February 28, 2014

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series Another Dumb Blonde

Kelly’s: Ric’s Room

Carly Corinthos shifted in her sleep and rolled away from the warm presence. She clutched at her pillow a little tighter, intent on drifting back into sleep. Carly was not a morning person.

She felt a warm hand rubbing her back, light fingers trailing up and down her spine. The touch might have sent tingles down her back…if she didn’t know any better. She was not talking to Sonny right now and he’d know better than to touch her while she was in a mood like this.

Her eyes drifted open to a room that she did not recognize. Fear swamped over her so quickly that she nearly choked. She took in the apparent small size of the room and the lumpy bed she was lying on. She braced herself and rolled over.

“Good morning. I didn’t think you ever going to wake up.”

Carly stared at the man in horror. She couldn’t get her mouth to work–she was actually unable to form words. This wasn’t happening. This just was not in any world possibly happening.

“Carly?” He frowned and reached out for her–as though to touch her shoulder in some form of comfort. Carly shrank back, clutching the sheet to her chest and nearly fell off the bed.

“What–what happened?” she asked, squeezing her eyes shut. She was not sitting here, obviously naked. She was not sitting here…naked…next to Ric Lansing, who appeared to be naked as well.

This was just not happening. She felt nauseous, like whatever she might have eaten in the last decade or so was about to make a reappearance.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Ric asked, carefully.

She shook her head, clutching the green sheet more tightly to her chest. “Pretend–pretend that it isn’t, okay? Why am I in your room? Why did I come up here?”

Ric frowned. “You weren’t feeling well, remember? You were dazed…like you’d been drinking?”

“I don’t…I don’t remember having anything more than a glass of wine,” Carly told him. “I don’t understand.”

“You thought someone might have slipped something into your drink,” Ric provided. “When Faith Roscoe distracted you by hitting on Jason.”

“Right. So I was drugged,” Carly said quietly. She dragged a hand through her tangled blonde hair. “What…what happened to Sonny and Jason? Why did they let you take me upstairs?”

“They had to leave,” Ric told her. “Before it became apparent something was wrong. I took you upstairs to keep you safe.”

“And you slept with me?” she demanded, her voice loud and shrill. She couldn’t believe this was happening. She couldn’t believe that Ric…who was supposed to be her friend…she couldn’t believe that he’d…she clutched at the sheet again, tugging it higher.

“You just…you wanted to,” Ric tried to explain.

“I was obviously in no position to refuse!” Carly cried. “I trusted you! How could you do this to me?”

Ric reached out again and this time she slapped his arm away. “Don’t touch me,” she said coldly. “If I’d been thinking clearly, trust me, you would have been my last choice. I love my husband–” Oh. Oh, God. Sonny. He was never going to understand this–never going to believe her. This was bad. This was so beyond bad. She felt sick…she felt icky and dirty. She just wanted to leave–she wanted to get out of this place and never come back again.

“Carly, you weren’t taking no for an answer,” Ric continued. “A man can only–”

“You’re not a man!” Carly spat. She tugged more of the sheet away from the bed to wrap it around her. “Don’t you ever come near me again, do you understand? You are…you are disgusting a-and vile…” she closed her eyes against the fresh onslaught of tears. She stood and managed to find her clothing strewn all over the floor. She grabbed the pants and shirt and slammed the door shut behind her.

Once inside the bathroom, Carly sat on the toilet seat, still clutching the bed sheet. This was surreal. This was just not happening. That’s it. She was just going to pinch herself and she’d wake up in her own bed at home at the penthouse. Sonny would not have kissed Brenda and she would not be sitting in Ric Lansing’s cramped bathroom. That’s just the way it was going to happen.

She pinched her arm, really hoping it was going to work. When it didn’t, she wanted to cry.

Her head snapped up when she heard a soft knock. She was about to tell Ric to go to hell when she realized the knock was coming from outside the room, not the bathroom. She heard Ric’s footsteps as he crossed to the doorway. The door opened and Carly heard a soft female voice.

She stood and shuffled towards the door, trying to hear what was going on in the next room.

“Hey. I have to cancel tonight.”

She frowned. She knew that voice. Why did she know that voice? She was still musing it when she heard Ric’s reply. He was nervous, she understood that immediately. She could just picture the little slime ball standing in the next room, worried that Carly was going to burst out of the bathroom and let whoever his girlfriend was know exactly what a jerk he was.

“Is anything wrong?” Ric replied.

“No, no. See, Courtney just quit. She’s moving out of town–”

Carly frowned. She hadn’t known that.

“–and Bobbie really needs the rest of us to pitch in and take her shifts. I had to take tonight. I’m really sorry.”

Suddenly, the soft voice clicked in Carly’s head. Ric’s mystery girlfriend was Elizabeth Webber.

Elizabeth, Jason’s sort of ex-girlfriend. The girl who had jerked him around and hurt him. Who had walked out on him after discovering the truth.

The young woman who had comforted her after Sonny’s death, baking her brownies and making sure she was eating. Who had volunteered to clean the penthouse just so Carly wouldn’t have to worry about it.

She closed her eyes and squeezed back the tears. Elizabeth Webber had her faults–there’d been times when all she’d wanted to do was rip the little brunette’s hair out. But even she deserved better than Ric Lansing.

Did Jason know Elizabeth was seeing Ric? Carly shook her head. No, he probably didn’t. And so what? It didn’t matter if he did. Jason was in love with Courtney. Right?

What was the gossip Carly had heard about Elizabeth? About her being a rape victim when she was younger? Was that true? She pressed her palm against the cheap wood of the bathroom door. A rape survivor dating…Carly shook the accusation out of her mind almost as soon as it popped in there. Ric wasn’t a rapist. She’d come upstairs with him. She must have wanted it. She could fight people off. She wasn’t weak. She was strong–she’d just been too drugged to know better.

But still…it didn’t sit right in Carly’s mind to know that Elizabeth was dating Ric. She tuned back into the conversation, heard Elizabeth apologize again for breaking their date and then leave the room.

When she heard the door click shut, Carly stepped away from the door and pulled her clothes on in jerky movements. She needed to get out of here. If she spent another moment in this room…mere feet away from Ric…she knew she’d be sick.

She opened the door, leaving the green sheet pooled in a puddle by the toilet. She glanced away from Ric and swallowed hard. “You’re fired,” she said quietly. She saw his back stiffen out of the corner of her eye. “Don’t come near me again. Don’t talk to me. Pretend you don’t even know me. If you come within five feet of me, I’ll not only tell Sonny what happened here, I’ll tell Elizabeth Webber.”

And with that parting shot, Carly strode from the room, trying to keep her head high. But she snuck out of the back door; not wanting any of the customers at Kelly’s to see her coming down from the upstairs.

She wanted to forget the last fourteen or so hours of her life. She only wished it were that easy.

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series Another Dumb Blonde

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Carly sipped a hot cup of coffee and peered out the window. It’d been two days since her club opening and she was just beginning to realize what her future was to hold.

She’d told Sonny that she and Ric had had a difference of opinion and she’d fired him. Sonny had been suspicious, but let her have her own business and run it the way she saw fit.

Sonny had been worried about her–worried that she’d gone and done something crazy when she’d found out about his kissing Brenda. He’d been so preoccupied with making her understand he loved her–only wanted to be with her–that Carly’s withdrawn and quiet behavior went almost unnoticed.

She’d had a bad dream the night before–had imagined she woke up to Ric once again, but that Sonny had caught them. She’d woken up in a cold sweat, but had managed to hide the dream from him.

She could still feel his fingers on her spine–and no matter how many showers she seemed to take, it didn’t go away. She was grateful that she’d been completely passed out to remember anything else. Otherwise, she’d probably spend the entire day scrubbing her skin raw.

She’d flirted with the idea of confiding in her sister-in-law, but she had immediately vetoed the idea. For one, Carly didn’t trust easily. Courtney had done nothing to earn her trust. For two, she was Sonny’s sister and sometimes you couldn’t guarantee the route a family member would take.

And three, Courtney was leaving town.

She heard Sonny’s footsteps above her in their bedroom and sighed. She knew this was resting heavy on him. He’d just reconnected with his sister, only to find that she’d played him. Told him that she’d been at Jason’s trial to support him–when she’d been there as Jason’s girlfriend. Carly had a few choice words for the other blonde, but before she could dish them out, Jason had done a complete 180 and broken up with Courtney shortly after the trial.

She’d been unable to talk to Jason about it–he’d been characteristically stoic and silent, but sometimes she wondered if Courtney had been a rebound relationship–a way for him to get over Elizabeth. He’d picked a helluva replacement, Carly thought with a smirk.

The breakup had devastated Courtney and she’d come to cry on Carly’s shoulder. Sonny had overheard and ripped into Jason, Carly and Courtney about the entire situation. He made his position completely clear–that Jason needed to steer clear of Courtney in the near future. She knew that the order was almost a dare to Jason, but it seemed the other man had completely made up his mind. Whatever he’d had with Courtney, he’d ended it.

Sonny and Jason were still working together, but there was a tension there. She recognized it–knew it wasn’t the first time their friendship had taken a blow. There’d been the disastrous night when she and Sonny had betrayed Jason. Jason had somehow forgiven them and even given his blessing. Carly didn’t think that either of them had ever really gotten over that night. She’d been able to forgive herself–she’d had a moment of weakness, a moment of anger and she’d given into it. It wasn’t the first time she’d done something like that, and it certainly hadn’t been the last. She’d felt guilty for hurting Jason, but no more so than she’d ever been when she’d wrecked his life.

The second time the tension had arisen had been during Jason’s search for Elizabeth when Jason had enlisted some outside help. It was the first time Carly found herself realizing that Jason had fallen in love with the younger woman. She hadn’t particularly liked it, but part of her had felt good about it. Felt relieved that she hadn’t ruined his life beyond recognition, hadn’t broken his heart beyond repair. But Sonny didn’t get it. He didn’t understand the connection–didn’t really understand that Jason and Elizabeth were more than friends. Sonny had many flaws, but Carly had decided that one his biggest these days was his inability to understand that Jason was more than just his enforcer.

The third time had been when Jason saved AJ for Courtney. Sonny had wanted AJ to go to jail, had wanted Courtney free from that albatross. Jason had done what Courtney wanted instead and helped to free AJ. Sonny had taken it a direct hit to his ego and decided that Jason was no longer loyal to him. She knew that Jason still looked up to Sonny in a way, and she believed that the second Jason’s loyalty had been questioned, Sonny had fallen the last few feet from the pedestal that Jason had had him on since they’d met.

Sonny had been unable to see the bigger picture once again. Jason had done what Courtney wanted–but she knew something else in Jason hadn’t allowed him to sacrifice the Quartermaine lush to the wolves. Jason loved his grandmother and sister deeply and knew that they still loved AJ. And she also knew that Jason didn’t approve of Sonny bringing AJ to the Oasis that night–that Sonny had given his word to his sister and had broken it. Just to prove a point.

Their friendship had taken many blows over the years, but Carly feared the latest might be the final straw. Jason was his own man–had the right to live his own life the way he chose. Sometimes Carly didn’t always agree with his choices–sometimes she tried to change his mind–but she always knew that they were his choices to make. Sonny always treated Jason’s choices as an affront to his own personal ego.

Sonny had suggested that Courtney leave Port Charles–at least for a little while. She’d been resistant–insisted that Jason was in love with her–that he was just a little confused right now. Sonny had tried to explain that Jason had made up his mind, but Courtney had merely replied that Sonny had made up his mind and in the end, that’s apparently all that mattered. She’d tried to reason with her brother and Jason, but neither budged.

