Zander came awake slowly. He stretched and felt some stiffness and his wrists were still sore, but overall he felt better. Sliding out of bed he grabbed some jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt and headed for the bathroom. After a long shower Zander felt alot better. He walked back into the bedroom to find Brenda entering the room with a breakfast tray. The coffee smelled great.
"Good morning," Brenda said in greeting. "Luis told me you weren't feeling well."
"I'm fine." Zander combed his fingers through his hair and wondered where he'd left his hairbrush. He was always losing the damn thing. "Thanks for bringing breakfast. I'm starving." Zander grabbed a piece of toast and took a bite. He chewed and swallowed and remembered his manners, so to speak. "Will you join me?"
Brenda shook her head. "I ate already, but thank you. What happened to your wrists?" She reached out and lightly touched his arm.
Zander had forgotten about them and it made him uncomfortable to talk about it. He couldn't tell her the truth. "It's nothing. Hey...how are you feeling? Is your headache better?" Zander was reminded of the other day when Brenda had skipped lunch. Mainly because he had a headache of his own and he felt a little jittery. He figured it was probably hunger and took another bite of toast.
"I'm feeling much better," Brenda stated. "Maybe we could go swimming again tomorrow?"
"I'd like that, if I'm free. I don't know what Mr. Alcazar has planned." Zander put down the toast and reached for the orange juice. He downed half the glass and he still felt a bit off. Maybe he needed a caffeine kick. He reached for the coffee mug and took a sip.
Brenda watched Zander for a moment then headed for the door. "I'll leave you to eat. Luis asked me to tell you to rest today. He'll stop in later."
Zander frowned. "I don't need to rest. I feel fine." He did feel a little better, but still jittery.
"Just do what he wants," Brenda cautioned. She turned back to Zander and rose on tiptoe to press a kiss to his cheek. Then she ruffled his hair before heading out the door.
"Okay..." Zander drawled. "What was that all about?" He touched rubbed his cheek where she had kissed him. Heaving a sigh, Zander grabbed another piece of toast but he wasn't as hungry as he thought. Surprisingly enough, he felt a little tired. So he gave up on breakfast and moved to the bed. Zander straightened the covers a bit so he could lay on top of them, then he stretched out and closed his eyes. A heartbeat later he was asleep.
* * * * *
Luis looked up from the paper work on his desk as Brenda entered his office. "Can I help you?" he asked, a smile curving his lips. He could see that she was angry.
"Don't hurt Zander!" Brenda hissed.
"What makes you think I will?" Luis drawled as he leaned back in his chair. He had yet to mention to Brenda what he had learned about Zander, but something told him that she already knew who Zander really was. Which could prove interesting as well as useful, in so many ways.
Brenda reached the desk and pressed her palms on top of it and leaned in. "Because I know you. You've already hurt him."
Luis shrugged. "What I did was teach Zander a valuable lesson. He understands that. Besides...why do you care so much?"
"Because Zander has had a rough life...but he's a good kid for all that." Brenda's eyes flashed. "Don't break him." It was a warning. Then Brenda turned on her heel and stormed out, without waiting for a reply.
Smiling to himself, Luis looked down at the paperwork on his desk. The top one was a copy of Zander's adoption papers. Alexander Scott Barrett had been adopted by Cameron and Allison Lewis when he was six weeks old. Still smiling, Luis closed the folder then rose to put it in his safe. Then he left the room.
* * * * *
Zander sensed a presence in the room and it woke him with a start. He sat up and rubbed at his eyes then focused them on the figure in the chair by the bed. Alcazar. Zander glanced out the window. IT was dark out. "I'm sorry...I didn't mean to sleep so long."
Luis shrugged. "You needed the rest. How are you feeling, Zander? Are you up to having dinner down stairs?"
"Of course. I'm fine."
"Good." Luis rose from the chair and moved to sit on the side of the bed. "You look better...not so pale."
Zander felt uncomfortable at Alcazar's closeness. He slid off the other side of the bed and hoped his actions didn't look like an obvious escape. "Will Brenda be joining us?" Zander queried. He would feel better with her company.
Luis nodded. "She'll be there. But before we head down, I want to discuss business with you. I have another...job...for you."
"What do you want me to do?" Zander hoped he would finally be given a chance to do something that would even out the score between him and Alcazar. Zander felt indebted to him for too many things and it made him nervous.
"It's very simple really." Luis slid his hand into his jacket pocket and pulled out a pair of diamond earrings. "These are very old and worth a small fortune. I need you to pick a fight with Jason Morgan, in a very public place, and slip them in his jacket pocket so that they will be found after he's arrested."
Zander frowned. "Arrested? For what?"
