Her mind racing, Carly backed her way down to hall and rushed quickly to the guestroom. She entered careful to shut the door quietly behind her. Leaning against it, she quickly surveyed the room and nodded to herself in satisfaction. “Move over,” she demanded as she bent down, leaving the pitcher behind the doorframe and began to pull anxiously at her boots. She yanked them off, tossing them negligently on the floor on either side of her.
When she straightened up, unbuckled her belt and started undoing her jeans, Jason began to get a little concerned. “Carly, what –“ he began, only to be cut off in mid sentence.
“Don’t argue with me. There’s no time. Just move over,” she insisted. Jason made no move to do as she wished, instead crossing his arms over his chest, his resolute expression announcing his intent on an explanation. She rolled her eyes at his obstinacy and asked, “Do you trust me?”
“You know I do,” he answered without pause. The response that was meant to please instead put a frown on her face. The simply surety in his voice and the trust in his eyes almost caused her undoing for she knew she had no right to that trust after last night’s betrayal. Once more, images of her explosive encounter with Sonny plagued her mind. Why did it seem that every word spoken, every thought, always led her back to her and Sonny and their stupid, self-destructive behaviour, she wondered. With firm resolve, she pushed the pain of the night before aside, vowing never again to let Jason down. She smiled too brightly and said, “So trust me now.” With that, she grabbed the hem of her top, pulling it off over her head in one swift movement, and added it to the clothing strewn across the floor. Clad only in her undergarments, she strode towards the bed motioning for Jason to move over with her hands. He made no argument and obliged trusting in her even if he did not understand her reasons.
She bent over and mussed her hair before carefully easing herself into bed beside him, taking care not to jostle it too much with her movements. She settled comfortably beside him, mindful of the wounded side closest to her. Looking around, she spotted Jason’s antibiotics on the night table and quickly moved them into the top drawer out of view. Satisfied she hadn’t forgotten anything, she turned towards him and laughingly said, “And could you at least try to look like you’re enjoying yourself. You know, like old times?”
He ignored the gentle reminder of times past, opting instead to ask ”Are you going to let me in on what’s going on here?”
“You’ll learn soon enough,” she cryptically answered, leaning forward to brush her forehead gently against his. From the hallway, the sound of approaching voices could be heard, first faintly and then steadily getting louder as they drew near.
“Carly?” he asked, his voice filled with unease.
“Shhhh...,” she soothed, shaking her head back and forth against his, her silken tresses lightly caressing his chest and shoulders. She lifted her hand and ran it through his dishevelled hair and lovingly down the side of his face. “Trust me.”
“Carly…,” unease edged his voice as he fully realized this wasn’t just another one of her games.
“Lay- terrrrr. Just sit back and relax and let me take care of you. You used to like it when I took care of you. Remember?” She traced a finger down the side of his neck and lightly down his chest causing him to smile in remembrance. Her eyes danced with his as they shared memory without speaking, their troubles temporarily forgotten. She laughed, breaking the moment between them and leaned in to nuzzle at his neck, while he bent to lightly kiss her shoulder. The low sultry tones of her laugher warmed him in ways no blanket ever could, and he wondered why he had not turned to her before knowing she would have welcomed him. He shifted slightly, turning to kiss her hair and took in the scent of her, breathing her in as if she alone could sustain him.
That was how Tagget and Sonny found them: long time lovers, languidly seeking solace in each others arms. The intimate sounds of Carly’s low husky laugh encompassed the two lovers evoking memories of pleasures past and making promises of untold pleasures to come. The two men stood awkwardly at the door transfixed by their surprise at the sight before them.
Loudly clearing his throat, Taggert made their presence known. At the sound, Carly spun around to face the men at the doorway, seemingly surprised at the interruption. “Well, well, well. What do we have here?” queried the very surprised and somewhat amused lieutenant as Carly arranged herself carefully ensuring an obstructed view of Jason’s wounds concealed behind her. She pulled at the sheets, quickly in embarrassment, arranging them to cover the two of them as best she could. “Mr. Morgan. MRS. Quartermaine,” Taggert greeted, unable to keep the smile that insistently tugged at his lips from showing.
