February 6, 2015

This entry is part 1 of 18 in the series All We Are

There’s an albatross around your neck
All the things you’ve said
And the things you’ve done
Can you carry it with no regrets
Can you stand the person you’ve become

The Weight of Living, Part 1, Bastille


Friday, October 20 , 2006

General Hospital: Nurse’s Station

Elizabeth Spencer glanced up as Kelly Lee tapped her fingers on the counter in front of her. “Hey, Kelly.”

“Hey, babe.” The obstetrician joined her inside the hub and reached for a chart. “Ah, I hadn’t heard from you since we confirmed your condition. Regarding that test. Have you decided not to take it?”

“Oh.” Elizabeth flushed and looked down at the charts. “No, it’s not…I decided to have it at Mercy.” She bit her lip. “It’s not personal, Kelly. It’s just…his family works here. I’m afraid if his name comes across on a record, they’d look into it, and it’d be out before I knew how to deal with it.”

Before she could tell Jason and see his reaction face to face.

“No sweat.” Kelly set the chart down. “But, hey, let me know if there’s anything I can do.” She touched Elizabeth’s elbow. “You just say the word and we will totally replace the tequila with some ice cream.”

“Thanks, Kel.” The beeper at her waist vibrated and emitted a sound. Elizabeth glanced down, frowning. “I’m being paged to the conference room.”

When she opened the door to the conference room, a chill slid down her spine. Epiphany Johnson sat there with an annoyed look on her face—but next to her, Ric Lansing with a smirk.

God.

“Um, what can I do for you guys?” Elizabeth asked, stepping over the threshold.

“You’d better close the door, Elizabeth.” Ric leaned back in his chair. ‘You don’t want others to overhear.”

“Shut up,” Epiphany shot back. “You’re here as a courtesy. I do not have to allow you to harass my nurse on my watch. Elizabeth, before we start this, I think you should call a lawyer.”

Elizabeth shut the door and leaned against it. “I—I don’t think….why do I need a lawyer?”

She didn’t even have a lawyer.

“Elizabeth, the board has voted to suspend you indefinitely without pay,” Epiphany said bluntly. “The DA here has informed them you’re under suspicion for theft and distribution of narcotics.”

Elizabeth just stared at her. Those words—they made sense. But they couldn’t. Because how was any of this possible? “I—” Blindly, she reached out for the chair and dragged it out so she could sit before her knees gave out.

“I fought it, honey, but they weren’t interested.” Epiphany leaned forward. “Call a lawyer—”

“Elizabeth can trust me to watch out for her interests,” Ric said coolly. “While the DA’s office is pursuing the charges, Nurse Johnson, I am not a vindictive man. I believe Elizabeth made a mistake. I’d like to make it go away.”

“I’ll bet you do.” Epiphany rose to her feet. “You don’t say a word to this scum, Elizabeth. You get yourself a lawyer and keep your mouth shut.”

“It’s time for you to leave, Nurse Johnson,” Ric said. “Elizabeth and I will discuss her options.”

“It’s all right,” Elizabeth told her supervisor while looking at Ric. “I can handle this.”

“Ain’t right,” Epiphany muttered as she made her way out of the room. “Going after a woman like this.”

“Put your cards on the table, Ric.” Elizabeth took a deep breath, hoping her face looked as stoic as she intended. She was a quivering mess of jelly inside, but Ric Lansing would not prey on her again.

“Your husband is in a rehab center recovering from an addiction to Oxycotin,” Ric said, flipping through a file. “We served a search warrant on your home this morning—”

“You did what?” Elizabeth cut in, stunned. “How—why wasn’t I notified?”

“I’m not required to do so.” Ric set the paper aside. “We found a stash of pills in the cookie jar. Despite the fact your husband has been gone for some time.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes. “I—I thought I found them all—” How could he have left that in her home, the sanctuary she shared with her son?

“The pills have been traced back to General Hospital, where a rash of thefts have occurred recently. On your floor, during your shifts.”

Her heart began to race. This wasn’t Ric playing around. The PCPD had searched her home, had had her suspended from her job. Without pay. Those words began to sank in. “I didn’t—”

“Elizabeth, no one wants to see a single mother go down for this. I want to make this go away for you.” Ric leaned forward. “If you can help me, I can help you.”

“There’s always a price isn’t there?” she murmured. She swiped at her eyes. “You don’t want to help me. You started this. You came at me because there’s something you want from me. What is it?”

“I’m empaneling an investigative grand jury to bring RICO charges against Jason Morgan,” Ric said simply. “You testify truthfully in front of that panel? This goes away.”

Elizabeth folded her trembling hands in her lap. “Are you kidding me? I don’t know anything—”

“You don’t even know what you don’t know.” Ric turned a page in his file. “You’ve been in and out of Jason’s life for many years, Elizabeth. More than anyone else, I’m aware of the hold he has over you.”

“Ric—”

“But now I’m asking you to make a choice. Do the right thing. Save yourself for once. Save your career, your life with your son.” Ric leaned forward. “You wasted so much time running after Lucky and Zander, after Jason, trying to save them. You sacrificed yourself for them. What have they ever done in return?”

“Are you insane? What about what you’ve done to me? What you’re doing now?” Elizabeth started to shove the chair back, but he held out a hand.

“I’m giving you a choice, Elizabeth,” Ric repeated. “It’s Jason or your freedom. You will be convicted for this. What happens to your son if you go to jail? Audrey’s in her seventies, hardly able to care full-time for a toddler. He might end up in Lucky’s custody. A drug addict for a stepfather?” He pursed his lips and leaned back. “I don’t know if I could stand back and let that happen. I might have to step in, petition that he enter the system—”

Her vision blurred and her heart felt like it was leaping into her throat. “You…you stay away from my son. How…” She closed her eyes. “You can’t do this to me.”

“I can, Elizabeth, and I will. I may not be able to work on cases involving my brother, but I will punish Jason—”

“Why?” she bit out, her voice sounding tinny to her ears. Distant. “Because Sonny chose him?” She raised her eyes to his. “Or because of me?”

“Because he’s a criminal,” her ex-husband said tightly. He rose to his feet. “You have a week to consider your choice. Testify against Jason or you’ll go to jail yourself.”

General Hospital: Parking Lot

Elizabeth’s hand slipped as she tried to slip her key into the lock. God. What was she going to do? She couldn’t testify against Jason. She couldn’t. He was…it was Jason.

But she couldn’t lose her baby. Her career. Her freedom.

She had to talk to Jason.

The phone was in her hand before she could remember removing it from her bag, but she stopped before she could dial.

What if Ric had her phone bugged? What if he’d put a GPS on her car? Was he even required by law to inform her? She couldn’t do that, get Jason swept up in this mess that way.

“Elizabeth?”

Robin Scorpio’s soft voice broke through the haze of terror and Elizabeth focused on her dark-haired friend. “Robin. Thank God. Thank God. I—” She closed her eyes. “I need you to do me a huge favor and not to ask a lot of questions.”

“Of course.” Robin stepped forward. “Honey, what’s going on?”

“I—I need your car. And your phone.” She dug her keys out. “Here. Can we trade? Just for tonight.”

“Um…” Robin blinked and looked down. “I mean, it’s not a problem. But what’s going on?” Her eyes were soft with concern. “Elizabeth—”

“I need to make sure that no one follows me. Or knows who I’m calling.” Elizabeth shoved her hair out of her face. “I-I need to talk to Jason. I might have to meet with him. I can’t…no one can know.”

“Oh.” Robin held out her keys and phone. “Are you in trouble? Is he? Is there anything else I can do?”

Elizabeth accepted them gratefully and traded her own. “Yes. But I can fix it. I think I can fix it. I have to fix it.”

“Elizabeth, let me drive you somewhere. In my car. I’m…you don’t look good.” Robin held out a hand. “Please. Come with me. We’ll have dinner with Patrick and we’ll work this out—”

“No, I can’t involve you more than this. I wouldn’t ask but I just…I don’t know…” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “Okay, okay. I have to chill out. I just…I need to talk to Jason. He’ll make this go away.”

Robin still looked unconvinced but reluctantly pointed out her own car, . “Elizabeth, promise me, when you can tell me what’s happening, that you’ll tell me.”

“I…yes.” Elizabeth nodded. “Yes, I can do that.”

Once inside Robin’s car, she took out the phone and dialed Jason’s number. Let him pick up, let him pick up.

“Robin? What’s up?”

“Thank God, you’re there. It’s Elizabeth.”

His voice shifted to worry. “Elizabeth? What’s wrong? Why do you have Robin’s phone? Are you all right?”

“I—I didn’t want anyone to know I was calling you. I have to meet with you. Please. I promise it’s an emergency.” The first tear slid down her cheek. “God, this is all falling apart and I don’t know what to do. I just made Robin trade me her car and her phone so no one would know and that’s all I know to do. I don’t know if I can make this go away.”

“Hey, hey…” Jason paused. “Give me one second.” She heard mumbling in the background. Oh, God, what if Sam was there? She squeezed her eyes shut. “Sorry, Carly’s here. I had to leave the room. Listen, are you…are you okay to drive? Can you come here?”

“No, no, he might be watching your building. If he finds out I contacted you—”

“Who? Elizabeth—”

“Vista Point. We-we can go there right? It’s out of the way. He’ll never think of it.”

“Elizabeth, what’s going on?”

“I-I can’t. I mean, over the phone.”

“Okay. Right. I can be there in a half hour. Elizabeth, are you sure you’re okay to drive?”

“Yes. I can be. I have to be. I just…” She took a deep breath. He had enough crazy people in his life. “I’ll be fine. I just…I’ll be fine as soon as I see you.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason emerged from the kitchen and scowled, finding Carly still there. “I told you to go away.”

“Please,” his friend snorted. “You mentioned two of my least favorite people on the phone. If you think I’m—” She stopped. “Jason, what’s wrong? Is…Elizabeth okay?”

Jason reached for his keys. “No, but I’m going to find out what’s going on. I think someone’s threatening her. She had Robin’s phone, she’s using her car. Which means she’s scared to be her in own.” He tugged out his phone and sent a quick message to Milo to track Elizabeth’s car, to make sure if someone was tailing Elizabeth, Robin wasn’t in any danger either.

“It’s not like her to overreact,” Carly followed him out the door and onto the elevator. “I mean, she’s a pain in my ass, but not as much as she used to be. Do you think it’s Lucky bothering her?”

Jason hesitated, because that had been his first worry. But how could Lucky simultaneously be tailing her car, monitoring her phone, and watching his building? “I don’t think so.”

The elevator opened to the parking garage. “All right, well let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Jason frowned at her, and she scowled. “Shut your face and just go.”

Vista Point

He pulled his bike into a parking spot next to a red sedan he recognized as Robin’s. She must have broken all the speed limits to get here before him, and that all but terrified him. Elizabeth knew better than to take risks like that when she was pregnant.

Pregnant. God. What if something had happened to the baby?

Elizabeth was pacing on the upper landing of the point, where the cliffs opened up over the Port Charles skyline out to the harbor. Her fingers were twisted together, her movement jerky. Tears stained her face.

“Elizabeth—”

“Oh, thank God.” She rushed towards him but drew up short just before reaching him, as if she’d been out to embrace him in relief. “God, Jason. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to do.”

“Okay.” He put a hand on her elbow and drew her closer. “Just take a deep breath. Someone’s threatening you? Is it Lucky?”

“No, no.” She shook her head, her loose hair flying around her face in the October wind. “No, I—” She took that deep breath. “Okay. Okay, I can do this. I was paged to the conference room at work. Epiphany and Ric were there.”

Ric. That slimy piece of shit. He should have known. “What did he do to you? What did he say?”

“I’ve been suspended indefinitely without pay,” Elizabeth said, her words tripping over each other. “The board found out the DA is investigating me for stealing pills and giving them to Lucky, I think. They—they searched my apartment this morning. I-I didn’t even know until Ric told me, but Lucky had one more stash, and they traced it to GH.”

Would those two assholes never stop ruining her life? “Okay. Do you need a lawyer? I can get Diane—”

“Ric said he’d drop the charges if I testified against you in a grand jury he’s putting together.” The words flew out of her mouth so fast he nearly missed them. Christ. This is what that little animal was holding over her?

“Elizabeth, I don’t know what you could testify about—” And then he stopped. “Did he ask you about anything specific?”

“No, no, and I don’t even know what I could tell him.” Her face was sheet white. “Not that I would. I mean, Jason, I can’t testify. But what if I refuse, and he does that subpoena thing? I’ll have to lie, and I don’t even know what he wants from me—”

“Just…” He placed his hands on her shoulders. “Okay. Let’s just take a minute, okay? He told you if you testified against me, these other charges go away?”

Yes. He told me if I don’t, he’ll make sure I get convicted, then he’ll petition to send Cameron into foster care. Jason, I can’t—my baby.” She pressed her lips together. “I don’t know what to do.”

“You have to testify.” His mouth was dry. “Elizabeth, I can’t ask you take a chance with your freedom, with your son—”

“Jason, I can’t testify against you.” She stepped towards him, her hand slid over her still flat abdomen. “What, I should raise my child to know I allowed myself to be blackmailed? What if this baby is yours? What if you go to jail?”

His fingers tightened around her shoulders before they slid away. “I’ll make sure you have everything you need—”

“There has to be another way,” Elizabeth said. “I mean, Jason, why do you think I panicked and freaked Robin out? I came to you so we could find a way out of this without Ric knowing. I was scared he’d see me coming to the penthouse, or if he could search my place, I thought maybe he could bug my cell phone. I-I don’t know how any of that works.”

“Elizabeth, I can’t let you protect me. Not again. You’ve already risked yourself enough,” he said, remembering the file she’d shredded. “Tell Ric you’ll take the deal.”

“No,” she said, some of the panic fading from her expression. “No. I can’t…I won’t be responsible for that. There has to be away to make sure he can’t force me to testify. If I can’t testify, he won’t bring those charges against me, right? He already told me he’s not really interested in that.”

One day, Jason was going to make that psycho pay for the pain he’d inflicted on the people he cared for, particularly Elizabeth and Carly.

Carly.

Sonny and Carly.

An idea flickered in the back of his head. A crazy idea. He swallowed. “I might—I have to check with Diane to see if it would work. Okay? How long did Ric tell you had?”

“A week.” She drew closer to him. “What? You know something.”

“It’s…an idea, but I have to check with her. Can give you me a day? I have to make sure all our bases are covered.” Without thinking, he stroked her cheek, and she turned into his touch. “I will make this go away, Elizabeth. No matter what I have to do.”

“Hey, you don’t want me sacrificing myself to protect you?” She arched a brow. “I don’t intend for you to sacrifice yourself for me, either.”

He nodded. “I’ll call a guy. I’ll have a burner phone sent to you at your apartment. And a temporary car so Ric can’t trace your movements. Give Robin back her stuff.”

Jason took her hand and led her back to the parking lot. “Ah, when do you hear back about the paternity test?”

“Next Friday.” She closed her eyes. “The same day I have to tell Ric.”

“Okay.” He stopped next to Robin’s car. “Are…everything else is okay?”

“Other than my blood pressure today? It’s fine.” She touched her belly. “I should—pick up Cameron. Drop Robin’s car off so he doesn’t know I had it, and then go pick him up. I can do this.”

“Okay.”

He watched her drive away before pulling out his phone. Diane was on speed dial and picked up on the second ring.

“Hello, hello. I’m ready to earn my fabulous retainer.”

“Diane, I have a question about spousal privilege.”

February 13, 2015

This entry is part 2 of 18 in the series All We Are

What happens when all your dreams are lying on the ground
Do you pick up the pieces all around
And if the world should fall apart hold on to what you know
Take your chances turn around and go

Chapter One, Lifehouse 


Greystone Manor: Living Room

Jason stepped into the room to find Sonny sipping a glass of water and perusing some paperwork on the sofa. His friend rose to his feet. “Hey. You didn’t sound good on the phone.”

Jason hesitated but nodded. “Yeah, a situation has come up. I-I think I know to handle it, but I’m going to need you.”

“Sure.” Sonny waved him forward. “What’s up? Did Elizabeth get those results back?”

He wished that were the only thing to worry about, but for the first time in several weeks, the possibility of becoming a father was much further down the list.

“Ah, not yet. Next Friday.” Jason waited. “Elizabeth was suspended from the hospital—the DA’s office has initiated an investigation into the theft of Oxycotin, and Lucky’s stash was traced back to the hospital.”

Sonny’s face tightened. “Little punk. How many times is he going to wreck her life before she gets it?” He shook his head. “I still remember having to hide her while they were faking her death.” He sighed. “So what’s the plan? We can find a dealer to blame it on—”

“I wish it were that simple.” Jason crossed the room just to have something to do. “Ric’s going after her. It’s personal to him, you know.”

“Talk about people wrecking your life,” Sonny muttered. “He does complicate it—” He paused. “But Ric wouldn’t put Elizabeth in jail. He’s threatening her. It’s for leverage.”

“Yeah. He’s empaneling a grand jury to investigate me, and he wants her to testify.”

Sonny lowered himself back to the sofa and rubbed his chin. “Well. That’s a different tactic.” He squinted. “What’s he looking to get out of it?”

“I don’t know.” Jason sat in the arm chair adjacent to the sofa. “But, Christ, Sonny, it could be any number of things. Just think of the things Elizabeth doesn’t even know that she knows. She helped me track down Manny Ruiz. She knows I’m the one who pushed him from the roof.”

“Not to mention the night Moreno was killed,” Sonny murmured. “Still an open case, you know. And she knows you were there. Maybe not the specifics but they could put it together with dates. Then she was kidnapped by Roscoe’s men. Was around during Luis, and then Lorenzo the next summer. I don’t know, Jason. It’s a lot of little things that could just put the nail in the coffin with whatever else Ric can dig up.”

“I told her to testify,” Jason said after a minute. He stared at his hands. “Ric is threatening her livelihood but he also went after Cameron. Said he’d try to get him moved to foster care once she was in jail.” His chest tightened. “Ric doesn’t even know she’s pregnant. If she were in jail—”

“It’s not even an option.” Sonny leaned forward. “Of course Elizabeth isn’t going to jail, but there are ways around this, Jason. I could set her up somewhere. Get her out of PC—”

“And she’d never be able to come back. She’d have to leave her family, her job, her friends.” He dipped his head. “I can’t—she’s pregnant, Sonny. The baby—”

“I see the problem. I don’t relish sending her away either.” Sonny leaned back. “But you’ve already thought of the second option, haven’t you? The one that keeps her close, but unable to testify.”

“She wanted to find another way,” Jason said. “She’d never go for disappearing. And…short of putting her through a trial and buying the jury in hopes to secure am acquittal, I don’t know if anything else could work.”

“With a history of miscarriage,” Sonny said slowly, “anything we can do to lessen pressure, keep her blood pressure down, is a good idea. She’s had, what, two?”

Jason raised his eyes. “Two? I just—the one with Ric, but—”

“I forgot.” Sonny sighed. “You were sick and lost your memory. She was going to be a surrogate for Courtney and Jax. Last year, about this time. She was in a car accident with Jax and lost the baby.” He exhaled slowly. “Not sure if it would affect future pregnancies, but I—”

“I—I didn’t know.” Restless, Jason pushed himself to his feet. “She works too hard, Sonny. I wish she’d let me take care of her.”

“Well, if she goes for your option, you’ll have your chance. Have you spoken to Diane?”

“Yeah. I just came from her office.” Jason sighed. “She says it’s tricky. Most judges won’t challenge spousal privilege because it’s problematic on the stand. Every question and answer has to be weighed to be sure it falls under the exception. It leads to mistrials, which costs money to deal with. So she thinks it’ll protect Elizabeth from subpoena.”

“Well, that’s good. Can we make these other charges go away? To ensure her safety? I’d hate for you guys to do this and find out while you’re protected, she’s still under fire.”

“Diane doesn’t think Ric’s serious about the charges.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “That he’s not interested in torturing Elizabeth if there’s nothing to be gained. To be sure, she’ll motion to keep him from any case dealing with me or Elizabeth.”

“And another prosecutor is less likely to see Elizabeth as good leverage. So Diane can protect Elizabeth, and marriage protects you.” Sonny nodded. “Seems like a win-win situation.”

“She could still get Elizabeth off on these charges,” Jason said. “I mean, Ric could be disqualified just because of his past relationship to Elizabeth.”

“But she could still be subpoenaed against you,” Sonny said. “Do you think Elizabeth would be happy about this? Ric is just using these charges to show Elizabeth he’s got the power. He doesn’t need them.”

“That’s the worst thing. He went after her because he could, because of my relationship to her.” Jason shook his head. “To punish her. How can I ask her to do this when I could protect her without it?”

“For the same reasons you’re not wild about sending her away. She’s likely having your child, and I’m sure she’d like you to be in the kid’s life.” Sonny hesitated. “Look, I get why it’s complicated. You’re still in love with Sam, she’s still married to Lucky. But you guys get along well enough—”

“Sam has nothing to do with this,” Jason said. “We’ve been…over for months.” And she’d slept with Ric. He had tried to forget it, tried to tell himself that it hadn’t technically been a betrayal.

But it had felt that way.

And there had been that night with Elizabeth.

“Okay,” Sonny drawled. “So what’s the problem? You know Elizabeth will agree if you lay it out for her like this. She’ll have security while she’s pregnant.” He waited a moment. “Or is it the idea of asking Elizabeth to marry you under these circumstances?”

“She’d have to get a divorce in the Dominican Republic and figure out how to get Lucky to sign the paperwork, or New York won’t recognize it which would invalidate the privilege.” Jason rubbed his eyes. “She’s had two bad marriages, and I’m supposed to ask her to marry me for my own protection? What does she get out of it?”

“For starters, a husband who won’t cheat on her, won’t hold her children over her head as leverage, won’t feed her birth control pills—Christ, Jason, you’re the better choice on every level. Those two idiots claimed to love her, but they sure as hell didn’t cherish her.” Sonny got to his feet. “Maybe you give Elizabeth the options. She can make her own choices, Jason.”

“Yeah.” Jason exhaled slowly. “You’re right.”

“Let me know how it works out. You’ll be in the DR, it’s just hop over to the island.” Sonny slapped him on the shoulder. “You should have the ceremony there. I can put something together, make it look good. For appearances.”

“I’ll let you know.” Jason sighed. “I’ll let Diane know she can draw up the paperwork. If Elizabeth agrees, then I want to put it in motion as soon as possible. She…has until Friday to make her decision or Ric will have her arrested.” He paused. “And she gets the paternity results back the same day.”

