Chapter 2- Port Charles, NY September 2002
Keesha dished up six-year-old Maya's favorites for breakfast. After all, it wasn't every day that her precious little girl started the first grade.
Bert and Ernie's conversation buzzed in the background. Maya happily watched. She gave her mother a smile as Keesha set a plate of scrambled eggs and a half slice of toast topped with peanut butter in front of her. "Thanks, Mommy."
"You're welcome, baby." Keesha lightly caressed her daughter's dewy soft cheek before moving to fix plates for herself and AJ.
"How's my favorite little girl?" AJ asked, entering the kitchen.
Maya giggled. "Daddy, I'm your only little girl."
Keesha paused to watch the antics of her husband and daughter. There was never a moment when AJ acted as if he regretted marrying her or being a father to his brother's child. As the years passed, there were times when she almost forgot the past. And she knew that with the love and attention AJ lavished on her, that's exactly what he wanted.
He knelt beside the little girl and said, "Which makes you my extra, special favorite. Oh, I see that Mommy has been busy. Yum."
He rose and headed for Keesha. His arms slipped around her waist, pulling her back against his chest. "Good morning, beautiful."
He nuzzled her ear. His warm, moist lips suckled her earlobes. His tongue thrilled her as it traced the shell of her ear. The familiar surge of electricity rippled through her. Her breath quickened. She felt his pants twitch against her backside.
"AJ," she scolded in a husky voice. "What are you doing?"
"Giving you a sample of what you missed this morning." He kissed her soundly on the cheek before releasing her. He took a plate from her and headed for the breakfast table. "Well, Mommy won't you join us for breakfast?" His eyes twinkled and a grin tugged his lips.
Maya added, "Come on, Mommy."
The family enjoyed their breakfast and before they knew it, the time had come to take Maya to school. The little girl talked through the entire drive. Keesha worried that her daughter was nervous. She glanced at AJ, who smiled.
"She's excited. If we're cool, she'll be cool." He patted Keesha's thigh and guided the Benz toward the elementary school.
The street was already packed with parked cars. Parents clasped small hands, leading their children to the first day of the rest of their lives. AJ circled the block twice and failed to find an empty space.
"I wanted to go in with her," he said as he stopped the car near the entrance.
"Tomorrow, I'll drive," Keesha promised. She exited the car and helped Maya unbuckle her car seat. Keesha took Maya's hand and with the other one, slammed the back door shut. She and her daughter moved to the open window of the front passenger door.
"You can take me in tomorrow, Daddy," Maya said. "I'll be a big girl today. I promise not to cry."
AJ nodded. His voice was filled with emotion as he said, "You'll be fine. I'll pick you up today and we'll go out for ice cream."
Maya bounced happily. "Yay! I love you, Daddy."
"I love you, too."
Keesha noticed the wetness in his eyes. Her heart lurched. If she didn't get Maya into the school soon, the little girl would see her parents break down like babies. "I'll be right out," she said.
AJ nodded. The car behind him honked, and AJ put the Benz into drive. "I'll circle around until I see you."
After he pulled away, Keesha and Maya moved up the walk to the school's entrance.
"Daddy seemed sad," Maya said, her high-pitched voice curious. "Was he?"
"He's adjusting to you growing up and going to school," Keesha explained. "We both are."
"I've been in school since I was little," Maya said. "But this is different. I'm in the first grade now. I'll be okay, Mommy. You and Daddy don't have to worry about me."
"We love you. When you love someone, it's okay to worry about them."
As they entered the two story brick building, Maya became silent. Keesha noticed the change and gave the little girl's hand a reassuring squeeze. During registration, she, AJ and Maya had toured the school. They knew where Maya's first grade class was. Then, Maya didn't seem awed by the school's size. But the building was empty. Now, excited children and flustered parents shuffled hurriedly through the halls. Maya edged closer to her mother. Keesha wished AJ was there. He'd know exactly what to say to put their daughter at ease.
"Look, Mommy. That boy is crying. Do you think he's scared?"
Keesha looked where Maya was pointing. A little boy with reddish brown hair stood in the hallway. A man hunched in front of him. The boy nodded as the man spoke to him. A flicker of recognition struck Keesha as she took a closer look at the man and the boy. Blond spiked hair, a leather jacket and well-worn black jeans. Of course, Jason Morgan wasn't the only man in Port Charles to dress like that, but why tempt fate?
Keesha felt Maya ease her hand from hers, and before she could stop her, the little girl had crossed to the crying boy.
As Keesha called out, the man turned his head. Blue eyes met her stare. The unmistakable cold blue gaze belonged to Jason Morgan. He glanced from the little girl who now stood beside him to Keesha. He frowned as if deep in thought, processing what he was seeing. Keesha prayed that he didn't go so far as to accurately pinpoint conception. She rushed to her daughter.
"Maya, come on." Keesha took a firm hold of her daughter's hand.
"Mommy, he's scared. I told him that kindergarten isn't scary." Maya looked at the boy. "What's your name?"
"Michael," he said, sniffling. His sobs transformed into hiccups. "I don't have a Mommy anymore. Mine went to heaven."
"I have a great-grandmommy in heaven," Maya replied. "Heaven is a nice place. Maybe your Mommy and my Granny Mae are friends there. I'm named after my Granny Mae. My name is Maya."
Michael smiled. "Hi, Maya."
"This is my Mommy," Maya continued to make the introductions. She looked up at Jason who now towered over the trio. "Are you Michael's Daddy?"
The color drained Jason's face. He opened his mouth to speak, but Michael answered for him. "He's my Uncle Jason."
The school bell rang, interrupting the curious moment. Keesha awakened from her silent stupor and tugged on her daughter's hand. Without saying anything else to Jason, she led Maya toward her classroom.
Her worst nightmare was that one day Jason and Maya would meet face to face. Both would immediately recognize their true relationship. Keesha's world would crumble.
Keesha trembled as she realized that half of her nightmare came true. She thanked God that the rest of it didn't.