"What was that?" Jordan asked, as Emily closed the door behind them. "I thought I'd survived your family at its…"
"Worst?" Emily asked. She laughed as a sheepish grin appeared across his handsome face. Grabbing his hand, she led him away from the den and her noisy family. Quiet solitude of the living room beckoned them and soon they were alone behind closed doors. Sitting side by side on the sofa, Emily positioned herself so that she was wrapped within the cozy circle of Jordan's strong arms. She rested the back of her head against his chest as she said, "That wasn't really bad. That was…more or less excitement. They were overcome with joy."
"Oh, really?" he asked in disbelief. When Emily began to laugh, he chuckled, too, and said, "I knew you were full of it. There's no way that could be described as joy. They were all yelling and shouting—as usual. I feel sorry for Alexis. I don't think she knows what she's getting into, and the poor kid they're having… And, did you see your cousin's face? What was up with that?"
"Which cousin? Justus or Ned?" Emily asked, frowning as she tried to remember.
"Take your pick," Jordan said with a laugh. "Justus had the cheesiest grin on his face, and Ned just looked dumb."
Emily shifted so that her eyes were on his. "Hey," she said, pointing her finger on his chest, "I wouldn't say that too loudly if I were you. He is your boss."
"Yeah," he said with a nod. His voice became lower as he pulled her closer to him and said, "But, right now, it's just you and me. No DLJS. No Ned and Lois, record execs at their finest. Just Jordan James and his beautiful Emmie Quartermaine."
Impatient for his kiss, Emily closed the distance between them as soon as he said her last name. His lips parted with her caress and within seconds, their tongues collided. Jordan's hands moved low down her back as he shifted on the sofa. Soon, his back was on the soft cushions and Emily was prone on top of him. Enjoying the moment and each other, neither was prepared for nor anticipated an interruption.
"Whoa!" which was quickly followed by a thump and an "Ow!" caused the couple to reluctantly break apart.
Sitting up and readjusting their clothing, Jordan and Emily glared at their intruders. "What are you doing here?" Jordan asked.
"The better question is," Sly asked with a grin, "what are you doing here? Man, I didn't know you could hold your breath that long. My boy's got skills!"
"Oh, shut up," Emily said, shaking her head at him. She looked at Lark and smiled a hello. "So, um…really, why are you guys here? World War 3 is breaking loose in the den. Are you sure this is where you wanna hang out?"
Lark's grinned matched the teasing one of her significant other. "Are you trying to get rid of us?"
"Yeah!" Emily and Jordan said simultaneously.
"Nothing doing," Sly told him. And before they could stop him, he had positioned himself between them on the sofa. He wrapped his arms around their shoulders and said, "Now, isn't this cozy? Lark, come on, sweetheart. There's plenty of room."
Lark shook her head in reply. "Nah, it doesn't look like it. I think I'll take my chances over here." She sat down on the armchair across from them. She laughed as Emily and Jordan began to push against Sly, squeezing him and thereby forcing him to get away from them.
"Is that any way to treat a guest?" Sly asked, laughing as he leapt from the sofa and moved to sit on the arm of Lark's chair. "Okay, no more fun and games. Lark and I had a reason for coming over here and it wasn't just to remind you guys of the importance of condoms."
"Sly!" Three voices yelled at him.
"What?" he asked, his facial expression one of innocence.
"Okay, already!" Sly said, waving his hands in mock defense. "The real reason we're here is because… Well, man, Lark doesn't like the gift I picked out for Dawn and I was wondering if we should all just chip in for something."
"Isn't it kinda late for that?" Jordan asked, chuckling softly at his best friend. "Emmie and I already got her something."
"So, what did you get her?" Emily asked. "Please, don't tell me you bought her a copy of 'Moby Dick'."
Jordan laughed and Sly's eyes lit up. He hadn't thought of that. Lark saw the wheels turning in his blue eyes and poked him in the ribs for his wayward thoughts. "It was actually worst than that," Lark said.
"What could be worst than a whale joke to a pregnant woman?" Emily asked, looking from Lark to Sly. "What did you buy her?"
"Actually, Lark is making it sound worse than what it is. I just bought her a cute little chipmunk stuffed animal. That's all," he said with a shrug.
Jordan's eyes grew wide. Shaking his head, he said, "Man, tell me you didn't. Aw, Sly. Now, that's cold."
"That's what I told him," Lark said, giving Sly another poke.
"Ow!" he said, grabbing his side.
"What's the deal with the chipmunk?" Emily asked. "What did I miss?"
"They," Lark said, pointing at Sly and Jordan, "told Dawn that she looked like Theodore from The Chipmunks, and now, the genius over here wants to give her a chipmunk as a birthday gift."
