Chapter Two

"Officer Ward," Marcus Taggert called, stopping the young woman in her tracks. He smiled when she turned around to face him. "Might I have a word with you?"

"Sure." Keesha rested her hand on the butt of her nightstick and she cocked her head to look at her superior officer. She wondered what he would want with her. He had already welcomed her to the force, and even that had felt odd, as he was not a man to indulge in polite pleasantries. She supposed that the best way to find out was to wait. "How can I help you?"

"You could answer a few questions for me, for starters," he said. "Follow me." He strode into the precinct's interrogation room. Holding the door open for Keesha, he waited for her to enter and then he closed the door behind him. "Have a seat," he instructed her with a smile. "This won't take long."

Keesha's gut instinct warned her to be wary of his charismatic smile. The detective was a good cop, but he had his ticks. She had heard about his interrogation tactics with suspects and wondered how he would approach her. He wanted something from her that much she was sure of. But how far would he go to get it? She didn't have an answer for that and decided that keeping her guard up just a little while longer wouldn't be a bad thing. "No thanks. I prefer to stand. Can you tell me what this is about? Have I done something wrong?"

"Um…no. Not exactly." He frowned and jutted his chin towards the vacant chair that was directly opposite of him. "Sure you don't want to sit?"

"I'm sure," she said, releasing an exasperated sigh. "I don't mean to be rude, but you're stalling, Detective. What is the word that you wanted to have with me?"

His mouth parted in a smile that revealed, a row of even white teeth. Folding his arms across his chest, he rocked on his heels. "You don't pull any punches. I like that, Officer Ward. It's a good trait to have. I think you'll do well here."

"Thank you." Keesha took a step backwards as she said, "If that's all you wanted, I guess I'll-"

"Actually," he said, speaking his usual quiet, but firm tone, "there is more. You would probably be more comfortable if you sat down, but the choice is yours. I have a few questions for you, Officer. They won't take long, but you may find them intrusive. I apologize in advance for any offense."

"Go on," she said, when he paused and gave her a hard stare, "but if this has anything to do with my past relationship with Jason Morgan, you're wasting time. The Jason I knew is dead. I know nothing about the man he has become."

"Okay." He gave a slight nod after processing this information. "I thought as much, but I had to be sure. So…um, all ties with Mr. Morgan are severed? The two of you have not maintained any kind of relationship-"

"Detective Taggert, as I am sure you are aware, Jason and Robin are involved. I do not make it a habit to interfere with my friend's love life."

He nodded again. "From what I can tell, your friend had no problem with interfering with yours. Robin Scorpio didn't bat an eye before she-"

"What does this have to do with anything? My relationships with Robin and Jason are none of your business. Furthermore, you were correct. I am offended and I think that we should end this conversation. Now."

"Officer Ward, wait!" Taggert's command stopped her just as she reached the door. "Hear me out."

Keesha's heart raced furiously. Taggert's questions had opened wounds that should have long since healed. Losing Jason so suddenly had broken her heart, but Robin's relationship with him had ripped it to shreds. Sure, the two women were still friends, but they weren't as close as they used to be. The trust had been destroyed. Keesha doubted if she would ever be able to give her trust so easily again. She swallowed a deep breath, as she tried to calm her racing heart. "I'm listening."

"The Commissioner has created a task force that he wants me to head. I'm building a team and I'm qualifying and disqualifying potential members," he explained.

A task force? Curious, Keesha slowly turned around. "I'm still listening."

"Good. A good cop listens and listens well." He nodded his head in approval. "The task force's number priority is to crack down on the parasites who have taken over the dock. I'm sure you read the papers. The Cassadine kid took a bullet that was meant for Morgan. If you were to join the task force, I want to make sure there will be no conflicts of interest. No residual ties that will prevent you from doing your job."

Standing up straight and tall, Keesha countered Taggert's unwavering stare with one of her own. "I am a professional, Detective. My personal life will never interfere with my job."

"Good enough," he responded, another winning smile on his face. "Now, for the hard question…are you interested in joining the task force? The work will not be easy or fun, but in the end, it will be worth it. There will be long hours, stakeouts, and plenty of legwork. You're new to the force so it may seem grueling to you at first. Do you think you can handle it?"

"I can handle anything."

His smile broadened. Extending his hand to her, he said, "Welcome aboard, Officer Ward."

"Thank you," she said, shaking the hand he offered her.


The antique grandfather clock ticked with the passing of another minute. A frown creased Carlotta's brow as she glanced at the clock and then at her watch for verification. Either the two timepieces were in collusion or the morning had nearly passed. Despite sleeping in every morning since their arrival, her daughter on this morning-the morning of Nikolas' return-was nowhere to be found. Where was she, Carlotta wondered, her temper rising. Being defied so boldly by her child did not bode with her at all.

