Disclaimer: I don't own General Hospital or its characters.

Author's Note: Okay, so I haven't updated this story in FOREVER, but I finally had a little bit of inspiration for it, so look for it to be updated a little more frequently. Since it has been months (5 months to be exact), this chapter will pretty much just sum up what happened in the last chapter, and look for more details of Carly's "plan" in the next chapter! Hopefully I still have a few readers on this story, or maybe I'll get some new ones, so as always, let me know what you think!

Courtney sighed and looked at her watch. It was getting close to dinnertime and none of her children were home. The room was quiet, too quiet, for her liking and she wished Emily would bring Lila back sooner than she was supposed to.

Of course, she had barely spent any time with the kids since the funeral and she knew that it was affecting them. She glanced at the calendar on the desk and thought about maybe taking everyone to the island as soon as the Nurses Ball was done. She smiled slightly, thinking that they all could use the vacation.

The door opened and she spun around to see Jack coming in. "Hey, where have you been?" she asked.

'The hospital," he said, sitting down on the couch. "Aunt Carly says Michael can come home tomorrow."

"That's great." Courtney finished her writing and moved from the desk. "He must be so excited, we should have a welcome home party or something for him."

"I think Morgan's already planning it." Jack looked around. "Where's Riley?" he asked.

"I'm not sure, at work probably," Courtney said with a glance at the clock. "I really should sit down with her, I don't even know her work schedule for this month."

"Riley hasn't talked to you?"

"No." Courtney's eyes narrowed. "Talked to me about what?"

Jack sighed. "She was supposed to talk to you today after school," he said. "She told me she would anyways."

"About what?" Courtney repeated. "Jack, is she okay?" She knew it was a useless question. As she had been finding out slowly, but progressively, Riley hadn't been okay since Jason had died. "Jack, tell me what's going on."

"Riley quit her job at the hospital right after dad died," Jack said. Courtney started to talk but he interrupted her. "There's more to it Mom. She was working in the E.R. that night. She saw Jacob when they brought him in."

"She was?" Courtney felt tears prick at her eyelids. "How come I didn't know about this?"

"I just found out about it today," Jack said.

"Well, did she see him? Did they talk? Was she with him when—" Courtney's mind was racing a million miles a second.

"She said he couldn't talk," Jack answered. "He had a tube in his throat already, but she said she sat with him, and she held his hand and talked to him."

"Oh." On one hand, Courtney was relieved that Jacob hadn't been completely alone in the hospital, but on the other, she knew it had to have been hard on Riley. And it also explained a lot of why she was behaving the way she was.

Didn't it? Courtney closed her eyes to keep from crying as she realized she had no idea what Riley was reacting to and why.

"Mom, are you okay?"

Courtney started to answer but before she could, there was a knock on the door and Carly came in, a huge smile on her face.

"Court, did Jack tell you, Michael's com—" She saw the look on Courtney's face and turned to Jack, who just shook his head. "Jack, how good are you with American history?"

"Not too bad, why?"

"Morgan needs help with his homework and I have no clue about anything he's talking about." She smiled. "Do you think you could go help him?"

"Sure." He paused and looked at Courtney, and was about to say something, but Carly shook her head slightly and gave him a reassuring smile. She waited until he had left the room and sat down next to Courtney, who was now crying freely. "What's going on Court?"

"I'm a horrible mother," Courtney whispered. She didn't stop to listen, as Carly tried to tell her it wasn't true. "How did things get like this? I don't even know my own children anymore!"

"Yes you do," Carly said. "Come on Courtney, the last month has been rough on everyone, there's no question about that, but you've been nothing but a great mom."

"Really?" Courtney laughed bitterly. "If I'm a great mother, then how come Riley quit her job without me knowing about it and started drinking? How come I'm letting my son be part of the mob? And I wouldn't be surprised if Lila starts calling Emily mommy, because she sees her a hell of a lot more than she sees me."

Carly sighed. "Sweetie, you just lost your husband and one of your children. That's not something you just bounce back from. You're still grieving."

"So are they!" Courtney protested. "And I'm not the one helping them get through it. I don't even know that they are getting through it." She took a deep breath. "Things need to get back to normal as soon as possible," she said quietly.

"They will," Carly assured her.

"No." Courtney shook her head. "I mean it Carly, I know I haven't been exactly excited about whatever your plan is, but we need to put it in action now. And we need to exclude Jack and Michael as much as possible. I know they could help us, but I don't think it's a good idea."

