December 29, 2014

This entry is part 1 of 17 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Shadows #1

It’d been eating her up inside. Since the moment Nikolas Cassadine was arrested, Elizabeth Lansing felt the acid churning in her stomach.
She paced the living room of their new home. There were still boxes everywhere–she hadn’t had the energy to unpack more things over the last month or so. In fact, only three rooms were furnished. The living room, their bedroom and the kitchen.

She’d picked out a room upstairs for the nursery but beyond a few half-hearted sketches for a mural on the wall, it remained a blank room.

Elizabeth grabbed the remote for the VCR and pressed rewind. The television reporter’s face went backwards and then she pressed play.

“Preliminary autopsy reports of Alexander Lewis AKA Zander Smith have been released to the press detailing that while the body was burned very badly, the cause of death appears to be a blow to the head.”
She rewound it again.

“…the cause of death appears to be a blow to the head.”

Again.

“…appears to be a blow to the head.”

Again.

“…a blow to the head.”

She pressed the power button and the screen went black. The words kept echoing in her head. Elizabeth closed her eyes and fought against the sting of tears.

“It was an accident,” she announced to the empty room. “I didn’t–I didn’t mean to do it.”

She braced a hand on her lower back, feeling the stress of her pregnancy, feeling the stress of this whole month.

“I was terrified,” she whispered. “He looked…so angry. I didn’t know what he’d do.”

“I didn’t mean…I didn’t know that I hit him so hard.”

She felt the acid rising into her throat and covered her mouth, the tears streaking down her cheeks. “But it doesn’t matter. Because Nikolas didn’t do it.”

The door opened behind her but she didn’t turn to it. “Sorry, I’m late again,” her husband said. “I hope you didn’t wait to eat.”

“Ric.” Elizabeth slowly circled around. Ric Lansing frowned, set his briefcase on the floor.

“Elizabeth, what’s wrong?” he asked quickly. He hurried towards her and put his hands on her face. “Are you in pain? Is it the baby?”

She shook her head. “No. I need–I need to tell you something.” She backed away from him and turned away. “The night of the fire…I was at the hotel earlier that night. Before the fire broke out.”

Ric frowned. “Why? When?”

“I wanted to talk to Emily,” Elizabeth said softly, her throat felt thick and it was hard to talk. She was a murderer. How could she ever reconcile herself to that fact? “I saw Maxie Jones coming out of a door that I knew led to the basement. I only really paid any attention because you told me you thought she knew more about Zander’s disappearance than she was saying.”

Ric nodded. “She was hiding him down there after he’d gotten shot,” he informed her. “Is that what you wanted to tell me?” he asked, hope in his voice. He didn’t want her to say what he was beginning to realize was possible.

“No.” Elizabeth took a deep breath and kept her eyes trained on their second wedding photo. “I, ah, after I talked to Emily, I saw Nikolas coming out of that same room. I couldn’t…I was curious so I went and opened the door. I thought if he was down there, I could get the door closed before he noticed me and then I could tell you.”

“Elizabeth…” Ric trailed off. He had no words. He had nothing he could say to make this better–to make it go away.

“But he saw me. A-and…he ran up the stairs. At first he was just trying to get me to keep him a secret. He told me was leaving town–I wasn’t saying anything. I was in a little shock and I didn’t know what I’d do,” Elizabeth admitted. She turned, the tears streaking trails down her cheeks. “I didn’t know if I’d let him get away and then tell you–or not tell you at all…I didn’t know.”

“It’s okay. Zander was your friend a lot longer than we’ve known each other,” Ric assured her. “I understand.”

“I guess he didn’t–he took my silence to mean that I would tell and–then he grabbed my arm.” She held it out and slid up the sleeve to reveal a dark bruise in the shape of fingers. “He wouldn’t let me go,” she whispered. “He just–he was scaring me. I’d never seen him like that and I just–I just wanted to get out of there.”

He stepped towards her then, the bruise on her arm making his blood run cold. “You hit him to get away,” Ric said slowly.

She nodded. “I reached out and grabbed something. A pipe, I guess, I don’t really know. And I hit him. I–I didn’t mean to hurt him–I didn’t mean to kill him!” she cried.

Ric pulled her into his arms then. “Okay, okay, no, of course you didn’t. It’s okay. We’ll fix this.”

“We can’t fix this,” she said, clutching his arms like a lifeline. “I killed him. It’s involuntary manslaughter at the very least. I’ll have to go to jail–”

“No. You are not going to jail,” Ric said forcibly. He helped her seat down and he perched on the edge of their coffee table. “Now I want you to take deep breaths. It’s not good for the baby for you to get so upset, okay?”

“Okay.”

“No one right now suspects you,” Ric told her. “Now–that’s not saying they never will. They’re still sifting through the evidence at the scene and it’s possible they could find that pipe and your finger prints could be on it.”

Elizabeth nodded numbly. “And then they’ll know,” she whispered. “I can’t run from this, Ric–I’m guilty.”

“You were scared, you were trying to protect yourself,” Ric protested. “He had you by the arm–you didn’t mean to do it.”

“That doesn’t make me any less guilty.”

“In the eyes of the law,” Ric nodded, “no.” He took a deep breath. “Okay, you have to get out of town. Disappear. No one can know where you are. I’ll get this case closed and you can come back–”

“I don’t want you to do anything illegal,” Elizabeth interrupted. “If the evidence points to me, I don’t want you to do anything to get rid of it.”

Ric closed his eyes. “Elizabeth, that means you could never come back–”

“I don’t care,” she said stubbornly.

“Okay, chances are–finger prints won’t even be identifiable by the time they find anything,” Ric told her. “We’ll get you out of town–I shouldn’t even know where you end up.” He put his hands in the pockets of his suit jacket. “I think I know who to go to for help.”

Elizabeth frowned. “What? Who?”

“I–” he hesitated. “I think I know someone who would help you. It’s…it’s probably the equivalent of selling my soul to the devil, but I’ll do it.”

Elizabeth stood. “Ric…who are you talking about?”

“I’ll be right back.” Ric left the house before she could get another word out.


“This better be good.”

Ric stepped across the docks gingerly and kept his voice quiet. “I need your help.”

Jason Morgan raised his eyebrows. “Are you kidding me?” He shook his head and started back up the stairs.

“Elizabeth needs your help,” Ric called after him.

He heard Jason sigh and turn back around. “With that?” he asked stiffly.

“She…” Ric hesitated. “She needs to get out of town. Disappear. No one can find her until it’s safe.”

Jason came down the steps and grabbed Ric by his lapels. “What the hell did you do this time?” he demanded.

“Nothing,” Ric assured him. “She’s…she accidentally killed Zander and until the case is closed or marked inactive, I need her to get out of town.”

Jason pushed him away. “You sure she’s not covering for you?” he said scathingly.

“Look, I can’t stand asking you for this,” Ric retorted. “I’ll confess to it myself before she’s sent to jail.” He stepped towards the irate man. “Can you imagine her in jail, Jason? She’s pregnant. She’ll give birth to her baby in jail. Is that something you imagined her having to do one day?”

“A good lawyer would get her acquitted,” Jason said uncomfortably.

“The first thing they’d break is her spirit,” Ric seethed. “I would rather die than see that happen. Can you picture her in a jail cell? Locked away? From her family? Her friends? Her paintings?”

Jason took a deep breath and tilted his head to the sky. He didn’t need this right now. With the problems with Courtney, Sonny and Carly ripping each other to shreds, the territory war brewing with Faith…

“I cannot picture you in jail.”

“I’d look the same.”

The words just whispered in his ear and he remembered standing here with her all those years ago. And he finally understood what she’d been trying to say.

“All right. I’ll do it.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Have her ready by six in the morning. I’ll pick her up. You won’t know where she is and the only way to contact her will be through me. I’ll give you more details in the morning.” He turned and started up the stairs again.

“Thank you,” Ric said.

“I’m not doing this for you,” were Jason’s words as he disappeared around a corner.

“I know,” he said softly.

This entry is part 2 of 17 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Shadows #1

Elizabeth blearily rubbed her eyes and could barely focus her vision as Ric helped her into her thick black overcoat and buttoned it over her bulging pregnancy. “Who is doing this?” she asked again.
“Elizabeth–”

“I don’t feel right about this,” she protested. “I don’t feel right about slinking out of town–running from this.”

“Look–if you weren’t pregnant, we could discuss a way to end this legally,” Ric told her.” Pleading it out–asking for probation. But you’re having a baby, Elizabeth. And after the miscarriage…” he trailed off and cupped her face in his hands, drawing her face towards him and gently kissing her forehead. “I just don’t want anything to happen.”

“Okay but I want to know what’s going on. Who did you go to, Ric?” Elizabeth demanded.

She heard a car pull up in their driveway and she moved a sheer curtain out of the way to see it. In the early morning hours with little light, she could only make out a dark car.

But the figure that emerged from the driver’s side–he was unforgettable and unmistakable.

His head was down and his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. His boots–he always wore motorcycle boots whether he was in a car, limo or on his bike–were silent as he crossed the grass rather than walking up their stone-lined walkway.

Elizabeth let the curtain float back into place as she turned with wide eyes to her husband. “You asked Jason for help,” she stated.

“Who else would help without questions?” Ric asked. He shifted. “Does it worry me it didn’t take much convincing for him to help you? Sure. Am I desperate enough to ask anyway? Yes.”

Jason’s brisk knock interrupted further conversation and Ric pulled it open. Jason had no greetings–only stepped inside and kept out of sight of the windows. “We only have a few minutes,” he told Elizabeth. “I want to get out of here before the sun really gets up and people can see.”

“How exactly is this working?” she demanded. “Where am I going? And furthermore,” she glared at Ric now, “I don’t appreciate you making all these decisions for me. I barely agreed to leave and then you refuse to tell me anything that’s going on–”

“You didn’t tell her you were asking me?” Jason demanded. He narrowed his eyes. “Did he tell you that you’re leaving this morning?”

“No,” Elizabeth said, irritated. “He just woke me up and made me get dressed.” She crossed her arms. “Now I’m not taking another step until I find out what’s going on.”

“I’m getting you out of the country,” Jason informed her. “Once we’re out of the house, I’ll tell you where. No one else can know–not even Ric. And until you can come home, the only way you’ll stay in contact with people in town is through me.”

Ric expected her to argue, expected her to throw up another argument. He’d agreed to it yesterday because he thought Elizabeth would throw up a fuss and demand that at least her husband should know.

But instead Elizabeth just nodded and finished buttoning her coat. Jason gestured towards the suitcase, a duffle bag and a cardboard box which Elizabeth had packed the night before. “Is this it?”

“I only took what I’d thought I’d need. Clothing–maternity and normal. And the box is just…things to keep me from getting bored. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone and there are just some things that I can’t get anywhere.” She swung the duffle bag over her shoulder and moved to get the suitcase.

“No, let me get that,” Ric volunteered.

“No, it’d be better if you didn’t leave the house right now,” Jason told him. “When people ask where she went, tell them that her father got sick and she flew to Europe to see him.”

“Your parents live in Europe?” Ric asked, surprised.

“They have for years,” Elizabeth offered absently.

Jason frowned a little but shook it off. He picked up the box and then shifted it to one hand before grabbing her suitcase. “We’d better go.”

Ric pulled open the door and Jason left immediately. Ric tried to pull his wife close for a kiss goodbye but she just kissed him on the cheek before following Jason to the car.

Jason had her things in the trunk by the time she reached him and once her duffle bag was in there and she was in the passenger seat, he started the car and they pulled away from the house.

Elizabeth clasped her hands nervously in her lap, unable to remember the last time she had been alone with Jason in such a confined space. She cleared her throat. “I didn’t expect this to happen so fast,” she confessed softly.

He glanced at her. “How long did Ric know before he came up with this idea?”

“About ten minutes. I no sooner told him than he decided I couldn’t turn myself in.”

“Were you going to?”

“I thought about it,” she admitted. “I feel just…” she exhaled a rush of air and looked out the window. “Like something’s choking me from the inside out. I killed him, Jason. I hit him over the head and left him to die.”

Tears stung her eyes and she slid her eyelids down in an effort to stave the endless flood that seemed to plague her. “Zander. I killed Zander Smith. Emily’s first love, the f-father of my–” her voice broke. “How could I do something like that?” she asked thickly.

His fingers tightened around the steering wheel–his grip so rigid his knuckles were white. He did it in an effort not to pull over and draw her into his arms–offer her the comfort that Jason could feel she so desperately needed. But touching her was out of the question.

‘”You didn’t mean to do it,” Jason offered in an effort to make her feel better. Idly, he wondered if Ric had taken the time to really assure her that she wasn’t the person at fault here. Yes, she’d delivered the fatal blow but he’d known Zander. Knew that while Zander would never purposely hurt Elizabeth, that desperate men were capable of desperate things. Elizabeth must have been terrified to lash out in violence like she’d had.

“Intent doesn’t matter,” Elizabeth protested. “I never should have gone into that room. I should have just let it alone.” She wiped her cheeks with the back of her hands, angry at herself for breaking down in front of Jason. After all the times she’d taken comfort from him, she wouldn’t do it again. She cleared her throat. “Thank you–thank for you for helping. I wouldn’t–I wouldn’t have thought to ask you.”

“Why?” Jason asked, even though he knew the answer to that question. Because they were on opposite sides. They always had been even though it’d taken a lot of pain to see that. Because she hated asking for help and only her psychotic husband would have thought of this. Instead of taking the time and effort of getting her acquitted–which he knew she would be–he was herding his pregnant wife out of town. Taking the easy way out.

Not that Jason could blame him. Elizabeth was pregnant and no child deserved to be born behind bars and no pregnant woman deserved to go through a lengthy trial and the stress that could cause.

“Because…” Elizabeth hesitated. “Ric hates you,” she offered lamely. “I can’t imagine what made him ask you in the first place,” she admitted.

“Who else could he have asked?” Jason asked. He removed a hand from the steering wheel and rubbed the back of his neck. He hadn’t slept in almost two days. He’d left Ric on the docks and gone to his penthouse, intent on making all the arrangements for Elizabeth to leave town as quietly and efficiently as possible.

But Carly and Sonny had been arguing in the hallway, with Michael pleading with them to stop and Courtney desperately trying to referee. He’d convinced Courtney to take Carly back home and Sonny to go into his penthouse but Michael was like a leech–refused to leave his side. Normally, Jason relished spending time with his honorary nephew but he just wanted to get these arrangements made and to take a nap before having to tell Sonny he was going out of town for a few days.

