It’s alright if you don’t know what you need
I’m right here when
You need someone to see
It’s not speak
Or forever hold your peace
It’s alright to take time
And find where you’ve been
– Porcelain, Marianas Trench
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
West Plana Cays, Bahamas: Corinthos Villa
When Elizabeth was ten minutes late to meet them downstairs for the ceremony, Jason reluctantly went in to check on her. The strain of the day, the surprise of finding the terrace at Sonny’s island home decorated with flowers for the wedding with someone standing by with a damn camera to make the event look good…he wasn’t surprised she was having second thoughts.
And he told himself as he lifted his hand to knock on the door, that if she wanted to back out, he would let her. It didn’t matter that he’d half been looking forward to living with Elizabeth and her son, with a child he believed might be his.
He would let her go.
“J-Jason?” Her trembling voice wafted out. Below him, he could see Sonny and Robin milling about on the terrace. Sonny had constructed his villa with a long winding stairway on the outside of the building rather than inside.
Sonny avoided walls whenever he could.
“Hey.” He kept his voice light. He didn’t care if Sonny or the justice of the peace were getting impatient. If Elizabeth wasn’t ready, then they weren’t doing this. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“I-I’m s-sorry. I c-can’t…” Her voice faltered. “I can’t d-do this. I thought I could, but I-I can’t.”
He closed his eyes, resting his forehead briefly against the oak door. After a moment, he exhaled slowly and straightened. “It’s okay, Elizabeth. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. I told you that.”
Then the door opened, and she was standing there a strapless white dress that fell to her knees. She wore some makeup, but her eyes were red and some of her mascara had smeared. “But—”
“This part of it was just to keep you from testifying.” Jason slid his hands into the pockets of his khakis. “You’ll be in the clear on the other charges—”
“I want to protect you,” she said, her hand gripping the door so tightly her knuckles were white. “B-But I’m just…I don’t know what happens next.”
He furrowed his brows. “What do you mean?”
Elizabeth stepped away from the door and gestured for him to come in. He did so, and closed the door behind him, wanting some privacy. “I mean, it’s not…the wedding that has me upset, okay? It’s…not like I don’t get what Sonny’s doing. He’s done this before. I have to wear a dress, and you have to…” She hesitated, and chewed on her bottom lip, looking at the white button down shirt he wore and the light pants. “You look nice.”
“I can tell Sonny to get rid of the flowers and the photographer,” Jason said. “Robin has one of those phones with a camera if the court wants it—”
“No, none of that…” She sighed, pressed a hand to her forehead and turned away. “It’s not the wedding. It’s…the marriage part of it.”
He blinked, because that didn’t make sense. Weren’t they the same thing? “I don’t—I don’t understand.”
“It’s…about tomorrow and all the days that come after it.” She turned back to him. “What about Cameron? What if this baby is Lucky’s? What if you fall in love with someone else? What if this doesn’t work and Ric makes me testify or—”
Jason held up both hands to halt her rapid flurry of questions. “Wait, wait—” He stepped towards her. “Let’s just…take this one step at a time.” She pressed her lips together and looked away. “About Cameron? I don’t know what—I’d be his stepfather. I’d love and care for him. As for the baby…”
He hesitated because he didn’t like to think about the alternative. He wanted this child to be his, not Lucky’s. But she was right to be concerned. “If the baby isn’t mine, we’ll handle it however you want. We can—we can keep that to ourselves. Or if you think Lucky should be in the child’s life, then we can do that, too.”
Her eyes were closed, but tears were slowly sliding down her face. He didn’t know if any of these answers were helping, but he didn’t want her to say no for the wrong reasons.
Jason stepped closer to her, sliding his hand along her cheekbone so she’d open her eyes. When she was looking at him again, he cleared his throat and continued. “I’m not going to fall in love with anyone else, Elizabeth.”
Her lips trembled, then parted. “Right. I mean, of course not. I—you’re in love with Sam, so what if you want her back a-and you’re stuck with me—”
“That’s not going to happen,” he told her, rather than explaining all the reasons he was finished with Sam or why he’d never look at being married to her as being stuck. Damn Ric and Lucky for dragging her down, for making her feel less.
“Jason…” His name was almost a plea as she stepped back and his hand fell away. “I just—I don’t know what you see for us. What kind of marriage you want.”
