Chapter Twenty-Six


Sonny has spent the last few weeks laying the groundwork for his attack against Sorel. Besides the testimony that Sonny was sure would take care of Sorel once and for all, he was going to also dismantle his drug empire, thus depriving Sorel of capital for lawyers and appeals. This was not going to be a war of weapons, but a more insidious kind, one of deceit and delays. He had most of his informants in place, ready to inform the police of Sorel's drop offs and deliveries for the next quarter.

At the same time, he'd made arrangements with rival factions to lure many of Sorel's top men off with better offers of employment. Loyalty was an easy commodity to purchase in his enemy's organization and with Sorel in hiding, there were plenty of rats ready to jump this particular ship. With them, money most definitely did the talking, and Sonny was prepared to speak their language.

He was also using his network of contacts outside of PC, so that Sorel would be having problems not only here, but also out of state and along the Canadian border, so that there would be nothing he could connect directly to Sonny's machinations.

It was going to be a relatively slow process, one that might take as long as a year, but Sonny didn't mind. In the end, Sorel would go to jail. With a police murder punching his ticket it was an automatic death sentence. Meanwhile he would destroy his empire, relieving Sorel of any recourse, no dollars, and no high priced attorneys. That he could watch it all happen made it all the sweeter. Besides, he rationalized, the deaths Sorel caused by drugs were often long and drawn out. Shouldn't he go out the same way? It seemed fitting, somehow.

It would also be an object lesson to any others who might harbor the foolish idea of crossing him. School's in session, gentlemen. Take very careful notes and welcome to the final exam.

He closed his folder of paperwork and smiled to see Carly comes rushing downstairs to see Sonny already at his desk, working. "You let me sleep late." She complained. She's got one shoe on and stops at the bottom of the staircase to struggle into the other one.

"Considering how little sleep you had last night, I thought you could use it."

"Yah, yah, Corinthos, I didn't hear you complaining, tough guy." she said.

"No, you didn't. And I'd be happy to give you an encore performance, right now, if you'd like." Sonny said wickedly. "Just back on over to that ottoman there…."

"If I had the time, I'd take you up on that bluff, but I don't. I've got to get down to Deception offices." Carly said.



"Michael's preschool is having teachers' workdays next Thursday and Friday, so I was thinking that maybe we could fly out to the island for a long weekend."

"Carly, I don't know if I can get away right now." Everything was in place. What he was about required all of his concentration. He was like a puppeteer, or a juggler with numerous balls in the air. One wrong misstep and they could all come crashing down. Delicacy and stealth and timing were critical now.

"Sonny, please…we can go down Wednesday afternoon and come back Sunday. Just a long weekend. You could use the break from…work."

Sonny hated to deny her anything. But her idea was a good one. Removing her, Michael and Eliana from Port Charles for even a few days would ease his peace of mind. If things went wrong, he could keep them there. As hard-headed and protective of him as his wife was, for Michael's sake, Carly would stay put.

And who knows, maybe he would be able to get away for a day or two; the thought of her and him there had a certain appeal. "That might be doable. How about, you and Michael go on ahead Wednesday afternoon, and if I can, I'll come down Friday to join you for the weekend? You can invite Eliana to go with you and she can keep you company until I get there."

Carly wasn't fooled at all, if he was this agreeable to the idea, then something else was definitely behind it, but she didn't want anything to spoil their current happiness. So she didn't let any of her thoughts show on her face. Instead, she told him thought that was a great idea. "It'll do her good and she'll be great company besides." She picked up the phone and called Eliana at her office.

Eliana thought it was a good idea, but asked to speak to Sonny after Carly made the invitation.

"This is more than just a mini-vacation, isn't it?" she asked Sonny.

"Carly thought the trip would be good for you." Sonny said carefully.

"I don't doubt it, Sonny. But it's also to get us out of the line of fire, isn't it? Jason has hardly been - home the last few days and you've been preoccupied as hell.

"You're about to go to war, aren't you? I know you don't want to worry Carly, but don't lie to me, okay?"

Sonny heard the concern in her voice. "I wouldn't do that. It would help matters though, if you all took a few days away from Port Charles."

