"Carly!" he shouted. His wife came down the stairs. Seeing the look on his face, she rushed into his arms. Sonny gave her a quick squeeze.
"I've got to go out for awhile. It's business." he said, forestalling the questions he could already see percolating in her brain. "I'll tell you what I can when I get back." She looked hard at him for a moment, and then her face cleared. In one of their moments, when they communicated without words, she knows this is something not to push on.
"Be careful Sonny." was all she said. She kissed him lightly on the lips.
"I'm always careful." he said, giving her a small smile, dimples flashing into view for a second. He kissed her again, then turned away.
"Johnny!" he shouted. The penthouse door opened. "Get the car." he ordered, reaching for his coat. This is as much for Carly as it is for Eliana. If Sorel thinks he has a hold on me through my family---my family--" the thought was one that used to be totally alien to him, until first Stone, then Jason, and then Carly and Michael -- had come into his life. Sonny pushed the pain down, let it feed his anger. Sorel was in for an unpleasant disguise.
Less than a half hour later, Sonny walked into the warehouse. Jason and three of his men were there. Two of them held Sorel's man between them. Sonny walked over to him.
"I hear you have information I need." he said softly. The man just stared at him, equal parts of defiance and fear written on his face. But his mouth remained shut. Sonny nodded at Jason. He stepped forward and rammed a fist into his gut, doubling the man over.
"Sorel will kill me if I talk to you." the man gasped when he could talk again.
Sonny dropped a clip of money at his feet. "He might kill you, if he can find you. On the other hand, I will kill you if you don't tell me what I want to know." He leaned in close. "I am only going to ask you one time. Where is Eliana Salazar?"
After giving out low voiced orders on his cell, Jason sped off on his motorcycle. Following in his car, Sonny burned with a cold fury. Sorel was a coward, using others to vent his anger on because he wasn't strong enough to go head to head with him personally. Sonny couldn't allow this to continue. He had already gone after Mike and Carly. Who would be next, Michael?
Then they were at the address Sorel's man had given them...a grungy, dilapidated tenement on the outskirts of town. More of his men waited for him there. Under Jason's orders, they had already fanned out and begun searching the building. Sonny waited in the lobby until one of them called out from the second floor.
Then he was moving swiftly, taking the steps two at a time. His man stood before an open door, a body at his feet. Sonny didn't give that a second glance.
The room was tiny, more like an overgrown closet than anything else. Its smallness chills him to his marrow as he halted just inside the door. Sonny hates small places. They feel like animal traps. His eyes dart about the room until he sees the huddled form lying on the couch on the far side of the room. Sonny crossed the room and knelt down. Thankfully, she was still breathing.
But not untouched. He could see where her clothing was ripped and torn; anger flashed through him as he swiftly pieced together what must have happened to her. My fault, anyone close to me pays. The thought surged through his mind. With a tremendous effort, he forced it back. He knows the burden of guilt will come back later, but right now, he has to concentrate on Eliana.
Gently, he put his hand on her shoulder, and turned her to face him. Hair disheveled, a bruise on one cheek, she stared upwards at him, but her gaze was blank. Sonny could see that she wasn't really seeing him. Looking into her dark eyes, it was the same look of the little boy locked in a closet so long ago. He knew it all too well. Their gazes locked and he found himself being drawn into hers. He recognized the fury that burned there, deep down. A familiar madness.....for a terrifying moment, he was that little boy again. He imagined Eliana crying out, like his mother had cried out, with no one there to answer. One more time, he couldn't help her…. He felt that same helplessness all over again. The blood pounded in his head.
"Eliana?" he said, his voice a harsh whisper. A tremor went through her. Her hands came up, fingers hooked into claws. Sonny grabbed at her wrists and held her still while she twisted in his grasp, desperately fighting against him with great sobbing gasps.
He had to say her name two more times before she came back to herself and actually saw him. Her eyes cleared.
