December 31, 2014

Happy New Year’s Eve!

I added Part Eight and the epilogue to All I Want For Christmas, which draws that story to a close. The Best Thing, Chapter Fifteen has also been added.

There’s some housekeeping that has to happen with those — All I Want being moved to the completed section, some ebook links added and whatnot. I’ll take care of that today before I go out.

If you check out the ebook section, you’ll see I added an in progress section. If you’ve fallen behind on The Best Thing at all, you can now read in progress versions of the ebooks so you can catch up at your leisure. Every time I update the story, I’ll update those files.

Have a great New Year’s! I’ll be back at some point this weekend, hopefully with a new layout.

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series All I Want For Christmas

Maybe I’m crazy to suppose
I’d ever be the one you chose
Out of a thousand invitations
You received
Aah, but in case I stand one little chance
Here comes the jackpot question in advance
What are you doing New Year’s
New Year’s Eve?


December 31

Port Charles Hotel: Ballroom

“I’ve changed my mind,” Kiki declared. “I want you to introduce me to Michael.”

Elizabeth gestured for orchestra leader to begin setting up before turning her attention to her assistant. “What, are you insane? I still have to figure out if I want to be introduced to anymore Quartermaines. You think I’m fixing you up?”

“Just a thought.” Kiki followed her to the wall where Elizabeth briefly conferred with the hotel employee that had set up the balloons and confetti meant to fall at midnight. “I thought I was taking point tonight.” She tapped her ear piece. “Isn’t that why I’ve got this?”

“I still have mine for emergencies,” Elizabeth murmured. She pursed her lips, considering the placement of the silver silk draping across several of the tables. “I think that’s dragging a bit—”

“So it’s been a week,” Kiki said as Elizabeth straightened the silk. “Are you taking Hottie back?”

Elizabeth sighed and briefly touched the snowflake she’d yet to take off. “It’s not that simple, Kiki. I…may have overreacted.”

“Listen, his aunt called me a stripper and I’m pretty sure his dad tried to hit on you.” Kiki pursed her lips. “I’m not sure that can be overreacted to.”

“She’s got a point about the nickname,” Elizabeth murmured, taking a clipboard from the caterer and scrawling her name.

“It annoys my mother, so that’s reason enough.” Kiki blinked. “Um, I thought the guests weren’t arriving for another hour.”

“They’re not supposed to,” Elizabeth said as a blonde woman in a blue velvet dress approached them. “Ma’am? I’m sorry, the ballroom is still closed—”

“Oh, I just…” The woman stopped a few feet away from her. “You are Elizabeth Webber, right?”

“Yes.” Elizabeth handed the clipboard back to the caterer. “Can I help you with something?”

“I’m Courtney Matthews…” The blonde glanced at Kiki, who just folded her arms and lifted her chin. “Since I arrived in town yesterday, your name has been mentioned to me more than once. I’m assuming mine isn’t exactly unfamiliar.”

“There’s a vague bell ringing,” Elizabeth murmured. “You used to work at ELQ?”

“I did, in New York, but I was in Port Charles for a few months about two years ago.” Courtney stepped closer. “And I dated Jason while I was here.”

“Oh, hell, can’t people just leave her alone?” Kiki demanded. “This is getting ridiculous—”

Courtney held up her hands. “I—I’m sorry, this isn’t…what you think. No, I just wondered—you’re probably getting some of the same treatment I did.” A faint smile appeared. “The Quartermaines close ranks, even when they’re not wanted.”

“Ah, so you’re another social climbing whore,” Elizabeth nodded. She looked to Kiki. “Can you make sure the servers are ready to go?”

Kiki nodded and headed across the room for the bar. Courtney watched her go. “She’s a fierce one.”

“I rescued her from employment with Ava Jerome, so her loyalty is undying.” Elizabeth twirled a pen in her fingers. “I don’t really know what you want from me—”

“It’s…more to make sure you’re not…that you have the right idea about what happened between Jason and I.” She held up her hand where a large diamond flashed. “I’m engaged, so I promise you, I come in peace.”

Elizabeth sighed. “I’m not really sure it’s my business—”

“It is if you’re being fed the same lines…” Courtney stepped closer. “Jason’s not like the rest of his family, I’m sure you get that by now. He and I…it was casual. I worked in Port Charles on a deal with Jacks Industries, which is how I met my fiancé, Jax. Meeting him changed my life, because I saw him and I just knew—so Jason and I very amicably broke things off. I went to work with Jax because I wasn’t comfortable dating him and working for a competitor, though I’m sure the gossip has me unceremoniously removed due to the end of my time with Jason.”

“That’s the general gossip,” Elizabeth agreed. “You really don’t have to explain anything—”

“I worked for ELQ long enough to get the family dynamics,” Courtney continued, “and I’m sure you picked up on it, too. This current crop of Quartermaine men? They date, sure. But they’re nothing like Edward or Alan. AJ was burned really badly with his ex-wife, and Ned is an eternal romantic, which is why he gets married so often. Jason—”

“I’ve heard he was married once,” she murmured in response.

“For five minutes.” Courtney flashed a smile. “I’ll let Jason explain the details, but it was annulled within two days.” She tilted her head. “I don’t know what happened with the last one—Sam—but I’m sure it’s nothing like the gossip.”  She shrugged. “Anyway, Jason was really good to me. I don’t like being used to annoy someone else he cares about.”

“Fair enough. I appreciate the gesture.”

As Courtney exited the way she came in, Elizabeth sighed. So the marriage had lasted five seconds, probably a drunken weekend. Courtney had left voluntarily.

Which meant the phone calls from Sam McCall likely had a logical explanation.

“I hate being wrong,” she muttered.

It was several hours later before Elizabeth finally had the courage to approach Jason, trying to wait until he had separated from the majority of his family. When he was just standing with his nephew Michael, she finally went for it.

“Ah, Jason?” She fought the urge to clasp her hands her back. “I…was wondering if I could speak to you for a moment.”

Jason turned to look at her, his eyes focusing on the necklace she wore. He exhaled slowly. “Of course. Michael, if you’ll excuse me?”

“Of course. Ah, Ms. Webber, I had a quick question for you,” AJ’s son said with a grin. “You’ve got that assistant…Kiki right? I was wondering if you might introduce me or put in a good word. Jason can vouch for me—”

Quartermaine men. But she just smiled. “Don’t tell her this because she’ll kill me, but she’s begging me to arrange an introduction for about a week, so if you ask her to dance, she’ll say yes.”

“Fantastic.” Michael drained his champagne and disappeared into the crowd.

“You Quartermaines have to get out more,” Elizabeth said with an easy smile she did not feel. “There’s probably a reason you only date women who work at ELQ.”

“Probably,” Jason agreed. He stepped forward. “Elizabeth, listen—”

“Let—let me.” She glanced around and stepped closer to make sure her words weren’t overheard. “I just wanted to apologize. I—I overreacted…in certain ways. I…let the things people said to me get in my head.” She lifted a shoulder. “Mostly because I know what this is, and what it can’t be.”

Jason frowned. “I don’t know what that means. I—”

“Well, isn’t it obvious?” Elizabeth lifted her champagne glass to gesture at the gold gown she wore. “You’re a Quartermaine and I’m—”

“I’m a Quartermaine by default,” Jason interrupted. “Not because my father wanted me to be, but because he either took me home when my mother died or I was shuffled into the system. I don’t care what my aunt says or anyone else—”

Elizabeth sighed and rubbed her head. “I know. I’m sorry. I did it again. I…that part of my apology is a lot more complicated than I have time for right now. “

Jason set his empty champagne on the tray of a passing server and snagged another. “Is there something I’m supposed to say to reassure you that none of that matters to me?”

“No, that’s…my own crap to deal with.” She looked down. “I’m just—I’m sorry—”

“I don’t want you to be sorry.” Jason stepped closer and tipped her chin up to force her to meet her eyes. “I know you…saw my phone. That you think I was talking to my ex-girlfriend.”

“Um…I may have glanced at something like that,” Elizabeth admitted, with a sheepish smile. “And I’m sure there’s a logical explanation—”

“She’s mad that I found out she was trying to sleep with Ned. And had made a pass at AJ. So I dumped her, and Ned transferred her to New York to keep Olivia from ripping her hair out.” Jason shrugged. “She worked for me back then, and wants her job back. I told her no. Again.”

“Well, now I feel like an idiot,” she muttered.

“Don’t. I should have mentioned it. There’s just…no easy way to bring that up.” His thumb brushed over her bottom lip. “Are we done fighting now? It’ll be midnight in about—” Jason glanced at his watch. “Thirty seconds.”

“Well, in that case, I declare our first fight officially at the end,” Elizabeth said. She wiggled her eyebrows. “Now comes the best part.”

He grinned. “The making up, right?”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and sank into his kiss as the clock struck midnight and the balloons and confetti released as scheduled.

It was going to be a very happy new year.

Epilogue

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays,
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam,
When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze,
For the holidays, you can’t beat home, sweet home


January 7

ELQ: Elizabeth’s Office

Emily Quartermaine breezed into her assistant’s office, her smile bright, her skin sun kissed from her weeks in the Greek sun. “Elizabeth!”

Elizabeth was waiting for her with a bright smile and a pile of paperwork. She dumped it straight in her arms. “Here’s the contracts for the next quarter.”

Emily blinked as the brunette breezed past her. “Wait a second—”

She followed Elizabeth into the outer offices where Kiki sat at her desk. “Where are you going?”

Elizabeth swept her jacket on and stepped onto the elevator. “Your brother’s taking me to Italy. I’ll see you in two weeks.”

As the elevator slid closed, Emily huffed and set the contracts on the desk.

When she was sure Elizabeth was gone, she grinned at Kiki. “How did it go, kiddo?”

“Well,” Kiki said, “I’d say it couldn’t have gone better if you’d planned it, but…”

Emily smirked. “Better to keep letting them think I had nothing to do with it. Ned still doesn’t know I helped him with Olivia.”

She set off towards her office, but spun around with one last smile. “Isn’t it fantastic when a plan works exactly as you intended it? It’s going to be a fantastic year.”

THE END


Thanks for reading my little alternative universe fluff 😛 Well, as fluffy as I get. I’d love to revisit this particular universe, but I don’t know what to write about Ideas? Leave a message.

Happy New Year!

This entry is part 8 of 12 in the series The Best Thing: Redemption

Catch the wheel that breaks the butterfly
I cried the rain that fills the ocean wide
I tried to talk with God to no avail
Calling Him in and out of nowhere
Said if You won’t save me, please don’t waste my time

— Falling Down, Oasis


Thursday, July 7, 2005

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Sonny’s hand tightened around the tumbler in his fingers. “Say that again,” he said softly.

“Sonny, I know Evie is your daughter.”

Yes, those were the words but somehow, he still couldn’t quite understand them. Couldn’t make them register in his brain. Carly knew Evie was his daughter.

“What—” His tongue felt too thick, the words wouldn’t form. Sonny turned to look at his wife, at the mother of his children, for whom he had sacrificed so much.

Her face was blank, but her eyes were dark. “I’ve always known.”

His chest clenched, and Sonny set down the tumbler, terrified he might throw it.

“I was content to let the situation stand,” Carly continued, standing so utterly still he scarcely recognized her. “I didn’t want any reminders of that time in our home, and that’s all Evie would be. Before Sam died, it just…it made sense to keep it going. Jason is an amazing father—” She pursed her lips and broke eye contact. “And after Sam died, when you still did nothing to change it, I said nothing. Because it was for the best.”

God. God. Everything he’d done to protect her from the knowledge had been for nothing. He’d moved her back into his home, had abandoned Sam and the feelings he’d felt for her—so that he could protect Carly and the boys.

And it had been for nothing.

“And now?” Sonny managed to say.

“You’re…so unhappy, Sonny.” Carly clasped her fingers in front of her. “I know it’s the guilt over Evie. And I know Jason wouldn’t even consider changing the arrangement as long as he believed that I was in the dark.”

“So what, you think it’s that simple?” Sonny choked off a bitter chuckle and tossed down the entire tumbler of bourbon. “Hey, Jason, that little girl you’ve raised for eight months as your daughter? I want her back now. Forget all the things we said, the promises. Carly has decided it’s okay.”

Carly pressed her lips together and took a moment to respond. “I’m…not blind to Jason’s difficulty. And that it’s particularly painful considering the position I put him in with Michael all those years ago, but I…did not ask him to do this.”

“Didn’t you?” Sonny bit out. He stalked away from her, towards the kitchen. Towards the window. Towards anywhere that wasn’t Carly. “Every time you called him, every time you begged him to fix your problems, you don’t think you trained him to jump? You didn’t even have to ask.”

“He was protecting the boys, and I’m ashamed of that, Sonny.” Carly planted her hands on her hips, her eyes accusing now. “But I’m not the one who started this. You moved that whore into our home and then moved her across the hall. Jason just stepped in where you wouldn’t. No one forced you to continue the lie. The slut is dead, Sonny, and still you left your daughter across the hall. You’re going to blame that entirely on me?”

No. And wasn’t that the fucking tragedy? He’d loved to cast the blame entirely at Carly’s feet. But he’d been just culpable. He had driven Sam to such desperate measures.

Bitch. Tricked him. Played right into Jason’s hands—

No. Sonny dipped his head. No. He had told Sam over and over again in every way except words that she and their daughter were not as important as his family with Carly.

Sam believed him, so she’d found someone who would love Evie the way she deserved.

“Sonny, we can’t let this continue,” Carly said. “If you are ever going to be in your daughter’s life, now is the time to step up. Yes, this is going to be horrible for Jason, and I am truly sorry. But I never told him to do this. I waited, didn’t I? I waited until he wasn’t alone—”

“You’re a fucking calculating bitch, you mean.” Sonny whirled to face her. “You mean you waited until Elizabeth looked like she was going to stick around this time. Her and her son. That’s the bullshit you were spouting a few months ago. You think that her kid can replace Evie.”

Carly huffed and looked away, but that was it, wasn’t it? In her head, Jason had planned a family with Sam and Evie, so Elizabeth and Cam were almost the same thing.

“You think people are replaceable?” he snarled. “You think making sure Jason had another kid in his life would make up for losing one?”

God, what a terrifying thing to learn about the woman to whom you’d sworn yourself to. What kind of life would Evie have with her? Would she ever be more than Sam’s daughter?

He’d known all long that he’d have to choose between a marriage to Carly and a life as Evie’s father, but it was so much more complicated than that. If he walked away from Carly, he ran the risk of losing Michael and Morgan. Morgan he could fight for, but maybe Carly would keep Michael from him. They would always be in the middle, and Evie would grow up, maybe blaming herself.

No, to protect Michael and Morgan, to do right by Evie, he had to walk away.

His guilt didn’t change things. Carly’s knowledge just made the situation…less complicated.

“Do you think I’d bring that little girl into a home with you?” Sonny said, his voice almost conversational. “Do you think I’d subject her to that?”

Carly’s nostrils flared. “What the hell does that mean?”

“It means exactly that. You’re a decent enough mother to Michael and Morgan, but that’s because they’re yours.” He shrugged and turned towards the window, looking out over the Port Charles skyline. “I don’t know if you could ever love Evie that way.”

“I could,” Carly said. “I-I wasn’t sure at first, but I know I could. You just…you never gave me a chance, Sonny. You lied to me over and over again.”

“I had to.”

“To hell with that!” Her voice rose. “To hell with that, Sonny Corinthos! You never gave me a chance! Never! You shot me in the fucking head and then were surprised when I didn’t immediately leap back into your life!”

He turned back to her. “Carly—”

“You’ve been punishing me for years now,” she seethed. “I was kidnapped, held hostage, electrocuted, shot in the goddamn head during delivery and you think I should have calmly accepted your affair with that piece of trash? Calmly accepted your bastard child? You’re so goddamn delusional.” Her chest was heaving now, her face flushed. “But I could have. I could have calmed down. I could have done so much if you’d given me the chance, but instead you wrote me off. And now you’re angry because I never fucking believed your lie?”

Sonny hesitated. There was something in her words that dug at him, because they were true, and he could see them. He could feel her desperation, her own unhappiness. “Carly—”

She shook her head. “For better or worse, Sonny. That’s what marriage is. I’m not walking away because it’s hard right now. We have two children together. We can do better.”

He stepped towards her. “I don’t know if that’s true—”

“I do.” Carly swiped at a tear with her thumb. “We just…have to resolve this situation with Evie. Jason—he should know that I know the truth. You know he’ll do what he can to help. That’s why he did all this, isn’t it?”

