March 31, 2014

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series A Few Words Too Many: I Wish That We Were Strangers

Don’t know where she belongs, where she belongs
She wants to go home, but nobody’s home
It’s where she lies, broken inside
With no place to go, no place to go to dry her eyes.
Broken inside
Nobody’s Home, Avril Lavigne

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Kelly’s Courtyard

Lucky Spencer closed his arms around Elizabeth’s shoulders and squeezed her tight. “I’m going to miss you guys.” He drew back and reached for Emily’s hand with a broad smile. “But I’m glad Nikolas and I waited to head to London. We might have missed you otherwise, Em, and I would have hated that.”

“Well, I was excited to get the Musketeers together for a few reunions,” Emily replied, her hand on Nikolas’s shoulder. “It won’t be the same without you guys.”

Elizabeth cleared her throat and smiled at her two oldest friends, though their friendships had been difficult over the last year. “It really won’t. I was just getting used to all four of us in the same city again.”

“But it’d be selfish to ask you to stay,” Emily said, her voice almost sharp. Elizabeth frowned at her, but Emily never met her eyes. “You should be with Laura now that she’s getting better. I’m so glad you guys are taking Lesley and Lulu with you. You know she’ll recover so much faster with everyone in the same place.”

As if missing the underlying tension, Nikolas squeezed Emily’s hand. “Well, you’ll be here to take care of each other and carry on our Kelly’s traditions.”

After a few more hugs, the brothers started for the parking lot, leaving Elizabeth and Emily standing alone in the courtyard. Elizabeth looked over at Emily, who was staring after the others, wistfully.

“I’m glad Laura is showing some improvement,” Elizabeth said, breaking the silence. “It’s hard to think of her like that, locked inside her own mind.”

“I know,” Emily murmured. “She was always so wonderful to me, like a second mother.” She folded her arms across her chest and turned towards the doors. “Are you working today?”

“I had the opening shift,” Elizabeth answered. “So I’m done now.” She hesitated. “Do you…want to get some lunch?” Her throat was thick. “I could really use a friend right now.”

“I would,” Emily said, biting her lip, “but I’m meeting Courtney.” She tucked her hair behind her ears. “Do you want to join us? You guys should really start working past—”

“I’m not really in the mood to have this conversation,” Elizabeth replied. She rubbed her eyes. She still had so much to figure out, and she just…she just couldn’t find it in her to tell Emily how much she really needed her right now. She wasn’t sure Emily would hear her.

“All right,” Emily said, shrugging. “Well, I guess I’ll see you later.”

“I guess so.” Elizabeth waited another moment, but finally left the courtyard. She no longer had the patience to pretend she and Emily were as close as ever, when the truth was…Elizabeth had never felt further away from her.

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Emily set her bag down at an empty table to wait for Courtney. She wished Elizabeth had joined them for lunch. She knew Courtney and Elizabeth had been friendly before, and if Elizabeth could just see how much more suited Courtney was for Jason, she’d really start getting past her feelings.

She had no doubt what Elizabeth had wanted to talk about—Emily had thought of the pregnancy news for days, wondering what Elizabeth intended to do. Emily hoped Elizabeth would confide in Ric—he clearly had monetary resources to support a child, and Emily didn’t think her friend was being all that realistic about her options. Maybe Ric wasn’t the love of her life, but Emily thought that entire concept was a fallacy anyway.

No one fell in love forever.

She was tugging her anatomy textbook from her bag when she saw Ric emerge from the back, having come down from his room. He looked annoyed when he sat at the counter, perusing a menu she was sure he’d memorized. She didn’t know what the problem was with the man. He was handsome and charming, and while he seemed to be focused on getting a job connected to Sonny and Carly, Emily didn’t think that was too awful. It meant Ric was ambitious, that he wanted to make money.

Elizabeth could do worse, Emily decided, and to prove to herself that Elizabeth’s happiness and well-being was still a top priority, she grabbed her bag and abandoned her table for the counter. “Hey. I’m not sure we’ve been introduced,” she said.

Ric glanced at her, and she was surprised at the irritation in his eyes. “I know who you are,” he said shortly. He sipped the coffee Penny had just served him. “And I’m not in the mood for any sanctimonious lectures from Jason Morgan’s little sister or Elizabeth’s best friend.”

Elizabeth must have already broken up with him. Emily took a seat and signaled to Penny that she wanted her usual chamomile tea. “I know you and Liz are having some difficulties,” she said, and winced when Ric snorted. Elizabeth really had burned her bridges, but Emily wasn’t deterred. “She’s just…confused right now. It’s been a tough year for her, and I think you’re exactly what she needs.”

Ric set his coffee down and twisted on the stool to fully face her. “Just…what did Elizabeth tell you about us?” he asked.

“She was thinking of breaking up with you,” Emily answered, spooning some sugar into her tea. “I told her that she shouldn’t be too hasty.” She flashed a smile at her friend’s boyfriend. “I know it might not seem like it right now, but Elizabeth is usually warm and generous. She’s just…it’s been a bad year.” She leaned forward, lowering her voice. “And she really needs the support right now, Ric. No woman should have to face something like this alone.”

His dark brow furrowed and Ric tilted his head to the side. “Face what?” he asked softly.

Emily had no intention of telling him outright Elizabeth was pregnant—that was not her place, but she felt a responsibility to Elizabeth to keep her from making a major mistake, so hints were okay. She cleared her throat. “It’s not something I should be telling you, but I would ask Elizabeth.”

She saw the door swing open and Courtney walked in. Reaching down to grab her bag, and picking up her tea with the other hand, Emily smiled again at him. “I’m serious, Ric. It’s important that you don’t let Elizabeth push you away right now.”

She slid into a chair at the table Courtney had set her things on, and smiled. “Hey!”

“Hey.” Courtney eyed Ric at the counter, and her gaze turned wary as he stood and walked past her without a word. “Why were you talking to Ric Lansing?” She lowered herself into the other chair and turned her coffee cup over.

“Just giving him some encouragement.” Emily sipped her tea. “Elizabeth is pushing him away, but I can’t let her do that. She needs to move on, Courtney, you know that.”

“I know…” Courtney grimaced. “And I hope she does, because I like her, which I know she wouldn’t believe. And I get how easy it is to fall in love with Jason.” She smiled now, as if lit from inside from her happiness. “And he is a wonderful friend, so it must be hard for her to lose that, but I wouldn’t…” She shook her head, her smile dimming. “I wouldn’t wish Ric Lansing on my worst enemy, much less someone I like.”

Emily fisted her hand under the table. “What’s wrong with him?” she asked, irritated. “Elizabeth wouldn’t tell me why she was breaking up with him and now you’re saying these things….he manages Carly’s club, he helped get Jason and Brenda acquitted. What’s wrong with him?” she repeated. She was so tired of being on the outside. This was why Elizabeth was irritating now—because she only told Emily what she thought Emily ought to know, and never the full truth.

“I can’t…” Courtney looked up as Penny poured coffee into her cup. “Thanks, Penny.” When the waitress left, she sighed. “I can’t really talk about it, but if my brother told Elizabeth half of what I think he should have, then Elizabeth should have left a vapor trail in her rush to get away.”

Oh, no. “Is he really that bad?” Emily asked, feeling light-headed. What if he was an awful person who would just hurt Elizabeth and drive all those wonderful qualities she missed so much deeper under the surface? “I just…encouraged him to pursue her.”

“Em…” Courtney shook her head. “That’s just…that’s not a good idea. Jason and Sonny want him out of town, and if Elizabeth knows what they know, she’s just going to resist.” She sat back. “And that’s just going to make it worse.”

And Emily had just hinted to Ric Elizabeth was pregnant. Oh, man. Uneasy, Emily looked towards the door and felt nauseous. Maybe she hadn’t read the situation correctly.

“Maybe it’ll be okay,” Emily said softly. “Maybe she can just get rid of him again.”

“I hope so.” Courtney picked up her tea spoon and tapped it restlessly against her mug. “Because my brother and Jason are going to feel obligated to help since they blame themselves for Ric.” She pressed her lips together. “And the last thing I want is Elizabeth to get involved with Jason again in anyway.”

“Well, it’s not like it would matter,” Emily said. “You said they were never really together, that you and Jason were falling in love when Elizabeth thought they were together. Jason wasn’t really interested.” And she wanted Elizabeth to have access to protection if Ric was as awful as people seemed to think.

Courtney shifted and looked away. “I may have…glossed over a few things,” she admitted. “I know he cared for her, but I didn’t get the impression they were actually dating. He never said anything to me about it and we were together enough, I would have known. And you know, I made Jason promise I wasn’t a rebound.” She placed her hand flat on the table. “It’s just better if…Jason doesn’t think Elizabeth needs help. I don’t…want to take any chances.”

“Right.” Emily frowned, troubled by Courtney’s explanation of the facts and wondering how much of what she thought had happened last summer and last fall was actually true.

Corinthos & Morgan Warehouse: Jason’s Office

The numbers on the ledgers were beginning to blur together as Jason struggled to keep his focus. Three days since he’d warned Ric to get out of town, and the scum was still in his room at Kelly’s as if nothing had changed. He really thought being Sonny’s half-brother offered him protection. Sonny didn’t want him evicted because it was easier to keep an eye on him this way, but Jason just wanted to shove him in the harbor with weights on his feet. He wanted the disgusting son of a bitch to sink to the bottom struggling to breath for what he had done to Carly, to Elizabeth.

He wasn’t a man who could picture things that well, but he would never forget the hitch in Carly’s breath, the tears on her cheeks as she promised Sonny she hadn’t slept with Ric for revenge, that she honestly didn’t remember anything and that her skin felt dirty for just having been in bed with him. Carly was his best friend, for all her faults, and just for that scene alone, he wanted to dismember Ric Lansing.

But the look in Elizabeth’s eyes last Friday, as she sat on her knees, her arms wrapped around her torso as if that action alone could hold her together. She had refused to meet his eyes as he’d crouched in front of her, and pulled her to her feet. Not until the last moment, making him wish he could go against Sonny’s orders. She was wrecked, as if nothing could put her back together. She hadn’t looked that way since they’d first met and now he was powerless to do anything about it.

He closed the books and reached for his phone when it lit up. Francis. “Morgan,” he said, clenching his free hand into a fist. “Is Elizabeth okay?”

“Uh…” Elizabeth’s guard sounded hesitant. “You told me not to intervene with Lansing unless he put a hand on her, but he’s tracked her down on the Elm Street Pier, and Jason, you’re gonna wanna get down here.”

Jason was already on his feet, heading for the doors. “Is he threatening her? I’m at the warehouse, I can be there in just a few minutes.”

“He’s not…but it’s not good. And it’s going to get worse. Get here fast.”

“If he lays a finger on her, throw him in the harbor. Sonny’s orders be damned.”

Elm Street Pier

Jason found Francis standing at the top of the stairs, watching the scene below intently. As he stepped up, he heard Elizabeth choking something out, the tone and the words themselves making him clench his fists even more. As he prepared to step in, Francis held out an arm.

“Just wait,” he murmured. “Miss Webber might have a plan and you know how angry she gets when you help and she doesn’t want it.”

“Ric, I am not pregnant. I don’t know where—”

“You’re telling me Emily lied to me? That’s bullshit, and you know it—”

Jason pushed Francis away, so he could have his own view, to see how close Ric was to Elizabeth. If she was pregnant, this situation had become much more dangerous.

Ric had Elizabeth cornered the edge of the harbor. She had backed up so much that any further step would send her into the still icy water. Her face was contorted in apprehension and wariness…but not fear. Not yet. “Ric, I am not having your child—”

“I told myself that I would never let my children grow up without me, that after what my mother did,” Ric snarled, “I would never let myself be separated.” He reached for her arm, and Jason tensed, ready to leap over the railing if he needed. “You aren’t keeping me out of this—”

“I’m not pregnant.” Now Elizabeth sounded desperate. “Please. I don’t know what Emily told you—”

“I got your records from the hospital!”

And in that second, Jason saw Elizabeth’s expression freeze. It was the truth. She was pregnant. His heart stopped.

“How did…” Her voice faltered, and she glanced behind her, as if gauging the water’s proximity. She turned back and sighed, looking annoyed. “You’re lying.”

“You’re not as smart as you think you are.” Ric grabbed her arm. “If you think you’re keeping me from my child—”

“It’s not your child! You’re not the father!” Elizabeth cried, trying to jerk away from him, but she stumbled and almost slipped in. The time to stop watching this was over, and Jason started to move forward.

“Oh, the hell it’s not. Who else could it be?” Ric demanded.

If Jason could have had another moment to really think about his next actions, about the repercussions, then maybe he wouldn’t have done it. But there were only seconds, and so Jason made his decision.

He stormed down the steps, and grabbed Ric’s free hand, twisting it behind his back. “Who do you think?” he growled. “Let her go.”

Ric released Elizabeth and Jason sent him flying backwards. Francis placed a foot on his chest to keep Ric planted on the ground. His face impassive, he looked at Jason. “What should I do to him?”

“Hold him there a second.” Jason turned to Elizabeth, who was staring at him like she’d never seen him before. “Elizabeth. Are you all right?”

“I…” Her throat worked, but she never said anything else. She just stared at him.

“I don’t believe you,” Ric grunted. “You’re lying to protect her.”

“Let him up,” Jason told Francis. When the bastard was standing again, Jason started for him, his heart pounding. Ric had to believe this. He had to believe Elizabeth was not having his child. He needed to leave town and get the hell away from Elizabeth. He would if there was no child to hold him here. “I don’t lie. It’s my baby. Why do you think she didn’t tell you?” He glanced back at Elizabeth, meeting her eyes. Play along. They’d figure out the next step later, but in this moment, she had to play along.

“I’ve…” Elizabeth swallowed. “I’ve known for a few weeks,” she admitted. “Before what happened at Kelly’s and on the docks last week.” She forced herself to look at Ric. “And back then I thought you were a good guy, so I—I didn’t know how to tell you, and Jason and I—” She looked back at him and he nodded slightly. “We d-didn’t know how to handle it. It’s…not an easy situation.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “And I felt guilty.” Her face hardened, as if she remembered now why it had to happen this way. “And now I just feel sick I ever let you touch me.”

“You goddamn whore!” Ric started forward, but Jason had him by the throat and against the pillar of the docks.

“Keep doing this, Lansing. By all means,” he growled. He wanted Lansing to come at him, wanted to have an excuse to wipe him from the Earth. Sonny wouldn’t quibble with self-defense. “Keep coming at me, the people I love and I’ll forget I work for Sonny.”

“Jason,” Elizabeth said, her hand soft on his shoulder. “You have to let him go. Anyone could see here.” She was right, but it felt so good to have his hand around this bastard’s throat that he squeezed hard once more before releasing him.

“Get out of town, Lansing. Because I don’t know how much Sonny is going to be able to protect you if you go after Elizabeth again.”

Ric glared at them and then looked at Elizabeth with such hatred that Jason stepped in front of her. “You think this is over?” He chucked, the sound harsh and twisted. “You have no idea what I’m capable of.”

He disappeared into the shadows of the docks, his footsteps fading away. Finally, Jason squared his shoulders and looked at Elizabeth.

“Jason.” Elizabeth wrapped one hand around her waist, and then other fisted at her mouth, tears sliding down her cheeks. “What…”

“Not here.” He looked at Francis. “We’re going to the penthouse. Follow, make sure Lansing doesn’t.” He took Elizabeth’s elbow and steered her towards the steps.