"Sonny." Eliana said before she collapsed against him in relief. Softly, like he was handling spun glass, he slipped his hand around her shoulders. Sonny gathered her to him, ready to swing her up into his arms.
"No." she said, pushing at his shoulders. Tears were in her eyes but she blinked them away. "No, Sonny."
"Eliana, hold on to me." he said. He'd carry her out. But she refused.
"No. On...my own…two feet." She pushed his other arm away. "I am walking out of here on my own...two feet."
"You don't have to."
"Yes -- yes, I do."
She shut her eyes for a long moment, opening them, took a deep breath and struggled to rise. Sonny held out his hand to her, and after a moment's hesitation, she took it. She was willing to take his hand, but that was all. Sonny understood, respecting her need even while despising the necessity for it. He slipped his hand under her arm as she staggered to her feet. A small gasp of pain forced itself out of her as she stood. Eliana half sagged against Sonny for a moment, then straightened.
"We have to get you to a hospital." he said. Sonny got her coat from the chair and slipped it over her shoulders. "Lean on me." he said softly in her ear. "You can do that."
She paused, then looked at him and nodded. "I did already. Tonight." she said. "I knew you would come for me."
"Then do it again." he said. "Now."
She did. Sonny put his other arm around her. Eliana leaned against him and they made their way out of the building. As they reached the bottom steps, she looked up.
"Jason? ...Oh, no…" she said softly, flinching at the sight of him standing by the car. She didn't want anyone she knew to see her like this. Eliana buried her face in Sonny's chest. Her legs trembled and for a moment, Sonny thought that they were going to buckle completely. He whispered helpless words of comfort and helped her into the car. Before he got in behind her, he turned to Jason. His eyes smoldered in anger and his mouth thinned to a hard line.
"I want to know where Sorel is. And anyone else that was directly involved with this. This has got to stop. No, it's going to stop, now."
Jason nodded. His face remained as unemotional as ever, but the anger behind his eyes turned them a deep icy blue. He shared Sonny's hatred for violence against women. He'd noticed that Eliana hadn't even lifted her eyes to his. "I'll get people on it right away. Then I'll meet you at the hospital."
Sonny got into the car. Eliana was sitting quietly, her head leaning back against the seat, eyes closed.
Guilt and fury burned in him in equal parts. But there was only gentleness in his voice when he spoke. "We need to get you to the hospital."
Her eyes didn't open but she nodded. After a moment, she spoke. "Will you stay with me, hermano?"
"Yes." It was as simple as that.
Sonny's gaze stayed on her face. She's alive, damn it, concentrate on that.
He tried, but he could see the fainter bruises on her neck, the dried trace of blood on her lower lip. Sorel did this. He used her, hurt her. All to get at me. His anger burned white hot.
He leaned forward and banged his hand on the car partition. "Johnny, put some speed on!"
Once at the hospital, Eliana tried to move, only to be forced back into her seat with a muffled moan. The pain was too much for her. This time, Sonny lifted her out of the car himself, not allowing her to protest. He strode into the emergency room shouting for help. The staff jumped into action. Two orderlies appeared with a gurney. They gently took her and laid it on her, then wheeled her into an examination room. Another nurse turned to him. "We need to know what happened to her."
It was hard for Sonny to say the words aloud. He forced them past the hard lump in his throat. Outwardly he was cold as ice, as always, but inside, an inferno of rage boiled. He forced it down, under control. "She was beaten. Maybe more."
The nurse had been writing on her chart. The flatness of his voice brought her head up. Her lips thinned in anger at what she thought was his lack of feeling. "If that's so, the police will have to be informed."
"Do what you got to do." Sonny replied. "Let me know when she is checked over by the doctor. I want to know the full extent of her injuries." he turned and walked away, not trusting himself not to go into a blind rage.
His phone rang.
"You ready for the where and when, Corinthos?"
Sonny stepped out into the emergency room parking lot to deal with the rest of the call.