Sonny nodded and looked away. “I’ll tell him you know, but anything else…that’s between Jason and me.”

She nodded. “All right.” She stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked at him. “For what it’s worth, I’m glad this is in the open now, Sonny. We…we can only get better from here.”

As Carly ascended the stairs, Sonny shook his head. He’d kept his temper, had not felt the walls caving in, but that didn’t mean anything. Arguing with Carly rarely…invited the darkness. Carly rarely expected him to be anyone than the man in front of her.

It was the rest of the world he couldn’t control.

Friday, July 8, 2005

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Emily dropped her tote on the ground and took the seat across from Elizabeth. “It should not have taken us nearly a month to meet without boys around,” she complained, reaching across to steal a fry from Elizabeth’s plate.

Elizabeth sighed and leaned back. “I know. Between your summer schedule at the hospital, the kids, painting…”

“And Jason,” Emily responded with a beaming smile. “I’m totally cool with you taking time to get that relationship grounded. You guys needed some solo time…Georgie! Just the girl I’ve been dying to see. I need a BLT, fries and the largest soda you can get me. Stat.”

“You’ll get it when Don finishes it and not a minute sooner,” Georgie said, scrawling the order on her pad. “You’re not in the hospital.” She glanced at Elizabeth. “You need a refill?”

“Please.” Once Georgie had left, Elizabeth leaned forward. “So…Jason’s going to try to talk to Sonny today.”

Emily paused, another fry in her fingers. “About Evie?”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I had an odd conversation with Carly, and I just…I have such a bad feeling, Em. You know that Jason and I have suspected she’s known the truth for months.”

“I know, which never bodes well for my brother.” Emily wrinkled her nose. “I wonder what she’s up to. I’ve been doing some reading on the symptoms I’ve noticed in Sonny—” She paused as Georgie set down their drinks.

“What do you think?”

“Oh, it’s likely bipolar, I mean there’s nothing surprising there, but it’s all about which kind, you know?” Emily sipped soda. “So I talked to a psychiatrist at the hospital, Lainey Winters. I told her about the lightning quick mood changes, the long periods of calm mixed with huge explosions. I also suggested some paranoid tendencies because knowing Sonny as long as I have, he definitely leans that way.”

“What did Lainey say?” Elizabeth asked, swirling her chili in her bowl. “Does she have any ideas what we should do?”

“Well, she suggested that the subject in question may be suffering from mixed bipolar disorder, which is like experiencing the symptoms rapidly. It explains that scene at the hospital, where Sonny was calm, even embarrassed by Carly one minute, and then lost it on you the next.” Emily dumped some ketchup on her plate. “Lainey suggested I get my friend into treatment ASAP to correctly diagnose him and offer medication.”

“Well, that’s what Jason is going to talk to him about.” Elizabeth tucked a loose piece of hair behind her ear. “If Sonny doesn’t seek treatment by the time Evie turns one, Jason will go ahead and petition for adoption.”

Emily pursed her lips. “He’s giving Sonny an ultimatum? I—I’m not sure if that’s the best idea, Liz. I mean, the thing about Sonny is he’s super paranoid and controlling on a normal basis. Any challenge to that, if he’s even close to a breaking point in the cycle could be bad.”

“Well, what are we supposed to do, Emily?” Elizabeth sighed, pushing her plate aside. “We can’t live like this. How can we put a future together? Evie needs stability, and if Jason is her father, then I—” She stopped and looked away.

“I get it. You and Jason are blending your lives together. You’ve got a son without a father, he’s technically got a daughter without a mother. Anyone who doesn’t know the circumstances, you just adopt each other’s kids and move on.” Emily shrugged. “But you guys are paralyzed, because I don’t know if Jason ever really saw himself adopting Evie. Or having a relationship where he’d be planning for permanence.”

“Well, I don’t know about permanence,” Elizabeth said, twisting her fingers in her lap. “I didn’t say anything about that. I mean, it’s just—I spend a lot of time with her, and I know it’s going to break my heart if we lose—I mean, if Jason loses custody—not to mention what it will do to him—”

“Elizabeth, it’s me you’re talking to. And you know it stays between us.”

“Em…” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “I’m terrified. For Jason. For myself. For Evie. And even Sonny. What if…what if Carly never believed it?”

“You mean, what if Carly’s been manipulating the situation from the getgo?” Emily leaned back in her chair and waited a moment. “Well, then we’re all fucked. Because if Carly’s dropping hints—”

“It’s more than that. I think…I think she’s starting to blame Jason for not finding a better way to fix this,” Elizabeth admitted. “Like, she was okay with it as long as it looked like her marriage would be okay. And I don’t know, if Sam hadn’t died, it would be different. Maybe the grief and guilt Sonny has wouldn’t be feeding into this problem he has. But now that it’s destroying Sonny, I think she looks at Evie as a solution.”

“A solution that Jason should be offering,” Emily finished. “And the longer he puts off fixing this situation, the more desperate she’ll get. Christ, Elizabeth. What do you think she’s capable of if she turns against Jason?”

“I don’t know. She’s never come this close before. I mean, yeah, she’s destroyed his life with Michael and Robin, then sleeping with Sonny.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “But Jason was collateral damage in those situations. If Carly decides Jason is the enemy?” She shook her head. “I don’t know. The last time she declared war like that was Robin.”

“And before that, her mother. Carly’s capable of a lot of destruction when she wants something.” Emily hesitated. “Have you talked to Jason about this?”

“Yeah. I’m not sure how much he buys my theory. You know, despite it all, he still has such a blind spot for Sonny and Carly. I mean, Sonny, I get that. He…” Elizabeth paused. “He told me once that Sonny taught him half of everything he knows, and that Robin taught him the rest of it. That’s who Sonny is to Jason. No matter what happens, Jason will always look for that in him.”

“That loyalty has never been deserved,” Emily muttered.

“But I don’t understand the blindness for Carly. I get that she’s Michael’s mother, but at some point…when does that stop being an excuse?” Elizabeth huffed. “I mean, how much damage does Carly have to do before Jason gets it? Carly’s out for Carly. Why doesn’t he see that?”

“I guess you’d have to be around during the accident,” Emily said after a long moment. She bit into her burger and swallowed. “When Jason woke up, the doctors told us his brain damage meant he’d never be normal. Everyone looked at him like some kind of…damaged person. He’d never be Jason Quartermaine again. They saw him as something that needed to be fixed. Something broken, not capable of real human emotion.” Her voice thickened. “And it used to make me so mad when they’d just describe him as brain damaged, like he wasn’t worth it.”

“I know, I used to see the way Taggart went after him,” Elizabeth murmured. “Talked down to him, like he was a child who didn’t get it. I hated it. I used to flip on Taggart for it.”

“Carly—she never saw him that way, you know?” Emily tilted her head. “She always saw him as a man. Even more, someone capable of fixing her problems. Even Robin, as much as I adored her and know how good she was for Jason for a long time, she never got past the part where Jason didn’t need constant lessons. Carly—for all her faults—never saw him as a student.”

“I guess. But still. I just…I don’t know. Could Carly turn Sonny against Jason?” Elizabeth asked. “I’d like to believe that even in the worst of his moods, Sonny would see that Jason cares for him, would do anything for him.”

“I know, Liz.” Emily set her burger down. “But the thing is? If Sonny does have this disorder, when he’s in the deepest, darkest part of this cycle, he might not see Jason as a friend, but rather someone challenging him. If Sonny doesn’t get treatment, if Carly decides this is all Jason’s fault, I don’t like where we’re going with this.”

“So should Jason not talk to Sonny?” Elizabeth asked. “Because it’s my fault. I pushed him to do something—”

“I can’t answer that. I can say that I think Evie’s better off where she is. I think you guys should go ahead and adopt her, or at least Jason should.” Emily tapped her fingers against her scrub-clad thigh. “Carly’s toxic. She’ll always be in Sonny’s life because of the boys. The further away Evie is, the better we all are. Jason told me about Sam, about the way she pleaded with him.”

“I think that’s what really holds him back. He could have found a different resolution months ago. Could have challenged Carly on her knowledge.” Elizabeth reached for her iced tea. “But he knew what Sam wanted for her daughter.”

“And Sam’s wishes should count for something. Sonny only wants Evie on his terms. She’s just a baby, Elizabeth, and she deserves the best the world can give her. I don’t see that being Sonny or Carly.”

“I just…can’t see an end point to this.” Elizabeth sighed. “But I also refuse to let it rule my life. I’m going to go forward. I love being with Jason, I love my career. There’s a lot going right. I just…one day at a time.”

“Not sure what else you can do.”

Hardy Home: Living Room

Steven knelt on the floor and reached under the sofa. “Gram, what does the other shoe look like?”

“Honestly.” Audrey sighed from across the room. “It’s a white flat. This is not difficult—” She stopped as Steven drew back, a pill bottle in his hand. “What…what is that?”

“Heart medication.” Steven looked at her. “In your name, Gram. What’s…going on?”

“I’m sure I don’t know how that got under there.” She strode forward and reached for it, but Steven held it back.

“Gram. I know this medication.” Steven rose to his feet. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing—” Audrey stopped and closed her eyes. “Okay. I have a minor heart condition, but it’s treatable. I’ve been in good health since I was diagnosed in January—”

“January?” Steven repeated. He handed her the medication. “What is this minor condition and why don’t I know about it?”

“I didn’t want to worry anyone. It’s mitral stenosis—just an issue with my heart valve,” she explained. “And I just knew you and your sister would be worried when it’s really not your concern—”

“So Elizabeth doesn’t know either?” Steven nodded. “Well, that’s going to change.” He reached for his cell phone, but Audrey reached out to grab his hand. “Gram—”

“No, I don’t…want to burden her. She’s been so happy these last few weeks, Steven. Please.”

“Are you never going to tell her?” Steven demanded. “She would be heartbroken if you said nothing—”

“I’ll tell her, but it’s just…I like seeing her happy.” Audrey took his hand in hers. “Don’t you?”

“No, Gram, don’t pull that on me—” But Steven sighed and nodded. “Fine. For now. But don’t keep pushing this, Gram. Elizabeth will handle this. She’s a strong woman, and she’s got Jason to /back her up now.”

“Soon, Steven, I promise.” Audrey paused. “Now, if you don’t mind, could you find my other shoe?”

Warehouse: Sonny’s Office

Jason hesitated just over the threshold of the office, waiting for his partner to raise his eyes from some paperwork and notice him.

It was a conversation almost a year in the making, but Jason still wasn’t sure how to go about it. But he knew that putting it off would just add to the tension shadowing his life. It had crept into his relationship with Elizabeth—not in a way that would damage it, he knew. But her worry and her concern for him would only increase the longer they drew this out.

“Jason.” Sonny leaned back. “I wasn’t expecting you today.”

The other man’s eyes looked relatively clear, but Jason knew that was deceptive. Even if he was in control this moment, there was no guarantee it would last.

“Yeah, I know, there’s just something we have to talk about.” Jason closed the door behind him and took a seat in front of Sonny. “Sonny, I think Carly knows the truth. About Evie.”

Sonny stared at for a long moment and then nodded. “I…was going to call you later when I knew how to—she admitted it last night.”

Jason frowned. “What? Why?”

“She said she was tired of the lies. We had a pretty bad argument.” Sonny sighed. “And she made me see how little credit I gave her. That I took her at her word about how she’d react to Evie, and started to lie. She wanted a clean slate.”

“O-Okay,” Jason said after a pause. “I was contacted by family services earlier this month.” He rubbed his hands on his denim-clad thighs. “After a year of guardianship, I’m eligible to adopt Evie. They wanted to ask about a possible petition.”

Sonny merely blinked, but his breathing picked up. “I—I don’t know what to do with that, Jason. You’ve admitted you have no intention of signing custody back to me. I-I’m not even sure doing so would be a good idea at this point.” He closed his eyes. “At the same time, knowing that I abandoned my flesh and blood…it doesn’t sit right with me.”

“I know.” Jason waited. “It was never my intention to deprive you of having Evie. But…it just happened that way. You—you weren’t stepping up. And Sam…she was terrified of the way Carly would treat Evie. I…didn’t have a choice, Sonny.”

Sonny slowly shook his head. “You always had a choice, Jason. Don’t pretend differently. You could have insisted I take custody—leave you out of it. You chose not to.”

Which was technically true, but something in Jason rebelled at having to force a man to take care of his own child. Being with Evie, with Cameron now…he couldn’t imagine giving them up. Didn’t Evie deserve better than that? So yeah, Jason had had a choice, and he couldn’t quite bring himself to regret the one he’d made.

“If you want to change the situation now,” Sonny continued, “we can discuss the best way to do so. Maybe Carly can spend time with Evie—”

“I—” Jason closed his mouth. “No, that’s not…Sonny, I’m not signing over the guardianship. Not now anyway.”

Sonny furrowed his brow, his lips thinned. “Excuse me?”

“You need…you need to talk to someone,” Jason told him. “You’ve been riding on the edge for months now, maybe a lot longer that. We both know it’s getting worse. You’ve gone after Elizabeth, after me—because you think we’re replacing you in Evie’s life. I can’t…I love her, Sonny.”

“Who, Elizabeth?” Sonny licked his lips. “So? I’ll knock it off. Jason—”

“Yes, Elizabeth, but I meant Evie. I can’t…let her go into a situation where I’m not sure she’ll be okay. And right now, Sonny, I can’t do it.”

Sonny just stared at him. “So that’s it? You’re keeping my daughter.”

“If you haven’t worked on this, if you haven’t gone for treatment by the time Evie turns one…” Jason rose to his feet. “I’ll petition for adoption. I can’t put her life on hold, and I won’t put mine on hold anymore—”

“I don’t see you doing much waiting around,” Sonny returned blandly. “You managed to convince Elizabeth to give you another chance. What life have you put on hold for me?”

“The one where I’m comfortable asking Elizabeth for something more permanent. It’s bad enough I might lose Evie, but I won’t let her fall in love with Evie as her mother only to watch someone take her away.”

“But if I got help,” Sonny said, adding stress on the word help that told Jason everything he needed to know about his feeling on the subject, “You’d be willing to change the custody arrangement.”

“Because it’s the right thing to do for everyone,” Jason said. “You know it couldn’t go on forever the way we were doing it. Now…it’s on the table.”

“I’ll take your suggestion under advisement,” the other man retorted. “Is that everything?”

“Yeah.” Jason nodded. “Yeah.”

He left, but hadn’t made it more than a few steps before he heard glass crashing in the room he’d just vacated.

This entry is part 2 of 17 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Shadows #1

Elizabeth blearily rubbed her eyes and could barely focus her vision as Ric helped her into her thick black overcoat and buttoned it over her bulging pregnancy. “Who is doing this?” she asked again.
“Elizabeth–”

“I don’t feel right about this,” she protested. “I don’t feel right about slinking out of town–running from this.”

“Look–if you weren’t pregnant, we could discuss a way to end this legally,” Ric told her.” Pleading it out–asking for probation. But you’re having a baby, Elizabeth. And after the miscarriage…” he trailed off and cupped her face in his hands, drawing her face towards him and gently kissing her forehead. “I just don’t want anything to happen.”

“Okay but I want to know what’s going on. Who did you go to, Ric?” Elizabeth demanded.

She heard a car pull up in their driveway and she moved a sheer curtain out of the way to see it. In the early morning hours with little light, she could only make out a dark car.

But the figure that emerged from the driver’s side–he was unforgettable and unmistakable.

His head was down and his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. His boots–he always wore motorcycle boots whether he was in a car, limo or on his bike–were silent as he crossed the grass rather than walking up their stone-lined walkway.

Elizabeth let the curtain float back into place as she turned with wide eyes to her husband. “You asked Jason for help,” she stated.

“Who else would help without questions?” Ric asked. He shifted. “Does it worry me it didn’t take much convincing for him to help you? Sure. Am I desperate enough to ask anyway? Yes.”

Jason’s brisk knock interrupted further conversation and Ric pulled it open. Jason had no greetings–only stepped inside and kept out of sight of the windows. “We only have a few minutes,” he told Elizabeth. “I want to get out of here before the sun really gets up and people can see.”

“How exactly is this working?” she demanded. “Where am I going? And furthermore,” she glared at Ric now, “I don’t appreciate you making all these decisions for me. I barely agreed to leave and then you refuse to tell me anything that’s going on–”

“You didn’t tell her you were asking me?” Jason demanded. He narrowed his eyes. “Did he tell you that you’re leaving this morning?”

