Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Not that anyone asked, but I think it’s pretty tacky to hold a dead man hostage because you didn’t get what you thought you deserved. First rule: Always have low expectations of people. It’s harder for them to disappoint you when you’re not expecting anything. Second rule: No one ever gets what they really deserve. So suck it up, Port Charles. If people got what they really deserved, most of us would be in jail.
– Port Charles Sun, “Ask Jessie”
ELQ: Tracy’s Office
Ric accepted a set of papers from Ned as he settled himself across from Tracy, seated at her desk. “Is this the agenda for the meeting?” he asked as he flipped through it.
“Yes,” Ned replied, leaning against his mother’s desk with his own copy. “As you can see, we plan to open the meeting with a brief discussion of ELQ’s new corporate structure and discuss the duties of the new board members, but I was thinking before we should let you present between those.”
“And we’d like a preview of that presentation,” Tracy said. “How did it go in court today?”
“Elizabeth and Monica, as represented by Diane, petitioned the court this morning to have Jason declared legally dead. On ELQ’s behalf, I joined that petition with a motion to deal with Jason’s ELQ shares until his estate has been settled.”
“It shouldn’t take too long as the police have already filed reports indicating that Jason didn’t survive his dive off the pier.” Ned glanced at his mother. “I figure, if we make a few phone calls, we can have it tied up in a month, maybe a bit less.”
“Did Elizabeth or Monica object to your motion?” Tracy asked. “I didn’t discuss ELQ’s position with either of them, but I felt it was in line with Elizabeth’s offer to Sam.”
“Well, that’s officially off the table, according to Diane,” Ric said. “I don’t think it’ll be a problem. Based on the draft I saw in the file, Elizabeth seem to be concerned with Danny. She looked a bit nonplussed at our wish to settle Danny’s paternity before he could take control of his stocks, but as his paternity was in question at the time of Jason’s death and he was not acknowledged, I don’t think she was seriously annoyed.”
“Should we contact Alexis before the meeting?” Ned asked. “Or let Sam attend as planned?”
“I think we should ambush her,” Tracy declared. “She’s held Jason’s estate hostage for almost two years for no other reason that she wanted his money. Elizabeth made her a fair offer. She declined to take it.”
“I think Sam should have legal representation at the meeting,” Ric replied. “If her mother were anyone else, maybe. But Alexis could tie Jason’s estate up for months. Diane told me that Sam sent the contract back to her office in pieces yesterday, with a note that indicated Alexis would be in touch. She intends to challenge the will.”
“She’ll lose,” Tracy said. “Alexis is good, but she has no legal leg to stand on and she knows it.” She pursed her lips. “Call her. It won’t change a thing.”
Gia stepped up to the counter. “Can I get a large chai latte? No whipped cream?” She asked the boy behind the counter.
“Greg, that latte is on me.”
Gia turned to find Elizabeth with a hesitant smile on her face. “Hey. I never turn down free caffeine, but, ah…” She tilted her head. “What’s the occasion?”
“Well…” Elizabeth put in her own order before gesturing to a table. “I haven’t had a moment to say hello since you moved back. I spoke with Laura and Lulu at my son’s birthday party on Saturday and they said you’ve been a godsend with everything.” Her smile deepened. “And you put the Britch in jail.”
Gia laughed. “Britch. I like it. It certainly suits her.” She set her case down and took the seat across her. “I thought about calling when I was settled, but I wasn’t sure if you’d want to hear from me.”
Elizabeth waited until Greg had set both their drinks down. “I wasn’t sure either. It’s not as though we were ever on the best of terms, but…” She lifted a shoulder. “We’re not those ridiculous girls anymore. I’m a mom, a nurse. You’re an amazing attorney, if the rumors are to be believed.” She wrinkled her nose. “It just doesn’t seem worth it.”
Gia nodded, taking a sip. “I wanted to call, to come to Emily’s funeral,” she murmured. “But I thought it wouldn’t be appropriate. She and I were never close, but I know how much you all loved her.”
“Nothing has ever been the same,” Elizabeth replied softly. “But we go on the best we can.” She took a deep breath. “I hope we can be on better terms now. Maybe even on friendly terms.”
Gia considered the woman in front of her. They had never been close—Gia had blackmailed her best friend, had considered the woman competition for the same modeling assignment. But there had been those few brief moments when she had felt close to her. The aborted wedding, the car accident…
“I’d like that,” she said finally. “I’d like that a lot.”
Lake House: Living Room
Alexis sighed as she put her phone down, glancing across the room where Julian was lounging at the breakfast table, enjoying his food and savoring his coffee. “There’s a problem.”
“Always is.” Julian set his fork down and leaned back. “Sun’s shining, it’s a beautiful day. We were talking about taking a few days to visit Molly in Germany, but nope. Tragedy. What is our daughter up to now?”