Finally, she’d decided to take Sonny up on his offer and go spend a little time at the island. Carly had found out about Courtney’s vacation when she’d returned from Kelly’s, and she thought it was for the best. Courtney had been through a stressful six months or so and it would honestly make everyone’s lives a little easier if the blonde weren’t in town.

She set her coffee cup on the table and wrapped her long arms around her upper torso. She heard Sonny’s footsteps coming down the stairs and she sighed. Another morning of avoiding his touch, ignoring his words and murmuring a quick goodbye before leaving.

She was tired of the way the past few days had gone–tired of feeling like she’d done something completely wrong and unforgivable. Tired of feeling like she was dirty and alone in the world.

Her thoughts drifted to Elizabeth Webber again–much the way they’d done in the past few days. She wondered if Elizabeth had any idea about the man she was seeing–if Ric had told her anything about the night the club opening. If he’d told the other woman he’d slept with Carly. Maybe he’d put a spin on it–told her that Carly had come onto him–and that he turned her down. If she were Ric, that’s probably the way she would have handled it. Put doubt into the brunette’s mind before the other person could.

No, he wouldn’t have told her. Ric wasn’t the type to worry about damage control. He was counting on Carly not telling on anyone, and he couldn’t trust Elizabeth not to say anything to Sonny. He didn’t seem the type of person to trust anyone–not even someone he was dating.

Which made Carly wonder if she should tell Elizabeth. She felt a kind of reluctant respect for Elizabeth–she’d pulled herself together after finding Jason in the snow and had nursed him back to health. She’d also walked out on him after deciding she couldn’t handle what the life had to offer.

And no matter what Carly said to her face…she had to respect that Elizabeth put her foot down. She had apparently wanted honesty in some areas–areas that Jason didn’t agree with. It didn’t make it any easier on Jason–but Carly had to respect that.

But would Elizabeth understand that Carly loved Sonny more than anything else in the world–would have cut out her heart before betraying him with another man? Would she believe that Carly didn’t sleep with Ric intentionally?

Or would she remember what everyone in this town said about her? Would she remember the words that were often associated with her?

It didn’t matter, Carly told herself. If Elizabeth was half the woman Carly had always thought she was…she’d figure out Ric soon or later.

A nagging thought wouldn’t leave her alone. Would Elizabeth be subjected to the same treatment? Would Ric take advantage of her? Would Elizabeth be the next woman to find herself waking up next to him with little or no memory of the night before?

Before Carly could give more attention to that disturbing thought, she felt Sonny’s arms encircle her waist, drawing her close to him. She forced herself not to stiffen and pull away, but Sonny must have felt the hesitation in her body.

“You’re still mad,” he stated quietly, pulling away. Carly remained silent, taking advantage of the guilt her husband seemed to possess. Maybe it was wrong–maybe it was more than wrong. But it gave Carly a good solid reason to avoid him.

And she’d take anything right now.

“Are you taking Courtney to the airport?” Carly asked instead. She turned around and reached for her mug.

Sonny sighed. “Yeah. Are you sure you won’t come with us?”

Carly shook her head. “No. We said our goodbyes last night. Besides, I’ve got work to do at the club.”

Sonny drove his fingers through his hair. “How long are we going to live like this?” he demanded harshly.

Carly exhaled harshly and glared at him. “I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?” She pushed past him and headed for the doorway. “I don’t have the patience for this anymore.”

She jerked her coat from the closet and slid out the door, relieved to be done with her performance for another day.

Port Charles Airport

Courtney Quartermaine folded her arms tightly across her chest and stared across the corridor where her brother was making the final arrangements for her flight to the island.

She had decided that the way things had ended between herself and Jason was entirely Sonny’s fault. She didn’t care what Jason said–she knew the truth. She knew that Sonny would never approve of their relationship and he’d decided that his job was more important.

She lifted her chin and looked away from Sonny. She’d never forgive either of them. She’d go on the damn vacation and when she came home, she was leaving Port Charles for good. Find a place where a man didn’t put more value on his job than on her.

Sonny crossed over to her. “Do you have everything?” he asked.

“Yes,” Courtney told him stiffly. “And you’re handling the divorce while I’m gone?”

“I’ll send the papers when they’re ready to be signed,” Sonny told her. “Are you sure you don’t want to sue him for alimony or anything?”

“I don’t need anything from AJ Quartermaine,” Courtney said, firmly. “I don’t need anything from you, either. I’m going on your damn vacation to decide what it is I want from my life but don’t worry, I’ll pay every cent back.” She lifted her bag, shoved the strap over her shoulder. “Goodbye, Sonny.”

Sonny watched his sister stride towards the door that would take her to the doorway of the airport, where she’d board a plane to take her to the Caribbean.

He got the sudden feeling that she really meant it. “Goodbye,” he murmured before turning in the opposite direction.

Port Charles Docks

Elizabeth pulled her coat tightly around her and peered up at Ric. “Is something wrong?” she asked, finally.

He didn’t answer right away and she exhaled slowly, frustrated. No more waiting, she decided.Give him a chance to explain–maybe he’ll even come clean. She halted and sighed when he walked a few more steps before realizing that she’d stopped. He turned and frowned at her. “Elizabeth?”

“You’re in a different world tonight,” Elizabeth said softly. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Ric said quickly. Her eyes narrowed at the obvious lie.

“You know,” Elizabeth began coolly, folding her arms across her chest, “there’s something we need to get straight before this goes any further.”

“Elizabeth–”

“I don’t like liars,” she cut in smoothly. He fell silent. “I don’t like people who lie to me, who lie directly to my face and don’t see anything wrong with it. I don’t care if you think you are protecting me or whatever reason you think is good enough not tell me why you’ve barely said ten words to me the entire night, why you’ve basically been avoiding me for the past two days. All I care about is the fact that you are lying to me right now.”

“Nothing is wrong,” Ric said again. “I’ve had a long day and it’s been stressful ever since the club opened. I’ve been working all the time–you know Carly, she’s a perfectionist–”

“You don’t work at the club anymore,” Elizabeth interrupted. Her eyes grew even colder. “I’ve been waiting for you to tell me for the past two days. I figured you’d tell me eventually, when you got a chance. But I know for a fact that Carly fired you the morning after the club opened.”

Ric swallowed. Did she know? Could she possibly even suspect? “How?” he asked finally.

“Courtney told me.” Elizabeth smirked. “You see, since Jason broke up with her, we’ve been getting along a little better. Bonding over the jerk, so to speak. She thought I already knew. Carly mentioned that it was a stroke of bad luck Courtney was going on vacation just as she had to let you go.”

Ric looked away. “Look, I didn’t think it mattered. It was just a side job.”

“It didn’t matter,” Elizabeth answered. “Until you just lied to me about it.” She shoved her hands into her pockets. “Look, I like you, Ric. I like you a lot. But I don’t think this is a good time for me to be getting involved with someone.”

“Elizabeth, wait a second,” Ric said. “Look, I’m sorry I lied to you.”

“I’m not.” At Ric’s strange look, Elizabeth continued, “Because at least I got the message early on that once again, I don’t even rate a little bit of honesty. Goodbye.”

“Elizabeth!” Ric called again, but Elizabeth continued walking. Straight up the stairs, around the corner until she was gone.

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Carly cut her steak neatly and ate a piece. Sonny watched her carefully, trying to discern the amount of groveling that needed to be done.

He’d messed up–he knew it. He’d kissed Brenda and had been planning on keeping it a secret from her. He’d been wrong and he’d told her as much.

And yet she was still silent–still withdrawn. Maybe it wasn’t just the Brenda thing. Maybe there was more. Maybe it was the way he’d been treating Jason or the way he’d treated Courtney.

“I’m thinking of inviting Jason to dinner tomorrow,” Sonny spoke up. “Try and clear the air with him.”

Carly sighed and sipped her wine. “That sounds like a good idea,” she said quietly. “But don’t raise your voice and keep your temper in check,” she advised.

Sonny nodded. Progress, he thought. “Right. So, what do you think I should say to him?”

“The first thing you need to do is apologize,” Carly replied. She was still staring down at the table and he could still feel her distance from both him and the entire situation. It was almost like she was in a different country and phoning in her words. “You’re sorry for assuming he’s not good enough for your sister and then you need to assure him that it’s okay to have a life separate from his job. That he can have more, have a family one day.”

Sonny frowned. “I never told him he couldn’t.”

“Maybe you haven’t,” Carly allowed. “But you did allude that he wasn’t good enough for Courtney and you know Jason, he was already separated from Elizabeth. She’d already walked out on him. Giving up another woman because of his job probably didn’t help.”

“Elizabeth chose to leave. She couldn’t handle it,” Sonny said quickly. He waited for Carly’s normal sharp remark about Elizabeth–about how Jason was too good for her or that Elizabeth was too stupid or naïve to handle the life.

Instead, Carly sighed and looked away towards the window. “I don’t know,” she replied. “The obvious reason is that she couldn’t handle it, but I don’t think that was it. Maybe it was more. Maybe it was something else completely.” Something flashed in Carly’s memory then and she met Sonny’s eyes for the first time. “While you were gone, she was…she was good to me. And I thought we might be getting along.”

“Elizabeth is a good person. She’s always there when you need her,” Sonny allowed, letting himself remember the night they lost their baby.

“She thought there was something going on with Jason and Courtney at the time,” Carly told him. “I told her she was being ridiculous. I have to wonder now…if maybe Courtney had something to do with her leaving.”

“Jason would never cheat on anyone,” Sonny said firmly.

Carly smirked. “I didn’t say it had to be happening physically. All Elizabeth would have to do is have her doubts. Add to the fact that Jason was never home, never seemed to get in touch with her…makes you wonder, doesn’t it?”

Sonny shifted, uncomfortably, having a pretty clear idea of why Jason had avoided Elizabeth. Something else he might have to apologize for tomorrow.

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series Another Dumb Blonde

The Cellar

Carly was seated in a corner booth, just about hidden from sight. She was poring account ledgers, trying to determine their profit since they’d opened two weeks ago. She knew all she’d have to do was ask Jason to help her with the accounting and he’d do it. But Carly was avoiding Jason like the plague.

In fact, she’d spent more and more time at the club. Now that Ric seemed to understand that he was no longer welcome down here, she considered it her only sanctuary. No one came before the club opened unless they were invited…this place was her escape, the only place she felt safe anymore.

She cursed herself when she realized she’d forgotten to carry the one in a column of numbers and now had to start nearly from scratch. She started to erase the numbers, but the eraser on her pencil was crappy and she could barely read the writing now. Frustrated, she snapped the pencil and hurled the pieces across the room.

Nothing was working. Nothing was making it go away. Her excuse about being angry with Sonny about the Brenda situation was beginning to wear thin. She knew Sonny was doing his best to be patient, but eventually, he’d start pushing her. And eventually Carly would break.

She still saw Ric when she’d stop in for a cup of coffee at Kelly’s or when she’d leave the club through the Kelly’s entrance. He seemed to be a permanent fixture at the counter, speaking with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth. Carly sighed and rested her head in her hands, rubbing her temples, trying to ease the headache that had crept over her. She couldn’t even think about the brunette in passing without having an overwhelming wave of guilt nearly crushing her. She’d heard the gossip in Kelly’s that she and Ric were on the outs, and she’d cheered when she’d realized that it was true. She’d felt vindicated–released from her obligation as a woman to tell Elizabeth about Ric.

And then she’d noticed Ric hanging out at the counter by Elizabeth, trying to talk to her, get back into her good graces. She’d overheard her mother and one of waitresses talking about how sweet it was that Elizabeth finally had someone who was going to put her first and was actually trying to show her that he cared.

Curious, Carly had butted into the conversation and pressed her mother for more details. Bobbie had been reluctant to divulge anything, but Carly had pulled the story out of her. She’d gotten Elizabeth’s version of leaving the penthouse and the rest of the story about her relationship with Jason.

