The dark clouds looming overhead mirrored the darkness of his heart on that fall morning, AJ thought as he stood on the terrace of his penthouse apartment. He didn't want to feel dark and gloomy or unhappy and empty, but still the feelings persisted in wrapping themselves around his heart and squeezing him tight. Keesha Ward was to marry his brother in just a few hours and he couldn't help but wonder if the old adage was true: "Happy is the bride the sun shines down on." And, if it was true, what did the dark clouds have in store for her.
"Don't tell me you believe in those old proverbs?" Eve asked, walking out onto the terrace to join AJ. She handed him a steaming mug of hot chocolate and took a sip of her own as she rested her brown eyes upon him.
"I…um… You heard me?" he asked, raising his contrite hazel eyes to hers.
"Yeah," she nodded. She placed her hand on his forearm to quiet him as he opened his mouth to speak. "It's okay. Really, it is. Whatever is happening between us now, first and foremost, I'm your friend. And, as your friend, I wouldn't be much of one if I begrudged you for being sad. Keesha is getting married today. I know that hurts. You don't have to hide it from me."
"Oh, Eve," he sighed deeply. He rubbed his free hand over his wearily over his face. "I didn't think it would hurt so much. I thought I'd gotten past some of it, but…"
Eve placed her mug on the ledge of the railing and did the same with his. She opened her arms to him. "Come here." He went to her and they wrapped their arms around each other. She whispered softly to him. "It's gonna hurt. You just have to ride it out, but one thing's for sure, you *will* make it through this day. I'm making damn sure of it!"
AJ moved slightly so that he could cup her face with both hands. His thumb lightly grazed her face as he looked down into her bright, shining eyes. His husky voice asked her, "What did I ever do to deserve you and what you've given to me?"
Smiling, she shrugged. "I don't know. You're just lucky, I guess." As he laughed softly, she continued, "Now, you have exactly twenty minutes to get dressed. You're not spending this day cooped up in here. We're going out on the town."
"But, it's about to rain…" he began.
"No, buts, and what if it does? A little rain never hurt nobody!" She stepped away from their embrace and gave him a playful shove toward the open glass doors. "Now, go!"
"I'm going! I'm going," he laughed softly. As he stepped into his apartment, he wasn't exactly bouncing with joy, but a pleasant feeling of peace had settled over him. Today wasn't just any ordinary day. Keesha was marrying someone else and the thought of it still hurt. But, he would survive it. Eve yelled for him to hurry up, and he shook his head and laughed. Yeah, he would definitely survive it.
Below her, the Quartermaine mansion was abuzz with activity and Keesha could feel the excitement pumping through the walls. If she closed her eyes, she could almost see the hustle and bustle, which was taking place just one story down.
When she and Jason had announced their engagement to his family, they had mistakenly thought that they'd have a small, simple ceremony. They hadn't finalized anything other than the fact that they were to be married. Perhaps, they should have because as soon as the words had been uttered, Monica, and Edward even, had insisted that the nuptials would take place right there at the Q mansion. And, even though she and Jason had protested, their words had fallen on deaf ears, and with the assurance that their needs and wants would be given top priority, she and Jason had consented.
Naturally, the Wards had been upset when they heard that the Quartermaines would host the blessed event. To placate his fiancée's parents, Jason had casually mentioned that his family hadn't said nor done anything in regards to their honeymoon plans. Keesha's eyes had widened in shock at his forwardness, but as his blue eyes twinkled and her parents had jumped on the idea of sponsoring their trip to the Caribbean… Well, Keesha's shock had soon disappeared and a blissful smile graced her face.
Now, as she admired her Clea Colet original with the daring décolletage and princess-style skirt, she smiled to herself. The ivory Chantilly lace draped beneath the silk satin bustline created a dreamy effect against her mocha skin. Jason hadn't been allowed to view the dress, but Keesha knew that the racy ballgown, as well as, her full bosom which couldn't have been more emphasized if she had wanted it to be, would set him on fire. A bigger smile spread across her dark red lips as she thought of their wedding night…and of their future.
Her smile still in place, she stepped away from the mirror and moved to the windows. Her smile faded as she pushed the white, lacy curtains aside and looked out at the November morning. Instead of a bright, cheery sunny sky greeting her, she was met by quite the opposite.
