January 19, 2019

About a year ago, I told you guys that I had decided to rewrite basically eight chapters of Bittersweet because I wanted to make a huge story change. That meant instead of being four chapters away from being done, I ended up going back to being 12 or so chapters. It took me almost six more months to finish it and another nine months before you guys got to read the completed material.

I finally got a chance to organize all the deleted stuff, and wow, it’s about five chapters worth of things. A lot of the scenes I revised with some minor changes, especially Liz grieving. But the storyline change meant other scenes were cut entirely.

Basically, I had originally planned for the story to follow 2002’s story more closely. Rather than Sonny faking Jason’s death without telling him, I had planned for Jason and Sonny to plan it together. The lie would come when Jason refused to do it without Liz, and Sonny decided to lie to her about it. Nothing I wrote was especially bad, but once I got to the part where Jason had to come back and explain himself, I just–I didn’t like it. I didn’t really believe Jason would ever do that.

So I decided to with Sonny lying to everyone and I honestly feel like that was the best change I could make. Because it allowed me to play with Sonny and Liz’s relationship in more detail, as well as Sonny and Jason more fully. Plus, I knew I could bring in more of Sonny’s history with women. And it gave me a really good way to end the story — Jason and Liz leave town. I’m glad I changed it–

But it left me with about 60 pages of unposted material. So I organized it into three sections. Some of it I’ve already posted under a different rewrite, but I reposted it in this way.  I hope you enjoy and let me know if you think I made the right decision! This can also be found on my Workshop page where I post a lot of my discarded stuff.

 

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Workshop: Bittersweet Rewritten

This is a little bit shorter and it represents Jason’s return. I didn’t really like the way I had plotted Jason’s return or how hard it was for me to write scenes where Jason explains himself. This is where I decided I had to change things.


Monday, October 7, 2002

Oasis Strip Club: Back Office

Zander checked his watch and thought about how long the ride to the airport would be once he was out of here. He’d been asked to come to Port Charles with Hector Ruiz as part of his entourage—but that had been a cover for him to check in with Nico and Roscoe and report back to Alcazar.

And now that Zander knew the fucking plan, he wasn’t sure he wanted to go to the meeting at all. Idiots.

“It’s suicide to carry out a hit on Sonny while the Families are in Port Charles,” Zander told them. “Luis doesn’t—”

“Hey. It’s not up to him,” Nico leaned forward. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The organization has fallen apart since we took out Morgan. The Paradise is gone. We took out another club last week. The PCPD raided the warehouse twice—the drugs are all over the streets. We need to hit while we got the shot. Eventually Sonny is gonna right the ship—”

“You got cold feet, Smith, that’s your fucking problem,” Roscoe said with a sneer. “Alcazar tee’d us up for this, but there’s no reason Nico and I can’t finish this our way. We’ll divide the territory, and he gets what he wants. Sonny gone.”

Sure, because it would be that easy. Zander fought the urge to roll his eyes.

“Sonny isn’t gonna see it coming—” Nico said.

“You shatter the truce at a meeting like this, none of the Families will do business with you,” Zander retorted. “Maybe you get Vega. Tagliatti’s a creep. He can be bought. But you know Anthony Zacchara is fucking ruthless. He will take you and this city apart if you go against all the codes—”

“You scared of a little old man in a wheelchair?” Nico snorted, held out his empty tumbler to Lenny who promptly refilled it with tequila. “You’re not half the man I thought you were.”

And that was why Nico had been remained secondary in every organization he’d ever served. Under Frank Smith, Anthony Moreno, and Joseph Sorel—Nico thought too much of himself and too little of everyone else.

And Roscoe was just an idiot.

Why the hell had a man like Luis Alcazar trusted these assholes with destroying Sonny Corinthos? Why was he content to sit back and let them fuck up a damn good opportunity? They were so close to making this work, but at the crucial moment, Alcazar had stepped back.

“Your guys got their spot picked out at the restaurant?” Roscoe asked. “You got your best on this?”

“You’re using your own guys?” Zander asked. “What if it goes wrong—”

“You know what, Smith? I think we can handle it from here” Nico rose to his feet. “You did good for us, helping to get Morgan out of here. And that’s what you really wanted, isn’t it? So let’s just walk away. You go back to Ruiz and Miami, and leave Port Charles to us.” His dark eyes glinted. “It’s a one time offer. You go now, and we’ll call it quits.”

It was supposed to be a warning, but Zander didn’t feel threatened.  “You know what? He smirked as he stood. “Not a problem. I wanted Jason Morgan gone. He’s gone. You can do what you want with what’s left.”

Once he was in his car in the parking lot, he made a short call to Hector Ruiz’s suite at the Port Charles Hotel before heading to the airport.

This was going to fall apart tomorrow, and Roscoe and Nico were going to get themselves killed, but not before they surrendered Zander and Alcazar’s name. And probably even toss in Ruiz’s for good measure.

Zander wanted to make sure Luis Alcazar and Hector Ruiz knew which side he was on once the shit hit the fan.

A Room Across from the No Name

Jason edged the blinds back from the window, adjusting the scope of his rifle. “You got your guys around the corner?”

“Yeah,” Johnny said as he loaded a magazine into his handgun. “They’re watching the traffic. And we got cars on either end of the street ready to block any cars.” He joined Jason at the window. “How do you think they’re gonna do it?”

“They haven’t done anything we expected,” Jason said after a moment. “You’d think a drive by, but—”

“You get the sense these assholes have watched Godfather one too many times,” Johnny muttered. “It’s not supposed to be a manual, but some of these assholes—”

“The restaurant has been cleared twice. And yeah, they checked the bathrooms,” Jason added dryly. He checked his watch. “They’re already inside, so they probably won’t make a move before the meeting was over.”

“And if they don’t make a move?”

“I’m gonna take a lawyer to the PCPD in the morning and tell them I was out of town.” Jason sighed. “Who is replacing Alexis? Did Sonny find someone?”

“The new partner in her practice checked out for now—” Johnny hesitated. “Listen, man, this isn’t my business and it’s not really the kind of friendship we have, but you should go to Elizabeth before the PCPD—”

“It’s not your business,” Jason said shortly.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s just—Sonny told me she didn’t know. And that he eventually did tell her, but I overheard her arguing with Carly—I just wanted a coffee, and they were going at it in the courtyard—”

“Johnny.”

“She just seemed like she was really going after Carly about it being her fault for destroying your life or something. And taking away her future with you.” He shrugged. “I just…thought it was a weird way to say it if she knew the truth. Are you sure—”

“He told her. Or he brought her to the house and sent her inside so I could tell her,” Jason muttered.

“I don’t know her that well, but, hell, man, we all know about her and you. I just figured after everything, you’d tell her—”

“Johnny—”

“Not my circus, not my monkeys,” the warehouse manager muttered as he peered through the curtain again. “Just seemed a bit…cruel. But I guess that’s Sonny’s influence. He never did forgive Carly for last year, and hell, Brenda really broke him into pieces. He probably didn’t think Elizabeth would be able to handle it.” Johnny eyed him. “Just surprised you agreed.”

“I didn’t—” Jason shook his head. He didn’t explain himself to anyone, but— “Sonny was supposed to tell her the truth but he backed out at the last minute. Said something about Roscoe’s guys watching her at the diner.”

“Yeah, I’ll admit he was sort of right on that. Dock workers were practically living there for a few days, and I caught a few of Nico’s guys last week. I guess they were testing her—and then you know, that crap with Zander. I mean, I guess it was useful that she didn’t have to pretend when it really mattered, but hell, still seems cold to me.”

Johnny waited, but Jason said nothing. What could he say? That yeah, Sonny had been partially right—that Elizabeth was probably the reason these assholes thought he was dead. Did that make it right? Just because Sonny’s gamble had worked, it made it okay?

“You never said what you think they’re gonna do—” Johnny said finally.

“Drive-by is the easiest. If it were anywhere else, maybe they’d have someone walk up to take the shot, and have the car waiting, but—”

“Not enough people around to make that work.” Johnny rolled his shoulders. “How long do you think this meeting is going to last?”

No Name Restaurant: Back Room

 

Sonny kept his face expressionless as Sammy Tagliatti expressed concern about the rise in drug traffic and Daniel Vega asked about the two arsons at his club.

At the other end of the table, Hector and Anthony just smirked at him. He couldn’t wait for those assholes to die—then again, considering that the Ruiz sons were worse than the father, maybe not.

“We’ve been having some issues,” Sonny granted. “We’ve narrowed it down and will likely be taking care of it in a few days. A week, maybe more—”

“Convenient,” Tagliatti growled.

“We’ve had our eye on some of the men who worked with Sorel.” Sonny spread his hands out, as if to say What can you do? “I had hopes for some of the men, but anyone who followed that idiot probably isn’t going anywhere anyway. We’re just wrapping up some things—make sure we have all the loose ends.”

“Care to be more specific?” Zacchara asked, lifting one bushy eyebrow.

“No. Your shipments will get through. With the exception of the warehouse explosion—which the police ruled an accident, by the way, no one here has been inconvenienced.” Sonny shrugged. “I don’t know what we’re doing here. You’re making more money with me in the last year than you did any year since…fuck, when have you made more money?”

“He’s not wrong about that,” Vega allowed to the others. “Still—”

“I don’t micro manage your territories,” Sonny continued. “We all got idiots who work for us. Some of them are even related to us,” he said in Ruiz’s direction. “I’m working through it. Losing Jason Morgan—that was a personal blow. Not a business blow. He wasn’t involved anymore.”

“Please.” Ruiz snorted. “He fired the boy you sent to me—”

“Because the idiot harassed Jason’s girlfriend. And then punched her in a bar fight. He’s lucky he walked out of Port Charles breathing.”

“Are you satisfied, Hector?” Tagliatti asked. “You called this meeting.”

The elder Cuban man sent a scathing glare at the Philadelphia don, who just shrugged. A chill slid down Sonny’s spine.

If Zander was a spy—had fed someone information on the organization and Jason’s habits—and Ruiz himself had asked for a meeting—

“Is there anything else?” Sonny asked. He rose to his feet. “If not, I have a territory to run.”

“Get it straightened out,” Zacchara said with a snarl. “Or I won’t be backing you the next time an upstart comes after you.”

