Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Scene 63

“Well, I see the big one is present and accounted for.” Taggert turned and gave a slight wave to the bulky guard standing in front of Sonny’s door. “Where’s the little one?”

“I sent Johnny home. He deserved some serious down time.”

“You know, I do believe my feet have turned into homing pigeons. They automatically turn to the right when I get off that elevator.”

“Old habits die hard.”

“Apparently, so do middle-aged career felons.”

Taggert smiled broadly as he brushed past Sonny and strolled into the living room. His eyes surveyed his environs, as was his unconscious habit to do.

“Sorel must have a cast iron skull. Two strikes and he still ain’t out. Bummer.”

“Would you watch your big mouth, Taggert?” Sonny’s gaze shifted to the stairs.

Taggert leaned against the back of the couch and crossed his arms. “Now, is that any way to talk to the guy who’s covering your ass against assault & battery charges?” He grinned wide.

“Alexis was already upset, thinking that I might be in some kind of trouble. I don’t want her getting upset again.” Sonny grinned back. “Besides, you’re familiar with the word ‘collusion’, right Taggert? It’s one of those fancy legal terms that Alexis taught me, and as far as covering any part of my anatomy against charges goes, the term would apply to you.”

Taggert threw his head back with a shallow laugh. “Damn, Corinthos - lighten up, would you? I’d have thought that spending all this quality time with Alexis would do a little something to improve your sense of humor.”

Sonny stared at him without expression. “I don’t expect anything about this visit to be humorous.” He bowed his head and ambled toward the stairs. “But I DO expect she’ll find something or other to joke about.”

“So do I. But I also expect you’re making too much out of this, Sonny.”

“Maybe.”

Taggert turned where he stood and looked down at the chenille throw that was gathered into a ball in the corner of the sofa. His eyes moved along the faint impression the seat cushions still bore from Alexis’ body. “Did I wake her?”

“No. She’ll be down in a few minutes.”

Taggert moved between the two sofas and took an uninvited seat facing the fireplace. He looked up at Sonny’s somber face. “How’s she doing – really?”

“Getting her out of that hospital was like having a weight lifted. Everything about her is more relaxed, confident – she’s much more herself since I got her home.”

Taggert smiled and nodded his head with a sigh. “Good. I’m glad to hear it.” He glanced toward the stairs, as Sonny had done before, knowing that Alexis was overhead and possibly within earshot. His resonant voice lowered and he cocked his head in Sonny’s direction.

“I don’t mind telling you that I was a little apprehensive when I was at the hospital yesterday. She was working so hard to put up a front, and she did a damn good job of it too. But there was something I saw in her that just kept that damn phone call of Sorel’s re-playing in my head…”

Sonny suddenly raised his hand to silence Taggert. As he moved toward him, Sonny’s face became the kind of stone that Taggert had only seen in the days while Alexis was gone.

“You need to forget about that, Taggert. I don’t want Alexis to know anything about it, and I don’t want to trigger any more bad memories that don’t come up on their own. She’s felt exposed and discredited enough without knowing what Sorel made us listen to.”

Taggert frowned. “Exposed, I can understand. But discredited? What the hell are you talking about?”

Sonny slowly sat on the arm of the sofa and stared down at Taggert’s quizzical face. “It’s called ‘role reversal’, Taggert. Try it. Put yourself in her place, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.”

Taggert leaned back against the pillow, and Sonny saw his eyes grow vacant while his shoulders unconsciously tensed. He looked to be doing as Sonny asked, but in truth he was shutting down. He could never allow himself to empathize with the victims he encountered every day – it would be both emotional and professional suicide. To even think of attempting it with Alexis was beyond reason.

“You know that Alexis would crawl through fire without flinching if she thought the eyes of the PCPD or the courthouse staff were on her. If she were an ordinary citizen, like a teacher or an accountant, she wouldn’t have to go to work every day and face people who knew every detail of how she was violated.” He sighed, conflicted as to his next words. But he wanted to protect her as best he could, and trusted that Taggert would feel the same way.

“Look - she’d have my head if she knew I was telling you this, but Alexis is…concerned about how people are going to look at her and what they’ll think of her once she’s ready to jump back into the shark tank and take back her professional life.”

“Are you calling yourself a shark, or me?”

Sonny stared. Taggert’s attempt at levity was not appreciated.