“Jason,” Elizabeth said, turning to him at the top of the stairs. Her face was white, her eyes large and still full of fear. “What have we done?”

So I woke up at 6 AM to get a bus to get across London and to my coach stop by 7:15. Somehow, despite doing this, I still miss my 7:30 bus. I figure out what I did wrong, get another bus at 8 AM, but it’s a half hour late. By the time I get to Oxford, I’m exhausted, but still can’t check in until noon.

And for some reason, I spent the entire bus ride daydreaming about the new version of Damaged, which was originally slated to be an AJ/Elizabeth story, in the wake of him being cleared of Connie’s murder. It’s now clear that the morons that work at GH don’t love my beloved AJ nearly as much as I do (which I understand…because most people don’t) and he will not be cleared while he is alive. I can’t deal with writing about another character that got shafted, since I so regularly have to explain away Jason and Elizabeth in my stories over the last decade, and their moronic choices. (I can’t be with you or ever have a family. Ever. Except the moment our son is dead, the whore that watched him get kidnapped and threatened him can get her surgery, so we can go make a baby together we’ll raise. Whatever, Jason. Fuck off.) *cough* Ahem. Anyways.

So I updated that story description, as well as Mad World and Counting Stars, which I had finished plotting since I posted the poll. Those are the last stories that weren’t all together planned, so I shouldn’t have to update the poll again. If you’ve already voted, but like one of the new choices better, you have the option of changing your vote. Haha, I am super nervous Slide will win since I have done very little planning on that, but once you give readers the power 😛

New Descriptions:

1. Counting Stars – Set in 2000, after Jason leaves Port Charles the first time. Elizabeth asks Sonny to bring Jason home because she has something life-changing share with him. Once Jason returns, not everyone in Port Charles is happy to see him back in Elizabeth’s life, and may be willing to resort to drastic measures in order to keep him away. Would mostly be Jason/Elizabeth. Other characters/couples: Sonny/Alexis (friendship), Luke, Laura, Emily, Nikolas, Bobbie.

2. Mad World – Set in 2004. A huge ensemble story that begins with the rape of Ned and Lois’s daughter, Brook Lynn. Suspicion quickly falls on a specter from the past, which causes cop Lucky Spencer to wonder if he has what it takes to do this again, while Elizabeth struggles with her own memories in the wake of a difficult relationship with the father of her child. Jason is exhausted being who his friends need him to be, and Alexis learns that danger to children comes from everywhere, no matter who their father..  Jason/Elizabeth, Nikolas/Emily, Lucky/Original Character, some old-fashioned Jax/Alexis/Ned friendship, teensy Patrick/Robin (how could you have doubted me?), Ned/Lois, and some teens.

8. Damaged – Set in 2014. After AJ’s murder, Monica and Tracy struggle to put the fractured pieces of the Quartermaine family back together, beginning with Elizabeth’s son, Jake, and AJ’s son, Michael. Michael begins to believe that Sonny murdered his father, while Ava Jerome has an elaborate scheme to get what she considers her rightful inheritance–no matter who she destroys to get there. Characters/Couples: Michael/Starr (I loathe Kiki more than anything else in this world), Monica, Elizabeth, Tracy, Ned, Ava, Sonny, Carly, Todd (because no to Franco as well), Sam, Julian, Alexis (and others….who cannot be listed because you know…spoilers) Oh, and obviously I will be changing the crap out of the show. Jake never died  (because…just…no. I cannot write a world where my beloved Liason baby is dead.) Silas, Kiki and Franco do not exist. Morgan was never aged, because I have plans for Morgan and Cam to be BFFs. So…yeah…this story is going to be my FU to the entire last year of the show.  Will Jason end up being alive? I dunno. Maybe Ava’s plan involves the Cassadines. You just never know in my head.

Please vote in the poll if you haven’t already or would like to change your vote!

March 30, 2014

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Aurora Dawning

Before Dawn

Elizabeth sprang up in her bed, sweat pouring from her forehead, her heart pounding so fast she believed it might explode.

Flashes paraded through her mind—one after another. Men with torches. A roof engulfed in flames. Screams of those trapped inside.

She had never had a vision before—wasn’t quite sure if what she’d just experienced was one of them or a nightmare.

But what she was sure of was that the home engulfed in flames belonged to the Morgans.

She threw her covers aside and hurried out of her room and into the hallway, bothering with neither proper dress nor shoes.

——

But by the time she arrived at the farm, common sense had overridden her foreboding sense of panic and she realized that she’d come here with no real proof other than what she was beginning to believe was a dream.

The chill of the early morning air was starting to seep through her thin nightgown. She clutched at the mane of the random horse she’d taken from the royal stables. It had been unbridled and only having learned the basics of riding, she hadn’t wasted time with attempting a saddle.

Elizabeth took a deep breath and thanked herself that she regained her senses before pounding on the Morgan’s door for no reason at all. She kicked the horse and tugged the hair in the direction she wished the animal to turn.

When she faced the road, her heart stopped. In the distances, she made pin pricks of light moving towards her. Torches.

Men with torches.

Terror seized her, paralyzing her body for a brief moment. When they drew even closer, she launched herself off the horse and fell to the ground, landing badly on her right ankle.

She limped to the front door and started banging on it, tossing a glance over her shoulder every moment or so, watching in terror as those torches drew closer.

It was while she was looking over her shoulder, that the door opened and she felt herself pitching forward.

“What is going on?” Jason demanded as he caught Elizabeth under her arms.

“Torches. Men,” Elizabeth gasped. She clutched his shirt in her hands. “Coming to burn your home.”

He blinked and focused over her shoulder at the sight of the men on horses. It was before dawn—the sun had not even cast gray shadows over the land. There no reasons for such men to be galloping towards their home with torches.

Unless they were going to be burn down the home as Elizabeth had told him.

He set Elizabeth firmly on her feet, not even noticing her wince as her weight landed on her injured ankle. “Mother!” he called.

“What is going on?” Susan asked, emerging from the hallway that led to their bedrooms. Alexander and Chloe spilled out behind her.

“There are men with torches coming down the road.” He thrust Elizabeth into Alexander’s arms. “Stay here,” he told her before he and Susan disappeared outside, shutting the door behind them.

Chloe ran to the window. “They are coming closer!” she cried.

“What in the world is happening?” Alexander demanded of the petite brunette. He swept his eyes over her dusty and now grass-stained nightgown before focusing on her rapidly swelling ankle. “You look as though you have been through hell.”

“I—I came as fast as I could,” Elizabeth wrapped her arms tightly around upper torso. “I did not stop for shoes, saddle or coat.”

“They are at the gates!” Chloe screamed. Alexander yanked his little sister from her position and watched as his mother strode forward and lifted her hands to the sky.

Lighting flashed and thunder crackled as the heavens above them opened up. Rain pounded down. Heavy, thick rain that instantly extinguished the torches of the approaching men. They reined in their horses and paused at the gates.

Alexander watched as a heavy gusting wind propelled them back and after a few gusts such as that, they turned their horses and moved back down the road. “They are leaving.”

Adrenaline drained from her body and now spent, Elizabeth sank to her knees. After having spent twenty minutes on a galloping horse, terrified of being thrown every minute…

“How did you know to warn us?” Chloe asked suspiciously, her mind settling on other matters now that the danger had passed.

“I—” Elizabeth did not know how to answer. The door blew open and Jason hustled his mother inside.

“You must change into something dry immediately,” Jason told her. “Chloe, go with Mother. Alexander, take the rifle and stand guard on the porch. The storm will keep them from returning with their torches but I do not want to take any chances.”

Alexander nodded and lifted the rifle from its position over the door and disappeared outside.

Sensing Jason would like to be alone with their savior, Susan led Chloe back into the hallway and a moment later a door shut.

Jason helped Elizabeth to her feet. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“My ankle,” she murmured. “I twisted it getting down from the horse.”

“I cannot believe you came all the way here on a horse,” Jason remarked as he wrapped an arm around her waist and led her into the kitchen slowly. She limped every step of the way, wincing in pain.

“I cannot believe it either b-but I did not have a choice.” Elizabeth gratefully sank into a chair. “I am so thankful that I arrived in time.”

“How did you know to come?” Jason asked curiously as he knelt in front of her to study her swollen ankle.

Elizabeth pressed her lips together as she wondered how to answer the question. “I had a dream,” she admitted finally. “And before I could talk myself out of it, I was in the stables.”

“A dream?” Jason repeated, studying her with her open curiosity. “Or a vision?”

Her face paled. “No. It—It could only have been a dream.”

“In which you saw the future.” Deciding that it would be safe for his mother to heal her ankle, he stood and took another seat at their kitchen table. “Elizabeth, words cannot express how much it means to me that you risked your life to come here this morning. If those men had thrown those torches…I cannot say with any certainty that any of us would have survived.”

“I—” Elizabeth was unsure what to say in reply. It was the most emotion he’d never shown her and she did not want to compromise the newfound trust in her he seemed to have.

“I sent Chloe back to her room for the rest of the night,” Susan said as she stood in the door frame. “Good morning, Elizabeth. You look quite disheveled from your ride.”

“She has sprained her ankle, Mother,” Jason informed his mother. “I think it would be safe to heal her as I suspect she has the same abilities as you.”

Elizabeth looked at him in surprise before turning her eyes to his mother as Susan took an empty chair from the other side of the table. She set it in front of Elizabeth and sat down, drawing her ankle into her lap.

“So she had a vision and came to warn us,” Susan murmured. “No one has ever told you that visions are not sent to us so that we may keep things from happening?” she asked Elizabeth.

“I did not have a vision,” Elizabeth protested softly. Her eyes filled with tears. “Please do not repeat that to anyone.”

Susan touched her Elizabeth’s ankle with the fingertips of her right hand. Elizabeth felt a strange warmth tingle throughout the limb. “There.” She set Elizabeth’s foot on the ground and smiled “Move it. See if I did it thoroughly.”

Elizabeth hesitantly rolled the joint, slightly amazed at the absence of pain or discomfort. “Thank you.”

“Jason, leave us for a moment. Keep Alexander company on the porch. I will call for you in a moment.”

Jason obeyed his mother and left the room. Susan cleared her throat. “You need not hide from me, Elizabeth. What you experienced tonight was a vision. We enchantresses only receive such signs when the events in them connect to people that we care about. The sorcerers can use herbs and incantations to call forth visions and relate only facts but enchantresses feel the emotions. Has no one trained you?”

“There’s nothing to train me in,” Elizabeth said nervously. “Mrs. Morgan—”

“I see that I have misunderstood.” Susan stood and crossed to one of the cabinets to remove a loaf of bread. “My mother kept me from the work camps because she herself had the abilities. She trained me. I assumed that your mother is an enchantress or at least, she loved you too dearly to part with you. It is dangerous for a young girl not to be trained, Elizabeth.”

“I do not possess any powers and my mother harbors no affection towards me. If you will please…I would like to return to the palace now.”

Susan started slicing some meat. “You will stay. Jason will show you where you might clean up and we will give you one of Chloe’s dresses. We will eat and we will all go. Alexis must be informed of this morning’s events.”

“No!” Elizabeth sprang from her chair. “You must not tell anyone!”

The older woman eyed her with a trace of amusement. “If it was just a dream, Elizabeth, why does it matter who knows?”

“You cannot say a word to anyone about this morning,” Elizabeth said softly. “Please—I must have your word.”

Susan set her knife aside and wiped her hands on her apron. “You truly are terrified.”

“I—I have the powers but no one knows outside my family. My parents, my brother and Michael. No one else can know. They will send me away.”

“You have nothing to fear from me, Elizabeth.” Susan sighed. “But you need training. The abilities are so closely linked with your emotions—you must learn how to control them.” She patted Elizabeth’s cheek. “Now, go tell Jason to show you where to clean up and ask him to fetch a dress from Chloe. I told her to sleep some more, but I doubt that she has. He will see you home and I will leave you out of this morning’s events. No one needs to know you were even here.”

“Thank you,” Elizabeth said gratefully.

——

“It is morning—you must go.” Summer Holloway started to pull away from his warm embrace though she loathed for their night to end. Lucas could so rarely escape the watchful eye of his parents and the council to steal time with her and those rare nights when he was able to spend the entire night with her in her room—those were the nights she lived for.

Lucas shook his head and wrapped his arms around her nude torso. “I do not wish to leave just yet.”

She giggled and let him pull her back into his arms. “Lucky, I must show my face in the kitchen soon or I will be fired and we shall never see one another.”

He pressed her to her back and rose over her. “I have something to tell you—but I was a little distracted last night.”

Summer’s smile dimmed and she frowned. “Oh no…your family found another betrothal? So soon?”

“Yes,” Lucas confirmed. He kissed the tip of her nose. “Do you know that you are the only one who calls me Lucky?”

“You told me that your nanny called you that when you were young and you preferred it over your own name.” Summer shook her head. “Why are you speaking of such inane things? Who are you to marry?”

“You.” Lucas kissed her collarbone and let his mouth rove down her soft skin. Summer’s hands twisted in his dark hair as he closed his lips over her pouting nipple.

“Wait, wait,” she panted. She braced her hands on his shoulders and pushed him away. “What did you mean?”

“I told my father about you. He talked to Lord Corinthos and it was brought up at last night’s council meeting. They approved a marriage between us.”

Summer sat up abruptly and stared at him. “Between us?” she echoed his words. “You wish to marry me?”

Lucas frowned. “Summer, I told you that I loved you. Did you not believe me?”

The doubt in her blue eyes pained him and he sighed. “I did not say those things to convince you to let me in your bed. I love you, Summer, and I wish to marry you. Have a family with you.”

She shook her head. “I am not the kind of woman you marry, Lucky. I am a chambermaid—”

“This is your last day of work. Lord Corinthos is already clearing it with the Queen,” Lucas informed her.

She moved from the bed and grabbed a dressing gown to wrap around her naked body. “How could you do such a thing without even discussing it with me?”

Lucas rose slowly and reached for his pants. “Summer, are you saying that you do not want to marry me?”

“That’s not what I’m saying—” she took a deep breath and dragged her hands through her tousled blonde hair. “I just—we have never discussed marriage or anything beyond the moment. You can imagine the shock of finding out the council has given a marriage their approval when you have not bothered to propose.”

“I did not realize my father would go to Lord Corinthos, Summer. I never expected to have his support much less have him petition the council. I rushed to tell you the moment my father told me—but you kissed me the moment I arrived and I just—all thoughts flew out of my head.”

She flushed. “It has been so long since we were able to spend any time together—I could not help myself.”

He stepped forward and took her hands in his. “I love you, Summer and I am not content to spend a night here or there with you. I am not content in having to hide my love for you. We have been granted an extraordinary chance to be together for all of our lives.”

He lowered himself to one knee and kissed her palm. “Summer Holloway, I love you. Will you be my wife?”

“Yes,” she whispered. A tear slid silently down her cheek. “I love you, so much.”

Morning

Alexis did not bother dressing or making herself presentable. The moment one of the servants informed her that her sister and the children had arrived and requested her immediate presence, she hastily wrapped a dressing gown around the nightgown and rushed barefoot to the foyer.

“Susan! What is wrong?” Alexis embraced her elder sister. “It is far too early for a visit.”

“I’m afraid it is nothing good. I ask that Alexander and Chloe be given a room to sleep in.” She touched her daughter’s shoulder. “They were both woken early and I fear the ride in from the farm has tired them.”

“Mother, I am fine,” Alexander began.

“You will sleep,” Susan said sharply, her piercing eyes silencing him immediately.