“Hey, you do what you gotta do.” Sonny shrugged. “Now if you’ll excuse me.” He turned and waited as Max helped him into his overcoat. “Have a nice dinner.”

He strode out of the back room, across the dining room—sparsely populated—and then stopped for just a moment in the lobby, peered out through the glass door.

—-

Across the street, Johnny flipped open his phone to take a call. “Yeah?” He looked at Jason. “A car is making a turn—driving slowly.”

Jason exhaled slowly, slid the curtain open slightly, checked his rife again. “Make sure we’re in position at the end of the block.”

“You got it.”

——

“Boss?” Max asked.

“Stay behind me when we go out,” Sonny murmured to Benny and Max. “You’re not wearing vests—”

“Boss—”

“Sonny—”

“I’ll go outside, and you two go for the car.” Sonny turned to his guard and manager. “Go quickly. Get around the corner. If they make a move, I don’t want any casualties.”

He opened the door.

——

“Car is fifty feet away,” Jason murmured as he trained the rifle scope. He watched as Sonny stepped out, and then Max and Benny moved away from the mobster, disappearing towards the parking lot.

“Twenty feet.”

“It’s slowing down,” Johnny said from the other window.

—-

Sonny saw the car before he saw the window sliding down. He ducked away, moving fast towards the valet booth that had been left empty for the evening, but before he could make it to safety, the night exploded with gunfire.

Pop! Pop! Pop!

 

Sonny gritted as lead dug into his shoulder, the metal burning its way through skin. Another in his leg.

But the gunfire didn’t stop—bullets were raining down the front of the No Name—

As  Sonny slumped to the ground and turned his head slightly towards the street, he saw men going towards the building where Jason and Johnny were staked out.

And then everything went black.

Elizabeth & Gia’s Apartment: Living Room

Elizabeth grimaced as a disgusting demon began slicing pieces of Willow’s skin and eating it. “Jesus Christ, what is this stuff? I liked it better when it just was badly dressed vampires—”

“Just tell me when it’s over,” Gia muttered, putting her hands over her eyes.

Footsteps pounded down the stairs and then they both heard fist against the door. “Gia! You open this door right now!”

Gia frowned as Elizabeth switched off the television. “Marcus? What on Earth is wrong with you—” She yanked open the door. “Civilized—”

“Did you know?” Taggert demanded as he shoved his way past his sister and turned angry eyes at Elizabeth. “Did you?”

Elizabeth just stared at him, shook her head. “Did I—”

“Marcus, what the damn hell is wrong with you?” Gia slapped his shoulder. “Tell us what’s going on or you can get out. We have rights—”

“There was a shooting at the No Name tonight,” Taggert bit out. “Sonny is on his way to the hospital.”

Elizabeth swallowed. “Is—what happened? Why would I know that?”

“Because shots were fired in another building across the street,” he continued. “And several men are also on their way to the hospital with injuries. Including Morgan.”

“What?”

Elizabeth didn’t have to fake the shock and fury as she shot to her feet. The paralyzing fear that they had gone through all of this for nothing—that Jason would still be critically injured enough to go to the hospital when she damn well knew the organization took care of non-threatening conditions on their own.

“What are you talking about?” she demanded, her voice trembling. “That’s not—That’s not possible!”

“Marcus, you were here the day after he died. Why the hell do you think she would know anything? How the hell is Jason in the hospital? He’s dead. We buried him.” Gia hesitated. “Didn’t we?” She cast her eyes to Elizabeth. “Sonny—he never let—”

“You told me not to insist on seeing him,” Elizabeth said, as tears slid down her cheeks. Nothing about this was false, she realized. The disgust she felt in lying—in using Taggert’s affection for her—to keep Jason and Sonny’s secret—

It was easy to make that disgust look like shock and horror.

“Sonny told me he was dead. Why would he do that if it’s not true?” Elizabeth shook her head. “No. They—they were wrong. It’s someone else. How am I supposed to trust any of you? You all—there were photos, weren’t they? And someone performed—” And then she simply stopped. “I don’t understand what’s going on.”

“You got the sensitivity of an ox,” Gia muttered, smacking her brother’s arm again. “What’s going on? Are you sure it’s him? She’s right. Y’all fucked it up the first time, and now—”

“We’ll get to the bottom of it, you can be sure. I got a page from Capelli at work. He’s cleaning up the scene—not there’s much of a scene.” Taggert hesitated. “I don’t know anyone’s injuries—” He stopped as his beeper vibrated at his belt. He took it out, grimaced. “I gotta report to the station.” He looked at Elizabeth. “I’m—I’m sorry.”

“If this is true,” Elizabeth said slowly, “then…I don’t know. I don’t think it’s you who needs to be sorry.” She looked at Gia. “Can we go? I don’t think I can drive.”

“Yeah, yeah, sure.” Gia reached for her purse. “Can we show you the way out, Marcus? You moron.”

“Yeah, yeah, shut up,” her brother muttered as he led the way into the tiny landing that separated the two apartments on the second floor of the Brownstone. He hurried down the steps as Gia locked the door behind her.

Elizabeth couldn’t bring herself to move until the front door had closed behind him. “So this is how it’s gonna be—”

“My brother is an idiot—”

“He wasn’t wrong. I did know—”

“You didn’t know that it was all gonna blow up like this. What the fuck is wrong with these people? They can’t ever give you a heads up?” Gia scowled as she and Elizabeth started down the stairs.

“Are you surprised?” Elizabeth asked. Gia pulled open the front door, allowing the chill of October to fill the foyer. “Because I’m not.” She sighed. “Nothing surprised me anymore. Let’s just get this over with.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2002

AJ & Courtney’s Home: Living Room

The special report from WKPC faded to black, the red breaking news alert proclaiming the resurrection of Jason Morgan lasting seconds longer.

Courtney pressed the power button on the remote and turned to Michael whose brow was furrowed. “Michael?”

“I told you,” the little boy said calmly. “It was like Mommy.” He frowned at his stepmother and father, both of whom were in shock. “How come this keeps happening? Why don’t people know how to tell when people are dead and not?”

“Um…” AJ blinked. How did he explain this when he didn’t know what he was thinking himself?

“I hope ‘Lizabeth knew,” Michael continued in that wise beyond his years tone that AJ was beginning to worry about. They’d be lucky if he didn’t spend years in therapy at this rate. “She was really sad.”

Courtney hesitated. “I hope so, too,” she murmured. “Are…are you okay?”

“I told you he was okay,” Michael reminded her. “Is it time to brush my teeth?”

“Um, yeah. I’ll be up to tuck you in a minute.” AJ watched as Michael started towards the back of the house where bedrooms and bathroom were. When he heard the running water of the sink, he looked at his wife. “Do you think—”

“I think Sonny lied to her,” Courtney interrupted. “At first. She knew by the time Emily left, I think. I thought something was weird with her, you know? But what did I know? But yeah, I think he lied to her. And then told her.”

“For what—” AJ broke off. “Are…she lied to you, too, then.” And everyone else.

“Of course she did.” Courtney got to her feet and grabbed Michael’s discarded ice cream bowl. “What did you think she’d do? If she did know, and I’m only guessing she did, if she’d told me—I would have had to lie to you. Or break a promise to her. She didn’t put me in that position.” Courtney grimaced. “I should call her, but she’s probably at the hospital.”

AJ followed her into the kitchen and leaned against the counter, watching as Courtney loaded dishes into the dishwasher. “I don’t know what to think. I mean, he doesn’t owe me anything. Any…connection I thought we had, it’s mostly in my head, I know that—”

“Why would he fake his death on purpose?” Courtney asked, irritated. “Why would he put everyone through that? Your grandmother. Emily. Elizabeth. I’ll never believe she knew the entire time. I was there when Sonny came in. The light just went out of her, you know? You saw her.”

“Yeah, I guess.” AJ waited. “I’m angry. I’m pissed as hell at him for doing this to our family, but I guess…that doesn’t matter. They’re not his family.”

“Well, I imagine tonight you’ll have to get in line. There’s going to be a long line of people pissed at him.”

General Hospital: Emergency Room

 

Behind a curtain in the emergency room, Jason waited for someone to come deal with the deep bullet graze in his upper arm.

If he weren’t bleeding like a stuck pig, he’d already be out of the hospital. Already trying to find Elizabeth.

This was not how it was supposed to happen. This was supposed to be a clean operation, and Jason would have gone to her. Included her in the end of this. Let her know what was happening.

Instead, Jason knew she’d likely found out from the news or an interested party. By the time they had cleaned up the scene, got the cars out of there and arranged for Sonny to get to the hospital, the PCPD had been on the scene. They had only just managed to get the shooters to a secure location for questioning.

This entire plan had been a disaster from the moment they had concocted it, and Jason knew it was only going to get worse.

The curtain was shoved back as a furious Bobbie stalked past it, her dark eyes flashing. “You son of a bitch.”

“Bobbie—”

“IF you weren’t already shot, I’d take a gun to you myself—” Bobbie pressed her lips together and jerked a tray forward as she cut Jason’s t-shirt away from the shoulder wound. “What were you thinking? No, don’t answer that, I don’t know what the hell answer you could give—”

“I’m sorry—”

“Don’t bother with that either—”

She said nothing else as she focused on cleaning and bandaging the wound, but when she had taped the final piece on—

“You destroyed her.”

Jason didn’t need to ask what she meant or who Bobbie was talking about. He exhaled slowly. “Yeah. I know. It wasn’t—it wasn’t supposed to be like this—”

“When you came home last spring,” Bobbie said, her jaw so tight that it looked like stone, “we sat and talked about Elizabeth. About how she had worked so hard to put herself back together. I told you—”

“I know—”

“Then how could you do this to her?” Bobbie cried. “To me? To Michael? Why don’t any of us matter? How could you put any of this through this?”

“It wasn’t—” Jason stopped. He couldn’t make this go away. Couldn’t undo the damage. Bobbie was absolutely right. In the moment, he had agreed to a plan that completely dismantled his entire life.

And he couldn’t understand why.

