"Are you tired?"
Carly half smiles. "Rain always makes me sleepy." But it isn't just the rain, and it isn't just physical but pure emotional exhaustion. "You ended up calling for a car anyway."
"I'm afraid you've overdone things." Lorenzo brushes her hair back behind her ear and then takes her hand weaving his fingers through hers and resting their joined hands on his thigh.
"A hot tub and a couple hours nap... not at the same time, I'll be good as new."
"I think I can arrange that. We'll go riding another time."
"Riding brings back lots of memories for me. I used to ride all the time back in Florida. Every day until..." Carly looks out the window of the car and doesn't finish the thought.
"Until?" Lorenzo prompts.
"My best friend was killed in a car accident when we were sixteen."
Lorenzo makes the automatic assumption based on everything he knows about Carly. "What was his name?"
"Her." Carly corrects. "Her name was Carly Roberts. It was her horse. After she died, her parents sold her horse-- cut all ties to anything that had been hers."
"Including her best friend?" Lorenzo suggests. Carly shrugs. "It must have been strange... two Carlys. I'm trying to picture two of you."
"Oh yeah, we were the life of the party." Carly rolls her eyes at her yearbook claim to fame. "I didn't start to go by Carly until I moved to New York. When I lived in Florida everybody knew me as Caroline, mainly because Carly and I were so tight. Bobbie calls me Caroline when she wants to get my attention, even though she's only known me as Carly. It must be a Mother thing. Some day Morlee will get into something and I'll be... Morgan Leigh, you get your butt in this house right now! Probably embarrass the dickens right out of her." Carly bites her lip then reaches over and takes Lorenzo's other wrist to check the time on his watch. "We were gone too long. The nanny probably had to use one of the bottles out of the fridge."
"That's why you made sure they are there." Lorenzo reminds her. "We're almost there." Sure enough they are turning up the gated drive to the farmhouse as he says it. The driver stops at the back door of the farmhouse since it has a better overhang and his charges are less likely to get wet in the renewed storm. He pops out of the driver's seat and comes around to the back door with an umbrella to protect La Signora for those few steps until she is under cover.
"We're back!" Carly calls as she enters the back door.
Lorenzo turns to the driver. "We're in for the evening. If plans change I'll drive myself. You've got the night off."
"Si, Capo." The driver nods and gets back into the car.
When Lorenzo gets into the farmhouse, he finds everyone in the main room sitting on the floor around a blanket. Morlee is in the middle of it, wide awake and trying to lift her head.
"She really did it?" Carly asks Michael.
"Yep." Michael agrees. "But I think it was 'cause of this." He holds out a noise maker and shakes it just out of Morlee's sight.
Sure enough the baby lifts her head up and turns it toward the noise.
"What a strong girl and nothing wrong with her hearing either!" Carly proclaims and picks Morlee up peppering her with kisses. "And what a smart boy. That was really great, Michael."
"Had to do something since we were stuck inside."
"Yeah, tell me about it." Carly says wryly making eye contact with Lorenzo who is standing in the doorway. "I guess this means soccer was rained out same as my riding?"
"Yeah, when it was so bad you couldn't see the ball." Michael nods.
"Your mother did ride long enough to be very sore tomorrow if she doesn't get a hot bath, Michael. Will you go tell Nanny to run her one?"
"Okay, Jefe!" Michael pops to his feet and goes racing up the stairs.
Lorenzo gives Carly a hand up since she is holding the baby. Carly looks up at him. "I can run my own bath."
"I know." Lorenzo leans in and presses a lingering kiss on Carly's mouth. He steps back when he hears Michael's pounding footsteps coming back down. "But then could I have done that?"
"She's running one now!" Michael proclaims when he is halfway down the stairs and finishes his message when he gets to the bottom. "Nanny says I'm not supposed to get Morlee all excited or she won't take a nap and will be up all night. Gees all she did was turn her head."
"It'll be a few years before she's playing soccer." Alcazar agrees. Alcazar waits until Carly takes Morlee upstairs. "I wanted you to know, Michael, that I'm very impressed with you."
"When we first met... you were a careless little boy. The day you were more concerned about seeing a boat than in looking out for your mother. I don't believe that's true anymore. I don't worry when I leave your mother or sister with you. I know that they will be safe. You know now that is the most important thing."
