July 19, 2018

After around thirty months of Becky, pink, and blue, we’re moving on to a Liason themed layout with bright bold orange, red, and blue! There are a few kinks I’m working out. Let me know if you have any issues with any of the pages or if the colors don’t work for you. I’m excited to have a new layout finally! I don’t adore the header (I mostly like it, but I think I can do better) so it may change at some point.

I also figured out the alignment issues in my theme so that I can bring back these little themed photos. I used them for the first year or so you could tell at a glance what stories were updated.  I’ll be back this weekend I hope with either Smoke and Mirrors or maybe a Micro Fiction.

July 18, 2018

Welcome to another Wednesday! First, a quick update as to how Mad World is going. I’ve slowed down writing, as I said in my last post, but I’m still writing. I’m in the middle of Chapter 15, and I have the entire weekend mostly free so I’m going to get a lot done. I’m still writing an average of 3000-4000 words a day, I’m just not always finishing entire chapters.

I am also hoping to update Smoke and Mirrors this week. While I said I would be winging it and updating it whenever, I didn’t mean to let six weeks lapse between chapters! So this week or next, I want to spend some time updating that.

In other site news, I’m working on a new theme–this current one has been up since February  2016 and I think we’re all ready for a new look.

A few weeks ago, CG became affiliated with Stecky.org, the amazing Steve & Becky site! I just forgot to post about it. You can find their link in the sidebar.

And now what you came here for! Bittersweet, Chapter 24 is now live. We have seven chapters and an epilogue left, so as of right now, Bittersweet is scheduled to conclude in the first week of September.

I am working on getting it updated at Road to Nowhere now that I can post there again. I’m trying to do two chapters a day until we’re current.

This entry is part of 24 in the series Bittersweet

Oh yeah everything’s all wrong yeah
Everything’s all wrong yeah
Stranger than your sympathy
I take these things so I don’t feel
And all these thoughts from the inside out
Now my head’s been filled with doubt
Sympathy, Goo Goo Dolls


 Friday, September 20, 2002

 Quartermaine Mansion: Foyer

Courtney closed her cell phone and stared at it for a long moment. She hated this. She hated every minute of this.

Michael had cried until he’d decided that Jason would come back like his mommy—and how much longer until he could talk to his mother? AJ had tried to keep it together. Had wanted to check in on his family, so they’d packed Michael up and come to the mansion.

But AJ wasn’t letting it out. Wasn’t talking to her. Wasn’t talking to anyone really. Just sitting with his grandmother in the garden today, sharing old stories of Jason. Alan and Monica had gone to work, trying to be normal.

Trying to forget.

And Courtney wasn’t really sure what she was supposed to be doing here.

“Courtney?”

She turned to find Ned stepping out of the foyer. “Oh. Hey. What’s—what’s up?” She tucked her phone in her back pocket. “Do you guys need anything? I can—”

“We’re okay.” He closed the door behind him. “I left AJ and Grandmother out there, so I can check on Grandfather, but I overheard you on the phone with Gia. I didn’t want to intrude.”

“Oh. No, it’s okay.” Courtney bit her lip. “Gia’s just worried. Elizabeth has been a lot like Alan and Monica since Jason went missing. She was trying to keep breathing, to stop herself from thinking the worst, but now the worst has happened—” She stopped. “I’m rambling.”

“You’re worried about AJ. And I imagine you’re pretty worried about Elizabeth.” Ned folded his arms. “It hasn’t hit him yet, you know? This summer—I think he came as close as he ever probably would to having his brother back and that’s…” Ned looked away. “It’s gone. I have a little brother, too. He’s much younger than me, but I love him. I can’t imagine—” He shook his head.

“I figure it’s gotta be harder for you guys,” Courtney said after a moment. “I mean, it’s not even the first time you’ve lost Jason.”

Ned nodded. “Yeah, I think that’s—that’s what makes this so awful. We lost Jason Quartermaine, and God, I don’t think we ever let Jason Morgan forget it. He ran away from this family because of it. And a lot of other reasons, but that was part of it. You know…” He rubbed his chest absently. “We told ourselves it was a matter of time. He made his choices, this was how it was supposed to be—we all expected him to die violently—” His voice failed. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.” Courtney folded her arms tightly under her breath. “I didn’t—I only know Jason through AJ and Elizabeth, so I’m sad. But it’s for you guys. And for her. Because he seemed like a nice guy. And even if he had a dangerous lifestyle, it doesn’t make it easier for the people who loved him.”

“No.” Ned exhaled slowly. “No, it doesn’t. Have you spoken to Elizabeth? Grandmother asked about her—”

“She’s…managing,” Courtney said. “Gia’s with her. I just…I don’t know how she’s going to do this. He just…he just asked her to move in with him. She was so happy—” Her voice broke. “Sorry. It’s not even—this just sucks.”

“Yeah, yeah it does.” Ned touched her shoulder lightly. “For what it’s worth, it gives my grandmother comfort knowing he was happy at the end. Elizabeth was good for him, and I’m just sorry they didn’t get to see where it would go. You let me know if she needs anything, all right?”

“Yeah, thanks Ned.”

“And don’t worry about Junior. He’s done a lot of work in the last year or so. He’s battled his demons—I’m not saying he’s won completely, but he’s…. settled. You gave him that, Courtney—”

She shook her head. “He likes to say that, too, but I’m not some kind of miracle. I’m just a girl who rushed into marriage with a man she barely knew on a hope and prayer. We both got lucky it’s working. But Jason told him—he told him at the chip ceremony that AJ did the work. He’s the one that didn’t take a drink.” Her lip trembled. “It meant the world to him that Jason was there, but to say that—God, I don’t think Jason ever knew what he did for AJ that night.”

Ned dipped his head and took another deep breath. “They were so close once. I like to think they could have been again.” He cleared his throat. “I should check on Grandfather.”

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Quartermaine Mansion: Foyer

Elizabeth smiled briefly at Alice, the maid, who directed her to the garden where Lila, Courtney, and Emily were having tea.

And then she couldn’t quite bring herself to cross through the family room out onto the terrace and into the garden.

Because until now, she had been able to stay in a bubble, inside her own world at the Brownstone with Bobbie and Gia.

But she wasn’t the only person who had lost Jason, and she would have to share her pain with others. She had to, because hiding her grief and running from it three years ago had been the wrong choice.

“Elizabeth?”

She turned to find AJ emerging from the dining room. “Oh. Hey.”

“Hey.” He approached her, his hands in his pockets. “I won’t ask how you’re doing. It’s a stupid question, and—I can see it.”

“Yeah?” Elizabeth asked with a sigh. “Am I that transparent?”

“You’re thinking about how to keep it together for Grandmother and my sister. So that Courtney doesn’t have to worry about you, too. Or am I just…projecting?” He shrugged. “Because what’s what I’ve been doing since the second—” AJ looked down. “Anyway. I wanted to call, but Courtney said you were mostly…keeping to yourself.”

“Yeah, for the last two days.” Elizabeth crossed her arms, closed her eyes. “I fell asleep for the first time last night. Bobbie wanted to have Tony give me a prescription for something, but I didn’t want to close my eyes. I didn’t want to wake up in a world and know—I could lie to myself when he was just missing. But I can’t now.”

Her eyes burned as the first tear slid down her cheek. “He’s not here, and I just—I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. How to breathe. I guess it doesn’t matter, because I keep doing it. But it’s like every breath I take is…. a shock. How can I breathe without him?”

Elizabeth wiped her tears as AJ said nothing. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—I’m okay. I mean, I’m not. I’m…managing—”

“There were a couple of moments there that I thought…” AJ said slowly, “this summer…I mean…I thought if Jason and I had enough time…maybe we could be brothers again. It was a stupid dream, and I know he’d never claim me that way. But I thought it. And I just—it’s never gonna happen now. He’s my little brother and he’s gone, and I can’t seem to wrap my head around it.”

“I know. I’ve been through this. I know what the shock feels like, but somehow—” She shook her head. “It still feels brand-new.” She managed a short laugh. “My grandmother called this morning. She…she called a few days ago, too, but I ignored it. I almost ignored it again this morning, but for some reason, I wanted to hear her voice, and you know what she said? She said…it was hard to believe it right now, but that there would someone else someday. I mean, hadn’t I learned that after Lucky was gone?”

“God.” Elizabeth dug her heels into her eyes. “Like it’s the same. I was a teenager. This—this is different. This—I don’t know how to explain it. She, of all people, ought to know you can’t compare grief.”

She exhaled slowly. “I should get out to the garden before they send a search party.” She hesitated. “I’m sorry, I didn’t even ask about Michael—”

AJ shrugged. “We talked to a counselor yesterday. Right now, Michael is convinced it’s going to be like Carly.” He rubbed his temple with his thumb. “That we’re all just mistaken. It’ll sink in for him. Or it won’t. He’s almost six, but…”

“One day, he won’t even remember Jason,” Elizabeth murmured. Her chest ached, and she just wanted to go home. To curl up in her bed, draw the curtain, and ignore the world.

But that wouldn’t solve anything. Wouldn’t make it better.

“God, I hate knowing that’s true.” AJ cleared his throat, looked away as his eyes glittered. “You need anything, Liz. You just let me know.”

Quartermaine Mansion: Terrace

Emily’s eyes were swollen and rimmed with red, while Lila was clutching a handkerchief in her hand. Courtney was quiet, solemn.

And Elizabeth wanted to be anywhere else.

“Elizabeth.” Her best friend rose to her feet and crossed to the doorway. “Oh, God.”

“Hey.” Elizabeth closed her eyes, struggled to keep back the flood of tears that threatened to swallow her whole. She had to get through this moment. Had to get through this day.

She clung to Emily for just a moment before stepping back. “It’s good to see you but I wish it were for any other reason.”

“Yeah.” Emily swallowed as they sat down on the long iron bench adjacent to Lila’s wheel chair.

“Mrs. Quartermaine,” Elizabeth said as she took one of Lila’s delicate hands in hers. “Hey.”

“Oh, my darling—” Lila’s voice was thin and shaky. “Thank you for coming. I cannot imagine—” She closed her eyes. “I just cannot accept any of this is real.”

Elizabeth dragged the heel of her hand under her eyes, sweeping away her tears. “I know. I keep thinking it’s a nightmare I’m gonna wake up from, but…then I realize it’s not.”

“I talked to him just a few weeks ago—” Emily managed, her voice raw. “He sounded…God, Elizabeth, he was happy. You made him so happy.”

“Thank you,” Lila murmured. “For giving him that. It hurts so very much right now, my darling. But someday, knowing the love you brought to one another, it will bring comfort.”

She closed her eyes. Pressed her hands to the lids. “I want to believe that. I just can’t seem to think past right now. It hurts so much.”

Emily wrapped an arm around her shoulder, and Elizabeth leaned into her. “I can’t even pretend it’s going to be okay,” Emily said softly. “Because I can’t accept that it ever will be. It’s not supposed to be this way.”