“Sonny, what is this?” demanded Jason, although he knew already. Silently he thanked God for Carly’s quick thinking while in the same thought he damned her impulsiveness. What would this cost her, he wondered.
Clearing his throat in apology Sonny shifted his gaze from the foot of the bed to Jason and answered, “He uh – he had a warrant. Nothing I could do. Sorry.” Breaking eye contact, he resumed his careful study of the bedposts. He made every effort not to look at Carly but could not forget the glimpse he had had of her when they first walked in - lying against Jason’s chest like she belonged there. But he knew what she was and he quietly mocked himself for being surprised at finding her in Jason’s bed.
“Find what your looking for, Detective?” asked a defiant Carly. She kept her eyes on Taggert resisting the urge to seek out Sonny opposite him. She could just imagine what he was thinking, and she wondered why she cared. He made it perfectly clear last night what he thought of her.
“And then some,” replied Taggert. “And it’s Lieutenant now,” he corrected, annoyance edging his voice.
“Right. So sorry.” She cheekily replied.
“What does he want?” asked Jason of Sonny, completely ignoring Taggert. He casually pulled Carly closer to him causing her to lean on him, her back flush against his wounded side. The movement caught Sonny’s attention and he understood the action for what it was: an attempt to conceal Jason’s wounds. Still, he didn’t like it. He did not afford himself the luxury of examining why, too closely.
“He,” stressed Taggert, “wants to question you about your whereabouts last night.” He continued with the impromptu interrogation, ignoring the total inappropriateness of the situation. “You weren’t by any chance down on pier 17, were you? Word on the street is that something big went down. Moreno’s nowhere to be seen.”
Smiling mischievously Carly interjected, “Sorry to disappoint you Taggert, but Jason was with me last night. Looks like you’ll actually have to do your job and find the real criminals, this time. You know, you can’t blame everything that goes wrong in this town on Jason and Sonny.” That she included him in her defence surprised Sonny. He knew full well she’d be happy to see him take up permanent residence in Pentonville as long as Jason wasn’t fitted for the adjoining cell.
“No, just the racketeering, drive by shootings, territorial mob wars and what have you. So, where were you last night Morgan?”
“Like Carly said, I can’t help you.”
“You were with Mrs. Quartermaine? All last night?” he raised his brows in question knowing full well the explosive impact the answer would have if it became public knowledge.
Without hesitation Carly answered, “That’s what I said Taggert! What are you? Hard of hearing?” she antagonized.
“Carly –“ Jason warned.
“Well – “
“You were here?” Taggert interrupted, trying to gain control of the conversation. “In Mr. Corinthos’ apartment?”
“No.” She drew the word out as if explaining to a small child. “We were at the Port Charles Hotel.”
“But you’re here now.” He motioned to the room with the pen he was absently making notes with.
Carly slowly took in her surroundings and confirmed, “Apparently.”
Making himself comfortable, Taggert leaned against the doorframe crossing his arms before him. “I think you’d better start from the beginning, Mrs. Quartermaine. And please, don’t spare any details,” he smirked.
“There’s not much to tell. AJ and I got into a fight last night and I left.” Despite hearing it for the first time, Jason knew her well enough to know by the tone of her voice that that much was true.
Taggert made a few notes on his writing pad and continued to question, “And you went immediately to the hotel?”
“Not right away.” She paused in pretence of trying to get last night’s events exactly right. “I spent some time out on the docks…, waited for Jason to show up, and when it got too cold, we went to the hotel and rented a room.” She shrugged marking the end of her “sordid” little story.
“Any other meaning of ‘we’?”
Ignoring her glibness he probed for more detail, “What time did you reach the hotel?”
“I’m not sure, but it was early still.” She frowned trying to remember when she had checked in to the hotel, worried her alibi would be of no help to Jason. “Look, I’ve already told you Jason was with me last night. Isn’t that enough?”
