This is set in July 2003. Remember the episode when Elizabeth hit the button for the panic room and found Carly? I wrote this the weekend before we knew about the pulmonary embolism.
Song: Cry Ophelia (Adam Cohen)
Something went wrong
You’re not laughing
It happened almost as though in a dream. One moment, she’d been unpacking a box of books. The next, Carly had vaulted out of nowhere and was screaming her name.
Elizabeth whirled around so fast that she slipped and fell, staring up at Carly with a shocked expression. No one had seen Carly in almost a month. She’d vanished from the face of the Earth.
“Elizabeth, thank God,” Carly cried, almost weeping. She reached down and practically hauled the other woman to her feet. “We need to get out of here.”
“Wait, wait.” Elizabeth pushed away from her and put her hands to her head, closing her eyes. “You—where have you been? What’s going on?”
“I’ve been here,” Carly said, frantically, already pulling her towards the door. “In that stupid panic room. Come on, Elizabeth!”
“In what panic room?” Elizabeth demanded. Her eyes drifted past Carly to the open room behind her. Her eyes widened and her mouth opened a little. “Oh my God—”
“Elizabeth, please, we have to go!” Carly cried.
Elizabeth nodded. “You’re right. Let’s go—”
She heard the door open before she could finish. She turned and looked at her husband. “Ric.” Carly’s hand tightened on hers. “What’s going on?” she demanded.
Ric’s eyes darted between his wife and his captive. “Elizabeth, I know you don’t understand right now—”
“You kidnapped Carly!” Elizabeth cried. “She’s been missing for a month—”
Ric stepped forward and Elizabeth impulsively retreated a step, backing into Carly. “I’m doing this for you,” he tried to explain. “Just like we discussed. Another baby.”
Elizabeth blinked. “You—you think we’re going to raise Carly and Sonny’s child?” she asked softly. “You’re crazy.” She shook her head. “We’re leaving.”
Ric reached behind him and pulled out a small pistol. “No. You’re not.”
It’s not so easy now to get you to smile
You gotta be strong
Elizabeth paced the small space of the panic room. “I can’t believe I was so stupid.”
Carly’s brown eyes followed the tiny brunette from side to side. “You weren’t stupid. He was good. Very good.” She gestured towards the television screen. “I saw how he acted with you.”
Elizabeth stared at the different screens, each showing a different spot in the house. Their bedroom. Their kitchen. Their living room. “How did he hide this from me?”
“He was careful,” Carly said dully. She sank onto the cot and stared at the crib next to her. “He had this completely set up before he took me.”
Elizabeth frowned. “The night of the wedding—” she trailed off. “You must have been struggling. Why didn’t I know?”
“You were asleep on the couch,” Carly answered. “The police came. I saw it.”
“But Ric said—” Elizabeth stared at the couch on the screen. “I’m not a deep sleeper. I haven’t been in so long.” She stepped closer to the screen and something caught her eye.
A prescription bottle.
She reached for it, on a shelf above the television screens. “This is a sedative,” she said softly. “In my name. He got a prescription for a sedative in my name.”
“He drugged me,” Elizabeth murmured. “Oh my God. He drugged me so I couldn’t stop him.” The bottle clattered to the floor and she stepped back, her vision blurring. “Oh my God, my husband drugged me.”
“Elizabeth—” Carly stood, feeling out of place as she tried to comfort the other woman. “I’m sorry.”
“He said we made love, but I didn’t remember,” Elizabeth went on. Her hands were starting to tremble. “I thought it was just the wine, but I didn’t remember.”
To walk these streets
And keep from falling
“My clothes were off,” Elizabeth choked out. “He undressed me—or we made love and I just don’t remember—”
Carly closed her eyes, remembering the moment she’d woken up next to Ric, also nude. They hadn’t slept together then, but she hadn’t known. The thought had haunted her for moments, causing more than one nightmare. “Elizabeth, he violated you.”
“He drugged you,” Carly said firmly. “You said yourself you don’t remember anything. Jesus, Elizabeth. Take the blinders off. If he just undressed you, it’s still violating you.” She closed her eyes. “And if he did more—”
Elizabeth sank onto the cot, pressing a hand to her mouth. Tears spilled onto her cheeks. “No—it’s just not possible. I can’t—” She cleared her throat. “We need to talk about what we’re going to do.”
“What can we do?” Carly asked, sighing. “Believe me, I’ve thought of it all. I’ve even gotten out of here a few times, but he always catches me.”
“Only one of us needs to get out of here,” Elizabeth said softly. “I’ll take care of Ric. You run and just keep on running, okay?”
“I can’t leave you in here,” Carly said. “I’ve got leverage. I’ve got the baby he wants. You go.”
“Carly, you being pregnant is precisely the reason you should go,” Elizabeth argued. “Look, this is my fault. I have been blind to who my husband really is. I defended him when I was wrong. God, I must have defended him a thousand times to Sonny and Jason just this month and look how wrong I was!”
“You had no idea!” Carly insisted. “I heard everything he told you. He snowed you, Elizabeth. He led you to believe he was something that he wasn’t. You’re not the first person to buy into his bull.”
“Everybody lies to me,” she whispered softly. Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Nice to know some things will never change.” She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter, Carly. You run. Get help. I can hold my own against him. He won’t hurt me.”
“Won’t hurt you?” Carly scoffed. “Come on. He raped you!”
“No!” Elizabeth cried. She shook her head vehemently. “No.”
“Yes, yes he did. Stop denying it, Elizabeth. Ric raped you.”
“No!” Elizabeth screamed. “Not again! It didn’t happen again!”
But when you’re not, just let yourself cry
Carly paled and looked away, remembering how Elizabeth had come to the penthouse, desperate to believe that Ric was different. She’d been sleeping with him and Carly understood Elizabeth needed that reassurance.
She only wished she’d been able to give it. “Elizabeth—”
Elizabeth shook her head. “Don’t. Don’t okay? Don’t pretend that you like me or even feel sorry for me.”