She frowned, as more dark clouds seemed to roll in. The clouds had been rolling in all morning, and seeing them continue to dominate the sky gave her an unsettling feeling of dread. She heard the door open and close behind her. Without turning around, she said, "Mama, I don't think these clouds are gonna let up."
"I think you've gotten me confused with someone else," came the rich, masculine voice behind her. "Your mama is downstairs 'conversing' with your future mother-in-law."
"Justus." Her smile returned as she faced her cousin. She left the window to go to him. The appreciative grin on his face caused her to blush and laugh softly. "What?" she asked, as he simply stared at her.
"You. I'm just looking at you, Lil Bit." He shook his head in amazement. "I can hardly believe that the little kid who followed me around and was always underfoot has grown into the incredible woman that you are. Granny Mae would be so proud."
"Oh, Justus." Her voice cracked as tears sprang to her eyes. She lightly fingered the cross her mother had given to her to replace the one, which had been taken from her during her ordeal in the catacombs. Through her tears she smiled at her cousin. "I can feel her here. I've sensed her before, but today, it's been so much stronger. Have you ever sensed her?"
"Yeah," he nodded and drew her into his arms, "all the time. She loved us and she always will. Nothing could change that, not even death."
"I know." She wiped at the tears with the pads of her fingertips. She stepped away from Justus' warm embrace to admire him in his tuxedo. She whistled as she took in the charcoal grey double-breasted, peak-lapel tuxedo jacket, spread-collar white shirt, black tie and matching vest. The newly grown goatee completed her cousin's dashing look. "My, my, my. Don't you look good today! How will Simone be able to contain herself?"
Justus flushed slightly at Keesha's gentle teasing. A slow smile spread across his face as he said, "I didn't come with Simone."
"Oh, no?" she asked, moving back to the mirror to touch-up Gina's hard work. "Why not? I thought you two were… Well, I don't know, becoming closer, maybe?"
"You've been in la-la land with Jason for too long, Lil Bit," he teasingly chided her. "Simone and I are just friends. Besides, she's found someone else, as have I."
Keesha dropped the make-up brush on the vanity table as she whipped around to begin her interrogation. "Oh, yeah? Who?"
"Well, I…don't want to go into too much detail…" he hedged.
"Justus," Keesha said with warning in her voice. She raised an eyebrow and waited for him to speak.
"Well, if you must know, Alexis Davis and I have gone out a few times and she came with me today."
"Justus, that's wonderful!" She kissed his cheek and beamed at him.
A little embarrassed, but also very pleased, he smiled. "I'm glad that my dating partner has met with your approval. I'm also glad to see that beautiful smile back on your face where it belongs. You didn't look so good when I first came in. So, everything is okay, now? No last minute misgivings or second thoughts?"
She glanced at the dark clouds, which seemed to be receding just a tiny bit and then turned her eyes back to her cousin. She shook her head. "No, cuz. I love Jason. Rain or shine, this will be one of the happiest days of our lives."
"You have the rings, right?" Jason asked, as he finished buttoning his iridescent purple vest. He tore his eyes away from his image in the mirror to lock eyes with Sonny who was busy in the other mirror adjusting his tie. "Sonny?"
"Yeah, Jase, I got 'em," Sonny replied, reaching into his inside breast pocket. He produced two sparkling platinum bands of gold. He chuckled softly when Jason breathed a sigh of relief. "What happened to Mr. Calm, Cool and Collected? Getting nervous?"
"No." Jason reached for his jacket without looking. His hands connected with air, and he almost panicked until Tommy re-entered the room, carrying the jacket. "What's the big idea?" Jason asked, taking the jacket from him.
"It was wrinkled. Your mom asked me to get one of the maids to iron it, which I did. So, by the way, you're welcome," Tommy said, closing the door behind him.
"Thanks, Tommy. Sorry about that."
"No, problem," Tommy replied. "Guys become crazy on their wedding day. You should have seen Nikolas. Actually, he was worse than you, which reminds me, you have the rings, right?"
Sonny rolled his eyes, reached into his pocket and pulled the rings out again. Tommy shrugged and said, "Cool."
"What does it look like down there?" Sonny asked, putting the rings back into his pocket.
"People are starting to show up. The band's here and just finished setting up. Your grandfather was bossing everyone around and your grandmother told him to blow it out his ear," Tommy said, laughing at the memory.
