December 23, 2015

So to make up for my general lack of being around this month, I went ahead and posted the second half of Tangle, up to and including the Chapter 17 that I don’t think I ever posted. Chapter 18 was about half finished when I abandoned that version of the story, so like the repost of Mad World, I posted what I had left. Unfortunately, the outline for Chapter 19 disappeared so I’ll have to look through my files with a fine tooth comb to locate it.  I don’t have an ETA for the rewrite, but I’m hoping sometime in 2016 🙂

I know that it seems that updates slowed downquite at a bit at Crimson Glass this last year between health issues and crazy mojo sucking real life issues, but looking back I actually completed quite a lot so I’m going to stop being hard on myself. You guys are fantastic, I’m the one who yells at me 😛

The Best Thing – I had a slow year on this one. I only wrote about fifteen chapters, with three more remaining. Still fifteen isn’t awful considering how much I didn’t write between 2009-2013 😛 With an average page length of 11 pages and word count of 4000 per chapter, that’s a 165 pages and 60,000 words.

All We Are – I completed seventeen chapters, clocking in at 162 pages and 63, 149 words.

Damaged – I completed Season 1 with an additional 96 pages and about 35,000 words and wrote all of Season 2, with 204 pages and 94, 665.

With taking into account several short stories, that’s 627 pages of content and 217,849 words in the last year. There are actual published authors who haven’t written as much as I did  this last year. So while, yes, that was a bit a slow down from 2014, 2015 wasn’t too bad, so I’m going to forgive myself for not updating as often as I’d like. I like to think I post quality material and taking a bit of extra time to make sure it’s good is not a bad thing 🙂

However, 2016 is going to be different. I’m doing a lot of writing and planning to stay ahead of myself so that updates will be a bit more even and frequent. I don’t enjoy going entire months without new content, so that’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions to myself.

So have a happy holiday season, enjoy the rest of Tangle, or peruse one of my other holiday stories or hey, read last year’s All I Want For Christmas. See you guys in 2016!

This entry is part 19 of 19 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Tangle

Chapter  17 is the last completed chapter of the first version of Tangle. I wrote a few scenes for Chapter 18, outlined the rest of the story but never finished it. Here is the unused scenes and outline for the end of the story. Tangle will be rewritten as Feels Like Home in 2016, and will be found at the new sub section of Crimson Glass, Hand Me Down.


Chapter Eighteen

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Elm St. Pier

She found him standing by the edge of the pier, his hands in the pockets of his jeans. In many ways, Elizabeth dreaded this conversation, as happy as she was. She and Lucky Spencer would forever be tied to one another, but they had finally learned to keep the past exactly where it belonged and her future looked so wonderful.

She only wished Lucky could find the same type of happiness.

“How many times did we end up on this pier?” Lucky turned and flashed a sad smile at her. “Though not especially fun to live under.”

Elizabeth smiled. “We had a lot of fun back then. It saved my life.”

“We’re even, Elizabeth.” The wind from the lake swept through his shaggy hair. “You never owed me anything. That summer, I needed you to get through what was happening in my family. You never had to stick with me through the brainwashing and all…” Lucky shook his head. “That’s all behind us now. We’re not who we were then.”

“No, we’re not.” She hesitated. “Lucky, I came to tell you—”

“You and Jason set the date.” He rocked back on his heels. “I’m a cop, you know. I know it’s been relatively quiet and stable the last month or so.”

“We’re getting married at the Quartermaine estate next month. I wanted to make sure you heard from me. I don’t want you to be worried about the boys—”

“I’m not.” Lucky paused. “I know how it might sound, but Jason’s life, as dangerous as it can be, is much safer without Sonny. He had a way of riling things up, but Jason’s top priority will always be you and the boys.” He was silent for a moment. “You know, I never legally adopted Cameron, and you and Jason haven’t put his name on Jake’s birth certificate, so I am legally Jake’s father.”

Elizabeth tilted her head to the side. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying,” Lucky said slowly, “that you should fix Jake’s birth certificate and…” he swallowed hard.  “Jason should adopt Cameron. You should be a family.”

“Lucky—”

“I have never been the best father I could have been for Cam,” he cut in. “I did drugs, I ruined both our marriages and I never put him first. I want to do that now, Elizabeth. With me remaining his father, I will always be part-time. He deserves more than that. He loves Jason. He loves his little brother. I want him to have that security. I’ve been thinking about it since you told me you and Jason were engaged, that you were waiting for the right time to set the date. I’ve watched Jason with Jake and Cameron, and he’s a good father. He deserves someone full-time, Elizabeth.”

“I want you to be sure about this, Lucky,” Elizabeth said, a tear sliding down her cheek. “Because it’s not something you can’t take back and I would never have asked it of you—”

“I know, and we would have continued with the way things are.” Lucky paused. “It’s not enough for Cameron. You know better than I do, Elizabeth, that being a parent is about doing what’s right for them, not you.” He stepped closer to her and took her hand in his, pressing his lips briefly to her cheek. “I wish you happiness, Elizabeth.”

He released her hand and started up the dock steps. When he had turned around a corner and disappeared, Elizabeth sighed, her breath emerging on a shaky gasp. “I wish you the same,” she murmured.

Monday, August 26, 2024

Wyndemere: Nikolas’s Study

Nadine hesitantly stepped into Nikolas’s study. She didn’t know what she was going to say to him, what words she could possibly use that would make this okay for both of them.

Nikolas looked up at the sound of her footsteps and got to his feet. “Nadine. I’m sorry I haven’t been available this last month—there was a problem in London and…” he trailed off. “That’s not altogether true.”

“Nikolas—“ Nadine swallowed hard.

“I thought that some space might be necessary,” Nikolas said. He fisted his hand and pressed his knuckles against his desk. “I’ve spoken to Lucky and he’s heard it somewhat second hand from Leyla Marquez that Lia did this shortly after you told her of our engagement. I felt somewhat responsible—“

“No, no…” Nadine came forward and shook her head violently. “The blame for this rests squarely on me and Johnny. We love our daughter, but we have destroyed her by using her in this war between us. I don’t know why we were never able to really see it before, but we do now. Amalia is fragile right now. She certainly doesn’t trust our motives.” Suddenly exhausted, Nadine sank onto the sofa and stared blankly at the wall in front of her. “We’ve been in family therapy almost since the moment she woke up. Johnny and I have poured our hearts out to her—being painfully honest about our pasts—about Johnny’s father, and my sister. We’ve tried to make her understand that it was never about her, but I suppose that’s made it worse.”

She closed her eyes. “She is my entire world, Nikolas, and for the first time in her life, I have to devote my entire life to making sure she believes that.”

“You’re going back to Johnny Zacchara,” Nikolas said quietly. He lowered himself into a chair. “Are you doing it because it will help Amalia?”

“I—“ Nadine paused. She looked at him. “Nikolas, if Emily walked through that door we both know that you would be with her in a heartbeat. She’s the other half of your soul, so I know you’ll understand me when I tell you that Johnny’s mine.” She stood. “The failure of our marriage, the divorce and how we’ve spent the last decade, we are both to blame. I can’t keep running away from Johnny and my feelings for him, and marrying you would be just that.”

“I can accept that answer.” Nikolas twirled a pen through his fingers. “Because I know what it is to throw away a marriage with the person you love. I told you once that if you honestly believed that you and Johnny had a chance to find one another again, to be happy, that you should take it.”

“I want us to stay friends.” Nadine got to her feet. “Your friendship has always meant the world to me, Nikolas. Promise me I haven’t ruined that.”

He finally came around the desk to stand in front of her, taking her hands in his. “You could never do that, Nadine. That’s not the way friendship works.”

Kelly’s: Courtyard

“They key to life,” Ian proclaimed, leaning back in his chair and sipping his iced tea, “is keeping your complications in life to a minimum.”

“I don’t remember him being this cynical in college,” Patrick said to Pete, jerking a thumb at their friend. “Or was I drunk a lot more than I remember?”

“No, I think you’re right.” Pete tapped his chin. “In fact, I remember once a upon a time, this routine was switched. Patrick was espousing the benefits of a single life while Ian was trying to convince everyone and their mother that he was a one woman man.”

“I am a one woman man,” Ian said, slightly annoyed. “Her name was Gina and she’s not around anymore.” He sneered at Patrick. “You wouldn’t be so blasé if Robin died of cancer.”

Patrick hesitated and decided to lay off his old friend. After all, the anniversary of Gina’s death was only about a week from now and Ian always seemed be a strange combination of carefree and highly sensitive at the same time during the month of August. Gina had been gone for nearly twenty years now and he was ashamed at how often he’d forgotten her when he knew that she was never far from Ian’s mind.

“I think Pete also subscribed to my point of view,” Patrick said, switching targets. “Isn’t comforting to know that in our middle age—“

“Hey!” Ian interruputed.

“I am not middle aged!” Pete said at the same time.

“—some of us have remained exactly the same frat brother we always were.” Patrick raised his soda in a mock salute. “To Pete, who still aspires to sleep with all the undergraduates in the land.”

“Some of them are looking for father figures,” Pete said with an unapologetic grin. “To Ian, for actually believing that stuff he used to say in college.” He raised his iced tea. “Even if he’s taking it a little far after twenty years.”

Ian shook his head. “To Patrick, who found the perfect woman.”

Zacchara Estate: Backyard
Jake tells Amalia how much she scared him.

General Hospital: Waiting Room
Elizabeth is talking to Nadine about re-certification for nursing and chit chatting when someone in the background talks about rape counseling Everything flashes back in an instant and Elizabeth flees.

My file for Chapter Nineteen is missing. I’ll try to locate it, but sorry 😛

Chapter Twenty

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Zacchara Home: Back Porch
Nadine goes into labor.

General Hospital: Maternity Ward
Johnny introduces Amalia to Elizabeth, Patrick, and Robin

Thursday, August 29, 2024

Davis Home: Living Room
Molly gives Alexis a break and explains her future plans.

General Hospital: Lainey’s Office
Elizabeth begins to come to terms with her time away.

Friday. August 30, 2024

Crimson Manor: Conservatory
Johnny thinks they should get back together, Nadine thinks he’s insane.

Metro Court: Spa
Carly and Robin officially bury the hatchet.

Morgan Home: Backyard
End of the summer cookout.

Chapter Twenty-One

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

General Hospital: Elizabeth’s Room
Juliet and Amalia meet for the first time.

Monday, September 2, 2024

Morgan Home: Living Room
Liz feels at home with the kids for the first time.

Drake Home: Anna’s Bedroom
Anna frets over her ballet future and Patrick counts his blessings.

General Hospital: Lainey’s Office
Progress for the Zaccharas

Chapter Twenty-Two

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Port Charles Park

The annual Fourth of July picnic was one of the few days of the year when the citizens of Port Charles gathered and managed to remain civil to one another for at least three hours. That particular record had been set by the Quartermaines themselves in the early nineties. They had been within fifteen minutes of three and a half hours, but Edward had blustered about something that Alan had taken offense to and somehow, the mayor had ended up with mashed potatoes in his hair.

Each year, the celebration had grown in attendance until one couldn’t go to the park on that day and not tread over a picnic blanket, a table or in the case of more well-to-do residents – an entire tent.

On this particular day, the tent in question belonged to Jason Morgan. He was there with his wife, their two boys and their newborn daughter, Juliet. He had invited his best friend Carly, her husband Jax and their two children. It was a bittersweet celebration as neither Jason nor Carly were completely adjusted to spending this holiday without Carly’s ex-husband Sonny Corinthos and son Michael. Both had died just two years earlier.

They had endeavored to move on with their lives and both had done so with the birth of subsequent children. Each had solid marriages to their spouses and if life wasn’t exactly perfect, it was as close as either of them had ever been.

Despite the shade the tent offered, the day was steaming hot and sweat dripped from Jason’s adopted six-year-old son Cameron’s face. Cam had been chasing Carly’s son Morgan in a circle and both were red-faced and panting from the heat.

His wife, Elizabeth, bit down on her lower lip. “Maybe I should take them back to the car. Sit in the air conditioning for a while.” She adjusted her two month old daughter in the portable crib that had been set up and studied her Cameron and their three-year-old Jake, who didn’t look much cooler. “It’s hotter than it was supposed to be.”

Carly gripped the front of her sweat-soaked cherry red tank top and pulled it away from her chest. “Well, it is summer,” she said with a smirk. “I’d be surprised if it was chilly.”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Anyway,” she said, directing her remarks to Jason. “Maybe we should feed the kids and take them home. We can bring them back for the fireworks.”

“No!” Cameron argued. He shook his head. “I want to stay!”

“It’s too hot out here.” Elizabeth reached for a napkin, dipped it into a glass of iced water and started to wipe down her son’s face. Cameron squirmed.

“Come on, Mom!” he complained, twisting away. “I’m not a baby!”

“Which is why I didn’t spit on it first.” She sighed and released him. “Fine. Go. Run. Get heatstroke.”

“Thanks, Mom!” Cameron immediately tagged Morgan. “You’re it!” he crowed and took off.

“I’m taking Jules back to the car,” Elizabeth told Jason. She reached down and picked up the infant. “I can take Cece if you want.”

Carly glanced over to her fourteen month old daughter who was chattering away to her daddy about a ladybug she’d seen crawling on her arm. “I think she’s okay for now. I’ll make sure the boys don’t keel over from too much sun.” She glanced over at them and narrowed her eyes. “Excuse me. My kid is wandering too close to the Quartermaine tent. Nothing good comes from that.” She made a quick exit to grab head off Cameron and Morgan.

“We can all go back to the house,” Jason offered. He rubbed the back of his neck. “I mean, I’m okay, but if you think the kids are going to get too sick—”

“No, no,” Elizabeth shook her head. She smiled. “It’s the first year we’ve all been together as a family. Last year Carly and Jax were visiting Lady Jane and I know Cam’s having a good time with Morgan.” She brushed her hand over Juliet’s almost existent fluff of blonde hair. “I just don’t think it’s good for Jules.”

“I wasn’t able to stop Edward from coming over to see his great-grandchildren,” Carly huffed, hauling both boys back, a hand wrapped around each one of their arms. “What did we say about wandering away from the tent?” she demanded.

“To stay away from Robin Drake,” Morgan said with an impish smile.

“And the Zacchara tent,” Cameron added dutifully. He grinned, revealing his dimples.

“I’m pretty sure that’s not what I said,” Carly muttered.

“And I’m almost positive that I said not to leave the immediate area,” Elizabeth said, arching an eyebrow. “Isn’t that right?”

“Possibly,” Morgan nodded. “But Cam was gonna tackle me and the last time he did that, I ate dirt.” He shook his head. “So not interested in repeating that experience, Aunt Liz. I think you can get what I’m saying.”

“I can get that you didn’t follow my instructions or your mother’s,” Elizabeth remarked. She grinned. “Because I’m pretty sure we both said to stay away from the Quartermaine tent.”

“That is…” Cameron paused. “Entirely possible.”

“Mayday,” Carly hissed to Elizabeth. “Incoming. Quartermaine at ten o’clock.”

“You think if I hide Jake under the table, he won’t notice him?” Elizabeth asked. “The last time we took the kids over, Edward was trying to convince us it was time for Cam to go away to boarding school.”

“I told you visiting Edward was a mistake,” Jason shook his head. “But you insisted.”

“To be fair, I took them to see Monica,” Elizabeth reminded him. She pasted a smile on her face as Jason’s grandfather joined them. “Mr. Quartermaine,” she greed politely.

Edward rubbed his hands together, looking uncharacteristically harmless in a pair of khakis and a polo shirt. Elizabeth wasn’t sure if she’d ever seen him out of a suit. “Now, now, my dear, I’ve told you to call me Edward.” He smiled charmingly. “Or Grandfather.”

“Right, Mr. Quartermaine,” Elizabeth nodded. She turned to Jason. “I think I should take the kids to the car for the air conditioning. They need a break from the heat.”

“Oh, but I’ve just arrived.” Edward leaned closer trying to get a closer look at Juliet. “And I’ve hardly had time to meet my great-granddaughter.”

“Will you try to enroll her in college before she can walk?” Jason asked, a little resigned.

“It’s never too early to plan for the future,” Edward advised firmly. “If you have a firm idea now, you will be able to execute it without a flaw later. It’s solid parenting advice that Lila and I followed for our children and it worked. Alan was a splendid doctor and Tracy is well…” he paused. “She had great potential at one time. I can’t quite fathom her marital choices, but she’s not bad at business.”

Elizabeth glanced at her husband, looking for some direction. Jason just shrugged. When it came to Edward, it was best to let him have his say and avoid conflict. “That’s very nice advice, Mr. Quartermaine,” she said. “Jason and I appreciate it.”

“Don’t patronize me, young lady,” Edward said sternly. “It’s not my fault that they were both incapable of raising their own children. Lila and I did a fine job but our entire crop of grandchildren was worthless. Except for Emily, of course. She was a fine girl who is still missed greatly.”

“Of course,” Elizabeth replied, softening. She held out her daughter. “Would you like to hold Juliet for a moment? It’s a bit warm out here for her so I’m going to take her into some air for a while, but I’m sure she’d like to meet her great-grandfather first.”

Edward’s eyes lit up as she placed the infant in his arms. “That’s very kind of you, my dear.” He cradled Juliet in his embrace and smiled down at her. “I was very pleased when Monica told me Jason was marrying you, you know.”

Jason shook his head, knowing that Elizabeth was a lost cause now. She’d insist Edward have regular visits from now on, she’d feel obligated to both the old man and his sister. His wife had always been a soft touch.

“You were always so good to Emily,” Edward continued, “and you had such a good work ethic and a strong moral compass. You are the exactly the right woman for my grandson and for the mother of his children. He is very lucky you chose him.”

He handed the baby back to her. “You get that child out of the sun,” he cautioned. He looked to Jason. “You have a very nice family. Don’t screw it up.”

Edward ambled back over to his tent where Monica and Tracy were arguing, Dillon was attempting to hide behind Alice and Ned was ignoring everyone and speaking to his daughter, Brook Lynn.  Another day at the Quartermaines.

“I give them five minutes before Tracy throws water in her face,” Carly nodded.

“Ten before the ribs goes flying,” Elizabeth replied.

“I doubt they’ll hold out that long,” Jax joined them. “I can see Monica eyeing up the hot dogs.”

“You’re all wrong,” Jason surprised them by speaking up. “Tracy’s hand is inching towards the chicken wings.”

Sure enough, a moment later, Tracy flung the first chicken wing at her sister-in-law. Monica retaliated with a hot dog and Dillon ducked in the picnic table entirely to avoid the ribs that flew a moment later.

“They’re going to need that water,” Carly remarked. “To cool down and to clean up.”

Elizabeth laughed and reached up to kiss Jason’s cheek. “I think I can take Jules back to the car now. I’m glad I didn’t miss the annual food fight. It’s just not the Fourth of July without it.”

Saturday, September 14, 2024

Morgan Home: Back Porch
Elizabeth wants to renew their vows.

Crimson Manor: Conservatory
Nadine wants a good reason to take him back.

Epilogue

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Quartermaine Mansion: Gardens
Liz and Jason get married.

Friday, November 15, 2024

Quartermaine Mansion: Gardens
Liz and Jason renew their vows.

This entry is part 18 of 19 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Tangle

Thursday, December 24, 2011

Morgan Home: Living Room

Three-year-old Cecily planted her tiny hands on her nonexistent hips, screwed her face up in a scowl and glared at her mother.

The stance and the look was so quintessentially Carly that it made Jason smile slightly, though he knew his friend wouldn’t appreciate it.

“I wanna open now!”

His attention drifted from that scene to the one near the Christmas tree, where eighteen-month-old Juliet sat in four-year-old Jake’s lap as their older brother Cameron slowly read to them from The Night Before Christmas. Carly’s son Morgan sat next to them, eying presents under the tree.

This would be his first Christmas without Elizabeth.

She’d been gone since last November, but that Christmas had been just a day spent in some cold dank bar, following up a lead from someone he couldn’t remember. He’d called the kids, but he’d had to hang up — Cameron had started to cry and beg him to bring home his mother.

He never asked for Elizabeth now.

When Jason had first married Cameron’s mother and adopted him, the boy had been a little shy and very quiet. As the next two years passed, that had altered only slightly since he’d entered kindergarten.

In the ten months Jason had spent tearing apart the known world for clues to Elizabeth’s disappearance, that had all changed. Cameron had emerged as a confident and outgoing little boy with a passion for baseball…and for his younger siblings. Hardly a day went by that Cameron wasn’t tugging Juliet to her feet and encouraging her to walk and to talk or teaching Jake how to throw.

He was being the father that Jason wasn’t sure he could trust himself to be any longer.

Carly handed her spoiled daughter off to her husband and joined Jason on the couch. “He’s so wonderful with them,” she murmured. “I only wish Morgan had that sort of patience with Cecily.”

Jason said nothing and kept his eyes on the kids. After a long moment, Carly propped her elbow on the back of the couch and rested her head against her hand. “Jason. I know…well, I guess I can’t possibly really know how hard it’s been since you came home, but I’m sure it’ll get…oh, I don’t know…easier, in some ways.”

“And it’ll get harder in others,” Jason responded. “Juliet has Elizabeth’s smile. Her eyes. Cameron and Jake, they remind me of her, too, but I can just tell…”

“Juliet is going to look so much like her,” Carly agreed, “and that’s gonna be hard. Because you’ve put those photos away. I know why you did it, Jase, and I can’t blame you. But you can’t let that effect how you look at the kids, especially Jules. Cam’s got some memories, and Jake is going to have some vague notions about his mom, but she’s not going to have anything to cling to.  She’s going to need you. They are all going to need you.”

“I almost didn’t come back,” Jason confessed.  “I promised Cam that I was going to bring his mother home, and I couldn’t. I can’t even tell them what happened to her.”

“Jax wondered if you were going to be able to come back without her, but I knew you would.” Carly was quiet for a moment. “I don’t know if Elizabeth is dead. I hope, for your sake and for those children, that one day she comes home. You can’t live your life, hoping for that. If this were reversed, if one day you never came home and there was no clue as to what happened, what would you want for Elizabeth?”

“If you’re suggesting that I move on with someone else–”

“God, Jason, even I’m not that callous,” Carly cut in.  “I know you’re not ready to do that, and I’ll be honest, I don’t see that changing any time soon, if ever. I’m talking about everything else. Cameron is playing Little League this spring. It’s all he talks about with Jax. But he said he hasn’t brought it up to you, because he doesn’t know if you’ll go to the games. Or if you’ll even let him play at all–because you don’t let the kids out of the house without you.”

“Carly–”

“You wouldn’t let me sign Jules up for dance class with Cece, Anna, and Amalia, even though you know that was something Elizabeth was looking forward to because it means letting her out of your sight for more than thirteen seconds.”

“Carly–”

“Cam says that Jake has nightmares about people coming to get him because you scared the crap out of them about talking to strangers.”

Jason looked at the floor, unable to defend himself. It was true. Every word.

“I know about protecting your kids and the emptiness inside when you can’t. When we thought Michael was dead all those years ago, I broke inside and I had a nervous breakdown, and then when he was shot and died for real…” Carly closed her eyes. “If I hadn’t become pregnant with Cecily, I’m not sure I ever would have been able to pull myself out of it, despite Morgan and Jax. I didn’t think I was strong enough, so please believe me when I say that I truly do understand at least a piece of what you’re going through.”

