April 28, 2018

Thank you for all the kind words and condolences. This last week has been rough, mostly because I really was only able to take one day to even deal with my grandmother’s passing to go to her funeral. Even then, I had to find someone to cover my shift at my second job, go to the grocery store and prep lunches for the rest of the week. I’m still supposed to write a paper for Monday, and I just can’t seem to make it happen. I don’t know. I’ll get through it, finish up my next semester in two weeks and then crash I guess.

Anyway, I wanted to throw together a status post to let you know where I’m at and what to expect for the rest of the year.  I finish student teaching at the end of this week and my last paper is due May 9. After that, I’m just going back to my regular double job life. Hopefully, next year, I’ll get a full-time job so I won’t have to work two jobs. I do have to write a research paper at some point in the next year, but I haven’t decided if I want to do it next fall or spring.

Site Status

  • I desperately need a new layout, but I just haven’t felt up to creating a new one. These last eight months or so have just been personally exhausting.
  • I want to get back to doing ebooks but its fallen off my radar for the moment.

Story Status

In Progress

  • Bittersweet – This remains in the same place as before. I still have to finish the the last five chapters or so, and about five or six need to be beta’d. I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to finish it up by the end of May and sent it over to Cora. I don’t know yet when I’ll start posting it again.
  • Damaged – My God. I sometimes feel like Season 3 will never happen, and I’ll be real with you. The major problem I’m having is that I set up a story in Season 2 with the murders at the end.When I started writing Season 3, and I just don’t want to write the original idea so I’ve been trying to get myself out of that. I’m also playing around with the pacing and amount of episodes. This is going to happen. I just…ugh.
  • Mad World – This is a work in progress. I’m refining my outline so I can set up bread crumbs correctly. I wasn’t expecting to still be writing Bittersweet in May, so that threw off my entire schedule. I know how Parts 1 and 2 are going to work, so as soon as I figure out the ending for the whole thing, I’ll be working on it this summer.
  • Fool Me Twice – I’ve moved it out of workshop because I’ve figured out the major plot points and how to make it flow. I just have to sit down and work it out. I’m torn because I think the only way to do this is to make it an alternate version of the show like Damaged, but I’m not sure I have the energy.

Workshop

  • Sky is Falling – I want to get back to this idea because I really love it. But I have to flesh out the world a bit more, figure out all the relationships so I can push it forward.
  • Scottish Romance — A lot of y’all have been writing in about this one and it’s on my plate, I promise. I wrote myself into a corner because I feel like I hurried the romance and the relationship and I also didn’t know who the villain would be. I’m working on it and I hope to bring it back soon.

Coming Soon

There are a few stories I’ve got tucked away in outline status, including some old ones that were around from before the five year hiatus from 2008-2013.

  • These Small Hours – a rewrite of the post-Kate shooting that has Johnny/Nadine and Jason/Elizabeth taking on mob romances, bad drugs, and complicated relationships.  It’s actually mostly outlined, it’s just been sooo long since I’ve really written Nadine in a canon story, I want to make sure I have her voice nailed.
  • Feels Like Home – this is the rewrite of Tangle and I’m still outlining it. There are some aspects that haven’t fit in neatly.
  • Counting Stars – this was a story set in 1999 that I’m still dealing with some kinks in. I had another idea for another version of 1999, and I haven’t decided if I want to find a way to merge the idea or make them separate stories.
  • Fallen From Grace – This remains in the same position it was a year ago — I’ve outlined it but I’m not sure how I want to end it. It’s a rewrite of 2006 with Nikolas/Robin, Patrick/Elizabeth, Lucky/Sam, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted those to be my ending couples or not.
  • Collision – another version of 2006 with a kind of Cassadine twist. I’m not sure if I want to incorporate pieces of this into Damaged or make it a separate story.
  • For the Broken Girl — another version of 2006 with  focus on Lucky’s drug storyline. I wanted to find a way to have that story use Jason’s past with Lucky more effectively, I just haven’t worked out how to approach it. My original version was a rewrite of the summer and was super twisty and angsty. My second go was to take the story back to spring and rewrite Sam’s shooting. I’m still working it out.

I have a lot of ideas and a lot of content planned. It’s just a matter of my life letting me get to it.

April 22, 2018

I probably won’t be around for a while. Maybe a week, maybe more. I don’t know. I don’t really know where my head is right now.