It is for me, Elizabeth very nearly said, but she could hear the wallowing in those words, the self-pity, and she bit them back. Emily and Lila didn’t need her devastation. They had their own.

But she was never going to be allowed to be happy for more than a moment in time, and it was time Elizabeth learned to accept that. If she could just stop…dreaming she deserved more, maybe the fall wouldn’t hurt so damn much.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Kelly’s: Diner

Bobbie touched Gia’s shoulder. “You mind if I take this seat?” she asked indicating the chair across from her. “I wanted to grab a quick lunch between shifts at the hospital.”

“Oh, yeah.” Gia pushed her notebook aside. “I have a class in an hour, so…” She shrugged. “Not that I can seem to concentrate. I mean, it’s stupid. I didn’t lose anyone. Jason didn’t even like me all that much.”

“You’re an acquired taste,” Bobbie said with a small. She gave her order to Penny and sighed. “I can’t tell if Elizabeth is managing or pretending to manage. She’s always been good at putting up a front.”

“She keeps it together for a while, and then something breaks her down. It’s only been three days, so I think she’s still kind of in shock.” Gia picked up her iced tea and sipped it. “I feel like this is my fault. I pushed her at him.”

“Gia—”

“She wanted to lie to herself, to pretend she wasn’t interested, and I forced her to admit that she was. I told myself I was just living up to our promise, you know? No more lies, not to each other and really not to ourselves. I told her I didn’t care if she pursued him, but she shouldn’t lie to herself.”

“And what? You think it made it worse because she—she lost him—” Bobbie caught her breath. Pressed a fist to her chest. “I’m sorry. It’s still…it’s catching me. I didn’t—I loved him like one of my own, and I just—I keep expecting him to walk through the doors. To come to the Brownstone.”

“I tried to tell her at least she had this time, but how much more did it suck that she got a taste of what it could be like?” Gia’s eyes burned. “I hate this. I hate this caring about people bullshit. I should have just seduced him or something. She’d hate me for that, and then I wouldn’t care, and I wouldn’t feel like shit—”

“That wouldn’t have solved anything.”

“No, but—” Gia sighed. “I don’t know. I just—I don’t think I pushed her like everyone did with Lucky last year. I don’t feel like that. I just didn’t want her to…lie to herself. And then when she admitted it, yeah, I kept encouraging it, I guess. You know, maybe I was jealous. I wanted someone like that, you know?”

“Someone like what?”

“Someone whose entire existence is made better because you’re there. You know how he looked at her, how he talked to her, about her. The way he was around her.” Gia sighed, pushed her French fries around her plate. “She had this chance at that kind of love, and I didn’t think she should throw it away. Nikolas, even when it was good, he never looked at me like that. Like the world disappeared when we were together. I wanted that in my life, so I pushed her towards it, and I just…I feel like what she’s going through is my fault.”

“It’s tempting to think…it would have hurt less if they hadn’t been dating,” Bobbie said slowly. “But I wonder if it would have given her more anguish…to know she had lost that chance forever. I think…I think we regret the roads we don’t take more than the ones we do.”

“I guess.”

“You’re hurting for your friend, Gia. That’s not a bad thing. She was happy, and now she’s not. And…maybe one day…this summer will be a comforting memory.” Bobbie pressed her lips together for a moment. “She had him for a brief moment, but it was a shining moment. And… before Jason died—” She couldn’t finish. Had to start again. “At the end, she brought him love and joy.”

“I wish I could believe that,” Gia said slowly. “But all I can think of is that…she had that before. With Lucky. Why the hell would the universe do this to her again?”

“Well…that I can’t answer.” Bobbie sighed. “I don’t know why the universe does anything. When I lost my BJ, my darling, sweet, amazing BJ—I still had Lucas. But it wasn’t the same. Having another child didn’t fill the hole, didn’t mend the pain. The universe gave me another daughter.”

“Yeah, the universe was feeling pretty salty that day,” Gia muttered. “Sorry—”

“I love my daughter because I gave birth to her,” Bobbie said slowly.  “I forgave her for what she had done to my marriage because I recognized that same self-destructive streak in her that I have fought against my entire life. I could understand the way her mind worked. The way she just reacted—the damage she could do. I could live with all of that because I knew she had inherited it from me—”

“And you’ve been blaming yourself for Carly ever since,” Gia said bluntly. “I get Carly. I used to be Carly. I used to hate the world—” She stopped. “My brother left home when I was still a kid. I’m a lot younger than him—I think you know that. When he left, things didn’t stay okay. My mom was always looking for another guy to fill the space that Marcus’s father, that my father had left her—”

“Gia—”

“It doesn’t matter.” Gia shook her head. “I learned to look out for myself. To always put myself first, because I was damn sure the only one who could. I thought what I wanted meant more than anyone else. Carly’s like that, Bobbie. Except she managed to hook up with a bunch of people who just excuse that kind of selfishness as a character flaw. As something to overlook. I hated Elizabeth. You know that. I did awful things to her. Said them to her face. Behind her back.”

Bobbie’s eyes softened. “Gia, she doesn’t—”

“Because I didn’t see her, you know? I just saw the way everyone else reacted to her. They treated her like this precious porcelain that belonged to Lucky Spencer, and Laura was bending over backwards to give her the modeling contract that I damn well deserved—I knew about Tom Baker. And I used it against her.”

Bobbie exhaled slowly. Sat back and just looked at her. “That’s pretty cold.”

“Yep. And I didn’t have a problem with that. She wasn’t right for the job. I was. Take what you want, that was my motto. And then I overheard Nikolas and Lucky talking about her the day of the wedding. Talking about how Lucky didn’t love her anymore, but he owed her this. And I just got pissed off. Because everyone had lied to me, and I was supposed to swallow it to go along with it. But now they were lying again. So, I went to her because I wanted to throw it in her face.”

She paused, took a sip of water. “I wanted to show her I was a better person. That I wouldn’t keep her in the fucking dark like she did to me. And so, I told her with hatred in my heart that her precious Lucky didn’t even love her. That he only pitied her. Like she was a dog.”

“What happened then?” Bobbie asked quietly.

“She looked at me, with tears in her eyes, and she thanked me. She said she’d been having her doubts, but that she thought she owed this to Lucky. But now…now I had set her free. She didn’t have to sacrifice her life anymore. I was going to shove her face in it, but she looked at me like I was doing her a favor. Like I was some kind of sign from the universe.”

“And three days later, you asked to rent the apartment from me. To live together.” Bobbie tipped her head. “What changed?”

“I stopped looking at her as the enemy, and she stopped seeing me as the bitch who blackmailed her best friend. Because being with Nikolas had only made me more selfish, and I was starting to hate myself. When I realized that I had gone into that room to destroy Elizabeth’s life just because I didn’t like her—I knew I was taking it too far. I didn’t want to be that girl anymore. She didn’t want to be who she was either. So, we figured, fuck it, let’s try and save each other.”

“It’s not your fault, Gia, that Elizabeth is hurting right now.”

“And it’s not your fault, Bobbie, that Carly is who she is. You gave her love, compassion. Understanding. A place to raise her son. What else were you supposed to do to keep this from happening?”

Bobbie closed her eyes. “I can’t look at her. I haven’t seen her much since Jason went missing. She’s avoiding me, and that means she’s involved. Somehow, someway. And she knows I’m at the end of my rope.”  She sighed. “But you’re right. This isn’t my fault either. I have to let her fall. Let her hit rock bottom. She needs to have that moment, Gia, where she doesn’t like that person she sees in the mirror. And right now, she’s still the victim. It’s still someone else’s fault. Someone else’s responsibility to fix.”

“Until that stops, there’s nothing you can do.”

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Elm Street Pier

Elizabeth stepped off the last stair and turned to the left. There it was. The bench where she and Jason had sat so often in those early days. Where she had poured her heart out.

Where he had left her only months later.

Where they had been reunited.

Where she had betrayed him for the first time when she had thought he had attacked Lucky.

She sat down and looked out over the harbor, out at Spoon Island. She hadn’t thought about Nikolas Cassadine in months. He still lived out there. Still lived in Port Charles. But he was removed from her life, and she grieved for that. They had been through hell together once, and she’d thought that meant she was important.

That she deserved honesty. And respect.

She knew Gia was back at the apartment, her classes completed for the day. She knew she had to really go home. To try and do some of the studying she’d been ignoring. Pretending to do. If she was going to use her degree to distract her, it was probably time…to actually use it as a distraction.

But she just couldn’t.

If she tried to bury her grief, it would drown her. She knew that. She had to get through it. She had to live it, but…

Jason was dead. He was dead. They were having a memorial tomorrow, burying him on Friday. Three weeks after she’d last seen him, he would be in the ground.

Jason was dead.

And she still couldn’t wrap her mind around that.

Dead.

It was the first time, even in her own mind, that she had acknowledged it. Jason was dead. Shot to death in some filthy warehouse. Left to rot in the harbor. His funeral would require a closed casket—

A sob bubbled out of her throat and she fought it back. She was tired of losing it. Tired of the tears. They didn’t change anything.

There were some footsteps just around the corner, where the pier met Bannister’s Wharf. And then she saw the figure that bled out of the early evening shadows.

Zander Smith walked towards her, hands in the pockets of a light jacket, his dark hair cut short.  She hadn’t seen him since the bar fight, since Jason had told her he’d been fired and gone to Miami.

He stopped in front her. “Hey. I—I didn’t expect to run into you here.”

She frowned. Narrowed her eyes. “I thought you left Port Charles.”

“I did.” Zander swallowed hard. “I had to. It was…” He looked away, shaking his head. “I kept looking around, seeing Emily, and hating it. I wasn’t good enough for her, but I wanted to be. And every day I was here, I was reminded of that.”

Elizabeth slowly got to her feet. “Why do you think I’d care—”

“Because I was an asshole to you, and Morgan—” He closed his mouth. “I got what I deserved, but I—my boss set me up in Miami. And so, I heard about him. And I knew…I just…I knew Emily would be home—”

“You thought you’d come back, try to slide into her good graces?” Elizabeth demanded.

“Listen—”

“You are nothing,” she hissed. “Nothing. You’re not half the man Jason is—was—” Her voice broke. “I wish it were you. I don’t understand why it’s not. How can you be alive and someone like Jason—”

Zander just stared at her. “I know you’re upset, but c’mon, I only—I only bothered you for a like a minute. Why—”

“Because he’s dead. And you’re here. Trying to use it like he was just—an obstacle.” She strode towards him and shoved him. Hard. He fell back a few steps. “You think you can worm your way back into Emily’s life—what, is Sonny next? Do you think that Jason is gone, and you can just step right back in? Back to your goddamn corner office and promotion?”

“What the hell—”

“He’s dead—” Elizabeth whirled away, dragged her hands through hair, trying to draw back some of the anger. “And you’re like a fucking scavenger. A vulture here to pick at the pieces before his body is even cold.” She faced him again. “What is wrong with you?” she cried.

