June 30, 2017

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Flash Fiction: 25 Minutes or Less

At the time, it had seemed like the most genius plan either of them had ever considered.

Of course, twelve hours earlier, they had been drunk in a pricey resort bar in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and had been lucky remember their own names—which had come in handy when the heavily accented officiant had asked for their names.

Somehow, when coming up with the grand plan of marrying a complete stranger, they had not even exchanged the most basic of courtesies.

They’d exchanged a great deal of other things to be sure after the ceremony had concluded, but now…as Elizabeth Webber groggily came to, she realized that while she remembered that she had exchanged vows with the gorgeous man next to her—

She couldn’t quite remember the name he’d said to the officiant.

She sat up, the silky cerulean sheets falling her to waist, her hair tumbling around her shoulders in a tangle that likely resembled a rat’s next and looked at him again. This time, he was looking back, his eyes the same deep blue as the Gulf of Mexico that lay beyond the window of their hotel suite.

“So,” Elizabeth said with a half smile. “That happened.”

He grinned and put a hand under his head. “Yeah. That happened.” He raised his eyebrows. “Jason Morgan.”

“Hmm?”

“You were looking at me like you didn’t know me.” His eyes slid down her torso, and she flushed, reaching for the sheet.

“I remembered you…just not your name so much.” She tilted her head. “That didn’t seem nearly as important last night as…other things.”

“Hmmm…” He sat up, the sheets pooling at his waist. “Is this where we decide it was a giant mistake and go our separate ways?” The words came easy and effortlessly—even carelessly, but there was something in his eyes that said just the opposite.

“We probably should,” Elizabeth said slowly, “but you know…” She sighed and laid back, looking at whitewashed ceiling. “It doesn’t feel like that’s the right idea.”

“You don’t—” He turned on his side to look at her. “I can still help you get a new passport and a ticket home.”

She should say yes. Chalk this entire trip up to a learning experience on why you shouldn’t trust anyone with your love or your passport. She didn’t know this man outside of the bedroom, but for some reason, despite everything she had ever known, she thought he might be the rare unicorn—a man who meant what he said. She could ask him for a divorce or some sort of annulment and he would probably still make phone calls to the embassy for her.

But go home to what?

And let him go home alone?

“What about what you said last night?” Elizabeth asked after a moment. “Didn’t you want to stick it your ex and your brother? Show them you didn’t need them at all?”

Jason laid back on his own pillow. “It seems colder now than it did then,” he admitted. “I liked the idea of going home with you, showing that I had already forgotten her. But would it be fair to use you like that?” He shook his head. “You deserve better than that.”

“Well, you deserve better than finding your fiance in bed with your brother the week before the wedding.” Elizabeth sat back up and pressed her lips together. “Look, I’m not looking for a fairy tale or forever after, you know? I just…I don’t have anything much to go home in San Diego. There’s no job. I’ve always been crap and making and keeping friends. You made a good case last night. I could get a chance to take a breather, figure out the next step. You could piss off your ex. And well,…” She trailed her fingers down the lean muscles of his torso, slipping her fingers under the sheet resting low at his waist. “We could have fun for a while.”

He studied her for a moment. “Just fun?”

“What else is there?” she returned with an easy smile.

“Friends,” Jason replied, catching her fingers in his grasp and rubbing his fingers over the cheap, gold band on her finger. “You’re right about not guaranteeing fairy tales or forever, but I think I’d like to be friends with my wife.”

Friends. The word felt foreign on her lips but she managed to keep the smile on her face. “I can’t promise anything, but I’ll try anything once.”

He tugged her down to him. “Of course, there’s still four days left before we have to check out.”

“Whatever will we do with all that time?” Elizabeth grinned as he rolled her to her back and leaned to kiss her.

July 5, 2017

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Flash Fiction: 25 Minutes or Less

“Tell me about San Diego.”

Elizabeth stared down at her husband of three days, still out of breath and even a bit sweaty from another long afternoon spent in their honeymoon suite. “Now?” she managed.