And it was for moments like these that Alexis could overlook the deficits in Julian’s life. He sat in her living room, talking about Molly and Sam as if they’d been married for years. He’d known about Sam for a handful of months, and he’d already perfected that disappointed paternal tone.
“That was Ric.” Alexis joined Julian at the table and reached for her cappuccino. “In his professional capacity representing ELQ.”
“The shareholder’s meeting is today.” Julian waited a moment. “And I suppose Ric and Diane are collaborating, regarding Jason’s estate as it relates to his ELQ shares.”
“He and Diane filed in court this morning, petitioned to have Jason declared dead and to put his estate into probate.” Alexis sipped her drink and set it down. “Sam sent the contract back to Diane yesterday, unsigned. I’ve been trying to talk her out of challenging the will—Elizabeth’s offer will provide for Danny more generously than a court might.”
“If a court even decides to do so,” Julian pointed out. “Jason never acknowledged the kid in life. The only paternity test is an anonymous one. Sure, it can be established now, but there’s no law that says you have to provide for children equally. He might get a pittance instead of the multi-million dollar trust Elizabeth offered.”
“Well, according to Ric, ELQ is asking that Jason and Danny’s shares be placed in a trust until Jason’s estate is settled. Under the terms of Jason’s estate, the language in is clear. His children’s shares in ELQ are to be handled by Elizabeth. He doesn’t specify which children and makes no allowances for Elizabeth not being their mother.”
Julian scowled. “He screwed her every way—”
“At the time he died, he didn’t know he had a child with Sam,” Alexis interjected quickly. “You saw how generously he provided for Cameron. He knew Cameron. Had been around him his whole life—” She stopped. “I don’t know what was in Jason’s mind when he decided to leave the terms as written back in 2008. He could have updated the language—”
“So if Ric pushes it, Sam won’t even have control over Danny’s shares as a proxy vote.” Julian shook his head. “Will that stand up in court?”
“Diane will argue Jason reviewed his will a week before he died. He knew at that time that Danny was Sam’s child. They were in the middle of a reconciliation, though the divorce had already been filed a few weeks earlier.” Alexis pursed her lips. “I might be able to get some leeway on that. But not if Tracy is going to fight it. We’ll likely end up with what Sam turned down. Danny’s ELQ proceeds in a trust controlled by Elizabeth.”
“Alexis, I sympathize with Sam, I do. I can’t imagine how betrayed she must feel knowing how little Jason cared for her in the end…” Julian leaned forward. “But if you agree to represent her, if you let her challenge this will, you’ll just make it worse. You know that. She needs to snap out of it. She needs to move on.”
“It’s the lack of concern for any children of their marriage,” Alexis murmured. “He knew children were a possibility. She had surgery to ensure it. Why not change the will then due to possibility? It doesn’t make sense, Julian. The same man who made sure Elizabeth and her children were cared for would have seen to it that Sam and hers were as well. He not only abandoned Sam and Danny, there’s nothing in there for Elizabeth’s third child.” Alexis hesitated. “And that doesn’t work for me. Jason would have cared for them equally. I can’t imagine Diane wouldn’t have encouraged some shift in his will regarding that. You don’t provide for two children so generously, and to all but ignore the others. There’s almost nothing for Michael, for Morgan, and for Joss.”
“I suppose, when you put it that way, it does seem a bit odd that his will seems so…out dated.” He tilted his head. “Michael was in a coma the last time he changed it?”
“It’s almost as though Jason died years ago, and no one noticed.” Alexis sighed. “Either way, I should call Sam and prepare her.”
Haunted Star: Office
“I placed the liquor order,” Starr told her partner as she ticked it off on her list. She looked over to the corner where Lulu had set up a playpen for her son, then glanced away as Ben giggled and reached for his mother’s long blonde hair.
She wasn’t jealous. She didn’t know Lulu that well, but she did not begrudge Lulu and her husband this miracle child.
She only wished she’d had more time with her own.
“Thanks.” Lulu tossed a stuffed bear into his pen and turned to her. “I know I’ve been horribly distracted since Johnny handed the reins over to you last year, between my getting kidnapped, Maxie, then this little guy…” She pursed her lips. “I pretty much suck.”
“Well, it’s not as though I haven’t had my own challenges.” Starr offered her a smile. “I love Michael, but his life is pretty challenging. There’s always something happening. Today, they’re having a shareholder’s meeting, and I kind of wish I could be there for it.”
“Seeing as how it’s the Quartermaines, I’m sure they’re expecting fireworks.” Lulu grinned. “And with Tracy in charge, they should get it.” She looked back at Ben. “You know Maxie, right?”
“In passing,” Starr replied. “Not well.” She hesitated. “I know…what happened last year.”
Lulu looked at her. “She’s home. And Dillon’s been…he’s not trying to convince me to forgive her, but to…” She sighed. “I don’t know. I look at Ben, and I think…this is my child. This is how it should have been. I waited several weeks before I could have him, but I never doubted we would prevail. I knew that between Gia, my brother, and even Tracy if I have to call on her, I knew Dante and I would have our son.”
