Keesha grinned at her cousin as she placed the plate of fresh-baked and still warm chocolate chip cookies in front of him. She sat down across from him and laughed softly as he dipped a cookie into his glass of milk. "This reminds me of old times," she said, watching him. "Remember, Grannie Mae's kitchen in the summer?"
"I couldn't forget if I tried or even if I wanted to," Justus said, nodding. "You're doing good here with this place, Keesha. She would be proud."
"Thanks," she said, softly. "We want her legacy to live on, Justus, and I think we're doing that."
"You are. You and Jason are changing lives here, Lil Bit. I didn't tell you this before, but I had a few doubts when you married him so quickly. I wasn't sure if he was the one for you, but I can see that he makes you happy. And, that makes me happy." He smiled at her and then he reached for another cookie.
"Thanks, cuz," she said, grabbing a cookie of her own. She broke the cookie apart and took her time eating it. Merriment danced in her warm brown eyes as she said, "So, I suppose wedding bells will be ringing for you soon. Little birds have been telling me that you and Alexis are quite an item and are always together."
"Oh, really?" he asked. "Is that what the little birds have been telling you?"
"Yeah, more or less. So, when will they ring? In June or sooner?"
"Well, um…you won't exactly hear wedding bells. Maybe the pitter patter of little feet…" He let the words drift as he waited for her reaction.
She stared at him in surprise. "Justus! Is Alexis pregnant?"
"Yeah," he said, grinning. "We found out a few weeks ago. We decided to keep it to ourselves until we decided what to do."
"So, you're not getting married?" Keesha asked, leaning back in her chair to look at him.
"Not, yet. We don't have to be married to be a family," he answered.
"Wow," she said, shaking her head as she looked at him. "I never would have believed it. I was surprised when you started seeing her and now, I'm just about speechless. Congratulations, cuz!"
Justus opened his arms for Keesha's embrace. She squeezed him tight and patted his back. "Thanks," he said as their embrace ended. He watched her as she went to the refrigerator and returned with a carton of milk. He was silent as she refilled his glass and then returned the carton back to the fridge. When she came back with the cookie jar and began to fill it with cookies, he asked, "So, when do you and Jason plan to start, or do you?"
"We're not sure," she shrugged. "With the twins and Micki, our hands are pretty full. Besides, we have another addition that you should meet. Hold on, I'll be right back."
Frowning, Justus rose from the chair. He was concerned about her and Jason's growing attachment to Gracie and Georgie. The children were wards of the court and could be taken away at any time. He planned to remind Keesha of that as she came back into the room. He might even go so far as to suggest that they relinquish the children as soon as possible. With the twins having been there for almost two months, things could become nasty if the courts should decide to abruptly remove the children from their care.
Oblivious to her cousin's thoughts, a smile was on Keesha's face as she returned to the kitchen. Justus' back was to her as he washed and rinsed his glass. Walking up behind him, she said, "Justus, I'd like for you to meet Benjamin. Benjamin, this is my cousin, Justus."
Justus turned around to look into the sleepy grey eyes of a newborn baby boy. The infant's eyes opened to stare into Justus' stunned face. Then his little face scrunched up as a yawn escaped him. Grinning from ear to ear, Keesha handed the baby to Justus. "Here. You might as well as get used to the feel of one of these."
"Gee, Lil Bit, you make him sound like a car," Justus grumbled as he carefully took the baby from her. Being extra careful, he took his time as he headed back to his seat at the kitchen table. His eyes were on Benjamin as the baby yawned again. "How long have you had him?"
"About a week. His mother panicked and tried to leave him in a trash dumpster. Someone saw her and took him out. Social services called us and now, he's here," Keesha explained.
"How old is he?" Justus asked, extending his finger to the baby who willingly accepted it.
"He's two weeks old now. His mother is barely fifteen," she replied, as she moved about the kitchen, preparing the child's bottle. "Would you like to feed him? You can never get enough practice, you know."
"Yeah, I know." Justus took the warm bottle from Keesha. He surprised her by testing it on his wrist. Feeling her eyes on him, he glanced at her before he began to feed Benjamin. "See. I know some things."
"Yeah, maybe a few," she admitted. "Dawn's been over her, too. She and the guys helped us settle Micki in. The twins adore Dawn and now, she's fallen in love with Benjamin. She was afraid of him at first because he's so small, but yesterday, she was a little bit more comfortable."
"Yeah, I've seen her and Nikolas out with Michael a few times. I'm surprised that AJ trusts them with him," Justus said, smiling at the baby whose eyes were now wide open and glued to his. "After Carly left, he became a little paranoid, don't you think?"
Keesha shrugged. "I wouldn't know. I guess considering Carly, AJ wanted to be extra careful. You can't really blame him. She kept Michael away from him for months and just because she's gone now, doesn't mean she won't come back later. She's used Michael before. Who's to say she won't use him again?"
"That's true," Justus agreed. "So, with a teenager and a newborn baby, aren't your hands full? What's the plan with the twins?"
"Well, that's why I asked you to come by," Keesha said, her eyes steady and direct. "Jason and I want to petition the court for custody of them. Do you think you could represent us?"
