Chapter 87

"He came by today," Lisa whispered, discreetly into her cellphone. She was in the stockroom, ironing Carrie's latest creations, when she decided to check in with her superior. Keeping one eye on the door and another on the delicate fabric, she listened closely to her instructions.

"What was her reaction?" came the curious response.

"She was furious," Lisa whispered, cradling the telephone between her ear and her shoulder as she placed the newly ironed silk blouse on a hanger. "They were arguing as I came in-"

"About?" he asked.

"Excuse me?" Lisa replied, confused. She reached for the matching wraparound skirt and placed it on the ironing board.

"What were they arguing about, Lisa?" he asked, the slight rising of his voice displaying his irritaion. "Are you paying attention? I don't need to stress the importance of this assignment, do I?"

"Of course not, sir," she replied, mentally kicking herself.

"Well? What were they arguing about?"

"I'm not quite sure. Their voices were raised, and I could hear them before I entered the shop. But by the time, I came in, the argument was over," Lisa said.

"And, she didn't confide in you? I thought your relationship with her was a close one."

"It is, but my cover as a teenager doesn't really give her much confidence to confide in me," Lisa explained.

"Well, we'll have to do something about that," he told her.

"How, Agent Jones?" Lisa asked, resting the iron on in its side so that she could give the chief agent-in-charge her undivided attention.

"I'll get back to you on that. Maybe you could forge a relationship with the younger daughter and go from there. But don't make a definitive move in that direction until further notice. Understood?"

"Yes, sir," she answered.

"And, another thing, Lisa. The name's Frisco. I know this is your first assignment with me, but you'll soon learn that I don't have much use for formality."

"I'll remember that," she promised as she ended the call and turned her attention back to the remaining garments which were in desperate need of an iron.


"Here comes Windors. Are you sure you don't want to come over?" Dawn asked, looking away from the approaching launch to face her brother-in-law. "Whaddaya say?"

"Nah," Lucky replied as he shook his head. "I have a few things to do before the showing tonight."


"Yeah?" he asked.

"Do you think the video will go over okay? You know with the new ending and all?" she asked, a worried frown wrinkling her brow.

"Oh, so you don't think I did a good job?" he asked, his blue eyes twinkling as he teased her.

Dawn narrowed her eyes as she playfully punched him in his arm. "That's not what I said!" she denied. "I was just wondering, but come to think of it, I guess you weren't so bad."

"Oh, thanks a lot," he grumbled. "I'll remember you said that."

Dawn laughed and said, "You do that."

Lucky shook his head at her and waved as she and her two bodyguards drifted away on the launch. He watched them move farther away for a few minutes more before he turned and walked away. Remembering how shaken Dawn was when she left his former home made him wonder how Laura was doing. Maybe he would stop by and see her. Maybe now would be the perfect time to get the answer to the oddest brainteaser of all time: how does one marry one's rapist? He released a heavy sigh and began to trudge up the stairs.

"What's the hurry, cowboy?"

Lucky stood still. The voice sounded too real to be a figment of his imagination, but still he hoped it was just that. Imaginary.

"Lucky," Luke called to his son. "Where's the fire?"

He couldn't deny it. The voice was real. His father was back. Coupled with his mother's return, Lucky had a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach because he sensed that it was just the beginning. Slowly, he turned around to face his father. "So, you're back."

"Is that it?" Luke asked, dressed from head to toe in black. He came from his hiding place in the shadows and stood out in the open at the bottom of the stairs, his arms outstretched. "No 'welcome back' hug for your proud papa?"

"No," Lucky told him, staring at him in surprise. "Man, you're delusional."

"I've had my moments," Luke said. "Especially in the Sixties, but that was more hallucinatory than delusional. Did I ever tell you about the time I... Nah, I'll save that story for another time."

"There will be no other time," Lucky said, turning away to go back up the stairs.

"Maybe you'd prefer a story where you're the star of your own delusion," Luke called, folding his arms as he waited for his son to face him again.

Lucky drew a long breath. He wanted to walk away. He *needed* to, but...he couldn't. His feet wouldn't budge. Grudgingly, he turned around and asked, "What story might that be?"

Luke smiled. He pulled out a cigar from his inside pocket and sniffed it as he chose his words carefully. "Delusions, my son, is the name of this love story."

"Love story?? You're talking in riddles, old man, and you're wasting my time-"

"I guess compared to the pretty little filly who just left, I would be a waste of time. She sure is a pretty little thing, isn't she? Sparkling brown eyes; full, just aching-to-be-kissed lips; and a ripe pair of-"

"That's enough!" Lucky exclaimed, his blue eyes blazing. "You're twisted, man! She's a person! She doesn't exist for your amusement-" Lucky's words ended abruptly as Luke began to laugh.