Jason laughed and turned back to the mirror. He picked up his brush and contemplated his hair. He didn't know if it looked okay. He glanced at Sonny and Tommy as Sonny helped the younger man with his tie and he considered asking them, but he changed his mind. He was a grown man. He could do his hair, but damn! Now, that it was longer (per Keesha's request/demand, he forgot which), he couldn't just saturate it with gel or mousse. He actually had to style it. He raised the brush to his dark, golden locks and started to brush. "Here goes nothing."
"What?" Sonny asked, turning away from Tommy. He went to Jason and watched silently as his friend fussed with his hair. A crack about being pretty on his wedding day was on the tip of Sonny's tongue as his cell phone began to ring.
Sonny reached for his phone and flipped it open. "Yeah," he said into the phone, "and it had better be important."
Jason tuned Sonny out as he finished up his hair. After setting his brush back down on the dresser, he took a few steps back from the mirror so that he could get the full effect of his reflection. He and Monica had spent the day in New York, going here and there to various shops to find *the* perfect ensemble for his one and only wedding day.
He hadn't wanted to go for the traditional tux with the typical bow tie. He wanted a look that would was completely different. His interest in his attire had surprised Monica, but he knew that she was thrilled about it, too. And, finally, after hours of searching, the found the Pierre Cardin ensemble that fitted Jason and his personality to a "T".
No lapels and no bow ties were the deciding factor for Jason. And when he tried on the black four-button wool jacket, white Mandarin-collar shirt with a button cover at the neck, and the purple vest, he knew that he had found what he had been looking for. He could hardly wait to see Keesha's reaction. He knew she would be very pleased. A secretive smile played across his lips as he considered the ways she would show him how pleased she was.
"Fine! I'll be right there, and whoever's responsible for this had better not be around when I get there."
"Sonny?" Jason asked, concerned by the venom in his best friend's voice. "What's going on?"
Sonny shook his head. "Nothing I can't handle. Listen, I can't stay. I have to leave for a little while, but I'll come back as soon as I can."
"What do you mean, you're leaving? You're my best man. You can't leave."
"I have to," Sonny said. He pulled out the rings again and handed them to Jason. "You'll be okay up there. And, like I said, I'm coming back."
"What's going on, Sonny?" Jason asked, his eyes boring into Sonny's. The other man's dark eyes were unreadable, and it frightened Jason. "What happened?"
"Nothing for you to worry about," Sonny replied, trying to reassure him. "I have to go." He turned to leave, but he quickly turned around again. He pulled the younger man into a warm embrace, and said, "You'll be just fine up there."
"Are you okay?" Tommy asked after Sonny left. Jason had become quiet and although it didn't frighten Tommy, it left him feeling very concerned.
"I'm just thinking, but I'm fine." Jason gave Tommy a faint smile. When Tommy smiled back, an idea formed in Jason's head. "Hey, how would you like to be my best man?"
"Are you sure?" Tommy asked with a frown. He and Jason were friends, but a best man was a best friend. He wouldn't mind standing up for his friend, but-
Jason saw the trepidation on his friend's face. He went to him and held out the rings. "Yeah, I'm sure. If wouldn't mind standing up for me, I'd greatly appreciate it."
Tommy took the rings from Jason. "Sure, I'll do it."
Jason breathed a sigh of relief as Tommy pocketed the rings. Despite Sonny's abrupt departure, everything would be perfect. It had to be. He was marrying the woman of his dreams and he would accept nothing less.
"D'inverno, mi piace una coperta calda sul letto. Si?" (In the winter, I like a warm blanket on my bed. Yes?) Dawn asked softly as she looked at Nikolas for his reaction to her Italian.
"No," he shook his head. As she frowned, he took her hands and whispered, "Ti piace tuo marito sul letto, d'inverno…la primavera…l'estate…l'autunno. Siempre." (You like your husband on your bed, in winter…spring…summer…fall. Always.)
"Nikolas! Come on," Dawn pleaded as a seductive grin spread across his face. "Did I say it correctly or not?"
"You were perfecto!" He said, kissing his fingertips.
"Really? You're not just saying that, are you? Was the accent, okay? Did I really say it right?"
"Your accent was impeccable," he reassured her. A slight frown creased his brow as he said, "All of your tutors have informed me that you are a far better student that I ever was. You're always prepared and always do your best. Surely, they've told this to you. Are they pushing you to study more? Should I have a talk with them?"