“Well,” Jason replied, not sounding at all exhausted despite the marathon of fantastic sex—God, she loved that stamina. “I figure this is the best bet for you talk to me for more than five minutes.”

“We’ve talked,” she grumbled as she slid off him, dragging the cool sheets over her heated skin.

“More and faster aren’t what I hadn’t in mind,” was his only response. He dragged on a pair of black briefs, crossed to the mini fridge on the other side of the room and tossed her a bottle of water. She dragged herself up against the pillows and sighed as she twisted off the top. “We’re leaving for Port Charles tomorrow and we still don’t know anything about each other except where we’re from and our names.” He raised a brow at her. “I know you said we’d just…have fun for a while and that’s fine. But you’re coming to live at my house.”

And would be supporting her for a bit while she got back on her feet, but she was grateful that he had left that part out.

“There’s not much to tell,” she said after another minute, a bit disappointed he hadn’t rejoined her in bed but maybe that had been smart. She was getting really good at distracting them both. “I grew up in Colorado and went to college there. I have a degree in art history but there’s not really much I can do with that. I taught for a bit, but I got laid off. I thought…there was something for me in San Diego, but I was completely wrong.”

She hesitated then, not really sure how much she wanted him to know. He was a great guy and sexy as well, but there was some spots she didn’t want to poke too deeply. “Things went south there, and I had to get out. I had been saving for…” The future. A life. “But I was in such a bad place, I just kind of said screw it and booked a flight to somewhere that wasn’t San Diego. Cabo was the first available.”

“What about your things in San Diego? Do you need them shipped out?”

“I put anything that mattered in a storage locker and paid two months,” Elizabeth said. “I figured I could decide the next step from there.” She arched her own brows. “Tell me about Port Charles.”

“I guess you’re not really interested in the local sights and gossip.” He sipped his own water. “I was engaged to someone I’d dated for a long time. Someone who was with me before I made any money, so I thought that meant something. And then about a week ago, I came home from a road trip and I guess she’d lost track of time because she was screwing my brother in our bedroom.” He lifted a shoulder. “Kicked them both out, went to sleep, and decided to go on the honeymoon anyway.”

It didn’t look like he was much interested in discussing the ex or brother based on the way his eyes shifted away from hers, so she asked the next question. “Road trip? Money? What exactly do you do?”

He grinned then, a lightning quick one that lit up his entire face in a way that she hadn’t seen outside of bed. “You really don’t know.”

“No,” she muttered, feeling stupid. He wasn’t a movie star or anything or he wouldn’t be living in upstate New York. “Am I supposed to?”

“No.” Jason shook his head and took a long swig of water. “No, I guess I’ve just been living in a bubble. I play baseball with the Port Charles Rebels.” He grimaced. “God it’s a stupid fucking name, but all the good ones are taking.”

“Baseball,” Elizabeth repeated dubiously. “I know the Yankees. And the Padres, but that’s because I lived near the stadium. You…is it professional? I mean—” She pursed her lips. “You play sports.”

“Yeah. The Rebels are an expansion team—” He shook his head when she just blinked at him. “Never mind. I grew up in Port Charles so I thought it’d be good for all of us when I was claimed in the expansion draft. Close to both our families.” Jason snorted and finished the water. “Anyway. Yeah, people know me. Usually. I played in the All-Stars game last year.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth tilted her head. “Okay. So…that sounds like fun. Um…” What the hell should she say next? The only thing she knew about baseball was from the movies.

He laughed then and climbed back into bed with her. “You know what? I think we’ve talked enough for one night.”

“Oh, thank God.”

July 15, 2017

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Flash Fiction: 25 Minutes or Less

The cupcake was iced with garishly pink cream and some sort of candy hearts and it was set in front of her with candle already lit.

“Make a wish.”

Elizabeth Webber propped her chin on her fist and gave her best friend a dirty look. “Wishes are for kids. Birthdays are for kids. Who told you?”

