Tell me now if you came sneaking up behind
Would you know me and see behind the smile
I can change like colors on a wall
Hoping no one else will find what lies beneath it all
I think I hide it all so well
– Everybody Knows, Dixie Chicks
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Hardy Home: Living Room
Her grandmother did not quite believe her, but Elizabeth knew there was enough truth in the story she’d fed to Audrey that she would not quibble: a quick getaway to a spa resort because Robin wanted to treat her, to get her away from this stress, from the charges, from her life.
“Kelly’s concerned about my blood pressure,” Elizabeth said, handing Cameron a truck and then watching as he returned to the toys in the corner of the room. “With the suspension and these charges…” She lifted a shoulder. “I’m just trying to play it safe. I normally wouldn’t accept something like this, but—”
“Robin’s a good friend.” Audrey perched at the edge of the flowered covered arm chair. “I just…I wish I knew what to do about this. I hate that you had to file for divorce in order to prove your innocence. It’s probably the last thing Lucky needed right now.”
Elizabeth took a deep breath. “Yeah, well, losing my paycheck is the last thing I need right now. My lawyer suggested a show of independence from him would be a good sign.” Was it ever about her? For Christ’s sake.
“I suppose. And I imagine Lucky’s protestation of your innocence wouldn’t carry very far.” Audrey hesitated. “Darling, who is your lawyer? You haven’t said. Alexis isn’t available anymore. Though it was hardly ethical for her to marry your ex-husband after she handled the divorce.”
“I asked around.” Elizabeth stood. “I was lucky to find someone who hates Ric and isn’t charging me anything.” Diane was on retainer with Jason, but in light of the changes she was about to make, she didn’t think enlightening her grandmother as to the identity of her lawyer would be helpful.
Audrey would just look at her with that sympathetic look, with those soft eyes. Those disappointed eyes. She could even hear the admonishment now. Oh, Elizabeth.
She’d never grown up in her grandmother’s eyes, but Elizabeth supposed she couldn’t blame the woman. Every five minutes, Elizabeth was running to someone for help. This…this was different. Yes, Jason was helping her, but she thought Diane might have helped her on principle without Jason’s involvement.
And she was helping Jason right back. She was protecting him. If they didn’t keep her off the stand, Elizabeth planned to lie her ass off in front of that grand jury.
It was the first active thing she’d done in the months to take control of her life, and it felt good. At the moment. In five minutes, her stomach would be twisting again with all the ways this could go wrong.
Audrey pursed her lips. “I suppose. Well, Cameron is welcome to stay with me a few more days, but my love, I don’t know how much more of this I can do. I’m not particularly young anymore and he’s an active little boy. He’s in preschool during the day, but—”
“I know, Gram. That’s why I have to do this.” Elizabeth rose to her feet. “I’ve been sitting back, waiting for things to happen to me. I knew something was wrong with Lucky, I suspected he was using too much of his medication, but I never dreamed it was so bad. Or that he was having an affair. I tried to walk away then, but everyone told me to give him another chance. But…I’m facing jail time for this. Lucky slept with the commissioner’s daughter and Mac blames me. These charges aren’t just going away.” She folded her arms and looked away, towards the doorway. “I’m divorcing Lucky, Gram. His recovery is his business, but my life and my children are mine.”
“There’s not a lot there to argue with.” Audrey sighed. “I know you feel as though I’m taking Lucky’s side—”
“Aren’t you?” Elizabeth demanded. “Asking me to give him more time? He’ll always be a drug addict, Gram. Even if he never takes another pill—it’s always something he’ll have to deal with. I’ve dealt with brainwashing, faked my death to save him, I nearly died for my first husband—when does it get to be my turn?”
“I just…” Audrey lifted her hands, held them out at her sides. “I remember your grandfather and I. And how we let our happiness slip through our fingers because we didn’t take chances. Because we didn’t stick by one another when times were tough. We wasted years, Elizabeth. And while I love your father very much, and I know Steve never saw Tom as anything other than his son…” She closed her eyes.
“You wished you could have had more time together, more children,” Elizabeth murmured. “I—I do understand that, Gram. And I thought about that. With Lucky the first time. With Ric. I kept thinking that love isn’t supposed to be easy, that marriage is…it’s a battle sometimes.” A tear slid down her cheek. “But at some point, it has to feel like its worth it.”
