Life After Dark
Chapter 5

Keesha glanced at the wall clock. Only a few more minutes until quitting time. Her case load wasn't as heavy as it normally was and for the last half hour she had done little more than twiddle her thumbs. No one would mind if she left a little bit early, she thought. Just this once.

She packed her briefcase with the files for her next scheduled appointments. She sighed when she thought of their problems. A young teenaged girl who was the victim of battery from her boyfriend. A young boy who stopped speaking after his mother abandoned him at a homeless shelter. Her problems paled in comparison when she thought of theirs.

And, what are you problems, Keesha Ward, she silently asked herself. You have the career you always wanted. You have a home, clothes to wear, and food to eat. You have a man who loves you. And you have another you can't stop dreaming about, she reminded herself.

Jason.

Why won't the dreams stop, she wondered. When will he stop invading her mind and her heart? My heart, she laughed humorlessly to herself. There was no chance in hell that Jason Morgan would ever have a place in her heart.

Maybe not Jason Morgan, but what about Jason Quartermaine?

She slammed her office door behind her with more force than was necessary in retaliation of the scary path her subconscious was taking her.

No matter what happened in that godforsaken tunnel and in the backseat of the limo. Jason Quartermaine was dead. He died two years ago and it was high time her heart and soul realized it.

"Hi, Keesha!" came the perky voice from behind the nurses' desk.

"Hi, Amy," Keesha said with a tired smile. Every time Amy saw Keesha, she was full of an endless stream of questions about Keesha's abduction and rescue. At first, Keesha indulged her curiosity but after six weeks, she was tired of the questions and extremely tired of Amy. Usually, she avoided taking this route out of the hospital, but today her mind betrayed her and before she knew it, here she was. And, here was Amy.

"Um, Keesha, you never finished telling me how weird it must have been having Jason save you," Amy said.

Keesha groaned. She could have handled any of Amy's questions except for this one. The answer to this question was off limits to Amy. Besides, how could she answer Amy when she didnít even know the answer to the question herself.

"I'm sorry, Amy, but I'm running late. Maybe some other time, okay?" Keesha said, making a dash for the elevator.

"Okay, next time!" Amy called just as the elevator doors closed.

Keesha breathed a sigh of relief as the elevator doors closed. She pushed the button for the floor that Simone was on. She could visit her for a few minutes before she went home to prepare for the grand opening of Jacks.

She smiled to herself as the doors opened and she stepped out of the elevator. A night of good food, upbeat music, and endless dancing would get her mind off Jason. Maybe the time spent with AJ in a non-threatening atmosphere would be good for the two of them, too.

She felt guilty for the distance that was between them, but she didn't know what to do to stop it. His love for her was something she knew, felt and believed. Her love for him was where her doubts were. Did she still love him? How could she if she had sensual dreams of his brother night after night?

Get a grip, Keesha, she chided herself. Of course she still loved AJ. Right?

~*~

AJ read the same sentence for the tenth time. He shook his head. The words weren't coming through. How could they if his mind was a million minds away? As usual these days, his mind was on his relationship with Keesha.

What was happening between them? Why did it feel like there was a wall between them that was impossible to break through, he wondered.

A light buzz from his telephone broke him from his reverie. He pushed the intercom button on his telephone and said, "Yes, Stephanie?"

"Mr. Ashton is here for your meeting."

AJ groaned when he glance at his watch. Where had the time gone? Ned was there for their meeting and he was nowhere near being prepared. He would have to wing it, he decided. He ran a hand through his hair and pushed the intercom button again. He said, "Okay. Send him in."

Ned came into the office and closed the door behind him. "Hello, Junior," Ned said, as he sat in front of AJ in one of the guest chairs.

"Hello, Nedly," AJ said with a smile. He knew Ned hated to be called 'Nedly' as much as he hated being called 'Junior.' Turnabout was always fair play, AJ thought, with a smile.

Ned grimaced at AJ's attempt to irritate him. Instead of coming back with one of his trademark barbs, he decided to get to the matter at hand.

"What is the estimated date for completion of the Docks Renovation Project? The contractor should have provided you with the date by now," Ned said.

"What are you talking about, Ned? The contractor hasn't sent anything to me. Why should he? That's your area. Remember?" AJ said, with sarcasm.

"If you would remember, the contractor is your department now. If your head wasn't in the clouds, you would know that Grandfather passed it to you at the last department heads meeting," Ned said. When AJ's facial expression went from glib to concerned, Ned continued, "What is with you? You would think with Keesha being back all safe and sound you would be more focused."

AJ stiffened at the mention of Keesha's name. To mask his irritation, he began to sort through his inbox, looking for the minutes to the last department heads meeting.

"Uh oh. Is there trouble in paradise?" Ned asked with a laugh. "Has Miss Ward finally seen the light and gone off in search of greener pastures?"

"Shut up, Ned," AJ said, his voice deadly serious.

"Have I struck a nerve?" Ned asked. He couldn't have prevented the smile of glee from covering his face if he tried so he didn't even bother to try.

"No, you haven't. Keesha and I are fine. We're fine," AJ said, quickly rising to stand. He laughed to himself when he saw Ned flinch. AJ moved around his desk to stand in front of Ned. "You'd do best to remember that, Nedly."

AJ grabbed his jacket from the back of his door. He opened the door and stood in the doorway. He turned around to face Ned and said, "I'll have that date for you later. Keesha and I are going to the grand opening of Jacks. Are you going? Oh, yeah. I forgot. You don't have anyone to go with, so why would you go. Goodnight, Ned."

With that said, AJ left his office and left a surprised Ned staring after him.

When AJ was alone behind the doors of the elevator, he laughed out loud to himself. Usually, his fights with Ned left him feeling drained and powerless, but not this time. This time AJ had the upper hand and it felt good. He felt good.

Tonight, things were about to change. AJ could feel it. Tonight, he and Keesha would have a good time together, and before the night was over they would be better than they were before. AJ was sure of it.

Chapter 6

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