“No woman deserves that,” Carly said firmly. “To be violated like that. Not by their husband, not by someone they thought was their friend—”
“And not by some stranger in the park,” Elizabeth said softly. She closed her eyes and sank to the floor. “I feel sick.” She was on her knees, one arm braced on the floor, the other around her middle. “Oh my God.”
Carly crossed to the bathroom and shoved the door open. “There’s a toilet in here.”
Elizabeth made it there, but only barely. She vomited until she nearly passed out, and then she slid away, sitting against the wall, her knees in the air, and her head in her hands. “I can’t believe this is happening to me,” she whispered. “I can’t believe I married someone who could do this to me.”
Carly stepped inside the small space and flushed the toilet. She grabbed a toothbrush and squeezed some of the paste on it before handing it to Elizabeth. “Here.”
You’ve been working hard
Just trying to pay the rent
When Elizabeth had brushed her teeth and splashed some water on her face, Carly left her in the bathroom, closing the door behind her, sensing she needed some time alone.
She crossed to the television screens watching as Ric paced the bedroom nervously. She glanced up as she heard the doorbell ring and looked back to the screen.
Elizabeth came out and frowned. “What was that?”
“The doorbell,” Carly murmured as she watched Ric hurry to answer it. “It’s Emily.” She glanced at the other woman. “Don’t bother screaming or pounding on the wall. It doesn’t work.”
“I figured as much.”
After a few moments, Ric closed the door and looked towards the panic room. He crossed to it and they watched him take the remote out of his pants. Elizabeth crossed to the other corner.
“As soon as I get him distracted, run,” Elizabeth told her. “Okay? Run as fast as you can and get out of here.”
“Elizabeth,” Carly began, but the door began to slide open and Ric entered.
Before he could say anything, Elizabeth charged him and jumped on his back, wrapping her small hands around his head. “Run!”
Carly darted out of the room and only spared one look back before she flew out the front door.
Ric easily tossed Elizabeth off, making her land with an oomph on the cot. “Why’d you do that?” he roared.
She tossed her dark hair out of her eyes and glared at him. “Why’d you rape me?” she hissed.
He blinked, the word rape draining his anger. “What?” Ric asked incredulously.
“You drugged me,” Elizabeth seethed. “And then you either just undressed me or we had sex. And I don’t remember a damn thing.”
“That doesn’t make it rape—”
“The hell it doesn’t!” Elizabeth screamed. “You drugged me! How was I supposed to say no?”
“Elizabeth, I just needed to make sure you wouldn’t stop me,” Ric tried to explain. “I did this for you—”
“You did this for yourself,” Elizabeth shot back. “You’ve been trying to replace our child with Sonny’s. Did it occur to you that I don’t want a child?”
Ric shook his head. “No, no. That’s not true. You want a family. We both do.”
“Not with you,” Elizabeth snapped. “You’re insane, and you’re a rapist.”
“I am not a rapist!”
Tryin’ to draw the line between who you are and who you invent
But if you throw a stone
Something’s gonna shatter somewhere
Carly stopped at the first payphone she found, her hands shaking as she called Sonny’s cell phone collect.
She screamed her name when they asked for it and Sonny hurriedly accepted the charges.
“Carly? Jesus, are you okay? Where are you?”
“Sonny, you have to go to Ric’s!” Carly cried. “Elizabeth is there and she’s alone with Ric, he took me and Elizabeth is there! You have to get there! Sonny, go!”
“Wait, wait, where are you?”
“Damn it, Sonny, he raped her and you have to get her out of there! I’ll meet you there. Just go!”
She slammed the phone down and took off down the block. She’d be damned if Elizabeth was going to sacrifice herself.
It took her five minutes to get back to the Lansing home and she was out of breath, ready to keel over when she got there. A month inside a small dark room had really drained her. Her eyes were sensitive to light and she felt so weak.
“Elizabeth!” she screamed as she crossed the threshold. She saw the open door of the panic room and Ric standing in the doorway. He was glaring at something she couldn’t see. “Elizabeth!”
Ric looked at her and smiled. “Well, look who returned.”
“Get out of here, Carly!” Elizabeth yelled. She came into Carly’s line of vision suddenly, launching herself at her husband as they crashed into the rack of black boxes against the wall.
She heard a car screech to halt behind her. Carly whirled around to see Sonny and Jason throwing open their car doors and rushing up the walk. “She’s in there!”
Jason pushed past her and crossed the living room in a few quick strides, drawing his gun from the small of his back. He pointed at Ric. “Let her go.”
“Let her go?” Ric demanded. “She’s got me in a headlock!”
Which was true. Elizabeth was on Ric’s back, her tiny arms wrapped around his neck, trying her best to squeeze the life out of him. Every time he tried to shove her off or reach his arms up to pull her hands from his throat, she switched angles.
Jason had fight against smirking, but didn’t lower his weapon. “Elizabeth, let him go and go outside.”
“No,” Elizabeth snarled. She dug her nails into his throat, eliciting a growl from her husband. “He’s going to pay for what he did to me!”
Jason frowned and shook his head. She never did know when to quit. “Elizabeth, just let me handle this.”
Finally Ric managed to throw Elizabeth off. He aimed for the cot, but she went flying past it and crashed into the crib. Without thinking, Jason discharged his gun twice, sending Ric flying backwards and into the bathroom. He didn’t move.
We’re all so fragile
We’re all so scared
Carly pushed past Sonny and darted into the house as Jason hastily tucked his gun back in its spot. “Stay back, Carly. I’ve got her. Tell Sonny to call a crew.”
Jason stepped around the cot and knelt beside the unconscious brunette. He checked her pulse and sighed in relief when he found it steady and strong. “She’s alive. She’ll probably have some bruising. We’ll get her back to the penthouse and get a doctor there to see her.”
Carly watched in worry as Jason easily lifted the tiny woman into his arms and was on his heels as he carried her outside.
Sonny blanched when he saw Elizabeth limp in Jason’s arms. The image was hauntingly familiar. Barely a year ago, Jason had carried her from an about to explode crypt.