Luis chuckled. "For assault...hence the fight. You let him attack you in front of witnesses and wait for the police to show up. Then you say you want to press charges. Jason will be taken into custody and the police will find the earrings that I reported as stolen two days ago. Then Jason will be under lock and key for quite some time. At which point Sonny will then be in a weakened position."
"Sounds like a good plan," Zander stated. He had no love for Jason, especially not after the guy had nearly beaten him to death and just recently tried to shoot him. "When do I start?"
"Tomorrow, if you're feeling up to it."
Zander nodded. "I feel fine."
Luis nodded then moved to where Zander was standing. "Let me see your wrists."
"They're fine." Zander tried to hide them behind his back but Alcazar wasn't buying it.
Zander recognized the tone as a demand for obedience. He held out both arms and flinched when Alcazar's fingers brushed his tender skin. "See...they're fine."
Luis gripped Zander's forearm. "They need more ointment."
"I'll put some on later." Zander tried to pull away but Alcazar's grip tightened and he was pulled back over to the bed. The ointment was on the bed table and Zander resigned himself to the attention. Alcazar’s touch was gentle as he smoothed on the ointment then, to Zander's relief, he moved away into the bathroom to wash his hands.
"Freshen up then come downstairs for dinner," Luis instructed, as he stepped out of the bathroom. He smiled at Zander and then he was gone.
Zander sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. He looked at his wrist for a moment, then he headed for the bathroom to do as he had been told.
* * * * *
The next afternoon, Zander entered Kelly's with one purpose in mind. Coffee. But while he was there he figured he would scope out a way to casually run into Jason and set Alcazar's plan in motion. To his surprise, Jason was at Kelly's, sitting at a table, his black leather jacket slung over the back of his chair. Zander smiled to himself. This might be much easier to pull off than he had expected. Moving to the counter, Zander saw Liz and greeted her warmly. "You look great, Elizabeth. How are things?"
"Thank you, Zander," Elizabeth replied. "Things are good. I guess. Same old. You look spiffy." She took in his suit, minus a tie. New job?"
"Yeah. Hey...can I get a coffee to go, please?" Zander pulled off one of his leather gloves.
Elizabeth nodded. "Sure."
Zander watched her work. He wanted to ask her something but was hesitant, then he figured he had nothing to lose. "Have you heard from Emily?"
"We email each other," Elizabeth replied. She handed Zander his coffee and accepted his five dollar bill. She made change.
"How is she? I mean...I'm not asking for details...I just want to know if she's okay."
Elizabeth smiled as she handed Zander back his change. "She's doing good. Really. She's walking and doing really well."
Zander felt a sense of relief. He would never stop loving Emily, but he knew that she had moved on and he had to do the same. But he was happy that she was going to be okay. "Thanks," Zander said softly. He was going to say more but he was distracted by the buzz of a cell phone and out of the corner of his eye he saw Jason stand up and go off into the corner to answer it. Zander saw an opportunity to plant the earrings in Jason's jacket. "Gotta go. See you around," He said to Elizabeth. As he turned and started for the door, Zander reached in his overcoat pocket with his still gloved hand and palmed the earrings. Then as he reached Jason's table he fumbled the coffee and it hit the floor with a dull thud, hot liquid splattering everywhere. On the pretense of grabbing napkins off the table to clean up the mess, Zander slipped the earrings in Jason's jacket pocket, then he focused on the spill on the floor.
"I'll get that Zander," Elizabeth said, as he came around the counter and joined him.
"I'm sorry." Zander started to apologize only to find Jason there, grabbing him by his shirtfront and almost shaking him. This was going to be almost too easy.
Elizabeth grabbed Jason's arm. "Let go of him!"
But Jason didn't budge. His grip on Zander's shirt tightened.
"Get off me, man!" Zander hissed. He heard the door to Kelly's open and Bobbie Spencer walked in. One more witness to the event, along with the dozen or so other customers. Jason was doing Zander's job for him.
"Don't ask questions about Emily!" Jason snarled. "She's dead to you, Zander. You got that?"
Elizabeth glared at Jason. "He was just talking, Jason. Chill out and let him go. Zander didn't do anything wrong!"
Zander felt a bit guilty about Elizabeth coming to his defense. Even though he really hadn't done anything. Yet. Focusing on Jason, Zander locked eyes with the other man. "I'm not scared of you, Morgan," Zander whispered, then he let a smirk curve his lips.
"Then you're dumber than you look," Jason deadpanned, then he shoved Zander hard, almost flinging him across the room.
Zander slammed into a nearby table, slipped on a wet spot on the floor and went down hard. His head cracked into the edge of the table before he hit the floor and for a moment he actually blacked out.