“Are you thinking of forgiving Maxie?” Starr asked. She twisted in her chair to face Lulu.
“What she did was so incredibly horrible, the lies, the pain—” Lulu bit her lip. “And yet, if you knew Maxie the way I do, I can see what made her think it would work. And, God, Starr, she let me go home with her daughter.”
Starr hesitated. “My daughter, Hope? I was going to give her up for adoption. I thought it would be best.” She looked at her hands. “But then I thought she died at birth, and for months, I grieved. I thought about what she might have looked like, the way she would have smiled. Would she have my eyes or Cole’s? Would—” She squeezed her fists. “When I got her back, when I realized she was the little girl my cousin Jessica had been raising, I tried to go through with the adoption. I let her go home with Michael and Marcie, and they would have been amazing to her, I know it. It broke my heart but I thought it was the right thing.”
“I wonder if Brad hadn’t stepped up to tell the truth,” Lulu murmured, “if she would have kept it going. If she would have let Dante and I raise her child.”
“There’s a lot of love in a twisted decision like that,” Starr said with a half-smile. “She must have loved you both so much to even try it.”
“That’s what I’m coming back to.” Lulu sat down at her own desk. “I don’t know if I’m ready yet, but I’m leaning towards it.”
Dillon set his tablet aside and stared at his lunch companion. “Are you serious? Your first column and you went after Sam Morgan?”
Maxie popped a fry in her mouth and grinned. “Right? And it’s good, isn’t it? I liked it.”
“It’s fantastic.” Dillon reached for his iced tea. “What’s with the title?”
“Oh…well, I knew that Julian wanted an advice slash gossip column,” Maxie said. She paused as a couple joined them at another table in the courtyard. She lowered her voice slightly. “And that made me think of Amy Vining. Do you remember her?”
“Vaguely,” Dillon said. “She was a nurse?”
“Always had something to say, always in the middle of the drama. But sweet as pie. My mom adored her. So I thought of using her name.” Maxie shrugged. “But I thought it was a bit too recent. People might guess since they know my mom and her were friendly. Well, until my mom had an affair with Luke Spencer. Amy was Laura Spencer’s sister. So you know…” She wiggled her shoulders. “Anyway. Not the point.”
“I’m confused,” Dillon said after a moment.
“But I remember my mom talking about Jessie Brewer. She was an institution at GH, and worked with Dr. Hardy. He was awesome with my mom while was I sick with my heart problems. She took it really bad when he died. Anyway, I don’t really remember Jessie, but I remembered her name. I thought it was obscure enough, but still kind of tied with my original intention. And there you go, Ask Jessie.”
“You know how I know we’ve been friends too long?” Dillon said after another pause. “I not only followed that, but understood it.”
“I’m taking that as a compliment.” Maxie’s eyes were glittering with excitement. “Julian loved my first column and he loved my Nurse’s Ball fashion retrospective. He wants me to represent the Sun at the ball on the red carpet.”
“You mean, ask questions and judge people?” Dillon snorted. “That’s perfect for you.” He studied her. “You’re going to be okay, kid.”
“Hey, once I have my daughter back,” Maxie said, “we’re going to work on your love life. What do you think?”
“I’ve never been more terrified in my life.”
Queen of Angels
Sabrina knelt in front of the altar, her rosaries in one hand, and with the other she crossed herself.
“Lord, you are Holy above all others,” she began, “and all of the strength that I need is in your hands. I am not asking, Lord, that you take this trial away.”
Though she wouldn’t mind if He did.
“Instead,” she continued, “I simply ask that Your will be done in my life. Whatever that means, that is what I want.” She closed her eyes. “But I admit that it’s hard. Lord. Sometimes I feel like I can’t go on. The pain and fear are too much for me, and I know that I don’t have the strength on my own to get through this.”
Her eyes were heavy, tears burning beneath her lids. “I know that I can come to you, Jesus, and that you will hear my prayer. I know that is not your intent to bring me to this point just to leave me in the wilderness alone. Please, Lord, give me the strength I need to face today. I don’t have to worry about tomorrow.”
Though she would be back tomorrow to pray for strength again. As she had every day since her diagnosis.
“If you just give me the strength that I need today that is all I need. Keep me from sinning during this trial. Instead, help me to keep my eyes on you. You are the Holy Lord, and all my hope rests in you. Thank you for hearing my prayer.”
She opened her eyes, and still clutching her rosary, she crossed herself again. “In Jesus’s name. Amen.”
Sabrina rose to her feet and leaned to light a candle. When she gently blew out the match, she turned to find Father Coates just in front of the first pew, his dark eyes kind and sympathetic. “Father,” she murmured.
“You have prayed here every day, Sabrina.” He gestured to the pew. “Would you like to take a moment?”
