Life After Dark
Chapter 55

The golden sunlight which streamed through the windows of the grand mansion did not even compare to the sunny disposition of AJ as he bounced down the staircase and went into the breakfast room. The dawning of a new day rejuvenated him and brightened everything around him. The talk he had with his grandfather had given him a new perspective and the dream of his beloved reaffirmed his belief. She would come back to him.

Not wanting anything heavy for breakfast that would drag him down, he went straight to the fruit tray. The fragrance of the fruit was delicious. The carefully sliced cantaloupes, honeydew melons and pineapples were all appetizing, but weren't exactly what AJ was looking for. He wanted something with a little bit more umphf. He wanted something he could really sink his teeth into. He scanned the assortment of fruit and finally his eyes settled on what he had suddenly gotten a craving and delicious. He bit into the crunchy apple and chewed happily as the nutrients flowed through his body.

Still chewing the apple, he moved to the door which lead to the terrace. The sunlight and the fresh air beckoned for him to come and he did. He allowed himself to bask in the glow of the new day as his eyes perused the grounds. A movement out of the corner of his eye surprised him and he opened the doors and went outside to get a better look.

His eyes were drawn to the sullen figure and he called out. ''Emily?''

Emily glanced up at AJ, surprised to see him there. She had expected to have the house to herself. So much for solitude, she thought as she raised her eyes to her older brother. Trying to mask the despair she felt, she smiled brightly, too brightly, and said, ''Good morning, AJ.''

The bright smile couldn't disguise the pain in her eyes and AJ saw right through her. He smiled at her and moved to sit beside her. Gently, he asked, ''What's wrong?''

''Nothing's wrong. I'm just surprised to see you, I guess,'' she said, looking away from his inquiring eyes to concentrate on her hands which smoothed down her short, black skirt.

AJ placed his half-eaten apple on the table and with a single finger moved her chin so that her eyes rested on his again. ''Come on, Em. I know something's wrong. You can tell me. You know that, don't you?''

Emily shrugged and then, she nodded her head. She could trust AJ. She knew that, but she wasn't sure if she wanted to voice her troubles. They were silly and hopeless in her mind and she could only imagine how they would appear to AJ.

AJ noticed her hesitation and decided to give her another small push. Just a tiny one to let her know that he was sincere and was there for her if she wanted him to be. ''School's starting soon, right? Are you worried about making new friends? You'll do great, Em. You're smart, funny, pretty. Any one of those hooligans would be lucky to just know you.''

''Hooligans?'' Emily laughed. ''I think you've been hanging around Grandfather too much.''

''Maybe so,'' AJ laughed, pleased to see her smile again. He hoped now that the smile was in place she would feel comfortable enough to confide in him. He knew how lonely the mansion could be and he didn't want her to feel the loneliness he often times had felt as a teenager and sometimes continued to feel.

''It's not really school that's bothering me. Well, not really,'' she replied softly as her eyes once again drifted to her hands which had moved to tug on the buttons of her sweater.

''Not really, huh? Hmm,'' AJ said, considering the possibilities. Then, he added in a conspiratorial voice, ''Is it a guy?''

Emily's eyes flew to his and she asked, ''How did you know?''

AJ shrugged in reply. ''I don't know. I just guessed. Is some guy giving you grief? What me to go have a talk with him, man to man?'' he offered.

''I wish!'' she laughed humorlessly. ''No guy's giving me grief, and there's nothing you can say to him that would help.''

Concerned by the hopelessness which surrounded her, he placed an arm around her shoulder. Drawing her closer to him, he said, ''Is there a guy you have feelings for, and he doesn't know? Is that it?''

Emily nodded and rested her head on AJ's strong shoulder. ''He's never noticed me ever. I had hoped that he would, but it's too lat-''

''It's never too late, Em. Don't give up,'' AJ passionately advised.

''But it is! He's in love with someone else-''

''So? Maybe he thinks he's in love with someone else. It happens. Listen to me.''