“Look, I never—” Zander shook his head. “I don’t want to make this worse for you. I’m sorry. I didn’t—” He looked away. “I’ll send Emily a letter or something. I was gonna go tomorrow, but I don’t—it’s not worth it. I’m sorry, Elizabeth.

“You’re only sorry he ever came home and screwed up your cozy life,” she snarled. “Go to hell.”

“You know what?” Zander shot back, his face flushing. “I had it right the first time—you’re a fucking bitch—”

“Back off!” The unexpected growl came from the top of the stairs, and Elizabeth saw just a blur as Lucky Spencer took the steps two at a time and shoved himself between the two of them. “What the hell is wrong with you, you piece of shit?”

“Oh, of course.” Zander sneered. “Here you are. Think you’re going to lap up Jason’s leavings? She’ll just jump back to you like she jumped to Jason—”

Lucky took Zander by the collar, his knuckles white. “Walk away. You stay away from that memorial tomorrow. You stay away from Emily, from Elizabeth. From all of us.”

“Go to hell,” the other man growled, but he jerked away from Lucky and stalked in the opposite direction, the way he came.

Lucky turned back to Elizabeth, dragging his hand through his hair. “Hey. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—”

“What are you—” Elizabeth cleared her throat, trying to process his presence. “I thought you were in New York.”

“Emily called when Jason went missing…and then she told me—” Lucky swallowed. “It’s not what Zander said, I’m not trying—I just…”

He waited a moment, trying to gather his thoughts. “Emily told me what happened, and all I could think was that I had to make sure you were—I don’t know. That you weren’t alone. We were friends for so long, Elizabeth. You held me together when my entire family fell apart. Every time my world fell apart, you were there. Even when it hurt you.”

“Lucky—”

“So, I just…I don’t know. I wanted to be here for Emily, too, but I just—I wanted to try to see if I could be a friend to you again.” Lucky hesitated. “So here I am.”

“Okay.” Elizabeth folded her arms tightly. She looked back out over the lake as the sun set behind them, casting the Gothic mansion into shadows. “We’re burying him in two days, Lucky. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to do this again,” she admitted.

He put his arm around her shoulders, and for just a minute, she could remember what it had been like once to lean on him. To trust that he would be there for her.

“The thing about you, Elizabeth Imogene Webber,” he said, and smiled when she grimaced at the sound of her hated middle name, “is that you never give yourself enough credit. But let me say that it’s bullshit that you even have to do this again.”

She sighed and let him walk her towards the steps and away from the bench.

July 16, 2018

Hey! If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve slowed down a bit writing Mad World. Not in a bad way–I’ve still written about 11 chapters in 16 days. That’s still a big improvement, so I’m not going to criticize myself because I haven’t written 12 pages every single day.

Back in December/January, as I worked to finish Bittersweet, I realized I had taken the story in a slight direction I didn’t think Jason would ever agree to. What happens in Chapter 23 was originally going to be something Jason planned with Sonny, and the real conflict would only be that Sonny lied to Liz. But I just realized as I was writing the fall out of the whole thing that I don’t buy Jason would do it. So I went back and rewrote Ch. 20-25 (which is why I ended up not finishing Bittersweet on schedule last year).

Now that we’ve finally gotten to the portion of the story I rewrote, there are some scenes here that I still really liked and I didn’t want to lose completely. There are about two chapters worth, so if you’re interested, here’s the first half, which covers most of Ch 20-23: Deleted Scenes.

In other news, I’ve been looking over my Fiction Graveyard notes, and obviously, you might be aware that I still haven’t finished re-posting all the material. Stuff the remains to be posted:

Poisonous Dreams, Version 1 (The OG A Few Words Too Many)
Shatter (a half-assed abandoned sequel to Jaded)
Aurora Dawning, Version 1
Inside Your Fear
Sing Me a Lullaby


And this is my yearly call for any missing stories I wrote in 2003. There are three long stories missing, two of which were complete, and one of which I’ve only recently remembered. There are a handful of shorts missing that I don’t even remember the name of anymore, sadly.  The first two of these were posted at The Canvas, and did exist in the archives at one point. The original board archives, not the separate ones created later.

One Day at Work – AU hostage situation.
In the Middle – AU Challenge response in which Liz played the Robin role in the Jason/Robin/Carly 1996-97 stuff.
Troubled Waters – a version of panic room fall out from fall 2003. It was going to be an alternate version of GH, and I was posting it on an ezboard site that was separate from TC, though I think I cross-posted it sometimes. My computer crashed, and the story got lost in the mix and fell off my radar.

 

I’ll be back on Wednesday with Bittersweet, Chapter 24!

July 11, 2018

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Bittersweet - Deleted Scenes

When I initially wrote Chapters 20-25, I had intended for Jason to decide to fake his death, a la Sonny in 2002. Sonny was supposed to tell Liz the truth but he lied to her, and Jason didn’t know Liz didn’t know. I ran into an issue with it because the more I wrote, the less I believed Jason would ever agree to the plan in the first place. At least, my Jason.

But I wrote A LOT of stuff using that story — I wrote about seven chapters. A lot of it got recycled, but some of it didn’t make the cut. Some of it was okay —  I think the direction I decided to take the story is a lot better and gives me more options character wise. I think what I did with Sonny, in particular, was way more interesting and uses more of his history.

So the scenes in this chapter were cut reactions — Jason was supposed to be declared dead that night in September, rather than going missing as he did in the final version. The timeline was a bit more stretched out. I have more I can post after maybe…two or three more chapters. But this content is everything that got cut from Chapters 20-23, and takes place between September 6-12, 2002.


Kelly’s: Diner

“You think Jason is going to take Carly’s side after all?” Courtney asked as she joined Elizabeth behind the counter. They were winding down the dinner rush—a rush that had lasted, for some reason, until nearly ten that night. The diner was filled with dock workers she’d never seen before and who had lingered.

“Courtney—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I don’t know why Jason canceled the appointment. Didn’t he tell AJ he would explain everything later?”

“Yeah, but…sorry.” Courtney started another pot of coffee. “Sorry, I know you’re over all this Carly crap.”

“It’s not that. It’s—” she shrugged. “I’m going to trust that Jason has this under control. Besides, he’ll be here around midnight and he’ll tell me what’s going on.” She turned to include Gia in the conversation. “And…it looks like you’ll be living alone in the near future.”

“Jason asked you to move in with him?” Gia asked with raised brows. “We’ve forgiven him enough for this?”

“We’re going to discuss it. It’s a good step, Gia. And I’m excited. We’re not putting our lives on hold for Carly’s bullshit. We’re…we’re going to move forward.” Elizabeth’s smile bloomed into a full-fledged grin. “It’s the first time in almost two weeks I’ve felt…good about all of this. So whatever Jason has planned, Courtney,  I’m not worried. I trust him.”

“Well, if you’re confident, then I am, too,” Courtney said with a nod. “Okay. Let’s talk about you and Jason living together. Because that is a good news and I want to enjoy it.”

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Sonny stepped up to the door of the diner, peered through the glass windows, took in the scene, and then let his hand fall from the handle.

“Sir—” Benny put a hand on his shoulder. “You want me…to go in? Pull her aside? If she sees your face, she’s gonna know something’s wrong—”

“No.” Sonny cleared his throat. Forced the words out. “No. I—I, ah, I can do this, Benny. I can—” He looked at his business manager. “It should be me.”

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Elizabeth checked her watch before rolling her eyes at Gia. “How can you possibly be failing your class already? It’s been five minutes since the semester started.” She snapped her fingers as Gia ignored her question and concentrated on the newscast blaring from the television they kept behind the counter.

Courtney grimaced as the bell over the door rang. “If that’s another customer—”

But it wasn’t.

Elizabeth frowned as Sonny strode in, Benny Abrams behind him. Both men were a bit…more sober than usual. Were they looking for Jason?

“Hey, Sonny. Coffee?” she asked, moving towards the carafe.

They stopped in the middle of the room. And just looked at her. Sonny’s eyes dark. Worried.

“Elizabeth…” Gia murmured, as she straightened. “Hey. Let’s—” She stopped as a breaking news alert banner slid across the newscast. “Oh, God.”

“Sonny.” Elizabeth walked around the counter to meet Sonny halfway. She wouldn’t jump to conclusions, even as everything inside her started to scream. “What’s going on?”

“Elizabeth,” Sonny started. Then he stopped. Swallowed.

“Are—are you looking for Jason? He’s not—he’s at the warehouse—” Her eyes darted between the two men.

And behind them, she heard Gia swear. Heard glass shatter behind her.

“Jason is supposed to pick me up.”

Behind Sonny, Bobbie rushed in, Carly on her heels. “Sonny—” Bobbie said, throwing a hand up at Carly who began to speak.

Their faces were ravaged with tears.

“Jason is picking me up,” Elizabeth continued, but she already felt…outside of this. She was speaking, but she didn’t know how she was forming the words. “We’re going to move in together.”

“Elizabeth—”

Gia and Courtney stepped up behind her. She could feel them behind her, their warmth seeping into her. She was cold. Why she was so cold?

“There—” Sonny’s voice broke. “He was shot.”

Shot. Elizabeth could deal with that. “He’s at the hospital. I’ll—Gia, can you get my purse—”

“Elizabeth—”

“Sonny,” Carly managed, but Sonny turned and sent her a dirty look which shut Carly up.

Later…later Gia would relate these details to her, but at the moment…Elizabeth just stared straight ahead.

Because this wasn’t happening. Not again. Oh, God. Not Again. “No,” she said firmly. “He’s at the hospital. Is he in surgery?”

Sonny dipped his head, looked down for a moment. Took a deep breath. “He didn’t make it to the hospital, Elizabeth. They called me—”

“We heard it on the news, baby,” Bobbie said now, stepping forward. Stepping past Sonny. “It’s—real—”

“No.” Elizabeth shook her head. “No. No, no, no.”  This was all a dream. Wasn’t it? Was it real? How was any of this happening?

She felt Gia’s arm around her shoulder. “Liz,” her roommate began. “Let’s—”

“I don’t believe it,” Elizabeth managed. Started forward. “I have to see him. I have—I don’t believe—”

Sonny took her shoulders, gripping them with his hands. “It’s not—he wouldn’t want you to—” His voice broke again. “The shot was to his—”

Elizabeth moaned. Swayed. She dipped again, but this time, Gia and Courtney got her to a chair.

“Sir,” Benny said, softly. “Sir, maybe this isn’t—”

Carly was sobbing across the diner, but Elizabeth couldn’t hear anything. Couldn’t breath. Couldn’t think.

Sonny knelt in front of her again. Had she gone back in time? Dimly, she felt her hair. It was still short. Not long. It wasn’t 1999.

The smell of smoke wasn’t choking her throat. There were no flames flickering in the distance.

So it must be today. How could it be today? How could any of this—

“Elizabeth, do you want a ride home?” His eyes were wet, his voice rusted. “What do you need?”