“All right, darling.” Audrey stepped towards her and wrapped her in a tight embrace. “You’re right. You deserve a few days of rest, of relaxation. And…I can see you’re looking at this situation with open eyes. I’ll respect your decision to leave Lucky.”
“Thanks, Gram.” Elizabeth stepped back and bit her lip. “You might not always believe me, but I know what I’m doing. How I’m handling this—I didn’t choose the easy way like maybe I would have done once. It’s going to be scary sometimes, but I know I’m doing the right thing. For myself and my children. They come first.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“Something is going on, and I don’t like it,” Carly declared, her hands at her hips as she watched Jason set a duffel bag by his desk and flip through some paperwork. “You and Sonny are just taking off to the island for some problems, but you never go at the same time—”
“If you need anything with the boys or their security, you can talk to Cody. He and Max are running point while we’re gone.” Jason made another notation, ignoring her growl of exasperation.
He had thought about confiding in Carly because he thought she might understand. After all, she was familiar with the spousal privilege option. But if Carly thought Jason was in trouble, there was no telling what she might do to help.
Better to leave her out of it for now. He’d call her from the island when it was a done deal and cite her dislike for Elizabeth as a reason he’d kept it from her.
“Is this related to Elizabeth?” Carly asked. “Because Jax came home yesterday absolutely livid. He’s talking about finding someone to run against Ric in the next election.” She huffed and looked down. “He’s been kind of protective of her since…last year.”
Jason raised his head and frowned. “That’s right. Sonny mentioned something about a surrogacy and Elizabeth having a miscarriage.”
“She and Jax were driving home.” Carly pressed her lips together. “I was…in the middle of my breakdown, and I ran in front of their car.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “They both forgave me. For some reason.”
Jason rubbed the back of his neck. Christ. He hadn’t known Carly was involved in that. “It was an accident, and Elizabeth doesn’t hold grudges.” Even when she ought to. “So Jax knows about her suspension?”
“Oh, he is through the roof.” Carly said, eager to move away from the previous topic of conversation. “Ranting and raving about the policies at General Hospital, how he knew Lucky was bad news. He treated her like crap during that surrogacy, according to Jax. There she is, trying to make money to pay bills by giving Jax and Courtney a child, and it’s like she had an affair.” Carly snorted. “Jackass. It’s always the cheating ones that are overly paranoid. I know—I used to accuse Tony all the time of going back to Bobbie.”
He had a headache. “Carly, go away.”
“No.” Carly stepped towards him. “Just—just tell me you’re okay. Ric doesn’t do anything without a reason. If he’s going after Elizabeth, there’s a reason for it. I know him. Is he trying to get something from you? I know you and Elizabeth are friends again—after the surgery with Sam, I mean. I know how she nearly sacrificed her career. And than she ran around like Florence Nightingale when you checked yourself out the hospital—” She narrowed her eyes. “Jason. Are you…involved with her again?”
This was the problem with Carly. You could never write her off because she was usually five steps ahead of you. “If I were, it’s none of your business—”
“Hell, Jason, she’s in the middle of this mess, and then there’s the disaster of her marriage to Lucky. Look.” Carly tilted her head back. “It’s not that I don’t like her—”
He arched his brows and she snarled. “All right, it’s mostly because I don’t like her. I don’t really care to examine the reasons why at this point because I suspect it’s more about holding a grudge than an actual complaint. But I just…you’re both coming out of super serious relationships—” Carly stopped. “Okay. I’m going to shut up. You’re a grown man, and she’s mostly a grown woman.” She snorted. “It’s not like you wouldn’t be the best choice she’s made in her life so far.”
Jason waited a moment. “I have no idea what you’re talking about now. So I’m just going to ignore all of that. Go tell Jax to destroy Ric’s career. It can only help.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Fine. But when you and Sonny come back, I’m going to want answers. And I mean it.”
“And you’ll know what what I want you to know when I want you to know it.” Jason sighed, frustrated. “Carly, if I thought for one minute you wouldn’t try to help me, I’d tell you now. But you’ll go and help. And how do your plans usually end?”
“Um…massive amounts of destruction,” Carly admitted. “There was that seducing my mother’s husband part. And then there was Michael’s paternity. I tried to help Sonny, but he almost went to jail. Twice. I tried to set you and Courtney up, but you were both miserable—and of course, there was John’s paternity.” She winced. “So yeah, you know what? Don’t tell me. I could promise to stay out of it, but you and I both know I couldn’t help myself.”