Her thoughts were filled with the perfect tongue-lashing that she would bestow on her daughter, when she noticed an outline of a familiar figure disappear inside the drawing room. "Mrs. Landsbury," she called, her heels clicking in time as she came closer.

"I'm afraid you've just missed her," said the blonde as she turned around to face Carlotta. "I don't believe we've met. I'm Katherine Bell, and you are…?"

A wry smile came to Carlotta's lips. "I'm Carlotta Christofides, as I'm sure you well know," she said the words in a cordial manner as she extended her hand to the other female. "How nice it is to make your acquaintance."

Katherine took the offered hand and gave it a firm shake. A thin layer of wariness covered her blue eyes as she moistened her lips. Carlotta took the small gesture as a self-defense mechanism and felt a bubble of amusement burst inside of her belly. The other woman viewed her as a threat. The thought was preposterous, of course. Yet, the thought of being in Stefan's arms once more brought goose bumps to her flesh. He was a dear friend, but as lover, he had only one contemporary…that reminded her… "Have you seen my daughter?"

Wisps of blonde hair shone like silver as Katherine shook her head. "I've only just arrived. Have you seen Stefan?"

"He's at hospital with Nikolas. They should be home soon," she said in an offhand way. Her thoughts on her absent daughter, she almost missed Katherine's sharp intake of breath. Biting her tongue, she waited. The wait was short.

"Home?" Katherine repeated, a hint of censure in her tone. "Have you and your daughter moved into Wyndemere?"

Carlotta coughed down an amused chuckle. After she had cleared her throat, she said, "For the time being, yes. It is my understanding that you reside in the guesthouse."

"Yes, but I-"

"So, we should not interfere with you there. You needn't worry," Carlotta assured her. This time she allowed her delight to reveal itself in her smile. "Your life will not be disrupted during our stay."

Katherine shrugged. Lowering head, she broke free of the other woman's gaze. She picked imaginary lint from the sleeve of her designer powerwoman business suit. "You misunderstand. After all, you're here to help Nikolas. I wouldn't imagine that you'd be a disruption."

"No, never a disruption," Carlotta agreed. Unable to behave herself, she added slyly, "More like a distraction." Katherine frowned. Her mouth parted to speak, but Carlotta spoke first. "It has been a pleasure, Katherine. Now, if you will excuse me, I must find my daughter."

"Of course," Katherine mumbled as Carlotta swept through the door.


"Hospitals in the dead of night and libraries at the break of the dawn," Vinnie groused. "Why can't you keep a normal schedule?"

Dawn peered around the computer monitor to glare at him. "You can always leave. Port Charles isn't that big. I'm sure you can find your way back to Wyndemere." She gave him one last hard stare before she turned her attention back to the computer screen. Vinnie's whining had almost thrown her off, but as soon as she looked at the screen again, she was riveted. The Internet provided a wealth of information and she thanked God for it.

"You know I won't leave you so you can blow that pipe dream right outta your head." She grimaced and he continued. Resting his elbows on the hardwood table, he inched closer to her. "You could have done this at the mausoleum, Dawn. He's being released today. You can't run away from that."

"I'm not running away from anything," she bit out. "Least all from Nikolas-"

"Something happened between you two last night, Little Miss. I saw it on your face when you came out of the room. Tears don't lie," Vinnie said softly.

"A bodyguard and a psychiatrist all wrapped up in one big, manly package. What did I do to deserve this?" she said, keeping her eyes on the monitor. Funny, before the words had been clearer a second ago. Now, they were somewhat blurred. She blinked to clear her vision.

"You're just lucky, I guess," he said. "Listen, I-"

"No, you listen," she whispered, "I appreciate your brotherly advice, but there are some things that are simply off limits. Nikolas is one of those things."

Vinnie sat up straight and shrugged. "Understood," he said in his thick, Jersey accent. "Just be okay, okay?"

"Okay," she said, relieved that he would let the topic drop. After last night, talking about Nikolas was too painful in the light of morning. Especially since she spent most of the night remembering how her hand felt in his and the rest of the night, dreaming about his brown eyes and all the words he couldn't say. Something tickled her throat and she coughed it away. No, it was much, much too painful.

Vinnie, America's second greatest man next to her father, continued to honor her request she found as he spoke again. "So, what are we looking at here?"

Dawn clicked to the next page before she answered him. "Information. That bullet was meant for someone else. Jason Morgan. I want to know everything I can about him."

