…. like I’m a complete whore…
The words hung between them. She’d thrown them at him like a grenade. There would be no pretending, no sidestepping around the reason they’d broken up almost a decade earlier.
Jason had never come to terms with that final day—those final moments. Elizabeth had been in his apartment for less than five minutes, her eyes dark with sadness, worry, and something else he’d never been able to understand. She’d looked at him, standing there with her cousin, Robin, and, and he’d asked her what was going on. She hadn’t answered.
She’d just shaken her head, turned, and left. He hadn’t gone after her. That was the last time he had seen her until now, though once or twice, he’d found himself looking for her on social media.
Jason took a deep breath. “That’s not what I meant,” he said, even though…it had been a little bit. If Jake—Christ, he had son! —had been born in May, he’d been conceived in August or September and Elizabeth had cheated on him in early September.
It was a logical question to ask.
He just couldn’t understand why it had been the first one out of his mouth.
So, he tried again. “You said you—you wrote to me.”
“Yes.” Elizabeth folded her arms, lifted her chin. There were no lines on her face, nothing in her physical appearance that belied her age. She looked as she had at the age of twenty-one—her chestnut hair maybe worn a bit shorter than he remembered. Her eyes were still deep blue, shadowed by secrets she’d never revealed to him. She’d always seemed older than her age, and that hadn’t changed.
“I never—I never got any letters. Did you send them to the garage?”
“It was the only address I had,” Elizabeth said tightly. “Are you telling me you never got the letters?”
“Why didn’t you call?” he asked, with a quick shake of his head.
“I did.” Elizabeth didn’t even blink. “The day Jake was born. Your fiancée answered the phone. I told her who I was, and she told me that you had proposed just after you got my first letter. That you were expecting a child together, and I wasn’t going to get any money out of you.”
Courtney. Jason exhaled slowly. “Elizabeth—”
“I still sent another letter, and another when Jake was a year old. But I didn’t call again.” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “It’s not important anymore—”
“It is, but it’s not—it’s not about you. I’m sorry she did that to you. She was working at the garage and doing a lot of the administrative—” He lifted his hands. “I’m sorry, Elizabeth.”
“It was a long time ago.” Elizabeth looked towards the house. “I came home so you could—because things are different now and I can’t—but I—” She chewed on her bottom lip. Stared at him for a long moment, her eyes intent on his. He felt a prickling sensation along his spine. “You really didn’t know about him.”
“No. You never told your family about him, did you?” Jason tilted his head. He’d never understood the way her family worked—Anna had raised three of them—Nadine from the age of five, and Elizabeth from fifteen. Nadine had seemed connected to Robin and Anna, but Elizabeth had always been separate.
“I haven’t spoken to them since I left.” Elizabeth slid her hands in her back pockets. “Look, there’s a lot we have to talk about, and I want you to know Jake. That’s why I came back. I just…I wasn’t expecting you outside my house today.”
He glanced down at the clipboard in his hand, trying to gather himself. “I wasn’t expecting—I want to know my son, Elizabeth.” He hesitated. He didn’t know what to say, how to ask for it. “Does he know about me?”
“No,” Elizabeth admitted. “I thought you…had rejected him. And honestly, it hasn’t come up. I’ve tried hard to be enough for them both.” She paused. “He’s quiet. Like you. He takes his time to get to know people, he studies everything for hours. It drives Cameron crazy when they play games, because Cameron has always lived in the moment and Jake wants to think through all the angles before he does anything.”
His throat tightened, and Jason had to look away a moment. He’d never thought of himself as someone who would have a family until he’d met Elizabeth and Cameron. He’d wanted that little boy, and maybe that had been part of the reason Elizabeth—why it had exploded. After Elizabeth, he’d wanted children. Had thought both times he had married it would be his chance—
“There’s a lot we have to talk about,” Elizabeth said gently as if somehow—she could see his thoughts. “There’s…I guess we should talk about what happened back then. Or at least why I left the way I did.”
“It wasn’t just because of—” Her eyes darkened. “It wasn’t just that. It was other things. Things I never told you.”
“It just—it can’t be right now. I have to—the boys and I have a routine after school.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “But I guess you having a job next door is the sign I’ve been waiting for. I haven’t talked to my aunt, and I should.” She looked down at her hands—at her thumb for some reason before continuing. “Will you—can I come by the garage tomorrow?”
He didn’t want to walk away. Inside that house was his son. And the little boy he’d wanted to be his own. In front of him stood the first woman he’d ever wanted to marry and build a family with—and Jason wanted to stand here and demand all the answers. To just look at Jake one more time.
But he had a job to finish, and there was something in Elizabeth’s eyes—something that told him that the secrets she had kept during the year they’d dated—the truth of what had happened that last day they’d seen each other—
He wasn’t going to like any of it, and it was going to hurt her to talk about it. And the one thing that had never changed in the nearly eight years since they’d seen one another—he hated when she was sad. He’d never wanted to be the reason for it.