“Don’t sweat it, Sonny. Alexis is an excellent swimmer…and she’ll find no sharks in the water. She’s got nothing to fear when she takes that jump.” He smiled. “We’ve missed her around the station. It’ll be good to have her back busting our chops again - even if it IS over the sorry likes of you.”

Sonny finally allowed himself to break a small smile. “Aw, Taggert. I’ll bet you say that to all the...ALLEGED career felons.”

Taggert’s smile waned a bit, as his mind went back to Sorel’s beaten face…and that phone call that pushed him to cross a heretofore un-crossed ethical boundary. The sick mother had it coming. He kept his eyes lowered as he pushed Sonny’s envelope.

“About those bad memories you mentioned…how much of what happened DOES Alexis remember?”

Sonny’s head snapped to Taggert’s face. He knew the expression of concern was genuine, but he hesitated just the same.

“Off the record. This is me asking, not the badge.” He shifted his weight as he pulled his right leg up to cross it over his knee. He hoped his relaxed body language would make a point.

Sonny nodded. “There have been a lot of little things coming back to her. It’s been the worst when she’s asleep, because she has no defenses. In her dreams, she can’t get out of that basement…can’t get Sorel’s words out of her ears or his eyes and hands off her body. She can’t get his face out of her head…that evil, ugly face.”

“Which is now a whole lot uglier.” Taggert murmured knowingly. He now understood what Sonny’s unexpected evening visit had been about. “I take it Alexis had an especially nasty flashback sometime after I left her yesterday?”

Sonny didn’t answer. He didn’t need to. “When she’s awake, things come at her from out of the blue. Someone will say something or touch her the wrong way and bingo – there he is again.”

Sonny rose up from his perch and began to pace behind the sofa. It was a déjà vu for Taggert, who had watched the man pace miles in his own foyer, wearing a dull path in the well-polished marble floor. Sonny sighed and rubbed at his face. He was tired and running on little more than steam. Whatever strength he had, he gave to her.

“Like I said, Alexis should be down soon. She’s still feeling the aftereffects of the detox and...everything. She’s moving kind of slow.”

“No rush.”

“She’s just putting on some clothes.”

Taggert cocked his head and grinned. “Oh really?”

“She took a bath before lunch and…she was still in her bathrobe…and why am I explaining this to you?”

“Beats me. Why ARE you?” He let loose with a loud chortle.

“Shut up, Taggert!”

“Who would have ever thought that the sound of you two at each other’s throats could be music to my ears?”

Sonny smiled and turned toward the approaching sound of Alexis’ strong voice as she made her careful way down the stairs, hand firmly against the wooden rail. She’d put her jeans back on, but not the cashmere sweater. For Taggert’s visit, she’d chosen a long-sleeved, pale pink cotton turtleneck that left only the bruises on her face exposed. She hadn’t bothered trying to cover them with make-up, as they were no stranger to Taggert’s eyes. Her hair still hung tousled in light waves around her face, and she was still comfortably barefoot. Alexis smiled at Taggert as he rose from the sofa with a grin of his own.

“Hey Taggert.”

“Hey yourself, councellor.” He lowered his voice and shifted his eyes to Sonny. “And who would have ever thought a LOT of things?”

Sonny stepped toward her as she reached the bottom of the stairs. He held out his hand to guide her.

“I’m fine, Sonny.”

He nodded and moved back to give her room. As Alexis passed by him, her eyes still on Taggert, she lightly touched her hand to Sonny’s arm. He understood – she needed to stand on her own.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting.”

“Not a problem. It’s on my way home. I would have waited until tomorrow, only…”

“I didn’t want to wait.”

“I’m not surprised.”

“Could I offer you something to drink?”

“Thanks, but I’m fine.”

“Please – sit.”

He did as she asked and Alexis took her place beside the rumpled ball of chenille.

“If you don’t mind me saying so, being out of the hospital agrees with you. You look a hell of a lot better today than you did yesterday.”

“For God’s sake, Taggert!” Sonny came up behind Alexis and set his hand down protectively on her shoulder. But he didn’t see the sly grin gracing her face.

“I know that was intended as a compliment, so thank you. But jeez Taggert, can’t you cut me some slack? I’d kind of had a long and difficult night when you saw me yesterday. Not that the days prior had been any kind of picnic either.”

“I know. I’m just saying you look good - and like you’re going to be ready to kick some…to get back into action very soon.”

She smiled a full smile. “I certainly hope so.”