"No!" Dawn laughed softly as she spoke a little louder than she had intended. She lowered her voice as she said, "They're not pushing me. I'm pushing me."
"Why?" he asked, placing her hand at the small of her back. He led her to the first row of chairs and they sat down. As she remained silent, he took her hand and asked her again, "Why are you pushing yourself so hard? With the band and our baby on the way, you don't have to push yourself so hard. You should probably start to consider slowing down."
"I can't slow down. At least, not yet. I'm not pushing myself that hard," she shrugged, avoiding his question.
"You are so. Every night for the past two weeks, you've fallen asleep with a textbook in your lap. Why, sweetheart? What's made you so driven?"
"I…um… Let's not talk about this here, okay?" she asked, averting her eyes.
"Dawn, please, just tell me why. We don't have to start a full-blown discussion here, but I would like to know what's going on. Please?" Nikolas gently placed two fingers under her chin and lifted her head so that her eyes were on his. "Please?"
Dawn couldn't resist the gentleness of his voice. "Because I don't want to embarrass you-"
"What?!" he asked, taken aback. "Why would you think that? You could never embarrass me. Never."
"I-I could. It's possible," she said, lowering her eyes back down to her hands, which rested in her lap. "You're a Prince and there are certain things a Prince's wife should know. I want to know those things. I don't want you to regret marrying me."
Nikolas cupped her face with both hands and once again, raised her head. He wanted to see her eyes as he spoke to her. "I would never regret marrying you. Never!" he fiercely whispered. "That 'Prince' stuff is some archaic title which doesn't make any sense to anyone and should not have any bearing on our marriage. I love you, whether you speak Italian, French or English! I love *you*! Do you hear me? Am I making any sense to you, yet?"
"No, buts! And no more studying until the wee hours." She rolled her eyes in reply to which he raised an eyebrow and remained firm. When she saw that he was not backing down, she gave a slight nod of her head. He then rewarded her with a kiss.
Lucky held his breath as he watched his brother kiss Dawn. He wanted to look away, but he couldn't. He watched until the kiss deepened and then he found the encouragement to turn his attention back to his guitar.
His newfound interest in Dawn confused the hell out of him. For the past two weeks, she had avoided him like the plague and when they had been around each other, she made sure to stay as far away from his as possible. He guessed he understood her reasons, but the more she went out of her way to avoid him, the more he found himself drawn to her…seeking her out until their eyes met and she looked away.
He was playing a dangerous game and he knew it. He felt ashamed of himself, but it still didn't stop him from thinking about her or remembering their kisses… At the time, the practice kisses had felt a little awkward and embarrassing, but as time wore on and they became more comfortable with each other, the practice kisses had become a lot more enjoyable than either of them were willing to admit. Scratch that. Than *she* was willing to admit.
"Yeah?" Lucky asked, as Jordan came toward him, twirling his drumsticks.
"Old man Quartermaine just left so we should get that sound check in now," Jordan advised.
"Sure, man," Lucky pulled his guitar strap over his shoulder and moved to adjust his amp.
"Yo, man, could you get Dawn before you do that? She and Nikolas are sitting down back over there."
Tension flowed through his body as he plastered a tight smile. "Sure," he told Jordan. He removed his guitar from around him and held it in his hand as he left the mini-stage and followed his friend's request.
He forced himself to take a deep breath as he neared them. He hoped his eyes were unreadable as he looked at her. In a crème colored, lacy tank dress that matched their crème colored suits, she looked so beautiful, he thought. Her lips full from kisses seemed so inviting- Dammit, Spencer, cut it out!
"Lucky? Is anything wrong?" Nikolas asked as his brother reached him and Dawn.
"Huh?" Lucky asked, keeping his eyes on Nikolas. He shook his head, and said, "No, I'm fine. Actually, I came to get Dawn. Jordan wants to do a sound check while the old guy is out of the room."
"Okay, sure," Dawn said to Lucky's forehead. She and Nikolas rose from their seats. She held onto Nikolas' hand and asked, "Are you coming?"
He shook his head. "Laura just came in. I think I'll go say hello to her and Lu."
"Okay." When he moved to leave her and Lucky alone, she pulled him back and kissed him again. When the kiss ended, he whispered that he loved her in her ear and then he left.
"You didn't have to do that on my account," Lucky said softly, his eyes on her as she watched Nikolas kiss his mother's cheek and open his arms to his little sister. He regretted the words as soon as said them. He shook his head as he silently chided himself. Stupid!
