May 3, 2014

This entry is part 1 of 23 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Poisonous Dreams #2

June 30, 2003

Corinthos Penthouse

Carly Corinthos leaned forward and wagged her finger at her husband. “I’ve got it!” she announced gleefully. “It’ll solve all of our problems!”

Luke Spencer smirked and took the cigar out of his mouth. “This ought to be good.” He leaned against the fireplace and eyed his niece.

They’d been at this for hours—every suggestion was shot down for one reason or another. Elizabeth had been quite adamant, she wanted to stay in Port Charles at all costs.

So immediately, any idea Nikolas Cassadine or Luke had come up with was rejected. Luke wanted her to disappear while Nikolas wanted to barricade her on a Greek island.

It was nearly midnight now and Elizabeth was upstairs in the guest room, fast asleep. Her pregnancy was making her more tired than usual and she’d been sleeping more and more.

Carly’s pregnancy was somehow making her superhuman, which was why she was still up trying to contribute to the conversation despite Sonny’s pleas for her to rest.

“Just marry her off!” Carly declared dramatically.

Jason Morgan frowned. “And how in the world is that supposed to help?” he asked.

Carly shrugged. “She’ll be protected if she gets married to someone in the organization, right?”

Sonny stroked his chin thoughtfully. “I think she may have a point.”

Luke shook his head. “I can’t believe the day came when I’d agree with my psycho niece.”

Carly glared at him. “I resent that.”

Jason shook his head. “I don’t think this is gonna work. Lansing made the families very nervous. He embezzled from three of them and the other two want to kill him on principle. They don’t care if Elizabeth is under our protection. She’s a way to get to him and the baby she’s carrying is an extension of him in their eyes.”

“Look, Lansing and Faith have taken off for parts unknown,” Nikolas spoke up. “And I don’t give a damn about them right now. All I care about is that Elizabeth doesn’t get caught in some stupid mob war.”

“I agree,” Lucky Spencer chimed in.

His father snorted. “You would.”

Lucky glared at Luke. “Look, I thought this was done with. You and Nikolas are never going to agree about Mom’s treatment. I thought we agreed that as long as she’s getting the best treatment—that Elizabeth’s safety was going to take priority over this god damn rivalry.”

“As long as Luke can keep up,” Nikolas smirked.

Luke opened his mouth to reply, but Sonny jumped in. “Hey, I know there’s about twenty years of hatred between your families, but do you think we can concentrate on the matter at hand? The families want an answer.”

“Fuck the families,” Luke announced. “Bunch of inbred idiots.”

Sonny stood. “Look, the three of you are being included in this at Elizabeth’s request. Now, I promised that girl when she came to me that I would protect her. Whether it be from my enemies, from my half-brother or from anything else. I am not going to let anyone get in the way of the promise.”

Lucky shook his head. “All of this damn fighting is getting us nowhere. Let’s get back to the topic. Sonny, just how much protection would she guaranteed if she married someone in the organization?”

Sonny shrugged. “Depends on the person. If it were me, she’d be untouchable. If it were one the of guards, well it would ensure her safety to a certain point.”

“Well, obviously you’re not a possibility,” Luke decided.

“Damn right,” Carly muttered.

“What about Morgan here?”

“No way!” Carly declared, lunging to her feet. “There is no way that twit is going to force herself into Jason’s life again!”

Jason stood slowly. “Carly, just…stop it, okay? You brought the idea up. We’re looking at all the possibilities.”

“What about Courtney, huh?” Carly demanded, crossed her arms and glaring at her best friend. “You know how uncomfortable this whole situation has made her. What would she think if she knew you were considering this?”

“I don’t give a damn about that girl thinks,” Luke cut in. “What I do give a damn about is that girl sleeping upstairs. She’s got nowhere else to turn to. Her grandmother is out of town, her biological family could give two shits about her. The only people she’s got on her side are the six of us and Emily Quartermaine. I’ll be damned if the whims of some jealous little twit—”

“Watch it, Luke, that’s my sister you’re talking about!” Sonny warned.

“So?” Luke scoffed. “I thought she agreed that whatever had to be done would be done. Why are you now worrying about her feelings?”

“Because I doubt Courtney thought Elizabeth marrying Jason was even a remote possibility!” Carly snarled.

“Yeah, like Elizabeth would be jumping through hoops at the idea,” Nikolas retorted. “I can’t think of anything she’d like less. She left this life, remember? She got out.”

“And then she turned right around and came back! First by dating that idiot and then by coming to Sonny for protection!” Carly tossed back.

Jason rubbed his hands over his face. “Look, all of this fighting is getting us nowhere. We’ve got to figure this out and we’ve got to do this soon. Elizabeth is our only key to finding Lansing so her leaving Port Charles is out of the concern.”

“Careful,” Lucky sneered. “Wouldn’t want you to choke on that concern of yours.”

Jason paused momentarily to glare at the younger Spencer. “I don’t want anything to happen to her,” he said, patiently. “I want to do what’s best for everyone involved. Lansing threatened her, he threatened the baby and in my book, that would have been reason enough to get rid of him.”

“But you didn’t, did you?” Nikolas accused. “You two idiots sat on this information, letting Elizabeth come and go as she pleased. Well, I guess you learned your damn lesson when she was almost kidnapped, huh?”

“Okay, that’s enough!” Carly announced. She used two fingers and whistled loudly. “Apparently, I’m voice of reason here. Look, I’m not thrilled about the idea, but Elizabeth came to us for protection. Not you three Stooges, but she came to Sonny. She trusts him. That is his niece or nephew she’s pregnant with and you have our word she will be protected.”

“Your word means nothing to me,” Nikolas announced. “If I had my way, Elizabeth would have been in Greece last month.”

“Yeah, well, we all know what she thought of that plan, don’t we?” Carly retorted. “Look, I am exhausted. Is she marrying into the organization or not?”

“I think before we decide that, this needs to be run by Elizabeth,” Lucky interjected. “She needs to approve this. This is her life, her child.”

Luke nodded. “Right. I’ll go wake her.”

“There’s no need. You all woke me up with the arguing,” Elizabeth murmured as she descended down the stairs.

The past month of stress and worry had taken its toll on the petite brunette. Her hair was pulled into a limp pony tail, her eyes sunken, her face more pale than ever. She was dressed in an oversized T-shirt and a pair of sweat pants.

She folded her arms. “So? What’s this about me marrying someone?” she asked softly.

Luke cleared his throat and crossed the room to his surrogate daughter. Winding an arm around her shoulders, he steered towards the couch. “Sit down, darlin’. We got something we need to discuss.”

“Luke, I’m not a child,” she said. She pushed his arm away. “Just tell me what’s going on.”

“The basic summary?” Sonny said. “We think your best bet is to marry someone in the organization.”

Elizabeth didn’t say anything. She just arched her eyebrow and waited.

“We haven’t really nailed down who yet,” Sonny continued hesitantly. “But we agree that someone of Jason’s standing in the organization would be the most ideal.”

Elizabeth sighed and nodded. “This is the best you can do?” she asked.

“The best way to get the families off our back,” Sonny replied. Carly shook her head and crossed her arms. Participating in a scheme to save Elizabeth Webber’s life ought to gain her saint hood or something.

“If I weren’t pregnant,” Elizabeth began, “then I would have taken my chances elsewhere. I would have taken Luke’s offer and disappeared.” She looked down at the ground. “But this isn’t a decision to make just for myself. This is for my baby. And that’s the only thing that matters to me.”

“So, this is okay?” Lucky asked, stepping forward.

“I don’t know,” Elizabeth replied. “Who would I have to marry?”

The room was deadly silent, the tension was thick and palpable. Lucky shuffled his feet and looked away. Nikolas crossed his arms and looked at his feet. Luke stared into the fireplace.

Jason stepped forward. “Me,” he announced. “You’d marry me.”

Carly gaped at him. “What?” she sputtered. “What about Courtney?”

Elizabeth didn’t take her eyes off of Jason and completely ignored Carly. “Are you serious?”

“Hello!” Carly said, waving her arms. “Does the name Courtney ring a bell?”

Jason inhaled slowly and looked at Carly. “She’ll understand. It’s not permanent. It’s temporary.”

“Yeah, okay,” Carly said, rolling her eyes.

Sonny touched her shoulder. “Look this is something that’s up to them, okay? Marriage was your idea.”

“Yeah, well this wasn’t what I had in mind!” Carly screeched. She shrugged off Sonny’s arm and crossed to Elizabeth. “You listen here—”

“Hey, back off,” Nikolas interjected, stepping in. “You are not his keeper. He can make his own damn decisions, he doesn’t need a guard dog. And if you ever speak like that to Elizabeth again, you’ll regret it.”

“Are you threatening me?” Carly demanded.

“You’re damn right I am.”

“Wait, wait,” Elizabeth said, waving her arms. “Let’s just take a step back here and calm down, okay? I haven’t agreed to anything.” She looked at Sonny. “How long do I have to decide?” she asked.

Sonny rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, the sooner we deal with this, the better. The families are gonna wanna negotiate this further and we need to be ready in case there’s retaliation from Ric or Faith.”

“Can you give me until tomorrow night?” Elizabeth requested. “I’ll have an answer then.”

Sonny nodded. “Yeah, tomorrow night.” He glanced at Jason. “You might want to spend tomorrow getting Courtney ready for this possibility.”

Carly snorted. “This is so damned ridiculous.”

“Come on. You need to get to sleep,” Sonny directed, steering Carly towards the stairs.

Lucky hugged Elizabeth. “Meet me and Nik at Kelly’s tomorrow for breakfast?” he suggested. “We’ll call Em.”

Elizabeth nodded. “Yeah, sure.”

“See ya,” Nikolas said, hugging her and kissing her on the forehead. The brothers exited the penthouse. Luke sighed.

“Okay, well, call me if you need me. If this goes through, I wanna hear all the details about this so-called deal, understand?” Luke told her.

Elizabeth nodded. “You’ll be the first one I call.”

“Good. Night.”

After Luke was gone, she and Jason were alone in the room. She shifted. “I’m going to go back to sleep.”

“Elizabeth, wait a second,” he said. “Look, if this makes you uncomfortable in any way—”

“I think I’m the one who should be saying that,” Elizabeth replied. “You’re the one who’d be sacrificing for this. You’re the one that’s got to tell the woman you love you might have to marry someone else. I appreciate you being willing to do this, Jason, but I just…” she sighed and looked away. “I don’t know if I could handle it, that’s all. So I just…I need to think about it further, okay?”

Jason nodded. “Yeah, okay. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See ya,” Elizabeth echoed as she watched him leave.

Kelly’s: The Next Morning

“I don’t know,” Emily Quartermaine began. “This whole thing sounds…off. To me, at least. How will you marrying Jason help anything?”

Elizabeth stirred her hot chocolate absently. “I’m not sure really. I think there’s something about the level of respect. Sonny and Jason were really more concerned about the families’ threat against me rather than Ric. I guess if I were married into the organization…the families would be obligated to leave me alone.”

Nikolas shook his head. “I just don’t understand the code there. They’ll respect you to your face, but plot your death behind your back.”

Emily ignored Nikolas and concentrated on Elizabeth. “Gut instinct. Is this a solution you could see yourself handling?”

Elizabeth shrugged. “A year ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated. I would have said yes. But now…there’s so much…distance between us. We’ve barely talked in months and I can’t tell you the last civil conversation we had.”

“So, you agree that marrying Jason would be a bad idea,” Lucky decided.

“No, I didn’t say that,” Elizabeth said. “Logically, I know that it’s the safe solution. But…”

“Emotionally,” Nikolas prompted. “Emotionally, it’s not.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s the best way to put it,” Elizabeth replied. “Emotionally, I don’t know that I’d be able to survive it.”

“Has Jason said anything to Courtney?” Emily asked.

“He’s supposed to do that today,” Elizabeth replied. “I’m being selfish, I guess. I shouldn’t be thinking about what’s best for me. I should be thinking about my child and what’s best for her…or him.”

Emily nodded. “Well, then I guess you’ve made your decision,” she said quietly.

“I guess I have.”

Morgan Penthouse

Courtney eyed her boyfriend skeptically. “Are you serious?” she asked. “You want me to be okay with you marrying your ex-girlfriend?”

Jason sighed and shifted on the couch. “Courtney, it’d be like it was with Brenda more or less. Name only. I don’t even think she’d have to set foot in the penthouse.”

Courtney shook her head. “No…I don’t think I could be comfortable with this.”

“You agreed you’d help in any way possible,” Jason reminded her.

“Yeah…but I never dreamed it’d be like this,” Courtney sighed. “I thought…I don’t know what I thought. But this was not even something I thought of in my wildest nightmares.”

Jason rubbed his temple. “I love you,” he assured her. “But I gave Sonny my word that I would do this for him. He feels guilty that Ric even came to town at all. He’s depending on my help.”

Courtney sighed. “Okay. Okay. But I want it on the record that I’m not happy with this.”

This entry is part 2 of 23 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Poisonous Dreams #2

July 1, 2003

Corinthos Penthouse

“You told him it would be okay?” Carly demanded. She tossed aside another baby name book and rolled her eyes. “Great.”

Courtney sighed. “Well, what was I supposed to do? Play the raging bitch and tell him it’s over if he does? You know that wouldn’t have gone over well.”

“You should have argued more,” Carly accused.

“Yeah, well you should have kept your damn mouth shut about marriage,” Courtney snipped. “It doesn’t really make a difference. Jason told me it will be in name only. She probably won’t even set foot in the penthouse.”

“That’s true,” Carly nodded. “It’ll be okay, I guess. I mean, Jason’s obviously over the little twit.” Her face lit up. “And when this is done, maybe we can convince Sonny to send her to the island.”

“Yeah, like I’d get that lucky,” Courtney grumbled.

Morgan Penthouse

Jason looked up from some paperwork when Elizabeth knocked on the already open front door. “Hey.”

“Hey.” She rubbed the back of her neck. “Are you busy or do you have a minute?”

“It’s fine, come on in.”

Elizabeth only stepped inside a few feet. She made it no further than his desk. “I…I…made my decision,” she said softly. “I thought it be for the best to tell you as soon as I made it so you could tell Sonny and work out the details with the families.”

“Okay,” Jason said.

“I think…that for my child, the best decision would be to do this,” Elizabeth told him. “If this were just me…I never would have even hesitated. In fact, I would have been on the first plane to Greece last month, but I am pregnant and no matter I go, I’m a target. I know this, I’ve come to terms with this.”

“You’ll have to be present at the meeting,” Jason informed her. “Sonny wants a show of strength. That we’re not backing away from the threat.”

“Sonny said they’ll want to negotiate the details,” Elizabeth said. “What does that mean?”

“The families…” Jason hesitated, thinking about how and what to tell her. “The families are…well, they’re petty. And sometimes getting them to agree to the simplest of things is a chore.”

“So what kind of details will be negotiated? Where? When? How?” Elizabeth asked.

“More than likely.” Jason paused. “I know this isn’t the ideal solution, but—”

“It’s fine,” Elizabeth interrupted. “I…I’m a little tired. I’m going to go take a nap.” She turned and left the apartment abruptly.

Jason stared after her for a moment before picking up the phone and calling Sonny at the warehouse.

Corinthos Penthouse

Courtney and Carly watched in silence as Elizabeth opened the door and crossed the room to the stairs. She did so without a word and when she had disappeared from view, Courtney took a deep shuddering breath.

“Why do I suddenly have the feeling that entire world has shifted on its axis and it won’t be the same again?” Courtney asked her sister-in-law.

“Because I think Elizabeth is about to be the next Mrs. Jason Morgan,” Carly murmured.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Courtney said, stricken. She shook her head. “I mean, what kind of ceremony will they have to have? Will they have to go to Vegas? Will it be in a real church—”

“Don’t get yourself worked thinking about this,” Carly said immediately. “This will be just like his marriage to Brenda. Even less real, I promise.”

Elizabeth’s Room

“Gram? It’s me.”

“Oh, my dear, Elizabeth, how are you?” Audrey Hardy asked warmly.

“I…I’m fine. How’s France?” Elizabeth asked softly. “Are you having a good time?”

“Oh, it’s lovely dear. I do wish you would have been able to join me on this vacation.”

“Next time, Gram,” Elizabeth replied. “There’s something I have to tell you.”

“What is it darling?” Audrey asked, sounding alarmed. “Is something wrong? Are you all right?”

“Well, I guess I’m fine. I’m…I’m getting married, Gram,” Elizabeth told her. She held her breath and waited.

There was silence for a moment on her Gram’s side of the line. “I thought you’d broken up with that lawyer.”

“I did, Gram,” Elizabeth replied. “But it’s not him. It’s…I’m…I’m marrying Jason.”

“Oh, Elizabeth,” Audrey sighed. “I really thought you’d gotten that out of your system.”

Elizabeth’s eyes filled with tears and she looked towards the ceiling. “Gram, I don’t expect you to understand, but—”

“I don’t. I thought you were finished with Jason Morgan and the whole lot of them. I’m very disappointed. What were you thinking, accepting a marriage proposal from that thug?”

“He’s not a thug, Gram,” Elizabeth whispered brokenly. “Please, just let me explain.”
Hallway

Carly was headed for the bathroom when she heard a voice inside Elizabeth’s room. The door was ajar and she stepped closer to listen.

“Gram, please just let me explain. I promise it’s not as bad—no, this isn’t about rebelling against you. I’m…” She heard Elizabeth’s voice break. “Gram, stop calling him a thug. If you can’t speak about this rationally—Gram, please just let me explain…hello? Gram? Hello?”

Carly bit her lip when she heard Elizabeth start to cry. How horrible it must be for her own family to reject her. Carly had never liked Audrey Hardy—it had always felt like the nurse was judging her.

She pushed the door open, startling Elizabeth who hung up the phone and started wiping her eyes. “Did you need something?”

“Something I’ve learned about pregnancy is that your emotions are always right on the surface,” Carly said quietly. She sat on the bed next to the other woman. “Sometimes the slightest thing can set it off. Last week, Sonny got me nut brownies instead of fudge brownies and I was crying for three hours.”

“You’re very lucky, you know,” Elizabeth said softly. “Your mother loves you unconditionally.”

