Michael is up bright and early the next day. The cook makes him breakfast and he starts checking out his surroundings. When they'd arrived the day before it had been raining and he hadn't been able to get out and about exploring. This place was like a normal house. There isn't any courtyard. It wasn't as fancy as the Quartermaines place but it had a fence and a big gate at the end of the driveway. And there is a little house at the end of the drive kinda like the Quartermaines too. Not wanting any reason to be called back into the house, Michael makes sure he has a coat on and even a little snack in his pocket.
He wanders around the farmhouse and there are some fun nooks and crannies but there is nothing really to do.
The guard at the gate has been keeping an eye on the situation and realizes what is going on. Vinnie gives his coworker a look and then a tilt of his head to the red haired kid that is moping around the front of the farmhouse. The coworker shakes his head pityingly. There are prices to be paid for security. And the person that demanded the security seldom had to pay it.
The guard sees his gear that he had stowed when he came on shift. He has practice after he got off work. "You got it here?" Vinnie asks in Italian.
"Sure." The other shrugs. "What are you going to do?"
The guard unzips the bag and pulls out a soccer ball. "Keep the boy busy so he doesn't go looking beyond the fence for something to do."
"Sounds like a good story to cover your needing to practice."
Vinnie makes an obscene gesture to his partner and steps out of the the guardhouse. "Eh! Little Man! You play?"
Michael doesn't understand a word that the guy is saying but sees the soccer ball. He shrugs his shoulders and makes a so-so motion with one hand.
"Kewl." The man nods and drops the ball to the turf. With an easy motion he passes it over to Michael who manages to stop the ball just using one foot. The guard looks around and picks what space he is going to use for a goal. He shows with hand motions what he intends. And then he makes a motion to Michael, palms up and curling his fingers back toward himself. "Bring it."
Soon the whole concept of security is out the window as the other guard in the house is spending more time watching the little game of one on one than the street. Since the Farmhouse is so close to the village the traffic on the road whether on foot, bicycle, motorcycle or car is slowing to watch too. One on one is soon a thing of the past as more people stop by to join in or holler encouragement. Kids Michael's age are joining in, as are the other members of the guard's team who are turning it into an impromptu practice. There are few nice enough winter days. And since it is a village soccer club, the members of the team are schooling the younger boys in their skills: The Pride of the village depends on it.
Lorenzo watches from the front steps of the farmhouse. He doesn't bother trying to join in knowing that his presence would break up the party. Carly is shrugging into her quilted jacket and comes out onto the front stoop too, just in time to see Michael go sliding across the yard face first. She starts toward the game. Lorenzo grabs her by the back of the jacket. "He's fine."
"He was tripped! I may not know anything about soccer but that has got to be a foul!" Carly protests. besides he's my baby.
"Your little duck is fine." Lorenzo reels Carly in keeping his hands on her shoulders. Sure enough Michael is up and spitting grass but then tearing after the ball again bumping the guy that had tripped him and stealing the ball away. "Filthy but fine." He adds wryly.
"He's a boy." Carly says resignedly as if that explains it all. She relaxes against Lorenzo and starts watching the action. "So how do you play this game?"
"You don't know soccer?!" For some reason that just offends Lorenzo.
Carly shrugs. "A little. But mostly I followed sports that had cheerleaders: football, basketball." Carly stiffens. "Who is that? With the Camera."
"Relax. It's Paolo. I told him to bring his camera with him from Florence. This way you can pick some pictures to send to your mother." Lorenzo studiously avoids the mention of either Sonny or Jason and begins to explain the fine points of the game of soccer.
It's way too early in the morning to come visiting. Conner realizes as he climbs from the cab. But he'd wanted away from the interrogation and the poking and prodding of the WSB doctors. He spots a light on in the brownstone and shrugs. He goes up to the front door and rings the bell.
His Dad pokes his head out to see who it is and then quickly walks to the door, unlocking and opening it, pulls Conner into a manly hug complete with back thumping. He totally misses Conner's wince. "I told you to call me when your flight was getting in."
"I was already on the plane and it was a little early to call."
"Let me look at you." Sean takes a step back. He gives Conner a long considering look. "Son, you look like shit."
"Thanks Dad." Conner says wryly. "I kinda feel that way too."
"You need me to take you to the hospital?"
"Nah, had enough of those already. I've been checked out by Alcazar's doctor, the WSB doctors, if I have to look at one more..." Conner shrugs. "It looks worse than it really is."