“Not if you’re lying for him.” He kept her unwavering eye contact trying to measure the truth of her words and decided to let the matter of their hotel stay go for the moment. It was time for answers for the here and now. “I want to know how the two of you ended up over here.”
“Carly that’s enough,” Jason interrupted, giving her a tight squeeze. “Taggert got what he came for. Anything else is none of his business.”
She turned to him, “No, Jase. I’m sick and tired of the cops waltzing in and accusing you of every crime that happens in Port Charles.” She turned back to face the man at the door “You want a blow by blow of my day, Taggert? Here it is: I woke up this morning, checked out of the hotel and went back to the Quartermaine’s. When I got there, AJ was waiting for me. We had another fight. This time, about where I was last night. Since Michael was out with Leticia, I left and came looking for Jason. He was here. End of story.”
Taggert jotted a few more notes down looking for weaknesses in her story. “You checked out of the hotel by yourself?” At Carly’s nod he pressed, “Where was Mr Morgan?”
She shrugged, dismissing his concern. “I’m a late sleeper. Besides it wouldn’t be a good idea to check out of the family hotel with my husband’s brother, now would it?”
Unable to fault her logic, Taggert continued “But what are you doing here now?”
“Well, I should think it’s pretty obvious what we’re doing here, Taggert. Has it been that long?” Carly gave the stern lieutenant a saucy smile as she suggestively gave him a quick once over. The man could do with a bit of female company, she thought. No wonder he was so uptight.
“Carly –“ Jason didn’t know why he bothered warning her at this point. She would do what she wanted regardless of what he said. He supposed it was an automatic reflex, which would have struck him as funny, if not for their current circumstances.
Ignoring her innuendo, Taggert proceeded undeterred, “But why didn’t the two of you move over to Mr Morgan’s apartment?”
“Because AJ wouldn’t think to look here, and Sonny was supposed to be going out.” She stressed the second half of the sentence and looked over towards Sonny as if she blamed him for the rude interruption of her romantic interlude with Jason. She was careful however, and avoided looking at him directly, fearful of what she would see in his eyes. She could not hold the pretence up long however, and finally lowered her gaze to the bedspread before her.
She needn’t have worried. Sonny was doing his best to avoid her gaze as well. He had just stood there and listened as she fabricated her story, amazed at how easily the lies flew off her tongue. But she was a liar and he knew that about her. She was skilled. He had to give her that. Artfully weaving in half-truths to make her story sound somewhat credible. He wondered how long she had stood at the top of the stairs eavesdropping to know that he had told Taggert he was going out. Or maybe the liar just got lucky with that one. That she was lying for Jason made no difference. As easily as she could lie for him, she would lie to him. He knew that too. And he would not let her use her lies to sink her claws deeper into Jason than they already were. Jason deserved better than her.
An uncomfortable silence filled the room as everyone waited for someone else to speak. Taggert studied Carly carefully as she absently ran her hands over the bedspread yet another time. Turning away from them was the first honest action she’d made since he and Sonny had unexpectedly appeared, he thought. The change in her was palpable. Where she was boldly defiant before now she was quiet, subdued. Taggert interpreted the change in her as guilt over her infidelity, and he was right in his assessment. Only the man she betrayed was not her husband. And the man she was unfaithful with was not Jason.
Carly unconsciously adjusted the sheets around her and Jason attempting to cover them more completely. Sonny had tried to keep his eyes off of her but her actions compelled him to look at her, to really look at her, since finding her here with Jason. Since finding her in bed with Jason. She was picking at the sheets with her left hand, every once in a while removing imaginary balls of lint he knew didn’t exist. His gaze moved slowly upward along her arm and abruptly stopped at what he found there.