“Yeah, my mom is great,” Carly agreed. “Always there when I need her.” She hesitated. “She loves you, too. She’s always thought of you as part of the family.”

“I love Bobbie,” Elizabeth replied. She looked towards the ceiling. “She’s done so much for me since…well…since I became friends with Lucky. And I’ve always appreciated the surrogate family I’ve found here.”

“But?” Carly prompted.

“Is it so hard for my biological family to just accept me for who I am?” Elizabeth asked. She wiped her eyes. “Why is every decision I make a rebellion against them? Why is it so hard for them to accept that I’m twenty-one years old? I have my own life, now. I support myself.”

Carly shrugged. “You just got dealt a bad hand, I guess. At least you’ve got this group of people that love you.”

“Why are you being so nice to me?” Elizabeth asked.

“Because you were nice to me when I needed it,” Carly replied. “When Sonny faked his death, and Jason wasn’t around, you were nice anyway. You weren’t seeking to gain points or rate their approval. You were just nice. And that meant a lot to me at the time.”

Elizabeth nodded. “Okay. That sounds reasonable.”

“Don’t tell anyone,” Carly warned. “They find out I’m being reasonable and I’ll never hear the end of it.”

Elizabeth laughed then. “Yeah, can’t have that.” She looked the blonde. “I told Jason that I…I agreed to marry him.”

“Yeah, Courtney and I figured that,” Carly replied. “Look, we’ll never be the best of friends. But for the next few weeks, maybe months…we should call a truce.”

“I agree,” Elizabeth said. She took a deep cleansing breath. “Oh, well. Gram has disowned me before. Once this marriage is over, I’ll be able to explain this to her.”

Sonny knocked on her bedroom door. “Hey, everything okay here?”

Carly glanced up at him and nodded. “Yeah. Princess and I were just discussing mood swings.”

Sonny grimaced. “Sounds like fun. Uh, I came home when Jason called me. He tells me that you’ve agreed.”

“Yeah,” Elizabeth reported. “He told me that you want me at this meeting.”

“I think it’s for the best, yes,” Sonny replied. “I called the families. It’s at six tonight. Be ready.”

“I will.”

Sonny left the room then, leaving the door open. Elizabeth closed her eyes and took another deep breath. “Here we go.”

No Name

“Okay, when we go in there, don’t speak unless spoken to,” Sonny directed Elizabeth. “They don’t take kindly to women speaking out of turn here. Reminds them too much of Faith. You are the direct opposite of Faith and we want to show them that.”

Elizabeth looked down at the white cotton dress he’d instructed her to wear. “Is that what this is for? Because Faith always wore black?”

Sonny grinned. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.” He glanced at Jason. “I’m fully expecting them to demand stupid shit so that they don’t have a reason to agree to this. Which means we have to be prepared to bend on a lot of topics.”

“Like what?” Elizabeth questioned. “What kind of topics?”

“Well, where the wedding would be held, I suppose. How long the marriage would have to last. You get the idea, right?”

Elizabeth nodded. “Okay.” She sighed and looked away.

“Sonny, give us a moment, okay?” Jason asked him as he steered Elizabeth a few feet away. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine, Jason. I just want this over with,” Elizabeth replied. She crossed her arms stiffly.

“It’s just…I know you feel about people telling you what to do.”

“I hate it,” Elizabeth admitted. “But I…it’s not just me I have to worry about anymore. My baby is all that is important to me and I will do whatever I have to do to ensure her safety.”

“Okay.” He and Elizabeth headed back to Sonny. “Let’s do this.”

The representatives of the families were seated around the long table in one of the back rooms of the restaurant.

Sammy Tagliatti stood. “Mr. Corinthos, Mr. Morgan, welcome.” The smile fell from his face as Elizabeth stepped into view. “Ms. Webber,” he greeted stiffly. He flicked his gaze to Sonny. “What is she doing here?”

“Well,” Sonny said amiably, “I thought since this was her life we were discussing, she should be present.”

“Very well,” Tagliatti said. He took his seat. “You said you have a deal.”

“Ms. Webber is very important to me,” Sonny began. He pulled out the last remaining empty seat and sat, leaving Jason and Elizabeth standing behind him. “I want her safety ensured.”

“And you understand why we perceive her as a threat,” Michael Hernandez spoke up. He leaned forward and stubbed out his cigar. “Ric Lansing embezzled a lot of money from me and I want him to pay.”

Elizabeth stiffened and she clenched her fists at her side. The implication was clear. They couldn’t find Ric, they’d settle for her.

Sonny shrugged. “He tried to kill me, raped my wife and he tried to kidnap a girl I consider a sister. I want him to pay as well. But Ms. Webber is pregnant and I think she should be afforded special consideration.”

“And I want to know what assurance we have that the kid isn’t the next Ric Lansing or Faith Roscoe,” Hernandez shot back.

“Simple,” Sonny replied. “The deal is that Elizabeth Webber marries Jason Morgan, my second-in-command.”

Tagliatti smirked. “Therefore making her untouchable. Very smart Corinthos.”

Elizabeth let out a relieved breath. This was going to work. It had to work.

“A fake marriage?” Daniel Vega scoffed. “I can’t agree to that. Marriage is a sacred undertaking. It’s common knowledge Morgan’s been seeing your sister, Corinthos.”

“Yes,” Sonny replied. “Jason has been dating my sister, Danny. But this is a negotiable deal. We’re open for suggestions.”

“I’ve got a suggestion,” John O’Reilly remarked. “Let’s just lock her somewhere and wait for Lansing to come and get her. He’s obviously not through with her.”

Elizabeth made a whimpering sound and took a step back. Jason steadied her with a hand on the small of her back.

“Okay, John. Say I decide to renege my decision to forget that nasty little deal where you tried to blackmail my wife into running drugs through my territory,” Sonny said. “Say I want you to pay. You want me to grab Gracie and lock her in a room while she’s pregnant?”

O’Reilly narrowed his eyes. “That’s a low blow and completely irrelevant.”

“I don’t think so,” Sonny replied smoothly. “You want to lock up the fiancée of my second-in-command.”

“The fake fiancée,” Vega interjected. “Look, locking up a pregnant woman—or anyone woman is out of the question. I would never agree to that either.”

Tagliatti sighed. “This is getting us nowhere. Danny, you hate the idea of a fake marriage. Fine. We can solve that.” He looked at the couple. “Condition number one. The two of you live together through the tenure of the marriage. Condition number two, Morgan doesn’t see his girlfriend on the side. That work for you Danny?”

“Yeah sure,” Vega remarked. “What do you say Corinthos?”

Sonny shrugged. “What do you think about that, Jason?”

“It’s fine,” Jason replied stiffly. “Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth nodded mutely, careful not to speak. They obviously loathed the very sight of her and she was going to heed Sonny’s advice. Seen and not heard.

“Okay, that’s agreed. What else?” Sonny said, folding his hands.

“I want assurance this kid is safe from the influence of Lansing and Faith,” O’Reilly demanded. “How do I know she ain’t gonna turn this kid over to him?”

“I’d rather drink poison,” Elizabeth blurted out.

Sonny closed his eyes and sighed. “Elizabeth, I thought we agreed…”

“No, no,” O’Reilly said, waving his arm away. “This is the mother of the child. I want to hear from her.”

“I hate Ric Lansing with every fiber of my being,” Elizabeth bit out. “He threatened my life, he threatened to kill to my child. He tried to kidnap me two weeks ago. How could you think I would willingly turn my child over to him?”

O’Reilly had the decency to sit back and look away. “Okay. Not willingly. I apologize.”

“You want protection for her through this marriage, then this marriage has to last until Lansing and Faith are dealt with,” Hernandez dictated. “Weeks, months, years. I don’t care. She is a target and she is what will bring him back to Port Charles.”

“That’s fine,” Sonny agreed. “Anything else?”

“I’m not convinced Lansing won’t just kidnap the child,” O’Reilly said, shaking his head. “What do you have to say to that, Ms. Webber?”

Elizabeth hesitated. She glanced up at Jason and then back at the well-dressed gray-haired man who’d posted the question. “That’s a question that terrifies me,” she confessed. “If Ric were ever within five hundred feet of my child…I think I would probably kill him.”

“Well, that works me for me,” Tagliatti agreed. “When will this wedding be held?”

“As soon as we can contact the justice of the peace,” Sonny replied.

“No good,” Vega decided. “You must have a church wedding.”

Elizabeth inhaled sharply. “A church wedding?”

“Elizabeth, let me handle this,” Sonny directed. “A church wedding is out of the question. Once they’re divorced, neither of them would be able to marry in the church again.”

“Get an annulment,” Thomas Caracas spoke up finally. “Morgan’s got experience with that.”

“That’s fine. Jason, Elizabeth?”

“Fine,” Jason replied, shortly.

“That’s fine,” Elizabeth agreed.

“I expect an invitation to a wedding ceremony and a reception,” Tagliatti announced.

“Of course,” Sonny agreed. “Is that it?”

“I believe that’s it for now. We’ll let you know if there any other details to work out.”

Sonny stood. “We’ll be leaving then.” He gestured for Jason and Elizabeth to lead the way out of the restaurant.

Once they were outside, Elizabeth leaned against the brick wall and closed her eyes. “They probably would have shot me if given the chance,” she whispered painfully.

“I doubt that,” Sonny said. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders to steady her as they walked towards the car. “Are you okay? I should have insisted that you sit.”

“It was so hard to sit there and let dictate the way I’m going to live my life,” Elizabeth told him. “I hate being told what to do, I despise and loathe it.”

“It’ll be okay,” Sonny assured her.

“Yeah, well, at least I’m not the one who has to tell Carly and Courtney the details of this deal,” Elizabeth said as Johnny opened the door to the limo.

Jason sighed and followed her in. He almost wished he could convince Sonny to tell Courtney. He did not relish this responsibility.

May 4, 2014

This entry is part 3 of 23 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Poisonous Dreams #2

July 1, 2003

Corinthos Penthouse

“You have to what?” Courtney demanded in shrill voice.

Sonny scrubbed an impatient hand over his face. His sister had been waiting with Carly when they’d gotten back from the No Name. Her eyes had narrowed when she’d seen Jason behind Elizabeth, his hand on the small of her back. As soon as Jason had spied his girlfriend, he’d dropped his hand like a red hot coal and stepped away.

Carly had been eager for details of the meeting but from the expressions on the engaged couple’s faces, she had an inkling it hadn’t gone quite as they expected. Apparently, she’d been right.

“We have to live together,” Elizabeth said, softly, answering the enraged woman’s bitter question.

“Live together,” Courtney bit out. “For how long?”

“Until Ric and Faith are dealt with,” Sonny supplied. “The families have agreed to leave Elizabeth and her child alone under the following conditions. The marriage is to appear real, meaning they live together and see no one else. They will have a real ceremony and a reception. Honestly, it’s not as bad as it seems—”

“Not as bad?” Carly cut in. “What do you think would be worse?”

“They could have shot Elizabeth where she stood and killed her,” Sonny snarled, effectively silencing his wife. Elizabeth closed her eyes and shook her head, willing away the image of her standing in front of the families as though she were facing a firing squad.

“I can’t handle this,” Courtney declared. “This cannot happen. Jason, you can’t do this.”

“I’ve already agreed,” Jason told her quietly. “I can’t pull out now.”

“You can and you will. Or we are through,” Courtney announced.

Sonny grabbed his sister’s arm forcefully and jerked her into the hallway. “I need to talk to you for a minute alone.” He slammed the door shut behind them.

Elizabeth eyed Carly warily. “This wasn’t how it was supposed to be,” she told the other woman, fearing their truce had ended.

Carly swallowed hard. “Yeah. I believe that. I’m going to go check on Michael.” She crossed to the stairs and disappeared onto the second floor.

Elizabeth smoothed her hands over her arms and turned away from Jason. “I’m sorry Courtney’s reacting like this,” she said.

He shook his head. “Sonny will talk to her.”

“All right then, I’m going to go upstairs and call Luke,” Elizabeth replied. She hesitated another moment before climbing the stairs slowly and disappearing after Carly.

Hallway

“Damn it,” Courtney seethed. “I will not stand for this! Jason is my boyfriend!”

“I understand why you’re upset but try and think about someone other than yourself for five seconds, okay?”

Courtney paled. “Sonny, I am your sister. You are not supposed to deliberately try to hurt me—”

“That is not what I’m doing,” Sonny hissed. “I am trying to save someone’s life. Do you remember when you were accused of the accident and Elizabeth cleared your name?”

“Yes,” Courtney muttered.

“And I’m sure that’s not the only thing Elizabeth’s ever done for you.”

“No, it’s not,” Courtney grumbled.

“Now, multiply that by a thousand and you still won’t get how much Elizabeth has helped Jason. She has saved his life more than once and nearly sacrificed her own just as many times. She came to us to save hers. The families would not hesitate to use her to take Ric down if they thought we didn’t care. I will not let an innocent woman die because you’re a petty little brat!”

Courtney stepped back, stung. “Is that how you see me?” she asked softly.

Sonny muttered a curse under his breath and shook his head. “No, it’s not. I know how difficult it’ll be to see them together, but this is the way it has to be done.”

“I can’t do it Sonny,” Courtney whispered. She shook her head. “I just don’t think it’s possible. Even if I skip the wedding, I’ll end up staying here and I will have to see them and I know that I will not be able to handle that.”

“Okay, okay.” Sonny exhaled slowly. “Will Bobbie give you time off from Kelly’s?”

“She’s still got to replace Elizabeth,” Courtney said. “But I heard she was tapping one her nieces for that.”

“Ask her. Tell her the situation. She’ll understand.”

“What exactly am I asking?” Courtney asked her brother. She tilted her head to the side.

“I’m suggesting that you take time off from work and go on a well-deserved vacation,” Sonny said.

“Where and for how long?”

“To the island and until this mess is over. You’re right. You don’t have to deal with this and you shouldn’t have to see your boyfriend marry someone else.”

Courtney shook her head. “I don’t know Sonny. If Jason’s going to marry Elizabeth of all people, I don’t know that I should be leaving right now. I mean, it’s not that I don’t trust him, I do…” she trailed off and thought for a moment, searching for the right words. “Come on, Sonny, you know better than I do. They have this…connection. It’s still there, no matter how much anger or how hurt there is. Look, Jason hasn’t talked to her in months and he’s already stepped up to offer himself as the sacrificial lamb.”

“Do you think he’s still in love with her?” Sonny asked curiously.

“No, I know he loves me. But…you know, no matter how much you move on with someone else, part of you will always belong to someone else. I mean, AJ…” Courtney sighed. “Part of me still loves the man I thought he was. And I know you still love Brenda deeply.”

“You’re right,” Sonny agreed. “I think Jason still loves Elizabeth very much. But there’s a difference between being in love and just loving someone.”

“I know. I know that he’s in love with me and that Elizabeth is in his past. But, she was his present for so long…how can I really compete?” Courtney asked, her voice aching for reassurance.

“Go to the island,” Sonny encouraged. “I’ve got a little cottage just off the beach, it’d be perfect for you. I’ll even see if I can smuggle Jason down there occasionally. I’ll visit. I just think you need some time away from this.”

“Let me think about this all right?” Courtney asked. She kissed her brother on the cheek. “Thanks, Sonny.” She pushed past him and headed for the other penthouse.

Corinthos Penthouse

Jason was waiting for him when Sonny reentered the living room. He looked at him expectantly. “Is Courtney okay?”

“She’s fine. We talked and I understand what’s bothering her. I suggested sending her to the island while this is going on.”

Jason frowned. “We don’t know how long this will be, Sonny. It could be weeks, months, as long as a year.”

“I understand that. But the alternative is letting my sister stay here and watch you be married to your ex-girlfriend.”

“Sonny, you know that Elizabeth and I—”

“Still care for each other?” Sonny supplied. “Are still friends? Yeah, I know that. Trouble is, so does Courtney. And she understands that the two of you have history. She’s not begrudging that. I just don’t think she should be here to watch it.”

Jason sighed. “Okay. If Courtney is okay with it, then all right.”

“All right.” Sonny shifted. “Johnny and Francis are in England. How’s that lead they have?”

Jason shook his head. “Didn’t pan out the way we expected. But Johnny found a store owner who remembers Lansing. Said he overheard something about them sticking around Europe for a little while.”

“They’re keeping a low profile,” Sonny said. “Makes sense. There’s a lot of heat on them right now. Their best bet is to stay out of sight for a while. Tell you what, makes my life easier. I can concentrate on everything else.”

Elizabeth’s Room
“Hey, Luke,” Elizabeth greeted. She cradled the phone between her shoulder and her head, keeping her hands free as she unzipped her dress and slipped some sweat pants and a tank top.

“Hey, darlin. How’d the meeting go?”

She sighed. “Okay, I guess. They agreed.”

Luke leaned back in his chair at the club, focusing on a picture of his wife Laura. “Doesn’t sound good. What kind of negotiation tactics did they use?”

“It was kind of surprising, really,” Elizabeth admitted as she hung up the dress in the closet and shut it. “For a bunch of cold blooded killers, they sure are strict about marriage.”

“Yeah, their priorities are little twisted.”

“I’ll say. One of them wanted to lock me in a room until the baby was born.” Elizabeth sighed. “God, Luke, they’re so determined to make Ric pay they don’t care who it is.”

“I will say this about Jason and Sonny. Idiotic as they may be, they’ve got some shred of decency. So?”

“Well, what it boils down to is that Jason and I have to look married. Apparently, a fake marriage offends their morals,” Elizabeth said sarcastically.

Never let it be said that hypocrisy is dead. So, looking married…” Luke trailed off. “Real wedding I suppose?”

“Yeah. Complete with a reception,” Elizabeth said with mock cheerfulness. “We also have to live together and he can’t see Courtney.”

“Hey, there’s a silver lining on an every cloud,” Luke replied, affably.

Elizabeth laughed then and sank onto the bed. “Oh, Luke.”

“Well, listen, you know if there’s anything you need, I’m there for you.”

“Actually,” Elizabeth bit her lip. “There is something I’d like. This is my wedding, I guess. And I don’t know much about planning a mob wedding so I’m just going to go with my instincts, you know?”