“No,” Elizabeth said, irritated. “He just woke me up and made me get dressed.” She crossed her arms. “Now I’m not taking another step until I find out what’s going on.”

“I’m getting you out of the country,” Jason informed her. “Once we’re out of the house, I’ll tell you where. No one else can know–not even Ric. And until you can come home, the only way you’ll stay in contact with people in town is through me.”

Ric expected her to argue, expected her to throw up another argument. He’d agreed to it yesterday because he thought Elizabeth would throw up a fuss and demand that at least her husband should know.

But instead Elizabeth just nodded and finished buttoning her coat. Jason gestured towards the suitcase, a duffle bag and a cardboard box which Elizabeth had packed the night before. “Is this it?”

“I only took what I’d thought I’d need. Clothing–maternity and normal. And the box is just…things to keep me from getting bored. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone and there are just some things that I can’t get anywhere.” She swung the duffle bag over her shoulder and moved to get the suitcase.

“No, let me get that,” Ric volunteered.

“No, it’d be better if you didn’t leave the house right now,” Jason told him. “When people ask where she went, tell them that her father got sick and she flew to Europe to see him.”

“Your parents live in Europe?” Ric asked, surprised.

“They have for years,” Elizabeth offered absently.

Jason frowned a little but shook it off. He picked up the box and then shifted it to one hand before grabbing her suitcase. “We’d better go.”

Ric pulled open the door and Jason left immediately. Ric tried to pull his wife close for a kiss goodbye but she just kissed him on the cheek before following Jason to the car.

Jason had her things in the trunk by the time she reached him and once her duffle bag was in there and she was in the passenger seat, he started the car and they pulled away from the house.

Elizabeth clasped her hands nervously in her lap, unable to remember the last time she had been alone with Jason in such a confined space. She cleared her throat. “I didn’t expect this to happen so fast,” she confessed softly.

He glanced at her. “How long did Ric know before he came up with this idea?”

“About ten minutes. I no sooner told him than he decided I couldn’t turn myself in.”

“Were you going to?”

“I thought about it,” she admitted. “I feel just…” she exhaled a rush of air and looked out the window. “Like something’s choking me from the inside out. I killed him, Jason. I hit him over the head and left him to die.”

Tears stung her eyes and she slid her eyelids down in an effort to stave the endless flood that seemed to plague her. “Zander. I killed Zander Smith. Emily’s first love, the f-father of my–” her voice broke. “How could I do something like that?” she asked thickly.

His fingers tightened around the steering wheel–his grip so rigid his knuckles were white. He did it in an effort not to pull over and draw her into his arms–offer her the comfort that Jason could feel she so desperately needed. But touching her was out of the question.

‘”You didn’t mean to do it,” Jason offered in an effort to make her feel better. Idly, he wondered if Ric had taken the time to really assure her that she wasn’t the person at fault here. Yes, she’d delivered the fatal blow but he’d known Zander. Knew that while Zander would never purposely hurt Elizabeth, that desperate men were capable of desperate things. Elizabeth must have been terrified to lash out in violence like she’d had.

“Intent doesn’t matter,” Elizabeth protested. “I never should have gone into that room. I should have just let it alone.” She wiped her cheeks with the back of her hands, angry at herself for breaking down in front of Jason. After all the times she’d taken comfort from him, she wouldn’t do it again. She cleared her throat. “Thank you–thank for you for helping. I wouldn’t–I wouldn’t have thought to ask you.”

“Why?” Jason asked, even though he knew the answer to that question. Because they were on opposite sides. They always had been even though it’d taken a lot of pain to see that. Because she hated asking for help and only her psychotic husband would have thought of this. Instead of taking the time and effort of getting her acquitted–which he knew she would be–he was herding his pregnant wife out of town. Taking the easy way out.

Not that Jason could blame him. Elizabeth was pregnant and no child deserved to be born behind bars and no pregnant woman deserved to go through a lengthy trial and the stress that could cause.

“Because…” Elizabeth hesitated. “Ric hates you,” she offered lamely. “I can’t imagine what made him ask you in the first place,” she admitted.

“Who else could he have asked?” Jason asked. He removed a hand from the steering wheel and rubbed the back of his neck. He hadn’t slept in almost two days. He’d left Ric on the docks and gone to his penthouse, intent on making all the arrangements for Elizabeth to leave town as quietly and efficiently as possible.

But Carly and Sonny had been arguing in the hallway, with Michael pleading with them to stop and Courtney desperately trying to referee. He’d convinced Courtney to take Carly back home and Sonny to go into his penthouse but Michael was like a leech–refused to leave his side. Normally, Jason relished spending time with his honorary nephew but he just wanted to get these arrangements made and to take a nap before having to tell Sonny he was going out of town for a few days.

But Michael was going through a difficult time–none of which was his fault so he let him tag along and set him up in his penthouse. Michael watched cartoons all afternoon while Jason was on the phone. And only when Michael fell sleep on the couch, did Jason go across the hall.

Telling Sonny had been difficult. First–they’d fought. Sonny thought Jason was trying to steal Michael from him and the next Jason knew, Sonny had told him to go ahead and take the boy–Michael loved him more anyway. Thinking that Sonny was just upset, Jason decided Michael would just stay at his place for the night.

He’d returned to his penthouse to find Courtney waiting and all she’d wanted to do was talking about them–about why they weren’t working, why they never could.

As if she already hadn’t explained it in painstaking detail a thousand times.

And when she’d opened the door to leave, they found two suitcases filled with Michael’s clothes.

Sonny had snapped. And Jason wasn’t going to trust Michael in that home until Sonny had returned to his senses.

Jason cleared his throat and looked in the rearview mirror. Michael had always been a deep sleeper and he was still curled up in the backseat, a small blanket over his body, his head resting on a pillow and his arms clutching the old giraffe that he’d never gotten rid of.

“Michael’s coming with us,” Jason finally told Elizabeth. Her eyes widened and she followed his gaze in the mirror. “Sonny–and Carly–they’re not…” he took a deep breath and tried to keep the anger and disappointment out of his voice. “Sonny’s upset because Michael came to my place yesterday but it’s only because Sonny and Carly are always arguing–not because he wants to live with me or anything,” He tried to explain–more to assure himself than to tell her. “I talked to Carly and when I told her I was leaving town for a few days and offered to take Michael, she agreed.”

“Poor little guy,” she sighed. “I can’t imagine what it’s like. Is he okay?” she asked him.

“Yeah…but I think he could use some time away from it all. You don’t mind, right?”

“No…but isn’t he going to wonder…” Elizabeth shook her head. “Where are we going?” she asked, changing the subject.

“Spain for right now,” Jason told her. “I rented a little place on the coast. It’s isolated but well stocked.”

She nodded. “Okay.” She sighed. “I wish I could have at least told Emily I was leaving. She’s been going through such a tough time with Nikolas.” The acid started churning in her stomach again. “God I hope the charges get dropped.”

“I’ll keep you updated,” Jason promised.

Elizabeth sighed. “God…this is so unfair for you. You don’t need to be doing this. You have your own life–”

“It doesn’t mean I can’t help you,” Jason argued. He glanced at her. “And I get to decide what’s fair to me.”


Michael had to be woken when they arrived at the airport and he was very fuzzy on the details seeing as how Jason had practically had to carry him down to the car in the first place.

He remembered Elizabeth from Kelly’s and from various other things and when Jason just explained he was making sure she got to her vacation house okay, he understood. After all–his mother had been pregnant and he understood that pregnant women needed to be taken care of extra special.

By the time they were in the air, Michael was awake and alert. Jason had used Sonny’s private plane, not wanting people to remember Elizabeth on a commercial flight should this whole ordeal become an issue with the law.

“So how many months ’til your baby’s born?” Michael asked, sipping the orange juice he’d been working on since breakfast.

“Three months,” Elizabeth answered.

“Does your baby kick yet?” Michael asked. He pouted. “I wasn’t with Mommy when Morgan kicked.”

“She kicks,” Elizabeth confirmed. She took one of Michael’s small hands in hers and placed it over her stomach. “Can you feel her?”

Michael nodded, excited. “Does it hurt?” he asked, intently.

“Only if she kicks the ribs.”

“So it’s a girl?”

Jason’s voice came from the other end of the cabin and it surprised her since he’d spent most of the flight on the phone, talking in a soft tone. “Yes, we found out last week,” Elizabeth told him.

“What’re you going to name her?” Michael asked. “I think it’s fun to pick out baby names. I got to suggest Morgan’s name,” he announced.

Jason frowned. “I thought your mother did,” he said, setting the phone on the receiver and shutting a file.

“I suggested it to her,” Michael corrected. “She said that names were really important, that it could mean a lot to the personality and that if you named your baby after someone, it meant that you really loved that person,” Michael said seriously.

“So you chose Morgan,” Elizabeth said with a soft smile.

“Well, yeah,” Michael said. He grinned. “Because Uncle Jason is so cool, you know?” He turned towards his uncle with complete adoration in his eyes. “I wish I were named for you,” he said with a pout.

“You’re named for your father,” Jason informed him. “And that’s just as important.”

“Yeah.” Michael sighed. “Daddy’s mad at me,” he confided in Elizabeth. “He made me leave.”

Elizabeth frowned and sat up, setting her water on the table next to her. “Made you leave?” she repeated. “What does that mean?”

“Michael, I thought I explained yesterday to you,” Jason stood and sat on the couch across from theirs.

“You’re Daddy’s friend,” Michael said patiently. “You don’t want me to be mad at him.”

Elizabeth hid a smile at how literal Michael could be. Jason might not have raised the kid, but his influence was showing.

“I heard him yelling at Uncle Jason,” Michael told Elizabeth. “I snuck out of the penthouse.”

Jason narrowed his eyes. “Michael–”

“I heard the stuff he said,” Michael said, a little unhappily. He raised his legs and tucked his knees under his chin. “He told Jason to take me with him since I loved him more.”

Elizabeth tried to control the horrified gasp that rose in throat. She swallowed it and studied Jason’s stricken expression. “Michael–” Jason began.

“He told Jason that he wished he’d never adopted me. That I’m just a whore’s bastard.” He frowned and looked at Elizabeth. “What does that mean?”

Jason straightened. “Michael–”

“It doesn’t mean anything,” Elizabeth interrupted. She drew Michael to her side. “They’re just words adults use when they’re angry.”

“But they have to mean something,” Michael said, a little stubbornly. “What does it mean?”

“Your dad’s going through a tough time,” Jason began explaining for what felt like the hundredth time.

“But why does that have to mean I have to move out? And how come I can’t stay at home or see my mom?” Michael asked petulantly. “Just because he’s in a bad mood, it don’t mean he has to take it out on me.”

“You’re right,” Jason sighed. “And I’m sorry you had to hear those things.”

“A judge asked me who I wanted to live with,” Michael told Elizabeth. “Do you think it’s bad that I told them Uncle Jason?”

Jason stood up suddenly. “You said that?” he asked, finally understanding Sonny’s irrational behavior.

Michael nodded. “Yeah, cause…ever since you came home you never left again. Mommy’s left twice and Daddy’s never around. And you don’t yell or throw glasses and you don’t say mean things that people won’t explain because they think I’m too young. I thought I’d say Aunt Courtney but she left too and sometimes she makes me feel like I’m just a little baby.”

Even as he said this long speech, his eyes were drooping and Elizabeth could feel his body becoming more and more relaxed and belatedly, she realized she’d been stroking his hair.

“Mommy used to do that,” he sighed. He wrapped his arms around her and closed his eyes.

When Jason knew Michael was asleep, he sat back down slowly and exhaled slowly. “I can’t believe how out of control this situation has gotten,” he said quietly.

“It doesn’t surprise me that he feels so strongly for you,” Elizabeth murmured, moving her hand to his back and rubbing in slow circles. “I know how much you love him and if I know–how could he not?”

“It doesn’t matter. I’m–I’m not his father. He should have picked Sonny or Carly.”

Elizabeth wisely kept her thoughts on that matter quiet. “Well, I’m glad he feels like he can depend on you. He needs someone stable.”

Jason couldn’t help but laugh a little. “And I’m stable?” he asked.

“Out of that particular group of people, you’re pretty much Ward Cleaver,” Elizabeth replied. At his frown, she sighed. “Yeah…you are,” she settled for.

He watched her lean back against the sofa cushions and how she adjusted Michael’s body so he’d be more comfortable–all without the little boy stirring or ceasing the backrub. “You’ll make a good mother,” he said impulsively.

She smiled, not taking her eyes off the redhead sleeping at her side. “God, I hope so,” she murmured.

This entry is part 1 of 17 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Shadows #1

It’d been eating her up inside. Since the moment Nikolas Cassadine was arrested, Elizabeth Lansing felt the acid churning in her stomach.
She paced the living room of their new home. There were still boxes everywhere–she hadn’t had the energy to unpack more things over the last month or so. In fact, only three rooms were furnished. The living room, their bedroom and the kitchen.

She’d picked out a room upstairs for the nursery but beyond a few half-hearted sketches for a mural on the wall, it remained a blank room.

Elizabeth grabbed the remote for the VCR and pressed rewind. The television reporter’s face went backwards and then she pressed play.

“Preliminary autopsy reports of Alexander Lewis AKA Zander Smith have been released to the press detailing that while the body was burned very badly, the cause of death appears to be a blow to the head.”
She rewound it again.

“…the cause of death appears to be a blow to the head.”

Again.

“…appears to be a blow to the head.”

Again.

“…a blow to the head.”

She pressed the power button and the screen went black. The words kept echoing in her head. Elizabeth closed her eyes and fought against the sting of tears.

“It was an accident,” she announced to the empty room. “I didn’t–I didn’t mean to do it.”

She braced a hand on her lower back, feeling the stress of her pregnancy, feeling the stress of this whole month.

“I was terrified,” she whispered. “He looked…so angry. I didn’t know what he’d do.”

“I didn’t mean…I didn’t know that I hit him so hard.”

She felt the acid rising into her throat and covered her mouth, the tears streaking down her cheeks. “But it doesn’t matter. Because Nikolas didn’t do it.”

The door opened behind her but she didn’t turn to it. “Sorry, I’m late again,” her husband said. “I hope you didn’t wait to eat.”

“Ric.” Elizabeth slowly circled around. Ric Lansing frowned, set his briefcase on the floor.

“Elizabeth, what’s wrong?” he asked quickly. He hurried towards her and put his hands on her face. “Are you in pain? Is it the baby?”

She shook her head. “No. I need–I need to tell you something.” She backed away from him and turned away. “The night of the fire…I was at the hotel earlier that night. Before the fire broke out.”

Ric frowned. “Why? When?”

“I wanted to talk to Emily,” Elizabeth said softly, her throat felt thick and it was hard to talk. She was a murderer. How could she ever reconcile herself to that fact? “I saw Maxie Jones coming out of a door that I knew led to the basement. I only really paid any attention because you told me you thought she knew more about Zander’s disappearance than she was saying.”

Ric nodded. “She was hiding him down there after he’d gotten shot,” he informed her. “Is that what you wanted to tell me?” he asked, hope in his voice. He didn’t want her to say what he was beginning to realize was possible.

“No.” Elizabeth took a deep breath and kept her eyes trained on their second wedding photo. “I, ah, after I talked to Emily, I saw Nikolas coming out of that same room. I couldn’t…I was curious so I went and opened the door. I thought if he was down there, I could get the door closed before he noticed me and then I could tell you.”

“Elizabeth…” Ric trailed off. He had no words. He had nothing he could say to make this better–to make it go away.

“But he saw me. A-and…he ran up the stairs. At first he was just trying to get me to keep him a secret. He told me was leaving town–I wasn’t saying anything. I was in a little shock and I didn’t know what I’d do,” Elizabeth admitted. She turned, the tears streaking trails down her cheeks. “I didn’t know if I’d let him get away and then tell you–or not tell you at all…I didn’t know.”

“It’s okay. Zander was your friend a lot longer than we’ve known each other,” Ric assured her. “I understand.”

“I guess he didn’t–he took my silence to mean that I would tell and–then he grabbed my arm.” She held it out and slid up the sleeve to reveal a dark bruise in the shape of fingers. “He wouldn’t let me go,” she whispered. “He just–he was scaring me. I’d never seen him like that and I just–I just wanted to get out of there.”

He stepped towards her then, the bruise on her arm making his blood run cold. “You hit him to get away,” Ric said slowly.

