If Lily could have seen the scene in Jason’s penthouse, she might have attempted cartwheels. Jason was stretched out on the couch, his legs hanging off, and his back against the arm of the couch. And Elizabeth was tucked underneath his arm, her head resting on his chest.
She’d stopped crying a while ago but neither one of them had moved and they hadn’t even spoken since they’d entered his penthouse. Truth be told, she didn’t want to break the silence. She should have been uncomfortable, having only known Jason for such a short time, but she didn’t feel that way.
“You okay?” he finally murmured. He didn’t move so she didn’t either. She wouldn’t have minded staying here the rest of the night.
“I’m all right,” she said softly. “I guess I just needed to get that out.”
“Sometimes that helps,” Jason replied.
“I just don’t understand why she had to change,” Elizabeth said. “Why do people change?”
His hand began making small circles on her shoulder sending warm tingles through her body–she could fall asleep if he’d just keep doing that. “Sometimes people change. There’s not always a reason.”
“Do you think I did something? Gave her a reason to think I killed him?” she asked. “I tried to be good to her–I never stopped her from seeing Lex and I try to reminisce about Lucky whenever she wants to…is there something I could have done to reassure her how much he meant to me?”
Jason didn’t answer for a few minutes. “I don’t think it was you as much as it was Laura,” he said finally. “She lost her son, someone she loved–he was a part of her. You can’t know how someone is going to react when they lose someone so close to them.”
“You sound like you’ve had personal experience,” Elizabeth said. As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she regretted. His entire body tensed and his hand drew away from her shoulder. “I’m sorry–that’s none of my business.”
The temptation to not talk and pull away so she’d leave the penthouse was a strong one for Jason–the fact that he didn’t want her to leave was an unsettling and unnerving revelation. That he wanted to help her to understand that Laura was still grieving and while it was painful and wrong to accuse her son’s widow of murder, that Laura was still running on instinct.
Because if anyone could understand running on instinct after someone’s death, it was him. But talking about Sonny was something he wasn’t going to do–not today. Not tomorrow.
And probably never.
And he couldn’t see himself broaching that particular subject with Elizabeth Spencer, a woman he could admit he was attracted to, one he wanted to spend more time with.
So, instead, he went a different route.
“Three years ago, my best friend died,” Jason began, deliberately glossing over the details of Sonny’s death. “I had just started dating Robin at the time.”
A little unsure why he was telling her about his ex-girlfriend but curious, Elizabeth remained silent and let him continue.
“We lasted for three years only because we didn’t want to let go,” Jason confessed. “It was easier, I guess. But our relationship died with him.” He stopped for a few minutes before trying to continue. “I pushed everyone away after he died–my family, my sister, and Robin. Lily wouldn’t let me do it to her, which is why we’re close. But Robin let me–she tried to brush it off by saying it would pass…that eventually I’d be over…what happened. She never wanted to understand why I was doing it…it only mattered that I was doing it. And I guess…eventually…it just was too much for her. She walked away.”
Hearing the pain in his voice, Elizabeth could tell someone else was bothering Jason–something more than his ex-girlfriend’s inability to understand his grief, but she was unwilling to press him at this point. “I’m sorry,” she said, the words meaning nothing and she knew it.
He shrugged a little. “She came back eventually, but it was superficial and we both knew it. We did the dinners, went to the Nurses’ Ball, but there was nothing else there. I don’t think she even really wanted to be with me towards the end. She got tired of being pushed away and she left a few months ago. She lives in Paris now.” He frowned for a minute, realizing he hadn’t made his point. “It’s just…I was going through a bad time…like Laura and Robin didn’t want to understand that.” The fact that Robin didn’t want to understand a lot of things wasn’t something he wanted to get into right now.
“I understand what you’re saying,” Elizabeth said, recognizing the signs he didn’t want to talk about himself any further and moving the topic back to its original focus. “But I have tried–I do want to be there for Luke and Laura and I tried to be there for Nikolas…I just don’t know what else I can do.”
“Maybe there’s nothing else you can do,” Jason offered. “Maybe this needs to get worse before it gets better.”
“That’s reassuring,” Elizabeth muttered. “I can’t imagine how this can get any worse.” She shifted her head so she was looking up at him. “Thank you.”
“I haven’t done anything,” he protested.
“Yes you have,” she insisted. She lifted her head off his chest and propped herself up on her elbow. “You listened and I needed that, so thank you.”