''But, AJ, I've seen them together. It's over for me. He'll never look at me the way he looks at her. Never,'' she said, blinking back the tears which threatened to fall down her cheeks.

''With that attitude, you're absolutely right. He won't look at you in that way. You have to have confidence in yourself, sweetheart. You have to believe that you deserve to be have the love you want,'' he said his voice hoarse with emotion.

''I do believe, but...''

''No 'buts' Emily. I'm serious. You have to believe that it will happen and it will. You will have the love you so richly deserve. Just believe,'' he said, as he planted a kiss on her forehead. He stood and faced her, as he picked up his apple.

Emily had a few doubts, but maybe AJ was right. Maybe the reason Nikolas never noticed her was because she didn't believe in herself. Should she dare hope that her brother was right and that it wasn't too late, she wondered. She'd have to think about that one long and hard. Whatever she felt for Nikolas didn't give her the encouragement to purposefully come between him and Dawn. She had grudgingly admitted to herself that she genuinely liked Dawn and hurting her was not something Emily was inclined to do, but if Nikolas noticed Emily on his own... A slow smile creeped across her face and she beamed at AJ.

AJ smiled back at her. ''See! It's working already.''

Emily stood and opened her arms to give him a warm hug. As they released each other, she said, ''Thanks. I think I'll take your advice.''

As they moved to go back inside, AJ replied, ''I can't take full credit. Some of that came from Grandfather.''

Emily gave him a look of disbelief. ''Grandfather? Yeah, right.''

''No, I'm serious,'' AJ said, holding up his hands. ''He and I had a long talk last night. He was giving me love life advice, believe or not.''

''Love life advice? I thought you and Keesha... You seemed so happy at the club,'' Emily said with a slight frown.

''We're not together right now, but we will be soon. Anyway, somehow Grandfather found out and he gave me a little pep talk. And for first time in my life, he was right,'' AJ said with a chuckle.

''Amazing. You've just given me proof that miracles do happen,'' she said with renewed hope.


The warm, golden sun, the clear, blue sky, and the crisp, fresh air gave Jason a sense of peace and happiness. Port Charles was a wonderful place and he felt happy to be there, he thought as he stood on the balcony of his penthouse. Cradling a sleeping Michael in his arms, he welcomed the new day with a light heart which was filled with hope and love.

A slight breeze drifted in and caused Michael to shiver in his sleep. Concerned for the baby's welfare, Jason went back inside. He carefully placed the baby in his playpen and then moved to sight on his sofa. The dream he had of a romantic getaway with Keesha had inspired him. She would come back to him. He was sure of it, but with that assurance came questions and worries.

Jason Morgan lived in a penthouse and ran an organized crime unit. Jason Morgan had isolated himself from his loved ones and had built up a wall around himself, allowing only a small number of people in. How could the man he was now make up for the pain and the hurt the man he used to be had caused?

Rubbing his hands through his hair, he sighed when he realized that he still hadn't told his family about his recovered memory. He wanted to do it soon, but he didn't know how. He didn't know if he was ready to handle their reaction. He missed them, the crazy lot of them, but he didn't want to go back to the life he had as Jason Quartermaine any more than he wanted to continue to be Jason Morgan. He guessed he should be grateful to AJ for not telling them, and grudgingly, he admitted he was. Morgan would have questioned AJ's motives for not saying anything, but this Jason accepted it at face value. He wouldn't question why. AJ's reasons were not his own to consider.

He had to make a decision soon. No, he had already made the decision. He wanted Keesha back. She hadn't said anything, yet, but he knew she would not accept a mob lifestyle. She didn't know this, yet, but neither would he. His run as CEO of the Port Charles Mafia was about to come to an end. He'd have to work out the details with Sonny, but whatever his best friend had to say, Jason's term as mob boss was over.

''Excuse me, Mr. Morgan?''

The sound of Reynaldo's voice broke Jason from his reverie. ''Hi, Reynaldo. What is it?''

''Tommy Hardy is here to see you.''