She nodded and joined him on the pew. “I feel like a bad Catholic,” she told him. “My mother’s faith was so important to her, and…” She sighed. “It kept her calm, kept her together as she neared the end. I had hoped I might find the same strength in Him. In prayer.”
“It can be difficult,” the priest said after a moment, “to accept that we are destined for trials and suffering, to believe that God has a plan for us.”
“I want to believe that,” Sabrina replied. “I want to believe that this last year is part of something bigger, that I haven’t been singled out for this suffering for nothing.” She closed her eyes. “And I suppose that without coming to Port Charles, without meeting Patrick, I would not have this child.” She flashed a hesitant smile at Father Coates. “I know how you must see it, that I failed in His teachings, but I loved Patrick—”
His cheeks flushed a bit. “The church does not encourage premarital relations, but neither will you be judged for it. Your child is welcome in God’s heart and in this church.”
“Thank you.” Sabrina took a deep breath. “I’m having surgery next week. Dangerous surgery. I might not survive it. And I’m terrified.” She looked at him. “But it’s a selfish kind of terror. I want to raise my son. I want to find love, and build a family with someone. But I know if something happens, that my son will be loved, that I have built a family for him that will continue even if I am not here. I know my mother will be there for me, that she would be so proud of what I’ve done in my life.”
Sabrina bit her lip. “I’m making the right choice, by having the surgery sooner rather than later. I am giving my child the best chance for his own survival. Whatever happens to me, I cannot control that.”
And slowly the tension slid from her body as she looked at back at her priest. “I can’t control the surgery, Father, but I can control the next few days. I don’t want to live them in constant worry, always seeking strength and courage. Whatever happens is beyond me. It’s in God’s hands, and I have to trust that He will do what’s right.”
“And trust in those who love you to do right by you,” Father Coates said. He reached across the space between them to touch her hand. “May God bless you, Sabrina, and your child.”
PCPD: Conference Room
Anna lowered herself into a seat at the head of the conference table. “Mayor Richardson has requested a meeting with us in order to gain a better understanding of where we are on the Quartermaine murder.”
Leah stood and flashed a smile at Anna. “And I appreciate you humoring me.” She turned her attention to the four detectives with their various stacks of papers and the white boards at the other end of the room. “Many of you might not remember that before I served on the council, I was in the district attorney’s office, so I do have an eye for this type of work. As you might imagine, my office is fielding a great deal of calls regarding this case.” She resumed her seat. “And your commissioner seems to think this will be good practice when you present the case to your actual DA.”
“We’re used to the old style of DAs harassing us every step of the way,” Dante said dryly. “Gia has been very hands off so far.” He stood. “I hope it’s okay if I take point on the presentation, Mayor, though I’m connected to most of the people involved.”
“I trust the commissioner’s judgment on the matter.”
Dante took a legal notepad and headed for the set of white boards. He flipped the first, which had a photo of AJ from the Nurse’s Ball the previous year next to a photo of the crime scene. Underneath, various remarks had been scrawled in black marker.
“Alan Quartermaine, Junior, better known as AJ, aged forty three, was discovered at 6:05 PM, lying in a pool of blood in a penthouse belonging to Ava and Julian Jerome. Julian was on the premises with a gun. He was taken into custody at the point while AJ was rushed to the hospital, two bullet wounds in his chest.”
Dante flipped a page on his notes. “Julian would later claim that he had only just arrived to find AJ bleeding, the gun at his side. He picked it up, worried someone else was in the room when we arrived on his heels. At General Hospital, AJ went into surgery with Patrick Drake presiding.
“Our initial investigation revealed the weapon to be a .44 Magnum revolver, licensed to Ava Jerome. Julian identified it as the one his sister kept in their safe or on her person. She had a permit to carry a concealed. The weapon was sent to ballistics where it was compared to the slugs Drake dug out AJ’s chest, and declared a match. No fingerprints save for Julian’s were found, but touch DNA belonging to a female and male, neither of whom were Julian, was found. Profiles have been developed, nothing in the system. Neither Ava nor Sonny have profiles on record.”
Dante flipped the next white board to reveal Julian, Ava, and Sonny’s photos. “These are the primary suspects. It was Ava and Julian’s apartment, Julian was found with the gun. However, he claimed to be at his office until just before six. The building is across the street from the Metro Court—his walk home takes less than five minutes. According to the doctors and crime scene techs, AJ was lying on the floor for at least thirty minutes. Julian’s assistant vouched for his presence until 5:50, and remembers it vividly because Julian fired him that day.”
He continued, “AJ’s surgery appeared to be successful. He woke briefly from the anesthesia, managing only to tell us that Julian was not the shooter. Based on that, we’re confident in eliminating Julian.” He gestured towards the word ELIMINATED written in bold red marker underneath Julian’s name.
“Which leaves us with Ava Jerome and Sonny Corinthos,” Anna told Leah. “Though we had figured it all along, I wanted Gia to be able to say definitively in court that it was not Julian Jerome.”
