Genesis: Part 5
The heat of the spring afternoon sun warmed the turf of the Quartermaine tennis court. AJ leaned against the net. His long legs lay sprawled in front of him and in one hand, he held onto a half empty bottle of Vodka for dear life.
He found a strange kind of peace in the quiet of the tennis court. Far away from his family's accusing eyes, he could lose himself into a haze of memories that didn't torture him or riddle him with bullets of guilt. Nursing the bottle, he could close his eyes and think back to the time before the accident. He could remember the first time he saw Keesha at the Nurse's Ball and then later when they had their first date right there on the very same tennis court.
The memories seemed fuzzy at first, but AJ didn't mind. He was all too familiar with the images that an inebriated state could produce. Hell, he preferred it that way. The blurry quality made the visions unique. No one else on the planet could look back on the past quite like him. He swallowed more of the hard liquor. As he lowered the bottle to his thigh, he remembered how Keesha kicked his rear on the tennis court and he smiled. The muscles in his face protested at first. He hadn't smiled in weeks...months... It felt foreign to his lips, but then it felt good.
Something hard kicked his foot and interrupted AJ's reverie. He winced and slowly opened his eyes. Shading his eyes from the glare of the sunlight, he squinted until he recognized the shape of his father's looming shadow. "Dad-"
"Don't, AJ!" Alan bit out. "Whatever excuse you make is one I don't want to hear. Look at you. You haven't bathed in days and you're drunk."
"Aw, Dad," AJ moaned, turning his head away.
"Your brother's gone," Alan continued. "Did you know that? You finally got what you wanted. You've finally driven him away. Your mother is heartsick and little Emily is, too. I won't even mention how your grandparents have been affected. And look at you! Out here getting drunk and not giving a damn about anybody!"
"That's not true," AJ slurred. "I care-"
"You don't even care about yourself!" Alan interrupted angrily. "Well, I've had it, AJ. No more! This is it. Your last chance. You have twenty-four hours to either clean up or move out. Don't even bother crying to your mother. She knows and she agrees with me."
"None of you ever gave a damn about me anyway," AJ wailed. "I could have used your support, but it's never been there. Jason always got that. I'm not surprised you're kicking me out."
"That's not what I said-"
"But it's what you meant!" AJ said, struggling to get to his feet. He fought a wave of dizziness as he tried to bring his father's face into focus. His eyes refused to cooperate so AJ stared at where he thought his father's eyes would be. "You want me gone, so I'm going! I'm going, going, gone!"
"If there is anything I can do," Laura said as she gathered Leslie Lu's things and put them into the stroller with the baby, "let me know. I'm sorry this happened, Mary Mae. I'm so sorry."
"I know." Mary Mae accepted Laura's hug and drew comfort from the younger woman. "I've always believed that everything happens for a reason. I'm trying to apply that to Keesha's accident and how she's changed."
Laura released Mary Mae and offered the woman a gentle smile. "Has applying it helped?"
"I'm not sure," Mary Mae answered honestly. "I've been dealt plenty of harsh blows in regards to my children and grandchildren. I thought I was stronger, but this is one test that hasn't been easy."
"Maybe I should stay over. I can call Luke and let him know..."
Mary Mae shook her head. "No, Laura. You should go home. Your husband and little boy have missed you. You're a telephone call away and I have your number on speed dial."
"I'll hold you to that." She kissed Mary Mae's cheek before leaving. As she left, Edward entered. Laura greeted him and their voices carried to Mary Mae.
Straightening her shoulders, Mary Mae was ready for Edward when he stepped down into the living room. His bright blue eyes were filled with contrition. His hands were outstretched and grabbed hers as soon as he reached her. Their hands remained joined as they sat side by side on the sofa. "I would have been here sooner, but Lila and I were in Europe. We knew about the accident, but we had no idea that Keesha would leave the way she did. Have you heard anything?"
"Not a word," Mary Mae said. Her protective wall crumbled the longer Edward held onto her hand. Even though their affair ended almost half a century ago, they still had a bond. She began to relax completely as tears wet her eyes. "David and Justus have been combing the streets for her. The police have been, too, but there's been no word."
"Jason left the estate," Edward told her. "He's looking for her, too. I'm so sorry this happened to your beautiful granddaughter. I feel like it's my fault and I should do something, but what, Mary Mae? What can I do to help you and your family? I can hire private investigators. The best!"
"No, Edward." Mary Mae squeezed his hand. "Please, don't waste your money on that. Keesha doesn't want to be found. Coming back to this house was hard for her. We're strangers and in her eyes, we're not her family. We should have been more sensitive to that. Our love was too confining for her and she ran away from it. I can only pray that she hasn't run into something that could harm her."
The sharp ring of the telephone interrupted their conversation. With Edward's help, Mary Mae rose and crossed the room to her desk to answer it. "Hello. Ward House."
"Hi, Mary Mae," said a male voice. "It's me, Jason."
She smiled. "Hi, Jason. How are you?"
"A lot better than I've been in a while. I found her, Mary Mae. I know where Keesha is."