“Get her and Carly out of here,” Sonny said quietly. “I’ll wait for the crew. Is Ric—?”
“I don’t know,” Jason answered. “I didn’t look. He’s out though.”
You say you wanna learn how to live your life without tears
But we’ve been trying to do that for thousands of years
While a doctor was taping Elizabeth’s ribs, Jason cornered Carly downstairs in the penthouse living room. “Sonny told me what you said on the phone.”
Carly sighed and tugged at the bottom of her shirt. “Where’s Courtney?” she asked, changing the subject. “And Michael? I want to see them. I haven’t seen them in a month.”
“They’re on the island,” Jason said impatiently. “Carly, you’re avoiding my question. You told Sonny that Ric raped Elizabeth.”
“Elizabeth didn’t know I was there until today,” Carly said softly. “She was doing something and it triggered the panic room door. We were on our way out of there but Ric stopped us.”
“I’m getting there,” Carly snapped. “He locked us both in the panic room and Elizabeth was freaking out by then. Jason, she had no idea what Ric is really like. She thought he’d changed. There were these television screens in the room and I saw the way he played her. He made her believe he’d let this vendetta go. He played the part of the perfect husband.”
“Finding out differently must have thrown her,” Jason interjected.
“Yeah, well, turns out the night Ric locked me in there, Elizabeth had a blackout of some sort. At the time, he convinced her it was just the wine she’d drank earlier. But today, she found a bottle of sedatives. He drugged so she wouldn’t stop him. And when she woke up, she was—well,” Carly shrugged. “Naked.”
“Jesus,” Jason exhaled. “So he drugged her and you guys think—?”
“He violated her, Jason,” Carly said firmly. “Whether it was no more than just taking off her clothes like he did to me or it was more. She was definitely violated.”
“If he wasn’t already dead—” Jason trailed off and shook his head. “Is she okay?”
“She was upset,” Carly admitted. “Lost it for a few minutes. But I think she shoved it aside to get us out of there. The second he stepped inside, she jumped him and kept screaming at me to get out of there. She’s—she’s got guts, Jason. A lot of them.”
Jason nodded. “Yeah—she’s always been like that. She wanted to protect you.”
“She did. So I got her help and went back in case she needed me,” Carly finished. “Of course, it looked like she was holding her own.” She looked towards the stairs. “She’ll be okay, right?”
“Physically, yeah. Just some bruised ribs and a concussion,” Jason answered. “But—”
“Yeah,” Carly said, understanding what he didn’t say. “Jason, don’t take this the wrong and please do not tell anyone else what I said. But—after today? I kind of—well, respect her now. And—I want—” She hesitated and glared at her friend who was trying not to smirk. “Don’t give me that look. She put herself in danger to protect me.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just strange coming from you.”
“I want to help her,” Carly said bluntly. “I want her to stay here or something. She’s going to be really upset when this hits her, and I guess I want to be there for her. I think she could use a friend.”
“She will, Carly.” Jason hesitated. “It’s good that you want to be there for her. But I know her. She won’t let you.”
“You knew who she was a year ago,” Carly said quietly. “I know her. I’ve watched her every day for the past month. I know that she sings when she paints and thinks no one else is in the room. I know that she makes extremely bad coffee and about the only thing she can make are brownies. I know that her face scrunches up when something in her painting isn’t working—”
“Okay, okay, I get the point. You know her better than me,” Jason said. He rubbed the back of his neck. “I used to know her better than anyone, you know? I knew when she was lying, when she was upset. And now, I don’t know her at all.”
“Do you miss her?” Carly asked, tilting her head to the side. “As a friend or whatever?”
“Sure,” Jason said easily. “She was one of my best friends. She mattered to me.”
“Then maybe this is your chance to get that back,” Carly murmured.
So go on and cry Ophelia
It’s the only thing to do sometimes
Elizabeth laid on the bed, staring up at the ceiling blankly. It was easier if she didn’t move. She could just stare at the white ceiling and she wouldn’t have to think about the fact that she was in the guest room at Carly’s penthouse.
If she didn’t think about her location, she wouldn’t think about why she was here. That her husband had kidnapped a pregnant woman and kept her captive for a month while he fed his gullible wife a lot of bullshit about being a changed man.
Or that he’d drugged and possibly raped her the night he kidnapped the other woman. She squeezed her eyes shut, feeling tears in the back of her throat. Oh, god. It had happened again.
She turned on her side and drew her knees to her chest, ignoring the pain in her ribs. She started to cry and once the first tears trickled down her cheeks, they only came faster and stronger. Soon she was sobbing, her face buried in the pillow.
She didn’t hear the door sliding open or feel Jason’s weight sink into the bed as he sat down. He smoothed the hair away from her face and she only cried harder.
Her own husband, someone she’d trusted and loved, had drugged her and then violated in the worst way possible. In a way Elizabeth had once vowed would never happen again.
“You shouldn’t pull your knees up like that,” he said softly. Jason straightened her legs. “It’s not good for your ribs.”
“I don’t care,” she choked out. “I just want to be by myself, okay?”
“Okay,” Jason said, amiably. He smoothed her hair again. “I’ll check on you later. Do you need anything?”
“The last few months of my life to disappear?” she sobbed. “Can you do that?”
“I wish I could,” Jason said. He stood and closed the door behind him.
You know I’m crying too
Right there with you
He closed the door behind him and shook his head wordlessly. He wondered what existed in some men that gave them the urge to do this to people. How Ric Lansing could have fooled Elizabeth into thinking he was so wonderful—so that he could turn right around and violate that trust, trust he knew she didn’t give easily.
She was still crying, he could hear her through the door. Even after all this time, after the pain, the nasty words—it still ripped at him when he heard her cry.
Sonny had gotten home when Jason came down the stairs. He was arguing with Carly insisting she go to the hospital.
“You’re probably dehydrated or suffering from malnutrition,” he was saying.
