"Are you going to tell me what you're freaking out about?" Tearing a piece of tape off with his teeth, Lucky Spencer hung the last picture on the wall. Not hearing a reply, he took a look over his shoulder to where Elizabeth was working. Her lower lip was sucked into her mouth and her movements were slightly jerky. If she didn't stop fretting soon, she was going to have an ulcer the size of Texas. "Your room looks great."
Stacking the books she'd purchased earlier that day, Elizabeth blew a stray curl out of her eyes. Dressed in overalls and her Tinker Bell tee shirt she'd accidently bleached. She looked more like a high school freshman than a Kindergarten teacher. "I'm not freaking out."
"Elizabeth you broke out into hives this morning over breakfast." Pointing a finger at her and wagging it side to side, Lucky chuckled at the face she made. "Face it. I know you. And I know you're absolutely freaking out. I just haven't been able to figure out why yet."
"Can you move the tables into a circle?" Ignoring her best friend, Elizabeth hung the stars she'd stayed up until two in the morning making. Each gold or silver star had a child's name on it. Representing each student, who'd be filing into the room in less than four days.
Grabbing his bottled water, Lucky watched her. "You know you're going to be a great teacher, right?"
"I hope so. It's all I ever wanted to be." Stretching her arms over her head, Elizabeth felt her throat tightening again. Next the attractive red bumps would spread from her arms to her chest. It really was an attractive sight. Her gasping for breath like a guppy, as scary red dots covered her flesh.
What happened if she wasn't any good? Her worse nightmare was the one where she ruined an entire generation with her lousy educational skills. That her students were out of control students who did everything the opposite then what she asked. Reminding her of twenty Thing One's and Thing Two's running ramped through the halls of South Side Elementary. Her career as a teacher was going to be the shortest in all history.
Hearing her thoughts from across the room, Lucky knew if he didn't detour her imagination she'd be breathing out of a paper bag.
Then there was the fact that she sank her last penny of her inheritance in that small cottage on the edge of town. It'd been a spur of a moment thing and now she was second guessing her decision. The picturesque little home was something out of a fairy tale. Or at least it would be once she hacked back the overgrown garden, scraped the decade old paint and slapped on a new color.
But with her new job, and now a new house . . . was she biting off more than she could chew?
"Elizabeth you're going to be wonderful. If I had to do Kindergarten all over again, I would pick you as my teacher hands down" Walking over to the ladder and standing on the other side, Lucky stared up at her until she looked down.
"You're only saying that because you know how to manipulate me." Shaking her head at the goof look on his face, Elizabeth wished she could have him with her on the first day of school.
"Seriously, who would know better than me if you're going to be a fantastic teacher? I've known you since we were nine."
"I remember." Her eyes gleamed with impish delight. "You came strutting into class, acting as though you were tough-."
"What do you mean thought? I was the toughest SOB that rinky dink Colorado school ever saw."
"Riiiight. Was that before or after you tripped on your shoelace and fell on your face?" Stepping down, she moved the ladder and climbed back up.
"Do we really want to compare tragic tales from school?" Moving the table as she asked, he saw the sharp look she sent him.
"You promised if I moved here we'd keep the past in the past."
A cocky grin crossed his face as he shrugged carelessly. "I'm a liar."
Laughing, Elizabeth hung the last of the stars. "Does Emily know this?"
Having just met Lucky's girlfriend, Elizabeth was still having difficulty facing the reality that her best friend was in love. It wasn't like she didn't wish him well, but they'd always been the two misfits while growing up. Six years of separation and he becomes some kind of a Don Juan. It was odd and a little disturbing.
When she'd seen Lucky last, they'd sported braces and reveled in their status role of High School miscreants. She'd been the weird orphan who lived with her Grandmother, quiet, shy and a painful bore. The only thing exciting about her was the daydreams she'd wrapped herself in.
He'd been the trouble maker who'd taken pity on her, taking her under his wing. His attention consumed with anything that could and would get them into trouble. He loved creating little escapades that always seemed to land them in hot water.
She'd been a fool enough to follow along, loving every minute.
God she loved him for it. Lucky Spencer changed her life, gave her courage when all she wanted to do was crawl under some rock and hide.
She could still remember the day he'd come to her bedroom window, tears in his eyes as he explained his family was leaving, going back to New York. His family was packed and ready to go, but in his Lucky like fashion, he'd snuck off to tell her face to face.
