It was more an accusation than a question. Sonny’s lack of tolerance for Taggert’s sudden intrusion rang clear. It was all he could to do tolerate that self-righteous smirk in the best of circumstances.
Taggert raised an eyebrow. He took his time, head swiveling in an obvious display of authority as he surveyed the room.
“Kinda quiet around here these days, huh Corinthos? No toddler, no wife...”
“Is THAT why you stopped by Taggert? All that noise down at the station getting on your nerves, you’re looking for a peaceful place to collect your thoughts – or rather – try to form a decent one?”
Sonny smiled wide, meticulously baring his teeth. A basic instinct in all animals, when threatened. It was fitting.
Taggert smiled back, softly. “I trust Mr. Morgan is taking good care of Carly and Michael for you. It must ease your mind a great deal, knowing they’re both safe and out of Sorel’s reach.” He slid his hands casually into his coat pockets. “Oh, by the way, did you hear? Sorel’s out on bail, free as a little bird. Out roaming the streets as we speak. Except, nobody seems to have seen him since he left the courthouse yesterday morning.”
Sonny shrugged. “Old news. But thanks for the heads-up anyway!” He stepped past Taggert and reached for the door. “See ya.”
“Miss Davis told you?”
“It is her job to tell me these things.” Sonny regarded the look on Taggert’s face with trepidation. He knew where this was going and he had to change its course.
“Did you think that she WOULDN’T tell me? What, you’ve got reason to think she might be losing her legal competency?
“I have reason to think she might be losing something else.”
Sonny played dumb. “Is there a problem with Zander’s plea? With his testifying?”
“Ned Ashton paid me a visit this morning.”
“The man gets around. Lucky you.”
“He thinks there’s something going on regarding Miss Davis. That you’re ‘hiding’ her…or something along those lines.”
Sonny laughed. “Ashton is insane! Alexis is out of town for a couple of days. It’s just some quick business for a client. She’ll be back before Zander testifies, not to worry.” He opened the door. “Have a nice day.”
“Yeah, that’s the story Ashton kept hearing. From you, from Zander, from bodyguard of the week. But he seems to think that’s all it is – a story.”
Taggert began to wander the room, eyes still taking in all they could.
“Ashton mistakenly thinks that Alexis’s business is still HIS business. The man is an idiot. See, HE breaks up with HER, but then he goes running back to her when she almost gets shot to death. He breaks up with her AGAIN, and now he comes running back screaming because she leaves town without clearing it with him! He’s got that whole messed-up “come here, go away’ thing down cold. Like I said, the man’s insane.”
“I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t let him come over here with me. He was looking to knock some heads together. I’d have hated to be professionally obligated to pull him off of you. Especially if he was doing well.”
Sonny slammed the door shut.
“Did Ashton also tell you that he was at Alexis's apartment this morning, throwing Zander up against the wall because Alexis forgot to pack her hairbrush? I mean, what the hell is that? And you give WEIGHT to it? You waste the precious taxpayers’ money on his possessive lovers’ crap?”
“Well, I’ll tell you something…I’ve gotta wonder myself. Miss Davis has been like a dog with a bone over this Smith kid. It seems pretty out of character for her to just take off, don’t you think? Sorel is unexpectedly released on bail while Zander’s waiting to give testimony that’ll put Sorel on death row, but Miss Davis just up and leaves, with Sorel on the loose and Zander a sitting duck? If I know Miss Davis at all, and I think that I do, I’d say she’d be sticking to that kid like glue right now and until his little fanny hits that witness chair.”
“I’m taking care of Zander, detective. He’s being protected by ME. Miss Davis is his attorney, not his guard.”
Taggert’s eyes were fixed on Sonny’s face. “So where’d she go?”
“She leave a number?”
“I have her cell.”
“You’ve talked to her? Since she left, I mean.”
“I have.” Sonny heaved a sigh of boredom. “Now it you’re DONE, detective, I have some personal business that needs my attention.”
Taggert began to nod to himself as he moved toward the lit fireplace. Sonny’s eyes darted to Alexis’s scarf, which lay folded over the arm of the sofa. A reminder of the brass ring he sought to retrieve. No problem. It could be Carly’s.
“No, I’m not done Corinthos. I’ve just started.”
“Well, you’re going to have to either arrest me or get a warrant this time, Taggert! As you know my attorney IS, in fact, out of town, so if this is just a good opportunity for you to harass me because she’s unavailable, she WILL have your head!”
“I find it odd that Miss Davis’s name doesn’t appear on any of the passenger lists of flights departing Port Charles, or any of the other nearby or even New York airports, not within the last two days. Nor does anyone working at the train station recognize her - at least not from having bought a ticket.” Taggert smiled.
“Show some respect Taggert,” Sonny said flatly.
“Oh she’s got my respect. She’s also got my time and my attention. Because I not only covered planes and trains, but there’s the also the issue of automobiles. Hers. Which Ashton found sitting in the lot at the park, the one just down the street from the courthouse. You know there’s a coffee bar at the end of the park? Maybe it’s even one of your customers. Apparently Miss Davis frequents the place and they say she was indeed there yesterday about 10AM, not long after Sorel was released. And that’s the last time anyone in Port Charles saw her…except for you, and Zander, and…which bodyguard?
“Alexis is a woman of style, Taggert. Maybe she took a limo.” Sonny tilted his head, a show of cockiness that made him feel desperation.
Taggert swiftly pulled a hand from his coat pocket and tossed something in Sonny’s direction. Sonny caught it.
“Turn it on,” Taggert ordered. Sonny did. One look at the display on the phone in his hand and it was over. His back was to the wall and he loathed Taggert for putting it there. He loathed himself for it.
