Entangled by Yash
She never thought she would be here again. And never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined being here with these people in this situation, but here she was.
"Sage Mary Ward-Quartermaine," she heard her cousin yell at his daughter. Slowly opening her eyes beneath her sunglasses, she looked to see what the commotion was about. Her gaze fell upon her newest cousin’s barely there bikini. Justus and Edward looked exactly alike in the moment, two men with a blood vessel about to burst.
"What in the world do you have on?" Justus asked.
"Yes, young lady this outfit is unbecoming of a young woman," Edward added.
"It’s just a bikini," Sage responded nonchalantly which only further angered the men.
The women next to Keesha, Brenda, Dara, Lois, and Robin gasped at Sage’s words. She quickly averted her eyes from them to the men standing on the other side of the Quatermaine’s pool: Ned, AJ, Sonny, and Jason were united, for once, in coming over and helping Justus out. Emily, her boyfriend, Jamal Cudahy, Monica, Alan, and Lila watched from the shade with bated breath.
"That is not a bathing suit. That," Edward bellowed, pointing to Sage’s swimwear, "those- - those are pieces of string, missy."
"Where did you get this from?" Justus asked.
"The mall," she answered casually.
As Justus lifted his daughter’s chin and glared into her eyes, it finally registered to her that this wasn’t her usual Great-Grandfather yelling. She was in trouble.
"Mama let me buy it."
All gazes quickly turned to Brenda; no one was even pretending to mind their own business.
Brenda coolly took a sip of her drink as her husband’s heated gaze tried to penetrate her glasses.
"Brenda, how did you let her buy this, this nothingness?"
"Yes, Brenda how?" Edward added.
"I didn’t. We were in the other department looking around and I gave her the card." Brenda’s look sent Justus a private message that suddenly had his eyes filled with something other than anger.
Blushing, he stripped off his t-shirt and put it on the teenager.
Sage gripped the bottom of the shirt to take it back off, but instantly froze when she saw Justus’ look. "I can’t sunbathe in this."
"You’re right you can’t," Justus informed her. He picked her up and threw her over his shoulder.
"When I was courting your Great-Grandmother, women had a sense of pride about themselves, covered themselves, and left something to the imagination," Edward lectured as the threesome walked towards the main house.
"Mommy," screamed Sage.
Brenda shrugged her shoulders.
"You can call me Daddy, Father, Pops, Pop, Pa, even Papi, but you don’t even know me well enough to call me Justus. And if you have a problem with any of those names, you can call me Mr. Ward-Quartermaine. And you’ve lost all privileges of buying clothes for yourself. All your clothes will be bought by your mother or me."
"And me, too," Edward inserted.
Keesha noticed Justus didn’t say anything to dispute Edward’s statement which showed just how angry he was.
"Sonny, you still got contacts at that Catholic school?"
"Yes, they’re still wearing skirts down to their mid-calves and three-quarter length sleeves are considered scandalous," Sonny said, imagining Nia in an outfit like Sage’s. He was grateful they were no where near that stage yet.
"Daddy," Sage cried.
Justus whacked her on the bottom. "Be quiet."
Then the lectures began in earnest with Edward bellowing when he felt it was necessary.
The pool area roared with laughter once the trio was too far away to hear them.
Granny Mae would have gotten quite a chuckle out of Justus and his daughter. Ah, another typical day at the Quartermaine’s. When had she, Keesha Ward, begun to think of life at the Quartermaines as typical or normal? Maybe around the same time that she started thinking about them in terms of family. A strange, convoluted, dysfunctional family, but a family none the less. One that while certain members really disliked, okay, hated, each other, they would come together and unite when it was necessary, putting aside petty differences. This was certainly not the family she thought she would have, but this was what she had been given.
She had always known that her mother viewed her as an intrusion in the love affair that was the marriage of David and Linda Ward. She constantly disappointed her mother or failed to meet her expectations. And while her father’s love knew no bounds, he wasn’t willing to vocally go against his wife. Keesha had secretly hoped that her adult years, when she was out of the house, would make her relationship with her mother better, since she would no longer be seen as competition for her father’s love and attention, but it didn’t.