"You did what?" Emily asked, turning flashing brown eyes onto Jordan. She and Dawn were not exactly best friends, but her attitude towards Dawn had softened. After returning from her New York trip, Liz had been adamant about the importance of friendship and about life being too short for pettiness. Lark and Emily hadn't wanted to listen to their friend at first. They were still certain that Dawn was the catalyst to Liz's break-up, but Liz had quickly reminded them that it had been Liz's break up and not theirs. Since she didn't feel that Dawn was at fault, they had no right to their grievance against her. Grudgingly, they had begun to change their attitude with the young mother-to-be and now, their relationship with her was almost as close as it once had been.
"We…um…" Flustered, Jordan took Emily's hand. Shrugging, he said, "We didn't mean to make her cry. We thought she'd like the Chipmunk song. Honest."
Emily shook her head. "I can't believe you two. And, you were gonna give her a chipmunk so she could relive it again and again."
Sly shrugged. "It seemed like it would be…okay."
"You made her cry!" Lark reminded him, poking him in the ribs again. "Of course, it wouldn't be okay."
"Well, did you apologize?" Emily asked. "Both of you?"
"Yeah…kinda sorta," were the two young men's replies.
"Do you wanna know what I think?" Emily asked after giving the two guys measured glances. "I think your apologies weren't good enough. I think you both should get her something extra special. I also think that the gift Jordan and I have for her will now be from Lark and me. What do you think, Lark?"
"I think you're right," she agreed. "I think they should give her something that she'll never forget."
"Oh, come on now," Sly whined. "Anything we get her will pale next to what Nikolas' giving her. She's never gonna forget this birthday party. Remember the special guests? Jay and I can't top that."
"Oh, don't be so negative," Lark said, shaking her head at him dismissively.
"Chris Carter, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Steven Williams, Nicolas Lea and William B. Davis?!" Jordan exclaimed. "How do you two think that we could top the creator and cast of 'The X-Files'? She loves that show!"
"Yeah!" Sly agreed. "They're all coming to her party. We can't beat that. Maybe if we offer to baby-sit the kid for the rest of their lives…maybe she'd remember we were there. And, that's a big maybe."
"So, what are you gonna do?" Lark asked. "I will not allow you to give that doll to her. It's not happening."
"Okay!" Sly replied, clearly exasperated. "Jordan and I will think of something. And, it won't be a joke or something stupid. She'll like it."
"Too bad we don't know Mitch Pileggi," Jordan said with a sigh.
"Yeah, Nikolas thinks he's so great, but he couldn't book Skinner. Figures," Sly said, shaking his head.
"Oh, shut up, Sly!" Emily and Lark said simultaneously, and the four soon after burst into giggles.
"What am I paying you for?" AJ nearly yelled into the telephone. "'I don't know' is unacceptable and will not be tolerated!"
In his agitation, AJ slammed the telephone down onto the tabletop. Michael, who had been content in his playpen, began to cry. AJ went to him and picked the baby up, "I'm sorry, Mikey. Daddy wasn't thinking."
"I'll say!" Eve agreed, upon entering the room. She'd heard the yelling and slamming down of the telephone while she was in the kitchen. She handed Michael's bottle to AJ and folded her arms as she watched him sit down and begin to feed his son. "What's your problem?"
"They're trying to milk me, Eve, and I won't stand for it," he told her. Resting his back against the sofa, he kept both hands on his son as the baby held onto his bottle and fed himself. "They think that just because I'm a Quartermaine, they can just do any stupid thing and I'll pay for it. Well, I won't."
"And, do you think yelling at them is incentive for them to get off their butts?" she asked, as she sat down on the coffee table in front of Michael. Distracted by her, Michael began to smile and milk spilled from his mouth and down his shirt. "Oh, Mikey," she said, reaching for the towel that AJ held out to her.
"See, the affect you have on us, Evelyn Lambert?" AJ asked, a teasing grin on his face. "You make us drool all over ourselves and completely forget our manners."
"Oh, no you don't," Eve told him, wiping at the corners of the baby's mouth. "Your obnoxious performance on the telephone just now is par for your family. I take no responsibility for that."
"Ouch," AJ groaned, his hazel eyes twinkling.
Eve rolled her eyes at him and rose from the table. She left the room and returned with a clean shirt for Michael. She handed it to AJ and against her wishes, a smile formed on her face as he began to exchange Michael's soiled shirt for the clean one. "You're good with him, and I can understand why you're doing what you're doing, but are your sure? What if it backfires?"
AJ shrugged. "I don't see how it can." He balled up Michael's dirty shirt and dropped it on the floor. He grinned as Eve glared at him and said, "I'll pick it up later. Promise."
"You're full of it," Eve told him, shaking her head at him. "But back to the backfire, are you honestly telling me that you haven't considered what could happen if the investigators do find Carly? What if she comes back? Then, you'd have to fight for Michael all over again."