"So your nose isn't broken? You don't have at least-- one, two, three... twelve stitches. Your eye isn't swollen shut. The side of your face doesn't really look like someone did an impressionistic paint by number in shades of purple and green?"
Conner looks in the hallway mirror. "If you look real close there is some yellow starting in there too. It's old news, Dad. The nose is the only thing broken and hell I was too pretty anyway." He grins at his father.
"Well that's true enough."
"Sean? Who was at the door?" Bobbie calls out from upstairs. She is fastening her earrings and hasn't looked down to the main floor foyer.
"Bobbie, this is my son, Conner."
That gets Bobbie's attention. She goes to the railing and looks down. "Oh my Gawd. Conner!" She comes racing down the stairs. "Nobody said anything about..." She indicates Conner's face. "This is recent. A couple days old at the most."
Conner gives his father an impressed look over Bobbie's head. "You're good."
"I did my share of work in the ER." And on the receiving end of Brock's fits. "Do you want me to take a look at those?"
"I'm fine." Conner shakes his head. "But coffee would go over well." He moves stiffly.
Sean and Bobbie exchange a glance. Sean leads the way to his apartment and starts the coffee. Once there Bobbie strips Conner out of his shirt before he can barely get a word out. If there is anyone more efficient at getting a man out of his clothes than a nurse, it's a former hooker turned nurse. Now she can see the older bruises that are yellowing with still hints of green. She whistles. "Someone worked you over good. Really professionally done. Your face is the work of someone who was mad but this isn't." She runs a well manicured nail over the evidence.
"You're really good." Conner grabs his shirt back and eases it gingerly back on. "Maybe you should be working for the WSB. You read bumps on heads too?"
"Why? Do you have any?"
"No." Conner holds out a hand. "Just stay over there please. I've been examined enough for a lifetime."
"Okay. So you only want to tell this story once right." Bobbie nods in agreement and goes over to Sean's phone. She calls Jason's number and without naming herself simply says. "Conner is at the brownstone." Then she nods and hangs up the phone. "He's on his way."
Sean winces. "Right."
"Who is on his way?"
"Jason Morgan." Sean explains.
"I've heard of him." Conner nods trying to remember all the details. "Around the Compound and at the jail I was detained in."
After a shower, change of clothes for Michael, lunch-- Alcazar takes everyone out for the first excursion. There is plenty of history in Florence but that could wait for the rainy days. As the weather has held, he makes other arrangements.
"Where are we going?" Carly asks as she is handed into the front passenger seat.
Lorenzo comes around and slides into the driver's seat. "You'll see." Lorenzo checks the rearview mirror to make sure that everyone is buckled in. Then starts the car. He makes no effort to speed or show off but rather drives conservatively so that the guards in the car following can keep up with him.
"It doesn't have to be a great big secret." Carly pouts. "It's not like I know where anything is anyway."
Lorenzo shrugs. Nothing but the truth. "It's a place called Mugello. I think perhaps Michael will like this excursion."
"Okay a place that sounds like the name of a bug that Michael will like. Right." Carly just shakes her head. Since the place they are going is only about ten kilometers away they are soon pulling thru the gates.
Michael has his nose pressed against the window in the back seat. "That's a racetrack."
"Yes. It is." Lorenzo agrees. "For Ferraris."
"Oh man." The closest that Michael had ever been to a Ferrari is a matchbox car. Even his remote control car was a Porsche. "A real Ferrari?"
"The Formula cars are tested here. But they might have some real Ferraris here as well." Since they are expected one of the formula drivers is there to meet them. The track is used mainly for testing but it is also used for training drivers and others with enough money to pay for the driver's time.
They are escorted thru the large building with plenty of stops as there is plenty to see until they are finally at the control room that overlooks the whole track. Michael has his nose pressed to the glass as a Formula one Ferrari tears down the straight away in front of the control room "Wow." Michael presses even closer to the glass.
Carly looks at Lorenzo with narrowed eyes. "You're trying to bribe my kid."
"The way to a man's heart might be thru his stomach but..."
"I've never found that to be true with any guy..." Carly mutters.
Lorenzo laughs at that.
"...Over the age of twelve. What are you up to?"
"I have an appointment tonight. In Florence."
"I'll try to get it out of the way early." Lorenzo looks over at Michael. "So what do you think?"
"They are fast." Michael understates not looking away from the track.
"Would you like to sit in one?"
That gets Michael's attention. "You mean it, Jefe?!"
"Lorenzo!" Carly protests vehemently.
"Just sit in one. You can't do more until you are at least sixteen."
"And Mama's sedated." Carly adds wryly.