“I know you do, Carly,” he replied. “I know what you’ve suffered, and I know what you’re saying about the kids is true.” Jason pressed lips together. “I’m just not sure how I’m supposed to change it.”

“One step at a time.” Carly hesitated. “Morgan is signing up for Little League. I’ll pull strings with the league and make sure they’re assigned to the same team. They’re in each other’s pocket as it is. Jax is going to coach and I’ll pull the same strings to make sure they’re on his team. Cam will never be far from Jax’s sight. Will that help?”

“I can accept that.”

“And I will be at as many dance practices as I can. When I’m not there, you know that Robin will be. Or Nadine.”

“What about Jake?” he looked at his son. “Can he be fixed so easily?”

“Nothing about this is easy, Jase,” Carly responded softly. “It’s one second at a time, one hour at a time. One day at a time. And one day, it will be better. You’ll be able to wake up and breathe just a little bit easier.”

“But it will never go away,” Jason stated.

Carly looked over at the scene by the Christmas tree. Jax and Cecily had joined the other kids and now, Jax was reading A Christmas Carol to them, though she was sure only Cameron and Morgan could really grasp it. She thought about how uncomfortable she was taking Morgan and Cecily within a mile of the warehouse where Michael had been shot. How she still couldn’t go on the seventh floor at General Hospital because it was where he’d slipped away from her.

“No, it never goes away,” she agreed. “But it gets easier to put it in a different compartment and live your life anyway.”

Sunday, July 28, 2024

Morgan Home: Living Room

It had been just over a week since Juliet had told her father her wild theory about her mother’s disappearance. Exactly a week since Jason had left to look into said theory. Five days since Juliet learned her mother was still alive.

One day since her best friend tried to kill herself.

It was more than any one fourteen-year-old girl should have to deal with.

“Did the doctors say when Lia would wake up?” Molly asked Juliet. She sat next to her on the sofa. “Will it be soon?”

“Any time now or maybe she has already. Not like her parents would call me,” Juliet muttered. “I wish I could be there, but…” she gestured towards the front hallway.  “My mother is going to walk through that door at any minute and I can’t…”

“Lia would be the first person to understand,” Jake said, his own eyes telling the story of his exhaustion. It used to feel weird to Juliet, the knowledge that her best friend had the hots for her brother, but one day this spring, she’d woken up and saw that Jake wasn’t altogether disinterested. What’s more, she saw that occasionally it was her best friend that was able to get through his dense skull.

Now she just wished they’d do something about what was between them so she wouldn’t have to worry about either of them.

“I can see Dad’s car coming down the street,” Cam said, from his position by the window. Molly immediately stood and crossed to grab his hand. “What do we do when she comes in?”

“I think we should take our cues from her,” Jake said. “She remembers stuff about us, Dad said, and she’s seen pictures. I don’t…” He grimaced. “I don’t want to make her uncomfortable. So let’s just…see what she does.”

Juliet told herself that her mother would be uncomfortable if she got out of the car in the driveway and saw them all staring at her, so she should just sit on this couch and wait.

It was the longest seven minutes of her life as she remained the only one person away from the window.

“She looks just like all the pictures,” Jake said, his voice rough. He glanced at Juliet, sitting so quietly, her eyes squeezed shut. “She looks like you, Jules. So much.”

She heard the front door open, footsteps in the hallway and voices. And still, she couldn’t bring herself to look. She was terrified. When the footsteps stopped suddenly, she forced herself to open her eyes.

Her father stood there, slightly behind her mother, his hand at the small of her back. The room was completely silent.

Jake was right, Juliet thought, as she slowly rose to her feet. Elizabeth Morgan looked like all the photos Juliet had pored over. Her hair was even the same length. It was the same brown with strands of gray threaded through. Her eyes were the same blue, but there were lines at the corners.

This was her mother. The first time she had been in the same room with her since Juliet was six months old.

“I–” Cam began but had to stop and look down, swallowing hard.

Elizabeth’s eyes darted from one person to the next, as if she, too, were unsure of the first move. Finally, she took a deep breath and stepped forward, towards Cameron. “Look at you,” she murmured, reaching up to touch his face. Her fingers slid towards his hair. “I remember when you had the most beautiful curls. You hated them, but they were just like mine at the same age.”

“You always said they’d grow out one day,” Cameron said hoarsely, his grip on Molly so tight Juliet was sure there’d be bruises later, but loyal Molly said nothing. She probably couldn’t get the words out through the tears sliding down her face.

“You must be Molly,” Elizabeth said with a smile. “I remember the night you were born, and how terrified your father was at the hospital when he was finally able to be with you. He didn’t know what to do with a girl. Did he ever figure out?”

“He’s done all right, I guess,” Molly said softly. “He lives in New York now.”

Elizabeth looked next to Jake. “My beautiful little boy,” she murmured, stepping towards him. “I knew you’d look just like your father. His eyes, his hair.” She wrinkled her nose. “My nose and chin. I’m sorry about that.”

“Could be worse,” Jake managed to say. “I could have his ears.”

Elizabeth laughed, but it sounded almost like a sob. Jason and Cameron grinned, but Juliet couldn’t do anything.

“Your father says you’re a bit of a handful, but that you’re a good boy and that you look out for your sister.”

“I try, but she doesn’t make it easy,” Jake admitted. “Dad says she and Amalia are like you and Aunt Emily.”

“Oh, dear,” Elizabeth murmured, “I remember enough to know why Jason has so much gray hair.”

Finally, she looked at her daughter and Juliet steeled herself. There was nothing for her mother to say to her. No years of memories to draw on. There had been six months, and all Juliet had done was drool and poop. That was okay, they’d make new memories.

Elizabeth slowly walked towards her, their eyes locked on one another. “You’re so lovely,” she said. She reached out to smooth a hand down Juliet’s hair.

And then suddenly, all the things Juliet told herself flew right out the window. With a choked cry, she lunged forward and threw herself at her mother so hard it drove Elizabeth back an inch or two. And because Elizabeth Morgan was every inch a mother, she didn’t hesitate for a moment. She wrapped her arms around her daughter and drew her in tightly. “My little girl,” she murmured. “My beautiful little girl.”

She looked at her sons, standing there, both looking slightly envious, as if they wished they’d thought of just throwing themselves at her. “Come here,” she said, beckoning with a free arm.

To everyone’s surprise, it was Jake that crossed the room first to join his mother and sister, and it was Cameron that held back.

“Cam,” Molly said softly. “I promise you, she won’t disappear if you hug her.” She squeezed his hand. “Go.”

Cameron hesitated another moment before finally giving in and wrapping his long arms around his siblings and his mother.

“She remembers them,” Molly said, more to herself than anyone else, but Jason answered.

“She was afraid she wouldn’t.” He looked at the girl that his son loved enough to share this moment with. “She thought she wouldn’t remember her love for them.”

“It looks like that’s the one thing she does remember,” she responded.

Finally, Cameron, Jake and Juliet relinquished their hold on their mother, and stepped back, but only to let her have some breathing room. “I’m sorry,” Juliet said. “I told myself I shouldn’t–”

“Sweetheart,” Elizabeth caught her under her chin. “I’m going to be honest with you. I thought about not coming back. Of sending Jason home to tell you that it was all a mistake and I wasn’t who he thought I was.”

“Why?” Jake said, his eyes burning with tears he couldn’t let himself release.

“I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to remember any of you, that I would walk in this room and I wouldn’t know you,” Elizabeth admitted. She looked at Cameron, then at Jake, and finally Juliet. “You’ve grown up so much; you’re almost adults with lives of your own. How could I come back and get your hopes up if I couldn’t be the mother you deserve?”

“But you came anyway,” Juliet sniffled.

“I came anyway,” Elizabeth confirmed. She drew her daughter into a quick hug again. “And the second I walked into this room, I saw my babies again. My beautiful Cameron, who gave me a reason to go on when I was an unemployed single mother with a useless art degree. My precious Jake, who gave me the strength to get up in the morning when my marriage fell apart.” She looked at Juliet. “My little Juliet, who I dreamed of having, months before it was a reality. I knew you would be a girl, that my wonderful, perfect family would only be complete when you arrived.” She touched Cameron’s cheek, and then Jake’s. “I walked into this room, and I remembered my children. If I remember nothing and no one else, that will be enough.”

General Hospital: Amalia’s Room

As soon as Amalia opened her eyes and saw a white ceiling, she knew that something had gone tragically wrong with her plan. She was pretty sure she wasn’t dead, so the immediate goal had obviously failed.

She blinked a few times and slowly turned her head to the left. She recognized a hospital setting and then her eyes focused on a plastic chair that had been dragged from the corner to just beside her bed. Her father sat there, his head lolling back….snoring very loudly.

She hadn’t even known he snored.

Amalia turned her head to the right and realized then that her hand was intertwined with another — her mother sat in a matching plastic chair, but she was slumped over the bed, her head resting next to their hands. Nadine did not snore, so clearly Amalia took after her mother.

Amalia returned her gaze to the ceiling and remembered lying down on her bed at home. She thought she could remember some yelling, but that was somewhat blurry and she couldn’t remember distinct voices or words.

She cleared her throat experimentally and winced. Her throat was on fire. She twisted her head, hoping to find some water somewhere. She’d figure out what to do next….just as soon as she put out the blaze in her esophagus.

Her twisting on the bed must have jarred Nadine because the blonde shot up and looked around. “Amalia?” She looked at her daughter and squeezed her hand when she saw the open eyes. “Baby, thank God.”

Amalia opened her mouth and tried to say water, but all that came out was, “Ack.”

God Bless her mother the nurse, because Nadine immediately sprang into action. She grabbed the empty pitcher from the bedside table and disappeared into the bathroom. The running water woke her father — an amazing feat as Amalia knew that very few things were able to wake her I-Sleep-Like-The-Dead Dad. Johnny sat up and started to rub his eyes.

They stared at one another for a long moment before Nadine reappeared, the pitcher and a cup in her hand. She handed the cup to Amalia who drank it in two quick gulps. She tested her voice again, but “Ack” was really the only thing that resembled a word. She narrowed her eyes with some annoyance. She wanted answers, but without being able to ask the questions, she was screwed.

Her parents stared at each other for a moment, both unsure what to do or say before Nadine finally decided to go look for a doctor.

Johnny leaned forward, rested his elbows on the bed, and looked at her. “You scared the shit out of your mother and me.”

She almost rolled her eyes but thought better of it. She didn’t know what had happened really after she closed her eyes, so it was best not to make any reaction.

“We’ve screwed up with you, Li, we know that,” Johnny continued once Amalia had met his gaze again. “Nothing we do or say can ever make that better, but the things we’ve done to you so we can hurt each other…have nothing to do with how much we love you. It’s the only thing that we’ve agreed on for the past eleven years. We love you, Amalia. You were not a mistake, you were wanted very desperately, and you still are. I wish to God I could take back this last decade so I could make sure you went to bed and woke up every morning knowing that, but I can make a promise to you now.” He picked up her hand and pressed it to his cheek. “I will spend the rest of my life making up for the first part.”

He leaned forward a little. “Just so we’re clear, I love you, Amalia. You are the best thing in my life and the only thing that makes it worth waking up in the morning.”

Johnny sat back and Amalia studied him. Even if she could speak, she wasn’t sure what she’d say.

It was all nice to hear, but then again, were parents supposed to say anything else after their kid tried to kill herself?

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Kelly’s Diner had been part of Port Charles so long that many people thought it had been built when the city had been founded and for as long as anyone could remember, it had been a Spencer enterprise.

To Lucky Spencer, the current patriarch of the family, Kelly’s was more than an institution. It was a living reminder of the people that had once meant so much to him; from his brother Nikolas, the last close member of his family, to his long gone best friend Emily and to his first love, Elizabeth. This place was the setting that had defined their friendship all those years ago.

So it seemed fitting to Lucky that he should be sitting outside, in the courtyard, eating breakfast with someone he suspected might be the great love of his life when his first love walked back into his world after fourteen years of being absent.

He was transported back to those days when he’d been sixteen and she’d been fourteen, a wild child who wore skimpy clothes, smoked, drank and did anything she could to get attention. And he thought about all the days that came later — the devastation of her rape, the disintegration of his family, his brainwashing and their many forays in trying to recapture the halcyon days of their youth.

He saw her children standing with her, the two boys he’d wanted for his own behind her and Juliet, the living image he’d had to confront for so long, standing at Elizabeth’s side, arms intertwined.

“My God,” Lucky murmured, slowly rising to his feet. Across from him, Leyla Marquez followed suit. “Elizabeth.”

“Mom,” Cameron said, touching her shoulder. “I’m not sure if you remember–”

“Lucky Spencer,” Elizabeth cut in with a soft smile. She looked around the courtyard and her eyes narrowed somewhat. “And Kelly’s courtyard. The two are almost synonymous to me. You look…” Her nose wrinkled and a mischievous light snuck into her eyes. “You look old.”

Lucky laughed. “I have to say, honey, you don’t quite look like the girl who made fun of my name in this spot once a time. I’m so damn glad to see you, Elizabeth.” He glanced behind them. “Jason let you out of his sight?”

“We convinced him,” Juliet chirped. “He got to have her for a whole week to himself. We told him it was our turn and he needed to catch up on some work.” She beamed up at her mother, worship in her eyes. “Do you remember Mrs. Marquez?”

“The last name seems vaguely familiar…” Elizabeth frowned at Leyla. “And your face…”

“I married after…” Leyla trailed off. “Well, after. I would have been Leyla Mir at the time. We worked together at the hospital…” When no recognition kindled, she smiled. “We weren’t very close and I’m not altogether positive we worked together a great deal. You and Nadine were more surgical, I was in maternity for a long time.”

“I’m sure it will come to me soon,” Elizabeth said, but they could see this failure to recognize a coworker had not been well received. “I’ve remembered so much at first sight, you know, I guess it was inevitable that it would taper off. I’m just so grateful that I remember my children.” She patted Juliet’s shoulder. “I imagine it will come to me in time…Leyla, and if it doesn’t, well then we’ll just have to create new memories.”

“Of course,” Leyla replied, graciously. “I am so happy you’re home. Everyone at the hospital was incredibly grateful to hear the news.” She looked at Lucky. “I have to go work, so why don’t I leave you to catch up…”

Part of Lucky wanted to do just that…to just sit in front of Elizabeth and drink in the sight of her being healthy and alive, if a little unfamiliar with her surroundings, but that wasn’t something he had a right to do. Elizabeth was in his past, though it had taken him a great deal of time to put her there, and he very much wanted Leyla to be his future.

“I’m sure Elizabeth and the kids have so much to do today,” Lucky said finally. “We’ll catch up soon and with Nikolas in town…” He looked at Elizabeth.  “He wants to see you as much.”

“Of course,” Elizabeth nodded, but only a vague sense of recognition lit her eyes. “We’ll have to do that. I’ve asked the kids to take me to some of the people I remember — Robin and Patrick should be next.”

With one last glance at the diner and courtyard that had painted so many memories in her life — most she couldn’t remember, Elizabeth and the kids disappeared back into the parking lot.

“You should talk to her, Lucky,” Leyla said. “I remember that you were very close–”

“And I hope we can be again,” Lucky responded. He took her hand in his. “But that was a long time ago, Leyla. We’re not those kids anymore and I’ve already wasted too much of my life trying to be him again. I like who I am now…and who I’m with.”

General Hospital: Hallway Outside Amalia’s Room

Amalia was asleep again, or maybe she was pretending to be — it was hard to know for sure. Johnny closed the door behind him and leaned against it, and studied his ex-wife standing across the hall. “I’m sorry.”

Nadine frowned and looked at him with tired eyes. “For what?”

“When you came to tell me you were getting married to Nikolas, I threw a tantrum and made things difficult. I made noises about custody and…” He looked down at the floor. “It occurs to me that the more we threw Amalia in the middle, the more damage we did to her. I did it to needle you and I can only guess you did the same for similar reasons. I know we didn’t do it to hurt her but–”

“It was a way to hold on,” Nadine said softly. “And when she was five or six, it didn’t matter as much. After that, she had to testify and God, we just kept doing it to her…” She blinked and looked at ceiling. “I love her so much, Johnny, but when I really look at what I did to her, what we did…it kills me.” She wiped her eyes and cleared her throat. “I talked to Ian earlier. They’re holding her on a three day psychiatric order, which is the standard procedure, but she’ll make a full recovery.”

“And then what?” Johnny murmured. “I wish I could say that telling her we love her will solve everything–”

“I asked Ian to look around and find the best therapist,” Nadine told him. “A family therapist. We all need to go. Even if it’s just to show Amalia that we love her, that we support her. I know you hate that kind of thing–”

“No, I think you’re right. I think we all need to go.”  Johnny crossed the hall and took Nadine’s hand in his. “We’re still a family, Nadine, and we need to show that to our daughter.”

Morgan Home: Study

“You didn’t want this room.”

Jason glanced up from paperwork that he’d been staring at blankly for almost twenty minutes to find Elizabeth standing at the door. Had it really been fourteen years since he’d looked up to that sight?

“It was one of the only things you argued about when we bought this house,” Elizabeth continued, entering the room and closing the door behind her. “You didn’t want to bring your work home.”

“I wanted it away from all of you,” Jason said quietly. “But I had no choice…”

“Cameron mentioned that you’d never hired any sort of nanny or a baby-sitter, for that matter. They were always with you or one of our friends.” Elizabeth crossed to the window and smiled sadly. “When I first saw you again, memories tumbled back so fast I could hardly keep up with them…and after I saw the kids, I thought maybe I would keep getting them back.”

“The trip around town didn’t go well?”

“I know you wanted to go, but I thought…” she sighed.  “I wanted a little space.”

“I don’t mean to smother you,” Jason said, his throat tightening. “I…arranged with Carly to a hold a suite at the hotel if you don’t want to stay here–”

“Jason…” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “You’re not smothering me.” She turned to look back at him. “It’s just…I feel this pressure when you look at me, and I’m so sorry because I just don’t…” She gestured. “I know we’re married and I feel…” She huffed and shook her head. “God, I just don’t know what to say.”

Jason was silent for a long time. He set his papers aside and joined her at the window. “I won’t lie and say that I don’t want…things between us to be the way they were. I know they can’t be. For the last fourteen years, I wasn’t sure if you were alive somewhere, or if you’d been dead all the while. You’re standing in front of me. I’ll try to let that be enough.”

“It’s not enough for me,” Elizabeth replied. “I walked around this town and I could feel that this was my home, but I couldn’t remember people I worked with, people I called friends. I saw Lucky Spencer at Kelly’s and I know he was important to me but I don’t really remember why, I don’t know who his brother is to me and it frustrates me, Jason, because this was my life and I want it back.” Tears sparked in her lashes and she squeezed her eyes shut. “I want those years back. I want my life, my career, my family…I want it back.”

This entry is part 17 of 19 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Tangle

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Crimson Manor: Johnny’s Study

Johnny sat in the dark, only the moon shifting through the windows behind the desk. It was past nine and he had just finished speaking with his sister. When Scott Baldwin had filed charges for Sonny’s murder, Claudia had made noises about returning. Johnny had just finished convincing her to stay put. The police were still investigating Michael’s death and he knew Claudia was at the top of their lists.

It was better that Claudia remained in Milan, but it meant that Johnny faced this alone. Luke Spencer had kept Lulu out of town and Trevor had been one of the first casualties of the mob war. Johnny never thought he’d actually miss his father. Anthony Zacchara probably would know how to deal with this situation.

The door to the study creaked open and Ric Lansing stepped in. “I have good news for you.”

Johnny raised an eyebrow and leaned over to flick on the desk lamp, illuminating his half of the room. “Scott Baldwin mysteriously dropped dead?”

“No, but that would be good news,” Ric agreed. “I found a witness even Scott can’t argue with.” He opened the second door to the study to reveal an extremely nervous blonde. Her face was hidden in the shadows, so Johnny reached behind the desk to flick on another light. “I know you.”  He frowned. “Didn’t my father attempt to kill you?”

Nadine Crowell bit her lip and some of the anxiety smoothed from her face. “Can’t nearly everyone in Port Charles say that?”

“Nadine was one of Michael’s nurses,” Ric told him.

“I was on the crash team,” Nadine added, her tone muted. “After…” she hesitated.  “After Dr. Drake called it, I was unhooking machines and finishing paperwork and I heard Sonny tell Jason he was going to take care of…” She gestured towards Johnny. “Well…you.”

Johnny’s eyebrows shot up, but he looked at Ric first. “Is that admissible?”

“He said it while they were still in Michael’s room.” Ric replied. “Nadine was unhooking equipment. There was another nurse, but–”

“Leyla’s a good person, but your family scares the crap out her,” Nadine interrupted. “She’s the girl from the ball–”

“–that my father shot,” Johnny finished. “He tried to kill you, too.”

“I was able to get away,” Nadine replied. She hesitated. “And I feel like this is partially my fault. If Leyla or I had reported the threat, or called Mac, maybe we could have stopped it and you wouldn’t be in this position–”

“I appreciate that,” Johnny cut in, “but you know, I doubt anything either of you could have done,”  He turned his attention to Ric. “Do you think it could work?”

“It’d be better if we had two nurses,” Ric admitted, “but her testimony corroborates our claim of self-defense.”

“Well, then I guess we’ll have to see how it goes.” Johnny looked at Nadine. “Thank you. You may have just saved my life.”

At that, Nadine smiled. “Happy to help.”

Saturday, July 27, 2024

General Hospital: Emergency Ward

Jake paced nervously from one end of the check-in desk to the other. When Leyla wasn’t watching the door for Nadine’s arrival, she kept her eye on the Morgan boy.

He’d been here for ten minutes, looking as though someone might have to restrain him from charging into the back room at any moment.

Leyla wished Nadine would get here, but she’d been in surgery when Amalia had been brought in, and it would probably be another half hour until the head surgical nurse would allow anyone to interrupt the procedure.

The nurturing mother in her couldn’t take it anymore. “Jake,” she murmured, emerging from behind the counter. “Let me tend to your arm.”

Jake looked at her for a moment, bewildered, before dragging his gaze down to his arm, wrapped in a towel. “I cut it,” he said in a daze. “I had to get in the window.”

“I know,” Leyla replied. She gently steered him to the adjoining curtained area and pushed him to sit on the bed.

“Her dad is probably going to kill me for being up at her window,” Jake remarked.

Leyla smiled faintly. “I’m sure he’ll be relieved you were there.”

“Doesn’t matter if he tries,” Jake went on as if she hadn’t spoken. ‘This is his fault.”

“Oh?” Leyla began to pick out the tiny slivers of glass still embedded in his forearm.

“And her mother’s,” Jake continued. “Making her feel like dirt, using her like a pawn.”

“I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be that way,” Leyla replied, not entirely feeling confident. She’d been Nadine’s best friend for the better part of the last decade and a half. She had watched Nadine’s marriage crumble and observed the ensuing custody struggle. During her own divorce, Leyla had begged Pete to keep their boys from that sort of future. Not that it had been much of threat. Pete was more than content with child support and occasional visits with PJ and Ryan. He’d been as relieved to get out of the marriage as she had.

Leyla remained silent, because she really wasn’t sure how to comfort him. She finished cleaning and bandaging his arm.

“Where’s my daughter?”

