Carly and Lorenzo are sitting out under the back overhang of the Farmhouse watching Michael play soccer with his new friends from the village. They all had to go to school so Michael only saw them on the weekends or after school like now when they'd get together to kick the ball around. Carly has pangs of guilt about Michael not being in school but smothers them when she hears Michael calling out in broken Italian to his pals as he races across the yard. She'd busted Lorenzo for his history lesson about the Battle of Leningrad but the guy didn't seem to know any stories that weren't based in history.
Not that Michael has ever been into Cinderella or anything like that for a bedtime story. Maybe it's all those travel books Jason read to Michael when he was a baby but the kid is a little sponge... if the history stories involve taking something: an island, mountain, bridge or river-- then he's right there. And every war is about taking something. Nobody knows that better than she does. Michael is already more comfortable with maps than Jason will ever be and used them to combine his mentors' interests of geography and history.
Carly is startled to hear Lorenzo's cell phone. Lorenzo is too. Not too many people have this number. Simon knows he's on vacation and Paolo stops by every day anyway. "Alcazar."
Carly can tell by the look on Lorenzo's face that he is not happy about the call and starts to get up. She mouths quietly to him. "Do you want me to leave?"
He waves a hand to her urging her to sit back down. Then he stands up and starts pacing behind the bench he'd been sharing with Carly while watching Michael. "No, not until after the New Year. That is not my problem. Yes, I see exactly and what is the rush-- now or a month from now? If you have intel then again I say what is the rush? You don't see that it would be suspicious? Fine. My plane. Florence." Lorenzo slams the phone shut and then slides it back into the inside pocket of his jacket.
"That really didn't sound good." Carly makes a face.
"Now I know it isn't good. What did they want? Never mind-- it's not..." Carly looks out at the yard and focuses in on Michael.
Lorenzo comes up behind her and puts both hands on her shoulders and presses a kiss to the top of her head. "Just introductions. An associate of an associate."
"It's not just that." Carly leans back against Lorenzo. "If it was then it would be a dinner party in Florence. I know you're on vacation but it wouldn't be the first or last one you've had."
"True." Lorenzo agrees. "But of course the WSB couldn't make it that easy. They want me to accompany them."
Carly grimaces. "How soon do you want us packed?"
"No." The answer is flat and fast but then Lorenzo goes on to explain. "If it was Istanbul, it would be a fun excursion for you, for the children. But it's Yemen."
"Where the hell is Yemen?!"
"Right next door to Saudi Arabia. Definitely not the safest part of the world to be traveling. Even with a Venezuelan passport, you would attract too much attention." He toys with Carly's blonde hair.
"Ah. You're on your own, buddy." Carly declares. Her tone is teasing but her intent is serious. "I don't drive by my choice not because someone told me I can't. Isn't that the way they run things in Saudi?"
"Yemeni women are allowed not only to drive but to vote as well. " Lorenzo adds wryly. "Besides Carly, You don't drive because you're lousy at it."
"That too." Carly agrees. Lorenzo knew now about the accident down in Florida. And of course Courtney's car, but as far as she knew he still doesn't know about her going off the road around the lake and being presumed dead for a bit. If he knew about that-- he wouldn't be joking about her driving. The only guy she'd ever been around who'd encouraged her to drive was Zander. All the rest would either provide a driver or money for cabs. "So what is going to happen?"
"It shouldn't take long. A couple of days, maybe a week depending on the roads. Paolo will be around more if you need anything." Lorenzo sees Carly's wince. She and Paolo are still not on a comfortable footing, not like Simon back at the Compound. "Vinnie will be around too."
"I suppose I can finish up my Christmas shopping." Carly sighs. "Since Vinnie is from around here he should know the best deals in Florence."
"And how are you planning on paying for this spending spree?"
"Someone keeps kicking your ass in backgammon. I wonder who?" Carly suggests with a grin. "And it's not like I've had a whole lot of opportunity to spend it."
"Your streak of beginner's luck is about to end." Lorenzo threatens.
"Nah, wait until after Christmas."
Jason goes thru the receipts for the warehouse. If he had his way he'd be living here full time, crashing on the couch in the office. There is nobody at the penthouses-- just him. Graciela had stopped coming by daily and instead came in an hour a couple days a week and did both penthouses, nothing ever got dirty. But he can't move to the warehouse, not yet. Lying might not be his forte but he isn't bad at misdirection. Until he got word otherwise from Carly, he'd be going home to that empty penthouse every night, as long as there is reason for Alcazar to believe that Sonny and Courtney are still in town.
Johnny brings in a briefcase. "The package from Meyer."