They'd stayed as close as two people could a few hundred miles apart, but when he'd called two months ago, excitement laced through his words, it had taken a moment to understand him and then Elizabeth couldn't believe her ears. There was an opening at Port Charles's only elementary school for a Kindergarten teacher.
It was fate.
But when an attractive, cocky man greeted her at the airport, instead of the geeky adventurous friend of her past, Elizabeth knew there would be a few changes she was going to have to face. Emily Quartermain was just one of them.
"Are we about done?" Checking his watch, Lucky sat down on one of the elf sized tables. "I told my Dad I'd drop by the bar before meeting Emily later for dinner."
A knock at the door interrupted her reply. Debra McGee, a pretty and energetic woman and South Side's newest principal, stood in the entrance her mouth hanging in awe. "Did you . . . ?" Her blond brows crunched together, as her sharp eye swept across the room. "Oh this is . . ."
Watching as the woman who hired her looked around the room speechless, her stomach dropped through the floor. Damn it, she knew the decorations were over the top. Mrs. Kennedy, the other Kindergarten teacher, had said so just the other day while looking down her nose in a disgusted sort of way.
"Too much?" Waiting, her breath caught in her chest, Elizabeth looked to Lucky for support. Instead he was swaying back and forth on the balls of his feet, looking extremely pleased.
"Elizabeth I have never seen anything like it before." Walking into the room, Debra turned in a circle.
"I - I can cut back some. Make it not so busy." Twisting her hands together, eager to please, Elizabeth was already making a mental note of what had to go.
"Don't you dare!" Spinning back around, Debra's cheeks were flushed. "This room is perfect. I'm just shocked. Never in all my years have I seen such an amazing room. Where did you get all the decorations?"
"She made them." Sounding proud, Lucky brushed off Elizabeth's pleading look to shut up. "Elizabeth's a wonderful artist."
This time it took Debra a few moments to put a coherent sentence together. "I can't believe - Had I known you could create stuff like this I might have begged you to take over the Art teacher position."
Frowning, Elizabeth said. "I thought Mr. Hamilton was the Art teacher."
"Just a small technicality." Debra joked. "I feel like I walked into a Fairy Tale book. There's Tinker Bell, and Alice in Wonderland. You've got Harry Potter. The kids are going to love this."
Letting out a sigh of relief, Elizabeth allowed herself to relax. "Thank you."
"No thank you. The Superintendent had wanted me to hire one of his nieces, but I hired you instead. Just seeing how much time and passion you've put into your room - I know you're not going to let me down."
That was going to wonders for her nerves.
"But I didn't come here to make you more nervous than you already looked." Holding out a piece of paper, Elizabeth looked at it uncertainly before taking it. "There's an addition to your class roster."
"New to town?" Reading the name, Elizabeth heard Debra's dry laugh.
"I keep forgetting you're new to town." Sighing, the other woman shook her head. "Michael Morgan was supposed to be in Mrs. Kennedy's classroom. But she has issues with his father."
"That's not Michael's fault." Feeling sorry the boy she didn't even know, Elizabeth knew the other teacher was an old fuddy duddy.
"No, it's not. But I either put him in here with you, or listen to her complaints the rest of the school year." Looking relieved, Debra smiled brightly. "Thank you for your flexibility."
"It's really no big deal." Reading the piece of paper, Elizabeth heard Debra say goodbye to her and Lucky. "What a witch."
"Debra?" Car keys in hand, Lucky looked puzzled at her outburst.
"No. Mrs. Kennedy." Walking to her desk, she dropped the piece of paper on top of the pile of other papers she needed to sort through later. "Taking her problems, she has for that boys father out on him. It's not right."
Pausing, Lucky studied the angry expression on Elizabeth's face and contemplated telling her why the other teacher might be a little weary. That Michael's father was Jason Morgan, partner of Sonny Corinthos. Alleged Mob boss. Or that his father, Luke Spencer, was known to go in on 'investments' with the two. No. He'd let Elizabeth figure out Port Charles's little community by herself. Let her come up with her own judgements.
"Well he's better off in your class." Forcing a smile on his face, Lucky headed for the door. "You're a lot better looking than old Dragon Breath Kennedy."