“No, it looks like excellent work.” Leah gestured. “Go on.”
“Ava and Sonny were both briefly questioned. They offered their alibis before referring us to their lawyers. Ava claimed to be visiting her mother in the city while Sonny said he was working at his warehouse with Duke Lavery.” Dante paused. “This is the only statement they’ve made on the record, so we’ve focused on breaking those alibis.”
He flipped the page on his pad again. “Ava’s mother claims Ava left her around noon, stating she was heading home which would put her in Port Charles no later than three. Ava said she returned around midnight, putting her departure from the city around nine in the evening, which should clear her for the time of the murder. Parisa and I went to her gallery. Ava didn’t put in any appearances there. We went to her building — she still keeps a penthouse there. Security has no record of her security code being keyed in. Then we went to the parking garage.” He gestured at Parisa. “You can take it from here.”
Parisa stood and directed their attention to the laptop in front of her. “While Ava’s garage doesn’t require one to sign in or out, they do keep footage.” She pressed a button.
The footage was gray, but clear. Ava Jerome was getting into a gray Porsche, her face clearly visible. The time at the bottom of the tape was clearly 12:30 PM. Parisa paused it. “We have this footage of her leaving in her car at 12:30. We also have EZ-Pass records indicating Ava’s car left the Thruway at Exit 36 at 2:35 PM. This puts her back in Port Charles around four o’clock. It’s possible she stopped for lunch.”
“So we have Ava leaving the city and being near Port Charles several hours before the crime was committed,” Dante continued. “We also have record of her entering her own building. In order to access the resident floors from the parking garage, you have to use a key fob. They’re unique.”
“Ava’s key fob has her entering her building at 4:30 PM. She leaves at 5:45 PM, returning at 12:06 AM.”
Leah sat back, her smile was broad. “That puts her in the apartment at the time AJ Quartermaine was shot.”
“It absolutely does.” Dante glanced down at his notes. “We’re still working on Sonny’s alibi. Duke Lavery hasn’t wavered yet, but Sly and Nathan have made some pretty good headway at making it sound ludicrous.”
Sly leaned forward. “Lavery said he was working with Sonny all afternoon, discussing an expansion. Adding more coffee houses. They even discussed locations. However, during this eight hour meeting, Lavery could not produce anyone who spoke with them—not a secretary, no one that brought them food or coffee. No workers that were on the premises. There are no notes or recordings.”
Leah glanced at Anna who remained silent, her face blank. Stoic, even. “Not much of an alibi, to be honest.”
“We challenged him on a personal level. AJ gave Duke a legitimate job until he lost ELQ. I think if you were to put him on the stand, challenge on him on that, you might see him break,” Nathan offered. “But he might hold. It’s dicey.”
“So…” Leah drawled. “We can put Ava in the room. But not Sonny. What about security footage from her building? Motive?”
“The footage for her hallway is missing.” Dante arched a brow. “Security team can’t explain it. We have the lobby security footage, but it wasn’t time stamped so we’ve been going through it trying to find the right day and time.”
“It’s been a low priority,” Parisa admitted. “We concentrated on placing Ava in the building in hopes we might be able to flip her. It was simpler to track her movements.”
“As for motive,” Dante continued, “Sonny’s is simple. In addition to the tension due to AJ’s relationship with Michael, Sonny believed AJ murdered his girlfriend, Connie. Ava’s a bit murkier.”
“There’s a theory,” Sly began, “that Ava was involved with the Falconeri murder. She shares the same initials the victim left at the scene, she had access to the murder weapon. It might explain why AJ was at her penthouse.”
“It seems to me,” Leah said, addressing the entire room, “that it may not be enough to place Ava in the building. We need to nail down her motive. Do you believe her to be the culprit or Sonny?”
“Sonny did it,” Dante said, not blinking as he accused his own father of murder. “He’s acting guilty enough. Doesn’t talk to Michael, hasn’t spoken to me in weeks. He’s been holed up in his house. I can’t prove it—”
“I agree,” Sly said. “I don’t have the history, but Duke Lavery is lying. Now, maybe he’s lying because Sonny didn’t have an alibi at all, maybe he was alone somewhere. But I don’t think so. There’s just something about all of this…”
“Then we need leverage to flip Ava Jerome,” Leah said. She nodded. “I can see you have this quite under control. It looks solid and an amazing degree of progress has been made in the last seven weeks.”
She rose. “I appreciate you humoring me with this status update. Your team does good work, Commissioner.”
Anna smiled, though it was devoid of humor. “Well, once we were properly staffed, it was a great deal easier, so I thank you for taking my needs seriously.”
Once the mayor had exited, Anna turned back to that team. “All right. Let’s make a list of tasks to accomplish this week. We’ve made progress, but we’re not quite there yet.”
This was going to be the best meeting in the history of ELQ.