Need. What did she need? Did she need anything? She needed Jason.

Oh, God. Again. It was happening again.

“I’ll take care of it,” Gia said softly. “I’ll get her home—”

“If she needs anything—”

“I’ll close,” Courtney said to Bobbie, her voice thick. “But I need to get to—”

“Call Don. And Penny. You should both be—” Bobbie pressed a fist to her mouth. “You should both be with family. They’ll have seen the news—”

“Bobbie—” Sonny stood. Touched Bobbie’s elbow. “What can I do—”

“You’ve done enough,” Bobbie said shortly, dismissing him. “I’m sure you have other things you need to be doing.”

She, along with Gia, pulled Elizabeth to her feet, and Elizabeth followed. She couldn’t—she couldn’t breathe.

“Carly—” Bobbie looked at her weeping daughter.

“I’ll—” Carly swallowed. “I’ll find my own way home. Mama—”

But Bobbie and Gia were already through the door, Benny holding the door open to them as they gently guided Elizabeth out the door.

Sonny watched them go, his heart heavy. He hadn’t wanted any of this, but—he looked at Carly. Hatred mingled with disgust. “You got your revenge,” he said in a low voice. “You said you’d make him pay for taking your son.”

“You’re lying,” Carly said, brokenly. “He wasn’t supposed to—”

“Things don’t always go the way we plan, do they?” Sonny demanded. “Get away from me, Carly. You and I are done.”

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Sonny sipped his bourbon, his hands trembling as he set the tumbler back on the mini bar.  Behind him, he heard the door open and Max announce Benny Abrams had arrived.

“Benny.” Sonny turned. “What’s…what’s the word?”

“Well, it’s all over the news,” Benny said as Max closed the door. “Fucking vultures at WKPC didn’t wait more than five minutes before they headed to the Brownstone. Practically shoving cameras in Elizabeth’s face—”

“Benny.” Sonny hesitated. “They got inside okay, though?”

“Yeah, um, Bobbie got her inside. I called Bobbie, asked if she wanted any of our guys to keep the street clear. Asked about Elizabeth.”

“How—” he cleared his throat. Forced the words out. “How’s she doing?”

“Bobbie said she was doing as well as could be expected. She left her with Gia. Declined our offer to help.” Benny hesitated. “Sir, I work for you. I take orders from you, but—”

“I’m not…this isn’t how I planned it,” he murmured.

“It didn’t need—it didn’t need to be so public, Sonny. We could have taken her aside. Arranged for her to get home privately—”

“Benny—what’s going on with the guys? What’s happening on the street?”

“About what you expect. Grief. Turmoil. Worry. They think this is an escalation of problems we’ve been having. Some…confusion as to why Jason went to a warehouse by himself.” Benny sighed. “Oh, and…” He reached into his pocket. “The burner cell you wanted.”

“Thanks.” Sonny took it from him. Checked the time. “Cutting it close, aren’t you?”

“Isn’t that the story of the day?” his manager muttered as the phone vibrated in Sonny’s hand.

Sonny took a deep breath, flipped it open. “Hey.”

“Hey. Did it—” Jason’s voice was rough. “I saw some of the coverage from the safe house. They—the reporters are all over her. She looked upset. Did you get to her in time?”

“Ah, yeah. I got to her before she saw the reports.” Sonny looked at Benny, who just grimaced. “Everything went according to plan. Benny says there’s no doubts on the street. And…we just gotta lay low. I know you hate this plan, Jason. It’s just—it’s the only thing we had available to us with short notice.”

“Yeah, I just hate that my sister is going to have to—my grandmother. And Bobbie. Elizabeth is going to hate lying to all of them.” Jason paused. “I want to see her.”

“It’s not safe—”

“I didn’t get a chance to talk to her first, and this is a lot to ask. I just want—I want to see her, Sonny. Make it happen.”

“I will,” Sonny promised. “As soon as I can. But we gotta play it safe. No point in lying to everyone only to screw it up. Elizabeth is tough. She’ll get through this.”

“Okay.”

Sonny hung up the phone and stared at it. “How long do you think I have before he isn’t asking but demanding to see Elizabeth?”

“If the reports keep looping that footage of her going into the Brownstone or they film her gong into any memorial service—” Benny pressed his lips together. “You didn’t lie to him, Sonny. But none of this is okay.”

“Benny, don’t—” Sonny closed his eyes. “I didn’t lie to him before either. I didn’t…intend to lie at all. But I got to Kelly’s, and it was full of dock workers. Men I damn well knew work for Mickey Roscoe. He put them there because of Elizabeth. They’re watching her. And her grief is going to convince them—”

“The logic makes sense, but Jason is not going to care about any of that. Sonny—”

“Benny, it’s done. Now let’s make it worth it.”

And with that, the disgruntled business manager left, and Sonny poured himself another drink.

Jason scowled as he glared at his phone. “Damn it, Elizabeth, answer the phone,” he muttered. “I won’t do it if she doesn’t know, Sonny.”

“People are going to be watching her—Roscoe isn’t working alone—”

Jason shook his head sharply. “You’re insane if you think I’d agree to do this and lie—

Sonny sighed and paced the length of the room. “I don’t like this anymore than you do, but she’d understand. She knows what you do—”

“She knows—” Jason bit off the words as he dialed the phone again. “I’m telling her, Sonny. Or this isn’t happening—she must have left her phone at home. Or at Jake’s. She never remembers to grab it from the charger. I’ll have to go to Kelly’s—”

Sonny snagged his friend’s elbow as he started out of the room. “There isn’t time. We need to nail down the details. We have an hour to get a hold of the guy at the hospital, to fake the scene, to arrange for paramedics—we have more important—”

Jason shrugged off Sonny’s grip, his eyes flashing. “If you think I am going to fake my death and not tell Elizabeth, Sonny—”

“I don’t like it anymore than you do, but this is the way we do things. Elizabeth damn well knows you can’t tell her what’s going on—”

“That’s bullshit, Sonny. You know there’s no one we can trust more than Elizabeth. After what she’s been through for us—after hiding me in her studio twice, lying to everyone then—”

“That was a small lie, damn it, Jason. She was half in love with you back then, and it was easy to pretend that you were sleeping together. I don’t think she can pull this off—”

Jason’s hands clenched in fists at his side. “I am not for one second letting her think that I am dead—Sonny, either I tell her what’s going on or no one is showing up at this meeting. It’s not negotiable.”

“Jason—”

“If it were Brenda, would you put her through this?” Jason demanded. “You—” He paused. Swallowed. “You knew before I could admit it to myself. You know what she is to me. If I did this to her, if I put her through it, that’s it. She’ll never forgive me.”

Sonny waited a moment. “I think…I think you’re overreacting. She’ll be angry—”

“And even if she did forgive me, she’d never trust me again. And she’d be right not to. I love her, Sonny. And I’m not letting her think I’m dead. You can agree to get on board with this or you can go to hell and fix this bullshit on your own.”

Sonny looked away, took a deep breath, and accepted the inevitable. “All right. All right. But you can’t go to Kelly’s. As far as Roscoe is concerned, Carly did her part. We have to assume we’re being watched her. If either of us leave, we’ll be followed. You go to Kelly’s, pull Elizabeth aside, it’ll look suspicious—”

“I’ll call—”

“No—” Sonny stopped Jason as he pulled out his cell phone again. “I’ll take care of it. I’ll go to Kelly’s. I’ll tell her before the media picks it up. Make it look like a notification—”

“No.” Jason shook his head. “That’s too risky.”

“I’ll look better this way. I’ll go to her after I’ve been notified. I’m your emergency contact. I’ll be called as soon as it goes into motion. I’ll get to her before the media is notified, I’ll pull her aside to give the news. It’ll make it look better.”

Jason hesitated. Doubt was in his eyes as he spoke, “Sonny—”

“Look, I get it—” Sonny pressed a hand to his chest. “You want her in on it. I made my argument. But you made it clear. Let’s do it in  way that makes it look real. If she hears before I get there, it’ll be by minutes. She’ll understand if we tell her as soon as possible. Can—can we please settle the details—”

“Sonny.” Jason paused. “I’m trusting you.”

Sonny lifted the bourbon to his throat and swallowed it on gulp. Jason was right. If Jason lied to her, Elizabeth would never forgive him. So…Sonny had been the one to lie.

He just hoped like hell it was worth it.

Elizabeth & Gia’s Apartment: Living Room

Gia pulled open her door and grimaced. “Marcus, don’t take this the wrong way, but yours is, like, literally the last face I want to see right now.”

Detective Marcus Taggert sighed and nodded. “I get that, Gia. But I gotta talk to her. I figure better me than someone else—and don’t look at me that way. I’m not a monster.”

“That remains to be seen.” Gia stepped back to let her brother in. “You step out of line, and I am going to sue the shit out of the PCPD. I got friends. We know people—”

“Gia—” Elizabeth said from the table, where she sat in one of the chairs, her legs drawn up under her chin. “I know he has to talk to me. Detective,” she said with a tired sigh. “I get it. Let’s just get it over with.”

“I’m watching you,” Gia muttered as Taggert took a seat across from Elizabeth and drew out a small notepad and pencil.

“You know, she used to be my sister,” he said with a half smile. “I’d ask how you’re doing, but that’s a stupid question.”

“I’m…not okay,” Elizabeth admitted. “But I’m…breathing. That’s good enough for now.” She let her legs drop to the floor and leaned forward, ignoring the cold toast and coffee Gia had tried to feed her. “Go ahead and ask me what you need to.”

“All right. Let’s start with the easy stuff. When was the last time you talked to Jason?” he asked.

“Yesterday, just before eleven. I was working a double yesterday, twelve to twelve. But I wanted to come in early and do some paperwork.” Elizabeth sighed, rubbed her forehead. “So Jason dropped me off. He was going to the warehouse. It’s the end of the fiscal year—” Her voice broke. “I’m sorry. We just—we were talking about about the end of the year, about the books for the warehouse. He asked me if I wanted him to check Kelly’s things. To m-make sure I hadn’t messed up the math. He likes to tease me about—” She pressed her lips together. “Anyway. That’s the last time I talked to him.”

Taggert hesitated. “We pulled his cell phone records, Elizabeth. He made a series of phone calls to you yesterday afternoon. You—you didn’t talk to him—?”

Elizabeth sat up straight. “What? He called—”

But Gia was already standing up, looking inside Elizabeth’s purse for her phone. “It’s not in here—”

“I—” Elizabeth pressed a fist to her mouth for a moment. Oh, God. She could have talked to him one more time and she’d missed it. “I’m really bad at remembering to grab it sometimes. It’s…it’s probably—I left it at Jason’s.”