"Yes, Jefe." Michael nods consideringly. "Morlee's too little, everybody's got to look out for her."
"And when we were at the Compound and you saw the man standing over your mother and came and got me. We kept your mother safe that night. The both of us working together."
Michael nods again but then he looks down. "I didn't not really. I messed up." I cried like a big baby.
Lorenzo puts his hand on Michael's shoulder and tilts his head up so that the boy is looking up at him. "You trusted the feeling in your gut. You knew what was going on wasn't right and you got me. You have good instincts, Michael. But if you ever start doubting yourself, you know you can ask me, you can call me. Nothing is more important to me than the safety of your mother, you and your sister."
Giving Michael a combination pat and caress on the cheek, "Good boy. Now, what shall we do? I suspect your mother and Morlee both will be taking naps."
"Tell me some more about Lake Ladoga." Michael plops himself down on the couch.
"Where did I leave off?" Lorenzo agrees and takes a seat on the couch too.
Michael starts grabbing things and naming them as he arranges them on the coffee table: cities and the lake. "You said it was November and it was cold. And things weren't looking good for the people in the city cause they were surrounded by bullies who wouldn't let them leave and wouldn't give them anything to eat."
"It was very, very cold. It was so cold that the lake froze solid, the biggest lake in all of Europe. And that was a good thing."
"Cause the people in the city skated away while the bullies weren't looking?" Michael suggests a possible solution.
"Not exactly. The lake was hard enough that the friends of the city laid a road right across the lake and huge trucks brought in food and other supplies. But it is a waste to send a truck one way full and then send it back empty... so the people in the city started to send away people that weren't needed to fight the bullies."
"So they would be safe." Michael nods. "Like Mama and Morlee."
"Yes, as many people as are in Port Charles twice over were evacuated."
Michael whistles. "That's a lot of trucks. Weren't they afraid of falling thru the ice? Mama fell thru the ice once and had to go to the hospital."
"It was very dangerous." Lorenzo agrees. "The bullies knew what the city was doing and would bomb the path of the trucks, weakening the ice. And then when spring came the ice got weak... that's what happened with your mother. The ice was rotten. It looked good but it wasn't. At that point they had to find another way. And it took a very long time but finally the bullies were beaten back, largely because the people in the city didn't give up."
"Michael, I just took a long look at your room. It isn't Nanny's job to pick up after you." Carly says from the stairs, interrupting the story. She is dressed in a robe and her hair is tied up on top of her head. She hadn't even gotten in the tub yet, having gotten caught up in putting Morlee down for her nap.
"Sorry." Michael starts running up the stairs.
Carly starts shaking her head as soon as Michael is clear. "What do you think you are doing?!"
"The Battle of Leningrad, one of the major turning points of WWII."
"I saw the video, Professor, -- Jude Law, Ed Harris. Enemy at the Gates, it was rated R... not for kids." one of those many nights when Sonny was talking business downstairs-- Blockbuster knows me better than the damn cab company now.
"I think that was actually the battle of Stalin... never mind, I get your point."
"Think Disney. No, not even Disney-- think Pixar. Cartoons. Vegetarian sharks. Looking for Nemo." Carly crosses her arms in front of her. "Stop it."
"Stop what?" Lorenzo intentionally keeps a straight face but with great difficulty.
"Looking at me like I'm insane. It's a real movie, and it's rated G. Michael loves it." Carly holds up both hands with fingers spread. "Fine. I'm insane. I'm going to take a bath now."
Lorenzo hops up and grabs one of Carly's hands. "You're beautiful."
"There is nothing for you here." Carly warns in a threatening voice looking down at Lorenzo's hand on her arm.
"Hey." Lorenzo asks serious. "Are we okay?"
Carly leans her head into his arm. "I'm just tired." When she tilts her head back to meet his gaze, her eyes don't match the smile on her face. "Just tired. We're fine."
"Are you okay?" Courtney asks Maria worriedly.
"He doesn't mean it. He is just frustrated. Besides-- he missed." Maria counters wryly.
"I know. I was hoping you knew it too, that he doesn't mean it; I mean. This can't be happening now. He has had so many... challenges already. He can't be going into a depression now."
"Can you think of a more appropriate time with everything he is going thru? We should have expected it, verdad?" Maria suggests with a shrug. "I've seen Sonny like this before. It's been many years." Since he left Brenda at the altar "Fortunately he's so right handed, his aim is bad with his left."