Carly rolled her eyes. “I am fine. What I want you to do is bring Michael and Courtney home. I need to see my son.”
“They’re already in the air,” Sonny said. “Now will you go?”
“No,” Carly said. She caught Jason’s eye. “Hey. How is she?”
Jason sighed. “She’s okay. Upset, but physically fine.”
Sonny frowned. “Now might be a good time to explain what you said on the phone.”
Carly shifted uncomfortably. “It’s really her business, not mine. Maybe she doesn’t want everyone to know.”
Sonny exhaled slowly. He put his hands on his waist, leveling his trademark intense glare on his wife. She braced herself for a fight and was prepared to stand her ground.
After a moment, Sonny nodded “You’re right. If she wants me to know, she’ll say so.”
“How’d things go at the house?” Jason asked. “Where’s Lansing?”
“Dead,” Sonny answered. “He bled out—painfully, I might add. We’ll arrange for the body to be found sooner or later. Good clean ending for Elizabeth.”
“He deserved to be cut into miniscule little pieces and fed to the wolves,” Carly muttered.
Sonny nodded. “Yeah. For what he did to you and the havoc he apparently wreaked on his own wife. What did he hope to accomplish by kidnapping you?”
Carly sighed. “He wanted our baby. He blames you for her miscarriage and wanted to replace their baby.”
“That’s sick,” Sonny declared.
“Yeah, it is,” Carly replied. She rubbed her abdomen. “You know, I watched her these last few weeks. She never trusted him fully, she was always a little suspicious.” She bit her lip. “He lied and lied to her and all I wanted to do was scream at her stop believing him.”
“Come on, I’ll make you some dinner,” Sonny said. “Jason, will you check on Elizabeth one more time before you go to the airport?”
“Yeah. No problem.”
It’s alright, Ophelia
She wasn’t crying when he entered the room the second time. She was lying on her back, staring at the ceiling.
“Do you need anything?” Jason asked.
“I think we covered that question,” Elizabeth murmured. “Did Carly tell you?”
“Tell me what?”
“What Ric did.”
“That he—” Jason hesitated. “That he drugged you and—”
“She shouldn’t have said anything,” Elizabeth whispered. “It’s bad enough she knows.”
“She’s worried about you,” Jason told her. He shut the door behind him. “I am, too.”
“Why?” she asked dully. “You were right, weren’t you? Ric was bad news. I had no business being with him. I was just protecting a rapist.”
“I never should have said it that way,” Jason admitted. “But I’d just found out what happened to Carly and here you were, being so damn stubborn—it was like you weren’t listening just to spite me.”
She chuckled dryly. “Yeah. Everything I do is always about you Jason.”
“That’s not what I meant—”
“I defended Ric because he made me believe that my love mattered, that I was enough,” Elizabeth said softly. “That I hadn’t wasted my time trying to make another relationship work. Just another mistake, Jason. Nothing more. Had nothing to do with you.”
“I’m sorry, Elizabeth.”
“Is he dead?”
“Is he dead? Am I a widow?”
“Do you really want me to answer that?” Jason asked, stuffing his hands into his jean pockets.
“I think you just did.” Elizabeth sighed and folded her hands across her abdomen. “You know—I was waiting for him to come today. I was so excited—because I knew how happy he’d be.”
Jason walked towards her, trying to catch her eye, but she kept her attention firmly on the ceiling tiles. “About what?”
“I’m pregnant,” she whispered. “Silly me. I thought when he meant he wanted a family, he wanted my child. Should have known he wanted some blonde’s instead.”
Jason closed his eyes, feeling a sharp pain lance through him. “He was sick, Elizabeth. Sick and twisted.”
“Yeah, I guess he’d have to be to pretend to rape one woman and then drug and rape the wife he kidnapped someone for.” Elizabeth sighed. “I sure can pick ‘em. A brainwashed cheater, a hitman and a sociopath. I wonder what’s next. Do you think I’ll just settle for a homicidal maniac who has weird fetishes? Like he likes to wrap his victims in toilet paper before he slits their throats?”
“I’m not a hitman, Elizabeth and you know that,” Jason retorted.
She laughed again, coldly. “Forgot. That’s just one area of your job. We never did discuss the aspects. I was always too weak and fragile to handle it, huh?”
He shook his head. “What are you going to do?”
“About the baby?” Elizabeth asked. “Don’t know. I mean, what kind of child is it going to be? The offspring of an unemployed loser and a rapist?”
“You’re not a loser and it doesn’t matter what the father was like. Ric is dead and he can’t hurt you anymore.”
“If that’s what you believe, then you have a lot to learn about relationships, Jason. Just because someone’s gone, it doesn’t mean it’s over.” She turned and curled up into a ball, hissing when her knees came into contact with her sensitive ribs. “Sometimes it’s just beginning.”
“Tell Carly and Sonny I’ll be out of their way in a day or two. When I figure out what’s going through my head, okay?”
“You can stay here as long as you need to,” Jason assured her.
“With the happy mob squad? I’d rather chew nails.”
He hesitated. “Carly’s—”
“Worried about me, yeah I know. You already told me that.” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Just leave me alone, okay?”
He shook his head. “No. I’m not going to leave you alone so you can sit up here and feel sorry for yourself.”
She jerked into a sitting position then, her cold gaze burning into him. “Is that you think I’m doing?” she seethed. “I’m trying to deal with the fact that my husband—who is dead now—not only lied to me with every single word out of his mouth, but that he drugged me and that I was raped for the second time in my life. I’m so sorry if I’m cramping your style or I’m not bouncing back as quickly as you think I should be, but I can’t—”
“I’m sorry,” Jason interrupted. He sat on the edge of the bed. “I shouldn’t have said that. I know you better than that.”
“Do you?” Elizabeth demanded. “Did we ever know each other at all? Or were we just fooling ourselves?”
Thank god for my bad memory
I’ve forgotten some of the stupid things that I’ve done
“Of course we knew each other,” Jason said, almost startled by her vehement words. “We were friends.”
