Chapter 10: Shim Sham Shimmy

"Sonny, can we talk?"

Stone joined Sonny at the bar while the other man oversaw the concealment of Paradise's booze. Since Scorpio's shakedown, Sonny worked most of the morning on making sure that everything that needed to be hidden was.

"Sure." Sonny's gaze narrowed on him. "Here or somewhere else?"

Stone glanced at the staircase leading to Sonny's private quarters. A few minutes ago, Dara's sister headed that way. He didn't want either woman hearing what he had to say. "Somewhere else."

Sonny nodded once, gave Benny one final order and headed out the back. Stone followed. The men stopped at the dock. The only thing that'd overhear them there was wind, water and birds.

"What's this about?" Sonny sat on a bench. He gestured for Stone to sit. "If this is about Gina and Jason--"

"No, there's not much anyone can do about that." Stone joined Sonny on the bench. "Obviously, Jason's move on. Gina will have to accept it."

"You know she's been tipping them back more than she can handle."

"I know." Stone's mouth tightened. "I've forbidden her to come back to Paradise for the time being. If she refuses, I'm sending her to live with Jagger and Karen."

"Now that's squared away," Sonny said, "what did you want to talk about?"

"This is probably none of my business…"

"Probably not, but keep going anyway."

Stone coughed once to clear his throat. "After what Gina has been through, I don't want to see it happen again."

Sonny laughed. "You have a thing for the pretty brown canary."

"No, I'm not interested in Dawn Jensen. She's just a kid."

"That's never stopped you before."

Stone frowned. He made a mistake once and vowed never again. "Robin's age isn't why we didn't work out, but it doesn't matter now. She's with her family and her life wasn't ruined."

"Look, I know you don't think much of Jason. After the way he and Gina split, I can see your point. But why the concern about the Jensen girl? What is she to you?"

"It’s not just Dawn I'm talking about," Stone clarified. "Her sister is living here now. This isn't her kind of world. Neither of them are cut out for this kind of lifestyle."

"Oh, I get it now. I'm not good enough for Dara and Jason's not the man for Dawn." Sonny gave him a hard look and cocked an eyebrow. "Am I getting it right?"

"That's not what I said." Stone abruptly stood. He shoved fisted hands into his pants pockets. "You know how I feel about you. You're my brother. And like a brother, I'm coming to you out of concern. You came to me about Robin. It's only fair."

"Fair, huh?"

Stone bit his tongue. The fire flashing in Sonny's eyes warned of a fight. He cared too much about their relationship to resort to a physical altercation.

"Well, to ease your concern, Dara and I have an arrangement. The details don't concern you. Her little sister is off limits to Jason for now. Satisfied?"

The word escaped before Stone could stop it. "No."

"No?" Sonny released a belly laugh. "Tell me, Stone, what will make you happy?"

"Leave them alone."

The laughter came to an immediate halt. "That's not a promise I'm willing to make."

~*~

Jason watched Sonny's conversation with Stone from a distance. The sax player had no love for Jason and Jason returned the lack of emotion. Before his involvement with Gina, Jason sensed Stone's dislike. The other man held it in check, but the look in his eyes never wavered. Stone would more than likely love to see Jason go straight to hell. Jason never once stopped to consider the reason. He simply didn't care.

The staccato beat of heels created a steady rhythm on the wooden platform. Jason remembered the cadence well. He said her name without turning around. "Gina. This isn't a good time."

"It never is," she said.

He brushed past her back inside Paradise's storeroom. Her footsteps followed. He whirled around to face her. "There's nothing left to say. It's over, Gina. Move on."

Color drained from her face, leaving her ashen. Her eyes rounded. "I know. It's just that… I came to say goodbye."

"You said it." He gave a pointed look to the door behind her.

"I have a job," she said in a rush.

"Congratulations."

"Don't you want to know where?"

He stifled a yawn. The conversation bored him. She bored him. "No."

"Fine," she bit out. "One day you'll live to regret this. I was the best thing you ever had. When you realize that, it'll be too late."

He didn't spare her another glance. He turned and walked away.

~*~

"Just like clockwork." Skye opened the door wide to allow Rinaldo entry. "I keep hoping one day you'll forget."

He shook his head. "Sonny has a good memory and so do I."

Skye strolled to the wall behind her desk. She removed the Renoir painting and quickly opened the wall safe. The bundle for Sonny was already prepared, stuffed and sealed inside an envelope. She gave the cash to Rinaldo who graced her with a quick, rare smile.

"Always a pleasure," he said.

"Perhaps more so for you than for me."

"Perhaps." Then, he was gone.

Skye locked the safe and returned the painting to the wall. She leaned against her desk and gave her full attention to the work of art. Her father, Adam Chandler, gave it to her as a parting gift before he banished her from his home. Being treated worst than trash stung. Hell, it hurt her deeply, but she found the courage to rise above it. Although she owned this house of ill repute, she'd never once collected a dime on her back. She learned the art of using people at her father's knee. She lifted an imaginary glass and saluted. "Thanks, Daddy."

"Talking to yourself?"

"Sam." She turned to face him. "It's early for you."

"No, I'm running a little late." He clutched his hat between his two strong hands. His mouth thinned into a straight line. He reminded her of a coiled snake, ready to strike at any second.

"What's your hurry? You look as tight as a drum. Want something to take the edge off?"

He slammed the door closed and stormed across the room to her. "Are you crazy? I'm an officer of the law!"

"So?" She shrugged.

"So, I can't do this anymore."

Her eyes narrowed. She'd heard little speeches like this before. "Do what?"

"Come here. Be with you. Be a chump in your little game with Corinthos," he said in deadly quiet voice. "I won't be used, Skye."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Oh, don't you?" He cocked an eyebrow. "You were never the sweet and innocent type so playing that act won't work now. Corinthos has you in his pocket. I saw his boy Rinaldo leave and I know what he had with him."

"Arrest him then."

"It's not that easy and you know it."

"According to you, I know everything, so maybe you're right. I know that, too. You and Scorpio are too busy being upstanding law abiders that you're not willing to get down and dirty. Your hands are clean and you want to keep them that way."

He stared down at her. "What's your point?"

"You come storming in here, mad at the world and treating me like I'm public enemy number one. If Sonny has plans for you, he hasn't told me about them. But if you want to get him, you'll have to sink to his level. Otherwise, all you're doing is blowing smoke."

~*~

"Here I am."

"Right on time." Mac stood and ushered John into his office. After closing the door, he returned to his desk. "Everything all squared away in Llanview."

John nodded. "As much as it can be. Commissioner Buchanan extended an open offer of manpower should we need it."

"I spoke with Bo this morning," Mac said. "He wasn't happy about you leaving."

"No, he wasn't, but it was something I needed to do." John looked around the office. Commendations decorated every wall. A few personal photographs were on display as well. He wondered if the woman in the photo was Mac's wife and if so, how did the other man balance his career with his family. Maybe if John had learned the trick, Evangeline wouldn't have walked away.

"Change is always a fresh opportunity to make a discovery," Mac said. "I think you'll like it here. Once we rid Port Charles of vermin like Corinthos and Morgan, this place could become a real Utopia."

"A perfect haven, huh?" John couldn't imagine a perfect world without Evangeline on his bed, in his arms and in his life. He shifted in his chair and forced his thoughts to turn away from his miserable love life. "The sooner we get started, the better."

"I agree." Mac stood and moved toward the door. "The troops are gathering in the conference room. I wanted to make a formal introduction. They will know that your orders are to be followed."

Finally, one thing in John's life was heading in the right direction. He smiled. "I like the sound of that."


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