But Michael was going through a difficult time–none of which was his fault so he let him tag along and set him up in his penthouse. Michael watched cartoons all afternoon while Jason was on the phone. And only when Michael fell sleep on the couch, did Jason go across the hall.

Telling Sonny had been difficult. First–they’d fought. Sonny thought Jason was trying to steal Michael from him and the next Jason knew, Sonny had told him to go ahead and take the boy–Michael loved him more anyway. Thinking that Sonny was just upset, Jason decided Michael would just stay at his place for the night.

He’d returned to his penthouse to find Courtney waiting and all she’d wanted to do was talking about them–about why they weren’t working, why they never could.

As if she already hadn’t explained it in painstaking detail a thousand times.

And when she’d opened the door to leave, they found two suitcases filled with Michael’s clothes.

Sonny had snapped. And Jason wasn’t going to trust Michael in that home until Sonny had returned to his senses.

Jason cleared his throat and looked in the rearview mirror. Michael had always been a deep sleeper and he was still curled up in the backseat, a small blanket over his body, his head resting on a pillow and his arms clutching the old giraffe that he’d never gotten rid of.

“Michael’s coming with us,” Jason finally told Elizabeth. Her eyes widened and she followed his gaze in the mirror. “Sonny–and Carly–they’re not…” he took a deep breath and tried to keep the anger and disappointment out of his voice. “Sonny’s upset because Michael came to my place yesterday but it’s only because Sonny and Carly are always arguing–not because he wants to live with me or anything,” He tried to explain–more to assure himself than to tell her. “I talked to Carly and when I told her I was leaving town for a few days and offered to take Michael, she agreed.”

“Poor little guy,” she sighed. “I can’t imagine what it’s like. Is he okay?” she asked him.

“Yeah…but I think he could use some time away from it all. You don’t mind, right?”

“No…but isn’t he going to wonder…” Elizabeth shook her head. “Where are we going?” she asked, changing the subject.

“Spain for right now,” Jason told her. “I rented a little place on the coast. It’s isolated but well stocked.”

She nodded. “Okay.” She sighed. “I wish I could have at least told Emily I was leaving. She’s been going through such a tough time with Nikolas.” The acid started churning in her stomach again. “God I hope the charges get dropped.”

“I’ll keep you updated,” Jason promised.

Elizabeth sighed. “God…this is so unfair for you. You don’t need to be doing this. You have your own life–”

“It doesn’t mean I can’t help you,” Jason argued. He glanced at her. “And I get to decide what’s fair to me.”


Michael had to be woken when they arrived at the airport and he was very fuzzy on the details seeing as how Jason had practically had to carry him down to the car in the first place.

He remembered Elizabeth from Kelly’s and from various other things and when Jason just explained he was making sure she got to her vacation house okay, he understood. After all–his mother had been pregnant and he understood that pregnant women needed to be taken care of extra special.

By the time they were in the air, Michael was awake and alert. Jason had used Sonny’s private plane, not wanting people to remember Elizabeth on a commercial flight should this whole ordeal become an issue with the law.

“So how many months ’til your baby’s born?” Michael asked, sipping the orange juice he’d been working on since breakfast.

“Three months,” Elizabeth answered.

“Does your baby kick yet?” Michael asked. He pouted. “I wasn’t with Mommy when Morgan kicked.”

“She kicks,” Elizabeth confirmed. She took one of Michael’s small hands in hers and placed it over her stomach. “Can you feel her?”

Michael nodded, excited. “Does it hurt?” he asked, intently.

“Only if she kicks the ribs.”

“So it’s a girl?”

Jason’s voice came from the other end of the cabin and it surprised her since he’d spent most of the flight on the phone, talking in a soft tone. “Yes, we found out last week,” Elizabeth told him.

“What’re you going to name her?” Michael asked. “I think it’s fun to pick out baby names. I got to suggest Morgan’s name,” he announced.

Jason frowned. “I thought your mother did,” he said, setting the phone on the receiver and shutting a file.

“I suggested it to her,” Michael corrected. “She said that names were really important, that it could mean a lot to the personality and that if you named your baby after someone, it meant that you really loved that person,” Michael said seriously.

“So you chose Morgan,” Elizabeth said with a soft smile.

“Well, yeah,” Michael said. He grinned. “Because Uncle Jason is so cool, you know?” He turned towards his uncle with complete adoration in his eyes. “I wish I were named for you,” he said with a pout.

“You’re named for your father,” Jason informed him. “And that’s just as important.”

“Yeah.” Michael sighed. “Daddy’s mad at me,” he confided in Elizabeth. “He made me leave.”

Elizabeth frowned and sat up, setting her water on the table next to her. “Made you leave?” she repeated. “What does that mean?”

“Michael, I thought I explained yesterday to you,” Jason stood and sat on the couch across from theirs.

“You’re Daddy’s friend,” Michael said patiently. “You don’t want me to be mad at him.”

Elizabeth hid a smile at how literal Michael could be. Jason might not have raised the kid, but his influence was showing.

“I heard him yelling at Uncle Jason,” Michael told Elizabeth. “I snuck out of the penthouse.”

Jason narrowed his eyes. “Michael–”

“I heard the stuff he said,” Michael said, a little unhappily. He raised his legs and tucked his knees under his chin. “He told Jason to take me with him since I loved him more.”

Elizabeth tried to control the horrified gasp that rose in throat. She swallowed it and studied Jason’s stricken expression. “Michael–” Jason began.

“He told Jason that he wished he’d never adopted me. That I’m just a whore’s bastard.” He frowned and looked at Elizabeth. “What does that mean?”

Jason straightened. “Michael–”

“It doesn’t mean anything,” Elizabeth interrupted. She drew Michael to her side. “They’re just words adults use when they’re angry.”

“But they have to mean something,” Michael said, a little stubbornly. “What does it mean?”

“Your dad’s going through a tough time,” Jason began explaining for what felt like the hundredth time.

“But why does that have to mean I have to move out? And how come I can’t stay at home or see my mom?” Michael asked petulantly. “Just because he’s in a bad mood, it don’t mean he has to take it out on me.”

“You’re right,” Jason sighed. “And I’m sorry you had to hear those things.”

“A judge asked me who I wanted to live with,” Michael told Elizabeth. “Do you think it’s bad that I told them Uncle Jason?”

Jason stood up suddenly. “You said that?” he asked, finally understanding Sonny’s irrational behavior.

Michael nodded. “Yeah, cause…ever since you came home you never left again. Mommy’s left twice and Daddy’s never around. And you don’t yell or throw glasses and you don’t say mean things that people won’t explain because they think I’m too young. I thought I’d say Aunt Courtney but she left too and sometimes she makes me feel like I’m just a little baby.”

Even as he said this long speech, his eyes were drooping and Elizabeth could feel his body becoming more and more relaxed and belatedly, she realized she’d been stroking his hair.

“Mommy used to do that,” he sighed. He wrapped his arms around her and closed his eyes.

When Jason knew Michael was asleep, he sat back down slowly and exhaled slowly. “I can’t believe how out of control this situation has gotten,” he said quietly.

“It doesn’t surprise me that he feels so strongly for you,” Elizabeth murmured, moving her hand to his back and rubbing in slow circles. “I know how much you love him and if I know–how could he not?”

“It doesn’t matter. I’m–I’m not his father. He should have picked Sonny or Carly.”

Elizabeth wisely kept her thoughts on that matter quiet. “Well, I’m glad he feels like he can depend on you. He needs someone stable.”

Jason couldn’t help but laugh a little. “And I’m stable?” he asked.

“Out of that particular group of people, you’re pretty much Ward Cleaver,” Elizabeth replied. At his frown, she sighed. “Yeah…you are,” she settled for.

He watched her lean back against the sofa cushions and how she adjusted Michael’s body so he’d be more comfortable–all without the little boy stirring or ceasing the backrub. “You’ll make a good mother,” he said impulsively.

She smiled, not taking her eyes off the redhead sleeping at her side. “God, I hope so,” she murmured.

January 13, 2015

This entry is part 3 of 17 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Shadows #1

“Is he okay though?” Carly’s voice was thin and little hard to hear on the overseas call.

Jason leaned against the pillar of the house and watched Michael take off running towards the ocean before jumping feet first into the waves.

“He’s fine,” Jason assured his friend.

“I just can’t believe Sonny did that. That’s got to be enough to get me custody right?” Carly demanded. “You should bring him home so he can tell the judge. Where are you anyway?”

“I needed to take a few days for myself,” Jason hedged. “And when Sonny told me to just take Michael to live with me–I knew I couldn’t leave him there alone. And right now–he’s having fun, Carly. I’ll bring him home at the end of the week.”

“But where–” Jason hung up his cell phone and moved away from the house. He watched Michael leave the ocean and plop onto the sand in front of Elizabeth’s beach chair.

He’d watched Michael attach himself to Elizabeth over the past two days and it worried him–Michael would be leaving in a few days and he would lose her company for who knows how long.

He moved over the sand until he was next to Elizabeth, belatedly noticing that she’d dozed off.

“She looks so funny.” Michael began building a sand castle. “With all that gunk on her nose and she’s not even wearing a swim suit.”

“Well, buddy, she’s having a baby and you know pregnant women can’t do everything you can.”

“How come you had to bring her?” Michael inquired. He thrust his hands into the sand and began digging out a trench for his castle’s moat.

“Well, she didn’t want to fly alone,” Jason tried to explain. “We’re old friends.”

Michael studied his uncle critically. “You’re the only person who’d wear jeans and boots on the beach,” he said shaking his head in disappointment.

“What do you suggest I wear instead?” Jason teased, ruffling Michael’s hair.

“Duh…swim trunks.” Michael rolled his eyes. “For Christ’s sake, Uncle Jason.” He sat back on his heels. “Can I stay with Liz until she comes home?” he asked.

“Sorry, buddy. She’s on extended vacation and we’re going home on Friday.”

“What home?” Michael sniffled. “Yours or Daddy’s?”

Jason hesitated. “Well, your mom wants you to tell the judge what Sonny said.”

“No!” Michael yelled. He leapt to his feet. “I don’t want to talk to the judge!” In his anger, he kicked his beach pail and it flew through the air and hit Elizabeth.

Right in the abdomen.

She woke with a start and clutched her hand over her belly. “What’s going on?”

“Are you okay?” Jason asked instantly. “Any pain?”

“N-no,” Elizabeth said, blinking her eyes. “What happened?”

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Michael said. He threw his thin arms around Elizabeth’s neck. “Please don’t be mad at me. I didn’t mean to hurt the baby or yell. I’m sorry.”

“You didn’t hurt the baby,” Elizabeth assured him. She hugged him tightly. “It’s okay, Michael.”

The redhead pulled away and sniffled. Tears were streaming down his face. “It’s wrong to throw things when you’re mad,” he said somberly. “That’s what Mommy tells me every time Daddy throws glasses.”

“Oh…” Elizabeth shifted one of her hands to Michael’s cheek and wiped the tears from it. “You’re just a little boy, Michael. You didn’t mean to hurt anyone. What were you so angry about?”

“Jason says I have to talk to the judge again.” Michael shifted to sit on Elizabeth’s lap. Despite the discomfort, Elizabeth said nothing. “I don’t wanna talk to the judge. Can I stay here with you where there aren’t any judges?”

“You can’t run away from your problems forever,” Elizabeth told him. “What’s wrong with this judge?”

“He keeps asking me to choose and I already chose. Why does he keep asking?” Michael demanded of Jason.

“Maybe he doesn’t think you’re sure,” Jason tried to explain. “Or maybe he wants you to pick one of your parents. I mean–you know that I love you, Michael. But your parents love you, too. And they have the right to keep petitioning the judge for custody of you.”

“But you don’t yell at me and you don’t make me cry.” Michael looked at Elizabeth. “You know Uncle Jason. Don’t you think he’d be a good father?”

Elizabeth bit her lip and glanced at Jason. She knew that he’d never lied to the little boy and that he’d want her to tell him the truth. “Sure,” she said with a smile. “I think he’d be a great father.”

“Why can’t he be my father then?” Michael asked.

“You know…you’re probably ready for some lunch.” Jason stood and pulled Michael to his feet. “Elizabeth?”

“Yeah, I’m coming.” Elizabeth frowned and planted her feet firmly in the sand so she could make the struggle to stand. A moment later, Jason took her hands in his and hauled her to her feet just the way he had Michael. “This is completely inconvenient,” she complained.

Michael giggled. “You waddle like a duck.”

Elizabeth scowled. “Not nice, Michael.”

“I never got to see my mommy when she was at six months,” Michael said, taking Elizabeth’s hand in his and leading her to the house. “You’re really big for only six months, aren’t you?”

Jason couldn’t hide his smile at the innocent question. “Michael.”

“You know, Michael, you’re a great kid and you’re gonna be a heartbreaker when you get older,” Elizabeth began as she began the climb up the steps, “but if I might give you a little tip for dealing with girls?”

“Sure.”

“Big is not a word you want to use.”


“Are you sure you’re okay?” Jason asked after he’d fed Michael and sent him to watch some cartoons. “I mean…that pail…”

“It just startled me,” Elizabeth replied, taking her dishes to the sink. “I’m more upset about Michael,” she told him honestly. “How many times has he seen Sonny get angry?”

“Too many,” Jason sighed. “I keep telling them both that Michael has always been a perceptive kid. Even when he was a baby, he could tell when someone was angry. If your body tensed while you were holding him or you just raised your voice a little, he’d get upset.”

“I guess I don’t understand why they’re putting him through this,” Elizabeth admitted, leaning against the counter. “What’s wrong with joint custody?”

“Neither of them wants to admit defeat,” Jason said bitterly.

“It must be hard for you watch them fight over the boys like this,” Elizabeth murmured, remembering the pain in his eyes when he talked about losing Michael. “Especially Michael.”

Jason cleared his throat. “We’re flying home on Friday,” he told her. “If you’ve got letters for anyone or messages, I’ll need them then. You have my cell phone number right?”

“Yeah.” Feeling a little stung at his sudden withdrawal, she moved across the room and took a bottle of water from the fridge.

“I haven’t lined up a doctor yet, but I’ll have one by the time I leave,” Jason informed her. “I’ll probably fly in one from the States if that makes you more comfortable.”