Elizabeth screamed and ran to Zander, as did Bobbie. The other customers watched in stunned disbelief.
Taggert had entered Kelly's in time to see Jason Morgan shoving Zander and a smile curved his lips as he grabbed Morgan and put on the cuffs. He then hauled him over to wear Zander lay. Bobbie was checking him. "Is Smith okay?"
"Call an ambulance," Bobbie told Elizabeth, then she looked up at Taggert. "He has a head injury but he's conscious, so that's a good sign."
"No ambulance," Zander protested, once the black spots stopped dancing in front of his eyes. Taggert came into focus and a part of Zander couldn't believe how fate had played out this hand for him. He knew Alcazar would be pleased and Zander hadn't done a thing to set it up. If his head didn't hurt so much, Zander would have been downright gleeful about turning the tables on Jason Morgan. For once Jason had acted on impulse and had put himself in hot water. Zander tried to sit up but Bobbie pressed him down.
She shook her head at him. "You're not to move, Zander. You could have a concussion or a spinal injury."
Zander cautiously probed the cut on his temple. It hurt like hell but he was sure he was all right. "It's just a bump," he stated. "I'll be fine. I've got a hard head."
"Listen to Bobbie," Elizabeth interjected. She looked at the nurse. "The ambulance is on its way."
"I've called in the troops," Taggert announced and, as if on cue, two officers appeared. He handed Jason over to them. "Take him to the PCPD and book him for assault. I'm going to get statements from the witnesses here, then I'll drop by the hospital to get your statement, Mr. Smith."
Zander nodded and regretted it, as the black spots danced before his eyes again.
* * * * *
Zander winced as Dr. Tony Jones shone a light in his eyes, for about the tenth time. He was in a treatment room, already decked out in a hospital gown. Zander hated the damn things. "Can I go now?" Zander asked, as Dr. Jones put the light away.
"I'm keeping you overnight for observation," Tony replied. "And I think I'll run an MRI just to be on the safe side."
"I'm not staying." Zander was adamant.
Elizabeth was hovering nearby and she shook her head at Zander. "Listen to Dr. Jones. One night in the hospital won't kill you, Zander. And then we'll know you're okay."
Zander sighed and ran a hand through his hair, wincing as he brushed over the bandage. "I'm fine."
"What happened to your wrists?" Dr. Jones asked as he grabbed one of Zander's arms and studied the abraded skin.
"It's nothing," Zander replied, tugging his arm free. He didn't know how to explain the markings but just then Taggert made a timely entrance, and for once Zander was glad to see him.
Taggert smirked at Zander. "I've got about a dozen statements from the customers at Kelly's about what happened, Mr. Smith. Now it's your turn."
Tony took a moment to interject. "I'm going to start the paper work on your admission and I'll be back later to check on you." He then left before Zander could make another protest.
"So...what's the story, Mr. Smith?" Taggert queried. He then looked at Elizabeth. "I need a statement from you too."
"No problem," Liz replied.
Zander told his story. "I went to Kelly's for a cup of coffee. I talked to Elizabeth for a minute and turned to go. I dropped the cup and started to clean up the mess and then Jason had me by the shirtfront. He heard me asking Elizabeth about Emily and I guess it set him off. Next thing I know he's shoving me across the room. I kinda slipped and I guess that's when I hit my head."
Taggert was making notes and nodding, then he turned to Elizabeth. "Is that what you saw happen?"
"Yeah...exactly that," Elizabeth confirmed.
"Okay then." Taggert smiled at Zander. "So...this must feel like a red letter day to you, Mr. Smith. You ready to press charges against Jason Morgan?"
Before Zander could respond, Alcazar entered the room and drawled, "If he's not, then I will."
Taggert turned to the newcomer. "Ah...Luis Alcazar. Guess you got the message."
"Yes. Your department called to inform me that the earrings I had reported stolen had been found."
"That's right, in Jason Morgan's pocket." Taggert smirked. "Interesting...no?"
Luis shrugged. "Mr. Morgan and I aren't exactly friends."
Taggert nodded. "Yeah...he gets that alot. So...you'll need to come down to the PCPD to press charges."
"Not a problem." Luis looked at Zander. "How do you feel?"
"I'm okay." Zander felt uneasy but hoped it didn't show. He hadn't expected Alcazar to come here. He wondered how he even knew to come.
Taggert glanced between the two. "You know each other?"
Luis smiled. "Zander works for me. Is that a problem?"
"Not for me." Taggert turned to Zander. "So...you pressing charges or what?"