“Okay, okay. It’s not a big deal, Liz. We just…we want to nail down his movements. One of his calls connected—he must have left a voicemail. Um—”

“You want to listen to it when I get my phone.” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “God. Yeah, okay. Um, I can get it today, right? Did—did you need his room—”

“No, we did a quick look last night, but we know from experience Morgan wouldn’t have kept anything there. Especially—”

“Since I spent so much time there.” She twisted her fingers together. “What else?”

“Did…were you aware of any issues Jason has been having lately? Anything in particularly bothering him?”

She managed a half smile. “Other than Carly? I don’t know. Jason’s—he’s kind of a silent partner with Sonny right now. I think he was helping them audit some books, do background checks on some employees at the warehouse or something. He wasn’t—he wasn’t really planning on moving back to Port Charles. That’s why…that’s why he was still at Jake’s.”

“Okay.” Taggert made a note. “Could…could Carly be in trouble? Could it  have something to do with…what happened?”

“I don’t—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I don’t know. I can’t see how, but you know…it’s Carly.” She rubbed her eyes. “Taggert, can I ask you something?”

“Yeah.”

“Sonny—Sonny, he said I shouldn’t…go to see him. I mean, that—it would be better—”

“Elizabeth,” Gia murmured. “Maybe he’s right—”

Taggert help up a hand to wave off his sister. “Listen. You know I’ve never been a fan of Morgan and Corinthos.” He ignored his sister’s snort. “But he’s right. I didn’t—I didn’t see him for myself, but I saw the photos from the scene.” He tilted his head. “Morgan was a lot of things, Elizabeth, but I know he cared about you. He wouldn’t want that to be your last memory.”

“Oh, God.” Elizabeth covered her face, trying to swallow the bubble of sobs tearing at her throat. “God. I can’t—I can’t breathe—”

Gia moved to sit directly next to her roommate and put an arm around her. “It’s…it’s not okay, but you know, you just—you just get it out.” She flashed an irritated look at her brother. “You need anything else, Marcus?”

“No.” Taggert shook his head. “For what it’s worth, Elizabeth, this—this is not what I wanted. I never wanted to see you like this again. I am so goddamn sorry.”

“I—” Elizabeth struggled to get herself together. To keep it together. She had to think about the details. Had to get through the next five seconds. The next minute. One step in front of the other. “I—thank you. For your kindness. Um, if Gia will take me to Jake’s—I’ll—I’ll get my phone. A-And I’ll let you know about the voicemail.”

“Thanks, Liz. Let me know if I can do anything.”

When her brother had left, Gia said, “We don’t have to do anything today, Liz. We can just sit inside and ignore the world. Or maybe you want to go scream—I just—I don’t know if—”

“I have to—” Elizabeth laced her fingers together to keep them from trembling. “I’m not going to ignore it. Not like last time. I can’t—I can’t just stop either—”

“It’s been twelve hours, girl. You can take a breath—”

“If I take a breath, then it’s real. And I just—” Her voice shook. “I have to…I have to know. He called me. And I didn’t have my phone. I just—I want to know what he said. Please, Gia.”

“All right. Let me go tell Bobbie we’re going.”

Elizabeth & Gia’s Apartment: Living Room

Elizabeth sighed before she opened the door to find a solemn Sonny Corinthos standing on her landing. “Hey.”

“Hey.” He glanced towards the stairwell, to the third floor where Taggert’s apartment was located. “You mind if we come in?”

“Oh.” She blinked at Max behind him and then stepped back. “Sorry. Yeah. Come on in.”

They both entered the apartment, and Elizabeth closed the the door behind them. She took a deep breath before turning to face them. “Hey,” she said again. “I-I know I haven’t returned any of your calls. I-I’m—”

Sonny shook his head. “You don’t have to apologize, Elizabeth. We’re all…managing the best we can.” He frowned, looking around. “Are you by yourself?”

“Oh. Yeah. Gia had classes today.” Elizabeth went to the dining table and closed the textbook she’d been attempting to read. “She offered to skip, but we’re…we’re graduating in December, so…”

“I’d forgotten you’d be back to school.” Sonny waited. “Are you—are you—still attending classes?”

“Oh. No. Not this week, but…” Elizabeth closed her eyes. Tried to gather her thoughts. She kept drifting. Kept losing her focus. “I’m going to try to go back next week. To give myself something to do.”

“Good, good. Keeping yourself busy—that’s a good idea.” He cleared his throat. “I…I feel like asking if you’re okay…or need anything…I don’t know. It’s the thing to ask but it feels—”

“I’m breathing.” She sat at the table, picked up the highlighter she’d been using and twirled it between her fingers. “I…I have to go to the mansion later today. Emily’s flying in this week for the funeral—” She stopped. “I, ah, anyway. I’m managing, Sonny.”

“Good.”

She hesitated. “How are you doing?” Elizabeth asked softly. “I mean, I guess you and I are—we were the closest. I—I should have asked—”

“I’m the same,” Sonny cut in, with a dismissive hand. “Managing. Focusing on anything that takes my mind off of it.”

“And—And Max,” Elizabeth looked at Sonny’s guard. “I-I know all the guys—Jason thought a lot of you guys. I mean—I don’t have to tell you that. I guess I just—we all lost—” And then her bravado failed.

“We’re doing the best we can, Ms. Webber,” Max said, kindly. “You let us know if we can do anything for you. If you need a ride somewhere—you want to avoid the press—” He looked at Sonny, who nodded. “I’ll get you Francis’ number. He runs the security—”

“I liked Francis,” Elizabeth murmured with a half-smile. “He’s the one who guarded me a few years ago, right?”

“Right.” Sonny rubbed his jaw. “Anyway. I just—you let me know if I can do anything for you, Elizabeth. I just—I hate all of this.”

“Yeah, that makes two of us.”

When they had both left, Elizabeth turned back to her textbook and opened it. And pretended to read another page.

So happy to be bringing Bittersweet back (and for the final time!) I appreciate all of the patience you guys have shown since I originally started writing and posting this story back in 2016, then took a year off, and then again a few months earlier this year.

This chapter is kind of special to me for  two reasons — I really like the Liz and Gia stuff, but also the song at the beginning of the chapter, “In this Room” by Leslie Tucker, is one of my favorite GH song memories. It played back in the Fall of 1998 after Brenda had “died.” Jax got her test results, burned them, and then a montage played of Jax and Brenda in his old penthouse at the Port Charles Hotel. This was during some twilight of GH’s second golden age in the late 1990s when Elizabeth and Lucky were first together.

Someone on a Liz and Lucky mailing list put together an unofficial Liz and Lucky soundtrack which we bought and shared through snail mail. Those were the days, haha. I still have that soundtrack 😉 It has some lovely old memories — a recording of Lucky’s “Elizabeth” song, the Luke and Laura Theme. Performances from the 1998 Nurse’s Ball by Liz, Lucky, Dara, and Taggert — it’s just sweet snippet of my OG ship, Lucky and Elizabeth (the first go around 1997-99).

Anyway, this song was on that soundtrack and I’ve loved it ever since, so when the subject of this chapter came up, I knew immediately which song I would choose.

I’ve also been hard at work on Mad World. I checked in on Saturday with the good progress I had made. I’ve slowed down a bit because I was feeling a bit poorly, but I’ve still written a lot of the story and I wanted to post a small snippet here for you guys: Excerpt, Chapter Nine.

And here’s the link y’all are here for: Bittersweet, Chapter Twenty-Three

 

This entry is part 23 of 24 in the series Bittersweet

In this room
I can barely breathe
This air that speaks your name
It flows through me
From each corner
From the window frame
Where we used to watch together
For the sun to rise again

In This Room, Leslie Tucker

Friday, September 20, 2002

Elizabeth & Gia’s Apartment: Living Room

Elizabeth knew even before Gia opened the door. No one knocked on a door at four in the morning without it being bad news.

Gia had fallen asleep on the sofa the night before as they had watched some mindless television, trying to keep their minds off everything happening around them.

Trying to forget that it had now been two weeks without a word from Jason.

Elizabeth had drifted into a light sleep while half-listening to the late night television, and the infomercials had given away to the early morning news broadcast that would run from four to seven before national affiliates took over.

The knocked was quiet. Hesitant. But it echoed in the room like a shot gun blast.

Elizabeth jerked awake and was still trying to figure out what was happening as Gia rose and went to answer the door.

Her brother stood there, looking as if he hadn’t had any more sleep than Elizabeth in the last few weeks. The hallway was dim—only a small sconce lit Taggert from behind.

Gia sighed and drew back the door. “Marcus.”

“Hey.”

Elizabeth got to her feet. Switched on the lamp next to the sofa. She knew what he would say even before he said it.

“Last night,” Taggert began hesitantly, “a body was pulled from the harbor.”

Oh. Oh, God. The sob spilled out of her lips before she could even process it. She knew what he was going to say. Her body knew, her heart knew, but her brain still needed the words.

“Are they sure—” Gia began, but Taggert shook his head.

“Preliminary testing has tentatively identified him.” He cleared his throat, looked at Elizabeth. “He’d been shot twice in the chest—”

“Marcus,” Gia hissed.

“There’s no way to tell how long he was in the water,” Taggert said. “But…it looks like it’s been a while.”

“Two weeks?” she managed, the tears spilling down her cheeks. “Are you sure it’s him—”

“It was hard to say from the state of the body, but like I said, some early blood tests. Ah…it’s tentative, but the PCPD feels confident enough—” Taggert shook his head. “The body was pretty decomposed—”

“Oh, God.” She pressed her hands to the mouth. She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t force the air into lungs. Oh, God. She didn’t even know how convinced she’d been that he was okay until this minute. “Oh, God.”

Gia crossed to her, put an arm around her shoulder. “Let’s sit down, honey. C’mon—”

Elizabeth allowed herself to be guided back to the sofa, the back of her knees hitting the cushion as she sat down. She forced herself to think. “You said last night. When?”

“Around midnight.” Taggert knelt in front of her. “I know you’re not his technical next of kin, but—I asked to notify you myself. Mac is waiting a few more hours to tell the Quartermaines. I just—I knew you weren’t sleeping well. I knew you were terrified, and I know this doesn’t make it better—”

“It makes it over,” Elizabeth said dully. She closed her eyes. “I can’t—this isn’t real. It’s not. It can’t be. Can I see him? Maybe I could tell you if it was wrong—”

“If you insisted on seeing him, I would do it,” Taggert said after a moment, but he shook his head. “Please don’t ask me. I did not like Jason Morgan, but you loved him. And I know he loved you. He would not want that to be your memory of him. Please.”

His beautiful face. His eyes. His mouth. His smile. His voice. Oh, God, she would never see him again. Never hold him. Oh, God.

“I’m so sorry, Elizabeth.” He hesitated. “There are questions I need to ask you, but they can wait, okay?”

“No.” She shook her head. “No. There’s nothing I can tell you anyway. I told you that night what I knew.” Elizabeth paused.  “I—you said the phone records came back. That he left me a voicemail. Can I have my phone?”

He waited a moment. “Yeah. We’re releasing the room today. We didn’t have…any cause to take your phone, so it’s still sitting there. If there’s anything on the message you think I should know—”

“I’ll tell you.”