“I snuck a look at your driver’s license when I realized we’d been working together for a year and it hadn’t come up.” Johnny Zacchara shrugged. “Blow it out.”

“Bite me.”

“Thought about it,” he said carelessly as he sat across from her, behind his side of their battered partner’s desk in their shabby office. “It wouldn’t work.”

“That’s because you laugh too much,” she muttered, eying the cupcake as it were toxic poison. “It distracted me. Also, you don’t do it for me.” Though it was a mystery because Johnny was, objectively speaking, pretty fucking sexy with his dark hair, soft brown eyes, and killer smile. And yet… “And your girlfriend would kick my ass.”

“This is true. Nadine is tiny, but feisty.” Johnny frowned now. “The candle is going to melt the cupcake if you don’t blow it out. C’mon, Bits. Make a wish.”

“Wishes are bullshit,” she muttered. “Fine. You know what I wish for?”

“Jesus, don’t say it. That’s not how this works.” He looked faintly horrified. “They don’t come true if you say them outloud.”

“God save me from Catholics and their superstitions.” She sighed. “Fine. I’ll wish something to myself, I’ll blow this out, and we can go back to work.”

“It has to be a real wish, not something stupid—”

“There are a lot of rules for a goddamn birthday cupcake,” Elizabeth retorted. She closed her eyes and decided what the hell. She wanted to see Jason. Just one more time. She opened her eyes, blew out the candle, and then shoved the cupcake across the desk. “You eat it. I’m not in the mood for a sugar rush. I have a defendant I have to keep from going to prison for the rest of his life.”

“You’re no fun,” Johnny said, but he grabbed the cupcake, tossed the candle, and ate it. Then he mercifully stopped reminding her it was her goddamn birthday, got back to work, and let her work in peace.

A half hour later, he headed home to the lovely Nadine while Elizabeth continued reviewing the lab reports for court the next morning. If she had a prayer of keeping Dillon Quartermaine from doing ten to fifteen years for a crime he hadn’t committed, she needed to keep her head in the game and poke as many holes into the DA’s case as possible.

A knock on the door to their suite distracted her about an hour after Johnny had left. She blinked bearily when the knock sounded again, but realized it was likely that their receptionist had left for the day. “Come in—it should be open.”

“It’s not.”

The voice was muffled, but its identity was unmistakable.

Elizabeth rose slowly to her feet and went into the cramped room that served as their waiting room, passing the wastebasket where she could see the gaudy cupcake wrapping and the candle still decorated with icing. “What the fuck are you?” she muttered down.

She slowly unlocked the deadbolt and tugged it open to find out that she was not, as hoped, hallucinating.

Lieutenant Jason Morgan was, indeed, standing at the threshold of her office.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, and then winced because damn if that hadn’t sounded like more angry than she had intended. Well, better than happy or relieved, or aroused. Because she was all of those things to. He didn’t dress like a high-ranking member of the Port Charles Police Department—not in his jeans that wouldn’t be called tight, but they certainly clung to the right parts, and a t-shirt that stretched across a broad chest with rippling muscles.

God he was gorgeous.

And standing in front of her. Fucking birthdays.

“You gonna let me in?” he asked, his brow arched.

She stepped back to do so, closing the door when he passed her. He turned at the tiny desk that Maxie Jones usually sat behind and faced her. “What are you doing here?” Elizabeth tried again, and was pleased her tone was way more even than it had been before.

“It’s your birthday,” Jason said, leaning against the desk. “Did you think I’d forget?”

Hoping. Praying. “You did last year.”

“You told me not to come by last year,” he reminded her. “But this year…well, it’s been two years. I wanted to check in.”

Check in. Sure. “Well, you’ve checked in. I’m alive. Looks like you are, too. Great. I have court tomorrow.” She went back to her desk.

“You always have court tomorrow,” Jason retorted as he followed. “Are you seriously still mad at me?”

No. Yes. Damn it. “I don’t know,” she muttered, but she felt better behind her desk. “Are you still mad at me?” she demanded.

