“How much did you give him?” Skye asked, keeping her voice down so as not to be overheard.
“Three pills crushed and dissolved in a cup of tea,” Sam said looking over at a still sleeping Jason. She had sat up all night keeping an eye on him – making sure he didn’t stop breathing during the night.
“THREE! Sam, two would have been more than enough – even one would have been fine,” Skye said, astonished.
“Now you tell me,” Sam grumbled. “What should I do?”
“He’s going to have to sleep it off,” Skye said.
Sam had figured as much and sighed. “Alright, thanks. How’s Elaina? Lorenzo said it was a rough night.”
“It was, but she’s okay now. She slept in bed with me. Lorenzo slept on the couch.”
Sam laughed. “I should have warned him she was a kicker.”
“He survived,” Skye responded. “Anyway, Elaina is having breakfast with Lorenzo and Diego. We’ll keep her for the day so Jason can recover.”
As far as Sam was concerned, that was the best thing to do. “Just call me if you need anything.”
Skye promised she would and hung up.
“So, what does Jason need to recover from?” Lorenzo asked from behind Skye.
Skye spun around, her eyes wide a moment. She hadn’t even heard him come up behind her. “Lorenzo!” she gasped, swatting his arm. “You scared me! What are you doing sneaking up on me like that?”
Lorenzo looked at Skye in amusement. “I wasn’t sneaking Skye,” he said. “I was wondering where you were for breakfast. You need to eat.”
“Ugh,” Skye made a face. “Do I have to? We both know I’m not going to be able to keep it down.”
“You still need to eat,” Lorenzo said sympathetically. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and guided her to the kitchen. “How about some toast and orange juice at least?”
Skye thought about it and then nodded. “As long as you are all done with those disgusting eggs and bacon,” she said.
Lorenzo laughed. “We’re done and the kitchen is cleaned up. Diego took Elaina to get dressed and then he’s going to take her riding on Goldie for a while. And after you eat . . .” Lorenzo said with a raised eyebrow. “You can tell me what Sam did to Jason and why he needs recovery time.”
After getting off the phone with Skye, Sam went to check on Jason again. He was still sleeping – and breathing regularly. Her stomach growled. Figuring he was going to be fine, Sam headed into the kitchen to get breakfast started. It was quiet without Elaina there. Sure, she had spent nights at Lorenzo’s before and all, but Sam really felt her absence this morning.
Moving around the kitchen, Sam pulled out the carton of eggs, bacon and cheese. Jason liked cheese omelets. Pouring herself a cup of coffee, Sam got to work. She wasn’t sure if Jason would wake up in time to eat, she was hoping the aromas of the cooking food – all of Jason’s favorites – would wake him up.
He groaned as he tried to pry open his eyes. His body felt like it was a dead weight and his eyelids as if they were made of lead. He couldn’t have been that tired . . . could he? As Jason tried to bring himself back to consciousness, he tried to remember what happened. Had it only been the night before? How long had he been asleep? Hours? Days?
Her lips were so soft under his. Her hair was silky and thick under his fingers as he moved over her. She moved under him, her arms wrapped around him, holding him close. The heaviness in his body seemed off . . . he couldn’t hold himself up . . . his thoughts were becoming muddled . . . he was becoming unfocused . . .
Jason’s eyes popped open as he remembered what had happened. The tea. Sam making sure he drank it. They were talking. Jason leaned in to kiss her. He must have passed out in the process.
Using all of the strength he could muster, Jason pulled himself up into a sitting position on the couch. He looked around, blinking a couple of times to clear his head and blurry vision. Sam was not in the living room. Getting to his feet was a little more difficult than sitting up had been, but Jason managed to stand. He could hear someone moving around in the kitchen, the scents of eggs and bacon wafting toward him. Jason made his way to the kitchen, using whatever furniture and walls he encountered along the way to support him as he went.
Reaching the kitchen, Jason stood in the entranceway, leaning against the wall as he watched her. The way her body moved as she flipped eggs and turned the bacon. He liked how she had piled her hair on top of her head; it showed off her long, smooth neck. He watched as she picked up her coffee cup and sipped from it as she put some strips of bacon onto two plates. Starting to feel a little stronger and more coherent, Jason cleared his throat. “I hope that whatever you put into my tea last night won’t end up in my breakfast,” he said. His voice coming out thick and gravelly.
He watched as Sam jumped, almost spilling her coffee, as she turned. “You’re awake!” she said and he saw relief pass over her face.
“Yes I am,” Jason said with a nod, still leaning against the wall. “You seem pretty . . . surprised about that.”
“Well, you were tired last night . . . I thought you would be sleeping longer,” Sam said, trying to sound casual.
Jason nodded. “I’m sure you were wondering if and when I would wake up, what the side effect of those pills you gave me last night would be.”
