Chapter 44

~ The Penalty for Mistakes ~

"I'm sorry there wasn't any good news..."

AJ held the phone against his ear and nodded. "Thanks, Scott. At least the baby wasn't Michael. That's good news in itself. Thanks for keeping me updated."

"Sure thing. Try to keep it together, okay?"

"I will," AJ answered. "Thanks again."

The telephone call ended and AJ hung up. He tried to turn his attention to the stack of towels he needed to fold, but he couldn't. His mind kept going back to Scott's earlier call about an unidentified male infant with red hair found dead in a dumpster. His blood ran cold as his brain processed the news. Who could harm a defenseless baby like that? Why and how? And then came the thought of what if it was Michael? His hands shook and didn't stop until Scott called him back to tell him the baby had been identified and wasn't Michael.

"Oh, God," he groaned, running his hand through his short dark hair. Sitting behind the desk, he prayed for help to face another moment without knowing where the child was or if he was the baby's father. Each day became harder and harder, but so far, he'd been able to follow Scott's advice and keep it together. He wasn't sure how long that would be able to sustain him, though. He was edging closer to his breaking point as each second passed.


He abruptly stood and faced his surprise guest with a puzzled frown. "Robin? Hi. What are you doing here?"

Her face was pale, drawn and she seemed uncomfortable. She tried to smile, but must have known it looked twisted and stopped. "I guess you would be surprised to see me. I'm surprised to be here. I need to talk to you."

"Well, I'm working right now." He glanced at the clock. An afternoon appointment was due to arrive any minute and he still needed to clean up some of the equipment. "Can it wait?"

She shook her head. "It can't wait. It's been too long as it is."

Riddles. He grimaced and shrugged. "Okay, fine. Talk while I finish up." He grabbed a towel and started folding. "Go on. I'm listening."

"I went to Tony first and he said that you're the person I needed to see. If I had known... I didn't know about you until today, otherwise I would have said something before now..."

AJ released a harsh breath. The stress of the abduction was bad enough, but now, Robin was here talking to him in riddles? "Look, you're not making sense. Just tell me. Spit it out. Things are hectic these days and I don't have much patience. I don't mean to be rude, but I'm sure you heard about Michael. I'm really worried about him."

"This is about Michael-"

"Has he been found?" he interrupted excitedly. "Did Jason tell you the baby's back?"

Her eyes became glassy and she sadly shook her head. She reached out and grabbed his hand. "No, AJ, I'm sorry. I don't know if he's been found and if he has been, Jason wouldn't tell me. This has to do with Michael's paternity. Tony told me that you're questioning it... Well, I'm here to tell you that you don't have to. Jason isn't Michael's father and if Tony isn't, then...well, you could be."

"How do you know this?" AJ asked, afraid to believe her, but desperately wanting to. "How can you be sure Jason isn't?"

Robin removed her hand and wrapped her arms around her petite frame. "I know because Jason and I were together during the time Michael was conceived and I know that he wasn't with Carly at all then. He was with me and only me. So that leaves you or Tony if there isn't someone else who could be considered."

"I don't know about that," AJ said. "If you knew this all along, why didn't you tell someone? Go to Tony, at least. He'd have a right to know about his child."

A look of guilt flashed in her dark eyes and she looked away. "I don't know. I wanted to stay out of it, but I couldn't any more."

"I suppose I should thank you, but if you'd come forward a long time ago, maybe Michael wouldn't be out there somewhere-"

"His abduction is not my fault-"

"I'm not saying it is," he interrupted, "but you knew that Carly and Jason were lying. Keeping silent was wrong, Robin. Dead wrong."

"I know," she murmured, "and it's a mistake I'll have to live with the rest of my life."


Pamela smiled again at the fresh bouquet of red roses on her desk. Jax was such a romantic and so very charming. He filled her days with little surprises and her nights with big thrills. Never before had a man worked so hard to sweep her off her feet. She hadn't realized how exhilarating the experience could be.

The telephone buzzed at her desk and she answered, "Hello."

"Good morning," Carlotta greeted. "I'm reviewing some statistics. I'd like to discuss them with you. Could you come to my office?"

"Of course," she answered. "I'll be right there."

They ended the call and Pamela grabbed a notepad and pad. She inhaled the floral scent one last time before leaving her office to join Carlotta.

"That was quick," Carlotta complimented. "Please have a seat. Would you like coffee?"

"No thanks. I'm fine. How are you? Is your daughter getting better?"

Carlotta smiled. "Each day that passes is better than the one before. She's doing quite well. Thank you for asking." She handed a folder to Pamela and leaned back against her chair. "I know that I said you're in charge of this and you are, but I couldn't resist those numbers. Deception's stock has continued to drop and now, it is at an all-time low. Now, is the time for the takeover, don't you agree?"