"Your defense is admirable, cowboy," Luke said, placing his cigar into his mouth as he prepared to light the Cuban smokes. "Truly admirable. I'm sure that even her bastard husband wouldn't have been as fierce as you-"

"Is this going somewhere? Is there a point to your ramblings?" Lucky asked. Luke inhaled and remained silent. Lucky shook his head at his father as he continued, "I didn't think there was. You know, the next time you want to stop me for a father-son talk...don't!"

With that said, Lucky stormed up the steps and left his father staring after him.


"Carly," Tommy repeated, slowly.

"That's what I said," she replied. "I don't stutter-"

"No one said that you did," Tommy said, interrupting her. "Hold on. I'll get him for you."

"You do that."

"I *said* I would, didn't I?!" Tommy said, becoming irritated with the rude woman. He pushed the hold button before she could speak again and replaced the receiver. Just as he turned away from the desk, Jason entered the room, carrying their beverages.

"Here's your thirst quencher," Jason said, handing Tommy the ice cold bottle. He frowned as he noticed Tommy's flashing green eyes. "What's wrong?" he asked. "Pizza guy never showed?"

"Nah, he flaked. I'll call him on the upstairs phone," Tommy said, moving to leave the room.

"Gina's fine. You don't have to check up on her," Jason teased. He chuckled softly when a faint blush colored Tommy's bronze cheeks.

"It's not that," Tommy said. "You have a phone call, and something tells me you'll want to be alone when you take it."

"Why?" Jason asked, after swallowing a gulp of his own thirst quencher. "Is it Sonny?"

"Nope. She said her name is Carly, your son's mother."

Jason's face became pale and his eyes narrowed as he asked, "Is that what she told you? That she's my son's mother?"

"Yep," Tommy nodded. "I'll be upstairs."

Jason stared sightlessly at Tommy's retreating back. He ran his hands through his straight, blond hair as he reminded himself that he knew this day would come. The day when he'd have to deal with Carly and stop pretending like she didn't exist. When he'd have to stop pretending that his family only consisted of Keesha, him and Michael, and no one else because no one else mattered. But as he glanced down at the flashing red light next to the hold button, he knew the days of his family were numbered. Maybe.

Taking a deep, calming breath, he told himself to keep his tone even as he picked up the receiver and said, "This is Jason."

"It doesn't sound like Jason," came the irritated voice on the other end. "Is this really Jason Morgan because if this isn't and he finds out you've been impersonating him-"

"Carly!" he said, silencing her. "It's me. It's really me."

"You don't sound the same...or maybe it's been so long since I heard from you that I'd forgotten what you sounded like," Carly replied.

"My voice hasn't changed. I guess it has been awhile-"

"It's been more than awhile!" she reminded him.

"Things came up!" he said, his voice rising. Remembering that Keesha was upstairs and could walk in at any minute, he softened his tone, but his voice remained hard. "I admit I should have visited you, but I didn't have time. Sorry."

"Sorry?! Sorry???" she said, her voice heavy with sarcasm. "You haven't seen or contacted me in months and the best you can say to me is sorry? Well, if you think you're sorry now, you have no idea just sorry you will be."

"Is that a threat?" he asked, quietly.

"It's what you make of it, Jase. I've heard some things and from the sounds of it, they're true. Well, these things have started me to thinking-"

"What things?" he bit out.

"That you left the organization and rebuilt...what did that boy call it? The *Ward* House?"

"Yeah, that's true."

"Yeah, that's true?! You'd better get a better repertoire, Jason, because if you don't you'll be singing a different tune!"

"There you go with the threats again, Carly. Am I supposed to be shaken by this? Tell me because from where I sit you don't have anything on me," Jason said, with a shrug.

"You can believe that, and you can later suffer the consequences. Or you can haul your pretty little butt up here and we can deal with this face to face. The choice is yours."

Before Jason could respond, the sound of dial tone roared in his ear. "Dammit!" he mumbled as he slammed down the receiver.

"Jason? Is everything okay?"

Jason was surprised to see that he was no longer alone and that Keesha had joined him. He wondered how much of the conversation she'd heard and then he scolded himself. What did it matter how much she'd heard, he asked himself. He'd tell her everything. Eventually.

"Everything is perfect, now that you're here," he said, opening his arms to her.

Keesha went to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. "Are you sure?" she asked, looking up at him. "You seem upset."

"I just have some bad news," he said, pulling her closer to him. "I can't go with you to Jacks tonight. Something's come up. Are you angry with me?"

"Never," she said, standing on tiptoe to brush her lips softly against his. "Just make sure you come home in one piece."

"You're not upset?" he asked. "Aren't you at least a little bit curious about why I'm canceling on you?"

"Maybe a little, but I know you wouldn't flake on me unless it's important. I trust you, Jason," she said, her brown eyes shining with love. "Just hurry back."

Jason felt a lump lodge in his throat as her love for him surrendered him and consumed him. He was overwhelmed and it was all he could do to choke out the words, "I will. Baby, I will."

Chapter 88

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