Courtney spews from the sip of water she had been taking and then starts coughing. "You have to be a saint. You just have to be with the patience you have."
"Patience, while a virtue, is not required of saints... only miracles." Maria says with a sigh, or martyrdom.
"I've always been able to... hide... behind Carly when he got like this. She's so protective of Sonny. And it's awful to say but she's used to it and can pull him out of the funk."
Maria always kept her distance when Sonny's wife had been on the island. Somehow she knows Carly would be able to tell Maria's comforts have been sampled by both Sonny and Jason. Neither of the men loved her, not that way-- but there had been caring and maybe a little respect. And while the two men never seemed to mind sharing her the way they did the villa, she suspected Sonny's wife would, just as Courtney would, if she ever found out. "Perhaps Carly will be here soon."
"I hope so." Courtney sighs. "What set him off this time?"
"I wouldn't get him a drink."
"He can't drink with the medication he's on! Drinking is what got him into this to start!" that and that bitch Faith. Course she never could have gotten to him in the hospital if he hadn't been there from alcohol poisoning.
"He will find a way." Maria says sadly.
"No, he won't." Courtney says flatly. "I don't care if I have to search the bags of every person who comes into this villa. Sonny is not going to be drinking. You have to find a shrink. I suppose that makes sense, he's got a physical therapist, a speech therapist why not a therapist, therapist too?"
"I'll see who I can find." Maria agrees with a smile more because she wants Courtney to feel as if something has been accomplished than because she thinks it's going to work. "You should go up to the Casino. Take a break. You won't get too many more opportunities before the big game starts and you are stuck here at the house."
"You don't mind?" Courtney looks at Maria half pleadingly.
"Go." Maria orders. "When The Game starts I will be your eyes and ears at the casino and you will be here full time with your brother."
"For some reason I just stopped feeling guilty." Courtney half grins at the other woman. "Thanks. I owe you." She starts up the path to the Casino.
Maria looks out to the surf and finds a bit of peace in the sound of the water lapping against the shore. It's calm today. Sonny claimed he wanted the drink to help him sleep. Maybe a shower would help instead. With both hands she ties her hair in a knot at the top of her head. Her hair takes forever to dry.
"Are they asleep?" Lorenzo looks up from his briefcase. Knowing it would take Carly a little while to get everyone settled, he'd pulled out the odds and ends that needed to get done to keep the business rolling. This is his vacation but something always comes up- the curse of being your own boss.
"Finally." Carly agrees with a sigh. "Michael just has too much energy and when he's stuck inside all day." She shakes her head and starts cleaning up the disaster Michael left in his wake, pitching toys into a basket that she has set aside for the purpose.
"Leave that." Alcazar orders.
"No. You work on that." Carly points to the briefcase. "I'll work on this and we'll both be done in... "
"Fifteen tops." Carly counters. And for the next ten minutes nobody says anything but the room isn't silent. There is the sound of toys hitting the basket with an occasional low "Yes" when the shot is particularly sweet. The sound of pages turning with occasional notes being made.
As soon as Carly takes the basket upstairs to Michael's room, Lorenzo shoves all the papers back in his briefcase and going over to the stereo puts on some music. By the time Carly gets back, he is pulling out the backgammon game and starting to set it up on the coffee table. "I don't think you are going to win tonight." Lorenzo says calmly looking up at Carly only after he's done setting up the board.
"Oh?" Carly goes into the kitchen and pours Lorenzo a brandy. She brings it out and sets it next to the board on his side. "You say that like you've been letting me win." She raises a brow at that. She knows it's true. There had been too much beginner's luck. "I guess that means I should be asking what the stakes are... since now you're so interested in hustling me."
Lorenzo grins at that. "Hustling you? Would I do that?"
"Player's gotta play." Carly says wryly. She takes the dice cup from Lorenzo but that gets his attention.
He grabs her left hand cup and all. He turns her hand so that he can see the back of it. His gaze is questioning and serious. "What have you done?"
"I don't have the right to wear it." Carly pulls her hand away and starts rattling the single dice to determine who would go first. "I betrayed my vows, my husband. It's your turn."
Lorenzo starts shaking the single die absently. "Carly..."
