"Are you sure this is protected?" Jax asked as he, PK and Noelle headed towards the waiting Suburban with its dark tinted windows and forbidding size. Squinting behind a pair of coal black Ray Bans, he searched for movement and any indication that other than the flight crew behind them and the driver beside the SUV they were not alone. "Phaedra?" he prompted when she didn't answer fast enough. He dug in his heels and lifted Noelle into his arms. His voice growled for effect, "Phaedra?!"
"I heard you the first time!" she responded. "Jax, trust me. No one could be here even if they wanted to."
Blonde locks whipped about his forehead, further irritating him. He pushed the hair back as he mouthed to her over the child's head, 'That's what they thought about Wyndemere!'
PK's jaw tightened as she glared at her husband. "We still don't know what happened there so don't jump to conclusions, all right? I've told you before that this is Sonny's island-"
"So?" he asked with mild sarcasm, refusing to move an inch even as Phaedra began to stride to the SUV.
"This island is uncharted territory," she explained. "No one knows about it except for a few higher ups in the White House. In exchange for information and medical assistance, Casa Corinthos is off limits to the entire world. No one knows about this place except for those who need to know. And just because you can't see security, don't think were alone. They're everywhere. If an unidentified plane tries to fly in, the pilot will quickly realize the error of his or her ways. The same goes for a boat or a swimmer. Sonny takes his privacy very seriously."
Resentment that he thought had long since passed came over him and filled him with bitterness. Hearing Corinthos defended so eloquently shouldn't have bothered him. Normally, it wouldn't have, but Phaedra was his wife. Her glowing report on his once nemesis reminded him of the past and he couldn't stop accusation from coloring his voice when he said, "I didn't realize you were his biggest fan."
She drew in a harsh breath and stared at him for a moment. When he didn't move and Noelle's inquisitive eyes went back and forth between the adults, PK moved towards them. She took her husband's hand and squeezed. "I'm not. I just happen to be in the business of need to know and that was something I needed to know. Come on. People are waiting to see this little one," she said, smiling as she caressed the little girl's dimpled cheek. "We shouldn't keep them waiting."
"Sweetheart," he began quietly as he matched her steps to the SUV.
"I apologize for before."
She squeezed his hand again. "I know."
"Hi, Dara," Matt greeted as he entered her room. The curtains were parted and the windows were opened. Sunlight beamed and ocean breezes blew into the room. Dara's condition was still critical, but the bright disposition of the room made anything possible. Matt noted hope glimmering faintly in her eyes and it brightened his day, reminding him why he had become a doctor in the first place. "It's a beautiful day, isn't it?"
"Nice," she agreed, whispering hoarsely. Her head shifted against the pillows as he stood over the bed. He grabbed a nearby chair and sat. Her perusal of him never wavered. Offering him a faint smile, she said, "You're feeling better today."
Touched by her observation, he was slow to respond. Every day was a challenge for her. They were all trying, but a cure hadn't been found for her. Any day she could take a turn for the worst with no possibility of recovery, yet she had cared enough to know that he had been in pain. Amazing. Smiling at her, he nodded. "Yes, I am."
"Your back?" she asked. She struggled against the pillows until she sat more than lay on the bed.
"Yeah," he answered. "It was giving me a little trouble."
She nodded in understanding. "I thought so. You should rest more."
Matt laughed softly. "I thought I was the doctor here."
"You are," she replied with a shrug. Averting her eyes, she added, "I get tired of being the patient, Matt. It's very boring and no one else seems to know what to say to me. Let's just talk like there's nothing wrong with me. Just for a little while."
His throat became dry as he listened to her heartfelt request. He swallowed hard and vigorously nodded his head. "Okay. What should we talk about? Give me a subject and I'm ready!"
Her brown eyes shined with laughter. A broad smile came to her full lips. "I remember that about you. I'm sorry that Alex and I lost touch."
"Ellen and I should have tried harder, too," he said. "The important thing is that we're all here. Now, what's our topic?"
"Let's talk about you," Dara suggested. "What's wrong with your back?"