"She's not coming back," AJ said. He laughed softly as Michael released a loud burp. He turned his son so that the baby faced him. Looking straight into his son's eyes, he said, "We know she's not coming back, don't we, son? Daddy is just taking out a little insurance for just in case."
"I don't know about this, AJ. Something just doesn't feel right," Eve said, shivering as a feeling of doom crossed over her.
"Come here," he said, holding out his hand to her. She sat next to him and he wrapped his arm around her, so that she snuggled against him. "It will be okay, sweetheart," he told her in his husky voice. "Everything will work out just fine in the end."
"So, why the investigators? Why not just let her be out there in the unknown? Why dig her up?"
"I'm not digging her up," he denied. "I'm looking out for Michael. One day, he's gonna ask me about the woman who gave birth to him and I want to be able to tell him everything."
"Everything? The stuff with Bobbie and Tony, Jason and you and that laundry cart?" Eve asked, raising her head to look at him. "Do you think he should know all of that?"
"It's true and it happened," AJ said. "My son's life began with a pack of lies, Eve, and I refuse to continue doing that to him. If he asks about her, he will learn about her. I refuse to glamorize her and feed him lies. He deserves to know the truth."
"How do you think that will make him feel?" she asked, frowning as she considered the possibilities.
AJ became quiet as he pondered her question. She raised a valid point. He took his role as father very seriously. He knew how a father's mistakes could live with a child and maybe even destroy his self-confidence and possibly even drive the child to drink. It wasn't like he blamed Alan for his alcoholism. Alcoholism was disease and he knew that. But he also knew that the tenuous relationship he'd shared with his father hadn't helped him fight the disease. No, it had taken too many falls off the proverbial wagon before he finally had woken up and faced the facts about himself. He didn't want his son to fall off any wagon or journey down any path of destruction. He wanted to and he planned to give his son everything he never had—love and honesty. Trust. He wanted Michael to know that he could trust him and in order for that to happen, AJ would have to be completely honest with him…even if the truth might hurt a little.
"I don't know, Eve," he told her after much thought. "I just know that I won't lie to him. If he asks me about her, I'll tell him. Who knows?" AJ asked with a shrug. "He might not ever ask about her. Heck, he might not even give her a second thought."
"Maybe not," Eve whispered, as she kissed AJ's cheek. She leaned towards Michael and gave him a wet, sloppy kiss which caused the baby to giggle.
"See," AJ said, looking at the two loves of his life, "he's not even thinking about her. He has his eyes set on you, you gorgeous bombshell, you."
Eve blushed and said, "Oh, do go on!"
A mischievous grin spread across AJ's face as he leaned towards her. Whispering seductively in her ear, he said, "I intend to. Just as soon as he's asleep. I'm going on and on and on."
She turned her head to face him and whispered, "You'd better."
After being apart for almost two months, Tommy had expected Gina to be excited upon his return, but the passion behind the kiss she gave him as soon as he stepped into her was completely unexpected. With his arms still wrapped around her, he kicked the door closed behind him. Fueled by her response to him, he pulled her closer against him, as their lips remained locked together.
Driven by an insatiable longing that nearly overwhelmed her, Gina pressed herself closer to him, pushing him back against the door. She found herself needing to be as close to him as possible and wanting to feel as much of him as she could. Her mouth teased and tormented as she drew his tongue into her mouth. A soft whimper was heard as his hands moved lower and grasped her backside, caressing and squeezing her.
Warning bells sounded loudly in Tommy's head as Gina's lower body ground intimately against his. He didn't want to listen to the incessant ringing, but he remembered the promise he'd made to himself about moving too fast with her too soon. And, reluctantly, he pulled his mouth away from hers. After taking a moment for his breathing to return to normal, he said, "I take it you missed me."
"Maybe," she replied, her voice as breathless as his. She cupped his face between her slender hands and allowed her thumbs to lightly caress his still tingling lips as she said, "I missed you so much. I am so happy that you're back."
"Me, too, Gina," he said, his voice filled with emotion as he pulled her into his arms again. "Mama wanted me to send her love. She missed you, too."
Their hug ended and Gina led him to the sofa. After they were seated, she asked, "When is she coming back?"
"I'm not sure. Sonny told her that she could stay forever if she wants to," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if she took him up on it."
"What's going on?" Gina asked, curiosity and concern mingling in her eyes.
"He likes her…cares for her. I'm not sure if she knows and I'm not about to say anything to her about it. I trust Sonny with her. He'll respect her," Tommy said. He smiled and a faint blush colored his cheeks as Gina began to stare at him. "What?" he asked her. "Did I grow another nose?"
"I'm not sure if it's a new nose, but there's definitely something different about you," she said, narrowing her eyes at him. "I'd noticed a few things on the phone, but now, I can really see it. You're different. You've changed."
