely on Michael when Jason might be in the room.

But she would do her very best because the patient came first. This boy deserved a good life, and if she could help him recover from all that had happened, then she would do it. Even if it hurt her.

Lucky stepped off the elevator and stalked towards the nurses' station. Elizabeth had her head bent as she worked on a chart; she was focused on something else and didn't notice him immediately when he stopped in front of her. When he cleared his throat to get her attention she startled and looked up at him in surprise.

"Lucky. What are you doing here?"

"When you called you didn't give me a chance to talk," he said, placing his hands on the counter and leaning towards her.

"So you came all the way down here instead of just calling back, or calling tonight?" she asked him, her eyebrow drifting upward. "I'm at work, Lucky. I'm busy."

"Work that is now going to include Michael's case and being his nurse," he charged her. "What are you thinking, Elizabeth?"

"Thinking?" she shook her head. "What do you mean?"

"Being anywhere near Michael's case," he clarified for her pointedly. "I thought you were done getting involved in all that."

"You think I went to Patrick and asked for this assignment?" Elizabeth asked in a hiss as she came around the counter and dragged him over to the side, away from everyone. "Patrick asked for me to be on his surgical team and to be one of Michael's nurses because I was in on the first surgery. He wants the same nurses working the case so that it's less disruptive for Carly and so that we can watch for any changes, no matter how subtle."

She shook her head and said, "Epiphany redid our schedules for this case. That's what I told you when I called you. My schedule has changed and that means your time with the boys has changed. I wanted to let you know since you were planning on taking the boys for the next couple of evenings when I was supposed to be on duty."

"I don't want you on this case," he told her insistently. "That way you won't be around Carly or Sonny-"

"Or Jason," she cut in and closed her eyes. "Yeah...that's obvious. But you don't control me, Lucky, and I'm going to do my job. I like working with Patrick and Robin."

"I thought we were trying to work on us," he said, his brows furrowed.

Her eyebrows shot up in response. "What? Lucky, We're friends and you're a wonderful dad to the boys, but...that's it. were interested in Rebecca not that long ago and now suddenly you think we're working on us? Why would you think that?"

She shook her head as she took a breath. "Stop doing this, Lucky. Stop trying to make me feel guilty for something I've already told you. I've got get back to work."

Then she walked away and didn't look back and Lucky couldn't believe it. She would defy him and take this case. Oh, no, they would continue this conversation later.

He looked up when the man sat down across from him and tugged at the sleeves of his lightweight blazer. A hint of some twisted bracelet at his wrist disappeared but he didn't study it closely. Neither of them wanted to prolong this meeting. With an arch of his brow, he indicated for the other man to speak.

"I hear you're heading to the States to help someone with a little problem."

With a slight shrug he said, "I was looking for a change of scenery. The chance to do a little work...seemed like a good opportunity."

The other man quirked his lips. "Yes, you seem like a very magnanimous person."

"So why did you contact me?" he asked, lifting a brow while he raised his glass to take a drink.

"I thought I would offer my services to you," his companion answered.

With a shake of his head he answered, "I work alone. I don't need to contract out."

"No, no," the other man shook his own head. "I wanted to offer my...knowledge about the lay of the land and the people."

"Oh?" he wondered, leaning forward and resting his arms on the table. "What do you know?"

"Quite a few things," the man across from him replied. "I know the man you're going to help and the problem you're going to face."

Then the man smirked as he leaned forward as well. "I also know something important regarding one of the major players...and a child."

Raising his brow he asked, "What kind of information? I don't tolerate anyone who hurts a kid, and I certainly don't hurt them myself. Anyone who does is the scum the earth and deserves to be punished."

The other man chuckled and leaned back. "A killer with a conscience; how noble. But that's not what I was referring to."

The sandy-haired man then went on to explain the facts about a child that one of the players would desperately like to remain a secret. He listened impassively, even while inside he reeling and deciding how he would best use the information. When the man across from his finished, he arched a brow expectantly.

"Thank you for the information," was all he said as he reached for his wallet. He took out some money to pay for his drink and placed it on the table as he stood. "It doesn't change my original objective, but it widens the scope."

The other man looked baffled, but didn't say anything or try to stop him as he left. He wouldn't have stopped anyways; he had a plane to catch to Port Charles. There was a job he needed to do.

Chapter 3

Sonny growled in frustration as he stared at the phone before him. He had texted the assassin, given him a down payment with the promise of more - and possibly even a bonus if it was done quickly - and still Jason walked around alive. The assassin said he was getting into place, that he was observing Jason and was planning his route of escape. He was being careful and he would not be rushed. Sonny could either have the job done right, or he could have it done quickly and possibly have it traced back to him.

There was a part of the mobster that could appreciate the man's attention to detail, as well as wanting to ensure his own personal safety. After all, what good was the money if the guy wasn't actually around to spend it? Sonny also didn't want the assassin captured by the police and risk implicating him in Jason's murder. Yet, he was impatient for the younger man to die. He wanted the other man to pay for his betrayals; it was time for his former friend to die.

His phone beeped and Sonny reached for it anxiously. Pressing the button, the words appeared on screen and he smiled in evil delight.

In place. Event soon. Look for fireworks as problem is eliminated.

He was happy to know that Jason would be gone soon; he just wished he could know exactly when. But perhaps it was better if he didn't. That way his shock would be genuine, and he wouldn't conveniently be out somewhere in public in an obvious alibi. He would be following his normal routine, and hopefully that would work for him. Along with the fact that he had always forgiven Jason when his friend betrayed him and took away the business, few would suspect him. Those that did would have to go against Diane and she got Jason off for committing the murder of Lorenzo Alcazar; she would surely work her legal magic if a whiff of this came his way.

Jason was an enforcer and a killer, no matter how many times he'd gotten away with murder, and the police would not doubt just assume that it was somebody out for revenge on him. Emily had been killed by Diego Alcazar who came back for revenge on Jason, Alan had died after a heart attack at the Metro Court, this would be just another horrible tragedy for the Quartermaines. And he would be a man who lost his best friend.

"You look like you're in a good mood," Claudia commented as she walked down the stairs.

Sonny glanced over at her and lifted a brow. "I just got some good news about a deal I'm working on."

"Oh?" she asked as she crossed the room and poured herself a cup of premium blend coffee. "Did you get things worked out on the deal Ric found? I know you don't want me to mess with your business, but I do understand my father's notes."

"I think I have it all figured out," he answered and Claudia tried to conceal her disappointment at his rebuff. She wanted power so badly, but she was trying even harder to placate him and keep him happy. Probably because she wanted to keep him in her bed.

"Oh," she said. "That-that's good."

She was silent as she finished her coffee and then she stood from the chair facing his desk. "I believe I'll be gone for a while. I have some things I want to pick up at Wyndham's."

No, she didn't, but she would spend several hours, and several hundred dollars, just to give her a purpose to get out of the house. She was hurt and trying to hide it from him, and he would play along with it for now.

"Alright," he said, looking down at the papers on his desk. "If you get done and want to join me for lunch I was thinking of making my spinach tortellini. I think your sauce may be a better pair with it than mine."

It was almost comical how pleased she looked and how eager she was even though she tried to act like she wasn't. "Really?" she purposefully kept the pleased little girl smile out of her voice. "I suppose that would be better than whatever they serve in that department store café."

"It looks like it will be a nice day," he said casually, watching her out of the corner of his eye. "Maybe we could eat out on the terrace."

His wife looked over at the glass doors and then nodded, "That sounds nice. I should go, then, so that I'm back in time for lunch."

Sonny grinned at her, "I'll see you then."

He watched her go and shook her head at his obviousness. She really was too easy to manipulate. However, if she picked up some trashy piece of lingerie while she was out, then he really wouldn't complain.

"Stone Cold!"

Jason paused when he came out of the kitchen and saw Spinelli and Sam in the main room. They hadn't been here when he'd gone to work out; it was part of the reason why he'd done it. He had planned on being alone in the penthouse while Spinelli and Sam were supposed to be at work.

"Hi," Sam all but purred as she straightened. "We didn't know you were here."

Ever since his conversation with Sonny he had had been thinking, something he really hadn't been doing before. He had just been going along; it hadn't really been by any plan or conscious thought to let Sam back into his life. It began when she was investigating his enemy on the fake drugs and their paths converged. He saved her from Jerry, she helped him find Jake and then she was just around after he ended things with Elizabeth. The private investigating firm was important to Spinelli, but Jason had been worried for the younger man and so had given money to Sam for her to start a business with his roommate. It had just...happened.

Jason meant what he told Sonny; he'd worked with Sam during the hospital crisis because she was there and available at the time. It hadn't been his first choice or preference, as evidenced by the hole she put in his arm. But he continued to be around her because she was working with Spinelli and she was simply always there.

He hadn't thought people believed he was going to romantically get involved with her again, but Sonny's words had made him view everything differently. Sam seemed to be eyeing him as she had before, and she and Spinelli were constantly working at home whenever he was around even though they had an office they could be at. It wasn't Spinelli asking for his help with their investigations; it was Sam who was always there, seeking his help on cases and saying how well they worked together. Almost as if he was her partner instead of Spinelli. He hadn't sought out her company, but he'd never done anything to avoid it.

Now he wondered if he'd given her the impression that he would be open to getting back together with her. If that was the impression he'd given to everybody. That was farthest thing from his thoughts. He still loved Elizabeth and he loved their son; he'd told her he wouldn't be with anyone if he couldn't be with her. He'd meant that, and still did, but he realized his time with Sam had to look bad.

She may have helped him get Jake back from the Russians, but she had also stood back and watched when his son had been taken when he was a baby. One good action did not erase all that had happened before, but his behavior must have given that impression and he didn't like it. It didn't mean he could be with Elizabeth or her children, but it did mean that he needed to be more careful, and more withdrawn around Sam. He didn't want to give anyone the impression that he was contemplating romance with her.

"I thought you were on a case," he said, directing his comments to Spinelli.

"We needed to do some research and we were closer to here than the office," Sam immediately answered. When he arched his brow because she was sitting on the couch and Spinelli didn't have his laptop out she quickly said, "We thought maybe we'd get some lunch first. Maybe you'd like to join us."

