"Minced garlic sautéed in olive oil is just as good."
"Roasted, not sautéed. You roast it whole first. Then you use a garlic press."
"Meit's my kitchen." A brief mutter of Hispanic explicatives followed that
"That is no way for a lady to talk." Sonny scolded. "You'll see, no, you'll
taste the difference."
It was the Tuesday night before Carly, Eliana and Michael were due to leave
for the island. Carly and Jason grinned at one another across the cutting
board, where they busied themselves chopping onions, bell peppers and
parsley. They pretended to ignore Eliana and Sonny as they moved the debate
from garlic over to the choice of Spanish Catalan or Mexican Sonora chorizo
sausage for their paella.
The four of them in the kitchen was a rarity, since Sonny was not disposed to
let anyone into his kitchen, but these dinners were well on the way to
becoming a habit and a pleasurable one at that.
Eliana was almost as good a cook as he was - Sonny laughed to himself as he
thought of what her answer to that would be. Jason and Carly were more than
happy to do what chopping and dicing was necessary, while the two of them
either bickered or agreed to the spices and ingredients of the meal. The
first phase of cooking finished, he set the pot into the oven and put the
timer on for five minutes to let the flavors of the paella meld while Carly
pulled out the plates and silverware.
The timer went off. They seated themselves around the counter and while they
were spooning up the food, the subject of tying up loose ends for both Carly
and Eliana before their trip came up.
"The mock ups for the Deception campaign are on my desk and I've closed all
my major deals at the gallery, so I can delegate what I need done for the
next few days." Eliana said.
"There're some meetings I absolutely can't get out of tomorrow morning. Laura
would skin me if I tried. After all the noise I've been making about her not
including me in decision making, I'd sound like an idiot and a hypocrite."
Carly's face fell. "Oh man, I just remembered, I promised Lila I'd bring
Michael over to visit tomorrow. I gave Leticia the morning off so she could
get her stuff ready for the trip. No way am I going to have time to get over
there and I hate disappointing your grandmother." She told Jason.
"I can move some things around and have the time to spare in the morning so I
can take Michael over to Lila, if that's okay with you." he said. Carly
replied that that would be perfect.
After finishing up the meal with coffee and drinks in the living room, Jason
glanced down at his watch. "If I'm going to have a clear morning, there's
some stuff I need to take care of tonight." That was an unspoken signal and
they all said their goodnights soon after.
"Jason, let me talk to you for a minute." Sonny drew him aside to talk, while
Carly and Eliana walked to the door.
"Sorel's desperate." Jason said. "The word is he's desperate to take a
meeting with you; see if anything can be worked out."
Sonny shook his head. "It ain't gonna happen. The time for negotiation is
done. This is going to play out my way. Make sure he knows that."
"The word will go out tonight." Jason said. "There's chance we could take
him very soon. Jacob has come through. One of Sorel's top lieutenants is
willing to give him up. Provided he can meet with you and come to mutually
beneficial arrangement. He wants a personal guarantee of protection. Plus
financial compensation on as well."
"I'll meet with him. Set it up for tomorrow night, after Carly, Michael
and Eliana are on their way."
Over by the door, Carly and Eliana both glanced at the two men as they
talked quietly in the corner of the room. They looked back at one another and
sighed, knowing it was business they discussed. Business that they couldn't
know about. It didn't mean that they wouldn't worry. "Is everything all right
with you now?" Eliana asked Carly, changing the directions of their thoughts.
"Yes, I am." She knew her friend was referring to the Quartermaine's attack.
"I guess I had forgotten how vicious the Q's can be, especially that Monica.
She can be a real bitch on wheels once you get her going. Did I ever thank
you for calling Sonny and watching Michael that night?"
"You don't have to. That's what family is for, right?" Eliana smiled at her.
"You betcha." Carly said. "Either way, I owe you a shoulder to cry on. Don't
hesitate to use it."
"Use what?" Jason said as the two men joined them. Sonny slipped an arm
around Carly's waist.
"My shoulder. If she ever needs it." Carly looked on with concealed amusement
as Jason's eyes went to Eliana. Mentally, she nodded to herself. She was
right. If Eliana needed a shoulder, Jason looked like he was more than ready
to provide it. I wonder if either of them realizes it yet?
They said their goodnights, and then Jason walked Eliana across the hall.
"I won't be too late." Jason said as he opened the door and she stepped
over the threshold. She turned to face him. "How would you like to go with me
tomorrow when I take Michael to see his great-grandmother?"
She was very much surprised at the invitation. "I think I'd like that very
Jason smiled down at her. "Good. It's a date, then."
A date. He liked the sound of that.
He left out very early the next morning, promising to be back for Eliana and
Michael around ten. Carly dropped Michael off with Eliana before she went to
the office later that morning, and she and the little boy were drawing
pictures at the coffee table when Jason returned. She looked up, noting with
surprise, the bouquet of flowers for his grandmother.