He hesitated. “I don’t know,” he echoed. “I just…it’s been two years. I just thought…we should acknowledge it.”

“It’s been acknowledged. Your sister is dead and it’s my fault. You made that clear then, and since you can’t decided if you’re still mad or not, you still think so.” She shrugged. “So if there’s anything else…”

“Damn it.” It was more of a hiss than an actual swear, but he closed his eyes for a minute. “I came here to check on you, yeah. But also…Diego Alcazar escaped from Sing Sing about three hours ago, and I thought he might…”

“Come to finish what he started.” Her bones chilled. “Because he escaped on my birthday and the anniversary of the day he killed Emily and nearly killed me.”

September 17, 2017

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Flash Fiction: 25 Minutes or Less

Note: I actually like the concept of this story, and this will probably be the last entry for the micro fiction. I’d like to play with it as a longer short story. I’ll keep you posted.

Running late for a dinner with family, so remember: I wrote this in 20 minutes and didn’t edit or spellcheck.


Two years earlier, it had been the day after Halloween. Elizabeth and her best friend since childhood, Emily Morgan, had scoured the local store’s candy fire sale, brought it back to Elizabeth’s apartment and prepared for their annual post-Halloween scary movie marathon.

The tradition had gone back to the first time they had gone trick or treating by themselves (all brave at the age of twelve) and had fallen asleep through the third Halloween movie, woken up the next day to finish the rest of the series. To them, it had seemed like the perfect solution — trick or treat on Halloween and eat the candy the next day so they could watch all the movies and not worry about falling asleep or being sent to bed by one of their parents. And the fact that it was Elizabeth’s birthday? Beyond perfect. Elizabeth hated birthday parties and this was the perfect way to get out of them.

For fifteen years, they had kept the tradition. Through high school, through college, through law school and med school. Even the year that Elizabeth had been pissed because Emily had gone out with the guy from the newspaper Elizabeth had had her eye on. They’d fought bitterly the week before, but then Emily had shown up at her door, on November 1, with a bag of jellybeans and a battered copy of the IT miniseries. The guy was forgotten, and they’d moved forward.

Until two years ago.

“Escaped,” Elizabeth said flatly. Of course he had. “Do you have leads? Sighting? How the hell did he get out?”

Jason rubbed his hands over his face. “They won’t tell me much. It’s not our case and I’m too emotionally involved.” He bit out those last words with a lot of heat.

Elizabeth said nothing. Legal protocol, of course, would prevent the brother of the victim from getting anywhere near the case, even if he had been the original investigating officer.

She’d been the prosecuting assistant district attorney trying to put Diego Alcazar in jail for a string of serial rapes, and Jason had been the one to slap the cuffs on him a week before that day. And the target of his rage.

Absently, she rubbed her shoulder. Every once in a while, she could still feel the sharp slice of pain as that knife had slashed towards her. And the residual horror when she’d watched from her fallen position as Alcazar had gone after Emily.

“Listen,” Jason said after a moment. “You told me not to bother you last year—”

“I said that two years ago,” she muttered. “You just…listened.”

“You changed your number. You moved. And then you quit your job.”

She shrugged, returning to her desk and the paperwork. “So?”

“So, what I said that day—” Irritation flashed across his chiseled features. “I didn’t mean it.”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth met his eyes. “You did. And it’s okay. It was my fault. I Zknew he’d made threats—”

“I wanted to take it back,” he interrupted. “But you were in recovery and I felt like enough shit. I just—I hoped you wouldn’t remember it. My family was shattered. The job put me on administrative leave. And by the time I could—” He shook his head. “You disappeared, Elizabeth.”

“Bullshit.” But it was said without heat. “You’re a fucking cop, Jason. You wanted to find me, you could have. I didn’t change my name. I still practice law. Hell, your old partner arrested my current client. You knew where to find me.” She shrugged. “You didn’t.”

He exhaled slowly. “Fair enough. I didn’t. I tried to tell the state troopers Alcazar might come for you, but they ignored me. They think he’s on his way to Canada, but you and I both know why he came for you.”

