Well, you have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It’s time that you won
Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice
You’ve made it now
– Falling Slowly, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Morgan Villa: Bedroom
The sun was warm on her bare shoulder when she drifted into consciousness the next morning. Elizabeth blinked once, then twice, before shifting slightly on her side, the thin dark sheet sliding down her torso.
The Caribbean sun burned in through the balcony that stretched across the opposite side of the room, the ocean a wall of sparkling diamonds.
For a moment, she wasn’t sure where she was, but the warmth at her side quickly brought back the events of the day before.
And the night before.
She pushed her hair away from her face and peered over at Jason, who still lay asleep. Sprawled on his stomach, his arms half under the pillow on his side of the bed, his blond hair tousled and a morning stubble on his cheeks.
This was her husband with whom she had had a passionate wedding night.
Her lips curved into a smile just at the thought of it, and for the first time in months, she felt the weight of her problems, her burdens…just drift away. They didn’t disappear—and she knew they’d be waiting for her back in Port Charles.
But for this moment, for this day, she was going to embrace this new life. Robin had told her to ask Jason what he wanted, and Elizabeth was profoundly grateful she had listened.
Not wanting to wake him, Elizabeth slowly slid from beneath the sheets, reaching for the button down white shirt he’d worn the day before as it lay discarded on the floor nearby.
She slipped into it, wrapping the ends around herself rather than buttoning it. The sounds of the waves crashing against the shore, the smell of the salt air, and the vision of the sun glinting off the water drew her out to the balcony with its wooden rails.
Elizabeth braced a hip against it and surveyed the beach below, the greenery that dotted the edge of civilization, away from the golden sand dunes.
She heard rustling behind her and glanced back just as Jason slipped into a pair of black briefs.
She liked to think she wasn’t a particularly shallow person, but was there anything more delicious than the vision of Jason Morgan and his golden skin in nothing but a brief piece of black cloth?
“I’m sorry if I woke you,” she murmured as Jason joined her, sliding a warm arm around her waist. Elizabeth leaned her head back against his chest, tucking her head under his chin simply because she could. How many times had she wanted to touch him and resisted?
She wasn’t depriving herself any longer.
“I don’t sleep much anyway.” His lips brushed against her hair. “You okay?”
“Practically perfect.” Elizabeth held her left hand out slightly, her eyes on the newly minted rings on her finger.
She’d worn Lucky’s rings until Monday morning, and had left the slim bands on the top of her bureau in the apartment. Maybe she should feel guilty that she now wore another man’s rings, but she just couldn’t dredge up the emotion.
She’d spent too many years trapped by guilt and obligation.
“We don’t have to be back in Port Charles until tomorrow,” Jason said after a long moment. “Did—Did you want to do something today?”
Elizabeth turned so that she was facing him. Tilting her head to the side, she peered up at him. “You’re always asking me what I want.”
“Well,” Jason said, cupping her chin, his thumb smoothing along her jaw. “I have what I want.”
She grinned—it seemed as if they had both discarded whatever guards they’d constructed over the last few years. It was the most in tune she’d felt with him since the early halcyon days of their friendship.
Could it be this simple? If she had just taken one step forward all those years ago—would he have followed?
“You always know exactly the right thing to say.”
He dipped his head down to kiss her, but she giggled and drew away. “Morning breath,” Elizabeth told him with a wagging finger. “I haven’t brushed my teeth yet.”
“In that case…” Jason surprised her by plucking her up as if she weighed nothing more than air.
In less than a minute, he had carried her into the adjoining master bathroom, set her back on her feet, and handed her a bottle of mouth wash. “Ladies first.”
Morgan Villa: Kitchen
Jason glanced up as Elizabeth emerged from the short hallway that connected the bedrooms to the front of the house.
Her smile was quick and genuine, her eyes were clear and content, and the tension he’d seen in her for months had dissipated.
As she perched on a stool on the other side of the kitchen island, her hair tumbling to the middle of her back in a mass of waves, he noticed the blue bikini she had changed into after their shower, and the floral fabric tied at her waist.
He set a plate of food in front of her along with a glass of orange juice. “I guess you’re not interested in spending part of the day at the casinos or resort.”
“Mmm…is this a frittata?” Elizabeth picked up the fork and knife he’d set out. “And no.” She wrinkled her nose. “I spent way too much time on that side of the island the last time I was here.” She took a small bite and closed her eyes. “I wish I could cook like this.”