“But I give you fair warning – once you trade in this blue jeaned & barefoot look for your Armani suit and Manolo Blahnik’s, you’ll get no slack from me, Ms. Davis.”

“None will be needed.”

“I don’t doubt that.”

“Good.” Alexis gave a decisive nod of her head. “And may I ask how you know about anything about Manolo Blahnik’s?” She squinted at him slyly. “Have you been reading fashion magazines over your morning donut?”

“Excuse me? Do I LOOK like I eat donuts? And for your information, I’ve been watching “Sex and the City”…over Chinese take-out.”

“Taggert - you little devil.”

Taggert laughed lightly and lifted his eyes up from Alexis’ face to focus on Sonny, standing sentry behind her. Sonny could see the spark flashing in Taggert’s eyes and he sensed that it was the right time to begin. He sat down on the coffee table, positioning himself between Taggert and Alexis like a fulcrum. As Alexis turned to him, he saw a spark in her eye as well and it settled the unease laying claim to his stomach.

“Okay, Taggert. How about we do what you came here to do?”

“Alrighty.” Taggert cleared his throat and leaned forward, resting his forearms on the tops of his thighs. Sonny unconsciously mirrored Taggert’s posture, and Alexis pulled a throw pillow into her lap. “Alexis, I don't know if Sonny told you this yet or if he was waiting for me, but both Sorel and Malloy were in court today.”

“And you’re here to tell me that something went wrong? That Sorel wasn’t Mirandized or something?”

“No! No, nothing went wrong and nothing will. We’re triple checking every step that we take with this. Not to say that any…” He glanced at Sonny with a knowing look. “That any ordinary citizen wouldn’t also receive our best efforts on their behalf, but this landed in our own back yard. This happened to you, and we’re responding accordingly. Dara is on fire with this case, and there will be no mistakes made in the prosecution. Trust me.”

The intensity of purpose illuminating Taggert’s face was not an unfamiliar sight to Alexis’ eyes, but it was a strange realization that the object of his intensity was now her. This time, Taggert’s rage was in defense of her – demanding justice for her. Alexis hugged the pillow against her stomach and cleared her throat, quickly glancing at the quiet Sonny. He met her gaze with a reassuring look and the light touch of his hand on her arm. She turned back to Taggert just in time to catch him focusing on her cheek. She tugged at her hair as Taggert closed his eyes in abject embarrassment. She smiled in understanding of how uncomfortable he felt. She knew that Taggert worked hard to keep as steely a façade as Sonny, and she knew that is was just that – a façade.

“I do trust you, Taggert. And Mac, and Dara – even through she hates the ground I walk on.”

Taggert’s eyes opened, as did his mouth in weak protest. “Dara doesn’t…”

“Yes, she does! Don’t go yanking my chain just because I’m a little black and blue.”

Taggerts eyebrows rose and he turned to Sonny, who simply shrugged. Alexis’ challenging expression moved Taggert’s hand unexpectedly toward her face. She didn’t pull away as he touched a finger to the side of her chin and gently tilted her head an inch or two to the left.

“I really wouldn’t call it black and blue. At this point, I’d say you’re more in the purple family.” He dropped his hand and watched her bite her lip, trying to hold back a creeping grin.

“Semantics.” She murmured.

“Your forte.”

“True.” She flashed her dimples and turned them to Sonny. “Or so I’m told.”

“Lucky for you, purple’s your color.” Taggert offered.

“You think?” Alexis sighed thoughtfully. “I guess I’ll be in trouble when it gets to that greenish-yellow stage. Yellow is definitely NOT my color.”

“No comment. I’m going to quit while I’m ahead.”

She laughed an easy laugh, and the sound of it made Sonny’s heart sing. He reached out to push the tangled hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear. He was ever humbled by her, and ever moved by her brief moments of shyness…like now, when the feel of his touch in mixed company sent a faint flush across her face. As Alexis scrunched her shoulders and sighed, Sonny looked to Taggert and was struck by his warm smile. It was then that he fully appreciated the man’s ability to sense her state of mind and meet it, level for level, when all Sonny had ever seen in him before had been stone. He had no idea that the feeling from Taggert was begrudgingly mutual.

“Alexis?” Taggert’s voice was soft. “I meant what I said about Dara. She feels the same way about nailing Sorel that we all do. More to the point, she feels the same way about what he did to you.”

“Oh God…” Alexis dropped her head, and Sonny quickly slipped onto the couch beside her.

