Family Ties Ch. 22
Truths Told – Truths Hidden
Michael was already asleep by the time Carly got home. She gave Leticia the rest of the night off, and settled down on the couch. After she was gone, Carly looked at her briefcase. She could do some more work, but that wouldn’t really take her mind off of anything. As much as she hated to admit it, Laura was right. All she had to do is trust Sonny. It sounded so simple, but the truth of it was, it was hard to do.
Carly knew she wasn’t used to trusting anybody or anything. Everyone had an angle. Everything had a price. What was the price for loving Michael Sonny Corinthos? Living a life with secrets. Carly bit her lower lip. She wanted to be the wife that Sonny needed. But there were times that she worried about him. Why couldn’t he see that it was only because she loved him and their life together so much? "Sonny." she whispered his name aloud, in a moment of longing.
The hour was late when Sonny arrived home. He opened the door quietly. It had been a long day and he was tired. He hoped he hadn’t left one battlefield to come home to another. Maybe Carly would be asleep. Even if she was pretending; that was okay. It’s not that he liked living this way, dealing with her this way. He just didn’t want to fight with her anymore. It killed him to see the pain in her eyes, instead of her usual flash and sparkle. But he did what he had to do. This was his life, she knew that going in.
He froze in place, stiffening as he saw her sitting on the couch. Then he realized she was so lost in her own thoughts that she hadn’t heard him come in.
"Sonny." his name on her lips was filled with so much sadness that he responded without thinking.
"I’m right here, baby."
There was a light in her eyes as she turned her head sharply. But it disappeared behind her suddenly guarded expression. A long moment passed as they looked at one another, neither one of them able to make the first step. Both of them wanting to, but afraid of the other’s rejection.
Carly looked deep into her husband’s eyes, trying to read him. Sometimes he could shut himself down so completely that she could feel the wall between them like a physical thing. She’d thought they had gotten past that. Maybe she could make him see this time, that she was ready to trust him to keep them safe. All she wanted was for them to be happy. They were only steps from each other. Why did it feel like it was vast distance to cross? In her mind, Carly saw herself reaching out a hand to him….but if she did, would he take it? She hesitated.
Sonny saw the confusion in her gaze. What could he say to her that would reassure her. She had to know how much he loved her; that he would die to keep her and Michael safe. All he wanted was to make her happy, to trust in their love. Too many years of self-control, too many time of trusting in love, only to have it torn away has made him the man that he is. When threatened, walls came up around his heart. He didn’t have the words to explain it all to her yet. The short space between them felt like miles at this moment. All he wanted to do was to sweep her into his arms, carry her upstairs and make love to her for the rest of the night. He didn’t need words for that. But the last words between them had been harsh and angry. Sonny, usually a man who moved decisively in all things, was suddenly at a loss for what to do. He hesitated.
And the phone rang.
Sonny watched as Carly’s face went carefully blank. The phone rang again, the only sound in the room.
"Don’t you want to get that?" she asked.
It was the last thing he wanted to do, but he knew he had to answer it. Biting back a curse, he snatched it up angrily. "Yeah." He snapped. Sonny listened for a few minutes, then looked over at Carly. She hadn’t moved. "It’s business." He said.
"Yeah, I kinda figured it would be." Carly turned towards the stairs. "Not to worry; I know the drill. I’ll be a good girl and go upstairs and get out of your way. Wouldn’t want to be a distraction to you.
Sonny winced inside as the words from their argument were thrown back at him, like daggers to his heart. They struck hard and pierced deep. He had to force himself to listen to the words coming from the phone.
Carly continued up the stairs without looking back, never seeing the regret and pain in his dark eyes.
Almost another week passed after that night in the penthouse before Eliana had another delivery made to her office.
This time it was a book. ‘The Language of Flowers’. There was no identifying marks on the package, no inscription in the book either. She couldn’t figure out why it had come to her. She thought back to the anonymous flower delivery. Sonny had checked it out. It had been a cash transaction from a nearby florist, so there was no way to trace it back to the sender.
