Chapter 14

You can do this, Keesha. You have to do this.

Keesha reached out to ring the doorbell to the Quartermaine house, then just as quickly pulled away. She brushed her hand against the smooth surface of the door, warmed by the humid temperatures of the late spring morning. Solid oak, brass hinges, and a coat of white paint, brought together to keep her on the other side of the truth she had to face. How did things get like this? When did her heart begin to wage a battle with itself? Why did she love two brothers to the point where she didnít know who she was in love with? AJ and Jason. Very much the same, but so very different.

Sleep eluded her last night. AJís sweet words and tender kisses were a direct contrast to Jasonís impassioned vow to remind her of everything they had and his equally fervent kisses. She tossed and turned and tossed and turned. AJ and Jason. Jason and AJ. I love you. I need you. Youíre mine. We belong together. Their faces, their words, their touches, their kisses. Oh, God. How could she sleep with those memories on her brain? Both men were determined to have her by his side, and being stuck in the middle of this tug-of-war had taken its toll. She got out of bed, pulled on a gray Temple University t-shirt and old jeans, and now here she stood. Her eyes darted to the doorbell. She had to do this. She sucked in a breath and pushed the dimly lit button. Moments later, the door opened.

Reginald greeted her with a bright smile. "Good morning, Ms. Ward."

"Good morning, Reginald."

He stepped aside. "Please, come in."

"Are AJ and Jason up and around?" she asked, crossing into the foyer.

"Yes, maíam, they are both in the living room with the others having breakfast. Iíll announce you."

"No, Reginald, you donít have toó" Before she could stop him, he was in the other room. She heard muffled voices and then the sound of approaching footsteps. She didnít want a big scene. Please, Lord, let the others stay in the living room.

AJ appeared first. "Keesha, this is a surprise," he said, slipping his arm around her waist and pressing a kiss to her cheek. "We didnít have breakfast plans did we?"

"Uh, no, I uhó" she stammered, feeling flushed by AJís nearness and slightly intoxicated by the engaging scent of his aftershave.

"Why is it you think Keeshaís here to see you?" Jason remarked, stopping a few feet away and glaring at his brother. "It didnít cross your mind that maybe sheís here to see me?"

"No, not one for second," AJ answered, sweeping his hand up and down her side.

"You know, Keesha can stand up without your help. Take your hands off her!"

"Or what?"

"Iíll show you Ďor whatí!" Jason stormed over as AJ came to meet him.

Keesha released herself for the trappings of AJís aura and immediately moved to stand between the two fuming brothers. "Stop it!" she demanded. She held up a warning finger to Jason and then AJ. "Both of you. I am so sick of this fighting. Iím tired of all of it."

"Keesha, Iím sorry. I didnít mean to upset you," Jason said.

He brushed his forefinger alongside her cheek. Her skin tingled where his touch lingered. A soft sigh fell from her lips. Her heart pounded like a jackhammer. Jason. The way he made her feel. This confusion. She stepped away.

"I didnít mean to upset you, either," AJ added. "Iím sorry, Keesha."

She nodded. "I know, youíre both sorry, but you wonít stop."

AJ brushed an errant curly lock from her face. "Hey, I love you, Keesha. Iím not going to apologize for that." His fingers trailed to her cheek, pausing to extend a loving caress.

Jason gave AJís shoulder a hard shove, effectively ending the show of emotion.

"Jason!" Keesha scolded.

A furtive glance from Jason acknowledged the reprimand but didnít curtail the underlying animosity that refused to be stifled as the intensity of his gaze stayed fixed on his brother.

"Give it a rest, AJ. You only love your damn self. You want what you canít have. Thatís what this is about." Jason took her hand and favored it with a soft kiss. "Keeshaís mine. She chose me, and you canít stand it."

"From what I understand, you stole her away. Not much of a choice in that, is there?" AJ countered.

"Would you two stop talking like Iím not here! Iím a human being, not an object. I canít be stolen!" she directed at AJ before turning to Jason and snatching her hand from his loose grip. "And nobody owns me."

"Keesha, I didnít mean anyó" Jason began, his eyes downcast, his expression contrite.

She halted his words with a shake of her head. "Jason, look, Iíve heard enough. I came here to talk to both of you. Iím leaving town for a while. I need time away from Port Charles, from the both of you, to think."

"What?" the brothers replied in unison.

"Thatís right. I canít take anymore of this. This fighting between you two, this guilt thatís killing me. I need a break."

"Where are you going, Keesha? Back to Philadelphia?" Jason asked.

"No, Iím not going to Philly."

"Are you going to tell us where youíre going?" AJ questioned.

She shook her head. "No. I donít want to be followed. I want to be alone. I have to be alone," she reinforced.

"And youíll have a decision when you get back? Youíll know which one of us you want?"

There was an awkwardness in that question that made her feel even worse than she already did, but it didnít lessen the truth behind it. She loved these two men, and she had to know which of the two had the strongest hold on her heart. "Yes, AJ," she mumbled. "Iíll know."

Jason grabbed her arm as she turned to leave. His hold was tight, but not punishing. The look in his blue eyes, sad and disbelieving. "Keesha, is this really necessary?"

"Yes, Iím afraid it is. Iím sorry this hurts you, Jason."

"Are you?"

A warm teardrop slid down her cheek. "More than you know," she answered, wiping the moisture away.

"How long will you be gone?"

"I donít know. Iíd hope not for too long, but I honestly donít know."

"And Iím supposed to wait around until youíve come back with your choice? Just pray that you come back and choose me? Is that it?" he asked, his voice growing louder with every question. "Is that what you expect of me?"

Jason was considered the Ďniceí one, but when he got angry or felt threatened, his forked tongued could give a king cobra a run for its money.

She swallowed the knot in her throat, and pressed her sweaty hand along the side of her faded blue jeans. "Iím not asking or expecting anything of you, Jason. Iím telling you what I have to do for me. I never asked for this situation. I never expected it to happen, but it did. If one, none, or both of you are waiting when I get back, so be it, but I canít live with things the way they are now." The sound of her long, exhaustive sigh filled the quiet room. "Thatís what I had to say."

"I donít like this, Keesha, but Iíll respect your wishes," AJ said, turning accusing eyes to Jason. "Any man that truly loves you would. My heartís not faint, Keesha. I have faith in you and what you feel for me, and Iíll wait for you forever. Youíre worth it."

AJ was grandstanding, but Keesha knew he meant ever word. Still, what could she say to that? Anything could be the wrong thing, so she chose to say nothing. Jason remained quiet as well, but his beet red face, balled fists, and chalk white knuckles said plenty. He bounded up the stairs. Moments later the force of a slamming door rattled the crystals dangling on the chandelier in the center of the room.

Keesha closed her eyes, in a desperate battle to keep threatening tears at bay, a battle in which she stood on the losing end. Why did love have to hurt?

A comforting hand on her shoulder brought her blurry gaze to meet with AJís. "Keesha."

"Donít," she croaked, pressing her shaky hand to his lips. "Heís has every right to be upset, but his anger doesnít make my choice any easier to make. If I choose you, itís not going to be because Jason doesnít want me, but because I want you. I donít think youíd want it any other way."

"Keesha, I thinkÖ"

"I have to go, AJ," she said, breaking his flow of words. She didnít need to hear anymore. More than enough was already said. She needed to get out of this house and have a good cry. "Iíll call you when I get back."

She raced out the house as her floodgate of tears opened. With any luck, the next time she saw AJís face sheíd have the answer to the question thatís been plaguing her for months. Was she in love with him or his brother?

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