“It’ll be a big day,” Sonny said. “Go call Diane and see if you can rustle yourself up a bride.”

Patrick’s Apartment: Living Room

Elizabeth stepped hesitantly into Patrick’s living room, Robin’s phone and car keys in her hands. “Hey.”

“Oh, I’m so glad to see you.” Robin joined her and Patrick at the door. “I was so worried, Elizabeth—”

“It’s okay.” She set them on the desk. “I’m sorry. I just—”

“The charges are bullshit,” Patrick spat. “And I told Epiphany that. I’ll tell anyone who asks, and if I see that little piece of shit husband of yours, I’ll rip him apart.”

“With those precious hands?” Elizabeth asked, her eyes burning. God, what a good friend he’d turned out to be. “I’m touched.”

“I’d hire someone,” Patrick said. “But I’d take the first punch for satisfaction. Have you called a lawyer?”

“Is that why you wanted to talk to Jason?” Robin asked. “So he could get Diane for you?” But her eyes were confused.

“It’s more…complicated than that,” Elizabeth offered. “I wish I could tell you more. I know Jason will find a way to make this go away. I just want to do my job and raise my kids in peace.”

Robin nodded and put a hand on Patrick’s arm. “Well, I’m sure Jason will handle it—”

“Can I hire him?” Patrick asked. “Because that sounds like a terrific idea. Let’s do that. I think he’d pound Ric and Lucky into small little pieces—”

“We’re very blood thirsty tonight,” Robin cut in. “Liz, just remember—when you can tell me more, I’m here.” She bit her lip. “Or Emily—”

“Emily is Lucky’s best friend.” Elizabeth wrapped her arms around her waist. “And she encouraged me to give Lucky another chance, to wait until his rehab was done. So did my grandmother and Nikolas.” She closed her eyes. “I wish I hadn’t listened. If I had filed for divorce, if I had walked away from him, maybe it wouldn’t be believable that I stole those drugs. But I stayed. I kept my child in that home.”

“Elizabeth, this is going to work out,” Robin said. She elbowed Patrick in the rib. “Tell her.”

“It’s going to go away.  I don’t much like Jason Morgan, but if he’s half as loyal to you as you are to him, then it’ll be fine.” He pouted. “What is it with the women in this town and that man? I’m just as pretty.”

Elizabeth cracked her first smile in hours as she reached for the keys and phone Robin held out. “You’re downright adorable. In a brotherly fashion.”

“I blame you for this,” Patrick was telling Robin as Elizabeth headed down the hallway. “You’ve domesticated me and ruined me for all women.”

“Yeah, I don’t see the problem there.”

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Elizabeth’s Apartment: Living Room

Elizabeth set a blanket over Cameron’s napping body on the sofa and switched off the cartoons that had lulled him to sleep.  It was the first day in weeks she’d been able to devote completely to him, a realization which made her feel lower than an ant.

How was she going to take care of her little boy with no money? She’d lose the apartment for sure, and she did not want to move in with her grandmother. She’d probably feel pressured to stay with Lucky.

That was one thing that was going to change. If a divorce wasn’t part of Jason’s plan, she was going to add it. It wasn’t enough that Lucky had humiliated her, lied to her, cheated on her, but he’d continued to place Cameron in danger by leaving pills in the apartment.

And now he’d cost Elizabeth her job and possibly her freedom.

“It’s a hell of a way to smash a permanent lock,” she murmured as she rose from the sofa, her stomach twisting in knots. She rubbed her hand absently. “Please, Baby, be Jason’s. That’s the only thing that would make my life remotely easier.”

She hit play on her answering machine and listened to the messages she folded some clothes. One from Nikolas, concerned about news he’d heard from Emily. Emily had also called, hoping she wasn’t blaming this on Lucky. Her grandmother had called—

But black cell phone a man in a suit had delivered to her door the night before remained silent. If Jason had a plan, he was taking his sweet time.

And, God, didn’t it gall her to be so dependent on him? Why couldn’t she stand on her own two feet and make this go away? She could turn Mac’s daughter in—the affair and her volunteer work at the hospital would surely point the police towards her as the culprit.

But as much as she wanted to hate Maxie, she couldn’t.

She remembered what it was like to be young and desperately in love, then to have it shattered. If Maxie had had a Jason in her life, someone she could turn to keep her from trashing her life, the way Jason had stopped Elizabeth that night in Jake’s so long ago, would Maxie have turned to Lucky?

She knew what it was to be desperate, to want to keep someone’s love so badly you’d do anything. What had she done in the name of her love for Lucky? For Ric?

No, turning the attention to a desperately unhappy, barely legal adult wasn’t fair. Maxie didn’t deserve to pay for Lucky’s mistakes any more than Elizabeth did

So how else could she make this go away? How could she protect herself and her children without throwing Jason to the wolves? Lying in front of a grand jury seemed like the best bet, but that would just land her even more on Ric’s radar.

Maybe Jason’s idea would allow her to be more involved, to make an active choice to help rather than passively sitting back and hoping he could make it go away.

And since she was the weapon being used against him, it was fair Jason had a hand in making this go away, right? It didn’t make her weak, just smart.

“I’m using all my available resources,” she told the room. “Jason is a resource. He’s always been there for me. I didn’t do this. There’s no harm in making sure I don’t pay for it.”

Right. That sounded good.

The black cell phone vibrated suddenly, the force of it sending the device sliding across the coffee table. Elizabeth snatched it up. “Hello?”

“Elizabeth. I—I need to see you. Can we meet at Vista Point?”

Elizabeth chewed her lip. “I just put Cameron down for a nap. Let me see if Robin or Patrick can come watch him.” People who wouldn’t ask her questions. God, it was nice to have people to depend on for a change.

“Okay. I’ll be there in an hour.” He paused. “I have a way to make us both safe, I just…I need you to let me explain it.”

Well, that sounded odd and disturbing, but she swallowed. She trusted Jason. “All right, I’ll be there in an hour.”

She hit the end button and tapped the phone against her mouth. What if he was sending her away? To a jurisdiction where she couldn’t be extradited?

What if that was the only solution? Could she give up her family, her friends, her life here? Any hope of having Jason being in her child’s life?

“God, I hope that’s not the plan.” She reached for her own cell phone in order to dial Robin’s number, hoping she’d come through for her again.

Vista Point

Elizabeth pulled into a spot next to Jason’s bike. She could see him standing by the bench on the lower portion of the cliff, not looking at anything in particular.

He didn’t look like he was about to send her away forever, but hell, what would that even look like?

“Hey, Robin came through?” he asked as she approached.

“Sort of. She sent Patrick while she finished up at the hospital.” She pressed her purse strap higher on her shoulder. “I told him I was meeting with someone to make the charges go away, but he’s been talking to Robin enough to know something more is up.”

“If Robin trusts him, that’s good enough for me.”

She nodded and then folded her arms. “So…your plan?”

“Yeah.” He scratched the back of his neck. “Listen. I—we can do a couple of things, but not all of them are guaranteed to work the way we want it, too, okay?”

“Okay,” Elizabeth drawled. She sat on the bench—something told her she didn’t want to be standing for this. “One of them is sending me to some place they can’t find me and make me come back, right?”

He exhaled. “It’s…an option. I don’t like it for a lot of reasons.” Jason sat next to her. “I don’t…want to ask you to leave. I’d rather have you stay in Port Charles.”

Well, that was something. “Okay, so what are our other options?”

“I talked to Diane, and she thinks she can get Ric disqualified from any investigation involving you,” Jason told her. “And it’s unlikely another prosecutor would take up the case without the personal relationship.”

“Which fixes the problem of my charges, but not the one where I’m subpoenaed against you,” Elizabeth said. “So what’s the plan to keep me from testifying? Sending me away until the grand jury is dissolved?”

“It would be a short term thing.” Jason looked away. “But you’d be okay, Elizabeth. Diane can make the charges go away—”

“I already told you I’m not interested in any solution that doesn’t protect you, too,” she told him. “I’m glad Diane can help me, but I want to help you. I won’t let Ric use me as leverage.” She arched a brow. “So, what’s the rest of the plan?”

“This is where it gets…complicated.” Jason paused. “Spousal privilege.”

She blinked because she could not have heard those words correctly. No way in hell did Jason say a word whose root was spouse. Elizabeth cleared her throat. “You said…spousal privilege. L-Like Sonny and Carly? Or you and Brenda?”

“Yeah.” Jason clasped his hands together. “Diane told me that even though it’s technically for things said between spouses after the marriage, most judges and prosecutors aren’t willing to take the risk and contest it. Too easily thrown out and mistrials are common.”

“So this would keep me from testifying against you.” Elizabeth leaned back. She’d wanted an active role this plan, but this…

And really, knowing all the history involved, this should have occurred to her as an option.

“It would,” Jason told her. “But—I can’t ask you to do that.”

She closed her eyes. Of course not. She was insane. Jason was still in love with Sam.  He had already done this once, hadn’t he? Married to Brenda, involved with Courtney?

No. Not going to think about those days. Best left in the past.

“Why?” she asked flatly. “Am I suddenly less marriageable than I was two weeks ago when I told you about the baby?”

“What?” Jason leaned back, his eyes wide. “No. I mean, Elizabeth, you’d have to convince Lucky to give you a divorce in the Dominican Republic so we could get it done by next week. After how things turned out for you with Ric and Lucky, how can I ask you to get married again when it’s for my protection?”

Oh. What a sweet idiot he could be. “Jason, you signed a false statement to the police to keep me out of jail after the hotel fire, remember?” she said. “You could have done time for that. Are you the only one that gets to make sacrifices in order to protect people?”

He shook his head. “It’s not the same, Elizabeth. This—this is an open-ended solution and you’d have to be sure. I mean, we’d live together. You’d be in my life for at least a few years.” Jason cleared his throat. “A-And you said that night…it couldn’t work.”

Because she’d trying to beat him to the punch of establishing what had happened was a one-night stand, but hell if she was going to admit that. “I say a lot of things when I’m trying to protect myself,” she murmured. “Jason, maybe that’s what I said then, but you know it’s different now. I’m pregnant and there’s a very good chance you’re the father. What, you think I’d keep the baby from you?”

“No. I mean…” He exhaled in a quick rush of air. “I just want you have all the choices in front you.”

“So I can pick the one that asks the least of me?” Elizabeth demanded. “What kind of person would that make me if I took the easy path? The one where Diane makes it go away for me, but leaves you in Ric’s crosshairs?” She shook her head. “I’m not going to be the reason you go to jail—”

“My job is the reason I’d end up in prison,” Jason cut in. “It would never be your fault—”

“And you’ve done a great job of staying out of it on your own. Besides, if you weren’t doing this work, someone else would be.” Elizabeth rose to her feet and started to pace. After a moment, she turned back to him. “You’re doing a pretty thorough job of keeping me from agreeing, Jason. So why even bother bring it up if the thought is so distasteful?”

Slowly, Jason got up and approached her. “I don’t think that. I asked you weeks ago, remember? You said no then.”

Because she’d almost said yes and that had scared the bejesus out of her. “I—we don’t know if you’re the father of this baby.” Elizabeth tucked her hair behind her ear. “You would have been stuck.”

“So you would have said yes if we knew the paternity for sure?” Jason asked, tilting his head.

That,” Elizabeth said carefully, “is not the issue here. The issue is that you’re very reluctant to take this step. Are you just…not thrilled with asking me for help? You’d prefer to fix this on your own, but you need me to make sure it works.”

“I—” He stopped. “I don’t want you to feel obligated. That’s why you’re stuck with Lucky, why you kept Ric around. You deserve better than that.”

“Funny, the last thing I feel is an obligation to keep you out of jail. It’s not a tit for tat thing. You’re not making my charges go away by doing anything nefarious.” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “Ric wanted me to panic. Maybe he even wanted me to run to you. But he isn’t going to expect me to fight him. He’s trying to make me choose what’s more important to me—my freedom or yours.”

She tossed her hair over her shoulder. “I’m not interested in any solution where he gets what he wants. He should have thought of this—any lawyer worth their salt would file the motion Diane is planning to file. I’d have no incentive to tell the truth in front of the grand jury without these charges hanging over me.”

“The last thing I want is for you to lie—” Jason began.

“So that Ric can use what little he does know as a weapon?” Elizabeth challenged. “Think of the leading questions he could ask. He could put our history out there for strangers to know about, to dissect.  I don’t know what I might know about your business, but whatever I say could add to what he already knows.  So if we don’t do this, I promise you, Jason, I will protect you another way. Ric is not using me as a weapon.”

Jason sighed and looked away. “So either we stop you from testifying or you’ll commit perjury.” He scrubbed his hands over his face. “I think I had this conversation with Carly once.”

“I’d be insulted you’re comparing me to her, but in this case, she had a point. Carly didn’t want to be the reason Sonny went to jail, especially since if I recall correctly, it was her fault he was in that particular mess to begin with.” Elizabeth huffed. “Now, are you going to marry me or not?”

February 21, 2015

This entry is part 3 of 18 in the series All We Are

You think that you are strong but you are weak
You’ll see
It takes more strength to cry admit defeat
I have truth on my side
You only have deceit
You’ll see, somehow, someday

You’ll See, Madonna


Saturday, October 21, 2006 

Elizabeth’s Apartment: Hallway

Elizabeth stepped through the door that separated the stairway from the hallway of her apartment and scowled. Ric Lansing was leaning against her door with a stupid smirk on his face.

God, she couldn’t wait until next week when he learned she wasn’t the weak and vulnerable girl he’d preyed on all those years ago. She was going to wipe the floor with him.

“Elizabeth, I was hoping you’d be back soon.”

“This is harassment, Ric, and my lawyer isn’t going to like that,” she said, fishing her keys from her purse, making sure the paperwork for her Dominican divorce was safely stowed inside and out of sight.

“I just…wanted to check in.” Ric straightened. “You hired a lawyer?”

“Not yet, but I will. Do you have a purpose here, Ric? Or should I call the police?”

“You think Mac Scorpio is going to protect you from me? He blames you for his daughter’s transgressions.” He sniffed. “Misplaced to be sure, but it serves me well enough for now.”

“Well, then maybe I’d call Jason,” Elizabeth retorted. When Ric’s smirk deepened, she snorted. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you? You want me to go running to Jason to protect me?”

“Didn’t you?” Ric asked. “You went to Robin and Patrick’s last night. You think I won’t find a call to Jason from Robin’s phone?” He lifted an eyebrow.

“I think you have no probable cause to search Robin’s phone and if you tried, her parents would break your arms,” Elizabeth responded sweetly. “And thanks, Ric, for letting me know you’re tailing me.”

He hesitated, his face dropping a bit. Score one for her. “Where were you just now? Your car was outside in the parking lot.” He narrowed his eyes. “Did you borrow a car?”

“I walked to Eli’s for some lunch.” She tilted her head toward the door. “Robin and Patrick are inside now watching my son. And that’s the last time I’ll voluntarily tell you my whereabouts, Ric. Stay away from me.”

“You have six days, Elizabeth. Your freedom or Jason’s. You’d better make the right choice.”

Elizabeth pushed open the door and then found great pleasure in slamming it shut in his face.

Patrick rose from the sofa. “Was that Lansing? Was he waiting for you?”

“Down, Patrick.” Robin stepped through the threshold. “How did it go?”

Elizabeth held a finger, turned and opened the door to find Ric still there. “You keep standing there, Ric, I’m going straight to Alexis to tell her how you spent the blackout.”

He pressed his lips together. “Why do you know about that? Did Jason tell you?”

“Maybe Sam and I are besties,” she said. “Stay away from me, Ric. I don’t need Jason to make your life a living hell.” She leaned forward. “Alexis is a Cassadine. Her family makes you look positively normal, so if you want her to know your newest dirty secret—”

“I’m going.” He glared at her. “This isn’t over.”

“I didn’t think so,” Elizabeth murmured, watching her ex-husband stalk down the hallway toward the stairwell. Satisfied he was really gone, she closed the door. “So, I confirmed he had me followed last night, so thank God I switched cars.”

“I put in a call to my mother,” Robin said. “She’s having my phone records wiped for the time you used it.” She lifted her chin. “That scum isn’t going to know what you’re planning until it hits him in the face.”

“Does someone want to tell me what’s going on?” Patrick complained. “I mean, I’m all for showing Lansing up, but I’d like to be in on it.”

“I…” Elizabeth sighed. “So Ric started this investigation and had me suspended because he wanted leverage.”

“He wants to use you against Jason.” Robin sat down, a mug of coffee in her hands. “Oh, Cam’s playing in the bedroom, by the way. Patrick brought over the race cars.”

“Just a loaner,” Patrick said. “For like a week. I want them back in mint condition.”

“Hush.” Robin waved a hand. “How does he plan to use you?”

“He wants me to testify against Jason in a grand jury hearing.” Elizabeth took a seat on the sofa and removed her bag from her shoulder.

“Oh, hell, I see where this is going,” Robin sighed. “So, you’re going to protect Jason—”

“And Diane is filing a motion to have Ric pulled from any case dealing with me,” Elizabeth replied.

“For the Port Charles newbies,” Patrick said, raising a hand. “How exactly are you protecting Jason from your testimony—” He closed his mouth. “Oh. Hell. Liz. Babe. We can find another way.”

“How are you going to deal with the Lucky situation?” Robin asked, ignoring Patrick’s outburst.

Elizabeth pulled the papers from her bag. “Diane drew up the papers I need to file in the Dominican Republic. Lucky has to agree to let me file there in order to have the divorce recognized in New York.”

“How are you going to swing that?” Patrick asked. “Because this is one part of the nonsense I’m okay with.”

“I’m going to use the same thing he’s used on me for years. Guilt.” Elizabeth pulled out her cell phone. “I’m going to tell Nikolas what’s going on, and then tell him the best way to make me look innocent is if I walk away from Lucky, that they’re using our continued relationship as evidence of my involvement.”

Patrick whistled. “And you’re not going to mention that you intend to go through with the divorce. He’ll think you’re just filing for divorce and maybe you guys will stop it before it goes into effect and the charges are gone.”

“Lucky can draw whatever conclusions he wants to,” Elizabeth said. “They searched my home and found one last stash. In the cookie jar. My son lives in this apartment. He could have found them.” She closed her eyes. “Whatever loyalty I had left vanished in that moment. Cameron is more important.”

“No, no, I like this. It’s ice cold, just what he deserves.” Patrick clasped his hands. “So how long do you and Jason have to stay married?”

“That’s difficult to say,” Elizabeth admitted. “It’s…pretty open-ended at this point. We can’t get divorced as soon as Ric drops the grand jury proceedings because they can challenge the privilege.”

“You’d probably have to wait at least a year,” Robin said. “Because a ton of marriages fail in the first year—” She stopped. “Sorry.”

“Yeah, I’m living proof. One and done.” She leaned back. “I’m not going to think about that right now.” She took a deep breath. “I just…I have to get my paperwork done tomorrow because I’m leaving for the DR on Monday. I’ll be divorced Tuesday morning, and married that evening.” She rubbed her eyes. “Oh, man, put me on Maury now.”

“Well, whatever you need from us,” Robin said. “Cam can stay with us—”

“He can?” Patrick repeated. “I don’t know about that—”

“Actually, I’m going to have him stay with my grandmother. I’m going to tell her I need a few days to sort through my options regarding these charges and my marriage. I don’t want anyone else to know about this until Jason and I come back on Thursday. I don’t even plan to tell Emily or Nikolas, because they might stop Lucky from signing the papers.” She hesitated. “But, Robin, there is something maybe you could do for me.”

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Elizabeth pushed through the doors of Kelly’s, a cup of coffee in her hand stopping when Emily jumped up from one of the tables. “Emily.”

“You’ve been dodging my phone calls,” Emily said, folding her arms. “Elizabeth—”

“I’m just…dealing with some things.” Elizabeth furrowed her brow and looked around. “How did you know I’d be here—” She stopped. “Nikolas told you.”

“He said you two were going to Promises in order to get Lucky sign some divorce paperwork.” Emily stepped forward. “Elizabeth, I thought you were going to give Lucky a chance to clean himself up—”

Not this again. It always came back to this. “I have to do what’s right for me and Cameron, Emily.” She pressed her lips together. “You know about my suspension, what they suspect me of doing. Being connected to Lucky looks bad. I have to do what’s right—”

“I can talk to my parents—try to get the board to reinstate you,” Emily began.

Elizabeth shook her head. “They won’t. Not until the charges go away. I’ve talked to a lawyer, Emily, and she agrees this is the best thing—”

“You talked to Diane, you mean.” Emily pursed her lips. “Which means you went to Jason. Instead of talking to me or Nikolas, you went to my brother.”

Elizabeth sighed and looked away. Any thought of confiding in Emily was off the table.  “I wanted to get in to Diane immediately. She’s a good lawyer, and I knew that since Jason has her on retainer, she’d call him back faster than she’d call me. I’m just trying to get this part of my life over with.”

“Jason has a lot on his plate, Elizabeth.” Emily tucked her hair behind her ears. “I mean, I know he’ll do what he can to help you, but he’s still dealing with Sonny’s illness and the breakup with Sam.”

“And I’m not dealing with anything?” Elizabeth retorted. “I’m pregnant, my husband screwed a teenager and his drug addiction lost me my job and might cost my freedom. I’m supposed to sit back and not pull strings with Jason because he broke up with his girlfriend five months ago? And don’t pull that bull with Sonny on me. He’s been on the road to recovery since August.”

Emily sighed. “I’m not saying it’s not difficult, Elizabeth, and I hate that it’s happening, but it’s just…Lucky’s in a bad place—”

“Oh, my God, I’m not listening to this anymore.” Elizabeth started past her, but turned at the entrance to the court yard. “You know, I get it. Lucky was your childhood best friend and Jason’s your brother. I’ve known for years I rate below both of them—”

“Elizabeth—”

“When I was drowning inside all those years ago during the modeling and the brainwashing, you kept telling me to stick it out. That Lucky would be himself again one day.” Elizabeth huffed. “It’s always about Lucky with you. Well, I’m tired of sacrificing myself on the altar of Lucky Spencer. Where the hell has it gotten me? Cops searched my home, I’ve got a police tail on me, I’m a month late on my rent because Lucky drained what was left of our money for the rehab.” She stepped towards him. “I’m pregnant, Emily. I have a son. At what point does it get to be a little about me?”

“I’m sorry,” Emily began but Elizabeth walked away, finally accepting that best friend was a label they’d put on their relationship years ago.

It no longer qualified.

Promises Rehab: Lucky’s Room

“Are you sure about this?” Nikolas asked as they waited for Lucky to return from a session. “I’m sure Diane can get these charges dismissed.”