It was amusing to Jason as he watched Sam’s brows furrow in confusion. “What pills?” she asked, setting her coffee down. “You don’t like to take pills Jason.”
“And yet that didn’t stop you from somehow putting it into my tea last night.”
Sam opened her mouth to defend herself, although she had no clue how she was going to do that.
Jason smiled and pulled her to him, kissing her right on her mouth. After a moment, he pulled back and looked down at her.
It took Sam a moment to recover. “You’re not mad?” she asked, knowing there was no sense in trying to lie to him.
“No,” Jason said. “I know you were only doing what you thought would help me,” he admitted. “Although I wish you would have told me what you were doing.”
“Jason, you wouldn’t have drunk the tea if I told you,” Sam pointed out, her hands sliding up his chest and around his neck.
“Maybe not,” he conceded. “But if I had known, then I wouldn’t have started anything with you last night and fallen asleep in the middle of it.”
Sam smiled. “Don’t worry. I was able to get out from under you before you collapsed.”
“How about we skip breakfast and pick up where we left off,” Jason suggested, bending his head as he took her lips with his again.
“Did you have a good ride?” Diego asked his niece as he walked with her from the stables back to the house.
Elaina nodded as she walked beside him.
Diego looked down at her. Elaina had been quiet most of the morning. He had a feeling it had to do with what had happened last night. “You’re getting to be a great rider,” he said, trying to engage her in conversation. “I bet Poppi would like to see you ride later.”
Elaina just shrugged her shoulders. When they reached the house, Elaina ran up to her room, not saying anything as she passed Skye and Lorenzo, who were still in the kitchen.
“Did something happen?” Lorenzo asked his son after Elaina had run past.
“No,” said Diego as he poured himself another cup of coffee and sat at the table. “She had a wonderful ride. But she was pretty quiet on the walk back from the stables.”
“I’m sure she’s still upset about last night,” Lorenzo said, picking up his own coffee cup. “She’ll settle down soon.”
Diego hoped his father was right; otherwise, it was going to be a long day.
While Sam was in the shower, Jason found his cell phone and dialed the number for Dr. Lainey Winters. He waited for her to pick up and trying not to focus on Sam being in the shower and the fact that he really wanted to join her.
Jason pulled his thoughts back to the call and away from running his hands over Sam’s body. He cleared his throat. “Dr. Winters, this is Jason Morgan. I was wondering if you had a moment . . . I have some things I need to talk to you about.”
Lainey tried to hide her surprise. Of course, she knew who Jason Morgan was and what he had been through in the last couple of years, since the death of his fiancée Jessica. “Would you like to make an appointment and come in?” she asked, looking at her calendar.
He thought about it a moment. Going in and talking to a doctor was not something he was looking forward to, but this was for his daughter. “Yes,” he said, his voice coming out thick and he had to swallow a couple of times to clear his throat. “Any time is fine with me,” he added.
Lainey checked her schedule. “How about this afternoon, about one o’clock?” She had an hour opening.
“I’ll be there,” he said before ending the call and closing his phone. He let out a breath.
“Jason? Are you okay?” Sam asked from the doorway of the bathroom. She had used his bathroom – and had half hoped that he would have joined her.
Jason looked up, his breath catching. She was standing there wrapped in a large towel. Water droplets clung to her skin as it dripped from her still wet hair. He couldn’t help licking his lips.
Sam furrowed her eyebrows at him. “Jason? Is it Elaina? Is she okay?”
“Ummm . . . yeah, yeah, she’s fine,” Jason said, assuming she was as he had not heard otherwise from Lorenzo or Skye. “I was making an appointment with Lainey Winters. I wanted to talk to her about what’s going on with Elaina. See if she could offer some advice.”
Sam let out a breath and went to sit next to Jason on his bed. “I think that’s a good idea,” she said. “I know it wasn’t easy for you to do.”
“It wasn’t,” Jason admitted. “But I need help with her . . . more than her family. I need someone from the outside to see her . . . get another perspective.”
“When is the appointment?” Sam asked, moving behind him to rub his shoulders. He was so tense.
“One,” Jason said, closing his eyes and rolling his neck as she worked his muscles. He groaned as she kneaded the tight muscles. “That feels so good,” he moaned.
Leaning down, Sam continued to work his shoulders as she traced her lips over his neck.
Reaching back, Jason tangled his fingers in her hair, tilting his head to the side to give Sam more room to work. Normally, Jason preferred to be the one to take control of these situations, but right now, he had no problem letting Sam take the lead.
His muscles began to relax under her fingers and Sam took advantage, tugging on his t-shirt. When Jason lifted his arms, Sam helped his take off the shirt. She tossed it to the floor. Running her hands down his chest, Sam felt the muscles ripple under her fingers, her body shivering at the power there. She knew he was perfectly capable of taking control, and yet, he was leaving it up to her. It gave Sam a delicious feeling.