Jason took out one bloom and tickled her nose with it. She laughed. Soon
afterwards they left. Since they had Michael with them, they took one of
Sonny's limos to the Quartermaines.
She was understandably a little nervous as they entered the Quartermaine
mansion. Her gaze wandered over the mansion's interior, taking in its opulent
design. This is the family Jason grew up in?
He read her expression. "Jason Quartermaine grew up here, not me. Don't let
all this fool you. You'll love Lila. Everyone does." Jason took her hand and
led her upstairs to his grandmother's favorite parlor.
Jason knocked lightly at the door before opening it. "Grandmother?"
"Jason, what a lovely surprise; and Michael." As always, his grandmother's
smile was radiant as he greeted him. "I hope Caroline isn't ill."
"No, she had some business to take care of that she just couldn't put off and
she didn't want to disappoint you, so here I am instead. You aren't
disappointed, are you?" He asked the last question teasingly, as he crossed
the room to drop a gentle kiss on Lila's cheek and placed Michael on her lap.
"Quite the opposite, darling. You know I don't see you nearly enough." She
reached up and touched a hand to his face.
Eliana had stayed by the door while Jason and his grandmother greeted one
another. It hadn't taken more than a moment to see the love between them. Now
Jason turned to her, and taking her by the hand again, pulled her forward.
"Grandmother, I'd like you to meet a friend of mine's, Eliana Salazar."
"What a lovely name." Lila said. "And it naturally goes with a lovely young
The elegant old woman enchants Eliana. They play happily for a time; Michael
sitting in his grandmother's lap while Jason catches her up with all of
Michael's doings. After a short time, Michael got restless, so Jason and
Eliana sat side by side on the floor with him, pulling some of his toys from
his bag to play with. Later, Jason goes downstairs to the kitchen to get
Michael cookies and juice.
Lila was a charming hostess. She drew Eliana out until the two of them were
chattering like old friends. The conversation went into little things until
Lila's glance fell on Michael.
"I see Michael is fond of you..." Lila said to her, as Michael scrambled over
Eliana, using her legs for a bridge for his stuffed animals. He had insisted
on bringing his stuffed giraffes; they'd quickly become his favorite toys. He
calls her Tia Elli, laughing happily as he snuggled in her lap. Absently,
Eliana dropped a kiss on his head.
"He's a darling, who can't help but fall in love with this little guy?"
Eliana replied. It was very easy talking to this elegant matriarch. She was
not as off-putting as Eliana would have imagined her to be.
Lila regarded Michael with a loving gaze as he bounced his giraffes up and
down Eliana's legs before raising her eyes to meet Eliana's. "And it seems
that Jason is fond of you as well." Lila points out that it's been a long
time since Jason has brought any of his lady friends to meet her. "I'm so
glad he brought you, my dear. My grandson has chosen a very solitary life.
I'm glad he's found someone to share it with."
Lady friends. Eliana smiled at the term. "Jason has been a good friend to me." she said. She can feel that the older woman is studying her carefully, and couldn't believe that she had her
blushing as she wonders what the older and wiser woman sees.
"I think it's a little more than friendship my grandson feels for you, my
dear; I can tell just by looking at him looking at you. Certain things don't
change, and he is my grandson." She smiled at Eliana. "Dare I hope it's a
Eliana laughed softly and caught herself. First the woman had her blushing
like a schoolgirl, and now this? Before she can answer, the parlor door swung
open. AJ Quartermaine stood in the doorway; he grabbed at it, as it swung
wide, but missed. It crashed into the wall, startling Michael. He scrambled
into Eliana's lap.
"Hello Gran'mother," He said, his words slurring, "Michael...what a surprise,
lil' buddy.wha's this, a replacement for Leticia?" He peered down at Eliana.
"She's much prettier, I'll give her that. Carly had be-better watch out. The
babysitter is always the one who catches the husband's eye." He laughed at
his own poor joke.
Lila frowned. "Hardly that, AJ. This is Eliana Salazar, a friend of Jason's.
Eliana, I'd like you to meet my other grandson, Alan junior, or as we call
"We've met." Eliana's eyes narrowed; she remembered him now, from Kelly's. He
was drunk then, and he seemed to be drunk now. He nodded at her absently, his
eyes focused on Michael, who had climbed into her lap, a little frightened at
this strange man's sudden appearance. AJ tried to coax him to him, stumbling
a little as he came closer, but little Michael only burrowed deeper into
"No! Tia Elli, Tia Elli!" He sniffled. Eliana tried to comfort him, holding
him tightly and patting the little boy's back. She looked over the Michael's
head, her eyes flashing warning signals. "You're scaring him."
