Esmerelda stood in the kitchen doorway looking at her son. She was grateful he had pulled through his ordeal and only suffered a short relapse after finally returning home. She couldn’t thank the doctors enough for their hard work and determination in keeping her one remaining son alive.
“Are you planning on standing there staring at me?” Lorenzo asked gruffly.
After everything he had been through at the hands of an evil individual, Esmerelda couldn’t be happier to have her son back, but she could do without the attitude.
Ignoring the question, Esmerelda moved into the room and started pulling out pots and pans. “Do you have any requests for dinner?” she asked, opening the freezer.
Lorenzo just grunted into his coffee cup.
Esmerelda turned. “I know you have a better vocabulary than that,” she admonished him.
Sighing, Lorenzo put his mug down and stood. “Whatever you decide is fine,” he responded.
Esmerelda put the package of porkchops in her hand down. “You stop right there!” she ordered sternly.
Lorenzo stopped but didn’t turn back to his mother.
“You have been through the most horrible of things Lorenzo,” Esmerelda said, softening her voice. “And you survived what anyone else wouldn’t have. You beat the odds. What I don’t understand is this attitude of yours.” Reaching up, she gently placed her hand on his back.
Lorenzo stiffened at her touch and moved away. “I think it’s time you returned home,” he said, not looking at her. “You’ll be more comfortable there.”
“Do not do this Lorenzo,” Esmerelda warned. “Do not become your father.”
Lorenzo turned to her, seeing anger, hurt and disappointment in her eyes. He steeled himself against it, making himself not see it. “You came here to help everyone get back on their feet, we’re fine now. There is no longer any reason for you to stay.”
He was trying to protect himself and everyone else. And he thought he could do it by pushing those who loved him most away. “I am rather enjoying my time here and have no intention of leaving. My grandchildren will be born soon and Skye is going to need all the help she can get . . . especially when the father of her children is acting like a boorish pig.” With that said, she turned on her heel and went back to her cooking.
Not responding, Lorenzo walked out of the kitchen.
“He’s not getting any better,” Diego said from the kitchen’s back door.
Esmerelda looked up and shook her head. “I know,” she said. “But until he wants to get better, there is nothing we can do about it.”
“Is he really becoming like his father?” Diego asked, coming into the kitchen. He never knew his grandfather, but he had heard stories and done some of his own research. From what he had heard and found out, Ramon Alcazar had not been a decent human being. And it had nothing to do with the kind of business he was in. Diego knew the job didn’t define you.
“There are glimpses, as I always knew there would be,” Esmerelda said. “Luis acted on it more than Lorenzo . . . but Lorenzo was pushed to his ultimate limits in this ordeal. He was able to survive so much; I just don’t want to lose him now.”
“If I have anything to say about it, none of us will lose him,” Diego vowed – even if he had to take drastic measures.
“I just don’t know what else I can do,” Skye said, picking at the croissant in front of her, but not really eating any of it.
“Is he still sleeping in the guest room?” Carly asked, sipping her orange juice. She, Sam and Skye had met for brunch at the Metro-Court.
“He has been almost since coming home. I know at first it was because his back still hurt from his injuries and he didn’t want to bother me by moving around a lot, but now . . . he’s avoiding me and it’s pissing me off.”
“Have you told him any of this?” Carly asked. As she and the boys were no longer living on the Alcazar property, she wasn’t as in the loop as she would have liked to be.
“It doesn’t do anything,” Skye said, sighing. “You know, I was worried I would lose him to Manny’s torture, then to that infection. Now I’m losing him period. He’s pulling away . . . I can feel it. And not just from me, but from everyone.”
“It’s a survival tactic,” Sam said, speaking up for the first time since they had sat down. “He’s shutting down. Distancing himself. He figures that if he does, it won’t hurt as much when we all turn away from him.”
“Well, that’s not going to happen!” Skye exclaimed. “None of us would do that!”
“But it’s what he thinks he wants right now,” Sam continued. “He thinks he’s a danger to all of us. He knows Manny is still out there and is still a threat, which means that, to Lorenzo’s way of thinking, he himself is a threat to all of us.”
Skye shook her head. “I am not going to stand for it,” she said, tossing her napkin down and standing. “I don’t care what I have to do, but I am not going to let him walk away.”
Carly and Sam watched as Skye got on the elevator. “Manny has nothing on Skye when she’s determined to do something,” Carly commented.
Sam nodded, resting her chin on her hand.
“Okay, what’s going on with you?” Carly asked, focusing her attention now on Sam.
“I’m worried about Lorenzo,” Sam said, shrugging. “I’ve never seen him like this before – it’s unsettling and I don’t like it.”
“True,” Carly said. “But you know Lorenzo will get through this, especially if we are all there to support him. Something else is going on with you though . . . I mean, you’re actually quiet.”
Sam raised an eyebrow. “Like you know what being quiet is all about,” she commented.
Carly just rolled he eyes. “So . . . how are things with you and Jason? I mean, with Lorenzo home now, things between the two of you should be heating up.”
