Inside the Catacombs…

"Marco, has the situation been taken care of?" Jason asked, speaking quietly into the mini-microphone. He, with an unconscious Simone in his arms, lagged behind Tommy, Keesha and their prisoners. Jason spoke softly in hushed tones so as not to alert Keesha to his plans. At least, not yet.

"Yes, Mr. Morgan, it has. Should we dispose of the problem before you and the others come out?" Marco asked.

"No, that won't be necessary. Just keep an eye on it," Jason said, quietly. "Reynaldo?"

"I'm here."

"We're about twenty feet from the main passageway. Is everything ready?" Jason asked.

"Yes, it’s all set. We’re on our way," Reynaldo answered.

"And Reynaldo…"

"Yes, boss?"

"Bring reinforcements cause we've got extras," Jason replied.

"Extra what?" Keesha asked.

"Hey! I thought you were up there," Jason said, trying to mask his surprise. He hoped she hadn't heard too much of his conversation. He didn't want to raise her suspicions before he was in a better position to deal with them.

"I was, but I noticed you weren't with us. How are you doing? Is Simone too heavy?" she asked, reaching out a hand to gently wipe Simone's brow.

"I'm fine. She's light. How are you doing?" he asked.

"Better," she said, "now."

Jason smiled down at her. He wished he could take her in his arms and hold her close. He had so much he wanted to tell her. So many things they needed to discuss. Soon, he thought. Very soon.

They walked together in a companionable silence. Both of their thoughts were caught in a maze where the past and the present mingled in confusion. Being alone together again brought back so much for both of them. So many memories which had been forgotten were coming back in waves.

Jason thought of the past two years and how he had chosen to live his life. Waking up in the cold, unfamiliar world had scared him and he had lashed out at everyone. He felt claustrophobic and every time someone came near the only thing he wanted to do was run away. He had hurt so many people during that time. What hurt him now was remembering how he hurt the incredible woman who was beside him. He would give anything to take back the things he said to her during the early days of his recovery.

Keesha thought about the silent man who walked beside her. Long ago, she loved him with the all-consuming intensity of a first love. He was her best friend. Her lover. He was the man she knew that she would spend the rest of her life with until… Until one horrible night he was taken away from her. The man she loved died and was replaced by someone who didn’t give a damn about her and who had no problem telling her so. Quartermaine. Morgan. Which one was he now? She didn’t know and the closer they came to civilization, the more afraid she became to find out.

"Hold it right there!"

Tommy's outcry tore them away from their thoughts. Jason saw who Tommy was speaking to and took a deep breath as the second part of his secret plan went into motion.

"Tommy, it's okay. They're with us," Jason said. He watched as Reynaldo and the others came closer. He knew that he could back out now and the only person who would know would be Reynaldo. He also knew that he would never be able to forgive himself if he did.


AJ moaned as he regained consciousness. The pain in his head was excruciating. It began at the base of his neck and shot up from there. He rubbed the back of his neck to ease the pain as much as he could.

Moving to a sitting position on nature's floor, he heard voices. Many voices. Jumbled voices. Where was he? Not another blackout. The headache wasn't from a hangover. It couldn’t be. He was clean. He was sober. But why was he in the wilderness, he wondered. Then, he remembered. Keesha.

He stood and began to leave the bushes.

"Stop right there," Marco said, aiming the firearm at AJ.

"Not this again," AJ groaned. "Look, I don’t have time for this."

"The way I see it, you have all the time in the world," Marco replied.

"Why are you doing this? What harm could I do if I went to the entrance? I just want to see if she's here and if she's okay," AJ said with a sigh. Why was so much effort being made to keep him out, he wondered.

"I have my orders."

"From whom? This is stupid. I'm going down there," AJ said as he made to move past Marco.