“Okay…”

“Could…could you walk me down the aisle?” Elizabeth asked softly. “And let Lulu be my flower girl?”

“Aw, darlin’, I’d be honored. And of course my little princess can be the flower girl.” Luke scratched his head. “I know this is tough, kid. But you’re a strong girl. You can get through this.”

“I don’t know if I can,” Elizabeth admitted. Her eyes filled with tears and she glanced towards the ceiling. “I called my grandmother and she disowned me. I don’t have anyone, Luke. No family.”

“How can you say that?” Luke demanded. “What about me? Cowboy, the demon’s spawn? Emily? Don’t we count?”

“Of course you count,” Elizabeth assured him. “It’s just…I’ve always had this unconditional support from you guys and it just makes me remember all the more that my own family can’t be bothered.”

“Your family is just as stupid as the five families,” Luke decided. “Listen, come to the club tomorrow. You bring Emily, I’ll supply Lucky and the spawn. We’ll start planning this here wedding.”

“I don’t know,” Elizabeth hesitated. “Isn’t there stuff I should run by Sonny and Jason? Shouldn’t…I don’t know…shit, Luke, I don’t know what I’m doing here.”

“No one knows what they’re doing here, darlin’, but we just try and muddle through life the best we can.”

“Yeah….yeah, I know.” Elizabeth sighed. “Thanks, Luke. Noon?”

“Hell, no. Make it two.”

Luke’s Office

Luke placed the receiver back in the cradle and sat forward to peer at Laura’s face again. Laura would be glad he’d set aside his anger and bitterness towards her Cassadine son and was working with him to help Elizabeth. Laura always had a soft spot for the girl.

In fact…Luke’s eyes lit up as he remembered the velvet box Laura had hidden in their closet, just waiting for Elizabeth’s birthday. It’d be a perfect wedding gift for the girl he considered a daughter.

July 2, 2003

Corinthos Penthouse

Elizabeth sighed and pushed her plate away the next morning at breakfast. “Sonny, there’s something I have to ask you.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, I’m meeting Luke and the others at the club today,” Elizabeth reported, shoving her hair behind her ears. “We’re going…well…plan the ceremony, I guess I should say. And I just wanted to know if there’s anything I need to know. Like is this different from a normal wedding?” Elizabeth flushed. “I mean, I know it’s obviously different—”

Carly cut the flustered girl off with a grimace. “Security. You have to plan for security. With the five families in attendance, you’re going to need a lot.” She leaned forward. “Does it bother you if they don’t blend in?”

“No,” Elizabeth managed to say. “They’re there to do their jobs, what does it matter how they look? As long as they’re comfortable.”

“Good.” Carly thought. “Way I figure it, you’ll need someone at the door to check invitations. Possibly two. Once you guys decide where the ceremony will be, you can figure out how many guards you’ll to patrol the perimeter—”

As Carly went on, Sonny sat back and smiled at his wife, proud of her for stepping forward with the knowledge Elizabeth needed.

“Carly,” Elizabeth interrupted. She smiled. “Would you come with me? I mean, you’ve planned a few of these weddings and you…you’ll be able to help with the guest list and all.”

Carly hesitated. “I don’t know. I was supposed to help Courtney with packing.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth nodded. “Okay, I understand.” She shoved her chair back and stood. “I need to go get ready.” She disappeared upstairs.

Sonny eyed Carly. “Courtney hasn’t decided whether or not she’s going. You don’t need to help her pack.”

“Just leave it alone,” Carly advised. She stood. “Just leave it alone.”
Quartermaine Mansion: Emily’s Room

Emily combed her brush through her hair before securing it into a ponytail. She grabbed the bridal magazines and the wedding planner she’d nabbed from the mall the other day and was halfway out of her room when Zander came through the window.

“Hey,” she greeted. “I was just heading out.”

“Sorry,” Zander apologized. “Where you going?”

“To help Elizabeth plan her wedding,” Emily said. “I don’t know why we’re going all out, but apparently, the families want a real wedding and Elizabeth is going to bend over backwards to do it, I guess.”

Zander frowned. “You don’t sound happy about this.”

“I want Elizabeth to be okay,” Emily told him. She sat on her bed. “I hate that this is happening, but I honestly feel like everyone’s just…protecting her. They’re so busy assuring that none of this is her fault…they’re not letting her take any of the blame.”

Zander frowned. “What does Elizabeth need to be blamed for?” he asked with almost an edge to his words.

“It’s not like my brother didn’t warn her about Ric. And Elizabeth admitted to me herself she had suspicions Ric was up to something. But she stayed with anyway, Zander. All I’m saying is that Elizabeth is not a saint. She needs to take credit for her part in this.”

Zander shook his head. “Emily—”

“Oh, don’t look at me like that,” Emily sighed. “I love her to death, but I see her for who she is, okay? She has a tendency to be selfish.”

“Is that what you think she’s doing?” Zander asked incredulously. “She’s marrying herself off to your idiot brother to save her baby, not herself. I honestly worry that Elizabeth wouldn’t give a damn otherwise.”

“Oh, don’t you champion her, too,” Emily scoffed. “Elizabeth made the decision to marry Jason with both her eyes open. It’s not like she doesn’t know exactly what she’s doing. She knows that Jason’s over her and I know she won’t use this as an opportunity to get him back.”

“Of course not. Your brother is head over heels for the stripper,” Zander joked. “I doubt Courtney would let Elizabeth close enough to Jason to make a difference.”

“Jason really loves Courtney, I know that. But you know, he still has a soft spot for Elizabeth. I don’t want him to confuse that for anything more.”

“Emily—”

“Look, I’m not trying to be a bitch. I just want everyone to keep a realistic outlook here. Elizabeth and Jason aren’t living a fairy tale. If they’re lucky, they’ll come out of this with a friendship. But I just think this is going to end badly. For everyone.”

“What happened to my optimistic dreamer?” Zander said, laughing and kissing her on the cheek.

“She grew up,” Emily murmured. She gathered the magazines and planner back into her arms and stood. “She grew up and realized her little fairy tale world crumbled while she was away.”

May 5, 2014

This entry is part 4 of 23 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Poisonous Dreams #2

Luke’s

Elizabeth arrived before anyone else to find the main part of the club empty. She stood in the entryway, staring over the bleak space. She’d been in here a handful of times in her life. The night Nikolas was shot, when she and Lucky had hid out here during their time on the run together, the night she saw Jason and told him she didn’t want to know anything about his life.

She figured that Luke was in his office and headed back there. The door was partly open and Luke was sitting at his desk, his feet propped up on his desk, a picture frame in his hands.

Elizabeth knocked on the door lightly. “Luke?”

Luke looked up and set the frame back on his desk. “Hey, darlin’. You’re early.”

“Yeah, I couldn’t stay in that penthouse any longer.” Elizabeth sat across from him and sighed. “Thinking about Laura again?” she asked knowingly.

Luke smiled sadly. “You know me too well. Yeah, I was thinking of my angel.” His eyes trained on her photograph. “She would have had a ball with this, you know? My girl loved a project and an adventure.”

“You know when Lucky was always in awe of the two of you,” Elizabeth confided. “You guys set the example for him. And for me. I know I could never settle for anything less than what I’ve seen you two share.”

“You shouldn’t,” Luke advised her. “You and the Cowboy were good together. I’m sorry it didn’t work out.”

“Yeah…we just grew apart,” Elizabeth said. She looked down at the pile of wedding materials in her hands. “Have you ever done something you know is bad for you…but good for your kids?”

Luke nodded. “The night I told Lucky about Laura and me twenty years ago.” He sighed. “It hurt to tell him that story, to watch me fall from the pedestal he’d always had me on. But I knew he needed to know. If for nothing else but peace of mind. He needed to know and I told him.” He eyed her. “Second thoughts?”

“Yeah,” she admitted. “Second thoughts. Third. Fourth. I don’t know, Luke. Is this really a good idea? Should I really do this?”

He set his feet on the ground and leaned forward to look her more closely. “Honey, are you still in love with Morgan?”

Elizabeth hesitated and looked down. “Wouldn’t that be stupid,” she murmured.

Luke sighed. “Aww, kid. Maybe we should look for another solution. You can’t be married to someone who doesn’t love you back. That’s not a healthy situation.”

She sighed. “It’s late now, Luke. I mean, even if I wanted to stop it, I couldn’t. The families have agreed. Besides, I know that Jason will treat me well. He doesn’t know how to be any different.”

Luke nodded. “Okay. Let’s say that you get married. This situation lasts longer than you think. You’re due in what…early January?”

“Yeah.”

“What happens when you begin to show?” Luke asked. “When you feel that baby begin to move and he’s the only one there when it happens? When you have doctor’s appointments and he takes you to them. What happens when he gets attached to your child?”

Elizabeth looked away. “You have a good point. Jason’s a good man. I know what an incredible father he’ll be and I know how much it hurt when he lost Michael. I don’t want to be another Carly for him. I’ll have to take every precaution to keep him from getting attached.”

“And how are you going to do that?” Luke asked.

“I won’t talk to him about it. I’ll get a guard to take me to the doctor. I’ll just keep that part of my life private,” Elizabeth replied.

Luke sighed. “I don’t know that it’ll be that easy, honey.”

Elizabeth opened her mouth to reply when the door opened behind them. “Hey,” Lucky greeted. “Sorry we’re late. Nikolas was late picking me up.”

Nikolas snorted. “Like you couldn’t have walked.”

Elizabeth stood and hugged the two brothers. “Thanks for coming. Did you see Emily out there?”

“Nope. She’s not here yet,” Lucky replied. “Hey, Dad, you got any food in this joint?”

Luke grinned. “The kind you call for. You go order us some pizzas, okay Cowboy? The three of us will set something up in the main room.”

As they walked down the hall towards the bar, Nikolas pulled handed Luke a folder. “Laura’s latest progress report. The new medication is working.”

Luke’s grin became genuine. “So, they’re saying there’s more hope?”

Nikolas nodded. He pulled out a chair for Elizabeth before taking a seat for himself at one of the empty tables. “They’re saying if things continue as well as they’ve been going, she might start recognizing people. One of the doctors recommended moving her closer to us. Like Ferncliffe.”

“That would be wonderful,” Elizabeth smiled. “You could visit her so much more easily.”

Lucky sat down next to his father. “It’s about time some good things started happening to this family,” he said firmly. “We are so overdue.”

Emily entered the club then, her arms full of magazines. “Sorry I’m late,” she said as she plopped down in the last empty chair. “Did we start yet?”

“Nope,” Elizabeth replied. “We were just talking about the good news.”

“Good news?”

“My mother is improving,” Nikolas told her. “We’re thinking of moving her to Ferncliffe.”

Emily grinned. “That’s incredible. I’m so happy for you guys.”

“I guess we’d better get started,” Luke said. “While I’ve got some good thoughts in me. I, uh, didn’t plan either of my weddings, so I’m kind of hoping you women know where to start.”

“The easiest place to begin is a date,” Emily said. She pulled the wedding planner out of her bag. “Now, using Jason and Sonny’s name, I’m sure we can get any date we want at the church, so Elizabeth, what did you have in mind?”

“Well, as soon as possible.” Elizabeth frowned. “Today’s July 2. How long would it take to get all the details done?”

“About two weeks, three,” Emily answered. “If we work quickly. How’s July 21?”

“Fine with me,” Elizabeth told her. “But I guess I’d need to check with Sonny and Jason about that.”

“Well, we’ll work this that in mind. Okay, wedding party.” Emily looked at Elizabeth. “Your side?”

“Well, obviously you’ll be my maid of honor,” Elizabeth replied. “I already asked Luke to give me away and for Lulu to be the flower girl. I don’t really need bridesmaids do I?”

“I don’t think so. I doubt Jason will have ushers, so there’s no point. I suppose Sonny is the best man?”

“That’s what I figured.”

“Why are we here again?” Lucky asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Moral support,” Emily said.

“And to pay for the pizzas,” Elizabeth chimed in. Her stomach rumbled. “I’d say the kid’s hungry so they’d better get here soon.”

“Okay, we need to talk about outfits. Jason and Sonny, tuxes. Michael’s gonna be the ring bearer I figure, so he’ll need one too,” Emily continued, making things in the planner. “You’ll need a dress. White, I guess. Veil?”

Elizabeth shook her head. “Nah. Let’s not make this more traditional then it’s gotta be.”

“Good idea. I mean, they want a real wedding but there’s no reason to pretend this is anything more than a marriage of convenience,” Emily said.

Nikolas frowned. “That’s kind of a cynical outlook. Why can’t we just call it a marriage of necessity? Convenience makes it sound like Elizabeth did something wrong.”

Emily arched her eyebrows. “Didn’t she?”

“Excuse me?” Elizabeth asked, surprised. “What is going on?”

Luke shifted uncomfortably. “Ladies…”

“You did stay with Ric even after my brother warned you not to,” Emily reminded her.

“So you’re saying this is all my fault?” Elizabeth demanded.

“Emily, that’s pretty harsh,” Lucky cut in. “And let’s face it, Jason’s got as much credibility with Elizabeth as Helena Cassadine’s got with me. He lied to her and treated her like shit. Why should she have listened to him?”

“But she’s going to trust him with her life and her child’s?” Emily asked skeptically.

“The situation has changed,” Elizabeth said, defensively. “People make mistakes, Emily. You of all people should know that.”

Emily sighed. “Elizabeth—”

Elizabeth stood abruptly. “You know what, Emily? Go to hell. I’d rather Courtney help me plan this than you.” She stalked out of the club, her head held high.

She didn’t start crying until she was back in her room at the penthouse.

“That was the most selfish display I’ve ever seen,” Luke declared. He stood and leveled a nasty glare at Emily. “I don’t have the time for childish things. I’ll be in the back.”

“I don’t have to take this kind of abuse,” Emily snapped when he was gone. “Tell Elizabeth if she wants to apologize, I’ll be at home.” She swept up her things and left.

“Well,” Lucky sighed. “That was productive.”

“Yeah,” Nikolas agreed. “You want to take the pizzas and go back to Wyndemere? I got an advance copy of the Terminator movie. We can watch it in the movie theater.”

“Works for me,” Lucky replied cheerfully.

The Penthouse: Elizabeth’s Room

“I don’t need Emily anyway,” Elizabeth muttered. She wiped her eyes and reached for her notebook. “A wedding is simple. I don’t need anyone’s help.”

Carly knocked on the open door. “Johnny told me you were home early. Did it go okay?”

Elizabeth shook her head. “We barely got through the wedding party arrangements before Emily let me know exactly what she thinks of me.”

Carly frowned. “What?”

“Yep. Apparently, I’m being selfish and this entire situation is my fault,” Elizabeth remarked stiffly. She saw Emily’s name marked as maid of honor and crossed it off violently. “I wanted Ric to end up being a rapist and a kidnapper. I wanted to be pregnant with that demon’s child. I was the idiot who didn’t trust Jason and now have no reason to try and pretend I do.”

“Sounds like a productive afternoon,” Carly murmured. She crossed her arms. “So, what did you accomplish?”

“We decided the date which isn’t really set until I ask Sonny or Jason,” Elizabeth muttered. “I told Emily she’d be my maid of honor, but there’s no way in hell that’s happening now. Lulu’s the flower girl and Luke’s giving me away, but other than that, nothing.”

Carly stared at the obviously upset young woman and sighed. She entered the room and sat on the bed, deciding to take pity on her. “Okay. What’s the date?”

Elizabeth frowned. “July 21.”

“Hmm…doesn’t give us a lot of time,” Carly murmured. She reached for Elizabeth’s notebook. “Michael’s a good idea for a ring bearer. I’ll have to see if his tux from the wedding last summer still fits, but it probably won’t. I figure Sonny’s gonna be the best man. He will be now, you can be sure of that. Here give me your pen.”

Elizabeth handed it to the pregnant blonde with a mystified look on her face. “Okay.”

“Let’s see. It’s a summer wedding, so go for simple. Lilies are a good flower. Lilies and roses. They’ll be easy to get. We can decorate the church in white. You got any religious affiliation to any church?”

“Not really,” Elizabeth murmured.

“Queen of Angels will work then,” Carly decided, marking it. “We’ve got a good relationship with Father Coates. I’ll talk to Sonny about security. I know a good place to look for dresses. You got any specifications?”

“Why are you doing this?” Elizabeth blurted out finally.

Carly sighed. “Because it’s gonna happen whether I help or not. And it’s obvious none of your friends give a damn about you, and you are completely clueless, so it’s up to me to help you out. Dresses?”

“I’m not clueless,” Elizabeth said defensively.

“Elizabeth, don’t argue with me. We’ve got two weeks to pull off a respectable mob wedding and we’re both pregnant.” Carly stood. “Let’s go. You eat yet?”

“No,” Elizabeth said, standing warily. “Why?”

“Because we’ll stop at Kelly’s on our way to the bridal boutique. We’ll go to the church after that and hit the florist.”

Elizabeth followed Carly mutely into the hall and down the steps. “Okay.”

“Once we pick out your dress, we can get Lulu’s match,” Carly told her. “And we’ll have to force Jason to go to a fitting. I’ll get Michael and Sonny on it.”

“Okay,” Elizabeth agreed again. Carly started looking around the living room for her purse and didn’t see her husband or Jason emerge from the kitchen.

“We’ll make a stop at the jeweler’s too. I know Jason’s ring size, so we’re good that way. Who’s gonna be your maid of honor if Emily won’t?”

“I don’t know,” Elizabeth replied.

“We’ll have to decide that before we order your dress.” Carly got on her hands and knees on the floor and started reaching under the couch. “I know it’s here somewhere,” she muttered. “I saw the note about the veil. It’s too hot to have one, so it’s a good idea you guys vetoed it. You get a simple white dress and just wear your hair up. Do something with curls,” she advised. She fished the red purse out and started to stand. “What am I missing?”

“I have no idea,” Elizabeth replied.

“Reception!” Carly announced triumphantly. She turned and saw her husband and best friend looking at her oddly. “What?”

“What are the two of you doing?” Sonny asked curiously.

“Planning a wedding,” Carly remarked. “What does it look like? How’s July 21?”

