Fifty-Eight

 

"Alan, you can't take Michael to General Hospital," Justus insisted. He placed himself in the open doorway and blocked Alan's way. "Too many questions will be raised. No, your best bet is for you and Monica to care for him here." He firmly closed the door behind him and faced down his stunned family.

"I don't give a damn how many questions are raised!" A.J. tried to push his way past Justus. "My son needs help!"

Justus effortlessly held his cousin back. He was toned and muscled from daily workouts in the Quartermaine gym. "Listen to me, all of you. Whoever took Michael did not have to return him. But they did. And they returned him alive." Justus forced A.J. to meet his gaze. "If you go and get the police involved in this, there is no guarantee Michael will stay alive."

Uncertainty was written on the faces of those gathered. "Look." Justus gently touched one corner of Michael's closed eyes. "There was tape here. Whoever took Michael taped his eyes shut to keep him from seeing anything. They only did that because they had no intention of harming him."

"No intention of harming him?" A.J.'s voice rose dramatically. "They left him on the doorstep helpless and naked!"

"Because they didn't want to leave any clues that might lead back to them. Michael has probably been washed down with a hose to remove any trace of where he's been."

"That's why his skin was so cool to the touch," Alan realized. Now that his initial panic had subsided, he was able to examine his young grandson with a physician's eye and not that of a grandfather. "His breathing is shallow, but it is even," he observed aloud. Alan made a sudden decision. "Let's take him upstairs," he instructed his surgeon wife Monica. A.J. followed closely on their heels.

"I am going to try and find Jason," Ned growled once the others had all gone upstairs to care for Michael. "He will know what is the best thing to do."

"Grow up, Ned! You know what Jason does for a living! Who do you think I learned all of that stuff from?" Justus glared at Ned. The constant animosity between them crackled like electricity.

The two Quartermaine cousins liked to believe that they were as different as two men could be. Neither appreciated comments that suggested they were instead quite alike. Both men were handsome and charming. Both were driven by a powerful sense of ambition. And both were fiercely loyal to their loved ones.

Ned stubbornly continued to try Jason's cell phone. I trust Jason, he retorted. I'll wait and hear it from him.

"Jason is dead, Justus announced bluntly. "If he is not already, he soon will be."

Ned's hand froze in the middle of dialing. "You really believe that Jason could be dead?" His tone was fearful.

"Somebody was able to walk right into the middle of Sonny's protection and take Michael. And then they did it again to return him here. Justus turned pained eyes toward his cousin. You tell me , Ned. Do you think that would be possible if Jason was alive?"

 

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