“Oh my God! A double wedding!” Carly exclaimed excitedly, hugging both Sam and Skye at the same time – which was no easy feat.
Skye laughed and shook her head. “A double wedding would be fun, but I don’t think Sam and Jason want to wait until these little ones are born.”
Esmerelda watched and drew on the excitement radiating through the room. In the middle of uncertainty and danger that surrounds the lives of Jason and Lorenzo; they managed to bring joy and happiness to their loved ones.
“This calls for a celebration!” Carly claimed loudly. “I’m going to call the Metro-Court and have them send over dinner and dessert.” She pulled out her cell phone and moved away to make the call.
As Skye helped Carly with figuring out what to order, Sam sat next to Esmerelda, hugging her. “Thank you,” she said.
Smiling at the young woman she practically raised as her own flesh and blood daughter. “What are you thanking me for?” she asked with a laugh. “I’m not the one who proposed to you.”
“But you gave Jason your ring,” Sam said, looking down at her left hand. “I’ve always loved this ring because no matter what my father did – including cheating on you with my mother – I know he loved you and that he always had. For me, this ring is a symbol that no matter what happens, mine and Jason’s love is enduring.”
Taking Sam’s hands in hers, Esmerelda gently squeezed her fingers. “You are going to be a wonderful wife to Jason and an amazing mother to Elaina.”
“It’s so strange, I never thought I would be someone’s wife, much less a mother,” Sam admitted, knowing she could share her feelings with the woman she had come to consider her mother. Her own mother had never been much of a role model – she had always been too self-absorbed in herself and her latest male conquest. “I always prided myself on being independent and controlling my own destiny, but this feels right too . . .”
“It feels right because it is,” Esmerelda said. “And Jason loves you for who you are, not for who he wants you to be. Just enjoy being in love, being a wife and mother.”
“Did you always enjoy it? I’m not stupid, I know what Jason does for his life – I’ve grown up with it . . . but were there ever times you wished your husband had been or done something else?”
Esmerelda thought a moment, although she really didn’t need to. “You know that Ramon and I were married out of family obligation, and I guess I never had the chance to fall in love with him as you have with Jason or Skye has with Lorenzo, but he was the father of my children – including you – and although he lived a highly dangerous life I knew he would have done anything to keep me and my children safe.”
Sam bit her lip, a sense of sadness washing over her. As a little girl she used to imagine what it would be like to fall in love, be swept off her feet by the man of her dreams, and it saddened her to think that had never happened for Esmerelda.
“I was . . . content with the life I lived with my husband,” she said. “And now I am happy to see you and Lorenzo living your lives.”
“I love you Momma Mella,” Sam said, throwing her arms around the other woman’s neck, hugging her tightly. “I’m going to make sure Carly orders cheese fries.” With that, she jumped up to find Carly and Skye.
Leaving the excitement of the living room and the current argument between Skye and Carly about what to order for dinner, Lulu went in t search of Diego. A lot was going on at once and she wanted to see how he was handling it all.
Not finding him on the main floor, after checking the kitchen, library and garden, Lulu headed upstairs, finding him in the room that was going to be the nursery for the twins. “Hey,” she said softly, entering the room.
Diego turned, a stuffed bear in his hands. “Hey,” he said in response, placing the animal on the window seat. “Is something wrong?”
Lulu shrugged. “You tell me,” she said. “Are you okay?”
Letting out a deep sigh, Diego sank onto the window seat next to the bear. “I don’t know,” he admitted.
Lulu joined him. “Does it have to do with Jason and your dad proposing to Sam and Skye?” she asked.
“No,” Diego said. “I think it’s wonderful. After losing Jessica, I didn’t think Jason would ever be able to find someone – and Sam is a great choice. If there was anyone I would love to have raise Elaina, it would be Sam.”
“And what about your dad and Skye?” she prodded, wondering if he was feeling left out by the new family his father was creating with Skye.
“In the years I’ve known my father, I have never seen him truly and deeply in love,” Diego reflected. “I remember Jessica telling me about this one time when he was really in love . . . with a woman named Sophie. With all that had happened over the last few years, I never thought he would find that again – so I am happy for him.”
Nodding, Lulu leaned back against the cushions. “I’ll admit, I’ve known of your father even before you arrived in town and he always seemed so intimidating,” she said. “He carried this sense of power with him wherever he went. But there was also this sadness, this loss, in his eyes at the same time. Getting to know him as I have, I see this man that is not only powerful and intimidating, but a man who loves his family deeply and who is willing to give his life for them – and he almost did. I see a lot of him in you as well.”