“Of course.” Alexis turned to one of her maids who had been awoken by the arrival of the Morgans. “Simone, please show my niece and nephew to the guest wing and make sure that they are comfortable.” She looked back at her sister. “Where is Jason?”

“He will be along shortly,” Susan said. “Come, we must speak.”

Once they were seated in the sitting room and Alexis had asked another one of the maids to bring them tea, Susan began to explain. “Jason woke earlier than usual this morning and was on his way to barn to check on one of our animals when he noticed there were men approaching the farm. Upon further scrutiny, they were carrying torches and their horses were in a gallop.”

“Torches?” Alexis repeated, mystified. “Why would they need—” The realization set in and she pressed her lips together firmly. “I see.”

“I, of course, caused a storm immediately which doused their torches and they turned back.” Susan’s hands were almost trembling as she reached for the silver tea cup. “But I fear they will return and I cannot have my family harmed.”

“Of course not. You will stay here until we sort this out. There is a meeting this morning and I will bring it up—”

“No.” Susan shook her head. “This was about Jason, not about the land or anything else. It is too convenient and—” she broke off, unsure how to explain. She knew it was connected to Jason or Elizabeth would not have received a vision about it. “I cannot divulge my reasons at this time but it was about Jason.”

“You think it might have something to do with the Dawning,” Alexis decided. She nodded. “You may be right. And the only people who know the identity of those chosen are their families and the council. I will speak only to Michael about it and see how he wishes to proceed.”

Susan nodded. “Thank you.”

“Now, you must tell me—where is Jason?” Alexis sipped her tea.

Susan sighed. “Alexis, please do not press me for more information. I cannot tell you.”

“I am your sister and your family,” Alexis cajoled. “If you cannot trust me, whom can you trust?”

“Yes, but it is not my secret that I would be divulging but of someone who does not trust easily and I do not wish to break my word.”

Alexis tilted her head to the side and pursed her lips. “Jason is not here but he will be here shortly and your words about Jason rising early to check on an animal ring false with me, sister. And you say that you are protecting someone.”

“Alexis—”

“I know that the Princess possesses powers,” Alexis said bluntly. “Michael told me years ago after she accidentally blew up part of the royal stables. Mirielle was so enraged that she locked the poor girl in her room until her eighteenth birthday and nothing Michael said could change her mind.”

Susan could not find the words to respond at first. “You are saying that you, the head of the council and the royal family were fully aware Elizabeth is an enchantress and rather than training the girl, you allowed her mother to lock her in her rooms?”

“I could say nothing for Michael had sworn me to secrecy and Michael could not order her to change her mind for Mirielle threatened to reveal Elizabeth’s nature and you know what happens when something like that is revealed. Elizabeth would have been shipped away.”

“What sort of mother treats their daughter like that?” Susan asked, clearly disgusted. “To treat the girl as though she had a contagious disease. Do you know that she was so terrified of someone finding out, she denied it even after I told her about my own gift?”

“That is why I believe this marriage is the best thing that could have happened to Elizabeth. Jason will be good to her and she will finally be free of her mother.”

“Well—Elizabeth experienced a vision last night and came to tell us. She wanted no one to know of her involvement so Jason took her home.”

Alexis nodded. “That was a wise decision. Michael has been working for years to lift the laws against enchantresses and until he does so, no one must ever know about Elizabeth.”

—-

Elizabeth closed the door behind her and clasped her hands nervously. “Thank you for making sure I arrived back at my rooms.”

Jason nodded. “I do not want anything to happen to you as a consequence of coming to the house this morning.”

“Your mother has given me her word that she will leave me out of it.” She looked away. “And I must have yours that you will not say anything to anyone about the dream.”

“Vision,” Jason corrected quietly. He stepped towards her. “You can trust me, Elizabeth. My mother has the gift as well. I know enough about her to recognize it in another.”

She frowned and tilted her head to the side. “You call it a gift. You truly are blessed.” Elizabeth sighed and crossed the room to peer out the window. Dawn had arrived—shooting streaks of pink, red and orange across the sky. The sun had not risen fully and she could not see it from the side of the palace where her rooms were.

“I told you that my mother kept me in my rooms because she worried for my safety but that was a lie.” Elizabeth glanced at him before turning her eyes back to the window. “In truth, my mother worries for herself. She does not love me. She fears me.”

“Fears you?” Jason repeated. “Because you have the gift of healing? Of foresight? That is no reason to fear.”

“I blew up part of the stables when I was twelve,” Elizabeth admitted. “Before then, I was not given much notice. I went where I wanted, I said what I wanted and sometimes my mother came and brushed my hair before bed. But I was locked in my rooms for six years after that night. I saw no one but my brother and my uncle in all that time.”

“She locked you in here for six years?” Jason questioned. He stepped towards her. “That is what you meant when you said I was more fortunate than you, that I had no idea what kind of life you had led.”

“It does not matter. Soon—soon I will be free. And I will never have to see that woman again if I do not wish it. She is no mother.” Elizabeth pressed her lips together and sat on the sofa. “After the incident with the stables, I did not allow myself to use my powers for more than healing a cut or a bruise and until last night, I had never experienced a vision. I believe your mother was quite disappointed that I had had no training.”

“My mother was trained from the time she was a little girl until her marriage. I think she was a little saddened that my sister showed no signs of the gift. She would train you if you ask.”

“I would rather pretend that I do not have these powers at all.” Elizabeth cleared her throat. “You should go before Alexis begins to wonder where you are.”

“Elizabeth,” Jason began hesitantly, “yesterday, I believe that I hurt you. When we were in the barn a-and I said those things to you.”

“It is all right. I spoke with my brother and I believe that I understand.” Elizabeth paused. “He said that you were uncertain about what would happen if you were to kiss me again. Since such behavior is not acceptable outside of marriage. It was unfair of me to ask and I apologize.”

“That is part of the reason but it was more of what a kiss could lead to if you are not careful.” Jason’s cheeks were bright red as he struggled to put his thoughts into words that were appropriate in the company of the woman he was to marry. “I have made that mistake once and I mean not to do it again.”

Elizabeth furrowed her brows. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that I have had experience with a woman outside of marriage,” Jason attempted to explain.

“Oh.” Elizabeth flushed and she looked away. She had never discussed the intimate moments between a man and a woman with anyone else—beyond a little of what her brother would say. But she’d read many novels and she believed she had an idea of what was to happen on her wedding night.

“I care about you, Elizabeth and I am sorry that I hurt you yesterday. It is not always easy to know the right words or the right way to say something.”

“If you do not know the right words then perhaps you should just say what you think or feel.” Elizabeth peered up at him. “It is not wrong to trust what you feel.”

He nodded and looked away. “You were right—I should be going.”

She stood. “Thank you again. I hope that Alexis will know what to do about those men. Who do you think sent them?”

“I do not know but I doubt it is the last trouble we will see.” He moved towards the door but she called his name. “Yes?”

“I…I just wanted to say that I care about you too,” she told him softly. She stood on her tip toes, placed her hand on his shoulder for balance and pressed a chaste kiss to his lips.

“I think that we will be spending most of the day here so I will try to see you again before we return home.” He brought her hand to his mouth and kissed the tips of her fingers. “Until then, Elizabeth.”

—-

The early morning council meeting had been nothing more than a check-in with preparations for various Dawning parties and research. Jasper Jacks and Skye Chandler reported their progress—of which they had made nearly none while Monica Quartermaine informed the council that all wedding plans had been made in the utmost secrecy and all that remained was the official announcement.

Laura Spencer reiterated her objections to her son’s marriage while her husband told the council that his son had come to see him that morning to report that Summer had accepted his proposal.

Barbara Jones remained uncharacteristically quiet throughout the early meeting while Scott Baldwin announced that the kingdom’s official sorcerer would be retiring at the end of the year—which coincidentally, fell on the last day of the fifteenth month of Avril—of which the first day was the famed Aurora Dawning.

Michael told Scott—the official council liaison to the sorcerer—to contact the training school to send over their three top students. They would choose the new one after the Dawning.

Alan Quartermaine and his cousin Ned were in charge of the palace’s official Aurora Dawning ball and were keeping most of the plans under wraps. They would only say that it would be the most extravagant event in years.

AJ Quartermaine and Caroline Benson darted nasty looks at each other throughout the meeting as Caroline reported that the prince had sent a messenger early that morning, presenting plans for the west wing of the palace to be renovated. She speculated that he and his wife were planning on starting their family and that the prince wished to have the wing to himself.

AJ had been assigned to work with Jasper and Skye but had nothing to contribute to their words as he’d blown off every meeting except for the one Caroline had attended yesterday—but no one mentioned that. The Quartermaine heir’s odd pursuit of the young woman had been a source for gossip but never brought up at a meeting.

With the meeting adjourned, Alexis watched as Barbara Jones left the room as quietly as she had walked in. She noted the behavior for future reference as Barbara never did anything quietly.

She waited until the room was deserted and only Michael remained as he gathered up the council member’s various reports. He had noted Alexis’s distracted behavior throughout the meeting and knew she had something on her mind. So when she cleared her throat and asked to have a moment with him, he agreed and led her back to his rooms for privacy.

As soon as the door was shut, Alexis informed him of her sister’s arrival that morning. She included Elizabeth’s involvement as Michael was fully aware of his niece’s abilities and she left no detail out. Michael needed the full picture in order to proceed and Alexis knew this.

A long moment passed between the end of Alexis’s story and the time Michael spoke. He never acted without thinking, never spoke without considering all of his words and she knew when he told her what to do, the decision would be final.

“Your sister and her children must stay within the boundaries of the village until we have discovered the traitors,” Michael said. He set his papers down on his desk and clasped his hands behind his back. “I understand that they run their own farm and it cannot be left unattended. I will arrange for some workers to go out there and do the various chores. They will take their instructions from the Morgan boys to be sure.”

Alexis nodded. “I have more than enough room in my home and Susan brought several days’ worth of clothing. She knew that you might decide on such a thing.”

“As for my niece, I will not question her on this. I understand that she had sworn your sister to secrecy and I do not want to alarm Elizabeth. She is easily upset—her powers have been a source of worry for her since she was twelve. She does not know you know, Alexis, and I prefer to keep it that way. However, I think it would be prudent for Susan to begin training her.”

“Susan has expressed her disappointment that Elizabeth has not yet been trained and has already offered her services. But what will Mirielle say?”

“You leave my sister to me.” Michael rubbed the back of his neck. “The traitor must be within the council. No one outside of the council and the royal family know that Jason and Elizabeth are the chosen. Mirielle and Geoffrey are not happy that their daughter is marrying someone of Jason’s ilk, but they cannot disregard his blood line. Nikolas has no reason to argue with the decision and he is not the type to do something such as this—not when I have been told that Jason and Elizabeth have spent the majority of the last two days together without incident.”

“She has feelings for him of some kind or else she would not have received that vision,” Alexis said though she knew Michael had already come to that conclusion.

“You must leave the rest of this to me. The fewer people who know about this betrayal, the better,” Michael remarked. “You should return home and inform your sister that she is to remain in Rhigwyn until I say otherwise and that she will begin training Elizabeth once she and Jason are married and living back on the estate where they can conduct the training in relative secrecy.”

—-

Geoffrey scratched his eyebrow and studied his quiet son across the table. He then turned to his advisors and waved his hand in dismissal. “Leave us.”

The men filed out silently while Nikolas raised his eyes from his papers. “Father?” he questioned.

“Have you seen your sister lately?” Geoffrey inquired. “I have not been able make time to visit with her since Michael told us about her role in the Dawning. Is she handling the news well?”

“As well as can be expected. I spoke with her last night.” Nikolas shifted in his seat. “Why the interest, Father? I cannot recall the last time you and Elizabeth were in the same room.”

Geoffrey narrowed his eyes. “I am the King of the realm; I do not have the time to socialize. Elizabeth is a girl. She has no need of me.”

“With a mother who locked her in her room for six years, I cannot imagine what need she would have for either of you.” Nikolas stood. “With all due respect, Father, when Emily and I begin our family, my only goal is to be a better parent than either of those I grew up with.”

“She was locked away for her own good. Who knows what damage a girl with her curse could do during her teenage years,” Geoffrey scoffed.

Nikolas exhaled slowly. “I wish that I had argued—that I had been looking out for my sister in the way that she deserved. Perhaps you might want to visit with your daughter before she marries Jason on Saturday and moves to the Morgan home and you never see her again.”

——

Gia was removing Elizabeth’s breakfast dishes when the door to the room swung open and an elegantly dressed Mirielle entered the room.

“Leave us, girl,” the Queen commanded coldly. Gia finished her chore and bowed to the two women before making a hasty exit.

Elizabeth stood from her table and tightened the sash of her dressing gown. “Mother. To what do I owe this morning visit?”

Mirielle wandered the room, her fingertips brushing across one of her paintings. “We have not spoken since my brother informed me of your betrothal. I understand that Jason Morgan has visited you?”

“Yes, he has,” Elizabeth replied warily. Mirielle turned back to her, her crimson taffeta dress rustling with the move.

“I thought it prudent to inform you that your father and I have been working busily behind the scenes to ensure you do not have to waste your life in a marriage with that peasant.”

Elizabeth blinked, her face draining of color. “But the Dawning…?” she remarked softly.

“Oh…once it is over, there is no reason for you to remain with the boy.” Mirielle dismissed the Aurora Dawning with a wave of her hand. “Your father and I intended to petition the council for a release from the marriage but I was informed this morning that Lucas has become engaged to one of my personal maids. Can you imagine that? The Captain of the King’s Guard also marrying a silly peasant?” Mirielle laughed, the sound sending cold prickles down her daughter’s spine.

“Michael would never grant it,” Elizabeth replied, trying to sound more sure than she actually was. Her only hope to escape these walls had been to marry Jason Morgan and it was though a candle was being slowly extinguished.

“I have my ways of getting what I want, daughter,” Mirielle said coldly. “I only tell you this so that you do not become unnecessarily attached to the boy, though I doubt you are capable of such emotions.”

“Not capable?” Elizabeth shook her head. “I don’t understand.”

“Well—it has never been proven that…beings such as you are even capable of normal lives with normal emotions and futures.” Mirielle shrugged her slender shoulders.

“Beings?” Elizabeth echoed faintly. “Mother, I am a human—”

“You are not a human,” Mirielle said coldly. “You are just a silly little thing with powers that you cannot handle. If women were meant to have the sorts of powers of a sorcerer, there would not be a ban against them, would there?” She cleared her throat. “Now—do not get upset with me, Elizabeth. There is no reason to become irrational.”

She was afraid. Elizabeth could see it in her eyes. Her mother was afraid that Elizabeth would become angry at the words and do something to hurt her.

Anger was the last thing she felt. Hurt, sorrow—yes. But anger was something she could not associate with her mother any longer. It was not worth the effort or the energy.

Elizabeth nodded. “Of course. Was there anything else?”

“Well—yes. Your father and I are now in a position where there are no suitable men to marry you, too. AJ Quartermaine is a possibility but if he falls through…we have decided to send you to a convent after you are released from your marriage.”

“A convent?” Elizabeth whispered. Convent. Another name for the work camps enchantresses were sent to. “You cannot—”

“But I can. We will, of course, tell the public that you have been promised to another prince in a far off kingdom. But your father and I are tired of worrying when you might snap. We are taking it into our own hands.” Mirielle nodded at her. “Good day, Elizabeth.”

She swept out of the room, leaving Elizabeth feeling empty and cold. After nineteen years of being locked in these rooms—her parents were going to do what they must have wanted to do all along.