"I didn't," she replied. Still avoiding his eyes, she turned around and headed toward the mini-stage.
"Dawn, I'm sorry. I was out of line," he said, moving quickly to reach her.
She stopped walking and took a deep breath before she looked at him. "You were and apology accepted. Now, let's just drop it and get to work."
"Sure. I can do that," he replied.
"Good. Then, do it."
Jason stood as still as a statue as he waited for the music that would serenade his bride as she walked down to him. He was oblivious to time and space as he kept his eyes glued to the door. He was only dimly aware that other people were in the room or even that Tommy stood beside him. His entire being was centered on one person and one person alone. His heart began to race as the music started.
Dawn and Lucky moved to center-stage as Sly's fingertips tickled the ivories and signaled that it was time for their duet to begin. Keeping her eyes on the family and friends who had gathered there, Dawn began to sing…
"For you I give a lifetime of stability
Anything you want of me
Nothing is impossible
For you there are no words or ways to show my love
Or all the thoughts I'm thinking of "
Gina slowly made her way down the rose petal-covered floor.
"Cause this life is no good alone
Since we've become one I've made a change
Everything I do now makes sense
All roads end
All I do is for you"
Gina moved to stand at the altar directly opposite Tommy. Dressed in a lavender halter-top, floor-length gown, she was a vision to Tommy and he found that he couldn't keep his eyes from her. She blushed faintly at his close scrutiny, and then her eyes drifted over him with equal intensity. From a distance, she admired the handsome figure he presented in his tux. Their eyes made contact one more time before they adjusted themselves to see Keesha as she and her father began to come towards them.
As Lucky began to sing, Tommy stole a glance at Jason. His older friend's eyes were glued to Keesha, and Tommy was almost certain that they shone with a few unshed tears. A faint smile came to Tommy's lips and he turned his attention back to the bride.
"For you I share the cup of love that overflows
And anyone who knows us knows
That I would change all faults I have
For you there is no low or high or in between
Of my heart that you haven't seen
Cause I share all I have and am
Nothing I've said's hard to understand
And all I feel I feel deeper still
And always will
All this love is for you"
Keesha felt her heart lodge in her throat as she looked at her handsome groom. His ensemble was perfect, she saw through tear-filled eyes. As her father gently kissed her cheek and left her at the altar, she blinked the tears back. She wanted to see the man she loved with clear eyes. She planned to remember this moment forever, and blurry vision just wouldn't do.
Jason took her hand and linked it through his arm. Unable to resist, he placed a light kiss on her temple. "I love you," he whispered. She whispered the same back to him. In the background, Dawn and Lucky's voices blended together as they continued on with the song.
"For you I'd make a promise of fidelity
Now and for eternity
No one could replace this vow
For you I'd take your hands and heart and everything
And add to them a wedding ring
Cause this life is no good alone
Since we've become one you're *all* I know
If this feeling should leave I'd die
And here's why
All I am is for you
Everything I do now makes sense
All roads end
And all I do....
Is for you"
"If anyone has just cause why these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace."
As Reverend Alden uttered the ominous words, Jason felt a chill course through him. A slight noise on the other side of the doors scared him for a second, but as no one moved or reacted to it, he wondered if he'd heard anything at all. Breathing a sigh of relief, he turned his eyes to Keesha and listened closely as she recited her vows.
"I, Keesha Mae Ward, take thee, Jason Morgan-Quartermaine, to be my lawfully wedded husband. I promise to love, honor and cherish you, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, forsaking all others until death do us part."
Squeezing her hands tightly, Jason began to speak, "I, Jason Morgan-Quartermaine, take thee, Keesha Mae Ward, to be my lawfully wedded wife. I promise to love, honor and cherish you, in sickness and health, for better or for worse, forsaking all others until death parts us."
Remembering his responsibility from his previous stint as best man, Tommy handed the priest the rings. Reverend Alden smiled at the young man and said, "Thanks!" The congregation chuckled softly as did the bride and groom. The minister placed the rings on the Bible and said, "These rings represent the circle of love which has no beginning and no end." He looked first at Keesha. "Now, repeat after me," he said to her.
Keesha took Jason's ring from the Bible. Holding his large left hand in her much smaller left hand, she slid the platinum band onto his third finger. "With this ring, I thee wed."