He frowned. “Elizabeth, I’ll do whatever you want—”
Elizabeth actually growled and dug her hands into her hair. “Don’t say that! Stop saying that!”
“Then what do you want me to say?” Jason demanded, finally frustrated. Damn it, he just wanted her to be happy but how was he supposed to accomplish that if she wouldn’t tell him what she needed? “I don’t know what you want from me—”
“I don’t care about what I want!” Elizabeth retorted. Her eyes were angry now, sparks all but flying from them. “God, Jason, stop asking me that. I asked you what you wanted—”
“I want whatever you want,” Jason interrupted. “Why does it have to be more complicated than that—”
“Because you always leave it up to me.” She slashed her hand through the air. “You leave it up to me, so I try to do the right thing for both of us and I think my track record has proved that I suck at it. So, for once, just tell me what you want.”
“I want—” Jason shook his head. “Elizabeth—I just want—” He stopped and sat on the edge of the bed.
After a long pause, he finally spoke. “You asked me—if we go ahead with this—what kind of marriage I want.” He looked up from his hands and met her eyes briefly before looking away again. “I want you to trust me. I want…” He hesitated. “I want to come home to something that’s separate from my…job. I want to listen to you ramble about your art, about the people you saw that day…so I don’t have to think about the things I do when I’m not with you.”
He felt the bed dip as she settled next to him. “I want you to trust me,” she murmured. “And I want to trust you. I want you to listen to me ramble on about a problem and then say something that’s so simple, it seems to solve all my problems at once. I want to stop pretending to be someone I’m not.”
“I—” Jason looked up and met her eyes, still damp but not as panicked. “I never wanted you to be anyone else.”
“I know,” she responded with a small smile. “Which always confused me.” She reached for his hand and laced their fingers together. “If we’re going to do this, Jason, I want us to be honest with each other. Like we used to be. I don’t want to always be afraid or worrying about protecting myself.”
Jason stood then, and drew her to her feet as well. He reached into his pocket and drew out a small velvet bag. “I—I bought rings for today,” he told her, pulling the string to loosen the bag. “I was just going to buy the set, but—”
He drew out the small diamond ring he’d seen in the jewelry case and held it between his thumb and index fingers. He reached for the hand he had just released and held it still as it shook slightly.
“Jason, you didn’t have to do—” she began, her voice trembling as much as her hand had.
“I wanted to.” He slid the ring over her knuckle. “I could have bought something bigger, but your hand is small—”
“I don’t care about that.” Elizabeth lifted her hands and framed his face. “This is going to work, isn’t it?”
Rather than answering her with words, he took a chance and dipped his head down to taste her mouth, her sweet taste mixed with the slight salt from her earlier tears. “Will you marry me?” he whispered against her lips, hoping the second time he posed this question would bring him a different answer.
“Yes.” She laughed then and nipped at his mouth. “Let me redo my makeup and I’ll meet you out there.” Elizabeth drew back, the shadows lifted from her expression. “Go before Sonny sends in a search party.”
Sonny’s Villa: Ocean Terrace
Elizabeth stepped to the top of the stairs and glanced over the side of the railing, down to the terraced pool where Jason, Sonny, and Robin waited. The explosion of flowers, the wildflower arbor where she and Jason were expected to stand, even the photographer Sonny had arranged—she understood it was all part of a carefully crafted image.
But as she clutched the small bouquet of orange and yellow orchids Sonny had sent to her, as she looked at the diamond engagement ring she wore, as she remembered their conversation just minutes earlier…
This was starting to feel less and less like a marriage of convenience.
“’I’m sorry I’m late,” Elizabeth called as she started down the stairs, her voice nearly lost in the sound of the rushing ocean a few hundred feet away from Sonny’s villa.
“The bride,” Sonny declared as he met her halfway, “is never late.” He offered his arm. “Everyone else is just appallingly early.”
“Sonny…” But his easy smile was contagious, and she linked arms. “You’re having fun with this aren’t you?”
“I think I have untapped talents,” he replied, escorting her to the bottom of the stairs. “Now, just remember, I have your best interests in mind.” They stepped down from the stairs onto the stone terrace.
“The only way that would scare me more if is if Carly had said it,” Elizabeth murmured as they approached Jason and Robin and the justice of the peace. In the distant, the sun was beginning to set into the ocean horizon, but Sonny had lit some scattered torches around the terrace and pool.