“And Sonny said you’d never learn your lesson.” He opened the door and pointed. “Now, go away.”
Monday, October 23, 2006
Elizabeth’s Apartment Building: Sidewalk
Robin pulled her car to a stop in front and waited while Elizabeth waved to the cop she knew was tailing her, stowed her suitcase in the back seat and then got into the passenger seat.
“Are you going to be able to lose him?” Elizabeth asked, fastening her seatbelt.
Robin smirked. “Did I ever tell you about the summer I spent with my mother in Pine Valley learning defensive driving maneuvers? Ha. The PCPD is no match for Anna Devane’s daughter.” She shifted the car into first gear. “You might want to hold on.”
And she stepped on the accelerator.
Three lights, twelve turns, and six minutes later, Robin had left the PCPD in the dust and made a turn towards the private air strip where Jax, Sonny and the Quartermaines housed their planes.
“That felt good,” the brunette said cheerfully. “Like I’m fighting against the man. I think I’m starting to get why my mother has trouble leaving the WSB behind.”
“Right,” Elizabeth said weakly, holding a hand over her abdomen. “I’ll never doubt you again.”
“Are you ready for this?” Robin asked, slowing the car down to a normal speed.
Choosing to believe her friend was asking after the practical details, Elizabeth nodded. “My grandmother probably thinks I’m up to something, but since I didn’t tell her Diane is representing me, she’s not connecting it to Jason. Diane’s already filing an appeal with the board at the hospital and she’ll file a motion to disqualify Ric on Thursday afternoon after we get back.”
“Why is she waiting until then? Why not file now?” Robin asked, squinting at the the traffic light in front of her. “Clear it up faster.”
“Because she’s going to try to get Ric thrown off any case including Jason since he’ll…” Elizabeth’s throat tightened. “Well, yeah. You know what I mean.”
“I do, but don’t you think you’re going to have to work on saying it?” Robin asked, glancing at her as the cars in front of her started to move. “You’re marrying Jason tomorrow.”
“Oh, man.” She closed her eyes. “Okay. Okay. Stop saying that.”
“Elizabeth, if you’re having second thoughts—”
“Not about marrying Jason,” Elizabeth said. “Okay? That’s…that’s all fine. I’m protecting him. It’s my fault Ric is going after him like this, that he even has the chance—”
“Considering Jason’s job, it’s a little bit his fault,” Robin replied dryly. “But I take your meaning. So if marrying him isn’t freaking you out, what is?”
“It’s not…the idea itself. I mean, Jason suggested it as an option, but I pushed for it. I told him I would not be part of sending him to the jail, so he’s really doing this to prevent me from perjury charges.” Elizabeth leaned her head back against the seat. “It’s…what comes after.”
“Ah. So it’s not marrying Jason that’s the problem. It’s being married to Jason.” Robin nodded. “It’s what, your fifth wedding to your third husband?”
Elizabeth shot her a dirty look. “Was that part necessary? You think I can’t count?”
“Ha,” Robin retorted. “No, what I mean is that you’ve been married twice. Each lasted barely a year. I cannot imagine the terror of one marriage, much less the third.”
“This is not helping.” Elizabeth scrubbed her hands over her face. “Look. It’s not even that, okay? It’s…those were real marriages. I thought they were—for some ridiculous reason, I thought I was marrying forever. And now, there’s Jason. And we’re not marrying because we’re in love, but…” She pressed a hand over her child. “But it’s not like we’re strangers who feel nothing.”
“You’re extremely close friends who may soon be raising a child together in holy matrimony,” Robin murmured. She pulled into the small parking lot of the air strip, turned off the ignition, and turned to Elizabeth. “Sweetie, I cannot tell you the right thing to do in this situation. You know I’m usually jumping at the chance to tell people how to live, but I’ve been working on that. And even if I wanted to, I don’t know what to tell you. I know Jason cares for you. I know you care for him. Sometimes, it can be just that simple.”
“This…this isn’t weird for you?” Elizabeth asked, undoing her seat belt and letting the strap slide back into place. “You…used to date Jason—”
“In another lifetime, and those were two different people. Jason is my friend now. Like you are. And I want the best for you both.” Robin bit her lip. “Look, maybe you should just ask him what his expectations of this marriage are—”
“Because I’m terrified he’ll tell me he has none. That it’s all up to me.” Elizabeth pushed her door open and stepped out into the brisk October morning. “He’s always doing that. The first time he asked me to marry him, I asked him that. I asked him what kind of marriage we would have. If we’d be…more. And he told me it’d be whatever I wanted.”