Send her to one of the dreaded work camps where she would be worked and starved until she died. Like so many other women with the powers.

Elizabeth sank back into her seat, staring blindly at the white tablecloth. She had not been sent away when she was born for it would not be wise to let people know that she was an enchantress. The public might believe the entire royal line was corrupted and unfortunately, by the time her powers had been discovered, it was too late to say that she had died in childbirth.

They must have been waiting all along until she was of marrying age so that they might send her away and pretend that she’d been married. Lucas—he might have been her saving grace after all. He would have controlled her—but she might have still breathed.

She was not sure how long she sat there before there was a hesitant knock on her door. It was not Nikolas or Gia for they would have merely entered. Elizabeth glanced out her window to see that sun had settled firmly over the hills, meaning it was midday.

“Who is it?” she called out dully.

“Elizabeth? It is Jason.”

She stood and pulled the door open. “I am not receiving visitors today,” Elizabeth said softly, keeping her eyes to the ground. “Please—come back another time.”

Jason frowned and shook his head. “No—I have come to tell you what Michael told my aunt.”

Elizabeth hesitated—she was curious as to what her uncle had said and perhaps if she told Jason what her mother was planning, he might help her come up with a way to thwart it.

But what if…what if he supported the idea? What if he was content in having to be married to her only because the council had ordered it? What if he would like the opportunity to escape a life with her?

Jason was not idly waiting for her to make up her mind to let him enter—he could tell by the tone of her voice and her posture that something had changed from earlier this morning when she had shyly confessed that she cared for him as well. There was sadness in her eyes. Hurt. Devastation.

After another moment of silence, he made the decision for her and stepped inside the room. “Elizabeth, what has changed since I left?” he asked urgently.

She shook her head. “It does not matter. What does my uncle say?” she asked, shutting the door behind him and resigning herself to this meeting.

“We are to remain in the village with my aunt until he discovers who was behind the attack last night,” Jason told her. “They believe it is someone on the council and that it is connected to the Dawning.”

“That makes sense.” Elizabeth wandered away from him and idly tightened her sash again, becoming aware that she was dressed merely in her robe. “It seemed somewhat convenient. Was that all?”

“From Lord Corinthos, yes, but—Elizabeth, will you not look at me?” Jason asked, unnerved by the way she studiously kept her eyes from looking anywhere but the ground.

“I—” Elizabeth faltered and hesitantly brought her gaze to his. Her eyes were swimming with tears now. How could she tell him her mother was working to part them before they even started their lives together? Would he be sad? Angry?

Happy?

“Elizabeth.” He stepped towards and drew her hands into his, cradling them in his grasp. “Tell me what’s happened,” he pleaded.

“M-My mother was here earlier,” Elizabeth began. “She wanted to inform me that she and my father were petitioning to—to release us from this marriage after the Dawning.” She felt his hands stiffen and then tighten around hers. “You see—when they discovered that I was—that I am—that I have the curse—they could not send me away. They had already announced my birth and it would not have been wise for them to reveal the royal blood line had been contaminated by an enchantress.”

“I do not understand what relevance—” Jason began.

“She told me today that since Lucas is no longer available and since you are apparently not a suitable candidate—there is no one left but AJ Quartermaine and he is already pursuing Car—” she stopped. “Someone else.”

“I will tell my aunt to tell Lord Corinthos that he cannot let your mother do this,” Jason said firmly. “He seems to be a fair enough man—”

“My mother has a way of getting what she wants from my uncle,” Elizabeth broke in. “And she—she is sending me to a convent.”

“Convent?” Jason’s eyebrows drew together. “I do not know what it is.”

Elizabeth’s throat was so thick now she could barely speak but she forced herself to finish. “They will tell everyone else that I have married another prince from a distant kingdom while I am sent to what my mother has termed a convent. It is a word she uses to threaten me with in public. If I did not behave to her liking, she would send me away to a convent. She stopped that when I turned eleven and I believe that is when I was betrothed to Lucas.”

“But what is a convent?” Jason pressed urgently.

“It’s the work camp that enchantresses are sent to,” Elizabeth said softly.

Jason blanched and stepped back. “She wants to send you to the work camps?” he asked.

“I suppose—” she cleared her throat and tried to speak over the lump in her throat. “From your perspective, it might not be bad news. You—you could find someone better to marry—”

“Elizabeth—I thought that we had settled this. I do not want someone else. I want to marry you,” Jason said earnestly.

Her eyes flew up to meet his. “Y-you do?” she asked surprised. She blinked. “I—why?”

“Why?” Jason repeated, amused. “Do you not think we have more important issues to discuss?”

“No one in my life has ever wanted me around before,” Elizabeth admitted. “Perhaps with the exception of my brother so you can understand why I might be curious.”

“Elizabeth…” Jason hesitated. “I think that we should tell my aunt what your mother said. She might know how to proceed.”

Elizabeth slid her hands from his grasp and nodded. “I will get dressed and we will go see her, then.”

“Wait—” Jason grasped her elbow and pulled her back to face him. “I see that an answer to your question is very important to you. I do not have just one reason for wanting to marry you but I suppose the most important one is that you get me. You understand how much I love my family and my home.”

Elizabeth knew that it was important to him that she understand that but it was hardly the answer she’d been hoping for. She smiled anyway and nodded. “I will get dressed.”

He released her elbow and watched her disappear into bedroom—sure that he had not handled that all right.

Afternoon

Laura fell into step next to Barbara as the latter was en route to the library. Michael had assigned Barbara to Skye and Jasper’s project and she was to join Caroline in the library for further research. “The plan failed this morning,” Laura hissed.

“I rather gathered that impression when Michael mentioned nothing,” Barbara remarked wryly. “Perhaps you will give this plot up, Laura.”

“We must take a more direct approach,” Laura said instead. “I have had word from one of Alexis’s maids that the Morgan family has come to stay at the house. They arrived unnaturally early this morning and are expected to stay through the Dawning.”

“What do you suggest?” Barbara asked resigned. She darted her eyes around the empty hallways, paranoid that someone might overhear them.

“I suggest someone to take him on directly.” Laura thought for a moment. “The night before the wedding. He should sneak into the house and do it then.”

Barbara hesitated. “Laura—perhaps we should abandon this. We have caused no irreparable harm.”

“No,” Laura hissed. “Or do you wish for the whole world to know your shame?” the blonde challenged.

Barbara looked away. “Whatever you wish, Laura.”

—-

Caroline tugged another dusty book from the shelves of the library and glanced towards the door. Barbara Jones was late as usual.

She hoisted it in her arms and set it on one of the mahogany table already covered with papers and books. This particular book held the genealogy of the realm. She was to look into possible later familial connections.

She opened the book to somewhere in the middle and started flipping through the pages until she found Harold Morgan’s entry in the book. He had been the first Captain of the Guard and his son, James, had been chosen a thousand years ago.

James Morgan had married one of the chambermaids to the Princess Patricia—a peasant girl of the name of Kylie Stevens.

When Caroline slid her finger down the entries of their children, she frowned—some of these names seemed familiar. All too familiar.

“What has you frowning so, my dear Caroline?”

She sighed and glanced at the smirking Quartermaine heir. “What is that you want?” she demanded scornfully.

“Barbara sought me out and asked me to take her place. She has received word Lady Robin is feeling ill.” AJ pulled out a seat and sat down. “Have you given any more thought to my invitation?”

“What invitation?” Caroline asked absently as she tried to concentrate on where she had seen those names before.

“To the Palace Ball on Saturday,” AJ answered.

“My answer remains the same.” Caroline shoved the book to him and pointed to the names of James and Kylie Morgan’s children. “Why do these names sound familiar?”

AJ studied them. “Adam Morgan, Eleanor Morgan-Brown—” his eyes widened and he glanced up at her. “You do not know of Nell Brown?”

“This is the same Nell Brown?” Caroline demanded. “She is the enchantress who assassinated the king?”

AJ nodded. “And she is the reason for the ban against women with the gift. She was not discovered until after her marriage so blame for the attack has never fallen to the Morgans. She had another sister—Mariette. When Nell was discovered to be one, they examined her younger siblings. Mariette was the only other girl and she was sent away to one of the first work camps.”

“The odds of two enchantresses in the same family?” Caroline remarked doubtfully.

“It’s more than just enchantresses. Adam Morgan was a sorcerer, as were his two brothers—Harold and John.”

Caroline yanked the book back and flipped towards the beginning, searching for Hugh Quartermaine and Princess Adelaide’s entry. “They had only two children. Wendall and Olivia.”

“They both had the gifts—the first in our family,” AJ reported. “Do you know what this means, Caroline?”

“It seems that the chosen always have offspring with the gifts.” Caroline pressed her lips together. “This is horrible, AJ. We must inform the council at once—”

AJ put a hand on her forearm to stop her from rising. “No. Do you not see that we cannot tell the entire council?”

Caroline frowned. “What do you mean?”

“There is something going on in that room—another agenda. Perhaps you do not see it but not everyone is working toward Rhigwyn’s greater purpose. By all means—tell Michael and Alexis. I believe that they are still trustworthy. But leave the rest out of it for now. Others share the view that enchantresses are evil and I do not think that one bad woman makes them all bad.”

Caroline stared at him for a moment. “Well who would have guessed it, AJ? You do have a few redeemable qualities.”

His grin was quick and for the first time, she found no trace of arrogance in the expression. “Does that mean you’ll attend the ball with me?”

She snorted. “Hardly. A few words do not wipe out the many ugly things you have said to me.” Her eyes darkened.

He exhaled slowly. “The seamstress shop,” AJ stated quietly. “Caroline, I know that apologies are not enough—”

“No, they are not. I know that I do not possess the beauty of other women—of the princesses, of your precious Keesha but a lack of beauty does not mean I do not feel.” She stood. “I must inform Michael of our conclusions at once.”

“Wait—” He stood to move after her but she was already gone.

—-

Once Elizabeth had dressed, she’d insisted that they speak with her uncle rather than his aunt. Jason agreed—knowing that she was unaware Alexis knew of her gift.

They found Michael in his private chambers and if he was surprised at their arriving together, he did not show it.

“You were supposed to meet me last night,” he chastised his niece gently.

“It slipped my mind,” Elizabeth replied stiffly. “What did you want to speak with me about?”

“We will talk later. What did you wish to speak about?” Michael asked instead. He resumed his seat at his table and gestured for them to sit. “The kitchens have sent up too much food—you are more than welcome to join me.”

Elizabeth shook her head. “I am fine.” She sat and Jason followed her lead, a little out of sorts at sitting in the private rooms of the man who was the Supreme Head of the High Council.

“I believe it is necessary to tell you that Jason knows I have the curse,” Elizabeth offered. “I trust him and I do not believe that he will say anything.”

Michael nodded. “It has always been up to you who to tell. But I presume that this is not the entire reason for this meeting.”

“No.” She glanced at Jason before relating what her mother had told her that morning.

“Jason and I have discussed it—a-and we hope that you will be on our side,” Elizabeth concluded. “We wish to be married and remain that way.”

Michael rubbed his index finger across his mouth, silently cursing his cruel sister. He knew that Elizabeth had related only the facts and none of the emotions she had felt, yet he could not escape the feeling that Mirielle had said something—something that put that guarded look in her eyes he knew was meant for him or Jason.

“When your mother informed you of this decision, did she say why she was telling you?”

Elizabeth hesitated and looked at her lap. She had said nothing to Jason of her mother’s words to her and she loathed to do it now. “Why does that matter, my lord?”

Michael shifted in his seat. “Elizabeth, please answer.”

“She said that she did not want me to become unnecessarily attached—even though she was not sure if I were capable of such emotions.”

“She did not think you capable?” Jason echoed tensely.

“My sister operates under the impression that she gave birth to a creature rather than a daughter,” Michael said sadly. “I have fought all of your life, Elizabeth, to keep you from hearing those words as often as I’m sure you did. I am only sorry I failed you so miserably.”

“That does not matter,” Elizabeth said briskly. “It is most loathsome that I must ask you for help but I will if you can offer assistance.”

“Your mother says she has a way of getting what she wants. Her way is threatening to tell the whole world of your powers,” Michael confided. “She is bluffing but she does not know I know that. She will never tell, Elizabeth. She fears public backlash far too greatly just so that she might get back at me. You do not have to worry, my dear. If you and Jason wish to be married, then you have my promise no one will interfere with that.”

This entry is part 16 of 16 in the series Yesterdays

“I can hardly believe it’s Christmas Eve,” Elizabeth murmured, tilting her face up to the falling snowflakes.

Jessica lifted her daughter Maja into her arms. “Look at the Christmas tree, Maja-bear. It’s bigger than last year, isn’t it?”

“Daddy takes pictures,” Maja said decisively. “They’ll be on the front page.”

“That’s right.” Jessica kissed Maja’s cheek. “And Liv and Lily will be here soon and you can all play while us grown ups do boring things.”

Maja squirmed. “Wanna play now!”

Jessica lowered her to the ground and watched as Maja ran off to join the crowd of children watching city council members decorate the large tree in the courtyard outside General Hospital. “Today’s Liv’s last therapy appointment isn’t it?”

“Mm…Dr. Jones said that as long as she keeps doing her exercises at home and come in for some follow ups this spring, she’s healed.” Elizabeth smiled at her best friend shyly. “We told her last month she’d be the flower girl at our wedding and it seemed to help her progress.”

“Yes, the omniscient wedding which there is no date for yet.”

“And no agreement about,” Elizabeth nodded. “But it’s going to happen, Jess, I know.”

“Hey, I know the sucker’s crazy for you and I applaud the abstinence thing. I just…don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I know but these last three months have been the most incredible of my life,” Elizabeth murmured. “I’ve loved Jason since I was nineteen years old but I’ve fallen in love with him all over again. He’s just…he’s so warm and generous–he’s still the man he used to be only…”

“Not a jackass,” Jessica said dryly.

“Yeah, there’s that.” Elizabeth slid her hands into the pockets of her winter jacket. “Jason and I were meant to be a family, Jess.”

“Speaking of the family…” Jessica nodded to the front doors where Jason was exiting with Olivia in his arms. He set the girl on her feet and she ran unsteadily towards her friends.

“Livvie!” Maja chirped. “You didn’t miss the star!”

“Oh, I hope she doesn’t try to climb the tree again this year,” Jessica muttered as she moved quickly to supervise.

“It’s so good to see her running,” Elizabeth murmured as Jason joined her side. She toyed with the necklace hanging around her neck. “How did the appointment go?”

“Dr. Jones is very pleased with her progress. She’ll be walking and gripping normally by this time next year and she’ll be doing it so well, you would never know she was sick.” Jason wrapped an arm around her shoulder and tugged her to his side.

“You ready to be woken up around dawn and spend most of the day putting together those ridiculous presents you bought her?” Elizabeth asked, smiling up at him.

“Am I ready to spend my first Christmas with my daughter?” Jason asked instead. “To spend the day with my family? Yeah, I think I can handle it.”


A few hours later, a fire lit was in their living room. Olivia had been fed and bathed and was sitting between them on the couch as Jason read her ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.

“Nothing against Mommy,” Olivia said as Jason closed the book, “but it’s really nice to have you read the book with.” She hugged him tightly. “Do I get to open a present tonight?”

“Well…” Elizabeth hesitated and then smiled at Jason. “Sure.”

“Excellent.” Olivia scrambled off the couch and stood in front of them in her long blue cotton nightgown with a lacy collar. “Can I pick the present?”