“That’s fine.” Elizabeth kept her eyes trained on her bottled water. “I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”

“Do you remember when you told me that you couldn’t picture me in jail?” Jason asked.

Elizabeth blinked and frowned as she thought about it. “Yeah–that must have been…over four years ago. When the IRS was investigating you?”

“Yeah. I didn’t understand what you meant then but when I tried to picture you in the same position…I did. After everything you’ve done for me…I couldn’t turn my back.”

“Oh…so this is just repaying old debts,” Elizabeth murmured.

“No, it’s not–” Jason began.

“I’m tired,” Elizabeth interrupted distantly. “I’m going to go take a nap.” She left the room and a few moments later, her bedroom door shut.

“She sounded upset.”

Jason turned to see a curious Michael in the doorway. “Yeah, she did.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “Michael, I don’t like the idea of you talking to a judge either. I’ll try to get you out of it, but I can’t promise anything, okay?”

“Okay.” Michael climbed onto the seat he’d vacated only a little while ago. “How long is Liz going to stay here?”

“Until she wants to go home.”

“Is she having the baby here?” Michael inquired.

“Possibly.”

“Are you going to come back and see her?”

“Yes,” Jason confirmed. “What are you getting at?”

“Can I come when you come?” Michael asked.

“I don’t know buddy–it depends on your parents.” He set the last plate in the drying rack before sitting at the table with Michael.

“What’d you say that made Liz upset?” Michael asked. He reached for a banana from the basket in the middle of the table.

“She thinks I came here because I’m grateful to her for some things she did for me.”

Michael studiously peeled his fruit and took a large bite. “Why does that make her mad?” he asked through a full mouth.

“Don’t talk with your mouth full. And sometimes people don’t like to think that you’re doing something for them because they did something for you.”

“Why?”

“Why do you ask so many questions?” Jason teased.

Michael shrugged. “How you supposed to know anything if you don’t ask?” he said. “So why?”

“Good point,” Jason allowed. “I guess because people like to think they mean more than just repaying a favor.”

“Liz wants to know that you care about her,” Michael said. “Is that what you mean?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“How come if you’re such good friends, I don’t ever see her around you?” Michael asked.

“Because she and your aunt don’t get along very well. And I don’t get along with her husband,” Jason admitted. “She’s married to Ric.”

Michael frowned. “Ric? The man who kidnapped Mommy?”

“Yeah,” Jason sighed. He rubbed his neck.

“Why would she like him?” Michael asked, wrinkling his nose. “He’s mean. And she’s so pretty and nice.”

“You can’t always decide you’re going to care about, Michael,” Jason told him. “Sometimes it happens even if it’s bad for you.”

“Okay but she deserves better.” Michael shifted and finished his banana. “I’m glad you and Aunt Courtney don’t fight like my parents even though you are getting a divorce.”

“We’re not getting a divorce,” Jason frowned. “Who told you that?”

Michael blinked. “Aunt Courtney,” he said.

Jason sat back in his chair and sighed. “Well…I guess she made a decision,” he muttered.

Not noticing his uncle’s mood change, Michael reached for an apple. “I think you should apologize to Liz,” he told him. “Daddy told me that even if Mommy was acting weirdly when she was pregnant that we had to be nice to her anyways and even if we wasn’t wrong, we had to apologize cause pregnant women were specialer than regular women.”

“He’s right. You should always treat a woman with respect, whether she’s your mother, sister, aunt or a stranger on the street but pregnant women deserve even more respect and consideration. It’s not easy to bring another life into this world and it can be really stressful.”

“Is that why Liz is on vacation?”

“Yeah. She needs a break from home,” Jason told him. “And you’re right…I should apologize to her.”

“Good. Maybe she needed a break from nasty Ric,” Michael said, visibly brightened by that idea. “I should tell her so.”

“Michael,” Jason shook his head unable to hide his smile. It didn’t matter that he agreed with his nephew.

“So, you decided to help Liz because you care about her right? Not cause she used to help you all the time?” Michael asked.

“I decided to help her because she’s important to me and you should always take care of the people who are important to you, Michael. It’s part of being a good friend and a good person.”

“Mommy told me once that you took care of me when I was a baby. That you loved me like I was your son.” Michael swung his gaze down to the table. “Is that true?”

Jason’s throat felt thick and he looked away. “Yeah. For a whole year. Your mother was sick and there was no one else. So…I took care of you.”

“So why did you stop loving me?” Michael asked, his lower lip trembling. “Did you not want to be my daddy anymore?” He folded his arms on the table and rested his chin on top of them. “You know…all my daddies leave me. AJ was my daddy and Sonny was, too. Is there something wrong with me?”

“No, no, no,” Jason quickly assured him. He slid off his seat and crouched next to Michael. “There is nothing wrong with you. It’s the people around you. You were the best thing that ever happened to me,” he assured the little boy. “I thought of you as my son,” he admitted.

“Then why did you stop?” Michael asked. He sniffled.

“Because I wasn’t…” Jason closed his eyes. “It’s so hard to explain, Michael. AJ’s your father–by blood. I know Carly’s talked about this with you right?”

Michael nodded. “She said that AJ helped make me but Sonny was my real daddy but he doesn’t want me either.”

“Sonny’s angry,” Jason instinctively explained. “Michael–when AJ found out you were his son, he was angry and he wanted you for himself. I got visitation rights but I knew that it would just be more and more painful and I didn’t want you to get upset every time AJ and I were around each other. You’re such a smart kid, you always knew when people were fighting and I hated knowing I was the reason you were crying.”

“I’m sorry,” Michael sniffled again. He rubbed his eyes.

“It’s not your fault,” Jason assured him. “I just thought it would be better if I removed myself from the situation. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, Michael, but I thought you would be better off. And when Carly married Sonny, I thought–I thought it would be okay because Sonny would love you the same way he would love any child.”

“But he doesn’t.” Tears started to stream down his cheeks. “I’m just a whore’s bastard and I think that means he’s calling Mommy a bad name and he says he wishes I was never adopted and that means I don’t really have a daddy.” Michael studied Jason. “If the judge says it’s okay and Mommy does, too…can you be my daddy again? For good?”

This entry is part 4 of 17 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Shadows #1

Jason hesitated, held himself back from speaking. He knew if he answered Michael right now, the answer would be yes and that was wrong.

Wasn’t it? Sonny was Michael’s father.

But Sonny was irrational–had said things that Michael never needed to hear. The damage was done and it would take a very long time for Michael to trust him again.

But hadn’t Jason promised Michael long ago that he’d never let anyone hurt him?

“Jason?” Michael broke into his thoughts. “You don’t want me either do you?”

“No, Michael, that’s not it at all,” Jason stood up. “I can’t–I don’t have any legal right to have custody of you.”

“But that’s not what I asked,” Michael protested. “If the judge said it was okay and Mommy does, too, can I live with you?”

“If that happens, yes,” Jason agreed finally–confident that it wouldn’t. No judge would give the child to the brother-in-law. Right?

“Okay,” Michael remarked satisfied. “That’s all I wanted to know. I’ll talk to the judge then so I can tell him I want to live with you.” He slid off the chair and disappeared into the living room.

Jason heard a sound coming from the other side of the room and turned to see Elizabeth in the doorway. “I forgot my water,” she murmured as she went to the counter. She grabbed it and hesitated. “Jason?”

“Yeah?” he asked, praying she’d say nothing about Michael and the custody situation.

“When I write to Emily…can I tell her what’s going on?” she asked. “I want her to know the truth.”

Jason hesitated and considered it. “I trust Emily–she won’t say anything. And I’ll give her my help in getting Nikolas acquitted. Yeah, you can tell her.”

“Thanks.” She cleared her throat. “I’ll just go back to my room, then.”

Two Days Later

“Take care of the baby,” Michael said solemnly as he hugged Elizabeth tightly.

“I promise if you promise to take care of yourself,” Elizabeth kissed the top of his head. “Be good.”

“Okay.” Michael looked at Jason. “Aren’t you going to say goodbye?”

Yes,” Jason remarked with a small smile. “Go wait in the car.”

Michael ran over to the passenger side and climbed in. Once the door was shut, Jason looked back at Elizabeth, all traces of humor and emotion gone from his face. “Do you have the letters?”

“Yeah.” She pulled them out of her pocket and handed them to him. “Is there anything else?”

“I don’t know how soon I can come back–there’s a lot going on at home so if you need anything, just call me and I’ll get it set up. There’s no one here but you but I arranged for a local woman to come in twice a week and she’ll probably leave some pre-cooked stuff. I set you up with a doctor who’s on vacation here for the next few months. He’ll come by sometime next week.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “I think that’s everything.”

“Sounds like it,” Elizabeth remarked dully. She thought about telling him good luck with the custody hearings and whatnot but he’d made it clear two days ago that this was no more than a repayment of old debts.

“Goodbye,” Jason said.

“See you later,” she murmured watching him walk to the car. She wrapped her arms around herself.

“She looks sad,” Michael commented, sitting on his knees and looking into the rearview mirror.

“Put your seatbelt on and sit right,” Jason remarked, consciously not looking at Elizabeth standing by the front steps.

“But she looks sad,” Michael protested. “We can’t leave her while she looks like that.”

“Michael, put your seatbelt on,” Jason repeated.

“No.” Michael crossed his arms. “Did you apologize for what you said?” he asked.

Jason closed his eyes and sighed. “You’re only seven years old. How can you possibly be this smart?” he muttered. He glanced in the rearview mirror and his heart sank at the sight of Elizabeth standing there, looking completely isolated and alone.

“Why don’t I stay here with her?” Michael suggested cheerfully.

“Why don’t you stay in the car, sit right in your seat and put that seat belt on?” Jason countered. He opened the door and went back to Elizabeth.

“Is something wrong?” Elizabeth asked concerned.

“Yeah. I need to apologize for the other day,” he told her. “I’m not doing this because you saved my life or let me stay with you or did any of the other hundred things you did before, okay?”

“Okay,” Elizabeth said, frowning. “Then why are you doing this?”

“Because you would do it for me–because you didn’t really need a reason to pull me out of the snow all those years ago other than you didn’t want to see me die. I don’t want to see you in jail. I’m doing this because I can.” He hesitated. “Because you’re important to me and I protect the people who are important to me.”

She managed a weak smile then. “Okay. Friends?” she asked hopefully.

“Friends,” Jason confirmed.

“Then I can do this.” She stepped forward and wrapped her arms around neck, embracing him tightly. “Take care of yourself, okay? And take care of Michael. He needs you.”

“He needs his parents,” Jason said softly, burying his face in her long, silky hair.

“He needs you,” Elizabeth repeated. She pulled away and kissed his cheek.

“If you say so. I should go, though.” He kissed her forehead. “Take care of yourself and call…so I know everything’s okay here, all right?”

“All right.”

When he got back in the car, Michael smiled at him. “Much better.” He put his seatbelt on. And this time when he looked in the rearview mirror, Elizabeth was smiling.

Monday Morning

Michael cleared his throat and held his mother’s hand tightly. “I already told you who I want to live with.”

Judge Peters took a deep breath and studied Carly’s blotchy face. “Mrs. Corinthos, is this a satisfactory solution for you?”

“Yes,” Carly said. She looked down at Michael. “It breaks my heart but I love my son and if this is what he needs to be happy, then I want to give it to him.”

“Michael, please sit down.” Michael obeyed the judge and Carly stood behind him. “I want you to tell me exactly what happened the night before you left for your vacation on Monday.”

“Mommy and Sonny were arguing,” Michael began. “Aunt Courtney were telling them to stop it and when Uncle Jason got there, he convinced Mommy to leave.” He smiled then. “Everyone always listens to him. He’s really smart.”

Carly smiled through her tears. “Yeah, he is, baby.”

“I didn’t want to go home with Sonny because I knew he’d be angry and sometimes he throws things and it’s scary. So I went to Uncle Jason’s and he made me something to eat and I watched cartoons. I fell asleep. When I woke up, Uncle Jason was gone but I could hear his voice across the hall. He and Sonny were arguing.” Michael hesitated. “I–I went over and I heard Sonny say that he wished he never adopted me. That I was just a whore’s bastard and if I loved Uncle Jason so much, why didn’t I just live with him?”

Carly closed her eyes, tears streaking down her cheeks. “You can’t let Michael go back there,” she pleaded with the judge. “Anywhere but into that home.”

“I agree, Mrs. Corinthos. Michael, the last time we talked, you were not calling your father by his first name. Why did that change?”

“Uncle Jason told me that a daddy is someone who loves you and always protects you. And I don’t think Sonny is my father. He’s mean and he yells a lot. I asked Uncle Jason that if he’d be my daddy again like he used to be.”

“Used to be?” Judge Peters inquired.

“When Michael was first born, I experienced post-partum depression. A very bad case of it and I left my son in Jason’s care. He named him, took care of him and for the next year, Jason was his father. He would have remained that way had a third party not informed the biological father who then sued for custody.”

“And Jason was a good father?”

“The best,” Carly whispered. “He took a picture of Michael every single day so I could see how much he’d changed when I wasn’t there. He read to him–books about different countries and he has this stuffed giraffe from that time with Jason. You have it still right?”

“Yeah, I still sleep with it,” Michael admitted with a sheepish smile.

“I have albums of pictures of Michael with Jason when he was a baby. I could show them to you if you’d like.”

“There’s no need. I will need to speak with Mr. Morgan about this but I’m just about ready to make my decision about the custody arrangements. I will more than likely award custody of your younger son to you, Mrs. Corinthos. He is but a few months old and he needs to be with his mother but…” Judge Peters glanced at one of the documents. “Michael’s birth certificate still has Jason listed as the father, were you aware of that?”

“No…I thought that changed when Sonny adopted him.”

“Well…it should have.” Judge Peters frowned. “I’ll look into the adoption. It might not have been finalized. Well, in any case, I will award custody of Michael to Jason once I have had a chance to speak with him.”

“He’s outside,” Michael jumped up and dashed from the room. Carly stared after him and wiped her eyes.

“It’s strange.” She turned back to the judge. “It tore me apart thinking that I’d lose my boys to Sonny but knowing that Michael’s going to Jason…it only makes me feel good inside.”

Judge Peters smiled. “It’s clear Michael knows what he wants. He obviously still loves you very much, Mrs. Corinthos.”

Michael all but dragged Jason in. “Here he is. Uncle Jason, the judge says I can live with you.”