And it’d made Carly realize just how stupid her best friend could be when it came to the women in his life.

She was worried now that Elizabeth, feeling lonely, would ignore her instincts and let Ric back in. She was worried about the lengths Ric might go to be with Elizabeth. She was worried about Sonny finding out and leaving her. She was worried that Jason would no longer care about her when he discovered that she’d cheated on his best friend.

It seemed to Carly that she found something new to worry about every day and sometimes she relished it. Because when she was concentrating on a consequence of that night with Ric, she wasn’t actually thinking about that night with Ric.

Footsteps on the stairs caught her attention. She sighed in relief when she realized the footsteps were not those of Ric or Sonny, they were the heavy boots of Jason.

He entered the club and headed right for her. He didn’t speak until he’d slid into the seat across from her in the booth.

“Jason,” she murmured, closing the account ledger.

“Sonny’s worried about you,” Jason said without any preamble. His eyes softened. “I’m worried about you.”

“Why?” she asked quietly. She sat back in the booth and tilted her head up to look at the ceiling. “Have I done something lately?”

“No.” Jason sighed. “Carly, I know you. I know when something’s wrong.”

“Nothing’s wrong, I guess,” Carly replied. “I’m just reevaluating my life.” She rested her chin on her hand, propping her elbow on the table. “You ever do that? Take a good look at your life and wonder where you went wrong?”

Jason frowned and leaned forward. “Carly–”

“I think that the best time in my life was right after you came home,” Carly decided, speaking over him. “I had Sonny back, the worst secret I was keeping was about Alexis’s pregnancy, you were home, Michael was happy…”

“It was a good time,” Jason agreed. “But things aren’t so bad now, are they?” He leaned forward, tried to meet her eyes. “You’ve still got Sonny, I’m still here…” He trailed off. “Carly, what’s going on? I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s going on.”

“Are you happy?” she asked, ignoring his question.

“Carly–”

“I mean it, Jason,” Carly interrupted. “I really want to know. Are you happy?”

Jason sighed. “Yeah, sure. I’m happy.”

Carly smiled sadly. “You know what’s funny? You expect me to spill my guts about whatever it is you think I’m not telling you or Sonny…and neither of you deem it necessary to trust me.” She sighed. “Some friendship we share, huh?”

“Carly, what do you want me to say?” he asked pointedly. “That, no, I’m not happy? That I hate what my friendship with Sonny has become, that even my job isn’t enough to satisfy me anymore, or that sometimes I have trouble looking at myself in the mirror?”

Carly looked at him, stunned. Jason was almost never that forthcoming with his feelings. There’d been that one time before the trial…but she’d chalked it up to stress. Now that she thought about it…now that she really took a good look at him, she saw the tense set of his shoulders, the guarded look in his eyes, the lines around his eyes. She tried to think back to a time when none of that was visible and she found herself coming up empty. Had she been so selfish she’d never noticed Jason’s misery?

“I’ve made mistakes,” Carly said quietly. “But sometimes I even surprise myself with the ability I have to screw up my own life.” She sighed and shook her head. “Sonny…he really feels bad, you know?”

“Yeah,” Jason agreed. “He feels bad.”

“But he also has no idea what he did wrong,” Carly continued. “That’s something I’ve never liked about him. His ability to make everything about him. Your relationship with Courtney? Did you know that you did it to betray him?” Carly asked. “That’s what he thinks. When you went to police to find Elizabeth, that was a betrayal to him. Had nothing to do with finding Elizabeth.” Carly eyed him. “Do you miss her?”

Jason frowned, and narrowed his eyes. “Miss who?” he asked, trying to keep up with the conversation.

“Elizabeth,” Carly clarified. “Do you miss her?”

Jason sighed. “We’re not going to do this Carly. I came to talk about you–”

“I’m sick of talking about myself, talking to myself, thinking about myself…I’m just sick of it. I want to talk about you,” Carly cut in. “Will you let me try to be a friend to you? Just once?”

Jason hesitated and looked away. “Yeah, I miss her,” he said finally. “But so what? That doesn’t change anything. She’s still gone and…” he shrugged. “It’s over.”

“You know…she thought you were cheating on her,” Carly told him. “Back when she lived in the penthouse and we were all pretending Sonny was dead.”

Jason just stared at her, unable to find words to articulate what he was thinking. Carly continued. “She was worried about you, you know? When I told her Sonny was dead, her first thought was to find you. Make sure you were okay. And then when you never came home…and you never called her…and then she found the lipstick…”

“I can’t believe…” Jason shook his head. “I thought she knew me better than that.”

“I set her straight. Told her there were things going on that you couldn’t talk about, and that she should just be patient and wait for you to come to her,” Carly replied. “But the thought was there. And then when you started guarding Courtney all the time…”

“She must have thought the worst when she found out about us being together,” Jason said quietly.

“Yeah, I guess she could almost see it as all her wild and crazy ideas as having some merit,” Carly said. “Look, I don’t even know why I brought it up. I guess…I don’t know. I wanted you to realize that while you were with Sonny and Brenda and all…that Elizabeth wasn’t just sitting around the penthouse like some doll. She had real thoughts and feelings.” Carly shrugged. “And you hurt them.”

Jason would have been amused at Carly’s defense of Elizabeth if her words hadn’t rung true. “I thought you didn’t like Elizabeth.”

“I don’t,” Carly replied. “But you can respect someone and not like them. I’m not wild about her just walking out on you and I know she’s done so much to hurt you…but I guess I’ve just let myself remember that she’s done some good for you. And maybe she needed to walk out.”

“Why do you say that?” Jason asked, almost curious.

“Maybe she needed to remind herself that she still had some self-respect.” Carly smirked. “It’s hard when the men we love treat us like we’re fragile and that we’re precious little dolls that serve no other purpose but to be there when you get home. Like we’re not real people with thoughts and feelings and that we have lives apart from you.”

“You’re not talking about Elizabeth anymore, are you?” Jason asked.

“No. I guess I’m not.” Carly sighed again. “Jason, I’ve heard some gossip about her. Just some and I was wondering it was true.”

“What?”

“I heard that she was…” Carly took a deep breath. “I heard that she was raped when she was younger.”

Jason sucked in a sharp breath and he didn’t say anything at first. Finally, he asked, “Why? Why do you want to know?”

“I don’t know. I guess…there are things about her lately that making me form a different opinion about her. And that’s what I heard about her. I guess…” she sighed. “It’s hard to think that it can happen to a person that you know. That you talk to and fight with. That someone can survive that and be normal. So, it’s true, isn’t it?”

“We never really talked about it,” Jason said. “It happened long before we became friends and I guess…it was almost a separate part of her life. Does it matter?”

“I guess not,” Carly said, even though it did. Having confirmation of it just made the knot in her stomach all the more prominent and painful. She slid out of the booth and grabbed the account ledger. “I guess I’m going to go home now.”

Jason stood up as well. “Why don’t we go to Jake’s?” he suggested. “Shoot some pool?”

Carly smiled, the first genuine smile in nearly two weeks. “That sounds great.”

Kelly

Carly entered through the diner that morning, intent on getting a cup of coffee and some breakfast before she tackled the account books again. Her night at Jake’s had served its purpose–she and Jason were friends again and she’d smiled and laughed when she’d managed to beat him at pool.

She’d gone home that night, but instead of joining Sonny in their large king-sized bed, she’d gone into the guest room and fallen asleep there. Sonny was already gone when she woke up, and she found herself wondering what Sonny thought when he’d realized she’d slept in a different room.

She wondered if Sonny thought she was drawing the lines in the sand, so to speak. Letting him know that their marriage was in serious trouble. And she knew that it was. But it had next to nothing to do with Sonny’s simple kiss with Brenda.

She pushed all thoughts of it out of her head and headed for the counter. She took a seat and set her purse on the top of the counter. She couldn’t help but overhear Penny and Martie, two of the other waitresses whispering.

“He sent her a dozen lilies!” Penny squealed. “He’s so romantic, I just know Lizzie’s going to take him back.”

“I don’t know,” Martie murmured. “If I were her, I’d hold out for Jason Morgan.”

Penny snorted. “You don’t have the first clue. When the last time he was in here for Lizzie, huh? He moved on to that ditz, Courtney. Doesn’t know a good thing when he has it. Lansing, however, has brought flowers for the past two weeks, daily. A different kind every day. Tulips, lilies, posies, marigolds…he’s gone out of his way to prove how much he cares about her. Looks aren’t everything, Martie, actions have to count, too.”

“I guess,” Martie sighed. “It’s just…well, I’ve never seen her look at him even half the way she looked at Jason Morgan.”

“You’re too romantic, Martie. Give Ric Lansing another week. He’ll have her eating out of the palm of his hand,” Penny predicted.

Carly frowned. She didn’t like the sound of that. She leaned forward. “Penny.”

Penny frowned and looked over at her. “Oh, Mrs. Corinthos. I am so sorry, I didn’t see you there. Can I get you anything?”

Normally, Carly would have jumped down Penny’s throat about ignoring her, but she nodded. “Yeah, coffee and some wheat toast. Does Elizabeth Webber work today?”

Penny nodded. She poured a cup of coffee and set it in front of Carly, looking at her oddly. “Yeah, she’s due in at noon. Why?”

“Can you ask her to drop in downstairs?” Carly asked. “I need to talk to her…” she hesitated before making her decision. “I need someone to take over Courtney’s hostess job and I know she’s reliable. So will you tell her?”

“Yeah,” Penny nodded. “Sure thing, Mrs. Corinthos.”

The Cellar

It was one in the afternoon before Elizabeth came downstairs. She’d had to wait until the lunch rush calmed down and she could take her break. When Penny had relayed Carly’s message, she’d been stunned to say the least. She and Carly had never gotten along, and the idea of working with her made her cringe. She’d find a way to turn her down but try and be nice about it.

“Carly?” Elizabeth called, stopping at the entrance.

Carly slid out from the booth where she’d been wrestling with the accounts again. “Elizabeth, I’m glad you’re here.”

“Penny told me you wanted me to take over Courtney’s job,” Elizabeth said, hesitantly. “It’s nice of you to offer–”

“That’s part of the reason,” Carly nodded, cutting her off. “But there’s something I need to tell you.”

Elizabeth sighed and rubbed her temples. “Is this another attack because of the way I treated Jason?” she asked wearily. “Because I’m really not up for it.”

“No, it’s not. This has nothing to do with Jason,” Carly replied. She gestured towards one of the empty tables. “Would you sit please?”

Her curiosity piqued, Elizabeth pulled out a chair and sat down. Carly took a seat across from her and nervously wrung her hands. “I thought about not telling you,” Carly began. “I really considered it and part me of was okay with it. I never thought you were stupid, so I assumed you’d be able to take care of yourself.”

Elizabeth frowned and leaned forward. “Carly, is everything okay?”

“And I thought there was a possibility that you might not even believe me. I mean, why should you? Everyone knows I’m the town slut, what’s my word good for, right?” Carly bit her lip and plunged on, knowing that she was making little or no sense but unable to stop speaking just the same. “But I just can’t sit here and stand by while this continues. I would never be able to forgive myself if anything happened to you and I know how Jason feels about you and I know if he knew I could have stopped it, he’d hate me forever–”

“Carly, what happened?” Elizabeth asked forcefully, now terribly worried about her nemesis. Carly’s behavior was off–even for her. Something dreadful had happened and she could see Carly’s struggle was very clearly driving her crazy. “Just tell me.”

“Okay,” Carly replied. She closed her eyes and laid her hands flat on the table. “The night the club opened…I have every reason to believe that someone slipped something into my drink. I became very dizzy and I don’t remember anything after that. The next morning, I woke up and I was in bed with someone.”

