Written in 22 minutes.
Robin Scorpio blinked blearily at the medical journal spread out over the table table. She had read this paragraph six times and the odds were in her cousin hadn’t burst into the break room, she might have gone for seven.
“Have you been outside?” Nadine Crowell demanded, her blue eyes flashing with worry.
Robin stared at her for a long moment. “I’m a resident. I don’t get to see natural light unless it’s a special occasion.”
Nadine rolled her eyes. “God, it’s always medicine with you. There are more important things in this world—”
“Yes, there are,” Robin said. “But this is the little corner of the world I get to control. Was there an accident? Is there a blizzard?”
“Oh, for—” Nadine roughly pulled out a chair and sat across from her. “Thunder. Lightening. Three quick cracks of it.”
“Oh.” Robin sat back and idly ran her fingers over the pentagram in her palm. “I guess that answers the question.”
“Yeah, I guess it does. Because the only reason Liz would ever come home is if the mark came back.” Nadine peered down at her own hand. “Your mom call from Italy yet?”
The day the marks had returned, Robin and Nadine had taken their questions to the only woman who might have answers.
They were descendants of Filomena Soltini, the strong-willed woman who had married an American GI who had fought in the war. She’d returned with her husband to Port Charles and had raised three daughters. Anna, Maria, and Graziella.
Only Anna was left.
“Did you get the sense that Aunt Anna wasn’t….” Nadine bit her lip. “That she wasn’t exactly surprised?”
Robin looked away and shrugged. “I guess. Maybe she wasn’t. I thought it was mostly that…well, I know she says Aunt Maria and Aunt Gracie didn’t—that it wasn’t because of the mark.”
“She said they didn’t have it.”
“That Nona and her sister had broken the curse, yeah. But…” Robin bit her lip. “Maybe she wanted to believe that.”
“I think she knew,” Nadine announced.
“I think she knew something. C’mon. You know the way this works. How powerful the number three is. Three girls born on the third day of the third month?” Nadine rolled her eyes. “What are the odds that those three are cousins?”
“And then the mark comes back on our twenty-fifth birthday. We only have Nona’s word for it that she broke the curse. Maybe she thought she did. Maybe she was lied to.”
“If there are answers to be found, Mom will find them. And besides, we don’t have to worry as much,” Robin replied. “It’s childbirth that starts the clock, and neither one of us has kids.”
Nadine tapped her fingers against the table. “Do you think Liz—”
“She would have told us.”
“No, she wouldn’t have,” her cousin said softly. “Because neither of us have heard a single word from her since she left. And if it weren’t this—” She held up her palm. “She wouldn’t be back.”
“We don’t know that she is back—”
“I think that if this mark showed up and Liz already had a kid or was pregnant, that’d be why.” Nadine lifted her chin. “And if she is here, you’re going to be nice to her.”
“Hey.” Robin closed her journal. “Liz made her choices. If she’s here to figure this out, we’ll do that. But she left.”
“She left for good reasons—”
“And she’s only back because she needs something. Typical of her.” Robin got to her feet. “I have to get back to work.”
“God, you’re such a brat,” Nadine muttered. She glanced down at her pager. “I gotta go, too. Pip needs me at the nurse’s station. Be nice—”
Robin wrinkled her nose as her cell phone rang. She looked down and frowned at the return number. Morgan’s Auto. Why was Emily’s brother…?
Robin closed her eyes at the sound of her cousin’s voice. “Elizabeth.”
“Hey. I’m sorry. You…I didn’t know Nadine’s number. I, um…I’m here. In Port Charles.”
“And at Morgan’s Auto. You work quick.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, Robin wanted to snatch them back, but there was no use. The silence was deafening.
“My car broke down.” Elizabeth’s voice was quiet when she finally spoke. “I’m going to check into the Econo-Lodge across the street—”
“You don’t have to do that,” Robin said. “We should stick together right now—”
“I’ll call you when I know what room I’m in. Goodbye.”
“Damn it,” Robin muttered as she stared at the phone. She’d go find Nadine and tell her to take off work, to get someone to cover. That’s what she should do.
But old habits died hard, so Robin put the phone in her pocket and went back to work.
Several blocks away, Elizabeth handed Jason back the phone. “Thanks for the loan.”
“Not a problem.” Jason took it. “Robin or Nadine coming by to get you?”
“Oh.” Elizabeth lifted Cameron into her arms and slid her purse over her shoulder. “No. I’m going to check into the motel across the street. Um…” She eyed the car where her suitcases were still tucked in the trunk.
“When you’re settled in and your phone is charged,” Jason said, “give me a call. I’ll bring your stuff to your room.”
“You don’t have to do that,” Elizabeth began.
“It’s not a problem.”
“I like your truck,” Cameron said as he sleepily rubbed his face in her shoulder. “I got one, too.” He held up the small plastic truck Elizabeth had retrieved from a bag.
“Yeah? Looks just like mine. Except mine doesn’t talk.”
“We better get going. He needs a nap.” She started for the door and turned back. “Thank you. I mean it. I’ll call when I know my room number.”
She left him behind, along with most of her worldly possessions and started across the street, hoping that she wasn’t wrong. That this time…her intuition wasn’t steering her the wrong way.
She didn’t think she’d be able to survive it again.