“It’s fine,” Sonny replied. “I thought Emily was helping.”

Elizabeth crossed her arms and looked down. “I’m not speaking to Emily right now.”

“Okay,” Sonny replied. He shot Jason a curious look. “Where are you going?”

“To the bridal boutique to start looking for a dress,” Carly told him. “Well, we’re going to Kelly’s first for lunch. And then the boutique. And then the florist. And then the jeweler.”

“The jeweler?” Jason echoed.

“Uh, yeah , for the wedding rings.” Carly rolled her eyes. “Honestly. Sonny, Michael’s going to do the ring thing, so you need to take him to get fitted for a new tux. Take Jason with you. I’m sure he needs one.”

“I’m not wearing a tux,” Jason replied, stiffly.

“Yes you are,” Carly retorted. “Those idiots want a real wedding and I’ll be damned if you and the muffin make me look bad. You are getting a tux, you are wearing a stupid ring and you ,” she said, whirling to look at Elizabeth. “You are going to deal with having a pregnant matron of honor, you got that?”

Elizabeth arched her eyebrows. “Oh, really?”

“Yes. Let’s go. We’ve got a lot to do and I need to eat.”

Carly marched out of the penthouse and Elizabeth followed, shaking her head.

“When Carly gets going, she really gets going,” Sonny remarked. “And what’s the deal with Emily? I thought she was supposed to be supporting Elizabeth.”

“I don’t know,” Jason replied. “She seemed okay with it when we told her. I don’t know what happened.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Anyway, I wanted to let you know that Courtney agreed to go to the island, so if Carly’s going to be helping with the arrangements, then maybe Courtney should go as soon as possible.”

“Yeah,” Sonny agreed. “That sounds like a good idea.” He eyed his best friend. “How do you really feel about all this, Jason?”

“What do you mean?” Jason asked. He shoved his hands into his pockets. “What does it matter?”

“I don’t want you to feel like you’re being forced into this,” Sonny explained. “Like the families said, there’s no telling when this will be over. Elizabeth could have the baby by that time.”

“I know,” Jason remarked. “I’m prepared for that.”

“Are you?” Sonny asked. “Well, if I were you, I’d be careful about this whole pregnancy thing. It’s real easy to get attached to a child—you know that better than anyone.”

“Don’t worry,” Jason assured him. “I plan on staying completely objective to the pregnancy. I mean, if she needs anything, I’ll do it. But I’m not going to go out of my way.”

“That’s good,” Sonny replied. He shook his head. “I just don’t understand. Emily was so…upset when Elizabeth found out about Ric. She was here day and night. She’s been going to all the doctor’s appointments. She helped her move in. What’s changed?”

“I don’t know,” Jason said. “But I’m going to find out.”
Quartermaine Mansion: Emily’s Bedroom

Emily slammed her magazines on the desk and glared at the bride on front cover. Why couldn’t anyone see her point of view? Was it so difficult for people to see Elizabeth wasn’t perfect?

She crossed her arms and started to pace. She’d been home for a few months and already she was embroiled in another crazy plot. First it’d been her blackmailer, then the dead cop, and then Zander, and now Elizabeth’s shotgun wedding to Emily’s brother. It was ridiculous.

Emily scowled as she sat on her bed, remembering a conversation she’d had with Gia Campbell shortly after she’d come home.

“You know, I’m surprised Zander’s still single,” Emily remarked gratefully. “It’s been almost two years since I’ve been home.”

Gia shrugged. “Well, he hasn’t been single the whole time,” she said. She sipped her soda. “There was a brief thing with Carly last year and of course you know about Elizabeth.”

Emily frowned. “What?”

“They dated briefly last summer.” Gia shrugged. “I don’t know why since Elizabeth was hung up on your brother. But then she went to Zander for about a month. Of course before we knew it, she’d broken it off with him and moved in with Jason.”

Emily frowned. “How do you know all this?”

“Everyone knew,” Gia replied. “Zander and Liz were kidnapped together and then he accidentally shot her in front of your brother. Guess that ended it. She bounces back pretty quickly, huh? From Lucky to Jason to Zander to Jason to Ric…”

“To Jason again,” Emily finished out loud, the memory fading from her mind. She and Gia had never been close, but she’d made the effort when she’d gotten home before Gia had joined her brother in Oregon.

Elizabeth was a good person, Emily knew that. But she could hurt people. And she wasn’t going to hurt her brother again.

A knock on her window startled her and she turned to see Jason pushing through. He entered her room and frowned at her. “What’s going on?”

“What do you mean?” Emily asked innocently as she moved to her desk to fiddle with the magazines.

“Why did Elizabeth say you weren’t helping with the wedding anymore and why is Carly now the matron of honor?”

“We had a fight,” Emily murmured. “It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Em—”

Emily turned and smiled brightly at her brother. “I promise, Jase. It was just a fight. All girls have them from time to time. It’s nothing to worry about. I’ll even go apologize if you want.”

“She’s out with Carly,” Jason told her. “What was the fight about?”

“Look, I just don’t want to see either of you hurt, okay?” Emily admitted. “And I’m afraid that’s all this marriage nonsense is going to do.”

“We both know it’s not real,” Jason said slowly. “How could we be hurt?”

“Because you both still care about each other,” Emily reminded him. “And when feelings are involved, it’s always sticky. And what about Courtney? She can’t be happy about any of this?”

“She’s not,” Jason replied. He rubbed the back of his neck. “She’s going to the island until it’s all over.”

“You’re just shipping her off while you play house with Elizabeth?” Emily asked, irritated. “Who taught you how to treat women?”

Jason pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. “Look, it hurts Courtney to see this. So she’s leaving. It’s for her sanity, not for me. I want you to knock off fighting with Elizabeth. She’s under enough stress as it is and extra doesn’t help, got it?”

“I don’t work for you,” Emily retorted. “I don’t take orders.”

“Damn it, Emily—”

“I have to go meet Zander,” Emily cut in before Jason could yell at her again. She pushed past him and left her room.

May 6, 2014

This entry is part 5 of 23 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Poisonous Dreams #2

Song CreditSometimes When We Touch by Dan Hill

 

July 21, 2003

The Queen of Angels Church

Elizabeth stared into the mirror, her arms folded tightly across the bodice of her white silk wedding gown.

She was standing in the bridal room of the Queen of Angels Church getting ready to marry Jason and she couldn’t think of something she wanted to do less. He wasn’t marrying her because he loved her and wanted to but because she’d gotten herself involved with Sonny’s psychotic half-brother and ended up pregnant.

Almost like some sort of twisted and warped fairy tale, Elizabeth mused, like it was a parallel universe. Carly Corinthos was her matron of honor rather than Emily, her best friend. Because Emily felt that this was Elizabeth’s fault. That she was going to hurt her brother all over again.

And because Elizabeth suspected in some way that Emily felt she deserved what was happening to her.

“She’s going to be stunned.”

Nikolas’s voice brought Elizabeth out of her thoughts. He must have been standing on the other side of the door, his voice was so close. And it was…she frowned. He sounded happy.

There was a knock then. “Come in,” Elizabeth called.

“Darlin, it’s Luke,” her stand-in father said, pushing the door open. He slipped inside and smiled brightly. “Well don’t you just look like an angel.”

Elizabeth flushed. “Hey, Luke, you look…” she paused and her smile matched his. “You look happy. Is there news about Laura?”

“Yeah, in fact…” Luke opened the door. “Angel?”

Laura Spencer entered then, tears in her eyes and a soft smile on her lips. “Hey. Is there room for a surprise guest?”

Elizabeth gasped and looked at Luke with questioning eyes. “How…?”

“She started to remember about two and a half weeks ago and over the last week, it’s all come back.” Luke gazed at his wife in pure adoration. “The doctors say she’s a miracle but I could have told them that twenty years ago.”

Laura laughed and touched his arm. “Okay, that’s enough. Go out there. I want to speak with Elizabeth alone.” She shooed him out and Laura turned to Elizabeth.

“It seems wrong to be so happy that my former fiancé’s mother is here but it just…” Elizabeth couldn’t speak but her shining eyes told Laura just how much she was needed here.

Laura came towards her and turned her around towards the mirror so that she was peering over the bride’s shoulder. “You are so very dear to me, Elizabeth. When Lucky was gone, you were all I had of him and you came to mean so much to me. I do look on you as a daughter and just because you aren’t with my son anymore…that doesn’t change the love I have for you.”

“You and Luke…you’re the parents I’ve always wanted, that I dreamed of,” Elizabeth whispered. She swallowed hard. “Ah, did Luke tell you what was going on?”

“Yeah,” Laura remarked wistfully. She adjusted the spaghetti straps of her wedding gown and tucked a errant curl behind Elizabeth’s ear. It had escaped from a very elegant updo that Carly had done earlier. “He tells me that you’re marrying the man you love because the man you were seeing has threatened you and your unborn child.”

“Did he mention that my best friend hates me?” Elizabeth asked tearfully. “That Jason’s in love with Sonny’s sister?”

“Yeah. He told me all of that.” Laura shrugged. “Details. Emily will get over herself and if you and Jason are meant to be together, you will be eventually.”

There was a knock on the door. “Mom, any time you two are ready,” Lucky called.

Elizabeth turned towards the door. “It all feels surreal,” she confessed. “I don’t…I don’t really know what I’m doing here.”

Laura reached into her purse and withdrew a velvet box. “Well, we’ll start with something new.”

Elizabeth took the box and slid it open to reveal a delicate heart charm on a long gold chain. “Oh, it’s so beautiful.” She took it out of the box and handed it to Laura. “Will you…?”

“Of course.” Laura draped the chain around her neck and fastened the clasp. “Well, I suppose we should get you married.”

“I suppose.” Elizabeth closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Laura?”

“Yes, honey?”

“I want you and Luke to walk me down the aisle.” She met her surrogate mother’s eyes. “Please.”

“I’d be very honored.”

——

The music began and Carly slowly moved down the aisle in a delicate gown designed to hide her bulging abdomen.

“Where’s Mom?” Lucky hissed to Nikolas. He craned his neck to get a look in the back and grinned. “Never mind. She’s back with my dad and Liz.”

“I can’t believe Mom’s here,” Nikolas said, shaking his head. “I mean, three weeks ago she was in Ferncliffe and now she’s waiting to walk down the aisle with your ex-girlfriend. Do we even live in the real world?”

“Probably not,” Lucky decided. He grinned as his cousin Michael walked proudly down the aisle with the pillow in his hands. The two brothers beamed with pride as their gorgeous little sister pranced happily down the aisle in her self-described fairy tale dress with pretty pink rose petals.

Elizabeth was sandwiched between the Spencers much to most of the crowd’s surprise. She had a smile on her face which most attributed to the presence of Laura Spencer.

When they reached the altar, Luke and Laura took their seats next to their family and Elizabeth hesitantly took Jason’s hand as they stepped up to the minister to be married.

The No Name

“Times like this, it sucks that I can’t drink,” Carly remarked later. She propped her aching feet up on Sonny’s lap. “I could use some sort of alcohol right now.”

Sonny managed a smirk and turned his dark eyes to scan the room. The reception was being held at the No Name, no surprise there and in attendance was every major mob family along the East Coast. And it was only those people who looked like they were even enjoying themselves.

He and Carly were seated at the wedding party table at the front of the room and he couldn’t spot a more depressed group of people—well except for his old friend Luke who seemed to have had new life breathed into him with the recovery of his ex-wife. Currently Laura had dragged him out to the dance floor. Michael was twirling around his cousin Lulu while he sat rubbing his pregnant wife’s feet and sitting next to his best friend who was well on his way towards being piss poor drunk.

“You might want to slow down a little,” Sonny said under his breath as Jason cracked open his fifth beer of the night.

“I’m fine,” Jason muttered. His eyes were trained on his new wife who was dancing with Nikolas Cassadine at the moment. She was smiling but it wasn’t a real smile and she wasn’t really happy.

Courtney had left for the island almost two weeks ago, her things were gone from his penthouse and all of Elizabeth’s had been moved in the day after she was gone. It was almost like he’d been transported back to last September or at least it had felt that way the first day Jason had walked in to see his penthouse decorated the way it had once been…with simple leather furniture, and wide open spaces. Not to mention Elizabeth’s favorite afghan draped on the couch and her shoes next to the stairs.

It unnerved him to find out that he preferred the penthouse to look simple rather than the overdone decorating that Courtney had done back in April and it even disturbed him that he was married to Elizabeth and would be living with her for the near future.

The past two weeks had passed in almost a strange blur. Emily and Elizabeth hadn’t made up—in fact, they’d continued to fight bitterly and even he could tell Elizabeth was stung by his sister’s behavior. She’d spent more time with Carly than he knew Courtney had been comfortable with—which is why the blonde had hastened her departure before Elizabeth could finish taking over her life, or so Courtney had told him the night she left.

“I never want to plan another wedding like this again,” Carly grumbled. “Why is it our weddings weren’t this complicated?”

“Because I didn’t care about pleasing the entire syndicate,” Sonny replied. “I didn’t think I had to. But the families dictated part of the guest list and arrangements had to be made.”

The song ended and Nikolas went to dance with his mother while Luke came over to their table, leaving Elizabeth with Lucky on the floor.

“Hey, Luke,” Sonny greeted. “It’s good to have Laura home, I’ll bet.”

Luke nodded. “She came at just the right time—Elizabeth really needed the extra support what with Emily turning into a normal Quartermaine and all.”

Jason scowled. “Watch it, Luke.”

The older man snorted. “Please. Like we all aren’t worried about that kid’s sanity. I don’t know where she gets off judging Elizabeth so harshly but she’d better tone it down. Elizabeth doesn’t need the stress.”

“What she doesn’t need is to be coddled like she’s some small child,” Carly snapped. “God I hate when people treat pregnant women like that. We’re not sick, we’re not dying, we’re furthering the human race so treat us like the goddesses we are or hit the road.”

“I’m not coddling her, I’m saying the obvious. Elizabeth is already in a high-stress situation,” Luke shot back. “You of all people know what going through a high-risk pregnancy is like, so take a chill pill.”

“She’s not high-risk,” Carly corrected, “but yes, she does have the potential to become that way and I do agree that if Emily’s going to be so angry with her that she needs to keep her distance.”

Not ready for his niece to be so agreeing, Luke shrugged. “Whatever. I’m gonna go find my sister and force her to dance with me.” He ambled off to track down Bobbie.

The song ended and instead of starting a new one, the DJ they’d hired came to the microphone. “I’ve been told that a friend of the groom’s wishes to speak,” he said.

Jason frowned and glanced at Sonny. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know.” Sonny lowered Carly’s feet to the floor and stood up to scan the crowd. He saw Sammy Tagliatti making his way through the people and heading straight for Elizabeth and Lucky. “Okay, so it’s Tagliatti—” he turned back to Jason who had disappeared. Sonny focused on Elizabeth again and found his friend there.

—-

“Why is he coming over here?” Elizabeth whispered, holding Lucky’s arm tightly. She instinctively moved closer as the mob boss drew closer.

Just before Tagliatti reached them, Jason stepped up to them. “Why don’t you come back to the table?” he asked her.

Elizabeth nodded. “Okay.” He took her hand and started to lead her away but Tagliatti stepped in front of them.

“Ah, don’t hurry away so quickly.” The Italian smiled and Elizabeth automatically stepped behind her new husband. “I wish to congratulate you on your nuptials and I was just heading to make a speech in honor of this momentous occasion.”

Jason glanced around at all of the interested parties before turning a cold gaze on his rival. “Make it short,” he said through gritted teeth.

Tagliatti nodded and started walk past them. He looked at Elizabeth. “You are a beautiful bride. I only hope you remain so…full of life.”

The threat wasn’t lost on her and she stepped closer to Jason who glared at the mobster. “You’ve made your point,” Jason growled. “Go.”

Tagliatti nodded again and continued his trek towards the DJ’s booth. Jason gripped Elizabeth’s hand more tightly and returned to their table.

“Are you okay?” Sonny asked once they were seated. “What did he say?”

“Just some veiled threats,” Jason told him. He studied Tagliatti who’d taken the microphone and was clearing his throat. “He’s up to something.”

“I want to take this time and thank the happy couple for inviting myself and my family to this joyous occasion,” Tagliatti began with a charming smile. “Marriage is such a wonderful and very important step to take and it’s not a decision to make lightly.” He met Jason’s eyes and the smile would have sent chills down a normal person’s spine. “I hope that the two of you know what you’ve signed up for. Jason, you were blessed with a very beautiful young bride and I wish no harm come to her.” There was a pause. “Or you, of course,” Tagliatti added with a chuckle. “Congratulations.”

He handed the microphone back to the slightly bewildered DJ and took a moment to whisper something into his ear. The DJ nodded and Tagliatti started back to his own table.

“Mr. Tagliatti asks that the bride and groom take this time and grace us all with their first dance as man and wife,” the DJ said cheerfully. This wasn’t an unusual request in his line of business and he set out to find a romantic song since he hadn’t been given any instructions.

Elizabeth shook her head vehemently. “No.”

Sonny sighed and glanced at Jason. “You might as well. Tagliatti will answer for his behavior but there’s no need to make a scene.” He saw Elizabeth’s stricken look. “I’m sorry, Elizabeth. But…let’s just get this day over with. It’s almost done.”

She closed her eyes and nodded. “Okay. I…okay.” Jason hadn’t relinquished her hand when they’d gotten back to the table so he pulled her to her feet and escorted her to the dance floor which had been cleared of guests.

The lights were dimmed and the first notes of the song echoed in the room as he led her to the center of the room and put his hands around her waist. She reluctantly put hers on his shoulders. The resulting pose was awkward and actually kind of stiff. She felt mortified.

You ask me if I love you
And I choke on my reply
I’d rather hurt you honestly
Than mislead you with a lie

“Why do we have to do this?” she asked softly, closing her eyes to hide the tears in them.

“He’s trying to prove a point,” Jason said quietly. He glanced around and saw some of the curious stares of people who didn’t realize this was a masquerade. He shifted his grip on her waist and drew her closer.