"Jason was just having a bad day." The words came out before Zander could stop them. He knew he was supposed to be pressing charges, but something gave him pause. He didn't look at Alcazar as he continued. "Look...Mr. Alcazar is going to press charges so you don't need me to get at Jason. I'd rather not be involved." There was a subtle truth to what Zander was saying.
Taggert shrugged. "Okey dokey." He turned to Luis. "Ready to go, Mr. Alcazar?"
Luis waved him off. "I'll be there soon." He moved to the bed and reached out to touch the bandage on Zander's temple. "Are you sure you're all right?"
"Yeah." Zander smiled and was relieved to only concern, and not anger, in Alcazar's eyes. "I have a hard head. I'll get Dr. Jones to sign me out and I'll be home when you get there."
"Dr. Jones wants to keep you over night, Zander," Liz interjected.
Zander sighed. "I don't need to stay here. I'm fine." He was getting tired of repeating himself.
Luis held up a hand. "Do what the doctor says, Zander. You can come home tomorrow. I'll check on you later." He patted Zander's shoulder, turned to smile at Elizabeth, then he was gone.
"You work for Luis Alcazar?" Elizabeth asked, the moment they were alone.
Elizabeth shook her head. "He's a drug lord, Zander."
Zander rubbed a hand over his face. He didn't want to get into this with Elizabeth. He liked her and wanted to retain their friendship. "It's a long story...but he saved my life. I owe him."
"Be careful, Zander." Elizabeth looked resigned as she leaned in to kiss his cheek. "I'll stop by later." She waved then headed out the door. She did not see the figure of Luis Alcazar lurking close by, watching her.
Zander was considering making a run for it when Bobbie Spencer entered his room. She was smiling. Not a good sign. He waited quietly as she checked his vitals. "Any chance you'll help me escape?" Zander asked when she was done.
Bobbie shook her head. "Nope. I'm here to get you settled into your room. And I have something to help with the pain."
"Thanks." Zander was grateful to her, but distracted. Even though Alcazar hadn't seemed mad at him, Zander couldn't shake the thought that he was in trouble for not following the plan.
* * * * *
Zander paced his hospital room. He wanted out. Bobbie had brought breakfast over an hour ago and it was still on the tray table, untouched. Zander wouldn't call that slop edible in his wildest dreams. She had also told him that Dr. Jones would be in soon to see him. Zander glanced at his watch. He was considering just walking out. In fact he had his coat in his hands when Dr. Jones walked in. "I'm ready to sign out," Zander stated.
"Good morning, Zander," Tony said, pointedly. He pointed to the bed. Sit so I can check you again." When Zander obeyed, Tony shone a light in his eyes then gently prodded his temple. "Headache?"
"A little. It's doable." Zander winced as Dr. Jones probed a sensitive spot. "So...can I go now?" He batted the hand away and touched the bandage.
Tony grabbed Zander's arm and brushed a fingertip against the abrasions. "They look like ligature marks, Zander. Care to explain how you got them?"
Glaring at Dr. Jones, Zander yanked his arm free. "No...I don't. Can I go now?" He slid off the bed.
"Someone tied you up."
"Really? Prove it." Zander slid his arms into his coat. If Dr. Jones didn't stop he was simply going to leave.
Tony sighed. „I’m trying to help you here, Zander. Did Jason Morgan do that to you?"
Zander laughed. "No. Where do I sign out?"
"Tell him what happened, Zander." Liz requested, as she entered the room. "If someone hurt you...we can help. You can go to the police."
"No one hurt me!" Zander was getting angry now. He was about to simply walk out when Alcazar breezed into the room.
Luis looked at the trio before him. "Is there a problem?"
Zander shook his head. "No. I'm out of here." He pushed past Dr. Jones and headed out the door. He heard Elizabeth calling his name and came to a halt when she touched his arm. "Elizabeth...please drop this," Zander begged, as he turned around to face her.
"I just...I want you to be okay."
"I am okay. No one hurt me. Really." Zander smiled and let a fingertip brush over her face. He was pleased when Elizabeth smiled back and nodded.
Luis appeared. "I've arranged your release, Zander. And I have some pain pills that Dr. Jones gave me. Are you ready to leave?"
Zander nodded. "More than ready." He looked at Elizabeth. "I'll see you around. Thanks...for caring."
"See you, Zander. Take care." Elizabeth walked off without acknowledging Alcazar's presence.
"I have a surprise for you at home, Zander," Luis said as he guided them towards the elevator.
Zander wasn't sure how to react. "What kind of surprise?"
Luis chuckled. "You'll see soon enough."
"Hey...no wheelchair," Zander stated, happy that Bobbie wasn't chasing him down with one like she usually did.