“Yeah,” she murmured. “I guess we do.” She sat down, looking back at the Quartermaine notes. “Look, thanks for telling me. I’ll check into a hotel or something—”

“Elizabeth—”

Her office phone rang before he could protest further. “Zacchara and Webber,” she answered, turning away from him.

“Ms. Webber? This is Officer Falconieri from the PCPD. We responded to a report of a break in at your apartment.”

Her blood chilled. “My apartment?”

“Ma’am, you should…we need you to meet us at your home.”

“I’ll be there in ten minutes.” Slowly, she placed the phone back on the hook and turned to Jason. “The PCPD…someone broke into my apartment.”

His expression hardened like granite. “You’re not going alone.”

And though she was relieved that she wasn’t alone, this wasn’t quite the birthday wish she’d wanted. She looked one last time at the gaudy remains of Johnny’s goddamn cupcake. Fucking birthdays.

October 2, 2017

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Flash Fiction: 25 Minutes or Less

Broke the rules and took an extra five minutes for about 25 total minutes of writing time. No spellcheck or editing.


Charles Town, Arizona Territory, 1876

It was a quiet day in town, and that was the way Jason Morgan, sheriff of Charles Town and its surrounding environs liked it. In the late spring, most of the town’s citizens were preoccupied with putting up crops to get them through the hot summer and cold winter or looking out for the cattle and sheep that would bring in the extra money.

They weren’t making much trouble in Ruby’s Saloon or at The Benson Lodge, and they were leaving him alone.

Until his erstwhile cousin, Dillon Quartermaine, burst through the door, his shiny gold deputy’s badge pinned to his cambric blue shirt. “Jase, we got a problem at the train station.”

Hell. Jasoon sat up, let his booted feet drop from the desk to the floor and sighed. “What? Cargo didn’t arrive? We don’t like the cargo that showed up? Fugitives?”

“Uh…” Dillon removed his Stetson and scratched at his sunny blond hair. “Uh, I guess cargo showed up that no one wanted it.”

“And that’s my problem?”

“Well…the cargo is…” Dillon swallowed. “Human.”

Jason stared at him for a long moment, and the vision of kicking off early and heading out to spend the weekend at his ranch house faded.

“Shit.”

At the Charles Town Depot, Elizabeth Webber sat on a cold wooden bench and stared straight ahead. Her portmanteau sat beside her on the ground, stuffed with her most precious belongings, and inside the depot sat her trunk with all her clothing and mementos.

She had uprooted her entire life in San Francisco on a hope and a prayer.

And now she sat at a train station with no money for a return ticket and no where to go even if she had been able to buy a ticket.

So she sat, her hands laced together in her lap, the sun burning into the side of her dark brown traveling dress. Sweat rivulets slid from the tendrils of her brown curls rapidly loosening from the neat knot she had arranged as the train had pulled into the station.

She heard the boots inside the station—two more sets than just the one station master. Muted voices. Likely the station master was becoming alarmed.

He had been present when Elizabeth’s fiance had shown up. And when he’d left her, spitting at her to go back to where she came from.

The door opened and in the corner of her eye, she saw a well-built man in denim and a dusty jacket step out onto the wooden platform. A brown Stetson was angled over dirty blond hair, and a star was pinned to the shirt under the jacket, peeking out as he closed the door and stood there.

“I hear you’ve had a bad day, Miss.”

A bit surprised by his opening salvo, Elizabeth turned to meet his eyes and her eyes skittered away just as quickly. They were too blue, too kind. She couldn’t look at him.

“I’ve had worse.” And that was the simple unvarnished truth.

“Fair enough.” He gingerly sat at the other end of the bench, angling himself to face her. “Jason Morgan, Sheriff.”

Her shoulders slumped a bit and she looked at her hands, made sure the gloved hand with the hole in the palm was hidden. “I suppose the station master would like me to leave.”

“Well, I’m not saying that’s not part of the reason he came for my deputy, but honestly, I think he’s just concerned. He, uh, said there was some trouble earlier.”

