THE PLEDGE - CHAPTER 17
"Breaking and entering is a crime," Sonny reprimanded from the darkness.
Nervous, but trying desperately hard not to show it, the younger man answered. "I wasn't trying to do a B & E, I just wanted to know why my mom was spending so much time here."
Upon hearing the reference to Dara, Sonny stepped out of the shadows. He stared at the young man seated on the couch and his heart skipped a beat. He had never lost his composure before in any situation, but sitting before him was a male version of his mother. The teenager had Adella's mouth, her nose, her chin, even the way he was tilting his head was just like Adella's. He and Dara had a son together. "How old are you?"
"Fifteen," Craig replied.
Was this how he and Dara had looked at this age? So young, so innocent, starting on a relationship that would change both of their lives forever. It seemed now that Dara's life had taken a very dramatic turn after he left her that night in her dorm room.
Craig was trying not to appear nervous, but he was getting weird vibes from Sonny Corinthos, mob boss extraordinaire. It was really unnerving. Was he going to hurt him? Or rather, have his men jack him up for breaking into his house? What was his mom doing coming here? His dad had not been the biggest Sonny fan at all. Was his mom turning to the dark side?
Sonny couldn't stop staring at the boy. He should be filled with anger towards Dara for keeping his son from him, but he couldn’t seem to muster any. Maybe it was the shock of seeing this living replica of a woman he'd buried long ago. Or maybe it was the overwhelming joy that threatened to choke him. Here before him sat a product of his and Dara's love. Slowly coming out of his haze, he noticed his son's nervousness. Though the boy was trying to cover it with bravado. He had to put him at ease.
"Are you helping my mom?" Craig asked.
"With?" Sonny questioned, wanting to see what the teenager was thinking.
"My dad's case."
His kid had some cajones on him. "How could I help with that?"
With a bravery he didn't feel, Craig looked at the two guards in the room then back to Sonny. "You have connections."
Smirking, Sonny shook his head. "It's the job of the cops to find criminals. Mac and Garcia are on top of everything."
"Uncle Mac and Uncle Alex are doing everything they can, but that's doesn't always mean you'll get your man."
Sonny nodded. "True, but I'm just a simple coffee owner with a few real estate investments like this one."
Craig was in a quandary. Should he push the issue or let it go? He was talking to the Michael Corleone of the east coast. Maybe it was best if he shut his mouth before it was closed permanently for him. Although, this man had to be connected to his mom some sort of way.
Sonny watched as Craig's thought process could be read across his face. It reminded him of Morgan. With an ADA as a mom and a cop as a father, somehow Dara had protected him and had allowed him to keep his innocence. Their son lived in a world where he didn't have to guard his thoughts and emotions. For that he would be eternally grateful to her and Tags. And amazingly, it didn't seem like his son held the same hatred for him that Tags did. That surprised him. Detective Marcus Taggert was actually able to leave his work at work and not take it home. He never would have guessed that. "How did you get in?" he asked curious.
"With this," Craig answered, taking out his own little B and E kit from his pocket and handing it to Sonny.
Everything one needed to unlock a door was in this pocketsize kit. Sonny zipped it up and handed it back to Craig. Surprised and showing it, Craig took it back and put it back in his pocket.
"Does your mother know you have that?"
Craig shook his head.
"Where did you get it?"
"Aunt Felicia asked Maxie and me to order some for her and so we ordered two for ourselves."
"Why? You guys plan on committing some robberies?"
The younger man chuckled. "No, but after getting locked out of the house in the rain while both my parents were in court, I thought this was a way to make sure it didn't happen again."
Quick thinking. His solution was even inventive, illegal but inventive. He was proud.
"How do you know my mom?"
"Why did you come here?" they both asked each other at the same time.
Craig was determined to have his question answered and he wasn't giving up any more information until Sonny spoke first.
He didn't think Craig would appreciate it if he started laughing, but did this kid think hE could beat him in this stare down he'd initiated? He had perfected this ability soon after Mike left. He could stare his son down and not let one emotion show on his face. His eldest son was quickly becoming the highlight of an otherwise boring day.