Taggert got to his feet and she heard his footsteps mingle with his sisters as Gia let him out and locked the door behind him.

“Am I awake?” she murmured. “Is this really happening?”

“Elizabeth—”

She took a deep breath. “I need to take a shower. I need to be ready. Because Bobbie is going to be up here as soon as she hears, and I know Courtney and AJ—and God, Emily and the Quartermaines It’s all going to happen so fast, but I want—”

“You don’t have to anything you don’t want to do,” Gia said with some irritation. “You want to sit here and stare at the wall—”

Elizabeth squeezed her eyes shut so tightly that it hurt. “I’m scared if I go lay down, if I don’t start doing something, I’ll never be able to get back up again. So, I have to get up. I have to go.” She exhaled slowly. “There’s a lot that has to be done, and I really…I want my phone.”

“Okay.”

“I need to know what he said to me. And then…then I need to know why Sonny lied.” She wrapped her arms around her torso, took a deep breath. “Because he knew something last week when I went to see him. And I let him lie to me. How long did he know Jason wasn’t just hurt—”

“Maybe he really didn’t know—”

“He knew something,” Elizabeth repeated. “He lied to me. And I deserve to know why.”

Safe House: Bedroom

When Jason had regained consciousness—when he stayed awake long enough to have coherent thought—he knew immediately something was wrong.

He was not allowed to move, and Johnny and the doctor refused to bring him newspapers. Refused to tell him anything that was happening. Wouldn’t even allow him to know what day it was.

Which meant it had been more than a handful of days since the warehouse shooting.

And Elizabeth wasn’t here.

That fact told Jason all he needed to know. He’d been kept drugged so Sonny didn’t have to bring Elizabeth to see him. So that Sonny didn’t have to tell her he was hurt.

Johnny had kept putting him off, telling him that Sonny would answer his questions when he got there, but Jason was starting to feel strong enough to start moving around, even if the doctor had advised against it.

Sonny knew better. Sonny should have known better. Jason hated being confined. Hated pain medication that knocked him out, left him groggy and disoriented. Hated being lied to.

But Jason also knew that he was too weak to move on his own—that the safe house where he’d been taken was located away from Port Charles. There wasn’t likely to be any transportation for him to get out of here and find anything out—and if he walked on his own, he might reopen his stitches and bleed out before he reached civilization.

So, he waited. He waited on Sunday. Monday. Tuesday.

And when Wednesday slipped into Thursday, Jason told Johnny that if Sonny didn’t show up by the end of the next day, he’d take his chances on the walk, and Johnny relayed the message. And apparently, Sonny had believed him.

“I know you’re angry,” Sonny said when he entered the bedroom on Friday afternoon. “Let me explain—”

“What day is it?” Jason said, flatly. “What date? How many days did you drug me?”

Sonny exhaled slowly. “It’s September 20. Friday. You were kept sedated until last week—”

“Did you tell Elizabeth I was shot?”

When Sonny hesitated, Jason shook his head and pushed himself out of the bed, into a standing position. He held out his hand. “Give me my phone. Now.”

“By the time I could have told her,” Sonny said, backing up from his enraged partner, “Taggert was already talking to her. He already knew you’d walked out on plans—he’d told her about the warehouse—I couldn’t bring her here—”

“Did you tell her I was okay?” Jason demanded. He knew Sonny. He knew the way the man could and would talk circles around someone, make them think their questions had been answered.

“She figured you were lying low and couldn’t contact her,” Sonny said. “She’s pissed at me because I didn’t confirm it.”

“Why the hell—”

“You told her that you were supposed to be out. What the hell were you thinking?” Sonny cut in. “She came at me, both barrels, telling me she knew this was about Carly because you were supposed to be out. Why the fuck are you talking about business with your girlfriend?”

Jason scowled. “Don’t change the goddamn subject, Sonny. It was after the warehouse. I was with her when it happened. So, yeah, I told her I wasn’t going. She’s not an idiot—and—” He bit off. “She’s not just my girlfriend, Sonny. She’s not just someone I picked up in a bar. Don’t talk about her that way—”

“Then don’t be stupid. She’s been talking to Taggert, Jason. Cooperating with the cops—”

“Because the cops are the only ones telling her—” Jason sliced his hand through the air. “I’m not debating this with you. Give me my phone.”

“No,” Sonny shook his head. “No one’s made any moves. You call her, you go back on the grid, then this is for nothing!”

“I don’t give a shit. Give me my phone, Sonny. You don’t own me, and I’m not letting Elizabeth worry about me. I want to talk to her. I get that she can’t come to see me, but you’ve already lied to her—”

“I didn’t lie to her,” Sonny said with a grimace. “I just told her I hadn’t heard from you since Friday. Or seen you. And that was true.”

“You lied to her, Sonny. You knew I was okay. That I was just hurt, and you didn’t tell her—”

“Because she’s not an idiot,” Sonny said, throwing the words back at him. “She knows what’s going on. Calling her now is only going to bring attention to all of this. They’ll make their move in another day or two.”

“What if they don’t?” Jason demanded. “What if we’re still waiting?”

Sonny hesitated. “Give me a week, Jase. I’ve got some things in motion. I’ve sent up some smoke signals that we’re weak. That we’re vulnerable. That’s what I’m asking—”

“Fine. But when you leave here, you go tell her that I’m okay. Promise me, Sonny,” Jason said, roughly. “You know what she’s been through. You were here when I wasn’t. Don’t make her worry anymore.”

“I promise,” Sonny said after a moment. “I’ll see her today. I’ll make sure she knows what’s going on. I don’t like this. I hate keeping her in the dark, Jason. Because I damn well know how hard she’s worked this last year to get away from this kind of crap. But this is the business. This is what we chose. So maybe you need to know whether she can really choose it—”

“Sonny, if you lie to Elizabeth one more time about what’s going on, you and I are done,” Jason said quietly. “I love her. I asked her to move in with me. She’s the one I want a future with. And every minute she’s worrying about whether I’m dead or alive, you’re chipping away at that.”

“Jase—”

“You never would have put Brenda or Carly through this. You lied to them. You misled them. You destroyed Brenda when you walked away from her without a word. But you never made them wait for weeks to know if you were alive. You wouldn’t do this to them. Elizabeth deserves at least that much respect.”

Sonny dipped his head. Nodded. “All right. I’ll take care of it today. You may not like the way I’ve handled this situation, Jason, but I handled it the best way I knew how. I did it to keep everyone safe. Just remember that.”

Jake: Jason’s Room

If the PCPD had done an extensive search, Elizabeth could find no evidence of it when she flipped the light switch later that morning.

In fact, the room looked just as she had left two weeks earlier: her textbooks still taking over the table, her cosmetics strewn across the dresser.

Her phone neatly plugged in on the nightstand.

Next to her, Gia waited a moment. “Do you want me to get it?” she asked softly. “You could—you could just—”

“No.”

Elizabeth walked over the threshold and sat at the table, staring at the chair across from her. Where Jason usually sat. Where they had shared a lot of bad coffee and greasy take-out. In this room in the last four months, where they had laughed. Made love. Teased one another. Argued. Made up.

“The first time he nearly kissed me was in this room. It looked different then.” Elizabeth looked at her roommate. “I came to him after the Face of Deception photo shoot.”

“I remember,” Gia said with a pained smile. “You…you left the studio.”

“I came here. It was selfish to come here. I’d already told Jason we couldn’t…that we had to stop…but I just…I knew he’d get it. Or even if he didn’t…. he’d let me fall apart. He wouldn’t look at me like I was crushing his dreams.”

She closed her eyes. “There used to be these really ugly orange chairs. I sat here. And I tried to explain it to him. Why being a model made me feel like I was dying inside. I wanted to take off my makeup—and he…he washed my face. Because I didn’t look like me.”

Her eyes burned as she continued. “I was sitting on the edge of the bed, and he was holding my chin in one hand—and I wanted to kiss him. I knew he wanted to kiss me. But I was so scared of what it would mean—I couldn’t. I couldn’t take that step. I couldn’t lie to myself once I kissed him. God what the hell was I so afraid of?”

Elizabeth stood and crossed to the dresser, picked up a tube of lipstick. “He hated clutter, you know? I told you that, right?”

“Yeah.” Gia looked around the room. “I can tell.”

“But he just gave me the top of the dresser. He didn’t use it, he told me. So even though it drove him crazy…I just left things all over.” She picked up a ring she’d removed the last night she’d been here. “But he keeps—kept…he kept…” she corrected softly as she looked at the small shelf next to the dresser. “Some travel books.”

“Yeah. You told me he used to read to Michael.”

“Michael still loves to read about the places all over the world. Africa is his favorite. The animals, mostly.” Elizabeth set the ring down and then slid her fingers over the four or five books stacked on the shelf. “He wanted to take me to Italy.”

She closed her eyes. “He wanted to show me the light in Italy. And I turned him down. Everything in me screamed yes, but I was terrified.”

“Why?” Gia asked softly. “Why did it scare you so much, Elizabeth?”

She turned to her best friend but saw no judgment in her dark eyes. “Staying with Lucky was safe,” she murmured. “Or I thought it was. And there’s a comfort in that. Lucky would never leave me. I had to leave him.” Except hadn’t he left first? Why hadn’t she seen that?

“And you thought Jason would?”

“Maybe. I don’t—” Elizabeth licked her lips. “I don’t know if I thought…I mean, you know what he looks—” She caught her breath. “What he looked like,” she corrected softly. “You knew him, Gia. The girl I was last year? I couldn’t have made him happy. I didn’t even like myself. How was I supposed to love someone else?”

“That…” Gia said with a hesitant smile. “Is the nicest thing you’ve said about yourself back then. You made the right choice not to leave with him last year. I know it hurts. I know it feels like a mistake. Especially now. But you weren’t ready to be in love with someone who would love you back. You were ready this year.”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth released a long shaky breath. “He’s really gone, isn’t he? I can’t quite make myself believe it. I don’t feel it here. Not at all the way.” She pressed a fist to her heart. “But…I guess that doesn’t matter. I felt it with Lucky. There was a hole in me almost immediately. I could accept that he was gone even when I couldn’t. Does that make sense?”

“Yeah, I guess.” Gia shifted. “Elizabeth—”

She crossed the room and picked up her phone. She flipped it open. There were a few scattered calls from Bobbie, from Courtney. And a few from her grandmother, who must have seen the news from Memphis where she lived with Elizabeth’s brother, Steven. And from Jason…

“He called me six times.” Elizabeth opened her voicemails—there were a few unread, but only one from his number.

And pressed play, lifting the phone to her ear.

“I guess you left your phone at Jake’s. I can’t—I won’t be able to come by tonight. Something came up—I’ll explain when I can, okay? I love you, Elizabeth.”

His voice. His words. God. Why hadn’t she grabbed her phone that last morning?