''Thanks. Let him in,'' Jason said. He stood up to greet his visitor. He smiled faintly as Tommy walked in. The young man's expressive eyes were filled with anxiety and maybe a little desperation. The desperation left a sour taste in Jason's mouth and he hoped that whatever he told Tommy would be taken to heart. Desperation could lead to bad decisions. He didn't want to see that for the young man who had brought the love of his life back to him.

''Hi, Jason,'' Tommy said, as he stood by the door.

''Come. Have a seat,'' Jason offered as he led Tommy to the sofa. ''I'm a little surprised to see you here so early.''

''Oh, did I come too early? I apologize. I thought that the earlier I came, the sooner I could get started,'' Tommy said as he sat on the edge of the sofa. He glanced around the room and was in awe of the fine furnishings, the space and the beauty of it. Someday, he would get a place just like this one for him and his mother, he decided. Someday very soon.

''No, you're not too early. Don't worry about it,'' Jason said as he took a seat across from him. Crossing his leg over the other, he leaned back against the soft leather. He said, ''So, tell me. What exactly do you think you can do for me?''

Tommy was taken aback by Jason's question. He hadn't really thought about the work. His primary thought had been on the money he would receive. From the way Jason looked at him, intently and unwaveringly, Tommy guessed that his question was a test of some sort. The right answer would give him a job, but what was the right answer, he wondered. '' errands maybe. Something like that, right?''

''I see,'' Jason said, slowly nodding his head. ''Anything else?''

'' I'm not sure, Jason. Doing whatever you needed done, I guess. I'm flexible and I'm a fast-learner.''

''Yeah, you are,'' Jason reassured him. Jason smiled at Tommy. He liked him and didn't want to see him turn to a life of crime in order to support himself and his mother. Tommy was better than that. He had a good soul and a loving heart, but neither would last if he joined Jason in the organization. His coming through the life below the catacombs still intact amazed Jason, but he also knew that the more pitfalls Tommy encountered, the less likely he'd be the same young man who sat before him now.

''So, do you have something for me?'' Tommy asked, not wanting to appear needy, but unable to help himself.

''How good are you at fixing things?'' Jason asked.

''I'm okay, I guess. Lizabeth had a radio that stopped working. I fixed it and now it plays better than it did before.''

''Good. Sounds good to me. Well, Tommy, looks like you've got yourself a job,'' Jason said with a smile.

Tommy was dumbstruck as he looked at Jason. It was that easy? He thought Jason would want something more from him. What, exactly, he wasn't sure, but something. He looked closely at Jason just to make sure he was serious and wasn't teasing him. The same serious blue eyes that rested on his as he pulled his mother out of the rubble stared back at him. Jason was serious. ''Thanks! When do I start?''

''I have to finalize a few things first, but come around next week, okay? I should have everything settled by then,'' Jason said as he rose from his seat.

Tommy grabbed Jason's hand and shook it heartily as he said, ''Thanks, Jason! I really mean it. This means so much to me.''

Jason laughed softly at Tommy's exuberance and returned the handshake with equal fervor. ''You're welcome. Listen, let me give you an advance.''

''No, I can't accept anything. I haven't done anything for you, yet,'' Tommy said, shaking his head at the money Jason offered.

''Yes, you can accept this,'' Jason reassured him. ''It's advance for the work you'll do in the future. It's not charity, Tommy. Honest, it's not.''

Tommy's eyes moved from the cash which lay in Jason's outstretched hand to Jason's eyes. The last thing he wanted was for anyone to feel sorry for him. When he saw the sincerity which stared back at him, Tommy nodded and took the advance that was offered to him. He smiled, ''Thanks.''

''No, thank you,'' Jason said, as he opened the door for Tommy. ''I'll call you later to tell you what time to come by.''

''Okay, thanks again.'' Tommy left and Jason closed the door.

Jason frowned to himself as he realized that he now had seven days to come up with a solution for himself and for Tommy. He would come up with something for both of them. Yeah, but what, he asked himself as he picked up Michael who had awakened from his nap.

Chapter 56

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