At Nadine’s shrill cry, both nurse and patient looked up to find Amalia’s mother just inside the emergency room doors.

Jake slowly got to his feet and sent Nadine a hostile glare. “They’re still pumping her stomach.”

Nadine’s face drained of color.   “What?” Her eyes focused on his bandaged arm “Did you get in an accident? What happened?”

He lifted his arm. “I busted through her bedroom window. She was passed out on the bed.” Jake dug an envelope from his back pocket and slapped it against her chest. “She left this for you.”

He stalked out of the area and headed for the waiting room. Nadine stared after him for a moment before looking back at Leyla. “I don’t understand.”

“Amalia took quite a bit of Valium,” Leyla murmured. “They’re pumping her stomach.”

“Where’s Amalia?” Johnny strode through the emergency doors. “Nadine?”

She didn’t immediately answer, still processing Leyla’s news. Johnny stalked across the room and grabbed her elbow. “Nadine? What happened?”

“What happened?”

All three adults turned to find Juliet standing just inside the emergency doors.  Her eyes were swollen from tears and her face was red. Behind her, she was flanked by Cameron and Molly. Jake’s only call had been to his little sister about her best friend.

“You happened,” Juliet continued. She ate up the distance between herself and Amalia’s parents with long, angry strides, and then surprised everyone by jabbing her finger at Johnny Zacchara. “You and her mother dragged her in and out of court, made her miserable. You made her feel worthless. This is all your fault!” Juliet switched her furious gaze to Nadine. “I hope you’re happy.”

She left them then and joined her brother in the waiting area. With uncomfortable glances at one another, Cameron and Molly followed.

“What the hell is going on?” Johnny demanded.

Rafina, Greece

Elizabeth’s Apartment

Jason slid his cell phone into his pocket and looked to Elizabeth. “I have to go home.”

She rose from the couch, her face pale. “It was one of the kids.” It was not a question, but a statement. In the few days since their reunion, memories of Jason, her kids and the life back in Port Charles had not necessarily come tumbling back, but Elizabeth had remembered enough to know that the only thing that could tear Jason away at this moment was either the kids or something dire happening to Carly’s family.

“Not exactly.” Jason hesitated. “Juliet’s best friend, Amalia–”

“Nadine’s daughter,” Elizabeth said slowly. “We worked together in the hospital. Amalia was born just before Juliet.” She paused. “Is she sick?”

“Jake found her after she’d swallowed a bottle of pills,” Jason answered. “Cameron called to let me know. She’s not just Juliet’s best friend.” He hesitated. “If Amalia wasn’t fourteen–”

“She’s special to Jake, too,” Elizabeth nodded. “So you need to be there with him, and with Juliet.”

“Yes,” he said. He scratched at the back of his neck. “I’m not sure how long I’ll be gone. Cameron wasn’t sure if Amalia was going to be okay or not and if she’s not–if she’s unconscious or if…” Jason shook his head. “I don’t know what the situation is–”

“Then I’ll go with you,” Elizabeth interrupted. She shoved her hands in the back pockets of her jeans. “I’m not ready to go to Port Charles. There’s still so much missing and I know I don’t have enough pieces to go back to that life. But I’m afraid that if you leave me here, I might talk myself out of ever going back.”

Jason frowned. “I thought we agreed–”

“I want to go there,” Elizabeth interjected. “I can already feel Maia falling away and pieces of Elizabeth coming back. It’s like my memory was always there waiting, I just needed something to trigger it. It’s not back all the way, but I know the facts.” She paused. “I know that we were married. That I have three children. I know that I was a nurse, that I had a friend named Nadine who had a daughter. I know that your best friend is Carly and that next to your kids, she’s the most important person in your life. I know these facts, Jason. I know them like I know my name is Elizabeth.”

“Then why wouldn’t you want to come back and remember the rest of it?” Jason stepped towards her, but stopped. He was afraid if he got too close, he might be tempted to just grab her, put her on a plane, and take her to Port Charles whether she wanted to go or not. So he kept his distance. It had to be her decision.

“What if I go back and I look at my children…” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I know who they are because I’ve seen the pictures, but what if there’s no connection? What if I can’t be their mother because I don’t remember them?” A tear slid down her cheek. “What if I never remember what it was like to be a single mother with Cameron, or being pregnant with Jake or painting Juliet’s room? You told me that all Juliet has ever wanted was to know who I am, and what I was like. What if I can’t be her mother?”

“Elizabeth…” Jason hesitated again, wanting to choose the right words. “I know what it’s like to look at someone who wants you to be someone you can’t. I told you about my accident and my memory problems, but this is different. You’ve already remembered so much without even seeing them.” He smiled slightly. “I never told you that you were a single mother with Cameron or that you painted Juliet’s room.”

She blinked and looked at him with confusion until she realized what she’d said. He was right. She’d just started to talk and it had come pouring out.  “I was divorced when Cameron was born,” Elizabeth said slowly. “But he wasn’t the father.”

“The year before Cameron was born was very…weird,” Jason said, not interested in going through the panic room debacle and her still mystifying choice to remarry Ric. “His father was someone you were close friends with — Zander Smith. He made some choices that were not good and died before Cameron was born.”

“That’s when I became a nurse,” Elizabeth nodded. “Because I needed health insurance and something stable.” She blinked again. “You’re right.” A small slide slid across her face. “I remember more all the time. It only makes sense that when I go to Port Charles and I see the kids, where I used to work and the people I used to know…that it will all come back to me.” She took a deep breath. “Which is why I need to go with you now, before I lose my courage. You need to go back home because Jake and Juliet need you, and I need to find out if I can go back and live my life again.”

General Hospital: Hospital Lounge

Eventually word came that Amalia was being moved to her own room — but visitors had been strictly limited to her family. Nadine and Johnny had both gone in and left after a few moments. Juliet wondered if it had been the guilt that made them leave — the knowledge that it was their selfish actions that had put their daughter in that bed.

She hoped they choked on it.

“Are you sure you want to stick around here?” Cameron asked quietly. “Mrs. Marquez doesn’t think anyone will be allowed in tonight that isn’t family.”

“I’m staying right here,” Juliet said stubbornly. “I want Amalia to know that someone who gives a damn was here with her.” She folded her arms across her chest and stared straight ahead. “I can sleep in a chair if I have to.”

“Jules–”

“Cam.” Molly touched his arm and drew him back. “Let’s go to Kelly’s and get something for everyone to eat.”

He followed her into the hallway and silently into the nearby elevator. Once the doors had slid closed, he leaned his forehead against the paneling. “I wish I had known how much pain Amalia was in. If I did–” Cameron shook his head and pressed his lips together.

“It wouldn’t have changed anything,” Molly said firmly. “You know the kind of damage parents can do without knowing. The way my dad just left for New York because he needed a change of scenery? The way my mother smothers us and tries to make decisions for us?”

“The fact my father refused to talk about my mom for over ten years?” Cameron was silent for a moment and the elevator arrived at the parking garage level. He led the way out of the elevator and pressed a hand to Molly’s lower back to steer her towards where he’d parked their car. “It makes me wonder…if maybe Dad had been more willing to open up…”

“If maybe your mom would have been found years ago?” Molly finished. She paused by the passenger side. “Don’t fall into that trap, Cam. Amalia Zacchara tried to kill herself because she let her parents inside her head so much that there wasn’t room for anything else.”

“Jules told me that Amalia was trying to get her parents back together.” He pressed the unlock button on his key chain. “I should have told her not to bother. That there was nothing a teenager could do to fix the damage Johnny and Nadine Zacchara did to themselves.” He paused. “But maybe I should have told her that there wasn’t anything Jules could do to fix Amalia. That she’d been poisoned by her parents.”

“I don’t believe that,” Molly said. She peered at him over the top of the car before sliding into the passenger side. “I believe that we make our own problems and our own solutions. Lia just…got lost for a little while. Maybe her parents will wake the hell up.”

General Hospital: Chapel

The first time Johnny Zacchara had met Nadine Crowell, it had been at a ball. She’d been wearing the same dress as Lulu Spencer and he’d grabbed her arm to get her away from his family.

She’d smiled and given him a smartass reply and had never once held it against him that his father tried to kill her later that night.

Then she’d saved his life, literally, by testifying that Sonny Corinthos had had murder on his mind the day he’d left the hospital after Michael Corinthos died. It had given his plea of self-defense the ring of truth.

Since the moment Nadine Crowell had entered his life, he’d never been the same. Standing here, in the doorway of the hospital chapel, watching his ex-wife light a candle at the altar, he wondered if maybe she regretted any of it.

“I used to tell myself that if I ever made the mistake of having children,” he said slowly, “that I would never be my father.”

Nadine slowly turned around and regarded him from across the room. “Well, you haven’t shot me yet, so I guess you made it work.”

He slid his hands into the pockets of his pants and felt every inch of his forty-one years. “Anthony Zacchara spent my entire life alternately smothering me and ignoring me. Controlling my every movement until the sole focus of my life was to escape him. I stood in that hospital room and I realized that I had done the exact same thing to my own daughter.”

“Johnny…” Nadine trailed off. She’d never known exactly how to react when he fell into these somber black moods. She’d been lucky that they’d been rare during the good times…and then she told herself not to care after those times had faded from memory. “You’re not the only guilty party.”

“What was my first reaction when you told me about Nikolas?” Johnny said. “Did I bother to congratulate you? To cooperate about custody? No. I threatened to take her away.” He exhaled in an exasperated huff. “Like she was a piece of jewelry I was punishing you with.”

“And my first reaction when you married Candy–”

“–Candace,” Johnny interrupted, more out of habit than anything else.

“I sued you for full custody. I’m the one that started this–”

“Nadine–” he held up his hand. “We both know that if I had taken different steps when we were married, or right after we divorced…we could have had a different relationship. We could have been different parents.”

“I was so angry with you when I walked out,” she murmured. “But it was twisted in the grief I was feeling about the baby, and the guilt for never having spoken to you about Lulu and how jealous I was. I could have agreed to counseling–we could have salvaged something–”

Johnny crossed the room and took Nadine’s hands in his. “I wish to God I had done something more to fight you, but I…” He shook his head.  “None of this matters anymore. We could spend the rest of the night one-upping each other on being bad parents, but it won’t solve our immediate problem.”

“I knew Amalia was unhappy,” Nadine said slowly. “When I told her that I didn’t expect her to come to London, that she could stay here, I didn’t…” She reached into the pockets of her scrubs and drew out the letter Jake had hurled at her. “She left a note. To explain herself.”

Johnny took it from her and slowly opened it.

 Mom,

 I don’t even know if this is the right thing to do. I guess I don’t know the right thing anymore. I thought if I could make you understand that Dad never meant to cheat on you, it would make it all better and we could be a family again, but that was stupid.

 I think that if I wasn’t here, you would both be so much happier. If I had never been born, you wouldn’t have married and then you guys wouldn’t be so miserable. I can’t go back and make that happen, but if I take myself out of the picture, Dad can’t use me to make you cry anymore.

 So you can go to London and you don’t have to have me tagging along and you don’t have to feel guilty about not wanting me there. Dad doesn’t have to come to Port Charles anymore and you guys can just forget any of this ever happened.

 But I guess that’s stupid, too. I don’t really know what to do anymore. I’m just tired of caring.

The sides of the paper began to crumple as Johnny clenched his fists and closed his eyes against the burn of tears. “She thinks we don’t love her.”

“She thinks we’d be better off without her,” Nadine murmured, a tear sliding aimlessly down her cheek. “She doesn’t understand that she’s been the only bright spot in my entire life.” Her shoulders began to shake and she slowly slid to the carpet

Johnny joined her on the floor and drew his ex-wife to his side. “I used to go into her bedroom at night–when we were still together–and just…marvel at the beautiful little girl God had blessed me with. I’d give anything to go back and just…tell her that she’s only thing that’s made my life worth anything since you left.”

This entry is part 16 of 19 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Tangle

Sunday, November 14, 2010

 Rafina, Greece

Cassadine Estate: Bedroom

She blinked once and then twice because she didn’t immediately recognize her surroundings. And in fact, the second time she opened her eyes, she was even less sure where she was. She pressed a hand to her aching head and turned it just slightly to find an elderly woman seated at her bedside.

“It’s about time you woke up,” the woman said coldly. She snapped her fingers. “Andreas, fetch the doctor.”

She cleared her throat. “What’s…what’s going on?” she asked. She blinked again. Where was she? Who was this woman?

The woman in questioned leaned forward, her blue eyes flat and mean. “You have caused a great deal of trouble, you know.”

“Trouble?” She shook head. “I don’t understand.” She licked her lips. “Who are you?”

“Who am I?” The woman sat back and stared at her. For a long moment, a tense silence reigned. And then, a change came over her so quickly it didn’t seem real. The woman’s eyes warmed, a smile spread across her face. “My darling, I am your grandmother. And I have been so worried about you.”

“My grandmother?” she repeated. That didn’t feel right—it didn’t sound right. “My grandmother?”

“I am Helena Cassadine,” the woman declared. “We are in Greece. You were born here, but your parents took you to the States where you were raised.” She paused. “In New…Jersey.”

New Jersey? That didn’t feel right either.

“Your parents died and I became your guardian,” Helena continued. “Your name is Maia Cassadine. You are thirty years old.” Her eyes glinted strangely. “And you are single.”

“Maia,” she repeated. But that didn’t feel any more right than having grown up in New Jersey or this woman being her family.

She wasn’t Maia Cassadine, she knew that for sure. But of course, the question remained…

Who was she?

Saturday, July 27, 2024

 

Morgan Home: Cameron’s Bedroom

It was still somewhat early when Jake pushed open his older brother’s door. He hadn’t been able to sleep, knowing Amalia was just down the hall.

He’d handled everything completely wrong — he’d known that almost from the second it happened. But damn it, how was someone supposed to reject someone they didn’t really want to reject? Jake was ashamed to admit to himself that if Amalia had been a year or two older, he wouldn’t have pushed her away.

And that would have been even worse.

Cameron wasn’t sleeping either. He was tapping away at his computer, but stopped when he heard the door creak open. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Jake leaned against the closed door. “Why are you up?”

“Working on my application to intern at a law firm in Boston next fall,” Cameron said. “I don’t have to ask you why you’re awake.” He tapped his finger against the keyboard for a moment. “It’s not that I don’t think you were right to push her away. Lia’s too young–”

“It’s not even that,” Jake scowled, dropping onto on the end of Cameron’s bed. “She’s just wrapped up in all the crap that’s going on with her parents. Her mom’s getting married, and her dad’s not stopping it. She would have hated me if I didn’t stop her.”

“Also…she’s fourteen,” Cameron responded dryly.

“That, too.” Jake sighed. “I probably could have been nicer about it.”

“Obviously.”

“I panicked.”

“Clearly.”

Jake glared. “Where’s the support? You’re supposed to be on my side.”

Cameron swiveled in his chair and leveled a steady look at his younger brother. “I am on your side. And I think that you were right to push her away, but you and I both know that Amalia Zacchara is a little damaged. Not through any fault of her own, you know, but thanks to her immature parents, she’s not exactly the most stable girl we know.”

“She’s not damaged,” Jake argued. “She just doesn’t know her own self-worth, okay? She probably thought that me sleeping with her would prove something about her, but it would have made things worse.” He paused. “Plus I bet Johnny Zacchara would castrate me.”

“I don’t say damaged in a bad way, okay? I just think her parents have messed with her psyche so much that she doesn’t know what to do. You said her mom’s getting remarried, that’s probably not helping.

“Her mom is marrying Nikolas,” Jake said, “and I don’t think Nadine intends to move Amalia to London, which just means to Lia that her mom doesn’t want her. Plus, she’s been trying to figure out how to get her parents back together.”

“I could have told you that wouldn’t work.”

“So what do I do now?” Jake asked. “How am I supposed to make her understand?”

“Just sit her down and force her to listen.” Cameron shrugged. “Look, I don’t have all the answers. I barely know what Molly is thinking half the time, much less other girls.”

Juliet pushed Cameron’s door open and glared at Jake. “What did you say to Lia?” she demanded. “She wouldn’t talk to me last night and I just woke up and she was gone.”

“Great,” Jake muttered. “How am I supposed to fix this now?”

Zacchara Home: Amalia’s Bedroom

Amalia tapped her pen against the desk and stared out across the backyard, trying to think of the words she wanted to say.  It was important to get it out right the first time, because she wasn’t going to get another chance.

She glanced at the bottle of Valium she’d nicked from her mother’s locked medicine cabinet. As if a lock would keep Claudia Zacchara’s niece out of something. Claudia. Her aunt Claudia.

Amalia reached for her cell phone and hit the speed dial, knowing that it was near the end of the day in Italy where Claudia Zacchara had lived for the past fifteen years. She’d met her aunt only a few times — Claudia never came to the States and Nadine was reluctant to go near her sister-in-law, so it had fallen to Johnny to forge those family ties and it had never struck him as important.

But it’d been vital to Amalia, because Claudia Antonia Zacchara was the only person in the world that didn’t treat her like damaged, unwanted goods, like someone to watch very carefully in case she’d break. Even Amalia’s best friend, Juliet knew there was something lurking beneath her best friend’s exterior that she wanted nothing to do with.

But to Claudia, like recognized like.

“You’ve reached Claudia Zacchara. If I’m not answering the phone, I hope it’s because I’ve caught the attention of a very athletic Italian.”

Amalia smiled faintly at the familiar message. “Hey, Aunt Claudie. I just…I just called to tell you I love you.” She clicked the phone off and set it aside. She returned her attention to the letter in front of her and was able to finish it now.

She folded it neatly and slipped into an envelope, setting it in a prominent position on her desk. She’d printed Mom and Dad in neat and bold letters with a black marker so that no one could miss it.

It’d be rude not to let her parents know exactly why she was doing this.

Amalia checked her makeup in the mirror and made sure her hair was brushed. Aunt Claudia always emphasized appearances above anything else. She sat on her bed and kicked off her shoes.

She picked up the glass of water and with the other hand, dumped the half-filled bottle of Valium out onto the desk. One by one, she swallowed each pill. When they were gone, she set her water down, neatly capped the pill bottle and set it in front of the letter.

Amalia Maria Zacchara believed in setting the scene.

She lay back on her bed, folded her hands neatly across her abdomen and closed her eyes.

And she waited for it all to go away.

Jacks Home: Backyard

“When will your parents be back?” Mal asked, dropping onto the sun lounger next to Cecily’s.

Cecily yawned and slowly turned over to lie on her back. Another half hour of sun, she decided. That would keep her tan at just the right levels. She disliked having to go to the tanning salon and preferred the natural look. “They’re out to lunch and then they’re going to the hotel for a while. They’re trying to keep busy until Jason gets back with Elizabeth.”

“Yeah, it seems like the whole town is going nuts over that.” Mal stared at the string that knotted Cecily’s bikini top together and wondered if she’d let him untie it today. “It’s pretty wild, you know. Her coming back from the dead.”

“Nah,” Cecily replied, not opening her eyes. “My mom came back from the dead once. And Morgan’s dad did it like twice.” She peeked at him. “Your grandparents do it. The only way this would be weird if she’d actually died or something.”

“Good point.” Mal shifted. “So Morgan’s not home either?”

“Nope. He’s with Kristina, Cam and Molly.” Cecily’s eyes popped open and she looked at him suspiciously. “Why?”

“Well,” Mal drawled out, “you know, we’re alone. And we can…”

“What?” Cecily sat up and arched an eyebrow. “We can go upstairs and fuck like bunnies?” she snorted. “You’ve got a one track mind, asshole.” She got to her feet and crossed to patio doors that led into the kitchen.

Mal frowned. Her words made it sound like she wasn’t particularly interested but then why had she gone into the house? He was getting sick of the ice princess routine. Everyone knew Carly Jacks had slept with everything that moved in her day, so he couldn’t understand why Cecily was pretending she was any better.

He followed her into the house and found her in the kitchen, pouring a glass of iced tea. “What’s your deal anyway?”

“My deal?” Cecily repeated. “My deal is I’m fifteen years old. I have the rest of my life to have sex.” She flicked her dark eyes at him, scornfully. “My mother screwed every guy that fell in her path, including after she met my father. She used sex like a weapon to get what she wanted and I’m not gonna do that. Maybe I’m like her in a lot ways, Mal. I got her looks, her attitude and her selfish demeanor. But I’m not going to be a slut.” She sipped her drink and set it on the counter before looking at him directly. “So if you’ve been dating me because I’m Carly’s daughter and I should be a sure thing, then you’ve been wasting your time.”

“I—” Mal stopped, because really how was he supposed to respond to that? Of course, the major reason he’d asked her out was because he’d wanted to lose his virginity and he’d assumed Carly’s daughter wouldn’t necessarily have any morals. He should have remembered that Cecily was Jax’s daughter, too.

“You’re such an asshole, Mal.” Cecily looked down at the floor and stared hard at the linoleum. He would not see her cry, she told herself. She would never give him that satisfaction. When she was sure she had herself back under control, she raised her head and tossed her hair over her shoulder in a classic Carly gesture. “You would think with what your mother has had to live with her whole life that you would take sex seriously.”

Mal clenched his fists. “You’d better not be calling my mother a whore,” he snarled. “Your mother—”

“Oh, please,” Cecily cut in.  “Your mother made one dumb mistake a lifetime ago and now she has to take all those pills and watch her health like a hawk. I’m only saying that I thought she would have taught you that sex is serious. It’s not something you just jump into because you think you’re ready. Go ask Dr. Robin, Mal, and ask her if she thinks I’m being a prude.” She arched an eyebrow. “Because I know that’s what you’re thinking and what you’re going to tell all the guys. If you bother to tell the truth, but you’ll probably just tell them that you nailed me.” She slammed her glass on the counter. “Whatever. I don’t care.”

“That’s the problem with chicks,” Mal returned hotly. “You all think that sex should be some stupid declaration of love. Yeah, my mom taught me about safe sex and if you’d think I’d touch you without protection and the pill, you’re fucking out of your mind. Who knows where you’ve been—”

Whatever insult Mal had been throwing at her was abruptly cut off as Morgan stepped out of the hallway next to the kitchen, and shoved Mal against the wall, cutting off his air supply with a grip of the hand.

“Morgan—” Cecily began.

“You better have been talking to someone else,” Morgan growled. “Because I know you weren’t talking to my sister.”

“Look, dude,” Mal choked out.

“No one talks to my sister like that, you little bastard.” With his other hand, Morgan opened the sliding glass door. “If I hear one word about her that even sounds out of line, I’ll come for you. Do you get me?”

With just the one hand, Morgan tossed the teen through the window and Mal sprawled out over the patio. “You’ve got one minute to get your shit together before I drown you in the pool.”

Mal scrambled to his feet, gasping for air. “I’m going to press charges—”

“Go ahead,” Morgan shrugged. “Because you know, I bet Cece’s cousin, Lucky will want to hear all about what you’ve done today. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to tell your parents that you were assaulted for pressuring a girl into sex.” He narrowed his eyes. “You’ve got thirty seconds.”

Mal scowled, but gathered his clothes and shoes and disappeared down the driveway.

Morgan closed the door and turned back to his sister. “I know you’re mad—oof!” he broke off when Cecily launched herself at him and hugged him. “Hey.”

“I know I should be royally pissed,” Cecily sniffed, “but it was so awesome seeing you toss him around like a twig.”