“She was supposed to know,” Jason managed to say. “Sonny wasn’t supposed to—” He shook his head. “It doesn’t make it better—”

“No, it really doesn’t.” Bobbie closed her eyes. “I consider you part of my family, Jason. Not because of Michael or Carly. Or because of Elizabeth. Because of you. You watched me grieve for my daughter, and then consoled me when it turned out to be a lie. You were a lifeline to Elizabeth in her own grief. How could you think that this would be okay?”

“I—” Jason faltered. He swallowed. And was honest. “I thought as long as Elizabeth knew, that…it wouldn’t really matter to anyone else.”

“What?” Bobbie reared back, her eyes wide. “We thought you were dead—your grandparents, your entire family grieved for you. They may not always show it, but the Quartermaines loved you—” She paused. “Jason—”

“It’s not—” Jason shook his head. “I’m not Jason Quartermaine—”

“Do you think they don’t know that? Do you think that means they love you any less?” Bobbie demanded.  They can miss Jason Quartermaine and still love the man you are today.” She paused. “You’re trying to prove to the world that you’re not damaged, but you’re the only one who thinks so.”

“Yeah. Maybe.” Jason hesitated. “I have to go. I have to find Elizabeth—”

“You’re as good as you’re going to get,” Bobbie muttered. She sighed and then hugged him tightly. “Thank you for not being dead. You do anything this stupid again, and I’ll kill you myself.”

General Hospital: Emergency Room

Elizabeth was getting nowhere with the nurse behind the desk. She wasn’t family, so she didn’t get to know Jason Morgan’s status.

“A bunch of assholes,” Gia muttered as they stepped back from the desk. “C’mon, let’s try to find Bobbie—”

But before they could get far, Monica Quartermaine descended upon them.

“How could you?” Jason’s mother demanded angrily. “We allowed you into our home. You sat with Lila. You grieved—”

“Monica—” Elizabeth began, but her throat closed. “I didn’t—”

“What kind of person can be so cold? So cruel?”

“Whoa, whoa, back up—time out—” Gia waved her arms. “Dr. Quartermaine, she didn’t know—”

“You expect me to believe that Jason faked his own death and didn’t tell you?” Monica demanded, her words like claws raking down Elizabeth’s flaming cheeks.

“I don’t—” She couldn’t speak, so she just shook her head. “I can’t—”

“She didn’t know,” Gia repeated harshly, this time stepping between the doctor and her roommate. “You want to go at someone? Go drag Sonny Corinthos out of surgery and give him this shit. He came to Kelly’s and told her Jason had been shot in the head. Your goddamn hospital signed a death certificate. And you want come at Elizabeth? For what exactly?”

“I—” Monica faltered. She looked at Elizabeth. “I—”

“You’re not the only one who thinks she should have known. But she didn’t. My brother came over and shouted at her, too. We’re here trying to find out what the hell is going on, so why don’t you make yourself useful and tell us if he’s dead this time or not—”

“Gia—” Elizabeth said, weakly. “Don’t—”

“I just—”

A curtain shoved back and Jason strode out into the emergency room proper, Bobbie scowling behind him. He stopped short when he saw the three women standing there.

Monica took a step towards him. “Jason—” She swallowed hard. “You—how could you do this—”

Jason spared her a brief look before focusing on Elizabeth. “Hey. I’m sorry—this wasn’t—”

It wasn’t until this moment that Elizabeth realized that part of her had thought that day at the safe house was a hallucination. That yes, she had known Jason was alive, but she hadn’t…accepted the reality of that.

Part of her had still kept going as if it weren’t true.

Except it was true. Jason was alive, he’d faked his death, she’d been forced to lie, and now he was standing here in the middle of the emergency room—looking at her as if nothing had changed.

As if he hadn’t been all but dead for a month.

As if she hadn’t grieved for him. Mourned him. Buried him.

“I’m sorry, I can’t—” She sucked in a deep breath. “I can’t do this—”

She spun around and rushed out the doors.

Jason started after her, but Monica stepped in front of him. “You lied to her,” she said flatly. “And you lied to everyone else. I don’t know you don’t give a damn me or your father, but I would have thought Emily and Lila mattered.”

“Monica—” Jason took a deep breath. “Listen. I can’t—I have to go fix this—”

“Fix it?” Monica laughed harshly. “You think I’m going to be the only person who assumed she knew? Apparently, I’m not even the first person tonight to come after her, and for that I’ll have to apologize—but how in the hell do you think you can fix this? You pretended to be dead, Jason.”

“I know that!” Jason snapped.

“Your grandfather went into his suite with Lila for days,” Monica said simply. “He looks a thousand years older. And Lila was devastated. Emily could barely breathe through her tears. You wanted to be free of the Quartermaines, Jason? This might finally do it.  I don’t know how any of us could ever trust you again.”

She stepped aside. “But go ahead. Go fix things with Elizabeth, if you can. At least someone’s opinion matters to you.”

General Hospital: Parking Lot

Outside, in the parking lot, when the bitter wind hit her cheeks, the tears began to freeze against her skin. Elizabeth stopped and turned back to Gia.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

“I’m not sure there’s a manual for this, Liz—”

“I just—” She shook her head. “I can’t do this. I don’t know how to do this. I thought I knew—I knew people were going to be angry, but—” Elizabeth sighed. “You shouldn’t keep…going after people on my behalf, Gia—”

“First of all, I’m not even lying. You didn’t know,” Gia said flatly. “Who gives a shit if you found out later? It doesn’t change the fact that you didn’t lie. Not on purpose. And by the time you did, what choice did you have? And it’s no one’s god damn business what you knew. They ain’t paying your bills. You don’t owe anyone anything, Elizabeth. Just yourself.”

“I wish I believed that,” she murmured.

The door opened behind them, and Jason strode out. “Elizabeth—”

“What part of her running away did you not get, you jackass?” Gia snarled. She poked at him. “And what the hell did I say about hurting her? You think I’m afraid of you—”

“Gia—” Elizabeth sighed. “Go get the car, okay? I’ll…I’ll be right there. We should check in with Courtney.”

“Yeah, hopefully she’s still talking to you,” Gia said with another dirty look towards Jason. But mercifully, she stalked off to do as Elizabeth asked.

“I’m sorry,” Jason said, but she couldn’t see him that well in the dim lights of the parking lot. Couldn’t see his eyes.  “I can’t go back and not—can we just go somewhere and talk?” He paused. “Please.”

That was the last thing Elizabeth wanted to do because she didn’t know what the hell she was going to say, but then she saw a dark sedan turn into the lot. She knew that car—it was always parked outside the Brownstone.

The PCPD had arrived.

Elizabeth waited until the car had parked and the doors had opened before she spoke again.

“The last thing I want to do is go anywhere with you,” she said.  “You think you being alive is enough? You think I’m just going to run and jump into your arms because it was a lie? You lied to me, Jason. And—” Her voice broke. “How am I ever supposed to trust you again?”

“Elizabeth—”

“Trouble in Paradise, Anger Boy?” Taggart mocked as he and Capelli approached.

She saw Jason frown—had he not seen them before now? Hadn’t he seen them pull in as well?

“What, are you here to yell at me some more?” Elizabeth demanded, coolly. “You gonna haul me in with Jason?”

Some of the swagger disappeared from Taggert as they closed the distance between them. “Elizabeth, I’m sorry—”.

And for the first time in weeks, the universe was on her side, because Gia pulled up then. Elizabeth opened the car, and then looked at Jason again. “I think you’re going to have your hands too full to worry about me, anyway. Wouldn’t be the first time.”

She got into the car, and Gia drove away.

“So that last dig—” she said after a long moment. “Was that for my brother’s benefit?”

“Not entirely.” Elizabeth let her forehead rest against the window. “Let’s go to Courtney’s. If she’s gonna yell at me, too, I’d rather get it over with tonight.”

“She won’t. I only said that to get at Jason.” Gia paused. “If my brother hadn’t showed up—”

“He wanted to go somewhere and talk.”

“Would you have gone?”

“No.” Elizabeth sighed. “No. I can’t—I don’t know what I would say to him. I’m so angry, Gia. So hurt. I don’t know what supposed to be feeling. How I’m supposed—”

“Stop worrying about what you’re supposed to do, Liz. And just do what feels right. You want him to give you space while things settle? Then do that. You want him to get away from you because you won’t be able to look at him again? Then do that. But stop worrying about what you’re supposed to do.”

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Workshop: Bittersweet Rewritten

This next section represents the period where Liz finds out the truth and has to lie. Roughly Chapter Twenty-Four through Twenty-Seven. Some of this stuff, particularly this first scene where Liz finds out the truth, was sooo hard to cut. Because I really did kind of want this confrontational moment with Jason and Liz. But I just kind of accepted that I didn’t think Jason would plan to fake his own death the way Sonny did. Still, I’m glad people will be able to read it now 😛


Stone Cottage: Living Room

A part of Jason had already accepted that Sonny had been lying to him in some sort of way. He must have known it.

Because when Sonny pushed open the door, and Elizabeth walked inside—

It was written on her face.

And he wasn’t surprised.

“What—” Her lips formed the word, but the sound was so faint. Her face, already so fair, paled. She stepped forward, just a moment. Swayed.

“J-Jason?”

“Elizabeth.” He stepped around an arm chair, started across the room towards her—and then she was in his arms, sobbing, clinging to him.

“Oh, my God. You’re alive—” Her fingers, cold and trembling, framed his cheeks, her fingernails scraping against his skin as she touched him. “Are you real? Is this happening? What’s going on? I—I don’t understand—”

Jason took her hands in his, bringing them to his lips, kissing them. Fighting the anger that boiled within. Behind Elizabeth, Sonny stood as if made from stone in the open doorway.

“I’m real,” he murmured. He kissed her mouth, her lips trembling as she pressed herself against him, returning his caresses greedily.

For a moment, he forgot the man behind them and just—lost himself in this woman he loved, this woman who had believed him to be dead.

Because in a few minutes—Elizabeth would start to think.

And this might be the last time he would be able to touch her.

“I don’t understand. Why didn’t you tell anyone? Where have you been? What happened—” Her words tumbled over one another as if her brain couldn’t keep up and then cut off as if someone had switched off a radio.

Elizabeth stepped back—and then she looked back at Sonny. Then to Jason, who just stood there. What could he say? How could he make this better?

