The disintegration of Alexis Davis had not been a part of the original plan. This grudge match between Sorel and Corinthos had gone into a deadly spiral, and he knew the crash and burn was eminent.
Thomas sat quietly in the dark beside the open door. He stared at nothing, his mind turning every which way, all possible scenarios playing out in his head. Sorel was out of control, that much was clear. Corinthos had cut his ego to the quick and it had unleashed a vicious bit bull out for blood – HER blood.
Sorel had rightly expected a swift surrender at Corinthos’s sight of the blood-stained scarf…but there came no response. Ignoring Sorel, forcing him to make the first call was nothing short of setting a match to the fuse. Sorel had set his sights on tearing the heart out of Sonny Corinthos without even touching him. But would he go so far as to kill her? Thomas thought about Sorel’s behavior, the cold intensity in his eyes. His power-lust knew no limits. Yes, he would go that far.
A rustling in the corner drew his attention. She was listless, pulling at the covers, her body now in need. Thomas closed his eyes, remembering that first time, remembering the words she’d said to him. “This isn’t you.” He thought she was confused, mumbling through the pain, the fear, the first rush of heroin hitting her brain. She’d called out for the man she loved, then opened her eyes to Thomas instead. But her gaze at him was deliberate and pure. “This isn’t you.”
Could she see in his eyes, in spite of what he’d done to her, that he was in over his head with Sorel? He’d been hired - prized for his size alone. His bearing posed so great a threat that anything more from him was rarely necessary. The need to take an action, when called for…well, she was right. It wasn’t him. And it wasn’t him to let her die. Again, she stirred.
Shalimar…Alexis held her breath against the invasion of it. It made her queasy, as the sweet fragrance filled her head. A familiar softness brushed against her cheek and she reached for it, pressing it to her face. As every inhale warned of things yet to come, the softness soothed her. She turned her face into it, trying to smother out the perfumed air. Alexis whimpered, her restless legs moving against their confines.
Thomas was up from his chair before he realized it. He reached around the doorframe to flip on the lights before going to her. Her small body trembled under the blanket he’d laid over her in the cold early hours of the morning. Her hand clutched at it, fingers twisting at the edge, tugging it upward. She pushed her face into the soft cotton, gasping for air against it. Her breathing came in a halting pattern, as if her body had forgotten how it was be done. He lightly touched her shoulder.
“Hey. Come on now, time to wake up.” He whispered softly.
She didn’t respond. He tried to carefully pry her fingers from the blanket she’d pushed to her face, wanting to clear the way for air to reach her. She held on tighter, her shoulders pulling up to her ears.
“No, don’t. It’s locked…” She sounded small, as she had before.
“I won’t hurt you. It’s okay.”
“She’ll find me…”
Thomas searched for a way to bring her out of it without scaring her. He brushed her hair away from her eyes, his fingertips finding her skin quite warm against his own. He poured some water into his handkerchief and pressed it to her forehead. The sudden coolness gave way to her sharp inhale. Then, the rise and fall of her chest fell back into a steady rhythm. She slowly blinked her eyes open to see Thomas looking down on her with some satisfaction on his face. She swallowed hard and bit her lip.
“Penny for your thoughts.” She whispered hoarsely.
The corners of his mouth turned up. “Bad dream?”
“So it would seem. And I’m having one hell of a hard time waking up.”
He leaned down slightly, his expression intent. “Soon.” He glanced over his shoulder at the open door. “It’s almost over.”
She stared up into his crystal clear blue eyes, and Thomas felt himself become helplessly locked into meeting her gaze. She looked not at him, but INTO him, searching for something. Her dark eyes were so weary, so lost. His shame overtook him and he closed his eyes to hers. The fragility of this woman tested his strength. For her sake, for his, he HAD to be strong. He had to be clear, quick and certain in his action. She couldn’t know that he would help her. This drug gave a voice to all the secrets in her head.
Thomas felt a touch on his hand and found her fingertips resting on his little finger. He could feel the small tremble that resonated through her as she began to speak.
“What? What do you need?”
Her fingernails absently ran down the top of her thigh. “I need…I need for Ned to know that I loved him…and that I’m sorry.” Her voice cracked as she whispered her plea.
“You’re going to be home soon. You can tell him…”
“Ow…” She grimaced as a spasm gripped her abdomen, her hand flying to the pain.
Thomas winced, a throb starting to build in his temple. He had to wait, he had to know Sorel’s exact plan before he could safely act. Waiting was going to be a bear.
“Okay, okay.” Thomas replied quickly, trying to distract her. “He’ll know, I promise. But you’ve got to do something for me too.”
She shivered, her eyes hesitant.