Morgan squared his shoulders and felt about ten feet tall. “Well.” He wrapped his long arms around his sister and squeezed. “We’ve got to stick together, you and me, kid. We’ve got a lot of parentage issues to live with.”

“I was so stupid,” Cecily drew away and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “I figured he just wanted sex, but I didn’t really think it was because of Mom.”

“I’m sorry,” Morgan murmured. “It’s hard to live with it sometimes. With Dad’s shadow, and Mom’s…colorful reputation, it doesn’t make it easy to be normal.”

“I know Mom’s not like that anymore.” Cecily took a deep breath. “And that people just like to gossip about how she used to be. I know Daddy swept her off her feet and made her like herself without all that, but…” She shrugged. “People still look at me and it’s like they think they need to hide their sons because I’ll trick them into marriage with a baby.”

“And people look at me and wonder when blood will tell,” he replied. “When I’ll join Uncle Jason and follow in my father’s footsteps.” He slid his fingers under her chin and tilted her face to look at him. “But we both know they’re all full of shit and one day, they’re going to look at us and they’re only going to see the scandals we create all on our own.”

Cecily giggled and swatted his hand away. “Thanks a lot!”

Kelly’s: Courtyard

“I don’t understand why he can’t just load her on a plane and come home,” Carly muttered, trailing Jax as they walked into the courtyard of Kelly’s diner.

Jax laughed and slipped his arm around her waist. “Because Jason does not live his life to please you, darling.”

“Well, he should,” Carly huffed. “Haven’t those kids gone long enough without their mother? Elizabeth needs to come home and then it can all go back to the way it used to be.”

Jax glanced down at her, a sober expression filling his light blue eyes. “It would be nice if that were a possibility, but we both know that’s not going to happen. Elizabeth had amnesia for over a decade.”

Carly stopped and folded her arms underneath her breast. “I know that. And I know that even Jason understands that it won’t ever be the way it was before. But it doesn’t seem fair, okay? I may not have been her biggest fan in the beginning.” She paused. “Or even after they got married and Jules was born. Or even, really, when she disappeared. I was still never quite sure if she was what Jason needed.”

“Carly–”

“But she was what Jason wanted and after everything I’d ever done to him, it only seemed fair that he got what he wanted, so I was willing to put it up with it all. Until he left town and we had to raise those kids for an entire year. Jake and Jakes are barely old enough to remember, but Cam…” Her voice thickened. “Cameron remembered his mother more than they did. And he needed me to tuck him in and make him feel safe. And you know, he asked me once — he asked me if it was maybe something he did that made his mother go away.” She stared at the ground for a long moment.

“I just want her home so her kids can see her. So she can look at them, and maybe remember them. So that the hole in their lives will be gone. It won’t be filled in exactly the same way as before — you know, Elizabeth won’t fit perfectly. But it’s better than a large, gaping hole in the middle of your heart, isn’t it?” Carly demanded.

“You know…” Jax smoothed his hand over the back of her long blonde hair. “Anyone who just listened to you would know exactly why I’ve been married to you for seventeen years.”

Carly smirked. “It’s a shame Alexis wasn’t here.”

Jax laughed and pulled open the door to Kelly’s. Immediately, his wife made a beeline for her cousin, seated with one of the nurses from the hospital.

“Lucky!” Carly said, thumping him on the shoulder. “Fancy seeing you here.”

Lucky grinned and leaned back in his chair. “In my family’s diner? Sure is a surprise.”

“I didn’t realize you and Leyla were friends.” Carly shot the nurse a look that some might mistake as friendly, but Leyla knew better. It was a female that scented prey. She knew Lucky and Carly weren’t necessarily close, but they were family and Carly was a beast when it came to family.

“We’re not really,” Leyla said softly. “We just…” She looked at her companion for some help, unsure if she was to supposed say anything.

“I was asking Leyla which lawyer she used in her divorce from Pete,” Lucky said finally, because there was never any point in keeping a secret from Carly. “Sam’s making noises about Chloe again. My threats aren’t working and my last lawyer didn’t get any real results.”

“Sam,” Carly huffed. “Always causing trouble wherever she goes.” She folded her arms and glared at Jax. “I blame you.”

“Me?” Jax said, his eyebrows shooting up. “How is this my fault?”

“Because you brought that woman to town twenty years ago,” Carly snarled. She jabbed him in the chest. “And just look at all the damage’s she done!”

“Ah, Carly–” Lucky began.

“Don’t you worry, Lucky,” Carly told him. “I’ll call Diane and get the name of best family lawyer in the country. No, the world! And money is no objection! You should have Chloe here, with your family and the people that love you. I am sick of people losing their kids and their parents–” She broke off. “I’ll take care of this.”

And with that threat, Carly strode out of the diner. Lucky turned to Jax, panicked. “Jax–when Carly takes care of things–”

“I’ll fix this,” Jax patted his shoulder. “She’s just emotional right now, with Elizabeth and Jason…you understand. She doesn’t know how to do anything in half measures.” He nodded to Leyla and followed his wife.

“Oh, dear,” Leyla murmured. “Setting Carly on Sam seems…” she paused and her lips curved into an amused smile.  “Well, almost deserving, I might say.”

Zacchara Home: Front Porch

 

Jake scowled when he received no answer after ringing the doorbell three times. There were no cars in the drive, so Nadine was probably at work. Juliet told him that Amalia was not with her, she wasn’t answering her cell phone (or she was probably just ignoring his calls), and he wasn’t able to find her at any of her usual haunts.

And Jake highly doubted Amalia had trotted off to Crimson Pointe with her father.

All of that meant that she was probably holed up in her room, pissed at the world, her parents and him in particular.

Jake stepped off the front porch and took a quick glance around the neighborhood. Not finding any curious neighbors who might call the police, he slowly moved towards to the backyard. He found the gate locked, so he hopped over.

If he remembered the layout of the house correctly, there was a trellis of roses that climbed the side of the house. Jake eyed it, and then looked over at the window that he knew to be Amalia’s. He could climb to the roof, inch over to the side and try that.

After a few false starts, he hauled himself to the top and slowly made his way to Amalia’s window, telling himself not to look down. After all, if a girl could climb the tree in his backyard, he could surely manage this.

He glanced inside the window and found his suspicions confirmed. While he’d been out searching for her everywhere, the little brat was taking a comfortable nap on her bed.

Jake tapped the window lightly, but when there was no movement from the bed, he frowned and tapped harder. Still no movement. He scowled and glanced around, hoping no one could see him in the surrounding yards. He banged on the wooden pane next to the glass, and still…Amalia didn’t move.

Jake narrowed his eyes. She didn’t even shift in her sleep. No movement whatsoever. He rapped on the glass as hard as he could without breaking it. And still, Amalia remained still. Very still.

“Lia!” he called, rapping the glass again.  She didn’t move.

Jake was getting a little worried and then he caught something out of the corner of his eye. He dragged his gaze from Amalia to the desk next to her bed and saw what looked to him to be a pill bottle.

Sitting in front of an envelope.

A chill raced down his spine and then Jake knew why the usually light sleeping Amalia had not responded to the doorbell or to the window knocks. She’d swallowed a bottle of something.

He pounded on the glass and shouted her name. “Amalia!” Still getting no response, he tried to pry the window up, but found it locked. “Fuck,” he swore. Jake leaned back and then closing his eyes, he shoved his elbow into the glass, wincing as shards bit into his skin.

He hurriedly unlocked, shoved it up and then all but fell into her room. Jake sprinted across the space and took her by the shoulders, shaking. “God damn you, wake up!”

Amalia’s head lolled back and Jake dropped her, horrified. He grabbed her wrist and almost passed out from relief at finding a pulse. A weak, faint pulse, but it was there. He grabbed the pill bottle and found it empty, as he’d suspected. Valium.

“Lia!” Jake shook her again and then grabbed his cell phone to call for an ambulance. “God damn it, you better wake up!”

This entry is part 15 of 19 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Tangle

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rafina, Greece: Woods

Elizabeth knew that she should try to keep her footsteps as quiet as possible, that she should limit the sound of her footsteps crashing through the words, cracking branches and rustling through leaves, but if she went slow–if she took her time–she was terrified that they would find her.

It might be the echoes of her own footsteps, it might be her imagination or more correctly her panic, but she was sure that she could feel them behind her, pursuing her doggedly. By now they must have found the bodyguards she’d knocked out and they would have noticed her empty bed. She’d thought about piling some pillows under her bedspread, but it would have eaten into her small window of escape and it wouldn’t fool anyone long enough to make a difference.

It had taken her two days to make her escape–two long days of thinking about her babies, her husband, and how terrified Jason must be. He would never guess it was Helena Cassadine that had stolen her away, not if Helena didn’t want it that way. He must think it was it was one of his own enemies, despite the relative peace.

She prayed that he did not blame Johnny Zacchara, that this would not break the truce and partnership between their families. Jason was an intelligent man with a shrewd mind, but Elizabeth knew that when his family threatened, he stopped seeing shades of gray, and instead only concentrated on black and white facts.

She had no idea what Helena wanted from her and she wasn’t going to stick around to find out. She would not be another Laura Spencer, forever tormented by her years trapped by the Cassadines, forced to bear a child. Nikolas was a blessing, to be sure, but Elizabeth knew it hung between them, that it always would. She would not be another tool of Helena’s revenge.

She dashed through the woods, not knowing if she’d come out to a cliff, a field, a highway. She wasn’t sure where she was — if she was still in Port Charles, or even the country. She might be in Russia, or Greece or Italy. The Cassadines had properties all over the world and Helena had endless resources.

She couldn’t worry about that now. She just had to keep running. If she kept going, surely she would find some sort of civilization. She would get out of this, she would go home to her babies and her husband and this would all be a terrible dream.

Elizabeth tripped and went flying, breaking her fall with her hands. She flipped over and took a few deep heaving breaths, her palms stinging. She listened closely, praying that she wasn’t hearing footsteps.

Nothing. Just the chirping of the crickets, the wind rustling through the leaves. Perhaps they didn’t know where to start their search? Maybe they really hadn’t found the guards yet. Maybe she would have more time to escape.

Elizabeth hauled herself to her feet, every muscle in her body screaming in agony. She pictured her babies the last time she’d seen them–Juliet fast asleep in her crib, Cameron sprawled out over his fire engine sheets and Jake curled into a tight ball under his puppy sheets. She would get home to them. She must get home to them.

She took off in another fast dash, wanting to put as much distance between herself and the estate as possible. The faster she moved, the faster she could be away from this terrible nightmare.

Up ahead, Elizabeth spied a break in the trees and almost slowed her pace. Finally! Something other than woods!

Her foot tangled in a tree root and Elizabeth went sprawling again. She was unable to break her fall and she crashed to the ground, her last vision being a rock flying towards her.

And then everything went dark.

Friday, July, 26, 2024

General Hospital: Nurse’s Station

Robin set her chart down and leaned over the counter towards Nadine and Leyla. “Did you hear?”

Nadine frowned and looked up from her insurance forms. “What?”

“I talked to Carly this morning–”

“Wait,” Leyla interjected with an amused smile. “I just want to remember this day and that remark.”

“Ha,” Robin responded dryly. “Yes, yes. Our kids date, we have to be civil. It’s all very ironic.” She leaned closer. “Juliet called her yesterday. They found Elizabeth.”

Leyla dropped the folders she was holding. “Found?” she repeated dully. “What do you mean found?”

“Oh, God,” Nadine pressed a hand to her mouth. “Oh, God-”

“No, no, oh man, I’m sorry,” Robin said quickly. “She’s okay. She’s alive.” She cleared her throat. “She was kidnapped by Helena and held in Greece. Carly didn’t have all the details but something happened and she’s head amnesia all these years. She didn’t know who she really was until Jason walked through her door.”

“Oh…wow,” Nadine breathed. The blonde charge nurse shook her head. “That’s just…I don’t know what to say.”

“It’s incredible,” Leyla said. “I always hoped, but it seemed impossible after all these years.”

Nadine frowned suddenly. “You said Juliet called Carly yesterday?”

“Yeah,” Robin looked at her oddly. “Why?”

“Nothing.” Nadine smiled faintly and looked back at her work. Amalia had spent the day with Juliet yesterday but had said nothing when she came home. Where had she gone so wrong with her daughter that even fantastic news like this could go unsaid?

“When is she coming back?” Leyla inquired, flashing her fellow a nurse a strange look.

“Carly didn’t know for sure but probably in the next week. She recalls some things but not everything and I don’t think Jason wants to overwhelm her.” Robin picked up her chart. “Something about being in Port Charles…there’s always something completely unbelievable happening.”

Rafina, Greece: Elizabeth’s Apartment

Elizabeth sat on the sofa in her apartment, staring at the assortment of photos that Jason had given her. He was not with her; she had asked him to give her some time to herself a few hours previous. He’d been reluctant to go and she couldn’t blame him. After all these years, she couldn’t imagine it was easy to walk away from her.

To Jason, to these children, she was someone who had disappeared from their lives suddenly, without a trace. They had managed to go on, but she’d been a hole in their lives. And until a few days ago, she’d been Maia Cassadine, a shopkeeper in Rafina that kept to herself. It didn’t matter that inside her own head she’d always known she wasn’t Maia. The truth was that Maia Cassadine had become her identity because there was nothing else to fill that space.

Now, she knew all the people and things that were supposed to fill it. A son who was in college and according to Jason, Cameron was charming, popular and intelligent. Someone she’d be proud of calling her son. Except none of those things were to her credit. She hadn’t raised Cameron to be this man. Jason had.

Another son, who was angry with the world for all the wrongs in his life. The lack of a mother, events concerning his paternity that sounded familiar to her, but were still hazy. Jake was a good kid, Jason had said, but they didn’t always get along well. That…she could take credit for. It was her actions that led to this, her amnesia that kept her from knowing the truth all these years. Her failures.

A little girl who Elizabeth had only known for a scant six months. She’d never seen Juliet walk, never heard her first words and while Elizabeth could dredge up some brief sensations of Jake and Cameron, Juliet was a mystery to her. A black hole that she couldn’t bring to life in her head. She looked at the photographs and Elizabeth knew that this was her daughter. It was in the shape of her nose, the tilt of her chin, the color of her eyes. Juliet looked like a perfect combination of herself and Jason. This was her daughter. And Elizabeth didn’t know her.

And of course, there was her husband. A man that she couldn’t really remember except that she looked at him and knew this was the guy. She knew she had loved him, but did she still love him? Could he still love her? Surely, he loved the woman she’d been all those years ago and she’d loved that man. But did that automatically translate to the people they were today? He was changed by the pressures of raising three small children without their mother. And she hadn’t been Elizabeth Morgan in so long…could she just return to Port Charles, take up that life and just go on as if it had never happened?

Elizabeth wished she knew how she had lost her memory. She had Helena’s story–that she had fallen and struck her head on a rock, but could that be it?  She had assumed–and so had Jason–that Helena had kidnapped her for a specific purpose but had died before revealing that purpose to her. What if that wasn’t true? What if Helena’s intention had been to steal her from her family, to take away her memory and do this?

And why? Jason hadn’t been clear on the reasons for Helena giving a damn about Elizabeth in the first place. Maybe he hadn’t wanted to give her more information about her past than she was ready for.

She could ask him to go away, to tell the children he’d been mistaken and maybe that would be the kind thing to do. If she went back to Port Charles and never felt anything for these children and this man again — if her memory didn’t come back, she would just be prolonging the inevitable. Maybe she could get to know them, but it would never be the same. It would never be the family they deserved.

Elizabeth exhaled slowly and picked up a photo of the children together. She thought it must be recent — Juliet looked like a teenager. She was smiling and standing in between her older brothers. She looked like a happy girl, one who had everything. And yet, she’d been the one to initiate another search. Didn’t she owe it to this girl who had never had a mother to do something?

Staying here in Rafina, continuing her life as Maia Cassadine would be the easy, cowardly way out. Going home, to see if she could remember or resume her life as Elizabeth Morgan…that would be the difficult decision.

Elizabeth glanced out her window and just stared. She’d told Jason to go back to his hotel and get some sleep. That had been two hours ago. Instead of getting the first bit of sleep in days, he’d sat on the bench outside her shop.

She owed it to Jason to go home and find out if she could be his wife again. She hadn’t asked and he hadn’t volunteered, but obviously there had been no other woman since she’d left. He’d remained married to her not only in a legal sense, but in his heart. Any woman would give her left arm for that sort of devotion. She could never turn that away.

Elizabeth had to go back to Port Charles and face her past. She had three children and a husband to think about. Even if she didn’t quite remember them.

Kelly’s: Courtyard

“You eat here more now than when we were kids,” Nikolas remarked, lowering himself into the seat across from his brother. “Looking out for your business investment?”

Lucky shook his head and spooned some chili into his mouth. “Kelly’s is family, Nikolas. A Spencer has owned this place for nearly fifty years. And if I have to hire and then fire every manager in the world to keep it that way, I will.” He sighed. “Besides, I’m not sure we were ever kids.”

Nikolas smiled wryly. “I certainly don’t remember it.” He crossed his legs and shifted in the chair. “I had a call from Nadine this afternoon. About Elizabeth.”

Lucky wiped his mouth. “Cameron told me yesterday. I wasn’t sure how widespread they wanted the news or I would have called you–”

Nikolas waved it off. “No, of course not. I’m simply….” he hesitated. “I’m relieved to hear the news. I wish that it had been anyone other than Helena behind this all, but I can ease my mind with the knowledge that Elizabeth wasn’t hurt or dead. She was just…lost. And now she’s found.”

“We both know it won’t be that easy.” Lucky glanced to the chair to his left and Nikolas looked at the one at his right, both of them thinking of the women who had once occupied them. Emily, dead for nearly two decades and Elizabeth, gone nearly as long. “I had a long talk with Cam. We talked about the past, about all the things that went wrong, and why I gave him away.”

“You made a good choice, Lucky,” Nikolas assured him. “It wasn’t the easiest or what we all wanted, but it was the right one. Especially once Elizabeth was gone. Cam was needed to hold them all together.  Jason’s been a good father. Better than either of us expected.”

“I always knew he’d be a good father, that he’d love Cam as much as he loved Jake,” Lucky replied. “I just didn’t want him to have my family.” He shook his head. “I guess I’m not fated to raise any of the kids I love.”

Nikolas frowned. “I thought you and Sam had settled all of that. Isn’t she sending Chloe?”

Lucky grimaced. “She called and told me that Chloe isn’t ready to be away from her. Of course, when I offered to fly down there for two weeks, she refused. She doesn’t want to confuse Chloe.” He shook his head. “I’m going to have to drag her back into court and that’s the last thing I ever wanted to do. I’ve sat by and watched Johnny and Nadine Zacchara fight over their kid like a bone just to hurt one another. I don’t want that for Chloe. I don’t want her to feel like she’s got to fix things.”

“You don’t want her to feel like she was expendable either,” Nikolas replied. “Nadine and Johnny have threatened each other with custody of Amalia because it’s all they have left to taunt each other with.” He sighed. “I wish I could say it’ll be different once Nadine and I are in London, but I doubt it.”

“She’s a good woman,” Lucky said. “I know she never meant to hurt her daughter. But Nikolas, you know she’s still in love with Johnny. It’s never a good idea to marry someone who’s in love with someone else.”

“I’m not worried about it,” Nikolas responded. “Nadine and I aren’t young kids looking for  passionate, crazy love. We’ve each had it, we’ve each lost it. I just don’t want to be alone anymore and neither does she.”

“As long as you know what you’re getting into.” Lucky sat back and looked at him. “It’s because of Elizabeth and Emily that we’re brothers, you know. That we can stand to look at one another.”

“I know,” Nikolas replied. “I thank God every day for Emily’s love, for Elizabeth’s friendship, and for what it brought me. She’s alive, Lucky, and even if she never remembers me or you, that’s enough for me. I just want her to be somewhere in this world, safe and whole.”

Morgan Home: Jake’s Room

Jake flopped onto his bed and stared at the ceiling. He couldn’t sit downstairs any longer with Cameron’s dopey smile and Juliet’s cheerful demeanor. He knew Cameron was happy because Molly was talking to him again, so he was getting some now, but Juliet was happy because of their mother. She wasn’t even thinking about all the downsides to this.

Sure, their mom was coming home but she didn’t know them. She didn’t remember them, except for having some vague idea that they existed. It wasn’t like she’d be the woman who’d left that morning and they certainly weren’t the babies she’d left behind. None of this was going to have a happy ending. At least not now.

He heard a knock at his window and he twisted his head to find Amalia perched on the tree branch again. He swore and jumped out of his bed. “Jesus, Li, doesn’t it ever occur to you to use the front door? It’s raining!”

“I didn’t want anyone to know I was here,” she said, her teeth chattering. He all but lifted her into his arms and set her on his bed, soaked to the bone. Jake shut the window and crossed to his dresser, searching for something she could wear that wouldn’t fall right off.

“Juliet was looking for you earlier,” Jake told her, tossing her a pair of his old track shorts and a t-shirt. “Your mom called, too. You haven’t been home since yesterday.”

Amalia didn’t say anything. She took a towel from the back of his door and started to rub her hair. “I don’t want to talk to my mother.”

“Because she’s marrying Nikolas Cassadine?” Jake guessed.

Amalia whirled, her dark eyes snapping. “Who told you that?”

“Cameron heard it from Molly, who heard it from her mother.” Jake sat at his desk. “I guess that puts a crimp in your grand plans.”

“Shut up!” Amalia snarled. She threw the towel at him. “Close your eyes. I’m going to change.”

Jake obeyed and reminded himself that Amalia was only fourteen. It didn’t matter that she didn’t quite act that way or that she sure didn’t look that way. She was fourteen, she was his little sister’s best friend…and she was changing in his room.

“Go ahead and open them,” she said after another moment. Jake did so and slammed them shut immediately when he realized she had tricked him. She hadn’t had a shirt on. He was going to have to go to confession or something, which would be difficult, seeing as how he wasn’t altogether religious.

“Damn it, Lia!”

She just laughed. He heard her rustling and then was startled when she straddled his lap. Jake’s eyes shot open and his protest was swallowed when Amalia swooped down and kissed him. He would tell himself later that she’d caught him by surprise, that if he’d been thinking clearly, he would have pushed her away immediately. Instead, his hands slipped up her arms, drawing her closer.

She threaded her fingers through his hair and Jake decided there was no real harm in kissing. He’d wanted this for months, had held off, resisted temptation but surely there was no harm in a little kissing.

Jake felt Amalia’s cold hand creep under his T-shirt…and then reach for the zipper of his jeans. He broke the kiss and lunged to his feet, sending Amalia flying to the floor. “Jesus Christ!”

Amalia stared up at him, confused. She was breathing heavily, her dark hair drying into tangled curls. “Did I do something wrong?” she asked, in a tiny voice. “I’m not experienced–”

“Damn right you’re not!” Jake snarled. “What the hell are you thinking? You’re only fourteen–”

“I thought you liked me,” Amalia said, looking uncharacteristically vulnerable. She bit her lip and drew her legs in to tuck under her chin. “I thought–”

“Well, you thought wrong!” Jake responded, stepping away from her. “I don’t know what the hell is going through your mind–”

“What’s going on up–” Juliet burst through the door, Cameron at her heels. She closed her mouth when she found her best friend dressed in Jake’s clothes and curled up on the floor. She glared at Jake, taking in his mussed hair and the undone button of his jeans. “I heard a thud,” she said flatly.