“That really hurts.” Sonny stopped in front of Jason and put Elizabeth’s hand in his. “Humor me, both of you.”
Elizabeth laughed lightly, but it felt shaky to her as she handed Robin the bouquet and linked both hands with Jason. There they were, standing under an arbor of flowers in front of someone would say a few words before pronouncing them man and wife.
She could do this. She really could. She met Jason’s eyes and was relieved to see the same tinge of anxiety in them. For all their promises upstairs, there was something about this moment was so terrifying she had trouble breathing properly.
The minister, a dark-skinned man with kind brown eyes, lightly cleared his throat and spread his hands out. “We are gathered here today to celebrate one of life’s greatest moments, to give recognition to the worth and beauty of love, and to add our best wishes to the words which shall unite Jason and Elizabeth in marriage.”
Her breath caught at the words and she saw Sonny’s unabashed grin over Jason’s shoulder. Then she looked back at Jason with a hesitant smile. His hands tightened around hers, reassuring her.
“Before the vows, Miss Robin would like to say something on behalf of the couple,” the justice continued in his lyrical Bahamian accent, his voice carrying as if there were three hundred guests rather than just the four of them.
“What?” Elizabeth blinked as the justice stepped back and Robin handed both her flowers and Elizabeth to Sonny. “Robin—”
“Sonny had a very specific vision for today,” Robin said with a good-natured smile. “But he at least let me pick what I wanted to say. Well, he gave me three options.” She reached into her bodice and unfolded a small slip of paper.
“We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us,” she began. “But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this?” She glanced up with a smirk at Jason, perhaps in shared memory of their past. Jason just sighed, but didn’t appear to be annoyed, which Elizabeth decided to take it as a good sign.
“Because you yourself are wrong in some way,” Robin continued, “and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness.”
Elizabeth broke out into startled laughter. “Seriously, Robin?”
Robin stuck her tongue out at her but forged on. “And it isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems—the ones that truly make you who you are—that we’re ready to find a lifelong mate. Only then do you know what you’re looking for.”
Elizabeth turned her attention from Robin then to Jason, and in the pit of her stomach, something stopped twisting. She was beginning to understand why Sonny had suggested this particular reading and why Robin had chosen it. Jason’s eyes were on her as well.
“You’re looking for the wrong person,” Robin said. “But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person—someone you gaze lovingly upon, and think…” She hesitated, probably for effect. “This is the problem I want to have.”
And God, wasn’t that the truth? Hadn’t she been denying that for months?
Robin folded the slip of paper and tucked it back in her bodice. “So you guys, go forth and be as wrong as possible.” She took her flowers back and resumed her position at Elizabeth’s side.
The justice grinned. “What honest friends you have.” Then he cleared his throat and looked to Jason. “Do you, Jason, take Elizabeth, to be your wife? Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and protect her, forsaking all others and holding only unto her?”
Jason swallowed hard but his steady voice and calm eyes kept her pulse from racing too fast as he responded, “I do,” while looking straight at her.
“And do you, Elizabeth, take Jason, to be your husband? Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and protect him, forsaking all others and holding only unto him?”
“I do,” Elizabeth responded, feeling her fingers tingle where they touched Jason’s. They were really doing this.
“Wedding rings,” the justice continued, completely unaware of the byplay in front of him, “are an outward and visible sign of an inward spiritual grace and unbroken circle of love, signifying to all the union of this man and this woman in marriage.”
Sonny stepped forward and placed slim diamond and sapphire band in Jason’s palm, while Elizabeth retrieved a silver band from Robin.
“Please place this ring on each other’s finger,” the justice continued, “as a promise to one another.”
Jason took Elizabeth’s trembling hand in his steady one and, as he had only little earlier, slid the ring over her finger until it rested against the engagement ring.
And somehow that action steadied her hand, no longer shaking, as she mirrored his movement on his own finger. She rubbed her thumb over the silver metal, feeling as though this were some sort of dream and at any moment, she’d return to the nightmare of her old life.
“Jason and Elizabeth,” the justice said, breaking the moment, “as the two of you come into this marriage, I would ask remember that you must be able to forgive, to not hold grudges, and live each day that you may share it together—as from this day forward you shall be each other’s home, comfort, and refuge.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
Elizabeth exhaled slowly as Jason released one hand and cupped her cheek. His lips brushed over hers lightly until she fisted her hand in his light cotton shirt and pulled him closer.