Eliana suffered through the examination, staring resolutely at the ceiling while the doctor and nurses went about their business. Her nerves were stretched tighter than an over tuned violin string. Every sound seemed amplified until her head pounded and her hands trembled unless she clasped them tightly together. She shut herself down, not trusting herself to speak, wrapping herself in a cocoon of silence to insulate her mind from all that they had to do. She couldn't let herself think about that now. All she wanted to do now was curl up into herself.
Finally, after what seemed an eternity, they were done. The doctor left, but one of the nurses remained, making notations on a chart.
"The doctor wants you to stay here for at least the next day or so. We'll have a room ready for you in a few minutes, Ms. Salazar." She told her kindly.
Then the police arrived.
"We're Detectives Taggert and Scott, Ms. Salazar. We need to ask you what happened."
"Can't." Eliana whispered quietly. She couldn't talk about it, didn't want to even think about what had happened to her, not just yet. The pain, the shock, was too raw. She pushed the memories away and turned her gaze back to the ceiling.
Taggert pressed her. "The sooner you talk about this...incident, the fresher your memory will be. It's important that you remember as much as possible, so we can catch who did this to you." A part of him couldn't let go. He'd already talked to the emergency room staff. They'd told him that it was Corinthos who had carried her in and he wanted to know what their connection was. If he could get her to say something incriminating against him, all the better.
Hannah touched his arm. "Marcus, I really don't think she can do this right now...." He ignored her warning. After all, he knew that she still had a soft spot in her heart for the gangster thug. Maybe this would open her eyes to who and what he really was.
"You were with Sonny Corinthos tonight, weren't you? He's a dangerous man. One with a dark side. It could have been a situation that got a little out of control...he could have snapped. Maybe he did it?" He let his voice trail off suggestively. "You don't have to talk, all you have to do is nod your head. Did Sonny Corinthos do this to you?"
The pounding in her head increased, the pain almost blinding her. Her hands clenched hard enough that her fingernails were digging deep into her palms, but her mind barely registered the pain. Her monitors began reacting to her growing agitation. The nurse checked her pulse. "Detective, I think that's enough for now. Perhaps, after some rest, she would be in better condition to talk to you." Taggert ignored her warning, but continued to press her for anything he could use against Corinthos.
Eliana stared at him. Her mind was having trouble functioning. The examining room lights seemed to get brighter and brighter with every passing minute until they threatened to white out her vision. The cop's words were blurring strangely, echoing in her head so badly that she could barely make sense of what he was saying. Her thoughts jumbled together. Some were lucid, but flashbacks of the past hours were ramming themselves into her mind, like a badly scratched vinyl record, playing themselves over and over. She couldn't force them away. She squeezed her eyes shut and then disjointed images and voices played against her eyelids.
The bare bulb overhead, flickering on and off.
"In return for discharging your brother's debt, what are you offering me, Ms. Salazar?" Sonny Corinthos asked her." I admit, you're a beautiful young woman, but I can find beautiful women any day of the week. And they're legal. You're barely eighteen."
She stood before his desk, all too aware of the aura of danger and power that surrounded this man. But he wasn't angry at her presumptuousness. Actually, he seemed to be amused; a hint of a dimple flashed in one cheek as he regarded her.
"My mind, Mr. Corinthos. That's what I'm offering. I'm smart, or so I've been told. Put my mind to work. We work out what I'm worth and we work out a contract to work off the debt. At the end of that time, I walk away. Free and clear."
"And why should I do this?"
"Why not? I'm sure you have legitimate interests and you always need people you can trust. You can trust me."
"How do I know that, Ms. Salazar?"
"Because I give you my word that you can, Mr. Corinthos."
He regarded her for a long moment after that. Then, amazingly, he was rising to shake her hand. "I'll take it."
The stranger coming up behind her, jamming the gun into her back.
"Eduardo, what have you done?"
