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Chapter 96: "Did you say 'Mr. Kiriakis'?"

"This summer?" Kim asked as she looked from her daughter's friend to Jeannie, who looked decidedly uncomfortable.  "Jeannie?"

"Uh . . . yeah . . ."  There was no doubt in Kim's mind that she was not going to like what Jeannie had to say.  The very fact that her daughter had hesitated instead of coming right out and saying whatever was up spoke volumes.

"Jeannie?" Kim repeated.

Jeannie set down her cup of coffee.  "I was going to wait until after the surgery, Mom -- when I knew how you were."

"About this summer?" she asked.

Before Jeannie answered, Bo raised a hand.  "Hold on for a moment.  You two seem to have something to discuss."  He looked at Marlena.  "Why don't we see if Ma needs any more help in the kitchen?  And you can help too," he added, turning to Shivaughn.

In an instant, Kim and Jeannie were alone in the living room.  "Rats fleeing a sinking ship," Jeannie muttered.

"And why is it sinking?"  Kim sat back in her chair.  "Come on, Jeannie, out with it."

"I have a job offer.  Actually, Shivaughn and I both do.  It's to work in Salem."

Kim thought that over.  "And you're afraid I'm going to be upset that you're not coming home for the summer?"

"Aren't you?" Jeannie asked.  "I mean, we don't even know how you'll be."

"It doesn't matter.  Your life doesn't have to revolve around me."  Kim knew her daughter's loyalty.  "I don't want you to put your future on hold just because I'm sick.  If it's a good opportunity, you should take it."

"It's a great opportunity."  Jeannie's nervous expression turn into wild excitement.  "It's better than great.  They're paying us top-market rates, as if we were working in the biggest New York firms.  And the people are great.  I'm going to learn so much."

"Sounds almost too good to be true," Kim said, teasing.

"Oh no," Jeannie said.  "Mr. Kiriakis said it's because they want to be able to bring in the best--  Mom?  Did I say something wrong?"

Kim went completely still.  Had she really just heard Jeannie correctly?  Very slowly, she asked, "Did you say 'Mr. Kiriakis'?"

"Yes.  You know. . . Victor Kiriakis.  He's the one who gave me the offer.  He even said he knew you.  Why didn't you tell me you knew him?  He's only one of the most powerful men in the country."

Kim doubted a bucket of ice poured down her back would had made her shiver as much as Jeannie's mention of that man's name.  "Why didn't you mention that before?"

"What?"

"Why didn't you mention that the job was with Victor."  Kim knew her voice was getting tighter, and she tried to force herself to relax.

"What's the big deal?"  Jeannie looked confused.  "It's Titan Industries, a Fortune 500 company.  You just said I should take it if it's a good opportunity, and it is."

Kim took a deep breath and tried to think.  How could she explain to Jeannie why anything having to do with Victor Kiriakis was dangerous.  Hadn't Shane said that everything Victor touches, he corrupts?  And now he was trying to sink his hooks into her daughter.

But how could she explain without explaining her history with Victor?  She and Shane had made a conscious decision never to tell their children about the circumstances surrounding Andrew's birth or the hell Victor put them through after what happened in Miami.  Kim hesitated.  Maybe it was time to change her mind.  Maybe telling Jeannie about what Victor had done would be best.

No, she couldn't.  Telling Jeannie that Andrew's paternity was in doubt?  Or that Victor had revealed Kim's past as a prostitute?  Kim could not reveal those secrets.  What would her children think of her if they knew?  She glanced toward the kitchen at Andrew.  She couldn't do that to him.

"Jeannie. . . ."  Kim tried to pick her words carefully.  "I knew Victor Kiriakis.  That's right.  But he's not the man you think he is; he's not the man the PR people make him out to be."

"So what?"  Jeannie grew defiant and Kim knew this would not be an easy battle to win.  "It's working in the legal department.  I'll probably never see Mr. Kiriakis at all."

Why didn't that make Kim feel any better?  She was just about to respond when her own mother walked in from the kitchen.

"Kimmie, can I say something?" Caroline said.

Kim knew what was coming.  Her mother was always willing to forgive Victor, no matter how horrible his crimes.  "Mama, it you're going to defend Victor to me, forget it."

"I know how you feel about Victor."  Kim got the sense that Caroline was choosing her own words pretty carefully.  She probably was afraid of revealing anything that the children did not know.  "However, he came to see me recently -- after he offered the job to Jeannie."

"He did?"  Both Kim and Jeannie reacted at the same time.

"But he wasn't going to say anything," Jeannie said.

Caroline nodded.  "I know, but he believed your mother might object, so he came to see me at the Pub.  Kimmie, Victor assured me that hiring Jeannie was because he was impressed with her.  He promised he wouldn't harm her."

"Victor's idea of harmful and mine are quite different," Kim said evenly.

Caroline paused and then looked at Jeannie.  "Would you let your mom and me talk in private for a few minutes?"  Jeannie glanced at Kim, then sighed and got up.  She headed to the kitchen where Bo, Andrew and Shivaughn were all pretending not to eavesdrop on the conversation taking place in the living room.  After Jeannie left, Caroline sat down in the chair closest to Kim.

"Mama, I don't want my daughter within 100 miles of Victor Kiriakis," Kim said in a low voice.  "He's evil."

"Kimmie, I know you hate Victor -- and you have good reason to--"

"There's no 'but,' Mama."  Kim lowered her voice even more, so it was no more than a whisper.  "The man tried to kill Jeannie's father.  He tried to steal Andrew from me.  He publicly humiliated me with that article about my past.  You're damn right I have good reason to hate him."

"And he understands that he did some horrible things to you," Caroline replied.  "He admitted it when he came to see me, and he said that giving Jeannie this opportunity is partly a way of making up for the hurt he caused our family."

"I don't believe that for one minute."  Kim shook her head.  There was no way she was going to believe that Victor was acting for altruistic motives.

"He also promised that Jeannie would not work directly for him.  She'd be working for his lawyers the entire time." 

Kim could not understand why her mother seemed to have such a strong opinion about this.  "Why do you care so much, Mama?"

"Okay, it's not just about Victor," Caroline said.  "Jeannie's never spent much time in Salem, and this is probably the only time she ever would.  This might be the last chance for me to get to know my granddaughter.  I know we've had visits here and there, but to have her in Salem for a few months would really mean a lot.  And she'd have a lot of other family around."

Kim knew she couldn't resist such a plea from her mother.  The more she argued against it, the stronger Caroline would argue and, eventually, Kim would give in.  She might as well just avoid the argument.  "All right, Mama.  But I want you to promise me that you'll keep an eye on Jeannie and hold Victor to those promises."  Kim shuddered.  She did not like this at all.  With a sigh, she looked toward the kitchen and her brother and children standing near the entryway, and called out. "Okay, Jeannie, I won't fight you on this."

Inwardly, Kim prayed that she would not regret the decision.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
lska
Jan. 13th, 2011 10:19 pm (UTC)
Very well done. I love this thread of the story, and that Caroline happened to be there for Kim to talk to at that moment. Looking forward to seeing how long Jeannie remains in the dark about the true nature of Victor's connections to their family.
jwsel
Jan. 13th, 2011 11:57 pm (UTC)
Victor was definitely smart to go to Caroline. As for Jeannie, it will be interesting to see if her own ambition blinds her to the reality of who and what Victor is.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )