"Here goes nothing," AJ commented, underneath his breath while ringing the doorbell.

"Be good," Brenda reprimanded him with a light punch.

"Ouch," he said, rubbing his arm.

"Be good, Daddy," Hope said, repeating her motherís words.

"For you, Solana. Iíll do anything. Can daddy get a kiss?"

Nodding, Hope leaned over and gave her father a quick kiss on the lips.

"Ah! That was the best kiss Iíve gotten all night," he exclaimed.

The newest Quartermaine additions were laughing so hard and were so focused on each other; they never heard Reginald open the door.

"Brenda, AJ, good to see you."

The intrusion of a new voice curtailed their laughter.

"Good evening, Reginald," Brenda and AJ said in unison.

"Who do we have here?" Reginald inquired, looking into the smiling face of Hope.

"Iím Hope," Hope said proudly.

"Iím Uncle Reggie," Reginald said, ushering them inside and taking their coats.

Hope giggled.

"Uncle Reggie, howís Leticia? Or is she Aunt Leticia, now?" Brenda teased, as they walked into the living room.

Reginaldís face turned bright red and he hastily replied, "Fine."

Opening the doors widely, AJ announced their presence. "Good evening, family."

Greetings were returned with varying degrees of warmth. The Quartermaines had turned out en masse: Edward, Lila, Alan, Monica, Tracy, Ned, Dillon, Emily, Justus, and even Justusí younger siblings, Melody, and Joshua.

Hope squirmed out of Brendaís arms and ran as fast as she could across the room.

"Uncle Jimmie, Aunt Bliss."

Jimmie Lee Holt opened his arms as his great niece leapt into them. He threw her in the air and caught her. "Howís my little Firecracker?"

Hope laughed and kissed her uncle on his cheek.

"Do I get one of those?" Bliss Colby-Holt asked of her niece.

Hope nodded and kissed Bliss.

"What in the world is going on here? Who is that little girl and why does she know that hooligan and his hired bride?" Edward shouted at AJ and Brenda.

"Iím with Father, what is going on here? What sort of scam are you and the illegitimate one pulling now, AJ?" Tracy asked accusatorily.

Signaling to her Uncle to let her down, Jimmie Lee kissed her nose and put her on the ground.

Sensing the tension in the room, Hope went up to each person in the room and gave them a hug and a kiss, even a very disinclined Tracy. Gracefully and serenely she made her way to Edward and held up her arms. Hesitantly, looking around the room, Edward picked her up.

"Grandfather, Iím Hope." She kissed him and laid her head on his shoulder, as if she knew him her whole life and trusted him with it. "Mommy told me lots of stories about you. And Daddy said that you use to play catch with him and Uncle Jason. Can we play catch, too, Grandfather?"

Flustered and blushing, Edward was speechless.

"Edward, answer the dear girl," Lila politely demanded of her husband.

"Weíll see," he answered her.

"Grandmother, may we have tea in your rose garden, like you and Mommy use to?"

"Of course, darling, but only in exchange for a kiss."

Edward lowered Hope to Lilaís level and Lila kissed her newest great-granddaughter for the first time.

"Enough with this kissy, feely stuff though I have to admit AJ it was a nice touch. Soften up the family with the brat and distract them from the real issue. Where the hell is our money?!" Tracy stated.

"And thatís my cue," Emily said to no one in particular.

Walking up to her Grandfather, Emily took Hope out of his arms. "Aunt Emily and cousin Dillon are going to introduce you to Cook."

"Em, it was just getting good," Dillon grumbled.

"Dillon, donít make me repeat myself," Emily said in a stern voice from the doorway.

With a deep sigh, Dillon followed his cousins out of the room.

"In the future Tracy, I suggest you watch the way you talk around my daughter," Brenda informed her aunt by marriage.

Tracy looked Brenda up and down and smirked. "What is the little, bitty model going to do? Bite me and pull my hair? Better yet go get one of your protectors, Sonny, Jax or Jason to rough me up?" Tracy glowered at her. "You may have the others fooled, including my otherwise intelligent son, with your poor defenseless act, but Iím not buying it."

Moving closer to Tracy, Brenda replied, "I donít need anyone to fight my battles for me. Iíll go Bensonhurst on you, right here, right now. So letís step outside."

Justus hit Melody and Joshua to stop them from laughing.

Ned hid his smile at the reference to his ex-wife.

"You tell her, filly," Jimmie Lee encouraged.