"Oh but I thought perhaps Paolo would get a picture of you in one too." Lorenzo suggests.
"Oh no. No. I don't think so." Carly protests for forms sake. As long as they didn't try to make her drive one... but the only thing she really wants to try on in Italy is some nice shoes. Well not nice but nice.
"What do you think, Michael? I think your mother would look good in a Ferrari." Lorenzo takes Carly's hand and starts leading her away from the window and to a doorway that leads down to track level.
"You're kidding right?" Carly starts tugging and dragging her heels. "I like my horse power one horse at a time. Or a motorcycle. I'm fine with motorcycles. The last thing I want to do is sit in a go-cart with a jet engine."
"Come on, Mama!" Michael takes Carly's other hand and starts tugging her down toward the track. He doesn't particularly care if his mother actually sits in one of the Ferraris he just wants to make sure that he doesn't lose his chance at it. Besides it is what the Jefe wants.
Jason lets himself in via the french doors in Sean's apartment. He hadn't gone out of his way to not be seen by Bobbie's guards but he hadn't been blatant either. Bobbie sees him come in and pours another cup of coffee. "You know Sean. Jason, this is Conner. Conner, this is Jason Morgan. He's Carly's best friend."
The two men are about the same age and size each other up. Conner thought that he'd had a good poker face but Morgan gives away nothing.
"Bobbie wanted to wait until you got here for Conner to fill us in on what happened down in Venezuela." Sean explains.
"Dad, I really don't think it's a good idea..." to talk about this with civilians.
"We already know that the WSB whored Carly out to get whatever deal they were looking for." Jason states flatly.
Bobbie rubs her hand over her eyes. Jason could be so blunt sometimes. And it was to see the reaction of the two other men. She's already seen the reaction. She already knew. She was already pissed she really didn't need to go into it again.
Conner just stares at Jason without comment and no facial expression. He isn't going to be the one to crack first.
"Carly said last night that they left the Compound because there was a problem with Michael and that it was her idea to leave." Bobbie gets to the point and fills Jason in on what only Sean knew so far.
"I was locked across the Compound from Carly's quarters." Conner finally says. "I picked the lock and went over there to talk to her. It was after everyone was asleep. The kid, Michael, woke up and went straight to Alcazar. They caught me coming out of Carly's room. Alcazar was ready to throw me off the balcony until Carly told him no. He made it quite clear the only reason I'm still breathing is because His Woman asked."
"Simon gave you the beating." Jason asks quietly. It's framed as a question but there is no doubt in his mind. Conner escaped on Simon's watch it's a given that he'd give the beating too.
Conner nods. He points to his face. "This one. One of the goons gave me one when they pulled me out of my hotel in Caracas. That one was routine until Alcazar showed up with questions."
Jason smiles at Conner's explanation. "He knew you were WSB before you ever walked into that Compound. You only got in so he could find out what you were up to."
"Yeah, he wasn't too happy about the picture of Carly and Michael." Conner looks at his dad. "No way that the WSB is going to let me work anything to do with Alcazar. They figure I'm too... personally involved. And there is the whole I really think he'll kill me thing the next time he sees me."
"Yeah, you've hit the wall of diminishing returns, Son." Sean agrees.
"You passed it. You should already be dead." Jason says flatly. "Alcazar already has a body count where Carly is concerned." Jason lifts fingers "Javier, who was going to tell Sonny where Carly was when she was first kidnapped by Ric. Then there were the two dealers on Harrison's pier. He took them out because they upset Carly when they jumped Courtney. Nobody has seen Alcazar's guys from either Leon or the yacht. That could either be because of the shoot out that put Carly in the crossfire or botching Courtney's kidnapping. You got lucky since he doesn't actually want Carly to see him kill anybody. Claiming a family connection to Carly, never mind that it's crookeder than Scott Baldwin's campaign bookkeeping, probably saved your ass."
Enough of this. Somehow it had turned into a pissing contest between Jason and Conner. "Conner, what was the problem with Michael? Carly said there was a problem and that's why they left the Compound. Was it because he went to Alcazar?" Bobbie wonders.
"I had just gotten into Carly's room and was waking her up to tell her what was going on when the kid started screaming."
"Yelling." Sean corrects.
Conner shakes his head. "No, Dad, he was screaming. One of those bloodcurdling somebody is dying screams. He had the whole Compound awake within about thirty seconds. I knew I didn't have much time and just tried to get the message to Carly and get out. Alcazar caught me as I was coming out of her quarters and pinned me against the wall."