She hurriedly followed the directions to save the message, clutching the cell phone to her heart. Maybe Lucas or one of his tech savvy friends could…find a way Elizabeth could keep this message. So she could just…. listen to him.

“That’s it. That’s the last thing he said to me,” she murmured. “God. I can’t—”

Her throat closed, her knees buckled, and she sat on the edge of the bed. “I can’t breathe, Gia. How can he be gone?”

Gia sat next to her, their shoulders brushing. “I don’t know. I don’t have the words, Elizabeth.”

“I know if I just put one foot in front of the other and keeping doing that—I’ll look up one day, and it’ll be…later. It’ll hurt less. That’s how it happened with Lucky. I put on a mask, I pretended. I was angry in private, but I kept—I graduated from school. I smiled when Emily started to date Juan even though I hated her for being happy. I wanted to burn everything down so that they would be in ashes like Lucky. Like my life.”

She sobbed into her fist, trying to keep her composure. Trying to keep it together. If she lost it, if she really lost it in this place, in this room where she and Jason had shared a life together—it would be real.

God, she didn’t want it to be real.

“But it didn’t work. Going about my life—it never made it stop hurting. Until Jason. And it’s not—he didn’t perform any miracles. He just never made me feel like I had to be okay.” Elizabeth squeezed her eyes shut. “I could say anything to him, and he would never judge me. He was so kind. So sweet. And I’m sure he’d hate that.”

“It would probably have ruined his reputation,” Gia agreed.

“But it helped to just have someone I could be awful around. Someone I didn’t have to pretend with. And then one day—” Elizabeth swallowed hard. “I was having a bad day. An art professor had roasted a portrait of Lucky I’d done for class, and I felt like I’d failed him. I was telling Jason I wanted Lucky back for just a moment, and I had this—I had this insane idea—I asked him to dance with me to our song—Lucky’s and mine.”

She pulled that memory back into her head, closing her eyes to remember it. “It didn’t work. I knew immediately it wouldn’t. Jason was taller than Lucky. And…more muscular. He wasn’t Lucky…and I liked it. I knew it was a stupid idea. But I liked being in his arms. And then I hated myself for even for a minute…thinking about someone else.”

Elizabeth rose to her feet and crossed to the closet, opening it. She drew out the leather jacket Jason kept for cooler weather. “It wasn’t this jacket. That one got destroyed by the gunshot. Blood. And a bullet hole.”

She ran her fingers over the smooth leather. “He looked good in this jacket, didn’t he?”

“He did.”

Elizabeth brought the jacket to her face, breathed in the smell of Jason. He hadn’t worn the jacket in a few months, but it hung next to other clothes he wore more often. It smelled like him today.

But one day it wouldn’t.

And one day, someone else would rent this room.

And someone else would do his job at the warehouse.

“When I lost Lucky, I never thought I could let myself love anyone again. I didn’t think I had the…ability. Or even the right. You were supposed to fall in forever love once, you know? How many soul mates does a girl get?”

“I don’t know if I believe in soul mates,” Gia said after a long moment. “I think…it’s too easy. And it can be used to justify unhappiness. I think we find people who make us like ourselves better, you know? When Nikolas and I first started…it’s not like I was a great person. I mean, I had issues. But I wanted to do better. And he thought I could. He was what I needed in the moment. And if we had married before all that crap happened last year, I don’t know—we probably would have been happy. Or not. But how much time did you waste with Lucky because you were supposed to be soul mates?”

Elizabeth sighed. “Maybe. It was hard for me back then to ever imagine loving anyone the way I loved Lucky. And you know, I didn’t love Jason that way. You only get one first love. It’s sweet. It’s pure. It feels like a high. A rush of adrenaline. Lucky and I never argued. We didn’t need to.”

She sat back down, cradling the jacket in her arms.

“With Jason, I don’t know. I looked at this man who seemed larger than life. Jason was always honest. With himself. With others, and God, that’s just so rare. And he always seemed to understand me better than I understood myself. We did fight. About Lucky. About Carly. About Michael. But…it never…” Elizabeth traced her fingers over the leather again. “I knew he respected me. He wanted me to be honest with myself. To be whoever I wanted to be. I didn’t have to hide with him.” She closed her eyes. “Before Carly came back, I could see our future. We hadn’t really talked about it, but you know, you didn’t always need words with Jason.”

She sucked in a deep breath as the pain slid through her belly again. “Not like the future Lucky and I planned out before the fire. I didn’t—I didn’t know he was going to ask me to live with him. But I just…I could think about myself in five years, and he’d be there. Ten years. I could see him with me. Because I can’t imagine either of us would change without doing it together.”

“I’m sorry,” Gia said softly. “It’s…weak to say that, but I don’t have anything else. I’m just…I’m sorry.”

“Yeah.” She sighed. “Yeah. I don’t think there’s anything else to say.” She rose to her feet, looked around the room again. “This was a good place, you know? A safe place.” She paused. “But I don’t want to come back here. I can’t. Sonny can…I’ll ask Sonny to get his things. I don’t even know where—but I can…I should get my things.”

She started to put the jacket back—and then stopped.

It wouldn’t smell like Jason for very long, but…for now…for now it was something she could keep.

Harborview Towers: Lobby

With Gia hesitantly trailing behind her, Elizabeth approached the desk where a security guard was quietly sitting, his head down. “Excuse me?”

The head snapped up, and Elizabeth was surprised to see the man’s eyes were red, as if he’d been crying. “Miss Webber.” He lunged to his feet. “Ah…” He looked past her, to Gia. “I wasn’t expecting you.”

“I was hoping to see Sonny,” Elizabeth murmured. “I know…I know Gia has to wait down here.”

“Oh.” The guard blinked, took a deep breath. “Yeah. Yeah. Let me—” He reached for the phone. “Mr. Corinthos isn’t taking visitors—he—he got the call—but I’m sure he’ll—” He stopped as someone must have picked up on the other line. “Hey, Miss Webber—” He frowned, listening to someone. “Oh. Okay.” He put the phone back on the receiver and looked at Elizabeth. “Mr. Corinthos sends his apologies, but he’s not ready to see anyone.”

“Anyone, or me?” Elizabeth asked bitterly.

“I—” The guard flushed. “I wouldn’t know. He asked that you take a guard with you for a few days. I’m going to call downstairs—”

Elizabeth shook her head. “No. Tell him I refused.”

“Elizabeth—” Gia said quietly. “Maybe—”

“No, obviously any obligation or feeling Sonny felt towards me died the same time—” Her voice broke. “It doesn’t matter. Tell Sonny I get it. He knows I’m here to ask why the hell he lied to me, and he doesn’t want to lie to my face again.”

The guard’s face remained passive, but he swallowed hard. “Okay, maybe that’s true. But…Mr. Morgan…we all know how much you—maybe—for him—”

She closed her eyes. “Fine. Call someone up to take me home.” She turned to Gia. “You have your car, so I’ll meet you there.”

“Okay.” Gia touched her arm. “I’ll see you later.”  She eyed the guard for a long moment before heading for the lobby exit.

Elizabeth waited until the elevator to the parking garage opened, and a man in a dark suit emerged. He was tall, with his head carefully shaved. He introduced himself as Cody, and Elizabeth followed him back to the parking garage.

Once the doors had closed, the guard picked up the phone and called the penthouse again.

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Sonny sighed and hung up the phone. “She took the guard. I had someone on her anyway, but this way, she’ll have someone with her.”

Benny grunted as he read paperwork across the room. “You should have told her—”

“And I will.” Sonny turned. “But there are too many eyes on us. The cops are watching her too closely. They know Elizabeth is angry at me, I’m sure she’s made that clear to Taggert. To Bobbie. She was angry with me before she ever came here last week, Benny—”

“My obligation is not to Elizabeth Webber,” Benny said with some irritation. “Though morally, this bothers me a on a level I am severely uncomfortable with. My obligation is to you and your organization. You are creating problems with Jason that will not be simply solved by his return from the dead.”

“Jason will understand eventually—”

“You are holding Elizabeth responsible for mistakes that she did not make.” Benny got to his feet. “You’re holding her to your standards—”

“Mine are the only ones that matter—”

“Not to Jason, they don’t. He walked away for the better part of two years because of that business with Carly—”

“That wasn’t just me,” Sonny muttered, even as an itch developed between his shoulders. Goddamn it, would he never live that single horrible night down?

“No. But you and I both knew he left because he didn’t know if he could keep doing his job for you. When he finds out that not only did you fake his death and put his family through the grief and devastation but that you did it to Elizabeth—a woman he has made very clear he would have trusted with the truth—you are putting that in jeopardy—”

“Benny, I don’t pay you to lecture me—”

“No, you pay me to advise you on your business arrangements, and this is a bad business decision. Jason forgave you once. For Carly. Because it was both of you. This? This will all come down on you. So, I hope you ask yourself if it’s enough to prove a point.” Benny tipped his head. “You were going to bring her in on this, Sonny. We talked about it. When we started planning a body dump, you were going to tell her the truth. Prepare her. Until you found out she knew too much.”

“She needs plausible deniability,” Sonny muttered. “She’s too close to Taggert. She wouldn’t be able keep it up—”

“If that helps you sleep at night,” Benny said with a kindness Sonny knew the older man didn’t feel. “I have to go file these at the court house. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

His manager left, leaving Sonny alone in his penthouse. He reached for the bottle of bourbon and didn’t even bother with the glass.

Elizabeth & Gia’s Apartment: Living Room

Later that night, in the kitchen, Gia’s hands were shaking slightly as she arranged some food on plate for Elizabeth. Bobbie had brought it home from Kelly’s and had encouraged Gia to make sure Elizabeth ate something. Anything.

When Elizabeth had returned from Sonny’s, walking in only a few minutes after Gia, she had sat down on the sofa, turned on the television and stared at it. Not watching it, not listening, just staring at the screen.

Gia had tried to talk to her a few times, but it was as if an icy wall had descended. As if her roommate had crawled inside herself and refused to come out.

Gia was not a good person. She had never aspired to be a good person, and almost everything she knew about being one came from her brother, her mother, and the figure in the living room.

Their friendship had come out of nowhere—just two people tired of the lies and bullshit surrounding them. Tired of their own poor choices and dissatisfied with the road ahead of them. They had gone back to school, rented this apartment, and promised each other complete and total honesty. No matter what.

And Gia had delivered that. Had pushed Elizabeth when she’d backslid to lying to herself, to protecting herself. Had championed her relationship with Jason.

Had dismissed Elizabeth’s fears about being broken. About being left behind.

Had ignored the fact that Jason Morgan worked a dangerous job and was even more at risk than a seventeen-year-old boy lighting candles in his bedroom.

“Well, girl, you reap what you sow,” Gia murmured. Now her best friend, the only person who knew her past, wasn’t related to her, and still liked her company, had had her entire world crumble around her, and Gia…hated herself for whatever role she had played in this tragedy.