He ignored her hopeful look as she twisted on the couch to face him better. He was sure she was trying to be alluring and Jason stayed neutral even as he wondered how he'd missed all the signs. With a shake of his head he said, "I've got some things to do. So I've got to go."

"Is it anything we could help you with?" Sam asked quickly, looking over at Spinelli. "We'd be happy to help you."

"No," he said forcefully with a shake of his head. "I have to go."

Then he turned without anything further and went upstairs to take a shower, making sure to lock his door behind him. After dressing quickly, he headed downstairs to get his gun before leaving. Sam and Spinelli were sitting on the couch looking at his laptop, although Sam quickly abandoned interest in it when Jason appeared. They tried to talk to him, to convince him to stay, but he stuck to his claim that he had work to do. They had their own business and he needed to make sure that he kept things more separate between them. While Spinelli could do work for him, he needed to make it clear that Sam was not part of the business and the P.I. agency was separate from his work.

Slowly and carefully he made his way through the trees to the spot that he had previously scoped out. He'd just seen activity and knew that his mark was on the move. There was not much pedestrian traffic in this section, which was good because he did not want to be discovered. He wanted to take care of his assignment and get out of town.

Opening his rifle case, he assembled the gun and looked through the scope just to get the lay of the land. He heard distant movement, but not close enough that he feared discovery. He'd chosen this location because it had a good vantage point of the area. This was a spot he felt he could eliminate his target, but not be found, nor would he have a hard time getting away once the job was done.

Taking care not to disturb the ground too much, he set up the tripod for the rifle and settled in on his stomach. He liked being up higher so he had a clear sightline. Looking through his scope he saw his mark walking and he told himself not to rush; it was important to get the kill shot and not miss by being too anxious.


Elizabeth's fingers clenched on the links of the swing and Jake squawked at the sudden, jerking stop of his ride. Her oldest son jumped off his swing and went scrambling towards the man he'd just spotted while she struggled with getting Jake out of his bucket swing. Jason stopped as Cameron barreled towards him and then accepted the little boy's exuberant hug around his legs.

"Cameron," she called out as she and Jake approached.

Jason looked up from where he was quietly talking to Cameron and stood awkwardly, still touching the little boy. He looked at Jake with such longing and pain that Elizabeth found herself clutching their son tighter to her side while her heart broke for all of them. Her breath froze in her throat when Jason then looked at her. There was so much there, laid bare in his eyes that it sliced at her because she felt it all towards him as well.

She looked down, though, as she remembered the times she had seen him at the hospital or around town with other people. To know that one of those people was frequently Sam, hurt. But even the mere fact that he could meet and talk with Robin and Carly about their children but had asked nothing about Jake angered her as well. However, it was quickly swallowed up in the cloak of pain and misery she wore but tried to hide from everyone.

She couldn't be mad at Jason because she had accepted his decision, just as he had accepted hers before. It may hurt, but it was truly the best for Jake. They never wanted their son kidnapped ever again. That was why it was good that there were few people around at this swing set tucked in the corner of the park; there were no witnesses to the looks they couldn't hide.

"How are you?" he asked, looking at them all. "They...the boys are getting so big."

She nodded mutely before finally finding the ability to speak. "They are; I'll have to get new clothes soon. Jake can wear some of Cam's old outfits, but his feet are bigger and I've got to get him shoes."

Jason swallowed audibly. Then he asked, "Are-are you recovered...from the toxin?"

"How did you know?" she asked as her brow furrowed.

"I-I saw your hospital room," he confessed.

And didn't come in.

"Lucky was with you," he continued softly. "I-I thought-"

"He broke through the barricade for us," Elizabeth said uncomfortably. "I guess he worried about us and didn't want us to be by ourselves or overlooked."

Immediately she felt guilty for the words; the intention to be petty and hurtful was childish and an insult to their past. He looked down and they were saved by Cameron, even if his question added a new level of hurt to the already tense moment.

"Jay-son" he broke in excited, "are you going to play with us? Mommy has to push both of us; if you were here she could push Jake and you could push me high."

Claudia smiled as Sonny pushed her chair at the table he'd set outside on the terrace. He was kind and solicitous, and she knew it was all an act. He was waiting for Jason Morgan to die, and he must have received promising information today because he was too happy for it to be anything else. He wasn't that good at concealing his distaste for her, and his distaste for himself when he fell into her bed.

She was fine with him playing her; if he thought she was naïve and in the dark then he was more willing to sleep with her. Claudia's ultimate goal was to get pregnant with Sonny's baby so she would be untouchable in case he ever discovered she had any part in Michael's shooting. So if it took making her husband think she was clueless all so he would feel powerful and potent and want to bed her while his friend was killed, then she would do it.

Looking through the scope, he let out a breath as he focused on his target. He flexed his hand inside his glove and then placed his finger on the trigger. Sighting closely, he released the tension from his shoulders and then gently, but deliberately, squeezed the trigger.

Jason knelt down and looked at Cameron, swallowing as he met the little boy's eyes. He didn't know how to answer Elizabeth's son, knowing it would only disappoint him. Looking up at Elizabeth he could see the longing in her eyes, but also her resignation as she closed herself off from all that she'd been expressing. The answer was no; he would disappoint her and her children, again.

"Cam," she said gently as she placed her hand on her son's shoulder and softly pulled him towards her. Away from Jason. "Sweetie, Jason's really busy and he needs to get to work."

Her eyes told the enforcer to go. Now.

"We need to meet Gram for lunch," she continued on, turning the little boy around and pushing him towards the bench. "So let's gather our things and go."

"Okay," he breathed out in disappointment. Turning to look over his shoulder with soulful eyes, even as they warred with the excitement of seeing his great-grandmother he said, "Bye, Jason."

"Bye, Jay," Jake mimicked and Jason swallowed heavily, his hands resting despondently on his knees.

"Bye," he replied, looking up at Elizabeth. She looked at him for a moment, then turned and walked away without saying anything further. He watched her go until they quickly disappeared out of sigh, and then looked down and squeezed his eyes shut.

He shifted the rifle, reacquiring his target through his scope. Letting out a breath, he squeezed the trigger again. Then he sat up, straightened and began to break down the rifle. He wiped every inch of the gun, put it away, and then looked around to make sure the area was not too greatly disturbed. He moved some leaves to cover the area where he'd sat, and then scanned the area again.

The police would search in this direction, based on line of sight for the shots, and they might even find this spot, but he made sure that there was nothing that could give his DNA to investigators, and nothing that would say overtly this was the shooting sight. Then he picked up his case and walked away. He had done his job; it was time to go home.

Chapter 4

Max did not like Ric Lansing. The guy may be Mr. C.'s brother, but Max had not forgotten the things Ric had done in the past. He'd gone after the boss and organization, worked with Mr. C.'s enemies and had deliberately hurt women for his own sport and purposes. How the boss could let the man responsible for kidnapping Mrs. C. anywhere near him now, Max would never understand it.

While it seemed like the boss didn't fully trust his brother, he was working with him now. Ric walked into the house whenever he wanted and acted as if he was better than the guards because he was brother to the don. He was smug and condescending and he was playing Mr. C., even though the boss refused to see it. He was also up to something with Claudia Zacharra, but Max hadn't figured out what it was. Sadly, though, he wasn't sure the boss would believe him even if Max tried to warn him.

"You can't go in," he repeated once again to the lawyer in front of him.

"I need to speak to Sonny," Ric insisted. "So move aside, Max."

"I have orders from Mr. C.," the guard insisted, refusing to move. "He has ordered everyone to stay out until he calls for us. That means you can't go in there, and I won't knock."

Ric glared at him, but even he realized that with such specific orders neither he nor Max could disturb him and Claudia. Finally, with a huff he said, "Fine. But the moment he summons you, tell him that I need to talk to him right away. It's very important."

"Got it; very important," he nodded, taking a step forward to force the lawyer back. "I'll be sure to let him know."

Once he was out of the house and Max firmly shut the door behind him, he sneered in disgust. He checked in with the guards on the perimeter to make sure the snake actually left the grounds. Then he checked to see if the men could see the boss and his wife. They would not get close or disturb the pair; Max mere was trying to gauge Mr. C.'s mood to be prepared for when Sonny finally did emerge from this lunch.

"The terrace is empty," the guard on patrol radioed in. "They must be inside."

Max hadn't heard them come inside, but he hadn't really been listening for it. If they were indoors and Sonny had not contacted the men, then that meant he was upstairs with his wife. And who knew how long it would be before they emerged.

"Thank you for coming in," Jax told Elizabeth as they stood in the empty hospital room. Carly was out in the hallway talking at Robin and Epiphany while Patrick was talking to Michael's doctors from AfterCare and running a few tests on the boy.

"It wasn't a problem," she answered, looking around the room as if for something to do. "My gram was glad to take the boys."

"I know this was your day off," he continued. "Carly decided to have Michael come a day early."

He had tried to tell his wife this would cause a disruption to everyone's schedule and it had, but she had been insistent. Michael was getting transferred today and that was simply that. She was Carly Corinthos Jacks and Michael Corinthos, III was going to be transferred when she said so.

"You probably had things you were planning to do," he said, still trying to apologize to the nurse. He felt bad because she had two little boys to take care of and Lucky helped some, but Jason sure didn't. She was a single mother with a jealous, incompetent fool at her side who Elizabeth ended up having to take care of as much as her children. This was the great help for her and who Jason entrusted his son to? "We could have one of the other nurses take the shift today so you could finish with them."

"Jax," she cut him off gently with a sweet smile. "It's fine. It's important that I'm here to get the report first hand and see his baseline readings for myself. By the time we get him settled him it will probably be time for Epiphany's shift. I spent the morning with Cam and Jake at the park and we had lunch with my I don't mind coming in."

Then firming her shoulders she said, "Now, you said Carly had some things she wanted put up for Michael?"

"Yes," he nodded, gesturing to a box on the table by the window.

They quickly unpacked the box and arranged the things that had been in Michael's room at the institute and tried to make this room look less sterile. They were just finishing up when Carly entered and looked around.

"What are you doing?" she demanded shrilly. She looked at Elizabeth and pointed her finger, "You were just supposed to get the medical equipment ready for Michael."