Jason repeated Keesha's actions. His voice was hoarse with emotion as he said, "With this ring, I thee wed."
Reverend Alden beamed at them and said loudly for all to hear, "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder. You may now kiss!"
Jason whispered, "We did it!" As Keesha nodded in happy agreement, he cupped her face and lowered his head to hers. He kissed her hard and deep, ignoring everything and everyone, except for her. He kissed her softly and lovingly, gently sealing their bond forevermore.
"Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Jason Morgan-Quartermaine."
Jason and Keesha greeted their well wishers with smiles, hugs and happiness. Holding on tightly to each other's hands and standing side by side, they made a stunning pair as they relished in their first moments as husband and wife.
As more and more people filed in to greet them and offer congratulations, Jason found that his eyes kept straying to the door. The wedding ceremony was over and still Sonny hadn't returned. It wasn't like him to go back on his promise to return. He knew how important the day was to Jason. He *would* return, but when?
Jason looked to his side at Tommy. He had half a mind to tell his young friend to see if Sonny was somewhere in the house or maybe call him. In fact, the request was on the tip of his tongue when out of the blue, he changed his mind and decided to do it himself. He kissed Keesha's cheek before excusing himself for a few minutes and then he left the room.
"SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!"
The angry voice was loud in the foyer, and Jason was surprised that Reginald wasn't on the situation. As he neared the den, he recognized the voice as belonging to Sonny and he was filled with dread as he realized that his greatest fear was about to be realized.
"You just shut your mouth!" Carly fired back at him. "I don't know who you think you are, but I wanna to see Jason and I'm going to!"
"What the hell are you doing here?!" Jason asked, slamming the door behind him. Furious, he placed his hands on his hips and stormed into the center of the room. His eyes went from one to the other. He didn't know who he was angrier with…Sonny for not telling him or Carly for showing up. "What are you doing here??!" he repeated, angrily.
"I-I…" Carly stammered in the face of Jason's anger. Her mind raced to find an explanation, but none was to be had. Her eyes roamed over him, drinking in how handsome he looked in his tuxedo. Her eyes stopped roaming when she saw the wedding band on his left hand. Startled, her eyes flew back to his.
Jason clenched and unclenched his jaw. He was so angry that all he saw was red. Fearful that he might strike out at her, he turned to Sonny. "How did this happen? Is this what your mysterious phone call was about?"
"Yeah," Sonny sighed, wearily wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. He spoke softly as he continued. "Somehow, the papers were sent up today instead of next Wednesday. By the time, I got there she had already been released. I talked to a nurse who told me that she had shown an interest in the Quartermaine wedding. It wasn't hard to figure out that she would come here. I made it here just as she did. She tried to bust up the wedding, but I grabbed her and brought her in here."
Jason thought he had heard something. His anger at Sonny disappeared and gratitude took its place. He asked, "How did she get here?"
"She called a cab," Sonny replied.
"Would you leave us alone, please?" Jason asked. "Also, could you make sure that no one comes in here?"
"Will do. Try not to leave any blood stains on the carpet," Sonny advised. "They're a bitch to get out."
Jason nodded. He waited until the door was closed before he spoke again. "Just what the hell did you hope to accomplish by interrupting my wedding? Why did you come here?"
"I came to help you…to prevent you from making the biggest mistake of your life," Carly said. While Jason and Sonny had conversed, her voice had returned and a plan had accompanied it.
"Mistake?" Jason pinched the bridge of his nose, willing himself to think rationally and not strangle her right there in his mother's house. "And, what mistake would that be?"
"Marrying Keesha," she told him. She looked pointedly at his hand, and said, "But I see that I'm too late. I'm so sorry, Jason."
Jason laughed. "You…you're delusional. I don't need your sympathy. I'm married to the woman I've loved forever it seems, but you wouldn't know anything about that, now would you?"
"About what? Love? I know all about love," she said, turning away from him.
"Sure, Carly," he said, becoming irritated with her and the conversation. "You were telling Sonny that you wanted to see me. You've seen me. What do you want?"
Carly whipped back around to glare at him. "How dare you use that tone with me? What do you think I want? I want my son back! And, I'm not leaving here until I get him!"
Sonny's eyes widened as the vision in white floated towards him. He had mentally prepared himself to stand down Edward should he have appeared. He was at a loss as to how to deal with Keesha. Casting a glance to the door behind him, he quickly looked back at her and said, "Hi, Keesha."