Sam rolled her eyes and sat back in her chair. “Truthfully, things have fizzled out. Jason is so intent on tracking down where Manny might be and running things for Lorenzo that we really haven’t spent much quality time together.”
“Then you need to remind him that the two of you need time together and that not everything revolves around business,” Carly said.
Sam took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “You know what, you’re right,” she said, standing. “And there’s no better time than the present to remind him of that.”
“It’s been two months!” Jason exclaimed. “There has to be some sign of him somewhere!”
“I’m sorry Jason,” Max said. “But the reports I have gotten have come up empty. It’s like he disappeared.”
“People don’t just disappear unless it’s made to happen or they really want to. Have Stan and Spinelli dig into his family history, see if there is anyone left that Manny would go to for help or to recover.”
Max just nodded and left.
Jason ran his hands through his hair and sighed. He knew everyone has been hoping that everything was going to go back to the way things were once Lorenzo was home. But that hadn’t happened. Lorenzo’s whole demeanor had changed – he was more easily agitated, on edge and quiet. Lorenzo was always quiet in a contemplative sort of way, but this was different. It was a quiet that was unsettling. He was lashing out at people, including those he loved. So far, nothing any of them did helped.
Returning to his desk, he sighed when his cell phone went off. He pulled it out of his pocket and flipped it open. “Yeah.”
“Hey Jason,” came Sam’s voice. “Are you home?”
“Yeah, I’m in the office, where are you?” he asked, feeling his body relax at her voice. He knew he hadn’t been fair to Sam lately, not spending as much time with her as he wanted to.
“Upstairs,” Sam said.
He was curious now. “Why are you calling me on my cell if you’re in the house?” he asked.
“Well, I wasn’t sure if you were here . . . and I am too comfortable to have gone looking for you,” she said. “So . . . what are you doing?”
“Just finished up a meeting with Max,” Jason answered, putting his feet up on the desk.
“So . . . you’re free for the moment?” she asked. Jason heard the soft purr in her voice.
“Seems that way,” Jason commented.
“Well, why don’t you come on up here . . . I’m sure I can find some way to . . . use that free time.”
Snapping his phone closed, Jason practically jumped up from his desk and left the office.
“I take it things aren’t going to great,” Lainey said sympathetically. Diego had been coming to see her regularly over the last couple of months.
Diego just snorted as he plopped into the armchair across from Lainey. When he first started his sessions, he had been nervous and felt awkward. He wasn’t sure he would be able to adequately express his feelings – but after a couple of sessions, he found talking with Lainey was very therapeutic. He hadn’t realized how much he had been keeping inside.
“I think it’s getting worse,” he sighed.
“Worse how?” Lainey asked. When meeting with Diego, Lainey tried to keep the sessions focused on him and his many unresolved issues concerning how he grew up, his parents, his past relationships and his place within his own family – especially with the coming arrival of his new brother and sister. But she could tell he needed to vent and probably felt he didn’t really have anyone to open up to at home at the moment.
“My dad hasn’t been doing too well – he’s not sleeping and when he does, he in the guest room. He’s lashing out – you never know what’s going to set him off.”
“And how are you handling it?” Lainey asked, refocusing things back to him.
Diego blew out a breath and shrugged. “I’m keeping an eye on Skye, making sure she doesn’t get too stressed, I help Jason with the business, spend time with Elaina-"
“Diego, it seems like you’re there for everyone . . . but yourself,” Lainey interrupted him. “What are you doing to support yourself?”
“I have school . . . and Lulu,” he said with another shrug.
Lainey nodded. “I do understand how that you feel responsible for keeping your family afloat, but you need to remember that you can’t and shouldn’t do it all. Before our next session, I want you to do something you enjoy and do it for yourself.”
As he rode the elevator down to the lobby, Diego leaned back against the wall and thought about what Lainey had said.
“I said I was not going to help you with your revenge, Manny,” Father Mateo Ruiz said with a shake of his head. “I no longer live that kind of life.”
“Yeah, yeah, you found God in jail,” Manny scoffed. “So where was your God when Javier was shot and killed by Jason Morgan?”
“Javier made his choices for his life and he has paid the consequences,” Mateo said. “I have decided to choose another path. A path that is much more fulfilling and I must implore that you do the same.”
“We are the only ones of our family left, Mateo. We must continue with what our father has built,” Manny insisted, balling his hands into fists. The last two months, he had recovered and was working on how best to go after the Alcazar/Morgan family. He needed to convince his brother to work with him, not against him.
Mateo wished that his brother would change his ways, like he had. He remembered what living a life of power and revenge was all about – he was repenting for all he had done in his youth up until he and Manny were jailed. He mourned the passing of his father and brother. He did not want to have to mourn another brother.
Manny hoped that this whole religious thing with his brother would pass. That it was just a phase of his life he would get over and come back to the family where he rightfully belonged.
