The room was small—the walls were closing in on her. Every second felt like an eternity. Elizabeth closed her eyes and tried to imagine that she was home, watching Cameron try to walk—watching him smile and laugh.
She couldn’t remember what laughter sounded like—what the air felt like on her skin. How much time had gone by since Manny Ruiz had tied her to a chair, gagged so she couldn’t scream? How long since he’d left her in this cold, dark room? Did anyone know she was gone? Had anyone missed her yet?
Would they even know where to look?
Tears slid down her cheeks and she closed her eyes. What if Manny didn’t just kill her? What if he…hurt her first? Oh, God. Please don’t let it happen again. Please.
The Next Morning…
“A heavily tattooed man was seen entering General Hospital late last night,” a guard told Sonny. “He hasn’t left but I checked with one of the admissions clerks. No one’s been admitted with his description.”
Sonny wiped his hand over his mouth. “Sam must have landed the shot. He must have gone for medical attention,” he told Jason.
Jason nodded slowly. “Yeah—but no one’s seen him since. How did he get treated if he didn’t get checked in?”
The guard cleared his throat. “A nurse is missing from the hospital—along with some medication and surgical supplies.”
“Luis Alcazar did that once,” Sonny muttered. “Yanked Monica from the hospital. Do you know which nurse?”
“Elizabeth Webber—she was working in the ER last night but never clocked out. Her fiancé reported her missing this morning but the PCPD’s not taking it seriously yet. Even though Spencer’s a cop, they’re treating like a case of cold feet,” the guard reported. “They’re getting married in a few days.”
“Jesus,” Sonny sighed. He leaned against the desk. “Elizabeth Webber. As if she hasn’t had enough to deal with in her life.”
Jason shook his head.
“You smell like snow.”
“Snow doesn’t smell.”
“Yes it does.”
“Elizabeth,” he said slowly. He met Sonny’s eyes. “I know her.”
“Yeah,” Sonny confirmed. “You were shot once, would have died if she hadn’t found you and taken care of you. She had a bomb put in her studio for her trouble, too.” He shook his head. “She was kidnapped, shot and then shot at. She married Ric, has had two miscarriages—one of them just last month.” He straightened. “We have to find her now.”
“The DVD recording equipment,” Jason said, still shaken from his memory—it was the first memory with dialogue instead of an actual flash and he couldn’t shake the idea that there was more to it. “He didn’t bring it with him—he must have rented it, bought it. We can try to track him from there.”
Sonny nodded to the guard. “Get working on it.” When the guard left the room, Sonny exhaled slowly. “We’ll get her home, Jason. Back to her son, where she belongs.”
“How would you know? You never had one good thing in your life and you lost it. You never had someone come along who made you understand what the point was—the point of being alive at all — and then proved it by being gone and leaving you with nothing. Do you know what nothing feels like?”
“Yeah. That’s pretty much where I live.”
“You know, I’ve been saving myself.”
Oh, God. Elizabeth whimpered. He was back. She wanted this to go away.
“For this sweet little thing Morgan’s dating,” Manny continued. She squeezed her eyes shut. But the footsteps came closer.
“But you look kind of like her, you know.”
Oh, God, she could feel his breath on his neck. His hot, disgusting breath.
“That dark hair, pretty skin, tight little body.”
Oh God, oh God.
He took the gag away from her and took her chin roughly between his fingers. “Open your eyes, Angel.”
When she didn’t comply, he grabbed her pony tail and yanked her head back. Elizabeth cried out. She opened her eyes and nearly fainted when she saw Manny’s face right up next to hers. She had to get out of this, she had to get think. Think!
“I used to date Jason!” she blurted. “He’ll want me back—he won’t want me hurt. I swear it!”
Manny frowned. He let go of her hair and took a step back. “Is that a fact, Angel?”
Elizabeth nodded, trembling so hard she could imagine the chair shaking. “I used to live with him. Across the hall from Sonny. I swear.”
“Well, that is an interesting turn of events.” Manny leaned against the table and smiled at her. His teeth gleamed in the dim light and Elizabeth felt a shiver go down her spine. “I do believe I have been smiled upon from above. Of all the nurses to walk into my room, I pick out Jason Morgan’s ex-girlfriend.”
She licked her lips nervously. Would this work in her favor? Or would her distant connection to Jason only doom her? She decided not to mention her fiancé was a cop—that would probably be a point against her.
“What are you going to do to me?” she asked.
Manny stood and crossed to a video camera that she hadn’t noticed before. “We’re going to play a little game.”
“Well, I just — you know, I needed to be able to see you, make sure you still want a post card from me.”
“Having a connection with you — I know it was selfish, but it’s something I never stopped wanting.”
“The DVD equipment is a dead end,” Sonny snarled. He crumpled up the piece of paper the guard had handed him and hurled it across the room. “He bought it with cash, no one remembers him and he didn’t have it delivered. I don’t know where he is, or even where to look.”
Jason crossed from the windows to Sonny’s desk. “Manny doesn’t know that Elizabeth has a connection to us. He won’t—” he swallowed hard. “He won’t keep her around if she’s not useful.”
“There’s something else that’s been plaguing me,” Sonny said quietly. “He’s made it clear he intends to…have Sam. To—to rape her.” Sonny met Jason’s eyes. “He’s targeted Sam, he’s fixated more on her than on us right now. And what worries me is that Elizabeth has dark hair, is tiny…they almost have the same coloring. Jason, he might—” Sonny exhaled slowly, dragging his fingers through his hair. “He might hurt her.”
“Last year, I was raped. For a while, I thought my life was over. I couldn’t imagine being normal again. But I had to fight my way back.”
