Genesis: Part 4
Jason reserved a room at the Port Charles Hotel and that became his new home. He gave himself some time to become acclimated to his new surroundings and to give himself time to think. The argument with AJ took more out of him than he realized and had been affecting his head. Now that he'd come to terms with his brother and unleashed the rage that had been building inside him, he could focus.
The first day, Jason went to bed and stayed there for hours. He slept like a log and when he woke up, he was well-rested and ready. He ordered room service and grabbed a notebook. His previous search for Keesha had been done on the whim of his passionate impulses. He would have to curb his emotions and approach the search for her in a logical manner.
In his notebook, he jotted down the places he'd been to. He shook his head. No wonder he came up empty. The park, Charles Street and all the other places belonged to the Keesha she was before the accident. The new Keesha wouldn't have any ties to those areas. She'd discover her way and her own world. He'd do best to remember that.
Room-service arrived and as Jason ate, he looked over a map of the city. He marked where he had been with a circle and saw that Port Charles was bigger than he realized. Maybe he would need help...
He considered asking Mac Scorpio or Felicia Jones for help, but nixed that idea. Stone's recent death was still too strongly felt by them. He couldn't pull them away from Robin because whether she knew it or not, she was still in mourning. Nah, Jason decided. He wouldn't ask for help. He could find Keesha on his own.
He concentrated on the map. The areas he neglected the first time around glared at him. He wanted to dismiss them as being too seedy and too scary for Keesha, but he couldn't. She'd been gone for days. At this point, he couldn't dismiss a damn thing. He made a mental note of the addresses and how to get there.
Jason took a quick shower and as the fog was fading from the mirror, he stared at his reflection. Long wet strands of blonde hair fell onto his forehead. He brushed the hair back with the back of his hand and then he frowned. Once he found Keesha, he would have to find a new way to approach her. He'd have to adjust to the new woman she'd become. Maybe it was time for him to become a new man. A new look would certainly do that, he reasoned.
He dug inside his shaving bag and pulled out his electric razor. Grabbing a handful of hair, he took a deep breath and mumbled, "Here goes nothing."
Minutes later, long, blonde strands filled the sink. Jason accessed his new look. His hair stood over his head in tiny spikes. The new 'do' was cross between a buzz cut and a crew cut. He ran his fingers over his nearly bald head and laughed. There was no going back now.
Next up was his wardrobe. He liked his clothes, but they wouldn't work with the 'new' Jason. He picked through the closet until he found something that had potential. After tossing the robe from around his waist, he stepped into a pair of boxer briefs. He pulled on a pair of faded blue jeans, a white t-shirt and his leather jacket. A pair of work boots completed the ensemble. He was ready to roll.
The offer Sonny Corinthos extended to Keesha was too hard to pass up. To Johnny's delight, she accepted and started work as a hostess at the waterfront club known as Lily's. The owner and his wife, the club's namesake, were kind to Keesha without overdoing it.
On a shopping trip with Lily, the other woman explained that she knew Keesha before the accident and was more than willing to get to know the woman she was now. Her sincere words made the tension that bunched up Keesha's shoulders fade. The two women became friends and Lily was instrumental in showing Keesha the ins and outs of being a good hostess. In no time, Keesha's natural charm and grace brought a smile to Lily's face and she told Keesha that she'd work out fine.
Keesha's first night as hostess was not without a moment of awkwardness. A drunk patron made a suggestive comment to Keesha. She could have handled him without help, but Johnny stepped in before she could stop him. He would have broken the man's arm if a bouncer hadn't taken over for him. When the crowd returned to their seats or the dance floor, Keesha turned on Johnny.
"Do not ever do that again," she said through gritted teeth.
"What?" he asked. "That guy was outta line. Nobody gets outta line like that with my girl."
"I'm not your girl, Johnny," she said, turning back to her podium. She sifted through the guest list and hoped that Johnny would walk away. He didn't.
"Not yet," he said, "but that's 'cause you're fighting the inevitable. I'm not the guy who hurt you, Keesha-"
"No one's hurt me."
His eyes raked over her, a quizzical expression on his face. "I don't believe you."