Jax stepped forward and said, "She did. I asked her to help me because I wanted something to do while I was waiting."

She stalked forward and picked up two pictures and switched them around, just for something to do and pick as wrong while looking pointedly at Elizabeth, even though Jax had been the one to put the pictures up the way he'd remembered from Michael's other room. Letting out a breath she looked at him, her face softening. "Thank you. I-I just want everything to be perfect for Michael. I want him to know that he has his things with him and so it's important that everything be right."

Elizabeth shifted, stepping quietly towards the door. "I'll let you two have some time alone. I'll go check in with Epiphany and see if there's any word from Patrick."

"Yeah," Carly nodded dismissively.

Jax looked at his wife and sighed and then said to Elizabeth, "Thank you for your help, Elizabeth."

She nodded and then slipped out of the room. Jax looked at Carly and frowned at her complete ignoring of Elizabeth and not even thanking the nurse. Quickly she bustled away from him to put the pictures back where they originally were and he sighed. "Carly, will you relax and just stop?"

"Everything has to be right," she insisted.

"It will be," he told her, walking up behind her and resting his hands on her arms as he wrapped them around her. "Just relax and trust in the doctors."

Letting out a breath, Carly leaned back against him. "You're right."

"They are going to do their best for him. Everybody will," he assured her and she stiffened in his embrace. "So try not to offend everyone. They all know and understand you're worried, but don't treat them like they're here for you to take out your frustrations on."

"You mean Elizabeth," she grit out as she pulled away from him and turned around.

"You didn't acknowledge her, you didn't thank her," he told her. "Not for helping me, but for coming in on her day off and rearranging her schedule for you and Michael because you insisted on changing the plan."

She looked down for a moment before defiantly looking up. "She shouldn't be on Michael's case. It won't be good. She doesn't need to be around Jason."

Jax sighed sadly. "Carly, Elizabeth is a good nurse; she was part of the original surgery. She knows his case, so it's understandable that Patrick would ask her to be part of his team."

"It will make it hard for Jason to come visit Michael if she's here," his wife insisted, almost bitterly. "He needs to be here and he'll stay away instead of being where he should be. I've tried calling him to let him know Michael was being transferred today but he hasn't shown up; he probably won't because he knows she's here. Why isn't he here? Why isn't he where he needs to be? Because of Elizabeth Webber; that's why."

"Perhaps he needs to be with his son," he countered back and she looked at him shock, as if not believing he would contradict her or even mention the little boy Jason had all but abandoned. "Everyone expects him to protect your children and Sonny's children, but he's too incompetent to protect his own? You don't want Elizabeth on this case because you don't want Jason to feel uncomfortable...well, maybe he should be. He's left her to raise their child while he helps everyone else. Stop coddling him and think about Michael. You fought for this fight for the best staff."

Softening slightly he said, "I know Michael is your focus right now, but you have to think of others, as well. I just hope that when our child is born you'll focus on him or her as much as you do the child you shared with Jason and Sonny."

"That's not fair, Jax," Carly shook her head, a wounded demeanor crossing her face.

He turned for the door and said, "None of what happened to Michael is fair, but that does not excuse how you're treating everyone."

Then he left before things got even uglier. He was not trying to be cruel, but sometimes he tired of the myopic obsession she got with Michael and Jason to the exclusion of everyone else. Even him.

Elizabeth let out a breath as Patrick ended his briefing. They were now up to the speed on the changes in Michael's condition over the last year and all that had been done for him by the staff of the AfterCare Institute, and Patrick had briefed them on the procedure he was going to try. He'd given them some copies of journal articles so they could better understand and she planned to read them tonight once the boys were in bed.

There were just a few more things she needed to do before she could leave, and she hoped it went smoothly. She really wanted to escape without encountering Jason again today and she could only hope that the change in schedule would work in her favor. He was probably expecting Michael's transfer tomorrow and had been involved in things today so he would be available for Carly and Michael. She had little doubt that he would be at the hospital tomorrow.

She would need tonight to prepare for the inevitable encounters they would have. Today in the park had been hard enough and it had only been for a few moments. It was hard to disappoint her son, but Cameron needed to learn that Jason was just an old friend they once knew. They would not seem him anymore and he would certainly not be around Cameron again. It might hurt now, and for a while longer, but they must simply deal with it. She would simply deal with it.

Tonight she would harden her heart so that she could encounter him again and not break. She would do her job and stop wishing for more. Besides, Jason had proved by his companion lately that there was simply no room for her or their son in his life.

"Max, you gotta get in here."

He spun around, startled when the door to the living room opened behind him and it wasn't Sonny. The guards knew not to go inside the main part of the house until the boss called for them. The truth was, none of them really wanted to because no one wanted to walk in on Sonny and Claudia Zacharra doing...anything. So to have Jay in the living room meant he must have come inside through the terrace doors; Max was thinking that the guard had lost his mind and deserved warehouse duty.

"What are you doing in there?" he hissed at the guard. "If Mr. C. catches you in there he's gonna put you on nights at the warehouse...or make you shovel fish guts or something."

"It's Mr. Corinthos," Jay burst out impatiently. "Get in here!"

Max turned and sprinted through the front room towards the terrace, following after the guard. He skidded to a stop at the doors as he took in the scene before him and understood why the other man had frantically come to get him. "What in the world?"

"I moved the patrol perimeter in closer since they weren't on the terrace anymore," Jay explained. "On one of my passes I saw a chair knocked over and came closer to take a look. Mr. Corinthos gets all upset about things not in their proper place and I thought I'd just set it up and continue on. Instead I...I found this."

This. Sonny and Claudia were dead by a single shot to each person; lying on the floor of the terrace in a pool of blood. Max rubbed his hand over his face and just stared in horror. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone.


"Jason," he finally managed to get out. "We've got a problem. Mr. C. and Claudia are dead. Sniper shots when they were on the terrace."

"What?" the other man demanded. "What happened?"

"I don't know," Max shook his head as he continued to stare at the bodies. "But they're dead...and...and we have to call the police."

They didn't like the thought, but they couldn't hide this. They would certainly look for the shooter themselves, and if they found him before the cops did they wouldn't hand him over. And they certainly wouldn't lose any sleep about it. But something this big...Max knew they had to call the cops. He simply had to let Jason know first.

"Yeah," the new boss breathed out heavily. "Call them...then get the stuff out of Sonny's house that you know needs to not be found there. The cops'll make it impossible to get it out later. I'll be there as soon as I can."

It was a circus by the time Jason made it to Sonny's. Red and blue lights lit up the sky that was starting to grow dark. Cops milled around everywhere and they all looked at him as he climbed out of the SUV down by the street and walked up the drive. He neared the house but a cop stopped him and wouldn't let him go any further. The man called in on the radio and Jason was forced to wait until whichever cop that answered the call came out. He wasn't surprised when Lucky walked out a few minutes later followed by Mac.

"What are you doing here?" Lucky demanded as he stopped and put his hands on his hips, his detective's badge swinging on a chain around his neck.

"Max called me," he answered. "Sonny's my friend-"

"And now you're the boss again so you want to make sure we don't find anything incriminating," the cop stated as if it was fact.

"I don't see how coffee invoices will help you solve a murder, but you can look through them," Jason shrugged.

"You just stick with that story," Lucky snorted in disgust.

"Lucky," Mac cut in. "Why don't you head back in side?"

The other man glared at Jason for a moment and then took a step towards him and lowered his voice so that only Jason could hear. "You stay away from Elizabeth and Jake; go back home to Sam because I'm sure she's waiting for you. She's who you deserve…so stay away from Elizabeth at the hospital."

Then he turned away and stalked back inside. Jason didn't react to the cop's words; he put his hands in his pockets and stared blankly at Mac. He knew the cop would have more to say to him and he merely waited.

"Who wanted Sonny dead?" the commissioner asked. "Is Anthony upset with him over Claudia? Somebody else? Do I have a new threat coming into town?"

"I don't know," he shook his head. "All I know is Sonny is dead."

"But you're going to find out, right?" the older man asked. "I suppose nothing I say about this will make a difference, will it? You're determined to find who did this and kill them. I can't arrest you and stop you, but if I catch you, Jason, I won't excuse you just because your friend was killed."

Mac looked at him pleadingly, "For once, just let us handle this. I don't want to trip over you and the dead bodies that will follow. Stay out of this, Jason."

"Can I talk to the men who found the bodies?" he asked. "I want to make sure they're okay."

"No," the cop shook his head. "I want to interview them before you talk to them. And before you ask, no, you can't come inside. It's a crime scene."

The older man let out a breath and said, "There's nothing you can do here, but I know you won't leave. So stay out of everyone's way or I will have you arrested for interference in a police investigation."

Jason clenched his jaw, but he stepped back and watched the activity around him. He wouldn't give them any reason to make him leave or arrest him, but he wasn't going to leave the scene. Pulling out his phone and making sure he didn't draw attention to himself he called Diane and told her to come, and then called Bernie and told him to watch the accounts. There wasn't much else he could except scour his brain about who would come after Sonny.

There weren't any recent threats, but Jason was going to be watching everything. Guards would be increased on Sonny's kids and Jason would have every available man out searching for clues about who did this. When they found the person responsible they would kill him.

The only good thing Jason found in this moment was that nobody knew Jake was his son so he would be safe in the face of this newest threat. And for that, Jason would always be glad and know he'd made the right decision.

Chapter 5

Elizabeth stepped out of the staff locker room and took a deep breath. She was a professional and she had a job to do; there were doctors to assist and patients to attend. It was just that one of her patients was Michael Corinthos. However, he was not her only patient and so she could, and would, make it through her day just as she did any other.

The fact that Sonny was found murdered at his house last night along with his new wife truly had no bearing on her. It also would have no bearing on how she did her job. She was used to dealing with worried and distraught family members and remaining polite and professional. Of course, their worry was usually centered on the patient she was caring for, but that wasn't always the case. She would simply treat this case like any other; no matter how distraught everyone might be today.

She spoke with Epiphany and checked the charts on all the patients she would be responsible for during her shift today. She learned that there had been no change in Michael's vitals, but that Carly had learned what happened to her ex-husband. The woman was, understandably upset, and behaving in rather typical Carly fashion.