Elizabeth sighed, feeling so drained by the day which wasn’t even half over. She still had to pack Cameron up for the four days he’d be with her grandmother, drop him off with her grandmother tonight and then pack for herself.

And somehow come to term with the fact that in three days, she’d exchange one husband for another.

“I have to do what’s right for my son at the moment, Nikolas. I don’t want Ric to be able to point to our marriage as a reason to believe I’d steal those pills.” Elizabeth held up the paperwork. “I just need to Lucky to sign this paper not to contest the divorce. If he’s really sorry for what he put me through, he’ll do it.”

“I know what he did with Maxie was wrong—”

“God.” Elizabeth tilted her head back. “It’s not even really about Maxie.” She looked away, thinking of how her life had changed since walking in on them in Kelly’s that night.

How far away it all seemed. No, the affair had simply been the last straw. She’d been clinging to the wreckage of her marriage for months—maybe since the moment Lucky had been injured and Jason had been the one to save her. The accusations of an affair with Patrick had been humiliating, but thank God Lucky hadn’t seen the truth.

She’d settled a year ago with her marriage and this summer had just opened her eyes to what her life could have been like if she’d made different choices once.

“I’m just…I’m tired, Nikolas. Please, be my friend and just help me talk Lucky into this.” She hesitated. “It’s better for him, too.”

“Better that the mother of his child wants to run away from him as fast as possible?” Nikolas said without heat. His eyes met hers. “Elizabeth, did he ever—that night when I found you on the floor—he never put his hands on you other than that?”

“What? No.” Elizabeth shook her head. “No, Nikolas. I would never have stayed. I—” She bit her lip. “But that was definitely the last straw. I’ve been…planning this for several weeks. I just…didn’t pull the trigger.” She sighed. “Maybe I was waiting until our anniversary so at least one of my marriages could make it that far.”

“I get it, Elizabeth. I know Emily still thinks you should hold out, but you’re right. You’ve got your kids to worry about.” Nikolas shrugged. “And even if he gets clean, he’ll always be a drug addict.”

She closed her eyes, the tears burning against her eyelids. “God, Nikolas. Thank you. You’re the only one who’s friends with us both to even consider me.”

“Hey, I tried to kill you once,” Nikolas murmured. “That makes us family.”

She laughed and wiped her eyes as Lucky pushed open the door. It was the first time she’d come into contact with him since he’d left for the rehab, since the second time she’d taken a hard fall and telling him and Jason about the baby.

He looked tired, his hair unruly like he’d been running his fingers through it. But his eyes were clear. “Elizabeth, Nikolas. They said you were waiting for me.”

“How’s it going here?” Nikolas asked, as Elizabeth shuffled some paperwork.

“Ah, it’s going.” Lucky eyed her. “I didn’t think you’d come—”

“The police are investigating me for stealing drugs in order to feed your habit,” Elizabeth cut in, coldly. “I’ve been suspended pending the outcome, but Ric has already informed me I’ll be charged by the end of the week.” She narrowed her eyes. “They found one last stash of Oxy you kept in my son’s cookie jar and were able to trace it to the hospital.”

Lucky’s shoulders slumped. “God, Elizabeth—I’ll sign an affidavit, testify, anything. I’ll tell them it was Maxie—”

“And ruin her life more than you already have?” she shot back. “I’ve got my beef with Maxie, but she was a young, vulnerable girl who’d just watched her boyfriend murdered in front of her. I’ve been there, thinking you have nothing to live for.” She shrugged. “I’d rather you keep her out of it. I’ve consulted a lawyer who recommended I file for divorce.”

“Divorce.” Lucky swallowed. “But we’re having a child—”

That fact remained to be seen, but Elizabeth tapped the paperwork on the desk. “I’ve brought the papers she drew up for an uncontested divorce. I need these charges to go away fast. I need my job, Lucky. I need those paychecks or I’m going to lose the apartment—”

“Elizabeth, you know I’d help—”

Elizabeth held up a hand to cut Nikolas’s offer in mid-stream. “You say you’re sorry. Well, I need you to prove it. You’ve almost shot me, you’ve thrown me to the ground, you’ve taken drugs, hid them in the home we shared with my son, and you screwed a teenager in our bed. You owe me this.”

He swallowed again, his hands trembling. “I want to make it up to you, Elizabeth. Please. Just give me a chance—”

She held out a pen. “This will be the start, Lucky. If you ever loved me, you’ll do this for me.”

Lucky looked at his brother. “You’re here with her…does that mean you think I should do this?”

“I—” Nikolas hesitated, clearly uncomfortable with being in the middle of this. “Lucky, you’ve put her through a lot. If this can help her get her job back and keep the DA at bay—you should do this.”

Lucky slowly reached for the pen and sighed. “I guess you’re right.” He cleared his throat. “Just…tell me where to sign.”

Elizabeth held back a sigh of relief as Lucky initialed and scrawled his signature on several pages where Diane had put flags without noticing it was paper work for the Dominican Republic. If he had noticed, she would have come with something but it was better than it had stayed under the radar.

Lucky slid the papers across the desk to her. “I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, Elizabeth. I’ll testify. Just tell your lawyer that.”

“I’m confident I’ll be exonerated,” Elizabeth said, putting the papers back in her bag. “After all, I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Greystone Manor: Living Room

 

Sonny set down a phone receiver as Jason entered that afternoon. “Hey. I pulled some strings to get Elizabeth a court hearing in Santo Domingo on Monday morning at ten-thirty, and I’ve got things set on the island—” He stopped. “You okay?”

“Uh, yeah.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “I just heard from Robin. Elizabeth convinced Lucky to sign the paperwork, so we’re good to go in the DR tomorrow.”

“I figured she’d be able to do it.” Sonny reached for another piece of paper. “Why is Robin getting in touch with you? I thought you gave Elizabeth a burner cell.”

“Yeah, but she’s still nervous about Ric. Robin said he was waiting for her when she got home from talking to me yesterday.” He exhaled slowly. “Let it slip he’d had a tail on her the night before.”

“Does he know she’s come to you?” Sonny asked, leaning against the table. “Should we move the time table up?”

“No.” Jason shook his head. “No, she needs—she needs time to get Cameron settled with her grandmother tonight. We’ll leave early tomorrow so she can file with the courthouse by noon.”

Sonny hesitated. “It’s happening pretty fast, isn’t it?” he asked quietly. “Five minutes ago, you were just waiting to find out if you were going to be a father, and now you’re looking at spending at least the next year as a husband.”

Jason lowered himself on the sofa. “I tried to talk to her out of it. Make her understand I could make the charges go away.” He rubbed his chin. “She threatened to lie in front a grand jury if Ric called her anyway.”

“You know, Jason.” Sonny said, crossing to the armchair and taking a seat. “It’s not the end of the world to accept help. Elizabeth wanted to help.”

“It just…” Jason shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“You want to say it doesn’t feel right,” Sonny said, “except those aren’t the right words.” He leaned forward. “Have the two of you discussed what this could mean? Particularly if you turn out to be the father of that child? You’d be in Cameron’s life as his stepfather, in your child’s life every single day for a while. Could you let that go?”

“It doesn’t matter what I want.” Jason looked straight ahead. He couldn’t think about the day to day of being married to Elizabeth, of having a family.

It never worked out for long.

Sonny cleared his throat. “Have you, maybe, considered not…making this…a simple marriage of convenience?”

Jason whipped his head around to face his partner. “What—what do you mean?”

“It’s not like you’re strangers,” Sonny said. “Or even bitter acquaintances. You two have a…bit of a past. Possibly a future. I know you care for each other. Have you discussed what kind of marriage this will be?”

“It’ll be whatever Elizabeth wants it to be,” Jason muttered, wanting a change of conversation immediately. “You said things were ready on the island?”

“I’ve arranged for the license, for a justice of the peace, you know—all the details. Robin called me—said Elizabeth asked her to be a witness at the wedding.”

Wedding. License. This…was really happening. He was going to marry Elizabeth on Tuesday evening. In forty-eight hours. “I’m glad Robin’s helping out. She—she said that her mother is having her cell phone calls wiped in case Ric figures out Elizabeth borrowed it.”

“I always liked that girl.” Sonny leaned forward. “So I know we’re letting the rest of the town find out about the marriage in Friday’s newspaper, but have you thought about…warning certain people?”

Jason blinked and looked away. “No. Elizabeth told Patrick and Robin, and I trust them to keep quiet for her sake. This works best if we move fast. Too many people know and the secret gets out.”

“You don’t think Sam is going to be interested in this news?” Sonny asked. “It’s only been five months—”

“A lot’s happened in those five months.” Jason shook his head. “I know I don’t have the right to be angry about Ric, but—”

“Why not?” Sonny asked. He lifted a shoulder. “Look, maybe she wants to excuse what she did and blame my brother for it. He’s not innocent, but Jason, she probably planned it for weeks.”

Jason rose to his feet. “Sonny—”

“Sam’s a con artist. Retired, maybe. But a con artist at heart.” Sonny crossed to his mini bar. “No accident that she latched on to you. Read you like a book. You like babies, like saving damsels in distress—”

“Sonny,” Jason began.

“—then she twisted herself all around to be the kind of woman you’d keep around. Tough, smart. Ruthless. Someone who’d follow you through the door. And you walked away from that. She blamed her mother. So, she tried to take away what her mother valued most—her stable family life.”

Jason exhaled slowly. “No. Sonny, she’s not like that. She wanted to hurt herself—”

“You know what I’m saying is true, because it’s why you’re twisted up about it.” Sonny gestured at him with the tumbler of bourbon in his hand. “Elizabeth used to be married to Ric, but that didn’t stop you from sleeping with her. She slept with Zander a few times, too. You couldn’t stand him. You don’t hold that against her.” He lifted a brow. “It’s because you know Sam wanted to kill two birds with one stone—to destroy her mother and destroy you. Sleeping with Ric did it.” He tilted his head. “And she ran right over to tell you, didn’t she?”

She had. The very next morning. Something sour burned in the back of his throat, because there was something to it. If Sam had just wanted to hurt herself, she could have slept with anyone else, but she’d chosen Ric Lansing.

“It doesn’t matter. I’m not warning her. She’s…unpredictable,” Jason admitted. “She’s gone after Elizabeth more than once because I told her about that night. I don’t trust her not to go to Ric to punish Elizabeth.”

“And that says it all, doesn’t it?” Sonny murmured as he sipped his drink.

February 27, 2015

This entry is part 4 of 18 in the series All We Are

Tell me now if you came sneaking up behind
Would you know me and see behind the smile
I can change like colors on a wall
Hoping no one else will find what lies beneath it all
I think I hide it all so well

Everybody Knows, Dixie Chicks


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hardy Home: Living Room

Her grandmother did not quite believe her, but Elizabeth knew there was enough truth in the story she’d fed to Audrey that she would not quibble: a quick getaway to a spa resort because Robin wanted to treat her, to get her away from this stress, from the charges, from her life.

“Kelly’s concerned about my blood pressure,” Elizabeth said, handing Cameron a truck and then watching as he returned to the toys in the corner of the room. “With the suspension and these charges…” She lifted a shoulder. “I’m just trying to play it safe. I normally wouldn’t accept something like this, but—”

“Robin’s a good friend.” Audrey perched at the edge of the flowered covered arm chair. “I just…I wish I knew what to do about this. I hate that you had to file for divorce in order to prove your innocence. It’s probably the last thing Lucky needed right now.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath. “Yeah, well, losing my paycheck is the last thing I need right now. My lawyer suggested a show of independence from him would be a good sign.” Was it ever about her? For Christ’s sake.

“I suppose. And I imagine Lucky’s protestation of your innocence wouldn’t carry very far.” Audrey hesitated. “Darling, who is your lawyer? You haven’t said. Alexis isn’t available anymore. Though it was hardly ethical for her to marry your ex-husband after she handled the divorce.”

“I asked around.” Elizabeth stood. “I was lucky to find someone who hates Ric and isn’t charging me anything.” Diane was on retainer with Jason, but in light of the changes she was about to make, she didn’t think enlightening her grandmother as to the identity of her lawyer would be helpful.

Audrey would just look at her with that sympathetic look, with those soft eyes. Those disappointed eyes. She could even hear the admonishment now. Oh, Elizabeth.

She’d never grown up in her grandmother’s eyes, but Elizabeth supposed she couldn’t blame the woman. Every five minutes, Elizabeth was running to someone for help. This…this was different. Yes, Jason was helping her, but she thought Diane might have helped her on principle without Jason’s involvement.

And she was helping Jason right back. She was protecting him. If they didn’t keep her off the stand, Elizabeth planned to lie her ass off in front of that grand jury.

It was the first active thing she’d done in the months to take control of her life, and it felt good. At the moment. In five minutes, her stomach would be twisting again with all the ways this could go wrong.

Audrey pursed her lips. “I suppose. Well, Cameron is welcome to stay with me a few more days, but my love, I don’t know how much more of this I can do. I’m not particularly young anymore and he’s an active little boy. He’s in preschool during the day, but—”

“I know, Gram. That’s why I have to do this.” Elizabeth rose to her feet. “I’ve been sitting back, waiting for things to happen to me. I knew something was wrong with Lucky, I suspected he was using too much of his medication, but I never dreamed it was so bad. Or that he was having an affair. I tried to walk away then, but everyone told me to give him another chance. But…I’m facing jail time for this. Lucky slept with the commissioner’s daughter and Mac blames me. These charges aren’t just going away.” She folded her arms and looked away, towards the doorway. “I’m divorcing Lucky, Gram. His recovery is his business, but my life and my children are mine.”

“There’s not a lot there to argue with.” Audrey sighed. “I know you feel as though I’m taking Lucky’s side—”

“Aren’t you?” Elizabeth demanded. “Asking me to give him more time? He’ll always be a drug addict, Gram. Even if he never takes another pill—it’s always something he’ll have to deal with. I’ve dealt with brainwashing, faked my death to save him, I nearly died for my first husband—when does it get to be my turn?”

“I just…” Audrey lifted her hands, held them out at her sides. “I remember your grandfather and I. And how we let our happiness slip through our fingers because we didn’t take chances. Because we didn’t stick by one another when times were tough. We wasted years, Elizabeth. And while I love your father very much, and I know Steve never saw Tom as anything other than his son…” She closed her eyes.

“You wished you could have had more time together, more children,” Elizabeth murmured. “I—I do understand that, Gram. And I thought about that. With Lucky the first time. With Ric. I kept thinking that love isn’t supposed to be easy, that marriage is…it’s a battle sometimes.” A tear slid down her cheek. “But at some point, it has to feel like its worth it.”

“All right, darling.” Audrey stepped towards her and wrapped her in a tight embrace. “You’re right. You deserve a few days of rest, of relaxation. And…I can see you’re looking at this situation with open eyes. I’ll respect your decision to leave Lucky.”

“Thanks, Gram.” Elizabeth stepped back and bit her lip. “You might not always believe me, but I know what I’m doing. How I’m handling this—I didn’t choose the easy way like maybe I would have done once. It’s going to be scary sometimes, but I know I’m doing the right thing. For myself and my children. They come first.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“Something is going on, and I don’t like it,” Carly declared, her hands at her hips as she watched Jason set a duffel bag by his desk and flip through some paperwork. “You and Sonny are just taking off to the island for some problems, but you never go at the same time—”

“If you need anything with the boys or their security, you can talk to Cody. He and Max are running point while we’re gone.” Jason made another notation, ignoring her growl of exasperation.

He had thought about confiding in Carly because he thought she might understand. After all, she was familiar with the spousal privilege option. But if Carly thought Jason was in trouble, there was no telling what she might do to help.

Better to leave her out of it for now. He’d call her from the island when it was a done deal and cite her dislike for Elizabeth as a reason he’d kept it from her.

“Is this related to Elizabeth?” Carly asked. “Because Jax came home yesterday absolutely livid. He’s talking about finding someone to run against Ric in the next election.” She huffed and looked down. “He’s been kind of protective of her since…last year.”

Jason raised his head and frowned. “That’s right. Sonny mentioned something about a surrogacy and Elizabeth having a miscarriage.”

“She and Jax were driving home.” Carly pressed her lips together. “I was…in the middle of my breakdown, and I ran in front of their car.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “They both forgave me. For some reason.”

Jason rubbed the back of his neck. Christ. He hadn’t known Carly was involved in that. “It was an accident, and Elizabeth doesn’t hold grudges.” Even when she ought to. “So Jax knows about her suspension?”

“Oh, he is through the roof.” Carly said, eager to move away from the previous topic of conversation. “Ranting and raving about the policies at General Hospital, how he knew Lucky was bad news. He treated her like crap during that surrogacy, according to Jax. There she is, trying to make money to pay bills by giving Jax and Courtney a child, and it’s like she had an affair.” Carly snorted. “Jackass. It’s always the cheating ones that are overly paranoid. I know—I used to accuse Tony all the time of going back to Bobbie.”

He had a headache. “Carly, go away.”

“No.” Carly stepped towards him. “Just—just tell me you’re okay. Ric doesn’t do anything without a reason. If he’s going after Elizabeth, there’s a reason for it. I know him. Is he trying to get something from you? I know you and Elizabeth are friends again—after the surgery with Sam, I mean. I know how she nearly sacrificed her career. And than she ran around like Florence Nightingale when you checked yourself out the hospital—” She narrowed her eyes. “Jason. Are you…involved with her again?”

This was the problem with Carly. You could never write her off because she was usually five steps ahead of you.  “If I were, it’s none of your business—”

“Hell, Jason, she’s in the middle of this mess, and then there’s the disaster of her marriage to Lucky. Look.” Carly tilted her head back. “It’s not that I don’t like her—”

He arched his brows and she snarled. “All right, it’s mostly because I don’t like her. I don’t really care to examine the reasons why at this point because I suspect it’s more about holding a grudge than an actual complaint. But I just…you’re both coming out of super serious relationships—” Carly stopped. “Okay. I’m going to shut up. You’re a grown man, and she’s mostly a grown woman.” She snorted. “It’s not like you wouldn’t be the best choice she’s made in her life so far.”

Jason waited a moment. “I have no idea what you’re talking about now. So I’m just going to ignore all of that. Go tell Jax to destroy Ric’s career. It can only help.”

She narrowed her eyes. “Fine. But when you and Sonny come back, I’m going to want answers. And I mean it.”

“And you’ll know what what I want you to know when I want you to know it.” Jason sighed, frustrated. “Carly, if I thought for one minute you wouldn’t try to help me, I’d tell you now. But you’ll go and help. And how do your plans usually end?”

“Um…massive amounts of destruction,” Carly admitted. “There was that seducing my mother’s husband part. And then there was Michael’s paternity. I tried to help Sonny, but he almost went to jail. Twice. I tried to set you and Courtney up, but you were both miserable—and of course, there was John’s paternity.” She winced. “So yeah, you know what? Don’t tell me. I could promise to stay out of it, but you and I both know I couldn’t help myself.”

“And Sonny said you’d never learn your lesson.” He opened the door and pointed. “Now, go away.”

“I’m gone.”

Monday, October 23, 2006

Elizabeth’s Apartment Building: Sidewalk

Robin pulled her car to a stop in front and waited while Elizabeth waved to the cop she knew was tailing her, stowed her suitcase in the back seat and then got into the passenger seat.

“Are you going to be able to lose him?” Elizabeth asked, fastening her seatbelt.

Robin smirked. “Did I ever tell you about the summer I spent with my mother in Pine Valley learning defensive driving maneuvers? Ha. The PCPD is no match for Anna Devane’s daughter.” She shifted the car into first gear. “You might want to hold on.”

And she stepped on the accelerator.

Three lights, twelve turns, and six minutes later, Robin had left the PCPD in the dust and made a turn towards the private air strip where Jax, Sonny and the Quartermaines housed their planes.

“That felt good,” the brunette said cheerfully. “Like I’m fighting against the man. I think I’m starting to get why my mother has trouble leaving the WSB behind.”

“Right,” Elizabeth said weakly, holding a hand over her abdomen. “I’ll never doubt you again.”

“Are you ready for this?” Robin asked, slowing the car down to a normal speed.

Choosing to believe her friend was asking after the practical details, Elizabeth nodded. “My grandmother probably thinks I’m up to something, but since I didn’t tell her Diane is representing me, she’s not connecting it to Jason. Diane’s already filing an appeal with the board at the hospital and she’ll file a motion to disqualify Ric on Thursday afternoon after we get back.”

“Why is she waiting until then? Why not file now?” Robin asked, squinting at the the traffic light in front of her. “Clear it up faster.”

“Because she’s going to try to get Ric thrown off any case including Jason since he’ll…” Elizabeth’s throat tightened. “Well, yeah. You know what I mean.”

“I do, but don’t you think you’re going to have to work on saying it?” Robin asked, glancing at her as the cars in front of her started to move. “You’re marrying Jason tomorrow.”

“Oh, man.” She closed her eyes. “Okay. Okay. Stop saying that.”

“Elizabeth, if you’re having second thoughts—”

“Not about marrying Jason,” Elizabeth said. “Okay? That’s…that’s all fine. I’m protecting him. It’s my fault Ric is going after him like this, that he even has the chance—”

“Considering Jason’s job, it’s a little bit his fault,” Robin replied dryly. “But I take your meaning. So if marrying him isn’t freaking you out, what is?”

“It’s not…the idea itself. I mean, Jason suggested it as an option, but I pushed for it. I told him I would not be part of sending him to the jail, so he’s really doing this to prevent me from perjury charges.” Elizabeth leaned her head back against the seat. “It’s…what comes after.”

“Ah. So it’s not marrying Jason that’s the problem. It’s being married to Jason.” Robin nodded. “It’s what, your fifth wedding to your third husband?”

Elizabeth shot her a dirty look. “Was that part necessary? You think I can’t count?”

“Ha,” Robin retorted. “No, what I mean is that you’ve been married twice. Each lasted barely a year. I cannot imagine the terror of one marriage, much less the third.”

“This is not helping.” Elizabeth scrubbed her hands over her face. “Look. It’s not even that, okay? It’s…those were real marriages. I thought they were—for some ridiculous reason, I thought I was marrying forever. And now, there’s Jason. And we’re not marrying because we’re in love, but…” She pressed a hand over her child. “But it’s not like we’re strangers who feel nothing.”

“You’re extremely close friends who may soon be raising a child together in holy matrimony,” Robin murmured. She pulled into the small parking lot of the air strip, turned off the ignition, and turned to Elizabeth. “Sweetie, I cannot tell you the right thing to do in this situation. You know I’m usually jumping at the chance to tell people how to live, but I’ve been working on that. And even if I wanted to, I don’t know what to tell you. I know Jason cares for you. I know you care for him. Sometimes, it can be just that simple.”