"Believe it," she clipped. "Look, you've been nice to me. I like you, Johnny, but...whatever it is you want from me, I can't give you."
"I don't <i>want</i> anything from you, Keesha," he said quietly. "At least not like that."
The door swung open and people suddenly crowded Keesha's podium. She gave them all half-smiles and promised them a good time tonight. It took a little while before everyone was seated and by the time, her space was clear again, Johnny was gone. She found it odd that he didn't say goodbye, but it didn't bother her. Few things did.
"How's it going?"
Sonny's dark eyes pierced into her as he gave her a dimpled smile. She nodded. "Well."
He laughed softly. "I suppose that's better than awful. How do you feel up here? If you need a break, let Lily or me know. We don't want you to overdo it your first night out."
"Is Lily here?" Keesha asked, looking towards Sonny's table in the center of the club. Lily waved at her and smiled. Keesha waved back.
"You found her," he said, matter of fact. "She likes you. I do, too. If you ever need anything, let me know."
"Sure," she said, shrugging.
"I'm serious," Sonny said, his black eyes blazing with intensity. "You're a tough cookie and that's good, but don't forget that you have friends to lean on. I'm your friend, so is Lily, and Johnny, too."
"Okay," she said. "I won't forget."
His dimples returned when he smiled again. "Now, enjoy yourself. It's a requirement with the job."
Keesha watched Sonny walk back to his table. He whispered something to Lily, who frowned at first and then smiled. She glanced back at Keesha and nodded. Lily whispered something back to him. He replied with a nod and then, Lily rose from the table and came towards Keesha.
"Hi," Lily greeted. "Sonny tells me you're required to have fun. I'm here to second that. Take a break. I'll take care of the door for a few minutes."
"I can't ask you to do that, Lily," Keesha said. "Besides, what would I do? I like being here at the door. I can see what all the women are wearing and learn some more of what you were teaching me."
"You're a fast learner and believe me, some of these chickas are hoochie mamas. Go with your own style, mi amiga. You won't go wrong."
"If you say so," Keesha murmured.
"So, you don't want a break?" Lily asked again. "What about Johnny? Wouldn't you like to dance for a while? I thought I saw him talking to you. Where did he go?"
Keesha shrugged. "I don't know. He wants me to be his girl."
Lily giggled. "I know. He likes you a lot, Keesha."
"Is that good?" Keesha asked, frowning. "I don't think it's good."
"It depends on what you want. Johnny is a nice man. He's not mean. He cares about you, but if you don't feel the same..." Lily paused. "How do you feel about him?"
"I don't mind being around him. He's good at pool and riding a motorcycle."
"Is that all you can say about him?" Lily asked. "Does seeing him make you happy? Does his touch cause you to shiver?"
"Like with you and Sonny?" Keesha asked. "Want to know if I like him the same as how you like Sonny?"
Lily nodded slowly. "Yeah, that's what I'm asking."
Keesha shook her head. "No. But I do like him."
"Okay. Maybe he knows that," Lily said gently. "If you're sure about the break, I'll go back to my table now."
Lily turned away, but stopped when Keesha called out to her.
"Thanks," Keesha said.
The seedy part of Port Charles was a maze. Jason hadn't realized how sheltered he'd been until he started going to some of the local dives. Helping with the Charles Street Foundation had opened his eyes, but not nearly enough. The world these people lived in was definitely separate from his.
Worry about Keesha and her whereabouts put him on edge. His jaw was tight and he rarely smiled. The people who came across his path answered his questions without a fuss and most told him they knew nothing about a pretty young woman with skin the color of chocolate and a short cap of curly hair. He believed most of them until he asked one guy. The man's eyes darted back and forth and he reeked of cheap booze. Jason had to hold his breath just to look at him.
"Get out of my way," the man slurred when Jason blocked his path.
"No." Jason grabbed the man's collar and shook him hard. "You've seen her. Tell me where."
"I-I... please don't hurt me."
"Don't give me a reason to," Jason ground out through gritted teeth. "Tell. Me. Where."