“Amalia fell,” Jake said, keeping his eyes on the wall behind his desk.

“Right,” Cameron drawled out. “And she fell right into your room?”

Amalia got to her feet and grabbed her soaked clothing. “He was loaning me something to wear,” she muttered. “Can we go to your room, Jules?”

“Sure.” Juliet cast another dark look at her brother before letting her best friend pass by her. “Cameron, kill him,” she said, before disappearing down the hall.

“I’d say I hope you know what you’re doing, but I doubt that’s the case,” Cameron said, stepping into the room and folding his arms across his chest. “I’m all for you and Li being together, but don’t you think you’re moving fast–”

“Why the hell do you think I shoved her to the floor?” Jake muttered darkly. “I was sitting there, eyes closed, while she changed and she jumped me.”

Cameron frowned. “She jumped you?” he repeated, not believing him. “She’s fourteen. I don’t think she even knows how to jump anyone.”

“Let me be the one to tell you that she most certainly does,” Jake muttered. He flopped on his bed. “Can you just leave me alone now?”

“Fine,” Cameron shrugged. “But you’ve got one hell of a mess to fix with her. Because no girl wants to be shoved to the ground when they make a move, especially someone who hasn’t put the moves on anyone before, and I think we both know Amalia isn’t that type of girl.”

“No shit,” Jake growled. “Just get out!”

This entry is part 14 of 19 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Tangle

\Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cassadine Greek Estate: Bedroom

Elizabeth felt slightly sluggish and had to force herself to open her eyelids. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been this tired. Even during her pregnancy, she hadn’t been so tired.

She rubbed her eyes and yawned as she propped herself up on her elbows and blinked, taking in the unfamiliar surroundings. She was lying in an ornate capopy bed with heavy bedding and plump pillows. The room was elegantly decorated and looked nothing like the room she shared with her husband.

Just as the last events she did remember started to filter through her brain — the strange car, the mad dash through the woods, the call to Jason — there was a movement from the corner of her eye and Elizabeth turned, half expecting to see Claudia Zacchara or even her father Anthony, who had died a year earlier but it wouldn’t have surprised Elizabeth to find out it was not the truth.

It was neither of them. It was no one connected to Jason’s world. Instead, it was Elizabeth’s own enemy, one she’d was sure had forgotten her long ago.

Helena Cassadine smiled from her seat in the elegant chaise to the left of the bed. She was aged, so much more than the last time she’d been in Port Charles. Elizabeth couldn’t believe how frail the woman looked, so thin and gaunt. But the smile…the look in her eyes…Helena’s body may have aged terribly, but her mind was still as evil as ever.

“I was wondering when you might wake,” Helena purred. “I so hope the chloroform didn’t have any negative effects.”

Elizabeth was careful to keep her face passive, a trait she’d learned from Jason. Never let them know what you’re thinking, he’d instructed, thinking to prepare her for the unthinkable — a kidnapping by his enemies to force his hand.  “What do you want?” she demanded flatly.

Helena’s smile widened. “That’s for me to know, my dear, and for you to find out.”

Thursday, July 25, 2024

Wyndemere: Study

Nikolas was standing by the ornate sofa when his butler brought Nadine to him. He’d been somewhat surprised to hear from her today as he knew she was planning to tell her daughter about their engagement this week and had also intended to spend as much time as possible with her daughter to help her adjust to it.

Perhaps it had gone better than she had planned, Nikolas decided. Marrying Nadine was a solid idea and one that his son had supported from the beginning. Nikolas had spent the majority of his life alone and was unwilling to finish it that way. He genuinely enjoyed Nadine’s company and wanted to bring her a little happiness.

Nadine stood nervously in the doorway and cleared her throat. “I have…I have to tell you something,” she said softly. “I feel awful about it but I can’t…I have to tell the truth–”

“Amalia didn’t take the news well,” Nikolas guessed. “Well, you thought it might be that way–”

“No, no…” Nadine bit her lip. “I haven’t told her yet. I, ah, I…there are some things that have been happening that I haven’t told you about. Your sister…she came to talk to me…”

He frowned. “Lulu? You and she don’t get along…in fact I don’t believe you’ve been in the same room since…” he waved a hand. “Well…since she…”

“That’s why she wanted to talk to me. She felt there were details that I was not privy to and she was right. Johnny was drunk that night and thought she was me.”

“Oh.” Nikolas furrowed his brow. “Well, I imagine that changed some things for you. Or would have if you’d know this ten years ago.”

“I don’t know,” she replied. “I suppose I might have been more understanding. We could have gone to counseling or…I don’t know,” she repeated slowly, “I just wish I could have known this then. I went to talk to Johnny about it…and…I’m not sure how it happened…”

“You slept together,” Nikolas said flatly. He moved to sit behind his desk. He always felt more control there.

“Yes,” Nadine admitted. “Afterwards, I felt awful. I felt like Lulu…living in the moment and not thinking about the consequences…” She lifted her chin in the air and stared the ceiling. “I don’t really date. I haven’t been with anyone since Johnny. It was the first time since before my miscarriage, actually.”

“Eleven years,” Nikolas murmured. It was a long time be alone, to be without someone to love and depend on. Could he say without a doubt if Emily walked through that door, he wouldn’t do the same? Take her in his arms, promises to Nadine be damned?

“I am so sorry,” she said, a tear sliding down her cheek. “I couldn’t…I couldn’t keep this from you, I couldn’t marry you and lie–”

“I accept that you love Johnny Zacchara,” Nikolas said. “I accept that you will never be able to stop. It’s a fact of life, Nadine, and I proposed to you knowing it.” He rose to his feet. “If you think there’s a chance you can make it work with him, to give your daughter her parents back then you have an obligation to do so. But don’t go back to him just because you slept with him, Nadine. Because if you do that and your heart isn’t in it, you won’t just hurt yourself or Johnny, you’ll be hurting Amalia all over again.” He paused. “And I think you’ve both done enough damage.”

Nadine inhaled sharply and nodded, accepting the honesty in that. She and Johnny had done far worse to their daughter than they’d done to each other and they would have to live with that for the rest of their lives. “I do still love him,” she admitted. “But I don’t think we can ever make it work between us. We’ve…we’ve hurt each other so much, even more since the divorce than before or during. I can’t go back to that, I can’t do that to myself.” She took a deep breath. “I made a mistake, Nikolas. I hope that you can somehow forgive me but I understand if you don’t want to marry me–”

“On the contrary,” Nikolas interjected. “I don’t see why this should change our plans. If nothing else, it proves that we are well-suited. I know that I can trust you to be honest with me in all things, and you really can’t place a price on that.” He crossed the room and placed his hand on her shoulder. “I asked you to marry me because I have always felt safe with you. You are one of my best friends and if not for you, I would not be standing here. I would have given in to my brain tumor all those years ago and missed out on raising my son. I want to marry you so that I might be able to give you the same sense of security and happiness you have allowed me.”

Nadine exhaled slowly and nodded. “Okay. Okay. I can…that’s…” she smiled faintly. “You’ve always been so good to me, Nikolas. I know this is a good idea. In fact, I’m going home to tell Amalia now. I don’t want to put this off anymore. It’s time I moved on with my life.”

Morgan Home: Living Room

Juliet was about to lose her mind. It had been four days and three hours since her father had left for Greece and they hadn’t spoken to him yet. No indication of the status of the situation and whether or not Juliet had a mother.

Honestly.

Things around here had gone from varying shades of bad worse for just about everyone. Cam and Molly had had a falling out of some sort and Cam was stewing about it. It was kind of refreshing to see her brother fail where a girl was concerned so that she was actually enjoying. Jake was not exactly pissed at the world anymore but now he was quiet and she didn’t know what to think about that.

Amalia was irritated that her plan to reunite her parents had fizzled. If Lulu had confessed as instructed, it hadn’t garnered the expected reaction. Juliet didn’t think Lia had thought that one through.

Her other close friend, Cece, was arguing with Mal every chance they got. Cece wouldn’t say exactly what the problem was but Jules had the distinct impression it was about sex , or the lack thereof. Mal was such a moron, Juliet thought. He wasn’t even sixteen yet, not for another few months and Cece had just turned fifteen. They were way too young for that crap.

Juliet stared at her cell phone and ignored the television in the background. “Ring,” shem uttered.

“You’re going to go blind if you stare at that for much longer.” Cam flopped down on the sofa and reached for the remote.

“How are you so calm?” Juliet demanded. “This just proves that boys are either dumb as hell or aren’t human at all.”

“Ha,” Cameron said dryly. “I can’t control it, so why stress? Is it going to make Dad call any faster?”

“You are so weird,” Juliet muttered. They sat in silence for a few moments.

“What is it, exactly, that girls want to hear?” Cameron asked. She stared at her older brother in shock.

“Are you kidding me?” she asked. “Cam, you broke that code years ago. Dad had the talk with you when you were twelve and he found Jenny Lawrence in your room.”

“Cute,” Cameron scowled. “That’s not what I mean.”

“Well, you’re going to have to be more specific,” Juliet said. “I don’t speak your language.”

“Just forget it,” Cameron flipped the television to a baseball game. Juliet waited and finally, he broke. “Don’t girls like flowers?”

“Generally.”

“Wouldn’t you call to thank someone who sent them to you?” he demanded.

“Depends,” Juliet responded. “Was it because you were actually sorry or did you just want to gloss over the whole thing?”

Cameron frowned. “It can’t do both?”

“What are we talking about?” Jake asked, flopping down next to his brother.

“Molly is resisting Cam’s legendary charm,” Juliet teased.

Jake snorted. “He was bound to fail sometime.” Cameron socked him in the arm. “Hey! Don’t take your problems out on me. It’s not my fault Molly showed some sense!”

“Dude, I sent her flowers,” Cameron told him. “It wasn’t even roses. It was daisies and tulips and crap.”

Jake frowned. “That didn’t fix things?”

“Boys,” Juliet sighed leaning back against the sofa. “It’s amazing you can get yourselves dressed in the morning. Cam, contrary to all the movies and the books, flowers do not automatically fix anything. Think about why Molly’s pissed at you and then figure out how you can fix it from there, okay?”

“If I could speak girl, I wouldn’t be asking my fourteen-year-old sister for advice,” Cameron muttered.

Juliet narrowed her eyes, but before she could take the bait, her cell phone rang. And not just any ring, but specifically the ring tone she’d picked for her father. She stared at the phone so long that Jake almost growled at her and snatched it from the table. He pressed the speaker phone button. “Dad?”

“Hey, guys,” Jason’s voice sounded a bit weary but not necessarily disappointed. “I’m sorry I didn’t call before. The time difference…”

“It’s okay,” Juliet interrupted. “What’s…what’s going on there?”

Jason was silent for a long moment and the three siblings stared at each other, dreading whatever would come next.

“It’s her.”

At first, the words didn’t register. But then, Juliet shot to her feet and stared at her oldest brother in shock. Cameron whooped and picked his sister up and swung her around in a wide circle.

“Are you sure?” Jake demanded. “Is she okay? What happened?”

“I’m sure, Jake,” Jason assured him. “She was kidnapped by Helena Cassadine but hit her head almost immediately afterwards. She’s had amnesia all this time and she doesn’t really remember much. The more we talk, the more comes back to her, but there are a lot of holes.”

“But it’s definitely Mom?” Juliet asked. Tears slid down her cheek and she looped her arm through Jake’s, staring at the phone, wishing Jason had let her get one of those video cell phones. What she wouldn’t give to be able to see her mother’s face. “Is she with you right now? Does she remember us?”

“She remembers small things,” Jason said. “Cam’s curls, Jake jumping from every surface in sight…your smile. And yeah, she’s here.”

“Can–” Cameron swallowed. “Can we talk to her? Just…just to say hi?”

There was a shuffle as Jason put them on speaker phone. A voice that Cameron had remembered only in his dreams came through the line and he had to sit down. “Cameron?”

“Mom…” He put his head in hands. “It’s….it’s so good to hear your voice.”

“You sound so grown up,” Elizabeth said, wistfully. “Where’s Jake? And Juliet?”

“We’re right here, Mom,” Jake said roughly. He set the cell down on the table and wrapped an arm tightly around his sister. “I’m…I’m really glad to hear you.”

“Hi, Mom, it’s me, Juliet,” she couldn’t hold back from saying.

There were some sounds from the other side and they heard a door shut. “I’m sorry, guys. She’s having a rough time,” Jason said. “It’s been…it’s been hard. She didn’t remember a thing until I walked in the door.”

 

“Are you bringing her home?” Juliet asked softly.

“Soon,” Jason promised. “Maybe a week. She needs some time…to work things out. “

“Right, right,” Cameron said. He held Juliet’s hand tightly. “We’ll handle everything here, Dad. We’ll get…get a room ready and we’ll tell everyone so it won’t be a shock. You just take care of Mom.”

“Thanks, Cam. I’ll call again in a day or so.”

After they hung up the phone, the Morgan children sat in silence. “I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to say now,” Juliet murmured. “She’s alive, Dad’s with her and she’s okay. We have a mom, guys.”

“We should call people,” Cameron said. “Aunt Car, Mal’s parents, Mrs. Zacchara–” He stood. “I have to go tell Molly.”

Jake blinked. “Right now?” he asked. “This second?”

“Absolutely this second,” Cameron nodded. “This is important stuff and you tell the important people the important stuff.” He disappeared out of the living room and a few moments later, they heard the front door open and close.

“Who do we call first?” Juliet asked. “I think we should call Aunt Car. She can spread the news faster.”

“Do whatever you want, Jules.” Jake stood and scratched the back of his neck. “I have to…I have to go take a drive.”

Juliet scowled as her other brother left. Boys. There just wasn’t any living with them. They had this incredible news to celebrate and their first instinct was to leave her alone to deal with it.

Gah.

Drake Home: Study

Robin knocked lightly on the open door to Patrick’s study. He glanced over at his wife and closed the medical journal he’d been reading. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Robin perched on the edge of the oversize arm chair and sighed. “Mal’s over at Steve’s house. I found him after a few calls. I thought about dragging him home but it would just make things worse.”

Patrick exhaled slowly and leaned back in his chair, the well worn wood creaking with the movement. “You’re probably right,” he agreed. He scrubbed his hands over his face. “What do we do now?”

“I don’t know,” Robin admitted. “I just…I wish I knew where all this anger and resentment was coming from. It just switched on one day and I don’t know why.”

Patrick opened his mouth but hesitated. He scratched the back of his neck. “I’ve been…I think…I thought I was doing okay at being a father. I mean, we’ve made it this far and they’re all still alive and healthy, so I thought that was a good thing but maybe I did something wrong. Maybe–”

“No,” Robin shot to her feet and shook her head. “No. That’s just not true, Patrick. You are an incredible father and you’ve have done everything you can since you found out Mal was yours. I’m the one that kept pushing you away and rejecting you…if I had just accepted you and trusted you sooner, there wouldn’t have been a chance for gossip and it never would have been passed down to Mal.” She crossed the room and lowered herself into his lap. “Sometimes I wonder if I pushed you into this life and if maybe you didn’t want it…that you feel like you didn’t have a choice…”

“I’ve come to realize,” Patrick began, “that just because I didn’t have the idea to have Mal or I didn’t suggest planning Anna or moving here…that doesn’t mean that they weren’t great ideas. I’m glad you got pregnant. It forced me to grow up and look at my life and realize what was missing. I’m glad you wanted to move to this house so we could give Mal the kind of childhood he deserved. I’m glad you wanted another child, because Anna is precious to me and I am glad we didn’t plan Jeff, that he was just another wonderful surprise. Robin, just because you made the important decisions…it doesn’t mean I didn’t want them too. I like our life, I love our kids and I’m getting there with the minivan.”

She laughed and pressed a kiss to his lips. “Well then, I’m glad, too.” Robin threaded her fingers into his thick dark hair, lingering over the threads of silver. “All I ever wanted was for you to be as happy with our life as I am and the more Mal railed at you for the things that happened all those years ago…the more I worried that maybe he had a point. That this was something you settled for because you’re a good guy and you don’t walk out…”

“I won’t lie,” Patrick said, “there are moments I think about what life could have been without them. It would have been quiet, which is always nice, but it would have been boring.” He paused. “And I would have felt very violent towards anyone who would have shared it with you.” He patted her hip. “So Mal…”

“I think we should just try to ride it out,” Robin said. “All the explaining and the rationalizing in the world won’t fix this. Time will.”

 

“Well, you’ve been right so far,” Patrick teased. He leaned forward and kissed her again.

 

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Cameron stopped just inside the courtyard when he saw Commissioner Lucky Spencer sipping an iced tea and spooning up a bowl of chili. He knew, somewhere in his head, that this man had been a father to him once. When Cam looked at him, sometimes he could even remember calling him Daddy.

But he also knew the facts of the situation — that Lucky had been a drug addict who had only gone to rehab when he thought Jake was his son. Not for his mother, and certainly not for him. He knew that Lucky and his mom had remarried but the marriage had fallen apart after only a few months, when Lucky had slept with Sam McCall.

He knew that Lucky had given up custody of him so Jason could adopt him and he knew that Lucky had later tried to contest the adoption after his mother had disappeared.

All of that had been fourteen years ago. In that time, Lucky Spencer had faded from Cameron’s immediate concern. He’d been the guy who occasionally arrested his father or busted Cam and Morgan for curfew violations.

But today, Cameron looked at him and saw the man he knew had been the first great love of his mother’s life and he realized he couldn’t walk past him today of all days and not say a word.

Lucky Spencer deserved to know that Elizabeth Morgan, a girl he’d met in this courtyard over twenty-five years ago, was alive somewhere in this world.

Cameron stopped in front of him. “Commissioner, do you have a second?”

Lucky glanced up and smiled faintly. “Cameron…of course.” He gestured for him to take a seat. “I don’t know why I’m surprised, I’ve already been interrogated by Juliet and Amalia. I should have figured you or Morgan, or even Mal would be next. What scandal from the past are you looking into?”

Cameron lowered his lanky frame into the chair across from him. “None, really. I just..I learned something in the last hour that I came to talk to Molly about but…I saw you and I figured…you have a right to know.”

Lucky set his spoon in the bowl and sat back. “You’re not in any trouble, are you?”

“No, no.” Cameron shook his head. “I just can’t believe I can say this out loud. Mom’s okay.”

Lucky stared at him for a long moment. “I’m…I’m going to need you to repeat that.”

“Jules had that theory about Helena, which I guess you know about. She was right. Mom’s been in Greece all these years. Dad wasn’t able to give us a lot of details but she hit her head on a rock and lost her memory.”

“So she wasn’t…she wasn’t brainwashed?” Lucky asked. “She simply lost her memory?”

“Dad said things are coming back to her, like all she needed was someone from her past to talk in her front door.” Cameron hesitated. “He’s bringing her home in about a week. He wants to give her some time to adjust to everything, but she wants to come back.”

“All these years…” Lucky murmured. “I hoped, I prayed but I really began to believe that she was gone.” He closed his eyes and bowed his head. “When Sam was pregnant with Chloe and I was so scared, the only person I wanted to talk to was Elizabeth and I couldn’t.” He opened his eyes. “Cam, I know you know…that I tried to contest the adoption–”

“Yeah…Dad never said anything but you pick up things living here.” Cameron was silent for a moment. “You know, Aunt Car talks about the past a lot but she’s always glossed over the fact that you used to be my father…that until Mom got married to Jason, I was your son…not his.”

“That’s true,” Lucky replied. “You were my son almost from the second you were born. When your Mom came home from California, we were reconnecting and I loved you so much. I know it didn’t always seem like it, I know you’ve heard enough stories to think otherwise, but I didn’t agree to let Jason adopt you because I didn’t love you.”

Cameron stared hard at the table. “I’m not saying I wish you hadn’t,” he said slowly. “Because I’ve had a good life, even without Mom being there. Jason’s been a great father and I’m glad I was able to grow up with Jake and Jules–”

“That’s why I did it,” Lucky broke in. “Your mom and Jason were engaged and he was making up for lost time with Jake, but he didn’t want you to feel left out so he would take you both out. The original plan was that Jason would raise Jake, but that I’d still have visitation rights with you. But the closer it got to the wedding and the closer it got to the point where you would move in with him, the more I realized that none of us were really being fair. I loved you, Cam, I couldn’t have loved you less than if you were my own blood but I did a piss poor job of showing it. Your mom and I made a lot of mistakes the second time we were married, but a lot of them were mine. I didn’t kick my drug habit until I thought Elizabeth was pregnant with my child, so I’m sure that made her feel like that I didn’t think you were enough.”

Lucky paused. “I spent a great deal of time as your father being bad at it and I couldn’t see a way to stop that from happening in the future. I was never going to have full custody of you, never live with you full time again. But I knew that what Jason and Elizabeth had…that was going to last. They were going to have more kids, she always wanted a big family, she never would have stopped at two, or three. I decided that the best way to love you, Cam, was to let you go, and give you a full time family.”

He took a deep breath. “After your mom…disappeared, I was upset when I filed for custody. She wasn’t just my ex-wife, she’d been my best friend, the other half of my soul. Everyone was sure Jason’s enemies were behind it and the longer she was gone, the more sure everyone that she was dead. I wanted to protect you from Jason’s life. I had no hope of getting Jake or Juliet away from him, but you…I might be able to protect.  But after Audrey died, my father…he told me to forget it. That Jason Morgan had more connections and money that I did, that Carly was going to fight tooth and nail to keep you three together while he was gone…” Lucky shook his head. “I know I can’t ask you to understand it, Cam–”

“No, for the first time…I do.” Cameron pushed himself out of his chair. “I’m glad I told you. Mom would have wanted to know and I hope when she comes home, you’ll make time to come and see her. I can’t imagine anything that would help her remember more than her oldest friend.”

“Thanks.” Lucky flicked his eyes toward the window of Kelly’s where they could see Molly waiting on a customer. She flashed a smile to the couple she was serving and tucked her hair behind her ear. “I noticed things are frosty between you and my best waitress.”

Cameron scratched his nose. “She’s failing to fall for my charm. Morgan always said I should marry the first girl who refused to fall at my feet because life would be boring with someone who worshipped me.” His voice faltered when he realized what he’d just said. He frowned.

Lucky stood and put a hand on his shoulder. “You know, it’s a sobering moment when you look at the woman you love and realize she’s the only person you want to spend forever with.” His grip tightened for a moment. “Cherish it and her, Cam. The second you take it for granted, you’ll lose it.”

Lucky took a twenty out of his wallet and dropped it on the table before exiting the courtyard. Cameron took a deep breath and pulled open the door.

At the sound of the bell jingling over the door, Molly turned. Her smile fell just a little when she saw him and her expression turned wary. “Cam.”

“Hey…” Feeling uncomfortable, he shoved his hands into his pockets. “Can you take a break? I need…I need to talk to you.”

Molly bit her lip and glanced back at the counter. “Helen, can you cover my table for a few minutes?” she called. The other waitress nodded and Molly followed Cameron outside. “What’s up?”

“Um…” Cameron shuffled his feet. “You got the flowers right?”

Molly pursed her lips. “Yeah…all four deliveries. You nearly gave my father a heart attack by the way. I don’t think he wants to know I’m not a little girl anymore.” She tilted her head to the side. “What did you think you were going to accomplish with all of that?”