As her boss was getting ready to leave she said, "While it is a tragedy what happened to Michael Corinthos' father, and I am sorry about it, it does not give Mrs. Jacks excuse to treat the staff with disrespect. We've already had words when she tried to order me around like her maid and I want you to call Dr. Drake if she becomes too much. He can prescribe her a sedative if she becomes abusive towards my nurses because I won't put up with it and neither should you."

Elizabeth nodded to show she understood and went around the nurses' hub to plan her day. After checking a few monitors and building her mental fortitude, she stepped out of the hub and began her rounds. She started at the opposite end of Michael's room and put all other patients out of her mind and focused on the one she was with. She made sure to have a smile for each one, and she shared a few words with them so they didn't feel like she was just rushing in and out but that she was there to take care of them.

Finally knowing that she had to go, Elizabeth walked down the hall to Michael's room. She nodded to the guard standing outside and then stepped into the room. Her heart leapt into her throat when she saw there were four people in the room instead of the three she was expecting to find. Her eyes dropped immediately when she saw Jason holding Carly as she cried while Jax stood to the side. A rather common theme for much of his marriage to Carly.

"Hello," he said softly as Elizabeth neared the bed and picked up the chart.

"Hi," she replied, softly as well so as to not intrude on the scene across the bed. "How are you?"

Jax shrugged. "Not the best night."

"Yeah," she said, her eyes cutting over to where Jason looked like he was trying to disengage himself from Carly. "I'm sorry."

"Thank you," he replied. "Carly insisted Jason come this morning so they could tell Michael together."

"Right," Elizabeth said flatly, turning her attention to Michael's vitals and the machines and effectively ended the conversation. Because Jason, now the undisputed boss of the organization, had nothing better to do. Sonny had been murdered, Jason was undoubtedly searching for the killer, meeting with the lieutenants and other family heads, but absolutely...come to the hospital to hold Carly's hand when she had a husband to support her. But Carly had probably demanded and Jason caved; usual behavior.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, gripping her pen tightly. She was being very bitter and it wouldn't do any good, especially for her. It wouldn't affect Jason if she felt this way, except for possibly making him feel guilty and offer an apology. It also wasn't fair for her to feel this way and harbor jealousy; they had made their decision and she just had to find a way to live with it. Of course Jason would care about Carly and Michael's reactions after Sonny's death.

Finishing with her examination, she made the last notes in the chart and then turned around. The room was silent and she was feeling self-conscious as she lifted her head and looked straight into Jason's piercing gaze. Her breath caught in her throat and she nervously licked her lips.

"Well?" Carly demanded shortly and broke the moment. "How is he?"

"His vitals are good," the nurse answered, looking at the mother. "There's been no change; which is good. It means he's holding strong and steady. That will make Patrick pleased."

Elizabeth looked back to Jason and wanted to say something. This wasn't a ruse to fool an enemy; his friend, his mentor, the man he'd been closer to than anybody, had been murdered last night. The reporters had footage of the coroner taking the body out and there had been a shot of Jason looking completely stunned as the van drove away. This had to be so hard for him and she doubted he'd slept at all last night and her heart went out to him. She wished she could say something that wouldn't sound trite or stupid. He was looking at her with such a pained look and Elizabeth wished Carly and Jax weren't in the room.

The door opened and they all looked over and the whole moment was lost. Sam stepped into the room, acting hesitant but looking decidedly predatory as she moved towards the mobster. "Jason?"

Elizabeth immediately shut down. Refusing to look at him, she clutched the chart and stepped out of the room without meeting anyone's eye. She didn't hang her head, but she felt punched and decidedly out of the group. She returned to the hub and focused on her job, but she was already thinking ahead of where she could to avoid seeing Jason and Sam when they left together.

Jason watched Elizabeth walk out of the room, her head held high even though she couldn't hide the hurt and misery in her eyes. Sam barely gave her a glance as she moved towards him. Carly's face hardened and she crossed her arms over her chest while glaring at them both.

"I heard the news this morning and Spinelli said you were here," the brunette said, her hand reaching out and brushing against his chest before coming to rest on his arm. "I came to see how you were."

Jason stepped back and then grabbed her arm and led her out of Michael's room. He was silent until they were in the hallway and released her. Stepping back and crossing his arms over his chest he demanded, "What are you doing here?"

"I came to see you," she said simply. "Sonny was murdered and you're the boss. I came to see if you needed any help."

He furrowed his brows at her and asked, "Why would I need a private investigator?"

She frowned slightly, then quickly recovered with a sympathetic smile. "Yes, I work with Spinelli, but you know that I'm always here to help you, Jason. We're a team; we work well together."

Letting out a breath he answered with a shake of his head. "We aren't partners, Sam. Spinelli is your partner and-and I may have...I may have helped once or twice, but that's your job. I-I have my own stuff to do; I can't help you with your business."

"No," she was quick to shake her head. "No, I wouldn't ask you to help me, I'm offering to help you. We investigated the Russians together and got Jake back and then we dealt with the FBI and the toxic balls. I can help you; you know you're going to need help."

Jason drew his lips in between his teeth and settled his hands on his hips. "Sam," he said regretfully, realizing he was responsible for her thinking they were partners. "I-I have people to help me. My men will investigate Sonny's death. work with Spinelli and I helped so that he could work away from what I do. He may do research for me, but I want him removed from the day-to-day operations. You said you wanted to find work and your own why would you want to get involved in my stuff?"

She looked at him, her eyes wide. He could tell she didn't like that answer; her coming here was proof that she thought they were more than the occasional working partners. If it hadn't been for Sonny's comments, Jason didn't know that he would have realized how his actions looked. To a lot of people. And what some people might think their working together might lead to.

He wanted Sam to understand perfectly that they weren't going to work together; not now, and not in the future. And they certainly were not going to get together as a couple again. She may have helped get Jake back, but that didn't erase all that she'd done in the past. And it certainly didn't mean he had changed from that day in the courthouse when he walked away from Elizabeth.

"Jason," she tried, "we work good together."

"I needed someone to help me," he said, "and you were there. I'm glad things got done, but...but that doesn't mean I want you to get involved now. I have too much to do and I need to know that I can trust everyone completely and that they all know their jobs and I don't have to worry about them. I just need to focus; and you need to concentrate on your business with Spinelli. Keep an eye on him and keep him busy."

"Jason," Sam looked at him pleadingly. "I thought-"

"I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that we would be working together...or anything else," he said firmly, but not cruelly. "But that wasn't..."

She let out a breath and stared at him in disbelief. "No."

"I'm sorry," he stated softly, but with determination. "Do you need a ride anywhere? I need to talk to Carly and then I have a meeting, but I can have a guard take you where you need to go."

"No," she said flatly, and then she firmed her shoulders. "I know that you think you have to push everyone away now because you're in charge, but you don't have to be alone. So you take care of what you need, but know that I'm here if you need someone."

He did, but he wouldn't tell her that she wasn't that person. However, he just wanted this whole thing over, so he just nodded. Then he turned and went back into Michael's room. It was easy to forget about Sam and whatever she might have been thinking when he was confronted with an angry Carly who demanded, "Is she gone?"

"Yes," Jason nodded wearily. "She left."

"What did she want?" Carly insisted. "What could she be thinking coming to Michael's room? It's bad enough that Elizabeth Webber has to be here every day, but now she's going to come around?"

"Carly," her friend sighed heavily. "Don't start on this. You don't need to worry about this."

Her eyes narrowed. "I don't need to worry?"

With a gasp and eyes now wide she asked, "Are you getting back together with her? I know the two of you worked together during the hospital crisis-"

"Because she was there," he cut in, his voice sharp. "That's all. And that's all I'm going to say. I'm not with Sam, I don't want to be, and I don't want you giving Elizabeth a hard time. She's doing her job and she's doing her best for Michael and being professional. You know what happened between us, so don't start causing problems."

He let out a breath and then her friend pleaded, "Just let her do her job. Focus on Michael, Morgan and your new baby. Take care of yourself and just...don't think you need to fight my battles for me. Everything is fine there and I have too many other things to worry about."

"Jason," Carly said softly, stepping closer to him. "You're my friend."

He walked up to her and said, "I know. But you don't need to worry. Take care of yourself and your children; all of them."

Letting out a breath and looking at Jax he said, "I want you all to be safe. I'll assign extra guards if you want them. I don't think we can get another guard here at the hospital, but we can try. And make sure the rest of you are protected."

"Have you found anything that gives you any clues to what happened?" Jax asked, wrapping his arm around his wife's waist and drawing her to his side. "Something you can tell us so we can look out for anything?"

Jason shook his head, as he let out a sigh. "Aside from the dead bodies, we don't know anything. That's why we want to increase the guards on you, because we have no idea."

Carly nodded and looked at Jax before looking back at Jason. "We trust you; so do what you think is best."

He nodded and then asked, "How's Morgan?"

"Upset," she sighed, her eyes stinging with tears again. "He's with Momma. He wanted to stay with us; he's afraid to let me and Jax out of his sight, but he was too upset to come here today. So he's at the house with Mercedes and Momma."

"Then I'll send some more men there and have them do a security check of everything."

"Thank you," she breathed out, wrapping her arms around him.

He hugged her back rather tepidly, but Carly was sure that was just because he had so much on his mind. Releasing her, he stepped back and tugged on his ear while clearing his throat. "I need to go. Take care of yourself."

She nodded, tears now spilling down her cheeks. It was so hard to believe that Sonny was dead, that he had been gunned down at home and he was really, truly gone from both of their lives. Jason hadn't stepped in as boss because he had to, or taken over the business because Sonny was behaving erratically and out of control. He was the boss; forever, unless he stepped down or was taken out. It was so hard to comprehend and she wanted to talk to Jason but he was shutting down and focusing on what he thought had to be done.

When he left she turned and stepped into Jax's waiting arms. She pressed her face again her husband's shoulder to muffle her cries. He rubbed her back gently until she regained some control.

"I just can't believe it," she shook her head. "How am I supposed to focus on the surgery or Morgan's questions about his dad or everything Jason's going through? I just don't know what I'm supposed to do, Jax. It's always been the three of us."