I’ve written about my grandmother and her struggle with Alzheimer’s. Aside from my parents, my grandmother was probably the most supportive person in my life. Anything I ever wanted to do, she told me I could do. When I wanted to start working as a substitute and I didn’t have the money for background checks and fingerprints, she gave it to me. She was just always there for me, so the last few months as her Alzheimer’s got worse was horrible.

She passed away yesterday morning.

I don’t even have the luxury of being able to stop and process. I’m finishing up my semester, I have student teaching to finish, papers to write. Assignments. I have to go to work tomorrow. I have two observations left or I can’t get my license. This probably won’t even hit me until we celebrate Mother’s Day and she’s not there. My birthday next month, and her not being there. My nephew’s birthday. My niece’s. Christmas. God. All the moments she was a part of, and we didn’t know it would be the last time.

So I just wanted to say I’m disappearing for a while. It might just be a few days, I just don’t know. I didn’t want to disappear without saying something.

April 18, 2018

Apologies for the lack of a chapter this week. This semester has just been beyond exhausting, and my beta, Cora, is also dealing with a lot at her job. We’re both creatively exhausted, which has slowed the process. I have about seven more chapters finished and maybe five or six left to write.

My question for you guys is would you rather that I just hold off coming back to post until I’ve finished those last five chapters and all the chapters are through the beta? Or do you mind the chapters coming irregularly? Let me know by commenting.

Another note: Fool Me Twice is now out of workshop. I’ve worked out the kinks in the general plot, so now I’m going into outline mode. I figured out how to merge the two stories I had and basically turn Jason’s return into a much better storyline that uses the entire canvas more effectively.  I have to update various parts of the website to reflect that change. I’ll keep you guys posted.

The light is at the end of the tunnel. I finish student teaching on May 4. My semester is over May 7, and after that I’m just doing my regular jobs which gives me more time for writing. I reallllly miss writing. If I can get my paper done this week, I’m hoping to use some of my extra time next week for it.

Anyway, let me know how you guys want to handle the last twelve chapters of Bittersweet.

April 3, 2018

Thanks for your patience guys with our mini hiatus. I’m hoping we can keep to the once a week schedule going forward, but hey, if I don’t promise it, it doesn’t end up being a lie. And at least I posted a short story for you during the hiatus 🙂

Posting this early because at this point, most people will read it tomorrow anyway.

Bittersweet, Chapter 22

This entry is part 22 of 31 in the series Bittersweet

Hey now you’re bleeding for nothing
It’s hard to breathe when you’re standing on your own
We’ll kill ourselves to find freedom
You’ll kill yourself to find anything at all.
– Hey Now, Augustana


Thursday, September 12, 2002

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Courtney stepped out of the diner and embraced her husband with a tight hug. “Hey.”

“Hey.” He dipped his head into her neck and just let her touch soothe him. “How is everything?”

“Elizabeth isn’t here today.” Courtney drew back, letting her hands slide over his shoulders and resting on his upper chest. “Bobbie wants her to take a few days.”

“I bet she’d rather be busy,” AJ muttered, exhaling slowly. “I’d ask how she’s doing but—”

“She hasn’t heard from Jason in nearly a week. And Sonny keeps turning her away,” Courtney confessed. “He sent someone yesterday to tell her that Sonny had gone out of town, but he’s still in Port Charles. He’s just too scared to tell her what’s going on.”

“Is that what Liz thinks?” AJ asked, frowning.

“No, but it’s what Gia says. She’s getting really pissed off and she accidentally—so she says—told her brother what the guard told Liz. And Taggert says that Sonny is holed up at the Towers, refusing to talk to the police.”

AJ hissed under his breath. “He’s lying to her. That can’t be good.”

“Yeah, Gia didn’t tell her what Taggert said, but—it’s been a week. Jason would have contacted her by now if he could. So, he can’t.”

She let her head dip down into his chest. “I’m so worried for her, AJ. And I’m worried for you.”

“For me?”

Courtney flushed but raised her head to meet his eyes. “I hate myself for it, but if something happened to your brother, after everything you’ve been through these last few months—”

“You mean if my brother is dead when we’ve finally started to understand one another?” AJ said roughly. “Will I take a drink?”