Her cell phone vibrated on the white Formica counter next to the coffee pot. Gia picked it up and flipped it open.

“Courtney. Hey.”

“Hey.” Courtney was quiet for a long moment, her voice a bit hoarse when she spoke again. “I called…I called to check on Elizabeth, but that’s stupid, right? She’s not okay. How could she be okay?”

“It’s not stupid. It’s what people do.” Gia pressed a hand to her forehead. “Christ, Courtney. How’s AJ? Which is also a ridiculous question.”

“He’s in, um, shock. I think. We came to the mansion. We’re still here. Um, Michael was crying at first and started to ask if we were sure. If we were making a mistake about Jason like we did Carly, and I don’t know what to say to him. Edward is in his room with Lila. They’re not coming out. And Alan and Monica are just…they’re staring into silence. Not even crying.”

“Yeah. Yeah, it’s—” Gia passed Elizabeth on the couch and peered through the curtain. “Now, we have news vans outside the Brownstone. They were already here when we got back from Sonny’s. Already filming. Fucking vultures.”

“Yeah, Liz and whoever she was with was on the news—Ned was watching it. He wants to sic the lawyers on them. Do something. Liz looked—she looked empty. In shock. Ned said if you want him to send over ELQ’s lawyer to get them to go—”

“We’ll keep it in mind. I left a message with Marcus. I’m hoping he’ll stop by—he should be able to get rid of them. Thanks.”

Gia turned back to Elizabeth. “Um, Elizabeth? It’s Courtney. She just…. she wanted to check on you.”

Elizabeth met her eyes, and that blank empty stare—God, she knew that stare. Elizabeth had worn it so often in the months leading up to her wedding. During that last final awful year with Lucky. Then it cleared, and Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I’m—is AJ okay?”

“Courtney thinks he’s in shock. They went to the Qs.” Gia hesitated. “Did you—maybe you want to go there—”

“Oh.” Elizabeth blinked. “No.” She paused. “Thank you.”

“Ooookay,” Gia drawled. She was completely out of her depth. She turned her attention back to Courtney. “Is—Is Emily coming back?”

“Oh. Yeah. Ned called her. She’s flying in tomorrow. I’ll let you know the details—” Courtney paused. “Hey, I need to go. Michael’s awake and he’s—”

“Yeah, go. Go.”

Gia closed her phone and then slid it into her pocket. She sat next to Elizabeth on the sofa. “Do you need me to just sit here? To…be quiet? You can scream at me, if you want. Something.”

“I—” Elizabeth hesitated. Focused on Gia.  “I should have told him yes about living together. That’s all I can think about now. I smiled at him, I kissed him. I told him I loved him, but I put him off. I wanted it—I wanted it to be a moment. He was going to pick me up. He was going to let me drive. And we were going to go somewhere. And I was going to tell him yes.”

“He knew that, Elizabeth. He had to know that.” God, Gia hoped that was true. “He loved you.”

“I wasted so much time,” she murmured. “I picked that fight about Carly—”

“It was the right fight,” Gia insisted, going with her instinct here. “Hey. I need you to look at me.” She waited until Elizabeth met her eyes. “You knew she was manipulating him, and you knew he would refuse to see it. You made him see it. A year ago, you swallowed every piece of emotional abuse Lucky threw at you. You stood up for yourself. And for Jason. And he knew you were right. You know that.”

“I just—” Elizabeth’s voice broke. “He thought Carly was his friend, and she never deserved that label. Never. I hated how much she hurt him. But I thought I knew what was right, and I forced him to do what I wanted. I became Robin—”

“No. Jesus, no. Hey.” Gia leaned forward. “No, you didn’t. You did the one thing Robin never did. You stood in front him, and you drew a line in the sand. You said this is what I need from you. From a relationship. You challenged him to give you what you needed. And he stepped up. And he asked you to move in with him.”

Elizabeth dug the heels of her hands into her eyes. Her shoulders trembled. “He…he told me he didn’t want me to be anyone else for him. To hide how I felt. What I thought. He didn’t want that.”

“I don’t know what to say to you. I’m so fucking angry at the world—” Gia felt pressure behind her eyes. “So fucking angry that they would put that man on this planet, make him practically perfect, give him to you for five fucking minutes and steal him away again—what is the goddamn point of it?” she demanded, her voice breaking.

And…then Elizabeth laughed. Bitter, choked laughter as tears slid down her cheeks. As her shoulders shook. “God. Oh, God. God, is it real? Is he—How could—”

Gia slid across the couch and pulled Elizabeth into a hug, wrapping her arms around her tightly. “I’m so sorry. I am so goddamn sorry.”

And she held Elizabeth as her best friend sobbed until her voice was gone.

July 10, 2018

While this scene is kind of a massive spoiler, believe it or not, it’s hugely relevant to the rest of the story. It’s mostly a scene in which I wrap up old business so everyone can move on.  It’s set a few days after Carly gets kidnapped. It has not been cleared by the beta 😛

Mad World takes place in June 2003 and rewrites the Carly gets kidnapped and locked in the panic room storyline. Ric and Elizabeth married in May, she lost the baby. I’ve reset most of 2003, so ignore pretty much everything you remember.


Faith Roscoe’s Apartment

When Faith Roscoe turned on the light in her living room that night, she was tickled pink at the sight of Jason Morgan casually sitting in her plush white armchair. “Well, well, I have to admit, I’ve always wondered what it would be like between us,” she purred.

Jason’s face didn’t change. “You’ve been working with Ric Lansing and Ned Ashton since last fall.”

Faith wrinkled her nose. “Someone’s been talking out of turn.” She wagged her finger. “Ned is a very naughty man.” She sashayed over to her wine cabinet and selected an excellent white vintage. “I haven’t had time to take care of him, but he’s on my list.”

“Is Elizabeth Webber on that list, too?”

Faith nearly bobbled the cork at the thought of that insipid little mouse. “My, my, does the dear girl have another champion? I must ask her how she does it—”

She never heard him move. One second she was smirking, pouring her wine—and then the next she was shoved back against the wall, Jason’s hand tight around her throat.

“I never thought you were into games,” Faith said breathlessly, trying to find the amusement. She was a woman, so Jason was trying to scare her. Well, mission accomplished. Time to give him what he wanted so he’d go away. “You’re here about Carly. You want to find her.”

“Did you help Ric take her? Are you hiding her?”

“I have no interest in Sonny’s wife,” Faith managed, as Jason’s grip relaxed enough for her to draw in a full breath. “And Ric has been a very disappointing boy. No, I did not help him. And I do not know where she is, buuuut….” She drew out in a sing-sing voice, careful to keep her eyes locked on his. “I know he was quite desperate to find a house for his little China doll. Just the right house. The house was all he could talk about.”

Jason narrowed his eyes. “He was looking for that house or a particular kind of house?”

“I don’t know, and I didn’t ask. I’m not interested in helping Ric start the perfect life with that—” Faith broke off whatever insult she was about to launch. Keep the eye on the prize. “There’s something about the house that made his plan complete. They moved in a week before Carly went missing.”

Jason nodded. Released her neck and started across the room. Faith rolled her shoulders, irritated. “If I knew where Carly was, I would have already found a way to make Ric pay for it. He’s become very boring, don’t you know?”

“Mmm…” Jason squinted at her. “You pushed her down the stairs, didn’t you?”

And the way he said it told Faith she’d already been convicted of the crime. Sentenced. Her palms began to sweat. How had she forgotten the whole reason they’d targeted the tedious little bitch? She was Jason Morgan’s ex-girlfriend—though maybe the ex was something he’d like to change.

“I did you a favor,” Faith said, spreading her hands at her sides. “Now you don’t have to take on Lansing’s bastard when you toss in him the harbor and take her back—and really—you’d be so much nicer to her, and he’s been just awful—” Her voice stopped abruptly when Jason drew his gun from where it had been tucked behind his back.

Faith swallowed. “I shouldn’t have done it, of course. I was angry, and I wanted to make Ric hurt. I didn’t even think about her. I should have. I should think more about other people. I will. I’ll enter a convent—” Her voice became more rapid as she watched Jason screw a silencer into the barrel. “I can help you,” she said desperately. “I can make Ric tell me—”

“Even if that were true,” Jason said slowly, meeting her eyes again. “It still wouldn’t save you.”

“Hey, you’re supposed to be the good one,” Faith retorted. “I’m a woman—isn’t there a code—”

“You don’t get to play in this world, Faith, and expect special treatment,” Jason said. “And this isn’t business. This isn’t about Sonny. This…this is personal.” He lifted a shoulder and looked at her without an expression in his eyes. “You knew who she was when you went after her. And as long as Ric wants her, she’s not safe.”

“Listen, that’s just not true—”

But she was dead before she could finish the sentence, the bullet hitting her just between the eyes. A nice, neat bullet hole between those wide blue eyes, still open—her mouth still forming a word.

She hit the floor, her black sundress pooling around her. Blood starting to soak into the carpet.

Jason stared down at her, then pulled out his cell phone. “Hey, Francis. Yeah, I got a cleanup for you to handle.”

July 7, 2018

Hey, we’ve finished our first full week of #CampNaNoWriMo and if you’ve followed me on Twitter, then you know I had a GREAT week. I took a minute to add up the words I wrote this week, and here’s where we are.

At the beginning of the week, I had written three full chapters and one scene from Chapter 4. Today, I finished Chapter 10.  I’ve written seven chapters, around 90 pages, and 31,702 words JUST THIS WEEK. Y’all, I cannot even tell you how excited I am by this program. I’ve written a chapter a day in less than two hours. This isn’t even a huge chunk of my overall day , so I should be able to maintain the pace most of the month.

I’ve actually almost gotten about halfway through the first book, probably a little more. Pieces of the second book are already written, they just have to be revised to fit the revised narrative. What I wrote this week, I thought would be the hardest stuff to write, but once I got going–I just GOT GOING.

I’ve got some even better news — I anticipate being able to post Bittersweet sometime this week, so I can start updates again. The last chapter I posted was Chapter 22, so we have about nine chapters left. This should take us through the summer and a bit into the fall. Hopefully, I’ll be able to bring you Mad World in October or November.

I can’t believe my muse finally decided to stop screwing around. This is so much better than I did even last year during NaNoWriMo in July and November. I’ll keep y’all updated. Thanks for your patience!

July 1, 2018

If you’re following me on Twitter, you know that I finished my beta draft of Bittersweet yesterday. I cleaned up the last eighty pages and sent them off to Cora to beta read. I’m really hoping to be able to come back with the rest of the story in about two weeks, but we’ll see. I am soooo excited to have that finished. I wrote a ton this week and I feel great about what I turned out.

So now, today being July 1, we’re digging into Camp NaNoWriMo. My goal is take what I already have of Mad World and write/revise until I have a draft ready for beta. That’s the plan for the entire month–at the end of July, I want to be absolutely done with the first draft. I won’t post progress updates here, so follow me on Twitter @crimsonglass for news.