“This…this isn’t weird for you?” Elizabeth asked, undoing her seat belt and letting the strap slide back into place. “You…used to date Jason—”

“In another lifetime, and those were two different people. Jason is my friend now. Like you are. And I want the best for you both.” Robin bit her lip. “Look, maybe you should just ask him what his expectations of this marriage are—”

“Because I’m terrified he’ll tell me he has none. That it’s all up to me.” Elizabeth pushed her door open and stepped out into the brisk October morning. “He’s always doing that. The first time he asked me to marry him, I asked him that. I asked him what kind of marriage we would have. If we’d be…more. And he told me it’d be whatever I wanted.”

“Yeah, that’s what I mean about different people.” Robin removed her suitcase and a garment bag from the backseat as Elizabeth also retrieved her luggage. “The Jason I knew once didn’t know how to protect himself. He used to put himself out there, figuring the truth was always the best option. He took what he wanted, who he wanted…” She sighed. “But I changed that. I think I broke that in him. Or maybe I taught him to hold part of himself back.” She shook her head. “It’s a not a horrible thing to do—but he takes it to the extreme now.”

“You’re not kidding.” Elizabeth glanced towards the air strip where Sonny’ jet was waiting, the flight stairs already attached. A few figures milled about the bottom, and she recognized Jason and Sonny. “The night we were together? You know, the blackout? He wasn’t like that.” Her cheeks burned. “He and I—it was like the world didn’t exist. He wanted to be with me, and I wanted to be with him, so we just were. And we ignored everything else that didn’t fit in.”

“I don’t know how Jason feels about all of this,” Robin admitted. “But I know you’re half in love with him already. You can do two things, Elizabeth. You can do exactly what you and Jason have done for years. Hold yourself back, protect yourself. But you’ll do it at the cost of being happy. Or you can go and demand he tell you what he wants. And if he asks what you want—”

“I could tell him that the last thing I want is to find out on Friday Lucky is the father of this child. That I want him to be in my life, and that I don’t want to sleep in the guest room.” Elizabeth chewed her lip and looked at Robin. “Easy, huh?”

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Courthouse Plaza

Sonny sipped his espresso as Robin stirred sugar into her iced tea. “How much longer do you think it’ll be?” he asked.  She looked up and blinked at him.

“What?” she asked.

“Getting the divorce decree,” Sonny clarified. “It’s already been an hour. We…wanted to be on the island by two.” He checked his wrist. “It’s already eleven-thirty.”

“So? It’ll take as long as it takes.” Robin squinted at the entrance of the court house where Jason and Elizabeth had disappeared to earlier that morning. “It’s at least a twenty-four hour process.  She didn’t file until eleven yesterday.” She sipped her tea. “What’s the big deal? They’re getting married on the island with your justice of the peace. He’ll just wait until we get there.”

“I have plans,” Sonny complained. “They’ll ruin it if we’re not there by two.”

Robin furrowed her dark brows. “Ruin it?” she echoed. “Are you on drugs, Sonny? How—” She closed her mouth. “What do you have planned?”

“Look.” Sonny shifted, feeling heat on the back of heck. “I just…I wanted to help.”

“I think you were married to Carly a little too long,” Robin mused. “What’s going on?”

“This…is their third go around at this, you know?” Sonny shrugged. “Jason’s been married once for spousal privilege, but not like this. It’s…Elizabeth. And they might have a kid together. I just…in case they decide to…”

“You planned an actual wedding, didn’t you?” his old friend asked with a soft look in her eyes. “Sonny, you marshmallow.”

“This last year has been hell for Jason,” Sonny said. “First, he lost his memories. And then he had brain surgery. Carly was finishing up her meltdown, but then there was the virus. Sam got shot. I—I dated his sister, and he…had to deal with my illness. And that’s before we even get to the summer. I wanted to do something nice. In case they decided to stay married, they won’t necessarily feel the need to renew their vows.”

He looked into his dark espresso. “I married Carly the first time because of spousal privilege. It was quick ceremony that didn’t do justice to the way we felt about each other then. We weren’t…quite in love yet. But we were halfway there. And she wanted something more. She wanted to renew our vows so they’d mean something. I just…I know how they feel about each other.”

“You do?” Robin repeated. “Because I’m pretty clear on Elizabeth. Jason’s a mystery to me these days.” She glanced towards the court steps again, but they were still empty. “And, as you pointed out, it’s not the first time Jason’s married for this reason.”

“Well, that’s not why he and Brenda got married, but it’s why it lasted so long.” Sonny shifted again. “I think they’ve cared for each other long a very long time. And this summer, with what happened with Sam and Lucky, they finally started to open the door to it again. They’re not there yet. It might be months before they are. But I just…I thought they deserved something they could look back on with fond memories.”

“I agree,” Robin nodded. “What do you have planned?”

March 6, 2015

This entry is part 5 of 18 in the series All We Are

It’s alright if you don’t know what you need
I’m right here when
You need someone to see
It’s not speak
Or forever hold your peace
It’s alright to take time
And find where you’ve been

Porcelain, Marianas Trench


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

West Plana Cays, Bahamas: Corinthos Villa

 When Elizabeth was ten minutes late to meet them downstairs for the ceremony, Jason reluctantly went in to check on her.  The strain of the day, the surprise of  finding the terrace at Sonny’s island home decorated with flowers for the wedding with someone standing by with a damn camera to make the event look good…he wasn’t surprised she was having second thoughts.

And he told himself as he lifted his hand to knock on the door, that if she wanted to back out, he would let her. It didn’t matter that he’d half been looking forward to living with Elizabeth and her son, with a child he believed might be his.

He would let her go.

“Elizabeth?”

“J-Jason?” Her trembling voice wafted out. Below him, he could see Sonny and Robin milling about on the terrace. Sonny had constructed his villa with a long winding stairway on the outside of the building rather than inside.

Sonny avoided walls whenever he could.

“Hey.” He kept his voice light. He didn’t care if Sonny or the justice of the peace were getting impatient. If Elizabeth wasn’t ready, then they weren’t doing this. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“I-I’m s-sorry. I c-can’t…” Her voice faltered. “I can’t d-do this. I thought I could, but I-I can’t.”

He closed his eyes, resting his forehead briefly against the oak door. After a moment, he exhaled slowly and straightened. “It’s okay, Elizabeth. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. I told you that.”

Then the door opened, and she was standing there a strapless white dress that fell to her knees.  She wore some makeup, but her eyes were red and some of her mascara had smeared. “But—”

“This part of it was just to keep you from testifying.” Jason slid his hands into the pockets of his khakis. “You’ll be in the clear on the other charges—”

“I want to protect you,” she said, her hand gripping the door so tightly her knuckles were white. “B-But I’m just…I don’t know what happens next.”

He furrowed his brows. “What do you mean?”

Elizabeth stepped away from the door and gestured for him to come in. He did so, and closed the door behind him, wanting some privacy. “I mean, it’s not…the wedding that has me upset, okay? It’s…not like I don’t get what Sonny’s doing. He’s done this before. I have to wear a dress, and you have to…” She hesitated, and chewed on her bottom lip, looking at the white button down shirt he wore and the light pants. “You look nice.”

“I can tell Sonny to get rid of the flowers and the photographer,” Jason said. “Robin has one of those phones with a camera if the court wants it—”

“No, none of that…” She sighed, pressed a hand to her forehead and turned away. “It’s not the wedding. It’s…the marriage part of it.”

He blinked, because that didn’t make sense. Weren’t they the same thing? “I don’t—I don’t understand.”

“It’s…about tomorrow and all the days that come after it.” She turned back to him. “What about Cameron? What if this baby is Lucky’s? What if you fall in love with someone else? What if this doesn’t work and Ric makes me testify or—”

Jason held up both hands to halt her rapid flurry of questions. “Wait, wait—” He stepped towards her. “Let’s just…take this one step at a time.” She pressed her lips together and looked away. “About Cameron? I don’t know what—I’d be his stepfather. I’d love and care for him. As for the baby…”

He hesitated because he didn’t like to think about the alternative. He wanted this child to be his, not Lucky’s. But she was right to be concerned. “If the baby isn’t mine, we’ll handle it however you want. We can—we can keep that to ourselves. Or if you think Lucky should be in the child’s life, then we can do that, too.”

Her eyes were closed, but tears were slowly sliding down her face. He didn’t know if any of these answers were helping, but he didn’t want her to say no for the wrong reasons.

Jason stepped closer to her, sliding his hand along her cheekbone so she’d open her eyes. When she was looking at him again, he cleared his throat and continued. “I’m not going to fall in love with anyone else, Elizabeth.”

Her lips trembled, then parted. “Right. I mean, of course not. I—you’re in love with Sam, so what if you want her back a-and you’re stuck with me—”

“That’s not going to happen,” he told her, rather than explaining all the reasons he was finished with Sam or why he’d never look at being married to her as being stuck. Damn Ric and Lucky for dragging her down, for making her feel less.

“Jason…” His name was almost a plea as she stepped back and his hand fell away. “I just—I don’t know what you see for us. What kind of marriage you want.”

He frowned. “Elizabeth, I’ll do whatever you want—”

Elizabeth actually growled and dug her hands into her hair. “Don’t say that! Stop saying that!”

“Then what do you want me to say?” Jason demanded, finally frustrated. Damn it, he just wanted her to be happy but how was he supposed to accomplish that if she wouldn’t tell him what she needed? “I don’t know what you want from me—”

“I don’t care about what I want!” Elizabeth retorted. Her eyes were angry now, sparks all but flying from them. “God, Jason, stop asking me that. I asked you what you wanted—”

“I want whatever you want,” Jason interrupted. “Why does it have to be more complicated than that—”

“Because you always leave it up to me.” She slashed her hand through the air. “You leave it up to me, so I try to do the right thing for both of us and I think my track record has proved that I suck at it. So, for once, just tell me what you want.”

“I want—” Jason shook his head. “Elizabeth—I just want—” He stopped and sat on the edge of the bed.

After a long pause, he finally spoke. “You asked me—if we go ahead with this—what kind of marriage I want.” He looked up from his hands and met her eyes briefly before looking away again. “I want you to trust me. I want…” He hesitated. “I want to come home to something that’s separate from my…job. I want to listen to you ramble about your art, about the people you saw that day…so I don’t have to think about the things I do when I’m not with you.”

“Jason…”

He felt the bed dip as she settled next to him. “I want you to trust me,” she murmured. “And I want to trust you. I want you to listen to me ramble on about a problem and then say something that’s so simple, it seems to solve all my problems at once. I want to stop pretending to be someone I’m not.”

“I—” Jason looked up and met her eyes, still damp but not as panicked. “I never wanted you to be anyone else.”

“I know,” she responded with a small smile. “Which always confused me.” She reached for his hand and laced their fingers together. “If we’re going to do this, Jason, I want us to be honest with each other. Like we used to be. I don’t want to always be afraid or worrying about protecting myself.”

Jason stood then, and drew her to her feet as well. He reached into his pocket and drew out a small velvet bag. “I—I bought rings for today,” he told her, pulling the string to loosen the bag. “I was just going to buy the set, but—”

He drew out the small diamond ring he’d seen in the jewelry case and held it between his thumb and index fingers. He reached for the hand he had just released and held it still as it shook slightly.

“Jason, you didn’t have to do—” she began, her voice trembling as much as her hand had.

“I wanted to.” He slid the ring over her knuckle. “I could have bought something bigger, but your hand is small—”

“I don’t care about that.” Elizabeth lifted her hands and framed his face. “This is going to work, isn’t it?”

Rather than answering her with words, he took a chance and dipped his head down to taste her mouth, her sweet taste mixed with the slight salt from her earlier tears. “Will you marry me?” he whispered against her lips, hoping the second time he posed this question would bring him a different answer.

“Yes.” She laughed then and nipped at his mouth. “Let me redo my makeup and I’ll meet you out there.” Elizabeth drew back, the shadows lifted from her expression. “Go before Sonny sends in a search party.”

Sonny’s Villa:  Ocean Terrace

Elizabeth stepped to the top of the stairs and glanced over the side of the railing, down to the terraced pool where Jason, Sonny, and Robin waited. The explosion of flowers, the wildflower arbor where she and Jason were expected to stand, even the photographer Sonny had arranged—she understood it was all part of a carefully crafted image.

But as she clutched the small bouquet of orange and yellow orchids Sonny had sent to her, as she looked at the diamond engagement ring she wore, as she remembered their conversation just minutes earlier…

This was starting to feel less and less like a marriage of convenience.

“’I’m sorry I’m late,” Elizabeth called as she started down the stairs, her voice nearly lost in the sound of the rushing ocean a few hundred feet away from Sonny’s villa.

“The bride,” Sonny declared as he met her halfway, “is never late.” He offered his arm. “Everyone else is just appallingly early.”

“Sonny…” But his easy smile was contagious, and she linked arms. “You’re having fun with this aren’t you?”

“I think I have untapped talents,” he replied, escorting her to the bottom of the stairs.  “Now, just remember, I have your best interests in mind.” They stepped down from the stairs onto the stone terrace.

“The only way that would scare me more if is if Carly had said it,” Elizabeth murmured as they approached Jason and Robin and the justice of the peace. In the distant, the sun was beginning to set into the ocean horizon, but Sonny had lit some scattered torches around the terrace and pool.

“That really hurts.” Sonny stopped in front of Jason and put Elizabeth’s hand in his. “Humor me, both of you.”

Elizabeth laughed lightly, but it felt shaky to her as she handed Robin the bouquet and linked both hands with Jason. There they were, standing under an arbor of flowers in front of someone would say a few words before pronouncing them man and wife.

She could do this. She really could. She met Jason’s eyes and was relieved to see the same tinge of anxiety in them. For all their promises upstairs, there was something about this moment was so terrifying she had trouble breathing properly.

The minister, a dark-skinned man with kind brown eyes, lightly cleared his throat and spread his hands out. “We are gathered here today to celebrate one of life’s greatest moments, to give recognition to the worth and beauty of love, and to add our best wishes to the words which shall unite Jason and Elizabeth in marriage.”

Her breath caught at the words and she saw Sonny’s unabashed grin over Jason’s shoulder. Then she looked back at Jason with a hesitant smile. His hands tightened around hers, reassuring her.

“Before the vows, Miss Robin would like to say something on behalf of the couple,” the justice continued in his lyrical Bahamian accent, his voice carrying as if there were three hundred guests rather than just the four of them.

“What?” Elizabeth blinked as the justice stepped back and Robin handed both her flowers and Elizabeth to Sonny. “Robin—”

“Sonny had a very specific vision for today,” Robin said with a good-natured smile. “But he at least let me pick what I wanted to say. Well, he gave me three options.” She reached into her bodice and unfolded a small slip of paper.

“We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us,” she began. “But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this?” She glanced up with a smirk at Jason, perhaps in shared memory of their past. Jason just sighed, but didn’t appear to be annoyed, which Elizabeth decided to take it as a good sign.

“Because you yourself are wrong in some way,” Robin continued, “and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness.”

Elizabeth broke out into startled laughter. “Seriously, Robin?”

Robin stuck her tongue out at her but forged on. “And it isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems—the ones that truly make you who you are—that we’re ready to find a lifelong mate. Only then do you know what you’re looking for.”

Elizabeth turned her attention from Robin then to Jason, and in the pit of her stomach, something stopped twisting. She was beginning to understand why Sonny had suggested this particular reading and why Robin had chosen it. Jason’s eyes were on her as well.

“You’re looking for the wrong person,” Robin said. “But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person—someone you gaze lovingly upon, and think…” She hesitated, probably for effect. “This is the problem I want to have.”

And God, wasn’t that the truth? Hadn’t she been denying that for months?

Robin folded the slip of paper and tucked it back in her bodice. “So you guys, go forth and be as wrong as possible.” She took her flowers back and resumed her position at Elizabeth’s side.

The justice grinned. “What honest friends you have.” Then he cleared his throat and looked to Jason. “Do you, Jason, take Elizabeth, to be your wife? Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and protect her, forsaking all others and holding only unto her?”

Jason swallowed hard but his steady voice and calm eyes kept her pulse from racing too fast as he responded, “I do,” while looking straight at her.

“And do you, Elizabeth, take Jason, to be your husband? Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and protect him, forsaking all others and holding only unto him?”

“I do,” Elizabeth responded, feeling her fingers tingle where they touched Jason’s. They were really doing this.

“Wedding rings,” the justice continued, completely unaware of the byplay in front of him, “are an outward and visible sign of an inward spiritual grace and unbroken circle of love, signifying to all the union of this man and this woman in marriage.”

Sonny stepped forward and placed slim diamond and sapphire band in Jason’s palm, while Elizabeth retrieved a silver band from Robin.

“Please place this ring on each other’s finger,” the justice continued, “as a promise to one another.”

Jason took Elizabeth’s trembling hand in his steady one and, as he had only little earlier, slid the ring over her finger until it rested against the engagement ring.

And somehow that action steadied her hand, no longer shaking, as she mirrored his movement on his own finger. She rubbed her thumb over the silver metal, feeling as though this were some sort of dream and at any moment, she’d return to the nightmare of her old life.

“Jason and Elizabeth,” the justice said, breaking the moment, “as the two of you come into this marriage, I would ask remember that you must be able to forgive, to not hold grudges, and live each day that you may share it together—as from this day forward you shall be each other’s home, comfort, and refuge.

“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”

Elizabeth exhaled slowly as Jason released one hand and cupped her cheek. His lips brushed over hers lightly until she fisted her hand in his light cotton shirt and pulled him closer.

She was going to have the marriage she wanted, and she was going to start it right.

His hand slid into her hair, tilting her head back to deepen the kiss.

The clapping drew her back, her cheeks heating, as she looked towards Sonny, then at Robin, before looking at Jason with an embarrassed smile.

“Since I’m the only one here,” Robin said, “I guess throwing the bouquet is really a gimme, huh?”

West Plana Cays: Morgan Villa

Jason pulled into the winding drive in front of his home on the island and looked at Elizabeth, whose eyes were on the two story structure situated on the tip of the western side of the island, a fifteen minute drive from Sonny.

“You can go ahead if you want,” Jason said. “I’ll bring in the bags.”

Elizabeth looked away from the house and offered a half smile. “All right.”

When he set down his duffel bag and her small suitcase by the sofa, he saw that she had gone towards the terrace that overlooked his view of the ocean.

“Is everything okay?” he asked, stepping out to join her, his hands in the pockets of his khakis.

“What?” She turned slightly and smiled again. “Oh, yeah. I just…I just saw the view. It’s so beautiful.” Elizabeth turned back to the ocean. “I grew up in Colorado, and even with the lake in Port Charles, I don’t get to the beach much.” She wrapped her arms around herself, her rings catching a reflection from the pool just in front of her. “And I’m trying to picture you in this house.”

Jason shrugged. “Sonny built it. He lived on the island for a while after he left Brenda at the altar.” He stepped towards her, their shoulders brushing. “And after he was done with his place, he did this. I never—I never use it much.”

“I didn’t come to this part of the island when I was here a few years ago,” Elizabeth said. She glanced at him. “I had to fake my death during the whole Cassadine nonsense. Sonny offered me a cottage near the resort and casino to keep me out of sight.”

“I—” Jason hesitated. “Yeah, I know.” His mouth twisted. “Carly called me to tell me you were dead. Sonny called me later to sort it out.” He didn’t like to think about that, so he said nothing more.

“Ah.” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “Well, anyway. I can see Sonny saved the best views for this side of the island. They don’t compare to the resort.” She closed her eyes and tilted her head up as the ocean breeze gently lifted her hair from her bare shoulders.

“You—you can come here any time you want.” Jason cleared his throat. “I mean, you can—the jet only takes three hours.”

She laughed, the soft sound rippling through the air. “Any time I want, I have a jet at my disposal? That sounds too good to be true.”

“You can—” He stopped for a second. “You can have anything you want, Elizabeth.”

“Anything?” She turned then, with a glint he didn’t quite recognize in her eyes. “You don’t want to put any limitations on that?”

Something squeezed inside as she smiled and tilted her head, her hair falling like waterfall to one side. “Why would I?” he asked, his voice feeling rusty.

Her hands were sliding down his chest until they reached waistband of his pants. She tugged him forward. “What if what I want,” Elizabeth drawled, “is you?”

“Y-You have me.” He slid his hand into her hair, the silky strands slipping through his fingers.

“Well, then…” She leaned up on her toes to press her mouth to his, open and soft, then gone before he could respond. “What do you want?”

“I want…” Jason leaned down to capture her lips, his hand at the nape of her neck so she couldn’t escape again. “To be with you.”

“You are,” she whispered as his mouth found the skin under her ear, tasted the sweetness. “I want you to take me inside.” He drew away slightly, and she licked her lips. “To your room,” she finished.

He lifted her then, bracing his arms at her hips. Her fingertips were light against his temples as their eyes met. Elizabeth leaned down and kissed him.

Without breaking their kiss, he strode through the open terrace doors into the living, down a short hallway to the master bedroom.

He set her on her feet and dived into her mouth again, her fingers almost ripping the buttons of his shirt. “I want to see you,” he breathed, reaching for the zipper of her dress, underneath her arm, tugging the bodice down.

“I want to be in your bed this time.” She drew back, letting her dress float down to her feet.  Elizabeth kicked off her heels and reached for him again.

When she was underneath him, her pale skin against the dark sheets, he stopped to look at her. Her eyes were wide, her skin flushed, her lips parted. “I don’t want you to walk away tomorrow,” he said, dragging his thumb over her bottom lip.

“And I don’t want you to let me,” she responded. She drew his head down to hers and it was the last words they spoke.

March 13, 2015

This entry is part 6 of 18 in the series All We Are

Well, you have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It’s time that you won
Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice
You’ve made it now

Falling Slowly, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Morgan Villa: Bedroom

The sun was warm on her bare shoulder when she drifted into consciousness the next morning. Elizabeth blinked once, then twice, before shifting slightly on her side, the thin dark sheet sliding down her torso.

The Caribbean sun burned in through the balcony that stretched across the opposite side of the room, the ocean a wall of sparkling diamonds.

For a moment, she wasn’t sure where she was, but the warmth at her side quickly brought back the events of the day before.

And the night before.

She pushed her hair away from her face and peered over at Jason, who still lay asleep. Sprawled on his stomach, his arms half under the pillow on his side of the bed, his blond hair tousled and a morning stubble on his cheeks.

This was her husband with whom she had had a passionate wedding night.