There was a slight pause. "Thank you Sonny. All right, I'll go. Be careful, okay?"



Edward Quartermaine was enjoying the momentary peace and quiet of the living room. His unruly brood were all out of the house; Alan and Monica to General Hospital, AJ to ELQ headquarters and Ned to who knows where. Probably for a fitting for more of those disgusting leather pants he insisted on wearing. He was thankful for the peace, however it came. It stood to reason that it wouldn't last. Lila had just had herself wheeled out to the gardens and he looked forward to spending a little time with his beloved wife. He sipped at the last of his afternoon martini. His visitor wasn't announced. The servants never did their damned jobs, except at Lila's personal bequest. One moment Edward was enjoying the privacy, the next; Sonny Corinthos was standing in the doorway.

Liquid spluttered from his lips. "Must I be subjected to your presence today?" Edward said angrily.

"Don't blame me, Edward." Sonny answered. "I had better things to attend to, but your family are what they are, so I felt the need to stop by and take a conference with you all."

"About what, Corinthos? I'm not interested in any conferences with you that don't include ELQ board meetings. And the rest of my family are taking care of their own business, so we have nothing to discuss at this time." As if on cue, the foyer filled with voices. Then they came trooping into the living room, Alan in the lead, Monica, AJ and Ned right behind him.

"Really Father, if you're going to schedule impromptu board meetings, you could at least give us some clue at breakfast that you're considering it so we can all arrange our schedules accordingly…." His voice trailed off as he took in the sight of Sonny Corinthos standing in his living room.

"What are you doing in my house?" Alan demanded.

"My house." Monica said automatically.

"I gave it to you."

"And I want to know what the hell you're doing in it as well." She snapped at Sonny, without missing a beat.

"I wanted to make sure that you all got the message, so I decided to call a meeting." Sonny dropped the pleasantries. Looking directly at Edward, he said what he had come to say. "Keep your people in line. I don't want them anywhere near Carly. They are toxic for her, poison. And I'm not going to have it."

"You're not going to have it? Look, Sonny, if you want to destroy your life by taking in that she-devil, feel free, but don't expect the rest of the world to stand by and applaud you for it." Monica said angrily. She'd never like Carly since she'd first come to town, and hated her now after the havoc she'd unleashed on her family. "Save your threats for your other business associates."

"You got that right." AJ said self-righteously. For once, the family was on his side. He puffed himself up importantly.

Edward blustered. "Anything they've said to her is no less than the truth."

"And exactly just what has been said?" Lila asked as Reginald wheeled her in from the gardens.

"Now, Lila, this is nothing for you to be worried about." Edward said. He moved, trying to halt her progress into the living room, but she waved a hand at him imperiously and he reluctantly backed down and allowed her in. She turned her bright gaze onto Sonny. "Mr. Corinthos?"

"Not true, Lila." Sonny said. He liked and respected the matriarch of the Q Clan. She had more class and style in her pinky then the rest of them combined. When he turned back to the rest of them, his voice dropped any pretense of friendliness. "Monica, AJ and Ned cornered Carly in Kelly's, and in front of Michael, attacked her."

"They did no such thing!" Edward snapped. "The four of them exchanged words, it's true, but don't make it sound like they harmed her."

"Words can be as lethal as any other weapon." Lila said. She turned to Sonny. "Mr. Corinthos, I apologize for any harm my family has inflicted upon your wife. I truly enjoy Carly, and the thought of her being in pain distresses me to no end."

"Thank you, Lila."

"It's hard to respect a tramp." Monica said. "With all due respect, Lila."

"Be careful, Monica." Sonny turned a cold gaze on her. "She's my wife." he continued. "And that's just the problem, all due respect is what you all have been lacking in. I never expected you to invite her to tea at the mansion, but I did expect the Quartermaines to extend some sort of civility. I thought that was what good breeding was all about." He added sarcastically.

He turned to Ned. "I thought, because of Alexis thought so highly of you, that you would at least, would be above such actions as to attack a woman so viciously in front of her son."

Ned only glared at him for a moment. The thought that Alexis had discussed the two of them…he pushed that away.

"You can tell Alexis, next time you two are conferring, that I never said a word to Carly."