“You like to think you’re a man of God, Mateo, but he has never done anything to help us. It’s a joke and you know it. You haven’t changed. Deep down, you’re the same man you always were. Ruthless. Hard. Cold as ice and just as lethal. You know you want to avenge our father and brother and the only way to do that is to strike out at Alcazar and Morgan. Take from them what they took from us. Make them pay.”
Clutching his rosary beads in fist hard enough for the beads to leave indentations in his skin, Mateo tried to ignore Manny’s taunts. He was no longer the man Manny wanted him to be. He had done horrible things as that person; taken lives he had no right taking. He knew that know. Manny was too filled with hate to see what he was doing.
Given a little more time, Mateo was sure he would be able to help Manny to see the right path and take it. If he not, Mateo was sure he was going to lose him brother for good.
Sam sighed and cuddled closer to Jason, loving the feeling of his arms wrapped around her. “Hmmm . . . this is so nice,” she murmured.
Kissing the top of her head, breathing in the exotic scent of her shampoo, Jason agreed. “I’m sorry we haven’t been able to spend time like this together,” he said.
Sam looked up at him. “I don’t want you to be sorry, Jason. I know that you need to be there to hold things together for Lorenzo and that you have to track down Manny – I wouldn’t ask you to stop doing either of those things . . . but what I want you to see if that you shouldn’t put your life on hold to do it. You have a family Jason . . . we need you just as much as the business does.”
Jason looked down at her. Family. Family was everything to him. Over the years, he had started to become closer to Monica again, letting her more and more into his life. She was wonderful with Elaina and his little girl adored her and Edward. And Lorenzo . . . until Jessica came into his life; he never would have thought in a million years that he would consider Lorenzo Alcazar family. But he did. Lorenzo had become more than a business partner; he had become his best friend and confidant, a role vacated by Sonny’s betrayal of his trust. And now he had Sam. Sam was everything to him. She gave him back his life, loved his daughter, understood and accepted him with no strings attached. He didn’t think he would ever find another woman like that again – not since Jessica.
“You are my family,” Jason said. “I love you Sam . . . more than I thought was possible. I never even considered falling in love again after losing Jessica . . . I thought it would hurt too much.”
She smiled up at him, feeling tears brim in her eyes. It wasn’t often that Jason opened up and spoke what was in his heart – and when he did, it heartfelt and sincere. “I love you too Jason,” she said. “I love you and Elaina so much. You’re my family too.”
Leaning down, Jason kissed Sam gently, pulling her closer to him.
Sam slid her body over Jason’s, straddling him, feeling him respond to what she was doing.
Not complaining, Jason slid his hands down her body, pulling her down to him.
“What the hell are you doing?” Skye asked, stopping in the doorway to hers and Lorenzo’s bedroom, watching as he packed a large suitcase – with her clothes.
He didn’t look at her. “I’m sending you to a safe house,” he said.
“Like hell you are,” Skye snapped, walking over and flipping the lid of the suitcase closed, catching his hands.
“Skye, I am not arguing with you about this,” he said, still not looking at her as he reopened the case and put more clothes inside.
“Yes you are, whether you like it or not,” Skye responded, grabbing a blouse out of his hands and hurling it across the room. “Look at me.”
Steeling himself, Lorenzo looked at her. Or at least in her general direction.
Skye walked over to him, took his chin in her hand and forced him to look down at her. “You are not doing this,” she said, determination lacing her voice. “I won’t allow it. You are not sending me away. I am not going anywhere. We are family Lorenzo. You and I. We are having children together!” She grabbed his hand with her free hand and put it on her large belly, feeling the movement of their little babies under their joined hands.
Swallowing, Lorenzo pulled his hand away from Skye and walked to the window. He clasped his hands behind his back, staring out at the grounds and the lake. “The situation is not safe, Skye. It would be better for you and the babies to not be here for a while.”
“No Lorenzo – it would be better for you, isn’t that what you want to say?” Skye asked, walking over to him. “You went through a horrible thing, Lorenzo . . . I can’t even begin to understand what you must be feeling . . . but shutting your family out is not going to help matters. You can’t protect us by sending us away.”
“It’s important that you and our children are safe. You aren’t safe with me,” Lorenzo said again.
Taking his hand, Skye put it on her stomach again. “We’re safer with you than not,” she said gently. “These babies are a miracle Lorenzo and they almost lost you . . . don’t push us away now. You said you wanted to be there from the beginning, from the moment they were born . . . I want you there too. You promised we would raise them together and I am holding you to that, Lorenzo Alcazar.”
Looking down at her stomach, feeling his son and daughter move under the palm of his hand, knowing the devastation he would feel if something were to happen to them because of him. He couldn’t let that happen. He shook his head. “No,” he said. “I can’t do this Skye. I can’t keep you and these babies safe . . . I need you to leave. I’ll have Max get the car.”
Skye stared at his back in shock as Lorenzo left the bedroom, closing the door behind him. Picking up a vase, she hurled it at the closed door.
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