Justus said good-bye to Jason and headed to his penthouse. They had decided to meet later and review the final details of their plan. All in all, the cartel was in agreement and even if they weren’t, they would never show otherwise. Jason Morgan could be ruthless when crossed.
Justus placed his jacket and tie on the back of the chair. He unbuttoned his shirt and rolled up his sleeves as he relaxed on the sofa. He was whipped and thought a quick nap would rejuvenate him.
Within seconds he was asleep, but the pounding of the door jolted him awake. Irritated, he rose from the sofa and opened the door.
“Have you heard anything from the Hardy boy,” AJ asked, walking past Justus into the penthouse.
“I haven’t been here most of the morning. I’ve been in a meeting with Jason,” Justus said, as he moved to the bar and poured himself a drink.
“Business never stops with you guys, does it?” AJ asked with an edge to his voice.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Justus asked, setting the untouched glass back onto the counter.
“Even though Keesha is missing, you and Jason won’t let that put a damper on your mob activities.”
“You shouldn’t make assumptions, AJ,” Justus said. “Our meeting was about Keesha.”
AJ stared at Justus for a moment and then asked, “About Keesha? Why wasn’t I informed?”
“You and Jason don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. I thought it best if you weren’t there. Besides, it was a called meeting. Outsiders aren’t allowed,” Justus replies, moving to lower himself onto the sofa again.
AJ stood still as Justus’ words sunk in. He was angry about the exclusion, but he was also hurt. He turned to face Justus and said, “How can you call me an outsider? I love Keesha and if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have known she was even missing. But now, I’m an outsider? Unbelievable.”
Justus sighed. Between his two Quartermaine cousins, sometimes he didn’t know which approach to take. One was too emotional and the other rarely showed any emotion at all.
“I didn’t mean outsider in that sense. I meant outsider to the business. I know how much you love Keesha,” he said quietly.
“Well, what’s the plan?” AJ asked.
“I can’t go into the details,” Justus said.
“Justus-“ AJ began.
“I can’t because nothing has been finalized, but when it has, I’ll let you know.”
“I still wish you would have come to me with this instead of Justus,” Audrey said quietly.
“I didn’t want to worry or upset you,” Tommy replied. “I do wish you could have heard it from me instead. I’m sorry you had to hear about it from him.”
The ringing of the telephone prevented Audrey from commenting further. She moved to answer the phone and Tommy rose from the sofa to look at the photos on the mantle. He blocked out her conversation as he focused on a picture of him, Simone and Tom. Their smiles were frozen in time and Tommy wondered why did it all have to change.
He was deep in thought when Audrey came to him and said, “You were two in that picture. It’s one of my favorites.”
Tommy swallowed and then faced her with a slight smile. Audrey embraced him and he returned the hug. As she pulled away, she said, “That was the hospital. There’s been an emergency and I have to leave, but I do want to continue this later.”
Tommy nodded and she moved to prepare herself to leave. Grabbing her purse from the table and her sweater from the closet, Audrey waved to Tommy and left.
Tommy sighed and looked at the clock. Talking to Audrey had taken more time that he thought it would. If he left now, maybe he would be able to go see those guys and come back before Audrey returned. He grabbed a Gala apple from the fruit bowl and headed for the door.
Upon opening the door, he was surprised to see Nikolas and Dawn on the other side. Both were smiling. His eyes were drawn to Dawn and he couldn’t help but think how pretty she looked. She was still rather bruised, but the smile she wore, brightened her entire face and the bruises weren’t as noticeable.
“Hi, Tommy,” Dawn said with a smile.
“Hi, Dawn. Nikolas,” Tommy said with a slight smile which faded a little when he noticed that they were holding hands.
“Would you mind if we came in? We’ll only take a moment,” Nikolas said.
“Oh, sure. Come in,” Tommy said, as he moved to allow them entry.
“Nice place. Very homey,” Dawn said as she and Nikolas walked further into the living area.
“It’s my grandmother’s,” Tommy said quietly.
The room was silent as the teenagers stood there unsure of where to begin. Finally, the silence was broken.
“I asked Nickie to bring me here because I wanted to tell you again how much I appreciated how you helped him look for me. Also, I wanted to thank you for getting me out of that neighborhood,” Dawn said with a smile.
Tommy returned her smile and said, “You don’t have to thank me. Anyone would have done the same.”
“I don’t think so. People aren’t as selfless as all that,” Dawn replied quietly.
“I want to thank you, too, Tommy,” Nikolas added. Placing his arm around her shoulders to pull her closer to him, he said, “Thank you for bringing her back to me.”
Nikolas and Dawn smiled at each other and Tommy felt out of place. They were obviously happy with each other. He began to feel guilty for being envious of their relationship.
“Well, we’d better get going,” Nikolas said, removing his arm from Dawn’s shoulders to hold her hand.
Tommy nodded and moved to open the door for them. As they walked through the open door, Dawn turned to Tommy and said, “I hope to see you around again. I may be in Port Charles for a while. Maybe we should all get together some time.”
Tommy smiled at her invitation. He was surprised that she would want to spend time with him. And, judging by the smile on Nikolas’ face, he felt the same as she. The thought of having friends made him feel less alone as he followed them out of the door.
What pigs, she thought to herself, as she piled the dirty clothes into a basket. The guards left their belongings wherever they fell and it usually took Simone a while to put everything in order.
Working as quickly as she could, she made the beds, dusted the furniture, and swept the floor. As she made one last glance at the room, she picked up the basket and made her way to the laundry room.
The walk from the guards’ quarters to the laundry room was short and quiet. For once, there were no guards around to bother or harass her as she went about her tasks. The lack of guards wasn’t natural, but Simone wouldn’t allow herself to dwell on it as she separated the colored clothing from the whites.
“Simone, meticulous as ever,” replied the silky masculine voice.
Simone stiffened at the voice, but didn’t stop her movements. She continued to separate the clothing, refusing to be goaded by his words.
“Oh? Nothing to say? Now, that’s a first. The leverage your son provided is no longer available, yet now, you have no words. Interesting.”
“What do you know about my son?” she asked, stopping to look at her unwelcome visitor. She hadn’t seen Juan Valdez in a while and was surprised to see him now. In the years she’d been there, Juan had moved up the ladder so to speak. No longer a guard, he rarely bothered her any more.
“I know that he’s not here, querida,” he whispered.
“Don’t call me that,” she said through clenched teeth.
“Oh, but you are. Of all the others, you have always been my favorite,” he said with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.
Simone reacted without thinking and slapped him. The sound echoed in the room and the two stared at each other. Then, Juan laughed.
“Still as headstrong as ever,” he chuckled, as he rubbed his stinging jaw. “Makes me wonder why I stayed away so long.”
Juan pulled her roughly against him. His hands roamed over her body, as Simone willed herself to float above it all. When Juan shoved her onto the dirty laundry and landed on top of her, Simone’s mind was in a happier place where she and her son were together. Free.