Family Ties Ch. 21

Fears and Deceptions

Carly and Eliana were in the park a few afternoons later with Michael. They took turns pushing Michael on the swings, then settled themselves on a nearby bench while he played in the sandbox with several other toddlers. Carly brings up the fact that Jason is the one who first put Michael on the swings and how much he really loves them.

"Maybe he has a new playmate these days?" Carly smiled, as Eliana couldnít quite meet her eyes. Her guess was right. "Thatís okay. I guess with you two getting kind of close, you two have been talking about a lot of things lately."

"Yes, weíve been talking." Eliana admitted.

Carly said, a little too casually, "Has Jason told you anything about whatís going on with him, Sonny and Sorel, lately?"

"I honestly donít know what they are up to. Jason hasnít told me, and I havenít asked."

"Would you?"

"No." Seeing Carlyís expression, Eliana held up a hand to forestall her. "I am not going to try and get information out of Jason that he doesnít want to tell me. I know better, and so should you. Is that why you invited me out here?"

"No. Yes." The words followed themselves in quick succession. Carly bristled a little, seeing how her deception was found out so quickly. But she didnít want to lie to her friend. "Arenít you worried about whatís going on?"

"Of course I am. But thereís nothing I can do about it right now. And neither can you."

"Itís the not knowing that I canít stand. Sonny thinks heís protecting me by not telling me, thinking I wonít worry. But itís the exact opposite." That was true. Did Sonny think she could just sit in the penthouse, reading stories to Michael and pretend that nothing was going on when all the signs around her were screaming the opposite? "How can you be so calm about it? I know what happened to you...the who and the whyÖall of itÖ"

Before either of them could say more, Taggert came in on the end of her sentence. "Thatís more than the police know. And I still canít figure out why that is."

Eliana turned around to face him. "I think Iíve already told you to leave me alone, Detective. I mean it. I can hit you with a harassment charge before you can hit the doughnut shop." She looked at Carly. "Iíll see you later, okay?" Eliana stalked off without a second glance at Taggert.

"Come on, Michael, time to go." Carly said. Since she hadnít found out what she wanted, she busied herself getting Michael together. She ignored Taggert as he turned his attention back to her.

"You were saying something to Ms. Salazar about knowing who hurt her?"

"I was saying something to Ms. Salazar. Not to you, Taggart. Why donít you go protect and serve something somewhere else?" Carly snapped. She turned and started walking away. He followed her.

"You seem to be very protective of the lady." Taggert said. "You and Sonny. Is it very often that he takes such interest in other women?"

Carly rolled her eyes. He was pathetic if he thought a comment like that was going to get to her. Carly shook her head, and started walking away. His next words froze her.

"Sonny really needs to increase his bodyguards on you and yours, Carly. With Sorel having jumped bond and running around like a loose cannon, you and your little boy could find yourselves a prime target. You should be hoping that your sugar daddy and Sorel donít declare all out war. If that happens, weíre all gonna have to watch our backs." Seeing from the sudden tightness of her body that heís gotten to her, he was satisfied to let her go, but not without a parting shot. "Tell your husband I send my regards and that Iím stocking up on body bags and toe tags."

Taggert walked off. Carly turned and watched him leave the park, then pulled out her cell phone. When the call was answered, she spoke shortly. "I need to speak with you. Now. Please."

After arranging for Leticia to meet her to pick up Michael, Carly met Roy at her Uncle Lukeís bar, where he was working. She paused outside, her hand on the door, knowing that she was going behind Sonnyís back, but her fear for him, for her family, drove her inside.

"You seem to be on a mission today." Roy said to her. "First Alexis, and now me. Whatís going on?" He knew Carly well enough to know once she got a notion in her head, there was no letting it go. "Sonny wonít like the idea of you meeting behind his back."

"Iím not." Carly insisted. She felt a momentary pang, knowing what he said was true. "And who would think it strange about me talking with my motherís boyfriend?"

"Why are you talking with me, Carly? Iím hardly one of your favorite people."

"No, but you still might be able to help me. Have you heard anything from your FBI friends about anything going on?" she asked bluntly.

"About what, Carly?" He looked deep into her eyes and didnít like what he saw. Beneath her usual bravado, Carly was scared. "You want to tell me whatís going on?"