And who am I to judge you
On what you say or do?
I’m only just beginning to see the real you

“What point would that be? That we’re some puppets on a string?” she hissed. Following his lead, she moved her hands around his neck making the hold look a little less forced.

And sometimes when we touch
The honesty’s too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide

One of the guards slid a note across the table to Sonny before resuming his post at the corner of the table.

Sonny opened it and sighed as he read it. “Jesus Christ.”

Carly frowned and leaned towards him. “Baby? What’s going on?”

I wanna hold you til I die
Til we both break down and cry
I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides

Laura sighed sadly and rested her chin on Luke’s shoulder. “I feel so terrible for them both,” she said quietly.

Luke gripped her hand tightly. “I know. But they’ll find their way eventually. Whether it’s together or apart.”

Romance and all its strategy
Leaves me battling with my pride
But through the insecurity
Some tenderness survives

“Where’s Summer?” Nikolas asked Lucky. “She didn’t want to come?”

“I haven’t really seen a lot of her lately,” Lucky admitted. “I think we’re better off as friends.” He hesitated. “Did you talk to Emily?”

Nikolas nodded. “She decided not to come. Said that it was bad enough all they were doing was fighting—she didn’t want further problems by showing up here.”

“She made the right decision but still…” Lucky shrugged. “I can’t help but wonder what’s going through her mind sometimes. We should go over and talk to her after the reception.”

I’m just another writer
Still trapped within my truth
A hesitant prize fighter
Still trapped within my youth

“They want to renegotiate the deal,” Sonny hissed. He crumpled the note in his fist and stared down at the plate. “This is about the pregnancy. They think that Ric will get a hold of the baby somehow and raise it to be just like him and the thought scares them to death.”

Carly stared at him with wide eyes. “What do you think they want to do?”

Sonny glanced at her. “Well, Carly, in this business, you eliminate the threat. What do you think they want to do?”

Horrified, she gasped, covering it with her hand. “No, Sonny, no.”

And sometimes when we touch
The honesty’s too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide

“This is almost over,” he said to her, his mouth right next her ear, the warm breath fluttering over her skin.

“Nothing’s ever really over,” Elizabeth said without thinking. She glanced up to find him looking at her oddly. Before either of them could say anything, a tinkling sound echoed through the room.

I wanna hold you til I die
Til we both break down and cry
I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides

Daniel Vega leaned over. “What are you doing?” he hissed.

Tagliatti clinked his fork on his glass again and smiled. “Proving once and for all to Corinthos who is in charge here. They answer to us. Not the other way around. Now…follow my lead.”

He clicked it a third time and this time Daniel reluctantly joined in and soon the room was filled with the echoing sound.

At times I’d like to break you
And drive you to your knees
At times I’d like to break through
And hold you endlessly

Jason frowned and glanced around. “What are they doing?”

Stricken, Elizabeth’s skin was the color of snow and her eyes were wide with some sort of fear. She licked her lips nervously. “It’s like a wedding tradition. People—they do it and they expect the, ah, married couple to…” she trailed off and closed her eyes. “They expect them to kiss,” she finished flatly.

At times I understand you
And I know how hard you’ve tried
I’ve watched while love commands you
And I’ve watched love pass you by

Sonny glared furiously at the smiling Tagliatti. But Carly’s eyes were on the dumbstruck couple in the middle of the dance floor. They wouldn’t…

Would they?

At times I think we’re drifters
Still searching for a friend

Laura yanked on Luke’s arm to keep him seated and from attacking the five families and the death glare she sent to both of her sons kept seated as well. “Look, just…let them deal with this,” she hissed.

A brother or a sister
But then the passion flares again

“Jason,” Elizabeth said hesitantly. “What are we going to do? I mean…we can’t…”

He kept his grip tight on her, fearful she was about to bolt. “We…” he looked up at Sonny and saw the tense set of his friend’s shoulders. “I think we’re going to have to.”

“None of this was part of the agreement,” Elizabeth hissed.

And sometimes when we touch

“Sonny and I will deal with this afterwards,” he told her softly. He moved a hand to her chin so he could tip her face upwards. “I’m sorry…but it’s…not like we haven’t done this before right?”

She hated feeling like this—like her life was not hers to control and that she was someone who could be ordered around. Her eyes were open wide and so were his and they could both see the reluctance in each other’s gazes.

The honesty’s too much

“He’s gonna do it,” Carly muttered, twisting her napkin tightly in her hands before shooting an incredibly nasty look at Sammy Tagliatti for putting her friend in this situation. That low down dirty no good rotten…

And I have to close my eyes and hide

He finally decided to just get it over with and he closed the short distance between them with what he had already decided would be a short brush of their lips.

But he’d forgotten how she’d tasted and once his mouth settled over hers, he let himself remember—just for a moment—what it was like. He slid a hand over her cheek and tilted her head up even further.

I wanna hold you til I die

She moaned—just the tiniest one really and he instinctively slid his tongue into her mouth, taking advantage of the moment. Her eyes fluttered shut in surprise and his soon followed suit.

He drew away after another moment to look at her with shock that was only too clearly mirrored in her eyes as well.

Til we both break down and cry

“Ah, hell,” Carly muttered. She dropped the napkin on her plate and put her head in her hands. “Sonny, please tell I did not just see that.”

Sonny cleared his throat and met his wife’s eyes. “You weren’t imagining it. It happened. The only thing that remains to be seen is exactly what in the hell it was.”

The song was coming to an end but the couple wouldn’t move from their shell shocked place on the floor.

I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides

Sammy Tagliatti sat back in his chair, smiling like the cat that ate the canary.

It was almost too easy, really.

May 8, 2014

This entry is part 6 of 23 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Poisonous Dreams #2

Limousine

Elizabeth touched her heart charm and looked out the tinted windows of the car taking them back to the penthouses. She and Jason were sitting alone in the completely silent car while Sonny and Carly followed them in a matching limo. She didn’t see the point in continuing the charade of a true wedding but she was past the point of arguing.

The only thing she wanted to do was sit out the last six months of her pregnancy in the relative solitude of the penthouse.

“Sonny and I have to meet with the families when we get back so you and Carly will be alone on the floor,” Jason broke the silence.

Elizabeth opened her mouth to ask why but quickly closed it again. “Okay.”

“We have to deal with Tagliatti’s behavior,” Jason explained. “And…Sonny received word that the families wish to renegotiate.”

Her head snapped around and she stared at him. “Why?” she demanded. “What else could they possibly want?”

Sonny had told him not to pull any punches with his explanation—to tell Elizabeth the entire truth. So Jason told her. “We think it’s about the pregnancy. They’re still worried Ric will get to the baby and they don’t want another Ric on their hands.”

Elizabeth pressed her lips firmly together. “How am I supposed to assure them that it won’t happen?” she asked. She twisted her hands in her lap.

“I don’t know,” Jason said honestly. He put his arm on the back of the seat and twisted to look at her. “Elizabeth, I’m not going to let anything happen to you. Or your child. I promise.”

“That’s not really a promise you can make is it?” Elizabeth asked softly. There was neither anger nor accusation in her voice, but he still winced.

“No, it’s not,” Jason allowed. “I’m going to do my best then. We have more allies than the families do—more friends in the syndicate. That works in our favor.”

“Okay.” She glanced up at him. “I believe you.” She hesitated. “Sonny doesn’t want me to come this time?”

Jason shook his head. “He doesn’t think it’ll be safe.”

She nodded, wanting to tell him to be careful but she thought that might be a little too personal—too close, so she opted to stay silent.

The car pulled to a stop and a guard pulled open the back door. Jason stepped out first and then helped Elizabeth out.

“Congratulations, Mr. Morgan,” the guard said formally. He was new and probably not aware that the wedding had been just for show. “Mrs. Morgan,” he nodded.

“I’ll take you upstairs and make sure you’re settled in,” Jason told her, ignoring the guard. He put a hand on the small of her back and started to steer her towards the stairs.

“You don’t have to,” Elizabeth told him. Sonny and Carly joined them. “I mean…if you need to get to the meeting as soon as possible.”

“If you’re okay with that,” Sonny told Carly, “we’ll just have one of the guards take you up. Actually…” he snapped his fingers and a dark-haired man joined them. “Elizabeth, this is Andrew. He’ll be on your door when you’re in the penthouse and he’ll be your main guard.”

Elizabeth crossed her arms tightly. “Okay.”

“Andrew, take them upstairs,” Sonny directed. “Johnny will take care of Mrs. Corinthos and Mrs. Morgan is your responsibility from now on.”

“He doesn’t have to call me that does he?” Elizabeth asked. “I mean…Elizabeth will be fine.”

“Elizabeth, don’t argue.” Sonny looked at Andrew. “You have your instructions.”

Carly shook her head. “Let’s just go, okay?” She took Elizabeth’s arm and they went towards the elevator, Andrew trailing behind them.

“Let’s get this over with,” Sonny told Jason as they headed towards Sonny’s limo.

No Name

Sonny strode into the restaurant and headed right for the private room where the heads of the families were already gathered. He took his usual seat with Jason stationed behind him. “I do not appreciate being summoned here like this,” he snarled. He glared at Tagliatti. “What the hell was all of that about here earlier?”

Tagliatti smirked. “Just proving once and for all who is in charge here. It is only out of respect for peace that we do not challenge your rights to the territory. And it is only because customarily women are not considered in business that we are willing to negotiate Elizabeth Webber’s well-being.”

“That’s Elizabeth Morgan,” Sonny corrected coldly. “And that name is as good as mine in this syndicate. For whatever reasons, she is now Jason’s wife and is as deserving of your respect as my own wife.”

“Fine.” Daniel Vega leaned forwardly. “We are still not sure about this pregnancy. You cannot offer us any assurance that Ric Lansing will not get to the child or to Elizabeth before the child is born.”

“Elizabeth is under lock and key,” Sonny reported. “She is protected by the best guards in the business, and has quit her job. She leaves the penthouse now only for doctor’s appointments and other minor things. She is never out of the guard’s sight and is always in a public place.”

“Things happen.” Michael Hernandez folded his hands and peered at Sonny. “Ric is still legally the child’s father. He has rights.”

“We can petition the court to have those taken away,” Sonny replied. “Ric would have to appear in court to argue against it and then you’d have what you’d want. Ric back in Port Charles.”

“And if he just lets the petition go through, his rights are taken away.” Hernandez nodded. “Okay.”

“We are not men who depend on the court system to do our dirty work,” Thomas Caracas cut in. “Your organization and the men in it  are  only obligated to protect Elizabeth Morgan because of her new status as Jason’s wife. The child would mean nothing to them. There are men in any of our organizations that could turn against us and work with Ric Lansing to get to the child.”

“What do you propose I do?” Sonny demanded harshly. “Go to that girl that I’ve promised to protect and tell her she needs to abort her baby because you’re scared someone will turn on you and work for Lansing?”

“No one wants another Ric Lansing running around,” John O’Reilly snapped. “And we have no assurance that one day the girl won’t go back to him. Nothing other than her word. And then she gives him the child and how are we supposed to fight against that?”

“She’s not going to go back to him,” Sonny argued. “And of course you’re obligated to protect her child.”

“As long as it’s inside of her,” O’Reilly pointed out. “Once it’s born, it’s a separate person and as far as I’m concerned, open season.”

Jason clenched his fists at his side as he listened to these petty men talk about Elizabeth and her child like they were pieces of property. He’d promised her that no harm would come to her child and damn it, for once in his life, he wanted to keep a promise to her.

“If I adopt the child, you can’t touch it,” Jason blurted out. The room went silent and Sonny twisted in his seat to gape at his friend. He took a deep breath. “If I adopt her child and put my name on the birth certificate, the child will receive the same respect and protection as a child of my own blood, right?”

“Right,” Vega said slowly. “And hearing that Jason Morgan is claiming his child might be the motivation Lansing needs to take some kind of action.”

“We’d need to talk to Elizabeth about this first,” Sonny said quickly. “She needs to be okay with this.”

“Meet us here tomorrow at eight,” Tagliatti instructed them. He smiled. “I knew we’d come up with something.”

Limo

“Jason, this is a mistake.”

Jason shook his head. “They’re not going to take her child from her and they’re not going to hurt it either. Sonny, we promised her we’d protect her at any cost.”

“You haven’t thought this through,” Sonny argued. “Yes, it would solve our immediate problems but you will be the child’s father for the rest of its life. Your name will always be on that certificate.”

“It’s on Michael’s,” Jason pointed quietly. “You’ve adopted him but my name is still there. The Quartermaines never changed it. It’s a piece of paper. It means nothing.”

“And if Elizabeth never changes it? What will happen when this child knocks on your door one day and asks why you were never there?” Sonny asked pointedly.

“I don’t…” Jason exhaled slowly. “Sonny, there was nothing else we could do. You heard them. They were about five seconds from putting a hit on a child that hasn’t even been born. I promised her…I promised her I wouldn’t let anything happen to her or the baby.”

“Jason, we talked about this a few weeks ago,” Sonny pressed. “It was going to be hard enough to stay detached from this pregnancy living with her but now that child be legally yours. In everyone’s eyes, you will be the father. You can’t do this.”

Jason shook his head. “Sonny, there’s no other way. Can you honestly think of anything else that’s going to work?”

“Well, no.”

“And you know that these men would kill a child if they thought it might threaten them in the future,” Jason reminded him. “And look, Elizabeth has to agree to this anyway and you and I both know that’s not going to be an easy sell.”

“Jason, I just don’t know if this is a good idea—”

“Sonny, I promised Elizabeth that I would protect her and for once, I’d like to keep a promise to her.”

His words ended the discussion and Sonny sat back, hoping Elizabeth would be able to talk some reason into him.

Jason’s Penthouse

Elizabeth had changed out of her wedding gown and taken a shower by the time they returned. She was in a pair of sweats and sitting on the couch with an expectant, almost fearful look on her face.

“How did it go?”

Jason looked to Sonny who shook his head. “This was your idea.”

Jason sighed. “Fine. Then you go home and I’ll do this. You’re just going to argue with me anyway.”

“Whatever. Good night, Elizabeth.” Sonny exited and Elizabeth stood.

“Jason, what’s going on?” she asked softly, wrapping her arms around her middle.

“There weren’t a lot of options,” Jason began carefully. “Because, quite frankly, the families are petty and they had almost made up their mind before I suggested that…” He rubbed the back of his neck. “What it kind of boils down to, Elizabeth, is that you are protected because we’re married but your child is still legally Ric’s and therefore…”

“Not under your protection,” Elizabeth finished. “We can petition to have his rights revoked, I mean he’s wanted by the police and—”

“We suggested that but unless it brings Ric back to Port Charles, it’s not good enough for them. They also don’t trust that you won’t go back to him, taking the child with you.”

“I would never go back to him—he tried to kill me!” Elizabeth cried, her voice shaking. Her hands were trembling and he became alarmed. He stepped forward and took her hands in his.

“Sit down. Take some deep breaths.” He kneeled in front of her. “I know you wouldn’t.”

“Jason, please don’t let them kill my baby,” she whispered faintly. Tears streaked down her cheeks. “I’ll do anything, please—”

“They won’t,” he said firmly. “Please just—-try and calm down.” He licked his lips and took a deep breath. “The only thing that I could think of—the only thing that they would have no choice but to respect…”

“What is it?” Elizabeth asked. “I’ll do it, anything,” she told him, desperate for an answer.

“The only option is that I adopt your child,” he said.

“I can’t…” She stood and shook her head violently. “No. That’s…I can’t do that.” She moved away from him and stared out the window. “Jason, I can’t let you do that.”

He rose slowly and closed his eyes. “I know we haven’t gotten along this past year but—”

“That has nothing to do with this,” she cut in quickly. Elizabeth turned to him. “Jason, I can’t let you put your name on that birth certificate and tell the world you’re my child’s father. That’s…that’s so unfair to you.”

“I decide what’s fair for me,” Jason said shortly. “This was my idea. I’m aware of the—”

“I don’t think you are.” She pushed her hair out of her face. “Jason, I can’t give my child a father in name only. I can’t do that and I can’t ask you for more. And that’s all I’m going to say so you’d better come up with another option. Because this is not going to happen.”

She rounded the couch and moved up the stairs, the discussion clearly over.

Quartermaine Mansion: Gardens

“Emily, darling, the wedding was just beautiful,” Lila reported as she sipped her tea. “I’m sorry you weren’t feeling well.”

Emily rolled her eyes. “Grandmother, you and I both know I only said that to avoid going. Elizabeth and I aren’t getting along and I thought it would be better if I didn’t go.”

“Your best friend marries your brother and you miss it because of a fight?” Lila asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Grandmother, I know you’re not being naïve. Jason and Elizabeth are only getting married to protect her from that horrid man, Ric Lansing. They’re not in love with each other. And good thing, too because all she’s done is hurt him,” Emily remarked fiercely.

“Emily, love, I think you’re being just a little harsh on Elizabeth. I was at the wedding and stayed for part of the reception. I saw the way they care for one another and shouldn’t that be what matters?”

“You saw what they wanted you to see,” Emily said carefully. “I don’t deny that Jason cares about her but he’s with Courtney, Grandmother, and she loves him, too. Shouldn’t her feelings matter?”

“Of course. I’m just sorry you’re taking her side over Elizabeth’s. After all the two of you have been through…” Lila trailed off. “It’s just disappointing that’s all.”

Emily stood abruptly. “I’m going to bed. Good night, Grandmother.”

Elizabeth’s Bedroom

She closed the door softly behind her and leaned her back against it. She’d been so terrified for a moment that she’d say yes to Jason’s idea that she knew that she had to get out of there.

The past two months felt almost like a blur to her. She crossed the room to stand in front of the mirror and turned to her side. Her pregnancy still wasn’t showing beyond some slight changes in her hips and breasts.

She’d found out about the baby before she’d known the truth about Ric and truth be told, she’d been thrilled. Up until that point, Ric Lansing had been everything she wanted in a man. He’d been honest, attentive, loving…everything Jason hadn’t been.

She’d walked into his apartment and Faith had been there. He was naked, with a sheet clutched around his waist and the viperous blonde had been lounging nude on the black leather couch that Elizabeth had made love to Ric on.