“Yeah,” Courtney said in a small voice. “God, I’m sorry—”

“Hey. Honesty, right? That’s what we promised each other. I don’t know, Courtney. For right now, I’m just…. not letting myself think of it. I’m telling myself maybe he got hurt, and Sonny’s just being an asshole to Elizabeth. No news is good news as far as I can tell.” He hesitated. “But yeah. I don’t know what’s going to happen if it’s bad. I like to think I could do it. I haven’t…”

AJ was quiet for a moment, and Courtney let him have his space.

“When Carly came home, I didn’t know Jason was going to take my side,” he said. “There were a few times when I thought…I thought about taking a drink. Just to take the edge off. To stop being so worried. So tense.”

“You didn’t say anything,” Courtney murmured.

“I called my sponsor the first time, and he stayed on the phone with me until the feeling was gone. And I called him again. Then Jason went missing.” He looked away. “But people depend on me. You. Michael. I have to be there for my family if it goes wrong. And I know he wouldn’t expect it, but I feel like I should be there for Elizabeth—”

“You shouldn’t put that kind of pressure on yourself,” Courtney protested, but he just shook his head.

“It’s not pressure,” he said. “I don’t know how to explain it. I just…if I take a drink, I’m not just breaking a promise to you, to myself. To Michael. I’m breaking it to Jason. And if I let the people I care about worry about Jason on their own—I don’t know. I just…I have responsibilities, and before—maybe I would have run from them. Now? I just want to do the right thing. Be strong for everyone else.”

Courtney smiled, but her eyes were sad, her lashes a bit wet. “I’m so scared for her, AJ. She’s already closing in on herself. She’s going to her classes, going to work, but there’s a desperation—I don’t know what will happen if Jason—”

“Then let’s try not to worry about it,” AJ told her.” He kissed her cheek. “I need to get back to work.”

Brownstone: Kitchen

Bobbie sighed, restless, as she stirred sugar into her coffee at the counter. She watched Elizabeth at the dining table, mindlessly flipping pages in one of her textbooks.

She didn’t know how to help Elizabeth, what to say to her, how to get her through this. Jason had disappeared from the face of the Earth, and Sonny wasn’t taking anyone’s phone calls, had even gone as far as to claim that he was out of town to avoid Elizabeth.

“I called Scott again today,” she told Elizabeth as she joined her at the table. “But the PCPD is still not releasing Jason’s room at Jake’s.”

“That’s okay.” Elizabeth lifted a shoulder in a shrug. “They got my phone records. Alexis told me they just couldn’t get a search warrant for the messages.” The words were basic, the tone was matter-of-fact, but Bobbie knew Elizabeth well enough now to know when she was lying. When she was protecting herself. And Bobbie didn’t have the heart to challenge her on it.

“They can’t prove Jason’s involved in anything, so she’s holding them off.” Bobbie sipped the coffee. Winced. She’d put too much cream into it again. “He’ll turn up, Elizabeth—”

“If he’s alive, he’s hurt,” Elizabeth murmured. “And he’s hurt badly enough he can’t contact me.” Her dark blue eyes were lush with tears as she looked at Bobbie. “Twenty-four hours, I could…I could live with that, you know? I just…I don’t know why Sonny won’t talk to me.”

Bobbie hesitated. “You know…Sonny’s…always had issues with trust.”

Elizabeth’s lips were pressed into a thin line. “I’ve never given him a reason to distrust me, Bobbie. I’ve always put Jason first—”

“You know that. Jason knows that. But Sonny?  He’s got a history with this sort of thing. When he was dating Brenda, she wore a wire.”

“Jason mentioned that a few months ago, but he didn’t really talk about it. Why would she do that to him?”

“I’m not really sure, actually.” Bobbie lifted a shoulder. “I only heard about it second hand, but I think she was scared. It destroyed them. And then Carly—”

“Carly entrapped him and then six months later, she turned him into the feds, that much I know.” Elizabeth pushed her textbook away. “I remember back when Jason was shot. I could tell Sonny hated that I knew. I knew that Jason was hurt, that I had been the one to help him. I wouldn’t tell him where Jason was—he hated it.”

“Sonny is obsessed with power, with control, there’s no doubt about that.”