Jason stared at the judge for a moment before looking Carly, stricken. “I–”

“No…it’s okay.” Carly kissed his cheek. “I never should have let Michael be taken from you in the first place, Jason. You are the only person in Michael’s life who’s ever put him first.”

Carly knelt in front of her eldest son. “Mr. Man, I love you so much and I am so proud of you.”

“You’re really not mad at me?” Michael asked hopefully. “Because I’ll live with you if you really want it.”

“I do want it but I–I think you’re making the right decision, baby.” Carly hugged him tightly. “But you visit me all the time and maybe spend some nights. I’ll miss you too bad otherwise.”

“Carly…I don’t want to separate you from him,” Jason said, shaking his head. “I can’t do that.”

“You can and you will.” Carly stood. “He needs you, Jason. And you’ve always needed him. Please–let me make this right.”

She kissed the top of Michael’s head and left.

Judge Peters cleared his throat. “Mr. Morgan, I need to know if you’re willing to take custody of Michael if I award it to you.”

“Please, Uncle Jason?” Michael asked, slipping his hand into Jason’s. “I’ll be good and I’ll eat all my vegetables and do my homework, I promise.”

Jason shook his head. “Michael, you don’t have to do anything extra. Of course I’ll take custody if that’s what Michael wants and what you think is best.”

“I’ve been meeting with Michael for the past two weeks and the only time I’ve seen him this excited and happy is when he talks about you. I’m making you Michael’s legal guardian, Mr. Morgan. There is some paperwork for you to sign which I’m sure your lawyer can take care of with you.”


Michael ran into the elevator and jumped up and down. “Come on, come on. You promised I could call Liz if I ate all of my green beans.”

Jason entered the elevator and pushed the floor for the penthouses. “First of all, I need you to do me a favor and don’t talk about Elizabeth unless we’re in the penthouse, okay?”

“Okay, why?” Michael asked.

“Because it’s sort of a secret that she’s on vacation. And secondly, I didn’t say we were definitely going to call today, okay?”

Michael pouted. “But I wanna tell her that I’m living with you for good. Hey, when can we get my stuff from my old room?”

“As soon as we can, buddy.” Jason led him out of the elevator on their floor and fished his keys out of his pocket.

“Michael!” Sonny called from his side of the hallway. He smiled and stepped towards his son. “Hey–hey, I was hoping we could talk.”

Michael shook his head and moved to Jason’s side. “I don’t want to talk to you.”

Sonny frowned. “Listen, Michael, I know you met with the judge today and I wanted to tell you that I was sorry. It’s been–it’s been really tough this last month without your mom around and I didn’t mean to say those things to you.”

“Sonny, now’s not a good time,” Jason tried to caution him.

“Jason, look I appreciate your concern but this is between me and my son, okay?”

“You’re not my daddy anymore,” Michael declared. “And I’m not your son. Remember? You told Jason that I was just a whore’s bastard.”

Sonny paled. “You heard that?”

“I heard everything you said to him,” Michael said accusingly. “And I didn’t understand a lot of it but I’m not stupid. You don’t love me. You don’t love Morgan. You like using us to hurt Mommy and I’m letting you do it anymore. I told the judge what you said and I told him that I wanted to live with Jason because he’s my real daddy.”

Sonny shook his head. “No, Michael, I’m your father. Jason’s just a friend, remember? We talked about this.”

“Fathers don’t say things like that and they don’t leave their kids’ suitcases in the hallway and they don’t say they wished they’d never adopted their kids,” Michael retorted. “I don’t want to live with you anymore. The judge says I can live with Jason.”

“Sonny,” Jason began, “this wasn’t the way I wanted to tell you but the judge awarded me custody of Michael and…I’m sure you already know that Carly got custody of Morgan.”

“Morgan’s with Leticia…” Sonny said faintly. He blinked and his eyes darkened. “You think you’re going to get away with stealing my son?” he yelled.

“Michael, listen, go inside, okay?” Jason said. He handed him the key. “Go inside and make that phone call we were talking about.” He fished his cell phone out of his pocket. “Do you know how to use the address book on this?”

Michael nodded. “Yeah, what’s she under?” he asked, remembering the fact it was a secret.

Jason leaned forward to whisper it in his ear. “Spain.”

“Okay.” Michael fumbled with lock for a moment but then he was inside.

“I’ll appeal this decision,” Sonny raged. “That’s my kid–”

“You listen to me, Sonny and you listen good because I am only going to say this once,” Jason said softly. He stepped towards his best friend. “You are in no condition to take care of your boys. When I arranged for Carly to have full custody of Michael, you promised me that you would take care of him and love him like your own–”

“I have,” Sonny cut in bitterly, “until you came home and kept trying to out do me–”

“But all you’ve done is hurt and confuse him. I warned you I wasn’t going to let you use the boys to hurt Carly. After what you pulled last weekend, I’m more than willing to keep Michael away from you. Stay away,” Jason warned.


Michael accidentally called someone else before he finally managed to call Elizabeth. The phone rang a few times before a sleepy voice answered it. “Jason? What’s wrong?”

“It’s Michael,” he announced. “How come you knew I was using Uncle Jason’s phone?”

“Caller ID…and he’s the only one with this number.” Elizabeth sleepily sat up in her bed and rubbed her eyes. “What’s up? Is anything wrong?”

“I–I don’t know. I talked to the judge today and he gave me to Uncle Jason so he’s my daddy again except Sonny was waiting for us when we got home and now they’re outside yelling at each other.”

Elizabeth hesitated, wondering what to deal with first. “Hey, Michael, you know your uncle can take care of himself. He and Sonny are friends–I’m sure it’ll be okay.”

“Sonny sounded really angry though…” Michael sniffled. “I didn’t mean to make him mad, Liz. Do you think he’ll hurt Uncle Jason?”

“No, no, sweetheart. And hey…don’t you think Jason’s pretty smart?”

“Yeah.”

“And he’s strong, too, right? I mean–I bet between you and me, he’s the strongest person I know, right?”

“Me, too,” Michael said sounding a little brighter. “Thanks, Liz.”

“No problem.”

Jason entered the penthouse at that point and locked it behind him. “Hey, did you get through?”

Michael nodded. “I told her that you’re my dad again and that Sonny was yelling at you.”

“It’s all okay,” Jason assured him. “I promise. Here…let me talk to her. Why don’t you go get changed out of your court clothes, okay?”

“Okay.” Michael handed him the phone and ran upstairs.

“Elizabeth?”

“Hey…I’m not sure whether to say congratulations about Michael or I’m sorry about Sonny.” She stifled a yawn.

“I guess both kind of apply. Did Michael wake you?”

“Yeah–but it’s okay.” She shoved the covers off her legs and struggled to her feet. “Why’d Michael call me anyway?”

“I guess–he really became attached to you last week,” Jason admitted. “The whole flight home and the last three days, he’s been talking about you and how much he likes you. If it’s a bother–”

“No, no, no,” Elizabeth said quickly. “God, it’s fine. I was just surprised. He has so many people there who love him. I didn’t think I really registered for him.”

“Well…you did. As soon as we left the judge’s chambers, he wanted to call you.” Jason cleared his throat. “I gave your letters to Emily, your grandmother and Ric. Emily–she was pretty angry.”

“Yeah…” Elizabeth shifted the phone to her other ear. “I thought she might be. I’ve been thinking about it Jason a-and I want to come home. I want to face the charges. Maybe I’ll get leniency from the court–mitigating circumstances–“

“No, absolutely not, Elizabeth,” Jason refused. “You can’t be sure that you’ll be acquitted and I don’t want to take that chance.”

“But Nikolas doesn’t deserve this,” Elizabeth choked out. She pressed a hand to her chest. “He’s not guilty and because of my selfishness, he’s suffering–“

“Emily was angry,” Jason told her. “Angry that you didn’t come to her before you left. She doesn’t want to see you in jail either. I’m going to help get Nikolas acquitted and she’s agreed. You need to stay away until we’re sure it’s okay for you to return.”

“What did my grandmother say?” Elizabeth asked, changing the subject. “I kept it brief with her–I don’t want her knowing what’s going on so I told her that I wanted to get away from the winter season.”

“I mailed your letter to her,” Jason admitted. “I thought it’d be less suspicious.”

“No, that’s a good idea. Better that way.” She hesitated and he knew why. She wanted to ask about Ric but she didn’t particularly want to ask Jason about him.

“Ric’s having seconds thoughts, too,” Jason volunteered. “But he eventually realized that it’s already done and all he can do is ride it out. This was his plan to begin with.”

“Right.” Elizabeth sighed. “Does the guilt go away?” she asked softly and he knew why she was asking him of all people. “Every time I take a step or feel the baby kick–I think of him and this little ball of acid turns inside of me. I feel like it’s eating me up inside.”

“It never goes away,” Jason admitted in a low voice. “It fades and eventually it’s so small, you don’t notice it and you learn to live with it. But it never really goes away.”

“I guess that’s the best I can hope for. I should–I should let you go. I have to eat breakfast anyway. Give Michael my love…and Jason?”

“Yeah?”

“I really am happy that you got custody. Call me selfish but…I remember when we were first becoming friends and the way you used to talk about being his father…it broke my heart because I didn’t think you were ever going to really get over losing him.” She hesitated. “And I’m just glad…that you’ve got a second chance.”

Jason didn’t know what to say in return to that. She’d been the first person he’d talked about Michael with and she really remained the only one who’d ever really understood what it was like to lose him.

And somehow, he knew she understood exactly what it felt like to get him back. To be happy that Michael would live under his roof again, look at him with all the love and adoration in his eyes–all that trust. To be his father again.

Thanks really couldn’t cover all that he wanted to say to her and because he thought he might tell her all of that–in addition to a few other things, he mumbled something about calling her later and hanging up the phone.

January 19, 2015

This entry is part 5 of 17 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Shadows #1

It was nearly a month before Jason could get away from Port Charles and get back to Spain. He’d wanted to wait until Michael was on spring vacation from school because nearly every third sentence out of the boy’s mouth was when could he see Liz again?

Truth was–Jason would be relieved to get time away from this city. Things had been tense between he and Sonny since Jason had been given custody of Michael. And those were on the good days.

Carly stopped by nearly every night with something she claimed Michael had left at her house. A lot of the clothing and toys still had price tags attached to it but she was almost in tears every time so Jason said nothing. It had never been his intention to separate Michael from Carly or Sonny.

Courtney had indeed filed for divorce and that would be final in a matter of weeks. He’d expected to feel something–sadness, anger, unhappiness—but all he felt was numb.

The investigation into Zander’s murder had become stalled. Elizabeth’s involvement hadn’t been discovered but the case hadn’t been closed so it wasn’t safe for her to return home. Jason could time Ric’s phone calls to the exact minute. He’d call at 9 AM every morning to tell Jason to bring Elizabeth home. Jason would refuse and hang up.

Lately Ric had taken to threatening Jason–demanding to know where Elizabeth was staying. Jason refused to tell him and the lawyer was beginning to get irate.

Getting away from all this would be a blessing. Even if he felt like he was walking into a trap regarding Elizabeth.

Michael spoke to her three or four times a week and he always asked his new guardian if he wanted to talk to her as well. Jason could never turn Michael down so he’d had more contact with Elizabeth in the past month than he’d had all year.

Elizabeth was entering her seventh month and the doctor Jason had arranged for had gone to see her twice. Everything was healthy and progressing nicely.

“Michael!” Jason called, setting his duffle bag next to his desk. “Are you almost ready?”

“I don’t know what to take!” Michael called. He appeared at the top of the steps, lugging two big duffle bags. “I want to show Liz all the stuff I did in school including the bookshelf I made her.”

“Well, take some of it now and some of it the next time.” Jason took one of the bags from him.

“But I’ll have more stuff next time,” Michael complained. “Ooh, I forgot my swimming goggles.” He ran back upstairs and Jason rubbed his forehead before checking the side of his duffle bag for the letters he was taking to her. There was at least ten from Emily, two from Audrey, one from Ric–which Jason was kind of surprised about–and then one from each Lucky and Nikolas.

“Okay, I got everything now.” Michael set his bag down and grinned widely. “She’s probably a lot fatter than she was last month, huh?”

“Probably,” Jason absently.

“Hey, maybe the next time we go, we could take Mommy and Morgan. I bet they’d like a vacation,” Michael suggested.

“I told you…Elizabeth’s vacation is a secret,” Jason reminded him, sliding their passports into his back pocket.

“Mommy wouldn’t say anything if I told her not to,” Michael boasted. “Could you ask Liz about it?”

“I’ll talk to her. Come on, if we go now, we can take off sooner than we’d planned.”

It was 10 PM that night when their flight arrived in Spain. With all of the time differences, it was eleven hours since they’d left Port Charles.

Michael was asleep by the time they pulled up to the house. Jason parked the car in the driveway and pulled Michael into his arms, intending to put him to bed before getting the bags from the car.

Elizabeth must have been waiting for them because she had the front door open for him. “Hey.”

“Hey.”

She followed him the room where Michael had stayed before and stopped him as he went to tuck him in. “Let me do it. You can get his bags from the car and put him in some pajamas.” Elizabeth touched his arm. “You look tired, too.”

He shrugged. “It was a long flight.” He exited the room and Elizabeth sighed. She gingerly sat down–it was getting harder and harder to move around these days. She tugged Michael’s sneakers off and then his socks.

By the time she had done that, Jason had returned and was digging his plaid pajamas from the duffle bag Michael had packed. “Here,” he said, handing her the shirt. “I’ll get the bottoms.”

Together, they changed him and then Elizabeth pulled the thin sheet over him. The nights were cool but not cold enough for anything heavier than that. She kissed his forehead and switched the night light off.

“Thanks–that’s the first time he hasn’t woken up when I changed him for bed,” Jason told her. “He’s always falling asleep downstairs.”

“I used to baby-sit back in Colorado,” Elizabeth replied as she shut the door. “It’s almost like second nature.”

Jason nodded and rubbed the back of his neck. “How have your doctor appointments been going?”

“I’ve only had the two but the doctor says everything’s good. Um–I wasn’t sure if I should mention this but–he calls me Mrs. Morgan,” Elizabeth informed him. “I didn’t correct him because I didn’t know what you’d told him or whatever.”

“Yeah–yeah, he probably does that because I’m the one who arranged the rental on the place and for him to come here. He probably assumed.” Jason cleared his throat. “Probably better that way.”