"Is this true?" Lila asked, her eyes going from Monica to AJ. "Michael was there?"

"Grandmother, you just don't understand?" AJ tried to explain. "After all that Carly has done, she deserves that and more. She won't even let me see my son."

"She won't let any of us see him." Monica added in defense of her son.

"Lila and Emily are welcome to see Michael anytime they please. Monica, with your viper's tongue, who could blame her? And the last time Carly ran into you in the park, AJ, you were stinking drunk. She smelt it all over you and it wasn't even three in the afternoon." Sonny said. "That's why you can't see your son. No child should see their father like that."

"He's just a little boy..." AJ started. Behind him, he could feel the wave of disapproval coming from his family.

Turning his head, he could see the doubt and disappointment beginning to seep into their eyes.

"Little kids remember the damndest things, even before they're too young to understand it. But then, when they're older, those memories come back and like pieces of an old jigsaw puzzle, they fit themselves together." Sonny spoke from bitter experience, although they didn't know that. But he knew it all too well, and he'll make damn sure that it wouldn't happen to Michael. "Is that what you want for your son?"

"Is that true, young man?" Edward demanded. His anger made him look for a likely scapegoat. "With that kind of behavior, no wonder you couldn't hold onto the leadership of ELQ."

AJ couldn't answer. Just that quick, he was the bad guy. Again. Even when it came down to him and Sonny Corinthos. How is he coming off as the concerned parent, while he, AJ, came off looking like yesterday's garbage? It just wasn't fair. He turned to look at his family, and read the condemnation in all of their faces.

His grandfather look was one of anger, but that he was used to. Edward was not used to be talked down to, and if he could vent himself at AJ, all the better for him. His grandmother looked at him with sad disappointment. His father shaking his head slightly, and his mother, looking concerned but ashamed all at once. As usual. No matter what he did, he was never, ever good enough. Damn Sonny Corinthos for making them turn on him again. AJ stumbled from the room without another word, vague thoughts of revenge in his mind.

Monica watched his departure with wounded eyes, then turned back to face Sonny, her face hardening again. "Lila, have you forgotten what that little witch has done to your grandson?" Monica asked Lila bitterly while her eyes raked over Sonny's face.

"No, Monica dear, I certainly haven't. But I also understand that there is enough hurt and pain done to and suffered by all parties concerned." Lila said. " And Carly has suffered the most, I think even you would agree."

The admonishment in her voice was gentle, but abundantly clear. Monica dropped her head in sudden shame, remembering the loss of Carly's unborn son had been at the hands of her son, AJ, as accidental as it had been. "Bottom line, Edward, Carly is the mother of your great-grandson; Monica and Alan, your grandson; and AJ's first born son. If for nothing else, for that, your family will give her respect."

Before anyone could say anything more, Lila answered him. "You're quite right, Mr. Corinthos. Carly does deserve our respect for that one fact, if for nothing else. Myself, I enjoy her fire and her strength. She makes mistakes, true. But I know her heart has always been in the right spot. And we are all human, and therefore, we all err every now and then." Her eyes traveled over all of her family, and they had the good graces to not challenge her on this. She turned her calm gaze back to Sonny. "I offer my apologies to you for my family's behavior. Hopefully, there will be no further ones."

"Thank you, Mrs. Q." Sonny said. He knelt by her chair for a moment giving her a quick smile that she returned, then took her hand and lifted it briefly to his lips. She offered him a last smile before gesturing to Reginald to wheel her out of the room.

"So, am I safe to assume that this will not happen again?" Sonny stood and faced the rest of the family. His voice remained quiet, but there was no mistaking the steely menace underlying it. Or the blackness in his eyes. "No one expects you to invite her to Sunday dinner, but a little civility in public is not too much to ask for, I think. I would hate to lose my temper again. That can happen so easily, like a sudden fire….whoosh…" he lifted his hand in a quick gesture. "And once a fire like that is set, it's hard to get it back under control. It can burn down everything around it."

"Forget the innuendos." Edward snapped at him. "Be polite to Carly or AJ pays for it. We understand you all too well."

"See that you do, Eddie." Sonny said. "Respect my wife or be prepared to suffer the consequences." He turned and walked out of the room without a backwards glance.