Her first mistake was refusing to go to her mother’s alma mater, Hampton University. Then that mistake was compounded when she decided to major in social work. No daughter of Linda Cairns Ward was going to spend her life hanging out with riff raff. Moving to Port Charles was another nail in the coffin. But the final straw came when she found herself torn between Jason and AJ. Not one, but two white men. Her mother washed her hands of her, although she and her father still talked. But after his death, her mother took off on a cruise to recover and never came back home. Linda Cairns Ward Langlais was currently residing in Antigua with her new Ambassador husband. She and her mother exchanged cards on the appropriate holidays and that was that.
Not being that close to her extended family only left her Aunt Roberta and cousin, Faith. Faith was in the Air Force, stationed in Stockholm. They spoke regularly or rather as regularly as their schedules permitted. Her aunt Roberta was an enigma. After decades upon decades of being Mrs. Bradley Ward, ignoring the infidelities, yet standing by his side for the sake of his good work and in his death keeping his dream alive, Aunt Roberta had become a woman whom you never quite felt you knew. She had spent so long with the happy, supportive public persona that it was difficult, if not impossible, to get underneath it and see the real Roberta Ward. She always made Keesha’s skin crawl when they spent long periods of time together. The smile, the act, it just got old and creepy.
Keesha sighed, but in the midst of this new family, she had found a place to belong not just through Justus, Faith, AJ, or even Jason. With Emily, she developed a relationship with the woman who had both Jason Quartermaine and Jason Morgan wrapped around her finger. With Monica and Alan, she could mourn the loss of Jason Quartermaine but yet appreciate and enjoy this second chance with Jason.
He was more tolerant of them than he had ever been before. She liked thinking that she and Cory had soothed him a little. Lila, in many ways, reminded her of her Granny Mae. Edward seemed to like strong, capable woman who might appear meek and gentle, but wouldn’t take any of his nonsense. And Edward was- - there were no words. He was definitely an acquired taste but every once and a while, he’d put aside the gruff exterior, and she saw the man that had tempted her Granny Mae. Ned was cool to those whom he loved, but the prick of all pricks to those he didn’t like. She was still working on forgiving him for his treatment of AJ all those years ago.
And Jimmy Lee was just the odd ball in the family. He was such a cowboy and a down home boy, he stood out in this family like a sore thumb.
It was nice getting to know Brenda. The woman whom Justus loved passionately, Sonny was once engaged to, and Jason had married. It said a lot for her ability to put up with stubborn men.
Lois was funny and bright and didn’t take anything from any one. They had quickly become fast friends.
She and Dara revived their friendship that they had let drift away over the years. And now they helped each other navigate this new world they’d enter into.
As for Robin, while they would never be as good of friends as they once had been, whatever you’d call this new relationship, it was going okay.
She was happy, she thought as she looked around her at her family. She was home.
"Look who we found cryin’ and searchin’ for his mama," Jimmy Lee said, interrupting her contemplation.
Cory’s brown eyes pierced hers and he eagerly reached for her. "Hey big boy, did you have a good nap?" she asked of her son as she kissed his forehead. "Thanks Jimmy, Anna."
The British woman and her husband nodded, as they walked over to the spread Cook had laid out.
With her son content being in her arms, she watched his dad. He looked bored and uncomfortable, but only to those who knew him well. To the rest of the world he looked interested and alert. Well maybe interested was too much; he looked like he was alert and listening.
Maybe it was time. Staring at the man who had captured her heart, thrown it away, and captured it again, her heart filled with joy. Feeling a penetrating gaze upon him, the man consuming her thoughts turned and caught her eyes. She smiled and waved Cory’s hand at him. He smiled back.
A short while later, a pouting Sage returned in a tankini top and boy shorts bottoms. Keesha was suitably impressed by Justus’ compromise. His daughter looked fashionable yet covered. But the lip stuck out a mile on her new little cousin was going to get Sage into even more trouble.
"If you want that bottom lip, I suggest you suck it back in," Justus informed his daughter.
Immediately Sage complied, put on her headphones, pulled down her shades and flopped down on her stomach effectively shutting everyone out.
Ah, the joys of teenagers and older cousins channeling Granny Mae. Keesha laughed to herself and played with Cory. She simply wanted to enjoy this seemingly innocent afternoon.
Seemingly because she could never forget the guards surrounding the perimeters with their shoot first ask questions later motto. While she would never be fully comfortable with Jason’s lifestyle or guards, she dealt with it because it was part of the Jason package. As Cory was now part of her package.
"Hi, Cory. Do you remember me? I’m your Auntie Emily."
Cory waved his arms and grinned.
"Em, you were at the house a week and a half ago."