“Okay–well I didn’t want you to wonder when–well, I’ve got another appointment this week. Dr. Miller arranged to rent an ultrasound machine and transport it here. And if he called me that–I didn’t want you to think that I’d told him that was my name.”

“It’s fine,” Jason assured her. “It was a logical mistake for him to make.” He exhaled slowly. “I’m gonna go–go to sleep. Unless you want your letters now…?”

“No, it can wait.” Elizabeth hesitated. “Night.”

“Night,” Jason echoed.

They stood in the hallway for another awkward moment before he turned and headed into the next bedroom.

Michael was up before either of them the next morning and he jarred Elizabeth from her sleep by jumping on her bed. “Wake up!” he shouted.

Elizabeth struggled to sit up and blinked at him blearily. “Michael? Is something wrong?”

“Yes,” Michael said firmly. “I’m awake, it’s almost noon and you and Jase are still asleep. That is very wrong.”

“Well, Jason had a long flight and he didn’t sleep through part of it,” Elizabeth reminded him. “I’m sleeping for two, so I’m sorry I wasn’t up earlier.”

“It’s okay,” Michael shrugged. His eyes lit up. “I have to show you the stuff I brought.” He dashed out of the room and Elizabeth tossed the covers back and slid her feet to the wooden floor. She pulled one of her maternity robes from the chair next to her bed and was tying the sash around her waist when she heard someone clear their throat.

She turned and smiled at Jason. “Morning–or as Michael informed me, Afternoon,” she laughed. She moved towards the doorway.

“Sorry he woke you up,” Jason moved out of the doorway. “He’s just been looking forward to this for days.”

“I have, too,” Elizabeth admitted. “It’s–it’s been kind of lonely here.” She hesitated in the doorway and looked up at him. “You look like hell,” she said plainly.

He rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s been a tough month,” Jason confessed. “You hungry? I could make some breakfast.”

“Famished,” Elizabeth told him. “That would be great.”

Michael was in the kitchen, struggling to remove the wooden bookshelf he’d made in class. Jason lifted it out of the duffle bag and set it on the table before moving to the fridge to remove some eggs and bacon.

“This is for you,” Michael told her. “I also got more.” He kneeled down and took out a picture frame. “We got to make this in Art, our very own picture frames. I asked to make three. I made one for Mommy, one for Jase and one for you.” He set it in front of her. “See, I put paintbrushes on the edge.”

“It’s beautiful,” Elizabeth declared, touching it gingerly. Every time the picture frame moved, a shower of glitter fell from it.

“And that’s a picture of me and Jason so’s you don’t get lonely.”

“You guys both have such big smiles on your face,” Elizabeth said, never having seen Jason smile quite like that. She glanced at the man in question who was busy cooking at the stove. “Where were you?”

“Um…” Michael studied the picture. “Okay, we was at the park and Aunt Em took that. There was a thing there…some kind of carnival and I had just shoved a big wad of cotton candy down Jase’s throat,” he informed her.”

“Hmm…he must have loved that.”

“Oh…and I made something for the baby.” Michael dug into the back again and took out a rolled up poster. “You never told me what her name was gonna be so I just had to say girl.” He yanked the rubber band off and unrolled it.

He’d drawn several stick figures sitting on the beach. Elizabeth knew she was in the picture because a stick figure with brown hair was holding a baby but she couldn’t tell much else. Across the top, in glittery letters, said: Welcome Baby Girl. In smaller letters underneath, it said, From Your Cousin Michael.

“Cousin?” Elizabeth echoed uncertainly, her blue eyes finding the little’s boys in confusion.

Jason turned at the word cousin and joined them. “What do you got there, Michael?”

“A poster I made for Liz’s baby. Which is gonna be my cousin since you is married to Sonny’s brother and Sonny’s kind of my dad only not anymore.” Michael frowned and looked at them, worried. “She is gonna be my cousin right?”

“Well…it’s all right with me if you want to call her that,” Elizabeth said hesitantly. She glanced at Jason.

“If that’s what you want and Elizabeth says it’s okay, it’s okay with me, too,” Jason finally agreed. He returned to the stove.

“So tell me about the rest of the picture,” Elizabeth said, changing the subject.

“Well, this is you and your baby,” Michael pointed. “And next to you is Jason and me. And then that’s Mommy and baby Morgan. Oh, and Aunt Em and Almost Uncle Nik.” He smiled brightly. “Do you like it?”

“I love it.”

“So what are you naming your baby?” Michael asked. He rolled the poster back up and climbed into one of the seats next to Elizabeth at the table.

“Alexandria Audrey,” Elizabeth replied. “Alexandria for my friend Zander Smith who died and Audrey for my grandmother.”

Michael nodded sagely. “Naming babies after people is a way of saying you love them. Who’s gonna be the godparents? Like Grandpa and Aunt Em are mine.”

Elizabeth frowned. “You know–I hadn’t really thought about it.”

“Jason, how did you choose my god parents?” Michael asked as Jason placed a plate of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast in front of Elizabeth.

“Well, Emily told me that you needed them and I should choose people that I would trust with you. Mike and Emily seemed to make the most sense.”

“Okay, then you should choose people you would trust Alexandria with,” Michael told Elizabeth. “How about my mommy and Jason?”

Elizabeth laughed. “Oh, sweetheart…I don’t know your mom well enough for to be my baby’s godmother. I’ll probably choose Emily.”

“And what about Jason?” Michael hesitated. “Well…wait, that might not work.”

Elizabeth frowned. “Why not?”

Michael looked up at Jason who was putting down his breakfast. “Well, Aunt Em told me that he makes a good daddy so he couldn’t be the godfather, right?”

Elizabeth blanched. “Michael–”

Jason shook his head. “Michael–”

Michael pursed his lips. “Oh, I forgot about Ric. I guess Aunt Em was wrong, huh?”

“Yes,” Elizabeth said immediately. “But–you were right about one thing.”

“He was?” Jason questioned curiously.

“I was?” Michael repeated, happily. “What?”

Elizabeth glanced at Jason hesitantly before looking back at Michael. “I think Jason would be a great godfather–if that’s okay with him.”

This entry is part 6 of 17 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Shadows #1

— Beach —

“So then Michelle pushed me,” Michael reported. He held up his knee. “I got a scar!”

“Why’d she push you?” Elizabeth asked curiously as her pencil danced over the page of her sketchbook, the image of Michael playing near the surf slowly developing.

“Jonah says it’s ’cause she likes me but I think that’s nuts,” Michael dropped to his knees in the damp sand and started digging. “Why would she push me if she likes me?”

“Sometimes people are afraid of what others will say when they find out how you feel,” Elizabeth advised him. “Maybe Michelle thinks you won’t like her back and she doesn’t want you to know she likes you.”

“So she’s kinda trying to throw me off the scene,” Michael nodded. “Okay, yeah, women are sneaky.”

Elizabeth laughed and shook her head. “You think they’re bad at age seven? Wait until you’re my age. Every word has another meaning–or at least you think so. Someone says something they don’t think is particularly bad but it devastates the other. Words are tricky, Michael. Be careful what you say and how you say it.”

Michael nodded sagely. “That makes sense. Jason says that actions are really powerful but sometimes words are more.”

“Jason’s a very smart guy,” Elizabeth remarked. She glanced up, trying to catch the right ruffle in his hair. “Do you like living with him?”

“I love it. He’s not a great cook like Sonny but he lets me eat chocolate and other kinds of junk food,” Michael told her gleefully. “And he’s gonna help me build shelves in my room for all my trucks.” He plopped on the sand in front of her. “I like living with Jason a lot but my mom cries a lot when she visits. She tries not to but…” he shrugged and drew circles in the sand with his index finger. “I don’t like hurting her.”

Not knowing what to say, Elizabeth remained silent. Michael sighed. “She comes by every night and always brings something she says I left at her house. I know it’s just a reason for her to come over because lots of it has price tags on it.” He looked at her. “Is it wrong to live with Jason if it hurts my mom?”

“It can be hard to choose between what you want and what you should want,” Elizabeth said carefully. “A long time ago, I thought I should love this man because we’d been in love most of our lives. I thought I should want to marry him and spend forever with him. I felt very loyal to him but I convinced myself that he was who I wanted.” She sighed heavily. “Michael, it’s all right to feel guilty but in the end, you have to do what’s right for you.”

“Was the man Ric?” Michael asked curiously.

“No, it wasn’t Ric.” Elizabeth flipped the page to begin a new sketch. “Ric is my husband now.”

“Do you love him?”

Elizabeth glanced up and studied the small boy with concerned eyes. “Your parents’ divorce has been really difficult for you, hasn’t it?”

Michael shrugged. “I guess. They used to love each other so much and now all they do is fight. I don’t get it. If you love someone, how can that just go away?”

“It doesn’t go away,” Elizabeth told him. “It changes. People change. I’m sure Sonny and Carly still love each other but sometimes people change in a way that they just can’t live together anymore.”

“I guess but why do they have to be so mean to each other and why do they gotta use me and Morgan to do hurt each other?” Michael wiped his hand across his eyes.

“I’m sorry, Michael. It’s so hard to watch the people you love do things you don’t understand.” Elizabeth rubbed his shoulder. “But you’ve got Jason and no kid could ask for someone better.”

Michael’s sad expression instantly lit up. “Dude, I know. He’s so cool and he always treats me like I’m an adult.” He hesitated. “If I tell you something, will you promise never ever to tell anyone else as long as you live?”

“Cross my heart.”

“Sometimes…when I get scared or–when Mom sees Sonny in the hall and they start yelling…I get really scared they’re going to hit each other,” Michael confessed. “But then Jason just…” his cheeks flushed bright red. “He fixes it. He fixes everything.”

“He’s good at fixing things,” Elizabeth remarked. “He has such a big heart and he loves you more than he’s loved anyone.”

“Really?” Michael asked brightly. “That’s pretty awesome. You know he raised me when I was a baby?”

“I sure did. I knew you when you were a baby because Lucky Spencer lived above his garage,” Elizabeth told him. “Jason had you at the garage all the time. Like he couldn’t bear to be away from you.”

“I know it’s wrong but I really wish he was my dad,” Michael sighed. “But it’s a good thing he agreed to be a godfather for your baby, you know, because if Ric turns out to be a bad guy then Jason’s right there to take over, you know?”

“Honey…that’s not the way it works. Jason will always be in my life but he won’t be taking anything over. I’m married to Ric and he’s going to be Alexandria’s father,” Elizabeth told him. “I know that you don’t like Ric–”

“He’s mean. He stole my mom,” Michael told her with a hard glare. “Right in front of me. Did you know?”

Elizabeth sighed shakily. “Yeah, I knew that.”

“Jason watches you,” Michael abruptly changed the subject.

Elizabeth frowned. “What’s that?”

“He watches you,” Michael repeated. “When you’re not looking. Like at breakfast earlier, when you were looking down at your plate. And then the last time we were here, when we were leaving and you looked so sad, he looked sad, too.”

“Jason’s a good friend to me,” Elizabeth said, unsure where the boy was going and not wanting to hurt his feelings. So much in Michael’s life was unsure and uncertain.

“How come people always fall in love with people who are gonna hurt them?” Michael asked. “I mean, Mom and Sonny loved each other and now they just fight all the time and I thought Aunt Courtney loved Jason but she divorced him and I just know Ric’s gonna hurt you,” he said earnestly. “So how come people can’t just find people who won’t stop loving them?”

“Oh…honey…” Elizabeth sighed. “Love is complicated and sometimes it’s not enough to keep two people together. It’s what brings them together, but you need trust, faith–devotion. Sonny and Carly don’t trust each other. Courtney doesn’t trust Jason and–” she stopped abruptly as she realized she’d been about to say she didn’t trust Ric.

“You don’t trust Ric,” Michael finished grimly. “He’ll hurt you, Eliz’beth. He’s a mean man and he only cares about himself. He’s Sonny’s brother, remember?”

“Ric–” she shook her head. “No, I don’t trust him,” she admitted softly. “But I love him, I’ll learn to trust him.”

“Did you trust him before he kidnapped my mother?” Michael asked. “Because then that means he broke your trust and why would you want to be with someone who does stuff like that?”

“I wish there was an easy answer I could give you because I can feel that you need it but it’s not always black and white.” Elizabeth set her sketch pad aside. “Trust can be broken very easily. When it’s fresh and its new, it’s so easy to just take a wrong step and break it. And when you’ve known a person for years, they can still hurt you. When you care about someone Michael, they can hurt you. But if they care about you, you can hurt them just as easily. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?”

“I think so,” Michael said hesitantly. “Even though Ric broke your trust and he hurt you, you can do the same to him because he loves you, too and it kind of makes it okay.”

“Well–yes and no. Yes, he broke my trust but he knows that he did. He knows what he did was wrong,” Elizabeth told him. “He’s trying to change and I hope with this baby–that it will help him to realize that he’s more than just Sonny’s brother.”

“A baby shouldn’t have to make anyone do anything,” Michael said stubbornly. “That’s too much pressure to put on her. Ric should know he’s his own person and not depend on a kid to tell him that. It’s not fair.”

Elizabeth frowned and tilted her head to the side. “You know–Michael, I’m sorry that you’ve had to grow up so fast and mature. You’re so far beyond your ears, I can’t help feel a little sorry that you didn’t retain some of the innocence that all children deserve.”

Michael shrugged and dragged his fingers through the sand. “All I’m sayin’ is that a kid has enough problems in his or her life without worrying about their parents. If Ric doesn’t think he’s a good enough person now, all the kids in the world won’t change his mind.”

“Michael!” Jason called from the sun porch. “Carly’s on the phone!”

Michael got to his feet. “Walk to the house with me?”

“Mm…it’ll take too long to get up.” She smiled up at him. “Go ahead and make sure to tell her you love her.”

“Okay.”

Michael took the phone from Jason and gestured to Elizabeth. “You should go keep her company,” he told her seriously.

Though he’d been planning on talking with her anyway, Jason nodded solemnly. “Okay. Go inside with the phone and make sure to hang it back up.”

He joined Elizabeth on the sand. She’d resumed her sketching but had flipped to a fresh page. “Hey,” she greeted warmly.

“Hey.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “Listen–I think I know what that was all about earlier today. With Michael suggesting Carly as the godmother and saying that thing about me being a father.”