“It wasn’t just not knowing about Jason. He was so uncomfortable with me being involved at all, and I used to think it was the danger. But last year, when Jason came to town and stayed in my studio because he wanted to watch the warehouse? Sonny was angry about that, too. He thought there were other places Jason could have stayed—”

“But Jason wanted to see you. He trusted you.”

“When Jason and I first started dating, he told me that there was this…code. This way of doing things. You don’t talk. There were things I could never know, but…” She sighed, her breath tremulous. Shaky. “He’s never been good at that. I mean, he would talk in euphemisms and around things, but he always told me more than I think Sonny liked. That’s why I know…if he was just hurt and lying low, he would have found a way to tell me.”

“I believe that,” Bobbie said, reaching out to squeeze Elizabeth’s wrist. “I was there, too, when he was shot. When you were taking care of him. And I’ve been here these last few months. Whatever is going on, you can blame Sonny for it. I have no doubt there.”

“I—” Elizabeth licked her lips. “I haven’t seen Carly around. Is she still not—”

“She came to me the night Jason went missing,” Bobbie admitted. “She had told Jason the truth finally, or at least that’s what she said.”

Elizabeth stared at her. “That same night? I saw her earlier that day. She told me she didn’t fake her death.”

Bobbie nodded. “Whatever you said, convinced her to go to Jason, who told her to come to me. She didn’t tell me what happened, only that Jason was satisfied with her answer—”

Elizabeth dipped her head, an icy sensation spreading throughout her body. Oh. God. “Jason…wasn’t working that night. Not…that way.”

Bobbie squinted. “What do you mean?”

“He…wasn’t—” Elizabeth hesitated. “I can’t…get into it, but Jason going to a warehouse with his gun? That wasn’t supposed to happen. It’s been driving me insane all week because we had plans. He was supposed to meet with AJ’s lawyer to turn over guardianship—but he canceled that meeting.”

“Right,” Bobbie said faintly. “What…what time did you see her?”

“Around three. She went straight to Jason, and he canceled the meeting after she left.” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Whatever she said to him…he went to that warehouse. The voicemail that Taggert told me about? He left it for me after she came to see him. He must have.”

“Elizabeth—”

“She’s been manipulating this situation since the moment she came home, Bobbie. C’mon.” Elizabeth shoved back the chair and stood up. “She was watching Jason. She knew when we were alone because that’s when she called him. She refused to tell him what was going on. But somehow, that day, she told him. Why?”

“I…thought maybe she realized she wasn’t going to get her way—” Bobbie sighed. “What happened when you saw her?”

“She looked like hell and wanted to know why AJ had Michael. I gave her a play by play, and she seemed…to understand what Jason’s choices were. But why did she want to know that day?” Elizabeth shook her head. “I’m done. I can’t wait anymore.”

“Elizabeth—”

The doorbell rang before Bobbie could finish and she went to answer the door. On her front step, Monica stood, her eyes worried, her fingers clutching the strap of her purse. “Is Elizabeth here?”

“Monica?” Elizabeth appeared over Bobbie’s shoulder. “Oh, God…did you hear anything?”

“No.” Monica’s voice wobbled, but she swallowed hard and kept speaking. “I was hoping you had.”

Bobbie stepped back to allow Jason’s mother to step inside the foyer. “Monica—”

“I know what everyone else does,” Elizabeth said, folding her arms and looking at the floor. “But I haven’t heard from Jason in a week.”

“How—” Monica shook her head. “That’s not like him, is it? Elizabeth—”

“He’s gone out of town without telling me,” Elizabeth admitted, “but not since we started dating. We weren’t really…back then. But, no…” She swallowed hard. “This…this isn’t something he would do to me. He…the last time I saw him—” She couldn’t hold back the tears. “He asked me to move in with him—”

“You didn’t say anything,” Bobbie murmured, putting an arm around Elizabeth’s shoulders. “Oh, sweetheart.”

“I thought someone would call. That I would find out—” Elizabeth shook her head. “I don’t understand what’s going on. Why—” She used the heels of her palms to swipe away her tears. “I have to go. I’m going to see Sonny.”

“I thought they wouldn’t let you in to see him,” Bobbie said with a frown. “He’s supposed to be out of town—”

“Do you think one of those guards on the way up to the penthouse is going to stop me?” she demanded. “Just let them try.”

She stalked back to the dining table and returned with her purse looped over her arm. “I’ve put up with this for too long.”