Beads of sweat glistened over the man's oily skin. He trembled in Jason's grasp and finally, he whimpered. "It was at Jake's."
Jason tightened his grip. "Where is that?"
"It's about five blocks east. I swear, man! Just let me go."
Jason tossed the man from him. He followed the directions to Jake's and was relieved to see that it wasn't as sleazy as the other places he'd visited. Jake's was on his list and he wondered how he had missed it 'til now. He pushed the door open and strode inside.
Smoke lingered in the air and the smell of alcohol mingled with it. He walked around the bar, looking at everyone and everything. No one fitting Keesha's description was to be seen. Disappointment threatened to break him, but he ignored it. The drunk hadn't been lying to him. He saw Keesha here, and if she weren't there that day, there would have to be someone around who'd remember her.
He went to the bar and sat on a stool next to a blonde whose eyes had followed his every move. Jason ignored her while the bartender took his order for a beer. Before the girl walked away, Jason asked, "I'm looking for someone. Think you could help me?"
The redhead cocked her head to the side. "It depends. Are you a cop?"
Jason laughed. "Um, no. I'm looking for a friend."
"Well, if that's all it is, sure," Red said with a smile.
"Her name is Keesha. She's about this tall," he said, indicating with his hand. "She has a short dark afro."
"Is she black?" Red asked.
"Yeah," he replied. "I heard she's been here."
Red shook her head. "I've been here a couple of weeks and I haven't seen any black chicks in here. Sorry, buddy. If I see her, should I tell her you're looking for her?"
"Nah," Jason said. "I'll just ask around. Thanks."
"No problem." Red pushed a mug of beer towards him and went to the next customer.
Jason swallowed some of the beer and waited for the blonde to talk to him. From the way she stared at him while pretending not to, he knew that she had something on her mind. If she thought he was on the make for a one-night stand, she was about to be disappointed. But if she had info about Keesha, she'd learn it was worth her while.
"I've never seen you around here before."
"That's because I've never been here before," Jason said. He lowered his mug to the counter and looked at the girl. She had dark brown eyes, an upturned nose and short blonde hair. She was kinda cute, but there was something in her eyes that made him wary of her. "You heard me ask about my friend. Have you seen her?"
The girl sipped some beer and took her time with answering him. "My name is Carly. What's yours?"
"Jason," he said, quickly. Impatience was about to give way to irritation. Lately his temper had taken on new dimensions and this girl was close to testing it. "Well?"
"Why are you looking for this girl? This Keesha?" Carly asked. "I can help you with anything you might...need...helping with."
Jason laughed humorlessly and shook his head. "I doubt it."
"You're missing out. Don't be so hasty."
"Look," he said, irritated. "I didn't come her to <i>pick-up</i> a new friend. I'm looking for the one I want. Have you seen her here or not?"
Carly's eyes flashed and her face became flushed. "I've seen her around, but not lately. Sorry, Jason," she said, sarcastically. "It looks like your friend doesn't want you to find her."
"How long ago was she here?"
"About a couple of weeks," she said casually.
"Do you know where she went?"
She seemed to think about his question and then said, "No. Good luck."
Jason slammed down a five-dollar bill for his beer and as a tip for Red. He headed towards the door, brushing past an older blonde woman. Red called out to him before he left.
"Hey, wait! Here's Jake. She runs the joint. Ask her. Maybe she knows your friend."
The older blonde woman tugged on his jacket. "I'm Jake. Who are you looking for?"
"Her name is Keesha. I heard she was seen here."
Jake eyed him suspiciously. "Why are you looking for her?"
"I know her," he said, "and I care about her. I just wanna know that she's okay. Her family is worried about her and so am I."
"Would you force her to go back?"
Jason shook his head. "I wouldn't force her to do anything."
"I think I believe you," Jake said with a faint smile. "She used to work here. One of my best waitresses. Anyway, she's now a hostess down at Lily's on the waterfront."
Jason smiled. Impulsively, he grabbed Jake and kissed her cheek. "Thank you! You just saved my life."
As he ran out the door, Jake murmured under her breath, "I think I just saved Keesha's, too."