"Thanks." Jason takes it. "Any problems I need to know about?"
"Things quieted right down after Faith and Sammy disappeared." Johnny says discreetly. "Got some twitchy people down on Courtland street though. Alcazar hasn't sent any shipments to his dealers. Not since Sonny last went down to see Carly."
"No reason for him to." Jason says absently. "The drugs were about getting over on Sonny. He doesn't have to do that anymore. If he's running drugs at all it's thru The City. Keep an eye on the fiends. They'll start getting stupid to try to score. Make sure our businesses don't get hit and if they do that the person responsible is made an example."
Johnny nods. In the rougher parts of Port Charles, the organization provided insurance. The premiums were a little higher, hell a lot higher than AllState Farm. But AllState Farm wouldn't have insured many of these places, not for the true value which was often not declared. They were in good hands with Jason. If the shop owners decided to cancel their policy, Jason didn't get heavy handed with them or even announce they're no longer under his protection... unless someone asks. But that's Jase-- Don't Ask. Don't Tell. Most of the time it's If Anyone Asks still Don't tell. Johnny sees Jason pull out a familiar looking stationary from a packet inside the briefcase. "I'm just gonna go get a cup of coffee if you need me boss." He doesn't wait for the answer just leaves the office.
Jason rips open the envelope.
How are you? I'm fine although I miss you so much. I know it has to be this way. I know I can't come home. And I know business keeps you there. That and making sure that everything looks normal. What a joke! I don't know what normal is anymore. But if normal means giving up on you, on us-- well normal sucks.
As soon as Carly leaves Alcazar he'll get desperate and start grabbing anyone he thinks he can trade for Carly. It's what he did before. Back then everyone thought it was about poking a sharp stick at Sonny but we know better now. I knew. I knew after just a few conversations with the guy when I was hostage. I should have warned you and Sonny but everything was such a mess when I got back from South America between the miscarriage and the pills. I didn't think that Carly would end up under his control again.
But you see it now too, don't you? When you were visiting after Morlee was born? Be careful, Jase. You've made yourself the target by sending everyone else away. He was nuts when he barely knew Carly; what is he like now?
The word is scratched out. Then the letter continues.
hell there is no use in putting a shiny face on it. You've known my brother longer than I have. Sonny's in a dark place, Jase. He's fighting the physical therapy. He's been trying to sneak booze. Jase, I know you'd say it was his choice but it can't be. Not right now. Maria found a shrink. I have no idea if that will work or not but I had to try something. If I could tell him Carly and the baby are going to be here soon. If I could give him something to hold on to. But some days Sonny is so filled with self loathing that he doesn't want Carly to come. Those are the days that only Maria can deal with him.
I go up to the Casino. Mostly I hang out with the security guys up in the Eye. That way I can see the guests but they can't see me. There has been no sign of Alcazar's guys. No sign of anyone I know. I'm sure the manager has already informed you that preparations for the big game are under way. There are going to be gamblers from all over the world coming in. The whole island is in a frenzy getting ready. The gamblers might never leave the casino but their companions will hopefully drop a bundle into the local economy.
I keep trying to distract myself. I have to. I know you can't imagine what it would be like, for us to be together again. But I know you remember. Remember our time together down here? It should have been our honeymoon, Jase. I imagine it was. I love you so much, Jason. Please take care of yourself. I need to see you again. Manny is giving me a look, he's holding the outgoing packet waiting on this letter. I'll write again soon.
"Are you sure you'll be fine?"
"When did you become such a worrywart?" Carly lays on her side on the bed watching as Lorenzo packs his overnight bag. "You had business all the time when we were down at the compound. I managed to keep busy and not burn the place down."
"You were pregnant then."
Carly taps her forehead as if trying to force something to sink in. "Okay that made no sense what so ever. Back then you were worried because I was pregnant and now you're worried because I'm not?! Lorenzo!"
He zips the bag and sets it in the chair next to the door. He isn't actually leaving until the morning. He comes around to the side of the bed and shifting Carly around has her reclining up against him. Carly wraps her arm around his waist. "You don't speak Italian. I know you don't like Paolo as well as Simon."
"Oh knock it off." Carly demands looking up at him. "You know the kids are going to keep me busy. I have to get ready for the holiday. If I get bored I'll go riding or shopping or down to the pub."
"Uh..." I don't like the sound of that last one.
Carly rolls her eyes and then tells him what he wants to hear. "Where I will have a glass of soda and play darts, just darts, with guys that are old enough to be called Grandpa."