“Yeah,” Elizabeth sighed, the fire drained from her body. She laid back down. “Friends.”
“I’m sorry, Elizabeth—”
“You’re always sorry, Jason. It never changes anything.” She closed her eyes. “Could you please go now?”
“Jason, there’s nothing left to say. You’re always sorry. And I’m always alone.”
“You’re not alone, Elizabeth—”
“Emily and Nikolas were married last week. A small chapel just outside of town. Lucky was there, Alexis, Luke, Monica, other members of both families. And I heard about it on the news,” Elizabeth said softly. “Lucky’s been mourning his girlfriend’s death for a month, but I found out about it in the newspaper. The only people I have are my grandmother and Ric—and I can’t look at my grandmother in the eye.”
“Why not?” Jason asked.
“Because I weaved a little fairy tale for her. About the wonderful and kind Harvard lawyer who swept me off my feet. That we had the perfect courtship and that marriage, with the minor inconvenience of a miscarriage, has been idyllic. How do you suppose I tell her that he was a monster? That he’s dead and I’m glad?”
“Why tell her anything?”
“You mean lie?” Elizabeth asked, raising her eyebrows. She smirked. “Why, you the paragon of virtue, are encouraging me to mourn my rapist husband? Tell me, Jason, does the word hypocrite mean anything to you?”
He stood and shook his head. “Sometime in the next week, his body will be found. So that you can have a quick ending to all of this. Your marriage will be over, and you won’t have to explain his absence.”
‘”I think it’d be for the best that I am at the house when he’s found then,” Elizabeth said softly. “So that when the two of you are questioned, I don’t have to be in a position to explain why I’m here.”
“Probably,” Jason admitted. “But Carly and Sonny want you to stay.”
“And I’m not going to complicate your lives any further. You have Carly now. You and Courtney can have your little wedding and I’ll just sell the house and try to get my old studio back.”
“Yeah. I know. You’re sorry.”
I’ve come to a little wisdom through a whole lot of failure
So I watch more carefully what rolls off my tongue
He never made it to the airport. He didn’t leave the room and eventually she fell asleep. He sat in a chair and watched her sleep. She was a restless sleeper, tossing and turning. Her breathing was shallow at times and he found himself worrying about her concussion.
When Courtney called about a ride home, Sonny just sent a guard out to get them. He knew that Jason was still upstairs and decided to leave him alone. It wasn’t every day that your ex-girlfriend was raped by her husband.
When Elizabeth woke a few hours later, he was still sitting there. Staring at her, his eyes trained on her face. She frowned. “Why are you here?”
“I’m worried about you.”
She sighed and slid into a sitting position, setting her feet on the ground. “Tell me,” she began quietly, “where does this sudden burst of concern come from? Where has it been in the past ten months or so?”
He leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his thighs, clasping his hands together. “Tell me,” he echoed, “have you ever made a mistake?”
Elizabeth eyed him suspiciously. “Is this a trick question?”
“The day you walked out on me, when you demonstrated your inability to handle my life—”
“That is not what that was about!” Elizabeth fumed. “That was about my inability to come last, to be neglected. My inability to accept that promises are allowed to be broken for the sake of business.”
He knitted his eyebrows together in a frown. “Why didn’t you say so?”
“Silly me, I thought I did,” Elizabeth snarled. “I guess I was depending on your ability to understand me. Hoping for too much again, huh?”
He shook his head. “When you walked out, and you turned your back on me every time I tried to talk to you—”
“Yeah, both times,” Elizabeth muttered.
“It occurred to me that maybe you didn’t care about me anymore,” Jason told her. “I’m not sorry I moved on. I’m not sorry I listened to you when you told me we were over, that I’d ruined any chance we had. I’m not sorry that I fell in love again and you’re not going to make me sorry for that.”
She closed her, willing the tears to stay where they were. “I deserved it,” she whispered. “Because I walked away so many times from what I really wanted, I deserved what I got.”
“You did not deserve to have Ric Lansing drop into your life,” Jason said firmly. “No one deserves that.”
“Yeah, okay.” Elizabeth sighed. “Well, I’m all right. I feel fine. You can go.”
“I didn’t finish,” Jason interjected. “I’m not sorry for any of those things, but I am sorry that our friendship suffered.”
“Suffered,” Elizabeth scoffed. “Died, you mean.”
“Yeah, you’re sorry. We established this.”
He sat next to her on the bed. “Do you remember when I told that sometimes when you go away, it doesn’t make the feelings go away? That it just makes it clearer?”
“Yeah—” Elizabeth sighed. “I remember that.”
“Sometimes you don’t need to go away.”
Elizabeth frowned. “What does that mean?”
“It means that I miss you.”
Elizabeth blinked and stared at him. “You miss me,” she echoed. She laughed. “Well, goody for me. Should I bow at your feet now?”
“Why do you do this?” he asked. “Why are you so angry with me?”
“Maybe it’s because you think telling me you miss me is supposed to fix the way you’ve treated me.” She launched herself off the bed and crossed the room. “Well, I miss you too. I miss talking to you and taking rides on the bike. But you know what I don’t miss? I don’t miss the phone calls, I don’t miss the way you’d run out to help Sonny and Carly with a hangnail. I don’t miss the way you shut down on me without the slightest provocation. I don’t miss the way you make me feel inferior, like I’m not good enough for you because all I wanted was your trust.” She found her shoes underneath the bed. “Yeah, I miss our friendship Jason, but not enough to sacrifice my self-respect—what I have left anyway.”
She ended her tirade by slamming out of the guest room, leaving Jason stunned and speechless in her wake.
You pray for rain
But you don’t want it from a storm
Courtney and Michael were home when Elizabeth rushed down the steps. Courtney jumped to her feet and immediately looked at the brunette suspiciously. “Elizabeth.”
Carly frowned. “Where are you going? You should be resting—you have a concussion—”
“I’ll be fine,” Elizabeth said quickly. “I appreciate everything, but it wouldn’t look right if I were here when—Ric—well—” she tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “You know what I mean.”