"I- I canít." Carly said. An ingrained sense of protecting Sonny and Jason kept her from saying aloud what she was so afraid was true. "I mean, thereís nothing to tellÖbut there are extra guards on me and Michael and I know that means something, but I donít know whatÖI just want to know if you have heard anything from anybody. Are things heating up, like a war or something?"

Royís heart went out to her. He probably shouldnít get himself involved, but all he could see was her motherís eyes looking up at him out of Carlyís face. "I donít have the Ďiní that I used to, but Iíll keep my ear to the ground and see what I can find out."

***

Not wanting to return to the penthouse right away, Carly found herself back at Deception offices. She stepped off the elevator. The lights in the reception area were dimmed; Elton had already gone home for today. The light streaming from under Lauraís door told her that her partner was still here, hard at work after her trip to Paris. Sheíd just returned today, after having negotiating new contracts with one of their perfume essence suppliers.

Carly walked into her office, flipping on the lamp at her new desk. A soft golden white glow filled the room. She looked around at the newly revamped office space, but for once it gave her little pleasure.

Carly sat and flipped through the folders on her desk that were filled with sketches of perfume bottles, trying to get some work done, but her thoughts just keep going round and around about the current situation in the penthouse. She and Sonny have hardly said more than five words strung together to each other in as many days or more. They slept in the same bed, but that was allÖthey were not together in any real sense of the word. She missed him so much. He came to bed late, most nights, when she pretended to be asleep and he pretended that she was asleep and when she finally did awake from her troubled dreams, he was gone. All of this, she knew, was tied to the Ďbusinessí he refused to share with her.

She didnít hear the first soft knocking on the door, but a second series roused her from her thinking. She called out. The door opened slowly and Laura walked in.

Laura looked around; this has been her really first look at Carlyís office since Eliana had redecorated. "This is really something." she said as her eyes traveled around the room. It suited Carly, Laura decided. The colors werenít too far off from her own office, but they were richer, deeper, had a little more edge. Much like Carly herself, Laura realized.

Carly didnít know how to take this sudden friendliness. "Did you come in here to compliment me on my decorating skills?"

"I didnít come in here to fight, Carly." She said evenly. Laura recognized the defensiveness in Carly for the protection against her pain that it was. She also had a pretty good idea of what had caused it and why Carly was here at work, instead of at home. Loving a man like Sonny Corinthos was a complicated thing. She knew it all too well; Luke and Sonny had had too much in common for her to be comfortable with. Both men thrived living on the edge of danger. They made their own rules as they went along, according to their own personal code of honor.

Laura sighed out loud. "Iíd like for us to be...well, be friends, Carly. Maybe not bosom buddies, but on some kind of level canít we come to some sort of agreement? Weíre business partners. If we canít get along, then Deception will sink like a rock. And neither one of us wants that." She looked at Carly eye to eye. "Am I right?"

Carly looked up at Laura for a long moment before nodding her head. She did want succeed at Deception, more than anything. She had a talent for certain aspects of the business. If only she and Laura didnít keep butting heads. But bottom line, she wanted a hand at making Deception a win-win situation for the both of them. She smiled a shaky little grin at her.

"I do want Deception to be a success. For Ėfor us." Carly admitted. "But we canít seem to agree on things, like the Face of Deception..."

"Letís not get into that tonight." Laura held up a warning hand, even though the smile stayed on her face. ĎLetís quit while weíre ahead tonight. Agreed?" She held out her hand to Carly, who hesitated for just a moment before accepting it.

"Agreed." They shook hands.

"We both want Deception to succeed. See, we have more in common than you thought." Laura said, smiling back at her. "Just think about it."

She looked at her watch. "Itís late. Why donít we lock up and head on home. And when Sonny comes home, just talk to him. Not at him, to him. And listens to what he says."

"He doesnít say anything." Carly said, in a sudden burst of truth.

"Sometimes what he doesnít say can be just as important as what he does." Laura said. She was married to the same kind of man. Even though they were separated now, she still remembered what it had been like, once upon a timeÖHe was headstrong, with a desire to live life on the dangerous edges of life. Laura knew firsthand how hard it was to love a man like that. And how totally easy it was for a woman to give her heart to him as well. "I know itís hard, sometimes it seems like itís impossible, but sometimes you just have to have to trust. No more, no less. Sometimes trust is all you have to hold on to."