Pamela's gaze swept over the printout and she felt like the wind had been knocked out of her. She'd been so overwhelmed with her new relationship with Jax that she'd conveniently forgotten she was in charge of taking over his company. Bile lodged in her throat and she worked hard to swallow it down. How could she do this to him, she wondered? Then she thought about Carlotta and the other woman's faith in her. How could she not? This was her job...but he was her... What? They'd made no promises to each other, but still. He was everything she'd ever dreamed of. Betraying him would destroy everything between them, yet she couldn't tell Carlotta no.

"Pamela?" Carlotta said. "Is something wrong? Is the data incorrect?"

"N-No," she stammered. She quickly cleared her throat and tried again. "No, Carlotta. Everything is fine. That is the current price per share and it has never been lower. Purchasing the stock now would be the best move. I'll see that's it taken care of. Is there anything else?"

Carlotta stared at her and slowly shook her head. "No, that's all. I have the impression that there's more on your end, but I won't pry. If you'd rather not be involved, say the word."

Her mouth curved into a tight smile. "No, everything is perfect. I'll have a report ready for you by the end of the day."

Meanwhile, she thought, I'll prepare myself to say goodbye to Jax.


After leaving Wyndemere, Jason spent the rest of the night riding through the streets of Port Charles on his bike. The cold chilled him, but he ignored it. He was too busy reeling from the pain of Dawn's admission. How could he have been so blind? She never cared about him. Everything had been about Nikolas. Dammit!

He grabbed a bottle of whiskey from the bar and threw it at the fireplace. Flames roared in a powerful burst that reminded him of how his tightly his heart constricted in his chest. Like it could burst. "Damn her!"

"Jase!" Carly ran down the staircase and stopped just behind him. "What's going on? Is it Michael?"

"No," he bit out. "This isn't about Michael."

"I thought... I got so scared, you know."

She moved around behind him. He could feel her advancing towards him and then retreating. He hoped she would just leave him alone. "I know, Carly. Why don't you go back upstairs and rest or something?"

"I can't." She shuffled past him and sat down on the sofa. She clutched the blanket close around her and curled up. A haunted look left her face drawn and she stared sightlessly into the fireplace. "I've been up there all night and most of the day. If I stay up there another hour, I'll go crazy. Where did you go last night? Did you look for him?"

"I didn't know where to look," he muttered.

"So, what did you do?"

"It doesn't matter," he told her. "Have you seen Sonny? Is he here?"

"I haven't seen him. I think he came in last night, but I'm not sure. Jase, what are we gonna do if they don't find him? I couldn't bear it if they don't find him."

He dropped into the nearby chair and pressed the heels of his hands into his closed eyes. "We can't think like that. Don't think like that."

"But I can't help it," she continued. "Sometimes, it happens. I'm so scared. He's just a little helpless baby-"

"Then you should have thought about that before you turned your back on him," he said quietly. "You never turn your back on a baby. Anything can happen and it did this time, didn't it?"

Carly's mouth dropped open. "You blame me for what happened? This isn't my fault!"

"Dammit!" he yelled as he shot out of the chair and started to pace. "Nothing ever is according to you! Your ability to twist things around never stops, does it? For once, look in the mirror and admit the truth. You messed up, Carly! You left Michael unattended and now, he's gone! Gone, Carly and we may never get him back!"

With that said, he stormed up the stairs and the slammed the door behind him.


"I-I'm sorry," Grace stammered. "He said he was a Marshal. I thought I was helping."

"It doesn't matter, Grace," Matt said quietly. Even though Bobby had tied the three of them (Matt, Ellen, and Grace) together against a pole in an old abandoned warehouse, Matt refused to give up hope. He wouldn't die like this. He wouldn't let Ellen or Grace die like this either. When all was said and done, Bobby was going down. Forever.

"It does matter. I should have asked for more information-"

"Grace, please," Ellen interrupted. "Matt's right. Besides, it's too late now. We're all here and nothing can change that."

"What are you chatterboxes over here planning?" Bobby asked with a sinister laugh. He leaned against one of the crates and slowly loaded his firearm with bullets. "Those ropes are tight. You can't escape the inevitable, Eric. You knew this day would come, didn't you, baby brother?"

"You're a sick bastard, Bobby. You always have been," Matt said through clenched teeth. "Why don't you do the decent thing and let the women go? This is between you and me. Leave them out of it."

"Oh, we've been over this before," Bobby grunted, "back at the black chick's place. They've seen my face. They're witnesses and considering how I've made a few mistakes with one particular witness in the past, I won't do the same again." He finished loading the gun and aimed. "Say your prayers. It's lights out now, so nighty night."

Then, he fired.

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