Elizabeth felt nauseous as she suddenly had a very terrible feeling where this was going. She swallowed hard. “It was Ric,” she breathed.

Carly nodded, keeping her eyes tightly shut. “I don’t remember going upstairs with him and I don’t remember anything beyond that. When I woke up, I was…I couldn’t believe that it had happened. Ric…he told me that I’d come on to him and that I hadn’t really given him a choice.”

Elizabeth felt very numb…almost like she was dead inside. “He told you that.”

“I don’t know, maybe he’s telling the truth. But I can’t…I can’t imagine myself doing that–I love Sonny, Elizabeth. I know you don’t believe me, but I can’t believe I would betray Sonny like that–”

“I believe you,” Elizabeth said softly. Carly’s eyes flew open and she stared at the brunette. “I believe you,” she repeated. “He took advantage of you.”

Carly opened her mouth, but found herself unable to speak. She’d never considered the possibility that Elizabeth would not only believe her, but that she’d take her side.

“He took advantage of you at a time when you were in no position to say no.” Elizabeth’s eyes filled with tears and she struggled to continue. “He raped you.”

Carly hadn’t wanted to say it to herself, hadn’t wanted to put the blame squarely on Ric.

But she maybe she should. Maybe…she hadn’t done anything wrong. After all, she’d put her trust into someone she’d considered a friend.

Carly nodded, her own eyes glossy. “Yeah. I guess he did.”

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Another Dumb Blonde

The Cellar

Elizabeth took a deep shuddering breath and forced herself to remain calm. She opened her eyes and looked at Carly, who had silent tears streaming down her cheeks. Her hands were resting on the table and trembling slightly.

Elizabeth reached across the table and covered them with her own. “Carly,” she said softly.

Carly bit her lip and looked at her. “Yes?”

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Elizabeth told her firmly. Her heartbeat began to calm and her tears subsided. “You have to believe that.”

“If I hadn’t gone upstairs…”

“You thought he was your friend,” Elizabeth told her. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“But–”

“But nothing,” Elizabeth argued. “Carly…” She sighed and looked down at the table. “I don’t want to tell you how to feel, but I remember how I felt.”

“How old were you?” Carly asked softly. “When it happened, I mean.”

“Fifteen,” Elizabeth answered. A small trace of a smile flitted across her lips. “I was only fifteen.”

“Jesus.” Carly shook her head. “I just…fifteen?”

“There was this dance at school,” Elizabeth began. “And the only thing that mattered to me at the time was convincing Lucky Spencer I’d be a better match for him than my sister. I asked him to go as friends and he agreed.” She frowned. “I went out and bought this red dress and these red high heeled sandals. My grandmother loaned me her bracelet. My grandfather gave it to her.” She looked down at her wrist. “But Sarah asked Lucky at the last minute.”

“And he went with her instead,” Carly said softly.

“It broke my heart. I made up some excuse, said I’d had another offer anyway.” Elizabeth sighed and rubbed her wrist. “I went to a movie instead. And I cut through the park on my way home. I sat on the bench by the fountain and someone grabbed me.”

“You don’t…” Carly shook her head. “You don’t have to tell me anymore. I don’t–”

“It doesn’t really matter,” Elizabeth replied stiffly. “I don’t remember anything. I blocked most of it out.”

Carly hesitated. “Do you want to remember?” she asked softly.

Elizabeth bit her lip and shrugged. “Sometimes,” she whispered. “But other times, I’m thankful that I don’t.”

“I don’t remember anything either,” Carly told her. “I remember going to his room and asking him to call Jason.” Her lower lip trembled. “He said he would.”

“And he didn’t.”

Carly shook her head. “No. A-and then it’s all blank. There’s nothing else there. I don’t remember anything until I woke up the next morning. I barely had anything to drink the night before, so it had to be something in my drink.”

“Have you thought about telling Sonny or Jason?” Elizabeth asked.

Carly shook her head vehemently. “That would never work,” she said quietly. “Sonny wouldn’t…he’d…I can’t tell him. And Jason…” she trailed off and shrugged. “I don’t know. I just can’t tell him.”

“He’s worried about you,” Elizabeth told her softly. “I saw him come in the other day and ask one of the waitresses if they’d seen you.”

“He knows something is wrong,” Carly murmured. “But I can’t bring myself to tell him that I committed adultery–”

“You did nothing of the sort,” Elizabeth said firmly. “He raped you. And if I ever knew Jason at all, he’d believe you.”

“He misses you,” Carly confided. “We talked about you the other day.”

Elizabeth’s back stiffened and she looked away. “You did?”

“I wanted to understand you,” Carly replied. “I wanted to know if I could trust you, so I tried to get Jason to open up about you.”

“I can’t imagine him doing that,” she murmured.

“It didn’t work as well as I wanted it too, but I did get the sense that I could trust you. I told him about that conversation we had at Kelly’s before you left the penthouse.”

“What conversation?” Elizabeth asked softly. She frowned. “Not the one where I told you about the lipstick…”

“Yeah, that one. I don’t think Jason had any idea what you were doing the entire time you stayed there. He didn’t realize that we spent time together, didn’t think about what his actions looked like to anyone else…”

“He didn’t think about me at all,” Elizabeth said bitterly. “And I wasn’t about to come last again.”

“Again?” Carly asked pointedly.

“When I dated Lucky, his brainwashing came before the way I felt about him. He came first. Not us, not me. He did. His thoughts, his feelings, his actions. We did what he wanted to do and occasionally, if he felt generous, we’d do what I wanted to do.” Elizabeth shook her head. “Everything in our relationship was about what he wanted. We made love when he wanted, and we were finished when he was.”

“Why in the hell did you put up with that?” Carly demanded.

“Because I’d backed myself into a corner,” Elizabeth replied. “I’d alienated Jason, Emily was gone, Zander and I weren’t close, Nikolas was wrapped up in his family…all I had was Lucky and his family. I was scared to find out that I was really alone without him. So I stayed.”

“And yet when Jason came back, you went straight to him,” Carly judged. “Good way to stand on your own two feet.”

Elizabeth glared at her. “I broke up with Lucky before Jason came back. And I didn’t go to Jason, we ran into each other. I never sought Jason out on purpose. He came to Kelly’s, he came to my studio. Is it so hard to believe that maybe he cared about me, Carly? Or does that not fit in with your happy lifestyle?” She shoved her chair back. “It was a mistake to think we could get along. I’m sorry for what happened to you, but–”

“Wait,” Carly said suddenly. She stood. “I’m sorry. I just…I’m trying not to judge so quickly. I just…some habits die hard.” Her eyes watered. “Please.”

Taken aback by the strong and sudden emotion Carly displayed, Elizabeth sat back down slowly. “Okay.”

Carly sat down. “I don’t know who else I can turn to,” she whispered softly. “Things are different with me and Sonny. He knows I’ve been distant and I can only play the I’m Mad He Kissed Brenda excuse for so long before he catches on that something else happened. I’m scared I’m going to lose him and that Jason will be disgusted when he finds out…”

“He won’t,” Elizabeth assured her quickly. “And if Sonny is half the man I’ve always given him credit for, he’ll understand. You just have to have faith in people.”

“It’s hard to trust people when you’ve been knocked down so many times,” Carly said softly.

“I know what you mean,” Elizabeth replied. “But some people deserve that leap of faith.”

Carly heard footsteps on the stairs and hurriedly wiped her eyes. She frowned when she saw Ric at the doorway. “Get out.”

Ric shifted uncomfortably in the entrance. “They told me Elizabeth was downstairs here. I wanted to talk to her.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath, stood and turned to face him. “We have nothing to talk about. I told you that the last time we saw each other. Please leave.”

“Elizabeth, look, whatever she told you, it’s a lie–”

“Save your breath,” Elizabeth snarled. “I don’t want to hear it anymore. You heard Carly. Get the hell out of here. The club is closed.”

“You have to let me explain–”

“Carly, where’s the phone?” Elizabeth asked. “I want to call the police.”

“Look, I’m going. But you have to believe Elizabeth, I didn’t–”

Elizabeth turned and headed for her purse, intent on using her own cell phone to call the police.

She heard his footsteps on the steps, striding away and her shoulders relaxed. She sank into the chair and put her head in her hands.

“I can’t believe his nerve,” Carly murmured. Elizabeth looked at her sharply, saw her trembling. “He called me a liar to my face.”

Elizabeth licked her lips. “I need to go, Carly. Uh…call me, okay? We’ll…we’ll talk more.”

She snatched her bag and darted for the stairs. Jason was just coming downstairs and she ran right into him.

“I’m sorry,” she sputtered. “I…have to go.” She pushed past him and dashed up the stairs.

Jason stared after her for a minute before looking at Carly. Instantly concerned when he saw her sitting at the table, trembling, he crossed the room and sat in the seat that Elizabeth had just left. “What’s going on?”

Carly jumped. “Jason, when did you get here?”

“Just now. I passed Elizabeth on the stairs looking like she’d seen a ghost. What happened?” he demanded. “Did you have a fight with her?”

“No.” Carly shook her head. “No, it was far from a fight. Jase, I don’t want to get into it.”

“I thought you and Elizabeth didn’t get along. Why was she down here?” Jason asked.

“I’m offering her Courtney’s old job,” Carly replied softly. “I think she’d make a good hostess.”

“I’m sure she would,” Jason said. “But that doesn’t explain what just happened down here. Did she say something? Did you say something?”

Carly shrugged. “We were talking, having a perfectly good conversation and Ric came in.”

Jason’s eyes narrowed. “Ric.”

Carly swallowed hard and nodded. “Yeah, Ric. He’s still upset that I fired him and that Elizabeth broke up with him. He decided to argue his case with her, and she threw him out. It shook her up a bit and she decided to go.”

“I believe that’s true,” Jason said slowly. “But it doesn’t tell me what’s been going on lately. “Something’s changed with you, Carly. I can see it.”

“Nothing’s changed,” Carly murmured. “I’m just thinking about things differently. Looking at them differently. It’s okay for a person to change.”

“I’m not saying it’s not, but Carly, you don’t wake up and just decide to change your entire outlook on life and not have a reason.”

“Why?” Carly challenged. “Why isn’t it okay for me to just change? Why do I need a reason?”

“Carly.” Jason leaned forward a little. “This is me you’re talking to. Not Sonny, not Courtney, not Bobbie, me. I know you. I know something’s wrong.”

Carly shook her head and stood. “Nothing’s wrong,” she bit out. “If anything was wrong, don’t you think I’d tell you?”

“No,” Jason replied. “You’d try to fix it yourself, your scheme would backfire and then you’d tell me.”

Carly picked her purse off the table and sighed. “It’s nice to know you think so highly of me,” she said softly. “I have to go home and get ready for tonight.”

“Carly, you know that’s not how I think,” Jason insisted.

“Maybe for once…this is something you can’t fix,” Carly murmured. “This isn’t something that backfired on me and not something that I caused.”

“What’s wrong?” Jason asked again. “Does Elizabeth have something to do with this? Does she know?”

Carly stared at him for a moment before exiting out the alley entrance of the club, leaving Jason standing alone in the club.

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series Another Dumb Blonde

Studio

She almost expected the knock at her door, but it still jolted her out of her thoughts. She’d been through so much that day – she’d seen a side of Carly Corinthos she never could have dreamed existed.

She knew what it was like to flounder in the dark, to beunsure of your next move, not understanding the thoughts running through your head.

Not feeling safe in your own skin.

So even though she expected the knock, it still jolted her.

It was a haunting familiar image as she swung her heavy door open to reveal Jason.

“Something’s wrong,” he said quietly. “Something happened to Carly. What?”

Elizabeth shook her head. “I can’t tell you that.”