She nodded. “I reached out and grabbed something. A pipe, I guess, I don’t really know. And I hit him. I–I didn’t mean to hurt him–I didn’t mean to kill him!” she cried.

Ric pulled her into his arms then. “Okay, okay, no, of course you didn’t. It’s okay. We’ll fix this.”

“We can’t fix this,” she said, clutching his arms like a lifeline. “I killed him. It’s involuntary manslaughter at the very least. I’ll have to go to jail–”

“No. You are not going to jail,” Ric said forcibly. He helped her seat down and he perched on the edge of their coffee table. “Now I want you to take deep breaths. It’s not good for the baby for you to get so upset, okay?”

“Okay.”

“No one right now suspects you,” Ric told her. “Now–that’s not saying they never will. They’re still sifting through the evidence at the scene and it’s possible they could find that pipe and your finger prints could be on it.”

Elizabeth nodded numbly. “And then they’ll know,” she whispered. “I can’t run from this, Ric–I’m guilty.”

“You were scared, you were trying to protect yourself,” Ric protested. “He had you by the arm–you didn’t mean to do it.”

“That doesn’t make me any less guilty.”

“In the eyes of the law,” Ric nodded, “no.” He took a deep breath. “Okay, you have to get out of town. Disappear. No one can know where you are. I’ll get this case closed and you can come back–”

“I don’t want you to do anything illegal,” Elizabeth interrupted. “If the evidence points to me, I don’t want you to do anything to get rid of it.”

Ric closed his eyes. “Elizabeth, that means you could never come back–”

“I don’t care,” she said stubbornly.

“Okay, chances are–finger prints won’t even be identifiable by the time they find anything,” Ric told her. “We’ll get you out of town–I shouldn’t even know where you end up.” He put his hands in the pockets of his suit jacket. “I think I know who to go to for help.”

Elizabeth frowned. “What? Who?”

“I–” he hesitated. “I think I know someone who would help you. It’s…it’s probably the equivalent of selling my soul to the devil, but I’ll do it.”

Elizabeth stood. “Ric…who are you talking about?”

“I’ll be right back.” Ric left the house before she could get another word out.


“This better be good.”

Ric stepped across the docks gingerly and kept his voice quiet. “I need your help.”

Jason Morgan raised his eyebrows. “Are you kidding me?” He shook his head and started back up the stairs.

“Elizabeth needs your help,” Ric called after him.

He heard Jason sigh and turn back around. “With that?” he asked stiffly.

“She…” Ric hesitated. “She needs to get out of town. Disappear. No one can find her until it’s safe.”

Jason came down the steps and grabbed Ric by his lapels. “What the hell did you do this time?” he demanded.

“Nothing,” Ric assured him. “She’s…she accidentally killed Zander and until the case is closed or marked inactive, I need her to get out of town.”

Jason pushed him away. “You sure she’s not covering for you?” he said scathingly.

“Look, I can’t stand asking you for this,” Ric retorted. “I’ll confess to it myself before she’s sent to jail.” He stepped towards the irate man. “Can you imagine her in jail, Jason? She’s pregnant. She’ll give birth to her baby in jail. Is that something you imagined her having to do one day?”

“A good lawyer would get her acquitted,” Jason said uncomfortably.

“The first thing they’d break is her spirit,” Ric seethed. “I would rather die than see that happen. Can you picture her in a jail cell? Locked away? From her family? Her friends? Her paintings?”

Jason took a deep breath and tilted his head to the sky. He didn’t need this right now. With the problems with Courtney, Sonny and Carly ripping each other to shreds, the territory war brewing with Faith…

“I cannot picture you in jail.”

“I’d look the same.”

The words just whispered in his ear and he remembered standing here with her all those years ago. And he finally understood what she’d been trying to say.

“All right. I’ll do it.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Have her ready by six in the morning. I’ll pick her up. You won’t know where she is and the only way to contact her will be through me. I’ll give you more details in the morning.” He turned and started up the stairs again.

“Thank you,” Ric said.

“I’m not doing this for you,” were Jason’s words as he disappeared around a corner.

“I know,” he said softly.

This entry is part 4 of 13 in the series Fiction Graveyard: True To Your Heart

When you’re standing at the crossroads
And don’t know which path to choose,
Let me come along,
‘Cause even if you’re wrong,
I’ll stand by you,
I’ll stand by you,
Won’t let nobody hurt you. 

— The Pretenders, I’ll Stand By You


Carly exited the guest room after tucking David and Delilah into the large bed. She rubbed her eyes wearily–Davie had once asked what was wrong with his mother–why she wasn’t tucking him in. When Carly couldn’t answer, he’d started crying again, leaving his older sister to hug him and soothe him asleep.

She ran into Michael who had been leaving the bathroom, a toothbrush still in his mouth. He stopped, seeing his mother, and pulled the red brush out of his mouth. “They okay?”

Carly sighed and rubbed her eyes. So many things were swirling around in her head. Jason, Elizabeth, Alexis, Christina, Ned, Michael, Sonny, Davie, Dee…Drew, Mandy. She was just so tired of secrets and of protecting them.

“Mom?” Michael asked concerned, reaching out to touch his mother’s shoulders. “You okay?”

Carly nodded. “Yeah.” She flashed him a brief smile. “Just a little tired. Long day.”

Michael nodded. “All right. How about the kids…they coping all right?”

“They’re confused,” Carly admitted. “They don’t understand what’s happening and it’s not my place to tell him. Jason called from the hospital earlier–they’re releasing Liz in two days.”

“You sure you’re okay, Mom?” Michael asked. “You just look…you look…” he stopped, unable to find the words. He just shrugged. “You look like something’s wrong.”

Tell him, a nagging little voice whispered. Tell him the truth and maybe you can save some shred of a life. Because Sonny’s going to find out–and Michael will want to know why he can’t take the test. Tell him. Carly wanted so badly to just tell Alexis to fuck off–to find another donor for her kid.

But while Carly was a selfish person and would always remain that way, she was first and foremost, a mother. And she knew without a doubt that if Michael were sick, she’d beg Courtney to test Jocelyn and Steven. She’d beg and she’d reveal any secret she’d have to save his life.

And because Carly could understand how difficult it was for Alexis to even broach the subject, she would do it for her. She would agree for Sonny to know the truth and for Mandy and Drew to be tested.

And if it came to the point where Sonny found out Carly had known and Michael found out that AJ was his father…well, it was a price Carly was willing to pay.

Because Christina Chloe Ashton had her father’s dimples.

“I’m fine,” Carly said again. “I was at the hospital today, and you know how that place can wear a person out.”

Michael nodded. “All right. Well, I’m going to bed.” He gave his mother a kiss on the cheek and he headed down the hallway to his room. Carly sighed and turned in the opposite direction towards the master bedroom.

Somehow, in the past ten years, Carly had managed to deal with the fact that Sonny would never know Christina and she’d rationalized it to the point where it didn’t bother her. Sonny had a full family in Michael, Amanda and Drew–he didn’t need Christina. And she obviously adored Alexis and Ned, so no one was actually suffering.

There’d been days when she didn’t even think about the secret that could cost her marriage, in fact weeks would go by without thinking about it. But every once in a while, it would sneak up on her and the guilt would be overwhelming.

And tonight–it was almost choking her.

She entered the bedroom and headed straight for the closet so that she could shed her day clothes and dress for the night. Once she was in a short cotton nightgown, she slipped under the covers and was content to fall asleep a few inches from her husband’s grasp.

Sonny had other ideas–and an arm wound around her waist, pulling her against his chest. Carly sighed and tried to snuggle into his embrace–but it felt suffocating and she could feel the tears in her eyes.

Because for some reason, she had this inexplicable feeling that Sonny was going to find out.


Elizabeth shifted in Jason’s arms and burrowed her face against his chest. He felt her move and tightened his arms around her. He was hoping this would be the last of Elizabeth shutting him out–but he knew better. He knew that she’d try again and again–because she’d learned the defense mechanism from him.

And just like Elizabeth had convinced him to trust her and to open up to her, Jason was going to do the same. He’d been so incredibly lucky to have her walk into life after he’d nearly lost her–he’d never make that mistake again.

He’d thought they were over–she’d started dating again. She’d been dating Lucky again. But one day out of the blue, she’d walked into his penthouse.

“Elizabeth. What…what are you doing here?”

She smiled nervously. “Truthfully? I…I’m not really sure.”

He stepped back from the door so that she could enter. She walked past him and turned to face as he closed the door. “Is everything okay?”

“No…nothing’s okay.” She looked down at her hands and started twisting a silver ring on her thumb. “I need…need to tell you…something.”

“All right.”

“Lucky told me last night that he loved me–”

“Elizabeth, I don’t–”

“Please,” She said softly, meeting his eyes. “Please,” she repeated, “let me finish. I promise…this isn’t like it used to be.” When he didn’t say anything, she continued. “He told me that he loved me and he looked at me like he was waiting for me to say it back. But…I…couldn’t. And I realized why I was even dating him. I was with him…to forget.”

“Forget what?” Jason asked after she didn’t continue.

“Forget you.” She looked down at the ground. “I told Lucky I could do it anymore–that I couldn’t keep pretending to be with someone that I didn’t care about just so I could pretend I wasn’t in love with someone else.”

His mouth suddenly felt dry. “You…you’re in love with someone?”

She looked at him apprehensively. “I’m in love with you.” She looked away almost as quickly as she had looked at him. She bit her lip as she struggled with her next words. “I know…I know that it doesn’t mean anything anymore…but I just thought…I thought you should know that I’m sorry.”

He stared at her for a few minutes but she didn’t remove her gaze from the wooden floor. Finally, he said, “It does mean something.”

She looked up then, a flicker of hope in her eyes. “It…it does?”

He nodded. “Yeah. It means a lot. Elizabeth…I love you.”

They hadn’t gotten together officially until later, on Christmas Day. It’d been a slow process, but she’d moved back into the penthouse six months later, in the early summer. And then, Christmas Day 2006, they’d gotten married. Delilah had been born two years later, David after another two years and they were going to have a third child–one last baby to complete their family. Her grandmother had passed away shortly after David was born, leaving them her house. Elizabeth had wanted to name the baby after either Audrey or her grandfather, Steve.

Elizabeth stirred again and he looked down at her. Her eyes were open, peering up at him “Hi.”

“Hi.”

She pulled her arms away from him and rolled over onto her back, turning her head towards the window where the sun was rising. “You should go. Dee and Davie are probably upset.”

“You’re leaving the hospital tomorrow,” Jason told her. “They’ll be fine with Sonny and Carly until then.”

“I appreciate you being here,” she said, “but they need you more than me. They need to sleep in their own beds, in their own rooms. I just…I want to be alone.”

“I told you–I’m not leaving you,” Jason started.

“Jason, please don’t make me call security again,” she said softly. “Why can’t you just leave me alone?”

“Because that’s not what you really want,” Jason said.

“Yes it is,” she replied.

“Elizabeth.”

“What?” she asked.

“Look at me.”

“Jason…” she sighed and turned her face towards him. “Please go home. Get changed. Take a real nap, eat some real food. You’ve been in this hospital for two days now.”

“Don’t do that,” Jason said, touching the side of her face. “You know that there’s no where else I’d rather be.”

She managed a small smile–a fake one–but a smile nonetheless. “Jason…it’s not just the two of us anymore. Dee and Davie are probably so worried and confused.”

He took a deep breath and looked away. “You’re right.” He brought his eyes back to meet hers. “I’ll make you a deal. I’ll go home, shower, change and eat. I’ll go to the penthouse and spend some time with the kids. I’ll bring them to the hospital so they’ll know you’re okay.”

“And then you’ll take them back to the house tonight,” Elizabeth finished.

“Elizabeth–”

“Jason, don’t make this harder than it has to be.”

“All right,” he finally conceded. “I’ll go home tonight. But I’m coming back first thing in the morning.”


Alexis paced the corridor outside of Christie’s room early that morning waiting for Carly to show up. They hadn’t gotten anything resolved the day before other than the fact that the truth had to be told but it couldn’t come from Carly.

She darted a look towards the bed where her daughter was sleeping peacefully and sent a silent prayer up swearing that if they got out of this reasonably unscathed, she’d never ask for another thing again.

She heard Carly’s telltale heels and turned to see the blonde walking briskly down the hall. She looked as though she’d just gotten out of bed, with a plain black tank top and blue jeans. She had her long hair pulled into a tight ponytail and the sound of her black boots clicked against the floor as she approached.

“Morning,” Carly said. She handed Alexis one of the coffee cups she was carrying. Alexis accepted it gratefully and darted another look at Christie. “How is she?” Carly asked quietly.

“She’s still sick,” Alexis replied. “The chemo…it’s wearing on her.” She looked back at her. “So, how do you want to do this?”

Carly sipped her coffee and didn’t answer for a few minutes. Alexis recognized that the woman was in a difficult place–she stood to lose more than Alexis–her husband and her son’s trust. Finally, Carly said, “I think the best thing to do is just to tell him. Sit him down, explain Christie’s condition first. And then tell him the truth.” She bit her lip. “I can’t guarantee how soon he’ll tell me, but the second he does, I’ll have Mandy and Drew here being tested, I promise.”

“I haven’t told you this yet,” Alexis began softly, “but this means a lot to me. You have no idea–”

“I’m not doing this for you,” Carly cut in. She looked in at Christie. “I’m doing this because she is his daughter and that means something to me. I’m doing this because I know you feel. If one of AJ’s kids were sick, I wouldn’t hesitate–I’d have Michael tested in a heartbeat. I love my children–they’ve made me a better person and I never want another woman to lose a child.”

“You’re thinking about your miscarriage,” Alexis said.

“That and I’m thinking about Elizabeth’s, too,” Carly replied. “I’m hoping to stop in and see her today.”

“How is she?” Alexis asked.

Carly shrugged. “I don’t know. I stopped by yesterday and saw Jason. She’d kicked him out of her room.”

Alexis frowned. “That doesn’t sound like her.”

“Well, she was six months pregnant.” Carly rubbed her eyes, exhausted. She’d barely gotten any sleep the night before, the guilt keeping her awake. “She and Jason had felt the baby kick, they’d had ultrasounds, started the nursery. You know, it’s not easy to lose a baby that late. Sometimes it’s easy when you’re not showing and no one else knows.”

“Ned stopped by her room last night but she was already asleep,” Alexis said.

Carly knitted her eyebrows together in confusion. “I hadn’t realized she and Ned knew each other all that well.”

“Elizabeth worked for Ned a long time ago and she was good friends with Chloe Morgan–remember her? Well, with her being married to Jason and being friends with Emily, she and Ned are always in contact. They’re good friends.” A troubled look crossed her face. “She wanted to test Davie and Dee–she knew the chances were low since Jason and Ned are only cousins, but the idea was nice.” Alexis shot a look at Carly. “I thought about asking AJ since Courtney is Sonny’s sister, which meant Jocelyn and Steven are Christie’s cousins, but…I didn’t. I don’t want to take any chances. Mandy, Eddie and Drew are her only siblings–and Eddie doesn’t match.”

Carly nodded. “Well, I’m going to stop by Liz’s room. When are you going to be doing it? I’ll make sure I’m not at the penthouse.”

Alexis sighed and looked through the window where Christie was moving around restlessly. “Sometime today I suppose,” she murmured. “I have to get in with her–she’s going to be up soon.”

“Well, I’ll see you later,” Carly replied. She turned and headed back down the hall.


Michael and Lu were at the penthouse when Jason arrived, lounging on the couch and flipping through channels. He had to smile at the two–Lu was lying down with her head in Michael’s lap and he had his feet on the coffee table.

At his entrance, Lu tilted her head up to look. “Aloha, Jase. How are ya?””

“I’m good, Lu. Hey, Michael. Where are…?”

“Daddy!”

Delilah all but flew down the steps and was a blonde blur as she streaked towards her father. Her flying leap only brought her to about his knees, but Jason pulled up in his arms easily.

“Hey,” he said, grinning at the blue-eyed blonde who was hugging him.

“I miss you so much,” Dee chirped. “You bringing me and Davie home? We gonna see Mama?”

“We’re going to see Mama in a few hours,” Jason said. “And yes, I’m bringing you and Davie home.”

Dee started bouncing, excited. “Is Mama gonna be at home?”

“No, but she’ll be home tomorrow,” Jason replied.

Dee’s excited smile fell from her face. “Where’s Mama?” she asked, her lower lip trembling.

“Mama’s a little sick,” Jason explained in quiet voice. “She’s in the hospital.”