"Thank you." Lorenzo gives her a kiss on the nose. "I promise I will make this up to you. We will go dancing, the very night I get back."
"That just isn't good enough." Carly declares. "You said this could take a day, two, a week at the longest. So... I'm letting you know that four days from now, and that's right now..." Carly taps a finger on Alcazar's chest. "...I'm going dancing. With or without you."
"Oh you think so?"
"I know so." Carly grins back.
There is a knock on the door and Michael comes running in dressed in his PJs ready for bed. He climbs up on the bed with Lorenzo and Carly. "How long are you going to be gone, Jefe?" He demands of Lorenzo.
Lorenzo's voice is wry as he answers. He combs his hand over Carly's hair. "Four days at the most. Your Mother has put her foot down."
"Where are you going again?"
"Yemen. I showed it to you on the map after dinner." Lorenzo reminds.
"Do they speak Spanish or Italian there?" Michael asks.
Michael groans and rolls onto his back at the foot of the bed clutching his head. "Arabic? I have to learn Arabic now?!"
"Why would you have to learn Arabic?!" Carly asks Michael curiously. That one had come out of nowhere.
"Jefe says that not everyone in the world speaks English so you shouldn't think that they will." Michael explains earnestly.
"That's true." Lorenzo agrees with Michael with a nod of his head. "I did say that. But you didn't ask about English. There are quite a few people in Yemen who do speak English." He looks down at Carly. "It was a British protectorate up until 1967, I think."
Carly looks at Michael and her eyes go wide. "I think I hear a bedtime story coming on. Once upon a time in a land far, far away...."
But instead of telling about the time when Yemen was a British colony, or even a piece of the Ottoman Empire, as Lorenzo is sweeping Michael up and carrying him piggy back to his own room Lorenzo begins the story. "... There was a beautiful queen who was even smarter and richer than she was beautiful. She was called Makeda and she ruled a land called Sheba. The land we know now as Yemen. But back then she was Makeda, Queen of Sheba."
"Hey wait!" Carly starts crawling from the bed. "I want to hear this one."
"I'll tell you the good parts later." Lorenzo suggests with a naughty smile.
"Fine." Carly stands on her tiptoes and steadies herself with a hand on Lorenzo's arm as she gives Michael a quick kiss. "Sleep well. I'll see you in the morning."
"Night mama." Michael replies but he's already into the story. "How did the Queen get rich?"
"She ran the biggest distribution network in the land connecting the Orient and Europe. Only back then they called them caravans. But that's not what this story is about."
"What's it about then?"
"Rumors reached the Queen there was a King who claimed to be the smartest and wisest man anywhere. Not just smart or wise. But smartest and wisest. And being a smart and wise woman herself she took it upon herself to test him."
Michael thinks about it for a minute. This was starting to sound familiar and he couldn't quite remember from where and then it pops. "Oh I know; I know!" Michael starts bouncing. "It was King Solomon! I learned about him when I was in school at Queen of Angels." Michael stills. "He wasn't so smart! He told his bodyguard to cut a baby in half!"
"He knew the baby's true Mother would stop him. But that's another story."
"Lorenzo!" Carly protests. There would be no telling of bedtime tales that included chopped up babies.
"That I'm not going to tell before bed time."
"Thank you." Carly falls back on the bed and waits for Lorenzo to get back. She bites her lower lip as she considers exactly what she needs to get done in the next four days.
Down the hall in Michael's room, Lorenzo sits on the edge of the bed next to Michael. He is about to continue the story when Michael gets in there first. "I'll take care of Mama and Morlee while you're gone, make sure they're safe, Jefe."
"I know." Lorenzo brushes a hand over Michael's hair. "You will have plenty of help: Nanny, Vinnie. If you have any problems run them by your Mother or talk to Paolo. The phones don't work so well in Yemen but I'll call. I'll definitely call if it's going to take longer than four days."
Lorenzo comes back into his room after telling Michael his bedtime story. Carly is already in bed but is sitting up and has the light on. He goes over to his dresser and takes off his watch and jewelry then begins to unbutton his shirt. "It took Michael a while to settle down."
"That boy is working on an ulcer." Carly worries. "He's just a little boy; he shouldn't worry the way he does."
"I don't think you'll be able to stop him, Carly. Too much has happened for him to not worry. He knows the world isn't a safe place."
"That's my fault. The choices I've made."
At first Lorenzo is going to deny it but then he shrugs. "Most people figure out eventually that the world isn't a safe place. It takes some people longer then others. Even with the family business, I don't think I figured it out until Sophie was killed. I always thought somehow things would turn out until that day."
