The sun was setting over the horizon when Elizabeth joined Jason out on the back porch. “Andi finally drifted off,” she murmured as she curled up next to Jason on the bench. He curled his arm around her and she could feel the tenseness in his muscles.
“I think she smiled at me today,” Elizabeth said, deciding to distract him. “A lot of people will say its gas but I know a smile when I see one.”
“They used to say that about Michael,” Jason said. “They’d tell me it was just gas but I knew he was smiling at me.”
“Michael can’t get enough of Andi, it’s all Carly could do tonight to convince him to go his own room,” Elizabeth remarked. “He’s so sure she’s going to do something incredible while he’s out of the room.”
“That’s how it is usually,” Jason mused. “The first time Michael raised his head and actually looked at me, like he recognized me…I wouldn’t trade that moment for any meeting in the world.” He squinted out over the ocean view. “He wants to change his name.”
Elizabeth looked up at him. “To Morgan?”
“Yeah…” Jason exhaled slowly. “It still says that on his birth certificate you know, I never knew that until the judge told me that I was still listed as his father. They never changed it to AJ, never changed it to Sonny.” He hesitated. “Having him live with me again, being his father, it’s something I could have never imagined happening. But now that it has…” he shook his head. “I don’t know…”
“You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop,” Elizabeth said simply. “Because it’s too good to be true. You’re like me–you can’t believe something good can happen to you so you spend your time waiting for something bad and when it doesn’t, you start looking for it.” She trailed her fingers down his arm. “You didn’t used to be like that.”
“Life used to be simpler,” Jason said simply.
“Yeah, you’re not kidding,” Elizabeth sighed. “But at least when I panic about knowing why she’s crying, I can just look at you for help.” She fell silent after that, remembering that this would probably not be happening. That soon, she and Andi would be gone and without Jason.
She cleared her throat. “You remember that day in the park? After that night in Jake’s, when we talked about Michael?”
“Yeah,” Jason said slowly. “What about it?”
“I said that at least you knew that Michael was still around, that you could hear about him and watch him grow up from distance and maybe someday…you’d be closer to him.”
“I have never been happier to be right,” Elizabeth said. She closed her eyes and she and Jason sat in comfortable silence for the rest of the evening.
Audrey Hardy opened her front door and frowned when she saw the commissioner standing on her front step. “Mac, it’s nice to see you.”
“Audrey…” Mac scratched the back of his neck. “Can we talk? There are some questions I need to ask you.”
Audrey’s eyes narrowed but she stepped back and allowed Mac to enter. She gestured for him to take a seat. Mac withdrew a small notepad. “I’ve been investigating Zander Smith’s murder.”
“I can’t imagine what you think that has to do with me,” Audrey said after a long moment. “I barely knew him.”
“That’s true,” Mac said slowly, “but your granddaughter Elizabeth not only knows him, but she’s pregnant–”
“She had the baby you know,” Audrey cut in. “I just received the letter from her yesterday. A little girl named Alexandria.”
“That’s good–Alexandria for Zander, I imagine.” Mac cleared her throat. “It’s come to my attention that Elizabeth left town shortly after we made the announcement about Zander’s cause of death.”
Audrey bristled at the notion that one had anything to do with the other. “She’s had a rough time of it–she made a mistake remarrying Ric Lansing and she left town to deal with that. They’re divorcing now and I’m not sure my granddaughter will ever move back.”
“So she left town due to her marriage,” Mac said.
“She wrote me a letter after she’d gone saying that she needed some space from Port Charles, some time. A few months later, she told me that she was filing for divorce.” Audrey hesitated. “Mac, you’ve known Elizabeth for years. You can’t possibly think she had anything to do with Zander’s murder.”
“I know that Elizabeth would do anything to protect her child,” Mac said after a moment. “Audrey, if you know anything–”
“I don’t know anything about Zander Smith’s murder. Elizabeth is staying with her family in Europe–”
“I thought she was in Colorado,” Mac interrupted. “That’s what Ric said–”
“Ric misunderstood. Elizabeth told him she was staying with family and he knows she grew up in Colorado,” Audrey remarked simply. “He made that connection on his own but if he’d ever bothered to ask, he would have known that my stepson and his wife have been living in Europe for the last six years.”
“I’ll need their contact information to confirm that,” Mac said. He made a note and slipped it into his jacket pocket. “Audrey–”
“You seriously think that my granddaughter could have murdered Zander Smith?” Audrey demanded incredulously. “You’ve lost your mind, Mac! Elizabeth is five foot two and pregnant! Zander was so much stronger and quicker on his feet–”
“Audrey, right now all I have are questions,” Mac said blandly. “I have no suspects which is why I have to run up all the loose ends. Elizabeth, the mother of the victim’s child, is a loose end.”
“Well,” Audrey huffed. She stood and stalked the door. She yanked it open and turned back to glare at him. “If you have nothing else…?”