This was a subject that Matt usually shied away from. He didn't want to consider the possibility of failure so he ignored it. He wanted to walk again. Not that he was knocking what he could do in a wheelchair. He could do plenty, dammit! But there were limitations. Working legs gave him the liberty to do things that he missed. It gave him freedom. Looking at Dara and understanding her precarious predicament, he had no choice but to cast his pride aside and to answer her. From the intense way she looked at him, he knew her question wasn't just idle conversation. She really wanted to know. So, he told her.
"It may be the surgery. I've had a few surgeries to reverse the damage that had been done to my spinal cord," he explained. "This last surgery was supposed to be the last."
Matt shrugged. "I hope so. Although I enjoyed being a surgeon, I don't like going under the knife myself. I want it to take this time."
Dara smiled weakly and stifled a yawn. Her strength had dwindled again. She returned to her earlier position on the bed and before she closed her eyes, she smiled at him again. "I want that for you, too. So rest, Doctor."
She drifted to sleep soon after and Matt remained in his chair, watching her. The frustration that had consumed him since the pain had started slipped away. Talking with Dara had helped him. Now, the time had come for him to help her. He rose from the chair and quietly left her room. There were more tests that could be run on the tissue samples he, Ellen and Simone had collected. The answers would come, but only if they kept searching. And that was exactly what he intended to do.
Simone found Carrie sitting on the stone fence facing the ocean. Seagulls cried in their strange language. Snow, white clouds floated above. Salt clung to the air and its breezes. Yet, Carrie appeared oblivious to it all. Simone moved towards her friend slowly and sat down beside her. "Nice view, isn't it?"
"Huh?" Carrie had a quizzical expression on her face when she faced Simone. "What did you say?"
"Not much," the other woman said, "just commenting on the view. I guess it would be perfect under difference circumstances. Sonny just called."
"Did he find out anything else?" she asked, hope echoing in her voice. "Did that doctor leave behind any notes that could help Dara?"
Simone shook her head. "Nothing else has turned up. Jason is helping him and they've decided to follow a new lead."
"What?" Carrie questioned.
"He didn't say. I think he's getting into things that he doesn't want me to really know about right now," she answered honestly.
"Does that upset you?"
A smile touched Simone's face for a brief moment. "I suppose it should and normally, it would but I trust him. He knows what he's doing."
"What if he's in danger?" Carrie asked, looking out towards the water again. "What then?"
"Sonny is resourceful. He can take care of himself. He and Jason look out for each other. I know he's safe."
"Yeah, our husbands seem to be fine in this escapade, but our children are at the threshold of danger's door," Carrie commented softly. "I know that Tommy is helping is Nikolas and Dawn look for Dominik. With that shooting in the park, it's gotten scarier. I'm terrified for them. How are you holding up?"
"My son is resourceful, too. He has to be. I raised him that way." Simone stood. Patting Carrie's arm, she added, "I hope this doesn't sound callous, but worrying about them won't change a thing. It won't bring Dom back any faster and it won't heal Dara. We'll survive this just like we've survived everything else...in spite of it all."
Carrie laughed. "You've always had a way with words, girlfriend."
"After being a wife, mother, grandmother, friend and doctor, it's my claim to fame." After a glance at her watch, she said, "Phaedra and Jax should be here soon with Noelle. Everything is ready for her. Have you decided what you will say to her about Dara?"
"I'll tell her that her Auntie is sick, but we're praying that she will get better soon."
"That's a good answer," Simone said with a nod. "Oh, by the way, a few more will be joining us. Gina, Shana and the girls and Keesha and her kids are on the next plane coming in. Keesha and Dara used the same doctor, but she doesn't know. Jason doesn't want to alarm her needlessly."
Simone headed back inside, but Carrie's call stopped her. She turned around and waited.
"If they're sending Gina and Keesha and the children here, things have gotten much worse than what they're telling us."
"Yep," Simone agreed. The two women were silent as they looked at each other. Then, Simone turned and went inside the Casa, leaving Carrie to her thoughts while she sorted out her own.
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