"Hold it!" His voice bounced off the walls, making the other men in the room snap their mouths shut. His head was throbbing from the headache that refused to go away. Payroll still had to be audited, and the noon shipment was late . . . by five hours. Now he had Johnny, Max and Francis arguing on the top of their lungs in his shoe box sized office. "Just one of you talk."
"They just hauled Raul in." Max swiped at the beads of sweat at his brow. "We were just standing there and next thing you know Taggert and his little pals had him on the ground and slapped cuffs on him."
"Why?" Rubbing at his temples, Jason Morgan tried to swallow the anger that was ready to boil over.
"Drugs." Francis spit the word out, his face twisted in disgust.
"Raul?" No, this wasn't right. Grabbing the bottle of Motrin from his desk drawer, he shook four into his large palm before swallowing them dry. "What proof did they have?"
"It doesn't really matter." This time Johnny spoke. His face dark with rage. "Someone shot him on the steps of the PCPD."
Great. Just fucking fantastic. This wasn't what they needed now . . . if ever. Raul was the son of a business associate. He'd been hired to strengthen relations. Killing someone's only child didn't create long-lasting relationships.
"You guys knew him better than I did." Leaning back and eyeing each of his men, Jason could see they were wanting retribution. "Was he dealing?"
"Absolutely not." Each man shook his head, eyes blazing.
"Any word on the streets?" The three men paused for a moment before looking at one another. "Well?"
"Vincent Marino." Max looked uncomfortable as he avoided Jason's glare.
Jason's lips quirked. "Marino. Your fucking joking right?"
"There's been talk that he's back. That he's planning on taking over." Leaning against the closed door, Francis shrugged. "But like I said, it's talk. Marino has never been an issue. We never thought it was an issue."
Just like Francis, Jason wouldn't have though Marino much of a threat either. In fact had anyone come to him with this information a few days ago he would've chewed their head off for wasting his time. Last he heard, Marino was down in Florida licking his wounds from the last time he'd tried taking him and Sonny on.
"I need one of you to go down to Miami. I want to know what little Marino's up to. See if he has any contacts down there you can buy off. If you have to kill someone, make sure there isn't a trail of bread crumbs back here."
"I'll go." Max offered.
Nodding his head, Jason sighed. "I need to fill Sonny in."
"Ah, Morgan?" Reaching into his jacket pocket, Johnny pulled out an envelope. "There's just one more thing." Hesitant, Johnny handed his boss the thick package. "There's a change in Michael's teacher this year."
"Why?" His brow knotted, Jason glared at the envelope in his hand.
"Well, it seems Mrs. Kennedy didn't feel . . . comfortable with him in her class." A blush crept up the other man's neck as Jason shifted his attention from the envelope to the guard. "I got a background check and other information on the new teacher."
Waiting, the three men watched as Jason slowly pried the object open and took out the pages. A picture fell out onto the desk. "What is she? Sixteen?" His frown increased as he looked from her cheerful, smiling face to the words on the page in front of him. "She just freaking graduated."
"Top in her class." Francis offered.
"Great." His tone dry. Jason scanned the rest of the pages. "She has no experience."
Watching his boss's facial expressions, Francis tried to smooth over Morgan's parental stress. "She's good friends with the Spencer's. I talked to Luke this morning. He said she's a natural. In fact, he demanded that Lulu be placed in her class."
Looking down at the picture again. Jason grumbled under his breath. "She looks so young."
"She'll be more energetic." Johnny helped.
"She's a lot prettier than the other one." Max said, earning him a few irritated glares. "What? You gonna tell me you don't find her attractive?"
"Jason it's gonna be fine." Giving Max a look, telling him to stay quiet, Francis went on. "All parents getting a little . . . stressed on the first day of school. You can't control everything Jason. And this is one of the things you have to step back from."
"Wanna bet." Raising a brow in challenge, Jason looked at the pages again.
"Fine, you can if you wanted. You have the resources, the money. But she's a Kindergarten teacher. Not a multimillion dollar deal."
"Are you saying Michael isn't as important?" A smirk covered his lips. Jason knew what Francis was trying to say, but he didn't like having his overprotectiveness pointed out.
"Get off it. You know what I mean."
"Fine. I'll give her a chance." Shoving the picture and paperwork back in the envelope without another thought, Jason dropped it in the bottom drawer. "Max make the arraignments. You two," Looking over at Johnny and Francis. "I want the two of you to keep your ears open. There's something going on and I don't feel like being the last to know."