“Audrey, I’ll expect you to contact my office with Jeff Webber’s contact information. I need to get in touch with Elizabeth,” Mac told her.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Audrey said reluctantly. “But you had better not repeat these accusations — Elizabeth has a great many friends and loved ones in this town who will not stand for it. Powerful and influential friends.”
Used to threats such as this after years of dealing with Cassadines and Quartermaines, Mac just smiled at her, thanked her for her time and left.
Towards the end of August, Carly began to prepare to go back home. She’d be sorry to be parted from Michael again but if nothing else, this summer had proved that her son was in excellent hands with Jason and Elizabeth. Michael flourished and thrived like he never had with Sonny.
“When do you think Elizabeth will be able to come home?” Carly inquired as she folded a tank top and placed it in her bag. “Will you guys be staying in the penthouse or finding somewhere else?”
Jason glanced out Carly’s open bedroom door and when he found no one listening (Translation: Michael wasn’t hanging around), he closed it and sat on Carly’s bed. “There’s something that we have to discuss.”
Carly looked at him oddly. “What?” She continued packing.
“I’ve had some reports from Port Charles that Mac is asking questions about Elizabeth. About the timing of her departure from town, about her relationship with Zander.”
Carly paled and sank onto the bed. “He’s focusing on her.”
Jason nodded. “And he’s been asking Audrey questions. She doesn’t know anything but if he questions Ric too closely…”
“He’ll spill.” She bit her lip. “Okay, well no one knows where she is–”
“But I’ve been visiting. And there have been letters. Audrey’s are all postmarked from Europe. It’s not an easy trail to follow and it would take Mac a lot of time, but he’d find it eventually. Having Elizabeth here, visiting, allowing contact–it was just a way to keep her out of Port Charles. She’s not hiding yet and technically she’s not a fugitive. But if Mac starts pursuing her as a suspect–”
“You’ll have to move her.” Carly swallowed her. “And you won’t be able to see her or Andi again.” Her eyes were sympathetic as she touched his forearm. “I’m so sorry Jase–”
“There is another choice.” Jason swallowed hard and stood. He restlessly gravitated towards the window where he watched Elizabeth play with Michael in the sand. “Elizabeth would never ask me to, but it’s a choice all the same.”
“You would join her,” Carly said faintly. “You would leave Port Charles and go with her.”
Jason didn’t answer, didn’t look at her but he didn’t need to. There were few people who knew Jason as well as Carly Corinthos. She stood and studied him for a long moment. “You wouldn’t take Michael. Not from his home or his family. And that’s why Elizabeth would never ask you. It would be asking you to choose between your son and her.”
His voice was rough when he finally spoke. “I have to consider it, Carly. I don’t want to, but I have–”
“I understand why you’d want to do it. It’s taken so long for you and Elizabeth to find your way to each other again, it would be a tragedy if you had to leave her now, especially with Andi, whom I know you care about as well. It would be like ripping your heart out. I understand that, Jason, I really do.” Carly took a deep breath and her voice shaky, thick with the tears that glistened in her eyes. “But Elizabeth is an adult. Michael is a child who needs you. You need him, too, Jason. You can’t leave him, not when he depends on you so much.”
“I know that, Carly,” Jason said. He closed his eyes. “I know that and if I had to leave Michael, I don’t–” He licked his lips and looked out again at Elizabeth. “But I’ve waited so long for Elizabeth–”
“I know,” Carly bit her lip to keep the tears from sliding down her cheeks. “I know that, Jason and that’s why this all sucks so bad. Because no matter what you choose, you rip out your heart all the same.”
Jason closed his eyes. “It might not come to that, Carly. Mac could still drop the case. He could still–”
“But if he puts out a warrant for her arrest, you won’t have the time to think. You’ll have to make your decision. So you have to decide.” Carly folded her arms. “She’d never ask you to leave him, Jason. And Elizabeth would be the first to tell you to stay.”
Jason exhaled slowly. “I know. But I have to consider it. It’s not about Elizabeth. It’s about me. And what I want. And if this goes down the way it looks like it’s going to, I can’t have them both.”
Carly sniffled. “Okay, well–it all sucks. I just want that known.” She took a deep breath. “We have to fix it so that Mac never finds out where she is. And that means we have to take care of Ric. I’ll call Sonny. I’ll tell him about Sam and Ric and that’ll take care of that.”
“I will fix this for you, Jason. I promise,” Carly swore. “And I don’t mean my usual fixes that blow up in my face. I really will fix it.”
Jason just closed his eyes and chuckled softly. “Well, it’s doubtful you can make this much worse.”
With Carly’s words still ringing in his ears, Sonny stood outside the apartment Ric had shared with Elizabeth.
“Sam is sleeping with Ric. You have to fix this. You have to take care of Ric once and for all.”
Sonny used the old tricks of the trade to unlock the door. He swung it open and grimaced when he heard the sounds coming from the bedroom. He looked at Johnny who just screwed the silencer on to his gun and nodded to Sonny.
Carly was right. It was long past time to take care of his brother and after all the damage Ric had done to Carly, to Elizabeth, to all of them–he hoped his mother would understand.