“Like Gramma?” Dee asked, scrunching her face.

Jason frowned. “You remember that?”

Dee nodded solemnly. “Gramma was in a big white bed with lots of tubes.” Dee bit her lip. “Does Mama have tubes?”

“Not like your grandmother,” Jason said. “She only has one so she can stay healthy.”

“What’s wrong with her?” Dee asked softly. “Why isn’t Mama home?”

“One thing at a time.” Jason put her back on her feet and grasped her little hand in his. “Where’s your brother?”

“He’s upstairs, taking his nap,” Dee said importantly. “I tucked him in all by myself.”

“Uh oh,” Lu giggled. She looked at Jason. “You might want to check on him. The last time Dee tucked him in, she tied the blanket in a knot.”

Jason grinned down at his daughter who was peering up at him with an impish smile. “That’s my girl. Did you use the knot Daddy showed you?” Dee nodded eagerly and Jason tousled her hair. “Wait down here with your cousins and I’ll get your brother. We’re going out to eat and then we’re gonna see Mama.”

“Yay!” Dee exclaimed, clapping her hands. Jason headed up the stairs to unravel his son from whatever knot Delilah had tied him in this time, leaving the blonde downstairs to torture her cousins.

Dee studied her cousin Michael very carefully and he stared back at her with an amused expression. “Can I help you?'” he asked.

Dee shrugged. “Just trying to figure out what Mandy meant.”

Lu tossed a confused look up at her cousin before looking at Dee. “What did Mandy mean?”

“She said that Mikey didn’t look like no one in the family,” Dee said, pulling herself onto the couch. “Cuz they both gots blonde hair and tan skin and you’s got brown hair and white skin. Plus, you’s got blue eyes and everyone else gots brown.”

Michael frowned. “Mandy said all this?”

Dee nodded. “Yup. Everything ‘cept the eyes thing. That’s all me.” She grinned proudly.


Carly knocked on Elizabeth’s hospital door lightly and pushed the already ajar door open. “Hey.”

Elizabeth shifted to a seated position and brushed her hair out of her face. “Hi.”

“Mind if I come in?” Carly asked.

Elizabeth frowned. “Why?”

“You know what? I’m sorry if I’m a little concerned since you are my best friend’s wife–”

“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth sighed. “Yeah. Come in.”

Carly closed the door behind her and entered the room. “Where’s Jason?”

“I made him go home,” Elizabeth replied. “He’s been here since…he hasn’t changed and I doubt he’s had anything–”

“Stop it, okay?” Carly said, folding her arms. “I’ve had a rough couple days so do not sit there and pretend that you sending Jason away has anything to with anyone but you.”

Elizabeth narrowed her eyes. “How dare you–”

“You’re sittin’ in here…lights off–” Carly paused to flick the light switch on, “–feelin’ sorry for yourself and all the while your husband who adores you has been roasting his ass on the sorry excuse for chairs in the hallway.”

Elizabeth looked away. “I just…I just wanted to be alone. I wanted to sit in the dark and be alone. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”

“Why?” Carly challenged. “Why won’t you let Jason support you?”

Elizabeth looked down at her white sheets. “Because I don’t want support,” she said quietly. “I just want to be alone.”

A strange smile crossed Carly’s face. “Oh my God.”

Elizabeth regarded her with suspicious eyes. “What?”

“You’re a selfish bitch.”

“What? How dare–”

“I knew you weren’t perfect!” Carly crowed triumphantly. She pulled a chair up to the side of Elizabeth’s bed and sat down. “Good, now maybe we can talk.”

“Wait, what’s wrong with you?” Elizabeth asked.

“You…you’re not pretending to be perfect and you’re not trying to do what’s right for everyone for once.” Carly leaned back in her chair and smirked. “It’s refreshing. You want to be alone and miserable and damn what Jason wants from you, you’re gonna do it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before.”

Elizabeth just shook her head. “I always knew you were crazy.”

“All joking aside, though, Elizabeth,” Carly said, her voice suddenly serious. She leaned forward. “I am sorry for what’s going on–I’ve been where you are and it’s not fun.”

“Thanks,” Elizabeth replied. “So, what are you doing here…at the hospital?”

Carly frowned. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“You and I aren’t the best of friends, so I don’t think your sole reason was to come and see me.” Elizabeth cocked her head to the side. “So, why are you here?”

Carly’s spine stiffened. “Business.”

Elizabeth cracked a tiny smile. “You’ve been married to Sonny too long.”

Carly rolled her eyes. “Tell me about it.” She fell silent, realizing that her marriage might be coming to its end. “So, when are you getting out?”

“Tomorrow,” Elizabeth replied.

Carly hesitated but finally decided to go for it. “Jason tells me you’re a good listener…is that true?”

“I guess. I’ve never had any complaints.” Elizabeth cocked her head to the side. “Why?”

Carly bit her lip and looked away. Could she trust Elizabeth? After so many years, was it possible that Carly could confide in her without her reporting to Jason who’d tell Sonny? “Are you a friend first or a wife?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Elizabeth asked.

“Where does your loyalty lie?” Carly asked. “If I told you something that Sonny didn’t know, would you tell Jason?”

“No!” Elizabeth replied, slightly horrified. “I’d never break someone confidence. Trust is important to me–and Jason knows I’d never do it.”

Elizabeth’s assurance helped but Carly was still reluctant to put Elizabeth in the middle of it. She was going through a tough time–she didn’t need Carly’s baggage added on. “I don’t think I’ll tell you…not right now.”

“Carly, you’re not…you’re not in any trouble are you?” Elizabeth asked.

Carly shook her head. “No.” She neglected to mention that if Sonny ever found she knew…

Well, if he found out, she’d be more than in trouble. She’d probably be looking at divorce papers.

“No, I’m not,” Carly continued, “but if I find out I am…can I talk to you?”

“Sure,” Elizabeth said. She grimaced. “Anything so Jason will think I’m not retreating into myself.”

Carly stood. “Don’t worry–it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be tough at first…because you’ll wonder if there was anything you could have done differently, but eventually you realize that things happen for a reason.” She looked down at the floor. “Sonny and my child…it was created during a night that never should have happened and as much as it hurt then and still hurts now…I don’t think that child was meant to be born.” She met Elizabeth’s eyes. “Don’t do anything because you want Jason to think you’re okay. You’ll be okay in your own time and Jason will never push you…well…not until he gets way too irritated, but you and I both know that never happens.”

Carly left then, leaving Elizabeth to wonder what Carly was up to this time.

This entry is part 3 of 13 in the series Fiction Graveyard: True To Your Heart

No one makes it right
Like you do Like you do
No one makes it right
Like you do Like you do
No one makes it right like you 

— Bryan Adams, No One Makes It Right 


Carly found Jason sitting down the hall from Elizabeth’s room. She set the bag with a change of clothes next to him and took a seat across from him. “Hey.”

Jason looked up, his face worn and haggard. “Hey. How are—”

“They’re fine,” Carly cut in. “Davie doesn’t really understand what’s going on but Dee keeping him company.” She hesitated. “Dee asked a lot of questions. We didn’t know how to answer.”

“I wouldn’t either,” Jason replied, staring down at his hands. He was still wearing the dress pants and white button down shirt from the celebration dinner the night before. “She’s locked me out of the room.”

Carly’s brown eyes softened with sympathy. “Oh, Jase.” She reached out to touch his hand. “She’s in a bad place right now—I know that you’re sad about the baby, but  it’s different for Liz. Women get so attached to the baby when we’re carrying it—it’s part of us. We can feel their little feet kicking and we can’t help but fall in love without even seeing them. Losing a baby so far along in the pregnancy—” A shadow passed over Carly’s face and she twisted her diamond ring. “It’s a devastating blow. And  she’s going to try and shut you out. She’s like you, Jase. She just wants to protect you—and keeping you from seeing her in pain—it’s the easiest way.”

“I just…” Jason let out a frustrated breath. “I just want to help.”

Carly looked away. “You know she’s never going to be my favorite person, right?”

“Carly—”

She smiled. “Chill—I’m not bashing her. If you haven’t noticed, since the two of you patched it up, I’ve tried to be nice to her and we’ve even formed a truce. As much as I’d like it to be different…I know how much you love each other. And Dee and Davie. She loves you enough to protect you—and you’ve done it to her a dozen times—don’t try and tell me you haven’t.” Carly rubbed his shoulder. “But no matter how many times everything has been against you…the two of you have spit in all of our faces and been happy anyway.” She gave him a brief smile. “I see no reason that has to stop. So, give her some space. See if she can’t snap out of this herself.”

“And if that doesn’t work?” Jason asked.

Carly smiled again. “You can try what Sonny did.”

“Yeah? What’s that?”

“Kidnap her and take to her the island.”


Elizabeth rolled over in her hospital bed and stared at the window. It was early afternoon and she was alone in the room.

Which was just the way she preferred to be. She wanted to sit in her room in the dark and she wanted to be alone.

She felt twinges of guilt—she had had Jason removed from the room after all. She didn’t know how to make him understand that she needed to be alone.

Her hand strayed to her abdomen to where just this time yesterday, she’d been six months pregnant. It’d been amazing—she and Emily had been due within days of one another. Their children were going to grow up together—be the best of friends.

“I’m going to name her Lila, of course,” Emily said, her brown eyes sparkling with happiness. She flipped through the baby name book she’d brought home from the store. “I just don’t know about a middle name.” She put her feet on top of the coffee table and stretched out.

Elizabeth smiled. “Jason’s not into names—and no amount of threatening is going to work. So, I’ve decided on Steven for a boy and Audrey for a girl. I don’t know  about middle names either.”

Emily leaned forward. “Wouldn’t it be wild if they were born on the same day?”

“I think that would be incredible—they could be best friends…just like us.”

And now Lila Paige Quartermaine or Lucas Alan Quartermaine would not have a cousin after all—and wouldn’t have a built-in best friend.

A soft knock sounded on the door. “Elizabeth?”

She sat up a little and sighed. She wanted to see him—she was selfish enough to admit that. “Come in.”

The door opened slowly, letting in a sliver of light. She could see the outline of his figure as he entered the room. “Why is it so dark in here?”

“I want it that way,” Elizabeth remarked.

He closed the door and the room was thrown into blackness. Jason didn’t come any closer—and she was grateful to him for keeping his distance. She twisted the edge of the white hospital blanket between her thumb and forefingers. They hadn’t been this awkward around one another for years—not since their marriage for sure.

“I don’t know what to say to you,” he said finally.

“I know you don’t agree with me wanting to be alone,” Elizabeth said, her soft voice sounding much louder in the quiet room. “But I can’t help the way I feel. And all I want to do is sit in here, in the dark and be alone.” She tried to search his eyes out, but it was too dark. “And I want you to go home and take the kids back to the house.”

“And I can’t help the way I feel,” Jason replied. “And I want to stay here with you until you’re released.”

“Jason—” Elizabeth began.

“I’ll sleep on the chair in the hallway if you don’t want me in here,” Jason replied. “But I’m not leaving you.”

She bit her lip and leaned over to click on the lamp that sat on the small nightstand next to her bed. The room was still dark—but she could see Jason more clearly. She shifted over in the bed and patted it. “Come on.”

He hesitated. “Are you sure?”

She gave him a small smile. “Yeah. So come to bed before I change my mind, all right?”


Carly left Jason at Elizabeth’s door with firm instructions to keep knocking until she at least let him in. She set off for the ICU unit and the private room where Christina Ashton was staying.

Ned was leaning against the wall next to the door, a hand over his eyes. At the sound of Carly’s heels against the floor, he looked up. “Carly.”

She stopped a few feet away. “Hi.” She twisted her ring on her finger and ran a hand through her blonde hair. “How is she?”

“What are you doing here?” Ned asked, ignoring her question.

“Look…I just…” Carly sighed. “I want to tell you that I’m sorry that it’s happening. And if there’s anything I can do, just let—”

“We don’t want or need your help,” Ned said, his tone scathing. Stung, Carly took a step back.

“What’s going on out here?” Alexis asked, leaning around the doorframe. She caught sight of Carly. “Carly.”

Carly took a deep breath. “I just wanted to see how Christie is.”

Alexis shot a look at Ned. “And I suppose Ned was being his helpful self.”

Carly forced down the snappy comeback she was ready to throw at the Ashtons and opted for the mature way. “Ned and I were just discussing an offer I made.”

“I was explaining to Carly that we don’t want her help,” Ned said.

“I don’t think that’s wise,” Alexis said. She looked over her shoulder at Christie’s peacefully sleeping form. She looked back to Ned. “Why don’t you sit with her? Carly  and I can get a cup of coffee.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Ned asked, taking a step closer to her. Alexis took a deep breath nodded.

“I’m going to do whatever’s necessary,” Alexis replied, keeping her voice low.

“All right.” Ned tossed another look at Carly before entering Christie’s room.


Carly sat across from Alexis in the cafeteria staring into a cup of ugly thick black coffee. She wasn’t sure where to start and for the first time in Alexis’s life, she had a feeling the other woman didn’t know either.

Finally, Carly pushed the cup aside. “Look, I think we’re both in agreement—that Christina’s life is what matters here.”

Alexis looked up startled. “Even if Sonny finds out you knew?”

Carly frowned. “You think I’d sacrifice your daughter because of that? I’m not a good person, Alexis, but I’m a mother first and foremost and my children mean everything to me. I know you feel the same way.”

“I do,” Alexis agreed. She cleared her throat. “Ned and I decided that the truth should come out. That Amanda and Andrew need to be tested as soon as possible.”

“Of course,” Carly replied. “I wish there was a way to get them tested without Sonny knowing. But the procedure—it’s complicated, isn’t it?”

Alexis leaned forward. “Are you sure you want your children to go through it?”

“I don’t want them experiencing any pain, but I don’t think we have a choice,” Carly replied. “Like it or not, Christina is their sister. And I’d like to think they’d make that choice.”

Alexis rubbed her eyes, exhausted. “I can’t believe you’re being so agreeable.”

“I only have one condition,” Carly said.

Alexis frowned. “I knew it.”

“Sonny can never know I knew,” Carly said, her voice just a little tinged with desperation. “Never.”

“He will never find out from me,” Alexis pledged.

Carly took another deep breath. “All right.”

Alexis darted a look around. “What about Michael?”

Carly’s forehead creased in confusion. “What about him? He’s not Sonny’s biological son.”

“Won’t he wonder why he’s not taking the test?” Alexis asked.

Carly looked down at her hands. “Michael isn’t aware that he’s not Sonny’s son. And I don’t want anything to happen to change his mind about it.”

“He can’t take the test and not find out,” Alexis said. “Siblings are usually at least 25% matches—Michael won’t match and the doctors might tell him that.”

Carly sucked in a sharp breath. “I didn’t…I didn’t realize.” She scratched her forehead. “You know what? We’ll…we’ll deal with that as it comes.”


Lu leaned against the bar. “You know, one day I’m taking this all over.”

Michael smirked and twisted on one of the bar stools. “Over your father’s dead body. He’s terrified you’re going to redecorate.”

“Well, look at the place,” Lu said, waving her hand around, wrinkling her nose. “It was sweetly eccentric when he opened the club, but it’s been nearly twenty years and he still refuses to let anyone touch it—I think it’s time for a change.”

“Which is Luke will leave this place to Lucky and not you,” Michael replied, taking another gulp of his soda.

Lu shrugged. “I’ll find a way.” She looked up as the door to the club opened. “Hey, we’re not open–” she started to call out before she recognized the newcomers. “Daddy!” she squealed, taking off and practically leaping into her father’s arms.

“Hiya, princess,” Luke Spencer said, practically lifting his daughter off the ground. Lu let him go and wrapped her mother in a tight hug.

“I’m so glad you’re back,” Lu said, pulling away. “How was the trip? Did you stop off in Greece to see Nik, Gia and Markie?”

Laura nodded, excited. “I’ve got pictures and everything.” She took Lu’s arm and the trio headed back to the bar area. “Michael!” Laura exclaimed, seeing the young man sipping a soda. “It’s good to see you.”

“How’s your mother?” Luke asked, grudging. He’d decided it was his job to keep up with his wayward niece and her crazy family seeing as how his sister barely kept in touch. Bobbie had done a complete 180 about three years ago and remarried Tony. They’d uprooted Lucas and they’d all moved to New York City.

“Mom’s good,” Michael said. He hesitated but knowing that Luke and Laura considered Elizabeth part of the family, he continued, “Liz lost the baby.”