Vinnie frowned. "Why?" he asked, his voice hard. "You are not-"

"Ssh!" She pressed her forefinger against her lips. "We are in a library, remember?"

"Dawn," he said in a tight, controlled whisper, "he is a connected man. Do I want to know why you want to know everything about him?"

"Probably not," she confided, "but I'll tell you anyway. That bullet was meant for him and I want to make sure he gets what he deserves."

"No," Vinnie shook his head. "The shooting was unfortunate, but you cannot go after a man like him. You're just a kid."

The chair screeched across the hardwood floor as Dawn stood up. Soft, delicate hands tugged on her form-fitting turtleneck sweater, molding the wool material to her slim, curvaceous figure. Tilting her head down, dark brown curls bounced against her creamy milk chocolate cheeks. In a sultry voice, she asked, "Do I look like a kid to you?"

His Adam's apple bobbed as Vinnie swallowed hard. He cleared his throat and said, "Um…not exactly." Blue eyes appraised her and Vinnie shook his head. As he rose to his full height, he mumbled something about jailbait. He took a deep breath and grasped her shoulders in a firm hold. "I will not allow you to do this. You could get hurt."

"You work for me," she told him, craning her neck to look up at him. "I don't need your permission to do anything, and as for me getting hurt, you're my bodyguard. I won't have anything to fear with you there to protect me."

"There are other ways of getting hurt," he said. "I can't protect you from everything."

"I know, but I'll be okay. I promise."

"I'm holding you to that."


"What is it, Reynaldo?" Jason sat before the fireplace, rocking a sleepy Michael in his arms. After his brief stay in the hospital, the infant was healing nicely. In the last week, he had gained a few ounces and he seemed to respond whenever he heard Jason's voice. Holding the child closer against him, Jason's heart swelled with an emotion that he wasn't yet ready to name and he frowned at Reynaldo's intrusion on the moment. "Reynaldo?"

"Sorry, Mr. Morgan,," Reynaldo answered him, "but you have a visitor. I didn't feel right about turning this one away."

Jason frowned. "Is it Bobbie? You know that she's always welcome here." Jason rose from the chair and turned to greet his visitor. He was surprised to see a blonde instead of a redhead. "Carly."

"Hello, Jase," she murmured, inching her way towards him.

"Thanks, Reynaldo," Jason said, dismissing his bodyguard and doorman. After Reynaldo had left them alone, Jason moved until he stood just inches away from her. "Welcome back."

"Thanks," she said, nodding her head. "I…um…" she said while glancing around the room, "I didn't have anywhere else to go, so I came here. Is that okay?"

"That's fine," he told her. "You can always stay here." Michael cooed in his arms and Jason smiled. "Would you like to hold your son?"

A panic-stricken look crossed Carly's face. Her mouth dropped open and she took a step back. Shaking her head, she said, "Uh, I don't think I should, you know. He doesn't really know me…and he's so small…"

"He'll get to know you," Jason said, taking a step towards him.

"No!" she cried. The baby let out a soft cry in protest. Carly stammered, "I-I'm sorry, Jase. See…"

Jason nodded. "I see." His large hands stroked Michael's back as he turned away from her. He reached the rocking chair and sat down. As he began to rock, the baby calmed down and soon fell asleep. In a soft voice so as not to disturb the infant, Jason said, "I had him christened as Michael."

"Michael?" she repeated. "Oh, so everyone thinks he's your son, right? So, everything is okay now?"

"I haven't lied to anyone," Jason said quietly, "but I guess they all think that. I told you before. I won't lie."

"I know. I just…"

He shifted his loving gaze from the babe in his arms to look at her. "I won't lie, Carly. If anyone asks me if I am his father, I will tell them the truth."

"B-but what about…him…Michael. You know how the Quartermaines are. That's why you're here and not with them. If AJ knew the truth, he'd take him there and who knows what would happen then."

Jason rose from the rocking chair. He placed the sleeping baby inside the powder blue bassinet. When he looked at Carly again, he found that she watched him with an odd expression in her eyes. He saw hunger there and sensed something more. Folding his arms across his chest, he said, "Stop. I won't lie." He brushed past her and sat down behind the desk. With Michael asleep, it was time for him to catch up on work. He flipped open the account register and pulled out a pencil from the drawer. Speaking over his shoulder, he said, "There's an extra bedroom upstairs. Graciela is in the kitchen. She can set up the room for you and get you something to eat. If you need anything else, speak to Reynaldo. He'll know what to do."

"Thanks, Jase."

"Don't mention it," he said. Before she left the room, thoughts of her had already left his mind. He had work to do. Handling her would come later.

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The Right Way(and all original characters) ©2000 niklovr
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