"It was you, all your fault…you left me no choice…"
The final meeting between Sonny, Sorel and herself. "Here's the Council's final analysis. Mr. Corinthos has every right to run his territories as he deems fit. If he wishes to prohibit the importing and exporting of certain materials, it is his sole right to do so. Mr. Sorel's request for mediation is fulfilled, however, therefore the petition from Mr. Sorel is denied. The council further advises that a two-year moratorium on hostilities be put in place. This gives Mr. Sorel ample time and opportunity to develop alternate methods of conducting his affairs.
"The council reminds you that a war at this time is profitable to no one and could be injurious to all and therefore requires your word that hostilities will cease during the said period."
Sonny agreed to it, Sorel did so sullenly, but stormed out afterwards. Sonny's eyes were amused. Eliana found it hard not to smile back
Feelings: fear, fury, aloneness and violation.
Eliana shuddered visibly; she lifted her hands to cover her face, shaking her head, but still the images would not stop. Her heart began to race and her breathing got difficult.
The glare of the unshaded light bulb beating down on her.....Feelings: emptiness, unrealness....and then Sonny there, taking her hand. Taking her away from that place and those feelings.
Sonny's voice: "Sometimes you got to cut family ties; especially if they just drag you down with them...."
Jason... I don't want you to see me like this, not you, not Jason…nononono…
And then Sorel. Bending down over her....
"Go ahead, fight me -- that makes it all the better." His voice became this other one, pressing in on her, suffocating her...she couldn't breath, she couldn't move. Her eyes flew open.
"Go ahead, Ms. Salazar, just nod your head if Michael Corinthos was the man who hurt you."
"No!" her voice cracked as she shouted at him. "I can't do this now! I can't--I can't I can't! No nononono!" Something inside her snapped and she lost control. She lunged at Taggert, no longer seeing him, only her attacker.
The nurse grabbed at her and held her in the bed while she called for help. Eliana was screaming at him now, but didn't care. She couldn't stop herself from bursting out into hysterical sobs. "Get away!" she screamed. "getawaygetawaygetaway!" A second nurse rushed into the room. Eliana felt a pinprick in her arm, and then merciful nothingness.
Sonny walked back into the emergency room and heard Eliana's screams. Quickening his pace, he rushed to her examining room, getting there just in time to see the nurse pushing the two police out the door. She turned to castigate Taggert and Hannah.
"Don't you have any training in dealing with rape victims? First their attacker violates them, and then what we have to do is almost as bad! You don't press them when they are in that condition. Whatever you had to ask could have waited!"
"I didn't mean to upset her." Taggert said.
"Upset? She got hysterical!" the nurse railed at him. "We had to sedate her, or hadn't you noticed!?"
"Is she alright?" The three of them, Taggert, Hannah and the nurse turned to look at him. Sonny ignored the two of them and concentrated on the nurse. He didn't trust himself to talk to either of the other two. "I want her in a private room, and no visits from the police until she is ready."
"Well, well, now Mister Corinthos is playing the guardian angel." Taggert sneered. "You don't own the hospital, Corinthos."
"Did you take a good look at the woman in there, Taggert? Can you get off your sick obsession with me for a moment and think of someone else besides yourself?" Sonny shot at him.
"You mean like you? C'mon Sonny, if you're here, then no doubt she's here because of you. You're poison to everyone around you! Maybe you did the deed yourself...how about it, hm? Little wifey wasn't doing it for you at home, so you went looking for some excitement? You didn't mean to hurt her, you just got carried away. After all, a man like you isn't used to hearing no. I bet you never even heard her say no, did you Corinthos?" Taggert baited him, hoping to elicit a response. "Is that how you hurt your hand?"
Sonny shook his head. "Man, you are hopeless. Or maybe that's your style."
His eyes flicked over Hannah. "Although, considering present company, I doubt if you needed to. Even with your salary, I'm sure you meet her price. Maybe you even get a government discount." He was gratified to see the blood rush into Hannah Scott's face.