Laura gasped and looked to her husband. “Oh, Luke,” she murmured. “Michael, is she okay? How’s Jason? What happened?”

Michael shrugged. “We were eating dinner and she just started having pains. I don’t know why. Jase—he was worried until she was out of surgery. I think she’s okay, but I haven’t been back to the hospital.”

“Where are the kids?” Luke asked. “Are they staying with you?”

Michael nodded. “I don’t think Jason is leaving the hospital until Liz does.”

Luke nodded. “Didn’t expect the boy to do anything differently.”

“I want to go to the hospital as soon as we unpack at home,” Laura said firmly. She turned around and headed back to the doorway.

Luke swung an arm around his daughter’s shoulders as he followed his wife. “So, princess, you weren’t redecorating mentally now were you?”

Michael just shook his head as he followed the Spencer family out of the club.


Emily hung up the phone and rubbed her head wearily. One more month and she was on maternity leave—and once little Lila Paige or Lucas Alan was born, she was going to cut her hours back.

But she still had another month to get through.

She glanced down at the list she’d been making when the conference call from Japan had come through. How To Bring Liz Up with Lucky was scrawled across the top and below it were some ideas she’d had. Emily wrinkled her nose at her stupid idea and crumpled the paper up in her fist.

She rested her chin on her elbow and stared at the digital clock mounted on her wall. Ten more minutes and she could call it a day.

“Em, you’re never going to believe –Elizabeth and I found our way back to each other. We’re going to be happy again, I just know it.”

Emily sat back in her chair and rubbed her swollen stomach absently. Lucky’s words, spoken with such happiness ten years ago, still came to haunt her whenever she seriously thought about discussing her fears with him.

Their reunion had been short-lived, long enough for Lucky to fall in love with her again and for Elizabeth to realize she’d made a mistake and wanted Jason back. Elizabeth had left Jason for reasons Emily had never cared about—she hadn’t returned home yet—and was helping Lucky bring Luke home while Jason had been concentrating on Courtney’s stalker.

Emily could remember vividly the phone call she’d received at her rehab center after Lucky and Elizabeth had exonerated Luke. He’d been thrilled by the latest happenings and Emily had been just as happy for him—until she’d spoke to Elizabeth.

“Yeah. We’re going…we’re going to try again.” Elizabeth’s voice was tired and even a little annoyed.

“I can’t believe it,” Emily said. “After you told me about Sarah in June, I thought for sure it was over.” She lowered her voice a little as if she were betraying someone—namely her brother. “In fact, I thought you and Jason were going to get together.”

“Yeah…well, we didn’t,” Elizabeth said shortly.

Deciding the topic was bad, Emily switched back to Lucky. “So how did it happen?”

She could almost picture Elizabeth, curled up on her couch in her studio, twirling the phone cord around a finger and giving a careless shrug as she said, “It just did. We were in a hotel room and he kissed me.”

“Liz…are you sure…are you sure this is what you want?” Emily asked carefully.

“What I want doesn’t matter,” Elizabeth muttered.

Emily frowned. She couldn’t have heard her friend right. “What did you say, Liz?”

“Of course it’s what I want,” Elizabeth said as if she were repeating herself.

Emily should have warned Lucky then—but she hadn’t. Their relationship had only lasted about a month or so before Elizabeth had made the decision to break it off and try and get Jason back. To this day, Emily had no idea what had spurred her friend to switch tracks so quickly, but one second Elizabeth had been dating Lucky and the next, she and Jason were together—or back together, as Emily later learned.

Lucky had been heartbroken—but had ultimately told Emily that he’d known all along Elizabeth’s heart wasn’t in the relationship, that she’d only been trying to forget Jason. It’d been Lucky who had filled in the blanks of the previous summer for Emily—of Elizabeth’s short-lived relationship with Zander, her brush with death both outside the warehouse and in the hospital, her kidnapping and ultimately her moving into the penthouse. Emily had been stunned that her friend hadn’t told her any of these things and for some reason Emily hadn’t confronted Elizabeth about it. To this day, their friendship was always a little strained from Emily’s side.

And now Elizabeth had miscarried her third child—the child she and Emily had planned on being Lila or Lucas’s best friend. Emily didn’t know what she’d do if she’d  had it happen to her and her broke for Elizabeth. It wasn’t as though it was Elizabeth’s fault that Lucky hadn’t let go—and it certainly wasn’t her fault that Emily had talked herself into trusting that he had.

No—the blame rested solely on Emily and Lucky.

Emily chewed on her lip as the clock’s red numbers clicked from 6:59 to 7. She sighed and picked her purse up from the table. She headed out for the night.


Lucky was sitting in the living room of the Quartermaine mansion when Emily entered that night. She stopped and sighed—at this point, Lucky was absolutely the last person she wanted to see. She knew what was going to happen—he’d bring up marriage, they’d fight and she’d end up more convinced than ever that Lucky wasn’t
over Elizabeth.

She knew Lucky was aware of the fact that Elizabeth was never going to leave Jason—not for any reason. After being together for nine years and married for six, Elizabeth and Jason were committed to each other as Luke and Laura Spencer. There was no way in hell Lucky had a chance to rekindle their relationship for a fourth time.

Subconsciously, she knew Lucky knew that. But right now, facing another proposal from Lucky—she wasn’t so sure sometimes. She knew without a doubt that she’d never marry him until she was sure that he loved her—and only her.

“Lucky,” Emily said, injecting her voice with more exhaustion than she actually felt.

Lucky sprang to his feet and turned to greet her. He came around the couch and tried to kiss her. She turned her head at the last moment and his lips only met her cheek. Frowning he pulled back. “Em, what’s wrong?”

Emily pulled her coat off and sighed. “Nothing. It’s just been a long day.”

Lucky nodded and they sat on the couch. “No word on Christie?”

Emily shook her head. “No. No donor found yet.” She hesitated before saying the words, “I suppose you’ve heard about Liz.”

Lucky nodded. “Yeah—poor girl. I know how much her kids mean to her. She must be devastated.”

“Yeah,” Emily replied. Deciding to test his reaction, she said, “She’s even pushing Jason away. She just wants to be alone.” She had to look away and fight back the tears when she saw the way Lucky’s eyes all but lit up at the prospect. Lucky wasn’t over Elizabeth.

Not by a long shot.


Laura Spencer pushed Elizabeth’s hospital door open slowly in case its occupant was sleeping. She only got it halfway opened before she saw Elizabeth curled upon the bed, sleeping in Jason’s arms. She gave a little smile and pulled it shut.

“What’s wrong, Angel?” Luke asked as Laura returned to the waiting area where he and Lu were waiting.

“They’re sleeping,” Laura replied. “I didn’t want to wake her.” A sad smile crossed her face. “I’m so glad she’s got Jason—she’s going to need him.”

“Yeah, he can take out the people who upset her,” Lu said, almost cheerful.

Luke grinned. “What else is the boy good for?” He put an arm around his wife. “Let’s stop by the penthouse—I want to see my grandchildren.”

“Dad,” Lu began.

“Hush. I’m about the only grandfather those kids got,” Luke replied.

“Ain’t that scary?” Lu said, pushing the elevator door.

“Elizabeth’s such a good person,” Laura said wistfully. “She didn’t deserve this.”

“No one deserves this, Angel,” Luke replied as the elevator opened and the trio stepped on. “But Elizabeth is strong—she’ll be all right. She survived this family and its adventures.”

“Yeah, she faked her own death, went up against Helena,” Lu began ticking Elizabeth’s deeds off on her fingers, “Convinced you to come home and even worked to set you free and then convinced Lucky and Nikolas Mom would recover closer to home.”

“A stubborn girl she is,” Luke said, proudly. “Wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t some Spencer blood in her.”

Lu wrinkled her nose. “Dad…that’s illegal.”

“What is?”

“She and Lucky dated, remember?”

“Of course I remember. I just think the Spencer traits rubbed off a little more vigorously with Liz than they did with, say…my biological daughter.”

Lu rolled her eyes. “Just because I don’t like traveling to China at the drop of the hat and I don’t go and save the world every few years…that doesn’t mean I’m not a Spencer.”

“Honestly, Luke,” Laura said, shaking her head. “Lu takes after me.”

“And it’s a good thing, too,” Luke said, kissing the top of his wife’s head. “Because I’d be scared as hell if she took after me.”

“Yeah, one Luke Spencer is more than enough,” Lu quipped.

This entry is part 9 of 23 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Mad World #1

November 5, 2004

Cottage: Living Room

Emily blinked. “Lucky’s not Cameron’s father?”

Looking somewhat horrified, Elizabeth shook her head. “God, no.”

“I think I need to sit down,” Emily said faintly. She sat on the bottom step and stared up at her friend. “It’s not Ric.”

“No,” Elizabeth shook her head.

“Not Zander. Not Lucky.” Emily searched for a possible substitute. Her face paled and she slowly stood. “Jason.”

Elizabeth bit her lip.

Emily whimpered. “My brother.”

Elizabeth nodded.

Emily folded her arms across her chest and moved away from her best friend, letting that sink in. Jason Morgan, the brother she loved dearly. He was Cameron’s father. Elizabeth’s secret…lover? Were they still together? He’d bought this house for her.

Her brow furrowed. He had been distracted lately but she’d thought he’d been falling for Sam. Sam. Was Sam and her baby the reason Elizabeth did not fit? Had Jason put Sam above Elizabeth? Or was Elizabeth unhappy with that situation as a whole?

“He was engaged to Courtney when Cameron was conceived.” Emily stated this, did not ask but Elizabeth nodded. “It’s not in his nature to deceive.”

“No. It was–it was sudden,” Elizabeth admitted. “After your wedding to Zander, Jason and I were in the chapel. We thought you were going to die, Emily. We were consoling each other.” Her hands twisted together. “It had been so long since we connected. So long since I had been near him. All that bitterness, that anger. It was gone. It felt like it had been before. I kissed him.” She bit her lip and looked away, lost in the memory. “He kissed me back. We went to my grandmother’s house. She was out of town.”

“And after that?” Emily demanded.

“We spent the night together. I told myself we were just grieving in our own way,” Elizabeth said softly. “But it was more and we both knew it. But he had his obligations. To Courtney. To Sonny and Carly. He wasn’t free. He made his promises to her and I was still legally married to Ric.”

“But you were in the accident, how could the baby have survived?” Emily remembered.

“After the accident, when I was blind…Ric was always around and I didn’t want him at first. I could only remember Jason. I love him so much, Emily,” Elizabeth whispered. “Jason came to see me and he told me that when he’d heard about the accident, he’d been so worried–so upset. He’d come to the hospital to see how I was. He–it happened. I was at my studio then. It happened again and I just–I didn’t want to be without him. He felt the same way. We knew it would take some time to free ourselves. Ric wasn’t letting go easily and telling Courtney would be so painful.”

“You had an affair,” Emily realized.

“It didn’t last long. Only a few weeks. But I found out Courtney had set a date and I was devastated. He was supposed to have been working his way out of the relationship but she was still forging ahead. I–we argued. We said things–we’ve always argued badly.” Elizabeth hugged herself tightly. “And we ended it.”

“He married Courtney, and you married Ric.”

“When I found out I was pregnant, I was terrified. Cameron could have been Jason’s or Zander’s. But then the doctor told me I was due in late June and I was–I was relieved,” Elizabeth admitted. “Jason was married. I couldn’t bear the idea of having a married man’s child.”

“But the due date was wrong.”

“Yes, before I left, the doctor readjusted it and I was actually eight months along when I left. Jason was Cameron’s father. I didn’t–he was getting divorced then but I still didn’t know how to process that information. I left and when I came home, I told Jason immediately and for the first time in years, we talked. We really talked. He loves me, Emily. And I love him.”

“Then why aren’t you together?” Emily asked. “Why haven’t you told anyone?”

“Sonny, Carly and Sam.” Elizabeth sighed. “Jason knew his priorities needed readjustment. He knew that he had to make them understand he had his own life; that he needed to live it. He didn’t want to subject Cameron or me to them without that being clear.”

“So he’s asked you to keep it a secret?” Emily asked, aghast. “Like you were some mistress and Cameron was some illegitimate bastard to be ashamed of?”

“It’s not like that! Why does everyone immediately assume it is?” Elizabeth cried. “Steven all but accused me of being his whore.”

“Well perhaps Steven has a point. I love my brother, Elizabeth, but you never should have let him get away with this,” Emily said. “You should have put your foot down and told him that–”

“If I had given him an ultimatum, I would have lost him,” Elizabeth said fiercely. “And I would rather spend an evening with Carly than lose him again.”

“Better that than your self-respect,” Emily seethed.

“What do you call what you’ve done?” Elizabeth challenged. “You married Zander when you knew you loved Nikolas. You broke Zander’s heart, drove him to do dangerous things and he ended up dead. Nikolas was barely gone a few months before you almost moved on to his brother. You chose to help Connor when you knew he could turn Nikolas in. What right do you have to judge me?”

PCPD Municipal Building: Brianne Joyce’s Office

A knock on her open door jarred Brianne from her study of a law book. She glanced up to see Ric Lansing standing just inside her tiny office. “DA Lansing,” she murmured. She stood.

Ric waved. “Sit down. Just wanted to run over some details with you on the Sanchez case.” He sat in the chair in front of her desk and Brianne took her seat. “I just got off the phone with Commissioner Scorpio.”

Brianne tensed. “Mr. Lansing, if Mac Scorpio has taken issue with my handling of the case, he ought to take it up with me–”

“Brianne, call me Ric. And yes, he has taken issue with your handling of the case but I don’t agree with him. He’s a good cop, but you were correct in asking him to assign a separate officer. Brooke Lynn is the daughter of his friends, the best friend of his own daughters. He isn’t being objective.”

“I can understand why he would be reluctant to question Miss Ashton as to her relationship with the suspect,” Brianne remarked, “but I have to have all the facts even if I have to ask her myself.”

“Well, Sergeant Lucky Spencer has been assigned to the case. I’m a little concerned about his choice. Spencer has a history of crossing the line when it comes to his work. He’s protected his brother from the law quite a few times. Engaged in cover ups. He was recently demoted from Detective.”

“So why didn’t you argue the assignment?” Brianne questioned. Ric rose and stood behind the chair for a moment.

“Because I believe he’s a good cop. With the right influence, he could be a great one,” Ric admitted. “I just thought you should know his history. So you could keep an eye on him.”

“All right then,” Brianne said. “I’ll meet with him Monday morning.”

General Hospital: Sam McCall’s Room

“So how long?” Sonny asked quietly after Jason had sat on the other side of Sam’s hospital bed. “How long have you been seeing Elizabeth?”

Opting for the safe answer, he answered, “Since she came home from California.”

“Since July then.” Sonny leaned back and kept his dark eyes on Sam’s pale face. “Over four months you’ve kept it from us. Why?”

“Because she didn’t deserve the way she’d be treated,” Jason said after a moment. “By Carly. By Courtney.”

“By me,” Sonny said simply. He exhaled slowly. “It’s no secret how much I depend on you. And it’s not right. I got along pretty well before I knew you and when you were out of town. But since you came home that last time, that changed.” Sonny looked at him. “Why do you suppose that is?”

“I don’t know,” Jason answered honestly. “I suppose a lot of the time, I didn’t really think I had anything better to do.” He stood and moved towards the windows that looked over the hallway. “I know how that sounds considering I was married to your sister.”

“If you remember, I wasn’t in favor of that from the start,” Sonny remarked idly. He rolled his shoulders. “Partly because I didn’t want her in this life and also because of Elizabeth.”

Jason turned back to look at his old friend. “You never said it.”

“I didn’t see the point. You wouldn’t have admitted it.” Sonny sighed. “There are certain people who come into our lives, Jason. People who change us, who make us want to be better, to deserve them. And no matter how much we try to walk away from them, we will always love them.”

“You’re talking about Brenda,” Jason said quietly.

“She was the love of my life,” his best friend admitted freely. “I love Carly, but you can only have one person who’s the other half of your soul, Jason.” Sonny sighed, somewhat troubled. “And Brenda was mine.”

Bobbie’s Brownstone: Living Room

“When are we going home?” Michael demanded when his mother walked through the archway from the front hall. He tossed his Playstation paddle on the floor and stood, planting his fisted hands on his hips. “I’m tired of visiting Grandma.”

“Michael…” Carly sighed and sat on the sofa. She patted the tan cushion next to her. “Sit down.”

Her son cautiously climbed onto the couch and looked at her intently. “Did you mess up again? Is Daddy mad at you?”