"Hi," she said with a quizzical frown, creasing her brow. "We missed you at the ceremony. Is everything okay?"
Sonny was taken aback by the sincerity in her voice. There was no love lost between him and her. She hated what he had done for a living. She'd even called him a parasite on more than one occasion. And, to his face even. He respected her for her tenacity and firm beliefs, but other than that he didn't have any feelings for her… Except that she put a smile on his best friend's face. For that, he would be eternally grateful. "Everything's fine. I had an emergency, but it's all take care of now."
She slowly nodded. She was glad to see him arrive safely and in one piece, but she had no interest in knowing anything about his emergency. She glanced behind him to the closed den door and asked, "Have you seen Jason?"
"I…um…" Sonny hedged. Why couldn't he lie to her, he wondered. He'd never had a problem lying to women before, and today of all days, he really didn't need to have a problem with lying. "He…"
"He what?" Keesha asked, folding her arms across her chest. "Did he leave-"
"NO!" came a forceful shout from the other side of the door.
"What was that?" Keesha asked, moving toward the door. Sonny blocked her and shook his head. "That was Jason, wasn't it? Get out of my way, Sonny."
"Keesha, you don't want to go in there," he warned.
"I'm not telling you again. Move!"
"No?" Carly repeated. "I'm not asking you, Jason. I'm telling you! Give me my son!"
"You're not taking him, Carly! There's no way in hell I'd let Michael leave here with you. I won't allow it!" Jason told her.
"You don't allow what happens between me and my son, Jason! In case you've forgotten, Michael is MY son. Not yours! Maybe if you were AJ, the situation would be a little different, but since you're not, the case is closed! Where's Michael? I'm not leaving here without him."
Keesha stood still in the doorway, immobilized by shock. Jason and Carly had been so engrossed in their bickering that neither had heard her enter, and their argument had escalated, revealing truths she had never fathomed. A small gasp alerted them to her presence. Jason's eyes flew to hers and she read the truth there, as well. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a satisfied smile spread across Carly's face and she even heard a chuckle. But none of that matter. The only thing that mattered was the fear and the desperation she saw in Jason's eyes as he looked at her. She could barely choke the words out. "AJ is Michael's father, and you knew all along?"
"Keesha, I-I can explain. I-I"
She shook her head, backing away from him as he came towards her. In the distance, thunder rolled and lightning crackled. Her hand covered her heart as it felt like one of the bolts had pierced her there. "I can't believe you did this. I don't believe… You lied to me, and for a year, you've lied to everyone, including a helpless baby. Oh, God, Jason, how could you?" She covered her mouth with her hands to prevent a sob from escaping her lips.
"Keesha, please, let's talk about this okay." He reached out to her again. She shrank from his touch and an anguished cry rose to his lips. He didn't even try to bite it back down.
She shook her head and after one last look at him and at Carly, she turned and ran. Incapable of coherent thought and refusing to allow herself to feel, she ran blindly out of the house. Jason was close on her heels and she could feel him, but she continued to run. "Leave me alone!" she screamed above the rainfall, as she moved to each car, frantically searching for one with an open door and maybe keys in the ignition.
"Keesha, baby, please!" he screamed as he reached her. "Please, hear me out. I'm sorry, okay? I'm so sorry. I was going to tell you. Today! I planned to tell you later after the ceremony."
"After?!" she screamed back at him. "You should have told me before! Oh, God! Just leave me alone!"
"Keesha, I can't! Baby, please, come on," he pleaded, wiping blindly at the tears which were now streaming down his face. "Let's get out of the rain and talk about this."
"There's nothing to talk about," she said, tearfully. She moved to another car. It was opened and she climbed inside, locking the doors behind her. Once inside, she recognized the car as belonging to Justus and she whispered, "Thank you, Granny Mae." She reached under the passenger side floor mat and found the spare key, right where she knew it would be.
Jason ran to the door and began to beat on the driver side window. "Keesha, don't go! Not like this! Don't leave me! Keesha, please!"
His cries fell on deaf ears. Keesha started the car, and without glancing at him once, drove away.
With the rain pouring down upon him, Jason fell to his knees, crying tears of pain, heartache and hopelessness.
[Song credit: "For You" by Kenny Lattimore. Thanks, Pam!!]