“You’ve got to eat. At least try.”
She glanced at the tray sitting on the table next to her, then nodded, releasing a long-held breath. She struggled to sit herself up, not wanted him to help this time. Thomas pulled the pillow up behind her, cushioning her back from the hard wall.
“I don’t know.” She mumbled.
He put a small glass of orange juice in her shaking hands. “Just try.”
She took one sip, then another as he watched. He’d tried to get her to eat before, upon Sorel’s order, but all his coaxing made her look like she was going to cry. He wouldn’t force her, but her body’s growing weakness just made the smack hit her all the worse. Her body still shaking, she set the now half-empty glass back onto the table. As Thomas smiled, pleased, she looked down at the smooth blanked under her resting hands. The feel of it sent the vague memory of her dream floating back to her. She closed her eyes with a frown.
“Shalimar?” She whispered.
Alexis glanced at Thomas with confusion. “What?”
Thomas shook his head. “Nothing.” He picked up a bowl of grapes, hoping to push his luck. He plucked several from their stem and popped a few into his own mouth before holding out his hand to her. Again, she gave him that fearful look as her hand wandered down to scratch at her leg.
Thomas sighed. “I’ve gotta draw the line at peeling them.”
Alexis smiled, reaching out to take the grapes from his hand. It was the first time he noticed the dimples etched into her cheeks…so childlike and innocent. She bit her lip again, her legs shifting under the blanket as she felt Thomas’s eyes upon her, waiting. Her eyes darted toward him, just in time to catch him quickly glance away.
“I saw that.” She teased, wanting him to know she wasn’t afraid of him.
Thomas assumed an innocent look and ate another grape. Alexis put one in her mouth as well. It wasn’t too bad after all. She took another, but a twinge took hold of her stomach muscle and she fought against it. When it subsided, she swallowed with some difficulty.
“I can’t.” She held her hand out to Thomas. “It just…”
Thomas gently took her hand in both of his, dwarfing it. “It’s okay.” She grew self-conscious of the shaking in her extremities and drew her hand away from his.
“Water would be good.”
He smiled, handing her another cup from the table. As she drank, he nodded with approval.
“Good. That’s good.”
Alexis lowered the cup to her lap, one hand moving fingernails up and down her leg. “When is he coming back?”
Thomas looked at his watch. “Soon.”
She hesitated, then asked. “What day is it?”
His turn to falter. “Thursday. Afternoon.”
Her face became all confusion. “Ten days? The trial should be over?”
“Three – not ten.”
Her grip on the cup loosened. Thomas quickly caught it before it spilled. She stared at him in disbelief.
“My God…that’s all?” Her eyelids fell, and Thomas saw her letting go of what little strength she’d held. He should have keep his big mouth shut.
Alexis hunched her shoulders and turned onto her side, her body sliding downward. Thomas pulled the blanket back up over her arms as the echo of hard footsteps sounded from outside the room. His heart stood still. He pulled himself up to his full height, cleared his eyes of all emotion, then turned to face the door.
“Thomas!” Sorel strode into the room boldly, loudly, puffed up like a peacock. “Miss Davis! I expected by this time you’d be happy to see me.”
“I think she’s asleep, sir.”
Alexis rolled onto her back. “She’s not any more.”
Sorel smiled broadly as he moved toward her, slapping Thomas soundly on the arm as he passed by.
“You see Thomas, THIS is what I love about Miss Davis. As the saying goes, she takes a licking and keeps on kicking.”
Alexis looked Sorel in the eye. “Ticking.”
Sorel looked back. There was a silence.
“It’s ticking, not kicking.”
Sorel broke into a loud, hearty laugh. He sat himself down on the edge of the cot, the laughter moving through him making the cot rumble. As another spasm hit her, Sorel watched Alexis’s face tighten.
“Come on,” he nudged her, “Aren’t you just a LITTLE happy to see me? I think that you are.”
Alexis turned away, her limbs still listless in spite of her best efforts to stay focused and still.
“If you’ll excuse me Mr. Sorel, you seem especially pleased. Did something happen?” Thomas pulled Sorel’s attention away from Alexis’s continued defiance.
“Why Yes. Yes it did.” Sorel turned Alexis’s face back toward him. She opened her eyes.
“You’ll be interested in this too Miss Davis. Mr. Corinthos responded, quite promptly, to my last message - just as I expected he would. It was wise of him not to dismiss me a second time. My terms are accepted, the time and place of the exchange to be determined by me.”
“No…” Alexis didn’t want to believe that Sonny would turn Zander over to a certain execution.
“Oh, and he’s wanting to speak to you one more time, Miss Davis. I think he wants to see for himself that I don’t bluff.