Tracy was positively gleeful as she took her seat at the head of a long conference table, Michael and Ned to her left, Ric to her right. Monica and Elizabeth chose to sit on the left, and Dillon didn’t care much, so he sat next to Ric. Alexis and Sam came in last, and reluctantly sat across from Monica and Elizabeth.
Let the games begin.
She stood. “We’re going to open this meeting by apologizing for the delay in holding it. Normally, we like to hold this type of thing on a quarterly basis, but we’ve had several complications that prevented it. We will be meeting on schedule at the end of June, then the end of September, and end of December.”
“We have a new corporate structure to reflect several other changes. I remain in control as CEO, while Ned has returned to take over as our CFO.” She gestured to Ned, then to Michael. “Michael will be assistant to both of us.” She flashed her nephew a surprisingly fond smile. “An apprenticeship before we promote him, though I’m sure that’ll be sooner rather than later.”
She looked to Ric. “Ric Lansing has joined us as our primary corporate lawyer, though of course he’ll oversee the entire legal arm of the company. He’s had a time of it untangling wills and estates these last few weeks, so I’m turning the meeting over to him to explain how he went about it.”
She took her seat, and Ric stood, moving to the projector where he pressed a button and a pie chart came up. “At the time of Edward’s death in November 2012, he believed himself to be in possession of all shares, so he divvied his estate accordingly.”
He clicked a button to another chart. “Sixty percent was to be divided equally between his grandchildren, which included Dillon, Ned, Skye, Jason, and AJ, so they each had twelve percent. Thirty percent went to his great-grandchildren, including at the time Michael, Danny, Maya, Lila Rae, and Brooke Lynn. The final ten percent was divided between Alice and Monica.”
He clicked to the next chart. “However, as Edward’s lawyers were organizing the estate during probate, they discovered Alan’s will had been updated just prior to his death. Alan’s estate had thought to leave his cash to Tracy, Monica, and Emily while his shares went back to his father. In the version that should have been utilized, Alan divided his estate between his grandson, Michael, and the unborn child of Elizabeth and Jason.”
Tracy nodded, the unease at having messed with her brother’s will finally dissipating. His intentions were being carried out, if not quite as Alan had planned.
“How did he even know about Jake?” Sam demanded. “None of us did.” She shot Elizabeth a dirty look. “She was still lying to us all.”
“The paternity test taken the previous October was a matter of hospital record,” Ric said coolly. “As chief of staff, I imagine Alan had access to Jason’s medical records.” He stared Sam down. “If I may continue?”
When she said nothing, he gestured to Elizabeth. “While Jake and Michael are entitled to the cash and property in Alan’s name, they both agreed to sign away rights to that to streamline the process. I negotiated with Edward’s grandchildren in order to decrease their portion to fifty percent, leaving them each with ten. This enables ELQ to give Jake and Michael their five percent as Alan intended. Jake also inherits five percent of Edward’s shares, leaving all the great-grandchildren with five percent.”
He flicked another chart. “AJ’s estate was simple. He left everything to Michael. So, Michael gained his ten percent.”
Ric turned and cleared his throat. “This morning, on behalf of ELQ, with Elizabeth and Monica, we filed a motion to have Jason declared legally dead. A copy of that motion is in your agenda for the day.”
Sam started to flip through her paperwork as Alexis pressed her lips together, her eyes sad but resigned.
“Let me sum it up,” Ric said. “While Jason’s estate remains in limbo, ELQ is asking that his shares be voted as he intended them in his will. Jason had ten percent at the time of his death, he left five of it to Elizabeth and the other five to be divided between Jake and Cameron. This motion would give Elizabeth control of the entire ten percent while we wait for litigation.”
“I’m in control of that ten percent,” Sam snapped.
“Because I allowed it,” Tracy retorted. “You and Jason had signed your divorce papers, they were filed. And as you didn’t withdraw them after he went off that pier, you know damn well the divorce was finalized in December. That’s your fault, not mine.” She flicked her hand at Monica. “This one is a soft touch and hoped if you had Jason’s shares anyway, you might let your frozen heart thaw enough for her to see the kid.”
Sam opened her mouth to retort, but Alexis touched her hand and shook her head. “Let’s see this out, Sam.”
“As for Danny’s shares…” Ric hesitated, and looked slightly chagrinned. “It’s ELQ’s position that his paternity has never been established to our satisfaction. Jason did not claim him during his lifetime and made no provision for him. We’re asking that the court freeze the shares from Edward until a test can be completed.”
And Tracy smiled as Sam’s eyes almost bulged. She lunged to her feet, her face beet red. “You fucking bitch!” She started around the table.
Not one to back down, Elizabeth slowly rose to her feet. “I assume you’re referring to me.”
“You’re damn right I am!” Sam reached for her, but Alexis tugged her back as Michael stepped in front of her slightly. “You can’t stand it! He picked me, he wanted my child not yours!”
“Hard to tell by that will,” Dillon quipped. Ned elbowed him, but her youngest son just shrugged. God, she loved those boys.