“He’s trying to rebuild his family,” Elizabeth said simply. “I could tell and I really am flattered he considers me part of his family but he’s a very confused little boy, Jason. I’m worried about him.”

“He wants to keep everyone together,” Jason continued. “He’s been hinting about me and Carly getting a house together and then in the next breath, he tells me that the guest room would make a great art studio for you. He’s not sure what he wants but he knows that he doesn’t want anyone else to leave his life. So he’s kind of alternating between pushing me and Carly together and me and you together. I just
wanted to be sure that you were aware of it.”

“I am.” Elizabeth reached out and squeezed his hand. “It’s whole other thing–raising a little boy as opposed to raising an infant.”

“I thought nothing would be as hard as taking care of a baby,” Jason admitted. “Keeping him fed and safe and happy–but he’s–he’s so much older now. He’s so much more aware of everything. I could–I could really screw him up, Elizabeth.”

“You could,” Elizabeth said quietly. She met his eyes. “But you won’t. You told me on the plane here that I would be a good mother. You said it with conviction–with no doubt. And I’m really glad I can do the same for you. You’re a good father, Jason. You’re going to make mistakes but he knows you love him. That you put him first. He knows that you would never hurt him on purpose or use him to hurt anyone else. That’s the kind of faith he doesn’t have in Sonny anymore. But he has it in you and I think you know that.” She touched his face. “You love him too much to screw up, Jason.”

He exhaled slowly, not aware of how much he’d needed someone to say that to him–to have her say that to him. “Thank you,” he said, with a slight tremble in his voice.

This entry is part 7 of 17 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Shadows #1

Michael trailed after Jason as he followed Elizabeth’s doctor into the bedroom the rented ultrasound machine was set up in.
Dr. Luther Vincent was a somewhat young doctor and he kept smiling at Elizabeth in a way that made Jason’s jaw tense.

“I’m glad to finally meet you, Mr. Morgan,” Dr. Vincent remarked as he smoothed the cold gel over Elizabeth’s abdomen. “And who is this young man?”

“I’m Michael,” Michael said somewhat suspiciously. “What’re you doing to Liz?”

“We’re going to see your little sister on this screen right here,” Dr. Vincent said, gesturing towards the ultrasound machine.

“Sister?” Michael perked up.

“Michael…” Jason shook his head.

“Right, right,” Michael sighed. “Does that hurt, Liz?”

“No, it’s just really cold,” Elizabeth replied.

Dr. Vincent started the procedure and after a few moments, something appeared on the screen. “There she is.”

Elizabeth propped herself up on her elbows. “Oh…” she breathed. She looked at Jason. “Can you see her?”

Jason hesitated. “Not–not really.”

“Oh, it’s cool, Uncle Jason,” Michael piped up. He rounded the bed and stood by the screen. “These are Andi’s arms, right?”

“Right,” the doctor answered.

“And those are her legs and that’s her head,” Michael finished. He looked at Elizabeth. “I nicknamed her Andi cuz Alexandria is too long for a little baby. Is that okay?”

“That’s fine. I like it, I think it’s a great nickname,” Elizabeth touched his arm and smiled. “Does everything look okay, Dr. Vincent?”

“It all looks great, you’re about seven months along and everything looks nicely developed. In two months, you’ll be the proud parents of a very healthy little girl.” Dr. Vincent reached into his bag and took out a manila envelope. “I sent over to the American Embassy for the documents your daughter will need to be a US Citizen if you’re not back home when she’s born.”

“Thank you,” Elizabeth accepted the envelope. “I appreciate all your help.”

Dr. Vincent nodded. He gathered his bag and stood. “Some men will be buy to pick up the machine,” he told Jason. “As long as she keeps up with her vitamins and her current routine, I see no reason why I would have to bring it out again.”

“Thank you,” Jason nodded. “I’ll walk you out. Michael, stay with Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth frowned as they left. “Why do they always give the instructions to the men?” she muttered.

“Because Uncle Jason will make sure you don’t sneak any junk food,” Michael said. “How come the doctor said you’d both be parents? Doesn’t he know about Ric?”

Elizabeth bit her lip. “Well, Jason helped me set up this vacation,” she said after a moment. “He arranged for the house, so it’s rented in his name and the doctor just assumed I was his wife.”

“You didn’t tell him the truth?” Michael frowned at her. “It’s wrong to lie.”

“Michael…”

The little boy sighed. “This is gonna be one of them grown up things, isn’t it?”

“Can you keep a really important secret?” Elizabeth asked after some deliberation. “I mean, really extremely important?”

Michael nodded. “Sure. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick in a needle in my eye,” he recited somberly.

“No one can know I’m here, which means my name isn’t on anything and if I were to tell the doctor that I had a husband back home and that Jason wasn’t it, he would start to ask questions and maybe he’d look into stuff back home. And then maybe people would come looking for me here.”

“Why can’t no one know?” Michael asked curiously.

Elizabeth bit her lip. “Because I did something bad,” she admitted in a small voice. “I was trying to protect me and my baby, but it was still bad and I’m here until they stop looking for the person who did the bad thing.”

Michael turned this over in his mind for a few moments. “So they don’t know it was you?”

She shook her head. “But I didn’t want to wait for them to find out so Jason agreed to help me. At least until Andi’s born.”

“Doing bad stuff isn’t right,” Michael said finally. “And you should always always tell the truth, Liz. But I think there’s…” he searched for the right word. “There’s times when it’s okay.”

“There are exceptions,” Elizabeth supplied softly.

“Yeah, exceptions,” Michael nodded. “There’s exceptions and if you was protecting you and the baby, then it’s not really okay but it’s not really bad either.” He leaned forward and wrapped his thin arms around her neck. “And I’m glad Uncle Jason is helping you and the baby.”

“Me too.” She hugged him back. “Can we keep this conversation between you and me? I don’t know if Jason would want you to know this stuff.”

Michael sighed. “I don’t wanna keep secrets,” he said. “But if you–”

“No, you know what? I’ll tell him I told you. You’re right, there’s no reason for secrets, especially between you and Jason.”

Michael nodded in relief. “Okay, I would have kept the secret but I’m sure glad I don’t have to.”

On the porch, Dr. Vincent turned to Jason. “I was a little surprised it took you a month to join your wife, Mr. Morgan. A woman in her condition really shouldn’t be isolated out here.”

“I’m not sure that’s any of your business,” Jason said stiffly.

“She’s my patient and her welfare is my business,” Dr. Vincent said stubbornly. “Now if you and your boy can’t be here all the time, I don’t know why she is. Is there some reason she can’t be where you spend the rest of your time?”

“She likes it here,” Jason said, a little irritated. “And it’s more peaceful than our hometown. Is the baby at risk if Elizabeth continues to stay here?”

“No,” Dr. Vincent admitted, “I just suppose I can’t understand why an expectant father would be so uninvolved in his own child’s birth.”

“I’m not uninvolved,” Jason snapped. “I’m here aren’t I?”

“Yes, but for how long?” Dr. Vincent shrugged and stepped off the porch.

Jason glared at the doctor’s back for a few moments before slamming back inside the house and moving back towards the bedroom. “Michael, go play somewhere,” he said shortly.

Michael blinked. “Did I do something wrong?” he asked softly.

Elizabeth shook her head and kissed his cheek. “No, I just think your uncle wants to yell at me.” She lowered her voice and smiled. “He probably found my stash of Oreos. Why don’t you go start on a sand castle and I’ll join you.”

“Michael, I didn’t mean to yell,” Jason said with obvious regret in his eyes.

“It’s okay, Elizabeth shouldn’t be eating Oreos,” Michael said gravely. “I won’t go into the water until you guys get there.”

He left the room and Jason sighed, some of the tension gone from his shoulders. He crossed to the window where he had a view of the beach. After a moment, he spoke. “We’re getting another doctor.”

Elizabeth frowned and stood with some obvious difficulty. “What’s wrong with Dr. Vincent?”

“He’s too nosy,” Jason muttered. “He asks too many questions.”

Elizabeth bit her lip. “It’s my fault. He asked why my husband wasn’t here and I thought about telling him you weren’t but I didn’t want him to wonder or decide to ask questions. I should have told him you weren’t my husband.”

“No, no, it’s better that way. If they think your husband is here most of the time, they won’t start asking questions. But he’s asking too many questions, Elizabeth. We need to find another doctor.”

“Jason–”

“He wanted to know why an expectant father is so uninvolved,” he muttered. “I’m not uninvolved, damn it. I’m here as much as I can be and don’t we talk three or four times a week?”

Elizabeth thought about mentioning the fact that he wasn’t even the father but didn’t. “Yes, yes we do–”

“Michael’s in school, I can’t just drop it all and move over here,” Jason continued. “And Carly would miss him. I have a job to do, Elizabeth. I can’t be here all the time.”

“I never expected–”

“I made sure you had everything you need, everything I could provide. The only thing you don’t have is friends and family and with the exception of your grandmother, I can bring them any time they want,” Jason told her.

“That would be great–”

“I draw the line at Ric,” he cut in. “I don’t care if you love him, I don’t care if he walks on water, I don’t trust him and you can’t change my mind about that. He cannot know where you are–”

“I agree,” Elizabeth interrupted. She touched his arm. “Jason, do you hear me complaining?”

He hesitated. “Well, no.”

“Okay then.” She met his eyes. “Then, what does some doctor you don’t even know’s opinion matter to you?”

“I just–I’m not uninvolved,” he said stubbornly.

“No, no you’re not.” She kissed his cheek. “You’re really very sweet, Jason.”

His cheeks felt warm and if he didn’t know it was impossible, he might think he was blushing. “No I’m not,” he muttered.

“Sure you are,” Elizabeth said with a bright smile. “Come on. We’d better get to the beach before Michael fries in that sun out there. I bet he hasn’t put his lotion on.”

February 10, 2015

This entry is part 8 of 17 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Shadows #1

The remainder of Michael’s spring break passed in relative peace. Jason arranged for another doctor and released Dr. Vincent from his employ.

Michael gave his solemn promise to call daily and maybe Elizabeth could even help with his spelling during the calls. Elizabeth smiled and told him she’d look forward to that.

“I’ll call too,” Jason promised. He touched Michael’s shoulder. “Go wait in the car.”

“Bye, Liz,” Michael hugged her tightly. “Take care of Andi, okay?”

“Okay.” She ruffled his hair and kissed his forehead. “Take care of your uncle.”

Michael grinned and shot an adoring look at the man in question. “He doesn’t need anyone to take care of him.”

“Sure he does,” Elizabeth said with a teasing smile. “He needs someone to make sure he has enough…soup.”

“Soup,” Michael repeated. He looked at Jason again who was grimacing. “You don’t eat any soup.”

“Well, see, that’s a problem.” Elizabeth’s face turned serious. “I recommend a bowl of chicken noodle soup just as soon as you get home, okay, Michael?”

“I’ll make sure he eats all of it,” Michael promised. He hugged her again before heading to the rental car.

“I’d say thank you but you know how I feel about lying,” Jason murmured, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

“I think he needs to think he can take care of you,” Elizabeth said. She touched his upper arm absently as she stood at his side watching Michael climb into the car. “He’ll think he’s stronger then. And he’ll remember that it’s okay not to be strong all the time because well, if you need someone to look after you, then it’s okay for him to need that too.”

“Yeah…but soup?” Jason grimaced. “You couldn’t have suggested coffee?”

She laughed and looked up at him. “Just tell him that for every bowl of soup he makes you eat, he has to have a plate full of his least favorite vegetables.”

“You’re diabolical,” Jason said, unable to keep the smile back this time. “Is there some kind of handbook for mothers?”

“No, it’s just something my mother used to use on us,” Elizabeth replied. “My brother Steven wanted her to quit smoking so she told him for every day she didn’t smoke, he’d have to eat all the vegetables she could feed him.”

“Did she quit?” Jason asked.

“My brother is very stubborn. He ate vegetables by the plateful for almost a year before she told him she no longer craved cigarettes.” Elizabeth glanced back at the car. “He decided to be a doctor then. He figured that if he could make a difference in Mom’s life, he could do it for anyone. He was only eleven.”

“You don’t see him much, do you?”

“I don’t see him at all. He’s in Manhattan and he’s busy a lot.” Elizabeth’s eyes cleared and she smiled at him. “You should get going. Michael needs a full night of sleep before going back to school.”

“I’ll call when we get back to Port Charles,” Jason promised. He hesitated and then kissed her forehead. “Take care of yourself. We’ll be back soon.”

“When?” Elizabeth asked softly. She shook her head. “No–I didn’t… I shouldn’t ask. I never expected to come at all so whenever you get back, it’s fine–”

“Michael gets out for summer vacation at the end of next month,” Jason interrupted easily. “He’s been making noises about spending most of it here. And you’re due about then. You shouldn’t be alone.”

“Well, then I’ll see you next month,” Elizabeth replied, with a smile more genuine this time.

“I’ll see you then,” he told her. He backed up towards the car slowly. “Call if you need anything.”

“I will.”


They’d been back in Port Charles a week before Jason wished for the solitude of the house by the ocean.

Sonny dropped by more often than before they’d left, trying to gain back Michael’s love. The boy was having none of it and clung to Jason more tightly than before. Carly was still emotionally wrecked–the divorce proceedings were being strung out as Sonny continued to fight the custody decision.

She was fighting with Sonny, with Lorenzo Alcazar, with her mother, with Courtney and with herself for feeling resentment towards Jason. Jason understood that resentment and encouraged Michael to spend as much time as possible with his mother.

Work was tense–Faith Roscoe was still a problem though Lorenzo’s relationship with Carly had neutralized him, something Jason was grateful for. The less problems with the business, the less contact he had to have with Sonny.

Nothing was really that different than before their vacation. Except that Michael talked to Elizabeth daily and as if somehow sensing his guardian would never actually call on his own, he would dutifully hand the phone to Jason at the end of his conversations with his surrogate aunt. As a result, Jason spoke to Elizabeth daily now.

And it couldn’t go without mentioning that Ric stopped asking questions. Stopped asking to see Elizabeth, to call her, to know where she is. In fact, other than Jason dropping off Elizabeth’s letters to him, one would think the district attorney wasn’t married at all.

Ric’s sudden change was unnerving and Jason knew it would come to a head sooner or later but for now he relished the lack of Lansing in his life.

Until he found out the reason for Ric’s change of heart.