“Don’t tell me you’re going to back to him!” Courtney scoffed. She rolled her eyes. “My God, how naïve can you be? What does he have to do so that you realize what scum he is? Does he have to rape you too?”
Elizabeth paled and her eyes filled with tears. “It’s funny you should say that Courtney,” she whispered. She heard Jason’s footsteps on the steps behind her. He stopped on the landing. “Real ironic, you might say.”
“Courtney, just go home,” Carly advised. “This isn’t the time or the place—”
“No. Because Elizabeth is too stupid to see what a monster her husband is, he had the opportunity to kidnap Carly,” Courtney interrupted. “Now how did he manage to pull that off without you noticing? Did you help? Were you part of the plan?”
“Courtney, that’s enough,” Jason ordered. “Stop it.”
Elizabeth was trembling now. “You’re such a hateful person, Courtney. You automatically think I’d do something like that?”
“Well, I don’t know, Elizabeth. Maybe the reason you’re going back isn’t because you’re scared of him or because you just don’t see it. Maybe you like it,” Courtney snarled. “Maybe you get off on being with a rapist—”
“Shut up!” Elizabeth cried. “You don’t know anything about me!”
“Courtney, that is enough,” Carly said firmly. She put a hand on the blonde’s shoulder. “You don’t know what happened—”
“I don’t need to. Here Elizabeth is, all ready to return to her rapist husband. So, what is it, Elizabeth? What makes you love him despite the terror he inflicts?”
“Courtney, stop it,” Sonny cut in. “Carly’s right. A lot of things happened today—”
“All of which has done nothing to make you see what he’s done! Did you come and beg for Ric’s life just like you begged for Zander’s?” Courtney demanded. “You’re so selfish, Elizabeth—”
“No, that would be you,” Elizabeth cut in softly. “For your information, I’m not going back to Ric. He’s dead. I’m going back to the house so that when his body is found, the police won’t be able to connect this back to Sonny and Jason. And that is all you deserve to know, so you can take your accusations and hateful words and shove them.”
She pushed past them and left the penthouse, slamming the door behind her. Courtney sighed. “Well, at least that’s over.”
Carly stared at the other woman, surprise written all over her face. “Is that what I sound like?” she asked no one in particular. “When I go off without any of the facts? When I throw tantrums and accuse people of things they didn’t do?”
“Honestly?” Sonny asked, a small smirk on his face. “Yeah.”
She glared at him but turned the intensity of the glare onto her sister-in-law who was staring at her strangely. “All you had to do was shut up when we told you to. But you just sat there and kept yelling at a woman who had her entire life ripped out from underneath her today. Do you ever think about anything but yourself?”
“That’s not fair,” Courtney cried. “I’ve been so worried about you these last couple of weeks. I’ve done everything I can to keep your son from worrying about you. We postponed our wedding until we found you! How can you say that I don’t think about anyone but myself?”
“You know, being self-absorbed is one thing, but being cruelly selfish is another.” Carly shook her head. “I can’t deal with this right now.” She held her hand out to her son, who’d been watching the events unfold with an interested expression. “Come on, Mr. Man. You and me need to get caught up.”
Carly led to the stairs and they disappeared onto the second floor. Courtney sighed. “Okay, so what the hell happened today?”
Jason didn’t answer her. Instead, he shook his head. “I need a ride.”
“I’ll come with you,” Courtney said quickly.
“No. I need be by myself for a while,” Jason told her, holding his hands up to ward off her approach. “I’ll see you when I get back.”
Yeah, you find a rose
And cut your finger on a thorn
She entered the house which Sonny’s men had cleaned up that afternoon. The panic room was closed and she had no inclination to open it or tell anyone that it was even there when she sold the house.
She closed the door behind her and stared at their living room. This morning, she’d been in love with her husband and tonight—
She crossed the room and stared at the photographs she’d unpacked before Carly had fled the room and shattered her life. The biggest one was a framed photo of them on their wedding day.
She picked it up and studied it. Studied her smile, the ecstatic look in her eyes. She remembered how overwhelmed and happy she’d felt when he’d taken the rings out of his pocket.
At the time, she’d been floating on air. His vows had made her feel so cherished, so valued. And now they made her skin crawl. Every word, every promise, every touch, every kiss—it felt vile and she could feel the disgust spread throughout her body. She’d given herself to him, more than once, without inhibition. She’d made love to him, believing he loved her.
She’d made love to a rapist.
Tears blurred her vision and her throat felt tight. She gripped the frame tighter and then hurled it against the wall. “I hate you!” she screamed. It shattered and slipped to the ground, the picture still intact.
She swept everything off the back table, the vase and the water the flowers were sitting in went flying to the floor. She took a lamp from the table and flung it towards the door. It missed its target and went flying through the front window, shattering it.
She sank to the floor, sobbing.
So go on and cry, Ophelia
It’s the only thing to do sometimes
He saw the broken window first before the shards of the lamp at his feet. He was inside before he could think twice.
The living room was destroyed. She’d thrown anything she could find against the wall and now she was crumpled into a tiny ball behind the couch, sobbing.
Jason crossed the room in a few quick strides and lowered himself to the ground. “Elizabeth,” he said intently. “Are you hurt?”
She raised her red-rimmed eyes to him and nodded. “Yeah, but you can’t see where I bleed,” she choked out. “It’s here,” she told him, pressing a hand to her heart. He closed his eyes and instinctively gathered her into his arms, pressing her sobbing face into his chest. He didn’t tell her it’d be okay, or that everything was going to be all right. She didn’t need to hear the right now and for the first time in nearly a year, Jason knew exactly what Elizabeth needed from him.
He just held her while she cried.
After a while, she’d exhausted herself and couldn’t cry anymore. She wasn’t sleeping or passed out. She was just quiet. The only sounds in the room were their breathing.
“Why are you here?” she whispered, her voice hoarse.
“I was out riding—” Jason hesitated. “I just—found myself here and—I thought—you might need me.”