"Yeah," Bliss concurred.

Tracy stared at Brenda. "Youíre not worth it."

"If that makes you feel better believing that, then you go ahead," Brenda stated in a calm voice.

Wrapping his arms around his wife, AJ said, "And to answer your question, Aunt Tracy."

He reached into his inner jacket pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. "Here you go Grandfather. The money, I borrowed paid in full with interest."

Edward grabbed the check out of AJís hand and examined it thoroughly. He held it up to the light to detect a forgery.

"Where did you get this kind of money from?" Edward demanded.

Alan and Monica, while curious, remained on the sofa and watched the drama unfold.

Stomping over to her father, Tracy perused the check also. "I donít believe it."

"Junior, who did you rob in order to get that kind of money?"

"Ned!" Monica yelled.

"Are you two wanted by the cops and think you can dump your brat off while you go on the run? Cause if thatís it, then guess what? Think again," Tracy shouted.

"Tracy, shut up," Justus said, exasperated.

"Arenít you glad we came home?" AJ whispered in Brendaís ear, as they watched their family battle it out.

Laughing, she nodded. "Thereís no place in the world Iíd rather be."

"Me either," he smiled.

"What are you two laughing and smiling about?" Edward questioned. "If it wasnít for your Grandmother and the scandal, it would have caused; I would have had you thrown in jail," he informed AJ.

"Why do you have a check from MM HQ? Donít tell me someone was dumb enough there to hire you?" Ned asked.

"Ned, be quiet please," his Uncle Alan, warned.

"No, Dad, itís okay. Better than that, Ned. Youíre looking at the co-founders and chairmen of the Mary Mae Hope Quartermaine Foundation," AJ announced to the family.

Shocks and gasps permeated the room. Justus, Melody, and Joshua smiled at the mention of their beloved Grandmother.

"We seem to have a knack for picking out dilapated and abandoned homes and buildings," AJ continued.

"AJ hand chooses the crew from people who have applied to the foundation for work and other training- -" Brenda started.

"Oh, something AJ is good at finding other losers like himself," Tracy commented sarcastically.

"Tracy, youíre not too old to be given a good spanking and if Pa canít do it then, I sure as hell will," Jimmie Lee informed his sister.

If looks could kill, Jimmie Lee would have been dead instantly.

"How many times do I have to tell you not to call me, Pa?" Edward yelled at his son.

Wanting to hear more about the foundation that bared her Granny Maeís name, Melody spoke up. "Is it always like this?" she asked her older brother.

"Unfortunately, yes," Justus answered.

"Brenda handles the remodeling, selling or leasing," AJ finished for his wife. "Who knew a little project we started to help others, help themselves would enable us to have more money than the Quartermaines. Ned, how much is ELQ paying you these days?" AJ winked and smiled.

"Junior, thereís not enough money- -" Ned replied.

"Grandfather, didnít you once say something like that when you were living above Kellyís," AJ reminded his Grandfather.

"Why you- -" Edward shouted.

"Dinner is served," Reginald proclaimed from the open doorway.

"Jut think AJ we can do this every night when we move into the guest house," Brenda said tongue in cheek, walking to the dining room.

"Over my dead body, are you moving on to this property," Tracey exclaimed.

"Donít tempt me, Tracy, cause that could be arranged," Monica muttered.

Max watched the stranger dressed in a business suit step out of the elevator.

"Excuse me, may I help you, Miss?" Max asked.

The woman nodded. "Iím looking for Mr. and Mrs. Michael Corinthos, Jr."

As Max began to reply, the front door swung open.

"Sonny, Iíll be right back with Lucas," Carly shouted, heading out the door and putting on her coat.

"Mrs. Caroline Corinthos?" the woman asked.

"Yes," Carly answered.

The woman handed Carly a single document.

"Mrs. Corinthos, youíve been served."

Pressing the elevator button, the stranger walked back into the elevator as soon as the doors open.

As they closed, Carly read the documents and screamed. She fell to the floor crying and screaming uncontrollably.

"Mrs. Corinthos, Mrs. Corinthos," Max said repeatedly.

Sonny ran to the door. "Que pasa?" he demanded of Max.

"I donít know- -"

"Carly, Carly." Sonny noticed the paper in her hand. As he pulled her into an embrace, he read the document.

Brenda Cassadine Barrett and Alan James Quartermaine Junior were suing them for custody of Michael.

Back | Chapter 7