Alexis stammered, still trying to understand what Sonny was doing. “I…I don’t…”
“Never mind, Miss Davis. You’ll give him what he’s looking for, and you won’t even have to try. Nothing for you to worry about…yet.”
Thomas’s ears pricked up at that last word. “Have you determined a time and place, Mr. Sorel?”
Sorel turned to look at him. He suddenly rose and headed for the door. “Follow me Thomas. We need to talk in private.”
Thomas swallowed nervously, afraid he’d crossed the line. He looked down at Alexis before following Sorel out into the hallway. He braced himself, anticipating anything. Sorel looked Thomas up and down before speaking.
“Thomas, I appreciate your eagerness to learn. But some things are not appropriate to ask OR discuss in front of…guests.”
Thomas bowed his head in contrition. “I apologize, Mr. Sorel, if I over-stepped.”
“Not to worry. I’ll let you know what’s going down and when, as soon as you need to know.”
“Yes sir.” Sorel saw the lingering question on Thomas’s face.
“Something you want to ask?”
“Not if it’s inappropriate sir.”
Sorel smiled at Thomas’s desire to please. “What do you want to know?”
Thomas hesitated, then asked. “What about her? Are you going to give Corinthos back just a body, or the woman as shadow of her fomer…what you said before?”
“I haven’t made up my mind. I’ll see what mood strikes me as the clock winds down.”
Thomas nodded, his suspicions cementing. Then something else hit him. “Oh, Mr. Sorel. You should know I’ve seen a couple of guys, street bums, lurking around the block. I saw one climbing in a broken window down on the corner. Could be just bums, could be Corinthos scouting. I thought you should know.”
“Good. Good work. Why don’t you go find out which one it is and let me know. Meantime, I have to attend to Miss Davis.”
Again, Sorel slapped Thomas on the arm with a look that set Thomas’s stomach into a knot. He hated leaving her alone with him. It couldn’t be helped.
Sorel watched as Thomas disappeared around the corner, then he turned back to the open doorway. He lingered there, observing her from a distance, watching her squirm. Corinthos - now HE must be doing some nasty squirming of his own. Sorel smiled at the thought of his rival’s face when he pulled that syringe out of that envelope. The man had only himself to blame and he KNEW it. Poetry.
As the sound of Alexis’s groan hit his ear, Sorel began his slow walk back to her. Yes, delivering her to Corinthos in this condition would be poetic indeed. A beautiful, lingering, painful reminder of his failure. He’d left her open, vulnerable, unprotected, and she was the closest person to him now - now that everyone else Corinthos loved was gone.
Sorel sat back down on the cot. She seemed oblivious as she stirred beside him. She was beautiful, even with the bruises marking her pale skin. He recognized all too well the way he’d seen Corinthos look at her, as a man looks at a woman when he see her AS a woman – a woman he wants. Sorel had given her that look himself, and he’d seen it from Corinthos. A very fruitful observation, as luck would have it.
Sorel leaned down, stroking her warm face with the back of his hand. ''Miss Davis?” He whispered softly.
Alexis turned her head toward the hand that touched her, toward the voice. Her eyes were still closed tight, her forearms lay crossed over her chest as if in prayer.
“Are you ready for me to make you feel good? I’m going to take all the hurt away.” As her eyes fluttered open, he smiled and pulled her relief from its usual resting place in his jacket. She simply stared at him as he pulled the plastic cover from the needle. His hand moved back to her face, tracing its curves before brushing down her throat. His fingers traveled over her shoulders and along the line of her arm, where his hand stopped. He took hold of her hand and slid her arm down against her side. She didn’t resist.
But then, his hand found her hip and ran itself softly down the length of her leg. She shuddered – he took his hand away. In the darkest corner of his mind, Sorel knew that he was making Alexis pay not only for the wrongs of Corinthos, but also for being the caliber of woman that she was: one from whom Sorel could command attention only through force.
He took a firm hold of her arm, then paused. “One more thing. I think I’m going to let you live.” Alexis looked up at him through half-lidded eyes. “I’m sure I don’t need to worry about you talking to the police about any of this, what with your Mr. Ashton being so safe and sound…for now.”
Alexis’s breathing quickened. “No…I’ll do anything…please don’t hurt him.”
Satisfied, Sorel smiled as he pushed the needle against her skin. “Good answer.”
She winced at the sharp sting, at the thought of Sorel getting to Ned. As the picture of Ned’s face became a blur, awash in the tingling heat rolling through her body, Sorel took her face in his hands. His fingers slipped back into her hair as he brushed his lips softly over her ear.
“You may be Eddie’s Angel, but it’s ME who’s making you fly. Remember that…angel.”