She was going to have the marriage she wanted, and she was going to start it right.
His hand slid into her hair, tilting her head back to deepen the kiss.
The clapping drew her back, her cheeks heating, as she looked towards Sonny, then at Robin, before looking at Jason with an embarrassed smile.
“Since I’m the only one here,” Robin said, “I guess throwing the bouquet is really a gimme, huh?”
West Plana Cays: Morgan Villa
Jason pulled into the winding drive in front of his home on the island and looked at Elizabeth, whose eyes were on the two story structure situated on the tip of the western side of the island, a fifteen minute drive from Sonny.
“You can go ahead if you want,” Jason said. “I’ll bring in the bags.”
Elizabeth looked away from the house and offered a half smile. “All right.”
When he set down his duffel bag and her small suitcase by the sofa, he saw that she had gone towards the terrace that overlooked his view of the ocean.
“Is everything okay?” he asked, stepping out to join her, his hands in the pockets of his khakis.
“What?” She turned slightly and smiled again. “Oh, yeah. I just…I just saw the view. It’s so beautiful.” Elizabeth turned back to the ocean. “I grew up in Colorado, and even with the lake in Port Charles, I don’t get to the beach much.” She wrapped her arms around herself, her rings catching a reflection from the pool just in front of her. “And I’m trying to picture you in this house.”
Jason shrugged. “Sonny built it. He lived on the island for a while after he left Brenda at the altar.” He stepped towards her, their shoulders brushing. “And after he was done with his place, he did this. I never—I never use it much.”
“I didn’t come to this part of the island when I was here a few years ago,” Elizabeth said. She glanced at him. “I had to fake my death during the whole Cassadine nonsense. Sonny offered me a cottage near the resort and casino to keep me out of sight.”
“I—” Jason hesitated. “Yeah, I know.” His mouth twisted. “Carly called me to tell me you were dead. Sonny called me later to sort it out.” He didn’t like to think about that, so he said nothing more.
“Ah.” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “Well, anyway. I can see Sonny saved the best views for this side of the island. They don’t compare to the resort.” She closed her eyes and tilted her head up as the ocean breeze gently lifted her hair from her bare shoulders.
“You—you can come here any time you want.” Jason cleared his throat. “I mean, you can—the jet only takes three hours.”
She laughed, the soft sound rippling through the air. “Any time I want, I have a jet at my disposal? That sounds too good to be true.”
“You can—” He stopped for a second. “You can have anything you want, Elizabeth.”
“Anything?” She turned then, with a glint he didn’t quite recognize in her eyes. “You don’t want to put any limitations on that?”
Something squeezed inside as she smiled and tilted her head, her hair falling like waterfall to one side. “Why would I?” he asked, his voice feeling rusty.
Her hands were sliding down his chest until they reached waistband of his pants. She tugged him forward. “What if what I want,” Elizabeth drawled, “is you?”
“Y-You have me.” He slid his hand into her hair, the silky strands slipping through his fingers.
“Well, then…” She leaned up on her toes to press her mouth to his, open and soft, then gone before he could respond. “What do you want?”
“I want…” Jason leaned down to capture her lips, his hand at the nape of her neck so she couldn’t escape again. “To be with you.”
“You are,” she whispered as his mouth found the skin under her ear, tasted the sweetness. “I want you to take me inside.” He drew away slightly, and she licked her lips. “To your room,” she finished.
He lifted her then, bracing his arms at her hips. Her fingertips were light against his temples as their eyes met. Elizabeth leaned down and kissed him.
Without breaking their kiss, he strode through the open terrace doors into the living, down a short hallway to the master bedroom.
He set her on her feet and dived into her mouth again, her fingers almost ripping the buttons of his shirt. “I want to see you,” he breathed, reaching for the zipper of her dress, underneath her arm, tugging the bodice down.
“I want to be in your bed this time.” She drew back, letting her dress float down to her feet. Elizabeth kicked off her heels and reached for him again.
When she was underneath him, her pale skin against the dark sheets, he stopped to look at her. Her eyes were wide, her skin flushed, her lips parted. “I don’t want you to walk away tomorrow,” he said, dragging his thumb over her bottom lip.
“And I don’t want you to let me,” she responded. She drew his head down to hers and it was the last words they spoke.