Her lips curved into a smile just at the thought of it, and for the first time in months, she felt the weight of her problems, her burdens…just drift away. They didn’t disappear—and she knew they’d be waiting for her back in Port Charles.

But for this moment, for this day, she was going to embrace this new life. Robin had told her to ask Jason what he wanted, and Elizabeth was profoundly grateful she had listened.

Not wanting to wake him, Elizabeth slowly slid from beneath the sheets, reaching for the button down white shirt he’d worn the day before as it lay discarded on the floor nearby.

She slipped into it, wrapping the ends around herself rather than buttoning it. The sounds of the waves crashing against the shore, the smell of the salt air, and the vision of the sun glinting off the water drew her out to the balcony with its wooden rails.

Elizabeth braced a hip against it and surveyed the beach below, the greenery that dotted the edge of civilization, away from the golden sand dunes.

She heard rustling behind her and glanced back just as Jason slipped into a pair of black briefs.

She liked to think she wasn’t a particularly shallow person, but was there anything more delicious than the vision of Jason Morgan and his golden skin in nothing but a brief piece of black cloth?

“I’m sorry if I woke you,” she murmured as Jason joined her, sliding a warm arm around her waist. Elizabeth leaned her head back against his chest, tucking her head under his chin simply because she could. How many times had she wanted to touch him and resisted?

She wasn’t depriving herself any longer.

“I don’t sleep much anyway.” His lips brushed against her hair. “You okay?”

“Practically perfect.” Elizabeth held her left hand out slightly, her eyes on the newly minted rings on her finger.

She’d worn Lucky’s rings until Monday morning, and had left the slim bands on the top of her bureau in the apartment. Maybe she should feel guilty that she now wore another man’s rings, but she just couldn’t dredge up the emotion.

She’d spent too many years trapped by guilt and obligation.

“We don’t have to be back in Port Charles until tomorrow,” Jason said after a long moment. “Did—Did you want to do something today?”

Elizabeth turned so that she was facing him. Tilting her head to the side, she peered up at him. “You’re always asking me what I want.”

“Well,” Jason said, cupping her chin, his thumb smoothing along her jaw. “I have what I want.”

She grinned—it seemed as if they had both discarded whatever guards they’d constructed over the last few years. It was the most in tune she’d felt with him since the early halcyon days of their friendship.

Could it be this simple? If she had just taken one step forward all those years ago—would he have followed?

“You always know exactly the right thing to say.”

He dipped his head down to kiss her, but she giggled and drew away. “Morning breath,” Elizabeth told him with a wagging finger. “I haven’t brushed my teeth yet.”

“In that case…” Jason surprised her by plucking her up as if she weighed nothing more than air.

In less than a minute, he had carried her into the adjoining master bathroom, set her back on her feet, and handed her a bottle of mouth wash. “Ladies first.”

Morgan Villa: Kitchen

Jason glanced up as Elizabeth emerged from the short hallway that connected the bedrooms to the front of the house.

Her smile was quick and genuine, her eyes were clear and content, and the tension he’d seen in her for months had dissipated.

As she perched on a stool on the other side of the kitchen island, her hair tumbling to the middle of her back in a mass of waves, he noticed the blue bikini she had changed into after their shower, and the floral fabric tied at her waist.

He set a plate of food in front of her along with a glass of orange juice. “I guess you’re not interested in spending part of the day at the casinos or resort.”

“Mmm…is this a frittata?” Elizabeth picked up the fork and knife he’d set out. “And no.” She wrinkled her nose. “I spent way too much time on that side of the island the last time I was here.” She took a small bite and closed her eyes. “I wish I could cook like this.”

“Still only confined to brownies?” he asked with a light smile. “I would have thought you’d branched out by now.”

“Hey.” She jabbed the fork at him, her eyes sparkling. “I’ll have you know I can make anything that comes in a box.”

“I stand corrected.”

He leaned back against the stove, his mug of coffee in his hand and watched her eat with enthusiasm.

She was his wife.  They were married.

It should feel odd, even awkward. But it didn’t. Was it simply being away from Port Charles? From the outside tensions that so often influenced their interactions?

“Anyway,” Elizabeth said a few moments later, taking a swig of juice. “I was never any good at the casinos. I managed to lose even when I suspected Sonny was fixing the tables in my favor.” She laughed. “I know that’s the only way Carly ever won.”

“There’s the resort,” Jason offered. “They’ve got, I don’t know, shopping and spas or something.”

“That’s where everyone thinks I am anyway.” But her smile faded a bit. “Did—did you want me to go the resort for a while or something? Do-do you need to do something? With Sonny, I mean?” She bit her lip, and for the first time since the ceremony, a bit of uncertainty flashing in her eyes. “Or do you just want some time to yourself—”

“No.” Jason set his coffee down abruptly. “No, that’s not—” He exhaled slowly. “I just…I thought you might want to go—”

“Because if you need to meet with Sonny while we’re here, that’s okay.” Elizabeth pushed her half-eaten plate away from her a bit. “I mean, it’s…it’s your job, Jason. I-I can go get a massage—”

She started to slide down the stool, but he rounded the granite counter and stopped her descent, his hands at her hips. “Elizabeth. Sonny asked us to dinner tonight so you could keep Robin company for a bit while we dealt with anything we need to talk about. I just—” He stopped. “I’m sorry, I just thought you might want—”

“No, I’m sorry.” Elizabeth looked past him, her eyes cast down as if trained on the marble tiles. “I guess, I mean…this morning—and-and last night, it’s just…maybe I don’t always trust feeling happy for more than a few hours.” The corner of her mouth lifted. “There’s…there’s always something waiting just around the corner—”

“I know.” He let her slide the rest of the way to the floor, then tipped her chin up to force her meet his eyes. “Elizabeth. Remember what we talked about yesterday?”

“Honesty.” Her smile was back now, smaller and maybe a bit shaky—but genuine. “Right. So I guess I just have…to trust that. I’m sorry—”

“Don’t apologize—” He cut her off with a firm shake of his head. “I know what you went through with Lucky—I saw it. I watched him try to break you into little pieces every time he accused you of having an affair with Patrick—”

“To the point when I merely mentioned a paternity test to Kelly and Epiphany, they both assumed Patrick was the other party.” She sighed. “I’m working on it, Jason. I guess—I mean, we knew it would be more complicated than just…getting married to keep me from testifying—”

“That’s why we started this,” Jason said, “but it’s—it’s not entirely why we went through with it. Is it?”

“No,” she whispered. “Can—can we have more mornings like before? I mean, once we go back to Port Charles, this—it won’t go away?”

“No.” His thumb passed over her bottom lip, tracing its softness. Her eyes changed again—darkened. He replaced his thumb with his mouth.

For so many years, she’d been at the edges of his life—someone he cared about but could never hope for more. If he could have even guessed how good it would feel to touch her, to be with her—

He wouldn’t have needed the tequila to work up the courage.

Maybe this had all started as a mutual agreement to protect one another, but those reasons were a distant memory as he tugged her away from the kitchen, towards a nearby sofa. The fabric at her waist slipped to the marble floor, his shirt was tossed somewhere.

They tumbled to the sofa, his back against the cushions and her soft curves pressed against him. Her curls caressed his skin as he swept them away from her face, his fingers sliding through the strands.

Elizabeth broke away from him, straightening. She pressed her hands flat against his chest as he began to sit up.  “Elizabeth,” he began.

“I just—” Her breath was shallow, her chest rising and falling rapidly. “I just—this is different. Not like last night. Or this morning. I just—” She bit her lip. “I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings between us—”

Jason’s hands slid from her hips, curling into fists to keep from reaching for her. “Do you want to stop—”

“No.” The corner of her mouth curved up. “I just wanted you to know that my eyes are wide open. This isn’t about wanting to feel something, to forget about anyone else. It’s not our wedding night or the afterglow.” Her fingertips trailed down his chest towards the waistband of his sweats.

“There’s no one else here,” he replied, his voice raspy. “It’s just you and me.”

“Exactly.” Her fingers slid lower, and everything in him tensed as that hesitant smile turned a bit wicked. “Now where were we?”

Corinthos Villa: Veranda

Robin stepped through the open arch that connected Sonny’s living room to the sprawling veranda at the front of his face.

“What are you doing out here?” she asked Sonny as she joined him. “Are you waiting for Jason and Elizabeth?”

“A bit.” Sonny leaned against one of the large granite pillars. “They looked good yesterday, didn’t they? You don’t think I pushed too much?”

“I think,” Robin said, perching on the edge of a white railing, “it was a lovely ceremony and they’ll have good memories of it. They looked startled, but not upset.” She peered over the vast greenery that separated Sonny’s home from Jason’s.  “I never would have put them together. Even when Elizabeth told me what had happened this summer—I still couldn’t see it.”

She smiled and looked back at him. “But now that I have? I like it.” Robin laughed, wrinkling her nose. “It’s weird to think of him of being right for someone else. I mean, I’ve moved on with Patrick and I love him, I really do. I know Jason was married to your sister, that he was engaged with Sam, but I don’t know…he always seemed…” She wiggled her shoulders. “Stressful. Every time I saw him with Sam, he was tense. Not because of her, I guess, but—”

“She didn’t offer him a break from his world,” Sonny murmured. “She miscalculated there. She knew that Courtney had left him over the job, heard the rumors it was why Elizabeth had walked out—so she turned herself into the perfect sidekick.”

“But Jason didn’t want a sidekick.”

“He thought he did, and I can see how it made sense.” Sonny sipped his bourbon. “But maybe he’s starting to get that you need something else. A sense of separation, of…”

“Peace,” Robin murmured. “Of quiet. Of something stronger than the next rival, the next catastrophe.” Her lips curved. “Well, Sonny, I think you gave them a really good start. What they do with it from here out is up to them.”

Through the sounds of the waves behind them the roar of a motorcycle broke though. Around a corner of trees and bushes, the bike appeared, then turned into the drive.

Sonny grinned. “Still got the bug I see.” He took Robin’s arm and drew her back into the shadows by the house.

“Ugh, I tolerated that bike, but he always went too fast—” Robin broke off when Jason pulled his bike to a stop.

Elizabeth drew off her helmet, letting her hair tumble down her back. Whatever she said to Jason was lost to the wind and ocean, but there was no mistaking the broad smile on her face and her laughter.

They stood close to one another after climbing off the bike for a long moment, before finally making their way up towards the front of the house.

“I think they’ll be just fine,” Sonny murmured. “We better get inside before they catch us spying.”

Corinthos Villa: Terrace

Robin tipped some sparkling cider into Elizabeth’s glass. “So, while the boys are talking business, I think it’s time you tell me how the honeymoon is going.”

Elizabeth’s cheeks flushed and she dipped her head. “Robin…”

“Listen.” Robin settled onto the long chaises dotting the area around the pool, tucking her legs underneath her. “You forget, I’ve been in this since the beginning. I remember the way you looked a week ago, in that parking garage.”

Elizabeth sighed and sipped her cider. She looked to her left, and saw through the open terrace doors into the kitchen where Jason and Sonny were talking as Sonny cooked.

“It feels so far away,” she murmured. “You told me to ask him what he wanted.”

“Oh, wait, don’t tell me I was right—” Robin held up a hand. “Let me get a witness or Patrick won’t believe me—”

“Jason and I used to be honest with each other, but I guess…that was only until I looked at him one day and realized he just wasn’t just…my friend.”

“He was the sexy man standing over there.” Robin sipped her wine. “I remember.” She frowned. “Wait, is that weird? Because I mean, I dated him—”

“It’s fine. It feels like another lifetime ago.” Elizabeth lifted a shoulder. “I don’t know, Robin, we just started talking again in the spring and it’s like…all those feelings—all that love I had for him, and maybe whatever he felt for me, it was just…dormant.”

“Like kindling waiting for a match,” Robin nodded. “It happens sometimes, you know. It doesn’t mean you were destined to have an affair—”

“But we did. Technically.” Elizabeth sighed. “Or I did. Part of the reason I never really lost it when Lucky accused me of being with Patrick was the fact I knew something wasn’t right. I was—” She lifted her free hand in the air. “Overly involved in Jason’s life by that point. Turning to him when things with Lucky were falling apart, trying so hard to get him to go back to Sam—”

“I guess.” Robin pursed her lips. “But nothing happened until you found out about Maxie—”

“And I didn’t go find Emily or Nikolas, or even you. I didn’t stay with my grandmother.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I took the first excuse I could find, Robin, to crawl into bed with Jason. I have to be honest with myself about that.”

“Fair enough.” Her friend tilted her head to the side. “Are you sorry?”

“No—but I felt so guilty about not being sorry I ran right back to Lucky to prove I wasn’t that kind of woman…” Elizabeth shrugged. “But I was. I married two other men because I didn’t believe I could ever have the one I wanted. I kept settling—”

“And the universe kept dumping Jason in your path, so maybe it’s trying to tell you something.” Robin leaned forward. “What’s going to happen next in Port Charles is going to be tough. I’m not even talking about Ric Lansing—”

“I know. There’s Carly, my grandmother, Lucky, Emily—Sam—” Elizabeth chewed on her lip. “That’s why I’m just…I’m going to trust Jason. We can make this work. He’s going to be so wonderful with Cameron, I know that. And this baby…” She pressed a hand to her abdomen. “I’m going to hope like hell we find out on Friday this is Jason’s child. Because I want to give him a child, I want a child with him, Robin. But even if it’s not, I can’t let that shake what we’re trying to do.”

“Exactly.” Robin gestured with her glass of wine. “It’s going to be you two against the world—with a little help from me and Sonny.” She frowned. “And Patrick, because I’ll make him. But if you guys can keep your foundation strong, you’ll get through whatever Ric has ready for you.”

“Yeah, I’m not crazy. Just getting Diane to get Ric tossed off my case and marrying Jason is not going to fix anything.” Elizabeth rolled her shoulders. “It’s only going to piss him off. You’re not that familiar with a vengeful Ric Lansing.” She dipped her eyes down. “But I am.”

“Then we’ll just have to beat him.” Robin held her glass out. “To kicking ass and taking what we want in life.”

Elizabeth clinked her glass with a grin. “And I’ll tell you what, Robin, for the first time in years? I’m going to do exactly that.”

Morgan Villa: Terrace

“So back to Port Charles in the morning.”

They were stretched out in one of the wicker chaise lounges, Elizabeth’s head tucked under his chin, his arms wrapped around her waist.

Elizabeth sighed. “I know. My grandmother is expecting me in the afternoon to pick up Cameron.” She tilted her head back to catch a glimpse of his face from the light of the torches. “Should…should I tell her? Or should I wait until the notice is in the papers—”

“It’s done now,” Jason replied, idly lacing the fingers of their hand together as they had that night in his penthouse. “You might as well let her know before the papers. If you don’t—”

“It would probably be even worse later,” Elizabeth murmured. “I know Ric isn’t going away. I just hope he’s distracted enough by Alexis and her health that he won’t take extreme measures—”

“He’s capable of anything,” Jason replied. “But we’ll be ready.”

“I’m glad we had this today.” Her eyes grew heavy as the steady beat of the waves crashing against the shore echoed in her mind. “It was perfect.”

“Yeah.” Jason pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “It was. Do-do you want to go inside?”

“Mmm…” She curled her hand into a fist and rested it against his heart. “Just…a little longer. I love it out here.”

“We’ll come back,” he promised her. “For longer. And we’ll bring Cameron. And-and maybe the baby, too. Does Cameron like the water?”

But she didn’t answer him. Her eyes were closed, her lips curved into a gentle smile. She was so beautiful, this woman who had trusted him with so much.

She could have done the bare minimum—Diane had assured him that the charges were all but baseless and Ric’s involvement a pure conflict of interest. Elizabeth had never been in any true danger of going to jail.

But she’d refused to stand by while Ric had gone after him—the loyalty she had always shown him even in the darkest of moments humbled him even as it frustrated and worried him.

He didn’t know what the future held for them, but Jason thought if they could just hold on to this day, maybe it would be okay.

March 20, 2015

This entry is part 7 of 18 in the series All We Are

But I’m only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I’m only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
‘Cause I’m only human

Human, Christina Perri


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hardy Home: Sidewalk

The day was fading into early evening when Jason pulled the SUV to a stop in front of Audrey Hardy’s home. He switched off the ignition, but Elizabeth made no move to exit the car.

“I can stay in the car,” he offered. “It might be easier for you to tell her—”

“Having you wait out here for us is like…” Elizabeth sighed, letting her head fall back against the head rest. “It’s being ashamed of what I did. It’s not going to make it any less true if you sit out here.” She turned her head to meet his eyes. “And I want her to believe me when I tell her I’m not sorry.”

“Okay.” There was no arguing with any of those reasons, though he didn’t care for the pressure she was putting on herself. But he knew what it was like to have family who claimed to care about you only as long as you performed to their expectations.

“My grandmother encouraged me to stay with Ric, so it’s not like her credibility with me is high anyway.” Elizabeth pushed open her door and stepped outside the car.

Jason removed the keys from the ignition, slipped them into his pocket and joined her on the sidewalk. “Did you tell her everything he did?”

“Well, no,” Elizabeth admitted as they started towards the house. “Holding Carly hostage in our local panic room didn’t seem quite believable, particularly when Scott Baldwin hired him to work at the DA’s office rather than you know, prosecuting the bastard.” She huffed. “I told her he’d had an affair—which was technically true.”

Should have shoved the scum off a cliff in Venezuela that summer—their lives would be a lot easier right now.

“And your grandmother still encouraged you to go back to him?” Jason asked, his respect for Audrey Hardy all but disappearing.

“Well, I think her exact words were something along the lines of—’at least he’s not Jason’ or my personal favorite, ‘he didn’t get you shot at or kidnapped’.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Yeah, because those were the worst things that ever happened to me.” She touched the door knob. “So, yeah, she really doesn’t care for you. I’m sorry. This is going to suck.”

“It’s not going to be nearly as bad as other people,” Jason told her, knowing that Sam was going to take it particularly hard since he hadn’t warned her and had ignored all of her calls for more than a week.

“You say that now,” she murmured as she pushed open the front door.

Audrey sat on the sofa, a book in her hands. Cameron was at her feet, using a pile of Legos to construct a large tower. At the door opening, Cameron’s head snapped up. He grinned and lunged to his feet, rushing towards Elizabeth.

“Mommy!” The curly-haired boy threw himself into her arms, and with a laugh, Elizabeth lifted him into a tight embrace.

“Cam, I missed you so much.” She pressed kisses to his cheeks until he giggled.

Audrey rose to her feet, not looking at her granddaughter any longer. Her eyes were on Jason. “Mr. Morgan.”

“Gram…” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Cam, do you remember my friend Jason?”

Cameron nodded, but buried his head in his mother’s chest with a small smile in Jason’s direction. “Hi,” he said quietly.

“Can you show Jason your room and let him get your things together so we can go home?” she asked him. “Mommy has to talk to Grandma for a minute.”

“Okay.”

Elizabeth carefully transferred Cameron into Jason’s arms. He’d held him before—when he was just a baby and then a few times in the ensuing years, but this time was different.

This was his stepson, a little boy who would be living with them, and part of the family they were putting together. Who had been shuffled back and forth between his apartment and his great-grandmother’s as his adopted father struggled with injuries and drug addiction.

“His room is upstairs,” Elizabeth murmured to him. “He doesn’t have much to put together, but knowing him, it’s strewn all over the room.”

“You’ll be okay?” he asked, glancing at Audrey who looked distinctly unhappy at being ignored.

“Okay is a relative term.”

He wanted to stay, to stand beside her as she told her grandmother about their marriage but maybe it would just make things worse if he insisted, so he started to climb the stairs.

Once Jason and Cameron were on the second floor, Elizabeth stepped further into the living room and knelt on the floor to begin putting Cameron’s Legos into a container.

“Elizabeth, I want an explanation.”

“I’ve been trying to think of the best way to tell you this since I left on Sunday,” Elizabeth said, tossing the last yellow plastic piece in the container and fitting on the top. She drew herself to her feet. “But I suppose the best way is to just say it, like ripping off a bandage. I divorced Lucky in the Dominican Republic in Tuesday morning. Diane filed the paperwork here to register the divorce that afternoon. And that evening, I married Jason.”

Audrey sucked in a sharp breath. “Elizabeth.”

“And I know you’re going to be angry, but I was afraid if I told you my plans, you would have—” Elizabeth sighed. “You would have tried to stop me.”

“I would have tried,” Audrey replied, her pale cheeks flushing. “What in the world could you have been thinking?”

“I know you don’t care for Jason, but you don’t know him,” she responded. “Not the way I do. You don’t know how good he is to me, how good he’s going to be for Cameron and this baby. He doesn’t treat me like garbage or—”

“No, he’ll just get you killed or put in jail,” the other woman snapped. “For heaven’s sake, Elizabeth, you were kidnapped because of him—shot at—”

“And I was raped because I walked through the park one night alone,” Elizabeth murmured. “And my ex-husband’s mistress poisoned me, put a venomous snake in my studio, and caused my miscarriage. The worst things in my life, Gram, cannot be laid at Jason’s feet. And I wasn’t shot at because of Jason.” She pursed her lips. “That was because of Zander.”

“Another one of your stellar choices,” Audrey retorted. “My God, Elizabeth, have you no self-respect?”

Tears burned in her eyes, but she refused to allow them to fall—she would not give her grandmother the satisfaction. “Maybe I didn’t for a long time. After all, why else would I stay with Ric Lansing when he’d brought me nothing but pain and misery? Or why would I put up with a drug addict who put my child in danger and slept with a teenager? I must have thought very little of myself to allow those situations to continue, but it’s over now. I’m done with guilt and obligations, doing the right thing because someone else told me what it is.” She tossed her hair over her shoulder. “I married Jason because I wanted to, and that’s good enough for me.”

“Well, I hope that’s a comfort to you in his bullet proof penthouse,” Audrey murmured. “With your guards and the danger—I hope you’re happy with the world you’re bringing your children into. I cannot imagine Lucky will allow you to keep them full-time after this.”

“If you think any judge is going to give him custody of my children,” Elizabeth said evenly, her blood boiling just at the thought, “you’re insane. He’s an unemployed and unstable drug addict who screwed an eighteen year old in our bed.”

“I see you have answers for everything.” Audrey pressed her lips together. “I can’t imagine what else we have to say to each other—”

“Neither can I, Gram.” She picked up the container and watched as Jason came down the steps, Cameron’s duffel bag swung over one shoulder and her son in his arms. “Thank you for watching Cameron for me.”

When Jason stepped on the landing, Elizabeth tilted her head to the door. “Let’s go.”