Jason wasn’t sure if either of them was ready for the next step, but he didn’t want her to stop. He had to stop thinking and just go with what he was feeling. Wasn’t that what people had been telling him lately? Maybe it was time he took that advice to heart and followed through with it.
Lulu wasn’t sure how she was going to get through her classes today. All she kept thinking about was her dinner with Diego that evening. And if she didn’t stop going through her closet, trying to figure out that to wear, she was going to be late for class.
Turning from her closet, Lulu grabbed her bag and left her room. She was going to make sure to go straight home after her last class so she had time to decide on what to wear and get ready. She had a feeling this dinner was going to change things between her and Diego. Was she ready for that?
Diego swore under his breath as he missed the turnoff for PCU and had to backtrack. Thoughts of his dinner with Lulu that night had him distracted. He wasn’t sure how he had even managed to dress himself and get out of the house that morning.
I don’t know why I am so nervous about this, he thought. It wasn’t like he and Lulu hadn’t gone out to dinner before – because they had. But Diego knew that this dinner was going to be different. This dinner could change the course of their relationship thus far. Was he ready for that?
After cleaning up from breakfast, Lorenzo found Elaina in her room. She was laying on her bed, facing the window, curled up in a ball, clutching her teddy bear to her. “Hey Princesa,” he said softly as he walked into the room. Lorenzo was worried about her. Ever since the kidnapping, she wasn’t herself.
Elaina didn’t move as Lorenzo sat on the bed. He gently reached out and rubbed her back, hearing her sniffle. “Mi Princesa. . . te amo, el pequeno, estoy apesadumbrado . . .” (“My Princess . . . I love you, little one, I am sorry . . .”)
Elaina rolled over, dried tears on her cheeks. She looked up at him and whispered, “Poppi, me asustan . . . duseo a mi papa.” Then she crawled into Lorenzo’s lap. (“Poppi, I am scared . . . I want my Daddy.”)
Lorenzo sighed as he held her tightly, gently stroking her hair. “You will see you Daddy for dinner,” he said. “I promise you.”
“Senor Mendoza,” Antonio said with a nod of his head to the other man. “Senor Ruiz le esta esperando en la biliotica.” (“Mr. Ruiz is waiting for you in the library.”) After the man nodded, Antonio turned and led the way. He had been the one to do most of the research on the Mendoza family and knew that Johnny was the most lethal of the bunch, so it came as no surprise that Manny wanted to do business with him.
As they walked, Antonio took a minute to check the other man out; he wouldn’t be a good head of security if he didn’t. Johnny was tall, just shy of six feet. He was mostly all muscle, as was evidenced by the finely tailored suit he wore. His dark hair was long, reaching past his shoulders and tied back in a ponytail. He had sharp features and alert dark eyes. Everything about him exuded authority and Antonio was sure it was Johnny that ran the business and his father was just a face and name.
They had reached the library. Antonio knocked once and then opened the door. The windows of this room looked out over the driveway of the estate and he knew that Manny knew of Mendoza’s arrival. “He is here sir,” he said.
“Send him in,” Manny said, turning from the window and walking over to the bar.
Antonio stood aside and let Johnny Mendoza walk past him. He then stepped back out into the hallway and pulled the door closed behind him.
“Welcome Mr. Mendoza. May I offer you a drink?” Manny said, gesturing to the well stocked bar.
Johnny nodded. “Gracias,” he said. “Tequila will be fine.”
Manny nodded and poured two shots of tequila. The men clinked the shots together before downing them. They they got down to business.
“Are you sure?” Stan asked, the phone pressed to his ear as he tapped at the keys on his computer.
“As sure as I can be,” Spinelli said at the other end of the line. “The Evil One was just visited by another Dark Dude . . . by the name of . . .” Spinelli clicked on some links and found the name he was looking for. “Johnny Mendoza . . . whoa, this dude is seriously bad-ass.”
“Yeah, he is,” Stan agreed. “But I don’t understand what he’s doing with Manny. His father, Alberto Mendoza, is one of Lorenzo’s loyal associates.”
Spinelli snorted. “Well, Big Poppa there might now know what El Junior is up to,” he said. “I’m sending you the surveillance pics I downloaded.”
“Pictures? Where did you get those?” Stan asked, sitting back. They had a feeling Manny was holing up at his compound in Miami, but as far as he knew, they didn’t have actual access to photos. There was a team on watch, but they couldn’t get close enough to the property.
“You doubt the prowess of The Jackal,” Spinelli said. “I was able to tap into one of the satellites that happen to be sitting right over the Evil Ones not so humble abode.”
Stan shook his head. “Lorenzo will have your ass if you get caught,” he said.
“No fear,” Spinelli scoffed. “The Jackal is never caught.”
Stan didn’t respond as he opened the file Spinelli had sent him. “That’s Mendoza all right,” he said. “I’m going to notify the team out there and see what they can find out.”