“Hey?” He slipped his arm around her shoulders and she tensed them as her head turned slightly toward him.

“I’m okay.” He relaxed his embrace, sliding his hand from her shoulder & down along her arm, coming to rest on the cushion beside her hip.

“I’ve spent so much time listening to horrible things that have happened to someone else, and I’ve had to be professional and disconnected. And sometimes it feels as if all this happened to someone else too…I’m totally disconnected. But then, without warning, the reality of it hits me like a brick.”

“I understand. It’s not every day I have a case that feels personal.”

“I know that Dara will do her best, Taggert. I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise.”

“I think the only real problem between you and Dara is that you’ve never been on the same side – until now. You two really are a lot alike. You’re both always absolutely certain you’re in the right, you both have the same passion for your work and the same drive to win. I think you might actually like each other, if it wasn’t for the nasty professional competitiveness getting in your way. You can’t both win, and the only reason Dara hates you is because nine times out of ten, the one who DOES win is you.”

Sonny beamed. “That’s my girl.”

Alexis narrowed her eyes at him. “You really do need to get yourself a pet.”

Taggert laughed out loud, and Sonny blushed.

“Uh…I mean, that’s why I pay you the big bucks?”

“That’s more like it.” Alexis gave the pillow in her lap a final squeeze before pushing it away with a marked stretching of her spine. “So tell me, Taggert, does everyone at the station know everything?”

“Pretty much. I know you’ve wanted to keep this fairly private, but after today the charges against Sorel will be public knowledge. That’s why I wanted to come over and tell you in person – so you could control the flow of information to your friends and family tonight, before they open a paper tomorrow and get an unpleasant surprise.”

“Right. Well, I’d better call Stefan and have him tell Nikolas.”

“Did Ashton tell your friend Chloe?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t ask him to, so I don’t think he would have. Besides, Chloe is still in Milan. I don’t expect there would be anything about this in the international news, do you?”

“What about your ex-husband?” Taggert’s mention of Jax made Sonny glare.

“I’m not exactly sure where he is. But I guess if he does read about it, he’ll call me.”

“You guess?”

Alexis paused, giving him a wary look. “I mean, I’m SURE he’ll call me.”

“You haven’t heard from him, have you?” Sonny’s voice softened, and he watched the pain surface in her eyes. He should have kept his damn mouth shut about Jax.

“He’s a little focused on something right now, Sonny. You know that. And please don’t use me as an excuse to feed your personal conflict with Jax.”

“He’s chasing a ghost.” Sonny’s voice was void of emotion. Brenda was dead, or his gut would know otherwise.

“Maybe so. But that’s his business. He’s doing what he needs to do, and I understand that. So should you.”

She tried not to dwell on Jax’s abrupt and unceremonious departure from her life, along with his apparent disinterest in what or who he’d left behind. Instead, she tried to focus on the way he’d been when he first lost Brenda, and how it made sense that he’d do anything to find her if she was possibly still alive. Alexis just hoped that he thought of her at least now and then, as she thought of him. She missed him, especially now - although he would be even less pleased about Sonny’s care taking duties than Ned. She cleared her throat and shifted her body. She was feeling the tension in the air and her muscles were beginning to ache again.

Alexis looked to Taggert in sudden confusion. “Um, would I be correct in assuming that Sorel and…Malloy will be tried separately?”

Taggert smiled and leaned back against the cushions. “Malloy won’t be going to trial.”

“Excuse me?” Sonny’s sudden bark made Alexis flinch. He didn’t notice, focusing his hard stare on Taggert. “What did he do, make some kind of deal?”

“Sonny, calm down.” Taggert’s voice was measured as he kept a wary eye on Alexis.

Sonny’s mouth went dry and he turned to see Alexis rubbing at her temple with a shaking hand. “I’m sorry.”

Alexis shrugged and shook her head.

“Malloy’s pleading guilty to all charges, so there’s no need for a trial. Alexis won’t have to testify against him. He’s going away, case closed.”

“Good.” Sonny was curt.

Alexis cleared her throat and let her hand slip from her temple and down to her lap. “How long, do you think?”

“What, his sentence?”

“Yeah.”

“The better part of the rest of his life.”