He let out a sigh and closed his eyes before saying, "You just need to relax, Carly. It's overwhelming right now and I'm sure Patrick will understand. There's no rush on the surgery so we can take a few days and just take it easy. You need to rest, Carly. I'll sit with Michael for a while; you should go home and be with Morgan."

"I can't leave Michael," she shook her head emphatically. "He needs me here."

"Morgan needs you more," he said pointedly and forcefully. "I'll be here with Michael, but Morgan needs his mother. And I want you to rest."

"Stop lecturing me and telling me I'm a bad mother," she glared at him.

"I'm not," he shook his head tiredly. "I'm just trying to help you see the bigger picture."

Her husband sighed and asked, "Would you please humor me today? You know Morgan will be happy to see you and I think you'll be happy to see him, too."

She looked at him, and then over at Michael before lowering her eyes with a sigh. She nodded and said, "Alright. Just promise me you won't leave him."

"I won't," he said and pressed a kiss to her temple. "I'll watch over him today; you go take care of Morgan and yourself."

Chapter 6

Ric came around the corner of the house and stopped, looking at the spot where it happened. The blood was still there and he stared at it, wondering how all this had happened. Who would want both Sonny and Claudia dead? Was Johnny making a power play, upset over Claudia's marriage and deciding to get the family territory back while Anthony was in jail? While it might be a fun possibility to speculate about, it didn't seem likely. Johnny was mad about his sister being bartered like livestock, but he didn't have the burning drive for power and territory. He seemed relieved to be out.

Could it be Anthony doing some arranging even though he was behind bars? He didn't like Claudia and the crazy old man would have no qualms killing his child. Sonny had been a pawn for Anthony's grand plan and Jason had been right when he'd urged Ric's brother not to get involved with the mobster from Crimson Point. Once Sonny held no more usefulness for Anthony, he'd get rid of the man like trash. In this world, that meant death. With Ric's father dead, if Sonny and Claudia were gone, Anthony might think that would cause his son to step up and take his rightful place.

Undoubtedly, Anthony would want to be Johnny's advisor, and in reality run it all. But Ric saw another possibility. Johnny should take the territories back and run them without regard to Jason Morgan. Because Ric knew something that nobody else did; Jason was marked for death. And when he died, there would be nobody to step up and take over the Corinthos territory. Johnny could easily step in since he was familiar with the area and take over Port Charles, and Ric would be in the perfect position to assist Johnny as he combined the two territories. And ultimately get some power for himself.

A distinct click startled him from behind and commanded his full attention. "What are you doing here?"

That the lethal growl belonged to Jason was not a surprise, and even though Ric knew the other person was a dead man walking, he couldn't fully suppress a shiver of fear. He did his best to appear calm as he turned to face his rival. "What are you doing here?"

He smirked, "This is a crime scene. You shouldn't be here."

"Neither should you," the new boss replied. "You have no business here."

"But I was helping Sonny with the business," Ric protested, hoping to needle the man before him. "And he was my brother."

"I run the business now," Jason said, taking a step forward and keeping his gun extended in front of him. "And you're out. I don't trust you; I don't like you. You have no place in my organization. And Sonny's house will go to his kids; but it's in my trust since they're minors. So get off the property or you'll be shot for trespassing."

The lawyer shook his head and taunted, "You seem a little tense, Jason. Are you sure you can handle all this?"

Suddenly the gun was jammed under his jaw and his head snapped back against the brick wall of the house as the enforcer moved before he knew it. There was a look of pure hate and fury in Jason's eyes that Ric had never seen before. The last time there was even a fraction of the hate was when Jason beat him in the Tower's garage. In a growing corner of his brain, he realized there would be no save from Sonny and he was no longer the D.A. Jason had nobody to hold him back from doing what he'd probably wanted to do for years.

Jason could kill Ric now and who would avenge him? Johnny and Anthony wouldn't care. It would be investigated but with Sonny and Claudia's deaths it would easily be pinned on the person who made Jason the head of the organization. The lawyer began to realize that taunting Jason may be a very dangerous thing now. The former enforcer had no reason to exercise his famed control anymore since the only reason Jason had ever stopped was now dead.

"You are nothing, Ric," he hissed fiercely. "I don't care about your connections to Sonny because he's gone; he can't save you. The only reason you're alive is because of him, and I see no reason to stop anymore. Get out of here, stay out of my way; because this is your first and final warning. You're out; stay away."

Then he shoved Ric away and it was a hard thump into the wall making his head throb from the blow. Jason didn't move much which made the aching man have to twist and scrape along the brick to get away from him. A guard appeared and was there to escort him off the property and as Ric got into his car he decided this was not the end. He immediately reached for his phone and called Johnny. He had to convince the younger man to take Jason out, or at least make no definitive decisions about what he was going to do about the Zacharra territory. Not until Ric had some time to convince him to his way.

"He's gone," Max said, closing his phone. "But he won't go away; you know that."

"I know," Jason sighed heavily.

"You were right; he came as soon as the cops and techs left," the guard continued. "He was watching from down the street. Why'd he come?"

"To look," he stated. To gloat? To observe the effects of his plan? Who knew what Ric was doing; except that he would be trouble. Jason knew the older man would have to be investigated. Was he stupid enough to eliminate Sonny thinking he could get power if Johnny opposed Jason? Did Anthony do something, perhaps even using Ric as his agent? Was it another family or some rogue player?

He sighed and rubbed his temples. There was too much uncertainty and Jason didn't want to jump to conclusions just because he disliked Ric. He was going to increase security all around and be on his guard, but he was going to see what turned up from the investigation first.


He turned when Cody came around the corner of the house. "We need to go. Johnny will be showing up at the warehouse soon."

With a nod, he looked back at Max. "Keep an eye on things here, okay? You were right in thinking Ric would show up, and you did good when you got all the books and papers out last night before the cops arrived. Thanks, Max."

"Sure thing, Jason," the guard nodded.

Jason turned and walked towards Cody and the two men were silent until they reached the SUV. Cody climbed in behind the wheel and turned the key. Once they were away, the former soldier asked, "Are you sure you can trust Max?"

Letting out a heavy sigh, the new boss braced his elbow on the edge of the door and leaned his head against his hand. "He got the files out before the cops came last night. He called when Ric showed up today. He's been a good guard."

"Oh?" Cody questioned, challenging his statement. "He left you to go work for Sonny. Said he had to be loyal to the man who gave him a job and taught him honor. Sonny wasn't honoring you and he certainly wasn't loyal to you. Sonny treated you like a dog and Max spit on you when he quit working for you."

"Cody," he warned on a low voice. "I told Max it was okay because he could keep an eye on Sonny."

"You made it easy for him to do what he'd already done," the other man shook his head. "Then after walking away from you, expects you to cover up his lies to his old man and let him run the business. That put everything in jeopardy."

"Look," Jason said, straightening and looking over at the former soldier. "I know you didn't like it, and I know you think I should keep an eye on him-"

"You should," the younger man asserted. "He was more loyal to Mr. Corinthos and he's now latched onto you only because Sonny's dead. He's more loyal to Mrs. Jacks than you, even. You should always have someone watch him and don't give him any sensitive assignments or let him be in a position to accept Carly's orders over yours."

"I shouldn't have him look into Sonny's death?" he asked, lifting his brow. "How do I explain that? The man was at the house when it happened, he feels guilty."

"You should always have someone with him," Cody answered. "Someone loyal to you who isn't going to be blinded like Max was. He can be on the investigation if you want, but I just think you should always have someone with him who's going to tell you exactly what they find and not change things or hide things because he thinks it'll make Corinthos look bad, or Carly gives him some song and dance."

The other man let out a sigh as he turned a corner heading towards the docks and said, "Listen, I'm just giving you my opinion. The organization is yours; you're running things. If you decide to make Max your second; it's your choice. If you say you trust him and I'm to work with him and do what he says, then those are my orders."

"Could you follow them?" the head of the organization wondered.

"I'll let you know if the time comes that I can't," the ex-soldier vowed. "And then I'll walk away from the organization and town."

Jason looked out the window and said, "I'm not making Max my enforcer; that's you. You proved yourself to me when I was running things and you make a good second; I know I can trust you. I know Max wasn't openly betraying me and working against me...but you're right, we should have someone with him at all times. Just 'til I get everything figured out."

Then he let out a breath and moved on to other things. "Bernie has all the files now?"

"Yes," Cody nodded. "He's going through them and will work with Diane on what's needed. The cops have forensic know they're going to look into everything."

"Diane and Bernie won't touch the legal accounts. The business all goes to me; we each had rights of survivorship. They have to let me keep the coffee business running, but they'll be looking at everything I do. Once the cops clear everything and the will clears probate, the assets will get divided as Sonny ordered. His kids gets get the majority of the money, and some charities will get donations. The coffee warehouse and casino on the island were joint businesses; they're mine. So the cops will look into the business accounts hoping to find something that will say I might have killed Sonny-"

"But Ms. Miller will be on them like a pit bull," his enforcer said. "And Bernie will shuffle the other accounts around, scrub the money and set up new ones for you to use."

As they neared the docks he said, "So now you just have to meet with Johnny Zacharra and see what he's gonna do."

"Yeah," Jason breathed out. "We're watching Anthony, right? You know he'll try to do something."

"We've got men keeping an eye on him," Cody assured him. "He's tried to get a few guards to help him, but our guys inside always got the message across that it wasn't in their best interest to go along with whatever he was trying."

As the SUV stopped the new boss ordered, "Keep an eye on Ric. I don't know what's going on with him, but something is. And he's too stupid not to try something."

"I'm on it," his second told him. "Now let's get inside you inside and find out what Zacharra's going to do."

Johnny looked at his phone as it rang once again. It had been ringing often, and even though he didn't look at it, he had no doubt it was Ric. He didn't know why the older man was suddenly calling him incessantly, but he could guess. Johnny wanted no part of it, so he continued to ignore the device.

He knew what it was like to be judged because of his father, so Johnny had first tried not to dislike the other man simply because he was the son of Trevor Lansing. As he got to know him, though, he realized that Ric may not be as corrupt as his father, but he was duplicitous and power-hungry like Trevor. The man had issues with Sonny, and in that drive to stick it to his brother, he had gotten Johnny's father released from the mental hospital he'd been. It was that reason that the young man could not stand the lawyer.