Carly nodded. "I've already started," she said. "Aidan is checking to see who Sonny and Jason may have had any arguments with in the last few months, and if there were any takeover attempts that we don't know of, and as soon as we have that information, we can move from there."

"Good." Courtney took a deep breath. "It's going to work, right?" she asked, looking up.

"Oh yeah." Carly offered her a smile. "It's going to work."

"Okay." She looked at her watch again. "It's getting late. I wonder what's keeping Riley."

"So she's really struggling?" Carly asked sympathetically. Courtney nodded again, but before she could start to explain, the front door opened again and Riley appeared, followed by her bodyguard.

"Riley!" Courtney stood up and crossed the living room to give her a hug. "I was wondering where you were, are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Riley said, accepting the hug. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to worry you."

"Where were you? Jack said you quit your job."

Riley nodded. "I was going to tell you tonight, I swear. I just walked around all afternoon, I needed to think." Jimmy cleared his throat and Riley sighed. "I ended up at Jake's," she added. "But I wasn't drinking, I swear! I just needed to get out of the rain," she added quickly when she saw her mother open her mouth. Jimmy cleared his throat again. "Okay, I had one sip of this guy's beer, but that was it." She looked over at Jimmy who nodded satisfactorily.

"What guy?" Courtney asked, pressing her hand to her temple. She wasn't sure what she was going to do if Riley was now picking up older men at the local bar.

"Just this guy I've seen around town a few times," Riley said. "I played a game of pool with him. I won, thanks to Daddy teaching me how," she interjected.

"Well who is he?" Courtney persisted. "Please tell me you know his name."

"It's no one you know, I'm sure," Riley said vaguely. She rolled her eyes as Jimmy once again cleared his throat. "Do you want to just tell her for me?" she asked, whirling around to face him.

"Riley." Courtney's voice was sharp and Riley lowered her eyes and murmured an apology to him.

"His name is Ryan," she said finally. She paused, and then feeling Jimmy's eyes on her, continued on. "Ryan Alcazar."

Courtney heard Carly's sharp intake of breath and turned to face her. "Carly, can you—"

Carly nodded. "I'll go see how Jack and Morgan are getting on with that history homework. Call me later." She smiled at her niece and left the penthouse.

"Is there anything else you need to tell me?" Courtney asked, looking back and forth between Riley and Jimmy.

"No, that's it." She looked to Jimmy for confirmation and he nodded his head.

"Okay," Courtney said, smiling slightly. "Jimmy thanks for getting her home safe. We'll see you tomorrow," she said. He smiled at both of them and left them alone in the room.

Courtney walked across the room, her heels clicking against the hardwood floor the whole way. "We have a lot of stuff to talk about Riley," she said, as she paused in front of the fireplace. "I know I haven't exactly been around a lot lately, and when I have been, we really haven't talked about things the way we should have." She looked at her daughter who just nodded mutely at her. "We can't let things stay the way there are, so the only thing I can think of to do right now, is to talk them all through, one by one, until we're done."

"I don't understand," Riley said, sitting down on the sofa. "So I quit my job and spent the afternoon with a boy. That's not very unusual. And it's hardly worth spending a lot of time talking about."

"Maybe," Courtney mused. "But Riley, you quit your job almost a month ago, and didn't tell me. And you didn't tell me why. And this boy you say you spent the day with? Well, there's a lot you don't know about him. And then there's this." She twisted the key in the liquor cabinet and opened it to reveal several empty alcohol bottles. She crossed the living room again to sit down next to her daughter.

"I'll even let you pick what we talk about first."

Ryan Alcazar was still seated at the bar, nursing another bottle of beer when his cell phone rang. He flipped it open on the third ring. "I left you a message almost an hour ago," he said as his greeting.

The voice on the other end chuckled. "Best keep that attitude of yours in check, especially with me. Now, what was so important?"

Ryan took another drink of his beer. "That girl you told me to keep an eye on, Riley? Met her tonight."

"Ahead of schedule, that's very good," the voice approved. "Did it go well?"

"Well enough," Ryan replied. "You sure I still need to do this?"

"Let's get one thing straight," the male voice turned rough suddenly. "You agreed to do this, and that means you don't question the things I ask you to do. You just carry out whatever terms I give to you, understand?"

"Yeah sure," Ryan said, rolling his eyes. "So I will continue to get to know this girl. Okay?"

"Yes. I'll be in touch." He disconnected the line and leaned back in his chair, taking a long sip of his brandy. Everything was falling into place nicely.

The Corinthos-Morgan clan had no idea what they were in for.