“All right,” Jason replied. “You’re welcome then.”
He knew he should look away–make some comment about it being late, about Lily probably worrying about her–but having her sitting here with him, her eyes searching his for something–
Her mouth scant inches from his.
Thinking about kissing her was bad enough–
But leaning forward to actually do it was even worse, he was sure of that.
But he seemed to be operating on auto-pilot right now and his brain wasn’t in sync with the rest of his body which was moving closer to her.
She seemed to understand and wasn’t helping matters by tilting her head up to make it easier for contact.
The second his lips brushed hers, he told himself to move away. Now. Before he made this any worse than it already was.
But as it was becoming apparent when it came to Elizabeth, he wasn’t going to listen to good common sense.
Her mouth opened under his, deepening the connection. He brought his free hand up to cup the back of her head, stabilizing her so she couldn’t move away until he was satisfied.
As the kiss wore on and his tongue explored the inside her mouth, he was beginning to realize that it might never be possible.
She pulled herself up into a better position so she could wrap her arms around his neck and somehow ended up on his lap.
Jason finally broke the kiss and tried to pull away so he wouldn’t be tempted, but she was now sitting in his lap, reminding him that he was very tempted to pull her back.
His first instinct was to tell her it wouldn’t happen again–that it couldn’t.
But it was becoming obvious that Jason had stopped listening to his instincts a long time when it came to Elizabeth. A thought that was so unsettling he knew it was time to fix this situation.
“I should go,” Elizabeth murmured when he didn’t say anything. “It’s late and Lily’s probably worried about me.”
“Yeah,” he breathed. “You’re right.”
She unlatched her arms from his neck and frowned as she contemplating removing herself from his lap without pressing herself against him any further. Finally, she sucked it up and swung her legs to the floor. She stood and felt him stand up behind her. She turned and faced him. “Thanks again,” she said, feeling a little lame.
She left the apartment then, leaving him standing by the couch wondering how in the hell he got himself into these situations.
Lily breezed past Johnny as usual the next morning, a goofy grin on her face. Elizabeth had been an hour and half late picking up Lex last night and was starry eyed when she did so. Lily was sure this was the turning point.
She didn’t grace Jason with a second look until she’d made herself a cup of coffee and had seated herself across from Jason at the dining room table. And then she noticed the lines around his eyes and recognized general expression he wore.
And her heart sunk. His entire face was closed off and she knew what that meant. Elizabeth had gotten too close and he was going to shut down on her.
“Jason, what happened?” she asked softly.
He shook his head and sipped his coffee. “Nothing.”
“Don’t tell me that. Something happened last night.” Lily shifted in her chair and leaned forward. “I saw you and Elizabeth last night and I know she was here, which is why I wasn’t worried. And she was glowing when she picked Lex up and you’re sitting here like a big lump on the floor. So, please, tell me what happened.”
“It’s not important.”
Lily wanted to slap him. “It is important.” She bit her lip and pondered how far to push. She knew Jason had his limits and she usually adhered to those–and she had a feeling he was reaching them. She would normally back off–but she had to know. “You like her don’t you?”
“She’s a nice kid,” Jason murmured.
The corners of her mouth twitched. Kid. First sign Jason was distancing himself from her. “Uh huh. Jason, you like her a lot. I can tell. You’ve already taken her on the bike.” Her eyes glimmered. “How did she like that?”
“She loved it,” Jason admitted.
Victory! A woman who loved riding his bike would automatically endear herself to Jason, Lily knew. He wouldn’t realize it, but it was true. Robin had hated the bike; Lily only rode it when necessary and Emily–
Thinking about Jason’s younger sister whom he’d pushed out of his life was painful. The Quartermaine girl was away in England this year, studying abroad at Oxford and Lily knew how much Jason missed her.
“Really?” Lily drawled. “How do you know? Did she tell you?”
“Yes.” Jason glanced up at her. “I know what you’re trying to do and it’s not going to work.”
“What am I trying to do?” Lily asked, trying to act innocent.
“You’re trying to find how I feel about her,” Jason replied.
“So, why don’t you save us both a lot of time and tell me,” Lily said. She leaned forward. “Jase, you’re my best friend in the world and I can’t help it if I want you happy, okay?” She reached out and covered his hand with hers. “What happened?”
“We don’t work together,” he said, gruffly. He pulled his hand away from hers and sat back.