There was no going back. No way to make this not happen.

“It’s my fault,” Sonny said quietly. “I’m sorry.”

“S-sorry—” Elizabeth pressed her hands to her mouth as the truth begin to sink in. She stepped back. Stepped away from them both. “Oh, God.” Her voice was harsh now, almost a whisper torn from her soul. “Oh, God. It was a lie.”

“Elizabeth—” Jason began, but stopped. What the hell could he possibly say? He cast a hot glare at his supposed best friend. “You son of a bitch.”

“I did it,” Sonny said, looking at her. Not making eye contact with him. “I lied to you, Elizabeth. Not Jason.”

“I-I d-don’t understand—” She shook her head. Then took a deep breath. She held her hand up, her palm slowly closing in a tight fist. “You told me he was dead. A week ago. You came to Kelly’s. You—You told me—”

“You were supposed to tell her the truth,” Jason said, his hands in fists at his side. “What the hell—”

“I got to Kelly’s,” Sonny said slowly. “And Roscoe’s men were in there. They were in there all day, weren’t they, Elizabeth?”

With angry eyes, she nodded firmly. “If you mean the rush of dock workers we had from about 4 until-until—yes. They were—is that why you did it?”

“They were there to watch you,” Sonny continued. “If I pulled you aside, it wouldn’t—they wouldn’t believe it. I thought they’d act—I didn’t think we’d go this far, Elizabeth.” He looked to Jason, anguished. “I thought they’d make a move within days. But they didn’t believe it at first—”

“I don’t give a damn about them!” Jason cut in. “You told me you would tell her—”

“Why didn’t you?” Elizabeth said quietly. “Sonny doesn’t owe me anything.” She looked at him as Sonny flinched.  “Not friendship. Not loyalty. Those are just words. He never promised me anything—”

“Elizabeth—”

“But you—” Those gorgeous eyes he loved so much turned to him, and he could see in her eyes that he’d been right.

She would never forgive this lie.

“You did. So why didn’t you tell me?”

“He couldn’t. Everything happened—”

“Get out, Sonny,” Jason said in a low voice. “Get out. You’ve said your piece.”

“But—”

“Get out,” he repeated for the third time, and this time, Sonny did with a slow exhale. When the door closed behind him, Jason looked back at Elizabeth. “Please. Please sit down. Let me try—You have a right to be angry, but please, before you walk out—before you—”

Elizabeth closed her eyes. “An hour ago, I was at your funeral,” she said softly. “And all I could think was…you didn’t belong in the ground.”

His chest ached as pressure built in his head. She’d thought he was dead. If he’d been a man who could dream, this would have been the stuff of nightmares. “Elizabeth—”

“I—I told Sonny we had done it wrong. That you needed to be free, and he brought me here. Because I wanted to talk about cremating you so we could let you be free. I was so scared you wouldn’t be able to rest in peace, stuck in the goddamn ground, and I guess that was too far for him—”

“I’ve been asking to talk to you since the minute it happened,” Jason cut in. “I told him if he didn’t bring you today, I would contact you myself. Elizabeth—”

“In the middle of Kelly’s, where I work, in front of my best friends and strangers, Sonny told me you had been shot.” Elizabeth’s eyes burned into his. “And that I couldn’t see you because you’d been shot in the head.”

God damn it. Jason closed his eyes, bowed his head. “Let me—”

“And whatever crime scene you faked, whoever you paid to doctor the photos,” Elizabeth said with a snarl, “must be worth every penny because Taggert of all people told me the same. He hates you, Jason, and he was almost in tears when he was telling me not to insist on seeing the body. That you wouldn’t want that to be my last memory—” She turned away, pressing her fist against her mouth.

“I’ve sat with your grandmother, with Emily. With AJ. With Michael. God, Bobbie. All these people who love you. Who are grieving tonight as I stand here, racked with guilt. Michael—Michael—” She laughed harshly as he began to understand that there was no form of this lie Elizabeth would have been able to look past.

“Michael is the only one of us who knows how screwed up everyone in this world is because he says you’ll come back just like—” Elizabeth closed her mouth. “Carly. Just like Carly.”

“Elizabeth, I can—”

“There’s no explanation you can give me that will change the last week.” Elizabeth shook her head. “I haven’t been able to focus. Haven’t been able to think, but now—she came to see me last week and I told her to go to you. She did, didn’t she?”

“Yeah.” There was no point in trying to avoid it. Jason could see now that it was always going to come back to this. To Carly.

“And because of what she said, you faked your death—what, was she supposed to set you up? Was that the deal?” Elizabeth demanded. “And you went along with it?”

“It all happened fast. Please just give me a second—”

“Carly came to you because she was supposed to set you up in an ambush. And you went.” Elizabeth stared at him for a long time.

There was maybe a handful of feet between them, but it might as well have been thousands for as far away as she felt right now.

“Someone kidnapped her,” Jason began, even as he told himself not to. That trying to explain Carly’s actions would not help. But he had to be honest. Had to hope he could change her mind. Keep her from leaving. “If I hadn’t gone to the meeting—”

“Then they would know she had told you the truth.” Elizabeth snorted. “Of course. So you leapt at the first dumb ass plan you and Sonny could concoct to keep Carly safe.” She shook her head. “So what’s the plan, Jason?”

“What?” Jarred by the abrupt change in topic.

“Sonny said this was supposed to be over by now,” she said, her tone so scathing he almost didn’t recognize her voice. “What’s the endgame? How long am I going to have to pretend to be the grieving girlfriend?”

“I—” He faltered. “I don’t know. I wanted to tell you the truth—”

“So I could lie to everyone and grieve for you while you destroyed your life to save Carly.” Elizabeth nodded. “Great. You get a gold star—” She stopped. “That’s not fair. I’m—I get it, Jason. It happened fast. You did the best you could under the circumstances.”

The words should have been reassuring.

They weren’t.

“Elizabeth—”

“So we’re just…waiting for something to happen that will tell you who kidnapped Carly or who’s the big bad or something?” Elizabeth asked with an arch of her brow. “That sounds like a great plan.”

“It’s—” An idiotic plan, Jason could see that now. And he couldn’t quite understand how it happened. How they had managed to talk themselves into it.

“I’ll do what I’m supposed to do.” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “This last week has been—I’ve been drowning. Reminding myself to take my next breath. Berating myself for missing time with you. For not having a future with you. And now it’s a lie. So I need to go, Jason. Because I am so angry—so destroyed by all of it that—” Her voice trembled.

Jason stepped forward. “Elizabeth—”

“I need time. I need to space. Because I—” She took a deep breath. “Because it does matter you didn’t intend to put me through that. And I can’t seem to—I can’t seem to separate my anger from knowing that. And I stay here, I’m going to keep talking. And I’m going to say things I can’t ever take back, and they might not even be true.”

She came to him then, placing a cold hand on his cheek and kissing him again.  He clung to her, because now he really thought this was the last time. That she was, in her own way, saying good bye.

And he didn’t have the words to make it stop.

“I love you,” she told him, but the words weren’t in her eyes. Not like they had been before. Those beautiful eyes were closed to him in a way he didn’t understand. Had never seen. “And thank God you’re still alive. Because I need you here to be angry with. I love you, Jason. But I have to go.”

“I love you, too.”

She stepped back. “I’ll send Sonny back in so you can yell at him.” Elizabeth paused with a bitter sigh. “I think he genuinely thought if you didn’t lie, it wouldn’t be so bad. God, he really doesn’t get it.”

She opened the door and beckoned for Sonny to come back in. “Here’s how this is going to go. I’m going to go wait in the car for you,” she told Sonny in a clipped tone that suggested very strong that she wasn’t going to take any arguments.

“You’ll talk about whatever the hell you have to talk about. And then we’ll drive back together. You’ll take me to the Brownstone,” Elizabeth continued. “Don’t say a word, Sonny. Because for now, I’m cooperating. But I’ve decided I do blame you for Jason’s death which is why I’m going to be angry as hell when I see you in public. I think people will understand that.”

“I didn’t—”

“And when this is over…we’ll…” Elizabeth faltered as if she didn’t quite have all the energy she needed to push her bravado to the finish. “We’ll see what’s left.”

And then she was gone.

Sonny turned to Jason. “I never—I never wanted that. I wanted it to be my fault—”

“I told you,” Jason said, his voice raw. “If Elizabeth thought I was dead, she’d never forgive me. You heard what you wanted to hear, Sonny. And if she doesn’t—” He shook his head. He couldn’t think about it. Couldn’t even say it out loud. “Let’s talk about what the hell we need to do to end this.”

Elizabeth & Gia’s Apartment: Living Room

She made it as far as her apartment before she couldn’t stand it anymore. She had made some small talk with Lucas downstairs—mercifully, Bobbie was still at the Quartermaine mansion, but there was no way Elizabeth would make an appearance there now.

Jason was alive.

He was alive.

It had all been a lie.

And she would have to keep lying to the people she loved. To the people to whom she had promised better. She’d told Jason she would cooperate, and she meant it. She would never be vindictive and petty enough to blow up their plan, as idiotic as it sounded.

She made her way into the living room and blinked at her roommate at the dining table, cursing at some books. “G-Gia—you were supposed to be—”

“I have a quiz tomorrow.” Gia rose to her feet. “I didn’t expect you back so soon. Did dinner go okay? You look like hell—”

“He’s alive.”

The words rushed out of her mouth almost before Elizabeth knew she was going to say them, but once they were in the air—

She didn’t want to take them back.

She just wanted this one person she could be honest with. This one person she knew she could trust.

Gia just stared at her for a long moment before sitting back down. “Jason. Jason is alive.”

Elizabeth nodded. And she swayed, falling to her knees. Sucking in deep breaths. Struggling too keep herself from blacking out.

Had it just been hitting her? Had it just been sinking in? Jason was alive.

It was a lie.

Gia came to her side, helped her to sit on the sofa. “Hey, hey—”

“I didn’t know. I didn’t know, I swear to God, I didn’t know—”

“Of course you didn’t.” Gia took her coat and tossed it over the side of the armchair before rising and stalking into the kitchen. “We’re opening the good wine.”

