Now, I haven’t run this scene or any of the plot past my beta yet, so this isn’t final. But it’s a taste of the world I have set up in the sequel to A Few Words Too Many. It picks up in late 2007, almost four years after the story closed.
Living beyond your years
Acting out all their fears
You feel it in your chest
Your hands protect the flames
From the wild winds around you
Icarus is flying too close to the sun
And Icarus’s life, it has only just begun
It’s just begun
– Icarus, Bastille
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Everything about this day had been a disaster so far.
Elizabeth Morgan’s hold on her overflowing tote failed as she hurried through the arch that separated the courtyard of Kelly’s from the parking lot.
The handle to which she had been desperately grasping tore from its seams, sending a pile of folders sliding to the cobblestones below, as well as her make up bag, her keys, an extra toy truck, and a hair brush.
She stared down at the pile and felt the absurd urge to burst into tears.
“Let me help, Mrs. Morgan.” Her guard crouched in front of her, gathering her things into a pile.
“It’s okay, Kevin.” Elizabeth knelt down to start shoving things back into her now useless tote. “I over packed it again.”
“I’ll send someone to bring you a new bag,” the young dark-haired man began, setting the pile on a nearby table and reaching inside his suit jacket for his cell phone.
“No, no, that’s not necessary—” Elizabeth held up her hand. “I’m handing some of these over to Robin at our meeting anyway. It’s really—”
But he was already on the phone with Cody Paul, who until six months ago, had been her daytime guard. Cody had been promoted to another position in the organization, and her life had never been quite the same. She didn’t even know how much she’d relied on him until he hadn’t been there.
And curse her husband and his partner for taking him away as she had lurched towards the end of an uncomfortable pregnancy. Men. No sensitivity.
“Elizabeth?” Robin Scorpio stepped out from inside the restaurant. “Hey, is everything okay?”
“No, but that’s not new.” Elizabeth smiled faintly at Kevin who was telling Cody that an extra tote from the penthouse needed to be sent to Kelly’s immediately. “My bag ripped as I was coming in.”
“Oh.” Robin joined her at the table. “It’s a cool day—let’s sit outside instead.”
“I’m late, I know I am.” Elizabeth dumped the last of her bag’s contents on the table and collapsed into a chair. “I spent half the night organizing this paperwork and now it’s a mess.” She pressed a hand to her forehead again. “I nearly overslept and was late picking up Morgan. It’s my week to carpool—”
Robin nodded, taking a seat across from her. “As much as you can call sitting in a car while a guard drives carpooling, I suppose.”
“Cady refused to eat breakfast, and then she dumped her plate of eggs in Jake’s lap, so I had to clean him up before I could drop him off with Monica to spend part of the day with her and Alan—he didn’t sleep half the night. Woke Cady twice. I finally put them both in bed with me.”
“Where was Jason through all of this?” Robin asked, calmly removing her date book from her own tote bag and flipping it open. She reached for Elizabeth’s paperwork pile and began to sort it.
“He worked late again. Didn’t get home until almost three. Sonny called him while I was cleaning up Jake—some kind of meeting at the warehouse required his immediate attention.” Elizabeth huffed. “It’s getting ridiculous, Robin. I love Sonny, but I’m going to strangle him if this keeps up.”
Robin leaned back as a waitress emerged from Kelly’s to take their lunch orders. When she was gone, Robin asked, “Still wrapped up in Kate?”
“Yes.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Like he was with Jordan. And Claire. And Amelia. And Sam. It’s exhausting and to think, I actually miss the days when he and Carly were trying to kill each other in court. At least Sonny showed up for work on a regular basis.”
“Yeah, but that was to escape Carly. She hates the warehouse doesn’t she?” Robin asked. She smiled as the waitress returned with their drinks. “Thanks.”
“It wouldn’t be so bad if Sonny didn’t continually start these ridiculous projects, then flit off for a few days with his newest woman and leave Jason to do the rest of the work. First it was just the warehouse expansion into Buffalo and then into Albany. Then he wanted to open a coffee house. Then a restaurant. And now? He wants to expand the coffeehouses into Buffalo and Albany.” She huffed and stirred her herbal tea. “I’m getting a migraine thinking about it.”
“And Jason doesn’t want to say no because he likes that the new businesses are…” Robin pursed her lips. “Free and clear, so to speak. It’s something he can give to the kids later.”
“Except he’s doing twice as much work as he used to.” Elizabeth shook her head. “It was different before, Robin. Before we were married. When we were…sorting through things, dealing with Ric and Faith. Sonny bent over backwards to make sure Jason and I had time together—he took a long business trip in the middle of Carly’s pregnancy so Jason wouldn’t leave me.”
She closed her eyes. “It’s like he was trying to make up for what he thought had been partly his fault before—Jason never being home. But then that mess with Kristina blew up a few months after we got married…” She shook her head. “And it’s like he takes it for granted that I’ll be around, that I’ll put up with the long hours, the meetings—”
“Have you or Jason talked to Sonny about letting up?” Robin stirred some sugar in her iced tea. “Especially since you had Jake? I mean, you were in the hospital for three weeks after he was born. Jason was always around then.”
“I don’t know what happened,” Elizabeth admitted. “I was pretty in and out of it for the first few days. I’m just not sure Jason…” She hesitated. “I’m not sure it occurred to him to leave the hospital. Other than making sure someone was with Cady. I just know every time I woke up, he was with me.”