“Trouble.” Elizabeth snorted. “A man puts an advertisement in the paper. Says he wants a wife. Wires money. A woman gives up her employment. Her lodgings. But when she arrives, he just…” Hysteria bubbled in her throat. “He walks away.”

“You might not believe me at the moment,” Jason said slowly. “But you’re probably better off. Richard Lansing is a bit of a….” He grimaced. “Let’s just add any adjectives. Uh…” He removed his hat, placed it in his lap. “What exactly…was the problem?”

“I’m—” She closed her eyes. “Too late. He wired another woman money and she arrived first.”

He muttered something under his breath. “I’m sorry to hear that, Miss. Can I help you make arrangements to go back?”

“To what?” she demanded, more to herself than to him. “Did you not hear me? I gave up my employment. I have no home to return to. My family is—” She closed her eyes. “We lost everything after the war and my father never recovered.”

He nodded. Likely it wasn’t the first time he’d heard such a tale. “All right. Can I help you take your things to our lodge? Caroline Benson would take good care of you—”

“No, thank you. I’ll just…” She pressed her lips together. Sit here and rot before she accepted a man’s help. Took another man’s word. “I didn’t even want to marry him much. We didn’t even write.”

“Okay.”

“He has a daughter.” Elizabeth clenched her fists more tightly. “I wanted…he wanted a mother for his daughter.”

“Ah. Molly is a cute kid. Lost her mother to influenza a year or so back when it swept through town.” He scratched his forehead. “You got experience with kids?”

“A little.” Her abdomen clenched. “I wanted more.”

“Well, then maybe we could help each other.”

She slid a glance at him, her eyes hot. “I don’t know who you think I am—”

“Well, as to that, Miss, we haven’t exactly been introduced.” He offered a half smile. “Jason Morgan,” he repeated. “Guardian to my brother’s son, Michael. I’m all right at the fatherhood thing, but I work in town during the week and I don’t pay him as much attention as I ought. Fact of it is, he’s seven and could probably use some mothering.”

“Elizabeth Webber,” she admitted on a shaky sigh. “What…exactly are you suggesting?”

“Well, I’m not in the market for a mail order bride,” he admitted. “I hope that don’t hurt your feelings.”

“God.” A rush of air exploded out in a huff. “I don’t think I will ever answer another advertisement.”

“Wouldn’t blame you. I could use a…” He scratched the back of his neck. “They have a fancy name for women who look after kids and houses?”

“Housekeeper. Governess.”

“Yeah, that’ll do it. Until you get yourself back on your feet. Make some plans.” Jason got to his feet, held out a hand. “Let me take your things to Caroline Benson. We’ll put you up for the night. On the house, courtesy of Charles Town and in apology for the asshole who left you here.”

“I’m not sure if it’s a good idea for me to remain,” Elizabeth admitted, but allowed him to pull her to her feet.

“Well, you don’t have to take the job with me,” Jason told her. “Maybe Caroline will know something else you could do. Or we could ask her mother, Bobbie. Just…” He hesitated. “I can’t leave you sitting here like this, and not just because Julian Jerome wanted me to move you along.”

“Maybe just one night,” Elizabeth allowed. A good meal and night’s sleep would put her right again and she could decide the next step.

It was unlikely to stay here with the appealing sheriff and her nephew, but it wasn’t as though she had any other answers at the moment.

She allowed him to make arrangements for a porter to deliver the trunk to the hotel and watched as Jason lifted the heavy portmanteau without a care. “After you, Miss Elizabeth.”

Gathering her skirt in one hand, she started down the Main Street, hoping she wasn’t making another dreadful mistake.

June 19, 2019

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Flash Fiction: 25 Minutes or Less

The ending is a little wonky because I ran out of time. Written in 23 minutes.


Stefanie Webber was going to see her father whether he—or her mother—liked it or not. For her entire life, they’d waited for him. Waited for him to call, waited for him to visit, waited for him to leave, to go back to the city where they were, for some reason, never allowed to visit. Oh sure, her mother had always told her that one day Stef would understand. Love was complicated.