Diego looked up at her and chuckled. “When I first found out he was my father, I didn’t want it to be true. It was so much easier believing he was the man who had killed my father and hating him, but finding out he gave me life and knew nothing about me . . . once I got to know him, it was different.”
“What’s going on Diego?” Lulu asked again.
“This thing with Manny and Mateo is scary . . . I’ll be honest about that,” Diego said, looking at her. “What Manny has already done to my family – to Jason and my father – and now there’s this brother who’s supposed to be worse than him. It’s scary. I don’t want to lose any of my family to them . . . to anyone intent on taking what doesn’t belong to them. We’ve all worked so hard to get to where we are now.”
Taking his hands, Lulu looked into his eyes. “With each experience this family has, you all get stronger and more determined to survive. Every member of this family has their strengths and ways to survive and pooled together, you are all a force to be reckoned with. Ric Lansing, Sonny Corinthos, Faith Rosco – none of them ever truly won and neither will Manny or Mateo Ruiz.”
Withdrawing one of his hands from hers, Diego gently brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. “Having you by my side helps a lot,” he said. “I don’t know if I would have been able to get through half of this without you.”
Lulu blinked back a surge of tears. “I don’t want to be anywhere else,” she whispered. “We’re a part of each other Diego – I think of your family as mine. I love you Diego.”
“And I love you,” Diego whispered, leaning down and gently brushing his lips over hers.
Spinelli’s eyes widened as he hit the print button, not looking as pages started to slide out of the printer. What he was reading had him literally shaking. Mateo Ruiz was a monster – he was worse than a monster. And now he was going to have to share that with Lorenzo Alcazar and Jason Morgan. Another concept that sent chills down his spine. A shot of orange soda would help.
Lorenzo shook his head as he looked over the contents of the file Spinelli had put together. He glanced at Jason, who was having the same reaction.
“This is not good,” Jason said, putting the papers down. “He’s worse than Manny.”
Lorenzo agreed. “A lot worse,” he said. He looked at his son. “And he’s been worshipping there all this time?”
“No,” Spinelli jumped in. “He was transferred there six months ago.”
“Manny had to have gone to him,” Diego put in.
“And you confirmed with Father Coates that Mateo Ruiz is a priest there?” Jason asked, impressed with the work Diego had done.
“He used to work there,” Diego said. “According to Father Coates, Mateo disappeared. He left no word, didn’t hand in a resignation or ask for a transfer. He’s gone.”
“He’s with Manny,” Lorenzo declared. “Manny turned him back to his side.”
“What do we do now?” Diego asked. In that moment, when the words came out of his father’s mouth, he knew they were now in a very dangerous situation. Probably the most dangerous they had ever been in.
“We take measures to keep them from getting the upper hand,” Lorenzo said. “I’m not going to sit back and wait for them to make the first move. They most likely don’t know we know of Mateo’s existence – so we’re one step ahead at the moment. Now we have to figure out where they are and what they may try next.”
Jason picked up his folder again, flipping through it. “Mateo doesn’t have a problem using family,” he said, looking over the information, not liking what he was reading. He looked at Lorenzo. “He may go after Skye, Sam and the kids.”
“We can’t send them away,” Lorenzo insisted. “It’s too dangerous. But I think we need to tell them about Mateo. The more they know the more on guard they’ll be.”
“Agreed,” Jason said, tossing the folder back on the table. He turned his attention to Max. “Get a team together. Work with Diego and Spinelli to find where Mateo and Manny are hiding and set up surveillance. We need to know every move they make.”
Nodding, Max left the room to select his men. He also wanted to make sure there were enough men on rotation for Sam, Skye, Esmerelda and the kids. He would never forgive himself if something happened to them on his watch.
“Tell Sam and Skye is not going to be easy,” Jason commented.
“You take Sam,” Lorenzo said. “I’ve got Skye. Sam can handle it; your only problem will be keeping her from going after them herself.”
Jason rubbed his head. Lorenzo was right. Sam was not going to run and hide; she was going to stand at his side and fight. And he realized that he loved her for that. He was proud of her ability to take care of herself in dangerous situations.
“Lorenzo has the right idea,” Sam said after Jason finished telling her what the knew about Manny and Mateo Ruiz. “We can’t just sit back and wait for them to strike. We have to put up a defensive and plan an offensive if we’re going to beat them.”