"He's my son" AJ began.
"And you're drunk. Get away from them." Jason was suddenly standing in the
"Don't you tell me how to act with my son." AJ turned to face him
"I'm not going to do this in front of Michael." Jason said evenly. He pushed
past AJ and reached for his nephew's coat. "I'm sorry, Grandmother, but we're
going to have to go now."
"I understand, darling." Lila said sadly.
Eliana felt bad for her as she repacked Michael's toys. "I'm sure Jason will
bring him back for a visit very soon, Mrs. Quatermaine."
"Please dear, the name is Lila. And I hope he brings you back very soon as
well. You were delightful company. And I think you are delightful as well,
for my grandson."
AJ had moved back to the door, glaring at them both as they bundled Michael
up, and then as Jason helped Eliana with her coat.
"Do I have to move you, AJ?" Jason took one step towards AJ. At his brother's
steely look, AJ moved out of the way in spite of himself.
"Eliana, could you get Michael please, and take him downstairs?" Jason asked.
Eliana swung the little boy up in her arms. Jason never moved from his stand
in front of AJ.
AJ didn't move either, even when Eliana passed him with his son in her arms.
Instead, he settled for glaring into her eyes as she moved past them. His
gaze was merciless and full of hatred. "You're keeping me from my son."
Jason felt Eliana freeze behind him at the pure venom in AJ's voice. Without
turning around, he spoke to her, his voice deliberately calm for both her and
Michael's sake. "Eliana, it's all right. AJ can't hurt you. Take Michael and
go downstairs and wait for me." She hesitated a moment, and then slipped by
the two men and left. Jason grabbed AJ by the arm, his hand a painful vise
on the other man's upper arm. He jerked him closer.
"Don't ever threaten anyone I care about." As quickly as he had grabbed him,
Jason thrust AJ away with a sudden shove. He turned away in the same
movement, intent on going down the stairs, but turned back as AJ called out
"How long are you going to keep me from my son, Jason? It isn't enough that
you stole the first year of his life from me, you're going to help your
gangster boss steal the rest?"
"When are you going to sober up, AJ?" Jason answered him. "Maybe if you were
sober, you could see that Sonny honestly loves Michael, like he's his own."
"But he isn't his. He's mine." AJ insisted.
"Right now, you aren't fit to be Michael's father."
"Who're you to judge me?" AJ shouted at him. "You're brain-dama-" he halted
as he realized what he had been about to say.
"Brain-damaged? That's what you were going to say, wasn't it? They tell me
you're the one who caused it. And you wonder why no one who loves him will
let you near Michael?" Jason stepped close to AJ. He backed up instinctively,
seeing the menace in his brother's eyes. Two steps and he was trapped against
the wall. Jason leaned in even closer, until they were almost face-to-face.
"I'm not as 'impaired' as you'd like to think. And even if I were, I'm
still a step ahead of you. I have a life; I have people who care about me and
respect me. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and take responsibility for your
AJ fell silent, tensing as Jason continued to stare down at him. He didn't
see any kind of brotherly recognition as he looked into his hard blue eyes.
It was almost like looking into the eyes of a stranger; an angry and
dangerous one who could make him fear him with a glance. He exhaled in silent
relief as Jason turned away and walked downstairs. As the fear ebbed away, a
wave of shame and anger went through him. He was afraid of his own little
brother. AJ's heart ached as he was forced to watch as his son held out his
arms to another man. He watched as Jason took Michael into his arms, Michael
hugging him tightly and Jason returning it. The woman with him smiled up at
Jason and now it was a hot flash of envy that went through AJ.
Rooted to the spot, he watched as she adjusted Michael's scarf. The three of
them standing together in the foyer made a neat little family tableau. His
jealousy only deepened as Jason smiled back at her. AJ watched in impotent
anger as she linked her arm into his and the three of them walked out the
"You're brain-damaged." AJ's words went through his head once more. Back in
the penthouse, he had tried going over some paperwork from the warehouse
while Eliana finished with some last minute packing upstairs. Jason had
thought he was long past reacting to anything any of the Quartermaines said
to him, but he guessed he was wrong. Him scaring Michael had already had him
seething, but it was AJ's threatening Eliana that had been the last straw.
Knowing how close she had come to panicking under AJ's venomous words and
actions, he'd reacted on pure instinct. Only his grandmother's and Michael's
presence had stopped him from slamming AJ into, or better yet - through - the
They had also told him that something in his brain had been lost besides his
memories. That he didn't feel things like other people. As if he had no
comprehension of what words like love and hate meant. Jason closed the folder
of coffee import invoices and laid them on the coffee table in front of him.
He leaned back and closed his eyes.
