As Jason entered the warehouse, he put Elizabeth from his mind and thoughts of business took their place. He knocked on Sonny's door and entered a moment later. Sonny was on the phone but waved him in. He took a seat across the desk from Sonny. The conversation went on for another ten minutes, then Sonny hung up.

"That was Falconi," he gestured towards the phone. "There's been no date set, but it looks like there's going to be another series of Council meetings in the very near future. He was giving me a heads-up."

Jason picked up on a hint of tenseness in Sonny's voice. "Not that this isn't a good thing, but why would he bother?"

"There are more than a few agendas to be discussed. Now that Sorel's conviction is a done deal, the Council has - concerns - over the distribution of his territories and what the aftermath will be. That's the official version."

"As opposed to an unofficial version?" Jason looked up at Sonny.

"Yeah;" Sonny answered him as he sat back down. "That was Falconi on the phone. Beside the official reason for my being "invited" to this meet, there's another issue they intend to address. Eliana."

Jason shifted. No one else would have noticed the difference, but Sonny caught the sudden tensing of his body. He held up a placating hand. "Falcon doesn't know any more than that."

"So what do you think they want with her?"

"Falconi didn't know." Sonny's eyes went cold with determination. "It doesn't matter. Whatever the reason, I won't let them do anything that hurts my sister." Sonny's insides twisted at the memory of Eliana's eyes as she'd last looked at him. He'd been the one that hurt her, not that he'd meant to. The pain only steeled his resolve to keep anything or anyone else from hurting her. He'd expected to see her soon enough, probably at dinner. If she didn't show, he'd planned to go across the hall and talk to her, set her straight. But she'd gone to New York. Carly had told him when he glanced at the door for the umpteenth time that evening. He wondered if he'd see her before the summons from the Council came. "She's still in NYC, right?

"She hasn't called you?" Jason was a little surprised for a moment, but he guessed that she'd just been too busy. "I talked to her last night; she's not expecting to come back to Port Charles until the end of next week."

Sonny nodded. It was just as well. "I don't want her to know about this unless she has to."

"I agree. She's doesn't need to be dragged back to what's happened to her. She's finally moving on with her life." Jason said. His eyes softened. "She's happy again."

His friend's words only twisted the knife in Sonny's heart. He hadn't seen Eliana since she'd run from him… and now there was no time to go to her. "I know I don't have to say it, Jason…but take care of her."

"I'll take care of her, Sonny. You never have to worry about that." Jason nodded quietly. They both knew that Sonny didn't have to ask and that he didn't have to answer. But sometimes it just had to be said.


It was a few weeks later when the actual summons came. Sonny spent the last few days and nights before he left, putting everything in order in his various businesses. He didn't fool himself. This might be regular Council business, but the fact that Falconi had felt the need to call ahead with a warning chilled him to his marrow. Sonny was furious at himself. Most of it was an unfamiliar fear for his new-found sister that mingled with the guilt he felt at seeming to take Liz's side over her own. He understood that now. Somehow he'd pushed Eliana away from him. But that didn't change anything. She was still his sister and he'd protect her no matter what.

The night before he was due to leave, Sonny made a final phone call to Benny, instructing him to see to his pilot and plane. He'd seen Jason earlier; he would see to the final security sweep over the jet and handle the day to day operations. At least he'd have nothing to worry about on that score.

Carly had taken the news surprisingly well. Since the Roy situation, the both of them had somehow managed to forge a new level of understanding and trust between them. It was slow going, but Sonny was learning to lower his barriers, and let Carly be the wife she so desperately wanted to be. In spite of all his concerns, he smiled. This marriage was one of the best things that had ever happened to him.

Sonny moved to the stairs, turning off the lights as he went. Upstairs, he paused then went into Michael's room. The little boy was sleeping peacefully, his bed. Sonny closed Mikey's door quietly, a small smile gracing his face as he continued down the hall to his bedroom. The sound of the shower greeted him as he entered the room, sending his thoughts in a very different direction. Sonny slipped quickly out of his clothes, and stepped into the bathroom. He slid the shower door open to see Carly with her back to him, soaping her shoulders languorously with a body sponge.

"Allow me." He said sensuously as he stepped inside the stall. Sonny took the sponge from her hand. Carly moved as though she would turn to face him, but Sonny turned her back around. The water from the multiple shower heads enveloped them both in soft streams of warm water as Sonny squeezed the sponge across the base of her neck, sending a cascade of soapy water down her spine. Carly groaned appreciatively as Sonny began to move the sponge with muscle-melting pressure down her spine.

Sonny rinsed the sponge free of soap and then followed the same path again, this time, letting his lips trace the path he made. As the sponge dropped from his grasp, his hands began to move over her water slick skin. Carly's breathing quickened as his hands dipped lower, squeezing her flesh gently. The caress of his lips drew a soft moan from her lips.