"Keesha!" Justus softly gasped, mindful of the trusting infant in his arms. "Are you sure that's wise? You can't adopt every child who comes through those doors. You're supposed to help them and send them on their way-"
"Justus, please," Keesha said, cutting him off. "We know what we're doing. Jason and I didn't just decide this on a whim. We love those children and they love us, too. And, who says we can't adopt every child who comes through those doors? And, helping them and sending them on their way? Geez, Justus, you sound more like a Q every day. If my eyes weren't on you the entire time, I would have sworn that Edward Quartermaine had broken into my kitchen."
"That's not fair. I'm only trying to look out for your best interests."
"And, what you said wasn't fair. Justus, Jason and I are gonna need positive reinforcements with this and not negativity. It's gonna be hard enough convincing them that a black woman and a white man, who was once involved in organized crime, can and should be allowed to raise two Asian children. So, I need to know. Will you help us or should we call Scott Baldwin?"
"You're sure about this?" Justus asked, dividing his attention between his cousin and the tiny baby. Benjamin was almost done with his bottle and Justus knew enough about babies to know that he would have to remove the bottle as soon as the child was done. Sucking on an empty bottle would put air into the child's stomach and that would produce gas. Justus turned up his nose at the thought.
"We're sure," Keesha calmly assured him.
"You will be investigated. The skeletons will be removed from the closet and closely examined. And, I'm not just talking about Jason's life in the mob. I'm also talking about your past relationships with both brothers. Are both of you prepared for that? Will Jason be able to handle any questions that might be thrown his way about Michael and Carly? Have you both thoroughly considered what this will mean?" Justus asked.
"Yes, we have," Jason said from the doorway. He went to the table and hugged and kissed Keesha. Once they had finished greeting each other, he looked at Justus again. "I'm prepared to be interrogated about Michael and Carly and whatever else they may throw at me. We've thought this through. We've been parents to George and Grace, and now we want to make it legal. So, Justus, the main question is, will you represent us or not?"
Justus nodded. "Yeah, I'll represent you." He glanced down at Benjamin, who was now finished with his bottle. Justus placed the towel Keesha handed him on his shoulder and then put the baby there. Justus patted Benjamin's tiny back until the baby released a burp.
"Who's this?" Jason asked, reaching for the baby. He smiled down into the small face as the baby began to close his eyes again.
"His name is Benjamin. I received a phone call almost as soon as I left you at the airport. I would have told you about him, but I wasn't even sure if he'd stay with us for very long." She rested her head on Jason's arm as they both looked at the sleeping child. "He's two weeks old and his mother, Melanie, is fifteen. Val wants to know if we'd consider taking in the mother, too. She's at juvey right now and will need a place to stay. They want her to learn how to take care of him, but they want to make sure that she's in a stable environment. I told her that you were away and when you returned, we'd call her. By the way, how were they? Is Simone okay?"
"Simone's fine, but Sonny's a goner. I thought he was a lost cause before, but now..." Jason shook his head in mock disgust. "The man's falling hard day by day. I doubt if she even knows, but Tommy certainly does."
"Is he okay with it?" Keesha asked. She reached for a chocolate chip cookie. Jason's eyes widened and he promptly opened his mouth. Laughing, Keesha broke off a piece of the cookie and placed it into his mouth.
"I think so," Jason said, chewing. "Baby, these are good. Some more please."
Keesha shook her head at him, but she gave him another piece. "And, Simone? She's better, right?"
Jason nodded. "Sonny's little island has been great for all of them. She's staying there another week and then she's coming back. I told her that she could have all the time she needed, but she was adamant. You know how stubborn those Hardys are. By the way, Tommy's changed some, so considered yourself warned. More, please."
Keesha placed more of the cookie into Jason's eager mouth. "So, what do you think about Melanie and Benjamin staying with us for a while? Are you okay with it?"
"I'm fine with it, if you are. The number of people here shouldn't hurt our chances with the twins, right, Justus?"
"I don't think so," Justus answered. "Family law isn't my area of expertise, but I'll see what I can find out. So, um…Sonny's interest in Simone…is it real? She doesn't need someone who's into games. She's a better woman than that."
"Sonny knows that," Jason responded, softly. "He's not doing anything. If something develops, then so be it, but otherwise, for now, they're friends. Is that okay with you or are you still interested in her?"
Keesha grinned as she jumped at the opportunity to answer for her cousin. "Well, you go away for a week and so much happens." She burst into a fit of giggles as Justus narrowed his eyes at her.
Confused, Jason looked from one laughing cousin to one embarrassed one. "What did I miss? Did you and Alexis get hitched?"
"No," Keesha said, unable to contain herself. "They got pregnant."
Jason's bright blue eyes danced with merriment. Smiling at his cousin and his wife, he said, "That's just what the world needs…a combo Cassadine and Quartermaine. Good luck, Justus, 'cause buddy you're gonna need it."
"Thanks, 'cuz," Justus replied. "And, I'll have you know that the baby will have some Ward in there, too."
"That's good," Jason said, chuckling softly. "You're gonna need something to counteract all the craziness."
Knowing that Jason was completely right in his analysis, Justus laughed. Inside, he hoped that telling the rest of the family would be just as easy, but somehow, he doubted it. Oh, well.
Go to Chapter 121, Part 2.