"Praise the Lord!" She carried the telephone with her to the sofa. Sitting down, she glanced at Edward as she asked Jason, "Where is she? How is she? Is she well?"
"She looks wonderful," Jason replied after a brief pause. "She's been in Port Charles the entire time. Right now, she's working for Sonny Corinthos at one of his bars on the waterfront-"
"At Luke's?" Mary Mae asked. She knew that Corinthos and Luke were partners. She couldn't believe that her good friend wouldn't tell her that Keesha worked for him.
"No, at one of Corinthos other clubs. It's called Lily's..."
"Lily's?" she repeated with a frown. "I've heard about that place. I've seen it mentioned in the papers. It's been linked to organized crime. What is Keesha doing in a place like that?"
"She's working as the hostess."
With her free hand, Mary Mae reached for Edward. He took her hand and squeezed it, giving her his support. "What kind of job is that, Jason? Don't sugarcoat it for me, baby. Is she stripping?"
"No, no!" Jason said quickly. "She just greets people at the door and sees them to a table."
"Thank God for that," she said quietly. "Have you spoken to her?"
"Not yet," Jason answered. "I've been watching the place and her for the last few days. I wanted to get a feel for her patterns. I plan to approach her tonight."
"Be careful," Mary Mae advised. "I know you love her, but she doesn't remember that and won't respond well to it."
"I know, Mary Mae," Jason said. "I've been thinking about how she's changed and the best way to approach her. I haven't figured it out, yet, but I think what I have planned so far will work. I won't let you down, Mary Mae. I promised you that I'd bring her back and I will keep that promise. I'd better go now."
"Keep in touch," she said as their conversation came to an end. She placed the receiver on the telephone base and looked at Edward. "Your grandson is determined."
"What was that about Corinthos and Keesha?" Edward asked.
"She's working for him. Jason says that what she's doing is legitimate."
He grunted. "With men like him, it usually starts off that way." Mary Mae gasped and Edward wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "But don't you worry. My grandson is determined like you said. Jason will find a way to bring her home."
"I know," Mary Mae said softly, but inside, she continued to worry.
After the confrontation with Alan on the tennis court, AJ spent most of the day sleeping. When he woke up, he had a horrible hangover, but it wasn't worse than any he'd had before. He remembered the conversation he had with his father and was determined to leave before anyone could remind him. He showered, dressed, packed a bag and was out of the house within an hour after waking up.
A cab dropped him off a few blocks from Charles Street. He still had a key so he went inside and left his bag. Once he was sure that his belongings were secure, he headed down the street for the bar on the corner.
This was one bar he'd never had the pleasure to visit, but he remembered seeing it from his days as the head of the Charles Street Foundation. One night, he told Keesha that he wanted to visit it and throw back a nice, burning shot of whiskey. She listened to him, but he knew she didn't understand the lure of alcohol. The rush of it through his veins made his problems melt away. The burning in his blood made him feel alive and numbed the pain of knowing that his carelessness took away the only real friend he'd ever had.
He strode inside Murray's bar and claimed a booth in a dark corner. A waitress took his order and swiftly returned with a shot glass and a full bottle of Jack Daniels. AJ gave the pert brunette a good tip and a smile before turning his full attention to getting slaphappy drunk.
The first taste of the whiskey burned his throat and the sensation curled AJ's toes. The next couple of shots went down smoothly, but he went through them too quickly to savor them. He told himself to slow down. He had a few hours to get solidly drunk and there was no one around to stop him.
The patrons of the bar minded their business and AJ liked that. He didn't want anyone bothering him until he noticed a young blonde at the bar. She grabbed a mug of beer and glanced around, too. Through the haze, their gazes connected. He extended a silent invitation with a slight nod of his head. She smirked and moved to join him.
Holding on to the back of the booth, he stood as she took a seat in front of him. He sat again and smiled. "Hi. I'm AJ."
She raised an eyebrow. "No last names?"
"Last names aren't what they're cracked up to be," he told her, bitterness giving a slight edge to his voice.
"I can relate," she murmured. She raised her glass in a mock toast. "I'm Carly by the way."
"Nice to meet you," he said, smiling.
"Nice to meet you, too."
Johnny passed by Keesha again without sparing her a glance. She watched him stride past her to Sonny's table in the back. She and Lily made eye contact across the room and Lily shrugged and smiled. Keesha nodded and turned back to face the door. Johnny used to spend a lot of time with her. Now, it felt so strange to not have him nearby.
Patrons entered the bar and Keesha made her mouth curve into a smile. Lily told her smiles made people feel welcomed and that's how she and Sonny wanted the people to feel when they walked through the door. Keesha didn't understand the word 'welcome', but since Lily asked her to do it, she did.
She showed the newcomers to a table. As she went back to her post, she noticed how the men's eyes followed her. She didn't like that but as long as they didn't touch her, she could ignore them.
All was quiet upon her return to the podium. Waitresses stopped by to tell her which tables were empty and Keesha made note of it on her sheet. Then, suddenly her skin prickled. A familiar scent filled her nostrils, but she couldn't quite place it. The heady aroma livened her senses and her eyes fluttered upwards to see who or what had arrived and caused such a strange reaction in her.