“Do you want me to inform Stone Cold and Big Al?”
“Man, I don’t know how you get away with those names,” Stan said. “But yeah, go ahead and let them know what’s going on. I’ll get in touch with out team and get back to you.”
“Will do Master,” Spinelli said as he snapped his phone closed. He grabbed his lap top and shoved it, with the printouts of the pictures, into his ever present bag. Then he left his room in search of Lorenzo.
“She seems a little more settled,” Skye commented as she watched Elaina playing on the playground. She had found a friend she played with before and the two were currently trying to build a sandcastle in the sandbox.
“I’m really worried about her,” Lorenzo said, wrapping his arms around Skye. They had decided to try a picnic and get Elaina out of the house and off of the property for a while. It seemed to be working. “She’s withdrawing more and more . . . especially after her last outburst.”
“Didn’t you say Jason was thinking of talking to Dr. Winters?” Skye asked, turning her head to look up at him.
Lorenzo nodded. “Yeah. I’m going to stress that he does if he hasn’t already. She’s so young Skye . . .”
Skye turned back to watch Elaina. The poor little thing had been through so much lately – and this latest incident had really hit her hard. Skye slid her hands to her belly and sighed.
Lorenzo had been watching Skye as she watched Elaina, and he had a fueling of what was going through her head. “I would understand if you wanted to rethink our current arrangement.”
Skye turned to look up at him. “Current arrangement? You make it sound as if what we have is a business deal,” she said, astonished at his choice of words. She could also see they way he was trying to emotionally distance himself, as if he were anticipating her rejection.
Lorenzo didn’t look at her. It would be too hard to look into her eyes when she told him that she couldn’t live this life – his life – ad wouldn’t put her child at risk.
When Lorenzo didn’t respond right away, Skye turned around fully to look at him. When he didn’t look at her, Skye put her hands on his cheeks and forced him to look at her. “You listen to me and you listen damn good Lorenzo Alcazar,” she said firmly, making sure she had his full attention. “I am in love with you in a way I have never loved anyone in my entire life. You’re it for me Lorenzo. You are everything to me. I am not walking away from you – ever – for any reason. And I am not going to take our child away from you. We created this child – this miracle child – together out of love and trust and respect. Don’t you dare try to push me away because I am not going anywhere.”
Lorenzo stared at her with wide eyes. He believed every word she said and knew if he tried to leave her for her safety, she would hunt him down and drag him back by his hair. He swallowed and nodded, not sure if it was safe to try and talk.
“Good,” said Skye. “Not that we have that straightened out, and you understand where things stand, I will tell you what I was thinking. Although I will point out that all you have to do is ask.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Lorenzo said with a smile. “So, what were you thinking my love?”
Skye settled her back against his chest again, wrapping his arms around her and settling his hands over her belly, her hands over his. “I was thinking that I can’t wait to see our little boy or girl running around, playing with Elaina. I was thinking that Elaina has been through so much . . . but she’s a trooper, tougher than you would think. I was thinking that she has so much of Jessica and Jason in her and that’s what makes her a survivor.” She tilted her head up to his. “And that’s what I was thinking Lorenzo. Not wanting to leave you.”
“I think I understand that now more than ever,” Lorenzo said, bending his head to kiss her gently.
When Spinelli couldn’t find Lorenzo at the main house, he headed to the gatehouse, where Stone Cold lived with the Fair Samantha and the Little Precious One.
Not wanting to sit on the information he had too long, Spinelli slipped in the back door, finding the kitchen empty, except for a plate of bacon and some cold eggs. Looking around, Spinelli shrugged and snatched a handful of the bacon off the plate and stuffed it into his mouth.
Sam’s body arched as Jason bit into the skin of her neck, then soothed the spot with his tongue as he moved across her collarbone, to the other side of her neck.
“Jason . . .” Sam moaned as she dug her nails into his strong back, wrapping her legs around his waist as he moved in and out of her in a steady rhythm.
Jason pulled back from her neck, his eyes on hers as they moved together. Jason moved with her as Sam rolled them over so she was on top, the sheet that had been covering their bodies was now pooled around her waist.
In that moment, Jason knew he and Sam were connected forever.
Spinelli looked around the downstairs, not finding any sign that Stone Cold or Fair Samantha were around. Shrugging his shoulders, he was about to leave when he heard noise coming from upstairs.
Sam lay in Jason’s arms, her breathing still coming out heavily, her head on his chest as they just lay together, savoring the moment.
Spinelli looking into the Precious One’s room, finding it empty. He was sure he had heard something. He moved to the bedroom across the hall.
Jason tilted Sam’s chin up to him and kissed her gently. He wasn’t sure he was going to be able to put into words what he was feeling in that moment. But before he could try to, the door to his bedroom burst open.
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