She stormed past both Bobbie and Monica, slamming the door behind her.

“Monica—”

The doctor turned back to Bobbie with her own tears. “I’m so terrified, Bobbie, that someone is going to knock on my door to tell me he’s dead.”

Bobbie folded her old friend into a tight embrace and prayed that day wouldn’t happen.

Port Charles Police Department: Interrogation Room

Carly shifted in the hard wooden seat and scowled at Taggert who sat sprawled in a chair across from her. “Am I under arrest?” she demanded. “Because I want a lawyer—”

“You’re free to leave whenever you want.”

“Good.” She jumped up and started for the door.

“Of course, if you don’t want to help us find Jason Morgan, that’s your problem.”

Carly scowled, turned back to him. “Jason’s fine. He’s out of town doing something for Sonny. Who do you think you’re playing?”

“Yeah?” Taggert twisted in his seat with a shrug. “We found shell casings matching a gun registered to him—”

“The type of gun,” Carly corrected with clenched teeth. Fucking assholes trying to get over on her. Jason was fine. He was pissed at her, but he was fine.

He was out of town, fixing this for her. She knew that, and she would be patient for the first time in her life. She would wait for Jason.

“We found blood—”

“With someone else’s blood type,” Carly snapped.

Taggert tossed a folder on the desk. “Sure, the blood with the brain matter. What about the other blood?”

Carly stopped, stared at the folder. Swallowed. “What’s in that?”

“Sit down and I’ll tell you.”

And so, against her better judgment, Carly returned to the chair, perching on the edge of the seat. “What other blood?” she demanded.

Taggert opened the folder and set out a crime scene photo. “We found a couple areas with blood spatter. Two of them were the same. A body was moved from upstairs downstairs, we figure. Someone was shot near the back exit. And two more people…” Taggert tapped a dark gray spot. “They were both shot next to the dumping spot for the body we don’t have.”

Carly swallowed. “So?” she managed. “That doesn’t—”

“Four sets of DNA. Four men were shot in that warehouse. Two of the blood spatters match Jason Morgan’s blood type. We’re waiting on an official match through DNA, but—” Taggert shrugged. “We’ll have that in a few weeks.”

In her lap, Carly’s hands clenched into fists. This was a trick. Somehow…this was a lie. “How much blood—”

“Someone tried to clean it up, but to survive the amount of blood loss?” Taggert shrugged. “You better hope someone got him to a doctor.”

Carly closed her eyes. “Jason is out of town.”

“Then you know more than his girlfriend, and I find that hard to believe.”

Carly scowled. Was that goddamn troll talking to the cops? “No way Elizabeth Webber says a word to you—”

“She doesn’t have to.” Taggert tilted his head. “I live in the same building, Carly. Before last week? Morgan was over a lot. Elizabeth spent most of her nights out. She’s walking around like a ghost. If he was hurt, you think she wouldn’t be with him?”

God, Carly wanted to argue with that, but the last time she knew for sure Jason had been shot—he’d let Elizabeth take care of him. He’d pushed Carly away. Turned to the little princess.

“Maybe he’s called her.”

“We’ve got her phone records.” Taggert tossed a report to her. “He called her six times. Last Friday. At 4:40 in the afternoon, he left her one voicemail. Nothing since then. So… you tell me that Jason is out of town. How do you know that?”

“He…has to be out of town,” Carly said, but it was less sure. Less adamant. God, had she gotten him killed?

“What I think happened is that Jason went to that warehouse and was ambushed. Maybe Sonny Corinthos cleaned up the scene as much as he could. Maybe Jason’s just hurt somewhere, laying low. Lying to his girlfriend like the bastard I know he is—”

“He wouldn’t do that,” Carly snapped without thinking. Oh, God. He would never do that. He would never put someone he loved through the worry and the pain. She knew that. Oh, God. He was dead.

Carly shoved the photos away. “Are we done here?” she asked, her voice shaking. “Am I under arrest?”

“Sonny isn’t going to tell you what happened to him. You’re out in the cold, Carly. Everyone is pissed at you for what happened. And maybe Sonny won’t ever tell anyone what happened. Maybe Jason will just disappear.”