"But he didn't finish it." Jason says baldly. He's running scenarios in his head that would have Michael screaming and keeps coming back to the phrase waking her up. He'd woken a few people up in his day just so they'd know why they were going to die.
"Carly had her hands full with the kid. He just kept saying Mama's gone. Mama's gone. Over and over again. Simon came up then and took me back to my cell."
Jason stiffens at that. He stands up and glares at both Sean and Conner. "Don't get in my way." Then he leaves via the glass doors.
"I need a drink." Bobbie mutters. Where the hell is Luke? He should be the one handling this.
"Bobbie?" Sean demands halting her search for a beverage with a kick.
"Michael saw Carly kidnapped. I was out of the loop and didn't hear about it for months afterward. He saw it, Sean. He saw his mother fighting with a man and him covering her mouth with a handkerchief soaked in drugs; he saw her being hauled off. He shut down. He's just a little boy, Sean." Something occurs to Bobbie and she looks at Conner. "Michael went running to Alcazar and Alcazar stopped you?"
"Yeah, that about sums it."
Bobbie looks over at Sean. "Carly had to get Michael away from Conner. He pushed the wrong button. Even if it was rushing things, she had to get him away."
"Rushing things?!" Conner protests. "You don't think she is going to try to get away from him on her own! There is no way! She might have had a shot with WSB back up but now..." Conner realizes that he is not being positive or comforting. This is a hostage's mother after all. "I'm sure..."
Bobbie holds up a hand to stop what ever pap that Conner might try to come up with. "You don't know my daughter. And now I really do need a drink."
Carly looks in the mirror. Definitely not something Carole Brady would wear. The dress put emphasis on all the pluses of just having a baby... her chest and the fact she could see her feet. After a couple of months of wearing garments that have enough fabric to them that you could make tents from them, it was good to be back in something just this side of sexy, and you could never go wrong with a little black dress, with emphasis on little. Carly holds out one of her feet and examines the shoe on the end. It has heel to spare with straps that wind around the ankle. They'd be killing her in an hour. But damn they looked good.
"You look different, Mama." Michael comes into the room and flops down on the bed.
"Oh yeah, I can see my feet. You didn't even have to crawl under the bed to find my shoes!" Carly looks over at her PJ clad son. She grabs some earrings and starts to fasten them to her lobes. "Alcazar has a dinner meeting. It's just like back at the Compound cept it's set up at a restaurant in Florence."
"I know." Michael nods.
"But just like back at the Compound it's going to run late, Michael. The dinner won't even start until 9pm." Carly warns.
"I know, Mama." Michael rolls his eyes. "Morlee's nanny is going to make sure that everything is fine with her and I'm going to watch futbol with Vinnie. That's what they call soccer here-- futbol. There is a match on satellite. And I'm going to go to bed early cause Vinnie says that there will be another practice tomorrow if the weather is decent and I need to get lots of rest."
Vinnie says Carly raises a brow. The soccer playing security man had made an impression and as far as she knows Vinnie doesn't speak English, or at least not much. "Well I guess you do have everything covered."
Lorenzo comes to the doorway. He has a coat over his arm and takes a second to just survey the scene. Michael laying on his stomach on his mother's bed with his chin propped on his hands. Carly carrying on a conversation while getting ready to go out. "Let me help you with your necklace."
"What necklace?" She spots Lorenzo in the mirror and he is already reaching into his pocket. Should have known. He'd done the same thing back at The Compound. Made sure she was decked out when there was a business meeting. Carly brings her hair up to give Lorenzo access to her neck.
Lorenzo fastens it easily but pauses running the tip of a finger along the nape of Carly's neck before he looks up and into the mirror to see the full effect. "It suits you."
"I think it will make the point." Carly puts a hand over the beautiful diamond necklace. Lorenzo always seemed to prefer the choker style necklaces that were either right on her neck or laying flatly against her collarbones. Next she shrugs into the coat that Lorenzo is holding for her.
"Vinnie is here." Alcazar tells Michael.
Michael jumps up and races down the stairs. Carly turns around to face Lorenzo. "Vinnie has a fan."
"Does that bother you?"
"Only if he... disappears. Michael has already had enough of that."
It's long overdue. He'd been in town for more than a week and he still hadn't stopped by. Sean takes a deep breath and then opens the heavy door that opened to Luke's Blues Club. He looks around studying the decor of the former Paradise Lounge. It doesn't seem to be Luke really... maybe the lighting, definitely the sound system but not the decor. The decor screamed.... Lucy Coe. When the mousy librarian had burst out of her cocoon she'd done it with a vengeance. It wasn't hard to keep track of her exploits. Lucy's business depends on press and wherever she went there was some.