Carly had been avoiding Sonny ever since he had walked through the door with Taggert. She knew what he was thinking: last night she was in his bed and now she was in Jason’s. He’d wanted to prove her a whore before and now she had done it for him. Twice over. She could feel Sonny’s gaze on her and could stand the tension no longer. The weight of his stare burned her and she wondered that Jason and Taggert did not sense it. Finally, she faced him. She looked up expecting to see scorn in his eyes or his ever-present hatred but instead his expression was unreadable, closed. He wasn’t quite looking at her, she realized, but at her arm “Sonny what -- ” she began to ask, unmindful of the company they kept. Her eyes followed his line of sight and stopped at the tell tale bruises on her arm. She closed her eyes, berating herself for not having the forethought to keep her arm covered.
“Is there something you want to report to the police, Mrs. Quartermaine?” Taggert quietly asked.
“What are you implying, Lieutenant?” she demanded, the fire returning to her eyes.
“I don’t know. Perhaps you’d like to file some assault charges against Mr. Morgan here?”
“What? Are you out of your mind, Taggert? Jason would never hurt me, or
He scoffed in obvious disbelief. “Mr. Quartermaine, then?”
Carly’s mind raced. Unwittingly, Taggert had just given her the perfect excuse for the bruising on her arm. And she could not pass up the opportunity of a reluctant Taggert as a witness to AJ’s abuse should they ever end up in a custody battle over Michael. She gave herself no more time for consideration and quietly confessed, ”AJ didn’t mean to,” her eyes downcast as if ashamed to be making excuses for AJ’s behaviour. The lint picking went into overdrive.
Taggert may have believed Carly, but Jason knew the truth was otherwise. He had looked from the bruising on Carly’s arm to the expression on Sonny’s face and had immediately known. Sonny was responsible for the marks on her. The truth of it was plainly written on his face. His guilt lay in his stance and in his refusal to meet Jason’s gaze. And Jason was right. Sonny could not face him now, like this, with the full knowledge of what he had done weighing upon him.
Carly, feeling embarrassed and decidedly uncomfortable, tried to shrug it off. “Like I said, we had that fight last night. You know me,” she carefully avoided Sonny’s gaze, “I guess I just pushed him one step too far that’s all.”
“Well, if you’d like to make a state-“
“What I’d really like to do is get some clothes on, so if you gentlemen wouldn’t mind?” her irritation evident in her tone indicating she used the word in its’ most broadest of definitions.
“We’re not through with this Morgan. Not even close.” He closed his notepad and pocketed his pen, following Sonny out the door into the hall.
Carly and Jason waited in silence for Sonny and Taggert’s voices to disappear down the hall. When they could be heard no more, Carly sat up, ran her hands through her hair and breathed a huge sigh of relief. “I guess I should get some clothes on.” She turned to him smiling, raising her brow suggestively, “Unless of course, you’re up to a little fun?”
Jason laughed at her antics, and immediately clutched his side when the movement sent a searing pain through his torso.
Instantly her demeanour changed from playful to panicked. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.” She leaned back to him checking his bandages, concerned he had torn open the wound once again. She was relieved to find no blood, but still worried, “Are you ok? Did I hurt you?”
“Carly, I’m fine.” At the doubtful look she gave him, he reassured, “Really.”
“Yeah?” she asked, knowing he would say he was fine even when he wasn’t. Jason nodded. “Ok.” She held his gaze a moment longer before nodding her satisfaction and carefully easing out of the bed. She rummaged about the floor for her discarded clothing, pulling on her shirt and jeans as quickly as she had taken them off earlier. She grabbed her boots and sat down with her feet up on the bed, making ready to pull them on. Looking up she caught Jason’s eye as he watched her and was pleased to find a mixture of laughter and desire there. She grinned impishly and pulled her boots on, Sonny’s bedspread be damned.
He smiled with her, knowing exactly what she was thinking, but the smile soon fell from his face as he remembered why she was getting dressed in the first place. “You shouldn’t have done that.” He motioned to the door where Taggert and Sonny had just exited.
She made a face, not in the mood for a lecture on her impulsiveness. “Well what was I supposed to do? Let Taggert cart you off to jail?”
“What about AJ?” he countered. “AJ will use this against you to get Michael, if he finds out.”