She closed her eyes and for once, she didn’t throw up her defenses. She didn’t give him some smart comment about how she’d never needed him. She just spoke the honest truth. “You’re right. I did.”
He smoothed a hand down her back before pulling away from her a little bit. “I’m sorry about what Courtney said,” he told her, reluctant to bring up the topic of his fiancée while she was so upset.
“She was right,” Elizabeth whispered. “I was stupid and I was selfish. All that time Carly was in there and I just kept throwing you out when you tried to tell me. When you tried to explain that Ric was bad—that he was keeping secrets—I just laughed in your face. And you were right all along.”
“I didn’t want to be,” Jason admitted. “I wanted—I wanted to believe you were happy, that he was treating you right.”
“I’m glad he’s dead,” Elizabeth said emotionlessly. “He’ll never hurt anyone again and that’s all that matters to me.”
“What about—” Jason trailed off.
“I’m keeping this baby,” Elizabeth said firmly. “I thought—I thought about having an abortion the first time around, but I couldn’t do it then and I know I can’t do it now. I just have to find a way to make sure I can take care of her.”
“If you need anything,” Jason began to offer automatically, but she cut him off.
“I don’t think Courtney would appreciate you making a promise like that,” she said softly. “I mean—I’m grateful that you’d offer, but let’s face it, Jason. We can’t—we can’t be friends anymore.”
“Why not?” he demanded. “Why shouldn’t we be?”
“The simple fact that if I ever have to see your fiancée again I’m afraid I might have to pummel her into the ground,” Elizabeth answered easily and without hesitation. “I won’t apologize for it, but I hate her. It doesn’t matter that she was right, she had no right to say what she did today and I just—can’t be around her.”
“So what does that have to do with us?” Jason asked.
“Don’t be thick, Jason. You—” Elizabeth sighed. “You’re going to marry her. You’re going to do whatever it takes to make her happy and you hanging around your ex-girlfriend won’t do that.”
“Don’t do that,” Jason told her. “Don’t go making your mind up about me like that. You hate when people do that to you, don’t do it to me. I’m not just Courtney’s fiancé, and I’m not just Sonny’s enforcer either,” he added.
“No,” Elizabeth murmured looking away. “But sometimes that’s all you think you are.”
You know I’m crying too
Right there with you
“I want to help,” Jason told her, ignoring the comment and the truth behind it. “And if Courtney can’t accept that, it’s not my problem.”
“There’s nothing for you to do,” she told him. “This is my—.life—.I have to start taking responsibility.” She pushed herself to a standing position. “And as soon as I get this all cleared away, I’ll figure out what I want to do.” She saw her easel across the room. “I still have that one woman show Ric set up. Why not take advantage of the one good thing he did?”
“Okay,” Jason said, rising to his feet. “But just because there’s nothing for me to do—does that mean we can’t talk?”
“What would we talk about?” Elizabeth asked. She started picking up shards of glass.
“We never needed a set list of topics before did we?” Jason questioned, helping her.
“This isn’t before, Jason. We’ve both changed and—there’s still—I’m still angry with you,” Elizabeth admitted, her eyes downcast. “And I don’t see that going away.”
“But why are you still angry?” he questioned. “You’ve moved on, what does it matter what happened in the past?”
“Because I trusted you. I trusted you with my life—and you wouldn’t return that. You didn’t trust me,” Elizabeth replied. “And we can’t be friends without trust.”
“I’m going to be okay now,” Elizabeth said, crossing to the kitchen to throw the shards into the recycling bin. “You can leave.”
“I don’t want to—”
“Don’t argue with me,” Elizabeth told him. She turned to face him. “Don’t make this difficult, Jason. You know we can’t be friends. It wouldn’t work.”
“Why can’t we just start over again? Develop that trust over again?”
“Because you will never trust me the way I want you to. And besides, Jason, we’ve come too far to just start over and be friends.” She bit her lip. “The truth of the matter is that we will always be more than friends and I just—.I need to deal with that.”
“Then what’s the problem?” Jason persisted, following her back to the living room. “If we’re still more than friends—”
“Because I still feel the same way I felt last summer,” Elizabeth confessed, crouching to pick up her wedding photo from among the glass shards. “That hasn’t changed, Jason. And I can’t be friends with someone I’m still in love with and watch them get married and be happy with someone else. Not right now. Not at this point in my life.”
He didn’t answer her, his mind still stuck with the still in love with part. She stared at the photograph again before starting to tear into tiny little pieces.
After a few moments she looked at him pointedly. “Don’t you have a wedding date to set?”
It’s alright, Ophelia
Everybody cries, Ophelia
“I figure that we can just do it all over again the same way,” Courtney told Jason. “Same outfits, same wedding guests, you know?” She frowned when she realized he was reading the newspaper rather than listening to her. “What are you reading that’s more important than our wedding?”
“Ric’s body was found last night,” Jason reported. “It only took three days. I’m just wondering how long it’ll be before Baldwin decides to come get us.”
“Well, it’ll be okay. There’s no evidence you guys did anything.” Courtney smirked. “In fact, I bet you anything Elizabeth is the one who gets charged.”
Jason frowned and stared at her. “What do you mean by that?”
She shrugged. “Well, it’s not a big stretch. There’s no evidence against you two, it automatically turns to the wife. The wife who won’t show a lot of emotion, who will probably put the house on the market immediately, the wife who doesn’t have an alibi because she was unconscious. She can’t defend herself without incriminating you guys and if she knows what’s good for her, she won’t do that.”
Jason nodded. “Yeah, you’ve got a point. They just might turn it around on her.” He folded the paper and tossed it aside. “I need to talk to Sonny.”
“Wait a second, Jason, the wedding—” Courtney trailed off when he shut the door. “Damn it. When do I come first?”
Sonny was reading the same article when Jason entered the room. “I suppose you’ve read this already,” Sonny said.
“Yeah. I give Baldwin an hour tops before he knocks on your door,” Jason replied. “Courtney brought up something. They can’t pin this on us—but what about Elizabeth?”