"Let him go," Justus said. Ever since he'd been outside of the catacombs, he had noticed how Marco kept walking away from his position to back behind the bushes. Justus had heard pieces of Jason's conversation with Marco and Reynaldo and when he didn’t understand it, he became suspicious. He followed Marco who led him to AJ. Considering Jason's adamant refusal to in regards to AJ's participation in the rescue, Justus was not surprised.

"But Mr. Morgan said-"

"Don’t worry about it. I'll take full responsibility. Let him go," Justus repeated.

Marco lowered his weapon and moved as AJ flew past him to confront Justus.

"You bastards! You lied to me. To my face!"

"AJ, calm down. I know you're upset and you've every right to be but-"

"But what? But Jason didn't want me here so you lie to me? Is that it?"

"It's not as simple as that."

"Really? Funny, but I don’t believe you. Jason and I have our differences, but I never would have thought that he'd sink as low as this. And that you would help him," AJ said, shaking his head in disgust.

"AJ, I'm sorry."

"Save it. Just save it," AJ said. "I don't want your damned apologies. All I want to know is that Keesha is okay. Is she?"

"Yeah, she is," Justus said, quietly.

"Good. Where is she? I want to get her out of here," AJ said, moving away from Justus to see if he could find Keesha among the other women who were there.

"She's not there. She's still inside with Jason."

"With Jason…" AJ repeated. As he said words, he wondered if the reason behind the lies were more about Keesha than about him. Maybe Jason had Justus lie to him about Keesha, but why?

"Jason, where are we going?" Keesha asked, as she and Jason settled in the backseat of the limo.

After Reynaldo and the others joined them, everything happened so fast. Jason gave Simone over to one of them. He told Tommy that he could trust them and that he would call him later. He also told him that if he needed anything, all Tommy had to do was ask and it would be given to him.

After Tommy and the others left, Jason grabbed her hand and they followed Reynaldo down a separate passageway. He led them to a deserted road where a limo waited for them. With very few words, they ushered her into the vehicle and soon they were on their way.

Jason reached for Keesha's hand and said, "To my penthouse."

"Why? I should go home to my place. You were nice to help find me, but you don’t have to take me to your home," Keesha said, turning to face him.

"I'm not taking you home because I have to. I'm taking you there because I want to," he spoke softly, as he thumb gently caressed the back of her hand.

Suddenly, the backseat wasn’t big enough for the both of them. Keesha felt her heart beat wildly in her chest. Although Jason only lightly stroked her hand, she felt the movement all over her entire body. So long. It had been so long since she had known the pleasure of his touch. My God, what was happening here, she wondered.

"Jason, what are you doing to me?" she asked breathlessly.

"What I should have done long ago," Jason whispered softly against her lips before he moved to cover them with his own.

Jason brushed his lips across Keesha's. He moved slowly at first. Gently. Then, he became more insistent and when Keesha gave into to his sensual demands and opened herself to him, he was lost. In her.

Keesha found herself succumbing to Jason's touch. To tasting him again. She still wanted him. The realization of her wanton feelings scared her and she abruptly pulled away.

"No, Jason. We can't do this."

"Keesha, please…"

"Uh uh," she said, shaking her head. "No, I don't know what's going on with you or why, but this is all wrong."


"Don’t call me that. How dare you call me that? This sudden change…whatever. I don't want to deal with it. You have Robin. I have AJ. Just take me home, please."

"Keesha, we should talk. There's so much I need to tell you."

"No. Take me home. Now," she said, pressing herself into the corner of the backseat. She folded her arms across her chest and stared sightlessly out at the stars which littered the sky.

Jason sighed. He would do as she asked. He would take her home. They would remain separate. For now.

Later, as Reynaldo pulled away from Kelley's, Jason realized that having Keesha back in his life again would not be easy. There were too many obstacles. The organization. AJ. Robin. And Keesha herself. He needed time to think. He needed to get away for awhile.

"Reynaldo, when we arrive at the penthouse call Armand. Tell him to prepare the jet. Michael and I are going away for awhile."

Chapter 1

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