He couldn't shake the thoughts that came. What people once thought of him
might have been true once, he thought. But he'd learned from watching others,
how things were supposed to work. It had been like watching from outside
himself at first, but then bits and glimmers of other things had begun to
insert themselves into his consciousness. People didn't realize that a mind
that has time to heal also has time to grow. He was not the same Jason
Quartermaine that had awakened from that car crash all those years ago. He
wasn't even the same Jason Morgan that had renounced his family and walked
away from them.
They, the ubiquitous, all knowing 'they', which included the doctors at GH,
his so-called family, and all those who had known him as Jason Q, thought him
simple, because he appeared to them to only look at things in terms of black
and white. They refused to see that he had grown so much since then, all
because they didn't agree with the choices he has made for his life. Their
thinking was how could any sane person choose to live as he did. It was
easier for them to believe that, than to accept him as he was. He understood
all the shades of grey that existed between such concepts as friendship...and
love and hate and jealousy. He'd seen it in others, but just because he had
made a conscious decision not to indulge in those emotions, didn't mean he
didn't feel them, or understand them, or recognized how they drove people to
do what they did.
Jason had had to learn what those words meant, but he did know them now. He'd
come a long way from the early days just after his accident. He knew what
loyalty was and betrayal. Loyalty was what he felt for Sonny. Friendship too.
On a level most people didn't really appreciate, no matter what they might
say. He and Sonny would die for each other without a moment's hesitation.
What closer bond could there be? He knew what friendship was.and now, Jason
thought, as he glanced up the stairs towards Eliana's room, he was on the
verge of learning something altogether new.
He hadn't felt this way about anyone since Robyn. He'd thought maybe he'd
had a chance to find it again with Elizabeth, but that was dead now. Dead and
buried, like his feelings for Robyn after she had betrayed him. Jason's eyes
went back to the stairs again and he thought of the woman upstairs. Something
inside him told him that he was heading into unknown territory. The idea was
frightening and exhilarating all at the same time; something like what he
felt when he was speeding down the highways on his bike, the adrenalin making
his heart pound, the speed giving him a rush as he took a dangerous curve,
leaning into it, not knowing what was around the next stretch of road. but
racing headlong towards it anyway, enjoying the rush, enjoying the ride and
eager to experience what waited for him just around the bend
"You're keeping me from my son." Upstairs, Eliana shivered again as AJ
Quartermaine's voice echoed through her mind. The way he had looked at her,
with such hate and what resentment? How could he act that way towards his own
brother? Why was she even thinking of him? She deliberately pushed her
thoughts away from him as she folded the last piece of clothing and placed it
in her suitcase. The rest of their visit had been nice until Jason's brother
had shown up.
Her packing finally finished, Eliana started down the stairs to set it by the
door. Jason looked up to see Eliana coming down the stairs and quickly
crossed the room to take the bag from her and carry it to the door.
His back to her, Eliana's eyes drank in the sight of him, his hard, muscular
body revealed in the tee shirt and jeans he was wearing. She was going to
miss him, she was going to miss being here, she realized. This apartment was
beginning to feel too much like she belonged here. She'd have to remember
that she didn't.
Jason turned, catching her gaze on him and she felt her face warm.
"Jason, can I ask you a question?" The look in his eyes told her she could
ask almost anything of him. She blushed again, hesitated, then plunged in.
"Why did you invite me to go with you to your grandmother's house today?"
As always, he is honest. Jason moved towards her. "I know it's selfish of me.
Even though I know you'll only be gone for a few days, I wanted a memory of
you while you were gone." He reached out slowly and trailed his fingers down
her cheek. "I wanted to see you happy, without a shadow on your face. I knew
that being around Lila would do that for you." Eliana covered his hand with
her own, and he let himself enjoy the touch.
"She's a lovely woman, but being with you, does that for me more than
anything." She leaned into his hand for a moment. "Jason, Carly and I both
know that you and Sonny want the three of us out of the way for a while. To
keep us safe. And I won't ask you why. But what about Sonny? What about
"Don't worry about us. We know how to take care of ourselves." Realizing how
harsh his words sounded, Jason took her face and cradled it in both of his
hands. "I won't lie to you, so I can't promise you that nothing bad will
happen. But Sonny and me, we do know how to take care of ourselves and each
other. We always have. I trust him with my life and he does the same with me.
You should know that."
Her hands came up to cover his, her fingers tracing his skin lightly. She
tried to smile at him, but despite that, the worry in her eyes didn't go
away. Jason moved closer to her. One hand moved; his thumb traced the full
soft curve of her lower lip, then he was kissing her gently. He hadn't
planned it, but the kiss deepened. Jason drew her closer, one hand moving up
to tangle itself in her hair, slanting her mouth to give him fuller access,
the other sliding sensuously down, caressing her throat, down around her
shoulders and from there, slipping around her waist to draw her closer.
There was a knock on the door. It was time to go.