It was early May, just three weeks before the end of the school year. Michael was working on convincing Jason to spend the entire summer in Spain and also to bring along his mother and little brother–at least for a visit.

Jason had to take Michael by the warehouse briefly while he met with Max about something. He spoke in hushed tones a few feet away from the boy and Michael was growing bored waiting for Jason. He wandered towards the dock stairs and when he returned, his face was pensive and a little confused.

“Michael, didn’t I tell you to stay where I could see you?” Jason demanded. He left Max’s side and came towards the boy.

“Jason, when people get married, they’re not supposed to date anyone else anymore right?” Michael asked.

Jason frowned and crouched to be at Michael’s eye level. “Well, no. They’re not supposed to.” Had Michael seen something? Lorenzo and Carly on the docks? Sonny and Sam? He wished they would keep these things discreet.

“Elizabeth doesn’t right?” Michael asked.

“No, Elizabeth stopped when she married Ric,” Jason said carefully. “She’s a good person.”

“Well, then why didn’t Ric?” Michael asked curiously.

Jason stood abruptly and moved towards the dock stairs. He blinked and looked back to Michael. “Michael…”

“Do you think she knows?” Michael asked sadly.

Jason thought of the phone call from the day before when Elizabeth had excitedly told him about how often the baby was kicking now. “No, I don’t think she does.”

“I knew he would hurt her,” Michael sighed heavily. “I told her that but she didn’t believe me.” He frowned and then met Jason’s eyes. “Do you think Sonny knows?”

“I sincerely doubt it,” Jason sighed. He looked back towards the lower level of the docks where Ric Lansing and Sam McCall were sitting on a dock bench, curled up in each other. If Sonny knew his mistress was seeing his half-brother, there’d be no where Ric Lansing could hide.

“We should tell her. She’d want to hear it coming from family,” Michael said after another moment.

“Wait here,” Jason said quietly. He went back over to Max and hurriedly finished their conversation. Max had heard the conversation between Jason and Michael and Jason instructed him to keep it to himself for now until Jason had decided how to handle this.

“You are going to tell her aren’t you?” Michael asked as they were leaving the docks later. “If Elizabeth stopped dating, then her husband should have.”

“Michael…” Jason sighed and picked him up, setting him on a bench so they were eye level. “Some marriages don’t work out. But when it’s good, both people should stop dating other people, okay?”

“Well, yeah.” Michael shrugged. “But she’s so nice and pretty. Why would he hurt her like that?”

“Just because he has something special, it doesn’t mean he knows its value,” Jason said after a moment. Telling Michael that he didn’t suspect Ric Lansing had a soul much less cared what this could do to Elizabeth didn’t really sound good to him. “Some people, they can’t appreciate the good things in their lives. The gifts. They let them go.”

“Why?” Michael asked. “I have this autograph from Michael Jordan and I’m smart enough to know that’s really special.”

Jason smiled faintly. “Adults are funny, Michael. We don’t always realize what we have until it’s gone, and then mostly it’s too late to fix it.”

“I bet if you had Elizabeth, you would never be that stupid,” Michael said confidently. He hopped off the bench. “Right?”

“I wouldn’t bet too much money on that,” Jason said quietly as they made their way to Harborview Towers.


Later that night, Michael was preparing to make his nightly phone call to Elizabeth. “We should tell her,” Michael argued. “She should know.”

“Yes, she should,” Jason agreed. “But you’re not telling her.”

Michael pouted. “Liz is my friend, I love her. I think she’d like it better if I told her.”

She’d be mortified if the little boy she adored told her that the husband she’d given too much trust to was sleeping with Sam McCall but Jason couldn’t say it like that. “I’ve been friends with her for a long time,” Jason said instead. “Since you were a baby. There’s no way we can tell her that she’s going to like it. It’s going to hurt her, Michael. A lot. She thought they were a family, she thought she could trust him.”

“I don’t want to hurt her.” Michael hesitated. “Jason, maybe you should tell her.”

“Why don’t you go upstairs and get ready for bed while I call her?” Jason suggested.

“Okay,” Michael agreed reluctantly. “Do it nicely, okay? It’ll be better that way.” The boy ran towards the stairs and Jason sighed as he started towards the phone. There was no way that this would be better.

He dialed her number.

“Hey, Michael,” Elizabeth greeted warmly.

“It’s–” Jason cleared his throat. “It’s me.”

“Oh, Jason–I’m sorry, I’m just used to talking to him first,” Elizabeth replied, her warmth undiminished. “How is everything?”

“It’s–Elizabeth–” Jason hesitated. Ric’s cheating on you. He’s a bastard. You deserve better.

The words were on the tip of his tongue but nothing could force them out. Instead he cleared his throat again. “How’s the baby? Are you feeling all right?”

“I’m feeling fat,” Elizabeth laughed. “How did Michael do on his spelling test? Did he pass?”

“He got an A,” Jason told her. “I took him out for ice cream to celebrate.”

“I knew he had it in him.” She was silent for a moment. “Jason, it sounded like there was something you wanted to say. Is everything okay?”

He hesitated. There’s something you should know about Ric. He could feel the words already formed in his throat. All he had to do was say them.

But he couldn’t give her that knowledge and then leave her alone to deal with it. No, she needed to be told in person. So for the first time, Jason consciously told her a lie. “Everything’s fine.”

He had just hung up the phone when a freshly bathed and pajama clad Michael came back down the stairs. “Is she okay?” Michael asked.

“I didn’t tell her,” Jason admitted. “I’m going to tell her when we go back at the end of the month.”

Michael frowned. “Why wait that long?” He climbed onto the couch next to Jason.

“Because I don’t think this is something she should hear over the phone,” Jason told him. “She shouldn’t have to deal with this alone.”

“She’s gonna need a lot of support,” Michael said after some consideration. “We should go now.”

Jason shook his head and laughed a little. “Elizabeth would be the first to tell you that school is more important.”

“But we’ll go as soon as school’s out?” Michael asked. “And you’ll tell her then?”

“I promise,” Jason assured him.

Michael nodded seriously. “And you’ll make her feel better.”

“I–I don’t know about that,” Jason said. “This isn’t good news, Michael. It won’t make her happy. I don’t know if anything will make her feel better.”

“You’ll make her feel better,” Michael said confidently. “Remember the first time? When we left? She wasn’t smiling and then you talked to her and then she was smiling. So you can make her feel better.”

“Michael–”

“She doesn’t deserve that kind of pain,” Michael told his guardian with a kind of maturity a boy of his age shouldn’t possess. “It’s just like with Mom and Sonny. He knows how much she loves me ‘n Morgan and he used that against her. Mom didn’t deserve to be hurt like that. And Elizabeth doesn’t either. There are people in the world that like…” he hesitated, searching for the right words, “they’re different from everyone else. ‘Cause they got bigger hearts. And they love more. Liz never would have married Ric again if she wasn’t one of them people. And people like that, we gotta protect them.”

Jason smoothed his hand over Michael’s unruly mop of red hair. “Elizabeth is special,” he agreed quietly. “She’s always taking in people that most have given up on. Zander, Ric…me.” He looked away. “She’s got something in her that searches for the good in everyone, no matter what they’ve done.”

“Exactly,” Michael said, pleased Jason had found the words he couldn’t. “And we can’t let Ric ruin that just because he didn’t understand.”

“Understand…?” Jason shook his head. “Understand what?”

“Love shouldn’t be something you toss around, like an old hat,” Michael said fervently. “It’s special and if you love someone, they’re special. Ric doesn’t understand that. He only cares about himself. So you have to make sure Liz knows it’s not her fault. You have to make her feel better.”

“I’ll do the best I can,” Jason pledged. “But until then, don’t let on that something’s wrong. She’ll only worry.”

Michael nodded. “And you know what would help her? If we stayed the whole summer.”

Jason waited a moment. “Well, her due date is early July. I see no reason why we have to leave before the baby’s born.”

“And we can talk about the rest of the summer after Andi’s born?” Michael asked hopefully.

“We can discuss it,” Jason agreed.

This entry is part 9 of 17 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Shadows #1

A week before Michael’s school let out for the summer, Jason made his usual rounds to gather letters for Elizabeth. He went to the post office box he’d set up for Audrey Hardy and retrieved the two letters her grandmother had sent before going out to Wyndemere where Emily gave her letters from herself, Nikolas and Lucky–and a surprise one from Elizabeth’s brother Steven who had heard about his sister’s pregnancy and hoped they could arrange a visit when she returned home.

He saved his visit to Ric for last and he could tell the lawyer was not expecting him. “Is something wrong with Elizabeth?” Ric asked when he opened his apartment door.

Jason entered the apartment and shut the door behind him. He didn’t want anyone hearing this conversation because the more people knew, the more humiliating it would be for Elizabeth and she didn’t deserve that.

“I came by to pick up your letter,” Jason said. “And to let you know that I’ll be telling Elizabeth about your…relationship with Sam McCall.”

The color drained from Ric’s face almost immediately. “What are you talking about?”

“I think you know,” Jason said after a moment. “I thought about telling her over the phone but it’s not really fair to give her something like that to deal with alone.”

Ric’s eyes narrowed. “You just love coming to her rescue don’t you?”

Jason remained silent and waited, knowing the lawyer would give him exactly what he came here to for.

“You’ve wanted her for years and now you think you’ve finally got your opening,” Ric spat out. “She won’t believe you, you know that? She loves me.”

Still silent.

“She could have gone back to you last fall,” Ric continued hatefully. “But she chose to forgive me. Marry me. Raise her child with me.”

Still silent.

“She would understand what I was doing with Sam,” Ric said, changing tactics. Provoking Jason wasn’t doing the trick.

Jason merely raised an eyebrow.

“She knows how important my career is to me,” Ric said. He nodded. “That prosecuting Sonny would be the highlight of my career.”

“And sleeping Sam is something Elizabeth would understand,” Jason said slowly.

“She won’t believe you,” Ric repeated. “She doesn’t trust you.”

Jason found that somewhat amusing but he still hadn’t gotten what he came for. “She’ll believe me because she knows that I would never lie to her,” he told Elizabeth’s husband. “Not to her face and not about something like this.”

And because Ric knew Jason was right, panic licked at the back of his throat. “She shouldn’t have stress,” Ric switched tactics yet again. “She-”

“Then you shouldn’t have slept with another woman,” Jason interrupted. “When I tell her, she will want to know why and I think you owe it to her to give me an answer.”

“I don’t have to tell you anything.”

“No, no you don’t. But I’m your only contact with Elizabeth for the next few months. I’m going to tell her what you did. Do you want her to have all that time to speculate on her own?” Jason asked pointedly. “Elizabeth deserves the truth. I know that’s a novel concept for you, but why don’t you try it out?”

“She’s going to think it was about Sonny,” Ric muttered. “She thinks everything is about Sonny.”

“Was it?” Jason asked pointedly.

“Sam was tired of being treated like trash, she knew it would piss Sonny off if she slept with me,” Ric said. “She knew Elizabeth was out of town. A man can only be a monk for so long.”

Because Jason had never seen the point of having sex just to have it, he couldn’t really understand that. When he’d slept with Carly in the beginning, the feelings were new to him and he needed to find an outlet for them. But as he began to realize exactly what the act should be about, it began to be more important for him–something he didn’t do lightly and never without reason.

Except for the first time with Courtney.

So he couldn’t understand how this man Elizabeth had given her love and trust to could stand there and tell him that he had been tired of being a monk, of living without sex. He wondered what Ric’s excuse would have been if Elizabeth had remained in town but in the late stages of her pregnancy and unable to give him what he so obviously couldn’t do without.

A man who let himself be led around by dick obviously couldn’t be trusted.

“I’m leaving in a week,” Jason finally said. “If you have any letters for her, have them to me by then.”


Carly watched as Jason packed his duffle bag and then her eyes strayed to the door of his bedroom where he had stacked two other duffle bags. “How long are you going to be gone?”

“At least until early July,” Jason said. He zipped it shut. “You’ve got my cell if you have to get in touch with Michael.”

Carly sat on the bed. “He’s very excited about this trip but he refuses to tell me any details.” She met his eyes. “If I ask you, will I get the same refusal?”

“Carly…” Jason sat next to her.

“This is the third time you’ve gone out of town since you got custody of Michael,” Carly said. “You’re taking him out of the country but I don’t understand that. You’re not one for vacations. Jase…you can trust me.”

“We’re going to Spain,” Jason said after a moment. “And the reason we’ll be gone so long this time is that…Elizabeth is due in early July.”

Carly pressed her lips together and looked away. To her credit, she didn’t immediately throw any tantrums. “So Spain is where Elizabeth went to get away from Ric.”

“She didn’t go to get away from him.” Jason sighed. “She needed to get out town. I helped her. I had to bring Michael the first time and during that time, he became attached to her. He cares for her, considers her baby her cousin. I need to know if you can deal with that.”

“Why did he come attached to her?” Carly asked, a little annoyed. “Why does everyone become attached to her?”

“Because she was there for him during a very difficult period in his life. She was there the morning after he heard Sonny say those things. He needed someone to reassure him and she found the words that I couldn’t. He considers her part of the family now, Carly. And eventually she will be back. Can you deal with that?” Jason repeated.

Carly exhaled slowly. “If you think that she’s having a good influence on my son, if you think she’s good for him and that this attachment he has for her is okay, then I will trust your judgment.”

“Thank you.” He set the last duffle bag by the door. “How was the custody hearing this morning?”

Carly sighed. “Rough. But since I’m putting longer hours in at the club and I’ve got Mama looking after Morgan as opposed to Sonny’s job and a nanny, I still came out looking like the more capable parent. He’s still fighting for Michael but I’ve been able to handle that myself with letters from teachers and his school saying how much his grades and behavior have improved.”

“Will he get a hearing?” Jason asked, his stomach clenching at the thought of losing Michael once again.

“The judge isn’t going to grant one. What Michael told him the last time he met with the judge was enough. He’s never going to let Michael in Sonny’s sphere.” Carly sighed. “The divorce is the only thing going smoothly if you discount the custody part of it. I didn’t ask for child support or alimony. I just want the whole thing over.”

“I’m sorry, Carly. I can’t really understand what’s happened to Sonny,” Jason said regretfully.

“Well even that slut Sam jumped ship,” Carly remarked. “I saw her cozying up with Ric.” She studied him. “Is that why Elizabeth left him?”