“Courtney brought it up?” Sonny asked. “I don’t see Elizabeth running into any trouble.”
“Baldwin’s going to be suspicious if Elizabeth ends up selling the house really quick, she doesn’t have an alibi, she won’t be that upset, you know what I mean?”
“Baldwin will just assume she’s covering for us,” Sonny mused. “It’s nothing to be worried about it and if turns out to be something, we’ll deal with it.”
It’s the perfect thing to do sometimes
You know I’m crying too, right there with you
She slept in the guest room and had her things all packed, just waiting for time to pass so that she could put the house on the market. She had cried appropriately when Detective Capelli reported Ric’s body had been found. She had filed a missing person’s report the day before.
She had an appointment with the funeral home for the next day. Elizabeth was playing the grieving wife perfectly so she wasn’t sure why Jason was standing in front of her, encouraging her to leave town.
“Jason, they don’t suspect me,” Elizabeth tried again. “I’m not worried.”
“Well I am,” Jason replied. “You don’t know how Baldwin thinks. He’ll see this as a way to get to me and Sonny. He knows you didn’t do it, but he thinks we did.”
“Well, for once he’s right,” Elizabeth muttered. Jason’s face darkened.
“Does it bother you?” Jason demanded. “To know that I killed him?”
Elizabeth looked at him, stunned. “Jason—”
“Does it bother you to know that it’s not the first time I’ve taken a life?” Jason continued. “Or did you just never think about it?”
Her mouth wouldn’t work and she suspected even if she could get words out, she wouldn’t know what to say. What could she say?
“Look, forget it,” Jason said after a moment of silence. “I don’t want Baldwin coming after you, thinking he can use you.”
“Where is all this concern coming from?” Elizabeth asked curiously. “You’ve barely looked my way in months. And now I couldn’t get rid of you if I wanted to.”
He stepped closer to her. “I told you that I’ve made mistakes. I’m trying to make them right.”
“Jason—there are some mistakes you can’t fix,” Elizabeth said helplessly. She stepped back and turned to stare at the wall she knew hid the panic room. “If I didn’t need the money from selling this house, I think I’d bulldoze it to the ground.”
“Will you at least think about leaving?” Jason asked. Before Elizabeth could answer his cell phone rang and her face twisted in bitterness, thinking of all the other times it had interrupted them.
He turned away to fish it out of his pocket and answer. “Yeah?”
“It’s me,” Courtney chirped. “Where are you? We’re supposed to discuss a new date today.”
“Can’t it wait?” he replied, almost impatiently.
Courtney was silent for a moment. “Jason, where are you?” she asked softly.
“I’m at Elizabeth’s,” Jason answered without hesitated. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Elizabeth slip into the hallway that led to the kitchen.
“Why are you there?” she asked, irritated. “I thought it was over and done with.”
“Elizabeth and I are friends—”
“Since when?” the blonde demanded. “You two haven’t talked in months. What could you possibly have to discuss now?”
“I’m not going to do this with you,” Jason replied, not bothering to hide his impatience or tense tone.
“Do what? Discuss the fact that you’re over another woman’s house?” Courtney snapped.
“Don’t you trust me?”
“Not when it comes to Elizabeth.”
There was silence for a moments before Jason was able to speak. “I guess that’s it then. I’ll stay somewhere else. You can deal with the penthouse. Goodbye, Courtney.”
It’s alright, Ophelia
Everybody cries, Ophelia
He hung up the phone and slipped back into his pocket before turning around to find Elizabeth was back in the room, taking the painting from her easel. “You’re packing already?”
“It’ll save me the trouble,” she murmured. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”
“No,” he answered. “Not anymore.”
She frowned at him momentarily before stacking a blank canvas on top of the unfinished one. “Okay.”
“You didn’t answer me. Will you at least think about leaving?”
She sighed. “Maybe. If what you say about Baldwin is true, I’ll think about it, okay?”
“Okay.” Jason shifted. “I should go anyway. Let you get back to packing.” His hand was on the door handle before she said his name. He looked at her over his shoulder.
“It doesn’t bother me,” she said softly. He frowned and turned around fully. “About Ric, I mean. You were just protecting Carly. He would have kept coming after her and probably Sonny, too.”
“I was protecting you too,” Jason admitted. “He just—threw you off him like you were a coat and you went flying across the room. I was worried you’d been hurt more seriously.”
She bit her lip. “And it’s not that I avoided thinking about your job, but most of the time I just—didn’t think of it. But if you really want my answer, I’ll tell you. No, the fact that what happened wasn’t the first time and that I’m aware it won’t be the last time—it doesn’t bother me and it never did.”
“Why not?” Jason asked, curiously.
“Because I knew it was either you or the other guy,” Elizabeth said softly, meeting his eyes. “And I was always grateful you came back.”
I’m crying too, right there with you
He stared at her for a few moments before looking away. Total acceptance what he did had never happened to him before and to tell the truth, he didn’t know how to respond to that.
“Are you gonna be okay here?” he asked. “I mean, by yourself?”
She sighed, stared at the couch where she knew it’d taken place. “I haven’t slept in three days,” she confessed quietly. “Every time I close my eyes, he’s there.”
Jason ran a hand through his hair. “I could stay if you want.”
She shook her head. “No. That’s okay. If it gets too bad, I can just go to a hotel or something. Besides—Courtney wouldn’t like it.”
Jason hesitated, thought about telling her that he’d just broken things off, but refrained. “Okay. But call me if you need something, all right?”
“All right,” Elizabeth agreed reluctantly. She smiled then, just a small weak one, but the closest thing to a genuine smile he’d seen in a long time. “You know what I could go for?”
“A ride,” Elizabeth said. “Do you have time?”
“Sure. Come on.” Jason pulled the door open and held it open until she passed him and headed towards the driveway where his bike was parked.
It was a start.
It’s alright, Ophelia
Cry Ophelia won favorite short story in the 2003 General Hospital Reader’s Choice Awards!