“Elizabeth–”

“Jason, there’s no arguments.” She sighed. “I’m not telling you.”

“Damn it!” He slammed his hand against the wall and glared at her. “How am I supposed to fix it if no one will tell me anything?”

“Maybe you need to remember that Carly is a big girl and she doesn’t always need you to ride to her rescue.”

“Somebody has to look out for her.”

“Yeah, I get that.” She bit her lip briefly before continuing. “Look, she’s not in trouble, I promise.”

“But there is something wrong.”

“Jason,” Elizabeth sighed, “you should know better than anyone that I don’t break my promises. What Carly says to me is her business unless she says otherwise.”

“I know how loyal you are,” Jason replied. “But Carly…she’s been different lately. Distant. Reflective. Quiet. And it has nothing to do with Sonny kissing Brenda.”

“How do you know?” Elizabeth challenged. “Maybe she is upset about her husband kissing his ex. Maybe her trust was shaken. Maybe she feels neglected. Maybe she resents being treated like a child who’s only there when it’s convenient–”

“Are we still talking about Carly?” Jason interrupted, curiously.

Elizabeth broke off, flushed and looked away. “I’m not telling you anything about Carly, so there’s no point in you sticking around.”

“Maybe I want to talk about something else.”

Elizabeth frowned. “Oh?”

“Why’d you walk out?” Jason asked, intently.

“Why’d you sleep with Courtney?” Elizabeth fired back.

He exhaled slowly. “That’s not fair.” Jason stared over her head. “And I’m not going to answer that.”

“Fine.” She looked away. “And I’m not going to answer you.” She stepped back and slammed the door in his face. She flicked the locks shut and walked away from the door.

“I’m going to find out what’s wrong with Carly!” Jason shouted. “It’ll just be easier if she’d tell me!”

She ignored him and picked up a sketch pad, intent on finishing an old drawing she’d been working on for a while.

“Elizabeth, please just tell me what’s wrong–”

She closed her eyes, ignoring the sound of his voice, the way desperation was beginning to break through.

“Elizabeth, please.”

She sighed and started to open the locks. When she pulled the door open, she sighed. “Jason, I am not going to break her confidence. Please stop asking me.”

“She always comes to me,” Jason said quietly. “When she was worried about Brenda, when she needed someone to take care of Michael, she came to me. And now something is wrong and she’s not telling me. Which means it’s not something I can fix or that I take care of and that scares me, Elizabeth.”

She bit her lip and stepped aside. “Come in.”

He took a deep breath and entered. When she shut the door, she kept her back to him. “I still can’t tell you what’s wrong. I promised her.”

“Can you give me a hint?” Jason asked. “Is it bad? Did someone hurt her?”

“Yeah,” Elizabeth admitted. “Someone hurt her very badly.” She sighed. “Jason, I know that you and Carly are close, but it took a lot for her to trust me and I…I can’t let her down. Please tell me you understand.”

“It’s not that I don’t understand,” Jason tried to explain. “It’s just…she’s different, Elizabeth. I know you see it. She’s been so quiet and it’s got Sonny worried she’s thinking about divorcing him.”

“Because of Brenda?” Elizabeth asked. “Because he kissed her?”

“Yeah. And other things, I guess. He hasn’t really told me a lot. Things have been…well…strained between us. We don’t talk about much else other than business.”

Elizabeth turned away and started shuffling some papers and sketch pads on the table. “Because of Courtney?”

“He doesn’t like that I didn’t tell him until after it was over,” Jason answered awkwardly. “Or that it happened at all.”

She nodded, shoved some random pencils into her pencil holder. “Well, she is his sister. Being kept in the dark never seemed to be something Sonny appreciated.”

“Courtney…she was a mistake, Elizabeth.”

She closed her eyes, sensing him standing behind her. If she moved back half a step, her back would brush against his chest. “A mistake,” she repeated quietly.

“Haven’t you ever made a mistake?”

“Yeah.” She cleared her throat. “But once I make it, I usually don’t do it again.”

“What about Zander?” Jason asked pointedly.

“You’re saying that Courtney was your Zander?” Elizabeth asked. She slid out from in front of him and crossed the studio to stand by the window, facing him. “Is that how you’re going to justify this?”

He sighed. “Elizabeth, please don’t do this. We’re not together. I didn’t do anything wrong–”
“No of course not,” Elizabeth cut in swiftly. “But excuse me for being a little upset that barely a month after I left, you were married to Brenda, and sleeping with your brother’s wife.”

“Brenda was…there was nothing behind that,” Jason argued. “I told you that.”

“You married her two weeks after I left,” Elizabeth said. “How do you think it felt to find that out? Especially when I found out she was with Sonny at the safe house? Where you were most of the time?”

He stared at her in surprise. “You think something was going on then?”

“How else was I supposed to explain you marrying her two weeks after I walked out?” she demanded. “Or maybe I read too much into it. I mean, we said we wanted to be together, but we never defined it. Maybe I have no right to be angry. I mean, hey, we weren’t together.” Tears were glistening in the corner of her eyes and she turned way.

“Elizabeth–”

“Could you please leave?” she asked softly. “I can’t handle this right now.”

“Wait a second,” Jason argued. He stepped up behind her and turned her around. “You can’t just throw me out. How are we supposed to get past this?”

“Maybe we’re not supposed to,” she whispered. She reached up to wipe her eyes, but Jason got there first. He smoothed his thumbs over her cheeks, grasping her face with his hands.

“I don’t accept that,” he said, shaking his head. “I miss you, Elizabeth Doesn’t that count?”

“Of course it does, but it’s not enough,” she replied, peering up at him, meeting his eyes and holding the gaze. “It can’t. Not without trust.”

“I do trust you, Elizabeth.”

“Then I want you to be honest with me,” she pleaded. “When did this thing with Courtney start? How soon after I left?”

He swallowed hard and searched her eyes. “She kissed me. The day before I married Brenda.”

Her breathing hitched. “Two weeks after I was gone? You didn’t…you didn’t even wait a month?”

“She kissed me,” Jason assured her. “I didn’t kiss her back and nothing happened after that. Not until December.”

She looked down. “It doesn’t matter,” she said, her voice barely a whisper.

“Don’t… don’t say that.” He moved his thumbs over her cheek bones. “It does matter, Elizabeth.”

“No,” she said, her voice almost a sob. “Not anymore.”

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Carly stepped off the elevator and found Jason waiting for her. She frowned when she saw his face. He was upset about something, she could tell.

“Jason, what’s wrong?”

“Come over to my place. I want to talk to you,” Jason said.

“What about?” she asked warily. Had he talked to Elizabeth? Had she told him too much? “Jason?”

“It’s not about what’s going on with you,” Jason said after a moment. “I promise.”

She nodded and followed him into his penthouse. He closed the door and she set her purse on his desk, still with a guarded look in her eyes.

“I went to talk to Elizabeth today,” Jason began. “I thought I could convince her to tell me what was going on–if you had told her anything.”

Carly nodded. “And?”

“She’s loyal. She didn’t tell me anything, and I think I figured out why you’re not telling me.”

“Oh?” Carly said. She tucked a piece of hair behind her ears.

“Yeah. See, you usually come to me when you need me to fix it and I thought at first that you were trying to do it by yourself but that’s not it, is it?”

“Jason, I thought this wasn’t about me,” Carly protested. “Did you lie just to corner me?”

“It’s because I can’t fix it. Because someone hurt you.”

She held her breath. “I thought Elizabeth didn’t tell you anything.”

“She didn’t,” Jason assured her. “But I know Elizabeth well enough to read between the lines. You can trust me, Carly.”

“I know…” Carly sighed. “But Jase…”

“I’m not going to push you anymore. I just wanted to tell you that. That you can trust me, that you’re not just Sonny’s wife to me, you’re my friend. We were friends before your marriage and I’m not obligated to tell him everything all the time.”

“Okay.” She sighed. “So, if this isn’t an interrogation, then what is it?”

“I need your help,” Jason said. “You and Elizabeth…you’re on at least…better terms right?”

Carly nodded warily. “She’s a good person. I’m finally beginning to see it.”

“I want her back.”

A smile crossed Carly’s face then, the first genuine one in days. “Really?” she asked softly. “And what does she think about this?”

“She’s still angry with me about Courtney and Brenda and the reasons she left,” Jason admitted. “I don’t know how to convince that I’m sorry.”

“And you want my help?” Carly asked skeptically. “You just said that my plans always backfire.”

“Because your plans are just that…plans. I don’t need a plan, Carly. I just need your advice.”

“Wow. I wish I had a camera or a tape recorder for this,” Carly said, feeling like someone had lifted a weight from her shoulders. Once again, Jason had saved her without even knowing it. “Because the day may never come again when you ask for my advice.”

“It probably won’t,” Jason admitted. “So?”

“My advice is simple.” She smiled. “Don’t give up. Believe me, I think that’s the last thing she’d want right now.”

“So, just keep…talking to her? Keep trying to work this out?”

“Yeah. Persistence. It might just work.” Her eyes lit up. “And if not, I know a guy who’ll lock you two up in a room, no questions asked.”

“Yeah…how about we not do that, okay?”

“You know, you never know, it could work.”

He surprised her by grabbing her arm and pulling her into a tight hug. “You’re my best friend, you know that, right?”

“Yeah.” Tears sprang to her eyes. “Yeah, I know that.”

This entry is part 6 of 9 in the series Another Dumb Blonde

The Cellar

Elizabeth and Carly had been working together for a week and not once had she said one disparaging thing about the brunette to her husband and to tell the truth, Sonny was truly starting to worry. He’d never known the two women to be in each other’s space without fighting or Carly whining about her at home.

Of course, for Carly to whine about Elizabeth at home…Carly would have to be speaking to him and she hadn’t spoken to him unless it was necessary in a long time. Three weeks, if Sonny thought back. And he didn’t really need to ask why. He’d kissed Brenda. He’d cheated on his wife and that didn’t sit well with him. He’d caused her to stop trusting him and that was a definite switch in positions.

To make matters worse, when he’d questioned Jason on his wife’s strange behavior, his friend had been silent, refusing to divulge anything. For the first time, Sonny was on the other end of Jason’s loyalty. Jason had just said that anything Carly might have said to him was between himself and Carly and that if Sonny had a problem with that, he might want to take it up with his wife.

Not that it had really surprised Sonny that matters between himself and his enforcer were strained to say the least. He’d been an ass–he had no trouble admitting that to himself. He’d apologized for the Courtney incident already and Jason had said it was in the past but Sonny was beginning to wonder if his friend’s disdain for him stemmed from something else–from something that Sonny had thought was long over.

Every time he’d been at the club this past week, Jason had been there. Trying to talk to Elizabeth. The brunette had brushed him off at every turn but Jason was resolute. He seemed determined to gain his former girlfriend’s trust back. Sonny thought that Elizabeth might eventually give in–that she was only refusing now to make a point. She was fine without Jason Morgan in her life–she didn’t need him to make her happy now. She had a life. And Sonny thought once Jason understood that fact and demonstrated it, she might break the walls down a little.

Sonny was seated at the bar, nursing a club soda. He’d realized in the last three weeks that every time he’d an unsuccessful talk with either Carly or Jason, he’d headed for the mini-bar. He’d never wanted that for himself–to rely on alcohol to make himself feel better. And it worried him that he’d fallen into that pattern.

Michael didn’t seem to notice the distance between his parents–he might notice that Carly was at the club more or that Sonny wasn’t at home for dinner a lot either. But Michael was just thrilled his parents were still living together since for so much of his young life, they’d been apart.

He watched his wife circle the room, talking to just the right people, smiling in all the right places, even laughing a little. He started to notice little things about her. The way her smile or laughter never reached her eyes. The tension in her shoulders, the stiff line of her spine. The circles under her eyes and the weight she could ill afford to lose.