"Yeah, Oxford is a pretty safe place. Maybe we should go there and you can make it sound really, really good to Michael." Carly suggests hugging her knees.
"He just needs some time. Some time to play soccer and relax. He's already getting better, Carly. I saw that back at the Compound when he didn't go shopping with you and Jason. Before that he never let you far out of his sight." Lorenzo opens up his lock box and pulls out his passport and a card. The passport he tucks into the side pocket of his luggage and the card he brings over to the bed. He climbs into bed next to Carly.
"A credit card so you won't have to dig into your backgammon money. It won't be much help in the village but you'll be fine in Florence." Carly examines the card rubbing her finger over the name on it. Carly L. Alcazar. Lorenzo takes it from her and sets it on the bedside table. "Now I believe I have a bedtime story for you."
"Oh?" Carly adjusts herself in the bed so she is laying down rather than sitting up. "Is this the part you couldn't tell Michael?"
"Not until he is much..." Lorenzo kisses Carly's neck. "...much..." her cheek, "...much..." Her mouth, "...older."
"I'm liking this already." Carly pushes Lorenzo onto his back and straddles him. "Start talking."
"Yeah, you promised me a story." Carly grinds her hips against Lorenzo. "I want my story."
He grabs her by the hips. "It'll be a very short story."
Carly shrugs. "As long as only the story's short."
The next day, Alcazar is on the plane first and glances down at his watch. The WSB is late. If he'd known the agent would be late he'd have stayed longer at the farmhouse. He and Carly hadn't gotten much sleep-- his choice. He stows his bag and pours himself a cup of coffee from the galley.
He makes himself comfortable and takes a sip of the coffee. He smiles and closes his eyes remembering the night before.
Solomon gave to the Queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked...besides that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. Solomon also repaid her with many good things...bestowing upon her what she chose of her own inclination, for there was nothing that she desired which he denied her; and as he was very generous and liberal in his own temper, so did he show the greatness of his soul in bestowing on her what she herself desired of him.*
He hadn't told Carly the ending to the story only the beginning. He didn't tell her that the romance of Solomon and Sheba had only lasted six months and then Solomon had attempted to fill the void with 700 wives and 300 concubines and had never been able to get over the loss of Sheba. That wouldn't be the end of their story. The sound of someone coming up the stairs distracts Alcazar from his thoughts and he opens his eyes and watches the door to the plane. A slim man in his mid forties enters the plane. "You're late."
The man steps forward with his hand extended. "Andrew Jones. My friends call me Frisco."
"I am not your friend."
Frisco shrugs and uses the same hand he'd extended to make a waving motion. "Your call. Lets get this show on the road."
Lorenzo calls the pilot on the jet's internal phone. "Strap in."
Frisco stashes his overnight bag and then buckles into the seat across from Lorenzo. "If this is going to work we should at least compare some notes. Give you my cover story."
"Well you won't pass for local." Lorenzo says wryly. "So that leaves arms dealer. Your accent is clearly American. I should just shoot you now and drop you in the Med. I could be home for dinner with my family rather than wasting my time."
Frisco winces but tries again. The only In that the arms dealer had given him was mentioning family. "Yeah, it is a rough time of year to be away from family. I know I miss my girls the most this time of year." He reaches into his wallet and pulls out a picture, handing it to Lorenzo. "That's Maxie on the left there and..."
"Georgie." Lorenzo looks up from the picture. "These are not your children. These are the children of the Police Commissioner in Port Charles, New York-- Mac Scorpio."
"He's their step father. How do you know my daughters?" Now Frisco is just as pissed as Lorenzo.
"I'm the reason Georgie's boyfriend is in boarding school." Lorenzo says wryly as he hands the picture back.
Frisco clears his throat. "Georgie has a boyfriend? But she's just a..."
"Baby? Not the last time I looked." Lorenzo looks at Frisco in disbelief and shakes his head. "Don't you know anything? Do you even know who I am?!"
"Alcazar. You've got connections and can make an introduction that can get me safely into Northern Yemen and a suspected Al Queda training camp where I am to set up surveillance equipment. I got a message from my boss just as I was coming off of another assignment."
Lorenzo leans in. "Then let me tell you right now that you are wasting your time. I want to know why the WSB wants this to happen now, was insistent on this happening now? You are not prepared. Even when I hook you up with someone who can travel the desert undetected, you have no clue." Lorenzo pulls out his phone and makes a quick call. "Where is La Signora?"
"Vinnie took La Signora into Florence to go shopping. The Nanny too. La Signora wanted to get her shopping done before the boy's soccer practice. Is there a problem, Capo?"
"There better not be."
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