"Don't even say anything." Carly demands. "This is what you've been pushing for since back on the yacht. So you just shut the hell up! Are you happy now? You got what you wanted!" Carly shuts her mouth hard and looks away.
"Do I?!" Lorenzo demands, slamming down the cup on the coffee table. The abrupt action making Carly jump. "Do I have what I want?! Are you mine? Do you sleep in my bed?"
"Why would you want me?" Carly snarls back. "I betrayed my husband. What makes you think I won't do the same thing to you?"
"You didn't betray Sonny. He betrayed you the day he found out what Ric had done to you and didn't put a bullet between his eyes."
"Ric's his brother."
"Do not make excuses for him!"
"Fine! Lets talk about Luis then. Lets talk about your brother instead. Lets talk about if Luis would have had his way that I'd be dead. Shot at dawn behind some third world country jail. Lets talk about the way he ruined my life over that twit! Where were you then? What would you have done then?"
"Luis was obsessed with Brenda."
"That shouldn't have been my problem." Carly retorts sharply. "Do you think I care? Do you think I care that he was making her think she was crazy? Do you think I care that he was drugging her? I don't. The further from me the better. The further from Port Charles the better.
It's Luis' fault that Ric showed up in Port Charles. It's Luis' fault that I woke up next to Ric after being dosed with ruffies. It's Luis' fault that Ric blackmailed me, kidnapped me-- was going to kill me. He couldn't have just killed the sonofabitch when he caught him stealing from him?!
And oh so brilliant blowing up Sonny's warehouse with Kristina in it! GREAT! Piss everyone off! Why go after Sonny at all? Why mess in my marriage at all?! Oh and messing in Jax's marriage too." Carly makes a thumbs up sign with both hands. "That was just freaking brilliant. Luis doesn't want the twit to go back to her old boyfriends so he works on making both of the old boyfriends single? You have no place to talk about Sonny not putting his brother down down like the rabid dog Ric is. None."
"I don't think it was Luis' intention to make either Jax or Sonny single." Lorenzo retorts making no real effort to calm Carly down. It's actually a relief to have her blow up at him, and more what he expects than this excessive calm that had fallen over Carly ever since they'd been picked up from the cottage. Carly periodically blows up. The last time had been when they'd received word of Sonny's embolism and he'd refused her return to Port Charles. Before that when Sonny had been unavailable and Carly in labor. Carly when she is angry is an honest Carly.
"HA!" Carly snorts at that one and then her eyes narrow. "And what about you?"
"I don't get it. Why go after Sonny? Why not Jax? Hell why not after Alexis Davis? She's the one who actually killed Luis. Go after her family." Carly orders.
"What makes you think I haven't?"
That stops Carly in her tracks and she turns around to look at Lorenzo. Her mind starts racing trying to figure out how Lorenzo could have actually gone after Alexis, gone after the Cassadines. Processing every thing that has happened to see if there have been clues she's missed. "What? How? When?"
"It isn't important. That was something I took care of before I ever came to Port Charles." Lorenzo dismisses the questions.
"Isn't important?! How can you say it isn't important?! What did you do?"
Lorenzo comes over to Carly and runs one hand down her arm then takes her hand. "Because it's not. This is what is important." He presses a kiss to the palm of her hand and looks at her over the top.
"You're making a mistake, Lorenzo. You deserve someone..." Carly shakes her head. "I'm not Sophie. I'm not some good person who is worth all this drama. I'm definitely not like that twit with guys running to my rescue like some damsel in distress. I'm no prize."
"Are you ready to build the bridge between us? I promise you won't be doing it alone." Lorenzo refers back to the conversation they'd had so many months ago. He kisses her softly at first but then with increasing pressure and length. "Are you mine? Do you sleep in my bed?"
No. "Yes. Maybe." Carly holds Lorenzo's face between her two hands. "On one condition."
"Condition?" Lorenzo asks suspiciously.
"I want the beard back."
Carly starts nibbling on his jaw. "When I want you-- I don't want to wait twenty minutes while you shave." There is a rumbling chuckle and then Carly grabs hold of Lorenzo's shoulders as she is half flung into the air. Lorenzo wraps his arms around her waist. Carly wraps her legs around his waist. "You are a maniac."
"Yes. About you." Not bothering with turning off lights, Lorenzo carries her upstairs.
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