His father was psychotic and dangerous and he should have stayed locked up, and preferably heavily medicated. He'd terrorized the town of Port Charles, and had stabbed Ric at the Black and White ball, and Johnny hadn't really cared that his old man had broken his back. It kept him immobile and locked up and for Ric to unleash a psycho like Anthony, Johnny would never forgive him. And he certainly wasn't going to take any advice from the older man.

Ric would want to oppose Jason Morgan and would need Johnny for that. The lawyer would undoubtedly advise him to take the territories back his father had given to Sonny when Claudia married the Cuban, and run them himself. With Ric's help, of course. Johnny had no desire to take control, and certainly didn't want to have his own Lansing consigliore. This was the young man's chance to finally be out, and he was not going to listen to anything Ric might want.

When he stopped at the warehouse, his phone ran again and he picked it up and then turned it off. He left it on the seat, then climbed out and headed towards the door. He made his way through the nearly empty coffee shop and towards the back where the bald enforcer was standing outside waiting for him. Johnny submitted to a search and was admitted inside once the other man ascertained he wasn't armed.

Stepping inside the brick room, he saw Morgan standing behind the desk. The mob boss gestured to the black leather and chrome chairs across from him and Johnny sat down in one of them. Jason sat down in his black leather executive chair and rubbed his jaw. "You know why I wanted to meet, don't you?"

Letting out a breath, Johnny said, "Yeah."

"You okay?" the other man asked, lifting his brow. It wasn't dismissive and cold like Corinthos would have been; the question seemed genuine.

He nodded. "I know violence is part of the game, but Claudia was still my sister. She was ruthless and harsh and she wanted power so nobody would ever be able to treat her like she'd been treated all her life. I'm not entirely surprised by what happened, but still...she's really dead."

"Yeah," the mobster said with a slow nod. "I'm sorry."

"Jason," he shook his head, "You didn't like her, and I understand why. You want to meet with me because Sonny got all of my father's territory when he married Claudia."

"Yeah." The new boss was a man of few words, and Johnny could appreciate that now because he didn't want to drag this out.

"And so now you want to discuss what happens to those territories," he continued on, linking his hands together and leaning forward, the leather creaking slightly beneath him.

When Morgan nodded, Johnny leaned back and flung his arms out. "Keep 'em."

Jason's eyebrows went up and the younger man continued on. "I don't want them; I never wanted them. That was my father's plan. Claudia wanted the territory but my father wanted his son to take over. If Sonny died, Claudia would have fought me tooth and nail over them. I don't want them. Sonny acquired them, my father signed them over, said he had no further claim to them; you inherited all of Sonny's territories. So the Zacharra territories became Corinthos territories, which means they are now yours."

Holding up his hands he said, "I'm not going to try to grab them and come after you. will have a problem."

"What's that?" the older man asked, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.

Tilting his head to the side, Johnny said, "My father. He may be in prison, but he won't like you having the territory. It wasn't his plan. He'll expect me to step in and take over. He'll expect me to go after my sister's killer. He won't want you in charge...and he won't like it."

He licked his lips and then said, "And you don't want my father mad. Because he's a psycho who shot my mother in front of me and he goes after kids and he knows that you have someone you care about."

Jason's face tensed and he frowned. "What do you mean? There's nobody in my life that he can get to. Everyone has guards, and they've been increased recently."

"What about that nurse from the Black and White Ball?" the younger man asked, lifting his brows. "You slept with her; it came out at your trial. You were with her that night out on the island and she's got two little kids."

"Your father doesn't remember the ball," Morgan shook his head, his voice taking on a note of agitation. Or, perhaps it was desperation.

Johnny raised his eyebrows. "My father wasn't supposed to be able to walk, and we all know he can. Just because he's not supposed to remember the ball and everything that happened doesn't mean that's the case. I know he was hiding being able to walk, maybe he's hiding the fact that he remembers. Everything."

The older man swallowed roughly. Johnny held up his hands non-threateningly and said, "I hope the bastard doesn't remember. But my dad's good at hiding things. He's not going to like when I go tell him that Claudia's dead and I'm not taking over. You've got men watching him, I'm sure, but he's not going to just roll over and accept it. So I'm just reminding you of what he might remember so you're prepared. Lulu's ex-sister-in-law was nice and I'd hate to see something happen to her."

Standing he said, "If your lawyer wants me to sign something or you want me to meet with the family heads, I will. I'm gonna go tell my father, so you get a plan and get ready because you know he's going to start something. It's just a matter of what."

Chapter 7

He really should go. He had things he needed to do today; meetings with Cody and Bernie and checking in with Diane to see if she'd heard when the M.E. would release Sonny's body. They should have released it already; the autopsy had been rushed and the preliminary report confirmed what everyone had known or suspected. Sonny had died by a sniper's bullet and died instantly. The cops had scoured the house and grounds and the surrounding area, but found nothing. There was no reason for them to hold the body, except to give a final insult to the man they hated.

Jason was trying to put Sonny's funeral together with so many outside pressures. Mike and Carly each felt they should organize it, to make it easier for him, but neither wanted to work with Johnny to include Claudia's service as Sonny's wife. While Jason didn't like her and he was sure she'd had some part in Michael's shooting, Claudia was Sonny's wife. Johnny asked that it be acknowledged since she had been treated callously by her father, and even by her husband, and Jason felt like it should be done. There were issues with the Families that needed to be dealt with and having Claudia's funeral with Sonny helped ease those as well. All of which meant that he was left planning a funeral for the deceased couple with Diane and Bernie helping where they could.

In addition, he had to worry about the business and all the changes that he was instituting. Now that the territory and holdings were his and there was never the possibility of giving them back to Sonny, he was trying to more efficiently organize and streamline things. Sonny didn't like change and was erratic, and oftentimes sloppy, which meant that things were deeply disarrayed and Jason was cleaning up like he'd tried to get the older man to do. Cody was applying his soldier's past to the situation to bring order where it had waned, and while the men sometimes didn't like the new enforcer, they respected Jason enough to accept his choice for his right hand man. And Cody didn't particularly care if the men didn't like him; he gave orders and demanded obedience, not to him but the orders Jason gave.

It wasn't just for those reasons that Jason knew he should go; it was because the shift change at the hospital would occur soon and he should leave before Elizabeth came to Michael's room. Carly had insisted that someone be with Michael at all times so that he wouldn't be scared and would know that he was okay, and nobody could convince her otherwise. She and Jax were always with him, but Jax had asked Jason last night to spell him so that he could get Carly to relax in the morning and take care of herself and spend some time with Morgan.

Because of that, Jason couldn't leave. He'd promised to stay with Michael, and he wouldn't let Carly down. Even as he told himself that was the reason why he was staying, he felt the weight of those words. He wouldn't see his son because of the danger, but he would sit all night with Michael. He wouldn't let Carly down, but he saw plenty of disappointment in Elizabeth's eye. While he tried to excuse the inconsistency in his words and actions by saying they'd been in the life and were already exposed to the danger because of Sonny whereas Elizabeth and her children weren't, he knew they were only excuses.

And that was the real reason he was staying; because claiming a promise to Carly gave him an excuse to see Elizabeth. It wasn't perfect, and it would probably be painful for both of them, but he couldn't stay away. For months there had hardly been any contact between them because he felt that they couldn't have contact with each other. It was safer if she and the boys weren't in his life and he always loved to see them, but always felt he should leave quickly so nobody would discern how much he cared for them and target her and the boys again.

He missed Jake, but it was better his son never was put in jeopardy again. So Jason threw himself into work to have some purpose, but apparently that created problems as well. There were many people who thought he was getting back together with Sam; including Sam. Despite trying to put her off the last time she was here, she still called him. Offering to talk about Sonny, or anything else he might want to discuss; offering to help; doing anything she could to have contact with him.

The door opened and a shoe squeaked on the linoleum as Elizabeth let out a soft gasp. "Oh! I-I...normally Jax is in here. I didn't mean to interrupt."

"No," Jason quickly assured, standing and facing her. "Jax asked if I would come in last night so he could spend some time with Carly and make sure she rests. She doesn't want Michael to be alone so I..."

He trailed off when she couldn't fully hide her frown and her eyes dimmed. Her voice was slightly chilled as she attempted to smile and act like nothing was wrong. "I'm sure they're glad they could have your help. How-how is she doing? Dr. Lee has asked us to keep an eye on her and Jax has been worried about her. It's clear on his face."

"She's...she's trying to hang in there," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "She's trying to help Morgan...who's already unsettled because he knows Michael is having surgery. And now with Sonny..."

Elizabeth nodded, "It's a lot to handle. I'm sure it's good that she has you and Jax to help. Support is always important...and really makes a difference."

Her words stung, even though he didn't believe she'd meant them that way at all. She didn't have support; hardly any from Lucky and certainly none from him. Her grandmother and Robin and Patrick helped when they could, but it certainly wasn't as much as Carly had. He felt the injustice and how unfair it was, especially since he was part of the other woman's support system, but he didn't know what to say.

Elizabeth forged on and didn't give him a chance to say...something. She cleared her throat somewhat nervously as she noted in Michael's chart. Without looking at him she said, "I wanted to tell you I was sorry about Sonny. I know how much he meant to you and I...I'm very sorry."

"Thank you," he replied softly.

She was silent as she finished checking his nephew's vitals. He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans and wondered what he could say, but knowing he needed to talk to her. As she finished, she eyed him, and then the door and he knew she was getting ready to flee. He took a step slightly to the side to block her escape and her eyes flared.

"Do you have a minute?" he began.

She nodded just once and Jason continued. "I just wanted to let you know...Johnny Zacharra isn't taking his father's territories back; he's leaving them connected to Sonny's. mine."

"Okay," she said, struggling to look unaffected, but probably wondering why he was telling her.

"Anthony isn't happy; he wants his son to run things," Jason continued. "We're watching him in prison and everything we've seen indicates he doesn't remember the Black and White Ball, but...but Johnny cautioned me. So I just wanted you to know that we're keeping an eye on everyone. I-I know that guards would draw attention to you and the boys, but I'll have them watch out for you guys. Drive by your house a little more often."