She stared out through the glass wall of her office, thinking. Mari walked by, with a fresh vase of flowers and set it up on one of the display pedestals. She stepped back and checked the look, then rearranged some of the blossoms. Mari was always arranging all the floral displays in the gallery. Eliana remembered that Marian’s main hobby was gardening. So, on a sudden hunch, she calls Mari into her office.
"That bouquet that I had you get rid of, do you remember what blooms were in it?"
"Sure. You said get them out of the office, not throw them away, so I took them home and dried them...that was okay wasn’t it?"
Eliana assured her it was not a problem, but was curious to what the specific flowers were. She held up the book in explanation. Mari sat back and thought for a moment. "I remember, because, like I told you, that was a specialty bouquet. It had to be hand-chosen. There were irises, tuberoses and nightshade, winter cherry blossoms; tansy and geraniums… nutmeg geraniums."
After Mari left her, Eliana jotted down the names, then opened the book. She wrote them down as she went.
Iris: I have a message for you.
Tuberoses: Dangerous pleasure
Nightshade: Dark Thoughts
Winter Cherry: Deceit or Deception
Nutmeg Geraniums: I expect a meeting
Tansy: I declare war against you.
Eliana shivered at that last definition. If there had been any doubt that the bouquet had come from Sorel, there was no doubting it anymore.
Early that evening, Jason was returned to his own apartment. His phone rang as he opened the door. "Yeah?" He listened for a few minutes. "I can do that. Ninety minutes will be fine." A possible lead on Sorel. It was about time.
Jason agreed to meet with the caller and ended the call. He walked into the penthouse to find Eliana in the back room working out. She was dressed in a t-shirt and loose pants and was working out with free weights in front of the mirror. He watched the smooth muscles of her arms flex and contract as she moved. Her eyes met his in the mirror and she smiled.
After the night of the blackout, he’d seen a change in her. Eliana was determined to take back control of her life. And along with that, there was a change in the air between them. Their friendship had suddenly changed on its axis. Neither one of them was ready to speak on it, but something indefinable was growing between them.
Jason moved behind her. "You need to keep your elbows closer in to your body." He showed her by pressing her arms inwards. "Try it again. See, you can feel the tension in the muscle better. That means you’re strengthening it more." Their eyes met in the mirror again as his touch sent an unexpected current of pleasure through them both.
"You’re right, I can feel the difference." She dropped her eyes first, forcing herself to concentrate on the slow, deliberate movements. Eliana completed the reps and replaced the weights in their rack.
He changed the subject. "Still interested in going out?" He told her about his meeting near Jake’s later that night, but in the meantime, they could play a few game of pool, if she’d like.
Eliana agreed. It was just what she needed. "We’re taking your motorcycle?" she asked. She’d been on it only twice with him. It had terrified her and filled her with exhilaration, all at the same time.
"If you want." Jason said. "Unless you’re afraid?" he added, deliberately teasing her.
"I want." Eliana accepted his challenge. She thought about telling Jason what she’d discovered today, but at the last minute, decided against it. Tonight was a chance to recapture her life. She was not going to let any remnants of Sorel taint it.
The wind was sharp, but not unpleasant on her skin as she wrapped her arms around Jason and followed the movements of his body as he and the low-slung motorcycle leaned into the curves. Eliana’s heart pounded crazily, sending her blood racing through her veins as they flew along the dark streets. Pressing her face into his jacket, her arms seemed to memorize the smoothly muscled contours of his upper body, feeling them flex and move under her grip. They arrived at Jake’s all too soon.
Once inside, they sat at the bar with a beer apiece until the back table opened up for play. Soon enough, they were joking and laughing about everything and nothing in particular.
This was the first real fun she’d had in a long time, Eliana realized. While they were racking up the next game, Eliana paused to look at him. "This was nice of you, Jason. I’m really enjoying myself tonight."
He smiled back at her in answer. Jason could see she was telling the truth. She’d relaxed while they began playing; it was almost like how they used to be before everything had happened. Her eyes were brighter than they’d been for a while and had lost that haunted look he’d seen all too often lately. He tried not to let his gaze concentrate on her full lips as she smiled back at him, a little flirting grin that melted into him, generating an unexpected warmth.