Her lips. Suddenly, Sonny felt the need to taste them. He turned Carly around, snaring her eyes with his own, while his hands traveled leisurely over her, caressing her heated flesh, watching her as passion filled her gaze. The water poured over their bodies as he pulled her into a hard embrace, his mouth moving over hers possessively, while his arousal was all too evident between her thighs. He leaned one hand against the shower wall, while the other slid down to encircle one slender thigh, raising it to allow him entry to her core.

Carly was already wet and ready for him; he slid home with a throaty growl of pleasure. They made love under the downpour of water, the sensation of the steaming water sliding sensuously over their bodies adding to their pleasure, making every nerve ending come alive. She moaned his name over and over as he drove himself into her endlessly. The water caressing every inch of her skin only caused Carly to gasp and shiver uncontrollably; it was as though her nerve ending had come alive. And where the water wasn't, Sonny's mouth was. He released her mouth only to let his own lips travel over her wet skin, tongue flicking over the hard points of her breasts, suckling gently at their tips at first, then biting softly at the soft contours of her body. She felt herself tightening around his smoothly pistoning shaft and her hands clutched helplessly at his shoulders.

Sonny felt her release approaching. His mouth returned to her nipples, sucking harder this time, grazing his teeth across the swollen points of pleasure, delighting at her response, as Carly began to arch and shudder against his body. Her silken walls grasped him like the softest velvet. He felt himself spiraling upwards, felt her begin the ascent towards pleasure. With an effort, he tore his mouth from her flesh, plundering her mouth with his as their bodies moved against one another's mindlessly, caught up totally in the pleasure they gave to one another. Then they were flying over the edge together, Carly moaning her release into his mouth; Sonny groaning his own pleasure into hers.

They continued their love making from the shower to the bed. It was much later when they finally lay quiet in each other's arms. As Carly nestled against the smooth curve just below his collarbone, her thoughts drifted lazily. For the moment, for tonight, they were happy and content.

But for how long? Against her will, the ugly thought intruded into her mind. Her body tensed in spite of herself.

"Carly?" Sonny stirred. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." She said. Try as she might, the tremble in her voice gave the lie away.

Sonny turned to face her. "Don't." His eyes burned into hers and she knew what he meant. No lies. Not now and never again. Her throat tightened and a single, involuntary tear trembled at the corner of one eye and then traced its way down one cheek. Surprisingly gentle, Sonny leaned over and kissed it away.

The tenderness in his touch shredded the wall of fear that she had built up over the last days. She'd known something was going down…she couldn't help but not know. But this time, she'd been determined to be the wife that Sonny needed, loving, considerate, and most of all, refusing to pry into the part of his life that he kept from her in order to keep her safe. She got it now. "Sonny," she whispered. "I'm afraid…"

"Don't be, Carly." Sonny's eyes looked deep into her own. "I swear there's nothing for you to worry about. This is business as usual. I'll be gone for a few days, but it won't be long. I can tell you that much. Councils are an alternative to anything bad happening. They'll be discussions; issues will be raised. But nobody wants a war."

"Why isn't Jason going with you? Who else can you trust to keep you safe?"

"I don't need Jason to keep me safe; what I've done, is done. Sorel is as much a victim of his own stupidity as anything else. This is a way to tie up all the loose ends to the situation."

He gathered her close and Carly sank into his embrace thankfully. Sorel had brought all of this on himself…surely this…this council would see that. Anyone could. She closed her eyes and held that thought close to her as she relaxed once more. Neither one of them were up to any more talking, but was content to lie half awake, drifting in the afterglow of their pleasure, his hand trailing softly through her hair. Sonny felt Carly settle down against him as she slid into sleep with a contented sigh. His arm tightened around her and he pressed a gentle kiss upon her brow.

He stared up into the darkness of their bedroom, a part of his mind coming reluctantly awake and thinking, as much as he tried not to. He forced his mind away from the upcoming Council meeting. His path was already laid out before him and what he would do, he would do. But then his own words came back to him. Loose ends…that would include his sister. His thoughts went to Eliana, and those he couldn't push away. He wondered if Carly knew about the argument they'd had, but decided she probably didn't know. They were too much alike at times, he reasoned. Eliana wouldn't want to talk about it any more than he would have once. But Carly had taught him, and he was finally beginning to learn that he didn't have to keep everything bottled up inside. There were parts of his life he could share. When he got back from his trip, he would sit down with Eliana and they'd talk. He'd make her see that it was nothing more than a misunderstanding and they could get through it. She'd listen to reason, even if she was stubborn at times.

That thought made him smile to himself. That would be the hardest part, getting her to unbend. That stubbornness was something they both definitely had in common. After all, they were alike, he thought drowsily. And there was still so much they had to learn about each other. When she got back and he got back, they'd sit down and hammer this out. Everything was going to be all right…his arms tightened around Carly again, and with that last thought drifting through his mind, Sonny fell asleep.