Chapter 35

“Alright, Edward,” Doctor Monica Quartermaine fumed, “what was so important that you had me paged at the hospital?” She threw her keys down onto the desk in the corner and confronted her father-in-law.

Before the older man could reply, his son Alan came stalking through the same door his wife had only moments before come through. “Father! What is the meaning of this?” He shook the small hospital issued pager directly beneath his father's nose. “How many times have I told you that you cannot use this number to page me for personal business.”

“Well,” Monica caught her husband's attention, “I see I'm not the only one he did that to.”

The sound of raised voices in the foyer turned the heads of Monica, Alan and Edward Quartermaine. “What's going on?” Ned Ashton inquired as he stepped into the living room accompanied by his younger cousin Alan James ‘A.J.' Quartermaine. “I got a call saying there was an emergency?”

“It had better be an emergency,” A.J. complained. “I was in the middle of something.”

“You live upstairs, Junior,” Ned chimed in derisively. “I'm sure coming here was a real struggle.”

A.J. stood toe-to-toe with his least favorite relative. “Yeah, I live upstairs, Ned,” he nodded, “ with my child . Do you remember yours? Brook Lynne, I think is her name?”

Edward moved hastily to head off the inevitable argument that A.J.'s comments were sure to provoke. “Alright, everyone, settle down. I called you here on ELQ business.”

“A board meeting, Father?” Alan threw his hands up in disbelief. “You called us all from heaven knows where for an ELQ board meeting?”

“It's not a board meeting. This is a family meeting about ELQ business.”

“That explains why there's no Jax or Sonny Corinthos,” A.J. astutely pointed out to his mother.

Alan went to the bar and poured himself a glass of iced water. “I can't say I'm sorry about that part.” He took a sip and then sat down on the sofa. “Well, since we're all here, let us get this over.”

“Everybody is not here,” Edward demurred. “You'll all just have to be patient a few minutes more.”

"Maybe that's our problem . . . We talk too much.”

Mac Scorpio placed his open mouth directly over the tiny hollow at the base of Dara's throat. Gently he suckled the tender flesh, pausing occasionally to tease it with a quick flick of his tongue. His groans of pleasure vibrated against her soft skin and Dara could only rest her head against the hard wood of the door behind her. Large hands wandered wonderingly over her curves, stopping only to cup and gently knead her rounded cheeks. With a low growl, Mac pulled Dara tightly to him and ground his arousal against her.

“You feel so good!” He captured her mouth passionately. While their tongues dueled, he nudged her thighs apart and settled between them. His lower body rocked against hers sensuously.

Dara was not sure whether she closed her eyes in instinctive reaction to Mac's assault upon her inflamed senses, or as a barrier against the sight of his disappointed expression when she gently, but firmly, pushed him away. “Mac,” she sighed, “we need to talk.”

“Those are words no guy wants to hear.” Mac leaned heavily against Dara before grudgingly allowing her to disentangle her limbs from his. “They always lead to that other dreaded line – ‘I just want to be friends.'”

“I have no intention of saying that to you. I think we've gone beyond the point of just friendship.” Even though they were no longer in physical contact, she could still feel the press of Mac's hard body against hers. Dara pushed herself away from the support the door had lent. Her legs felt just stable enough to negotiate the walk into the living room.

“So you aren't denying that there is something growing between us?”

“No,” Dara replied honestly. “I won't try to deny that fact. But . . .”

Mac eased down onto the sofa beside Dara. “But what?” he asked, shifting to ease the discomfort caused by the press of his fly against his arousal.

“I need to slow down.” The words tumbled from Dara's mouth. “That night was not like me. That woman got caught up in some kind of recklessness. . . Not that I regret what came out of it,” she hastened to reassure him.