Carly frowned. Of course she hadn’t thought that far ahead when she had first devised her plan to be Jason’s alibi. She couldn’t see past saving Jason at the time, and once more she had acted without considering the consequences. But Michael wouldn’t pay for her mistakes. “It won’t come to that,” she denied.
“How do you know?” His voiced softened, “You need to be more careful than that.”
“I know because you’ll take care of it for me. You always do.” She smiled brightly, trying to mask her concern about the situation she had just placed them all in. “I -- I wasn’t going to let them put you in jail for what happened last night.”
“You don’t even know what happened last night” Jason teased.
“Well, I would if you told me, now wouldn’t I?” she formed a small moue, pouting prettily, hoping he would confide in her and trust her with the knowledge of what she was protecting.
“Carly,” he warned.
“I know! I know. Business.” She smiled, hiding her disappointment well. There was a long pause as she considered the possible ramifications of her deception and the effect it could have on Michael. If news of this got back to AJ, he would use it to keep her child from her. Fear gripped her at the thought. She would never let that happen. Never. “Besides,” she rationalized, trying to calm herself, “Taggert, he thinks AJ hurt me now. Given the choice between an abuser and an adulteress in a custody battle, which would you choose?” she smiled wryly.
He ignored her question and brought up the topic they were both studiously avoiding. “But AJ didn’t hurt you.” The smile fell from her face as he finished, “Sonny did.”
PH4 ― The Living Room
Sonny and Taggert made their way down the stairs to where the second officer patiently waited below. “You find anything, Watts?” At the negative shake of his head, Taggert scoffed. “Why am I not surprised?”
“What is this, Taggert? You find something. I’m guilty. You find nothing and I’m still guilty?” Sonny made his way over to the bar, reaching automatically for the brandy. Knowing he had to keep a clear head, he changed his mind, opting for the water instead. “Unbelievable,” he muttered under his breath, before taking a sip.
Not to be deterred, Taggert continued his previous line of questioning, “I still haven’t heard where you were during all this.”
Sonny shrugged, stating, “I was here.”
Squinting, Sonny looked up at the ceiling as if in deep thought, “Ah…Hannah was here. Then she left, came back about an hour later. Then she left again.” Anger flooded through him as he recalled the circumstances of her leaving, the argument they’d had and the reason behind it. If he’d dealt with her sooner, none of this would have happened, he thought. But now was not the time for self-recrimination. There would be plenty of time for that later. He reigned in his temper before meeting Taggert’s steady watchful gaze. “Benny came over to discuss business after that.”
“Business,” Taggert repeated, a smile of understanding pursing his lips. “I’ll bet.”
“We’re through here.” Sonny set his water down on the bar and made his way to the door. He opened it, noting Johnny still had not returned from his errands and ushered the men out. He smiled, the light reflecting coldly like glass in his eyes and said, “Don’t even think of coming back without an arrest warrant.” Not bothering to wait for a reply, he succinctly shut the door behind them.
PH4 ― The Guestroom
The silence lengthened as Carly and Jason stared at one
another, each waiting for the other to speak.
The question hung in the air, tangibly, an object between them that
neither wanted to touch. Reaching out
to the unspoken, Jason looked meaningfully down to the bruises on her arm and
back to her face, asking for an explanation of last night’s events
“It was nothing,” she dismissed turning her face away from him. But the movement meant to curb the discussion only served to raise more questions as it brought attention to her cheek where he could see a slight redness across her skin.
“Sonny didn’t hit you, did he?” His disbelief was obvious. He could not believe his best friend capable of such a thing despite the evidence before him. But it was obvious as well, and he wondered why he had not seen it before: she had been hit.
“What?” Her apparent surprise reassured him. “No, it was nothing like that,” she vehemently denied.
“Then what’s this?” he quietly asked, softly caressing the redness on her check.