They played another two games and then Jason was pressing his hand on her arm in warning. She was instantly aware. Reacting slowly, as he did, Eliana didn’t raise her eyes immediately, but carefully shifted her gaze just in time to see the front door swinging gently shut.
"Your contact?" she asked in a low voice. Jason nodded yes. He leaned over to talk softly in her ear. "I should be back inside of twenty minutes." He said. Jason looked down on her with concern. Eliana gave him a reassuring smile. ‘Go on." She mouthed silently.
Jason walked across the street and paused just inside the nearest alleyway. He did a slow sweep of the area with his senses. His sixth sense told him all was clear. "Jacob?"
"Mr. Morgan." A smallish, dark skinned, wiry man stepped out of the shadows. Jacob the Mouse, called that because of his facility of getting in and out of places only a small rodent could. He had the reputation of a small time burglar, but as a getaway driver he was one of the best; few knew he was part of Jason’s network of eyes and ears around the city.
"What do you have for me, Mouse?"
"So he’s still in PC."
"Between your people, the cops and the Feds, he never had a chance to make it out. But he’s moving around a lot. Trusts no one."
"Rumor has it that he doesn’t sleep in the same place twice."
"That’s true enough, he’s got less and less people that he can trust these days." The Mouse looked at him for either confirmation or denial, but Jason’s stone face gave him nothing.
Eliana set up some practice shots to pass the time until Jake, the owner, wandered over to say hello. Jake was a petite blonde, outspoken woman who didn’t hesitate to give her opinion on subjects. "My place, my rules." She was fond of saying. Tonight was no exception.
"I’m glad to see Jason with a woman instead of that barely legal Webber chick. She’s always sneaking around to ‘talk’ to Jason."
Jake used her cue stick to point out the far right hand pocket. She lined up her shot and watched as the cue ball banked off the tableside and tapped her selection into the pocket. "Afterwards, he looks like someone with their heart torn out. Oh, it doesn’t show too good, you gotta know where to look. It’s all in the eyes, and the eyes don’t lie."
She walked to the opposite end of the table, leaned over with the cue and rocketed another ball into its pocket. "Oh, I know all about how he used to be Jason Quartermaine until some accident scrambled his circuits and Jason Morgan is supposed to be some cold-hearted emotionless Borg. But I seen a lot in my years and I see a lot now. He’s a man. Most women don’t stop to think that men have the same feelings as we do. They do, they just don’t show it. And Jason shows it less than others. But that don’t mean that he don’t have any. He just doesn’t show it the same as most folks.
"I think this Elizabeth is nothing more than a little girl playing with his heart. Maybe on purpose, maybe not. I don’t know and I ain’t saying either way. But I was young once, and I still remember what a mess I made of my life then." She laughed and Eliana joined her, in spite of herself.
"Didn’t we all?" Eliana said, still chuckling.
"Don’t change the subject. What I’m sayin’ is, he needs is a woman to step up to the plate for him." She eyed Eliana. "I’ve seen the two of you in here together before, so I’m thinking maybe he’s found one."
"You’re right; most people think that Jason is incapable of feelings." Eliana said slowly. "Maybe he doesn’t express them, but he does have them. I know that. I’ve seen it. He’s loyal, and caring and honest. You can’t ask for a better friend than that, I think."
"Is he your friend?" Jake asked speculatively.
"Yes, at least I hope he considers me one."
"Then like I said, step up to the plate, honey. Friends make the best lovers, I always say. That is, if you want to be his lover."
Eliana shot a sharp glance at Jake, but the older woman only grinned unashamedly and studied her with a perceptive look in her eyes. "Jake, what am I supposed to say to that?" she asked half-exasperated, half-amused. She tried to ignore Jake and aimed her shot. She groaned as the shot missed, pretending to take no notice Jake’s perceptive chuckle.
"Honey, you ain’t got to say a thing to me. You might want to get things straight with yourself, though. And him. Make up your mind and ask yourself what – or who – it is you want."
Having no real answer to that comment, Eliana excused herself and went to use the restroom, another knowing laugh following her.