“Still only confined to brownies?” he asked with a light smile. “I would have thought you’d branched out by now.”
“Hey.” She jabbed the fork at him, her eyes sparkling. “I’ll have you know I can make anything that comes in a box.”
“I stand corrected.”
He leaned back against the stove, his mug of coffee in his hand and watched her eat with enthusiasm.
She was his wife. They were married.
It should feel odd, even awkward. But it didn’t. Was it simply being away from Port Charles? From the outside tensions that so often influenced their interactions?
“Anyway,” Elizabeth said a few moments later, taking a swig of juice. “I was never any good at the casinos. I managed to lose even when I suspected Sonny was fixing the tables in my favor.” She laughed. “I know that’s the only way Carly ever won.”
“There’s the resort,” Jason offered. “They’ve got, I don’t know, shopping and spas or something.”
“That’s where everyone thinks I am anyway.” But her smile faded a bit. “Did—did you want me to go the resort for a while or something? Do-do you need to do something? With Sonny, I mean?” She bit her lip, and for the first time since the ceremony, a bit of uncertainty flashing in her eyes. “Or do you just want some time to yourself—”
“No.” Jason set his coffee down abruptly. “No, that’s not—” He exhaled slowly. “I just…I thought you might want to go—”
“Because if you need to meet with Sonny while we’re here, that’s okay.” Elizabeth pushed her half-eaten plate away from her a bit. “I mean, it’s…it’s your job, Jason. I-I can go get a massage—”
She started to slide down the stool, but he rounded the granite counter and stopped her descent, his hands at her hips. “Elizabeth. Sonny asked us to dinner tonight so you could keep Robin company for a bit while we dealt with anything we need to talk about. I just—” He stopped. “I’m sorry, I just thought you might want—”
“No, I’m sorry.” Elizabeth looked past him, her eyes cast down as if trained on the marble tiles. “I guess, I mean…this morning—and-and last night, it’s just…maybe I don’t always trust feeling happy for more than a few hours.” The corner of her mouth lifted. “There’s…there’s always something waiting just around the corner—”
“I know.” He let her slide the rest of the way to the floor, then tipped her chin up to force her meet his eyes. “Elizabeth. Remember what we talked about yesterday?”
“Honesty.” Her smile was back now, smaller and maybe a bit shaky—but genuine. “Right. So I guess I just have…to trust that. I’m sorry—”
“Don’t apologize—” He cut her off with a firm shake of his head. “I know what you went through with Lucky—I saw it. I watched him try to break you into little pieces every time he accused you of having an affair with Patrick—”
“To the point when I merely mentioned a paternity test to Kelly and Epiphany, they both assumed Patrick was the other party.” She sighed. “I’m working on it, Jason. I guess—I mean, we knew it would be more complicated than just…getting married to keep me from testifying—”
“That’s why we started this,” Jason said, “but it’s—it’s not entirely why we went through with it. Is it?”
“No,” she whispered. “Can—can we have more mornings like before? I mean, once we go back to Port Charles, this—it won’t go away?”
“No.” His thumb passed over her bottom lip, tracing its softness. Her eyes changed again—darkened. He replaced his thumb with his mouth.
For so many years, she’d been at the edges of his life—someone he cared about but could never hope for more. If he could have even guessed how good it would feel to touch her, to be with her—
He wouldn’t have needed the tequila to work up the courage.
Maybe this had all started as a mutual agreement to protect one another, but those reasons were a distant memory as he tugged her away from the kitchen, towards a nearby sofa. The fabric at her waist slipped to the marble floor, his shirt was tossed somewhere.
They tumbled to the sofa, his back against the cushions and her soft curves pressed against him. Her curls caressed his skin as he swept them away from her face, his fingers sliding through the strands.
Elizabeth broke away from him, straightening. She pressed her hands flat against his chest as he began to sit up. “Elizabeth,” he began.
“I just—” Her breath was shallow, her chest rising and falling rapidly. “I just—this is different. Not like last night. Or this morning. I just—” She bit her lip. “I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings between us—”
Jason’s hands slid from her hips, curling into fists to keep from reaching for her. “Do you want to stop—”
“No.” The corner of her mouth curved up. “I just wanted you to know that my eyes are wide open. This isn’t about wanting to feel something, to forget about anyone else. It’s not our wedding night or the afterglow.” Her fingertips trailed down his chest towards the waistband of his sweats.