“I can’t—I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I don’t even—I don’t understand how they could do this—” Elizabeth closed her eyes, but accepted the wine glass Gia handed her.

“Okay. Deep breath. Let’s take this step by step. What happened after you left the church?”

“I—I was just struck by how wrong it was,” Elizabeth murmured. “I thought—Jason shouldn’t be buried, right? You know, so I wanted Sonny to help me fix it. I didn’t even know who would be responsible for any of that—”

“You are, sort of.” Gia sipped her wine. “You know I’m working with Alexis part-time for my internship program. We were preparing the will reading for next week, and Alexis mentioned some things. Jason changed his will like…three months ago, right after I guess you guys got serious. You and Sonny are co-executors. He left Emily some money, something for Michael. Sonny gets the business. You get everything else.”

Elizabeth just stared at her. “What? Are you even allowed to—”

“Fuck them. I could care less about that, but just in case it comes up again—you’re co-executor. And fuck Jason for not telling you any of this. Anyway.” Gia coughed. “Carry on.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth sipped her wine, trying to gather herself. She took Gia through the strange car ride with Sonny, the shock and joy at seeing again, the horror as the lie set in. And…the despair of learning that he’d done it to save Carly.

“You know, I wondered if she was involved in some way,” Gia said after a long moment. “Bobbie said Jason had sent Carly to talk to her that night—that’s why they were at Kelly’s together. But I figured…what good would it do you to think that way? But Jesus…he faked his death and you’re telling me they don’t have an endgame? Some goddamn mobsters they’re turning out to be.”

“Sonny seemed to think—” Elizabeth sighed and shook her head. “I don’t know. That it was supposed to be fast. That it…would be just days. But apparently, they’re not taking it for  granted that Jason is dead. I mean, faked crime scene photos—anyone can do that. But following a grieving girlfriend around? Sure.”

And then she thought about the night before, when Zander had showed up out of nowhere. God. Had that been—

She sighed. She should probably tell Sonny, but she didn’t want to have anything to do with him right now. Maybe she could get a message to him or something.

Gia hesitated. “You said that Jason was pissed that Sonny lied. Doesn’t that—doesn’t that mean he was going to tell you? He didn’t want you to go through this—”

“He just wanted me to pretend he was dead and lie to my friends and family. Put them through hell worrying about me.” Elizabeth took a long swallow of the wine, trying to burn the look in Jason’s eyes out of her brain.

He’d looked so…devastated that she’d believed the lie, so honestly upset with Sonny, that she had nearly set aside her own anger.

But she couldn’t. She couldn’t ignore it.

“He blew up his life to save Carly from herself,” Elizabeth said slowly. “How do I ignore that?”

“I—” Gia closed her mouth. “I don’t know.”

“His first instinct when Carly came to him with whatever insane story she cooked up was to create a plan that kept her safe. That was his first concern. Not that she’d set him up, but how to make sure she stayed out of trouble.”

“Elizabeth—”

“And Sonny agreed with him.”

“I know, but—”

“How do I know this is the last time?” she demanded. “A year from now, is Jason gonna go to her rescue? Is he gonna leave me to take care of her? What about two years? What if we had—” She closed her eyes. “The first time I fell asleep after Sonny told me, I had this really vivid dream, you know? It…was later. I don’t know when. But Jason was alive. And we were together. And there was this little boy. With his hair, his eyes, his smile. Our son.” Elizabeth closed her eyes again. She felt so weary, so exhausted by the world.

“And in my dream, his name was Jake. Because that’s where we fell in love, and I could remember in the dream thinking he’d like that when he grew up and we told him that story. That maybe his parents had been cool enough once to live over a bar. To get into bar fights and kick—” She set the glass on the coffee table and dragged her hands through her hair.

“There’s nothing stopping you guys from having that dream, Liz,” Gia murmured. “But I guess you’re wondering—”

“If he’ll ever be able to put me first.” Elizabeth’s lip trembled. “I know he loves me, Gia. And I know he wanted me to know the truth. But I’m not his first instinct. I’m not his priority—”

“That’s not fair…” Gia shook her head. “Look, I’m no fan of any of this, but—”

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I can’t make myself think about any of this without just…” She sighed. “I’ve got time to sort this out. I don’t know,” she repeated. “How much of what I’m dealing with is just…shock and…anger. I had to leave because I think I came close to saying that  to him. To accusing him not giving a damn about me—because I know that’s not true. I just…I don’t know if he even understood that what he’s doing to me—what he wants me to do—is exactly what I promised myself I would stop doing.”

“Lying?” Gia asked. After a moment, she sighed. “We can’t tell Courtney.”

“God, no.” Elizabeth shook her head. “She would keep the secret, but I don’t want to put her in that position. Not with AJ involved. I wouldn’t do that to her. She matters too much. And of course, I need you to lie to Taggert—”

Gia waved that away. “Not a problem. I do that anyway.”

“I just—I think I need to take this all in. I can’t make any decisions, because I’m not even sure it’s hit me yet—” Elizabeth finished her wine. “It hit me today at the funeral that he was dead. And I was…destroyed by the idea of him being closed up in that coffin, buried in the ground when he was supposed to be free—I had just come to this conclusion, just kind of finally let it sink in.

“Except it was a lie,” she continued. “And they both did this to me. They made me a liar again.” Her voice broke. “I don’t want to be a liar anymore.”

Friday, September 13, 2002

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

It should have been good news.

When Benny had arrived with the news that the Paradise strip club—the first club Sonny had ever owned—had burnt to the ground the night before, Sonny should have been relieved. No one had been hurt—but finally, someone was striking at them.

But all Sonny could think about was Elizabeth’s anguished face.

He made me Robin. Even if I had been told the truth, he did the one thing I begged him not to do…you shattered me, Sonny.

 

Even though Sonny had been the one to lie, even though he’d been careful about—he knew that neither he nor Jason had seen that coming—that Elizabeth would take her part in this plan as evidence that Carly came first.

That she would always come first.

And now he couldn’t get that accusation out of his head. Was it true? Had they defaulted to protecting her? He couldn’t quite remember if that had been the reason—only that it seemed to be without question that somehow Jason had to go to the meeting.

They had never entertained the proposition he would sit it out. They hadn’t talked about Carly. But maybe it had just been understood. Carly had to be protected.

“Sonny?” Benny asked, placing the phone back on the receiver. “Taggert is one his way up. I already called Alexis from across the hall.”

“What does Nico say about this?” Sonny asked as he poured himself a cup of coffee. “Have we talked to him yet?”

“Can’t get him on the phone.” Benny rubbed his forehead. “We got eyes on him and his crew, especially Lenny. Lenny’s boys torched the place.”

“Yeah?” Sonny pursed his lips “Interesting. You’d think Nico would protect the income. He can’t funnel the drug traffic through the clubs a well if he torches one of them. How does this play into it? And do we—”

“And one of Francis’s boys finally checked in overnight—the one we put on Roscoe. He met with Nico at the Oasis yesterday during the funeral.”

“At the Oasis?” Sonny snorted. “Fucker is getting cocky. Thought we wouldn’t notice—”

“This is what we wanted, isn’t it?” Benny asked. “The proof that they’re working together—”

They didn’t fake Carly’s death—”

“But we know Roscoe is working with whoever did. We grab him now—”

“Not yet.” Sonny looked away. “We—we need more. Anything less than the guy behind it all and it’ll be for nothing.” And if they walked away without new information they hadn’t had before the set-up at the pier—he would have destroyed Elizabeth for nothing.

He couldn’t live with that on his conscious.

Max knocked briefly, then opened the door. Taggert charged in just ahead of his lawyer. Alexis carefully avoided Sonny’s eyes as she whirled around to plant herself between the cop and Sonny.

Nothing new there. She hadn’t allowed a moment alone between them since the night they’d slept together.

“We’ve been informed that my client’s property burned down,” Alexis said, her tone clipped. “I suggest you make this quick and go find out—”

“A lot of loss lately, Corinthos,” Taggert interrupted with a scathing tone. “The warehouse and all those men. Your partner. What’s one more strip club after all that? Those girls not turning a profit?”

Sonny just blinked at him. Silence drove the asshole crazy.

“Are you here to report something to my client or do you intend to harass him—”

“You know what? I’m sick of you mouth pieces,” Taggert hissed. “Your partner’s girlfriend barely leaves her apartment. She’s sick over him, and you did that to her. You and Anger Boy. You brought her into your world and let her think you were good men. You’re nothing. And one day, Corinthos, I’m going to prove it to the world.”

He stalked out, slamming the door behind him.

Benny cleared his throat. “I should—”

“I’m leaving.” Alexis looked at Sonny. “I’ve represented you since Jason left town, but I need a break. I can’t—” She swallowed. “I can’t do it anymore. I have other things to worry about. Other priorities. And I just—I can’t do it.”

“Alexis—” Sonny took a step towards her but she shook her head.

“I’ve taken on a partner at the practice, and he’s been vetted. He’ll be taking over—you’re welcome to use him or not. I really don’t care.”

And then she was gone.

Benny sighed. “I have to go deal with the insurance company on the club. Sonny—” He looked at his boss. “Don’t let this plan go on too long. Last night, we only lost some property. The next time we might not be so lucky.”

Quartermaine Mansion: Terrace

Elizabeth embraced Emily lightly once more before stepping back with a tight smile. “I wish…God I wish you were home under better circumstances.”

She looked down at her feet—felt like the lie was written all over her face. How could anyone not see it?

Or had she just slipped back into her old habits? Like a second skin, apparently, lying—even lying by omission—was part of her DNA.

“I’ll be home at Christmas,” Emily said, with a tearful smile. “And then I’ll be here for medical school. I just— She looked at her sister-in-law. “I hate this is how we had to meet, because I’ve heard such good things, and AJ—he looks so good, except when he doesn’t.”

She sat down with a huff on the bench. “I just can’t bring myself to believe it. I keep thinking I’ll wake up and it’ll be a nightmare. Except I look at you, Elizabeth, and I don’t know how you’re breathing.”

Courtney frowned at Elizabeth slightly. “Were you able to sleep last night? I was worried about you after the viewing—and then you were so quiet at the cemetery.”

“I just hate the thought of him in the ground,” Elizabeth murmured. It wasn’t a lie. It wasn’t a lie.