She frowned in puzzlement, genuinely at a loss as to what he was referring. From nowhere, memory returned recalling what had Jason so concerned. “Oh that.” She smiled at the memory of her morning confrontation with Hannah. “Sonny didn’t do that. Hannah did.” Jason arched a brow at the unexpected answer. “Let’s just say I’ve had a busy morning and leave it at that.”
“Carly, you’re picking fights with Sonny, Hannah? Why?” She said nothing, dismayed at his assumption that she went looking for trouble. Although it may have been true in the latter case, she did not come to the penthouse to fight with Sonny last night. If she had been thinking, she would never have come and the whole miserable night would not have happened. How could she explain to Jason what happened when she barely understood it herself? But in her silence she spoke volumes and Jason knew more happened than what either Sonny or Carly was telling. “What happened between the two of your last night that Sonny would lay hands on you?”
“Doesn’t matter now.” She evaded his stare. “What matters is that you’re going to be ok and I’m going to take care of you.”
“Carly –.“ He wanted to pursue this but she would not have it.
“Jase, leave it alone. Please.” Carly could not talk about it now, with him, especially with him. What could she say? And she wanted no reminders of Sonny and their night together while she was with Jason. Seeing that he would not relent, she gave him enough to allay his apprehension. “I’m fine. Sonny…he didn’t even really hurt me. It – it was nothing. So you can stop worrying about me and worry about yourself for a change.”
Tacitly he agreed to let the matter go by changing the subject, “Did you really spend the night at the hotel?”
“Yeah. Don’t worry, it’ll all check out.” Jason shook his head, indicating that wasn’t his reason for asking. He was worried about her, not his alibi. Understanding, she explained, “Last night… was a really bad night for me.” Rolling her eyes she added dryly, “Today hasn’t been much better either.” She swivelled around on her bottom, lying down to face him. “I just – I just couldn’t go back to that house. You know?”
He nodded in understanding. “Thank you.”
“For what?” she laughed.
“For saving me.”
She shook her head in denial. “You’ve done the same for me on countless occasions. I don’t think we’ll ever be even.” She bit her lip, leaning her head to one side and asked, “You’re really going to be ok?”
“I’ll be fine,” he reassured. And although the words were the same, this time he said it in a way that made her believe it was true.
“Good. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you. My heart couldn’t take it. You know?”
“I know.” They shared a smile and then settled down on the bed in companionable silence, content just to be enjoying the quiet together.
PH4 – The Dining Area
Sonny stood by the terrace windows staring beyond the view before him, into the memory of his past. Clearly, he heard Adella’s voice, just as he had heard Carly softly declare ‘he didn’t mean to.’ He closed his eyes as memory of her crying behind closed doors washed over him. Sounds from the past he never imagined to hear again. Enthralled by remembrances of that other time and place he remained as he was. His gaze beheld the breathtaking view and yet, he perceived nothing. He shut his eyes against the onslaught of images besieging his mind as if that simple act could stop the flow and repair the dam around his carefully shored up past. But memory held him hostage now and forced him to relive moments he would never forget.
Darkness and cold surrounded. He sat crouched, hidden in the back of the hallway closet, arms wrapped protectively about his knees. The cover of Adella’s long winter coat protected him from immediate view. The scent of her perfume hung lightly in the air and its fragrance comforted him. The closet itself was musty, its’ bare hardwood floors cold. He had built a make shift little burrow there, the floor lined with unused forgotten sweaters. Sometimes, when he remembered, he would hide snacks in the pockets of the seldom used clothing shoved into the back of the closet, forgotten, like he was now, so he would not get hungry when left there too long. It was his sanctuary: the one place where Deke would never follow him.
Despite the warmth his mother’s coat provided, he shivered uncontrollably as he helplessly listened to the escalating argument beyond the closet door. He could hear the shouting clearly. It was getting louder and louder and he waited for the moment when it would stop…to be replaced by something much worse. The first blow was always the hardest. It was always a surprise although it was expected, even morbidly anticipated. This time was no different. He flinched when he heard the distinctive smack of Deke’s fist as it struck his mother and the resounding thud that followed as she fell to the floor. They had been closer to the closet than he thought, he realized, surprised by the shadow that fell across the gap beneath the closet door. He reached out to it, to the shadow of his mother, but his little fingers were met only by the shocking cold of the bare floor. He retracted his touch quickly: there was no comfort to be sought there. Ant yet the cold remained with him. It was a different sort of cold, chilling him from the inside out born of emptiness and isolation. He was alone.