"It's seat yourself." One of the barmaids in tight black jeans and wearing a Luke's t-shirt informs Sean. "Anywhere you like... it can get a little loud up by the stage." She warns the older man.
"Actually I was looking for Luke."
"Claude! He's looking for Luke." The barmaid calls out and then gets back to what she was doing before.
The dreaded bartender looks up at the call of his name. "Luke isn't here." Even when Luke is here, he isn't here. It is the stock answer given to strangers who might be bill collectors or worse-- the IRS.
Sean walks over to the bar. "Bobbie said he is here."
"If Luke was here, and I'm not saying he is, he'd want to know who was asking."
"Sean Donnelly. And you can tell him no hard feelings about shooting me." Sean adds wryly. "Oh and Tiff has a message for him. Make sure you tell him that part."
Sure enough Claude comes back out from the back and says. "He'll see ya." Claude indicates with a thumb the direction.
Sean walks back down the hallway and pauses at the door stamped No Admittance that is ajar. Luke stands at the bar and pours a healthy snoot of bourbon in a coffee cup. "Long time no see." Luke turns around. "You've changed."
Luke runs a hand over his bristle short gray hair. "Yeah, you too."
"Not that, although it's a good look for you." Sean gets comfortable in the seat across the desk somehow knowing that Luke would take the chair more suited to a throne room that is behind the desk. If he wasn't mistaken he might have seen very similar chairs in a Cassadine residence. "I mean that your sister is going thru hell and you're not lifting a finger. What the hell is your problem?"
Since Carly had been given plenty of notice for this dinner there was no need to rush. As if that was even a possibility. Morlee's late night snack is already in the fridge back at the Farmhouse just in case. The dinner is finally winding down at about midnight, but nobody is ready to leave. The European business associates of Lorenzo are happy to have him on the continent and bringing the power base back to them rather than South America. It is their opportunity to suck up to La Senora, or Signora here in Italy. Very few of them had been invited to The Compound. Instead Lorenzo had done business at a distance or in very short trips. Alcazar's cell phone starts vibrating in his pocket. He takes it out, only the nanny would be calling. "Alcazar."
That's a surprise. "Michael?"
That gets Carly's attention from the associate she'd been buttering up. "Michael?"
Lorenzo is already nodding. "He wants to say goodnight."
"He's still up! Gimme the phone." Carly reaches for the cell phone. "What happened to crashing early so that you could play soccer in the morning?" Carly demands. Since Carly hates other people using their cell phones while she is eating she starts looking around for a quiet area in the restaurant. She makes a hand motion to Lorenzo to point out where she is going... what seems like a quiet corner. Lorenzo nods and doesn't take his eyes off her and is distracted from the conversations around him until Carly comes back to the table and hands Lorenzo back the cell phone. "Sorry." She says to the table at large. "My son was just letting us know how things were going back at the house."
"Michael is very protective of his mother and baby sister." Lorenzo explains as he is seating Carly again next to him.
"How did he get your cell number?" Carly says under her breath just loud enough for Lorenzo to hear.
"Maybe he borrowed the nanny's?" Lorenzo suggests equally quiet as he retakes his seat but leaves his arm running across the back of Carly's chair. Every element of tonight had been just the way it should be... including the call from Michael. The way things should be for a married couple out for the evening.
"La Signora's son is not a bad futbol player for a beginner." Paolo comments. "Very... persistent, very defensive player. Maybe some day he will play professionally."
"I think not." Carly leans in. "Lorenzo took him to the track where they test the Ferraris today. Michael is already planning on changing his name to Mario... Andretti."
That draws chuckles around the table.
But Michael's call is the catalyst for the evening breaking up and Lorenzo and Carly are soon on their way back to the Farmhouse. "They liked you." Lorenzo compliments quietly. Normally he preferred to drive himself but he didn't want any distractions from watching Carly in the back of the limo.
Carly doesn't open her eyes from where she is leaning against the headrest. "They'd like a one legged, hunchback dwarf if it got you to do business here rather than from South America."
Lorenzo snorts at that one. "Perhaps, but you make it easier."
Carly opens one eye and then closes it again. "Don't get me wrong. I like sucking up as well as the next gal. But I'm not going to believe it. It's just business."
"I know that I am the subject of... speculation for my associates as Luis was before me. But consider this, Carly, when Luis brought Brenda to a business function, the men brought their whores. When I bring you to a business dinner, they bring their wives."
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