The first night he’d noticed these things, he’d thought it was due to his presence in the club so he’d left. The next time he’d come, he’d hung out in the foyer and he’d thought she didn’t know he was there, but it was still there. She was still tense, still looked tired and still looked slightly miserable.

She was so different from the woman he’d known as Jason’s friend, as Michael’s mother. She was different than the woman he’d fought bitterly with–shared that terrible night with that had shattered Jason’s trust in him. She’d grown so much in these last three years, changed so much that Sonny wondered for the first time if he were more in love with that woman than the carefully poised and controlled one in front of him.

She never truly fought with him anymore. Not really. They’d argue–but she’d give in. She never stuck to her guns anymore. She’d just come around to his view and apologize. He hadn’t minded it at first–he’d thought they were entering a new phase in their relationship–one of trust and understanding.

But now he wondered if she’d given up too much of herself to be with him. He moved to an empty table in the back of the room in order to study her more discreetly. Where was the woman he’d married? Was she still in there somewhere? Or had she gone away?

Elizabeth approached him after a few moments and sat across from him. “I’ve been watching you all week,” she began hesitantly. “And I’ve noticed that your attention never wavers. You’re always staring at Carly.”

“She’s my wife,” Sonny replied noncommittally. “Is there something wrong with watching my wife?”

“No.” Elizabeth reached absently for a curl that had fallen from the carefully styled curls piled on her head. She twirled it for a moment before tucking it behind her ear. “Is there a reason why you don’t take your eyes off her for one second?”

“Is there a reason you’re asking?” Sonny turned the tables.

She sighed. “Look, it’s no secret that Carly and I didn’t used to get along and truth be told, sometimes our old problems still interfere. But we’re making an effort and I’m trying to look out for her.” She paused. “I know you’re having problems, but I don’t think coming to her place of employment night after night and staring at her is going to make a difference.”

“And what do you suggest I do?” Sonny asked pointedly. “Walk out on her? Take a page from your book?”

Elizabeth narrowed her eyes. “If I were Carly, I would have left you. You kissed another woman. Don’t you think she has the right to be upset? Do stop and think about whether or not what you have is worth her dignity and self-respect? About why she should stay with you, trust you when it’s clear that she means next to nothing to you? That you’d rather lie to her than trust her?” she demanded.

“Did you ever notice that when people get upset, they tend to stray from the topic?” Sonny asked, sipping his drink.

“What does that mean?” Elizabeth asked, irritated.

“I’m just wondering how long you plan on making Jason pay for his mistakes.”

Elizabeth hesitated. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Sonny leaned forward. “I think you do. I think that you came over here in defense of Carly, but that you ended up being angry with me because of what he did.”

“What he did has everything to do with you,” Elizabeth snapped. “Because loyalty to you is above anything else in his life.”

“Not everything,” Sonny said. “He refuses to talk about Carly with me anymore. And you…he’s never chosen me over you.”

Elizabeth stood abruptly. “I have to get back to work.”

After closing, Carly sat down in the now empty club and started to massage her aching feet. “Oh…I think I need to sit down more.”

Elizabeth busied herself, bussing tables and getting rid of dirty glasses. She was silent as she went about this task and when she came back from the kitchen, she pulled her coat on. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“I can’t stop him from coming,” Carly said quietly. She sighed. “And he just sits there and stares at me.”

Elizabeth hesitated and then dropped into the opposite chair. “I tried talking to him tonight but it turned into a conversation about Jason and I had to get away from it.”

“It’s not your problem,” Carly sighed. “You know…I think this is the first night since you started that Jason didn’t stop in.”

“Yeah,” Elizabeth remarked, her eyes distant. “I guess he’s getting the point.” She cleared her throat. “I think you should tell Sonny.”

Carly shook her head. “No. I can’t. I–I’m not ready.”

They heard the door from Kelly’s open and then footsteps started coming down the steps. Ric appeared in the doorway. “Elizabeth, I need to speak with you.”

“We have nothing to discuss,” Elizabeth said coolly. She stood and turned away from him to face Carly. “Paul and Johnny are still outside right?”

“Yeah,” Carly said. She stood and slipped her feet into her heels. “I’m going to go okay?”

Without another word, the blonde all but fled the room through the back entrance. Elizabeth buttoned her jacket and started for the other entrance.

“Look, it’s obvious you’ve chosen to believe Carly’s lies–”

Elizabeth whirled around at the base of the stairs and glared at him. “How dare you come into her club and call her liar!” she seethed. “Stay away from me!”

“Look, she was all over me,” Ric attempted to defend himself. “What was I supposed to do?”

“You pig!” Elizabeth spat out. “You raped her!”

The door to Kelly’s slammed shut and someone thundered down the steps. “What?” Jason demanded.

“J-Jason,” Elizabeth stammered. She stepped back. “I…What are you doing here?”

“He raped her?” Jason snarled, taking a menacing step towards Ric who had the common sense to take two large steps back.

“That is not what happened!” Ric protested hotly. “She was drugged, I tried to take her home but she didn’t want to go–”

“She told you to call Jason and you told her you were going to but you never did!” Elizabeth cut in angrily.

“There has been a huge misunderstanding here,” Ric said, chucking nervously. “And you know what? I’m not going to stand here and listen to these ridiculous accusations anymore.” He turned on his heel and walked out the back entrance as quickly as he could without actually running.

Jason attempted to go after him but Elizabeth leapt in front of him and held him off. “Whoa, wait a second!”

“I’m going to kill him,” Jason fumed. He attempted to push past her, but she grabbed his arm and planted her feet down. He actually pulled her a few feet forward before he stopped.

“Jason, just take five seconds and think about this, okay?”

“I want to know exactly what happened,” he said shortly turning to look at her. “And this is definitely something I can fix because I am going to tear his fucking head off and–” He broke off, muttering under his breath before he started across the club again. She hurried after him and managed to block the entrance.

“Will you just stop?”

“Get out of my way,” Jason said angrily. “Right now, Elizabeth.”

“You are not going anywhere until you calm down,” Elizabeth retorted. She braced her hands on either side of the doorway. “This is exactly why Carly didn’t want to tell you. You’re taking off and not giving a damn about what she wants.”

“You want me to let the jackass who raped her just walk free?” Jason demanded.

“Because it won’t do Carly any good,” Elizabeth replied. “Because no matter what happens to Ric, it won’t fix her.”

“It’ll make me feel better,” he muttered.

“This isn’t about you, it’s not about me, it’s about Carly,” she snapped.

He took a deep breath. “Okay. Okay, you’re right.”

She slowly slid her arms to her side. “You okay now? Or am I going to have jump on your back to keep you from going after him?”

“I’m fine.” He stepped away from the door and leaned against the wall, staring into space. “I can’t…I just can’t believe this happened.”

Elizabeth folded her arms and stepped towards him. “She was afraid you’d be ashamed of her.”

Jason looked up sharply. “What?” he asked incredulously. “That’s…I could never…” He exhaled slowly and shook his head. “No. I don’t feel that way at all.”

“I told her that but it had to be in her own time.” Elizabeth sighed and looked at her feet. “I feel so bad about how you found out.”

“When did she tell you?” Jason asked.

“Last week…the day you came into the club and I was leaving. She told me then,” Elizabeth replied, “Ric came in not long after she told me and basically called her a liar.”

“Is that when you broke up with him?” he asked.

Elizabeth shook her head. “No. That was two weeks before then. He was lying to me…and…” she shrugged. “He’s been trying to convince me to go back to him pretty much since but there’s no hope of that.” She cleared her throat. “You should go talk to Carly. I think…I think she could use your support.”

He nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I think I will.” Jason stepped towards her. “I’m glad Carly confided in you–that you’ve been there for her.”

“I’m glad she could trust me,” Elizabeth replied. She tilted her head towards the door. “Go talk to her.”

He moved as if to go through the back entrance, but he stopped abruptly and took hold of her elbow, tugging her towards him. Her protests were silenced when he captured her lips beneath his own for a short but intense kiss.

After a moment, he pulled away. “Okay, I’m going to go see her now.”

“Okay,” Elizabeth breathed, slightly dazed.

Corinthos Penthouse

“Jason?” Carly asked sleepily, tying her robe. “It’s after one. What are you doing here?”

“We need to talk,” Jason told her.

Carly hesitated. “About what?”

“I know what happened.”

This entry is part 7 of 9 in the series Another Dumb Blonde

Corinthos Penthouse

Carly stared at him for a moment. She blinked and cleared her throat. “Know what?” she asked innocently.

He shook his head. “No, Carly, I know.”

Her face paled and she stepped into the hallway, closing the door behind her. “How?” she asked. Carly crossed her arms tightly. “I don’t…I can’t believe that Elizabeth would tell you so…”

“She didn’t,” Jason assured her. He took her by the elbow and steered her across the hall. “I’ll explain but first we’re going to my penthouse and you’re going to tell me what happened.”

Once he closed the door behind him, Carly sank onto his leather couch and blew out a pensive breath. “So how did you find out?” she asked softly.

“Ric cornered Elizabeth in the club and they were arguing. She didn’t know I was there,” he explained.

Carly looked up at him. “Was she okay though? I mean…she got away from him?”

Jason nodded. “He left when I showed up.”

“I didn’t…I left when he got there,” Carly admitted. “I didn’t…I didn’t want to leave her alone but I couldn’t…he makes my skin crawl,” she admitted in a soft voice.

He sat on the edge of the coffee table and took her hands in his. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Carly blinked and swallowed hard. “At first…I thought if I didn’t tell anyone, if I didn’t even say it out loud to myself, it wouldn’t be real you know? And then…I realized that Elizabeth was dating him and I was worried because…” she trailed off and took a deep breath. “I didn’t want her to be the next one to wake up with no memory of the night before.”

“And that’s why you asked me all those questions about her?” Jason questioned. “You were trying to find if it had happened before?”

“I was scared that she wouldn’t believe me, you know? Because well…God knows, we’ve never got along but I just…I had to warn her.”

“Even if it meant she’d tell me or Sonny?” Jason asked.

“Yeah. I guess I was willing to take the chance. But I guess…it didn’t occur to me that she might say it to someone else. I just thought she’d think I was lying.” Carly sighed. “So…what did Elizabeth tell you?”

“She didn’t tell me anything. Truthfully…she was too busy keeping me from going after Ric,” Jason admitted.

Carly managed a small smile. “But she’s so small–how could she stop you?”

“She’s stronger than she looks.” He moved his thumb over her hand in a smooth circle. “Carly, I want to know what happened. I understand if you don’t want to tell me and I’m not going to push you to do anything you don’t want to do.”

“It was the night of the club opening.” Carly closed her eyes. “A-and I was so angry with Sonny. So very angry. I only had one drink but I wasn’t feeling well and I remember that Ric seemed a little concerned. I told him to call you–I wanted you to take me home. But…” she searched her memory. “He…he took me to his room and I don’t…there’s nothing after that until the next morning.” Her breathing hitched and tears started to slide down her cheeks.

He brushed them away with his thumbs. “It’s okay,” he said softly. “You’re safe here. With me.”

“He was…he was touching me–his fingers down my spine.” She shivered. “I can still feel it, Jason. I’ve taken so many showers, scrubbed my body but I can still feel his fingers.”

He pressed his lips together and fought to keep his anger in check. Carly didn’t need his anger–she just needed his support. They would deal with Ric later.

“He told me…he said that I was all over him.” Carly opened her eyes and they were pleading with him. “I can’t believe that, Jason. I love Sonny. We’re having some problems right now but I really do love him and–”

“I know,” he told her softly. “I don’t believe it either.”