But she was fourteen now and really tired of hearing she’d understand when she was the older. As her oldest brother had always told her, that was just some shit adults told you to get you off their back. Well, Stef was done waiting for answers from her mother, and since her father wasn’t expected to come back to San Diego until her birthday in July, showing up on his doorstep in April might shock him enough to explain why the hell he lived somewhere else if he loved her mother so damn much.

Her mother didn’t often let Stefanie out of her sight overnight—her brothers told her that was mostly their fault—Jake had apparently been kidnapped twice as a kid and Cameron had never met a curfew in high school he hadn’t broken. But every once in a while, she could convince her mom to let her sleep over Trisha’s house, and this time—she’d managed to convince Trish to cover for her at least until Saturday morning.

Because by then she’d be in Port Charles and would have confronted her father about never being around and she wouldn’t need a cover story anymore.

Of course all of that had seemed like a great idea until her layover in Chicago had screwed everything else. Her connecting flight had been cancelled and they couldn’t get her on a new one until the next morning. Which meant she’d be in the air right about the time she was supposed to be home from Trisha’s house.

It couldn’t be helped, Stef told herself, as she got into the taxi that would take her from the airport to her father’s penthouse — his address had been ridiculous easy to find. She’d found it on his driver’s license three years ago.

She turned on her phone…just to see if she’d gotten away with it so far and found that she had four missed calls and three texts—as well as a text from her oldest brother, Cameron. She wrinkled her nose, weighed her bets, and called Cameron.

“Stef, Mom is flipping out. You turned off your location on your phone—”

“Hello to you, too, Cam,” Stef said with a roll of her eyes as the taxi turned towards the downtown area with its taller buildings. “So she doesn’t know where I am yet?”

“She doesn’t, but only because I didn’t tell her you’ve been asking questions about Dad again.” Cameron waited a moment. “What the hell, Stef—are you just going to show up on his doorstep?”

“That’s the general idea. Don’t you think it’s strange we’ve never been allowed to come to see him? He has family here. I know he does. Why don’t we get to know him?”

“This isn’t the way to figure it out—”

“Sorry, Cam. The taxi is dropping me at his apartment building now. You can tell Mom all you want. It’s not going to stop me.”

Fifteen flights above, Jason Morgan was having a terrible morning. It hadn’t started that way, but the people in his life always knew how to screw things up. He leaned back against his pool table and listened to his third visitor of the day throw the second tantrum she’d had that week. His first two visitors were still there, listening and throwing in their advice. Like always.

The knock on his door made him grimace. He could only imagine who was here this time. He walked away from the trio in his living room and pulled the door open.

“Dad?” His daughter blinked up at him with her mother’s blue eyes, and shoved her dark hair out of her eyes. “Um. Hi.”

“Dad?” one of the women behind him demanded. “What the hell—”

Jason scowled and turned back. “Sam—”

“Wait, a second—” the other woman said. She strode forward to get a better look at Stefanie who shrunk back from both of them. “Who the hell—”

“Dad?” Stefanie repeated, more hesitantly now, taking a step back. “What’s going on?”

“Stefanie—” He sighed, dipped his head, then took her by the elbow and led her into the penthouse living room. “Stefanie, this is Sonny and Carly Corinthos. And that’s Sam.”

“Sam,” Stefanie repeated, flicking a glance at her father, as if questioning why Sam didn’t have a last name.

“Sam Morgan, his wife,” Sam snapped. Stefanie paled as Jason shot her a dark look.

“Ex-wife,” Jason growled. “For sixteen years. Don’t start, Sam.” He looked back at Stefanie with her wide eyes, then sighed. “This is Stefanie Webber. My daughter.”

“Webber?” Carly screeched as Sonny smirked and Sam scowled.

“You wanted to know the reason I never came to live in San Diego?” Jason asked with a sigh. “Because they would have followed me.”