She couldn’t even register that scene fully before Ric pulled her into the bedroom and hurriedly tried to explain as he pulled on some jeans. She wasn’t really paying attention—all she knew is that yet another man had chosen a blonde instead of her.

She’d been so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t realize Ric was growing angry—angry that Elizabeth didn’t understand or that she wasn’t’ forgiving him. At that point, it hadn’t even occurred to her that Faith Roscoe was Sonny’s enemy and that he’d been working for Sonny, so something was definitely fishy there.

But Ric was angry and he was desperate and he started to threaten her. Told her that he’d kill her if she told Sonny.

That had gotten her attention and she’d looked at him—looked at this man who’d she rushed over to tell about the life they’d created and she couldn’t even imagine how she’d deluded herself into thinking she was in love with him. He was what Faith Roscoe had told her months ago—Jason in a more expensive suit.

Without the death threats of course.

She’d backed away slowly, intent on getting the hell out of there and going straight for Sonny. It had never occurred to not to go to Sonny. Ric was threatening her life—he was obviously up to something and Elizabeth had always had an ingrained sense of loyalty when it came to Sonny and Jason.

She’d turned and made a quick dash for the door. He’d grabbed the strap of her purse but she’d let it go in her haste to get out of there. She’d made it to the elevator and it wasn’t until then that she realized the results of her pregnancy test were in the purse.

She’d gone straight to Sonny’s for protection and he’d taken her in immediately after seeing her disheveled and crying in her hallway, despite Carly and later Courtney’s protests. Jason and Sonny had never once questioned her honesty—they’d already been suspicious of Ric and Elizabeth only confirmed them.

Without meaning to, she’d blurted out that she was pregnant, that by now Ric surely knew about it and that he’d threatened to kill her.

It was all Sonny had needed to hear. He told her that she was staying with him until further notice. At that point, Sonny hadn’t even known Ric was his half-brother—that Elizabeth was carrying his niece or nephew. He’d taken her in anyway.

Sonny Corinthos had protected her every step of the way since that day in May when she’d come to him but for the first time, she wondered if maybe Luke or Nikolas’s plan to spirit her out of town would have been a better route to take.

There was a soft knock on the door and Elizabeth sank into one of the soft couches Carly had convinced her to put in the room. “Come in,” she sighed.

Jason opened the door. He was still dressed in the tuxedo from the wedding but both the jacket and the bow tie were long gone and the top few buttons of the shirt were undone, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. “Elizabeth—”

“Jason, it means a lot to me that you’d even offer to do this but I can’t,” she interrupted. She brought her knees up to her chest and picked at the red nail polish on her toes.

“Elizabeth, I have gone over this a thousand times in my head,” he began. “I can’t…There is nothing else that we can do that would absolutely ensure the baby’s safety and I promised you that I wouldn’t let anything happen to her.”

“Jason, I don’t…” She tilted her face up to the ceiling. “I can’t do this. This isn’t about me. This is about the baby. I can’t put your name down and go through all of the paperwork to make you the father and not…” her eyes teared and her voice was thick. “I know you, Jason and I don’t think you could just put your name down on a piece of paper and go through all of the paper work and then just walk away.”

He looked away, shoving his hands in his pockets. “What do you want from me?” she asked. “I can’t give you what you want. I can’t be the father either. I just…there is nothing else I can think of.”

Elizabeth nodded miserably. “Yeah. I’m getting that idea. So why don’t we just petition to have Ric’s rights revoked and hope that will make the families feel better?”

“Fine. I’ll have Sonny contact a lawyer.” He hesitated. “Good night, Elizabeth.”

“Good night.”

He closed the door behind him and Elizabeth reached for the phone.

“Hello?”

“Luke?” Elizabeth fastened her free hand around the necklace Laura had given her. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

Luke set his beer on the coffee table and leaned back to put his arm around a sleeping Laura. “Naw, the wife just conked out a little while ago. What’s up? You sound upset.”

“Luke, I don’t think I can do this,” she whispered. “This is just getting out of control.”

“Honey, what happened?” Luke asked. “Did Morgan—?”

“No, it’s nothing like that.” Elizabeth sucked in a deep breath. “Jason and Sonny meant with the families. They had to renegotiate the deal.”

Luke sighed. “Aw, man. What happened?”

“They’re still concerned about the pregnancy—that Ric will get to the child.” She wiped away from tears. “And having his rights revoked wasn’t good enough for them so Jason…for whatever reason…he offered to adopt the baby.”

Luke was silent for a moment. “And obviously this isn’t a good idea.”

“Of course not,” Elizabeth protested. “My child gains a father in name only. How can I do that to her?”

“What’s really bothering you?” Luke asked.

Elizabeth shrugged even though he couldn’t see her. “Because just for a moment, I wanted the baby to be his and I wanted him to want the same thing and I realized how ridiculous that sounded. I can’t have Jason claim my child legally. That’s something that will go on forever.”

“Well, what if you get married again later?” Luke pointed out. “You could have the adoption rescinded and your husband—”

“I’m not going to trade fathers around like Carly did with Michael,” Elizabeth snapped. “She went through three men before she married Sonny and I won’t do that.”

“Okay, okay,” Luke said, trying to keep her calm. “Talk to Jason again in the morning. Try to find a way to explain this to him. He’s a good man—he’ll understand.”

Elizabeth nodded. “Okay. I’ll talk to him tomorrow. Thanks, Luke.”

“No problem, darling. Good night.”

“Night.”

This entry is part 7 of 23 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Poisonous Dreams #2

Jason’s Penthouse

Jason was on the phone the next morning when Elizabeth padded down the stairs. She was already dressed for the day in a blue tank top and blue jeans. Her feet were bare and made no sound as she headed for the kitchen.

When she emerged with a cup of tea in her hands, Jason was standing, leaning against the desk. “I just got off the phone with Sonny. He contacted Dara Jensen and she’s agreed to petition to revoke Ric’s parental rights.”

“Thanks.” She stood in front of him awkwardly. “I know you don’t really understand why I don’t want—”

“I do understand,” Jason cut her off. “And I even agree with you. The idea of putting my name on your child’s birth certificate and then just…not being in the baby’s life, it doesn’t sit well with me either.” He slid his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “I promised you that I would protect you and the baby and that’s all I’m trying to do.”

“I just…” Elizabeth sighed. “I’m afraid that if I do this, one day I’m going to have to explain why a piece of paper says she has a father when she doesn’t.” She shrugged. “Or if I’m still in Port Charles when that day comes and she’s heard of you…that she’ll come to you for answers.” She bit her lip. “I don’t want to have to put you in that situation.”

“I understand that and I really don’t want to have to answer those questions either.” Jason took a deep breath. “Elizabeth, I just…I’m trying so hard to do the right thing but I don’t know what to do.”

“I promised myself when we came up with this marriage thing that I wasn’t going to do what Carly did,” Elizabeth admitted, deciding to come partially clean with him. “I was going to do everything possible to keep this pregnancy separate from what was going on. That I wasn’t going to let you in about…” She hesitated. “I know it sounds…egotistical…but—”

“I made the same decision myself,” Jason confessed. “Sonny thought…” he shook his head.  “Elizabeth, I just want to be able to keep this promise and this is the only way that I can think of.”

“Have you talked to Courtney about this?” Elizabeth asked softly. “How does she feel about it?”

Jason shook his head. “She wouldn’t like it. She had enough problems with the marriage…I know she’d hate this.”

“And her opinion doesn’t matter?” Elizabeth asked, a little surprised.

“It’s not that it doesn’t matter…” Jason hesitated. “She doesn’t understand why I’m doing any of this.”

“Jason…” Elizabeth sighed and sat down on the arm of the couch, setting her untouched tea down. “It does…it means a lot that you’d even offer to do this but—”

“I don’t like making promises and breaking them,” Jason told her. “And I don’t like letting people down.”

Elizabeth nodded. “I understand that, but—” she closed her eyes. “Jason, this would tie us together for a very long time. I mean, if something were to happen to me, you would automatically be looked at to take care of her because you’d be the next of kin and I don’t—”

“Elizabeth, you’re doing what ifs now and right now, we should just be concentrating on getting your child through the next year,” Jason interrupted. “Once Ric and Faith are taken care of, we can talk about this. We can make those kinds of decisions then. All I want to do is to ensure your safety and the baby’s. Once we do that, we can worry about everything else.”

It was beginning to make sense to her—and after all, she promised herself that she was going to put the baby first—that her life didn’t matter as much as the baby. And if Jason and Sonny thought this was the only way, then who was she not to trust them?

She could worry about Courtney, Emily and Carly’s reactions later. This was her child and it about time she started thinking like a mother rather than a pathetic girl who was in love with someone else’s boyfriend.

She straightened and crossed her arms. “Okay.”

Jason hesitated. “Okay, what?”

“Okay, we’ll do this. If this is what it’s going to take to protect my baby, then this is what we’ll do. Where do we start?”

Not expecting her to agree so easily, Jason hesitated. “I’m not sure. I’ll have to call Dara back and find out. Are you sure?”

She nodded. “If you are.”

“It was my idea,” Jason reminded her.

Elizabeth nodded. “Okay. I’m going to go and get something to eat before my doctor’s appointment.”

“I didn’t know you had one today,” Jason frowned.

She nodded. “I go once a month until November or so when I have to go more because I’m due in January. Dr. Meadows wanted me to come in after the wedding—because I had that panic attack after the kidnapping last month, she was worried about my blood pressure—” Elizabeth broke off abruptly. “Anyway, I told Andrew about it last night just like I was supposed to.”

“Is your blood pressure okay?” he asked.

“It’s fine. It was just a little higher than she liked last time and she wanted me to come as soon as the wedding was over—” Elizabeth flushed. “She, ah, doesn’t know it wasn’t…real and…anyway, I should eat before I have to go.” She moved into the kitchen quickly.

Jason turned to the phone.

General Hospital

“Hey, Lucky, thanks for meeting me here,” Elizabeth sighed. “I’m actually a little early for the appointment so I was hoping we could talk.”

“Sure.” Lucky sat next to her. “What’s up?”

Elizabeth sat back and took a deep breath. “The families renegotiated the deal.”

Lucky exhaled slowly. Years of growing up on the run had schooled him to know that the five families were a bunch of assholes and he was worried about what this deal entailed. “And?”

“I’ll spare you a lot of the details but suffice to say Jason has to adopt the baby,” she sighed. “God, Emily’s going to hate me even more now.”

“Aw, Elizabeth…don’t worry about Em right now. Nikolas and I are working on her. Worry about yourself and the baby. Is this adoption the best thing for you or for the baby?” he asked.

“The baby and long term, it’s good for me because I still get to raise my child.” She shook her head. “But right now, being married to Jason—having him adopt the baby, it just feels…it feels off. I can’t…I don’t know if I can do this Lucky, you know? I just—I want so badly to do the right thing but no one is letting me.”

“Elizabeth, I’m sure this will work out in the long run,” Lucky told her. “Ric and Faith will get caught, the marriage will be annulled and the adoption rescinded. No big deal.”

“It is a big deal, it’s a very big deal to me,” Elizabeth protested. “Look, yesterday…it was both the worst and best day of my life and now I get to have Jason be the legal father of my child but of course he wants nothing to do with either of us wants it’s over—”

“Did he say that?” Lucky demanded, going into over-protective mode.

“No, but it’s obvious,” she muttered. She sniffled. “I just want to be careful. I’ve been reading on pregnancy and I’m going to be going through all these emotional and hormonal changes and what if I accidentally blurt out how I feel?”

Lucky frowned. “How do you feel?”

Elizabeth peeked over at him. “Do we have to talk about that?” she asked.

“I don’t think we have to.”

“Elizabeth Morgan,” the receptionist called out.

Elizabeth stood. “I will never get used to hearing that,” she grumbled.

Corinthos Penthouse

“She agreed?” Sonny asked surprised. “After your call last night, I thought—”

“Yeah, I did too but we talked about it this morning and she agreed.” Jason crossed his arms. “It’s a good thing too because I was out of ideas.”

“I can understand her reluctance,” Sonny said. “It can’t be easy for her to be in this situation, depending on us for just about everything. She’s always been one of the most independent people I’ve known.”

“She understands that we’re not doing this to control her,” Jason assured him. “Her number one priority is the baby and for right now, that’s mine, too. We gotta make sure none of this touches her, y’know? She needs to be calm during this whole thing.”

Sonny nodded. “I understand that. Why do you think Carly’s protection has nearly tripled since we announced the pregnancy? It’s hard enough on women to have babies without the added stress of our business.” He scratched his chin. “I got another call from Johnny and Francis today. They’re over in France but the trail is cold. I figure they’ve got someone here keeping an eye on things but for right now, they’re going lay low.”

Jason nodded. “Things got too hot for them here. They’ll strike when they think our guard is down.”

“Yeah, there’s no doubt about that. I’m just not sure where they’ll strike first. The families are expecting him to go at Elizabeth because he did last month but he’s gotta know they suspect that so we need to make sure everything is locked up tight. Security, our holdings—everyone has one guard with them and another following.”

“What about Courtney’s security on the island?” Jason asked. “How tight is it down there?”

“Well, it got better once she went down there. I sent some guys with her but I’ll be calling down and telling Rico to do more background checks and hire some more people. Lansing and Faith aren’t gonna be able to find a way in, I guarantee it. If they’ve got someone on the inside, we’re gonna find them.”

Quartermaine Mansion: Terrace

Emily rolled her eyes. “I am not overreacting,” she scowled. She glared at her boyfriend. “Whose side are you on?”

“I’m not on any sides,” Zander replied. “I’m just saying that you’re being unfair to her. Yes, she’s made mistakes and she’s the first to admit it but you’re making both of you miserable. She needs her best friend right now, not another person judging her.”

“Zander, you don’t…” Emily exhaled, frustrated. “You don’t understand.”

“Elizabeth’s grandmother is already not talking to her. Do you think she needs to lose someone else?” Zander asked pointedly.

“You’re not going to make me apologize,” Emily said scathingly. “There are things you don’t know.”

“Do you even remember all that Elizabeth’s done for you?” he demanded. “All I ever hear about is the four musketeers. Your adventures, the good times. She’s your best friend, Emily. She’s been in your life longer than most people. Don’t you think that friendship deserves to survive?”

“Look, I’ll think about talking to her but that doesn’t mean I’m going to bow down and praise her like the rest of you.” Emily tossed her hair back. “Too many things have happened.”

“I wish you’d tell me,” Zander said, a little annoyed. “This little vague game we’ve got going on is really pissing me off.”

“Well, excuse me for wanting to keep a few things to myself,” Emily said crossly.

Zander stood. “Whatever. I gotta get back to ELQ. My lunch break is over.”

Dr. Meadow’s Office

“Things look great,” Dr. Meadows told her. She smiled. “Your blood pressure is right where it should be, all tests are normal. How’s your morning sickness?”

“It’s tapering off a little,” Elizabeth said. “But I’m almost at the end of my first trimester so that’s supposed to happen right?”

“Right. Just be careful, the second trimester is a little bit better than the first. Your body is still adjusting to pregnancy and expect your hormones to get a little whacky. It’s not uncommon to just burst into tears for no reason at all.” She glanced down at the chart. “Now, will your husband be coming the next time?”

“I…” Elizabeth hesitated. “Probably not, why?”

“Well, I was planning on doing the ultrasound next month. You’ll be showing, we can see the baby and a lot of fathers generally like to be present for that.” She smiled.

“Oh…” Elizabeth took a deep breath and put her hand over her abdomen. “Well, Jason…he’s got a really demanding job. He can’t always…you know what I mean.”

“Well, Sonny Corinthos makes it to all of Carly’s appointments and don’t they work together?” Dr. Meadows asked, frowning slightly.

“Yeah. Well…we’re not Sonny and Carly,” Elizabeth said faintly. “Is that everything?”

“Yes. I’ll see you next month, Elizabeth. Take care of yourself.”

“I will.”

May 9, 2014

This entry is part 8 of 23 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Poisonous Dreams #2

July 24, 2003

The Morgan Penthouse

Elizabeth set a cup of coffee in front of Laura and took a seat next to her on the couch. “And then Dr. Meadows asked if Jason would be coming next month,” she sighed.

“Aw…” Laura sipped the hot liquid and shook her head. “There’s really no easy way to tell her that the marriage is fake and Jason won’t be coming ever, huh?”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth stared into her tea. “Is it wrong to want it to be different?” she asked softly. “For us to be married…and having a family for real?”

“Oh, honey…” Laura reached out and her free hand squeezed Elizabeth’s wrist. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting the fantasy to become a reality. You just…you have to be careful.”

“I know.” Elizabeth sighed again. “I’m just…I don’t know what I’m doing anymore, Laura. I haven’t felt like myself in so long. How can I possibly provide for a child when I’ve never been any good at taking care of myself?”

“Being a mother gives you this…this feeling like you can do anything,” Laura told her. “It’s a feeling of power, of peace. There are going to be times when you feel like you’re drowning—when you haven’t had a shower in three days or when your baby is so sick you’re scared he’s going to die and you wonder how you ever got yourself in this situation to begin with.” She smiled. “And then there are times when it’s all perfect. When you look at this life…this beautiful creature that’s part of you and you just think…how could I have ever been blessed like that?”

“I don’t have a place to live, I don’t have a job,” Elizabeth began to tick things off on her fingers. “I don’t even have a crib for the baby to sleep in. What if this thing goes on longer than we think? Ric and Faith could stay under the radar for years. And Sonny isn’t going to go after them—he wants to keep the status quo. You know…as long as I’m safe.”

“Well, isn’t that what matters?” Laura pressed. “What does it matter if they’re never found? You and the baby are safe. From the families, from Ric. From Faith. From everyone.”

Elizabeth stood and wrapped her arms around her abdomen protectively. “So my child and I are left in this limbo for who knows how long. I get raise my child but at what cost? An indefinite marriage to a man who doesn’t want me, who doesn’t want my child?”

Laura rose and put her hands on Elizabeth’s shoulders. “When I was your age, I was living with Stavros Cassadine and forced into a marriage with him. There were days when I wanted to die. When the only thing I wanted to just throw myself off a cliff. They told me Luke was dead and I didn’t think there was anything else for me. So I had made up my mind to do it. To just…end it. End the misery. Because…then Luke and I would be together.”