“Ladies,” Ric said mildly.
“Not that you give a damn, Sam, but I didn’t ask for this. I never once doubted Danny’s paternity. He looks like my son, remember? I’m the one who wanted them to be brothers, not you. You’re the one worried about money.” Elizabeth turned her annoyed eyes towards the head of the table. “Is it really necessary to put any of us through this? I’ll stipulate to his paternity.”
“We want to be sure.” Tracy arched a brow. “Sam has a history of being a con artist.”
“He’s Jason’s son,” Sam spat. “And when I’m done with all of you, I’ll own your fucking company.” She whirled around. “Tell them, Mom. Tell them that when I challenge Jason’s will, I’ll walk away with everything.”
Alexis hesitated. “Let’s just take a seat, Sam. I’m sure something can be worked out. We haven’t—we haven’t heard everything.”
Sam looked mutinous, but everyone took their seats. Tracy looked to Ric. Time to go in for the kill.
“ELQ is also taking the position that all shares inherited by minors should have their proceeds go into a trust controlled by their guardian or a court-appointed trustee. Lila Rae by Skye, Jake by Elizabeth, and Danny, if necessary…” He paused. “We hope to have a trustee appointed.”
“Is this really necessary?” Alexis demanded. “She’s his mother—”
“Only until Jason’s estate is settled,” Ric told her. “At that point, we assume the language in the will takes precedence.”
Alexis pursed her lips. “I’m figuring the language in the will doesn’t swing in my daughter’s favor.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes and shook her head. “Tracy, this is going too far—”
“I’m abiding by Jason’s wishes,” Tracy replied. She held up her hands. “They were his shares.”
“The language states simply that his ELQ stocks will be divided as following: Elizabeth receives five percent, and her sons share the remaining five. The proceeds of his children’s shares are to go into a trust she controls. As Jason doesn’t specify which children, the court can interpret to mean all his children.”
“It’s nothing less than you offered her initially,” Tracy pointed out.
“Don’t pretend like you give a damn,” Sam snarled. “You wanted me on a leash, Tracy wants to take it all away—you all just want me to go away.” She rose to her feet. “But I’m not. Jason was my husband. He loved me—”
“Sam—” Alexis sighed. “Let’s just think about this.”
“Why aren’t you taking my side?” she demanded. “You’re my mother—”
“Sam, there’s not a lot of give here.” Alexis hesitated. “Jason’s will is pretty solid. It’s possible the court will eventually give Danny a portion of the estate, but it’s just as likely they won’t. I told you to let me negotiate with Elizabeth. That was our best bet.”
“Sam, I’m willing to negotiate,” Elizabeth murmured from across the table. “I told you I want what’s best for Danny—”
“I’m not buying that again.” Sam stood, planting her hands on the table. “We had a deal. You went back on it—”
“I know,” Elizabeth replied. “I never intended to honor that agreement, Sam.” She also stood, her smile ice cold. “That’s how I know she’s not conning us, Tracy, not about Danny anyway. She’s so far out of the game, she doesn’t even notice when she’s being played.”
“I knew there was a reason you were holding Monica back, and refusing to have anything to do with Jake or Danny. Had you come to me after Jason died, when Diane first brought up his estate, Sam? I would have given it all to you. I don’t give a damn about any of it. But you decided to drag it out. For money. You tortured his mother for his money.”
“Jason didn’t give a damn about her—”
“You know that’s not true,” Elizabeth interrupted. “He was never comfortable as a Quartermaine, but he’d come to terms with it. And he had a relationship with them. He would have wanted that for Danny. He knew what happened after his father died, after Emily—Was he always just a bank account to you, Sam?”
“He loved me,” Sam said fiercely. “He picked me.”
“And I’m sorry neither of us thought more of ourselves. We didn’t deserve to be choices.” Elizabeth stood back. “The original offer stands, Sam. But if you want to push it, if you want to deprive my sons of what Jason left them, I can’t stop you.”
Sam just glared at them for another moment before storming out of the room.
Elizabeth sighed and looked at Tracy. “Was it everything you hoped it would be?”
Tracy shrugged. “I wouldn’t have minded if you had punched her, but for the most part, yes.”
Cassadine Island: Jason’s Room
By the time Victor Cassadine came to the room where Jason had spent the last three weeks regaining his strength, he had determined the best way to get out of this room and back to his life was to follow Victor’s orders.
He had examined his room, had surveyed all the halls and rooms he had seen when he’d been moved to this larger room. Victor had allowed him weight machines, some books, and even left a stack of newspapers Jason had thumbed through.
There was no way out of this building and, according to Robin, they were on an island. Even if Jason managed to escape, he might not make it to the mainland.
Victor had kidnapped him, placed him in a coma for five years, and then revived him. There had to be a reason.
Jason would do whatever Victor wanted in order to gain his freedom.
And then he would take the son of a bitch down.