Her eyes widened and she clutched the chart tightly in her hands. He let out a breath and tried to assure her. "I don't think he remembers, and so while he'll be angry with me, I'm pretty sure you and the boys will be safe. This..."

Jason let out a breath and licked his lips. "This is why it's safer people believe Jake is Lucky's and we aren't together. But I'm looking out for everybody around me and so I just wanted you to know so you could be aware and not caught off-guard."

She swallowed and nodded shakily. "Th-thank you for...for telling me. I...I'll keep my eyes open. I-I hope you stay safe, Jason."

"I will," he nodded. "My men and I are being cautious. If-if you need anything-"

"I-" she cut in. "I'm sure we'll be fine. Like you said, Anthony probably doesn't even remember and everyone thinks Jake is Lucky's I'm sure we'll be fine. You..."

She lifted her chin and said, "You just take care of the people around you. The people you're seen with…that's obviously who others will think you care about."

Then Elizabeth said, "I need to get back to work. I know Patrick wants to take care of the surgery soon and wants to see how Michael is doing."

Stepping around him, she left the room, and he felt her barb had been a little more pointed at the end. It hurt, but it was no more than he probably deserved.

How was Morgan still alive?

Ric was sure that Sonny had ordered a hit on Jason, independent of anyone in the organization that might feel more loyalty to the enforcer than their boss. When Claudia wasn't trying to avoid him or cause conflict between the brothers, she'd smugly hinted at knowing something he didn't. She tried to be coy, but there was enough to lead him to believe his brother had finally seen Jason for the traitor he was.

So how was it that Sonny was dead, and Jason was alive? Had Jason found out about the plan and somehow turned it to his advantage? Was the killer still coming after Morgan, or with Sonny's death had he given up? If he wasn't going to get paid, the killer would probably have no reason to follow through in spite of whatever down payment he might have received. Or the unexpected murder of Sonny and his wife may have scared him off.

Ric had no resources he could access to check and see if a contract actually was purchased, except for one person. Despite being in prison and watched by Morgan's men, he could reach out to contacts. If there was a hit out on Morgan, then maybe Anthony could revive it; or put out his own. Then Johnny would have to step up and Ric would step in to help.

It just required working with the devil to get rid of Jason Morgan.

Elizabeth let out a weary breath as she closed the door to her room and then headed down stairs. Her damp hair rested against her shoulders and she ran her fingers through it, too tired to care about the waves she'd have to contend with tomorrow. The house was quiet and she didn't want to have to spend the time needed to dry her hair. She wanted to sit, watch something on TV and just mindlessly relax. Work was tiring, but the added stress of working on Michael's case was taxing on a good day. To have her unexpected conversation with Jason today had left her stretched tight and emotionally exhausted. Her shower had begun the process of relaxing her body, now she needed to find something to distract her mind.

She brewed a cup of chamomile tea and settled in to watch something on The History Channel. It was interesting enough to keep her attention and therefore settle her mind, but contained no medical dramas to make her analytical skills kick in. She had just taken a sip of her tea when a heavy knock jarred her door, and her nerves.

Standing, she cast a glance at the stairs and sent up a prayer that the boys would stay asleep. Taking a deep breath, she hoped for calm as she opened the front door to Lucky standing on her porch. She'd recognized his knock, and also that it sounded angry, and she didn't expect this to be a pleasant experience. "Lucky," she said flatly. "What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to talk to you," he said, stepping forward and knowing it would force her back. "I didn't want you to get mad at me for showing up and bothering you at work."

"So you show up here without calling first, after the boys are asleep so you don't have to see them and play nice with Mommy while they're awake?" she said, lifting her brow. "Is this another lecture about being a nurse on Michael's surgery and care?"

"I don't want you working on it, Elizabeth," he said, planting his hands on his hips. "It brings you into contact with people you promised me you were done with."

"I didn't promise you anything," she corrected, mirroring his stance while her brows drew together. "You do not get to direct my life; you are not my husband and you aren't my boyfriend."

He pointed at the stairs and hissed, "I am those boys' father!"

"I'm their mother," she pointed out, "and I told you I didn't want Sam around them, but you didn't care."

"I was keeping your secret," Lucky said arrogantly and dismissively. "You weren't in any position to make demands."

Letting out a scornful laugh she shook her head. "You weren't doing me some great favor that I begged and pleaded for you to do. You came to me and said you understood why I'd said you were Jake's father and you offered to stay quiet and continue to protect him. But if you were so concerned about the boys you wouldn't have stayed with Sam after you learned she hired men with guns to hold up me and the boys."

She curled her lip up and said, "You kept quiet so nobody would know you weren't Jake's father. It was bad enough everyone knew I'd cheated on my cop husband with a hitman, to have everyone - meaning the men in the department - know that Jake was Jason's...well that was just too much for your ego, wasn't it? Just like Luke can't accept Nikolas because he's not his son."

"I was doing you a favor," her ex-husband said. "I have some right to expect you to listen to me."

"Like I had a right to expect you to be faithful to me while we were married?" she wondered pointedly. "You cheated on me with Maxie to score drugs and then you threw your infidelity with Sam in my face. So don't at like you were lily-white innocent, Lucky. But you have tried to control me with those boys ever since."

"I'm doing you a favor," he insisted, like that made all the difference. And to Lucky, it probably did.

Elizabeth shook her head and said sadly, "No, Lucky, all you're doing is hurting the boys. You don't see them when you're upset with me and because I said I don't want to...that I think it's better we just remain friends and parents. We've both made mistakes and I was glad we weren't so hurtful and angry anymore. I was glad we were getting along, but now you're petulant and angry because you're not getting what you suddenly wanted, and once again you're punishing the boys."

"You're still holding out hope for Jason, aren't you?" he scoffed. "Despite him dumping you and hooking back up with Sam, you're pathetic enough to hope Jason will declare he wants you. He's the boss of the organization now because somebody shot Sonny. Should Jake get kidnapped again, Elizabeth? Should the boys grow up in a tower with bulletproof glass and surrounded by guards? You're a fool to throw everything away on a hope of something that will never happen."

Licking her lips she worked hard to keep her voice even and not shout as she said, "Get out of my house, Lucky. You have no say in how I live my life, and if you keep acting this way I may have to decide whether it's in Cameron and Jake's best interest for them to have much contact with you."

His eyes narrowed and he said, "You won't take my boys away from me."

"You never try to see them," she pointed out. "You only want to use them to control me or to get your way. How is that being a father, Lucky?"

"They're my boys," he hissed out, leaning down towards her but she stood her ground. "Jason doesn't want them, and they don't fit in his life. You'll just end up alone and pathetic."

"I'll have my boys," she said, firming her shoulders. "And that isn't pathetic. Pathetic is refusing to act like an adult and a father simply because you're mad at Mommy."

She bit back the rest of her statement that compared him to Luke. She didn't want to fight with Lucky; it was just too draining to be angry and petty. It was frustrating to once again be slapped with the shortcomings she'd tried to overlook in him and ignore because she knew nobody was perfect. But she just couldn't let her boys come second to another man's insecurity and undependability. She was going to remain firm this time and be a single mother to sons. She would give them physical and emotional stability the best she could, and not believe she had to provide a two-parent home when Lucky would probably just end up hurting them in the end again.

Jason told her she was strong, sometimes stronger than she knew, and it was time to prove that. She just had to find those resources inside her and get through life. Whatever happened to them; from the mundane or - hopefully not - the not-so-mundane.

Chapter 8

Carly sat in the church and listened to Father Coates talk about Sonny and his life. They were not at the front near Jason like she would have preferred, but many things hadn't worked in her favor today. She had not felt well this morning and the more she tried to rush, the worse her morning sickness became. Jax had then insisted that she relax and calm down, and had stated that their child was more important than Sonny's funeral.

She'd bristled when he instructed her to lie down while he took Morgan to her mother's. Carly felt that Mercedes could have watched him at home, but Bobbie had offered, thinking Morgan might be more comfortable today with his grandmother instead of the nanny. After a brief nap she had felt better and was able to continue getting ready. She'd insisted on stopping in and seeing Michael first, and they would have been on time if Jax hadn't driven so slowly after they left the hospital.

Even though she couldn't be by Jason to support him right now, Carly was comforted by the fact that Elizabeth Webber wasn't there, either. While she still didn't like that Patrick had put the nurse on Michael's case, calling her one of the best nurses in the hospital, at least today it worked for her favor. She was on duty right now, and therefore wouldn't be here. Elizabeth Webber needed to stay away from Jason because she'd already broken his heart enough.

Carly was afraid the other woman would come at some point to Jason, offering her condolences for an old friend, and he would start to fall back under Elizabeth's spell again. Carly knew he missed Jake; it was what kept him from being around Michael more. In his grief over Sonny and his heightened emotions about Michael's surgery, he would probably latch onto pasty-face Elizabeth again in an attempt to be closer to his son. It would only end badly, as it always did, and Carly just didn't want to see her friend go through that again.

He was shouldering so much that she wished she could help him more. She would have to keep an eye on him and do whatever she could under Jax's hyper vigilant eye. While not as dictatorial as Sonny, he was proving to be more insistent lately that she take care of herself and their child. Almost insinuating she was being neglectful of his child and once again focusing too much on Jason and Sonny.

Her eyes scanned the church and then narrowed when she saw Kate and her cousin Olivia. She had tolerated the brunette at first because Olivia was against Sonny and Kate being together, and then Carly discovered she was genuine unlike her phony cousin. Kate, or Connie, was as fake as her frosted tips; her snobbish condescension had always grated on Carly, as did Kate lording over her the fact that she and Sonny had a history that went back farther than the one he had with Carly.

Mostly, though, Carly hated the blonde for the role she played in Michael's shooting. It was her inability to truly accept Sonny for who he really was that led to everything happening that night. She couldn't accept the danger or the mob and made Sonny feel that in order to be with her he had to walk away from all he was. That had led to his stupidity with the guards to show her he was truly out, and Michael had paid the ultimate price for it.

It killed her that he wouldn't get to see his father if his surgery was a success. Morgan would never see his father again, either. A death was tragic under any circumstances, but that he was killed with - and therefore had his funeral with - Claudia Zacharra turned tragic to disgust. Carly trusted Jason's instincts and if he believed Claudia was behind Michael's shooting, then it killed her to sit and listen to Father Coates pray over the woman. Why had Jason allowed her brother to insist on the farce of a marriage looking legitimate with a double funeral?