Tommy rolled his eyes and groaned. "Everybody keeps saying that. Jason, Mrs. Jensen, Mama, Grandma! I'm still the same. I haven't changed."
"Change is good," she said, frowning at him as a worried look came into his emerald green eyes.
"Is it?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. "So, what's changed about me?"
On impulse, Gina surprised him by straddling his lap. As he grinned and rested his hands on her hips, she raised a finger to her lips as she if she was deep in thought. Her hazel eyes shone with happiness and an awareness that Tommy had never seen before. He wasn't the only who'd changed, he thought as he looked at her. Maybe they both had. "Well?" he prompted.
"You're bossier if that's possible!" she said, laughing. "You have a tan." She ran a finger down his cheek and unable to resist, across his mouth. "You're buffer," she said, allowing both of her hands to squeeze his hard biceps, "and I like it."
"Oh, really?" he asked, in a low voice. "Anything else?"
"Yeah," she said softly, "there's one other thing."
"I'm listening," he told her. He held his breath as she shifted on his lap, burrowing onto his aching member. Feeling slightly embarrassed by his body's reaction, he looked away and said, "Um…Gina..."
She placed her fingertips against his lips and waited for him to look at her before she began to speak. "It's okay. Over the last few weeks, I've gone through some changes, too. And, whatever happens is okay with me."
"What are you saying?" he asked, holding his gaze steady with hers.
"I love you, Thomas Hardy, Jr., and I'm not afraid to make love with you anymore. I want to make love with you," she said softly. "Tommy, I want you."
"Gina…I-I don't know what to say," he told her. "I…well, you know I love you, and I want to make love with you, too, but…"
"We don't have to now," she said, as he became flustered. She tried to shrug off her feelings of disappointment as she said, "I just wanted to make sure that you knew that I'm okay with it now…that I'm not afraid. If you don't want me, I-I…it's…"
"Gina," he said, shaking his head, as she became the flustered one. "I want you. I think you know that," he said in reference to his persistent body part. "It's just that…well, I don't want to disappoint you. I don't know anything about…this. Hell, I had never even kissed anyone until we kissed at Grandma's. I don't want to do something wrong or something…"
"You couldn't," she said, smiling when she understood his hesitancy was not a reflection on his attraction to her. "There could be no wrong way between us. We can find our way together. It doesn’t have to be now, or tomorrow. Whenever we're both ready."
"I like the sound of that," he agreed. He threaded his long fingers into the strands of her shoulder-length blonde hair and lowered his lips to hers. The kiss was sweet and it lingered for a few moments before their lips parted.
"There is another thing I noticed about you," Gina told him after their kiss had ended and their breathing had returned to normal.
"What's that?" Tommy asked, smiling as he knew what was on her mind.
"This!" she said, grabbing his earlobe where a small diamond stud sparkled. "Whose big idea was this? You didn't ask me if this was okay."
"Oh, I didn't realize I needed your permission," he said, laughing as she arched an eyebrow. "Marisa said that it would look good on me, and it didn't really hurt so…"
"Marisa? It would look good on you?" Gina removed herself from his lap and loomed over him with her hands on her hips. "Marisa, huh?"
A sheepish grin was his first response and then he nodded and said, "Yeah. Marisa. Do you remember her? She was the one with the curly brown hair. Remember, she worked at the little café that was a block away from Sonny's casino. Remember, we went there the second night and she was there. I think she was wearing…"
"Go on," Gina told him, gesturing with her hands. "What was she wearing? You seem to recall everything about your first meeting with her. And you even let her talk you into an earring for goodness sakes! So, please, remind me about your little…friend."
As the words had left her, her hazel eyes had flashed with fire and a strong warning. Tommy didn’t take either for granted. He placed his hands around her waist and pulled her into his lap. Once she was settled, he said softly, "The only thing I recall from that night at the café was how beautiful you looked in the yellow dress with the flower in your hair. I remember the sun setting behind us and the way your eyes were the color of gold as you looked at the waves." His lips were against her ear as he said, "If Marisa was there, I don't remember, and I know that whenever I remember that island, I'll remember you. And, not Marisa."
"Now, that was a much better response than the first one," she told him before she kissed him soundly on the cheek. "Now, tell me why you have an earring."
"I lost a bet."
"Really?" she asked with disbelief clearly written all over her. "What was the bet?"
"Sonny bet me that I couldn't go half a day without mentioning you, and I said I could. Well, I think five minutes passed and your name was said. Hence, the earring," he said, smiling.
"Oh, well, that's so sweet," she said, laughing as she very obviously changed her tune. Tommy's masculine laugh joined hers and then after a few moments, the laughter ended as their lips became one again.
Go to Chapter 121, Part 3 .