“We didn’t know for a few days if they’d stop the bleeding,” Robin murmured. “It was pretty scary, and Jason just looked…I mean, I’ve seen him scared, worried—when Michael was kidnapped all those years ago. But it was more than that—I know things are difficult right now, Elizabeth, but he loves you—”
“Oh, God, that’s not…” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “No, I’m just tired, you know? And I miss my husband. I miss some semblance of family life. I don’t doubt for a minute that he loves me. And I love him. I just…I want Sonny to respect that again. He’s taking our stability for granted, you know? Like…Jason and I have been together for four years, we have two children, and somehow Sonny thinks that’s it. We don’t need to do anything extra. We’re a happy family without working at it.”
“To be fair, I can’t blame him. You and Jason are probably the most stable people I know.” Robin wrinkled her nose. “I mean, marriages in this town do not last long. Even the Spencers have had some bumps in the road—not so much since Laura came home a few years ago, but you and Jason haven’t had so much as a blip. No huge arguments, no storming out. No secrets.”
“Well, we managed to do plenty of that before we got married.” But Elizabeth smiled, because it was the truth. There had been so much drama in the beginning of their relationship that she felt like there was nothing left to worry about beyond the everyday. They were in love with a beautiful home and two beautiful children—
If Sonny would just let Jason have blessed moment to himself, life would be nearly perfect.
“You know, before I came home two years ago,” Robin began as the waitress placed their food in front of them. “I wondered how I’d feel knowing Jason had married you, that you had kids. I mean, I remembered you from before. Sort of. I’m not entirely sure we ever officially met other than running into each other at the garage.”
Elizabeth arched a brow. “Worried I wasn’t good enough for Jason?”
“Not so much,” Robin laughed. “Just that—I couldn’t see you two together. I don’t know, it’d be like going away for several years and learning that Lucky had married Maxie Jones. You know, someone you’re kind of aware of but, wow, cannot picture him with.”
“I can barely picture him with Sam, but that might be residual annoyances since Sonny and Sam’s affair during the divorce only made life worse,” Elizabeth sighed. “But yeah, I get it. So, what’s the verdict?”
“I like the two of you together,” Robin said, dumping ketchup over her fries. “Then again, after everything that happened with Carly and Michael, particularly my part in it…I decided that I would like anyone that gave Jason the chance to be a father again.”
“Well, he gave me the chance to be a mother, which most days, I’m grateful for. Today? Maybe not so much.” Elizabeth smiled and dug into her chili. “So, somewhere in that pile of paper is the contract for next month.”
“Carly agreed to hold the benefit at the Metro Court?” Robin frowned. “I thought she’d give me more trouble—”
“Well, I told her I’d be her liaison with the foundation, and when she still balked, Jax twisted her arm.” Elizabeth shook her head. “You’d think after two years, you’d two be…I don’t know. Somewhat civil. Considering neither one of you are involved with the man you fought over in the first place.”
“Except Carly still thinks I was wrong to tell AJ the truth.” Robin sniffed. “I’m willing to accept that fact, but I’ll never admit that to Carly. Plus, there was that business with her trying to sleep with Patrick.”
“That last summer before she and Jax got serious,” Elizabeth reminded her. “And mostly it was to annoy you. Which it did.”
“I thought about making Patrick bathe in bleach before I agreed to sleep with him again, but I decided to take his word for it that nothing happened,” Robin decided. She pointed a fry at Elizabeth. “Did Nadine tell you about her latest goober?”
“God. There was a rambling message on my voice mail this morning, but I didn’t get a chance to listen to it closely. Something about a jackass, a good cocktail and a broken finger?” Elizabeth asked.
“Yeah, one of Patrick’s friends asked her out. Pete Marquez? The English professor who went to Vegas with him a few months ago?”
“Oh.” Elizabeth frowned. “She’s getting desperate.”
“Yeah, something about being the only single girl left in the group.” Robin shrugged. “I tried to tell her Kelly’s still on the market, but that didn’t cheer her up.”
“I guess we all have paired off since that first time at Jake’s.” Elizabeth smiled at the memory of her first Girl’s Night. “Lainey’s been dating AJ—what nearly a year now? You and Patrick are stupid for each other. I’m spoken for. Emily’s engaged to Nikolas—it just leaves Nadine and Kelly.”
“I think she’s still hung up on the idiot she was dating before she hit PC but the last time I mentioned her looking up Johnny Zacchara, she nearly took me out with a bottle of tequila.” Robin scowled. “It’s not my fault he’s a dillhole and she’s mooning over him.”
“She’s dated plenty in the last four years,” Elizabeth said. “Though I guess it doesn’t cheer her up that most of her previous attempts have gone on to more serious relationships. There was Lucky—who’s dating Sam now. And of course, Nikolas, though the two brothers thing was weird enough.”
“Don’t forget her brief and disastrous date with Patrick before I moved here.” Robin laughed. “He still talks about that bar fight.”
“I know. I told her it was a bad idea, but what can I say? Nadine’s a romantic.” Elizabeth leaned back in her chair and took a deep breath. “I feel a lot better, Robin. Just…sitting here. Bitching about my almost perfect life, reminding myself as bad as it could be, at least I still have this wonderful man to go home to.”
“Right?” Robin shrugged. “All things considered, Elizabeth? Life could suck a lot more.”
“I completely agree.” Elizabeth lifted her mug of tea to click against Robin’s glass of iced tea. “To life not sucking all that much in the grand scheme of things.”