Before Taggert could react, Hannah was pulling him away. "We're both sorry to have upset your patient, but the truth of the matter is, the sooner we can get information from a victim, usually the clearer their recollection is." she explained to the nurse. "We'll check in on Ms. Salazar later, when she is better able to handle questioning." She glanced at Sonny once before she drew Taggert away. He ignored the pain in her eyes. After the hurt she'd inflicted on him, it was a fair trade-off.
Sonny turned back to the nurse and got a brief update on her condition. "When she is moved, you put her in the best private room you have. Don't worry about the expenses. They're covered. And I'll be posting a private guard at her door."
He walked away to the waiting room. Alone for a moment, he took a deep breath, running his hand through his hair. Sorel was leaving him no choice in how to deal with him. But a war right now is not what he wants. Man, he thinks to himself wearily, time to take the gloves off. Sorel is leaving me no choice.
Jason walks into the waiting room. He spies Sonny and comes over to him. "Have you heard from Sorel?"
"Yeah, just now. He still wants to meet. He has no idea we've found Eliana."
"He's sloppy. That's why he's trouble." Jason gestured towards the exam room. "Is Eliana alright?"
"Taggert got in there, tried to question her. She couldn't deal with it. They ended up having to sedate her."
As Jason looked towards the room, the door opened and several orderlies began wheeling Eliana's bed out into the hallway. The orderlies stopped by the elevators and Jason and Sonny went over to her. The nurse in charge drew Sonny to one side.
"Besides the -- the attack itself, she has several bruised ribs, a sprained wrist and a few abrasions, but nothing more serious than that. We've had to sedate her heavily. She'll probably be out of it for the rest of the night. Actually, I think it's the best thing for her right now, poor thing."
Sonny glanced at her nameplate. "Nurse Stevens, is it? I want her in the best room you have, with the best care available. Twenty-four seven, if she needs it." He passed over a billfold of cash.
"Mr. Corinthos, I can't accept this." She stammered. She'd heard tales of Sonny Corinthos, but this generosity was something she'd never heard tell of.
"Yes you can. If you can't, then donate it to one of the hospital fundraisers. " Sonny closed his hand over hers, closing up the billfold in her hand. "I want the very best care for Ms. Salazar. I will be providing guards to see to her safety and privacy, and I trust that will be taken care of in a smooth and efficient manner. Either I, or my associate, Jason Morgan, will be looking in on her. We are --" Sonny hesitated for a the barest fraction of a second. "We are her family. Is that understood? No one else."
She nodded. "It won't be a problem, Mr. Corinthos."
"Thank you." Sonny replied.
While Sonny was occupied with the nurse, Jason went to stand by Eliana's gurney. She was usually so strong and sure of herself, but she looked so frail all of a sudden, her dark honey gold skin paler than normal against the white sheets. Her long sable lashes swept her cheeks, teardrops glistening like tiny diamonds at their tips, and he found himself wishing that those beautiful dark eyes would open and look at him again. They would open again, but he wondered what would be the look he would see in them.
Sonny came to stand beside her. He reached out and gently touched her hand. "Sleep well, Eliana."
Then the elevator doors opened and they began to wheel her in. "Don't worry, Mr. Corinthos. She'll get nothing but the best of care." the nurse said, just before the elevator door shut.
Sonny turned away and Jason followed.
"Get Francesco over here to stand guard outside of her room -- Willis and Jackson patrolling outside. They're not to be seen. The moment she is ready to leave this place, I want to know. I want her out of here." He paused, sniffed, an unconscious gesture he did when matters laid heavily on his mind. "Sorel said that she is my sister."
"I know." Jason reached into his jacket pocket and handed Sonny a packet of papers. "These papers were in the room where I found Eliana. I thought you might want to look at them when you get the chance."
Sonny took them and put them away. "No time now. Sorel has called for the meeting."
"You're still going to meet with him?" Jason asked.
"Oh yes. I want to have a face to face with Mister Sorel. Definitely a face to face." Sonny said. He gave Jason the address. "Set it up."