"I know," Emily replied, taking Cory from her arms, "but to a baby Cory’s age that must seem like a lifetime ago."
Keesha laughed. "Whatever. So I see you brought Jamal."
"Don’t you start, too?"
"What?" she questioned innocently.
"You would think with five, count them five grandkids, and one and a half daughter-in-laws," Emily stated, nudging her, "they would leave me alone, but nooo. We’ve been together a year and we’re happy where we are. Plus everyone acting like this," Emily waved her hand around the pool area, "is a lot to handle. And then there’s the guards."
"You haven’t told him?"
Emily shrugged her shoulders. "How do you tell someone? And how do you know you can trust someone enough to tell them? Can you even tell them or do you just let them figure it out on their own?"
Patting her friend’s shoulders, Keesha sighed. "All I can tell you is you’ll know when it’s right. But when he does find out, give him some space, some room to accept it."
"How did you?" Emily asked.
"How did you?" Keesha asked, instead of answering the question.
"He was my brother, whether he went by Jason Quartermaine or Jason Morgan. Whether he’s a doctor, like mom and dad, or a businessman. He is simply the man who loves me, comforts, protects, and always tells me the truth. He’s just my big brother and I adore him."
Keesha nodded and they fell into a comfortable silence.
"Emmy, bring the baby over," Jamal yelled.
Emily smiled and walked over to her boyfriend, parents, and Grandmother.
Keesha rose and walked over to Jason and Sonny. Wrapping her arms around his stomach, she kissed the side of his neck. He turned his head and kissed her forehead.
"Excuse me," she said to Sonny.
"No, excuse me," he responded back and left.
"Let’s do it."
Jason was silent then turned completely around to face her. "How?"
"Rudy became an ordained minister on-line."
"You aren’t supposed to be best friends with your guards."
"Well, I need someone to talk to. You know your son falls asleep at the mention of a car ride."
"You discuss religion?"
She nodded. "And politics."
He kissed her. "It won’t be legal."
"I don’t care, we’ll do legal later. You think the Joe Isuzu and Judy Tanaka look-a-likes could marry us, too?"
Jason raised his eyebrow as he grinned. Moving away from her, he whistled, "In five minutes meet us in Grandmother’s garden. He took Keesha’s hand and they walked to the rose garden, giving Rudy the nod along the way.
She was surprised Jason chose the rose garden. She and his former self had spent many hours out here talking, working, and studying, whenever the weather was nice. "Thanks," she whispered in the serene garden.
She smiled as they came upon her much loved spot, the gazebo. She couldn’t believe it. She was finally getting married. Getting married in a bright floral bikini top, purchased because her son had been utterly fascinated by the pattern and colors, and a yellow wrap around skirt cover-up. Jason still had on his white wife beater and swim trunks.
If only Linda Cairns Ward Langlais could see her now. Her mother would have a heart attack if she knew her only daughter was getting married in such an outfit. But she honestly never imagined herself getting married after she was thrown out of Jason’s hospital room. Well, she had never truly believed she’d be a mother either and she was. Life was full of surprises.
Leaving her thoughts behind, she was astonished to find Rudy standing in front of her, the family behind her, and Jason standing at her side.
"Emily," Jason called to his sister.
Emily brought Cory to his dad. Cory laughed as his father took him into his arms.
"Hey Ward," Jason greeted him.
She tried to get him to call the baby Cory, but Jason didn’t see the need for a nickname when his son had a perfectly fine first name. The Quartermaine stubbornness and the Morgan tunnel vision were alive and well.
"We’re ready," he told Rudy.
"Jason," she said to him, motioning to their family.
He turned his head slightly and made the announcement. "We’re getting married." Then he turned back around and nodded to Rudy.
Murmuring and shock swept through the family.
"Quiet," he commanded. The family quieted down.
"Dearly beloved," the guard began.
Looks like we made it
Look how far we've come my baby
We mighta took the long way
We knew we'd get there someday
Keesha stared into the brown eyes of her son and the blue eyes of her love. They were her men. Her loves. Her future.
They said, "I bet they'll never make it"
But just look at us holding on
We're still together still going strong
This was not the picture perfect dream of happily ever after that she naively imagined a lifetime ago. This was real life. And as imperfect as it was, it was all hers. And all she ever hoped for or could ask for.
(You're still the one)
You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're still the one I want for life
(You're still the one)
You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss good night