It hadn’t been a lie.

“God, I know.” Emily shuddered. “I’m just going to have to…I’m going to remember him the way he was, you know? When he drove into the house on that bike. God, he drove everyone nuts, and I just—I have to think about him that way.”

Courtney sighed, touched Emily’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, Emily. That sounds useless, but I am sorry. I wish I had known him better. He…seemed like a really great guy.”

“He was the best.”

Monica stepped out onto the terrace, having changed from the dark suit she’d worn to the cemetery. “Hey, girls.” She touched Elizabeth’s shoulder. “How are you doing, Liz?”

“Managing,” Elizabeth murmured. “You?”

“The same,” Jason’s mother said with a sad sigh. “Wishing that things…had been different. That I had been able to accept him sooner.”

“Oh, Mom,” Emily said with a shuddering sigh. “He loved you. He even loved Grandfather, though he wanted to kill him most of the time. He was—” She closed her eyes. “God. I can’t think.”

“We have to leave for the airport,” Monica said, her voice trembling for a moment. “I’m sorry—”

“No, no,” Emily shook her head. “It’s okay. I have to—Jason wouldn’t want me to put my life on hold for him. You, either, Liz. Promise me you’re going to finish like you wanted to.” She embraced Elizabeth again. “If you still want to—”

“No, you’re right. Jason wouldn’t want us—us to stop being us.” Elizabeth hugged her back fiercely. “We just have to figure out how to do it.” She pulled back. “Now go finish UCLA so you can come home and we can all have wine night together.”

“I will.” Emily kissed her cheek and then followed her mother inside the terrace after hugging Courtney.

Elizabeth took her seat again and picked up the cup of tea, and then stopped as she realized Courtney was looking at her oddly. “What?”

“Nothing. You just…” Courtney shrugged. “Nothing. You just seem a bit better today.” She bit her lip. “I know you might want to pretend for Emily because of how close you are to her and how close she was to Jason, but—”

“I’m not…pretending.” Elizabeth hesitated, trying to pick her words carefully. “I’m just…trying to deal. Today…I’m okay. Tomorrow, I probably won’t be.” She bit her lip. “I promise, Courtney, I’m trying not to lie to myself.”

“Okay, I’m just…I’m worried for you. And for AJ. We’ve been staying here with Michael because it’s good for him to be around his family, but…we can’t stay forever. And eventually Michael is going to realize Jason’s really gone…” Courtney shook her head. “This all just sucks, Elizabeth. And I hate it.”

“Yeah…” Elizabeth’s eyes burned as she sipped her tea. “Yeah, it really sucks.”

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Johnny had managed the warehouse and shipments, and he had worked for them almost as long as Sonny could remember, but he had not been privileged to know the truth about Jason’s shooting.

That information had been kept to himself and Benny at first — as well as the paramedics and the pathologist Sonny had bribed to fill out certain forms and then quietly relocate after some time. The pathologist had left on vacation a week ago. Yesterday, Benny told him, the first of the paramedics had submitted the resignation. And a week from now, the third would leave Port Charles well.

Elizabeth, of course knew now, and Sonny suspected her roommate knew as well judging by the scathing looks Gia Campbell had aimed at him when he’d attempted to check on Elizabeth.

But Johnny did not know, and the grief was in his dark eyes as he told Sonny about some phone calls that had been sent his way.

“Tagliatti and Vega are not happy,” Johnny told him. “And they’ve been talking to Zacchara and Ruiz.”

“This, I did not need,” Sonny muttered. He looked at Benny. “What do we know about this crap? What’s their issue?”

“The warehouse explosion. Jason being ambushed and—” Johnny shook his head. “The drug trafficking—they don’t care that more drugs on the streets—”

“They care because it looks like I’m weak,” Sonny muttered.

“Nico and Lenny aren’t even trying to hide their profits anymore. They’re still cataloging it as alcohol sales for the IRS, but they’ve doubled their July take—and that was already quadrupling what they had been taking in before we started looking.” Benny rubbed the back of his neck. “But no one has made a move—”

“Well, it’s only been two weeks,” Sonny murmured. “Maybe whatever they’re trying to do takes time to set up. Taking out Jason—” And at this, he forced himself to pause, to let his voice break just a bit for Johnny’s benefit.

And if there was a tickle in the back of his throat that suggested that just maybe Sonny’s lies had taken out Jason anyway, he ignored it.

He was getting good at that.

Johnny scowled. “Why don’t we have any damn leads on what happened to him, Sonny? Why did he go to the warehouse? What the hell is going on—”

Sonny exchanged looks with Benny and reluctantly decided to bring Johnny into the circle. If the news got out at this point, he’d know where to look.

“The day of the meeting—” Sonny hesitated. “We learned that Roscoe was partially behind Carly’s disappearance. He took her, kept her drugged until mid-August, and then sent her home, her head filled with lies about how we were all happier without her—whatever. She could come home, but she couldn’t tell Jason what happened. He had to give her custody back.”

Johnny exhaled slowly. “I had a feeling she was involved,” he muttered. “She was at the warehouse that day—what, was she setting him up revenge?”

“It was supposed to be, but I guess Carly got cold feet when she realized that revenge wasn’t gonna be simple like turning on him.” Like she had for Sonny. Turning him in the federal government—that had stung more than the wire. It had taken months for Sonny to dig out from under the pile of shit Carly had handed him. “She told him everything. We knew it was an ambush—”

“And he still went? With no goddamn backup?”

“We decided,” Sonny said slowly, “that it would be a good idea if Roscoe and whoever is bankrolling him thought it had worked. I wanted to know what they would do if Jason were gone.”

Realization slowly filtered into Johnny’s expression as his scowl only deepened. “And you didn’t tell me? Damn it, Sonny. Jason and I have been working together since the beginning—if anyone should have been brought into this—”

“It was only me and Benny. And the necessary people to bribe,” Sonny said. “I didn’t even tell Jason’s girlfriend.”

Johnny’s head snapped back. “You didn’t tell Elizabeth? Holy shit, Sonny.”

“That’s not important right now,” Sonny said with a wave of his hand, irritated that even the men in his organization had expected him to bring in Elizabeth. What happened to the code? Tell no one anything ever.

Especially women.

“It wasn’t the best plan,” Benny said, with an irritated sigh. “But it was already too late to change it by the time I got involved. We thought they’d make a move within forty-eight hours. They didn’t.”

“Huh.” Johnny narrowed his eyes. “You know, I saw Elizabeth at Kelly’s yesterday—”

“Christ, can we get away from that—”

“She told me that Zander Smith had come up to her on the docks before the memorial service. She was upset when she saw him. And that it…just didn’t occur to her it might be related, but you know, it’s been a few weeks. She said her mind was starting to focus.”

More likely, Elizabeth had realized the possible connection and had waited for an opportunity to tell Sonny through an indirect source.

With sorrow for the friendship he had willingly sacrificed, Sonny nodded. “Did you check it out?”

“Yeah. Smith was in town, staying at some motel. He came in the day Elizabeth saw him. He told her some story about maybe wanting to see Emily, but she didn’t buy it. I don’t either. Because he checked out two days later. And I don’t think he talked to Emily at all. Stan found him on a flight back to Miami that day. I called a guy down there—and he said Zander was back at the dock, running his crew after a few days away.”

Benny tipped his head. “He was testing her.”

Sonny looked at his business manager. “How do you figure?”

“When we fired Smith, it was before the warehouse explosion. Nico said he’d relocated him, and it checked out with Ruiz. I didn’t think there was a reason Ruiz would cover for Nico, but maybe he wasn’t.”

Sonny sat down on the sofa, scrubbed his hands over his face. “Are we really worried about Zander Smith being involved? He’s a punk—”

“Who dated Jason’s sister and certainly spent enough time in the organization and around Emily’s circle to know the players.” Johnny pressed his lips together. “There was some doubt initially on the streets, but the media coverage of Elizabeth mostly solved that. He’d figure that Jason wouldn’t lie to Elizabeth about his own death.”

“But that was still weeks ago—”

“The Paradise burned that very night,” Benny reminded Sonny. “The time line fits. Arranging for Carly as an ambush, Sonny? That took someone who knows that Carly was capable of being turned. Even if was briefly. They went after Jason, not you.”

“And not Elizabeth,” Johnny pointed out. “Anyone else who wanted to get at Jason would go for the girlfriend. For his family. But someone who knows better—someone who kidnapped Jason’s sister and then was ruthlessly tracked down—Zander Smith knows that would get him nowhere. Go after someone Jason loves, he’ll take you apart. That’s his grieving process. He doesn’t fall apart as long as the threat is out there.”

“Take out Jason…” Sonny nodded. “You cripple the organization—”

“No,” Benny said with a shake of his head. “No, Jason’s not essential to the organization. He’s essential to you. If you take out Jason, and then go after you, Sonny—that cripples the organization. That’s a power play. The whole territory is up for grabs, with men like Nico and Roscoe ready to scoop it up.”

“They’re putting together a hit on me,” Sonny said after a moment. He exhaled slowly. “Well, fuck me. It’s not the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“And if Jason were actually gone?” Johnny shrugged. “They had a chance of it working. So we need to wait until an opportunity presents itself.” He hesitated. “Do we know who is bankrolling Roscoe? Because it’s not Zander or Nico.”

“Ruiz has to be involved,” Benny reminded Sonny. “So either it’s him or someone in his network. I’ll get in contact with some sources. See what they think.”

“I want to end this soon,” Sonny murmured. “The longer Jason is dead, the harder it will be for him to come back to his life.” He looked at Johnny. “For what it’s worth, I told Elizabeth after the memorial. So she knows.”

“Hey, not my monkeys, not my circus,” Johnny said, holding up his hands. “That’s Jason’s problem, not mine. She’s not the love of my life.”

“Johnny, you’re not helping,” Benny muttered.

Stone Cottage: Living Room

 

“The Families have asked for a meeting next week at the No Name?” Jason asked with some skepticism as Benny hung his coat on the hook by the door.