SUV

“Cameron,” Elizabeth began as Jason pulled away from the curb, “we’re not going back to the apartment.”

“Why?” Cameron asked from his booster seat in the back. “My toys are there.”

“Um.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “You know your friend Morgan from school? How his mommy is going to marry Jax?”

“Yep,” Cameron nodded. “Morgan is my best friend in the whole wide world. Jax is gonna be his second daddy and he’ll live with them.”

“Well…” Elizabeth glanced at Jason who pulled to a stop at a traffic light. “I married Jason, so we’re going to live with him.”

Cameron frowned. “So he’s my second daddy like Mister Jax?”

“He’s your stepfather now.” Elizabeth twisted in her seat to get a better view of him. “Is—is that okay?”

“Do I got my own room?” the little boy asked. “Because I gots my own room, it’s okay. I don’t wanna share. Does he got kids too?”

“Not yet,” Jason told Cameron. “You’ll be the only kid until your mom has the baby.”

“Okay.”  Cameron nodded. “Okay. It’s cool. But what about my toys?”

“I packed our things after I dropped you at Gram’s,” Elizabeth told him. “Some friends of Jason moved them for us, so we’ll unpack everything tomorrow after school, okay?”

“Okay. As long as I got my toys.”

“To be three years old,” Elizabeth murmured, leaning her head back against the head rest, “and that be the most important thing in the world.”

“It’s going to be okay.” Jason took a hand off the wheel and laced their fingers together. “I know it was rough with your grandmother, but we’ll get through it tomorrow.”

“Yeah, letting the Port Charles Herald announce it to the world may not have been the best idea,” she murmured.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Emily slapped a newspaper down in front of Nikolas, the dark headline crawling across the front: Cop’s Ex Married to the Mob!

“What the hell is this?” she demanded.

Nikolas took the paper from her and frowned as he read the brief account. “Looks like Elizabeth divorced Lucky in the Dominican Republic and married your brother on the island that evening.” He set the paper aside. “I wondered.”

Emily dropped into the seat across from him. “You wondered?” she repeated. “What the hell does that mean?”

“When Elizabeth went out of town immediately after getting those papers signed, and Jason disappeared as well?” Nikolas shrugged, sipping his coffee. “I assumed they were Dominican divorce papers.” He tapped the headline. “The marriage…well that I didn’t see coming.”

“How could she do this to Lucky?”  Emily asked. “This is going to set his recovery back so badly—” She shook her head. “With the second baby coming—she should have waited. He’s going to get over this and be himself again—’

“And there’s no law that said Elizabeth had to wait around for him to get there. Christ, Emily, he had an affair with another woman.” Nikolas eyed her. “If you remember correctly, that was reason enough for you to leave me.”

“That is just—” Emily pressed her lips together. “That’s not the point, Nikolas.”

“I’m not sure what caused her to turn around and marry Jason so quickly,” Nikolas said. “I worry that maybe she’s in trouble, but I do know that your brother saved her life last spring. After the hell my family put her through—I don’t know that I have the right to judge.”

He set his coffee down and handed the paper back to her. “And I don’t know why you are.”

General Hospital: Nurse’s Station

“Well.” Kelly slapped the paper down, her dark eyes lit with excitement. “Never let it be said that our Lizzie doesn’t know how to make a splash.”

“I feel like this violates some sort of Girl Code,” Lainey murmured, taking the paper from her and skimming the text again. “I feel like a decision of this magnitude should been covered in some sort of way over drinks. Or tea, since she’s pregnant.”

“Hey, more power to her. She traded in a five for an eleven on the smoking hot scale.” Kelly leaned across the counter, her lips curved in a wicked smile. “I would not mind a piece of Jason Morgan—”

“Everywhere I go,” Patrick complained as he stepped up to next to Kelly with a chart in his hand. “People are poring over that damn paper.”

“Well, we’re concerned,” Lainey said. “We consider Elizabeth a friend. She divorced one man in the morning and married another by the end of the night. I just hope she knew what she was doing—”

“Oh, she did,” Patrick muttered, thumbing through the chart and scrawling his signature. “Wouldn’t listen to reason.”

Kelly and Lainey both stared at him for a long moment until he felt the heat of their gaze and raised his head. “What?”

“You knew?” Kelly shrieked.

“Oh, see, now you have to die,” Lainey said, jabbing him with the pen.

Carly’s Home: Dining Room

Carly stepped into the dining room and held the paper up. “So, this happened.”

Jax glanced up from his breakfast and coughed harshly. Next to him, fourteen-year-old Michael pounded him on the back until his future stepfather had regained his breath. “What the hell?”

“You know, I should have seen this coming,” Carly mused as she took a seat at the head of the table, skimming the paper. “Jason thought someone was threatening her—Elizabeth was calling him for help. She was being charged with a bunch of nonsense—this all makes sense.”

“In what bloody universe does it make sense that Elizabeth is now married to Jason?” Jax demanded, snatching the paper from her hands. “A Dominican divorce? Hell.”

“Ric must have tried blackmail,” Michael shrugged. “Ha. This is going to piss him off.”

“Watch your language in front of your brother,” Carly told her son as she glanced at three-year-old Morgan, who just blinked at his mother. “An angry Ric is a dangerous Ric.”

“True.” Jax shook his head. “I thought spousal privilege only protected you after the marriage?”

“That’s technically true,” Carly said reaching for a muffin and tearing off a piece. “But this makes it way more complicated to compel her testimony. She can only testify about what she sees with her own eyes. Communications with Jason are off limits. Ric could ask her about something before the marriage, but she could easily derail the whole thing by telling him something Jason told her after the marriage.” Carly grinned. “And then her testimony is thrown out, there’s a mistrial. Very expensive. Hardly worth the trouble.”

“Mom has some experience in this matter,” Michael told Jax wryly. “No one knows the spousal privilege laws better.”

“Eat your breakfast, smart mouth.” Carly grinned. “God, I would love to be a fly on the wall at the Davis-Lansing home when Ric and Sam read the news.”

Davis-Lansing Home: Breakfast Nook

Sam’s wail broke the silence of their normal quiet breakfast. Alexis stopped trying to force Molly to eat her oatmeal and turned towards the front door. “Sam?”

“What now?” Ric muttered, reaching for his coffee.

“Look at this!” Sam shoved the paper at her mother. “Just look! What the hell was he thinking? He loves me.”

The first inkling of danger seeped into Ric’s brain and he tuned back into the conversation. “Can I see the paper?”

“This is not an attractive headline,” Alexis murmured as she passed the paper to her husband. “I thought she’d left this life behind.”

Cop’s Ex Married to the Mob!

Son of a bitch.

Morgan Penthouse: Kitchen

Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “They make me sound…I don’t know…like some sort of femme fatale.”

Jason scowled and leaned against the kitchen counter. “Sonny said he was just putting an announcement in the paper. I didn’t think they’d go this far—”

“How could they resist?” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Listen to this: ‘The new Mrs. Morgan was not only previously married to a detective with the PCPD, but to our very own interim prosecuting attorney.” She huffed. “He wasn’t the DA when I married him, and he sucks at it now.”

“I’m going to call Diane,” Jason muttered. “Did you see what they said about Cameron?”

“Oh, yeah, where they insinuate he’s the illegitimate son of a wannabe gangster.” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “I want to be angry about this, Jason, but it’s not like it’s not true. I’m not sure what Diane can do.” She set the newspaper down. “Cameron is Zander’s son—it’s a fact I’ve never tried to hide. He was killed in a shootout with the PCPD, so you know, it’s not like I can pretend he was an upstanding citizen.”

She peered down at the newsprint. “Though I noticed they left out Lucky’s stint in drug rehab and his affair with the commissioner’s daughter. Are they more scared of Mac than they are of you?”

He continued to scowl. “Why aren’t you more angry?”

“Because I don’t see the point.” She wrapped her arms around his waist and tilted her head up to look at him. “They didn’t print anything that wasn’t true. And I’m glad they left out some of it.” She pressed a quick kiss to his lips and returned to making Cameron’s breakfast.

“Which parts?” Jason reached for the newspaper again. This wouldn’t bother him normally, but he didn’t like the way the Port Charles Herald had talked about her or Cameron.

Maybe they should buy the newspaper.

“I’m glad they left Maxie out of it.” Elizabeth stepped towards the doorway of the kitchen to peer into the living room where Cameron had been glued to his cartoons since waking up twenty minutes earlier. “She’s dealing with enough.”

Jason frowned and picked up his coffee mug. “Elizabeth, she slept with your husband—”

“I remember Maxie a year ago, when she first started to date Jesse.” Elizabeth scooped the last of the scrambled eggs onto a plate. “She was different—still headstrong, but a good heart. And then he was murdered. Right in front of her.” She turned to him. “I remember what that was like—to think you’ve got your future in front of you and then to see it literally shatter into a million pieces before your eyes.”

“Elizabeth—”

“And I know that it can make you so angry that you decide you’d rather feel anything other than the despair, the devastation.” Elizabeth pressed a hand to her chest. “So you start to do self-destructive things. I got lucky, Jason. The first time I decided to go wreck my life, I found you.” She arched a brow. “I should punish Maxie because she found Lucky?”

He exhaled slowly. “You’re giving me too much credit.”

She just smiled and set Cameron’s plate on the table. “Anyway. This is a phase for Maxie. It’ll pass. She and I will never be friendly again, I’m not crazy, but you know, I can see her pain. She’s clinging to Lucky because he makes that pain go away for a bit.” Elizabeth shrugged. “She’ll figure it out.”

She stepped towards him, her eyes soft. “And if she’s really fortunate,” she began, stressing the word, “she’ll find someone who doesn’t make her forget about the pain of losing someone you love, but helps her learn to live with it. And move on.” She kissed him again. “Like you did for me.”

She went to the doorway to call to Cameron as Jason tried to process the way she saw their early friendship. He remembered the night of the blackout—when she’d told him she’d been in love with him back then.  He had assumed she’d meant that last summer—before Courtney and Ric.

But maybe she had meant those first few months.

Cameron rushed into the kitchen and climbed into his booster seat. “I can’t wait to tell Morgan about my new room,” he chirped, shaking the ketchup bottle over his eggs. “It’s so big, Mommy.”

“And yet you still managed to make a mess in less than three hours.” Elizabeth slid into a chair at the table, sipping her tea. At her side, her cell phone vibrated and shook but she only reached for it to look at the caller id.

The only phone call either of them had taken all morning had been from Sonny. At last count, Jason had two missed calls from his sister, one from Carly, and three from Sam.

Elizabeth pursed her lips. “It’s Patrick again, but I bet he just wants his race cars back now that we’re back in town.”

Jason sat opposite of Cameron and furrowed his brow. “His race cars?”

“Yeah, Mister Patrick has the best!” Cameron told him, bouncing in his seat. “He lets me play with them sometimes.” He pouted. “Do I gotta give ‘em back, Mommy?”

“I’m sorry, baby.” Elizabeth ruffled his curls. “It was nice of Patrick to lend them to you this entire week, but he loves those things more than some people love family members.”

“Man.” Cameron huffed and pushed his plate back. “How come I gotta play with otha people’s toys?” He sniffled. “Morgan’s got a whole room for his toys.”

“Cam…” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I-I know I wasn’t able to do much this last year, and I’m sorry—but things are going to be different—”

And that was all Jason was going to listen to. “Cam, you know, I missed your birthday last year.”

“Jason…” Elizabeth began. She laid a hand over his. “You don’t have to—”

“I-I know, but I didn’t get him anything and I should have. We’re friends,” he told her. “I mean, then. We were friends—”

“But—”

“Can I have race cars for my birfday now?” Cameron demanded, not interested in his mother’s protests. “I don’t gotta wait until I’m four do I?”

“If it’s okay with your mother,” Jason said, glancing at Elizabeth, “maybe we can go to Wyndham’s after school.”

“Please, Mommy?” Cameron asked. “Pretty please?”

She sighed. “All right.”

“Yay!” Cameron slid off his chair and rounded the table to launch himself at Jason. “Thank you, thank you!”

Jason hugged him and set him back on the ground. “Finish eating so you can go to school.”

After Cameron had finished eating and returned to his cartoons, Elizabeth started to clean up. “I didn’t overstep, did I?” Jason asked, setting his dirty coffee mug in the sink.

“What?” Elizabeth blinked at him. “No. No. I—I just hate that I haven’t been able to do much for him.” She sighed and tucked a plate in the drying rack. “We were barely able to celebrate his birthday at all this year. Lucky had just left the hospital and he was still in so much pain.” She bit her lip. “I was working on Sam’s case. There wasn’t much money because Lucky’s health insurance with the department only covers him when he’s working, which idiotic but it’s not like I make the rules.”

She sighed. “Bobbie made him a cake, and my grandmother bought him a few toys. There were some clothes, but it’s hard for him. He started preschool this year and he’s absolutely in love with Morgan. But Morgan has a big house and lots of toys—”

“I get it.” Jason touched her back lightly. “I just—there’s no reason for him to go without something he really loves. I have money—”

“But it’s not why—” She stopped. “Never mind. I know you don’t think I married you for money, so there’s no point in arguing that. It’s more that…” She pressed her lips together. “I’m not entirely used to having someone to…share in the decisions.”

“But Lucky’s been in his life—”

“Yeah, Lucky and I have been together since Cameron was a baby, but—” she paused for a long moment. “He left most of it to me. I took Cam to the doctor, got him ready for daycare, spent my free time with him. I’m not saying Lucky was a bad father….just…” She shrugged. “Not very involved. He never got around to adopting him—never enough money for that either.”

Jason didn’t know what to say to that, so he didn’t respond at all. The more he learned about Elizabeth’s marriage to Lucky even before the drugs continued to leave him confused as to why she’d married the bastard at all.

“Um, so when I turned my phone on this morning,” Elizabeth said, wiping her hands dry on a towel. “I had a voicemail from Mercy.”

He tensed. “They—they didn’t give you the results over the phone did they?”

“No, but it was a message to let me know the results are ready today.” Her cheeks flushed. “Um, I thought I’d pick them up after I drop Cameron at school. And-and if you’ll still be here, I could bring them back…” Flustered, she twisted her hands together. “I mean, unless you have to go meet Sonny or something—”

“I told Sonny we were getting the results back today,” Jason said. “And that we’re getting everything settled. I’ve got the day clear.”

“Okay. Good.” She smiled, but it was nervous now. “I mean, I just—I think we should look at the results together.”

“Hey, whatever they say, Elizabeth…” He drew her close and pressed his lips to her forehead. “We can deal with it.”

March 27, 2015

This entry is part 8 of 18 in the series All We Are

And you say, just be here now
Forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin
Just let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I’m waiting for my real life to begin 

Waiting For My Real Life to Begin, Colin Hay


Friday, October 27, 2006

Port Charles Academy: Parking Lot

As Elizabeth approached the dark sedan where Cody stood waiting for her, she slowed her steps.

Emily stood at his side, her arms folded, her eyes narrowed.

Well, perhaps it would be easier to deal with Emily first. There was really nothing the woman could throw at her that she hadn’t said before.

“I knew I could find you here.” Emily let her arms fall to her side and gestured at Cody. “Doesn’t a bodyguard work better when he’s by your side?”

“Ah, not that it’s any of your business,” Elizabeth began, “but we ran into Michael, Morgan, and Rocco as we arrived. Cody decided to wait at the car while Rocco walked with us. You know how close Cam and Morgan are.” She eyed Cody who just offered a small shrug of his shoulder.

She’d been relieved to learn Cody Paul was still working security for Sonny and Jason when he’d been assigned to her the night before. Cody had guarded her briefly during the time she’d lived with Jason several years earlier, and for a few days while she’d been in the hospital with her pulmonary embolism.

He was a familiar and friendly face at a time she desperately needed one.

“I suppose you saw the newspaper,” Elizabeth said, leaning against the passenger door. “I wanted to tell you but—”

“Did you tell Lucky it was a Dominican divorce?” Emily demanded. “Nikolas says you didn’t. How could you do that to him?”

Elizabeth pressed her lips together briefly and counted to ten briefly before answering. “It was on the paperwork. Lucky declined to read it. That’s really not my problem.”

“And I’m sure your marital plans went unmentioned as well,” Emily snapped. “You sure as hell didn’t tell me you were marrying my brother before the ink on your divorce papers was even dry. How was that even legal?”

“Not that I owe you an explanations, but I had an expedited hearing on Monday in the Dominican Republic. I had the right paperwork, so it only takes twenty-four hours. Once the divorce was issued, Diane registered it here in New York so that left me free and clear.” Elizabeth arched a brow. “Lucky for me, I live in one of the few states in the US that recognizes that kind of divorce.”

“What the hell is this marriage even about? I know you’ve been harassing Jason the last few months—”

Elizabeth held up a hand. “Whoa. Excuse me? First of all, one of the reasons Jason and I started to get close again was because I went to see him on your behalf with Sonny. You’re going to call that harassing? Or when I risked my career to get Sam treatment? Or when he saved my life when Manny kidnapped me? What the hell, Em?”

“Lucky swore you were having an affair this summer.” Emily stepped towards her, her face taut with anger. “It wasn’t with Patrick, was it? You never denied anything too much. He was right. You were with my brother.”

“You believe what you want to believe,” Elizabeth snapped. “This conversation is over.”

She jerked open the passenger door. “Let’s go, Cody. I have somewhere to go.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Cody shot Emily a smirk, “Mrs. Morgan.”

Emily scowled as Cody rounded the car to get into the driver’s side.

“That wasn’t entirely helpful, Cody,” Elizabeth murmured as he put the car into gear and stepped on the gas pedal.

“Maybe, but I enjoyed it.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

His first visitor came about ten minutes after he would have expected her, but he thought Carly was mellowing a bit. Or that Jax had attempted to hold her back.

Jason calmly let Carly in. “Hello.”

“You know, I think I’m getting soft in my old age.” Carly slapped the newspaper at his chest. “You should sue these bastards for libel. I wouldn’t talk about my dog the way they talked about Elizabeth.”

“Carly—”

“Really, I should have seen this coming.” Carly planted her hands on her hips and whirled to face him. “Ric’s trying to get leverage on her to flip her against you. Easy, peasy. But, hee underestimated her.”

Jason frowned. Was…was that a compliment for Elizabeth?

“Elizabeth is way too obsessed with you to be the reason you go to jail.”

No, that sounded more like her.

“Carly—”

“I can’t think of how I would have screwed this up if you’d told me,” Carly continued, “but we both know I could have managed it. But hey, it’s done now. What can I do to help?”

Help. Carly. He hated those words together.

“Nothing. Just—don’t annoy Elizabeth.”

Carly pursed her lips. “I like her kid, you know. Most parents won’t let their kids within five feet of mine. But Elizabeth knows the score. She had no problem letting Cam play with Morgan, be his buddy at school. Morgan talks about this kid every day.”

“Yeah, I know they’re friends.” Jason leaned against the arm of the sofa. Better to let Carly just wind herself down. “Does that mean you’ll give her a break?”

“Isn’t she pregnant?” Carly wondered. “Cam said something about getting a new brother.” She frowned. “How is she going to work being married to you and carrying Lucky’s kid?”

Jason hesitated just a moment too long—he hadn’t been prepared for this train of conversation. Carly’s eyes bulged and she whacked him in the chest.

“It’s your kid! Holy hell!” She whacked him again. “I did not see that coming!”

“Carly—”

“Well, this will make everything easier.” She nodded. “Yeah. Sam will finally be out of all our lives—”

“What the hell is this?”

The penthouse door flew open again and the woman in question stormed in, the Port Charles Herald crumpled in her hand, tears streaming down her face.

“Oh, yay, I get to be here for this!” Carly rubbed her hands together. “Fantastic.”

“Carly, go away—” Jason began, but Sam shoved the paper in his face.

“Why did you marry her?” Sam screeched. “How could you do this to me?”

“Well, you screwed your stepfather,” Carly began, “so really, I don’t know what your problem is—”

“Carly—”

“You said you loved me—”

“Men say a lot of things for sex, you should be used to them—”

Carly—”

“Why wouldn’t you tell me?”

“Why the hell is it your business?” Carly snarled.

Jason rubbed his eyes. He wanted his quiet morning back. He wanted to be back in the kitchen making breakfast with Elizabeth and promising Cameron a set of race cars.

Was that so much to ask?

“Ah—” Elizabeth blinked as she stepped over the threshold, her eyes sweeping over a crying Sam and a smug Carly. “I guess I’m interrupting something.”

“You whore!” Sam threw the paper down and stepped towards her. Jason reached for his ex-girlfriend’s arm to hold her back, but then Carly grabbed a chunk of Sam’s hair and wrenched back.

“Son of a—”

“Carly?” Elizabeth said blankly.

“Hey, the only person who gets to scream at Elizabeth right now is someone who doesn’t live in a fucking glass house,” Carly hissed. She released Sam’s hair and pushed her away, putting herself between Sam and Elizabeth. “Is that you, tramp? No.”

“It’s certainly not you,” Sam spat. “You two have chasing Jason for years—you never liked that he was happy with me—”

“Yeah, because he certainly ran right to the altar.” Carly arched a brow. “Hey, Muffin, how long were you and Jason engaged?”

“I’m not answering that.” Elizabeth frowned. “Muffin? What the—”

“Carly, you should—” Jason stopped. “You should both go.”

Sam wheeled around on him. “How long were you engaged to her?” she demanded. “We were engaged almost a year—”

“I—” Jason just stared at her, because of course she was right. They’d been engaged for months. But then again, there’d been his illness and then Manny Ruiz. When would they have found time?

“Sam,” Elizabeth said, but stopped, because clearly she didn’t know what she would have said.

“Now that we have that settled.” Carly eyed Elizabeth. “Jury’s still out on how I feel about you, but you never slept with Sonny, so I suppose you’ve got that going for you.”

“Um.”

And Jason watched his wife fiddle with the strap of her tote bag, remembering that she was supposed to pick up the paternity test results.

If she was back, then—

“You should both go. Now.” Jason reached for Sam’s arm to propel her out the door. “Cody, make sure Sam gets out of the building—”

“How can you treat me like this?” Sam blinked. “Wait, how does Carly know about Ric?”

“Please.” Carly snorted. “Sonny told me.”

Jason closed his eyes and cursed his friend.

“Carly, don’t help,” Elizabeth said with a wince.

“Ah, Jase, we got a situation.” Cody finally spoke up from his position by the door. “The DA’s on his way up with an officer. So…maybe…” His eyes took in the scene. “We can stash Mrs. C and Sam across the hall—”

“What?” Sam screeched. “Why is Ric here—”

“Call Diane,” Carly ordered Jason. She reached for Sam’s hand. “We’ll be in the old maid’s room. And don’t worry about her.” She grinned. “I’ll keep her quiet.”