Jason’s face paled and he looked away, troubled. “It happened to her before,” he said roughly. “I remember—I’ve been remembering snatches of things we’ve said to each other. And I remember that she told me that it had happened once before.”
“I know. And she came back from that—” Sonny shook his head. “But I can’t—I won’t be able to live with myself if it happened to her again because of me.” He took a deep breath. “I’ve been keeping this from Emily—they’re best friends. And I won’t tell Ric because I know he still cares for her and he’ll just make this all the more difficult.”
“We have to find her before Manny hurts her,” Jason said, though he was no longer convinced they would be able to do that.
“Boss,” Max opened the door and held up an evelope. “This was left outside the compound gates.”
“Can I please have my clothes back?” Elizabeth whispered. Her teeth chattered and she felt dirty—violated as Manny’s dark eyes swept over her bra and panty clad figure.
“No, Angel, I much prefer this view.” Manny grinned. “And I’m going to enjoy what comes next.” He licked his lips.
“Please,” Elizabeth whimpered. “Please—I have a son. He needs his mother.”
“And I needed my brother but that didn’t stop Morgan from putting a bullet in him.”
“I didn’t have anything to do with that!” she cried. “I haven’t spoken to Jason in a long time—he probably doesn’t remember me.”
“Now, see—that’s not a nice thing to say. You should give yourself more credit, Angel.” Manny dragged his eyes up and down her body and Elizabeth wished she weren’t still tied to the chair—wished she could put her arms around herself and hide from his disgusting eyes.
They found another DVD in the envelope along with Elizabeth’s ID from the hospital. Sonny slid the disc into the player and grimaced when the screen filled with Manny’s leering grin.
“Hello there. It appears that I had a bit of good fortune last night.” Manny folded his arms. “I took the first available nurse and spirited her away to my little studio. And just as I was about to do away with the nosy angel, she tells me a piece of very interesting news.”
Sonny and Jason exchanged troubled looks before looking back to the television. “Apparently, she dated Morgan once upon a time. Now, I’ve been having a little frustration that I can’t have Sweetness just yet but I suppose my little angel here will have to in the interim.”
The camera started to pan the room as Manny’s voice continued. “I thought I’d offer you once last look at her before I’ve finished with her, Morgan. Sweetness is lovely of course, but now I wonder why you let the little pretty one go.”
The camera focused on Elizabeth’s small form. She was blind folded, gagged and tied to the chair—and wearing only her bra and panties. Sonny felt nauseous.
“Any words for lover boy, Angel?” Manny appeared in the frame again and yanked the gag away. “Go ahead, this will be your last chance.”
“Please—please find me,” Elizabeth cried. “And if you don’t…” she swallowed hard. “Take care of Cameron. Please.”
The screen went dark and Jason clenched his fists at his side. “She probably thought he’d keep her alive. That he might try to make a deal with us for her return.” He looked at Sonny. “That’s what happened the last time.”
Sonny frowned. “You remember that, then?”
“We found her in a crypt—she almost died,” Jason said softly. “I tried to walk away from her, I told her it was too dangerous. But she didn’t listen. She wouldn’t listen.”
“She never did,” Sonny remembered with a weak smile.
“You know how I feel about you.”
“That’s just it — I don’t. I don’t think you ever really told me. You’ve saved my life. You’ve taken me riding. You’ve helped me, you’ve — you’ve listened, you’ve cared. And now you’re pushing me away. Tell me why again.”
Jason exhaled slowly. “Play it again. There might be something on the tape that tells us where he is.”
Late That Night
“Please let me go home,” Elizabeth begged. Manny untied her legs and arms from the chair and kept them bound. “Please don’t do this to me!”
He pushed her towards the cot in the corner. “I bet you’d even like it if you let yourself, Angel.”
“Please—would you want someone to do this to your sister, to your wife?” she cried. She struggled as she lay on her back. He’d blindfolded her again and she had no idea how close he was to her—what he was doing.
“I don’t have a sister or a wife.” Manny stepped back and started to unbutton his shirt. “But I would hope they would know what was good for them and when to stop fighting.”
“No!” Elizabeth shrieked. “Somebody help me!”
“There’s no one to hear you now.”
She screamed again—a long, blood curdling shriek and Manny slapped her. “Shut the hell up—”
The gun shot cut him off and he choked, pressing a hand to his throat. “What—” he coughed.
“What’s going on?” Elizabeth cried. She thrashed her head from side to side. “Somebody help me!”
Jason lowered his gun and looked to Sonny. “Go,” Sonny said quietly. He raised his own gun. “I’ll take Manny outside and finish this.” He turned and nodded to Max. “Help get Manny the hell out of here.”
Jason rushed across the room and kneeled next to the cot, ignoring the weakened Manny as he hurriedly untied Elizabeth’s bonds. “Elizabeth, calm down—it’s me.”
“Jason?” Elizabeth whimpered. She turned her head towards his voice. “Is it really you?”
“It’s me,” Jason murmured. He took his jacket off and tossed it over her before removing her blind fold.
“Jason!” Elizabeth sprang up and wrapped her arms around him. “I was praying you’d find me in time.”
“So was I,” he replied softly. He cupped the back of her head and breathed the first easy breath in nearly twelve hours. “So was I.”
“I think part of me knew you’d come,” Elizabeth said, her voice hoarse. She drew back and smiled faintly. “Even if you don’t remember me.”
“Then what is it about?”
“Us. And how much you matter to me. I want to be with you, too. ”
“Finally, we agree on something.”
“You’re the first person that I really do remember.” Jason smoothed her hair away from her face. “I don’t think I could have lived with myself if Manny had—” he stopped. “I’m sorry, Elizabeth.”
“You have nothing to be sorry for,” Elizabeth buried her face in Jason’s shoulder. “You always manage to save me.”