As the staring contest continued, he wondered if Dara was ever going to tell him about their son. When he had first seen her in Port Charles, his first thought was to run a background check on her. But he overcame his initial inclination; they were no longer together. They had both moved on with their lives so he left her alone. Over the years, he heard Craig's name come up in association with Taggert and Dara. Since he had never seen her pregnant, he assumed she had continued her favorite aunt's crusade and had adopted a child from the foster care system. How wrong had he been?
All these years, his son was right under his nose and he never knew it. Never suspected, not for one moment. It never even crossed his mind after their last weekend together that she could even be pregnant. In their five years together they had only had one pregnancy scare and that had been when they were young and knew nothing about the proper way to use birth control.
How different would life be if he had investigated the years they had been separated? But he wouldn't allow himself to think like that, if he had Michael, Morgan, and Kristina wouldn't be in his life and he wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. He believed things happened at the right time and this was the time for him to meet his son.
Wasn't this dude ever gonna break? Finally Craig broke down and looked away.
Sonny was proud of his son. Supposedly tougher men hadn't lasted as long as his son had. Craig had definitely inherited his parents' determination. "Why did you come here?"
How detailed an answer should he give, Craig thought. When he read Mario Puzo's book, The Godfather, he discovered people told their problems to the godfather and he took care of them. He had to help his mom. He was now the man of the family. It was his duty to protect her, Aunt Gia, and Grandma just like his dad had. And it wasn't like he was telling their business to a stranger; obviously his mom knew Sonny. He took a deep breath and began. "My mom has been acting strange. She's having nightmares. And she thinks I don't hear her, but I do. And on the nights she doesn't have them, it's only because she's awake all night, cleaning, watching movies, baking, and then in the mornings she tries to hide the bags under her eyes with makeup."
Damn, Sonny thought as he listened to Craig. He knew this was coming. He'd asked her repeatedly if she was okay, if she was having trouble sleeping or eating and she insisted she was fine. Why had he believed her?
"And neither the nightmares nor the lack of sleep is good for the baby. So I've been trying to keep a closer eye on her and her activities to make sure she's safe and a couple of times I followed her here," the teenager concluded.
How did he handle this? Sonny desperately wanted to say the right thing. "Your dad would be proud of you for the way you're watching out for your mom."
Sonny smiled inside that he had said the right thing. "I know you're here about your mom, but first, how are you doing?"
Craig's smile fell. For some reason, he felt it was okay to be completely honest with Sonny. "It's tough. I miss him so much, but I'm trying to be strong for everyone. My Grandma just stays in her suite on Spoon Island and cries. And when I go see her, she hugs me and tells me stories about when dad was young. Aunt Gia avoids Grandma cause she can't stand the sadness, but all she does is sit on the bench near the cliff and stare out over the water while rubbing her belly. I'm the only that can make her smile. And mom is difficult to read and she never talks about what she's feeling."
The pressure on this young man. Too much for someone so young. He needed help. "The women in your life would never want you to take all of their grief upon yourself or feel like you have to cheer them up. They're adults." Sonny knew, on this subject, he was talking to a brick wall. "When I was a kid, my dad left my mom and me. The first week or two, I just pretended he was on vacation. And when my friends commented on not seeing him that's what I told them, until it became apparent he was gone. And then I hated living in my house, I wanted to live someplace where there were no reminders of him. No reminders of the life we used to lead, when we were a happy family. But I guess we weren't that happy or he wouldn't have left." Sonny said the last part more to himself, but out of the corner of his eye he could see Craig nodding.
"My dad used to put his badge in the fruit bowl on the kitchen table and my mom hated it. But, he said he put it there so he wouldn't forget it. He would always go into the kitchen and fill his thermos with coffee, pick up his badge, and then leave. Every day for as long as I can remember that was his routine. Now his badge sits untouched in the fruit bowl and it kills me. Every time I hear a truck down the street, my heart races cause I think it's him coming home in his F350, but of course it never is. I used to love that house but now it's just a constant reminder of how my life sucks," Craig said with tears in his eyes.
"Have you told this to your mom?"
Craig shook his head. "She loves that house. And I'm sure she imagines bringing the baby home there. But the thought of that- -" He broke down.
Lowering himself to Craig's level, Sonny wrapped his arms around his son for the first time. "It's okay, son. Let it out," Sonny crooned to Craig, not missing the irony of him comforting his son over the loss of his bothersome and annoying nemesis, who had also been his son's dad.