“Sonny isn’t convinced they’ll use the meeting,” Benny told him with a sigh. “It would be a massive sign of disrespect to the other families to use it as assassination—”

“Nico and Roscoe don’t care about disrespect. About codes.” Jason shook his his head. “If they want to take Sonny out, and I agree that’s probably the plan, then they know how Sonny and the others feel about tradition. About these meetings be off limits for violence. They’ll use that.”

“I agree.” Benny hesitated. “And I think it’s time we bring this farce to a close.”

Jason agreed, but their business manager didn’t usually voice his opinions so freely and forcefully. He squinted at Benny.  “I know you weren’t happy with the plan—”.”

“From the moment you told me about it, I knew it was a mistake, but by the time you called me, I didn’t have time for an alternative.” Benny hesitated. “I was there the night Sonny told Elizabeth. I didn’t know he was going to lie—I never would have participated or stood there if I’d known, but once it was done—”

“Benny, you don’t have to explain—”

“It isn’t just that he hurt that girl. I don’t know her very well, but I know you. And Sonny unnecessarily created problems with you.”

“Benny—” Jason hesitated. How could he confide in Benny that he was right? That Jason wasn’t sure if he could ever trust Sonny again? Sleeping with Carly—that had been devastating, but Jason had understood it. Eventually accepted it, and now thought he was almost relieved. How much more time would he have spent letting Carly manipulate him?

He was still letting her do it. She was still costing him the things that mattered to him.

If Sonny’s lie had cost him Elizabeth—but it wasn’t just that lie, Jason remembered. Because Elizabeth hadn’t shut down until she’d talked about Carly.

“We’re setting up surveilance, and a team across the street. If Sonny doesn’t like it, well—” Jason just shrugged. “I don’t really care. He’s assuming that Nico and Roscoe probably aren’t going to want to piss of Zacchara and Ruiz, but—” He shook his head. “We’ll set up guys in cars around the neighborhood. Cut off any cars that try a drive by. We’ll do our usual sweeps. They’re going to use this meeting, Benny. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

Sonny would wear a vest as he always did to these meetings, and they would have the area cleared—no snipers would get through that Jason didn’t know about. This was their best chance to end this.

There were a thousand ways this could go wrong, but Jason wanted to take his life back, and he wasn’t going to sit around until Sonny said it was okay.

The longer that Elizabeth was put in the position of having to lie to everyone, the worse it was going to be when he went home.

And he was done hurting her.

“We’re ending this next week, or I’m coming home regardless. We’re not getting anywhere like this. They’ll either use this opportunity or taking out Sonny isn’t the plan.” Jason nodded to the phone. “Let’s set it up.”

“You got it.” Benny hesitated as he reached for the receiver. “Listen, I wanted you to know that I had Francis put one of his guys on Elizabeth. She doesn’t know, but I just thought—she’s doing all right. As best as she can, anyway.”

“Thanks,” Jason said, swallowing hard. “I appreciate that, Benny.”

He knew Elizabeth could take care of herself—that she would be able to send the right image out the world. He’d known that it would a problem for them—that asking her to lie was a lot.

But to ask her to lie after she thought he was dead?

He’d told Sonny if she was lied to about his death, Elizabeth wouldn’t be able to look past that. It didn’t matter who told the lie.

She hadn’t wanted to be broken, and that’s exactly what he’d done. He had no defense for it, no way to explain it. He should have found a way to tell her himself. Should have fought Sonny harder.

Whatever happened next was entirely on him.

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Workshop: Bittersweet Rewritten

All of this takes place after Chapter Nineteen and goes through until Jason’s memorial service — the time when Liz believed Jason was dead. I moved the timeline of everything up — Jason was “dead” from early September on, rather than waiting a few weeks with him being missing. I’m only posting the scenes that were cut. Some of Liz’s grieving made into the final draft.


Friday, September 6, 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 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 breathe. 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.”

Yacht: Study

Jason Morgan was dead.

If Roscoe’s men could be believed, Morgan had showed up the meeting at the warehouse, had taken two bullets to the head, and had died on scene. He had never made it to the hospital.

“I heard from some of my guys at Kelly’s,” Roscoe told Alcazar. “Just like you said, I put them there to see what happened if Morgan’s girlfriend heard on the news.”

Zander blinked at him. Elizabeth. He hadn’t…he hadn’t really thought about what it would mean for Jason to be dead.

He wanted him dead. Had rejoiced at the idea.

But Elizabeth’s best friend was Emily. And Emily, God, she would be crushed. She was like a dream now, a sweet dream that felt so far away.

If only Morgan hadn’t come back. If he had just stayed away.

“Did she hear?” Alcazar asked. He eyed Zander a moment. “Smith? Are you with us?” He tilted his head. “Second thoughts?”

“No. I just—it’s hard to believe.” Zander swallowed hard. “You’re sure? What happened at Kelly’s?”

“Corinthos came to tell her personally. Told her at Kelly’s. My guys said she was destroyed. If she was acting—” Roscoe shrugged. “She should be getting an Academy Award.”

“Corinthos told her?” Alcazar asked, leaning forward. “He went right to her?” He looked at Zander. “What did you say the relationship was like? My intel says they’re close, but—”

“If he’s the one that told her—and she’s not acting for the public—” Zander hesitated. “It’s hard for me to accept that Morgan or Corinthos would put her through that. She’s not my favorite person for a lot of reasons, but she’s been through some real shit in her life that they both know about. She was raped as a teenager, her boyfriend died in a fire—came back. I just—it’s not the kind of men they are.”

“You don’t think they’d lie to her about business? If they faked Morgan’s death?” Alcazar asked.

“What fake?” Roscoe demanded. “My men said that they put two bullets in him—”

“From a distance, they put two bullets into a man who looked like Jason Morgan,” Alcazar cut in with some irritation. “The news is reporting it as Jason Morgan. Without an autopsy, without reports from the PCPD, I am not going to take any chances.” He looked back to Zander. “You know this organization. What do you think?”

“I don’t know,” Zander admitted. “I wouldn’t think they’d put Elizabeth through a public display like that, so maybe she is in on it. You’ll have to watch her. She’s good at putting a mask on.” He scratched his forehead. “I’m not saying Corinthos wouldn’t ever lie to her. He’s an asshole. But I’m saying…it’s not in Morgan’s nature.”

“He’s supposed to be a stone-cold killer,” Roscoe muttered, “and we’re saying he’s too soft to lie to his girlfriend—”

“There are some lines a man won’t cross,” Alcazar murmured. “Everything I’ve learned about Jason Morgan tells me he’s a loyal man. A protective one. I agree with you, Smith. I find it difficult to believe he would lie to the woman he loves. Not about his own death.”

“When can we set up the hit on Sonny?” Roscoe demanded. “We’ve gotten rid of Morgan. He’s next. And when they’re both gone, the organization will be in chaos—”

“Patience.” Alcazar held up a hand. “We’ve already been delayed by your impatience once, Roscoe. I don’t intend to be thwarted again.” His dark eyes flashed. “Do you understand me?”

“What are we waiting for?” Roscoe shot back. “What’s gonna convince you?”

“We’ll watch the girlfriend. Morgan has been in her pocket almost since the moment he returned to Port Charles. If he is alive, he may not be able to hold himself back from contacting her. And she may not be able to put on an act twenty-four hours a day. We’ll watch her. I want men at Kelly’s during every shift. She may not be there, but those who work there love her. They’ll know. Watch her home.”

He looked to Zander. “The sister will be coming home for a funeral, won’t she?”

God. He wasn’t going to have to…face Emily after being part of her brother’s death, was he? But he’d signed up for this. “Probably. She’s close to him. Close to Elizabeth. Can’t imagine she won’t at least fly in.”

“We may need you to talk to her. Or talk to the girlfriend one on one. We’ll see how it goes. We’re waiting. If we move now…it will defeat the purpose and we will have used Carly Corinthos for nothing. She did her part. He showed up.”

Roscoe muttered something under his breath as he stormed out. Zander hung back to look at Alcazar. “You say you want to destroy Sonny Corinthos.”

“Yes.”

“Why?” Zander asked. “Most people would use your resources to actually go after him, but you’ve sat back and let Roscoe and Nico go to town. You know Corinthos is looking at Nico’s records by now. Morgan will have put him on it. The crap I pulled probably put a spotlight on his crew. The drug trafficking is heavier than I can remember it.”

“My reasons for destroying Sonny Corinthos are my own.” Alcazar sat back in his chair. “You need not concern yourself with them. If you are unhappy with how things are proceeding, you are free to return to your employment with the Ruiz organization.”

Zander hesitated, then nodded. “Fair enough. I’ll wait to hear from you.”

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 going 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 any more 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 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.”

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Benny tossed the Port Charles Sun and the Port Charles Herald on the dining table in front of Sonny. “Is that real enough for you?”

Sonny scowled as he took in the headlines. Corinthos Enforcer Murdered! With grainy photos of Elizabeth inside of Kelly’s, Sonny standing with her. And that was the respectable Herald. The tabloid Sun had photos from Elizabeth going into the Brownstone as well as photos of Elizabeth being all but carried out of the diner by Gia and Bobbie.

“How the hell are they always there?” Sonny muttered as he set aside his coffee to pick up on the Herald. Vultures.

“I’m keeping the papers from Jason. He sees this now, especially this one in front of Kelly’s—he’s not going to believe she knows—”

“Benny, you got something to say?” Sonny said, irritated. Like this was how he wanted any of this to go? “We went over this. Someone wants to take Jason out, we need to see why. This was the best plan under the circumstances. I’m not saying it doesn’t suck in about eight different ways, but after the warehouse, after faking Carly’s death, who’s to say someone else isn’t next? Jason wouldn’t want someone to come after Elizabeth—”

“You better practice your excuses because when Jason gets a hold of these? When he finds out you told her in the middle of Kelly’s and put her on display—Sonny—” Benny hesitated. “I get all the reasons you did it. And yeah, you were right. Roscoe has men outside of the Brownstone. They’re gonna follow her. Keep an eye on her. She’s the key. But that’s not gonna matter to Jason—”

“He’s going to be pissed at me.” Sonny shrugged as if it didn’t bother him. It did. Nothing about this plan made him feel good. He could tell himself it was to protect everyone, but damn it—it was. They didn’t have to like the way Sonny did business, but they had to respect it.