“That’s a lie,” Lily accused. “She got too close and it scares you.”
He shook his head. “Lily.”
“What happened last night?” Lily demanded. “Because she was upset when she got off the elevator and when she picked up Lex, she was happy. You understand that, Jason? Something you did or said…it took that away…it erased the pain and replaced it something better. Now you can’t sit there and tell me you don’t work together.”
“She’s got too much going on,” Jason said. “And I can’t ask her to add my life and my work to it.”
“You can’t make that choice for her,” Lily replied. “That’s not fair and you know it. Damn it, Jason. Why are you so scared to be happy?”
“I’m not,” Jason said defensively. “I’m just not going to do it at the cost of someone else.”
Lily sat back, stunned. “That’s what this is about. You think something could happen to her.”
Jason leaned forward and caught her eye. “It easily could have been you that got into that car. Do you think Sonny could have lived with that guilt?”
“No,” Lily admitted. “No, I think if I had died, it would have been bad–he might not have recovered from that. But you cannot live your life based on what if. You can’t deny yourself the right to be happy because something might happen.”
“Drop it, Lily,” Jason insisted.
“No. God, Jason. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Would that make it your fault?” Lily asked. “Elizabeth could get mugged and be killed. Would that make it your fault? She could get cancer. A hundred things could happen and it would never be your fault. Why are you willing to do this just based on one possibility?”
Jason shoved away from the table abruptly and walked towards the kitchen. “Just leave it alone, Lily.”
Lily stood and followed him. “Just promise me you’ll think about it.”
Jason turned to face her and for the first time in the entire time he’d known Lily Elena Rivera Corinthos–
He lied to her.
“I’ll think about it.”
Luke Spencer watched his daughter-in-law tending the bar later that night and reconsidered having this conversation for the hundredth time.
But he pushed that thought out of his head and slid onto the stool. “Hey, darlin.”
Elizabeth gave her father-in-law a huge grin. “Hey, Luke. How are you?”
“A bit concerned,” Luke admitted. “You got a minute?”
Elizabeth scanned her customers before turning back to him. “Yeah, sure. What’s up?”
“I heard about Laura’s visit,” Luke said. “You all right?”
Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I was upset at first–it’s bad enough hearing those words from Nikolas, but hearing them from Laura…” She gave him a tiny smile. “I wasn’t prepared for how much that would sting.”
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I just don’t know how to convince her otherwise,” Luke said. “But you know that I love you, and that I could never think those things, right?”
“Right,” Elizabeth agreed. “But a good friend helped me put it in perspective. He helped me to realize that Laura’s still grieving and he’s right–Laura lost her son and she’s just lashing out.”
“He?” Luke echoed. “Honey, you don’t mean…Jason, do you?”
“Would that be such a bad thing?” Elizabeth asked. “He’s a good friend, Luke. You said it yourself.”
“That’s true,” Luke admitted. “But I have this feeling…he’s not just a friend, is he?”
Elizabeth couldn’t help the smile crossing her face. “No…he’s not.”
“Darlin’, do you really think it’s wise?” Luke asked. “You know I’m not one to tell other people how to live and all that, but I have to ask you…is being involved with a man like him…really something you need right now?”
She frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You know Nikolas is using any means necessary to get an investigation open. I happen to know Laura’s using her connections with Scott Baldwin to try to. Baldwin hears you’re dating public enemy number one and he won’t hesitate.”
“I’m not dating him,” Elizabeth protested. “It’s nothing like that.”
“But you do have feelings for him.”
Elizabeth didn’t feel comfortable discussing this with Lucky’s father and her discomfort showed on her face. “Luke.”
“Hey, I’m not talking to you as Lucky’s father,” Luke said. “I’m talking to you as your father and someone who cares about you. I’m glad you’re moving on–but I’m just questioning the person you’re moving on with.”
“I know…” Elizabeth sighed and looked away. “I know that getting involved with Jason could complicate my life–I’m not stupid. But I also don’t care what anyone else thinks.” She leaned forward. “If he makes me happy, that’s all that should count.”
Luke gave her a tired smile. “And does he…make you happy?”
“It’s really too soon to tell,” Elizabeth said. “But I think it’s possible.”
He patted her hand. “Then if you’re sure…that’s all that matters to me, too. I just hope you’re ready for the roller coaster of the next few weeks.”
“Thanks, Luke. Your support means more to me than you know,” Elizabeth admitted.