“Whatever you want, Princess.”

Olivia reached under the tree and pulled out a tiny wrapped box. “Okay, so I’ve got a present for Mommy that I want her to open and it’s kind of for Daddy. And when you open it, Mommy, I’ll tell you which present I want.”

Elizabeth smiled and took the box from her daughter. She opened the top and blinked at the ring inside.

“It was in the gumball machine at the hospital,” Olivia explained. “Kristina told me that you guys can’t married again without a ring so I got one that looks like the one Daddy gave you before.”

Jason looked at Elizabeth’s stunned expression. “She kind of jumped the gun on me,” he said, with a half smile as he reached into his pocket and removed a velvet box. He flipped the lid open to reveal an amethyst stone set in a gold band. “It’s Olivia’s birthstone, I didn’t want you to feel you had to choose between the rings.”

Elizabeth licked her lips. “Jason…”

“Say yes, Mommy,” Olivia stamped her foot impatiently. “I wanna be a flower girl.”

Elizabeth laughed and pressed a hand to her eyes to wipe a few errant tears. “Well, how can I say no to that?” she murmured. She slid the ring from Olivia onto her pinky and then looked at Jason. “Yes.”

He took the ring from the box and slid it onto the ring finger of her right hand and then used that hand to tug her into his lap where he kissed her. “I’m going to make you so happy this time, I promise you that.”

“Yay!” Olivia squealed. “Now I can tell you the rest of my present!”

Elizabeth and Jason turned to their daughter. “What is it Princess?”

Olivia grinned. “A baby brother.” She frowned. “Or a sister. It doesn’t really matter–I’m not picky.”

“Oh, really?” Elizabeth grabbed Olivia around the waist and planted her daughter in her own lap. “Well, maybe if you’re really good, Santa will bring you one next year.”

“Oh, he will,” Olivia said seriously. “I asked for Daddy to come home last year and look, now he’s home.” She planted a kiss on her father’s cheek. “Santa freaking rocks.”

The End

This entry is part 15 of 16 in the series Yesterdays

Three Weeks Later

Olivia struggled up the front walk with her crutches and bit her lip as she concentrated on her next step.

Jason was in front of her, taking a step backwards for every step his daughter took towards him and Elizabeth followed behind Olivia.

“You okay, baby?” Jason asked when he saw her tiny arms shake a little.

“It’s hard,” Olivia admitted in a small voice. She stopped moving. “Why can’t I walk anymore?”

“Your accident hurt your spine,” he kneeled down. “But you’re doing so much better than when you woke up. You remember being in the wheelchair?”

Olivia nodded miserably. “You and Mommy had to push me around all the time and I couldn’t go nowhere without you.” She sniffled. “Still can’t.”

“But you can use the crutches now,” Elizabeth pointed out. “And with all the therapy, you’ll be back to normal in no time.”

“Now let’s get you in the house,” Jason stood up.

Olivia shook her head. “I can’t go any further.”

Dr. Jones had told them not to push her more than she was comfortable so Jason didn’t argue. He took the crutches from her and lifted her into his arms. “Come on, honey.”

Elizabeth retrieved the crutches and shifted Olivia’s bag higher on her shoulder as she followed her husband and daughter into the house.


“Do you want something to eat? Something to drink?” Jason asked as he settled Olivia on top of the her bed and moved to take her sneakers off.

Elizabeth set the crutches by the door and started to unpack the bag, dumping most of the clothes into the hamper and setting Olivia’s stuffed animals and pictures back in their proper places.

Olivia nodded. “Could I have some apple juice? And maybe you could get my Beauty and the Beast tape from downstairs?”

Jason nodded and kissed her forehead before moving towards the door. Without thinking he kissed Elizabeth before exiting the room.

Olivia’s eyes lit up. “You really are getting back together!” she cried with glee.

Elizabeth flushed and approached the bed, tucking her hands in her back pockets. “We’re working on it, baby. I know how much you want us to be together.”

“I do,” Olivia nodded. “But…” she bit her lip. “I only want it if you guys still love each other.”

Elizabeth’s eyes filled with tears and she sat on the edge of the bed. “I love your father–more than anything else in this world. The reason we’re getting back together is not solely because of you, baby. It’s because I can’t live without him and I’m tired of pretending I can.”

Olivia nodded. “But it is a little because of me, right?”

“Right.” Elizabeth ruffled her daughter’s hair. “If we hadn’t had you, we would have gotten divorced and never seen each other again. Having you in our lives has been such a blessing, honey. You know that we love you more than anything else in this world.”

“Up to the sky and around the world,” Olivia said, repeating one of her father’s favorite sayings. “And Mommy? I love you the same way and I know Daddy loves you.”

“I know it, too.”

“Mommy?” Olivia struggled to sit up a little. “What if I never walk right again?”

“Baby–” Elizabeth hesitated, not wanting to lie to her. “The doctors say that if you try hard and work at your therapy, there’s no chance you won’t walk again.”

“But what if I can’t?” Olivia’s lip trembled. “I was gonna do ballet this year, Mommy. What if I can’t do that anymore?”

“We will make sure that never happens,” Elizabeth promised. “If we have to search the whole world for a doctor, a treatment, a surgery…you’ll be okay again.”

Jason reentered the room–glass in one hand and video tape in the other. He set the tape on top of Olivia’s TV and crossed the room to hand her the apple juice.

Olivia reached for it and Jason waited as she tried to grip it. Finally, she had to use both her hands to wrap around the glass and even though it was difficult for her.

Elizabeth swallowed hard and clenched her hands in Olivia’s bedspread. After a long moment, Olivia was able to sip from the glass. She looked at her father hopefully. “Will you and Mommy watch the movie with me?”

“Sure, honey.” He got up to turn on the TV and put the tape in. He grabbed the remote and sat back on the bed, kicking his shoes off and putting his legs up. Elizabeth mimicked the motions and Olivia reveled in the idea of spending time with her parents like they were an actual family.


Olivia fell asleep during Belle and the Beast’s snowball fight so the two turned off the television and tucked her in.

“It’s good to have her home,” Elizabeth remarked as they moved downstairs. “This house didn’t feel the same without her.” She glanced at him as he followed her into the kitchen. “Are you okay with being in the guest room?”

Jason took a glass out of the cabinet and poured some iced tea from a pitcher in the fridge. “Elizabeth–we agreed three weeks ago on this arrangement. You’re not ready to go back to the bedroom.”

“It’s not that I’m not ready–it’s more that…I haven’t made love with anyone since you,” Elizabeth admitted.

Though he’d figured as much since her date with Ric Lansing had been her first and only foray into post-divorce dating, it was still jarring to hear it out loud. His wife was one of the most beautiful women he’d ever met and it humbled him to know that he was the only man to be inside her bedroom.

She flushed and looked away. “How–many women…?” she trailed off.

“Just Elise,” Jason assured her, wishing he could tell her no one. Elise had been a distraction from the void his divorce left in him and nothing more. He tucked her hair behind her ear and trailed a finger down her jaw. “There have been four women in my life and two of them were before I laid eyes on you.”

She took the iced tea from him and set it on the counter before wrapping her arms around his neck. “You know…the last time we made love was in this kitchen.”

“Yeah?” He slid his arms around waist and rested his hands on the small of her back.

“Mmm-hmm.” Elizabeth stood on the tips of her toes and started planting soft kisses on her ex-husband’s jaw. “I was doing the dishes and you came up behind me and kissed my neck.”

He did that now–having missed the taste of her skin. He nipped at it and she giggled. “Mmm, yeah, just like that.”

“I turned around to get you to stop and instead, you kissed me and we made love…” she closed her eyes as his mouth moved from her neck to the curve of her jaw. “Right…against…this…counter.”

He lifted her onto the counter and kissed her hard. She wrapped her legs around his waist and clung to him, opening her mouth to deepen the kiss.

Jason slid his hands underneath her t-shirt and wrapped them around her rib cage unwilling to go further without some sort of sign from her. Elizabeth threaded her fingers through his hair, scratching his scalp with her nails.

They finally broke apart a few moments later, breathing heavily. Elizabeth rested her forehead against kiss and smiled. “I’ve missed that.”

“Me, too.”

He pulled her off the counter and kissed the top of her head. “I don’t want to do anything you’re not ready to do, Elizabeth. But I love you.”

She bit her lip and smoothed her hands down his shirt. “Maybe…you could move back into the bedroom,” she began. “We don’t–we don’t have to do anything.”

“Kind of like London?” Jason asked. “We would just hold each other at night?”

She nodded. “I know we’re older than that–I’m not some naïve virgin anymore b-but in a way, I feel like I am.”

“It’s a good idea. Sex isn’t everything,” he assured her. “You’re not ready go back there and neither am I.” He stepped away from her. “It seems to me that while things were good in the bedroom–they weren’t so good out of it and I really want to make them better here before we take this in there.”

Elizabeth nodded and smiled easily. “I agree. And I think we’re already doing better so–acting more married would be the next step.”

“Also…” Jason hesitated. “I think I’d like us to get remarried before we make love again.”

Surprised, Elizabeth blinked. “Really?”

“Maybe it’s a little–old-fashioned,” Jason admitted, “but I think it would help to make a fresh start.”

“I just…I never thought you’d make a suggestion like that.” Elizabeth shrugged. “It’s surprising.”

“Bad surprising or good surprising?”

“It’s good surprising.” She pressed a light kiss to his mouth. “And I think it’s a great idea.”

“Good.” Jason reached into his back pocket and withdrew a long velvet jewelry case. She hesitated as she took it, knowing some slinky sophisticated bracelet or necklace would be inside. He used to give her these before parties–they’d been be specifically picked out complement what she’d be wearing that night.

And somehow, it wouldn’t seem right to her now. To be given diamonds, sapphires or pearls while she wore a pair of jeans and a t-shirt that proclaimed her to be a PTA mom. She wore a pair of tennis shoes and her hair was in a messy pony tail.

The days of sophisticated party dresses, high heels and extravagant jewelry could no longer be her every day life and she was terrified Jason hadn’t accepted that yet.

So when she opened the case and saw a simple gold chain with a charm that read #1 MOM, she burst into tears.

Alarmed, Jason yanked some paper towels from the roll on the counter and handed them to her. “You don’t like it? Did you want something else? I just–”

“I love it,” Elizabeth said, holding it out of his reach when he went to take it back. “It’s perfect…I was just expecting…”

“Some horribly inappropriate diamond necklace?” Jason asked wryly.

She flushed and nodded. “Yeah–I just–it’s hard to believe that you’re really accepting this life–where we stay in and we eat hamburgers instead of caviar and where the only jewelry I wear are my rings…”

“I know–but this life appeals to me now,” Jason told her. “I like the idea that we’re a family–that I don’t have to constantly share you with everyone.”

She took the necklace out of the case and held it out to him. “Put it on?” She turned so he could drape it around her neck and fix the clasp.

“How does it look?” Elizabeth asked, turning back around.

“Perfect.” Jason kissed her forehead. “Absolutely perfect.”

This entry is part 14 of 16 in the series Yesterdays

Jason slid his hand into Elizabeth’s and glanced over at her as she offered him her vanilla ice cream cone. He declined, content to watch her tongue dart out for tiny licks.

They’d dropped serious discussion over dinner and afterwards, she’d taken him to an ice cream vendor and he’d insisted on paying for her ice cream. This was a date, he’d told her, and he was going to do this right.

“It looks even better during the winter,” Elizabeth broke the silence. She smiled up at him. “With all the snow and the lake freezes over just a little–not enough for skating or anything–it feeds into the river, you know and the current’s too strong to freeze over.”

“Isn’t it too cold to walk here in the winter?” Jason asked.

“It’s more than too cold,” Elizabeth admitted. “But I don’t care. I bundle Olivia up in layers of clothing and I wear like eight sweaters but it’s so worth it.”

“Well then I guess I better get some winter clothes,” he remarked casually.

“Yeah–I remember you never did like to winter anywhere where it felt like the actual season,” she laughed. She finished her ice cream and offered him the cone again. “Want to eat the cone?”

He shook his head and she tossed into a nearby trash can, licking the excess vanilla from her hands. “We should talk about Olivia,” he said.

She sighed and stopped walking. She slid her hands in the pockets of her suede jacket. “What about her?” Elizabeth asked.

“I know we talked about me staying at the house and that we decided it was a bad idea,” Jason began, “but she’s going to be home in a few weeks and we don’t know what stage of her recovery she’s going to be at and I want to be there for her–”

“We don’t know what stage in our reconciliation we’ll be at in a few weeks,” Elizabeth interrupted.

He regarded her with suspicious eyes. “I’m not exactly sure what pint you’re trying to make there.”

“Well…” Elizabeth drawled. She danced her fingertips across his broad chest and smiled up at him. “If I were to ask you to come with me tonight…”

He caught her hand in his and brought them to his lips. He kissed each finger softly and shook his head. “As tempting as that offer would be, I would say no.”

She surprised him then by smiling brightly. “And that’s exactly why I think everything is going to be just fine.” She stood on her tiptoes and pressed her lips chastely to his. “If we’re not at the stage where we’re ready to be living together when she comes home, there’s always the guest room.”

“You sure about that?” Jason asked apprehensively.

Elizabeth nodded. “I love you, Jason and I love that you love our daughter. I remember when she was born and you just–went insane,” she laughed. “You bought out FAO Schwarz–you bought all these things–some them she still can’t use…”

Jason shrugged and ducked to hide his smile. “I couldn’t help it. You know–I have to admit that I always thought I’d be disappointed if I didn’t have a boy but I wasn’t. When you told me you were pregnant–I didn’t even care if we had a boy or a girl–just the thought of us having a baby…”

“I thought you’d hate the idea–having a baby would tie us to one place more–we couldn’t just pick up and leave anymore–” Elizabeth sighed. “You’re a good father, Jason. I don’t know if that’s important to you or not but it’s important to me–”

“It is important to me.” Jason twined his fingers in hers and they started walking again. “The older I get and the more time I spend with Olivia, the more I realize you were right. It appalls me that I was willing to do what my parents did to me.” He glanced down at her. “What your parents did to you.”

“Your childhood–it was different than mine. Your father–if he’s ever had an affair, I’ve certainly never heard of it and he clearly loves your mother even if it’s a safe, friendship kind of love, you know? And I happen to like your parents.”

“Yeah–I have to admit what they lacked in affection they made up for by at least pretending they were my parents.” He shrugged. “But they still missed important things in my life. Graduations, birthdays–our wedding.” Jason rubbed his thumb over her wedding and engagement rings. “I’ve missed all of Olivia’s birthdays because I was an idiot.”

“Jason–I was so horrible to you,” she sighed. “I didn’t trust you–not with me, not with Olivia and you never did anything to deserve that mistrust and I didn’t give you much of a warning that I wanted to change our lives.”

“You were my wife, Elizabeth. My entire life.” They started up the dock stairs to where her car was parked near Kelly’s. “I should have made whatever sacrifice was necessary to keep you in my life.”

He stopped her when they reached her car and gripped her shoulders. “You and Olivia are still my life–the most important people in the world to me and I want to make sure you believe that. No matter how long it takes for you to trust me.”

Elizabeth wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her cheek against his chest. “Do you remember what you said about not needing a pile of bricks because I was your home?”

“Mmm-hmm.”

“You were my home, too…I just didn’t realize it until I lost you.”


Keesha was studying a map of New York State when he came into the penthouse a little later. “It’s amazing how big this state is,” she murmured. “No wonder I always get lost.”