“I was angry right then–angry and still a little in shock. I just…I grabbed my clothes and went into the bathroom.” She sucked in a deep breath. “That’s when I heard Elizabeth come in. She was talking about putting off a date and I just…I remember thinking that no matter how much I didn’t like her…she deserved better than Ric Lansing. After she left, I finished getting dress a-and I went back out there and told him he was fired and if he came near me again or told Sonny, I’d tell Elizabeth.”

“I’m so proud of you,” he told her in a soft voice. “You got out of there and you kept it together. You’re so strong, Carly.”

“I think if he had touched me before I left, I would have lost it,” Carly admitted. “But it stayed with me. I tried to forget about it but I think everyone knew something was wrong. You did and Sonny did but Sonny just thought it was because of Brenda.”

“I’m sorry that you felt like you couldn’t tell me,” Jason told her. “You can always come to me, Carly. No matter what. You matter to me.”

She hugged him then–tightly and he could feel her warm tears seeping down his neck. “I’m so scared to sleep,” she admitted in a choked voice. “Every time, I close my eyes he’s there. I can still—I can still feel his hands on me, his breath on my neck.”

He smoothed her hair down and closed his eyes. “You’re safe, Carly. I’ll never let anyone hurt you again.”

His cell phone rang then. He pulled away and took it out of his pocket. Without looking at the id screen, he turned it off and set it aside. Whatever it was, it could wait.

Elm Street Pier

“Shoot,” Elizabeth muttered. She shoved her phone back in her purse and glanced around nervously. She shouldn’t have called Jason anyway. He was with Carly and just because she was walking home so late and might have heard some noises–

There it was again. Almost sounded like footsteps. She swallowed hard and started up the stairs. She pulled the phone out and put Jason’s number back up so that with one push of the green button, the number would be dialed.

Hands wrapped around her upper torso then and yanked her off the steps. She yelped and pressed the button.

“You stupid bitch,” Ric swore tossing her to the ground, the cell phone sliding across the wooden planks.

Elizabeth kneed him quickly and started to crawl towards the phone but he grabbed her around the waist and yanked her back. She tried to scream but he covered her mouth with his hand. She bit down on his finger and he yelped in pain but didn’t move his hand.

Her eyes trained on the phone, hoping that call had gone through–hoping that Jason had answered this time.

Morgan Penthouse

“The phone is lighting up again,” Carly whispered. She pulled away from him and wiped her eyes. “Maybe it’s important.”

“Carly–” Jason protested.

“Did you leave Elizabeth at the club?” Carly asked suddenly.

He nodded and he winced. “I should have taken her home. It’s late–” he reached for the phone and cursed under his breath. “It’s her number.”

He turned the phone on then. He had one missed call and one message. Both calls were from her, two minutes apart. Jason frowned and hit the button to the listen to the message.

“You stupid bitch.”

“He–!”

And those were the only two words on the message. After that it was just whimpers and moans and some scuffling. Jason shot to a standing position, his face pale. Carly lunged to her feet.

“What happened?” she asked quickly. “Is she okay?”

“I don’t know,” Jason admitted helplessly. He listened to the message again but concentrated on the background sounds. She was on the docks. He hung up the phone. “I have to go.”

He was out the door before Carly could argue or even find out what was going on.

 Elm Street Pier

His footsteps thundered down the stairs and he immediately scanned the area for any sign of Elizabeth. He was berating himself for not having taken her home first before going to see Carly. It was two in the morning–and she didn’t have a car. He’d never ignored her safety so completely before.

A whimper from underneath dock stairs stopped him dead in his tracks and he turned to see Elizabeth crawling slowly into view. “Elizabeth?”

“J-Jason?” she managed to choke out. Her arms wobbled but she kept herself upright. He kneeled in front of her and helped her to her feet. Once she was standing, her knees buckled a little but held.

He pushed her hair out of her eyes to see some cuts and red marks that would turn into bruises eventually. But her clothes didn’t seem torn beyond a few rips in the silk blouse she wore.

“What happened?” he asked cautiously. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders tightly.

“R-Ric…he w-was…he…heard you c-coming I think a-and he left.” She leaned her head against his chest and closed her eyes. “He w-was angry b-because y-you found out a-and I think…”

“I’m going to take you to the hospital,” he told her intently. “Can you walk?”

“I’m okay, really,” she promised him. “He just…he threw me on the g-ground and hit me a f-few times. I just…I want to go home.”

“Carly’s back at my penthouse,” he told her. “I’m going to take you there.”

“Okay,” Elizabeth agreed. She didn’t even protest when he crouched down and lifted her off the ground. She was so tired.

Morgan Penthouse

Carly gasped when Jason carried an unconscious Elizabeth into the penthouse. “Jason, what happened?”

“Ric got her on the docks,” Jason told her before gently laying the brunette on the couch. “He didn’t…he didn’t, I mean–she’s okay. Just some cuts and bruises and maybe a concussion.”

“I’ll get some…” Carly hesitated. “What do you need?”

“There’s a first aid kit under the sink,” Jason told her. He crouched next to Elizabeth. “Elizabeth, you need to stay awake.”

Elizabeth moaned a little but didn’t open her eyes. “I’m so tired, Jason.”

“Yeah, but if you have a concussion, you need to be awake.”

Carly came back out and handed the kit to Jason. “Are you okay?” she asked her.

Elizabeth blinked a little. “I’m okay,” she said faintly. “I just…I hit my head when he pulled me off the stairs.” She looked at Jason. “Why didn’t you answer your phone?” she asked softly.

“I was talking to Carly…I didn’t know it was you…” He sighed. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” She closed her eyes. “Let me sleep, please?”

“Okay, but I’m going to move you to your old room upstairs okay?” Jason told her. He looked at Carly. “Can you go get something from your place for her to change into?”

“Sure. I’ll be right back.” Carly left the penthouse and Elizabeth kept blinking her eyes.

“Is the light bothering you?” he asked. “I can turn it down.”

“It’s just a little bright.” She licked her lips. “Thanks…thank you coming to get me.”

He took her hand in his and kissed the palm. “I’m just sorry I didn’t get there sooner.”

“What are you going to do…” Elizabeth hesitated. “About Ric?”

He kissed her forehead. “We’re not going to worry about it right now. I just want to get you cleaned up and into some clean clothes. Tomorrow. We’ll talk about it then.”

She nodded. “Okay. Tomorrow.”

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Another Dumb Blonde

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“I’m gonna have to sit with her tonight so you might as well go back to the penthouse,” Jason told Carly. “I have to wake her up every so often.”

Carly nodded. “Okay. What…what are you going to do…tomorrow?” She wrapped her arms around herself and studied him.

“I know what I want to do,” Jason said. “But it doesn’t matter until I talk to her about it. And Carly, we will find a way to take care of this.”

Carly nodded. “I’d better get back before Sonny realizes I’m not home–”

“Carly…” he grasped her elbow. “I’m not saying you have to tell Sonny–that’s your choice. But you two can’t go on the way you have been.”

“I know,” Carly sighed. “I just…I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” She kissed him on the cheek. “I do appreciate how you’ve been there for me, even when you didn’t know. It means a lot to me.” She squeezed his hand. “Now, go take care of Elizabeth.”

Corinthos Penthouse

When Carly slipped back inside the penthouse, the room was dark. She closed the door and the lamp by the sofa switched on.

She jumped. “Sonny, what the hell–”

“I think that’s my line.” He stood and folded his arms across his chest. “I heard you leave, come back and then leave again. So what’s wrong? Where did you go?” His eyes went flat. “Who were you with?”

Carly reached towards the wall and snapped the overhead light on, bringing light to the entire room. “Oh, yeah. Right. What about you? Brenda sleeping upstairs?”

“Damn it, Carly, that’s not what this is about and you know that!” He stalked towards her. “How long are you going to hold that against me? I would have expected you to be more mature–”

“Mature?” Carly gaped. “You self-centered son of a bitch! You kissed another woman–your former fiancé–I might add and I’m the immature one because maybe it upsets me? Go to hell, Sonny.” She stalked past him but he grabbed her arm.

“No more of this!” he roared. “You’re my wife, Carly, not Brenda–I kissed her to make sure I was over her–”

“You shouldn’t have needed that assurance,” Carly hissed, yanking her arm from his grasp. “Let me tell you something–this isn’t about Brenda. This is about you. You think that I’ve been avoiding you because of her? No. Because I can’t talk to you. Because you needed to a kiss to make sure you could still be with me and you don’t see a problem with that. That’s why I’ve been avoiding you–that’s why I moved to the guest room!”

Sonny snorted. “Right. So that’s it. That’s the only thing that’s bothering me. I wasn’t born yesterday, Carly. So you’ve been walking around like a little girl who hasn’t gotten her way because I kissed another woman–how mature you are,” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

“Leave me alone,” she hissed. “Just leave me–”

“You know, you’re nothing like the woman I fell in love with,” Sonny shot at her. “She would have fought with me–she wouldn’t have let this fester–”

“I was raped!” Carly shrieked at the top of her lungs.

Morgan Penthouse: Guest Room

Jason checked the clock on the nightstand and reached over to gently shake her away. “Hey. It’s been an hour.”

She moaned a little. “Five more minutes, Gram.” She pressed her face into the pillow.

“Just open your eyes and look at me and I’ll let you go back to sleep,” Jason told her. He slid off his chair and kneeled next to the bed. “Elizabeth–”

She rolled away and opened her eyes–cloudy from sleep. “Hey. How long are you gonna do this? All night?”

“Just to make sure you don’t have a concussion.” He pushed her hair out of her eyes. “Do you feel okay?”

“I’m fine,” she told him. “How about you go to bed already? You need to sleep too.”

“Elizabeth–”

She sat up a little and rubbed her eyes. “How did it go with Carly?”

He sighed and moved to the side of the bed. “She told me what happened. About the night of the club opening, the next morning…” Jason shifted. “When you stopped by his room that morning, she was in the bathroom. And she threatened to tell you if he told anyone.”

“I’m glad…I’m glad she told you. I mean, I don’t like how you find out but…” She shrugged. “I think she trusts you more. I think she needs the kind of support you can give her.”

“She asked me about you a lot–before she told you. Because she’d heard that it had happened to you. And she asked about…about us.”

Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “Why would she care? Just because we’re on better terms…it doesn’t make us friends, Jason. She still doesn’t think I’m good enough for you.”

“She wanted to know if I missed you,” Jason told her. “And she told me that you thought I’d been cheating on you.”

“I know…I know you weren’t,” Elizabeth explained quickly. “But you have to understand how it…how it looked. You were never here. And every time–every single time I saw you, you were with Courtney. And then the lipstick…and you just…” she sucked in a deep breath. “You just let me walk away.” Her eyes glistened with tears. “How could you do that?”

Corinthos Penthouse 

Sonny took a step back out of instinct. “What?” he demanded flatly.

“Never mind. I’m just…I’m just going to get dressed and go to Jason’s. I can’t deal with this right now.”

“You can’t just drop this on me and walk away. What do you mean raped?” Sonny took her arm, his touch gentle.

She took a deep breath. “The night I didn’t come home. The night of the club opening. I had a drink but I was feeling well so Ric said he’d take me home–”

Ric, the slimy son of bitch, he’d kill him.

“A-and he took me to his room instead–I asked him to call Jason but he didn’t and the next thing I remember…” Her breathing hitched. “It was morning and I was in his bed.” She choked down a sob. “I don’t remember anything, Sonny, I swear–”

“Come here.” Sonny drew her close and cradled her against him and she started to sob heavily. “Oh, God, baby…I’m so sorry…”

Morgan Penthouse: Guest Room

“I thought…” he cleared his throat roughly and stood. “I didn’t know that you thought any of those things. I didn’t…I didn’t realize what it looked like to you. Elizabeth…I thought you had decided you didn’t want this life and…I…that was your decision to make. I couldn’t force you to live this way.”