Carly shook her head. “No—”

“Maybe he’ll just fade away. Everyone will forget him. Your son? Too young to remember him—”

“You don’t even like Jason—”

“I like Elizabeth Webber,” Taggert interrupted. “She deserves better than what she’s getting. I like your mother. Monica Quartermaine. Lila Quartermaine. The people who love Jason Morgan deserve to know what happened to him even if it’s just to close the door. So, whatever you know, Carly—and we both know that you know something—you need to tell me.”

“If I am not under arrest,” Carly said, rising to her feet again. “I’m leaving.”

“Go ahead.” Taggert sat back. “I just hope you can sleep at night.”

Safe House: Bedroom

Johnny O’Brien scowled at the doctor as he watched the man attach another bag of morphine to the IV stand next to the double bed where Jason slept fitfully.

“Sonny asked you to keep the pain meds coming, didn’t he?” Johnny demanded.

The doctor hesitated, then nodded. “He wanted to keep Jason sedated through the worst of the recovery,” he mumbled.

“Stop it.” Johnny nodded at the bag. “That’s the last dose I want him to have. It’s been a week—”

“I take my orders from Sonny—”

“He’s not here,” Johnny said with a roll of his eyes. “And eventually, Jason is going to wake up and realize he’s slept for a week.” He waited a moment. “Sonny is keeping Jason sedated because when Jason wakes up—he’s going to expect to see his girlfriend here. He thinks Sonny told her he was hurt. He asked Sonny to bring her.”

The doctor carefully completed the hook up for the morphine drop and sighed. “Yeah, I know. Her name is Elizabeth, right? He asks for her when he manages to surface.”

“Sonny wanted you to keep him sedated for a while, but it wasn’t supposed to be this long. I promised him twenty-four hours. We’ve given him six days. So, when I say that’s the last dose, I mean it. You’re not giving him anymore meds.”

The doctor waited a long moment, then nodded. “We’ll start weaning him off. He should come around fully in about two days.” He met Johnny’s eyes. “This wasn’t my choice.”

“Yeah, well, you could have refused,” Johnny muttered. “And when Jason figures out we’ve been lying our asses off and keeping him trapped in a bed all week, drugged out of his mind, we’re all going to get killed.”

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Sonny heard the voices in the hallway before Max knocked on his door and opened it slightly. He nodded to Benny, who closed some folders and drew some newspapers over another set of paperwork.

“Miss Webber is here.”

Sonny furrowed his brow, but nodded to wave her in. He’d been putting off this conversation for days, and honestly, he should have been prepared for this.

Elizabeth strode in, yanking her arm out of the grasp of a younger guard who had apparently been trying to keep her from storming the penthouse.

“Where is he?” she demanded after Sonny closed the door, leaving Max and the guard out in the hallway. “Where is he? Is he all right?”

“Elizabeth—”

“Why did you lie to me?” Her eyes were red, exhaustion in the lines of her face—she looked as though she hadn’t slept in days. “Why did you ignore my phone calls and send someone to tell me you weren’t in town?”

“Elizabeth.” Sonny tipped his head back, took a deep breath, and steeled himself for the conversation to follow. “You know better—”

“Don’t give me that bullshit, Sonny.” She stabbed a finger at him. “Don’t you dare patronize me like I’m a scared kid looking for Jason. You did that before. You tried to make me feel like an idiot—well that’s not happening. Not today.”

“You always knew there were things you couldn’t know—”

“No, I knew there were things you wouldn’t tell me,” she retorted. “But it’s been a week. Jason is gone. And I know something happened that night—”

“Elizabeth—”

“Just shut up. Stop lying to me!” She cried, her hands trembling as she dragged them through her hair. “Jason’s out. He told me he wasn’t working for you the way he was before. That you wanted people to think he was out.”

Sonny hissed under his breath. “He shouldn’t have—”

“It doesn’t matter. I know Jason wasn’t supposed to go any warehouse that night. He was supposed to be with me—” Her voice broke. “He asked me to move in with him, Sonny. We are planning a future together. I have the right to know—”

“You have the right to know what I tell you,” Sonny said, a bit more sharply than he’d intended to and the anger in his voice turned her face white. “You don’t ask about business, Elizabeth. That’s the rule—”

“Yeah? How about I ask about Carly then?” she shot back. “She came to see Jason that day. Bobbie told me she did. And I know that Jason called me. Taggert pulled the phone logs. He left a voicemail, but they don’t know what he said.”