“You got lost in Rhode Island,” Jason reminded her.

Keesha shrugged. “It’s a gift. How did it go?”

He lifted her feet up and sat down on the couch, putting her legs in his lap. He thought about his answer for a few moments as Keesha tried to calculate the distance between New York City and Port Charles. It looked like it was three inches apart but that couldn’t be right.

“It was–a little weird at first. She took me to this diner where she knew everyone and everyone knew me.”

“Sounds like the Cheers theme song.”

“Everyone knew we were divorced and I bet they even know why–it’s like a real small town, Keesha. No one has any privacy.”

She wrinkled her nose. “God, I’d never survive here.”

“It’s–it explains why she’s so different than she used to be. She was always an incredible woman but–” he shook his head, a little awed by the whole idea. “There’s whole air about her now–like she’s really happy here. I never realized how much setting down roots could matter to her but it’s really been good for her.”

“She’s different,” Keesha said slowly. “Too different?”

“No–I wasn’t in love with her because she loved to travel or play the socialite–those were things people in our crowd do but it was always different with her. She went to Egypt with me, to Siberia, Turkey–China. So many places that no respectable woman would. She got sun poisoning but still went to the pyramids with me because she knew I’d stay with her and miss the tour group otherwise. She got pneumonia in Siberia.”

“A sane woman would have let you traipse on your own,” Keesha grimaced. “I’d have stayed behind in a hotel with room service.”

“Elise did after the first few trips,” Jason said quietly. “I took her for granted, Keesha. I didn’t realize just how incredible Elizabeth was until I was married to someone else.”

“So…tonight?” Keesha prompted.

“Tonight–I got to return the favor. She went to exotic places with me–smiled through it and I think she really enjoyed some of it–and tonight, I spent an ordinary evening eating hamburger and fries at a diner where everyone knew everything about me before I opened my mouth. I walked on the docks with her and bought her a vanilla ice cream cone.”

He looked at his best friend with a small smile. “And I really enjoyed it. I could do this, Keesha. I could live here, live this life and it would be okay. I could really do it.”

“And never resent giving up the life you live now.” Keesha sighed. “It’s a beautiful fantasy life you lead there, Jase.”

“What life do I have, Keesha? All of my possessions can be packed in forty-five minutes. I don’t see my daughter three thirds of the year–I’ve never celebrated her birthday with her, I’ve missed three out of five Christmases, I missed her ballet recital…”

Jason shook his head. “And I missed seeing Elizabeth smile every day–missed holding her and being with her. If I could go back in time and fix it so that I hadn’t missed a thing, I’d pay any price in the world. But since I can’t change the past, I’m sure as hell going to prevent the rest of my life being that miserable.”

“I want you to be happy,” Keesha assured him. “I just want you to be sure that you’ve thought this through.”

“I have. I’m told Elizabeth this tonight and now I’m telling you. I’m twenty-eight years old and I’m tired of just existing. I want my life back–I want Elizabeth back. Our marriage worked before because I loved her–because I was with her. It had nothing to do with the parties, the money, the hotels. I love my daughter and I want to be there for her every moment of her life. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, Keesha and I don’t aim to make them over and over again.”


Elizabeth pulled the thin blanket over her legs and reached over to switch off her bedside lamp. The room plunged into darkness and just before her eyes got too heavy, the phone rang.

Worried that it was the hospital, Elizabeth snatched the receiver up. “Hello?” she said urgently.

“Hey–it’s just me,” Jason said. “It’s not about Olivia.”

She exhaled slowly. “Thank God. I called her when I got home earlier and she seemed fine so–” she shook her head. “Sorry–hi.”

He laughed. “It’s okay, I would have been worried it was the hospital too.”

“So–what’s up? Why’re you calling this late?” Elizabeth asked.

“I’m trying to fall asleep and I realized why I couldn’t.”

“Oh, really?” Elizabeth’s lips curved into a smile. There were nights when they’d both been separated by an ocean, stranded at their respective schools and though England was in a different time zone, she loved the late night calls from Jason. They’d spend hours talking on the phone, yearning for the next time they could steal a weekend to see one another.

“Yeah–see, I had this incredible date tonight,” Jason began. “And I just can’t get this girl out of my head.”

“Sounds bad,” Elizabeth said. She closed her eyes. “Why do you think you can’t stop thinking about her?”

“Because she’s just–amazing. I think I’m in love and I couldn’t sleep without hearing her voice again.”

“Well–you’re in luck. I had a date with the cutest guy I’ve ever seen,” Elizabeth teased. “And I couldn’t sleep without hearing his voice again.”

“I–I love you, Elizabeth.”

“I love you, too.”

“Good night.”

“Good night.”

There was a pause and she could still hear his breath on the line. “You going to hang up?”

“You first.”

“Ha–I remember these arguments. What was the record? An hour to decide who’d hang up first?” Elizabeth recalled fondly.

“Yeah–but we’re not nineteen and twenty-one anymore,” Jason sighed. “We have a daughter who’s going to want to see us before therapy tomorrow.”

“Mmm…yeah, and this twenty-six year old would like some hot chocolate in the morning. With scrambled eggs, toast and bacon.”

“That place–Kelly’s…does it serve breakfast?” Jason asked curiously.

“Sure does, best eggs in town.” Elizabeth yawned. “Okay–so I’ll pick you up around eight?”

“It’s my turn to pick you up. Eight it is. Good night, Elizabeth.” There was a click this time and she smiled.

“Good night, Jason.”

This entry is part 13 of 16 in the series Yesterdays

Olivia was doing some of the gripping exercises that her therapist had given her when Jason and Keesha came into the room a little while later.

Her eyes lit up. “Daddy! Aunt Keesh!”

“Hey, Liv babe,” Keesha said. She plopped right in the seat next to the bed that Elizabeth had hardly vacated and dropped an oversize teddy bear on the bed. “This dude is for you.”

Olivia reached for the caramel colored animal with a bright smile. “He’s so fluffy,” she said, enthused. “Thanks!”

“Where’s your mother, Princess?” Jason asked, kissing his daughter on the cheek.

“Aunt Emily came by with Lily and they’re in the cafeteria.” Olivia pouted. “They wouldn’t let Lily in to see me. That’s so mean.”

“They don’t let little kids to visit in the hospital all that often but maybe we could sneak her in later,” Jason suggested. “How hard did your mother fight before she finally went?”

“Ten minutes,” Olivia replied. “I told her that I would be just fine by myself for a little while so she finally went. I think that Mommy needs a nap. She’s awfully cranky.”

“Mommy’s been worried about you,” Jason reminded her. “Now we know you’re going to be okay, she’ll get some sleep.”

“Good.” Olivia smiled brightly. “You know what I think Daddy?” she asked.

“Oh, no, Jase, it’s that smile,” Keesha said, tickling Olivia’s neck. She giggled.

“What do you think?” Jason asked.

“I think that you should take Mommy out to dinner,” Olivia announced. “I don’t think I seen her eat the whole time I’ve been awake. You should make her eat something.”

Keesha shook her head. “Where do you get that devilish gene?” she asked with smile.

“You know what, honey?” Jason kissed her forehead. “You have a very good point. Now that you’re getting better, we should really turn our attentions to your mother. She’s definitely not eating enough.”

Olivia beamed. “So you’ll take Mommy out on a date?” she asked, hopefully.

Jason took a deep breath. “You’re a big girl, right Olivia?”

“I’m five years old. That’s older than four,” she said seriously.

“Right. So I’m going to try and tell you something and you really have to listen to me here, baby, okay?”

Olivia nodded. “Okay.”

“I love your mother very much,” Jason informed her. “And she loves me. And when we were younger, we thought that was all we ever needed.”

“Love is all you need,” Olivia recited. “Lil’s dad likes that song.”

“Love is important but it’s not always enough in a marriage,” Jason tried to explain. “I was young and I was stupid.”

Olivia giggled. “Daddy was stupid,” she told Keesha gleefully.

“He sure was,” Keesha agreed.

With a glare at his best friend, Jason continued. “And we got divorced.”

Olivia sighed impatiently. “I know that, Daddy, and I know you’re not getting back together again–”

“That’s not entirely true,” Jason admitted.

Olivia blinked. “I don’t understand, Daddy.”

“We’re trying to see if maybe we could,” he told her.

“You mean…we might be a family again?” Olivia asked. Her eyes lit up. “Really?”

“Maybe,” Jason stressed. “I didn’t want to get your hopes up and your mother was concerned that you might be really upset if it didn’t end up working out.”

“Why wouldn’t it?” Olivia asked innocently.

“Because grown up relationships are complicated,” Keesha explained. “And sometimes…no matter how much two people love each other, it doesn’t always work.”

“Right, so I need you to be a big girl and try to understand that while we’re trying to work it out, it might not happen.”

Olivia nodded. “Okay, Daddy, but just for the record, I think you will.”

He kissed her forehead. “I think we will, too but don’t tell your mother I told you.”

“Cross my heart.”


Emily stirred her hot chocolate. “You look better,” she told Elizabeth. “But you still look tired.”

“Yeah…I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep this last week,” she sighed. “But now that we know for sure Olivia’s going to be okay…”

“So, this reconciliation with Jason…” Emily trailed off. “Are you sure about it? I mean…you worked so hard to put your life back together after the divorce. I don’t want anything to ruin that.”

“I am sure about it,” Elizabeth replied. “I love Jason, Em. Since I was nineteen years old, I knew he was the one for me. We made mistakes and…a lot of them were mine and a lot of them were his. We were so young when we got married–too young to know any better.”

“I agree with that but it still doesn’t change the fact that he left you with a newborn to fly all over the world.”

“No, it doesn’t. And it doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t trust him enough with my heart or our daughter. I didn’t trust him enough to tell him about the sleeping pills.”

“Okay, okay, you know what you want and I really hope it works out for you.”

Elizabeth finished her hot chocolate and stood. “I want to get back upstairs. Jason’s bringing his best friend Keesha Ward by to see Olivia and I’m dying to finally meet her.”


The first thought that entered Keesha’s mind when Elizabeth Morgan entered Olivia’s hospital room was Wow, Jason really had gone and found her look alike in Elise.

“Keesha, this is Elizabeth,” Jason introduced them. He stood and crossed to his ex-wife. “Elizabeth, Keesha Ward.”

“It’s nice to finally meet you,” Elizabeth said warmly shaking the other woman’s hand. “I was beginning to think you didn’t exist,” she joked.

“Yeah, I can’t believe y’all were married for three years and we never even met,” Keesha replied. She leveled a glare at Jason. “I blame him.”

“And this is my best friend, Emily Cassadine,” Elizabeth stepped back. “Emily, you remember Jason.”

“Yes…our first meeting wasn’t exactly a good one,” Emily remarked sheepishly. “That was the night of um…Ric. And Jason was just being–well, I shouldn’t have been so…I’m sorry.”

“No–I was in a really bad mood that night,” Jason apologized. “I’m sorry.”

“Clean slate?” Emily proposed.

“Sure.”

“Cassadine,” Keesha murmured. “Why does that sound familiar?” she asked Jason.

He rubbed the back of his neck. “Because you kept sending letters and stuff back to him for the first month afterwards…” he trailed off.

“Ah…the lawyer’s wife.”

“Daddy,” Olivia whined.

Jason turned and sat on her bed. “What is it, honey? Do you need anything?”

“Ask her,” she whispered loudly.

“Ask who what?” Elizabeth asked suspiciously.

“Ask her,” Olivia huffed impatiently.

“Okay, okay.” Jason stood and took Elizabeth by the elbow. “I need to speak with you in the hallway for a minute.”

He closed the door behind them and took a deep breath. “I told Olivia about the reconciliation.”

Elizabeth’s eyes widened. “Why?” she demanded. “Jesus, Jason, I thought we agreed–”

“We agreed that we wouldn’t tell her because we didn’t think she’d understand.” He took her hand in his. “She does understand. I told her that while we were going to try our best–it might not work out and she said that was okay.”

“I just–I don’t to hurt her anymore than she already has.” Elizabeth massaged her temple with her free hand. “But if you think she understands then I believe you.”

She was looking down at the ground and didn’t notice the surprise in his eyes. She trusted him. Just a little right now–but it was a start.

And he was determined to build on that.

“She suggested I take you out to dinner,” Jason informed her.

Elizabeth glanced up, a small smile on her face. “Oh, she did, huh?”

“Yeah, she’s concerned you’re not eating,” Jason said, returning the smile. “So…I was thinking maybe tonight…we could go out to dinner–do some dancing…like we used too?”

“I’m not that girl anymore,” Elizabeth told him. She slid her hand up his arm and rested it on his shoulder. “When I go out dancing these days, it’s for charity events and you know how much I hate those.”

“Okay, so what girl are you now?” Jason teased.

“Tell you what. Pick me up at seven. Wear jeans, okay?” she suggested. She kissed his cheek, “I’ll drive.”


“Liz?” Jessica called, shutting the kitchen door behind her. “Maj, go color at the table,” she told her daughter. Maja obediently climbed on to one of the chairs and spread her coloring book and crayon box out.

“Liz?” Jessica called again.

Elizabeth entered the kitchen as she finished hooking a hoop earring in to left ear. She’d showered and let her hair dry out in her natural curls. For the first time since Jessica could remember, Elizabeth was wearing makeup. Not just light touches here and there for her social events but–smoky gray eye shadow, black eyeliner, black mascara, pink lip gloss. She wore a tight melon-colored tank top with a tan suede jacket thrown over top.

“Are those the jeans I made you buy last year?” Jessica demanded with a grin on her face. “The tight ones that showed off your ass?”

“You mean the ones that have been sitting in my closet since I bought them?” Elizabeth teased. “Yes.”

“You look fabulous–where are you going? I know that’s not for sitting around Livvie’s hospital room.”

“I want to see Liv!” Maja piped up.

“Soon, baby,” Jess promised. “Well?” she prompted.

“I’m taking Jason out for a night on the town,” Elizabeth informed her friend. She slid into a pair of high-heeled sandals and crouched down to fasten them.

“Ah. I can’t see Jason in something that matches what you’re wearing. All I’ve seen are pictures of him in suits.”

“Oh…he has jeans,” Elizabeth assured her. “He never wears them in public. His parents never let him when he was younger so he just…never did it any differently.”

“Freaky,” Jessica mused. “Where are you taking him?”

“He wanted to go dancing–do all the smooth, sophisticated stuff we did when we first met,” Elizabeth replied. She ruffled Maja’s hair as she passed by her and opened the fridge to take out a bottle of water. “That was fun when I was younger but I’m a whole new person now and I think Jason needs to be introduced to her.”

“So…?” Jessica slid her hands in her jeans pockets. “Kelly’s? You don’t think it’s a bit much for a man of the world?”

“He needs to understand that I haven’t just been existing–suspended in air without him. I have a life–I know people, people know me–I have friends, you know?” She sighed and took a long gulp of the water. “I want him to know me, Jess. I want this to work.”

“Okay, Kelly’s is a good place to start. What about afterwards?”

“Some ice cream–a walk on the docks. I need to know if he can live a life–that’s so ordinary.”

“Ah…you both kill me. What time are you meeting him?”

“He’s coming over here in about fifteen minutes and then I’m going to drive.” Elizabeth smiled. “For once–I’m wearing the pants in this relationship.”


Jason shifted uncomfortably in the jeans, sneakers and t-shirt he’d bought that afternoon. Not all of his clothes had been shipped from Spain yet and even so–he wasn’t even sure he owned a pair of jeans.