“There’s no one else here,” he replied, his voice raspy. “It’s just you and me.”
“Exactly.” Her fingers slid lower, and everything in him tensed as that hesitant smile turned a bit wicked. “Now where were we?”
Corinthos Villa: Veranda
Robin stepped through the open arch that connected Sonny’s living room to the sprawling veranda at the front of his face.
“What are you doing out here?” she asked Sonny as she joined him. “Are you waiting for Jason and Elizabeth?”
“A bit.” Sonny leaned against one of the large granite pillars. “They looked good yesterday, didn’t they? You don’t think I pushed too much?”
“I think,” Robin said, perching on the edge of a white railing, “it was a lovely ceremony and they’ll have good memories of it. They looked startled, but not upset.” She peered over the vast greenery that separated Sonny’s home from Jason’s. “I never would have put them together. Even when Elizabeth told me what had happened this summer—I still couldn’t see it.”
She smiled and looked back at him. “But now that I have? I like it.” Robin laughed, wrinkling her nose. “It’s weird to think of him of being right for someone else. I mean, I’ve moved on with Patrick and I love him, I really do. I know Jason was married to your sister, that he was engaged with Sam, but I don’t know…he always seemed…” She wiggled her shoulders. “Stressful. Every time I saw him with Sam, he was tense. Not because of her, I guess, but—”
“She didn’t offer him a break from his world,” Sonny murmured. “She miscalculated there. She knew that Courtney had left him over the job, heard the rumors it was why Elizabeth had walked out—so she turned herself into the perfect sidekick.”
“But Jason didn’t want a sidekick.”
“He thought he did, and I can see how it made sense.” Sonny sipped his bourbon. “But maybe he’s starting to get that you need something else. A sense of separation, of…”
“Peace,” Robin murmured. “Of quiet. Of something stronger than the next rival, the next catastrophe.” Her lips curved. “Well, Sonny, I think you gave them a really good start. What they do with it from here out is up to them.”
Through the sounds of the waves behind them the roar of a motorcycle broke though. Around a corner of trees and bushes, the bike appeared, then turned into the drive.
Sonny grinned. “Still got the bug I see.” He took Robin’s arm and drew her back into the shadows by the house.
“Ugh, I tolerated that bike, but he always went too fast—” Robin broke off when Jason pulled his bike to a stop.
Elizabeth drew off her helmet, letting her hair tumble down her back. Whatever she said to Jason was lost to the wind and ocean, but there was no mistaking the broad smile on her face and her laughter.
They stood close to one another after climbing off the bike for a long moment, before finally making their way up towards the front of the house.
“I think they’ll be just fine,” Sonny murmured. “We better get inside before they catch us spying.”
Corinthos Villa: Terrace
Robin tipped some sparkling cider into Elizabeth’s glass. “So, while the boys are talking business, I think it’s time you tell me how the honeymoon is going.”
Elizabeth’s cheeks flushed and she dipped her head. “Robin…”
“Listen.” Robin settled onto the long chaises dotting the area around the pool, tucking her legs underneath her. “You forget, I’ve been in this since the beginning. I remember the way you looked a week ago, in that parking garage.”
Elizabeth sighed and sipped her cider. She looked to her left, and saw through the open terrace doors into the kitchen where Jason and Sonny were talking as Sonny cooked.
“It feels so far away,” she murmured. “You told me to ask him what he wanted.”
“Oh, wait, don’t tell me I was right—” Robin held up a hand. “Let me get a witness or Patrick won’t believe me—”
“Jason and I used to be honest with each other, but I guess…that was only until I looked at him one day and realized he just wasn’t just…my friend.”
“He was the sexy man standing over there.” Robin sipped her wine. “I remember.” She frowned. “Wait, is that weird? Because I mean, I dated him—”
“It’s fine. It feels like another lifetime ago.” Elizabeth lifted a shoulder. “I don’t know, Robin, we just started talking again in the spring and it’s like…all those feelings—all that love I had for him, and maybe whatever he felt for me, it was just…dormant.”