Sonny exhaled slowly. “I know that, Elizabeth. Alexis is fighting it—”

“Everything I know about Friday night is because Taggert told me. He told me about the phone calls I never got because I forgot my goddamn phone—” Her voice was climbing until she was nearly screaming. “I know his blood was in a warehouse, that he was there, with his gun—”

“Sonny,” Benny murmured, as he rose to his feet. “C’mon—”

Elizabeth seemed to notice him for the first time, her bloodshot eyes taking in his sadness. His worry. “You know where he is?”

“Elizabeth, look…” Sonny waited until she looked back at him, Benny subsiding back into silence. “The truth is that I don’t know anything more than Taggert does.”

“What?” Her voice trembled. She shook her head. “That’s not—”

“I haven’t seen Jason since Friday night, either. I haven’t heard from him.”

“B-But—” She was still shaking her head. “You didn’t—”

“I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if he’s okay.”

Her shoulders slumped. “Why…why wouldn’t you just say that? Why did you have to—” She pressed her lips together, closed her eyes. “But that’s good. Because that means Jason is lying low. He’s not calling you either. You would know if he was gone.”

“I’d hope so,” Sonny said. The shame of his lies made him look away. “Elizabeth, he wouldn’t want you to worry. So…just go about your life. When this dies down, he’ll get in touch with both of us.”

She opened her eyes and looked at him…and he had a peculiar feeling that maybe…just maybe…she could see right through him. “I know you don’t think I should know anything about business, Sonny. That’s fine. But this isn’t business. This isn’t just me. I’m not the only person terrified. Monica came by the Brownstone today. Jason has family who worry about him. You’re keeping me out of loop to prove a fucking point, and it’s bullshit. Jason knows he can trust me. I just wish you did, too.”

The door slammed so hard behind her that the door frame rattled. Sonny exhaled and turned to the mini, pouring himself a double bourbon.

“You’re making a mistake.”

Benny’s quiet voice broke into Sonny’s misery. He turned, the tumbler in his hand. “Benny—”

“And I’m not thinking about what just happened here, though Elizabeth Webber is correct. Had you brought her in, told her Jason was all right—there would be a lot less suspicion. She could have backed up Jason being out of town. The police are all over this. Digging into everything.  Because Jason broke pattern, and he left her hanging.”

“We had to make everyone think he was out of commission—”

“You’re creating problems we don’t need. Jason is loyal to you. He’s proved that.” Benny tapped the papers he was covering. “And he wouldn’t agree to do what you’re planning.”

“They’re not making a move. They’re not taking advantage of Jason’s absence,” Sonny muttered, even as the disgust licked at his throat. He was sick to his stomach just thinking about it. “They don’t think he’s hurt enough. They will when we’re done.”

“And when Jason comes back?” Benny asked. “When he finds out what you’ve done? How will you ever justify it?”

“I don’t have to justify anything,” Sonny snapped. “Someone is coming after me. You know why they went for Jason? To get at me. To make it easier to get to me. They already came for Carly. Who’s next? Who is my family, huh? Courtney? Mike?” Sonny shook his head. “No, they won’t go for them. They’ll go for Elizabeth. For Michael. For the people I chose to make my family. Elizabeth can hate me all she wants. Jason can hate me, too. But I’m doing this for them.”

“Sonny—”

“And if you don’t agree, well then…” Sonny shrugged. “I’ll find someone who does. This is going to happen.”

Benny hesitated for a long moment. “It’s too late to stop it now,” he admitted. “If they think Jason is just hiding—they might get desperate enough to try to draw him out.”

“That’s right,” Sonny muttered. “They’ll go after Elizabeth or Michael next to make sure Jason is gone. I gotta stop that. I gotta keep that from happening. How long?”

“Maybe three days to make the arrangements. Another day or two to plant the evidence. Do you think they’ll wait that long?”

“Keep the guards on Elizabeth and Michael. Especially Elizabeth. She’s the easiest target. No one takes kids unless they have to.” Sonny hesitated. “I don’t like this anymore than you do, Benny. But you don’t stay alive in this business unless you make the tough decisions.”

Benny didn’t look convinced, but he sat down and returned to his paperwork while Sonny tossed back the double bourbon, hoping the burning liquid would wash away the disgust and the shame.

It didn’t.