He knocked on the door and Elizabeth opened it so quickly, he wondered if she’d been looking for him out the window.

“Hey, good you’re on time.” She stepped onto the porch and locked the door behind her.

He dragged his eyes over her body and decided that he could learn to like jeans very much.

“So where are we going?” Jason asked as he followed Elizabeth to her car. She unlocked her door and then hit the automatic lock to open his side.

“I’m going to show you what we small town people do for fun,” she said. “Buckle up.”


Jason stepped inside the small diner hesitantly. Elizabeth had taken him on a small tour of the town that had been his home for a year and it saddened him that he couldn’t even remember small details.

“Come on.” She tugged his hand and led him towards the counter. “Hey, Maxie,” she greeted the blonde waitress warmly. “How’s school?”

“It’s okay,” Maxie replied. “I heard about Livvie, how’s she doing?”

“Much better,” Elizabeth took a handful of Jason’s blue t-shirt and yanked him towards the counter. “Maxie, this is my husband, Jason. Jason–this is Maxie Jones. She and her sister baby-sit for Olivia sometimes.”

“Okay, yeah, she’s told me about you guys,” Jason said.

Maxie frowned. “I thought you were divorced.”

“We are,” Elizabeth replied. “But hey, you live in this town. How many divorced couples are actually divorced?”

Maxie laughed. “Good point. Well, have a seat and Lucas will be right with you.” She leaned towards Elizabeth. “He’s out back with his girlfriend, Sage,” she confided in a hushed voice.

“We’re not in a hurry.” Elizabeth pushed Jason towards a table. “There’s menus at the table,” she told him.

“I don’t believe I’ve ever eaten in a place like this,” Jason remarked, pulling out a chair for her before taking a seat across from her. “You seem friendly with the people who work here.”

“Well, yeah, like I told you–Maxie and Georgie baby-sit Olivia. This is her favorite place to eat, so we know everyone who comes in and out of here and Georgie works at a convenience store up the street from our house, so I know her. Does that bother you?”

“No. It’s just different.” Jason plucked the menu out of the stand. “What’s good here?”

“Elizabeth Morgan–I haven’t seen you in here in almost two weeks!”

Elizabeth stood and embraced a redheaded older woman. “Bobbie! Hey, how’s Carly and the boys?”

“Oh, they’re great. Just got back from the Caribbean with their stepfather,” Bobbie replied. “Carly’s so tan and Michael’s sunburned,” she laughed. “How’s Olivia? I heard about the accident. I’ve been on vacation myself with Lucas out in California or I would have stopped by.”

“We were worried for a while but she’s doing really well now.” Elizabeth touched Jason’s shoulder. “Jason, this is Bobbie Spencer. She owns the place and she’s a nurse at the hospital. Bobbie, this is my husband, Jason.”

“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you,” Bobbie said, shaking Jason’s hand. Jason stood.

“Nice to meet you,” Jason said politely.

“Are you two…back together?” Bobbie asked with a smile towards Elizabeth.

“Working on it,” Elizabeth said. “This is Jason’s first time here, actually.”

“Oh, well then he has to have the chili.” She touched Jason’s arm. “My aunt’s recipe. She passed away a few years ago but Kelly’s will always be known for Ruby’s chili.”

“I’m sorry?” Jason offered, crinkling his eyes.

Bobbie laughed. “I’m making him uncomfortable. He’s adorable, honey,” she kissed Elizabeth’s cheek. “I’ll stop by and see Olivia this week, okay?”

“See ya,” Elizabeth took her seat and after a moment, Jason sat back down, too.

He tilted his head to the side. “Everyone knows we’re divorced?”

“Everyone knows everything in this town,” Elizabeth told him. “It’s just the way things are. If you really mean it–about living here–you need to come to terms with that.”

Jason frowned. “What is this…some sort of test?” he asked. “Did you bring me here to see if I could handle people knowing everything about me before we even met?”

“I brought you here because it’s my favorite diner, because it’s our daughter’s favorite diner, because it’s where everyone goes to eat out. Everyone who is ordinary and boring–whose highlight of the day was their kid’s finger painting or something at work. Yeah–I’m curious if you can really live in a place like this.”

He took a deep breath. “I love you, Elizabeth. I love Olivia. If this is the life you guys live–then this is the life I want to live to. I’m tired of living in hotels–never unpacking, never having my own place.” He ran a hand over his face. “Of not being to tuck my daughter in at night or waking up next to you in the morning. I’m twenty-eight years old, Elizabeth and I’m tired of just existing.”

This entry is part 12 of 16 in the series Yesterdays

Olivia was tired when she got back from therapy and didn’t even seem to notice the difference in her parents or the blood shot look in her mother’s eyes.

“Keesha will be here soon,” Jason told Elizabeth. He looked at Olivia. “You remember her, right Princess?”

Olivia nodded. “She bought me a doll last Christmas and came to see us in London.”

“That’s right.” He stood. “If I’m not in the parking garage when she pulls in, she’ll assume she’s in the wrong state.”

Elizabeth managed a weak laugh and closed her eyes when Jason kissed her forehead.

Olivia blinked. She’d never seen her daddy kiss her mommy before. Then again, before last month, she’d never seen them in the same room together.

“I’ll be back later, Princess,” he promised her. He kissed her cheek and left the room then.

“Daddy kissed you,” Olivia said immediately.

Elizabeth opened her eyes and sighed. “Yeah, he did, Baby. We’re getting along better now. No more fighting.”

Olivia nodded. “Good. Can I watch cartoons?”

He was standing next to the parking garage attendant’s booth when he saw Keesha’s dark curly hair behind the wheel of a black Jaguar.

She glared at him and he slowly followed her car until she parked it. “No faith in me huh?” She pushed the door open and grabbed a bag from the passenger’s seat.

“Well, I didn’t think I could trust you to find the penthouse,” he told her easily. “After all, you were the girl who confused Harvard and Yale. Twice.”

“It’s not like it’s that uncommon,” Keesha huffed. Jason took her bag from her and led her to the elevator.

“They’re in two different states.”

“Details,” she shrugged. “Anyway, I’m eager to find out how you’ve screwed up this time, oh and I want an update on the Liv babe.”

He punched the button for the penthouse floor. “We’ll start with Livvie. She was in the car accident but she seemed to be recovering from that when some god damn intern gave her the wrong medication.”

“Oh, Jesus…”

“She came out of that coma but the doctor thinks she’s going to have some problems and will therefore need additional therapy.” He sighed. “She’s had some trouble with her legs and now she’s going to have some trouble gripping things with her hand.”

“The poor kid,” Keesha sighed. “I’m so sorry, Jase. But she’s going to be okay, right? I mean, that’s all that matters.”

Jason nodded and looked at the row of numbers watching the elevator climb higher. “I think that if we’d lost her, we both might have gone insane.”

“How is Elizabeth taking all of this?” Keesha asked. Despite having never been formally introduced to Jason’s ex-wife, after supporting Jason through the divorce and the last four years, she felt like she knew the other woman intimately.

“I think she’s doing better now,” Jason hedged.

“Better now?” Keesha echoed. “As opposed to last week?”

“As opposed to five hours ago,” Jason answered. “Look, I’ll tell you everything–let’s just get to the penthouse and let me do it in my own way.”

“Okay, it’s your life I’m criticizing, we’ll do it your way.”

She tossed her bag in the guest room and headed right for the stairs, intent on getting to the bottom of things. But there was an jar door and she thought she saw a crib, so Keesha pushed the door completely open.

There stood the nursery that they’d never taken down. Elizabeth had started decorating it even though she’d been on bed rest and there were things here she’d never moved to the new house. Stuffed animals, a mobile, the crib and a dresser.

A cluster of photos were on the dresser and Keesha moved closer into the room to get a better look. A picture of Olivia and Elizabeth in the hospital, one of Jason and Elizabeth holding Olivia and then just one of the happy parents before the birth. Jason had hid most his pictures with Elizabeth and this was the first chance Keesha had had to see them together.

She picked up the one of the three of them and studied it. They looked happy. Jason had the adoring husband/father look on his face, Elizabeth had the radiant new mother glow and Olivia’s face was all scrunched up. Elizabeth was in the hospital bed, cradling the baby and Jason was to her right, one of his arms braced over Elizabeth’s head. Just one big happy family.

“Keesha, there’s three rooms and a bathroom. I know you didn’t get lost!” Jason called to her.

Replacing the frame, Keesha closed the room. “I think I’m still in New York if it that helps.”

She went down the stairs and settled herself on the couch. “Okay, bard, tell me a story.”

He rolled his eyes. “You have problems.”

“So you’ve been telling me since we were five. Go please.”

Jason took a deep breath and crossed to the terrace doors where he had a view of the harbor. “Almost from the second I arrived, something was different.” He hesitated. “Maybe I shouldn’t say that. You know that Elizabeth and I didn’t see each other after the divorce was finalized. We spoke through our lawyers, through notes, through Olivia, but never on the phone, never in person.”

“I know. You said you didn’t want to fight with her but I got the distinct impression that it hurt too much to see her.”

Jason nodded. “But Olivia wanted me to see her room last month and I didn’t want to let her go. I hated when the summers ended and she had to fly back. Usually, I’d send her with someone but this time, I came in with her and…I brought her home.” He shook his head. “Elizabeth is so different from the girl I once knew. She’s grown up, she’s matured. I hoped that whatever her childhood had done to her had finally let her go.”

Keesha scoffed. “Oh, poor Elizabeth, having to grow up with a nanny and travel everywhere and go to a privileged school.”

“Keesha…” Jason shook his head. “That’s not what I meant. It’s her parents. Her father…her father cheated on her mother every second he could. Everyone knew it. Everyone including Elizabeth.”

Keesha sighed. “Yeah, I guess that would be hard to deal with.”

“I’d heard the rumors and once Elizabeth and I were together, we talked about it. Or at least, I tried. She never wanted to go into any kind of depth but she told me she used to hear her parents fighting viciously about the affairs, that her father would tell her mother he didn’t love her, that he needed to get satisfaction somewhere.” His eyes were distant. “She used fall asleep to the sound of her mother crying.”

“Why didn’t–” Keesha stopped. “That’s a stupid question to ask. Women in that world don’t leave their husbands.”

“No, they don’t. They deal with it in private and put on a good face for everyone else. I told you on the phone that it hurt her, the marriage did, the crying, the fighting, it hurt her and I thought I understood that. Even after the divorce, I thought I knew. But…I had no idea.”

“What do you mean?” Keesha asked. She stood and joined him by the window.

“There are some women who grow up with mothers who have a constantly revolving door of men…these women grow up either to be the same way or distrustful of men.”

Keesha nodded. “I know. I told you about that once–after a family psych class in college. Why do you bring it up now?”

“Elizabeth never had anyone she could depend on growing up,” Jason told her. “Her parents weren’t around much and when they were, they were always fighting. She lived in a suburb of Philadelphia and had as many as three nannies by the time she was nine and her parents deemed her old enough for boarding school and to join them on trips.”

“So you’re saying that Elizabeth grew up learning she couldn’t trust anyone?” Keesha sighed. “I suppose that makes sense. Not having your parents around at that crucial time in your development, she would have either not learned to trust at all or learned that it didn’t pay to trust because you just ended up abandoned.”

“I had the same life but I guess because my parents weren’t the same. Because my father wasn’t an asshole. He may not love my mother like I love Elizabeth, but he respects her and she respects him and they’re not those kinds of people.”

“I know. I know your parents. I think they love each other, I think they’re fond of each other. But no, it’s not the kind of love you have for Elizabeth and they’re happy with that.”

Jason nodded. “Right. So I was okay. But Elizabeth wasn’t.”

“Women who hate their fathers swear they’ll never marry someone like them but usually end up doing so,” Keesha said. “I wonder why that it is.”

“The only thing I had in common with that asshole was we both had jobs that travel. I would never cheat on Elizabeth–” he broke off. “But none of that explains the last week.”

“No, so why don’t we cut the psychological profile and get to the good stuff.”

“I brought Olivia home last month and Elizabeth was here of course and we all went upstairs to the bedroom. Olivia wanted to show me her things and Elizabeth unpacked her things.” Jason sighed. “It was fine at first. We weren’t really talking to each other but then Olivia tried to keep me there. She started crying and telling me she’d be good if I just stayed…” Jason scrubbed a hand over his face. “We tried to explain to her why it couldn’t happen but it didn’t work and eventually Elizabeth left the room.”

“After Olivia cried herself to sleep, I went downstairs and we ended up getting into a huge argument. She was upset and ran out of the room and I left.”

“You told me this last month when I came to Spain,” Keesha reminded him. “So what’s going on?”

“When I came to the hospital, Elizabeth was curled up in a chair, her eyes bloodshot and her face tearstained. I started to think about our past and we…talked about the day I proposed. Like I said, things felt different.”

“You still love her, Jase. There’s no shame in that. There are some men who never get over the great love of their life.”

“It’s not just that.” Feeling restless, Jason started to pace. “She loves me, too. I can feel it. And we’ve been talking about it all this week. What went wrong, why our marriage didn’t work. She…there were so many things I didn’t know back then, that I didn’t realize. We were so young when we got married that neither of us really thought about what we were getting into.”

Keesha nodded. “These days, a lot of young marriages end in divorce.”

“I was wrong to leave her alone with Olivia so much. I should have gotten a job based out of this town. But I left and I left her alone with a little baby that sometimes cried so much she couldn’t handle it.”

“Jase–”

“She started taking sleeping pills,” Jason said softly. “And the morning she saw that god damned clipping in the paper, she’d just brought Olivia home from the hospital after she’d slept through Olivia’s cries. She was tired and she was exhausted–”

“That doesn’t excuse her not believing you,” Keesha said. “She should have realized she was over her head–”

“It’s easy to look back and criticize her now but she did the best she could,” Jason interrupted. “I should have come home more. I should have realized she was unhappy–that she was miserable.”

“Jase–”

“She never trusted me,” he blurted out. “She told me that just today. That she realized she never trusted me. Not completely, not even when we were first marriage. That she realized that the clipping hurt her but it didn’t surprise her.”

“Oh, Jase, that must have been so hard to hear,” Keesha said. She touched his arm. “I’m so sorry.”

“It was hard to hear,” Jason admitted, “But it hurt more to stand in that park and watch her cry, watch her body trembling because she was trying to explain it in a way that wouldn’t hurt me. It tears me apart inside because I should have seen this then. No woman goes to ever business dinner, every party, every social function her husband asks her to.”

“She wasn’t going to let you out of her sight,” Keesha deduced. “She was keeping you from cheating on her.”

“It’s so easy now to look back and see it now. Why couldn’t I have seen this? And why didn’t I see her unhappiness after Olivia was born? She was always so tired and one night, I was home, we were kissing and well…” he hesitated.

“You were about to do the nasty?” Keesha supplied.

“Yeah, for want of a better phrase. I went to turn off the light and when I turned back to her, she was asleep.” He sighed and rubbed his temples. “I knew she was with Olivia a lot and I just assumed she was tired.”

“It was the sleeping pills, wasn’t it?”

He nodded. “She’d taken some before I’d showed up at home unexpectedly. And they kicked in.” He sighed. “Why didn’t I see that? How could I miss her pain? Her lack of trust?”

“Because you weren’t looking for it and men tend to be oblivious.” Keesha sighed. “Look, I’m not saying I’m not sympathetic towards her. I haven’t met her but the way you talk about her–the way you’ve always talked about her…it speaks volumes about both you and her. You guys made each other your entire world when you were together and there’s nothing wrong with that. But Jason, you’re divorced now–”

“I want her back,” Jason interrupted. “I love her and she loves me. And we’re going to get back together.”