“And you found out you were pregnant with Nikolas?” Elizabeth asked.

Laura nodded. “At first…I hated the idea. Of giving birth to a child that was the product of a rape. But Nikolas was such a sweet and beautiful baby—it broke my heart to leave him. But I knew Stefan would care for him. Nikolas made the time worth it.”

“And you think my child will make this worth it?” Elizabeth asked.

“I agree that it’s not fair situation. To be deprived of love…to live in an environment with a man who isn’t in love with you and isn’t interested in being a father to your child…but it’s what you make of it.” Laura kissed Elizabeth’s cheek. “You stopped being your top priority the moment you found out you had a life growing inside of you.”

“You’re right,” Elizabeth agreed. She smiled and swiped her tears away with a swipe of her sleeve. “I just…it’s so hard.”

“You call me if you need me,” Laura instructed her. “It’s going to take some time until Audrey can accept this decision but until then I’m here. Any time, day or night…Luke and I are here. Nikolas and Lucky, too. You are not alone, Elizabeth. And if at any time this gets to be too much…you come home with me okay?”

“What about this arrangement and…” Elizabeth sighed. “I can do this, Laura. I just…one day at a time, right?”

“Right.”

The Corinthos Penthouse

Carly thumbed through yet another catalogue of baby furniture. “You know what would be cute?” she asked as she sipped a strawberry smoothie she’d talked Sonny into making her.

“Yeah?” Sonny asked absently mindedly from his desk where he was filling out some paperwork for the office.

“If I had a boy and Elizabeth had a girl, we could get matching nursery furniture. You know…pink and blue, whatever. They’re going to be cousins and I’ve decided that I’m going to be nice to her because of that.” Carly flipped to another page. “We need all the family we can get.”

“Right.”

“And since I’m ordering this set today, maybe I’ll order the matching in a pink…you know, like a baby present for Elizabeth?”

“Uh huh.”

“What room in the penthouse do you think they’ll use for the nursery?” Carly pondered. “I mean…do you think she’ll even want to set one up?”

“Right.”

Carly narrowed her eyes. “You’re not even listening to me.”

“Right.”

“So when I say I’m going to grab Elizabeth and we’re going to pig out on all the unhealthy food we can find and then we’re going skinny dipping at the lake…?”

That got Sonny’s attention and he turned to look at her on the couch. “What are you talking about over there?”

Carly rolled her eyes. “I’m talking about a baby present for Elizabeth. A matching nursery set—mine blue and hers pink.”

“That’s a very good idea but what if you have a boy and she has a boy, too? Or you both have girls? Or—”

“So, we’ll fix it later.” Carly glared at him. “I’m trying to be nice to her for Jason’s sake and for her pregnancy’s sake. But now I’m debating on whether furniture would be a good idea because I don’t even know if she’d set up a nursery at the penthouse.”

Sonny frowned at that. “That’s a good point. I mean we’re all treating this like a temporary situation but I have to admit…I don’t know where Ric and Faith are, they’re not making any waves and I don’t want to disrupt the peace. I don’t really care to find them—as long as they stay away from here. Let the families hunt him down.”

“So this marriage could last…indefinitely?” Carly asked, troubled. She stood and crossed over to him to lean against the desk. “That hardly seems fair to either of them. Jason might be adopting this baby but you’re just planning on that to be safety measure. How is he going to be around a baby that’s legally his for so long and have to give her up?”

“And Elizabeth and Jason both have to get ready for the possibility that they might be raising this child together after all.”

“So should I order the matching furniture?” Carly asked.

Warehouse

“Yeah. Yeah, that shipment will arrive sometime today,” Jason hesitated when Laura Spencer appeared in his doorway. “Okay…so call if there are any problems. Bye.”

“Hey, Jason, the receptionist told me I should just come on back,” Laura told him. “I’ sorry if I’m interrupting anything.”

“No, it’s fine. Can I help you with something?” Remembering that Laura was supposed to have lunch with Elizabeth at the penthouse today, he frowned. “Is Elizabeth okay?”

Laura hesitated. “Yes and no. Do you have a moment?”

Resigned, Jason nodded and Laura closed the door. “I just wanted to let you know that I’ve extended an offer for Elizabeth to stay with Luke and myself…whenever and however long she wants.”

“Did…she take you up on that?” Jason asked. “Because it’s not part of the arrangement—”

“With the pregnancy…the arrangement might be causing her a little bit of undue stress,” Laura told him. “And I just…I want her to be safe and I want the baby to be safe.”

“She had a doctor’s appointment yesterday,” Jason said. “Was her blood pressure still high?”

“No, it was back to normal, but the longer this goes on…the more it’s going to wear on her. She’s just in a delicate place right now and I want it understood that I really don’t agree with the route you all took,” Laura said. “If I’d been home a little earlier, I would have argued against it. Pregnant women do not need to be in false marriages with death threats over their heads.”

“I agree but my first priority was keeping Elizabeth alive and we couldn’t see any other way to keep the families away from her,” Jason answered. “Laura…we’ve been over it all before. I don’t mean any disrespect but Elizabeth can’t go and stay with you. Not if we want to keep her safe.”

Laura narrowed her eyes. “Jason, she’s in a marriage with a man who doesn’t love her and who’s adopting a child he doesn’t intend to raise with her. She’s got the fear of Ric and Faith popping out at any turn and not to mention the idiotic five families out for blood and did I mention that she lives across the hall from my bloodsucker of a niece? If Elizabeth wants a break from that situation, she’s welcome at my home. And I don’t mean any disrespect,” she added with a touch of sarcasm.

Feeling uncomfortable, Jason shifted. “The adoption is…look…I would—” he took a deep breath. “I know how much it means to Elizabeth to have your support—and for you to be home. Especially since Mrs. Hardy isn’t being very supportive herself so I want you to know that I will do whatever Elizabeth wants me to do. If she decides against the adoption, we’ll come up with another solution. I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of putting my name on a birth certificate for a baby I’ll never get to see grow up or be a father too but I promised her that she and the baby would be safe.”

“Has it ever occurred to you that maybe you could be a father to the baby?” Laura pressed. “That you could adopt her? Be her father? You don’t even have to be married to Elizabeth to have that.”

Jason shook his head. “I would have no right to ask Elizabeth for joint custody.”

“So…it has occurred to you,” Laura replied.

“Yeah,” Jason allowed. “But it’s not an option. Elizabeth doesn’t want to be married to me—she’s not going to want me to be her baby’s father. She walked away from my life a year ago—she won’t want her child in it.”

“It’s a little late for that don’t you think?” Laura asked. “For the rest of this child’s life, she will either be the daughter of Ric Lansing or Jason Morgan. The baby is already in your life whether you ask for the responsibility or not.” She flushed. “I really shouldn’t be meddling. This isn’t any of my business. I’m just letting you know that if I think this is too much for her, I will take her back home with me. Whether she wants it or not.”

“Agreed. And I will do everything in my power to see that she doesn’t have to feel that way.” Jason stood. “Was there anything else?”

“You’re a good man, Jason and I know what a good father you were to Michael,” Laura told him. “You deserve that chance again.” She left then, leaving Jason with a lot to think about.

This entry is part 9 of 23 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Poisonous Dreams #2

July 24, 2003

Morgan Penthouse

Elizabeth was leaning against his desk and had the phone pressed to her ear when Jason came home that night. “Gram, please just—this is the third time I’ve called and you’re still not letting me explain.”

“What’s there to explain?” Audrey said shortly. “You broke up with a Harvard lawyer and married into the mob. Explanation finished.”

“That’s not how it happened,” Elizabeth sighed.

“He’s a common thug Elizabeth—”

“Gram, stop calling him that!” Elizabeth cut in. “You might not like him but he’s my husband and that means the insults stop!”

“Elizabeth, you have done some incredibly irresponsible things in your life but trading in Ric Lansing for Jason Morgan was above and beyond the most idiotic—”

“You know nothing about Ric Lansing or the hell he wreaked on my life,” Elizabeth cried. “How can you stand there and make judgments when you know nothing that’s going on?”

“Are you pregnant, Elizabeth? Is that you married him?” Audrey demanded.

“Yes, I am pregnant but that has nothing to do—”

“Oh…you’re giving that criminal a child,” Audrey moaned. “Another criminal, just like him.”

“Oh, that is the end of it…that is it!” Elizabeth slammed her hand down on the desk. “That little criminal will be your great-grandchild and how dare you—”

In a flash, Jason yanked the phone from Elizabeth, alarmed at where the argument was going—the red in Elizabeth’s cheeks and her heavy breathing. “Just take deep breaths, okay?” he directed.

“Jason give me the phone,” Elizabeth seethed.

Instead, he pressed the receiver to his ear. “Mrs. Hardy?” he asked politely.

Audrey coughed. “Mr. Morgan.”

“Elizabeth is pregnant—and the last thing she needs to be get into argument after argument with you. You either respect her and her decisions or you don’t. She won’t beg you for the love you’re supposed to give unconditionally. Goodbye.” He hung up the phone. “Don’t call her again. It only gets you upset and you don’t need that right now.”

She glared at him. “Who do you think you are?” Elizabeth demanded. “You can’t tell me—”

“I’m not telling you this to control you,” Jason told her softly. “The more you argue with your grandmother, the more upset and hurt you’re going to get.”

“She called my baby a criminal,” Elizabeth pressed her lips together, her voice shaky. “Not even born yet and she’s labeling her. As if the father’s occupation or personality has anything to do with the baby—” she closed her eyes. “Oh, God, what if it does?”

“Hey, this child will never know Ric Lansing, there is no way that could ever happen, okay?” Jason assured her.

“Are you sure?” Elizabeth asked him. “I mean—we don’t even know where he is or what he’s planning.”

“If Ric so much as makes a move towards you or anyone else, we’ll know. Elizabeth, I promised I would keep you safe. Don’t you trust me?”

“You I trust,” Elizabeth sighed. “Ric—it just doesn’t make any sense for him to have disappeared like this or that no one can find him. What if…what if they never find him?” she asked. “What if we’re just…stuck here until like six years down the road when he decides it’s safe to come after us?” she demanded.

“It’s not going to be that long,” Jason remarked firmly.

“But how do you know?” she pressed.

There was a knock on the door that saved Jason from answering. He turned and pulled it open, revealing Sonny and Carly.

“Hey, we need to talk,” Sonny told him. “Carly came over to—” he glanced at his wife. “Why did you follow me?”

“It’s business,” Carly said, stone-faced. She pushed past Jason and stopped in front of Elizabeth. “We need to talk.”

“Oh really?” Elizabeth remarked. “You sound just like your husband.”

“Good, because I’m been practicing.” She turned back to the confused men. “You guys can have the downstairs, we call upstairs.” She started for the stairs and with a small shake of her head, Elizabeth followed.

Sonny closed the door and cleared his throat. “I might be overstepping here but I think I have to do something about this.”

“Something about what? Did one of the families come up with something?” Jason asked, crossing his arms.

“No, this is about this situation and how the two of you are handling it,” Sonny told him. “You both seem to be operating under the assumption that is a temporary situation.”

Jason frowned. “This is temporary.”

“Temporary in the sense that neither of you want to be married to the other for the next fifty years, yeah,” Sonny agreed. “But it’s not a matter of weeks or just two months. Elizabeth could very be living here for a year or two.”

Jason shifted. “Okay, yeah?”

“In a year, the baby will be here, living in this penthouse with you as the legal father. Jason—this is why I argued against adoption. I know you—I know that’s not going to be easy on you.”

Jason turned and went towards the couch. “I’m—I’m aware of that fact and I know that if Elizabeth has the baby while we’re still married—that it’ll be difficult for me not to want to help—to be a part of his life. Especially in the first few months when the baby won’t be sleeping through the night and Elizabeth will be tired from being up with him all night.”

He pressed the heel of his hand to his forehead. “Laura Spencer came by the warehouse today to talk to me about this very thing. And she asked me why I just didn’t ask Elizabeth to be the baby’s father.”

“Laura loves Elizabeth very much and I think it’s been very good for her to have her back. She has a point Jason. You will be in Elizabeth’s life for at least the next year or so. Certainly during this entire pregnancy and the first part of the baby’s life. Why not just make it easier on both of you—”

“Because this shouldn’t be about making it easy on me or Elizabeth. This should be about that child and what’s best for him,” Jason interrupted. “Yes, it would be easier if I were the full-time father and yes, that’s something I’ve thought about—something I could definitely see myself doing. But there are other factors here, Sonny.”

“Like?” Sonny prompted.

“Courtney, for one,” Jason told him. “She doesn’t even know about the adoption yet and you know she’s thinking this will be over in a few weeks. There’s also Elizabeth—who didn’t even want my name on the birth certificate. What makes you think she’ll want me to be in the baby’s life beyond that?”

“Elizabeth didn’t want to give her child a father in name only,” Sonny reminded him. “As for Courtney, there’s a lot of things you haven’t mentioned to her.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jason demanded.

“It means that you haven’t told her about the wedding—about that little kiss Tagliatti orchestrated, have you?” Sonny asked pointedly.

Guest Bedroom

Carly pushed open the door and strolled in, Elizabeth behind her. “Yes, I think this will do nicely,” she nodded.

“For?” Elizabeth asked.

“The nursery,” Carly said absently. She moved towards the windows to look at the view of the park. “I was looking at some books to decorate my nursery and I came across this adorable pale yellow room trimmed in pale green and I just thought it would be a good color scheme for this room.”

“Carly, I’m not…we’re not doing a nursery here,” Elizabeth told her. “There’s no point—”

“You don’t want to be prepared?” Carly asked, arching an eyebrow. “Say in five to six months when you’re still here, still married to Jason—you don’t want to go into labor and not have a place for the baby to sleep.”

“Well, that’s a good point.” Elizabeth touched her abdomen. “Yellow and green, you said?”

“Pale. Those are really good neutral colors since you don’t know if the baby’s a boy or a girl.” Carly shrugged. “I’m doing my nursery in blue because I know this is a boy,” she told her. “Sometimes…you just know.”

“I want a girl,” Elizabeth confessed. “A little girl named Laura.”

“Laura, huh?” Carly nodded. “So you got the gut feeling about the girl? That’s cool. Laura Morgan,” she tested it.

Elizabeth looked at her oddly. “She won’t be a Morgan forever.”

Carly snorted. “Yeah, okay. Elizabeth, were you even at the wedding?”

Knowing exactly where the blonde was going with this, “That was a mistake,” Elizabeth explained. “It hasn’t happened since and it’s not going to happen again.”

“Uh huh.” Carly shrugged. “Even so, she’ll always be considered Jason Morgan’s daughter. Whether or not she has your last name.”

“But everyone knows she’s not biologically his,” Elizabeth said faintly.

“Doesn’t matter. Michael isn’t Sonny’s biological child but he’s his son. Even when we weren’t together for that year and even though it’s only been the last few years—all people need to know is that you are married to him, you are pregnant and he is the legal father.”

“I—” Elizabeth just shook her head, unable to find the words.

“Does that bother you?” Carly demanded. “To know that Jason—a criminal, a man with no heart, no conscience—will be considered the—”

“Don’t you ever say those things about him,” Elizabeth broke in sharply. She stalked towards her. “Even to prove a point—even to get a rise—don’t you ever say those things about him. Those words don’t even belong in the same sentence as Jason—in the same universe, do you understand?”

Carly blinked. “Okay, if you’re in love with him, why not just let him have the kid? Be a family or whatever?”

“I’m not—” Elizabeth shook her head again. “That’s not it at all.”

“I get it…” Carly smiled thinly. “You’re afraid that living the illusion of a happy family will hurt too much when this is over and he goes back to Courtney. That if you let Jason play daddy, you won’t want to let him go when the time comes.”

“You should know better than anyone how much Jason loves children, how unfair it would be to let him be the father to a child that isn’t his.”

“Yeah, it would be unfair and what I did to him…it will haunt me forever.” She pressed a hand to her chest, covering her heart. “It tears me up inside sometimes, Elizabeth, because no matter how good a father Sonny is or how much he loves Michael, I know I broke Jason’s heart when I concocted that plan all those years ago. I know what it cost him because I see it every day when he looks at Michael.”

“Losing that little boy nearly destroyed him and I refuse to put him through that again,” Elizabeth said softly.

“Why would you have to?” Carly demanded. “The only man who wants your baby is Ric and I don’t see you giving in to him.”

“You never saw yourself giving in to AJ.”

Carly exhaled slowly. “Point taken. But I thought AJ would take Michael from me. Ric can’t take Laura from you. Jason would die before that happens. Everyone knows that Ric is the biological father. You’re not hiding that. Elizabeth, the only person that would ever take her from him…is you.”

“Jason’s only married to me because there was no other option. He’s adopting this child because there is no other option. He doesn’t want to be the actual father. He doesn’t want to be in the delivery room when she’s born, rock her to sleep after she wakes up in the middle of the night—he doesn’t want my daughter so why do we have to have this conversation?” Elizabeth asked, her voice trembling.

“I know that’s not your brain talking, Elizabeth, that’s your fear, so I’m going to let it slide. I don’t like you. We have never gotten along.”

“Then what are you doing here?”

“I’m looking out for Jason,” Carly retorted. “I know him better than he thinks. He thinks he’s in love with Courtney. But he agreed to marry you—knowing it could go on indefinitely. He agreed to adopt your child—agreed to let you move in here and play house. Agreed to send the woman he supposedly loves a thousand miles away while he shacks up with his ex-girlfriend.”

Carly stepped towards her. “And he kissed his ex-girlfriend on their wedding day. A kiss that was not faked, was not planned and was not appropriate given his commitment to Courtney. I know Jason. He never got over you, Elizabeth and it is completely clear to me that you never got over him.”

“None of that matters,” Elizabeth remarked softly. “It just doesn’t.”

“I don’t have anyone right now, Courtney’s gone and my mother has her own life. I don’t have a female friend and I never particularly wanted one until I had Courtney in my life. I miss her, and I miss having someone to talk to—someone who’d sneak me junk food,” Carly admitted.

“What’s your point?” she asked.