So Jason said nothing as Victor came in and settled himself in an armchair. “I hope you’ve found your rooms adequate,” the older man began. “I tried to provide some comforts of home, but you’re not interested in much. Some newspapers in hopes of getting you caught up, some travel guides that matched the ones in your home. I see you’re nearly back to fighting strength.”
“What do you want from me?” Jason said simply. “I want my freedom.”
“And you’ll have it.” Victor leaned back. “I do apologize for the way I went about it. I had hoped to bring you back sooner, but the timing never quite matched. And, alas, the man I placed in your life did not measure up.” He pursed his lips. “I had considered allowing you to meet him, but with some of the information you might learn from him, I worried you might be upset.”
Jason just stared at him. Upset seemed to be a relatively weak word for what was going through his head.
He had read enough of the newspapers from Port Charles to understand the basics. Michael had woken from his coma, only to accidentally kill Claudia Zacchara. He’d gone to jail and the fake bastard had followed him there.
The perfect way to cement his position. No one would question it.
Elizabeth had had an affair with Nikolas after briefly being engaged to Lucky. The gossip columns had shredded her to pieces as she’d battled another difficult pregnancy, unsure of the paternity of her son. The son that was then kidnapped by the madman Franco.
He learned that Jake had nearly died in a car accident, had been so close to death he had been considered an organ donor for Carly’s daughter.
Then he read about his impostor marrying Sam—that they had reunited in the summer of 2009.
He thought he could understand Elizabeth’s actions a bit more when he’d pieced together that timeline.
But showing his anger, his rage would get him nowhere.
He needed to get home. To go to Elizabeth, to find a way to make her understand that he loved her. That he hadn’t gone back to the woman who’d put their sons in danger.
“I appreciate your restraint, Mr. Morgan.” Victor studied him for a moment. “In a week, I’ll be sending you to Port Charles in order to get readjusted. I assume you’ll want to look up your Elizabeth, to check on her and those precious boys.”
“Don’t—” Jason bit off the words.
“I’m aware of precisely what she means to you. I thought you would appreciate my candor. I know about her. I know about your son. I know you have affection for her eldest son. I’m sure you’ll like her youngest. I know precisely where you are vulnerable, Mr. Morgan.”
“What do you want?” he demanded.
Snapping this bastard’s neck would not gain him his freedom.
“I want you to go back to Port Charles and reunite with your lady love. I’m sure she’ll help you settle in and lay low.” Victor arched a brow. “Your former boss, Sonny Corinthos, is about to be arrested for murder. I can’t have you showing your face until he’s safely behind bars.”
Jason looked down at one of the more recent newspapers—with news of AJ Quartermaine’s murder emblazoned across the front. “Why does that matter?”
“He’ll be arrested by the end of the month, but I want you to have time to get settled and caught up. I’m sure you’ll want to fill Miss Webber in on the fact that the man who left her son to have a family with Sam McCall wasn’t you. I’m not adverse to you cluing her in. Honesty is important.” He tilted his head. “But no one else. You’ll lay low until the preliminary hearing. And then you’ll take over Sonny’s organization.”
Jason waited a moment. Cassadine had mentioned Elizabeth a few times too many for his comfort. “Why do you care if I tell Elizabeth?” he asked finally.
“You saw how I made you disappear without a trace?” Victor said. “How easy it was to remove you from your life? I want to make sure you understand how important what I’m doing is. I’m sure you think you’ll humor me long enough to get out of here and then you’ll go against me the first chance you get.”
He paused and leaned forward. “I want you to understand that if you decline to cooperate, I won’t just make you go away this time. I’ll make her disappear as well. Perhaps her charming children as well. It depends on how angry I become. I know what she and those children mean to you. She’s my insurance policy to keep you in line.”
Victor stood. “My ultimate goal is none of your concern. You’re to go home, say nothing to no one save for Miss Webber, then take over Sonny’s organization once he’s bound over for trial. Go about your life. I’ll be in touch at some point with further instructions.”
He went to door and pulled it open. An armed bodyguard stood in the doorway. Victor turned back. “And if Miss Webber and her boys aren’t enough motivation, remember that I have Robin Scorpio-Drake in my employment. I may keep her on after she finishes her next assignment. Her freedom, like the rest, is entirely up to you. I’ll back to finalize your departure.”
When he was gone, Jason rose to his feet.
He would find a way out of this mess and keep Elizabeth and Robin safe.
PCPD: Commissioner’s Office
Anna signed her name at the bottom of some reports and then set the stack aside. It was past quitting time and she planned to join Patrick and Emma for dinner. She stood and arched her back, exhausted.
“Commissioner?” A uniform stood in her partially open doorway. “Carly Jacks is here. She’d like to make a statement.”
Anna’s exhaustion slid away as a resigned Carly stepped into her office. Suddenly, she felt as if she could climb a mountain.
“Mrs. Jacks, it’s lovely to see you. Why don’t you have a seat?”