She swallowed, nodding slowly as if allowing it to sink in. She closed her eyes with a sigh, and Taggert tried to read what was going on in her head. Sonny laid his hand upon hers, but she didn’t respond. The talk of Malloy was having a strangely disturbing effect and he considered asking Taggert to leave. Taggert saw her subtle distress as well, but couldn’t discern if it was borne from memories of what Malloy had done to her, or the thought of his immoderate punishment. He sensed it was the latter, but the question held him back from granting Malloy’s hesitant request just yet…if he’d grant it at all. He needed to test her waters first.

“With good behavior, he’ll probably make parole the first time he’s in front of the board. Malloy’s a docile kind of guy – the kind parole boards like. The kind the Sorel’s of the world turn into easy patsies.”

Alexis’ breathing quickened, as if she couldn’t get a clean, full dose of oxygen into her lungs. Her eyes darted back and forth, her face a study in concentration. She seemed to be grasping for something just beyond her reach – a thought, a sound, an image…a simple word. Sonny wanted it to stop.

“I think that’s enough for now.”

“No. It’s not enough.” Alexis’ body was still trembling, but her voice was sure. “So…Thomas wants to pay, but Sorel still wants to play.”

Taggert’s eyebrow rose at her quick cutting to the heart of it. “That about sums it up.”

Alexis smiled. “Ironic, isn’t it? The way I champion everyone’s right to council and their day in court. Talk about having something come back and bite you on the butt. Okay, fine. If Sorel wants to play, I’m in. What exactly are the charges against him, Taggert?”

“This doesn’t have to happen, Alexis.” Taggert tried to show her a way out while allowing her to save face. “You know as well as I do that Sorel is going to get the death penalty for the Ted Wilson murder. And as someone recently pointed out to me, how many times can the state kill one man?”

Alexis wouldn’t be weakened. “What are the charges?”

“Possession, possession with intent to distribute, extortion, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, assault, battery, attempted murder…”

“Whoa – murder? He didn’t try to kill me.”

Taggert’s eyes darted to Sonny, and Alexis’s sharp gaze followed.

“What? Why are you looking at him? What the hell else haven’t I been told?”

Taggert stayed silent. He deferred to the man whose hand now held tightly to hers, and whose eyes had grown haunted by what might have been. Alexis turned her body and leaned forward, searching Sonny’s face.

“Sonny, please. For God’s sake, just tell me.” She murmured softly.

Sonny lifted his head and looked straight into the big brown eyes against which he had no defense – those eyes could weaken him into doing anything. He took a cleansing breath before his tight throat issued a murmur of its own. “You almost died, Alexis.”

She froze, stunned. “W-what? When?”

“You were burning up, when I found you. And you were barely breathing. I thought you weren’t breathing at all. I couldn’t find your pulse.”

She closed her eyes, squeezing them tightly shut as he spoke.

“Alexis, you…you had…” Sonny seemed at a loss, and Taggert slipped in to help.

“You had overdosed - on heroin. It was a close call, but we were lucky. The paramedics were well equipped and they knew exactly what to do.”

Her eyelids slowly opened, staying at half-mast as the two men watched her and waited for some further kind of response. But the shock of the news left her immobile. She simply stared wordlessly at Taggert, and he could see a virtual kaleidoscope as he looked into her eyes. At last, everything that coursed through her sifted down into one static thought.

“I…I didn’t think that he would…that he…”

Her blood ran cold and it sent a shiver down her spine. She tensed the muscles of her back and a slight twinge of soreness registered along her spine. It suddenly made her feel queasy. She hadn’t even looked at what he’d put there – she hadn’t wanted to know. Now, she just didn’t care.

“Alexis, to be perfectly honest, we can’t be certain that the overdose was intentional.”

“Of course it was intentional, Taggert! Sorel may have intended to make good on his word that he’d deliver Alexis back to me, but he intended to deliver her dead!”

Alexis winced again at the tone of Sonny’s voice, crossing her arms and holding herself to try to settle her tremble. Taggert’s eyes bore into Sonny’s face, furious at the man’s lack of self-control in front of Alexis.

“We don’t know that, Sonny. Heroin is a tricky drug.” He slowly, deliberately shifted his eyes to Alexis, whose tightly closed eyes failed to hide the expressions of grief and defeat playing across her entire body.

The betrayal that she felt was wrenching. Thomas was right there, behind her closed lids, and she could see him - see his bright blue eyes, feel his cool cloth against her burning face, hear his gentle, husky voice coming to her in the darkness…‘You’ll be home soon. I promise.’

He lied…and it hurt. She hadn’t believed that Thomas would let Sorel go that far. But he did. Thomas was going to let her die.