“Like kindling waiting for a match,” Robin nodded. “It happens sometimes, you know. It doesn’t mean you were destined to have an affair—”
“But we did. Technically.” Elizabeth sighed. “Or I did. Part of the reason I never really lost it when Lucky accused me of being with Patrick was the fact I knew something wasn’t right. I was—” She lifted her free hand in the air. “Overly involved in Jason’s life by that point. Turning to him when things with Lucky were falling apart, trying so hard to get him to go back to Sam—”
“I guess.” Robin pursed her lips. “But nothing happened until you found out about Maxie—”
“And I didn’t go find Emily or Nikolas, or even you. I didn’t stay with my grandmother.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I took the first excuse I could find, Robin, to crawl into bed with Jason. I have to be honest with myself about that.”
“Fair enough.” Her friend tilted her head to the side. “Are you sorry?”
“No—but I felt so guilty about not being sorry I ran right back to Lucky to prove I wasn’t that kind of woman…” Elizabeth shrugged. “But I was. I married two other men because I didn’t believe I could ever have the one I wanted. I kept settling—”
“And the universe kept dumping Jason in your path, so maybe it’s trying to tell you something.” Robin leaned forward. “What’s going to happen next in Port Charles is going to be tough. I’m not even talking about Ric Lansing—”
“I know. There’s Carly, my grandmother, Lucky, Emily—Sam—” Elizabeth chewed on her lip. “That’s why I’m just…I’m going to trust Jason. We can make this work. He’s going to be so wonderful with Cameron, I know that. And this baby…” She pressed a hand to her abdomen. “I’m going to hope like hell we find out on Friday this is Jason’s child. Because I want to give him a child, I want a child with him, Robin. But even if it’s not, I can’t let that shake what we’re trying to do.”
“Exactly.” Robin gestured with her glass of wine. “It’s going to be you two against the world—with a little help from me and Sonny.” She frowned. “And Patrick, because I’ll make him. But if you guys can keep your foundation strong, you’ll get through whatever Ric has ready for you.”
“Yeah, I’m not crazy. Just getting Diane to get Ric tossed off my case and marrying Jason is not going to fix anything.” Elizabeth rolled her shoulders. “It’s only going to piss him off. You’re not that familiar with a vengeful Ric Lansing.” She dipped her eyes down. “But I am.”
“Then we’ll just have to beat him.” Robin held her glass out. “To kicking ass and taking what we want in life.”
Elizabeth clinked her glass with a grin. “And I’ll tell you what, Robin, for the first time in years? I’m going to do exactly that.”
Morgan Villa: Terrace
“So back to Port Charles in the morning.”
They were stretched out in one of the wicker chaise lounges, Elizabeth’s head tucked under his chin, his arms wrapped around her waist.
Elizabeth sighed. “I know. My grandmother is expecting me in the afternoon to pick up Cameron.” She tilted her head back to catch a glimpse of his face from the light of the torches. “Should…should I tell her? Or should I wait until the notice is in the papers—”
“It’s done now,” Jason replied, idly lacing the fingers of their hand together as they had that night in his penthouse. “You might as well let her know before the papers. If you don’t—”
“It would probably be even worse later,” Elizabeth murmured. “I know Ric isn’t going away. I just hope he’s distracted enough by Alexis and her health that he won’t take extreme measures—”
“He’s capable of anything,” Jason replied. “But we’ll be ready.”
“I’m glad we had this today.” Her eyes grew heavy as the steady beat of the waves crashing against the shore echoed in her mind. “It was perfect.”
“Yeah.” Jason pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “It was. Do-do you want to go inside?”
“Mmm…” She curled her hand into a fist and rested it against his heart. “Just…a little longer. I love it out here.”
“We’ll come back,” he promised her. “For longer. And we’ll bring Cameron. And-and maybe the baby, too. Does Cameron like the water?”
But she didn’t answer him. Her eyes were closed, her lips curved into a gentle smile. She was so beautiful, this woman who had trusted him with so much.
She could have done the bare minimum—Diane had assured him that the charges were all but baseless and Ric’s involvement a pure conflict of interest. Elizabeth had never been in any true danger of going to jail.
But she’d refused to stand by while Ric had gone after him—the loyalty she had always shown him even in the darkest of moments humbled him even as it frustrated and worried him.
He didn’t know what the future held for them, but Jason thought if they could just hold on to this day, maybe it would be okay.