Carly exhaled slowly. “I know that this last year has been tough on you. Your father and I separating last winter and now…now we’re separating again.”

Michael sighed. “For how long this time?” he asked, resigned.

“This time, it’s different.” Carly rubbed her temples. How to explain this to him? “Michael, I filed for divorce this morning.”

Michael blinked slowly. “What’s that?”

“It’s when two people who are married aren’t anymore. Now, your father doesn’t know about this yet. It’s not something we really discussed. But I filed this morning and I want you to know it won’t be like the last time with the court rooms and the judges. We’re not going to fight over you and Morgan.”

“What are you going to do?” Michael asked suspiciously.

“We’re going to share custody. I don’t know the details yet. You’ll probably spend the weeks with me, and the weekends with your father. You can see him whenever you want, though. I know how much you love each other and I would never want to take that away from either of you.”

“You really aren’t going to get back together this time, are you?” Michael asked quietly. He shifted on the cushion and stared at her intently.

“No. We’re not,” Carly answered.

His shoulders slumped and he looked away. After a long moment, he looked back at his mother. “Are we going to live with Grandma forever then?”

“For a while,” Carly nodded. “Eventually, we’ll find a place of our own. But for right now, this is where we’re going to live. Are you going to be okay with this?”

“I guess,” Michael said. “I wish we could still be together but I guess if I still get to see Dad a lot, it’ll be okay.”

Carly sighed in relief. “Okay. Okay, that’s good to hear. Thank you, Michael.”

General Hospital: Outside Brooke’s Room

Lucas stopped in front of Brooke’s room and hesitated. “Is a doctor in there?” he asked Ned who was sitting in a chair next to the door.

Ned sat up and cleared his throat. “Ah, no, no. Brooke was sleeping.” He rubbed his eyes and Lucas felt bad. He knew that Brooke’s father hadn’t really left the hospital since Tuesday night. Had probably not eaten, not had a change of clothes or done more than wash up in the bathrooms.

“She’s going home soon right?” Lucas asked. He sat in the chair next to Ned. He set the flowers he’d brought his girlfriend across his lap. “Monday.”

Ned nodded. “Yeah.” He scrubbed his hands over his face. “Monday. Look, you and the girls and Dillon, you’ve been really good to Brooke Lynn. I’m glad–I’m glad she’s got you guys for support. She’s gonna need it. The trial…” he shook his head. “I don’t know how she’s supposed to get through it all.”

“She will.” Lucas nodded. “She’s strong, Mr. Ashton. You and her mother have set really good examples for her and she’ll stand up. But she’ll always have us.” He hesitated. “So Diego’s going to trial.”

“Yeah.” Ned’s dark eyes began to smolder as he thought of his little girl having to face that scum in the courtroom. “It’s good thing he’s not out on bail.”

“Yeah,” Lucas muttered. “I hear that.”

General Hospital: Cafeteria

“Sonny,” Lois touched his arm as he stood at the coffee vending machine. Sonny turned to see his old friend standing there with sad eyes. “I heard about the baby. I’m so sorry.”

“I heard about Brooke,” Sonny said in return. He kissed her cheek and steered her towards an empty table. “I can’t begin to think of what you’re going through.”

Lois laughed bitterly and dropped into a chair. “It’s like walking through a fog,” she murmured. “I worked so hard to protect my Brookie from everything and now…the most terrifying thing you can imagine has happened.”

“How is Ned handling this?” Sonny asked.

“About as well as you can imagine. He hardly speaks to anyone except Brooke. He’s falling all over himself trying to give her everything she needs. And he’s talking about suing Social Services, Courtney…” Lois sighed heavily. “I know she’s your sister, Sonny, but she’s not fit to have a teenager under her roof.”

“No, no she’s not. I’ve been involved in my own thing lately,” Sonny said. “With Sam and Carly’s father…I wasn’t able to give her my opinion on that subject.”

“I doubt she would have been receptive to it,” Lois said with a faint smirk. “How is Sam?” she asked, changing the topic.

“Still unconscious. Jason’s sitting with her right now but I’m going to send him home when I go back up.” Sonny glanced into his coffee. “He’s seeing someone and I think she ought to know that I know about it now.”

“Jason, huh?” Lois smiled. “Well, if he’s not seeing Sam or your sister, then it’s the other brunette he spends all that time with.”

“What do you mean?” Sonny asked curiously.

“Elizabeth Webber, Audrey’s granddaughter. I’ve seen them around town. They make a nice couple.” Lois sipped her water. “Anyway, it’s going to be hard when Sam wakes up. I don’t envy you having to tell her.”

“Yeah.” Sonny exhaled slowly and sipped his coffee. “Yeah.”

“What do you think about Lorenzo Alcazar?” Lois asked after a moment of silence. “Truly.”

Sonny frowned. “Lois…”

“Just give me the benefit of the doubt,” Lois instructed. “What do you think about him?”

“He’s ruthless,” Sonny admitted. “It makes me glad I don’t go up against him in business because he’d be a challenging enemy and I don’t have the energy to deal with one of them right now. He’s single-minded. Very capable of focusing on something until he gets it.” His lips twisted into a grimacing smile. “Even if it’s my wife.”

Lois nodded. “So you respect him.”

Sonny tilted his head to the side and considered that. “I guess I do. You’re not thinking of becoming involved with him, are you?”

“It’s more than that,” Lois told him. She hesitated but eventually divulged Lorenzo’s confession to him. “And now I’m wondering if I can avoid holding the son’s sins against the father.”

Sonny sat back and digested this new information. “It must be tearing him up inside to know his flesh is capable of something like that.”

“He was going to bail him out of this, get the charges dropped,” Lois admitted. “But when he found out what they were, he decided not to help. That’s not a decision he could make lightly, is it?”

“I don’t know that any man would abandon his son without it weighing on him,” Sonny admitted. “It was decent of him to tell you the truth. To tell you before someone else did. You obviously mean something to him.”

Lois looked down at the table for a long moment before meeting his dark eyes. “Thank you. Thank you for saying that. I know you don’t like him but it means a lot that you would say that.”

“You mean a lot to me, too,” Sonny said. He reached across the table and squeezed her hand. “I truly am sorry for what you’re going through. You and Ned and most especially Brooke. If there is anything you need, please do not hesitate to call.”

“I won’t. Why don’t you go upstairs and relieve Jason so he can go home to his girl?” Lois suggested.

Elizabeth’s Cottage: Living Room

The words hung between them and finally Emily looked away. “You know I love you, Elizabeth. That I only want you to be happy.”

Elizabeth exhaled slowly and felt the tension drain from the room. “I know. And I hate this situation. I do. But it’s nearly over. And Jason loves Cameron.”

“I love my brother, too. And believe me, I am glad that he has this life waiting for him. I just–” Emily shook her head. “I just don’t feel like this can end well. You’ve been keeping such a large secret from everyone. You’ve been keeping part of yourself a secret. Are you sure you won’t come to resent Jason for it?”

Elizabeth sighed and sank back onto the couch. “I’m hoping it won’t come to that.”

Deciding a change in subject would be best, Emily crossed to the fireplace and turned to face her old friend. “You’ve heard about Brooke Lynn.”

Elizabeth raised her eyes and nodded. “Yes, I’m so sorry it happened but they’ve caught him. That will mean something to her in the long run.”

“She’ll go to trial. She’ll have to testify in front of him,” Emily continued. “Mac Scorpio suggested she speak to someone who has experience going through this. He suggested you.”

“What?” Elizabeth asked, surprised. “Me?”

“You’d know better what Brooke’s facing than any of us would,” Emily told her. “I wouldn’t want to dredge up…I just…she needs someone who will understand.”

“I’m not sure if I can be much help,” Elizabeth replied, “but I can go see her. If it’s okay with her parents.”

Emily nodded. “I told Ned I’d speak with you. Brooke goes home on Monday. If you could speak with her then. Before the ADA Ric assigned to the case interviews her.”

“Where’s she staying?” Elizabeth asked after a moment. “The Gatehouse?”

Emily nodded. “I’ll tell Ned and Lois to expect you.”

There was a knock on the door and it opened to reveal Jason, who stopped short at the sight of his sister. “Emily.”

“Jason. I’m surprised to see you here.” Emily bent down and started to put her magazines into her bag. She shifted the leather strap over her shoulder and pulled the wedding planner into her arms. “Has Sam woken yet?”

“No. Sonny’s sitting with her. I’ll be going to see her tomorrow,” Jason said. He hesitated, looked at Elizabeth who was staring at the ground. “Sonny wanted me to come and thank Elizabeth again for donating bone marrow to Kristina.”

Emily narrowed her eyes and looked to her best friend’s miserable countenance. “Well that was nice of Sonny.” She looked back at her brother. “I miss the days when you chose telling a truth over a lie. Because no matter how hard the truth can be to hear, the lies hurt the people you’re trying to protect.”

“Emily–”

“I’m going to stop by the hospital and check on Ned. See if I can convince him to come home and at least eat something more than hospital food.” She kissed Elizabeth’s cheek. “Don’t forget about Monday.”

“I won’t.”

She stepped up to the landing and paused by her brother. “How can Sonny and Carly be more important than your own son?”

She left before Jason could formulate a reply. He turned to Elizabeth who was staring fixedly at the wall. “You told her.”

“She thought Lucky was Cameron’s father,” Elizabeth murmured. “I think she knew all along Zander wasn’t. The coloring–it’s not right.” She turned to look at Jason. “I couldn’t let her think Lucky was. She’d want to know why he wasn’t in our life. Why he wasn’t with his son.”

“Elizabeth–”

“I didn’t tell her you thought Sonny and Carly were more important. She came to that conclusion all on her own.” She rubbed her hands together and started for the kitchen. “I’m going to get some dinner. Are you staying?”

“Sonny knows,” Jason told her as he followed her down the short hallway into the kitchen. “I was talking to Sam about you and he overheard. He knows, at least, that we’re together.”

Elizabeth opened the fridge and removed some lunchmeat. She set it on the counter and looked back at him. “But not about Cameron.”

“No. I didn’t–I didn’t know how to tell him so soon after he’s lost his daughter. It didn’t seem fair and I don’t think he would have accepted it easily.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes. “So I take it you’ve solved things between you regarding Sam.”

“He accepts that we’re together. I’ll tell Carly the same thing and when they’re used to that–”

“No,” Elizabeth murmured. “I understand that telling Sonny now would be painful. That he might not want to hear it. But he’s going to have to deal with it one day. They both will.” She spun to face him, her expression irritated. “You’re concerned with Courtney.”

“I don’t want to hurt her,” Jason admitted.

“But it’s okay to hurt me.” Elizabeth arched an eyebrow. “Just how long do you expect I should wait for my son to have a father, Jason? You think that because Sonny and Carly know we’re together, that it’s okay no one knows about Cameron?”

“No, it’s not okay.” Jason muttered something under his breath. “Elizabeth, I don’t want to hurt anyone, least of all you. And that’s all I seem to be doing.”

“You had an affair with your ex-girlfriend while you were engaged to your best friend’s sister. You conceived a child with her, one you’ve been hiding for months. Your other best friend can’t stand the sight of me and I’ve never quite gotten along with your ex-wife. You’re going to have to hurt someone.”

“I just need time, time to make this all okay. I don’t want Courtney to hear it from someone else. She doesn’t deserve that.”

“Sonny doesn’t deserve to be hurt, Carly doesn’t deserve it and neither does Courtney. I guess that leaves me.” Elizabeth turned back around and started to make herself a sandwich. “Well, Jason, until you’re finished hurting me, I don’t want you in this house.”

He stared at her. “Elizabeth–”

“You may have bought it but you put my name on the deed to avoid questions. This is my house and I won’t have you in it anymore. I won’t be your escape from your life and I’m not subjecting my son to the crumbs of time you allot him.” She said these words calmly, with any sign of emotion. Her hands were trembling but he didn’t see that. “I love you, Jason, but I don’t deserve to be treated like a second-class whore.”

“God damn it, Elizabeth, that’s not what you are!” He raked his fingers through his hair. “Why do you let other people tell you how to feel?”

“They’re just pointing out what I’d tried to forget. That as far as the rest of the world is concerned, you’re probably still pining for your ex-wife. Or worse, for Sonny’s ex-mistress. No one would even guess you were supposed to be in love with me. That was I supposed to mean something to you.” Elizabeth hesitated and took a deep breath. “And you’re a fine one to talk about letting other people tell you how to feel. Why the hell are we keeping this a secret if not for the people in your life?” She slammed the top slice of bread on her sandwich.

“You said you understood. From the very beginning, you said you understood why we had to do this,” Jason said after a long moment. “Was that a lie?”

“I understood when I thought it would be a few weeks, a month at the most. But here we are into the fourth month with no real end in sight. Because what’s going to make you tell people about Cameron? If we’re together, people will assume you’re part of his life. And as he gets older, why–it will only be natural if he thinks you’re his father. Why should you ever have to say a damn word?”

She shoved the lunchmeat back into the fridge and still refused to look at him. “I know you love him, Jason. And I will never keep him from you. But right now, you can’t be bothered to tell people you’re his father and as far as I’m concerned, you aren’t.”

The blood drained from his face and he swallowed hard. “Elizabeth.”

“Until you’re ready to admit it, then you’re not his father,” Elizabeth continued ruthlessly. She knew how the words must hurt him because she of all people understood how much he loved their son. But Cameron was her son and she had to protect him at all costs. After a moment of silence, she went for the final blow. “As far as I’m concerned, we’re through as well. I can’t be with someone I can’t respect.”

He opened his mouth to argue, to say something–anything. He couldn’t find the words. He couldn’t begin to think how to fix this. He’d had this world in his hands. This woman whom he loved, who loved him. A son. A family who loved him above anything else. And he was losing it. He could feel it slipping away from him and he didn’t know how to hold it.

“I spent a long time pretending that I didn’t love you,” he said finally. “I’m not sure if you know but I’ve cared for you for a long time. Long before you were ready. I think if I hadn’t been afraid you’d be thinking of Lucky, I would have kissed you that night we danced at Kelly’s.”

She closed her eyes and gripped the side of the counter. She said nothing.

“You weren’t ready for that then and I don’t think I was either. And when Lucky came home, it just–I love you, Elizabeth. But I think I always knew I could never be with you.”

Something inside her began to crack and her lips trembled but still she said nothing.

“You deserve better than what I’ve given you. You always have. And Cameron deserves more than what I’ve been able to give to him. I want to make this right for you, for him. I’ll tell Sonny about Cameron. And Carly…Courtney. I don’t have the right to ask you for more, I know that. But Cameron is my son.”

This was going to be okay, she could feel it now. Jason would tell the truth and it was all going to be okay. Elizabeth opened her eyes; she could feel the chill seeping from her bones.

“Sam’s going to stay in the penthouse. So I’ll have to find another place to live,” Jason continued. “But once I have, I–I’ll want custody.”

Panic clogged her throat and her vision began to blur. “C-custody?” she stammered.

“Shared,” Jason said quickly. “I would never take him from you, Elizabeth. You have to believe that.”

It was she that couldn’t speak now. He wasn’t going to fight for them. She’d overplayed her hand, overestimated her worth to him. “Of course,” Elizabeth managed to say. “I should…I should see to him. You can let yourself out.”

She made it past him and up the stairs. She closed her bedroom door as quietly as possible before sinking to the floor in tears.

This entry is part 8 of 23 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Mad World #1

Friday, November 5, 2004

General Hospital: Sam McCall’s Hospital Room

“Mr. Corinthos.”

A blonde nurse was at the doorway when Sonny turned. “There’s paperwork,” she said. “You’re listed as next of kin for the baby.”

Sonny nodded and stood. He followed the nurse into the hallway and down to the nurse’s station.

“Jen’s keeping him busy for at least a half hour,” Elizabeth told Jason as they came out of the next room. “She’s promised there’s more than enough paperwork to give him. I’m sorry it’s not more time.”

“It’s more than enough.” He kissed her fingers, the most he dared to do in such a public place.

“I have to get back to Cameron, Gram will ask questions.” She squeezed his hands before disappearing around the corner.

Jason exhaled slowly and went into her room.

General Hospital: Conference Room

“Sorry I’m late,” Steven said as he entered the room, Kristina’s file in hand. “I had some things to take care of.”

“Kristina’s looking much better isn’t she?” Alexis asked. “She’s fine right?”

Steven gestured for her to take a seat. “Where is Mr. Corinthos and DA Lansing?”