He was the goddamn boss in this town, not Jason. And he was getting tired of people acting like he needed to be scared—

Sonny dipped his head. “More than that, he’s going to be hurt. Because he trusted me, and I lied to him. I know it, Benny. But whoever planned this ambush went to a lot of trouble. And they wouldn’t have stopped. I was afraid they’d go for Elizabeth or Michael next. That they’d figure out exactly how to break Jason.”

“You’re right. Losing Elizabeth would break Jason. I’ve watched that boy for years, Sonny. And she is the best thing to happen to him since Michael.” Benny took the newspapers back, tucked them into his briefcase. “He forgave you for Carly—”

“Does everyone know about that?” Sonny asked with a mutter, though of course they did. Like Elizabeth said, everyone could do the math. Carly was pregnant before Jason left.

“Because Carly didn’t mean nearly as much as Elizabeth Webber.” Benny waited. “Have you talked to her since last night?”

“Gia Campbell said she isn’t talking to anyone. I offered to go over, but she said there was enough press and media. We get rid of them yet?”

“I sent a guy over this morning but Taggert had already threatened them with an injunction and trespass. They’re keeping their distance.”

Sonny nodded. Waited a moment. “Jason might forgive me, but she won’t. Will she?”

Benny hesitated. “Somehow, I doubt it. But you had to know that before you lied.”

“Yeah.” He picked up his coffee and stared down at the dark liquid “Yeah, I knew that. But I was hoping I was wrong.”

Monday, September 9, 2002

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 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.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

 

Sonny scrubbed his hands over his face after tossing the burner cell phone aside. Across the table, Benny just clucked his tongue and continued making notes.

“Don’t start.”

“He’s only going to keep asking to see her, Sonny.” Benny slid that morning’s newspaper across the table. “They ran the same photo on the news, and Jason is watching. She looks devastated. She is devastated,” he corrected.

“He doesn’t suspect I—” Sonny muttered. “These goddamn vultures taking pictures of her every time she leaves the house. What good does it do? He thinks it’s the lying. He’s worried she’s lying to everyone and he didn’t even get to explain it to her.”

“We’re not going to have the same argument,” Benny told him. “Because the damage has been done and telling her the truth now isn’t going to change anything. If you had told her in those first twenty-four hours, maybe. But we’re burying him tomorrow, Sonny. Or we’re burying an empty casket.”

“I’m gonna—” Sonny exhaled slowly. “The shock of it is over, you know? The funeral will take off some of the heat. We already know it’s working. You said the guys are reporting that the drug trade is more obvious in the clubs. I don’t know if Nico is just taking advantage of the situation or he’s in on it, but he’s not waiting around.”

“I don’t like this plan,” Benny said with the same shake of his head that Sonny had seen a million times in the last five days. “There’s no target. No goal. It’s a fishing expedition, and what if there’s nothing to know? How long are we gonna put his family through it—” He bit off those words. “How long is Jason going to pretend to be dead, Sonny? What’s the magical event that’s gonna make this worth it?”

“To be honest,” Sonny said slowly, “I didn’t think it’d last this long. I thought—I thought maybe they’d think Jason’s death would make things chaotic. That they’d go for a kill shot or something those first few days. But I guess we underestimated them.”

“If either of you morons had come to me,” Benny muttered, “I could have told you it was a stupid idea. But you were both so goddamn worried about Carly.”

Sonny scowled at him. “What the—”

“There was no point in actually showing up to the damn meeting. Carly was supposed to give Jason the information. She could have easily told them Jason was too pissed at her to listen. To go. But you didn’t want to put her in danger—”

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Sonny shot back. “And it worked. Everyone thinks Jason is dead. They’ll lay low until the funeral, but they’ll come after us—”

“How? And how are we gonna know it’s the right guys and not someone trying to take advantage of Jason’s absence?” Benny got to his feet. “You went through with this plan on a hope and a prayer, Sonny. And I’ve sat back, letting it happen because it’s my job. But you are going to tell that girl the truth or I will—”

“I’m taking her to see him tomorrow after the memorial,” Sonny interrupted. “Jason made it clear today. He’s not going to wait to talk to her. I either bring her to him or he’ll contact her himself. So…I have to do it. Because if he reaches out, she might be too upset to let him explain. I did this. I lied. I put her through this. She needs to know that’s the truth.”

“You’re clinging to that as if it’s going to be black and white.” Benny gathered his paperwork. “I pray that you’re right, Sonny. I hope that we do get our answers. But this wasn’t the way to do it. And you know that.” He tilted his head. “That’s why you didn’t let him go to her at Kelly’s. He wasn’t thinking it through, but you were. If he left, if he had time to think about this plan, he might not have done it.”

Sonny hissed. “What the hell is your problem, Benny? You work for me, not for Jason. I give the orders. Not him. I told him this was the plan and he was damn well going to do it. This son of a bitch faked Carly’s death to get at me, tried to take out my lieutenant. They’re coming after me. Who would be next if they didn’t get Jason, Benny? Elizabeth? Michael? Someone who isn’t part of this? No more collateral damage. We get to the bottom of this now.”

He stopped, took a breath. “Jason’s going to be angry at me, but he’ll see this was the only way. And it’s only been a few days. She grieved Lucky for a year—”

“I have paperwork to deal with at the warehouse, Sonny.” He rose to his feet. “Days, months, years. What does it matter? Grief is grief. You still grieve for Lily. For Brenda. Has time dulled it? Who told you Brenda was dead?”

Sonny blinked at him. “What?”

“Jason went to the island, didn’t he?” Benny continued. “He told you Brenda was dead. If he came home tomorrow, and told you she was alive, that he had helped her fake her death, that you or Jax were supposed to be told. Would it matter? Do you think Jax would forgive Brenda? Would you?”

Sonny pressed his lips together. “It’s different. Since when do you give a damn about Elizabeth Webber—”

“When did you stop?”

And when Sonny didn’t answer, Benny picked up his briefcase and left.

January 18, 2019

Hey, guys! I’m just checking in to late you guys know where I am since I posted a few weeks ago.  I have some more firm ideas about what I want to do with 2019 and writing.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement I got after my last update. I really have some of the best readers in the business, and if not for you guys, I would not still be writing.  I recently reread the chapters I wrote for NaNoWriMo in November, and y’all, they’re not trash. In fact, they’re even…good. I sent them to a third party, and she agreed. So I’m putting Counting Stars back on the schedule.

The other project I’ve been thinking about is Kismet, which is basically me rewriting the Jason and Michael 1998 storyline with Liz in the picture.  Once I started really working on it, I realized just how uncomfortable I was with writing 1997/98 versions of some of these characters, particularly Robin. My vision of Robin in this period is mostly from late 98/99 after Carly has made her a much more bitter figure. That’s not fair to who Robin and Jason were in the fall of 97, and I want Jason to move on to Liz without making Robin into a villain.

So I took the extra money I’ve been saving from my Patreons and I bought a bunch of edits from that period. I now have Jason from Nov 95-Oct 06, and July 97-January 98. This gives me a much more accurate idea of who these people are and will make planning and writing Kismet a lot better.

I also got a Liz edit from June-Dec 99 which included ALL of her scenes from that six months, not just her Jason-related scenes. That’s going to help me write her scenes a lot better for Counting Stars. There are few more edits I want to get really flesh out this period, but I feel a lot more equipped to write these characters.

I’m still working on Mad World — in fact, I finished a chapter this week and am putting writing back into my daily schedule. I feel a lot better about what I’m turning out, and I’m more confident you guys are going to get some more content soon.

However, I really don’t like not having new content posting here. So I’m cleaning up some deleted material from Bittersweet that I plan to post later this weekend, and I’m looking into some short story ideas I’ve had floating around to see if I can finish them off.

Thanks again for the support and patience!

January 6, 2019

I feel like I do a lot of apologizing these days. I had every intention of doing a flash fiction marathon, but my holiday week off just got away from me. I’ve had trouble kicking the last cold I got right before Christmas (even now, I have some lingering chest congestion).

Since I finished Mad World last summer, I’ve really struggled with writing more.  I’ve only managed six and a half chapters of the sequel, a handful of flash fictions, and maybe one or two short stories. My NaNo project crashed and burned, and even my plans for the next season of Damaged can’t seem to get off the ground. You guys are probably used to this by now — I have these huge bursts of productivity, and then I can’t seem to relight those fires again for months.

I think I just really don’t know how to pace myself and recharge my creative fuse. I don’t really know what makes me go into those weird bursts or how to keep them steady over times. I want to pay more attention to my process this year to see if I can crack the code.

I also think I have to get used to just writing whatever my muse wants and not forcing myself into things because I made promises. So here’s what I plan for Crimson Glass this year.

  1. I’m going to stop promising Damaged Season 3. I have all of the plots, I just can’t seem to write them and I hate going back on my promises. So I won’t give anymore dates. You’ll get Damaged 3 when it shows up and it’ll be probably a surprise.
  2. I’m going to write at least two novels this year. I don’t know what they’ll be. I love the idea of having you guys vote on my projects, but I think I’m just going to have to let my muse direct me. I have something I’ve been thinking about all the time and I think I just have to let myself go and write it.
  3.  I’m going to turn my attention back to getting ebooks up, including short story and novella collections. I may have polls to vote for that. I think they’re a great resource, particularly for people who like to wait until my stories are gone to read.

At the moment, I’m not sure when you’ll be hearing from me next because I don’t really have anything in the pipeline and my semester is starting in two weeks. It’s my last semester, and I am really looking forward to not juggling graduate school and a job at the same time. I also have a few possibilities for a full-time teaching position next year so fingers crossed that 2019 is my year 🙂

I really want to have the sequels to both Bittersweet and Mad World done this year, but Bittersweet is proving to be a bit tough in the plotting because all I know for sure is that Jason and Liz are going to return and I’m going to deal with Brenda.  I set up a lot of bread crumbs in the first story to give me a lot of options, and I’m not really sure which ones I want to pick up on yet.

The odds are that you’ll gt Mad World, Book 2 sometime this summer and the full-length version of Kismet, my flash fiction series set in 1997 with an aged Liz, but you never know what will happen.

Happy New Year 🙂 Make sure you follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or subscribe for updates so you never miss anything!