“Do you think that’s a good idea?” she asked. “I mean, with Olivia’s recovery and the obvious problems Elizabeth is still suffering from…to put a reconciliation on top of that…”

“I can’t live without her and if it takes years before she’s ready to get married again, I’ll wait that long,” Jason told her. “Keesha, Elise was a mistake–an attempt for me to get a piece of Elizabeth in my life. It didn’t work and all I want is the real thing. I want her in my life.”

“Fair enough,” Keesha sighed. “I just want you to be careful, Jase. Take this slow.”

“I plan to. Elizabeth and I have done the whirlwind relationship and now I want give her the life and love she deserves. To give us both the family we never had, to give Olivia the parents she needs.”

“All right.” Keesha shrugged. “I’m not going to try and talk you out of this because I don’t really want to. I want you to be happy and you’re happy with her–or at least when you’re talking about her or thinking about her. That’s all I really want for you.”

“Thanks, Keesha.”

“Of course, I want to meet her,” she told him. “So, set that meeting up. It’s time I met the woman who’s turned you into this blubbering mess.”

This entry is part 11 of 16 in the series Yesterdays

“Sir, Elizabeth Morgan is here.”

Nikolas Cassadine set a file aside and smiled at his secretary. “Show her in, Gia? Thanks.”

After a moment, a flushed and clearly upset Elizabeth entered his office. “I’m not interrupting anything am I?”

Nikolas stood and rounded the desk. “It’s a slow day. I’m between appointments.” He gestured towards a seat. “I was actually expecting you. Jessica told Lucky what happened and he told me.”

Elizabeth frowned for a moment before shaking her head. “No. I’m not here about Olivia. I–I need…” She took a deep breath. “When Lily was born, did you and Emily have any problems?”

Nikolas sighed and took the seat next to her. “We had some adjustment problems at first. It was hard to find time together but eventually Lily started sleeping through the night. Emily quit her job here to stay home with her. Things just got easier.” He took a deep breath. “Honey, I know Jason is in town. Emily was worried about that.”

She sat back in her chair. “I love him, Nikolas. It’s as simple as that. He’s always been it for me and…for a long time–after the divorce I mean, I thought…I thought I might have just been another girl for him. Just someone he’d been comfortable with enough to marry and that if I hadn’t turned into such a hovering mother, he would have stayed.”

“I only met Jason during the few hearings and meetings we had,” Nikolas began, “but I got the distinct impression that he did love you. He never argued with the proposed alimony, doubled that and child support. He gave you a very generous custody agreement. He gets his kid for an average of three months a year while you get her the bulk of the time and also about a million a year in combined child support and alimony. He’d have to be either crazy or in love to have agreed to that.”

Elizabeth glanced at her hands. “He says he loves me. We…talked yesterday about it and for a little while, it felt like we still had a chance.”

“There’s always a chance,” Nikolas assured her. “Even the most bitter divorces…there was love once.”

“I picked a fight with him today,” Elizabeth admitted. “I can say that now. I purposely set him up to say something hurtful so I could have a reason to call it off.” She met his eyes with a sheepish smile. “I still know how his mind works to a certain extent.”

“Why did you do that?” Nikolas asked.

She took a deep shuddering breath. “Because I’m scared. Because some of the most vivid memories of my marriage are the times he walked out the door, leaving me with a nightmare.”

“He didn’t know you were suffering,” he reminded her gently. “What do you think he would have done if he had?”

“I…I never let myself trust him,” she confessed in a tiny broken voice. “Not with Olivia, not with my heart. I couldn’t. I knew…I knew all too well what our marriage could turn into if I let him have all of me.” She exhaled slowly. “I remember hearing my mother crying a lot when my father would be out for the night. I remember hearing their arguments and then later, all of the rumors about women and I just–this was the model I set my visions of marriage on.”

“So why’d you marry someone who had a lifestyle so close to your parents?” Nikolas asked curiously.

“Because I loved him,” Elizabeth told him tearfully. “And I swore to myself that I’d leave him the second I found out he was cheating on me. I also…I never gave him the chance at first. We went everywhere together. I went out with him every night a-and I did everything I could to make him want me–desire me. I worked over time to keep him focused on me.”

“You did this all consciously?” Nikolas asked surprised.

“No. Not at first. I loved him, Nikolas. Almost from the moment I saw him, I loved him and I was selfish enough to want him to be mine forever. I saw the way my mother tried…but she made mistakes, she let him go out too often by himself and she stayed back at the hotel or went to a spa and I just…I guess I figured that’s where she really went wrong. She let him out of her sight.” Elizabeth sighed, her cheeks stained with embarrassment. “I didn’t…after Jason and I got married, it didn’t seem like a lot of work. I really did want to be with him all the time and–” she hesitated.

“You can be blunt with me, Liz,” Nikolas assured her. “I can handle it.”

“Our sex life was good,” Elizabeth said. She took a deep breath. “Really good. And it was…it was constant. He always seemed to want me–even when I just woke up or when I’d be dressed in t-shirt and jeans. He couldn’t…it just felt like he wanted me all the time.”

“Was that a problem for you?” Nikolas asked.

She shook her head. “No. I wanted him just as much. He made me feel damn good, Nikolas. It really didn’t feel like it was real though. I mean…who has a husband who wants her day and night without it tapering off? It was like the honeymoon period never went away.”

“But you still didn’t trust it,” Nikolas said, voicing the obvious. “You didn’t trust him.”

She shook her head slowly. “Looking back, no, I didn’t. I didn’t realize a lot of this then, Nikolas. I really did love him and it never occurred to me at the time that I didn’t trust him. But I don’t. I don’t really trust anyone.”

“And now that he tells you he loves you and wants you back, it’s making you realize this,” Nikolas told her. “That now that you’re confronted with the idea of returning to being his wife, you realize that you put more work into it than you thought at the time.”

“Yeah. I’m scared, Nikolas. Because I want to trust him and I want this to work and it will never work without trust. And he knows I don’t trust him right now so he’s going to be working at trying to regain that but I don’t even know if I’m capable of trusting someone like that.”

“You said you want to trust him,” Nikolas said slowly. “You want to be married to him, to be with him. What’s really keeping you from doing that?”

“I…” Elizabeth hesitated and furrowed her brow. “I guess I’m scared. When you trust someone, you…give a part of yourself to them. And…Nikolas, it almost destroyed me when I ended my marriage. If I let him in…if I really give him my trust along with everything else…when it doesn’t work…what will I be left with?”

“Why are you so sure it won’t work?” Nikolas asked pointedly.

She frowned. “What?”

“You said when it doesn’t work…instead of if.” He shrugged. “Just sounds like you’re expecting it to fail.”

“I guess that goes back to my trust thing,” Elizabeth decided. “I think the only person I trust is Olivia and that’s because I’m always sure of where I stand in her life. I’m always going to be her mother. Nothing can change that. But what am I to Jason?”

Nikolas stood and gave her a small smile. “Maybe you should ask him.”

“You think I should talk to him about this?” Elizabeth asked. She stood and shook her head. “He wouldn’t understand. He’ll think he did something–that I didn’t trust him because of him and it’s not true. It’ll only hurt him–”

“You have to be honest with him, honey. You’ll never get anywhere if you’re not. That’s really where you went wrong the first time. You didn’t tell him about the pills because you didn’t trust him to stay. And he knows that. But he won’t ever understand unless you tell him why.”

“Thanks, Nikolas. As always, you’re the voice of sanity in my life.” She hugged him tightly. “I’m going back to the hospital okay?”

“Will you call me and tell me how it went?” Nikolas asked.

“Of course.”


Not long after Elizabeth had fled the room, Jason found himself calling Keesha’s number for the second time.

“Calm down, Morgan, I’ve barely gotten out of the city so I’m not lost yet,” Keesha said immediately.

He chuckled a little. “No. That’s not while I’m calling. What’s taking so long to get out of New York?”

“Traffic is a bitch.” Keesha paused. “If you’re not calling to rag on me, why are you calling?”

“Change of address.” Jason reeled off the penthouse instead. “I’m staying there.”

“What happened? Your motel kick you out?”

“No.” Jason hesitated. “I was staying with Elizabeth but now I’m at the penthouse.”

“Ah, shit. I knew you were doing something stupid. The second you said her name I knew–“

“I love her,” Jason interrupted. “If I do stupid things, it’s understandable. Now that I’ve admitted to myself what disastrous idea my marriage to Elise was, I want to get my life back. I want my wife back.”

“Uh huh. Have you told your wife this?”

“Yes. It’s…not going as well as I would have hoped but I’m optimistic,” Jason told her.

“Jason, I don’t think you should waste your time on–“

“She loves me, Keesha. I know it. And…I just…I have to earn her trust that’s all. I can do that.”

“Jason, what makes you think you even had her trust in the first place?” Keesha demanded. “It always felt like she was just waiting for a reason to end it.”

“You only say that because you don’t know her,” Jason argued. “She’s…she’s different. She grew up like I did but it was different for her. It hurt her in ways I don’t think she’s even realized yet.”

Keesha sighed. “You’re too nice, Morgan. You’ve always been a bleeding heart.”

“Keesha…just go to the penthouse. We’ll talk when you get in okay?”

“Yeah. Yeah. I’ll be calling you in an hour. I’m sure I’ll have gotten my self lost by then.”

He slipped the phone in his pocket and turned to look at Olivia who was still sleeping. He was going to make this family work if it killed him.


An hour after she’d run out on him, Elizabeth slowly pushed the door to the room open.

Jason was looking out the window and the bed was empty. “Hey,” she said softly. “Liv at therapy?”

He looked at her in obvious surprise. “You came back.”

“Yeah. We, ah…” she took a deep breath. “We need to talk.”

He stepped towards her. “Elizabeth, what I said before–I didn’t mean it–”

“No, I know that. I set you up to say it so it doesn’t matter.” Elizabeth sighed. “Come take a walk with me.”

Mystified, he followed her down the hall and into the elevator. “Where are we going?”

“The Port Charles park is next to the hospital,” Elizabeth answered. The elevator opened on the lobby floor and they left the hospital in silence.

They were nearly to the fountain before she started to speak. “I don’t want you to be hurt or misunderstand what I’m going to tell you because this isn’t really about you. It’s about me.”

“Elizabeth–”

“I deliberately picked a fight with you,” she told him. She sat on the edge of the stone fountain and looked up at him. “I know how your mind works and I set you up to say something that would give me an excuse to walk away.”

He inhaled sharply and his face paled. “You…you don’t want to work this out?” Jason asked in a quiet, stunned voice.

She closed her eyes. “See, I knew this was going to hurt you and God, Jason, that’s the last thing I want.”

“I don’t understand.” He sat next to her. “Elizabeth, if you didn’t want to get back together–”

“No, that’s not it. Please just let me explain.” She hesitated. “I was scared. When we were together before, it would have never occurred to you that I didn’t trust you. You always assumed that I did and now…now you have a pretty good idea that I don’t and you…you’d be working to make me trust you and that scares me.”

He took a deep breath and clasped his hands between his spread legs. “You didn’t trust me when we were married,” he concluded.

“I don’t trust anyone,” Elizabeth said softly. “I didn’t…I didn’t realize I didn’t trust you until it occurred to me that it didn’t surprise me about the clipping.”

He glanced at her with some confusion. “What?”

“When I saw that clipping of you with the woman, it hurt. It upset me. It made me want to scream and rip my hair out. But it didn’t surprise me.”

He stood suddenly and took a few steps away. He couldn’t look at her. Not only did she not trust him now, but she’d never trusted him. She’d always expected him to do what her father had. Oh, man…he’d never seen this coming.

“Some of the most vivid memories of my childhood are my parents fighting about other women,” Elizabeth confessed brokenly. “And you…you were so much like my father, Jason. You led the same life style, you had almost the same type of job. I just…I did everything I could to keep myself from being my mother and I did such a good job of it that I never even knew I was doing it.”

He turned to face her, her eyes bloodshot, her lips trembling. “What exactly do you mean by that?” Jason asked carefully.

“The reason I went to every business dinner I could…why I never really argued when you wanted to go out or take a spontaneous trip was because I wanted to avoid what I had obviously decided my mother had done wrong.”

“You didn’t want to let me out of your sight.” He blinked and swallowed hard. “You didn’t even trust me a little.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. She stood and hugged herself tightly. “I’m so sorry, Jason. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. Until I was faced with the idea of being with you again and it scared me. Because now you knew I didn’t trust you. And you would want me to trust you so you’d be working at it and I realized that I don’t…it terrifies me.”

He could see it. Her body was trembling, her arms were wrapped tightly around her upper body, her eyes were glossy with tears. “Why?” he asked hoarsely. “Why does the thought of giving your trust to me terrify you?”

“It’s not just you, it’s everyone,” she whispered. “When you trust, you give a piece of yourself away. It’s something that’s more intimate than love, that goes deeper than love, it’s something that is it at the very foundation of any relationship you ever have.” She took a deep breath. “I r-remember my mother crying so much. Because to the public, she was a society wife. One that expected her husband to seek a life outside her bedroom but she loved him. A-and it tore at her for him to be with other women.”

He stepped towards her. “You are not your mother and I am not your father. Baby, what we had–what we have is so different from them.”

“I know,” she managed to say past the tightness in her throat. “And that scares me. When I…after you packed your bags and moved out, I could barely function. It nearly destroyed me–losing you the first time. I only had Olivia to keep me going. But if I do this…if we make an attempt…and I give you my trust and something happens, I really think that it’ll be the end of me.”

He put a hand on her shoulder then. Slow, cautious steps. He didn’t want to spook her–she was already so shaky he was afraid she’d call the whole thing off right now. “Elizabeth, trust…it’s a risk and I want you to know that I understand. I know how much your parents marriage hurt you and that I think you’re still hurting from it. But I love you. I love you so much and when I lost you, it did destroy me. You can ask Keesha. I spent that first month in her apartment in New York. That’s why I didn’t respond to your attorney’s motions and letters. I wasn’t ignoring it, I couldn’t…I couldn’t deal with it.”

“I’m so sorry I hurt you,” she whispered. She stepped towards him and rested her forehead against his chest. “I’m so sorry…” she started to cry then and he took her in his arms them. “I just…I don’t want to be scared anymore.”

He held her tightly and after a few moments, her arms slowly moved around his waist and she clung to him.

The sound of his cell phone broke their embrace and he pulled away with an apologetic smile. He took it out of his pocket. “Hello?”

She was close enough to him that she could hear a woman’s voice. “Okay, so I was on the highway and I think I accidentally took an exit and it’s possible I’m on my way to Ohio or something.”

He started to laugh then. “Oh, Keesha, you really need to take some map courses.”

“Ah, bite me Morgan. Will you just get me back on the right road? I have no inclination to visit the Midwest today.”

March 29, 2014

Hey. I was thinking about trying to post this Monday or Tuesday, but I’ll be in Oxford, and I may not have the opportunity. My plan is post it Mondays & Thursdays until it’s completed. Theoretically, that’ll be about the third week in May, at which point either These Small Hours or Tangle will start being posted, depending on which one is further along at that point.

I also added an updated story status post, if anyone is interested.  Day Three of Aurora Dawning and Chapters 8-10 of Yesterdays was moved over as well.

A Few Words Too Many: Chapter 2
Aurora Dawning: Day 3
Yesterdays: Chapters 8, 9, 10
Story Status Update