Sam was reacting the way Jason knew she would – already making plans on what had to be done. “You’re right,” he said. “But the ‘we’ you’re discussing is me and Lorenzo, not you.” At her look, Jason held up his hands. “Sam, I don’t want you going after Mateo at all.”
Her eyebrow arched and she crossed her arms. “Jason, I am more than capable of handling myself,” she said.
“I know,” Jason said. “And I love that about you. But we’ve had this conversation before. I will not lose you to my life the way I lost Jessica. And I don’t want Elaina to lose another mother.”
Sam softened and wrapped her arms around Jason. “I wasn’t planning on donning my armor, grabbing my sword and riding off into the night to defend my family Jason,” she said, looking up into his deep blue eyes. “I love you Jason. I love what we have. But if it comes down to it, I will do what has to be done to protect my family – you and Elaina are just as much my family as Lorenzo and Esmerelda.”
Dipping his head, Jason kissed Sam deeply.
Skye sat on the couch, her hand on her large belly as she listened to Lorenzo. She looked up at him. “Are you going to send us away?” she asked.
Lorenzo sat next to her, putting his hands over hers. “No,” he said. “It’s safer for you and kids to remain here – where there’s more security. But I wanted you to know what we were up against here. We’ve experienced what Manny is capable of, but from what Diego and Spinelli have been able to put together, Mateo is worse.”
She wasn’t sure what to say. Part of her wanted to know how much worse Mateo was, but another part of her didn’t want to know. She nodded. “You know I’ll do whatever you feel is safe for us,” she said.
Loving her more and more for her understanding and support, Lorenzo gently brushed her hair back from her face. “I don’t want this new threat to put a halt to our lives,” he said. “Jason and Sam are going ahead with planning their wedding. Whatever you have planned for these miracle babies, go with it. Decorate the nursery. Go shopping with Carly and Sam. The only difference might be an increase of guards when you’re off the property.”
“We also have to decide what we’re going to do for Diego’s birthday,” Skye reminded him. “It’s coming up in two weeks.”
Lorenzo smiled. “I haven’t forgotten,” he said. “I’ve already put in the order for his gift.”
Skye’s eyes lit up. “Excellent!” she said. “I was thinking of hosting a nightclub type party at the Metro-Court, Carly has the room already booked for us. Invitations are being sent as we speak.”
“Sounds like you have everything under control.” Of which he was very grateful.
“Life is not going to stop just because there are two psychos out there intent to destroy our lives,” Skye declared. “I won’t let it. Because then they win and this is my way of making sure they don’t win.”
Finding Spinelli in the little cottage at the edge of the property he was currently living in, Lulu slipped in the front door. Spinelli was sitting on the couch, the low coffee table littered in papers, bags of chips and bottle of orange soda. “Spinelli!” she said, watching him practically leap off the couch.
“Geez Blonde One!” Spinelli said, one hand clutching his laptop, the other one over his heart. “Do not sneak up on The Jackal like that!”
Lulu rolled her eyes. “Well, if The Jackal had answered the door when I knocked, I wouldn’t have had to scare you,” she said, folding her arms. “What are you doing?”
“Did the Blonde One not hear about the Demented Duo?” he asked, settling back on the couch.
“Yes, I know about them,” Lulu said. “Have you been able to find what I asked you to find for me?”
“Fear not Beautiful Blonde One,” Spinelli said with a wide smile. “The Jackal has accomplished the task you have set him.”
“You go it?” she asked, rushing over to the couch and plopping down next to him. “Is it going to be ready in time?”
Her closeness brought the scent of vanilla wafting to his nose.
“Spinelli!” Lulu hit him on the arm to get his attention. “Focus!”
Pulling himself out of his reverie, Spinelli pulled up a web page he had saved. “Here it is,” he pronounced, turning the machine so she could see it.
Lulu smiled. “It’s perfect,” she said. “He’s going to love it.”
“Going after the family will not get us what we want,” Mateo said, shaking his head. “We go after the women or children; all it will do is distract Alcazar and Morgan and lead us to babysit our captives. It will not benefit us.”
“Then how do you want to approach this?” Manny asked.
“We go after Alcazar and Morgan directly. If any of their family happen to end up as casualties, then there is nothing we can do about it,” Mateo explained. “We track them, learn their routines and find the perfect moment to strike. We might only get one good shot at this. A second try may not be as easy to come by.”
Manny agreed, although the waiting and tracking was not going to be his strong point. He would rather act than sit and watch. But in this case, he was going to follow his brother’s lead. Stalking and planning was always Mateo’s strong suit. Morgan and Alcazar were finally going to go down.
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