“My point is that your own best friend isn’t speaking to you because she can’t take her own head out of her ass long enough to realize that is not about her. It’s not about her petty problems or jealousies. It’s about you and keeping you and your baby safe. I went through my first pregnancy terrified and alone. I don’t see why you should, too.”

Elizabeth hesitated. “It would be nice if we didn’t fight as much,” she told Carly. “And—I would like to have someone close that I could talk about…the baby and stuff with.”

Carly nodded. “And in return I get potato chips,” she said firmly.

“Yeah, sure.”

“And you’ll think about what I said…about Jason and Laura?” Carly prompted.

“Okay,” Elizabeth agreed reluctantly.

Living Room

Jason cleared his throat. “What about it?” he asked.

Sonny shook his head. “Never mind. No point in forcing something you’re not ready to deal with. Uh, if you want, we get you to the island in the next few days. So you can tell Courtney about the adoption in person.”

“Yeah.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “Okay. Sounds good.”

“What sounds good?” Carly asked, making her way down the steps with Elizabeth in tow. She kissed Sonny’s cheek.

“I’m going to arrange for Jason to visit Courtney,” Sonny admitted. “To talk to her about the adoption.”

Elizabeth shifted and took a deep breath. “Did you call Dara about that?” she asked Jason.

“Yeah, we need to go down there. Sign some paperwork. There’s some social worker that I need to talk to,” he told her. “Tomorrow good?”

“It’ll have to be in the morning,” Carly announced. “We’re getting lunch and going shopping after that.”

Sonny raised his eyebrows. “Was that what the business was about?” he asked.

“I suggested that she might start thinking about decorating the spare room for Laura,” Carly said. She shrugged. “Paint some murals on the walls or something right?”

“Right,” Elizabeth agreed. She flicked her eyes up to Jason. “If it’s okay with you, I mean.”

“Yeah, sure, good idea,” Jason nodded. “Listen, I have to make some calls, so…”

“Yeah, we’re going,” Carly told him. She took Sonny’s arm. “Let’s go.”

When they had left, Elizabeth took a deep breath and forced herself to relax. It wouldn’t do any good to be nervous and tense around him all the time. “I think I’m going to go sketch upstairs. Let you make your calls—”

“I don’t have to make any calls,” Jason caught her elbow as she turned away. “I just said that to get rid of Sonny and Carly.”

“Okay…well, then did you want something?” she asked him.

“Yeah…to talk to you,” he replied. He hesitated. “About the baby.”

May 10, 2014

This entry is part 10 of 23 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Poisonous Dreams #2

Morgan Penthouse

Elizabeth blinked. “What about the baby?”

Jason glanced away. He’d wanted to broach the topic that both Laura and Sonny had talked to him about. The more he thought about it—the more appealing the idea of really being a father to Elizabeth’s child became.

But instead, he just cleared his throat and said, “I wanted to tell you that anything you need for the nursery—just let me know, okay?”

“You’re okay with it?” she asked. “I hadn’t really thought about using one of the rooms but Carly—she had a point. I don’t want to go into labor and not have a place to put her when she comes home.”

“Right,” Jason agreed. “And anything you buy…you can move if that becomes the case.”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth twisted her hands. “So you’re going to the island?” she asked.

“I have to tell Courtney about the adoption in person,” Jason told her. “I can’t tell her over the phone.”

“Of course. When do you think you’ll go?”

“As soon as possible, I guess.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Are you okay? Is there anything that you need?”

Need. She was an obligation. Elizabeth shook her head. “I’m kind of tired—I’m going to go take a nap.”

July 26, 2003

Dara Jensen’s Office

“Okay, here are the first set of forms,” Dara said setting a stack of papers in front of Elizabeth at the table in her office. “This is the petition to strip Ric of his parental rights.”

“It asks for reasons,” Elizabeth told Jason. “What should I put?”

“The truth,” Jason answered. “He threatened your life and the life of your child.” He looked at Dara. “That should be enough for the courts, right?”

“Well, as long as Ric doesn’t show up, the judge doesn’t have a reason not to believe Elizabeth. We will have to show that we tried to locate Ric and inform him of this decision. Do you have any idea where he is?”

“No and I’d die happy if I never knew,” Elizabeth retorted.

Dara glanced at Jason who sighed. “The last any of our contacts heard was that he and Faith Roscoe were in London. They’ve left that country and we think they’re in Europe somewhere.”

“Well, we’ll send it to his last known address and he’ll have six weeks to contest it. If he doesn’t, the judge will probably grant the petition. I assume there are witnesses to his attempted abduction last month?”

Elizabeth hesitated and nodded. “I was closing Kelly’s and someone grabbed me when I was leaving the courtyard. My guard had been knocked out and I had—” she took a deep breath. “I had a can of mace in my purse. I sprayed it in his eyes and ran then. The Towers are only a few blocks from Kelly’s.”

“The guard is named Max Giambetti,” Jason informed Dara. “He’s available for questioning but he can’t tell you much more.”

“Well I don’t know that we’ll have to worry about it anyway. If Ric doesn’t contest it, the petition will go through.”

“And the adoption?” Elizabeth asked as she filled in her name and other required information on the petition.

“Well, there’s two things we can work with. One—if you are in a marriage when the child is born, the man you married to becomes legally responsible whether the child is biologically his.”

Jason shook his head. “That won’t be enough,” he told Elizabeth softly. Raising his voice, he went on. “We’d rather go through the actual process.”

“Well, as soon as Ric’s rights are terminated, we can start that. Since you’re both willing, all you’d have to do is talk to a social worker. I have a friend—she’s coming down this morning actually to do the preliminary work. If she recommends you,” she told Jason, “you should have it finalized in a matter of weeks.”

“What are the chances that she doesn’t recommend me?” Jason asked.

“Well…you have quite an arrest record,” Dara sighed. “And even though your conviction for Luis Alcazar’s murder was overturned, it might carry some weight. Plus you have a certain reputation—”

“But there’s nothing concrete,” Elizabeth interrupted. “There’s no proof that he’s ever done anything illegal. All the arrests in the world can’t matter if there’s no convictions and his reputation shouldn’t even come into play.”

Dara smiled thinly. “I was about to explain all the reasons you will get the recommendation. Elizabeth is obviously very vocal in your behalf and we can give Lauren—the social worker—a list of references. Emily Quartermaine, Nikolas Cassadine, Audrey Hardy—”

“My grandmother is out of the country and even if she were here, she wouldn’t testify for Jason,” Elizabeth informed Dara. She glanced at her hands. “She’s not very supportive of my decision to marry Jason so I doubt she’d support the adoption.”

“Well, that’s a setback since she’s a very well respected member of the community,” Dara sighed.

“Laura Spencer would probably be a good reference,” Jason suggested. “She and Elizabeth are close and she supports her.”

“Yes, Laura—Bobbie Spencer, too. Does that help?” Elizabeth asked.

“Yes. They’re very respectable. However—I can’t keep Lauren from asking probing questions about you or your relationship with anyone in your life,” Dara told Jason. “Including your business relationship with Sonny or your marriage—or the fact that until very shortly before your marriage, you were dating someone else.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Elizabeth demanded.

“Well, the reason you are adopting her child is because you are married and you intend to raise the child, correct?” Dara asked.

Jason hesitated. “Well, yeah. I intend to provide for Elizabeth and the baby,” he answered.

Though he hadn’t exactly answered the question, Dara nodded. “So in Lauren’s mind, she’s going to want to know how stable your marriage is. How you could go from one woman to another in a matter of days.”

Elizabeth sighed and closed her eyes. “I knew this was a bad idea,” she murmured.

Dara frowned. “What’s that?”

“Elizabeth was originally apprehensive about going through this,” Jason admitted. “And I don’t think either of us realized just how…intrusive it would be. I assumed that because the mother supported it and we were married…”

“Ten years ago, it would have been. But everything is more difficult. Best interest of the child and all that,” Dara said. “I don’t recommend you lie to Lauren, but if you have to fudge a few details…elaborate in other instances. Really—if she does any kind of background check, she’ll learn that the two of you have been involved in some way for about four years now. You could just say that you’d been off and on and during an off period, you dated someone else before deciding to commit to Elizabeth.”

Jason nodded. “That works.” He took Elizabeth’s hand in hers. “It’s really okay. I can handle it.”

“Well, if you’re finished that form, I can file the petition and I’ll bring Lauren in while I do that, okay?”

“You won’t be here during the interview?” Elizabeth asked, concerned.

“I’ll only be gone a little while,” Dara assured her. “Don’t worry—Lauren’s a professional.”

She exited and a few moments later, a tall willowy woman with blonde hair tightly pulled into a ponytail entered. She sat across from the couple and set a few files down. “I’m Lauren Anderson,” she introduced herself. “You are Jason and Elizabeth Morgan?”

“Yes,” Jason answered shortly.

“When Dara called me yesterday, I immediately went to a contact at the PCPD and pulled both your files—what they’d release to me,” she flashed a white smile. “As well as going through various newspaper archives at the library, so in addition to what I already knew, those things and what Dara’s told me, I’m pretty well-versed in both of your lives.”

“I have a police file?” Elizabeth asked surprised.

“Well…yes,” Lauren shifted uncomfortably. “It mostly contains information about your rape—about the jail break you and Lucky Spencer orchestrated for Luke Spencer last fall, your car accident last year, etc. Nothing spectacular.” She glanced at Jason. “As for you, Mr. Morgan, you have a very long arrest record.” She laughed. “No convictions of course.”

“Of course,” Jason confirmed.

“However, a family court judge will probably want to know why you’d been brought in so often,” Lauren told them.

“Family court?” Elizabeth repeated. “I didn’t know we’d have to have a hearing—”

“Well, it’s really a formality that gets waived in most cases. However, I do think you’ll have to attend one sometime next month. It’ll be the final step.” She shifted a folder aside. “Okay, so how long have you known each other?”

“We met through his sister,” Elizabeth answered—as always being the talkative one. “Emily Bowen-Quartermaine. She and I attended high school together and we’ve been best friends ever since. Also my ex-boyfriend worked for Jason at one time.”

“Lucky Spencer?” Lauren asked. “Who was believed dead in a fire in a building that you owned, Mr. Morgan?” she asked him.

“That fire was caused by Helena Cassadine and she had Lucky kidnapped,” Elizabeth quickly explained. “Jason had nothing to do with it.”

“Of course not. So…you met while you were still in high school?” Lauren asked. She raised an eyebrow. “What’s the age difference?”

“I’m twenty-one,” Elizabeth answered, “and Jason’s twenty-eight right?” she glanced at him.

“Right,” he agreed.

“Seven years,” Lauren murmured, making a notation. “Did your relationship start while you were in school?”

Elizabeth frowned. “No. We didn’t become friends until I had graduated high school.”

“And when did your romantic relationship begin?” Lauren inquired. She checked her notes. “I have some information that you lived together during the winter of 1999 and 2000?”

“Yes,” Jason confirmed. He took a deep breath. “We…were attracted to each other at that point but I felt that she was too young and I was leaving town due to other personal reasons.”

“But you did have a romantic relationship at that point?” Lauren inquired.

“Yes,” Jason lied. “We were off and on again until early this summer when we decided to get married.”

“How off and on again?” Lauren asked.

“On again in the late summer of 2000,” Elizabeth answered. “And then in spring of 2001. And then not again until the summer of 2002.”

“And then you were off again until this summer?” Lauren asked.

“From October until June yes,” Elizabeth answered.

Lauren set her pen down. “So, why’d you decide to get married? After all this time?”

“Why does anyone get married?” Elizabeth asked shortly. “I don’t see what all of this has to do with Jason adopting my baby.”

“I want to be sure that your child be raised in a loving and stable home,” Lauren replied. “And since I have reports that Jason was dating another woman and you’re pregnant with someone else’s child, you can see why I’d wonder.”

“Ric was a mistake. A very short and regrettable mistake,” Elizabeth retorted. “He’s not a part of my life. He won’t be a part of my life.”

“And your other woman?” Lauren asked.

Jason’s mouth tightened at the implication that he’d been cheating on anyone. “I dated Courtney Matthews for a few months before we broke up in early June,” he said.

“And your reason for ending that relationship?”

Jason shifted uncomfortably and glanced at Elizabeth. “She wasn’t Elizabeth,” he answered finally. “I decided that I had to—had to make a commitment to Elizabeth.”

“Uh huh. What business are you in, Mr. Morgan?”

“I’m the co-owner of Corinthos and Morgan Coffee,” Jason answered.

“And Mrs. Morgan?”

“I worked at Kelly’s until last month. I quit because of the pregnancy,” Elizabeth answered.

“Do you plan on returning to work after you give birth?”

“I hadn’t decided,” Elizabeth said. “It would have to depend on a number of factors.”

“But if you decided to stay at home and just raise the baby—you can afford it, right?” Lauren asked Jason.

“If Elizabeth doesn’t want to work, she doesn’t have to, no. I make plenty of money.”

“Mr. Morgan, you seem to be in the habit of claiming children who aren’t yours biologically. Do you not want children of your own?” Lauren asked.

“That’s out of line,” Elizabeth snapped. “Jason raised Michael when no one else could. And that has nothing to do with my child.”

“I do want a family, yes,” Jason answered. “Michael’s mother was going through a tough time when he was born and she was scared the biological father would take him away from her so she asked me to look after him. I did it, I don’t regret it and I would do it again.”

“Uh huh. So you and Elizabeth plan on having other children?” Lauren asked.

“Of course,” Elizabeth answered, following Jason’s lead. Besides—Lauren hadn’t asked if they wanted children with each other.

“And you would still treat the adopted child like your own?” Lauren asked Jason skeptically.

“The child is part of Elizabeth,” Jason answered. “It’d be ridiculous to assume that because I had a biological child, I wouldn’t still love Elizabeth’s child the same way. Once you love someone, you don’t take it back because someone else comes along.”

“All right,” Lauren nodded. “Fair enough.” She made a few notes. “I’ll need to come by and see your home. I also need to talk to a few people. Family members, business partners.”

“What family members?” Elizabeth asked with trepidation.

“Well, I have here that you are related to Audrey Hardy, head of the Nurses’s Department at General Hospital. All other relatives live out of state or country. Mr. Morgan has a rather large family—his parents, his grandparents—”

“I’m not a member of the Quartermaine family,” Jason cut in shortly. “Emily and Lila are the only ones I get along with. Sometimes Monica and rarely Alan. I really would appreciate if you left them out of it.”

“You don’t think your family would give you a favorable review?” Lauren asked with an amused smile.

“My grandmother is out of the country and she certainly wouldn’t give Jason a favorable response,” Elizabeth muttered.

“Why’s that?” Lauren asked, interested.

“She doesn’t like Jason. She refused to attend the wedding,” Elizabeth admitted. “And we’ve argued about it repeatedly.”

“Well, sometimes family just sucks,” Lauren nodded. “Okay, so I’ve got Emily Quartermaine, Lila Quartermaine, Sonny Corinthos, Carly Corinthos—”

“Laura Spencer and Bobbie Spencer are like family to me,” Elizabeth volunteered. “We’ve been close for years.”

Lauren wrote their names down. “At this time, I’m not inclined to recommend Jason for adoption,” she informed them.

Elizabeth blinked. “Excuse me?”

“To be quite honest, Mrs. Morgan, your answers are stilted and when you don’t hesitate and try to come up with a good one, they sound rehearsed. I don’t believe the two of you have a stable home and I myself have heard rumors that this marriage was only performed because Elizabeth was being threatened by a group of men known as the Five Families,” Lauren reported. “As you can plainly see, I have no interest in allowing a child to grow up in that environment when it’s common knowledge you plan to be divorced in a year.”

Jason tensed. “Should you really be making this decision based on groundless rumors and gossip?” he asked in a quiet tone.

“You don’t intimidate me, Mr. Morgan,” Lauren said coolly. She stood and gathered the various files in her arms. “Everyone knows what you are. You are a criminal, unfit to even look at a child, much less raise one—”

“How dare you?” Elizabeth snapped, lunging out of her seat. “How dare you sit in judgment on a situation you know nothing about? You’ve met Jason for all of ten minutes and you think that qualifies you to say something like that?”

“Your defense is quite lovely, Mrs. Morgan, but it’s a little late to be showing any kind of emotion towards your husband. I’m sorry but I’m also making a note that you yourself should be investigated as to your fitness as a mother.”

Elizabeth paled considerably. “Are you serious?”

“You have no income, no way of supporting yourself save for a part-time job at a diner.”

“She’s married,” Jason retorted, rising to his feet. “She doesn’t work because she’s pregnant.”

“And when you are finally prosecuted for your vast crimes?” Lauren asked sharply. “When you go to jail and your assets are seized? How does she live then?”

“You cannot make this kind of decision based on cruel and malicious rumors,” Elizabeth spat out. “Go ahead. Make your recommendation. Do you think I’m scared of you? I know I’ll be a good mother and I know Jason is a good father and how dare you try and tell me differently. You say that because your intrusive and rude questions didn’t elicit answers that made you happy that means our marriage is fake? That we don’t care about each other?” Elizabeth raged.

Alarmed at how red she was getting and the sound of her breathing, Jason reached out and touched her shoulder. “Hey, deep breaths—it’s not worth it—”

“Did you hear what she said?” she asked him. “She says not only are you unfit but just because I married you and no longer work, I am too. Well, I’m not letting her get—” she broke off suddenly and gripped the table. “I don’t—I don’t feel so well,” she said softly.

Jason braced his arm around her waist and slowly helped her to sit down. “Are you okay? Are you in any pain?” he asked quickly.

Her breathing was coming more quickly now and she was gasping. “I can’t—I can’t breathe.”

“Okay, I’m taking you to the hospital,” he said immediately.

“Should I call an ambulance?” Lauren asked softly.

Jason glared at her. “You just sit in that chair and keep your mouth shut.” He hooked his arm under Elizabeth’s knees, swinging her into his arms.

As he reached the door, Dara entered. “Jesus, what’s going on?” she asked stepping aside so Jason could move out of the room.

“Ask your friend,” Jason said shortly before moving towards the elevators.

Dara trained her eyes on the shaken Lauren. “What the hell did you say to her?”