Carly, with a strength Jason hadn’t expected of her, hauled Sam away as the other woman continued to screech. The more she talked, the less Jason could remember why he’d been in love with her in the first place.

He sent Diane a quick text message to get her ass over here in case there was a search warrant or Ric tried to take Elizabeth into custody. He heard some more scuffles and another screech that was abruptly cut off from the direction of the maid’s room.

“This is insane…” Elizabeth pressed a hand to her forehead. “We can’t have him in here right now. What if Sam—”

“Carly will keep her quiet.” Jason closed the front door and took Elizabeth’s purse from her. “Listen, just—don’t say anything. Diane might not show up in time—”

“’I can’t keep quiet—what if he’s here to arrest me?” she hissed. “Jason—”

“He’s not going to arrest you today. He’s bringing the cop to scare you. He knows better.”

Cody knocked lightly. “The DA, Mr. Morgan.”

“Since when does he call you that?” Elizabeth demanded, perching on the edge of the sofa. “Jason—”

He pressed his mouth to hers for a brief moment. “I’ll take care of this, Elizabeth. Just don’t say anything—”

“Okay,” she murmured. “You’ve got more experience in this.”

“Let him in, Cody.”

When Ric walked in, Elizabeth remained perched on the sofa, while Jason angled himself in front of her, his arms crossed. “What do you want?”

“What do you think?” the piece of scum retorted. Ric glared at Elizabeth. “This is your bright idea for handling this, Elizabeth? You lose your job, so you run to the richest man you know—”

Elizabeth lunged to her feet, opened her mouth, but Jason held up a hand. It was essential she gave him no ammunition to work with.. “If you have anything you want to discuss with my wife, then you should talk to our attorney.”

“This isn’t even legal,” Ric snarled. “I’ll challenge whatever junk divorce you got, Elizabeth—”

“You can speak to Diane about that—she filed the papers.” Jason moved to the desk and handed him a card. “In case you forgot her number. Now get out.”

“Do you think this is over?” Ric hissed. He stepped towards Jason, who just stared at him. “Do you think you’ve protected her? You’ve just made her a target, Morgan. And now, when I take you down, she’s going with you.”

He and the unfamiliar cop left then. Jason moved to the doorway and waited until the elevator doors had closed. He looked to Cody. “Let me know when he’s out of the building, and from now on, no law enforcement gets clearance for this floor without a warrant.”

“Understood.” Cody nodded.

Jason exhaled slowly and then turned back to Elizabeth, whose face was a bit paler than he’d like. He had to get Carly and Sam out of here before they could deal with what might happen next. “Carly!” he called.

There was another yelp, then Sam rushed out of the back, rubbing her mouth. “That little bitch taped my mouth shut and my hands to the bed—”

Carly was tucking the duct tape in her purse. “Lucky finding that back there,” she said. “I’m keeping it by the way, you never know when it’ll come in handy.”

“Oh my God…” Elizabeth pressed her hands to her face, her words coming out more as a half moan. “This is such a goddamn farce.”

“Is Ric coming after you?” Sam demanded. “Is that what’s going on here?” She looked to Elizabeth who just kept her eyes closed. “You should have said something—I wouldn’t give you away to him—”

“Whatever. Time to go.” Carly reached for Sam’s arm.

“I mean, I thought you were lying all this time,” Sam said, wrenching away from Carly and moving towards him. “That—you didn’t think that night was a mistake and maybe the affair had continued—”

Jason flinched and looked to Elizabeth whose face was now expressionless. He had never told Sam that night had been a mistake.

“You need to go now,” Jason told her. He opened the door. “Cody, make sure they get out the building.”

“We will be discussing this later—” Carly tapped Jason as she pushed Sam past him. “You owe me.”

Jason closed the door behind both of them and pressed his forehead to the door. That was a half hour of his life he was never going to get back.

Elizabeth cleared her throat. “So. Well, that takes care of most of the people that are going to flip out. At least on your side. I still have—” She stopped. “Anyway.”

Jason turned to her. “Elizabeth—I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t have let Sam leave with the wrong impression—”

She shook her head. “I don’t—I don’t want to talk about Sam. I’m sure Carly enjoyed herself.” She crossed to the desk where Jason had set her purse and drew out a white envelope. “I—I went to Mercy.”

He looked at it—this piece of paper that could change everything. “Ah. Well.”

“I couldn’t—I couldn’t open it. I wanted to, but I was afraid—” Elizabeth pressed her lips together and held it out to him. “I want—can you do it? I just…my hands are shaking too much to deal with it.” But just as he reached for it, she drew back. “Wait.”

“Elizabeth—” He thought about just yanking it from her—now that the knowledge about his future as a father was in front of them, he just wanted to know.

But he stopped himself.

“No, I just…” She gestured toward the recently closed door of the penthouse. “I just…it’s…I wanted to keep this to ourselves and this penthouse today has been like Grand Central station. Maybe we could…go upstairs where we can’t be…interrupted?”

Jason nodded, because she had a point. He couldn’t guarantee Carly wouldn’t come back, that Ric couldn’t slither past security again—

“Let’s go upstairs then.”

Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

Elizabeth followed Jason into the room that she was still struggling to see as theirs—her two suitcases were near the closet where she had not yet begun unpacking in earnest, and there were several boxes of personal belongings that rested next to the bureau.

But it was still the sparse room it had been after Elizabeth had packed Sam’s belongings in June when Jason had broken up with her, and she was conscious of the fact that the night they had spent together had not been in this room. He had carried her into Brenda’s old room, a pink confection down the hall next to the room Cameron currently occupied.

At the time, she had not really considered his reasons for choosing that room but now that she was expected to share the master with him, Elizabeth wondered if even in that moment, he’d been thinking of Sam. Of not wanting another woman in their room.

It shouldn’t matter. Jason had walked away from Sam, and they were married. Not for the reasons Elizabeth might have dreamed of once, but it was a marriage. They shared a bed, they cared for one another.

And yet…wondering if in the middle of one of the most passionate and electric nights of her adult life when Elizabeth could barely remember she was married, if Jason had been thinking of Sam…

It dug at her just a bit.

She turned to face Jason as he closed the door, the sun streaming in through the sheer curtains. She again held out the envelope. “Moment of truth.”

Jason took the envelope and stared at it for a moment. What did he want? Did he want this baby to be his, to be theirs? It would make so much about this situation easier in the short-term, but a child was forever. Did he really want that connection?

And God, what would she do if it were Lucky’s child?

Jason slid the single sheet of paper out and slowly unfolded it, his face stoic as ever.

Then his shoulders slumped.

Her heart was slamming against her chest. “What does it say?”

“The—” Jason stopped, and his fingers tightened just slightly, the results crinkling in his grasp. “I’m…the baby is mine.”

Oh, God. All the air rushed out of her in one swoosh and she swayed slightly. “What?” She reached for the paper and he released it.

She skimmed down to the conclusion which did indeed read that Jason Morgan, with a 99.999999% match was proved to be the father of the fetus.

“Oh, God. This is—” Elizabeth pressed her lips together, afraid to reveal just how relieved she was.

“It’s…better this way, isn’t it?”

Jason’s uncertain tone had her raising her head from the results to meet his eyes. Though his expression had not changed, he looked…uncomfortable.

“This,” Elizabeth began as she folded the letter and slid it into her purse, intending to burn it as soon as possible, “is the only outcome I could think about. Jason—” She stepped closer. “I never wanted it to be Lucky.”

His lips parted just a bit. “But—”

“I would have dealt with it,” she told him. “But from the moment I learned I was pregnant, I wanted it to be yours.” She licked her lips. “I was afraid to admit that, to really hope for it—but, God, Jason, I wanted to give you a child—”

His hands cupped her face, his thumb sliding across the jawline. “I wanted it, too. More than I should have.”

She wasn’t sure who moved first—maybe they did so together, as if words were no longer enough. The terror and uncertainty had dissolved into a dizzying relief—even excitement.

“We’re going to have a baby,” she murmured against his lips, feeling him grin in response, her own joy tingling down to her toes.

The back of her calves hit the bed before she even realized they had begun to drift in that direction. It seemed right, it seemed natural to take this moment and celebrate it without words, using kisses and caresses to express what simple words never could.

She was having a child with Jason Morgan, her husband, and in this moment, nothing could touch them. For this brief time, her world and everything in it was perfect.

June 8, 2015

This entry is part 9 of 18 in the series All We Are

I shot for the sky
I’m stuck on the ground
So why do I try, I know I’m gonna fall down
I thought I could fly, so why did I drown?
Never know why it’s coming down, down, down

Down, Jason Walker


Friday, October 27, 2006

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason had just set his cell phone on the coffee table when Elizabeth descended the stairs later that night. He glanced up at the sound of her soft footsteps. “Hey. Cam asleep?”

“Finally.” She offered a tired smile as she joined him on the sofa, curling up against him. They had had what amounted to an almost perfect family afternoon—after picking Cameron up at school, they had taken him to Wyndhams where Jason bought him the promised race track set (and one or two extra things Cam just couldn’t live without). After dinner, the three of them had set the new toys up in Cam’s room where he played until Elizabeth put him to bed.

“Three stories before he finally fell asleep, but he was still looking at those cars.” She closed her eyes, exhausted by the day. From the newspaper article to the confrontations with Emily, Carly, and Sam—

To learning she and Jason were having a child together.

“Sonny called,” Jason said after a long moment. “His source in the DA’s office got in touch.”

Elizabeth lifted her head from his shoulder and frowned. “What? Why? I thought—”

“Ric’s going ahead with the paperwork to convene the grand jury,” Jason told her. “But it’s possibly just because he doesn’t expect to lose on Thursday at the hearing.” He took her hand in his. “But just in case…”

She straightened, twisting to look at him more directly. “But—”

“Just in case,” Jason repeated, “Sonny and Diane want to meet on Monday. Diane wants to talk to you more about your relationship with Ric. She’s worried that he might harp on the short time you two were together—it was a more than a year between meeting him and the final divorce.”

Elizabeth sighed and tilted her head back. “So I’m going to have to tell some judge all the nasty reasons I divorced Ric the first time, make some cogent argument for why I ever went back, and then explain why I left him again.”

“Yeah.” Jason hesitated. “And Diane wants to talk about some…things Ric might ask about if he gets you in the grand jury.”  She snapped her head back to look at him, but his eyes were trained on their joined hands. “If the hearing doesn’t work, Elizabeth, I can’t—you’ll have to testify. I can’t send you out of the jurisdiction. Not now.”

“Because you’ll be seen as an accomplice.” She pressed her lips together. “Yeah. I figured. We’ll—” She took a deep breath. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, okay? Let’s just…work with the idea that Ric was an awful husband who can’t be trusted to prosecute his ex-wife.”

“Okay.” After a long moment, Jason spoke again. “Emily’s called me all day, but I didn’t—I haven’t taken her calls. Do—do I want to?”

Elizabeth frowned. “Why didn’t you talk to her?” she asked curiously. “She’s your sister—”

“I listened to one or two of her voicemails,” Jason said. “Which led me to believe that she’s pretty angry at you. What’s going on?”

“Oh…” Elizabeth leaned back against the sofa. “She kept telling me to stick with Lucky, to give the rehab a chance. Apparently, me divorcing him and marrying you is going to be really hard on Lucky.” She chewed on her bottom lip. “Ah. She thinks we were having an affair this summer.”

“I had a feeling.” Jason shifted again. “She asked me a few weeks ago if—if I gave you money for Cam to go to school.”

“What?” Elizabeth demanded. “How—” She huffed. “Honestly. She could have just asked me. Cameron Lewis—Zander’s father—he knew I was having his grandson. I didn’t—I was scared of having Zander in my life, in Cam’s life, because he was just—he was spiraling out of control…” She sighed. “But Cameron was a good man, and I knew he’d be kind to his grandson. He’d lost his wife and was alone in the world. So he left money to Cam in a trust to be used for his education.”

“Emily didn’t know about the trust?”

“I guess not.” Elizabeth shrugged. “I found out after I had him and by then, Emily was dealing with Nikolas and Mary Bishop. I guess it never came up.” She shook her head again. “But of course she’d think I’d go to you to put my son in a private pre-school. Why not? That’s the kind of person she thinks I am.”

“I’m sorry,” Jason began.

“I’m not,” Elizabeth interrupted. “Because now I know who my friends were. Lainey and Kelly called and left messages. They congratulated me for trading up. Robin stood by me every inch of the way. Patrick loaned his prize possession to my son—”

“Why are race cars—”

“Sonny arranged for my divorce and planned the most beautiful wedding,” Elizabeth continued. “And Carly duct taped your ex-girlfriend’s mouth shut. I know who I can count on, Jason. And it’s not going to be Emily. I’m just glad I know it for sure now.” She hesitated. “I’m sorry if it creates difficulties for you, I know how close you guys—well I mean, I know you guys have been working on things,” she murmured, remembering the distance over the last few months after Emily’s relationship with Sonny came out.  “But I can’t pretend anymore her priority isn’t Lucky.”

“Okay,” Jason said simply. “I’ll give her some more time to cool down. She’s the least of our problems.”

Which now included baring her soul for Diane Miller to use in court. Fantastic.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Miller & Associates: Diane’s Office

Elizabeth settled in a seat at a conference table, Jason at her side, Sonny across from them and Diane at the head of the table.

She knew that the next few hours were likely to be difficult. She would have to talk about her marriage to Ric in excruciating detail. It was true that Jason and Sonny knew the big moments, but there was so much they didn’t know.

So much she had hoped to take to her grave. But her desire for privacy was outweighed by the need to keep Ric away from her, from her family.

“So, Elizabeth, I wanted to say ahead of time that I’m aware this is going to be a bit rough,” Diane said. She drew out a tape recorder and set it in front of her. “I don’t want to miss any details, and I want to be free to pay attention to you, so I intend to tape this session. Do you have any objections?”

“Do you promise to destroy it after the hearing?” Elizabeth asked softly. “And is it possible to have the records sealed? I can…I can live with the three of you knowing what happened, but I don’t want any spoken record to ever leak out—”

“I’ll file a motion.” Diane gestured towards Sonny. “Sonny is present due to the possibility of a grand jury testimony—”

“But I can step out for this first part.” Sonny leaned forward. “I want you to be comfortable—”

“I trust you, Sonny.” Elizabeth looked to him, then to Jason. “I trust you both, I’m just—you’re not going to like a lot of what I’m going to say. I’m not proud of some of my choices, but I’ve learned to live with them.”

“I’ll do whatever you need.” Jason drew her hand into his, his thumb smoothing over her wedding rings.

“Ric delivered a brief in response to my motion to disqualify. He states that the marriage between the two of you lasted less than a year and ended amicably.” Diane slid the papers across to Elizabeth. “You were pregnant with another man’s child at the dissolution of the second marriage, and he agreed to generous alimony.”

Her stomach pitched as she skimmed Ric’s brief statement. “He makes this sound like I had an affair, that he tried to forgive—” Elizabeth blinked. “This is…this is such a lie, Diane. Every word of this.”

“He’s banking on you not wanting to say some of the worse details,” Sonny mused. “It’s been three years since you two were married. Not long in the grand scheme of things, but a lifetime considering where the two of you are today.”

“He says I was never the same after we lost—” Her voice broke. “God. He always comes back to that miscarriage. He blames it for every wrong thing he’s ever done, as if we’d still be together if I had had that child—”

Diane gestured for Jason to fill a glass of water. “Elizabeth, now that we know his position, I need yours. Go back to the first ceremony. Your decision to marry him.”

Elizabeth took a sip of water. “We weren’t dating anymore when I found out I was pregnant. He’d lied to me and done some horrible things to people I—” She hesitated. “To people I knew. To people who mattered to me in some ways. I couldn’t—I couldn’t deal with it. So I walked out.” She hesitated. “But when I found out I was pregnant…”

She closed her eyes, pressing her hand to the slight swelling of her child. “I always thought about having children one day, but it was abstract, you know? The way girls dream about getting married without knowing who will be at the end of the aisle. But that baby—” She looked at Sonny. “Carly talked me out of an abortion. Sometimes I wish I had never seen her that day.”

She turned to Diane, whose face remained stoic. “I was pregnant, I was working as a waitress and living in a studio apartment without a bathroom, without reliable air conditioning or heating. My grandmother and I were at odds over—well, a lot of things. We usually were. I was scared. And so I told Ric.  He made it sound like this could be a fresh start. He wanted to move past his hatred for Sonny, and I wanted to believe him because I didn’t have anywhere else to turn—”

Elizabeth stopped and took a deep breath. “So I married him. I knew he had done horrible things, but I—” She looked to Jason, then to Sonny. “I had some experience caring for people who were good men, but did things I didn’t necessarily agree with. That’s how I rationalized it. We all do horrible things, but maybe he could be different.”

“Elizabeth,” Diane murmured, “you don’t have to rationalize the decision to go forward—”

“I do. Because I did that to myself and I can’t always understand why.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “It might have been okay, we’ll never know. Because I had the miscarriage, and I’m not—I don’t know how Ric dealt with it at first. I was—I was in shock. I was devastated. I’d had this little life inside me for a brief shining moment, and then it was gone—”

Her breath caught. “I’ve had another miscarriage since and it—it just stays with you. I couldn’t get out of bed for a few days. When I could finally face the world, Ric talked about Sonny. How it was your fault—he was convinced you had pushed me that night, but I never could believe that. However we felt about each other that night, Sonny, you were my friend. And I was yours.”

“I always wondered…” Sonny hesitated. “If you were pushed by someone else. You weren’t the type to fall. You were there because you were having a child. Because Carly was having a child. You wanted peace. You wanted safety. I understood that, Elizabeth. So I wondered why you would have rushed down stone steps.”

“We moved about two weeks after,” Elizabeth continued, because she couldn’t dwell on Sonny’s words, couldn’t think about it too closely. “I look back now and I think maybe I was just…tired. Worn out. It had been a long year already—so much had happened, and I just didn’t want to deal with the world. So when Ric told me he’d found a house with a nice yard—when he told me he was going to open a law office and we were going to have a good life, I thought…why not. He said he loved me.”

“You never saw the house before you moved in,” Diane said.

“No. I didn’t know there had been a breakfast nook there once—where Ric had a panic room filled in.” Elizabeth sighed and leaned back in her chair. “We were okay at first, but then Carly went missing. Jason and Sonny were convinced Ric had something to do with it. I couldn’t understand why—he was home so often. When would he have been able—”

She closed her eyes. “The period with the panic room is where most of the damaging information will come in handy, I think. You, ah, might need Carly to verify it. There were…monitors so Ric could make sure the coast was clear before leaving.  She…she told me a lot of it when I was leaving for Napa Valley that last time. I think she had tried to put it behind her, but I don’t know…” She lifted a shoulder. “There’s…you know the basics. He was never prosecuted for kidnapping her, which is just—I can’t believe he’s the DA.” She pressed a hand to her eyes. “I had a pulmonary embolism the day I found her. I passed out before I could tell anyone and Ric and Lorenzo Alcazar moved her.”

Diane frowned. “About the panic room—”

“I’m getting to that.” Elizabeth twisted her hands in her lap. “The embolism—it was odd, according to my doctors. I didn’t have any of the usual risk factors, but my estrogen levels were high. They told me I couldn’t use birth control pills anymore, that it was likely I had messed up my dosage or something. I wasn’t—I wasn’t on them. Not then. I—didn’t even take birth control until….” She took a deep breath, her cheeks flaming.

“Elizabeth, take your time,” Diane said. “I can have Jason or Sonny—”

“No, it’s—it’s fine. They know—” She raised her eyes. “I was raped when I was fifteen and you know, I hadn’t—I was a virgin. So I wasn’t sexually active. Lucky and I—once or twice, shortly before I called off the wedding. He—he took care of the protection. So I didn’t use birth control pills on a regular basis. Not until…I was in the hospital after I was kidnapped last summer.” She glanced at Jason who was looking at her. “And I just—I thought it would be a good time to start. So I had them for a few months, then stopped. Then another few months.”

She cleared her throat and avoided Sonny’s eyes as he stared at the ceiling. “I’m saying that because I read into it after I started nursing school. I didn’t have the right kind of build up for embolism based on long-term usage. I would either have developed it right away if the hormone levels were wrong, or I would have required birth control for more than three years. I want you to know all of that, because Ric is going to claim I’m lying when I tell you what caused my embolism.”

Sonny swore. “That son of a bitch—” He sat up. “I just thought he was slipping the pills—“

“Are you telling me—” Jason straightened, twisted in his chair.

“I can’t prove it with the medical evidence, but Carly told me she saw him slipping me pills.” Her eyes burned, but she struggled to continue. “He used to put them in the hot chocolate I drank in the morning. And sometimes, if I didn’t finish it, he would put them in a glass of water—she saw him slipping me three pills one day because he wasn’t sure I had ingested them.”

She looked at Jason whose face was expressionless while his knuckles were white where his hands were wrapped around the arm rests. “I swear that I didn’t know when I agreed to marry him again. Carly—Carly can tell you that I was upset, that I called her a liar—until she told me that Ric sat by while I was poisoned.”

“Poisoned?” Diane blinked. “How the hell is this man in charge of a patch of grass? He—”

“Faith poisoned a pitcher of lemonade, Carly saw her do it. And she told Ric. She warned him, but he couldn’t stop me. Not unless he wanted me to see him come out of the panic room.” She closed her eyes. “It would have ruined his plan. So he waited until I passed out to take me to the hospital.”

“You did know about the panic room when you married him again in December,” Diane said with a slight hesitation.

“Pregnant again,” Elizabeth sighed. “And I had alienated pretty much everyone I knew by that point. I was still recovering my eyesight after a car accident that fall, and Ric—he’s good at making you believe in him. He said he would get counseling, that he just—he blamed Sonny and Carly and he wanted revenge. He said that losing the baby had broken him, and I believed him, because it broke me. It had to have, because what else could explain what he had done?”

Her cheeks were hot as tears slid down them. Jason pressed a tissue into her hands. “We’re done,” he told Diane. “You have enough—”

“No, no. I have to do this. I have to make sure we’re safe from him.” Elizabeth wiped her eyes. “I married him because I was scared and alone. I was pregnant. And I blamed myself for Carly. He couldn’t have gotten away with it if I hadn’t been so blind. So maybe if we had a child together, if he could open himself up to my child, it could be okay. I still saw the good in him. I thought—he has a good heart and I can fix him. I can, if I just try hard enough—but I couldn’t. I never trusted him again. He framed Nikolas for murder, he manipulated Zander right to his death…but worst of all—” She choked. “He didn’t love the baby. My sweet little Cameron. He didn’t give a damn about him. He was doing it to prove he was better than Sonny.