Elizabeth shoved her blanket aside and got to her feet. She was a little unsteady on her feet but gained her balance after a moment. She padded over to him in Carly’s borrowed nightgown. “Jason, if it had been that, I would have said so. I know your life. It was never that.”

“If I’d thought for one moment I had a right to, I would have gone after you,” Jason told her. He took a deep breath. “I guess it doesn’t matter since Sonny and I aren’t exactly getting along right now. I haven’t done any work in the past few weeks–not since he found out about…” he trailed off.

Elizabeth touched his arm. “He’s just upset,” she assured him. “Maybe he just needs time.”

“What about you?” he asked. He took her hands in his. “Will you forgive me?”

“I–” Elizabeth hesitated. “I don’t know. I just…I want to. I want to trust you like I did before but…” she bit her lip and looked away. “It’s hard,” she confessed. “Do you realize I was dating a rapist and I had no idea?”

“That must have been hard for you to find out,” he remarked.

She pulled away from him and sat back down on the bed, staring at one of the bruises beginning to form on her arm. “When I was in therapy after the rape…Gail–my therapist–she was always giving me these…articles and pamphlets about it and I read this study about women…rape survivors…and sometimes they’re attracted to men who…” she bit her lip. “Men who are capable of violence and…I didn’t think about it then because well…I wasn’t really thinking about it then because Lucky was the only guy I would even let near me…”

Elizabeth exhaled frustrated. “I’m kind of rambling and not even making a point. Never mind.”

“No, no…I can understand what you’re trying to say and…” Jason kneeled in front of her. “You think that’s why you were attracted to Ric?”

“Yeah.” She frowned a little. “And…maybe you.”

He frowned and reeled back a little. “I would never hurt you,” he told her quickly.

“No, I know that but…” Elizabeth bit her lip and looked at him. “You are…capable of violence.”

“Yeah.” He sighed and looked down. “Yeah, I guess I am.”

“I’m sorry…none of this is coming out right,” Elizabeth said, irritated. “I’m not saying this to hurt you–”

“No, no…I know that.” He stood. “I should get some sleep. I think–I think you’re going to be okay. You know? No concussion.” He kissed her forehead.

“Jason,” Elizabeth protested. She stood and reached for him. “I–”

“We’ll…we’ll talk in the morning. Good night.”

He closed the door behind him and she laid back on the bed, feeling absolutely horrible for what she’d just said.

Corinthos Penthouse 

Carly pulled away from Sonny abruptly. “I should…I should get some sleep. You know…I just…I have–”

Sonny tugged on her hand and pulled her to the couch. “Where did you go earlier?” he asked, any of the earlier accusation gone from his voice.

She took a deep breath. “Jason’s. He found out what happened and he wanted to talk to me and then…then he got a call from Elizabeth…Ric…he, ah, attacked her on the docks–”

“Is she okay?” Sonny cut in.

“Yeah…Jason scared him off, but she’s gonna have some bruises…a headache. She knew what happened.”

Sonny nodded. “Yeah. I see that now. You told her because she was dating Ric.”

“I didn’t want her to go through that,” Carly said quietly. She let Sonny draw her to his side, grateful to have it out. She felt a thousand times lighter. “Sonny, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you–”

“No. Don’t be. I haven’t…” he exhaled slowly. “What I said earlier wasn’t true. About you being a little girl and…I just…I wanted to get a reaction. I was so worried, baby. You weren’t talking to me and every day that passed, I felt like I was losing you a little more and more. I just…I wanted to try and get this out. I didn’t mean any of it.”

“In a way, I’m glad you said it. I already feel better having told you. The more people I tell, the less…the less I feel like it was my fault.”

“It wasn’t,” Sonny told her. “It wasn’t. I don’t care if you had a hundred drinks or you went up to his room on purpose. He had no right to touch you and I want you to remember that.”

“I know it here,” Carly said, touching her temple. She pressed her other hand over her chest. “I’m having some problems realizing it here.”

He pulled her to him in a crushing hug and pressed his lips to the top of her head. “We’ll get through this. I promise.”

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Another Dumb Blonde

Morgan Penthouse: Kitchen

When Jason walked into the kitchen the next morning, he was surprised to smell coffee and some eggs and bacon. “Should you be up and around?” he asked Elizabeth.

She turned to look at him. “I can’t sleep anymore. Are you hungry?”

He shook his head. “I don’t really eat breakfast.”

“Okay…well the coffee’s almost done.” She scooped some of the scrambled eggs onto a plate next to some bacon. She put the plate on the table next to a glass of orange juice. “I wanted–I wanted to apologize for what I said last night.”

He poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down. “There’s nothing to apologize for you. You were right. I am capable of violence. You’ve seen…you’ve seen that. I can’t hide it from you.”

Elizabeth sat on one of her legs and brought the other one up to rest her chin on as she left her food untouched. “But I don’t want you to think that’s what made me…” her cheeks flushed. “That it’s what it attracted me to you. Because…it’s not.” She cleared her throat.

“Okay,” Jason replied.

“Do you believe me?” she asked softly.

“Do you believe you?” he asked instead.

She picked up her fork and pushed at the rapidly cooling food. “I can’t make you believe me, I guess. I don’t look at you and see that side of you. That’s not who you are to me.”

“Then who am I?” Jason challenged.

Without blinking, without hesitation, she answered. “You’re Jason. And that’s enough for me.”

“Is it?” he asked pointedly. “You walked out on me.”

“Because I did everything to prove that that I deserved your trust and you lied to me,” Elizabeth said bluntly. “Carly–who turned Sonny into the feds, I might add–she was told. But me…the girl who found you bleeding in the snow, who hid you in her studio, who had a bomb in that studio, who’s been accosted by God knows how many people–who was kidnapped–” She cut herself off and looked away. “Was it Zander? Is that why you didn’t trust me?”

“Elizabeth, I was just…I trying to protect you,” Jason said lamely. “Plausible deniability.”

“Carly lied to the police. Planned a funeral.” Her lips curved into a smirk. “Didn’t forget to use Sonny’s death as a way to get pity from me. I guess I’m just confused. What were you trying to protect me from?”

“Elizabeth…” Jason sighed.

“But it’s okay, I guess. I mean, Carly’s his wife. She obviously couldn’t be expected to grieve for him. What was I supposed to be?” She shoved her plate away, obviously a little frustrated by the whole conversation.

“I think that I was wrong,” Jason admitted. “I think that I should have told you. And if I could do it again…I would.”

“Why?” she demanded.

“Because I don’t want to lose you,” he said simply. “Elizabeth, I want you back in my life. And I’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.”

She sighed and looked away. “I want that, too,” she admitted. He reached across the table and took her hand in his.

“There’s something else we need to talk about,” Jason told her. “Ric.”

Her face paled and she looked away. “I…I don’t want to know,” Elizabeth replied. “Whatever Carly wants to do or you want to do, it’s fine with me. I just…I don’t want to know, okay?”

“Okay,” Jason agreed. “Are we…are we okay now?”

Elizabeth hesitate and looked down at their joined hands. “Yeah,” she said, finally. “We are.”

He stood and pulled her to her feet. “I have to go…take care of some things,” he told her. “Will you stay here until I get back? So I know you’re safe?”

She nodded. “Okay.” Elizabeth lifted herself onto the tips of her toes and kissed his cheek. “Be careful, okay?”

“I will.”

Corinthos Penthouse

Carly watched from the couch as Sonny pulled his suit jacket on. “I spoke with Jason,” he told her. “And Elizabeth has no preferences for how we deal with this–only that she’ll go along with what you want. But she doesn’t want to know.”

Carly nodded. “Do whatever you want to do…but I don’t want to know either,” she told him. She wrapped her arms around her knees and sighed. “Now that you know…I thought I would feel different–better.” Her dark eyes met him. “But I don’t.”

He sat on the couch and pulled her into his arms. “There’s no hurry to heal,” he told her. “You take as long as you need and you do whatever you need. I love you, Carly. And I hate that you felt like you couldn’t tell me this–but it’s my fault you felt that way. I made you doubt our relationship–doubt me.” He traced her bottom lip with his thumb. “And I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Carly told him. “This is just…another one of those things that we need to get through.” She managed a weak smile. “What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, right?”

“Right.” He kissed her forehead and stood. “Please don’t leave this floor until we get back. I want to be sure you’re safe.”

Carly nodded. “Okay.”

With one last glance in her direction, Sonny left. He met Jason in the hallway and they got onto the elevator.

A few moments after being left alone, Carly stood and went over to the other penthouse where Elizabeth was seated on the couch, holding an ice pack to her bruised jaw. “Hey,” Elizabeth said. “You okay?”

“I told Sonny,” Carly murmured. She curled up in the armchair. “He doesn’t blame me. And he says he’ll let me have all the time I need to be okay.” She eyed the younger woman apprehensively. “Am…am I going to be okay?”

“If you mean will you forget about it…get past it…” Elizabeth shook her head. “You never forget. And part of you will always feel like you’re lying in that bed. But you have to find a way to get up in the morning. A reason to breathe, to move, to live. And every day that you do that–that part of you gets smaller and smaller.” She sighed. “But it doesn’t go away. And I can only speak for myself–but I’m still not okay. All these years–three boyfriends and a one-night stand later and I still don’t feel safe walking through the park alone or being alone in a crowd.”

“I guess the trick is to find a way to live and not think about it,” Carly sighed, rubbing her hands up and down her bare arms.

“The trick is to live your life in spite of it,” Elizabeth corrected. “Tom Baker tried to break me and he almost did. But I fought back. Ric tried to gain leverage over you–over Sonny and everyone else. But he chose the wrong person to do it, Carly. Because you’re strong. You’re better than he is. And you will survive this. And you will be happy again and you will make love to your husband and not think about Ric’s hands on your spine.”

“You sure about that?” Carly asked. “Because it sounds nice.”

“I’m sure,” Elizabeth replied. She moved the ice pack to her other cheek. “It’s okay…not to be okay, though. No one says that in order to be a normal person, you have to be okay.”

“Maybe one day I’ll believe that,” Carly sighed. “But for now…I’ll settle for being able to tolerate my husband’s touch without cringing.”

“You will, Carly,” Elizabeth said. “I have faith.”

After that day, Ric Lansing disappeared from Port Charles, never to be heard of again.

On the one year anniversary of the club opening, Carly went back up to the room of Kelly’s. It was empty–it had been since Ric had left. No one wanted the room–consider it cursed.

She flipped the light on and stood just inside the door, her dark eyes looking over the room. And after a moment, she smiled a little.

“You didn’t break me, Ric,” she said softly. “You never even had a chance.”

She turned off the light and went back downstairs to her family.

February 27, 2014

I’ve updated the story status page to better reflect some of the progress I’ve made. I have a short Scrubs prequel to Hand Me Down to post on Monday. I’m not sure if I should post on Mondays or Sundays, but I guess it depends on my plans for those two days.

I’ve also worked out the editing for Daughters. When I first started the story, I kind of ambled around until I figured out what I wanted to write about, so I just want to clean up the early chapters to reflect how the story ended up. All of those edited chapters will be posted later in March, after I post the second part of Shadows.

Tangle is being rewritten, which makes me happy because I am so excited about what I’ve already finished and can’t wait for those of you who’ve followed me here to read it. You can check out the story status page for more information.

In less interesting news, the sub section for Hand Me Down has been posted in the Alternate History section if you want to familiarize yourself with the characters before the story begins again. I have to create a similar one for Aurora Dawning. I hope this weekend to move some of the other longer stories that are still waiting in limbo.