“No. She doesn’t know that yet.” Jason sighed heavily. “I have to figure out how I’m supposed to tell her.”

“Well, your friendship with her is something I’ve never understood but if I were her, I wouldn’t want you to coddle me. I’d just want you to tell me straight out. I’d want to know why, but I wouldn’t want excuses. I wouldn’t want you trying to coat the truth.”

“I paid him a visit,” Jason said. “And he told me that Sam came on to him. That Elizabeth would understand that he couldn’t live like a monk forever.” He shook his head. “I don’t understand that. Even if she hadn’t left town, she’d still be pregnant and in the last stages of it. Would she understand if she were home?”

“He’s slime, Jason. He doesn’t need any other excuses or reasons,” Carly said.

“But she’s pregnant and even if the baby isn’t his biologically, he was supposed to take care of her anyway. Be her father. How can you think about cheating on your family? On the woman you took vows with?”

“A lot of men aren’t like you, Jason. They think that because they have certain parts, it gives them a right to do things.” Carly snorted. “Though if their women ever decided that it held true for them, they’d be the first people to spout that shit about vows.”

“I just wish I didn’t have to be the one to tell her,” Jason said after a moment. “I’ve hurt her so many times.”

Carly reached out and squeezed his hand. “You really care for her, don’t you?” she asked softly.

“Yeah…I do,” he answered after a moment.

She bit her lip. “Do you…do you love her?” she asked hesitantly.

“I don’t know,” Jason answered honestly. He stood and went to his dresser, opening drawers as if to check if he’d forgotten anything. The question made him restless as it was one he’d been asking himself since the day Ric Lansing called him to the docks.

He’d dropped everything to help her. He’d never even considered letting her twist in the wind. He would do anything to keep her safe and he had already called in his favors at the PCPD, giving the police false leads and sending them in the opposite direction. Elizabeth didn’t deserve to pay for this crime and he knew that Zander Smith would be the first one to say so if he could.

When he talked to her about raising Michael, he knew she was the only one who truly understand what this second chance meant to him. How utterly terrified he was that he would screw this up.

Carly watched Jason avoid the question and narrowed her eyes. Maybe he didn’t know the answer but she sure did. Her stomach clenched at the idea of Jason actually being in love with the twit but she squared her shoulders. Jason was his own person and he could love anyone he wanted. Even if it was Elizabeth Webber. Therefore, it was her place to make him realize his feelings. Then he could deal with them.

“What’s your favorite thing about her?” she asked suddenly. He turned around with suspicious eyes.

“What?”

“About Elizabeth. What do you like the most?” Carly asked again. “Is it her hair? The…” she almost felt nauseous. “The body?”

He frowned. “No. I-” he hesitated.

“You can trust me, Jason,” Carly said, hoping he would actually open up to her this time. “I promise.”

“She only sees the good stuff,” he answered after a moment. “When we first became friends, everyone told her all the reasons she shouldn’t be around me but she only saw the ones why she should. She never looked at me and saw Sonny’s enforcer. She only saw me.”

“Oh, hell,” she muttered. She stood. “Why couldn’t you have said the chest–though God knows why that would have been a factor.”

Jason shook his head, bewildered. “I don’t understand.”

“Because if you’d said something physical I could chalked it up to lust. My advice was gonna be to just…you know. And get it over with.” She pouted. “You had to go wax poetic about her personality.”

“She is beautiful,” Jason said after a moment. “I never said she wasn’t.”

“Yeah, but now you’re gonna say something mushy like she looks beautiful when she’s sweaty-oh, ewww,” Carly whimpered. “Bad thought. Nasty image.”

“I’m a little unsure where you’re headed with all this,” Jason said, a little amused by his friend’s reaction.

“Look, the first step is admitting it to yourself,” Carly declared. She stood and folded her arms. “And then once you can say it to yourself, you can say it outloud. You can stand in a room by yourself if that makes you feel more comfortable and eventually you can build up to telling her.”

“Telling her what?” Jason pressed.

“Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth,” Carly muttered. “Tell her that you love her, of course. Knowing you, it may take a year but that’s only if you start now. So go ahead, say it silently.”

Jason stared at her. “I-I’m not.”

“Uh huh. How come five seconds ago you didn’t know?” Carly said pointedly. “I’m not saying you have to go and propose or anything Jason, but trust me, if you at least own up to you, you’ll feel better. I promise.”

“Carly-”

“The hardest person you can fight is yourself,” Carly interrupted smoothly. “The twit, er, Elizabeth has always been after you-” at Jason’s dark look, she immediately corrected her statement, “cared about you.”

“She’s married-”

“To a loser. Even I think that girl can do better,” Carly rolled her eyes. “Just go ahead,” she repeated.

He stared at her for a moment before deciding that if he didn’t say it out loud, then he didn’t have anything to lose. The worst that would happen would be that he’d think it and realize it wasn’t true.

He wasn’t sure he wanted that to happen.

“Did you do it yet?” Carly asked impatiently. He shot her an annoyed look.

I love Elizabeth, he thought and hesitated because it sounded right in his head. And it felt right.

Something changed in his eyes and Carly felt her heart soften a little towards the twit. If she could inspire that look then Elizabeth couldn’t be all that bad, Carly decided. Still annoying but not the most hated woman in her life anymore. “How did it feel?” she asked.

“I love her,” Jason murmured, the first time he’d said it out loud since he began having…other feelings for her almost five years ago.

“Well, then,” Carly smiled pleased. “Now you’re ready to see her.”


Carly had said he’d be ready to see her but suddenly as Jason pulled into the drive way of the house in Spain the following afternoon, he didn’t feel that way. He was about to see her after having admitted his feelings-to himself and to Carly, who didn’t really count. He was about to tell her something that would probably destroy her marriage.

He didn’t feel ready at all.

Elizabeth opened the screen door and smiled brightly at him as he lifted the sleeping Michael from the car, the plane ride having exhausted him as usual. “Hey!” she said, standing at the top of the stairs. She was heavily pregnant now-more so than she’d been last month and probably not as much as she’d be next month.

Jason was now having second thoughts about telling her about Ric. She didn’t need the stress–she’d come to Europe to escape the stress. What right did he have to do this to her?

But he couldn’t keep this from her, he couldn’t protect her. She would see it as a lie and he would have to agree. An omission was still a lie.

“He’s always sleeping when he gets here,” Elizabeth murmured as she followed Jason down to Michael’s room. “I wonder if that says something about me.” But her smile told him she was joking and he smiled back.

“Maybe,” he teased quietly as he tucked Michael in for a nap. Elizabeth kissed the little boy’s forehead before following Jason into the hall.

“How are things back home?” Elizabeth asked.

Jason hesitated, looked away for a moment before meeting her eyes. “There’s something I have to tell you.”

This entry is part 10 of 17 in the series Fiction Graveyard: Shadows #1

\Jason led Elizabeth to the back porch and directed her to sit down. “I thought about telling you this on the phone,” he told her. “But I couldn’t leave you to deal with it alone.”

Elizabeth frowned. “I don’t–I don’t understand.”

“Earlier this month, I saw something on the docks.” He hesitated. “Michael saw it first. It was Ric. He…” Jason stopped. Decided to just lay it out for her. “He was kissing someone else.”

Her expression was frozen, unreadable. “He was.”

“I knew that you’d want a reason, you’d need one so I went to see him.”

Elizabeth looked away, her eyes still blank. “And he told you I would understand.”

“Yes.”

Her lips twisted into a smile. False and empty. “He would say that.”

Confused, Jason sat back. This wasn’t the reaction he’d expected. He’d prepared himself for tears, for hurt, for anger. Not this…icy acceptance.

“Late in February, Dr. Meadows told us that sex was no longer an option,” Elizabeth remarked in a clipped tone. “Because of my previous miscarriage and how far along I was, she didn’t think it was a chance we wanted to take. I agreed. I thought Ric would understand.” She stopped talking. There was no hesitation, she just stopped talking.

After a moment, she continued. “When we got home, Ric wanted to discuss our options. He said he didn’t think it was fair that his needs would have to be ignored because I happened to be pregnant. I knew that no matter what I did, said or thought, he would do what he wanted to do anyway. So I just said nothing.” She rubbed her hands together, a little cold. “I’d always heard about the women who could look the other way. I never thought I’d be one of them.”

“You deserve better than that,” Jason said earnestly.

“I’m sorry Michael saw it. He must have been upset, confused. I can talk to him if you want,” Elizabeth said.

“He was worried about you. Sure that you’d be hurt. I–I thought the same thing. Elizabeth, how can you let him do this to you?”

Hearing the anger in his voice and knowing how disappointed he must be in her, Elizabeth’s eyes burned with tears. “At least I have the pretense of not being alone,” she whispered. “I am so…tired of being alone.”

“I–I’m sorry.” Jason swore under his breath. He got off his seat and knelt in front of her. “I didn’t mean to judge you. I just–you deserve so much, Elizabeth. You’re so generous and kind to people who don’t treat you right or don’t deserve it. You don’t deserve to be hurt like this.”

Tears scalded down her cheeks. “Then why does it keep happening?” she whispered brokenly. She covered her face with her hands and started to sob.

Michael peered around the corner of the kitchen door. “Liz?” he asked hesitantly

Elizabeth jerked her head up and blinked rapidly. “Michael.” She wiped at her eyes.

“Michael, go back inside,” Jason said.

“I’m sorry you’re hurt,” Michael said, ignoring an order from his guardian for the first time. He came to her side and knelt next to Jason. “You should never have to cry.”

His words just broke the floodgates open again. She started to sob in earnest. Michael stood and wrapped his arms around her neck. She hugged him tightly.

Feeling useless and like a failure, Jason stood to leave them alone. Elizabeth reached out and took his hand. “Please–wait.”

He did so and watched as she drew Michael away. She kissed the child’s cheeks. “You are an amazing young man,” she told him intently. “You have such a large heart and an incredible wealth of kindness. Please don’t ever forget that or lose it.”

“You do too. You should never ever have to cry, ” Michael repeated solemnly.

“Wouldn’t it be a lovely world if no one ever had to cry?” Elizabeth asked with a tearful smile. “But sometimes, it’s the tears that help. It helps you remember that you’re alive, that you’re living, that you can feel. If you’re never sad, how do you know when you’re happy?”

Michael bit his lip. “That’s good, I never thought of it like that.” He frowned. “So, you’re okay?”

“I’m okay.” She kissed his forehead. “Go inside for a little while. Jason and I have some things to discuss.”

Michael nodded and turned to his uncle. “You’ll take care of her?” he asked.

“I’ll take care of her,” Jason promised. “Go inside.”

Michael obeyed and disappeared into the house. Jason turned back to see Elizabeth struggling to get out of the chair. He took hold of her arms under her elbows and finished the job.

“Thanks,” she said. “It’s getting difficult to move these days.”

“You should lay down,” Jason said. “Should you even be standing at all?”

She didn’t answer, only looked to the door where Michael had gone through. “You would have to be the most abusive and neglectful father to screw that boy up.” Elizabeth looked up at him. “And since you’re not, I think Michael’s very lucky to have you.”

“Elizabeth…”

“Thank you,” she continued. “Because I don’t think I could have dealt with this alone.” She moved past him to stand at the railing, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. “This house is gorgeous. The scenery is just breathtaking. I’ve spent hours sketching out here.”

“I bought the house,” Jason said after a moment. “Less paperwork that way. It’s yours if you want. For as long as you need it.”

“You have been so wonderful to me since this all began,” Elizabeth continued, deciding to argue that later. “And I’m really glad I got this chance to know Michael.” She bit her lip. “I don’t think I’ve thanked you.”

“It’s nothing you wouldn’t have done for me,” Jason replied.

“I need you to call Alexis–she’s my lawyer. I need to file for divorce,” Elizabeth said. “I need for custody papers to be filed, nullifying any claims Ric might have to my baby. I can’t do it for myself obviously but if you could do that, I would really appreciate it.”

“I’ll call Alexis,” Jason nodded.

“As long as it won’t get her in trouble should the investigation turn to me,” Elizabeth said. “It won’t right?”

“Alexis can do all the paperwork without having to even speak to you. She just needs a way to get the paperwork to you, which is where I would come in and I’m not exactly new to dodging the law,” Jason said. “If you’re sure it’s what you want.”

Elizabeth sighed wistfully. “When you married Courtney, was there a moment where you truly believed that this would really work?”

“I don’t really remember,” Jason admitted.

“I had it right before I walked down the aisle to marry Lucky. I was walking towards him and I decided that it was okay if he wasn’t in love with me anymore. I still loved him and we were best friends. A lot of marriages start off worse than that.” She bit her lip and looked back at the ocean. “I walked down the aisle and I thought–I could make this work. But then I met him at the altar, I looked into his eyes and I realized that I loved him. But I wasn’t in love with him anymore and the really depressing thing was that I couldn’t remember when that changed.” She looked at Jason then. “I had the thought when I married Ric the first time. Because I was pregnant and he was so thrilled by that idea. And it was good in the beginning, it really was. Until I found Carly.” She exhaled slowly. “But I didn’t think there was any real chance the second time. That really should been a clue.”

She closed her eyes. “It’s what I want. A divorce, I mean. I’ll figure the rest out when this is over.” She bit her lip and looked at her hands. “There’s something I want to tell you.”

“All right,” Jason nodded.

“You’re one of the few people in my life that have never let me down no matter what. You’ve always been there when I’ve needed you and I just…” Elizabeth twisted her fingers. “There’s something you should know, that you deserve to know and I’ve wanted to tell you for so long…”

“Elizabeth,” Jason hesitated. “You can tell me anything.”

“I know.” She smiled then. “I know that.” She curled her fingers around the railing of the porch. “You mean so much to me, Jason, and I love you.” She paused. “You’re still my best friend and I just–I’m so sorry we’ve lost so much time because we weren’t honest with each other.”

He immediately understood that she didn’t mean love in the romantic sense and he didn’t mind. She was going to be divorcing her husband and delivering the child of a man she’d accidentally killed. He wasn’t about to tell her that he loved her–had loved her for years. Not now.

He kissed her forehead and smiled down at her. “I love you, too,” he said easily. “And I’ve missed you.”

Michael peeked out from the door and grinned. “You’re smiling again!” he said.

Elizabeth turned and motioned for him to join them. “Yep, I’m smiling again.”

“Great. I knew Uncle Jason would make it all better,” Michael said looking up at his guardian. “He always does.”