“I suppose it’s easier to kill someone if you’ve gained a level of their trust.” Her voice was dry and flat, completely devoid of emotion, as if speaking to herself in an empty room. “Given the circumstances of my birth and conditions of my upbringing - given the family I come from - you’d think I would know better. I’m such an idiot.”

Her hands shook like fury as she brought them up to rub at her eyes, then down to tug at the thin, pale pink cotton encircling her neck. Her stare into space was glassy, unfocused, and her breathing had quickened considerably. Sonny leaned forward and set his fingertips down on her knee.

“Hon…Alexis? I don’t understand. What do you mean by gaining trust? Did Sorel say something…”

His voice trailed off, not knowing what words to use next. His fingers lightly danced along the denim, feeling the warmth of her beneath. He needed her to turn and look at him, but she wouldn’t - or couldn’t. Instead, she slowly shook her head as her chin quivered against emotions she didn’t want to feel.

“No. Never mind. I’m just rambling, as I am so want to do.” She smiled and tilted her head as she rolled her eyes toward Sonny’s. The smile gave way to a small, nervous laugh. “Don’t pay any attention to me – I’ve been on drugs, remember?”

Taggert shifted, uncomfortable with being privy to more of the darker workings of Alexis’ mind. He knew the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, and she was far from immune. Alexis would need help, and he would mention it to Sonny…later. The unexpected sound of her breathless voice speaking his name took him by surprise.

“Are you sure I can’t get you anything, Taggert? Coffee, soda, water?”

He noticed her breathing had quickened again. “No, thanks.”

“Sonny?”

He lifted his head, pulling his staring eyes away from the hand that trespassed upon her knee. “Do you need something? I’ll get it.”

He began to rise, but Alexis quickly stopped him with a firm hand on his shoulder. “No.” She used his shoulder for support as she rose, her eyes darting back and forth against the floor. “I need…I…excuse me.”

Her last words were barely audible. Sonny and Taggert watched Alexis leave the room with an uncomfortably heavy silence hanging in the air between them. As soon as he was sure she wouldn’t hear him, Taggert snapped his head to Sonny.

“She doesn’t know that Malloy led us to her, does she?” His voice was infused with naked accusation.

“No.”

“Why the hell not? You spent twenty-four hours a day at her bedside for how many days? What were you waiting for, Sonny? An epiphany?”

“I was waiting for her! I was waiting for Alexis to tell me she was ready by asking me about what happened. Today, she asked. That’s why I let you come over here today. Tomorrow, things could change and maybe she wouldn’t be so ready anymore.”

“She needs to know about Malloy – now! Good God, Sonny. Did you really think that cryptic ‘trust’ comment she let slip was about Sorel? She trusted MALLOY. And now, she thinks that he was going to let Sorel kill her!”

“Why would she trust him when he hurt her, and terrorized her, and helped Sorel do worse?”

“I am not going to debate this with you. And I’ll be damned if I’ll let your ego get in the way and cause her more grief. It’s just cruel.”

“Ego?”

“Yeah, ego. Admit it, Sonny. You’re jealous of Thomas Malloy because you couldn’t rescue her on your own.”

“That is SICK, Taggert. Even for you.”

“You needed his help to save her, and if it wasn’t for Malloy, Alexis would probably be dead.”

“If it wasn’t for Malloy…” Sonny’s words caught in his throat and he glanced in the empty direction of the kitchen. “The man told me himself what he did to her. He’s three times her size, Taggert. I’ve seen what he did to her body, and I know what he did to her in here.” He tapped at his head, swallowing down the anger as best he could.

“Don't try to sell him to me as some sort of hero.”

“What if that’s what she needs him to be? Do you love Alexis enough to let Malloy be some sort of hero for her?”

Sonny blanched.

Taggert turned in the direction that Alexis had taken, then leaned in closer to Sonny with a conspiratorial whisper. “I think that you do. So I’m telling her the truth.”

Sonny saw flashes of light crossing before his eyes. His ears buzzed with Taggert’s words that echoed over and over in his head. He knew…Taggert knew.

Taggert shook his head with a light sigh. “You can stop swallowing your tongue, Corinthos. I mean the truth about Malloy, not you.”

As Sonny tried to retrieve his breathe, the subtle hint of gardenia teased his nose. And then, as he welcomed the familiar fragrance into his lungs, he heard a soft rustling behind him

“What truth about you?”