When it was over and the caskets were loaded into the hearses, Carly made her way over to Jason and hugged her friend. "Are you okay?"

He nodded and then asked, "How are you?"

"I'm alright," she deflected.

Placing his hand on her arm he said, "Carly, you don't need to come to the cemetery. Go be with Michael, or more importantly, go see Morgan. Be with your children and Jax."

"I don't want you to be alone," she frowned at him.

"I'll be fine," he assured her. He looked at Jax who joined them. "Go see your children, Carly. Morgan would probably be really glad to see you right now."

"I think Jason's right," her husband said, wrapping his arm around her waist and brushing his thumb over her hip. "Morgan was pretty upset when I took him to Bobbie's."

She looked at her friend and then nodded. "Okay. I'll go see Michael first and then we can take Morgan home."

Squeezing Jason's arm she looked at him pleadingly and asked, "You'll call me?"

"It may not be until tomorrow, but I'll call," he nodded.

Jax said good-bye to Jason and then the couple turned to go while Jason stayed to speak with a few others who were waiting. As they made their way out of the church they saw Kate and Olivia arguing with a younger, dark-haired man and Jax slowed. Carly rolled her eyes, sure the cousins were fighting over another man; this time it was just a cub.

"Is everything alright?" Jax asked as they approached.

Olivia spun around, her face a myriad of emotions, but fear and panic were chief among them until she schooled them away. "Yeah. We're fine. don't need to wait for us."

"We're not going to the cemetery," he shook his head. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yeah," she said again, forcing herself to calm down. "My son just surprised us by showing up."

"I came to say I think it's time my mom came home," the younger man said. "The man she was so worried Aunt Connie would marry is dead. I understand honoring the boy they knew, but there is no need to stick around mourning a criminal."

"Dante," Olivia hissed while Carly narrowed her eyes at the man. "Show some respect. This isn't New York, and you're not on duty."

"I'm always a cop," he said proudly. "And he was a criminal when he was younger; it's why you both broke up with him. Plus, I saw him kill a man in front of me when I was a kid. I'm sorry for his children that he's dead, but there isn't any reason for you to stick around. Aunt Connie, come back to New York and let's put this town behind us."

Carly clenched her jaw tightly and gripped Jax's hand while glaring at the younger man. She tugged on it angrily and said, "Come on. Clearly they're fine. We need to go see Michael and Morgan...Sonny's children."

She stalked away and heard Olivia chewing her son out and was glad for it. The mouthy cop deserved it.

Carly pushed open the door to Michael's room and paused, glaring at the back of the person at his bedside. Elizabeth turned from where she was writing down monitor readings in his chart. She paused and asked, "Carly? everything okay?"

"Yeah," she nodded, relaxing her look. "Are you almost done?"

The nurse blinked and then hurriedly said, "Yeah. I'll be out of your way in just a second."

Silence reigned in the room as the younger woman marked down a few more readings and then clicked her pen and closed the chart. Before she left she said, "I'm sorry about Sonny. I hope Morgan and you are holding up. Patrick will do his best on the surgery, I know it, and Michael and all of you are in my prayers."

She knew it would be rude to not acknowledge the other woman so she tossed a 'thanks' over her shoulder as she walked past Elizabeth to Michael's bedside. She waited until she heard the door close and then she unsuccessfully tried to hold back a sob. Sitting down she took her son's hand and bowed her head. "Oh, Michael."

Swallowing back another sob and sniffing she said, "I just can't believe your dad is gone. I love Jax, don't get me wrong, but I still cared about your father. He held a special place in my heart, which was why it was so hard, sometimes, to stay away. I know he had such a dangerous lifestyle, but he had survived so much. It's just hard to accept that he's really gone."

She wiped at her eyes and took a shuddering breath. "I don't want to upset you with all this; you shouldn't have all this negativity around you when you're about to have surgery. I just...I can't tell any of this to Jax and Jason's so busy."

Falling silent, she stroked her hand over Michael's arm. Finally she let out a sigh. "I should probably go. Patrick has scheduled tests for later and you need to rest, plus Jax should be done at the hotel soon. If I don't get Morgan and get home soon then Jax will worry and he'll come look for me."

Carly brushed Michael's hair back and admitted, "I knew seeing you would calm me down. It was bad enough that the funeral included that woman, but then Kate and her cousin were there. Olivia's been alright...she's certainly not Kate, but her mouthy son... Some cop from the city spouting off against your father as if he had any clue about the kind of man Sonny really was. Calling him a criminal and then backtracking and giving me a smile as if that would make it all better."

She shook her head and let out a breath. "It's just like your father would have done; get me so angry and then flashing those dimples at me and expecting everything to be better."

A small gasp escaped her lips and she closed her eyes trying to remember what Olivia's son looked like. Short, dark hair and a dark complexion...there was a resemblance. Although the dark hair could have come from Olivia. He was old enough to be a cop which meant Olivia had to have had him young. Young when she knew Sonny. The pair had been involved...

"This is ridiculous," she whispered as she shook her head. She patted Michael's arm and leaned forward to kiss his forehead. "Don't worry about this, Michael; you rest and your tests will be fine."

She stood and picked up her purse, talking to herself under her breath. "It's ridiculous. Olivia could have been with anyone; Sonny said she said she didn't know who her son's father was. Clearly she slept around a lot."

Stepping out into the hall she shook her head; she couldn't believe she was actually giving this any thought. Why did she care if that boy might be Sonny's son? Except that if it was true, then Olivia had lied to Sonny and everyone. How dare she keep Sonny's child from him?!

As she reached the nurses' area she saw Elizabeth Webber head down another hall and was glad. She didn't want to have to deal with her right now as well. Looking around and making sure she was alone, she pulled out her phone and called Jason. It was annoying, but not surprising, that it went to voicemail. She sighed and then said, "Jason, it's me. Call me right away. We need to get Spinelli to do some research. I don't know if you saw Olivia's son at the funeral today but...I know this is crazy, but I think he's Sonny's son. We need to figure this out."

Then she ended the call and placed another. This one went to voicemail as well and she clipped out, "Olivia, it's Carly. Call me. I want to talk to you about your son...and Sonny...and I think you know why."

Then she stalked over to the elevator and stabbed the button. She needed to get Morgan and get home before Jax.

Bobbie wrapped her arm around Morgan's shoulder and pulled the little boy close to her. They'd watched movies, they'd made some cookies and she had done her best to cheer him and distract him today. Carly should have been here by now to get him, and the little boy looked at the clock growing anxious, and then despondent, as more time passed. Every sound they heard he expected it to be her, until he eventually stopped getting his hopes up.

Bobbie loved her daughter, but sometimes she could see that Carly was neglectful of her youngest. Michael was the favorite, and being in a coma hadn't changed that. While it was natural that Carly's focus would be on Michael because of the surgery, she was overlooking Morgan who was desperate for her attention. The little boy had just lost his father and he really needed his mother at this time.

She was going to have to speak to Carly, but she knew she would have to be delicate about it. Her daughter could be quite unreasonable if she thought her devotion to Michael was being questioned.

Elizabeth took a deep breath as she started towards Michael's room. She had no desire for another encounter with Carly, but it was time to change Michael's IV bag and other items needed tending to and she would not have anybody, least of all Carly, question her care for her patient. She fortified herself and determined to be quick, efficient and quiet. Whether Carly, or anybody else was there, she would be as unobtrusive as possible.

She frowned when she didn't see the guard standing outside Michael's room because it had become such a fixture to have a silent sentinel there every time she passed by. But she knew that the men were human and sometimes bladders must be emptied or illness arose. Or, she thought, perhaps the man was simply inside the room. The guards cared for Sonny's family; perhaps the man had taken a quiet moment to step inside and see the young boy. Or Carly could have wanted someone with her son if she had to leave.

Taking a deep breath and schooling her features into neutral professionalism, she reached for the door handle and planned to do her job.

Carly stepped off the elevator in the parking garage and turned for her car. She pressed the alarm button while she was standing by a concrete pillar and then proceeded forward when all that happened was the lights flashed to signal it was disarmed. It had been drilled into her head by everyone to be cautious because car bombs were always a threat. She knew Jason would have wanted a guard on her, but she'd sent him away. There would be one at her mother's house, and she wanted some time alone to clear her head before seeing Morgan.

Opening the door, she climbed into the car and put the key into the ignition. There were no clicks or stutters and she breathed easier when the engine turned over. She took her safety very seriously and after what happened to Sonny, she was more than a little anxious. So every time the process of starting her car went smoothly, she was relieved.

She closed the door and put the car into reverse, the doors automatically locking as the car slipped out of park, and looked over her shoulder and then checked her mirrors. She let off the brake gradually when she saw there were no cars coming, and started to gradually roll backwards. Then fire engulfed her, heat seared her flesh and the car exploded.

Glass breaking in the kitchen was her first and only warning. Bobbie automatically turned to look at the sound and a man with a black mask over his face charged into the room. Morgan screamed, she yelled, and the nurse had no sooner stood up then she found herself pushed out of the way while a knife flashed and the man advanced on Morgan.

Struggling to her feet, she grabbed for the fireplace tools and swung out as soon as her hand grasped metal. The blow from the poker stunned the man and the knife slipped from his hand. Bobbie swung again and again, refusing to give up. She wouldn't let Morgan be hurt; not while she could do all that she could to prevent it.

The orderly by the bed surprised her since she'd been preparing for Carly or a guard to be inside. It took her a second to realize the man in scrubs and a surgical mask covering his face was holding a needle to Michael's IV line.

"Hey!" she yelled. She looked behind her and shouted, "Security! Security!"

She started towards the bed while yelling, "Get away from him!"

She didn't know what she was going to do, but Elizabeth's instincts screamed for her to protect Michael. The needle fell, the man whirled around and pure malice was in his eyes as he rushed towards her. He barreled into her, knocking her down and pain exploded in her arm as she struck the floor.

"Security!" she yelled again, even though she knew the man was gone out the door and had probably already disappeared. " us!"

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