“Ric had to go into work, he had no choice. And I didn’t–Sonny’s daughter died.” Alexis shrugged helplessly. “I didn’t think we should reschedule.”

“Right. Of course.” Steven nodded. “Well, Dr. Quartermaine says that Kristina came through the transplant with flying colors. So far there’s been no sign of rejection. She’s been in the isolation unit as you already know from having spent the night there. She’ll remain in there for another week or so until her immune system is strong enough to be moved into a regular room. But should her body not reject the marrow, Kristina will make a full and complete recovery,” Steven finished.

Alexis slumped in her chair. “I can never thank you enough. I know you spent so much time on this case, much more than you needed to. And your sister…” she closed her eyes. “I can never repay her.”

“It wasn’t hard to imagine my own sister going through this with her son,” Steven admitted. “She’s a single mother as well. I only did what I would expect any doctor to do. I’m just glad this has a happy ending.”

“Me, too,” Alexis smiled tremulously. “Me, too.”

Port Charles High School: Library

“So this is where you’re hiding,” Georgie said, sitting next to Dillon and setting her books down. “I was worried when you weren’t in English class.”

“Didn’t feel like dealing with it.” Dillon sighed. “Brooke comes home on Tuesday, Ned told the family today that he and Lois and Brooke would be living in the gatehouse for the immediate future.”

“Well, that’s good.” Georgie nodded. “They should be together. The next few months are going to be rough. Rougher than anything.”

“I still haven’t seen her,” Dillon admitted. He stared at the table. “I know it’s hurting her.”

“Yeah,” Georgie admitted. “But I understand and part of Brooke does, too. Going into that room, seeing her–it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.” She took a deep breath. “And for the first moments, all I could see was what he’d done to her. Her beautiful face. Her spirit. I just–it was so hard, Dillon. Brooke is like part of my family, our family.” She touched his hand. “You, me, Maxie, Brooke–even Lucas. We’re a family. We stick together.”

“Other than my mother, you were the first person that really cared about me,” Dillon said. “You and Maxie. And then Brooke came into my life and she’s a Quartermaine, Georgie. She gets it. And she’s been more like a sister than anyone in my entire life.” His voice faltered. “She’s so bright and beautiful and she deserves so much.”

“The knowledge that he won’t get away with it,” Georgie said slowly, “that he will go to prison, it’s not a lot of help. Because even though he’s going to pay for it, it still happened. And nothing is going to change that for Brooke. I know you want to make this better for her, we all do.” She shoved her hair away from her face. “I even went to Diego for her.”

Dillon snapped his head up, his eyes dark with fury. “What?” he demanded.

“She wanted to know why, she begged me to find out,” Georgie said unapologetically. “You would have promised her the world if you thought it would help. So yes, I agreed. And I went. I’ve already heard this from my dad, you don’t really need to lecture me about this.”

“The hell I don’t.” Dillon straightened. “You are completely out of your mind, Jones, if you think that you can just–”

“And you are completely out of your mind if you think you can yell at me for something you would have done,” Georgie contested hotly. “Now will you shut up and let me finish?”

“Fine,” Dillon said, irritated.

“Anyway, she’s going to need you. Because if she’s got to get up in a courtroom and testify in front him, she’s going to need us all. So even though I know how hard it is, you have got to get past this and go to see her. Because no matter how hard it is for you, it is impossibly more so for Brooke.”

General Hospital: Sam’s Room

Jason eased himself into the seat Sonny had vacated. He took Sam’s limp hand in his own and took a deep breath. “Since you convinced me to see Elizabeth before she woke up to catch her in a vulnerable state, me not being there this morning wasn’t entirely my fault.”

He hesitated. “But I am sorry. I’ve tried so hard not to let you down and I feel like that by leaving this morning, I did. Elizabeth–she tells me that the condition you had was no one’s fault. That even if I had been there and had seen it happen, this might have happened the same way. But we’ll never know for sure and I’m going to know that for the rest of my life.”

“You were right–that I needed to see her this morning. That this situation has gone on so long because I’ve let it. And when you wake up, I’m going to need you to keep reminding me of how selfish I’m being by trying to keep everyone in my life. That my priorities are screwed up and need some serious readjustment.” He closed his eyes. “When you wake up, I’m going to make it a point to be there for you, every step of the way. I’m just–I’m so sorry, Sam. I should have been there this morning and it’s going to be hard to forgive myself.”

“You’re allowed to have your own life,” Sonny said from the doorway. Jason stood hastily and Sonny smiled faintly. “The nurse was a nice diversionary tactic but I could tell she’d run out of paperwork after a little while.”

“I just–I just wanted to see her,” Jason explained. He let go of her hand and moved away from the bed.

“I’m sorry for earlier…” Sonny shrugged. “I was angry. You’re always there when I need you.”

Jason nodded. “I’d do anything to change what happened this morning. I’m not sorry that I–” he broke off and looked back at Sam before looking at Sonny. “How much of what I said did you hear?”

“Enough to know that you didn’t trust me.” Sonny moved inside the room and stood at the foot of Sam’s bed. “I didn’t know that you’d been seeing Elizabeth again. I’m sorry you felt like you had to hide it from me.”

“I–we weren’t telling anyone,” Jason said after a moment, feeling slightly surreal. Could it be this easy? “Sam knows. I had to tell her. And her brother found out. But that’s only recently.”

“So you had a fight with her and Sam convinced you to speak with her this morning.” Sonny nodded. “There’s nothing wrong with having your own life, your own priorities. I guess–it’s been so long since they didn’t mirror my own.”

“I know.” Jason realized now that Sonny didn’t quite understand the situation. Sonny was assuming the relationship with Elizabeth was new. He didn’t understand that Cameron was his son, that Elizabeth was not just someone he was seeing.

But there was time for all that. Sonny knew. And accepted. With time, Jason thought he might be able to make his friend understand that he’d never meant to hurt Courtney. That he had married her, believing Elizabeth was lost to him forever.

And Sonny might just understand that. But he wouldn’t appreciate the knowledge now.

“I am sorry that I wasn’t there this morning but Sam was fine last night. She’d been fine for months. There were no problems. I thought–thought she would be fine.”

“You can’t predict these things,” Sonny said. “I don’t blame you. And I shouldn’t have this morning.” He hesitated. “And you should be here when she finds out.”

“Thank you.”

“So.” Sonny sat down and gestured for Jason to take the other chair. “Tell me about Elizabeth.”

Cottage: Living Room

When Elizabeth got home, Emily was sitting on the couch, surrounded by wedding magazines and her wedding planner. “Em!”

“Your grandmother had a meeting at the hospital,” Emily said. “So she asked me to come by. Since I took this semester off from classes and Connor’s gone, I don’t have much to do other than plan my wedding.”

Elizabeth sat next to her on the couch and started flipping through the magazines. “How is it, planning a royal wedding?” she teased.

“It’s so much pressure,” Emily sighed. “I never realized just how influential the Cassadines are in Europe. There are so many people I have to invite and so many customs I have to adhere to.”

“Why do you have to?” Elizabeth questioned. “Nikolas didn’t when he married Lydia and when Stefan married Bobbie, it was just an elopement.”

“I know, but I want to do this right. Nikolas has made his fortune back in investments this year and we can afford to do the wedding the right way. So I was thinking of a spring wedding, in April,” Emily said. “Out on the Spoon Island. We’d have to hire tons of crew to get the grounds cleaned up and the house, Lord, so much of it has been closed up for the last year. But I love Nikolas and I want the whole world to know.”

“Well, you know anything I can do, I will,” Elizabeth said with a smile. “Cameron’s napping?”

“Yep.” Emily tugged the mammoth wedding planner binder into her lap. “I’ve already hired the company to clean up the grounds. They’re going to be doing that for the next few months and then planting gardens and just making it a much friendlier place to live. Nikolas is flying to Europe for most of January and February to oversee some of the companies he’s bought.” Emily shook her head. “With Connor out of our lives and this Mary Bishop stuff finally over, Nikolas is throwing himself into the business and I’m doing the wedding.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re happy.” Elizabeth thumbed through another magazine before hesitating at a dress–a slim column of white silk. “This is gorgeous.”

“Hmmmm…I was thinking more of something like this,” Emily showed her a picture of a white gown with a full skirt and corset bodice. “It’s got silver shot through the white, so it kind of gleams.” Emily hesitated. “But that one is perfect for you.”

Elizabeth shut the magazine immediately. She and Jason had never discussed marriage and she wasn’t sure if she’d ever want to get married again anyway. “I don’t know where I’d wear it,” she joked.

“You’ll find someone,” Emily said quietly. “Someone who makes Ric Lansing a very distant memory.” Her dark eyes ignited with fury. “Sometimes I could just strangle him for what he’s done to you.”

“Emily–”

“You hardly go out anymore, you keep Cameron to yourself, we rarely see him. You’re always working and don’t think I don’t know you’re working yourself half to death to afford this place.”

“That’s not Ric’s fault,” Elizabeth argued. “It’s me. I’m just–I’d rather be home when I’m not working and Cameron deserves this home.”

“And now he’s married Alexis like you never existed,” Emily continued to fume, “Well, he’s not invited to my wedding–”

“Emily.” Elizabeth sighed deeply. “There’s nothing wrong with me or with Ric. He’s been perfectly normal and sane for the last year and a half. The thing with Carly–it doesn’t–it doesn’t even matter anymore. I wasn’t what he needed and he wasn’t what I needed.” Elizabeth tucked her hair behind her ears. “He’s married to Alexis now and you can’t pretend he’s not. You can’t pretend he’s not part of your family and it’s not fair to Alexis.”

“Alexis is just so smart, how could she delude herself into thinking he loves her?” Emily shook her head.

“You don’t know what she thinks,” Elizabeth said. “You have no right to judge her, to judge him.” She stood and tossed the magazines on the coffee table. She started to pace in front of the fireplace. “That’s not loyalty to family, to friends. It’s Alexis’s life, who are you to make her feel bad, feel ashamed of her choices, of the way she–” Elizabeth broke off and shook her head. “I–I’m sorry.”

“Elizabeth, sweetie…” Emily set her planner aside and stood. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

“Don’t lie to me.” Emily stepped towards her and put her hands on her friend’s shoulders. “That little rant? Wasn’t about Alexis, it wasn’t about me. It’s about you. I know I’ve been self-absorbed and selfish but you’re my best friend. My sister. You can trust me. You can always trust me.”

“Zander…” Elizabeth’s lower lip quivered. She looked down. “He wasn’t Cameron’s father.”

Emily blinked. Removed her hands. Stepped back. “What?”

“I didn’t–I didn’t know until after he was gone or I would have told him the truth.” Elizabeth shoved her fingers through her hair. “Before I left for Napa, my doctors readjusted my due date and I realized that Zander couldn’t be his father.”

“Who is his father?” Emily asked. She knew it wasn’t Ric. Couldn’t be Ric.

“Someone I love more than almost anything in this world,” Elizabeth whispered. “But he has a whole other life and Cam and I don’t really fit.”

Emily’s mind was racing, fitting possibilities into the slot and discarding them just as easily. Was the man married? Who could Elizabeth love so deeply and so fiercely that she couldn’t even tell her own best friend?

“What do you mean, you don’t fit?” Emily shook her head. “I don’t understand.”

“We don’t belong in his life.” Elizabeth moved away from Emily and went towards the kitchen. After a moment, Emily followed her.

Elizabeth poured herself a glass of iced tea and sipped it. “He knows. About Cameron. As soon as I was ready, I told him. And he loves Cameron.”

Emily couldn’t find words. A name was stuck in her throat. She didn’t want to believe it but she couldn’t imagine who else it could be. Not Zander, not Ric.

“So he’s spent time with Cameron? With you?” Emily asked slowly.

“As much as he can.” Elizabeth set the glass on the counter. “He’s provided for me, for his son. He loves us. But it’s not enough. It can never be enough.”

“Elizabeth…” Emily spread her hands out in front of her. “I don’t–you’re not making sense. How could he afford to provide for you like this?” She looked around her. “Did he help you buy this place?”

“He bought it. I didn’t argue because he doesn’t feel like he can do much for Cameron other than provide him a place to live.”

“He bought it?” Emily repeated. She blinked. “I don’t–” She looked around the kitchen. The small cozy kitchen. She wandered past the dining room and into the open living room. Looked at the staircase that led to the three bedrooms upstairs. She turned back to Elizabeth. “Why don’t you fit?” she asked. “Is it his job?”

“No,” Elizabeth said, sounding offended. “I could never ask him to change that part of him.”

“Then…what’s wrong?” Emily demanded. “His family adores you. His friends love you–”

“What?” Elizabeth sputtered. “What are you talking about? His friends can’t stand me.”

“Since when?” Emily asked. “Nikolas and I are like family to you–”

Elizabeth blinked. She looked at Emily oddly. “You and Nikolas aren’t his friends.”

Emily closed her mouth. “I’ve been Lucky’s friend longer than you have,” she tossed back.

“Lucky?” Elizabeth repeated, her eyes wide with shock. “What does Lucky have to do with this?”

General Hospital: Brooke’s Room

Dillon slowly slid the door to Brooke’s room open. His niece was sitting up in bed, reading some trashy romance novel. He blanched at the bruises on her face. “Hey,” he said, trying to sound casual.

“Hey.” Brooke set the novel aside. “Long time no see.”

“Yeah.” Dillon rubbed the back of his neck. “Sorry about that. You know how it is. People to mock, places to avoid.”

Brooke smirked. “Yeah, how goes that mocking thing?”

“Ah, the population of Port Charles High makes it pathetically easy.” Dillon sat at her bedside. “All joking aside, I’m sorry I haven’t been here.”

“It’s okay.” Brooke shrugged.

“It’s not. I was just–” Dillon looked away. “I didn’t want to have to see what he did to you. I’m already angry enough to kill him without actually seeing what he’s done to you.”

Brooke bit her lip. “Dillon.”

“I’m sorry, I just–” he exhaled slowly. “I’m so angry, Brooke. I didn’t want you to see that.”

“I don’t want you to be angry.” Brooke twisted her fingers in the white sheets. “I just–I want this to be over.”

“I wish I could make that happen.” Dillon sighed heavily. “I can yell at you though. For sending Georgie to see that…sorry excuse for a human.”

Brooke hesitated and slid him a glance out of the corner of her eyes. “She actually went?”

“Yes. I can yell at you for that right?”

“I’m sorry, I never should have sent her there.” Brooke sighed. “I just–I wanted to know why.”

“Still.” Dillon sniffed. “Bit irresponsible.”

“Yeah…since when I have cared about being responsible?” Brooke asked with a small smile.

PC Municipal Building: District Attorney’s Office

Alexis pushed open the door to her new husband’s office. Ric sat behind the large mahogany desk, his suit jacket long gone, his tie loosened and his hair disheveled. “Hey.”

“So I met with Dr. Webber.” Alexis closed the office door and sat down. “He told me that Kristina can be moved from the isolation unit in about a week and she’ll be home by December 1.”

“That’s…” Ric shook his head and grinned. “That’s incredible.”

“It is.” Alexis sighed and leaned back in the chair. “I feel like this huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Things are finally turning around. Did I tell you that Nikolas has asked me to be the lead counsel for the hospital?”

“Yeah? I wasn’t aware the Cassadines were still on the board there,” Ric remarked. He capped his pen. “Did Nikolas buy back interest?”

“Yes, he always enjoyed that part of the business. He wants to restructure the hospital and eventually all of Cassadine Industries.” She smiled wistfully. “Seems like yesterday he was a little boy, chasing after Stefan.”

“They all have to grow up some time,” Ric said. He stood and crossed to rub her shoulders. “So what else is on your mind?”

“Our future,” Alexis admitted. “We’re married now and I don’t think that’s sunk in for either of us.”

“No, I guess it hasn’t,” Ric said. “Is it really that dreadful to think about?”

“No.” Alexis’s lips curved into a smile. “Surprisingly, it’s not.” She stood and leaned against the desk, facing him. “But there are things we have to speak about. Living together, for one. Your apartment, mine?”

“How about…some place entirely new. Something that’s not…part of either of our pasts?” Ric suggested. “Kristina’s a little older now. I think maybe something with a backyard.”

Alexis blinked. “You mean…buy something?”

“Sure, what’s wrong with that?”

“I rent,” she replied, a little mystified. “I’ve never owned anything.”

“Well…” Ric took her by the shoulders and kissed her briefly. “There’s a first time for everything.”