It was Jason!
Keesha's jaw grew tight at the sight of him. She didn't want to be followed, yet, there he was. But there was something different about him. His hair was shorter. His blue eyes were dark and no less penetrating than usual. His attire was similar to what she'd seen Johnny wear. His voice was husky and low, but not pleading. She hated the pleading tone when he visited her at the hospital and later at Ward House. No, this time, his voice didn't grate across her flesh. This time it wrapped around her and made her tingle. Her throat went dry and she swallowed hard.
"Jason," she said in a faraway voice. "A table for one or more?"
"For one," he said. "For now."
She nodded once and said, "Follow me."
He walked close behind her as she guided him to a table across the room from where Johnny sat with Sonny, Lily, Reynaldo and a few more of their friends. Jason made no move to touch her, but the heat of his body scorched her all the same. A fire ignited in the pit of Keesha's belly. Similar to what she felt the first time she played pool with Johnny, but this blaze was worse. It burned like an inferno, and what's worse, Keesha knew that Jason felt it, too.
"Will this do?" she asked.
"This is perfect," he responded in his low voice. "Thank you, Keesha."
She nodded in acceptance of his gratitude. "A waitress will be with you shortly."
His eyes darkened to the color of midnight as he sat and stared up at her. A faint smile came to his lips, but he said nothing more. Keesha returned his stare for as long as she dared. She found her body responding to him and it unnerved her. Spinning on her heel, she broke the spell he'd caught her in and walked straight into Johnny.
"Are you okay?" he asked her. His hands closed over her forearms before falling to his sides. "Is he hassling you?"
She shook her head slowly. "No, he's fine."
She went back to her station and Johnny walked beside her. He opened his mouth several times to speak, but no words came. They reached the podium and she gave him a hard look. A frown creased her brow. She didn't understand the change in him.
He returned her frown with one of his own. "I won't bother you."
Before she could contradict him, he strode out the door. She almost called out for him, but thought better of it. If he wanted to go, she had no business stopping him. She wouldn't want anyone to stop her if the situation was in the reverse.
Later, the dimming lights signaled that it was time for Lily's to close for the night. Keesha gathered her notes of the patrons who entered and how long they stayed. She gave the ledger to Lily. She then went into the back and changed into jeans and a t-shirt. The designer gown would remain in her closet at the club along with the rest of her work wardrobe.
Keesha waved at the night crew before making her exit. Brilliant stars covered the dark sky like a sparkling blanket. She admired the natural beauty for a moment and then she strode across the parking lot to her waiting motorcycle. Her bike and a red sporty 1969 Ford Mustang were the only cars in the parking lot.
She glanced at the Mustang briefly as she pulled her helmet onto her head. The door opened and Jason left the car. She quickly straddled the bike. She didn't want to deal with her reaction to him again. It confused her too much. She put the key into the bike's ignition, but before she could turn it, he called out to her.
"Keesha, wait!" He jogged to her. "My car won't start."
Her gaze drifted over his form fitting black jeans, skin-tight matching black t-shirt and finally to his face. His eyes still penetrated her, but also looked at her with pleading. But not like before. This was different, too. She shook her head and muttered in hoarse voice, "I don't know how to fix a car."
He gave her a warm smile. "I was hoping you'd give me a lift. It's too late for someone to look at the car now."
Keesha didn't think about the consequences or her words. She simply nodded. "Sure. Hop on. I don't have another helmet. You can wear this one."
She took off the helmet and gave it to him. Jason put it on and straddled the seat behind her. His hard thighs crushed against hers and his hands closed around her waist. The feel of his body so intimately pressed against her caused a low, guttural moan to escape from her throat. Jason squeezed her waist. "Are you okay?"
"Fine," she muttered. She took a deep breath and started the engine. "Hold on," she called over her shoulder and took off.
"Nice bike," he complimented as they roared through the empty streets. "I'm at the Port Charles Hotel for now. I'll tell you how to get there."
He gave her directions and she followed them. Soon, the majestic hotel was in sight. Keesha pulled into the circle drive and braked in the front. Jason didn't budge.
"Would you like to come inside?" he asked.
His voice hummed into her ear like a low vibration. His breath was warm and sweet, sending shivers up and down Keesha's spine. Once again, she didn't pause to weigh the consequences. She nodded and said, "Sure."
Jason showed her where to park the bike and a short time later, they were in the elevator. Even though they were alone, neither said a word. Tension hung in the air between them as tight as a drum. When the doors opened on the tenth floor, Jason led the way to his room.
He unlocked the door, stepping aside to allow her entry. The room was dark, but Keesha held no fear. Her mind and flesh were already too sensitized to Jason's presence to harbor fear. The door clicked shut behind him and she could feel him right behind her again. She turned and was in his arms.
Keesha didn't try to pull free and Jason didn't move to release her. The inferno erupted into a mass explosion as he crushed his mouth over hers. In the back of her mind, Keesha realized this was what she wanted all along.
[To be continued in an e-mail only chapter. Sign up here or send me an e-mail if you are of age and would like to receive a copy.]