And yet he wasn’t. Just two feet away, beyond the closet door, in what seemed a world apart, his mother lived her own private hell. As Adella lay on the floor sobbing, Deke beat her. Repeatedly. Relentlessly. She pleaded with him to stop, never realizing the more she pleaded, the harder his strikes became. Her cries fuel to his rage and his anger in perverse encouragement. Deke was in his element. Exerting his power and dominance over one too weak to defend herself. He revelled in it. And when he had beat the last cry out of her, when she could plead no more, the sobbing ceased and became a heart wrenching, keening noise. It was like that of wounded animal fatally injured, making its’ last cry for help that would not come. She began to whimper and Michael held his hands to his ears, trying to block out the sound of his mother’s pain, as well as his own at the knowledge he could not to spare her this suffering. Unable to withstand the whimpering and soft moans that somehow seemed so much worse than her sobs, he began to rock back and forth deathly in time to her mournful misery.
And just as suddenly as Deke began his assault, he stopped. He stood over her frail form a few moments before mumbling something unintelligible in a low voice. He paused as if expecting an answer, finally moving away when there was none. He stormed around the house, ostensibly in search of his keys, grumbling intermittently about Adella’s housekeeping habits or lack thereof. Finding the missing keys, exactly where he’d left them when he came in that night, Deke left without another word. Within moments, his car could be heard pulling out of the driveway. Michael sighed in relief. The worst was over... for now.
In the quiet after the storm, Michael crawled out of the closet and moved to comfort his mother lying still, like a rag doll on the floor. Careful to approach from where she could see him, he sat beside her, placed her head in his lap and silently began to stroke her hair, taking care of her then, in ways he could not before.
The sound of someone bounding down the stairs jarred Sonny loose of the stronghold of his memory. He blinked hard, once then twice, willing the memories away as he pulled himself out of the past and into the present. Looking up, he was mesmerized by the sun’s brilliance as it suddenly emerged from shadow, bathing him in light. A few moments later he felt Carly pass him on her way to the kitchen. He closed his eyes and basked in the sun’s warmth for the briefest of moments before quietly calling to her, “Carly.”
She halted abruptly at the unexpected whisper of her name. The soft, intimate tone sent a shiver up her spine like a caress carried by the wind across her skin. She quickly squelched the sensation and turned to find Sonny by the terrace, his face uplifted basking in light. She was struck by how peaceful he looked and wondered how this could be the same man she had fought so terribly with the night before. “Sonny, I – I was just getting Jason something to drink.” She held up the empty pitcher she carried to forestall any argument.
He turned to her then and the light fell from his face throwing him back into shade and shadow. She knew from the haunted look in his eyes what she had seen before had been merely the illusion of peace. He held her gaze before he answered, echoes of Adella’s cries still clouding his head. “It can wait. Come here.” When she made no move towards him he softly added, “Please.”
A crease furrowed Carly’s brow as she placed the pitcher on the table and did as requested. Slowly she approached, almost as if Sonny inexorably drew her to him with the power of his gaze. In his eyes she saw pain, an old pain: one that lingered and threatened to consume him, the likes of which she had seen only once before. Now as then, she found herself wanting to soothe him, to end his suffering, but didn’t know how and knew also that he would want nothing from her.
He reached for her, tentatively grasping her left hand with his own. He used his other hand to push up her shirtsleeve until the bruising on her arm was completely uncovered. He ran his fingers lightly, almost reverently over her discoloured skin. A tear fell silently down her check as she watched him contemplate the marks he had made on her. Finally he spoke breaking the silence between them. “You and I both know where these came from, and it wasn’t AJ.”