“So I left him,” she said simply. “It was one thing to torture myself with a bad marriage, but now I knew my child would never be a priority. He would never look at Cameron and see his own. He’d always be my bastard child. So I walked away. And I filed for divorce when Carly told me about the pills, about the lemonade.”

“That’s enough,” Sonny said softly. “There’s no way a judge is going to let Ric prosecute her for anything. Carly will get on the stand and demolish him. She’s an eyewitness. There’s no statute of limitations on kidnapping, on attempted murder.”

“I’m inclined to agree that this should be enough, but I suppose…” Diane tapped her pen against the pad of legal paper where she had scribbled notes. “Just for form, we should discuss any information Ric might have gleaned from you regarding Jason and Sonny.”

“Nothing,” Elizabeth said firmly. “I never knew anything really important, and even if I did, I would never—”

“Let’s just—take it slow. Did Ric ask you questions about Jason and Sonny? Did you discuss them in any fashion?” Diane asked.

“In passing,” Elizabeth admitted. “You know, the way you might talk about friends and people you know. He was trying to work for Sonny, he asked if I knew him. I said yes, everyone did. Sonny and I had been friendly for years at that point, but I don’t know…” She blinked at Sonny. “We hadn’t been particularly close for months at that point.”

“And Jason?” Diane asked. “Did he come up?”

“In passing,” Elizabeth stressed. “As someone I had been involved with briefly.  I don’t recall him asking for more information, I can’t imagine what I might have told him.” She sighed and shifted a bit. “I think maybe he tried more for Jason at the time—it’s probably why he sought me out at all. Hoping for a scorned ex or something. It didn’t work. Whatever I know about Jason and Sonny is separate from the rest of that.”

“Are you sure?” Sonny pressed, leaning forward. “You have to think about this. Ric’s a con man. If he gets past the hearing on Thursday, we need to be ready—”

“I am thinking,” Elizabeth retorted. “I didn’t want to talk about Jason or you then. Remember? I was pretty goddamn pissed off and trying to put it all out of my head.”

“Elizabeth, we’re not trying to accuse you,” Jason broke in quietly. She twisted to stare at him. “It might have been an accident—”

“And you were pissed at us,” Sonny repeated. “We were in your face that summer about Carly. You pulled a gun on Jason—”

“Are you two serious right now?” Elizabeth shoved back from the table and got to her feet. “What would I have told him that was so goddamn crucial? I didn’t know anything, Sonny. That was the whole damn reason we were in that mess at all—”

“Oh, it’s back to me keeping you out of the plan again.” Sonny also stood. “You were demanding I leave Ric alone. You were protecting him while my wife was in a locked room—”

“Sonny—” Jason stood, holding up a hand. “That’s enough.”

“I didn’t know she was there!” Elizabeth snapped. “I turned him in the second I was conscious enough. You want to blame me for being in this mess? How about you? You didn’t take care of this—you let him into your goddamn business. Anything he knows probably came from you—if you had just taken him out when he kidnapped your wife like a normal criminal—”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake—” Diane groaned. “It didn’t hear that.”

“You didn’t give a damn about me then, Sonny,” Elizabeth snarled. “I was a means to an end. You didn’t think about what it would mean that I was married to a man who drugged me, who watched me drink poison—you knew all of this before I married him again. You knew I didn’t know the worst of it and you let me walk into it blind—literally,” she finished, venom dripping from her. “You and Jason covered for Courtney while I was sitting blind in a hospital room. I’m supposed to apologize for doing the best I could?”

Sonny took a deep breath and dropped it into his seat. “You—you’re right. I’m sorry.”

“Elizabeth—” She turned at Jason’s stricken voice.

“I’m not mad about the accident,” Elizabeth told Jason. “You did what you had to do, and Courtney had a problem. I got it. I don’t know, maybe I was able to let it go because I recovered. I can’t answer that. It’s not important.”

“It is,” Jason insisted. “Let me—”

She turned to Diane. “You want to know what I know? I know that Jason was shot for some reason in December 1999, right around the time Anthony Moreno was killed in a shootout. I know that I lied to everyone in my life to keep the police from finding out. I know that I had a bomb in my studio, but the police knew that as well. I didn’t tell them that Sorel planted it or that he admitted it.”

She hesitated. “I know Jason had something to do with that guy Roscoe being killed because I was kidnapped five seconds later. I know Jason is the one who shoved Manny Ruiz off the hospital building, not Lucky. Those are the things I know for sure. And I never repeated them to anyone except for right here in this room.”

Jason just stared at her. “Elizabeth—”

“The only person who knows that we weren’t sleeping together that December is Lucky, and if he tries to make something of it, I’ll tell everyone I lied to him to spare his feelings because I thought he was supposed to be dead,” Elizabeth cut in. “It’s close enough to the truth.”

“What—”

“Ah, well…” Diane capped her pen and switched off the recorder.  “I really don’t think we’re going to get that far. Though, in the future, I’d rather not know if you plan to tell a specific lie under oath.”

“Fair enough.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “Sonny, it’s all fine. It’s over with. It was a long time ago, and I’ve put it behind me. He’s a lousy human being who’s just trying to terrorize us. “

“I was a selfish bastard then.” Sonny pressed a hand to his chest. “I’m not much better now, but I wish to hell I had told you what I knew then—”

“You were going through a lot with Carly and Alcazar. I made my choices. I have to live with them.” She looked to Diane. “Can we go? Is that enough?”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

 Jason said nothing as they stepped out of the office and until Sonny’s limo dropped them off at the Harborview parking garage. He was silent as Cody rode the elevator with them before opening the penthouse door.

“Let’s—let’s go upstairs to talk.” Jason cast an eye towards the door, remembering as she had a few days earlier that his home was often Grand Central station and telling Cody to prevent visitors was asking someone to hold back a hurricane often enough.

“Fine.” She looked tired as she trudged up the stairs towards their room.

He closed the door behind them. “I’m sorry that Sonny—”

“Sonny and I never talked about that summer when Carly was missing,” Elizabeth interrupted. She wrapped her arms around her torso and looked to ceiling. “I’m not surprised he had some residual anger left over. He’s not wrong to be annoyed with me for being so blind. But he knows better than anyone how Ric can play a person. He actually let Ric work for him.”

“Yeah…well…” Jason let that go, because explaining that was beyond him. “Elizabeth—”

“And I’m sure he’s held back all these years because he knew what Carly knew.” Elizabeth tilted her head back. “It’s fine—”

“It’s not,” Jason told her. “Because I want to make sure you believe me when I tell you I know you didn’t tell Ric anything. I didn’t think you did, but—”

“You wanted to make sure.” She sat on the edge of the bed. “Jason, we have to get Ric disqualified. Because if he starts fishing with the basics, there’s no telling. He knows about Manny Ruiz. He has to. I saw the autopsy report—Manny had no gunshot wounds. Alexis declined to prosecute. But Ric might try to. He can’t work on cases that involve you or me—”

“I’m not worried about me—”

“I am. I told you—I will not be the reason you go to jail.” She closed her eyes, her face pale, her mouth set in a thin line. “After Thursday, this might be over and I can get Diane on getting my job back. Can we just stop talking about this—”

“Fine.” Jason let the subject drop, but he wouldn’t forget the way she’d looked in Diane’s office, hesitantly describing the nightmarish things Ric had done to her. He had nearly killed her with pills, had allowed her to drink poison—

Someday, somehow, he was going to wipe Ric from this Earth and he didn’t care what Sonny said about it.

June 22, 2015

This entry is part 10 of 18 in the series All We Are

But there’s a side to you
That I never knew, never knew
All the things you’d say
They were never true, never true
And the games you play
You would always win, always win

Set Fire to the Rain, Adele


Thursday, November 2, 2006

Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

Elizabeth stood in front of the dresser as she fastened a gold chain around her neck.  This was the day. If all went well, she could put Ric and his threats behind her. Diane was sure that no other lawyer would go to the trouble of subpoenaing her.

If Ric was disqualified, she could just go back to her life. To her job. To enjoying this dream of having Jason as her husband. They would have to be married for more than a year to ensure the court took their marriage seriously, but maybe, just maybe, she and Jason could just…be married. Could raise Cameron and the new baby together.

Why not? Why couldn’t she have this life where she felt cherished? With a man she knew respected her, valued her, loved her son as much as he would love their new child.

“Because he doesn’t love you,” she murmured.

“Carly picked up Cam.”

Elizabeth twisted to find Jason standing in the doorway. “What?” She blinked. She hoped he hadn’t heard her self-recriminations. She was just in a mood today.

“Carly picked up Cam,” he repeated, stepping over the threshold. “He was pretty excited to go to school with his best friend and his new aunt.”

“Oh. Right. I appreciate Carly stepping in.” Elizabeth closed the top of her small jewelry box. “I’m nearly ready to go—”

“Were you saying something as I came in?” he asked, his eyes concerned. “Is everything okay?”

“They’re fine.” Elizabeth smoothed her hands down her Kelly green skirt. “Just—just nervous. I know we should be fine, but—” She shrugged. “Doesn’t change my anxiety level.”

“Okay.” She could see he didn’t believe her, but he said nothing to challenge it. Thank God. The last thing she needed today was a state of their marriage discussion.

It was perfect as far as she was concerned. Love would only be icing on the cake.

“We should get going.” She moved past him, but he caught her hand, drawing her back to him. “Jason—”

“Elizabeth,” he began, but he hesitated. “Once this part of it is over—” He stopped. “I don’t know. I just—it’ll be better once this is behind us. We can do anything you want. You can go back to work if you want, we can take Cameron somewhere for Thanksgiving—it’ll be better once these charges go away.”

And she believed that—believed that he would dedicate himself to her, to this family. And maybe it would be better, and maybe she would be happy.

But how long could it last? She loved him, she could admit that to herself, had loved him for so long, she could scarcely remember a time she didn’t. But he had moved on so long ago—to other women. He still loved Sam.

Would he hate her one day for trapping him?

“It can’t get worse,” she responded finally with a hesitant smile. “I’m not—it’s fine, Jason. I told you, I’m just nervous. It’ll be okay. We should get going.”

But he looked unconvinced as she pushed past him and left the room.

Promises Rehab: Lucky’s Room

Nikolas stepped over the threshold into his brother’s room, not at all looking forward to the discussion he was sure was going to go badly.

Lucky knew about Elizabeth’s hasty divorce and remarriage—Emily had told him several days earlier. Nikolas had hoped learning the news in rehab would enable him to deal with it in therapy, but he knew his brother.

And how stubborn Spencers could be.

Lucky was sitting in a chair by the window, staring over the grounds with a sullen look on his face. His scowl only deepened when he saw his brother. “If it isn’t Judas.”

Nikolas sighed and closed the door behind him, leaning against it briefly. “I wasn’t aware she was planning to fly to the Dominican Republic and then remarry within twenty-four hours. She wanted to me to witness your signatures. I did that.”

“You convinced me it was the right thing.” Lucky launched out of his chair. “My family is gone now—she took them to Jason. Do you think I’ll get within five feet of my kids now?”

Nikolas did not roll his eyes, though he was tempted. “Your family was gone before that. You got high, you had an affair with your boss’s daughter—and do you remember the last time you saw Elizabeth before you came here?”

Shame filled Lucky’s eyes as he turned away. “That’s right,” Nikolas continued. “It was the night she found the pills and you threw her to the ground. She’s pregnant, Lucky. If you were capable of that merely a few months into this drug habit you’ve developed, what kind of violence might you have unleashed later? She had a right to protect herself and her kids. Even if you recover, you’ll always be in recovery. And she has a right not to deal with that.”

“Fine. So what. That doesn’t mean she should go and marry before our divorce is a day old!” Lucky retorted. “How do I ever go back to my job? My wife married a gangster—”

“Ric’s coming after her,” Nikolas interrupted. “So maybe she went to him for protection.” Though after a week to consider it, Nikolas thought the marriage had been designed for Jason’s protection. Ric wanted Jason and Sonny, not his ex-wife.

And if that were the truth, Nikolas would do whatever was required to keep Elizabeth safe from his aunt’s husband.

“These charges would have gone away. She didn’t do it—”

These charges would destroy her career, cause her undue stress during her pregnancy, cripple her financially—” Nikolas bowed his head. “You used to think about Elizabeth before you thought about yourself. You and Elizabeth—I could see what love was, what it could be. What I wanted it for myself—”

“That was then,” Lucky said dully. “I died. I never came back enough for her. She’s never loved me again the way she did.” He met his brother’s eyes. “She settled for me. You think I don’t know that now? Jason’s been single since May. How long has she been back in his life? That stupid damn surgery. I can still see her refusing to come home after he got her arrested for the operation. She almost sacrificed her career for him—I thought it was for Patrick, but I was too blind to see it.”

“Lucky—”

“I see it now. She did it for him. She always did what he needed. Did what was good for him. I was a consolation prize. She doesn’t need me now.”

Nikolas remained quiet. There was nothing he could say to that. Hadn’t he known that for years? He could still remember the sting of realizing Elizabeth preferred Jason to him, that she had moved on from Lucky to someone like him. The anger in her eyes when he challenged her on it then—

Some people were inside of you, and no matter how you tried to move on, you simply couldn’t. How could he argue with that?

“You still have a few weeks before you’re scheduled to be released,” Nikolas said finally. “I hope you use that time to work through this in therapy. You’re welcome to come to Wyndemere.”

“I’m going after my kids. Maybe I won’t get visitation with Cameron, but I want my child. She can’t keep the baby from me.”

“Get better first,” Nikolas suggested as he opened the door.

He had his suspicions about the baby, too.

Port Charles Courthouse: Courtroom B

If Jason so much as glanced to his left at Ric’s smug, smarmy face, his legendary control would splinter. He’d known Ric was an animal, a monster who preyed on the weak, on the vulnerable. He’d suckered Elizabeth and Carly, Sonny and Alexis. Had somehow maneuvered himself into a position of authority.

“Ms. Miller.” The judge leaned back in his chair. “You’ve filed a motion to disqualify the district attorney’s office from prosecuting any cases in which Elizabeth Morgan or her husband are involved. I’m curious—which charges are we speaking of? Hypothetical or—”

“Your Honor.” Diane rose, a pen in her hand. “My client, Elizabeth Morgan, worked as a surgical nurse at General Hospital until this last month. Ric Lansing’s office in conjunction with the police department reported to the hospital board that she was under investigation for theft of narcotics from the hospital with an intent to distribute.” She reached for a piece of paper. “I have an affidavit from Head Nurse Epiphany Johnson stating that Mrs. Morgan was informed charges would be filed shortly.”

“I cannot be disqualified from a case that hasn’t been filed yet,” Ric said smoothly. “This motion, Your Honor, is premature, but moreover, baseless as my brief indicates.”

Diane arched a brow. “Mrs. Morgan was suspended from her job without pay.  In her own affidavit, she states that she was informed that charges were imminent. How long should we allow a conflict of interest to continue? Your Honor, DA Lansing chose to be involved personally with this case. If this were to go to court, we would probably discover he pushed the department to investigate—”

“Hardly unusual, Your Honor,” Ric cut in. “The police department was avoiding looking into drug addiction in their own squad. The district attorney is concerned that if we did not discover the source of Lucas Spencer’s drug addiction—his dealer, so to speak—then, it might compromise further cases.”

“But the district attorney chose to focus on his ex-wife.” Diane shot Ric a scathing glance. “I do not have to prove an actual conflict of interest. The appearance is enough to challenge on appeal, if it were to get that far.”

“Mr. Lansing.” The judge leaned forward. “I’ve considered your brief. You don’t consider your previous marriage to be a factor due to its nature. You married due to a pregnancy that did not come to term, and separated due to the miscarriage.”

“That’s right, Your Honor,” Ric said smoothly. “My ex-wife, understandably, had a difficult time with the loss of our child. While we were separated, she became pregnant again by someone else. We made another attempt to salvage the marriage, but there didn’t seem to be a reason to. It was nearly three years ago. Mrs. Morgan,” he said, stressing the name, “has been married twice since, pregnant three times as well. I, myself, have remarried. We have an amicable relationship.”

“Hmm…” The judge looked to Diane. “Ms. Miller, the brief you filed is four times as long as the district attorney’s. You make…quite a few accusations.”

“And I can back them up.” Diane stood, a sheaf of papers in her hand. “Contrary to the rosy picture the DA is painting, their divorce was anything but amicable. I have a copy of a deposition Mrs. Morgan gave at the time to her lawyer, Alexis Davis, whom the DA later married. In it, Mrs. Morgan states the same reasons she states today, so this is not something that she has conjured up to preclude any case against her.”

“Yes, I’ve considered the deposition. Mrs. Morgan accused her husband of giving her birth control pills surreptitiously in her food and beverages, causing a life-threatening illness. Carly Corinthos has also filed an affidavit stating she was being held against her will and saw the DA committing the crime. That’s, again, quite the accusation—”

“And slanderous, I might add,” Ric cut in. “There’s no evidence—”

“The charges were dropped because the complaining witness was unavailable,” Diane said. “Mrs. Morgan’s police statement is on the record. But don’t take Carly Corinthos’ word for it.” Diane reached into her bag and pulled out more paper.

“Dr. Monica Quartermaine operated on Mrs. Morgan. She states it was a pulmonary embolism requiring emergency surgery. Dr. Robin Scorpio, head of pathology at General Hospital, will testify that the results indicate that Mrs. Morgan’s embolism was caused by an overdose of estrogen. Dr. Kelly Lee is Mrs. Morgan’s obstetrician and will state Mrs. Morgan was not prescribed birth control pills at that point due to her recent pregnancy and miscarriage. In fact, I have Mrs. Morgan’s entire gynecological history. She took birth controls pills between July and November of 2002, then again from February to April 2003.”

Diane held up another affidavit. “I have statements from several well-respected pulmonologists stating that the type of embolism Mrs. Morgan experienced was due to high levels of estrogen, not from long-term use or a hormonal imbalance—”

The judge held up his hand. “I get the point, Ms. Miller. Is there a reason your client did not press charges?”

“She wanted her divorce. She leveraged that very fact to force the divorce through.” Diane held up yet another sheaf of papers. “The divorce decree states that Ric Lansing will drop his opposition to the divorce if Mrs. Morgan agrees not to seek criminal charges.”

“Your Honor, she was upset at the time. Again, the loss of our child—” Ric began.

“This divorce decree, these depositions….” The judge leaned back. “The argument you’ve made to the court, Mr. Lansing, is that you and your ex-wife are almost friendly, that you attended her wedding last year—”

“And became drunk and disorderly, announcing to the world you had had an affair with your brother’s lover,” Diane supplied with a sweet smile. “DA Lansing is married to our beloved former DA Alexis Davis, who is aunt to one of Mrs. Morgan’s oldest and closest friends. The invitation was for her and a guest. He was not personally invited.”

“At the very least, Mr. Lansing,” the judge said when Ric tried to speak again, “your relationship with Mrs. Morgan is anything but amicable. I’ve seen the so-called evidence that you propose to utilize against Mrs. Morgan. It would not pass a preliminary hearing, but your office was intending to go forward with it. Therefore, I not only disqualify you, but your entire office from pursuing any charges against Mrs. Morgan or anyone in her immediate family.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes, felt Jason squeeze her hand. They had won. This was going to be over—

“Your Honor, you cannot tie my hands when it comes to pursuit of justice. Elizabeth Morgan is married to Jason Morgan. This office has the right to pursue charges against him—”

The judge held up his hand again. “A special prosecutor, independent of the office, must be appointed on any cases concerning Elizabeth and Jason Morgan or Sonny Corinthos, seeing as how he is your brother after all.”

“That is—”

“You’re free to appeal, Mr. Lansing, but you’ll lose.” The judge rapped his gavel, closing the session.

Ric waited until the judge had left the bench before storming to Diane’s table as she calmly gathered her notes. “You think you’ve won?”

“Walk away, Ric.” Jason leaned over the table. “You’ve lost. You over played your hand. Walk away.”

“I warned you, Elizabeth.” Ric stabbed his index finger at her. “I warned you. I tried to save you from throwing yourself on a sinking ship. You should have taken the chance—”

“Why, DA Lansing, is that a threat?” Diane drawled. “Just try me. I’ll have your office hauled up on charges of harassment so fast, your head will spin before the mayor cuts it off—”

“It’s not a threat,” Ric snarled. “It’s a promise. You made your choice, Elizabeth. You’ll go down with him.” He glared at Sonny who had remained quiet.

“Diane, about that special prosecutor—” he said finally after his half-brother had stormed out of the court room.

“I can’t promise they won’t appoint someone who will go after the two of you,” Diane said to Jason and Sonny. “But no special prosecutor is going to try to tangle with marital privilege. Not if they want to keep the job. So Elizabeth is off the table. And if she can’t be used as leverage, there’s really very little point to going after her for these scurrilous drug charges.”

“Thank you, Diane.” Elizabeth hesitated. “I didn’t think of all the medical evidence—and you did so much with only a few days warning.” She flashed a hesitant smile. “I wish you could have been here to help me then. Alexis told me I couldn’t file charges on hearsay—”

“Well, my dear, I am the better lawyer.” Diane gathered her bag, patting Elizabeth on the arm. “I would have raked him over the coals, and if a criminal case hadn’t gone forward, we would have shredded him in civil court.”

She turned back to her primary clients. “I’ll be in touch if I hear any gossip about a special prosecutor, but for now, I think we can relax. This particular storm has been averted.”

Sonny followed Diane out of the room, but Elizabeth lingered for a moment, staring at the judge’s bench. Jason leaned against the table where they had sat during the hearing. “He can’t hurt you now, Elizabeth.”

“Not legally,” she murmured. “But I would never count Ric out. The judge—you think he believed me?”

Jason was quiet for a moment. “I think the fact that you’re telling the same story today that you told three years ago helps. That Ric agreed to a quick divorce to forestall any further damage to his reputation…it weighs heavily on your credibility.” He paused. “Did—did you want to file something now?”

“No.” She sighed. “No. I don’t want to put Carly through it. I’m past it. If Ric stays out of my way, I’ll stay out of his. But maybe it’s enough that he knows I could if I wanted to.”  She looked at him. “Do you think it’s really over?”

“This part of it,” Jason replied. “But Diane will keep her ear out.” He held out his hand, waited for her to take it. “Let’s go home.”