“I don’t know…I thought you might call me at least,” Cameron muttered. “That we could talk about what happened–”

“I said everything I needed to say the other day, Cam,” Molly sighed. “If that’s everything–”

Cameron caught her arm before she could escape back inside. “Wait, wait, I’m sorry. I didn’t come here to argue. I came–” He took a deep breath. “My dad called.”

Molly stepped towards him. “Cam…”

“It’s my mom. In Greece. She’s alive.” He didn’t know what do with his hands except touch her and he was pretty sure he no longer had carte blanche where she was concerned. He settled for shoving them back into his pockets. “I talked to her.”

“Cam…” Molly pressed a hand to her mouth, her dark eyes wet. “She remembers you? What happened to her?”

“She was kidnapped by Helena, but hit her head. She had amnesia and has been living as Helena’s granddaughter all these years. She didn’t remember anything until my dad walked in.” He stopped for a moment and swallowed hard. Jules was right. If he was going to fix this, he was going to have to think hard about what Molly had said that day in his room and go from there. Flowers and glib words weren’t going to get her back and he was starting to realize just how much he wanted that. “Fourteen years with no memory of her life but my father walks in, and she just knows him in an instant.”

“That’s so beautiful,” Molly murmured. “After all that time, all that’s happened, she looked at him and knew.”

“She doesn’t remember much but she knew she had kids. She took it pretty hard when she heard our voices, especially Jules.”

“You were all so little when she left,” she replied softly. “When it sinks in how much she missed…”

“It’s going to be hard, I know, but I guess…I mean, she’s alive. She’s been safe and relatively okay all these years. I can’t ask for more than that.” Cameron paused. “Molly, about what happened–”

“I don’t want to talk about!” Molly shook her head. “I appreciate you coming to tell me–”

“Molly, you have to let me fix this, okay?” Cameron broke in. “You can’t just walk away from what we’ve got, it’s too important–”

“Please stop it–”

“Molly, it was never about the sex!” He exploded. “God damn it, what do I have to say for you to believe me? Do you want me to get on my hands and knees and grovel because I swear to God, I just might—”

“Cameron,” Molly hissed, grateful for the empty courtyard but anyone could be in the adjacent parking lot! “Stop it!”

“You are driving me absolutely crazy,” Cameron muttered, turning away from her and shoving his hands through his hair. “Do you know how hard I usually have to work to get a girl?”

Molly narrowed her eyes. “Oh, yeah, this is going to fix things.”

“You know, at college, all I have to do is snap my fingers and I’ve got a line forming,” Cameron all but growled. “But you…you are really trying my patience.”

She folded her arms across her chest and glared at him. “This is so attractive, Cameron, I might just swoon. Are you finished with your tantrum?”

He jabbed his finger in her face. “You listen to me, Molly Lansing, if you think I’m going to stand here, declaring my love for you like a god damn idiot while you just snark at me, you’re delusional!”

Molly’s eyes grew wide and she blinked. “Wait….what did you just say to me?”

“Damn it, Molly, what did you think this was about?” he demanded.

Now it her turn to jab a finger at him, except she didn’t jab it in the air. She jabbed his chest. Hard. “Listen up, Cameron Morgan,” she drawled sarcastically, “if you think I’m going to stand her and have you yell at me about loving me…then you’re the delusional one.” She jabbed him again. “You’re going to say it in a god damn normal tone of voice!”

He grabbed her hand to still it. “I’m sorry…” His voice was softer now. “Molly, you’re the most important person in the world to me and I love you.” His grip on her hand tightened. “Please say you forgive me for being an idiot.”

“I don’t know,” Molly said, with a teasing smile. “If I give in this easily, you might get cocky and think I’ll forgive you for anything.”

“I know you think I’ve probably said that to a dozen girls, but I promise…I would never say it unless I meant it,” Cameron assured her.

“No, I know that much about you.” Molly tugged her hand from his and wrapped her arms around his neck. “You’d better learn to harness that charm, buddy, because it’s mine now. Understood?” Her tone softened. “I love you, too.”

He grinned and leaned down to kiss her, sealing their promise. Because Lucky was right — once you found that one girl…you’d better hold her tightly and never let her go. He was never going to make that mistake again.

Nadine’s Home: Sun Porch

Amalia trudged up the back steps, exhausted from the day at the Morgan house. She had been at Juliet’s side, fielding calls and planning a redesign a guest bedroom. She was thrilled for Juliet, of course, and for Jake, because this would mean the rift in their family would finally heal but it just reminded Amalia just how lucky the Morgans were.

Like Amalia, Juliet and her brothers had grown up with a large gaping hole in their family but they had been secure in the knowledge that their father loved them and they had mostly believed that their mother had loved them as well. Now, today, they knew these things for certain. After fourteen years, the secret behind Elizabeth Morgan’s disappearance had been solved and it would fix everything that was wrong for the Morgan family.

Amalia was not having the same luck. She’d found out why her parents divorced and a piece of her could understand why they were still so bitter towards one another, but there had been no dramatic confrontations and she wasn’t even sure if Lulu Spencer had lived up to her part of the bargain. She scowled. She’d have to come up with a way to punish the woman, something worthy of Claudia Zacchara’s niece.

Truth be told, Amalia wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to fix what was wrong with her parents. In fact, if she really took the problem and examined it, she’d have to admit that what  was wrong was that Johnny Zacchara had had no business marrying Nadine Crowell. They had been ill suited to one another and if not for Amalia, would never have looked twice for each other.

It was her fault her parents were like this.

“You look so serious,” her mother said, holding the screen door open so Amalia could walk through. She collapsed on the piano bench, running her fingers over the ivory keys.

“It’s been a weird day,” Amalia answered, knowing that Juliet expected her to tell Nadine the good news. She knew her mother would want to know what had happened to her old friend, but she couldn’t find it in herself to be as happy as someone ought to be when sharing something like this.

“Hmm…” Nadine sat in one of the wicker chairs and tapped her fingers against her thigh. “Amalia, I know that I haven’t been the best mother to you or that your father…I know we haven’t done right by you.”

Amalia remained silent but she looked at her mother finally, realizing how nervous she was. Her mood took an upswing. “I wouldn’t say that,” she said, even though she would and had on many occasions.

“Your father and I have a complicated relationship, but I know he’d agree with me when I say it’s time that it stopped,” Nadine continued. “We need to find a new set of rules to play by so that you’re not constantly in position to pay for our mistakes. We’re not going to fight over residential custody anymore.”

Amalia just blinked at her, wondering where this could possibly be going. “Okay.”

“I won’t be living in Port Charles after this summer,” Nadine continued, “I’m marrying Nikolas Cassadine and I’ll be moving to London.”

Amalia got to her feet. “What?” She had to have heard that wrong — because this was not part of the plan. “I’m not going to London!” she stated flatly. “And you can’t make me.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Nadine said quickly. “I know how close you are with Juliet and you’re starting high school, I want you to graduate with your friends.”

“I don’t understand,” Amalia said. “I don’t get any of this. How can you move to London and still let me…” she trailed off. “Oh.” She slowly lowered herself back to the bench. “I’ll be living with Dad.”

“We haven’t worked out all the details,” Nadine said quickly. “But I imagine your father will be in Port Charles on a more permanent basis, even though I guess he’ll be still be staying at Crimson Manor off and on for work.” She hesitated. “Nikolas and I discussed it and we’ll be making long trips back to Port Charles so it won’t really feel that different.”

“You don’t want to deal with me anymore,” Amalia countered. “You’re tired of it, so you’re going to foist me on Dad–”

“That’s not true!” Nadine said quickly. “I just didn’t want to disrupt your life–”

“You’re ruining everything!” Amalia cried. She shot to her feet. “This isn’t what I wanted! How can you marry Nikolas? What about Dad?”

“Baby…” Nadine stood and took a cautious step towards her daughter. “Your father and I are divorced. You know that.”

“You know what’s going to happen! Dad’s just going to go back to Crimson Manor all the time, I’ll never see him. You guys just don’t want me anymore, you never did!”  She grabbed a ceramic vase from the top of the piano and threw to the left of her mother — it shattered against the far wall. Nadine looked at the shards on the floor before raising her stunned eyes back to her daughter.

“Amalia–”

“Well you don’t have to worry!” Amalia yelled. She stormed back to the screen door. “I won’t be around anymore!”

She clattered down the steps and darted around the corner of the house, where she stopped and leaned against the wall. She just wanted to see if her mother would bother to come after her.

She never did.

This entry is part 13 of 19 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Tangle

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Elizabeth’s Car

“Shoot,” Elizabeth muttered under her breath. She’d forgotten to grab the lunch she’d packed the night before and now she was going to be forced to buy from the cafeteria. She was never going to lose the last ten pounds of baby weight if she was going to have to live on that greasy food for long.

As much as she loved her job and had missed the hospital, she wished she didn’t have to leave her kids. Life was so absolutely perfect with Jason and their children, all under one roof, happy and safe. Cameron was getting so big–she could hardly believe her little boy had started first grade year. And Jake! It was almost as if she’d blinked and he’d grown from a baby to a little boy with a mischievous smile and a penchant for jumping from tall places.

And her sweet Juliet, the perfect addition to their family. She already had the most adorable smile and Elizabeth couldn’t wait to enroll her in a dance class. Carly had dragged her to a recital last year when Alexis’s Molly was performing. The small kids had been so adorable and Elizabeth just knew it could be something wonderful they’d enjoy together.

Jason had made sure she was aware that working was not something she had to do and part of Elizabeth yearned to just sit at home and watch her babies grow up and change. But she knew if she didn’t get back into the world and have just a slice of life separate from her family, she’d drive herself crazy.

She also loved the idea of Jason having to deal with three small children. She smiled to herself as she pulled up to a traffic light. She couldn’t believe how absolutely wonderful life was but she knew that she and Jason deserved it. After everything they’d been through, after all the hurt and pain, the broken promises and disappointments, it was only right that a little bit of good luck had arrived.

Elizabeth frowned when a car pulled into the intersection in front of her and stopped in the center. She flicked her eyes back at the traffic light and found it still red. This was a quiet intersection at this time of the morning — just after the kids had gone to school. There were no other cars.

A man in a dark suit stepped out of the car and Elizabeth tensed as he looked right at her car. She reached for her purse, opened her car door and took off, darting into the thatch of woods. She didn’t care if she looked like a lunatic–there were a few things Jason had drilled into her and any time a strange man was walking towards her, she was to run as fast as she could in the opposite direction.

She ran through the trees until she thought she was far away enough to find a hiding place and call her husband. Jason would know what to do. She ducked behind some bushes, scanned her immediate area and tugged her cell phone from her purse.

The phone just rang and rang until his voicemail picked up. Elizabeth swore, remembering that Jason had given his phone to the baby to play with earlier. It had probably been left in her crib. She tried the home phone and waited impatiently for the answering machine to pick up. They never answered the land line.

Just as their message clicked on, a branch snapped behind her. Startled, Elizabeth whirled around and dropped her phone. She sprang to her feet and stepped backwards, wincing as she heard it crack under her foot. “What do you want?” she demanded, preparing to dash in the opposite direction.

The man standing in front of her just smiled and Elizabeth realized belatedly that he was not the man from the car. Another branch snapped and a cloth came down in front of her nose. Elizabeth tried desperately to struggle out of the sudden grasp and sucked in some air, preparing to scream. Instead, she inhaled sickly sweet odor and the edges around her vision began to fade to black.

She clawed at her captor’s hands until consciousness fell away. The last thing Elizabeth saw was the chilling smile of a man she finally recognized. Andreas, Helena Cassadine’s servant.

Tuesday, July 23, 2024 (Eastern Europe Summer Time)

Rafina, Greece

Jason’s hand tightened around Elizabeth’s. “What do you remember?” he asked, wanting nothing more than to pull her into his arms and hold her.

Elizabeth bit her lip and shook her head. “Not very much. Like I said, until you came through the door, I didn’t even remember my own name or that I was married.” She tilted her head to the side. “Well, no, that’s not entirely right. I think part of me must have known I wasn’t free. Some of the men around here…” she shrugged. “I was just never interested. I think I always knew there was someone out there.”

“Why did Helena Cassadine give you a new identity?” Jason asked. “How did you lose your memory?”

“I’m not really sure about either of those questions.” Elizabeth hesitated. “The first few days after I woke up are fuzzy. I knew I wasn’t Maia Cassadine just because Helena didn’t know I couldn’t remember anything at first. Her expression…her entire attitude towards me did a one eighty when she realized that and suddenly, I was her beloved granddaughter.  I always felt like that wasn’t right.”

“She never gave you any hints, any indication of who you really were?” Jason pressed.

“No, she was extremely careful.” Elizabeth lifted a shoulder. “Maybe if she hadn’t died a few months later, she might have slipped up. She left me money in her will that I used to start up my shop, but no indication of who I was or why I didn’t remember anything.”  She pressed a hand to his chest. “Jason, my children….”

“Cameron, Jake and Juliet,” Jason said. He covered her hand with his own. “Cameron’s twenty. He just finished his second year at Boston University. He’s pre-law. He wants to be a lawyer.”

“Cameron…” A tear slid down her cheek. “He was so little…just learning to read. Did he grow out of his curls?”

Jason nodded, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. “He was very relieved in junior high.

“Jake’s seventeen…” Jason hesitated. “He’s had a rough time. I didn’t–I couldn’t handle losing you and I messed up. I never talked to him–to any of them–about you and he started to blame me.”

“Blame you?” Elizabeth repeated. She frowned in confusion. “Why would he…” She closed her mouth. “Oh.” A sad smile flitted across her features. “I remember.”

“He’s a good kid,” Jason assured her. “His grades could be better. We have regular battles about that but he looks out for his sister and he’s got a good head on his shoulders.”

“His sister…”  Elizabeth’s lower lip trembled. “Juliet was just a baby. She doesn’t remember me at all, does she?”

“No…” Jason couldn’t stop himself from letting his hand drift down the back of her hair, soothing her the way he’d done so often. “But she’s just like you. She’d do anything for a friend…no matter how insane or unsafe. She’s got a good on her shoulders…” He paused. “She found you.”

“She found me?” Elizabeth repeated. “How?”

“When I looked for you, it never occurred to me that Helena Cassadine would have been involved and then she was dead. I kept feelers out all this time, but nothing ever came of it. Juliet has this shoebox that I found a few weeks ago…filled with pictures and newspaper clippings about you. She’d been collecting them for years and hiding them from me.” He exhaled slowly. “I never thought I made her feel like you were a forbidden subject and she was so worried that she’d upset me. It’s what made me pull out all the stuff I put in Carly’s basement all those years ago–”

“Carly…” Elizabeth grinned slightly. “I think I remember her.”

“She’s not easy to forget,” Jason chuckled. He sobered. “Juliet went over everything and started asking questions. She went to Lucky Spencer and Nikolas Cassadine and pieced together an idea about Helena–”

“Lucky and Nikolas–” Elizabeth interrupted. “I–I remember them. I think. Brothers. And…” she frowned. “Lucky and I were married once. We were…high school sweethearts.”

“He was the first person you met in Port Charles,” Jason said. The bitterness and anger he’d felt towards Lucky Spencer had faded long ago. They led their own separate lives and only crossed paths now because of their jobs. “Juliet started with him.”

“But she’s just a little girl, how could she possibly find me?” Elizabeth asked. “I didn’t even have the same name–”

“She enlisted Spinelli, a computer genius that’s worked with us for years,” Jason answered. “Together, they located you…a relative of Helena that didn’t fit into the family. No birth records other than what was filed in 2010. No record of Maia before the birth record. Nikolas had seen a woman who looked like you last year…here in Rafina. He’d seen you. And told Juliet about it. She put it together and brought it to me last weekend.”

“She sounds very resourceful and determined,” Elizabeth murmured. “I’ve missed their entire lives, Jason. They’re practically adults…”

“Maybe…” Jason allowed. “But they still need you.” He swallowed hard. “I need you.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2024 (Eastern Standard Time)

Metrocourt Hotel: Restaurant

Ric Lansing checked his watch for the third time. It wasn’t entirely unlike his daughter to be late for their monthly dinners but she was pushing it today. He had two hours before he’d have to leave to make his flight to New York and he’d wanted to spend some quality time with Molly.

She’d been eight when he’d made the break and moved to New York. He’d promised her that it wouldn’t change their relationship, he’d spend as much time with her as he could and that he’d still love her. Of course, he hadn’t been able to keep that promise. With Molly’s school schedule and his practice, he’d only been able to carve a few weeks in the summer and a few weekends a year. Now that she was eighteen, he didn’t even have that.  She’d graduated from high school the previous May and promptly told him that she’d kept up her end of the bargain all those years but she was independent now and no one could make her do anything.

In other words, Ric could no longer rely on a court ordered visitation to see his daughter. He’d have to schedule the visits and times with her.

He finally saw her at the entrance to the restaurant. She spoke briefly with Carly at the bar and then made her way to his table. “Hey, Dad, sorry I’m late. One of the girls flaked and Lucky begged me to stay until he could find someone else.”

He could hardly argue with her work ethic. Ric just smiled and reached for his glass of wine. “Not a problem. I’m just relieved we could finally make time for each other.”

“Hmm…” Molly opened the menu and studied it. “The salmon looks good.” Ric just sighed and opened his own menu. It always took some time for her to warm up to him.

After they’d ordered and Molly had an iced tea in front of her, he cleared his throat. “So your mother tells me you’re dating Cameron.”

Molly grimaced. “Not really. We’re just friends.” She trained her eyes on the basket of bread and refused to look away.

“That’s not the impression I got from Alexis,” Ric continued. “She’s a little worried that you two spend too much time together. Nearly every night for the last month, out late, sometimes you don’t come home at all.” He tried to say that casually, but he knew he hadn’t pulled it off. The thought of Jason Morgan’s son touching his little girl…it made a guy see red.

Her head snapped up and she flushed. “Mom’s just overprotective. Cam and I were just hanging out for a while.”

He wasn’t going to get any information that way so he changed the topic. “So you didn’t enroll in PCU for the fall.”

Molly rolled her eyes. “No, I didn’t. Lock me in jail.”

“Your mother and I just want what’s best–”

“No, Mom wants me to suddenly want to become a lawyer like you and her and Krissy. You just want Mom to leave you alone about the whole thing so you’re playing the bad guy. Come on, Dad, you never cared about my future before. Why start now?”

Ric was prevented from responding immediately by the waiter bringing their food.  “That’s not fair, Molly,” he said when the server had left.

“Look, I get that Mom’s worried about me. I even appreciate that.” She speared a piece of salmon with her fork and pointed it at him. “But you just want her to stop harping on you.”

“That’s not true–”

“I need some time to figure out what I want, okay?” Molly interrupted. “Unlike you, Mom and Krissy, I wasn’t born knowing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  So is it so hard to understand that maybe I need some room?” She pursed her lips and paused for a moment. “You know, Elizabeth Morgan was a waitress for like a hundred years and she still ended up with a decent career.”

He nearly spit out his wine. “Excuse me?”

“Elizabeth Morgan, your ex-wife,” Molly clarified. “Cameron told me she was a waitress slash artist until she divorced you and had to take care of him by herself. She needed a stable job and found nursing. And Cam says she loved every minute of it.”

“Molly, Elizabeth’s situation was different–”

“Well, of course. I’m not planning to get knocked up to find purpose to my life.” She rolled her eyes. “But I’m eighteen years old. All I’m asking for is a year to figure out stuff, okay?”

“I suppose that’s fair,” Ric sighed. “I know we haven’t been as close as I would have liked but I love you, Molly. You and your sister are so important to me–”

“Dad, I get it.” Molly held up a hand. “I know the score. I know Krissy and I are important to you and Mom. No, you’ve never been the most attentive of fathers, but I’m mostly grateful for that–because Mom more than made up for it and you always made sure Krissy felt like you were her dad too. I appreciated that. So, please just relax. We’re all grown up now.”

“I know you think that,” Ric said, “but believe me…you’re not even close to grown up yet, Mol. You and Krissy have your whole lives ahead of you to be adults. Slow it down–”

A waiter approached them, a large flower arrangement in his hands. “For the young lady,” he said, setting it down. Ric could barely see his daughter over the assortment of tulips, daisies and carnations.

“And the card,” the waiter said, holding out a white envelope.

Stunned, Molly took it and slit it open. She removed the cream-colored paper and almost dropped it when she recognized Cameron’s bold scrawl.

Molly-

 Morgan men never give up when we know what we want.

 -Cam

“They’re from Cam,” she murmured.

“Then again…maybe you’re a little more grown up than I want you to be,” Ric said wistfully, wondering where his little girl in pigtails had gone.

Zacchara Estate: Conservatory

Nadine hated this room. Her relationship with Johnny Zacchara had started, developed and disintegrated within these walls.

They should have used more of the house. Spent more time in the gardens or the dining room. Maybe then some of her memories would be spread out more and she wouldn’t feel such a violent dislike for this particular place.  But of course, this had been Johnny’s escape and she’d never wanted him to escape without her, so this was their room. For better or worse.

Johnny knew she’d entered from the moment the door had cracked open. He let his current composition trail off as he stared at her. “Twice in one month. That’s got to be a record. First time in a decade, right?”

“I didn’t come here to fight, Johnny,” Nadine said, but was resigned to the fact that this conversation would end the same way the rest did.

“Come here to tell me your wedding plans to the prince are off?” Johnny inquired.

“Lulu Spencer paid me a visit,” Nadine said, bluntly. “It’s the first time I’ve seen her since…” she shrugged.  “Since everything happened. She seemed to think there were a few details I missed.”

Johnny closed his eyes. “I’m sorry she felt the need to harass you after all this time,” he said. “She never did know how to mind her own business–”

“Johnny, what happened that night?” Nadine interrupted. She cleared her throat. “I never…I never asked and I never let you get past the ‘I slept with Lulu’ part to find out.”

Johnny frowned and slowly rose from his seat. He came towards her. “What’s this about, Nadine? Why does it even matter now?”

“It just does,” she said stubbornly. He stopped a few inches from her and she resolutely lifted her chin, not wanting him to see how uncomfortable she was with him so close.

“I don’t remember anything from that night,” Johnny said. “There are some vague flashes but nothing concrete. If it hadn’t been for the waking up naked and the note she left, I wouldn’t have known anything had happened at all.”

Nadine swallowed hard. “Lulu told me that she found you practically passed out in a room above Jake’s. That you thought it was me.”

With six words, Nadine had silenced the doubts that had raged in Johnny’s mind for over a decade. He could never explain to himself why he’d sleep with Lulu, no matter how drunk he knew he’d been that night. No matter how strained their marriage had been after the miscarriage, he could never reconcile himself to the fact that he’d chosen to break his vows.

But if he’d been drunk and thought it was Nadine…it didn’t make it right, but it made it different. It shut up the little voice that had always told him that he couldn’t do anything right.

It would have been nice if Lulu could have dropped this bombshell before. Like ten years ago. He might have had a prayer of saving his marriage. They could have gone to counseling. He’d wanted that then, but Nadine hadn’t.

He focused on his ex-wife and noticed her chewing her lip, a sure sign that she was either nervous or uncomfortable. “So I thought it was you,” he said flatly. “And I guess Lulu wasn’t in a discriminating mood.”

“I guess not. I think she thought you’d realize eventually and it wouldn’t…” she shook her head. “Anyway, she said she was mortified afterwards and left you a note.”