“Yeah, that’s what I mean about different people.” Robin removed her suitcase and a garment bag from the backseat as Elizabeth also retrieved her luggage. “The Jason I knew once didn’t know how to protect himself. He used to put himself out there, figuring the truth was always the best option. He took what he wanted, who he wanted…” She sighed. “But I changed that. I think I broke that in him. Or maybe I taught him to hold part of himself back.” She shook her head. “It’s a not a horrible thing to do—but he takes it to the extreme now.”
“You’re not kidding.” Elizabeth glanced towards the air strip where Sonny’ jet was waiting, the flight stairs already attached. A few figures milled about the bottom, and she recognized Jason and Sonny. “The night we were together? You know, the blackout? He wasn’t like that.” Her cheeks burned. “He and I—it was like the world didn’t exist. He wanted to be with me, and I wanted to be with him, so we just were. And we ignored everything else that didn’t fit in.”
“I don’t know how Jason feels about all of this,” Robin admitted. “But I know you’re half in love with him already. You can do two things, Elizabeth. You can do exactly what you and Jason have done for years. Hold yourself back, protect yourself. But you’ll do it at the cost of being happy. Or you can go and demand he tell you what he wants. And if he asks what you want—”
“I could tell him that the last thing I want is to find out on Friday Lucky is the father of this child. That I want him to be in my life, and that I don’t want to sleep in the guest room.” Elizabeth chewed her lip and looked at Robin. “Easy, huh?”
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Courthouse Plaza
Sonny sipped his espresso as Robin stirred sugar into her iced tea. “How much longer do you think it’ll be?” he asked. She looked up and blinked at him.
“What?” she asked.
“Getting the divorce decree,” Sonny clarified. “It’s already been an hour. We…wanted to be on the island by two.” He checked his wrist. “It’s already eleven-thirty.”
“So? It’ll take as long as it takes.” Robin squinted at the entrance of the court house where Jason and Elizabeth had disappeared to earlier that morning. “It’s at least a twenty-four hour process. She didn’t file until eleven yesterday.” She sipped her tea. “What’s the big deal? They’re getting married on the island with your justice of the peace. He’ll just wait until we get there.”
“I have plans,” Sonny complained. “They’ll ruin it if we’re not there by two.”
Robin furrowed her dark brows. “Ruin it?” she echoed. “Are you on drugs, Sonny? How—” She closed her mouth. “What do you have planned?”
“Look.” Sonny shifted, feeling heat on the back of heck. “I just…I wanted to help.”
“I think you were married to Carly a little too long,” Robin mused. “What’s going on?”
“This…is their third go around at this, you know?” Sonny shrugged. “Jason’s been married once for spousal privilege, but not like this. It’s…Elizabeth. And they might have a kid together. I just…in case they decide to…”
“You planned an actual wedding, didn’t you?” his old friend asked with a soft look in her eyes. “Sonny, you marshmallow.”
“This last year has been hell for Jason,” Sonny said. “First, he lost his memories. And then he had brain surgery. Carly was finishing up her meltdown, but then there was the virus. Sam got shot. I—I dated his sister, and he…had to deal with my illness. And that’s before we even get to the summer. I wanted to do something nice. In case they decided to stay married, they won’t necessarily feel the need to renew their vows.”
He looked into his dark espresso. “I married Carly the first time because of spousal privilege. It was quick ceremony that didn’t do justice to the way we felt about each other then. We weren’t…quite in love yet. But we were halfway there. And she wanted something more. She wanted to renew our vows so they’d mean something. I just…I know how they feel about each other.”
“You do?” Robin repeated. “Because I’m pretty clear on Elizabeth. Jason’s a mystery to me these days.” She glanced towards the court steps again, but they were still empty. “And, as you pointed out, it’s not the first time Jason’s married for this reason.”
“Well, that’s not why he and Brenda got married, but it’s why it lasted so long.” Sonny shifted again. “I think they’ve cared for each other long a very long time. And this summer, with what happened with Sam and Lucky, they finally started to open the door to it again. They’re not there yet. It might be months before they are. But I just…I thought they deserved something they could look back on with fond memories.”
“I agree,” Robin nodded. “What do you have planned?”