“I guess I don’t have to tell you whose number came up.” Taggert frowned. “Sorry. Bad choice of words. Someone just turned it in to the coffee bar about an hour ago, right before I got there. Ashton doesn’t know about it.” He frowned in disgust. “God, leaving her cell phone right on the ground like that? Right under her car? How sloppy can Sorel get?”
Taggert slowly walked toward Sonny, stopping directly in front of him. Sonny hadn’t taken his eyes off the phone that lay cradled in his hand. But now, finally, he squeezed his lids tight as he quietly set it down on the desk.
“What does he want? Zander?”
Sonny stared at Taggert, silent. Taggert’s patience broke. He yanked his coat off and threw it to the ground.
“I got all damn DAY Corinthos! How much time’s ALEXIS got? How much of her time have you already WASTED?”
“I’M taking care of what needs to be taken care of!”
Sonny lashed out against this blindsiding. He’d be damned if Taggert was going to screw this up the way he and the rest of the police force had screwed up every other thing they put their hands on.
“Zander goes up Friday morning! Only 36 hours to go, and Alexis is WHERE? Just what the hell is it you THINK you’re taking care of? Finding out for a FACT how sloppy Sorel can get?”
“Have YOU found out for a fact how many public servants are really on Sorel’s payroll? I mean BESIDES the police officer who slipped Zander those threatening notes in lock-up, and who provided those shooters with police issue uniforms? BESIDES that judge who granted Sorel bail yesterday? Who exactly am I supposed to trust with Alexis’s life Taggert?
“ME! You may think a lot of things about me Sonny, but you KNOW that I’m clean! You know it. Just like I know you don’t want to see Alexis OR that kid pay with their lives for their unfortunate association with you.”
Sonny slowly turned and leveled a deadly look at Taggert.
“I don’t know any such thing about you Taggert. And you know even less about me.”
Taggert glowered right back, and then some. Questioning his professional integrity was the way to get him, and Sonny knew it. But Taggert KNEW he knew it. As he lifted his eyebrow, mocking him, Taggert smiled. “Whatever you say.”
He bent down to pick his coat up from the floor. “I’ll just handle it myself.”
Sonny took a step toward him, hovering over Taggert’s turned back. His voice was hard and steady.
“Leave it alone Taggert. If you do anything to destroy what I’ve put in motion, if Alexis gets hurt because of your interference…you’ll be looking over your back for the rest of your sorry LIFE.”
Taggert rose, turning to find Sonny just inches from his face. He smiled.
“Gotcha.” Taggert chuckled. “Face it, Sonny boy. You and me, we’re on the same side this time. Go figure. I guess there must be snowballs flying in hell.”
“Naw. Just a special place with Joseph Sorel’s name on it.”
The jarring ring of the telephone gave Sonny a start. He grabbed it before it rang twice.
“Yeah.” There was a long pause. Sonny’s body tightened, his eyes betraying the vulnerable ache inside him. Taggert saw. He threw his coat on the sofa and crossed his arms. He wasn’t going anywhere. Sonny glanced at him, then nodded, resigned to this unholy alliance. It wasn’t like he had a choice.
“Sorel? Put Miss Davis on the phone.”
Taggert came close as Sonny pulled the turned the phone, just enough so he could hear.
“Are you playing games with me, ‘cause I’ll hang up right now…”
Taggert glared at Sonny, silently questioning his tact. Sonny held up his hand to shut him up.
“Alexis? Are you okay?” There was a brief break on the line. Sonny frowned.
“Sorel? Sorel you put her back on, damn it!” Sonny covered the phone with his palm. He drew in a deep breath and released is loudly, sharply, shaking his head roughly to clear himself. Sonny continued calmly.
“I hear two words, I don’t know it’s her. I want to SPEAK WITH HER, you got it? Fine. Then, you put her on. Okay, here’s the deal: Zander won’t testify, but he won’t be turned over to you. I put him on a private jet TONIGHT, going to Switzerland or whatever country you chose that doesn’t have extradition. He stays there, permanently. He CAN’T come back Sorel! Jumping bail twice, coming back means HE goes up for Ted Wilson’s murder. If he goes, he STAYS gone! So you bring Miss Davis to the runway, give her to me, Zander’s put on a plane and we all wave bye-bye to Mr. Smith as he flies off into the wild blue yonder. THAT’S the deal.”
Taggert caught Sonny’s eye and nodded. Sonny looked away, resenting the hell out of Taggert’s unsolicited seal of approval.
“Yeah. You take all the time you need. Now put her on.” Sonny pulled the phone closer to his ear, shutting Taggert out. Irked, Taggert thumped Sonny on the arm. Sonny jerked away and glared at him. He covered the phone again with his palm.
“I need to HEAR her.” His enunciation was exaggerated, his voice barely above a whisper. At the sound of Alexis’s voice on the other end of the line, Sonny’s eyes snapped to attention.
“Alexis? Do you have any idea where you are? Don’t worry, it’s okay. Are you alright?” His face grew tense with concentration, his voice lowered. “Tell me the truth, Alexis, because you know I’ll hear it in your voice if you don’t. Has he hurt you?”
Sonny’s head slowly released in response to the hesitant silence that met his ear. Taggert tensed, instinctively moving forward toward Sony. Sonny turned away. This was private.
“You hold on. I AM bringing you home…” His voice halted.
Sonny abruptly turned to Taggert, his brow furrowed in confusion. He could still hear something. Not voices, but something…banging, something…muffled…something.”
“Hello? Alexis? Sorel? Hey! Hey, what the hell’s going on…”