A three line note telling him she was sorry, that they should never tell his wife and that she’d been in touch if anything unwanted developed. She hadn’t even bothered to sign her name.

Johnny folded his arms. “Why are you here, Nadine?”

Nadine frowned in confusion. “To tell you what Lulu said–”

“Why?” he asked. “Does it change anything? Does it make our divorce null and void now you that finally believe I didn’t want Lulu?”

“Johnny–”

“Does it change the fact that you plan to marry someone else?” he demanded, feeling irritated. He stepped towards her and Nadine instinctively took a step back.

“No–”

“Does it change the fact that you shut me out for months and then walked out, took our daughter and have spent the last ten years punishing me for something you now find out wasn’t entirely my fault?”

“Johnny–”

“No, it doesn’t change a damn thing. So why the hell did you bother?”

Nadine folded her arms under her breasts and looked away. “Because I feel guilty. Because I didn’t let you explain or even delve into it back then. You wanted to fix things, to try counseling and I refused.”

“So you’re here so I can forgive you?” Johnny said skeptically. He laughed bitterly. “Oh, that’s just great. You want me to say I forgive you for throwing our life away without a second glance so you can go to your next marriage with peace of mind? You can kiss my ass. I’m not in this to make you feel better.” He turned his back, dismissing her with a wave of his hand.

“That’s not surprising,” Nadine spat, with sudden vehemence. “You were never in it any of this to make me feel better. Do you have any idea how it felt for me to constantly find you with her? To want to tell you that we were having another baby? To constantly wonder if you thought marrying me was a mistake? If our daughter was a mistake–”

Johnny spun around, truly angry now. “I never thought Amalia was a mistake. Not for a single second. Marrying you? That wasn’t a mistake. That was a train wreck of mammoth proportions.” He jabbed a finger in her face. “Don’t you ever accuse me of not wanting my daughter, Nadine. That’s a low blow and I don’t deserve it–”

“Then what do you deserve?” Nadine asked. She spread her arms out at her side. “You came to me and told me you slept with Lulu barely a month after I lost the baby. Was I supposed to forgive you? Hug you and give you a kiss on the cheek? What should I have done, Johnny?”

“You should have trusted me!” Johnny exploded. He grabbed her shoulders and shook her. “You should have known I would never do that to you, that I would never willingly destroy the best thing in my life!”

“The best thing?” Nadine echoed. She laughed in disbelief. “You’ve got to be kidding me. I was a girl you knocked up–”

“You were my wife,” Johnny said through clenched teeth. “And I honored that every day that we were together. You knew me better than that. Or you should have.”

“A little difficult to know something like that when every single time I saw you for two months, you were with Lulu or talking about her,” Nadine snarled. “How was I supposed to believe that you hadn’t seen her and wanted her back?”

Johnny released her so suddenly that Nadine stumbled back. “If you think that now, or if you thought that then, then you never believed in our marriage. How could you think I’d want someone else after being with you?”

“Not someone else,” Nadine retorted. “Lulu Spencer. The girl who disappeared one day without a trace and broke your heart.”

“I’m done with this,” Johnny said.  “Go marry your beloved prince, live happily ever after. I don’t give a damn.”

“That’s the problem between us, Johnny,” Nadine softly, all the anger gone from her voice. “I never really believed you did.”

He stared at her for a long moment, not really believing she was standing in front of him, saying she didn’t believe he’d loved her then. Maybe he hadn’t said it much or at all, but hadn’t he taken care of her? Cherished her? Protected her? Kept her safe? Made her laugh, tried not to make her cry? What had she wanted from him? Blood?

He’d loved her more than anyone else in his life and had been desperate to make her even a fraction as happy as she’d made him. Had he really failed to make her see that?

In the impulsive way of his youth, Johnny acted without thinking. He grabbed his ex-wife’s arm, dragged her up against him and covered her mouth his own, trying desperately to pour every ounce of love and devotion he’d ever felt for her into the kiss.

Her free hand came up to shoulder and first flattened against his chest as if to push him away but then she curled her fingers into the thin fabric of his black shirt. He tried to make it last as long as he could, knowing that when he finally let her go, she’d walk out the door and marry someone else.

Finally, the need for oxygen won out and he released her lips. They clung to each other for a moment, breathing hard.  He was about to release her and step back when he felt her cool fingers on his cheek, moving to frame his jaw. Startled, Johnny’s eyes flew open to find her looking back at him with a soft expression, much like she’d once had. “Nadine–”

She shook her head and slid her arms around his neck and lifted herself onto the tips of her toes to press her mouth to his again. Now that they’d both given into the urge, it was like neither of them could bear to feel anything separating them. Hands flew, buttons came undone, her skirt fell to the ground followed by his jeans.

He lifted her in his arms and took the steps to the nearby sofa. Johnny gently lowered to the cushions and then covered her, attacking the smooth flesh of her neck with his mouth. Her fingers curled in his dark hair and she dragged him back up to kiss him again.

When they came together for the first time in so many years, Johnny wondered how he could have let so much time go by without feeling like this, touching her skin, drinking in her scent. He kissed her eyes and tasted the salt of her tears. He smiled — she’d always cried when they’d made love.

After wards, they lay in each other’s arms, their bodies heated from the exertion. Nadine was sprawled across his chest, staring at the dark fireplace, remembering all the winter nights that had ended this way.

She felt his fingers slide through her hair and she closed her eyes, wishing she could throw caution to the wind and stay just like this forever.

But she wasn’t the twenty-four year old girl who’d slept with Johnny Zacchara in a bar one night and she wasn’t the twenty-eight year-old woman who’d divorced him either. She was the woman who’d spent most of her adult life alone and was terrified at how easy it’d been to throw away all the promises she’d made to herself.

The promise she’d made to Nikolas.

Like a bucket of cold water splashing over her, she sat up. Nikolas. Her fiancé.

“Nadine–” Johnny propped himself up on his elbows, recognizing that look of alarm in her eyes. She’d snapped back into reality and he was afraid all over again that she’d walk out on him. “I know–”

“I’m just like Lulu,” Nadine murmured, feeling sick to her stomach. She reached blindly for something to cover herself and found his black polo. She pressed it to her chest and looked at him with glazed eyes. “She wanted you and didn’t care who she hurt and now I’m doing the same thing–”

“Who does this hurt?” Johnny asked. He reached for her but Nadine stood and reached for her panties, dragging them up over her hips. “Nadine–”

“I’m engaged,” Nadine said, horrified. “I promised Nikolas that I would marry him and honor him. Oh my God, I feel sick–”

Insulted, Johnny scowled. “Why are you thinking about that now? It doesn’t matter anymore–”

Nadine paused in the middle of trying to fasten her bra and drag her skirt on at the same time. “Why?” she asked. “Because we had sex? My promises and my word don’t matter anymore because I had sex with you?”

He didn’t particularly appreciate the way she said ‘sex’ like it was a bad thing. “Nadine–”

“This–” Nadine waved her hand toward him frantically. “This was just an aberration. I was lonely, okay? And I haven’t been with a man in a long time, okay?” She pulled her shirt over her head and tugged her hair out from underneath the collar. “This was sex, Johnny. It doesn’t fix anything.”

She found her purse on the floor and rushed out of the room, leaving her ex-husband both confused and pissed off.

This entry is part 12 of 19 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Tangle

Friday, April 18, 2008

Zacchara Estate: Study

“What do you mean she’s, gone?” Johnny growled. “When did she leave?”

The man on the other side of the phone call was immensely relieved not to be in the same room as the mob boss. “She left late last night. Flew directly to Naples.”

“Fine. Then you get on the next flight out and you bring her back,” Johnny ordered. He slammed the phone down and glared down at the surface of his desk. After all Claudia’s talk about a united family, the second the heat had been applied, she’d fled.

And left him holding the bag.

He growled at nothing in particular and shoved out of his seat. In the two short weeks since Michael Corinthos had been shot in the head by an unknown assailant and lapsed into a coma, life in Port Charles had become extremely precarious. Men on both sides were coming up missing or dead. Anyone who mattered had been locked under tight security or shipped out.

Johnny had teamed up personally with Luke Spencer to tie up Johnny’s semi-girlfriend, toss her on a plane and take her out of town. He liked to think she’d eventually understand his actions. She was probably not in any danger, being the daughter of an old friend, but Sonny was running on anger now and rational thoughts might not intrude.

It was Jason who had handled security for his side. They didn’t know where the hit had come from so they’d exercised extra precautions above and beyond the usual protocol. Johnny had been somewhat surprised when a nurse at the hospital had disappeared along with her sons. He’d dug into that just a little and found out Elizabeth Spencer had had a relationship at one point with Jason Morgan and the paternity of her youngest son was in question. Not  anymore, Johnny decided. It was clear Jason had decided not to take any more chances with his own family.

Morgan Corinthos had also been secreted away, and Kate Howard had returned to New York, talked into it by Jason Morgan, Johnny surmised.

The only family Johnny had worried about was Claudia. She was rash and made stupid decisions. It was her fault Michael Corinthos was in the hospital, not expected to recover and yet, she’d fled for Naples. Unbelievable.

His study door flew open, bouncing off the wall it slammed into. Sonny Corinthos strode in, arm extended and gun cocked. Johnny froze for just a moment before diving under the heavy oak desk. He scrambled to get the emergency piece from a special drawer installed for this purpose.

“My son just died!” Sonny yelled. He  started shooting at the desk and Johnny knew that the wood would only protect him so long. “You coward! You go after women and children?”

“I had nothing to do with it!” Johnny roared. He checked his gun, made sure it was cocked and ducked away from the desk, diving behind a nearby sofa. He felt the sofa jerk as another bullet struck it. He had to act fast or Sonny was actually going to kill him this time.

“You’re lying to me!”

Another bullet whizzed past Johnny’s ear and he finally started to get it. Even if Sonny didn’t succeed this time, he’d keep coming back to kill him. It was always going to be one or the other. Neither could coexist.

He waited until he heard Sonny’s gun click, indicating he was out of bullets. Johnny rose to his feet, took aim and then closed his eyes so he wouldn’t actually have to see himself kill someone else’s father.

 Monday, July 22, 2024 (Eastern Standard Time)

Nadine’s Home: Living Room

The last person Nadine expected to see on her doorstep was the woman who had destroyed her marriage. “You have five seconds to say what you have to say and then I want you gone.”

“Well, then I’ll make it short and simple–” Lulu started.

“You’re out of time.” Nadine slammed the door. She couldn’t believe the nerve of that woman — to show up on her doorstep a decade after sleeping with her husband. What in the world could Lulu have to say to her after all this time?

“Knowing my luck, probably a hidden love child,” Nadine muttered. She returned to her previous task — going through the many court documents she and Johnny had generated in the last ten years. She’d been so angry and devastated by his infidelity that she’d had Alexis Davis fight tooth and nail for anything and everything. Half of Johnny’s estate, full custody of Amalia, alimony, exorbitant child support.

True to form, Alexis had done her best to nickel and dime Johnny, but Trevor Lansing had fought her every step of the way. Nearly as angry as Nadine, Johnny had sued for full custody, refused alimony and child support and wanted to leave Nadine with absolutely nothing.

She’d realized later that Johnny had only been so harsh because he’d wanted Nadine to fold and come home. She’d always known in his own way that Johnny cared for her and Nadine was almost sure that if not for Lulu, they would be together. But Lulu had been a fact that Johnny couldn’t explain away.

Eventually, they’d reached a financial agreement that satisfied them both and joint custody had been agreed on. When Johnny realized that Nadine wasn’t backing down from a divorce, he’d told Trevor to back off.  The divorce had been finalized and Nadine had thought they would both move on.

Unfortunately, they dragged each other into court countless times over the last few years. When Johnny had remarried out of the blue, Nadine had retaliated by suing for full residential custody. When Nadine had considered moving back to Ohio to be closer to old friends, Johnny had pulled her into court.

And now, it looked as though they were headed back into court yet again except Nadine wasn’t sure if it would work out the right way in the end. Amalia was old enough to decide who she wanted to live with and Nadine knew her daughter wasn’t going be happy about her engagement to Nikolas. She’d pick Johnny out of spite.

A knock from the back porch broke into Nadine’s thoughts and she glared at the sight of Lulu standing there, one eyebrow raised. “Lulu, if you don’t get off my property, I’m going to call the police.”

Lulu pulled open the back door and stepped in. “You really need to start locking this place if you want to keep people out.”

“I’m calling the police–” Nadine reached for her cell phone.

“You’re going to want to hold off on that,” Lulu said. “I was informed by an interested party that you might be a little ignorant of a few things that happened that time I was home–”

“Did you sleep with my husband?” Nadine demanded.

“Well, yes–”

“Then I don’t think there are any facts of which I am ignorant since that’s the only one that matters.” Nadine flicked her wrist towards the front door. “You can go out the front.”

“He thought I was you,” Lulu said. “I found him passed out at Jake’s and he started calling me Nadine–”

Nadine stood. “Excuse me?”

“Look, I’m not saying I didn’t take advantage of the situation,” Lulu continued. “You wouldn’t talk to him after you lost the baby, you completely shut him out and he was angry at himself for not knowing how to help you, for not being there so he got drunk at Jake’s. I was there, I saw him, he was reaching for me, calling me by your name and kissing me, telling he was sorry–”

“You’re telling me that Johnny thought I was in the room with him and you slept with him anyway?” Nadine said quietly. “That the entire time he was with you, he thought it was me?”

“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Lulu said. “I thought maybe he’d realize it was me eventually, but all the way through, it was Nadine this, Nadine that,” she shrugged. “So I split. If Johnny had had a smart bone in his body, he never would have said a damn thing to you and this all could have been avoided.”

“You are disgusting,” Nadine murmured. “You pursued him from the second you came home, despite the fact that he and I were married, that we had a life together. You just didn’t care–”

“Look, I’m not saying I’m proud of myself or the way I acted,” Lulu replied. “I’m just saying that I didn’t do it to be malicious–”

“You probably tell yourself that a lot,” Nadine cut in. “You tell yourself you’re not doing this to be a bitch, to be a devious little slut or to do anything wrong. No,” she drawled sarcastically. “You probably thought you were doing me a favor because if Johnny was really happy, he’d never stray so maybe it was best to find out.”

“Nadine–”

“You’re pathetic,” Nadine snarled. “You’ve explained yourself. Now get the fuck out.”

Morgan Home: Cameron’s Bedroom

Molly knocked lightly on Cameron’s ajar bedroom door and walked in. Her boyfriend stood across the room, staring out into the backyard. She could hear the shouts and splashes from below. “I can’t remember the last time I heard Jake laugh like that,” she murmured joining him at the window.

Below, she watched as Amalia waited until Jake was distracted by Mal and Spencer before leaping and dunking him. He surfaced with a splash and started for the other teen, determined to return the favor.

“Lia’s good for him,” Cameron said after a long moment. “I wish he’d stop worrying about their age difference and just go for it.”

“Hmm…” Molly backed and sat on his bed, taking in his room. It was decorated in greens and blues complimenting the dark wooden furniture. His walls weren’t covered with posters of bands or scantily clad women, but rather a few nondescripts prints she didn’t really recognize. If not for a pile of clothes on his desk and his sneakers poking out from under the bed, she wouldn’t even have known that this was his room.

She looked over at Cameron, who was uncharacteristically quiet. She’d been in love with Cameron Morgan since she was thirteen and he’d taken his shirt off by the pool one summer. She’d bided her time, waiting out all the other girls and she’d watched him closely so that when he finally looked at her, she’d be ready for him.

Kristina had warned her that Cam might end up using her for sex but she thought that wouldn’t be so bad. It was pretty good sex after all and at least she’d have Cameron for a little while. Since the night she made the first move out at Vista Point, they had done very little talking about themselves and she knew that her mostly her fault…because she’d allowed it to happen.

“So I was working today — the usual afternoon rush,” Molly began, smoothing her hands down her bare arms. “And Morgan’s parents were there.” She paused, waiting for some sign that he had listened to her, some sign that he might understand what she was saying to him but he didn’t even look at her.  “So your dad went to Greece.”

Cameron glanced at her then and frowned. “What?”

“Carly and Jax were at Kelly’s,” Molly repeated. “Carly asked me how you were handling everything.” She shrugged. “I didn’t know what that meant and she looked at me weirdly. I mean, everyone thinks we’re dating. Of course I should know that Jules might have found your mother.”

“Molly…” Cameron hesitated. “It’s not that I didn’t deliberately tell you–”

“It’s hard not to think that,” Molly interrupted, staring straight ahead, being careful to not look at him. “Your dad left early Sunday morning. We went out that night. And you said nothing. We saw each other yesterday…and you said nothing.”

“You don’t understand–”

“No…” Molly drawled. “I think I do.” She looked at him now, tears in her eyes, a faint smile on her lips. “Krissy warned me this might happen but I thought I knew better. I mean, we got off to such a promising start. It changed after that night at the Point. After we had sex. That’s all we do when we’re together now. We don’t talk–”

“That’s not true–”

“The fact that your dad is off in Greece because you guys think your mom is there–” Molly closed her eyes and shook her head. “That’s just…such a major thing not to tell someone. I bet you told Morgan and I bet Jules told Amalia and Jake told Mal. That’s what you do with news like that. You share it with the people that matter.”

“You have to let me get a word in here, Molly–” Cameron crouched in front of her, trying to meet her gaze.

“You share it with the people that matter,” Molly repeated, “and I had to learn the hard way that I’m not one of them.”

“That’s not true,” Cameron said roughly. He grabbed at her hands but she pulled away and stood, nearly knocking him back on the ground.  He scrambled to his feet. “Molly, you matter-”

“To your libido, maybe…” she shrugged. She clasped her hands behind her back. “I thought I could be okay with that, that maybe I could learn to live with just being the girl you go to for sex. It’s not like it was going to last once you went back to Boston and we could have still been friends later.”

Cameron stared at her, unable to form words that would make this go away. It was like watching a collision, knowing what would happen and not being able to stop it.  “Molly–”

“But I can’t be that girl anymore, Cam.” Molly stared hard at the ground. “Because I made the mistake of caring too much–”

“I didn’t tell Morgan,” Cameron blurted out. “I didn’t tell anyone! I couldn’t say it out loud once I knew Dad was taking it seriously. If I said it, it was real and if it’s her, she’s been out there all this time! What if she doesn’t remember me? Or Jake or Jules? And what if it’s not her? It’ll be like her going away all over again. Molly…” he stepped towards her. “If that woman in Greece is my mother, then she will have missed our entire lives. How can she really come home again? How can it ever be okay?”

He could see her weakening. Her eyes changed and her arms started to slide to her side. Feeling somewhat hopeful, he continued, “Mol, it’s not about the sex–”

And just like that, he lost her. “I think we need to take a break,” Molly said. “You have a lot going on with your family and I can’t…I can’t be that girl anymore, Cam. I deserve more than that.”

“Molly–”

“I’m going to go now.” She disappeared out the door and after a split second, Cameron followed her. He wasn’t really sure what he was going to do. He had this strange vision of himself grabbing her, carrying her away and locking her in his room until she saw things his way.

As soon as Molly heard his footsteps, she started to run down the stairs. He heard the door slam and by the time, he got to the front door, her car had pulled out of the driveway and she was gone.

Morgan Home: Backyard

Cameron might not have told many people that his mother might have been found, but Juliet had passed word to most of their friends. She’d decided that they needed a distraction from waiting for their father to call them with answers. She’d passed the word to her best friend and together, they’d gathered everyone. With the exception of Cameron, who was brooding in his room for some reason, everyone was either in the pool or hanging pool side.

Amalia watched as Jake lifted himself out of the pool and started towards the grill to harass Morgan into cooking the burgers faster.

She treaded water and turned to Juliet. “This was a really good idea.”

“Yeah, after not hearing any kind of news for the last two days,” Juliet said, “I just thought we needed a distraction.” She padded towards the shallow end of the pool. “When Dad told us Saturday night that he was leaving the next morning, we were all kind of surprised. Cam and I thought he’d take some time to verify things but I guess he couldn’t wait.”

Amalia followed her and the two teens climbed the steps to sit on the side of the pool. “How did Jake take it?”

“He was really quiet,” Juliet admitted. “I don’t know what he’s thinking really. Me and Jake have never been on the same wave length if you know what I mean. He’s always so angry.” She shot her best friend a grin. “I know…that’s what you like best.”

“You know me so well.” Amalia reached for her towel and started to dry her legs. “What do you think will happen if this turns out to be your mother?”

“I don’t know. I mean, best case scenario she’s lost her memory and won’t remember us.” Juliet chewed her lip. “I don’t really know how that would work out. But at least we’d know what happened.” She shrugged. “Isn’t it easier for you to know why your parents split?”

“I guess,” Amalia shrugged. “But you know, Lucky Spencer told me that I might not want to look into this because I wouldn’t like what I’d find. I found out that my parents have tortured each other for the last ten years because a stupid slut wanted my dad and took advantage of a family tragedy to do it. I found out that I could have had a little brother or sister.” She pursed her lips. “I wanted to put them back together but I don’t know if that’s possible now after everything they’ve been through.”

“Well, they’re both single,” Juliet pointed out. “As long as that’s true, you never know.”

“That’s true,” Amalia nodded. She saw Jake disappear in the house. “I’m going to run in for a second…I need to use the bath–”

“Make sure he’s handling this okay,” Juliet cut in with a knowing smile. “He talks to you, Li, and that’s a good thing. I know he’s not talking to Mal.”

“Malcolm Drake, I swear to God, if you try to untie my top one more time, I’m going to drown you!” Cecily shrieked from the pool.

“Mal, stop messing with my sister,” Morgan warned. “Or I’ll dump your body where no one can find you.”

“Please don’t make statements like that,” Kristina sighed, handing him a plate of hot dogs to put on the grill. “I’m not your lawyer yet, but I do have to maintain some deniability.”

Juliet rolled her eyes and started back for the pool. These people had been her friends her entire life but sometimes, they were just insane.

Inside, Amalia found Jake in the living room, leaning against a couch, looking at a portrait of his mother recently hung by Juliet. “You’re getting the couch all wet.”

“Is this going to be the new routine?” Jake asked, not looking at her. “Jules is worried about me, so she sends you in to do the dirty work?”

“No, I came in because I’m worried about you.” Amalia folded her arms and stood in front of him so he’d have to acknowledge her. “Jake, your mom might be alive out there. She might come home.”

“What if she disappeared with this Helena Cassadine’s help?” he asked. “What if she wanted to leave and Helena arranged for a new identity? Why else would someone have gone to all the trouble of erasing her past and making a new future unless she wanted it?”

“You don’t really believe that,” Amalia said. She placed her hands on his arms and forced them down to his sides. “You just want to keep hating your dad.”

“I don’t hate him,” Jake muttered. “I blame him. I’ve blamed him for what happened to my mother for just about as long as I can remember. But if she was kidnapped by Helena Cassadine, then I guess that means he’s not responsible.”

“He never was, Jake.” Amalia took a chance and wrapped her arms around his neck. “You’re just going to have to accept that. Maybe this woman isn’t your mother. And maybe she is dead. But the only person responsible for that is the person who did it. Not your dad, not you. Not your mother. No one else. Until you can come to terms with that, you’re going to be a lonely guy.” She stood on the tips of her toes and kissed him lightly. When she drew back, she found him staring back her, his gaze unreadable. “And that would be a shame.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2024 (Eastern Europe Standard Time)

Rafina, Greece

Jason had been sitting on bench across from Aneikastos, the arts and crafts store that Maia Cassadine had opened and operated for the last eight years in the town of Rafina. During the long plane right on Sunday, he had been in teleconference with Spinelli, verifying what Juliet had given to him and digging deeper.

