Genesis: Part 6
AJ spent his first night away from home in the bed of a woman whose last name he didn't know. Rolling onto his side, he looked at Carly's sleeping face. The brief conversation they had before coming back to her place told him that she had some demons haunting her. He could relate to that, he thought with a sigh. The monsters seemed to prowl around, searching for victims. It came as no surprise to AJ that there were kindred spirits out there in the same predicament.
Carefully, he eased out of bed so as not to wake her. She mumbled low in her sleep and snuggled deeper under the sheets. AJ breathed a sigh of relief. Kneeling to the floor, he searched for his underwear and khakis. He quickly pulled them on and padded across the carpeted floor in search of his other belongings. One by one, he found his socks, shoes and shirt. As he put each item on, he thought about his life.
Nothing was the way he wanted it to be. The Charles Street Foundation was supposed to save him and prove to his family once and for all that he wasn't a bum...a loser...a failure. Everything was going as planned until that scandal with the hooker! Dammit! That whole fiasco was a set up and he planned to find out the culprit if it killed him.
He drew in a harsh breath. He couldn't think about that now. Not after a one-night stand. AJ tugged on the doorknob and left Carly's room. The rooms above Kelly's Diner were quiet as he hustled past them, down the staircase and out onto the late night Port Charles streets. They took Carly's car to her place so AJ had no transportation. Not that he cared. He hadn't been behind the wheel of a car in months not since...
A chill came over him. But it wasn't induced by the weather. The chill that left him frozen inside where it counted was caused by his past deeds and the irreversible pain he'd caused so many people. Including his brother.
Keesha Ward was a kind, generous woman and the first one who accepted him for who he was without trying to change him. She was a friend, and something AJ had never really had. And he killed her.
The knowledge wracked through him. Whenever he closed his eyes, he'd see her lying there on the ground with a pool of crimson blood oozing from the back of her head. He did that to her. He could excuse himself by saying no one but a fool would get into a car with a drunk, but the excuse didn't lessen the remorse that ate at his insides.
She would never be the same was what the doctors said. The brain damage she suffered erased her memories. The first time their eyes met, she looked at him with the eyes of a stranger. God, how that hurt. Some would think the pain wouldn't be less intense. She harbored no accusations. She couldn't remember that he was the man who propelled her to the threshold of death's door. That alone should have relaxed him and eased his soul. But that was the one thing that made it worse. Only two people remembered the truth of that fateful night. AJ and Ned, who took unholy delight in torturing AJ with the truth.
AJ walked down the darkened sidewalk to Charles Street, thinking that he had to find a way to right his wrongs. Life dealt him a bad blow with the scandal, but that didn't give him the right to steal Keesha's life from her. Or to take the only woman his brother had ever loved away forever.
But what could he do?
He couldn't turn back the hands of time. If he could, he would have done it the minute he saw her lying there in the snow. No, there was nothing he could do about her now, but he could do something to help the future. Come morning, he would admit himself to a rehab program. No more alcoholic binges and meaningless one night stands. Keesha's life meant more than that. And once he was on the road to recovery, he would go back to Charles Street and continue to work with the Foundation in any way Justus and the board would allow him to. He did some good there. He could do more.
Keesha's warm body curled against Jason and the feeling of security he hadn't felt since the accident returned to him. He rolled onto his side to watch her sleep. Carefully, he reached out and with his forefinger, traced a faint line down her cheek to her parted lips. She stirred slightly but didn't wake up.
Jason's heart seemed to lodge in his throat as he looked at her. Her beauty had been undeniable, but something changed when she slept. She appeared ethereal, angelic. On the many occasions when he watched her sleep, he always half expected a halo to appear and wings to sprout from her. This time was no different. The hard exterior the new Keesha exhibited to the world disappeared in slumber and his angel returned to him once again.
The heat of his stare must have been stronger than he had intended. A few moments later, her eyes fluttered open. Surprise lit up her face as she looked at him and then he could see the memories of their passionate night flashing to her. The walls locked around her again. She sat up away from him, her dark eyes following his movements as he turned on the bedside lamp and looked at her.
"Keesha...I don't know what to say," he said, running a hand through his short spiked hair. "I don't regret what happened tonight. I hoped you don't regret it either."
She frowned. Her fingers plucked at the sheet. "What's regret?"
Jason released an inaudible sigh of relief. At least she wasn't angry with him. "Regret is like you feel bad about us making love..." One look at her face he knew she still didn't understand what the words meant. The injury she suffered made abstract terminology like emotions hard for her to grasp. He would have to find the right words. He'd have to learn a new way of communicating with her. "Another way to look at is... I'm not sure. I can't find the right words, but I guess that since you haven't slapped my face there's nothing to worry about. "
"Why would you worry?" she asked. "Because I'm here in your bed and because of what we did?"
"I care about you," he said slowly. He wanted the words to come out clearly but without any strings attached to them. That bothered her before. He hadn't realized it, but he knew it now. Like Mary Mae said, his love was his problem. Making it Keesha's problem would make her run from him again and he couldn't risk that. Not for anything. "I hope you enjoyed what we did as much I did. Do you know what we did? The word for it?"
She shook her head. "What is it?"
"There are several terms for it. The two that are used the most are making love and the other is having sex."
"Which do you like?"
"I prefer 'making love'," he said quietly, his gaze steady on her. "What about you?"
She rose from the bed, letting the sheet fall from her. Jason's mouth watered at the sight of her. She moved gracefully. Her head held high like royalty. A Nubian queen. Oblivious to him, she pulled on her clothes and seemed to have no idea that underneath the cover, his manhood had grown stiff and he ached to be with her again.
"Love is a word that the Wards used a lot with me," she said as she clasped her bra and looked at him. "I don't like it. Having sex is what I like."
Jason had to bite back a grin at that admission. He understood what she meant, but the way she said it... Lord help him. He liked it, too.
"You're not like you were before," Keesha commented. She zipped up her jeans and pulled her t-shirt over her head. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she slid on her socks and shoes.
"I've changed. People go through changes," he said. "You've changed since the last time I saw you. You didn't throw anything at me." He laughed. "You haven't yelled at me either. Some changes are for the better."
The cell phone on his jeans began to ring. He hopped from the bed and grabbed the pants from the floor. He dug around for the phone and answered it on the fourth ring. "Hello."
"Yeah, this is me," Jason replied. "Grandfather? Is something wrong? Is it Grandmother or Mom?"
"No," said the agitated old man. "It's Mary Mae. I thought you'd want to know she had a heart attack tonight-"
"Oh, no! Where is she?" He started grabbing his clothes and shrugging into them. "How is she?"
"She's at General Hospital. They have her in ICU. She's been asking about you and Keesha, of course."
"Of course," Jason said quietly. "I'll be there in thirty minutes or less."
He ended the call and shoved the phone into his pocket. He could feel Keesha's gaze boring into him. He wasn't sure how she felt about Mary Mae, but knew she needed to know. "That was my Grandfather. Mary Mae had a heart attack tonight and she's in the hospital. She wants to see me. Can you take me there?"
They hurried to the door. When they got there, Keesha closed her hand over Jason's forearm. "Do you think I can see her, too?"
An overpowering need to hug her went through him. He didn't surrender to it, though. Instead, he smiled and nodded. "Yeah, I know you can."