“You see,” Mac reached over and took her hand, “that's where I disagree. I think what happened between us that night was exactly like you. Dara, you are decisive and no-nonsense when it comes to your job. Why is it so hard for you to believe that those same qualities might carry over into your personal life?” He took her silence as a denial of his argument. “Okay. If time is what you need, then time is what you'll get.” A wry little smile turned up one corner of Mac's mouth. “Does that mean I won't be seeing those spiky little heels you had on when you threw me down on –“

“Mac!” Though embarrassment warmed her face, Dara was relieved. The quiet laughter she and Mac shared reaffirmed that the two of them would be alright.

“Do you know what this is about?” Ned moved even closer to Monica Quartermaine.

Married to his Uncle Alan for some years, Monica nonetheless shared an intimate history with Ned Ashton. “No,” she shook her head, “but it is probably another one of Edward's schemes that will inevitably go wrong.”

From the far corner of the room doctor Alan Quartermaine watched with ill-disguised rancor as his wife interacted with his nephew. Their body language blatantly spoke of their romantic past together. Or so he always thought.

“Sometimes I think Ned does that just to drive you crazy.” Emily Quartermaine suddenly materialized at her father's elbow. She understood his feelings concerning Ned's closeness to Monica. When she first discovered the truth about their past, Emily's world had been turned on its ear. Adopted into the Quartermaine family, she had no idea just how dysfunctional they truly were. The idea that her adoptive mother would have somehow been involved with her husband's nephew was foreign to her. It did not matter that Monica had not known that Ned was her husband's relative. Nor did it matter that the tryst occurred during a time when she and Alan were not particularly close. What did matter was that once Monica found out the truth, she and Ned maintained their secret, and their closeness, for years afterward.

Alan had no time to comment on her remark. With a sweeping gesture Edward began directing everyone to sit.

“Now that everyone is here,” Edward indicated the presence of Emily and his wife Lila, “we can get started. I called you here today,” he began, “to officially inform you that effective immediately there will be another voting member of the ELQ board.”

What?! ” The outcry came from nearly everyone assembled. “How? ” “Who?

“Justus Ward.”

The sudden quiet in the room was deafening.

“It's about time,” Emily spoke into the silence.

Ned jumped up from the arm of the chair he shared with Monica. “Bad idea, Grandfather.” He began to pace. “Justus hasn't proven himself yet. I mean, wasn't that the purpose of making him ELQ counsel?”

“He doesn't have to prove himself,” A.J. retorted quietly.

“I'm sure you just love that idea,” Ned challenged his young cousin. “You haven't done anything worthwhile in your whole miserable life!”

Alan jumped into the conversation in defense of his elder son. “Lay off A.J., Ned,” he warned. “You aren't exactly qualified to throw stones.”

“That's enough!” Lila's frail voice cut through the din like a scalpel. “Ned, Alan, that is enough!” The occupants of the room all turned respectfully to the true head of the Quartermaine family, Edward's wife Lila. “Now,” she began once she had the attention of all assembled, “Bradley Ward was Edward's son. No different from you,” she directed the remark to her son Alan, “or Tracey.”

Alan responded without rancor. “There is a big difference, Mother, and you know it. ELQ is the product of both you and father. The rightful heirs should be your children. Not those Father had because he was unfaithful to you.”

“Now you wait just a minute!” Edward blustered. “I –”

Lila tapped her hand imperiously upon the arm of her wheelchair. “Do be quiet, Edward!” She looked sadly upon her son. “Alan, dear, you are the very last person I thought I would hear such things from.”

“Yes, Dad,” A.J. added, “after the way you handed the keys to the kingdom over to your illegitimate son Jason, I have to admit I'm a little surprised, too.”

With that comment, new battle lines were drawn. Alan, who had just leapt to his elder son's defense, now found himself the target of A.J.'s bitter remark. Ned rejoined the fray less in defense of Alan than out of loyalty to his favorite cousin, Jason.

“It doesn't matter what any of you think.” Lila's tremulous declaration curtailed any further discussion. “Justus is entitled to his shares of ELQ and I intend to see that he gets them.”


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*General Hospital and its characters are not mine. I make no profit from this. The characters Andresj' Cassadine, and Diane Jennings are my creation.*