Chapter 7: Major Changes in the Market Have Senior Execs Reevaluating Their Next Step

"Like I said I live to be special. Carly made the call so let me up, fucker," Johnny replied through gritted teeth.

Before either of them could move, a voice filled the silence followed by the sound of hurried footsteps. "The Jackal has a possible lead on the whereabouts of the Valkyrie and her offspring—"

Jason got up helping Johnny along with him. "Spinelli, I'd like you to meet an old friend of mine and Carly's, Johnny. J, this is Spinelli."

Spinelli tried to hide how flustered he is by what he walked in on by offering his hand. "The Jackal is pleased to make the acquaintance of any friend of his master's or the incomparable Valkyrie's as he knows what an honor it is to be counted among such a selective and finite group."

Johnny smirked and shook the younger man's hand. "So this is the assassin of cyberspace? Not bad, Jase. Did some checking with Stan and even he's impressed."

"You didn't bring him?" Jason asked warningly.

"No," Johnny answered with a sneer. "Ain't my first day on the job, Jase. Too many people know him, least of all his mom. Kinda hard to stay dead that way. I'm here because Carly called to say goodbye and I warned her if I didn't get it face-to-face, I would track her down and get my goodbye that way. So she said if I thought I could find a Spencer then good luck, but if I didn't want the trouble, I'd better get here in time to hear wedding bells. Then the nutjob hung up on me. Thanks for inviting me to the wedding, by the way."

"I still had my head up my ass and I didn't want to hear you ragging on me AGAIN about having the wrong fiancé, girlfriend, whatever."

"Are you trying to tell me you finally got your head removed from your ass?" Johnny sneered. "Who was the surgeon? I figured with 'Carly isn't good enough for Jason. Jason's a saint.' cheering section you'd never get a clue. Who was it? Bobbie?"

"How's Ticia?" Jason asked.

Johnny sobered immediately. "Good. The doctors think she could wake up any day with the steady increase in brain function. Nice try, by the way. And although your skill in diversionary tactics has improved considerably, it's not good enough, Jase. Who?"

"Let's just say it was divine intervention and leave it at that," Jason finally offered. "Where is she?"

"No idea," he replied both missing Spinelli standing in awe of their interaction. He had never seen his master interact with someone who appeared to be an equal. Johnny continued, "How long have you allowed Carly to be connected?"

"What?!" Jason roared spinning from his place at the mantel to stare at Johnny in disbelief.

"How could you not know, Jase?" Johnny replied shaking his head. "You used to be the best! You used to be the man. You didn't just rise through the ranks to run the organization because you're pretty. You learned the game then changed it by becoming the game."

Johnny ran his hands through his hair showing his true frustration for the first time. "You know what your problem is? You let Sonny live too long and he mindfucked you into a loyal soldier. Which is hysterical since the man has no loyalty to anyone, but himself! It was him and those fucking pixie twits he always encouraged, wasn't it?

"Between them, they dumbed you down, made you weak, and convinced you to turn on Carly. Well, I hope you realize that some major changes are gonna have to happen to get your family back. Because I swear before God, I won't let you near them until you get your shit together!"

"What the fuck are you talking about, J? I already broke ties with all of my exes, except the dead one and Carly."

Johnny nodded but looking into Jason's eyes, he realized his friend still wasn't completely getting it. "What the fuck do you mean? You need to kill Sonny's ass or lock him up until he gets fucking sane. The man is bad for business to say the least. That sociopath is so fucking delusional that he married the woman who ordered a hit on him and got 'his' son shot. And are we done with the Michael is his son bullshit? It's past time you started claiming your family."

"Yeah," Jason acknowledged. "As soon as I talk to him and Carly about it. Now back up, what did you mean by Carly's connected?"

"Exactly what it sounds like. You don't realize what you have, do you? Carly's got more contacts and connections than you do and she's the only reason Sonny and Sam are still alive today." Jason's jaw dropped and as his knees gave out, he found himself being led to the couch.

"She's the reason that the Zacharras are the biggest organization to come after you since Alcazar. She made peace with the five families and convinced them that you were solid so they'd back off the organization. She gained more through Alcazar than anyone ever knew. Her tacit acceptance of your nuptials to Sam allowed you to marry her, otherwise she'd have had an accident on one of her many PI jobs."

He watched to see, how much of what he was saying was sinking in. "With her gone, everyone is gonna figure that unless you take care of Sonny, you're weak and stupid and most of the organization will be up for grabs," Johnny explained. "I'm solid in Puerto Rico, but you, my friend, not so much. I've already been offered the whole organization if something were to happen to you and Sonny. You've let too much slide between this Franco nut and how much the Zacharras have managed to get away with… you look real weak and the buzzards are circling."

"Fuck!" Jason hissed furious kicking the coffee table over. The violence of the reaction jolts a nervous Spinelli who has subtly been trying to make his escape to the kitchen. Noticing Spinelli for the first time since he first came down the stairs he asked for an update as he began running possible scenarios through his head.

"The Jackal has found that the Valkyrie has set us a problem indeed. There are 11 different branches of the MetroCourt hotel under supervision for construction. Stateside, there's one going up in New York City, Philadelphia, DC, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Dallas, LA and Honolulu, Hawaii. She also has hotels set to break ground in Paris and Sydney, Australia. Each has her listed as project overseer with secondary onsite overseers who answer to her."

He awaits reaction before continuing when he received none. "All of the parameters for this expansion state that she will be making surprise stops at each location at varying intervals throughout the process to keep an eye on their progress. They each have completion dates as far in advance as two years from now. And with her divorce, she gained ownership of the MetroCourt outright along with a sizable influx of funds from an unnamed source." Noting that they seemed to be processing information, he continued without pause.