"I figured you would want to skip that part." Luis ushered Zander into the elevator and pushed the button. They rode down in silence and Luis led the way to a black, stretch, limo.
Zander was stunned. "Uh...nice car."
Luis chuckled. "I had some business and I thought you would enjoy the ride."
"Cool." Zander got in and settled himself against the plush seat. He was still feeling nervous though, about not pressing charges. Then he jumped when a fingertip brushed against his temple.
"How do you feel?" Luis asked as his fingertip now glided over Zander's cheek.
Zander shifted away from the touch. "I'm fine."
Luis nodded. "You did well, Zander. I'm very pleased."
"I'm glad...I was worried that you might be mad at me for not pressing charges." Zander was going to say more but Alcazar's hands were on his face and he then was leaning into Zander and when warm lips pressed against his, Zander froze. After the shock wore off he tried to pull away but strong fingers curled in his hair, anchoring him. Zander felt Alcazar's tongue pressing against his lips, seeking entrance.
"Open for me," Luis demanded.
Instinct made Zander obey. He flinched when Alcazar's tongue invaded his mouth and it took all of his will power not to pull away. Zander told himself that this was just some kind of test. That Alcazar was testing his obedience and that he had to pass, whatever the cost. So he allowed the kiss, but he didn't kiss back. And when it was over, and the fingers slid out of his hair, Zander realized he was shaking.
Alcazar traced the outline of Zander's mouth. "Sweet." Then he leaned back in his seat as if nothing had happened, reaching for a file and focusing on that for the rest of the ride home.
Zander pressed a hand against his mouth and said nothing.
* * * * *
Once home, Alcazar escorted Zander to his room, telling him that he needed to rest. Zander insisted he was fine but Alcazar was adamant. They reached his room and Zander opened the door. He took two steps in and came to a screeching halt.
A naked woman was lying on his bed, positioned in full display. She had red hair and blue eyes and she was very beautiful. Zander was stunned. He looked at Alcazar. "I don't understand."
"This is Desiree. She's the surprise I told you about. She'll take care of you, Zander." Luis pushed him towards the bed. "She's nurse."
"I...I don't.." Zander fell silent. He wasn't sure what to say. But when he looked at Alcazar, he saw a gleam in the man's eyes that unnerved him. This had to be another test.
Luis smiled. "Have fun. I'll check on you later." He left the room, closing the door behind him.
Desiree slid off the bed, comfortable in her nudity. She eyed Zander up and down then reached for his coat. "Let's get you undressed and in bed," she purred.
"Sure," Zander whispered, allowing her to undress him. But then he found himself grabbing her and claiming a kiss and Zander knew it was to erase the feel of Alcazar's lips on his.
* * * * *
Zander felt a hand stroking his chest and he smiled. Opening his eyes, he expected to see Desiree lying next to him, but it was Alcazar who touched him. Zander flinched and sat up, drawing the blankets up over his lap. He looked around the room. Desiree was gone.
Luis followed Zander's gaze. "I sent her home. Did you like her?"
"She was nice." Zander wanted out of the bed but he was naked so he stayed put. He tried not to flinch when Alcazar touched a fingertip to the scar on his chest.
"Just say the word and she'll be back."
Zander shrugged. "I can find my own...lovers."
Luis's eyes narrowed. "Like Elizabeth Webber?"
"She's just a friend." Zander felt a ripple of fear at the mention of Elizabeth's name.
"Get dressed, dinner is ready."
Zander nodded. "Okay." He waited for Alcazar to leave but after a moment he realized the man had no intention of going anywhere. Zander gritted his teeth then slid out of the bed. He saw clothes laid out for him across the room, but as he made to move towards him, Alcazar was there before him. Zander felt the dark eyes roaming over him and it made him uncomfortable.
Alcazar let one hand brush over Zander's ridged abdomen, then one fingertip followed the line of hair below the navel. "You're very beautiful, Zander. Perfection. But you don't see that in yourself, do you?"
"Not really." Zander was almost holding his breath as Alcazar's hand slid lower. He closed his eyes as the strong fingers curled around his cock. Just another test, Zander told himself. Then the hand was gone and Zander could breathe again as Alcazar moved away. "What do you want from me?" The question came out in a rush.
"Everything," Alcazar replied. He moved to the chair to pick up a pair of black boxer-briefs then he brought them to Zander and watched the boy step into them. He let one hand curve over one cotton-covered buttock. "Always remember to do things my way, Zander," Alcazar whispered, then he kissed the lips that were parted in surprise, before breaking away and leaving the room.
It took a moment for Zander to realize that he was alone, and that he was still trembling.
© Shelly 2004