The more he learned about Maia Cassadine, the more it felt like she wasn’t who she was reported to be. She had turned up just before Cassadine matriarch’s death in 2011 and from what Jason could find out, she lived a quiet and simple life. She kept to herself and did not participate in any of the town activities.

He had arrived in Greece late Sunday night, even with the time difference.  On Monday, he had come to the downtown area and sat on this bench, just staring at the store. It was open, but the proprietor never came outside, meaning she probably used the back entrance. Spinelli had told him later that the residence he’d found on record coincided with the store, so she lived above the stop.

Jason couldn’t bring himself to go inside the store to find out for himself who the woman was. He knew that he wanted it to be his wife. If Elizabeth was inside that store, then it meant that she was alive and relatively healthy. That she had not been tortured or frightened all of this time. Most importantly, it meant that an enemy from Elizabeth’s own past had been behind this and that it wasn’t Jason’s fault that she had disappeared.

If it wasn’t her, then he would have to accept once and for all that even if Elizabeth wasn’t dead, she was never coming home to him.

He knew the kids were getting impatient at home, that Juliet had had her heart set on accompanying him. He’d put Cameron in charge of keeping an eye on her so she wouldn’t sneak into the car or worse, enlist Amalia Zacchara to fly to Greece on their own. His daughter had a way of getting into the most peculiar sorts of trouble with the help of her best friend. It was a trait Jason knew she’d inherited from her mother. Elizabeth could never sit idly by while a friend needed her.

Even if she did end up hiding a dead body or two as a result.

Finally, close to noon, Jason told himself that he had to put an end to this. He had go into that store and discover for himself the answer to the question. Was his wife inside? Did she lose her memory?

Jason walked across the street, weaving in and out of the various forms of traffic before reading the sidewalk on the other side. He put a hand on the handle and pulled it open.

The store was filled to the brim with shelves and cluttered from the doorway to the counter in the back with stacks of canvases, painting supplies and other things he didn’t really recognize. Behind the counter, a woman had her back to him. She was small and petite, her long dark hair hanging down her back. It was laced slightly with gray and had a bit of a curl to it.

Jason took a step forward and his foot hit a floorboard the wrong way, causing it to the creek. The woman turned and smiled at him. “Can I help…” Her voice trailed off as she stared at him.

Her skin was still peaches and cream, her eyes still dark stormy blue. Her lips were still full and painted with a light pink. There were lines near her eyes and by her mouth. She was older, in her mid-forties now but the last fourteen years melted away as Jason stared at his wife.

She stared back at him and then her eyebrows narrowed and she tilted her head to the side. “I know you,” she murmured.

Jason swallowed. “You don’t remember,” he said roughly. He fisted his hands so she wouldn’t see them tremble. “Do you?”

“And you know me,” the woman said softly. “Don’t you?”

“You used to be my wife,” Jason answered. “We lived in New York.”

The woman came out from behind the counter and continued to stare at him, never breaking eye contact. “I have children,” she said slowly. “A boy–no…two…and a girl.” She continued towards him. “I…don’t…” she pressed a hand to her lips.  “They’re grown up now, aren’t they?”

“Almost,” Jason said. He could smell her familiar scent as she drew closer. “Do you know what happened to you?”

“I fell,” she said softly. “I hit my head and I didn’t remember anything. The doctors said the longer I was in familiar surroundings, the more I would remember. But nothing was ever familiar before.” Her lips curved until a shaky smile. “Until you walked in the door and I remembered your face. And your voice. And my babies.” Her eyes filled with tears. “My name is Elizabeth.”

She closed her eyes and then opened them, reaching out to grasp his hands in hers. “My name is Elizabeth Morgan,” Elizabeth continued, “and you are my husband.”

This entry is part 11 of 19 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Tangle

Sunday, July 14, 2013

General Hospital: Nurse’s Station

“So, how is the new mother doing?” Robin teased, stepping up to her friend. She handed a chart to Nadine.

“Tired,” Nadine said with a smile. She scrawled a quick signature at the bottom of the chart before filing it away. “I don’t remember being this tired with Amalia, but I think I was still operating with the adrenaline of the whole situation. You know — being knocked up by a guy I wasn’t entirely familiar with.”

Robin laughed and looped her stethoscope around her neck. “Things are definitely different this time around, huh?”

Nadine chewed on her lower lip. “Not exactly. I’m still not sure where I stand with Johnny.” She tugged on her ear. “You know Lulu Spencer is back in town.”

“I thought she and Johnny were over,” Robin replied. “Not to mention, he’s been happily married to you for over three years now. You know he loves you.”

“That’s the thing,” Nadine sighed. “I don’t know. I mean, yes, we’ve been happy. Life was great until she came home but I don’t know…” she shrugged. “He’s never said it.”

“Oh, honey–just because he doesn’t say it, doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel it,” Robin said. She placed a hand on Nadine’s forearm. “And I wouldn’t worry about Lulu — he could have gone chasing after her but he didn’t. He stayed in Port Charles and the two of you have a good marriage with a beautiful daughter and another child on the way. Why, you’ve positively domesticated the boy.” She smiled and picked up a chart. “It must be the second child syndrome. When I was pregnant with Anna last summer, I was so exhausted and I felt disgusting all the time. Nothing Patrick would say would make me feel better. I was sure he was thinking about all the cute women out there–”

“Johnny doesn’t know about the baby,” Nadine said softly. “I wanted to tell him, but I found him in the study, talking to Lulu, so I put it off. Every time I try to tell him, he’s either with her or we end up arguing about her. So…I don’t think this has anything to do with that.”

“Oh, Nadine…” Robin sighed. “I don’t know what to say to help you. I hope that it’s not his fault — that Lulu is to blame here. She has a history of knowing what she wants and pursuing it.” Her mouth twisted in a grimace. “No matter who gets hurt in the process.”

“I just have to wait her out,” Nadine said resolutely. “I might not be sure if Johnny loves me, but I know he respects me. If he wanted to be with her, he’d tell me. He wouldn’t jerk me around like that. I should just concentrate on all the good things, you know?” She forced a smile. “We do have a good life. Our daughter is absolutely perfect and this baby will just make it even better.” She grabbed a chart and stepped out of the nurse’s station. “I’m sure you’re right — the pregnancy is just making my hormones act over time.”

She started down the hallway, not making it more than a few steps before she cried out, dropping the chart and grasping her abdomen.

General Hospital: Hallway

“Johnny, wait–” Leila Marquez stopped her friend’s husband from entering the hospital room. “Before you go in–”

“Robin didn’t say what happened,” Johnny said, pulling away from the nurse. “She just said Nadine was hurt, that I needed to get here immediately. Is she all right?” When Leila didn’t answer immediately, he grasped her shoulders and shook her slightly. “Is she all right?”

“Johnny, she lost the baby,” Leila said softly. She gently removed herself from his sphere and stepped back. “She had a miscarriage.”

His hands fell limply to his side. “Miscarriage?” he repeated. He looked through the window into the room, where his wife lay in a hospital bed. She was rolled over on her side, facing the window. “She was pregnant?”

“You didn’t…” Leila pressed her fingers to her mouth. “I’m so sorry, Johnny. She wasn’t very far along, she might not have known–”

Images flew through his head, memories of Nadine coming across him these last few weeks–something in her face, in her eyes. She had wanted to tell him something but circumstances had always prevented it. She’d known and every time she’d tried to tell him, Nadine had found him with Lulu.

He didn’t know what had gotten into Lulu since her return. She was constantly seeking him out, looking at him those eyes that had once seemed so mysterious and captivating. They just seemed empty and lonely now. He couldn’t make her understand that he loved his wife and their life together.

“It’s all right.” Johnny swallowed hard. “Is she all right otherwise?” he asked hoarsely. “I mean…inside?”

“I don’t know. Kelly should have that information.” Leila tipped her head towards the door. “You should be with her now. She needs your strength.”

Johnny nodded and pulled open the door. He would be the husband Nadine deserved and he would see her through this tragedy. There would be other children to fill their lives.

But first she would have to forgive him for not being as attentive as he should have been. He should have known she was pregnant and would have if his mind had been on his family.

She would forgive him for finding him with Lulu so often and he’d make her understand that he loved her. There just wasn’t any other choice for him. Nadine and their daughter was his entire life and he’d be lost without them.

 

Friday, July 19, 2024

Kelly’s: Lulu’s Room

Lulu frowned. “How exactly am I responsible for the destruction of your family?” She set her bag on the bed and unzipped it. “I think you give me too much credit.”

Amalia uncrossed her legs and slowly got to her feet. “I know my parents were in love once, that I had a family. You know how I know that without having once seen it?” She fisted her hand and pressed it against her heart. “Because I can feel it in here.”

Lulu tossed a few things in a dresser. “That’s really nice, but–”

“You know what my family is like now?” Amalia continued. “My father has had two miserable marriages. My mother has spent her life alone. They pick at each like they’re tearing meat from a bone. When they run out of things to hurt each other with, they use me.” She stepped up to Lulu, only a few inches shorter. “I have a right to know what happened and what you had to do with it.”

“What makes you think I had anything to do with it?” Lulu demanded defensively. She took a step back and continued to unpack.

“I’m not stupid,” Amalia snapped. “Enough people mention you in relation to my father. I know enough to connect the dots.”

“That was all a long time ago,” Lulu said, waving a hand dismissively. “It’s best to leave it alone.”

“If something tore apart your family,” Amalia said tightly, “you would do whatever it took to find out why, wouldn’t you?”

Lulu sighed and sank down on the bed. “Look, it was not a shining moment for me okay? I’d rather forget it.”

“That’s really nice,” Amalia retorted. “I wish I could.”

“Fine, you asked for it.” Lulu stood and planted a hand on her hip. “I came back to town and decided that I wanted Johnny back. I didn’t give a damn if he was married and I sure as hell didn’t care that he was happy with your mother. Anyone with eyes could see that he worshipped the ground she walked on, but I guess she was never secure with that. She was always harping on him about me and after she lost the baby–”

“Baby?” Amalia interrupted. “What baby?”

Lulu blinked. “She was only a few weeks along, I don’t think she’d even told Johnny. Anyway, she miscarried and Johnny was really upset about it. I found him at Jake’s, just about passed out and he thought I was Nadine.” She shrugged.

“So what? You took advantage of it?” Amalia said scathingly. “What kind of person does that? Does my mom know that Dad didn’t even know who you were?”

“I don’t know what Nadine knew or didn’t know,” Lulu replied, irritated. “The whole experience was mortifying. I left the next morning and I didn’t even know about the divorce until years after it happened.”

“Does that make it okay?” Amalia demanded. “You used my father’s grief against him and you destroyed my family, my mother’s life, my father’s life.” She spread her hands out. “My life! And somehow it’s okay because you were embarrassed that my dad wouldn’t have touched you if he’d known it was you?”

“Look, I told you that it wasn’t exactly a good moment for me. I’m not particularly proud of it, but it happened. It’s over. You should move on.” She stood and turned her back to the teen, hanging a few things up in the closet.

“How can I move on when my parents can’t?” Amalia shook her head. “You’re nothing but a home wrecking slut! You think it’s okay now because it happened all those years ago and you’re not around to see the fallout?”

“Who do you think you are?” Lulu whirled. “You have no right to talk to me like that–”

“Are you kidding me?” Amalia scoffed. “I’m the girl whose life you ruined on a whim. Let’s keep this in perspective.” She folded her arms under her chest.  “You should apologize to my mother.”

Lulu’s eyes widened. “You are out of your mind.”

“If you’re so damn ashamed of your behavior, you owe it to my mother to apologize for what you did. If not for you, I’d still have a family. You need to own up to what you did and you should apologize to my mother.”

“I don’t think so.” Lulu pulled open the door to her room. “You need to go.”

“I’ll go.” Amalia paused in the doorway.  “But don’t think for one second I’m going to forget this.”

The older woman rolled her eyes. “Please. Your grandfather couldn’t intimidate me, what makes you think you can?”

Amalia smirked and leaned in. “I’m not crazy. I’m younger, I’m smarter and I’m Claudia Zacchara’s niece. Do you really doubt I can take you on and win?”

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Morgan Home: Back Porch

“Another day, another family meeting,” Jake muttered, taking a seat between his sister and brother.

“Would it be possible for you to stop being an asshole for more than five seconds or is that asking too much?” Cameron glared at him.

“It’s asking too much,” Jake responded dryly.

“Would you guys knock it off?” Juliet demanded.  “I am so sick of the two of you arguing about everything when you’re in the same room together. Jake, believe me, we all know how you feel about Mom and Dad and quite frankly, I’m sick of your rebel without a clue attitude and Cam, he only says shit to annoy you because he knows he can.” She rolled her eyes. “Boys are so dumb.”

Jason coughed. “Uh, yes, if we could shelve the sibling rivalry for a second.” He stood in front of his children and took them in for a moment. Cameron, his adopted son who had never given him a sleepless night; Jake, his middle child who had looked at him with angry eyes most of his life; and Juliet, his daughter, who never asked easy questions or accepted simple answers. These were the children he’d been left to raise by himself for whatever reasons. He only hoped that he hadn’t screwed them up by not resolving the issue of their mother long ago.

“I know I’ve made some mistakes with you guys,” he began, “especially where your mother is concerned. I should have talked about her sooner, I realize that now. I hope you can forgive me for keeping it locked up as long as I did.”

Jake snorted but Cameron punched him in the arm. “Pretend for five seconds that you have a little bit of respect, you tool.”

Jason ignored the byplay and continued, “I want you to know that any questions you have about her or about our life before, I will answer them no matter what, okay?” When they remained silent, he continued. “That being said, I think we all need some closure from this situation.”

Juliet sat straight up. “What kind of closure are you talking about?” she asked suspiciously.

“I talked to Diane about declaring…” he stopped and found that he couldn’t say it.

“You want to declare her legally dead,” Jake finished flatly.  “That’s just great. You waste most of our lives pretending she never existed and the second you bring her up, you’re just going to write her off.” He shot to his feet. “What? So are we going to have some sappy memorial where everyone talks about how much she fucking loved us all? You gonna erect some huge stone so we have a place to visit? Why did you wait so damn long if you think she’s dead?”

“Jake–” Juliet put a hand on his arm. He shook it off.

“Shut up, Jules. Everyone is always saying how damn awful it is that you never had a mother and it’s good that at least Cam had some memories of her but what about me? I never had a mother and it’s his fault!”

“Knock it the hell off–” Cameron lunged off the sofa.

“And I’m not talking about how she left or why she died,” Jake retorted. “I’m talking about my entire life, never being able to open my mouth and ask a question, never being able to look at her picture without hiding it some drawer afterwards,” he spat. He looked to his father.  “I never had a mother because you never gave her to me!”

With that, Jake stormed into the house and a few minutes later, they heard a car engine start. The brakes squealed and the car roared off.

Jason slowly sank onto the other sofa. “He’s right,” he said roughly. “I thought it would be easier for everyone if we didn’t talk about her but he’s right. I could have given her to you in other ways. I could have kept the pictures up, told you stories…”

“Dad…” Juliet rounded the coffee table and sat beside him. “Jake forgets sometimes that we’re not the only ones who lost Mom. You did, too and maybe the things you did were more to protect yourself than us and that’s okay, too.” She looked to Cam. “Right?”

“Yeah,” Cameron nodded. “Don’t beat yourself up, Dad. You did the best you could.” He looked to Juliet. “You never told him, did you?”

“Told me what?” Jason asked.

Juliet bit her lip. “I might be wrong,” she said softly.

“But you might be right and Dad needs to hear about it.” Cameron reached for his sister’s purse sitting on the ground in front of the couch. He found the folder. “Jules has a theory that I think you need to know about it.”

“Juliet…” Jason started.

“Before you tell me you tried everything,” Juliet stood and took the folder from her brother, “I talked to Spinelli and he said this wasn’t an avenue that occurred to you.” She paused. “Helena Cassadine died not long after Mom disappeared, but shortly before she did, a birth certificate suddenly showed up December 2010 for Maia Cassadine. She’s listed as Helena’s granddaughter in only one obituary — the place where Helena died. Helena had almost fifty obituaries around the world but only the one from Rafina, Greece, listed a woman named Maia.”

Jason stared hard at his daughter. “What did Spinelli have to say?”

“He said that the parents listed on Maia’s birth certificate never existed and there’s no record of her birth anywhere.” She hesitated and looked to her older brother for support.

“Dad, Nikolas Cassadine thought he saw a woman who looked like Mom…in Rafina…last summer.”

Jason slowly stood up and swallowed hard. He accepted the folder from his daughter. “And this woman…Maia?”

“Spinelli couldn’t find a picture of her but we were able to confirm that she runs an arts and craft store there.” Juliet folded her arms nervously. “Cam thought it was too much of a coincidence.”

“When you add in the apparent history Mom had with Helena and the fact that Helena made Laura Spencer disappear without a trace once…” Cameron shrugged. “It just sounded right.”

“Your mom had been off Helena’s radar for years,” Jason murmured. “It wouldn’t have occurred to me to check…I was still searching my own contacts when she died…”

“We have to go to Greece, right?” Juliet asked. “I mean, we have to know for sure who this woman is. Spinelli said he couldn’t find any connection between them and…I talked to Nikolas this morning and he never heard of a woman named Maia in the family.”

“I need…” Jason paused. “I need to look into this a little more, Jules.” He held up the folder. “This is a good…this is a good theory and we can’t…we can’t proceed with anything else until we know sure.”

Jax & Carly’s House: Front Porch

 

Carly was picking up trash from the small party Morgan had hosted the night before. If anyone had told her years ago that she would be entertaining Robin and Alexis’s kids at her house, she would have told them where to shove it.

But now, the group didn’t feel complete without Mal, Kristina or Molly. Carly had never thought it possible, but maybe she was mellowing as she approached fifty.

An SUV pulled into her drive way and a short woman with dark hair stepped out. Robin Scorpio-Drake pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head as she climbed the steps. “Looks like my kid was here recently.”

“Try every kid in Port Charles,” Carly sighed, tying a trash bag closed. “I rue the day I encouraged CeCe to speak.”

“I feel your pain,” Robin replied. “I was hoping to find Mal here. He’s not picking up his cell.”

Carly bit her lip. “Nope, not since Jax dropped him off last night.” She paused. “Never getting his driving privileges back is he?”

“We told him that when he starts to show his father a little respect, he can have his license back.” Robin pursed her lips. “Or when he graduates medical school. Whichever comes first.” She sighed and surprised Carly by sinking down on one of the chairs. “I never thought any of the choices I made would damage my kids.”

Carly raised an eyebrow. “You, princess?” she couldn’t help but remark.

Robin smiled faintly. “I was also so sure that I knew the right way to live but it’s like everything that comes out of my mouth or Patrick’s, it drives Mal further away.” She looked at Carly. “We all make the best choices we can but still…it all comes back to haunt us.”

“You’re not kidding.” Carly sat next to her. “I look at Cecily every day and see all the same things in her that were in me at that age. All she thinks about is herself. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. It terrifies me because I know the trouble it can cause.”

“Mal and Patrick have done nothing but argue for weeks,” Robin replied. “He thinks that he was a mistake…that Patrick never wanted him.”

“Can’t Patrick just tell him the truth?” Carly inquired.

“He’s tried, I’ve tried–he just can’t get his mind wrapped around it. Look, maybe Patrick didn’t sign up for this life when we first started dating. Marriages, babies, houses in the suburbs – it wasn’t on the list. And maybe I pushed him into this a little, with two more kids and moving out of downtown–”

“Patrick Drake is a stubborn jackass,” Carly interrupted. “He wouldn’t have agreed if he didn’t want it, too. Also, no man sticks around for this long unless this is the life he wants to have. Plus…” she grinned. “Patrick drives a minivan. If that’s not love and commitment, I don’t know what is.”

Miller & Davis: Alexis’s Office

Alexis was planning her weekly telephone call to Ric to update him on the girls when her office door flew open and an enraged police commissioner stormed in. “Lucky!”

“You need to call your daughter and tell her that if my kid isn’t on that plane August 1, I’m filing charges this time!”

Alexis sighed. “Sam called you?”

“She told me that she doesn’t feel like Chloe’s old enough to travel on her own and when I offered to fly down to get her, she refused. Damn it, Alexis, I have been as patient as I can with that woman but I have absolutely had it!”

“Lucky, Sam’s just overprotective–” Alexis began.

“Save it,” Lucky snarled. “I’ve heard it all before. I’ve heard it every summer for the last six years and I’m not interested in it anymore. Chloe is my daughter and I have every right to see her.”

“Lucky–”

“If Chloe isn’t on that plane,” Lucky said, “I will not only file charges but I will file for sole custody and I’ll have a pretty good shot of winning. You tell her that.”

He stormed out and Alexis put her head in her hands. Sam had done nothing but complicate an already tumultuous relationship. They had been arguing about Chloe almost from the moment Sam had left Port Charles when Chloe was barely a year old. She’d wanted to move but Lucky had a history here that he wasn’t ready to abandon so Sam had made the choice for him.

Alexis just wished she’d made a different one.

 Wyndemere: Nikolas’s Study

“Sir?”

Nikolas glanced up from his paperwork to find his butler Smythe looking at him inquiringly. “Yes?”

“John Zacchara requests to see you,” Smythe informed him. “Shall I tell him it’s too late?”

“No.” Nikolas capped his pen. “I’ve been expecting this.”

When Johnny entered the room a few moments later, Nikolas was surprised to see him so calm. He had assumed the other man would barge in, shouting and tossing out threats.

Instead, Nadine’s ex-husband walked to the center of the room and stared at Nikolas for a long moment. Nikolas remained seated. “I want you to tell Nadine you changed your mind about your proposal.”

“That would be quite difficult since it isn’t the case and I make it a habit not to lie to the women in my life.”

Johnny narrowed his eyes. “If you don’t walk away from her now, I promise you that I will drag out a custody battle until long after Amalia is eighteen.”

“Well, that ought to improve your relationship with your daughter,” Nikolas said quietly. “Do you enjoy using Amalia to hurt her mother?”

“Don’t you dare presume to know a thing how I feel about Amalia.” Johnny took a step forward. “You don’t deserve Nadine. You don’t love her. You’re just tired of being alone.”

“I have no illusions about my relationship with Nadine,” Nikolas informed him. “We are both well aware that we go into this marriage as friends. Our children are both older and we want companionship.” A corner of his mouth lifted into a taunting smile. “You’re like a child. You’ve put something on a shelf and you refuse to play with it anymore but you won’t give it away to someone who might value it. You destroyed your marriage to Nadine and threw her away. You don’t want her but you don’t want anyone else to have her?” He shook his head. “I never thought you were good enough for her but she thought there was something in you worth loving.”

Nikolas finally rose to his feet. “I was sorry she had to have her heart broken to find out the truth. There is nothing worthwhile about you, Johnny. You are flash and no substance and the best thing you ever did for her was sleep with my sister.”

He flicked his eyes towards the door. “Smythe will show you out.”