"I pulled up the file on her past aliases and each of the sites has a long-term lease nearby under a different former alias. Also, each has received a blonde woman with guests matching the descriptions of the young Michael Corinthos, Jr., the young Morgan Corinthos, and infant child Josslyn Jacks."

"She certainly is a Spencer!" Johnny laughed earning him a glare. "What do you care? You have a mess to clean up before it's safe to bring your family home anyway."

"Fucker!" Jason mumbled under his breath. "Ok, Spinelli. I need you to find me a doctor and a facility where I can control a patient's care completely. There can be absolutely no leaks and it must be top security."

"He'll want to see me!" a voice yelled as a scuffle is heard outside the door. Jason froze as he flashed back to the night Carly gave him his family.

Johnny, of course was quick to act. "Get upstairs, Spinelli, and get to work. Jase and I will handle this."

"Yes, sir," Spinelli assured with a nod "as the master's right hand wills so shall I do." And he was gone to handle the tasks given.

"Snap out of it, Jase," he sighed. "Now is not the time to moon over Carly."

Jolting back to the situation at hand Jason watches as Johnny throws open the door and trains his gun at her forehead. "What don't you understand about the fact that Mr. Morgan doesn't want to be disturbed?"

Michael made his way back down the stairs to the kitchen grabbing a bottle of water. He nodded to Terrance who was creating a menu for the week. And feeling glad that he wouldn't have to worry about his mom trying to experiment, he headed for the door to the patio.

"Yeah, Liam," Steffy chirped giggling at something he said.
"I understand that you're with Hope and I won't try to stand in your way, but I wouldn't be a good friend if I just stood by while she mistreated you." She stood silent with a few towels over her arm, apparently listening. "I love you, Liam. And you deserve so much better. You deserve someone who will take care of all of your needs and put you first." She listened with a smile spreading across her face. "Yeah, like me. But I'm not gonna push. Look, I'm spending the day at the beach with some friends of my grandmother's, call me if you need me."

She chuckled at whatever was said, "Or I could do that. Seven wouldn't be too late, would it? Alright. See you then. Now, I've gotta go Michael and Spencer should be down soon." Her eyes take on a calculating gleam. "Spencer's just a kid."

Silence. "Well, Michael's our age. He seems pretty cool. You'd like him," she answers carefully. "He's got a girlfriend back home that he's in love with. Isn't it just my luck? That all of the god ones are taken?"

"Hey!" she laughed indignantly. "I'll have you know I'm not interested in you because you're unavailable. That's actually why I've backed off lately. It's not fair to either of us if you're committed to someone who's not me. That means no more kisses for you." She laughed again. "Alright, Liam. Keep telling yourself that. Yeah, yeah. Bye."

Michael felt he had seen and heard enough and was ready to step forward when Morgan beat him to it. "Spencer," she cried out in surprise as she closed her cell phone. "Where's your brother?"

"You rang?" he quipped making his presence known.

"Hey you," she said with a grin. "Ready for a day of fun in the sun, Blondie?"

"After you, Bright Eyes," Michael quipped with a gleam of humor in his eyes and a slight twist of amusement showing on his lips.

Steffy laughed in delight. "Alright then follow me."

As she led the way, Michael and Morgan trailed behind. "You looked just like Uncle Jason does when Mom's done something and he's trying not to laugh," Morgan whispered.

Michael frowned and prepared to argue when Steffy reached the blanket and surfboards. He lost all ability to speak as she unbuttoned her denim shorts and let them drop to the sand revealing tiny red bikini bottoms.

Next, he watched in awe as her hands gripped the bottom of her slouchy top and pulled it up and over her head. He felt like he watched in slow motion as inch by inch, she exposed more of her tanned, supple skin. It wasn't until she swept her hair up to tie it that she returned her focus to him.

"You're not planning to wear a t-shirt to surf, are you?" she smirked. "Come on, Blondie. You could use some sun. Being from upstate New York, I can only imagine how little sun you get. So take it off. Unless you need some help."

"No, I—" Michael found himself having to focus to maintain eye contact. "I'm good."

She sauntered over, obviously enjoying his attention. "You know I don't bite," she said softly although her eyes still twinkled deviously. "Unless you ask nicely."

Michael nearly swallowed his tongue.

"You boys remember your sunscreen?" she asked bending over to search her bag.

That drew Morgan's attention from the surfboards. "Oh, yeah. Mom would never let me forget it if I forgot and got burned like that one time when we were on Dad's island. Remember, Michael?"

"Your father owns an island?" Steffy goggled. "Who are you people?"

"Let's just say that our parents' work has been very lucrative all my life and they believe in privacy and enjoying themselves," Michael answers stoically raising a quieting eyebrow at his brother, who immediately ducked his head and focused on the boards again.

"Wow," she whispered deep in thought.

Hoping to distract her, Michael pulled off his shirt. "I did forget sunscreen. Hope you brought some."

He heard the soft inhalation as she noticed him shirtless in front of her. "I was gonna suggest we make a deal. I share my sunscreen if you'll help me with those hard to reach areas." Now it was Michael's turn to catch his breath. "But since I'm in such a helpful mood, I'll be happy to reciprocate."

"What? You rub my back and I'll rub yours?"

"Gotta start somewhere." She grins at him with heat beginning to fill her eyes until her phone rings breaking their moment. She tossed him the bottle of sunscreen. "You go ahead and start without me."

As she turned to get her phone, his eyes never left her even when he felt his own vibrating in his pocket. Remembering he had turned it back on while he changed, Michael quickly answered it.

"Hey Abby." His eyes met Steffy's and locked as he heard her say, "Yeah, Liam."