So, Jason nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be around tomorrow. We’ll talk.”
He finished unhooking the truck in the neighboring driveway and left the bill in the mailbox. He watched Elizabeth’s house carefully, hoping he might catch another glimpse of any of the people who lived there, but no one came near the windows or stepped outside.
Jason climbed back into his truck and drove back across town—not to the garage—but to his sister-in-law’s nightclub where she would be preparing to open.
Caroline Jacks had married Jason’s older half-brother right out of high school. The marriage had lasted less than two years, and AJ Quartermaine had moved away from Port Charles. Carly had married three more times in the fifteen years since, but somehow—Carly had remained in his life though Jason was never sure why they were friends or why she was usually the person he turned to.
In her office, Carly had her cell phone in her hand, glaring down at it. “I’m not even dignifying that a response,” she snapped as she waved for Jason to close the door behind him. “There’s no way in hell I’m letting Morgan go to Switzerland over the holiday break just so he can meet your newest floozy.”
“Carly—” the exasperated voice of Carly’s second ex-husband, Sonny Corinthos, was a a familiar. One couldn’t be around the blonde without becoming irritated. “Kate isn’t a floozy—”
“Well, after Amelia, Claire, Ava, and Hannah, what do you expect me to think? You get Morgan for three days at Christmas in the state limits of New York. That’s what the custody order says. You don’t like it, you can take me back to court.” She pressed her finger down on the screen and tossed the phone onto her desk. “Jackass.”
Her eyes brightened. “Hey. What brings you by? You finally taking my advice and looking for the next Mrs. Morgan?” She wrinkled her nose. “I know it’s been a few years since you waded into the dating pool, Jase, but greasy uniforms—”
Jason sighed, shook his head. “That’s—I don’t know why I’m here.” He hesitated. “Do you remember Elizabeth Webber?”
“Oh.” Carly scowled. “Yeah. She’s the reason you crash landed on the Barbie. God, she was annoying. And if it hadn’t been for Princess Purity’s slutty cousin, she never would have been in my life.”
“You know, you complain that Spinelli never uses anyone’s real name,” Jason began, but then stopped. “I told you that I never really…understood what happened with Elizabeth.”
“No, you said that you asked her to move in, the moron flipped out, and screwed her cousin’s boyfriend.” Carly shrugged. “The only favor Dr. Twit ever did for either of us was tell you the truth, and thank God you never dipped your wick in that ink. She wanted it, though, you know. That’s why she ran right over to tell you about—”
Jason just stared at her, and Carly closed her mouth. “Right. So, was there more to the story?”
“I—I don’t know.” Jason paced the length of Carly’s office, crossed to the window that overlooked the parking lot. “Elizabeth never admitted it, you know. She came over, saw Robin—and then just left. She picked Cameron up from her aunt’s, and that was it. No one heard from her.” He stared down at his hands, at the grease that always seemed to be stuck under his nails. “Except apparently, Courtney.”
Carly furrowed her brow. “And? So, you’re doubting whether Robin—see I know her name—was telling the truth? If she was lying, why wouldn’t Elizabeth just say it? And why would she split? Why did—” She hissed. “Did she contact you? Is she here to see her aunt or something?”
“I’m not—” Jason stopped. He was beating around the bush—avoiding the truth. “She called and wrote to tell me she was pregnant. And I saw her today. I saw her sons.”
“Her sons—” Carly pressed her lips together. “And she says she wrote to tell you about the baby? I bet Bimbo Barbie shredded those letters. You saw both kids? Cameron and—”
“Jake.” Jason exhaled slowly. “And before you ask, yeah, I’m convinced he’s mine. I saw him. He looks like me.”
“All right,” Carly said slowly. “And I doubt she’d lie about it now when DNA tests can prove that. Your second wife found that out the hard way.” She scowled as she always did—after all, Jason’s second ex, Sam, had been the reason Carly’s second marriage had broken up. She tilted her head. “What are you going to do? Go to court?”
Jason shook his head. “There’s something going on that I don’t understand. Something that doesn’t make sense. I always knew something was going on with Elizabeth back then—that there were secrets. She was never close with her family even though Anna raised her. I never met her father—she never talked him about him.”
Carly pursed her lips. “I will admit that I almost liked her until she broke your heart and stomped all over it. You think maybe Robin was lying, and there’s another reason Elizabeth walked out?”
“I don’t want that to be true,” Jason admitted. If it was…then Elizabeth had come to him that morning for help, and he’d let her walk away. “Look, Elizabeth is going to be around now. Jake—he’s going to be here. I just want to be sure—”
“That I don’t go into attack mode?” Carly nodded. “Only because I know Robin hates her, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”