Written in 32 minutes, I went a little over my self-imposed limit because my dad came in to yell at me about my use of the space heater.
Aurora Media: Drew Cain’s Office
Elizabeth pasted a smile on her face as Drew’s secretary admitted her into his office. Behind the desk, Drew glanced up from some paperwork and offered her that same open smile that she had fallen in love with three years earlier.
Maybe you knew it wasn’t me.
Jason’s words from that day in the jail in October slid into her thoughts without warning, and Elizabeth sighed at the thought. The fact that Jason’s first instinct when told Elizabeth had lied—again—was to absolve her of any guilt or responsibility should have been the damning clue that he was the real Jason Morgan.
Jason had never blamed her for anything even when he should have.
“Hey. What brings you by?” Drew stepped out from behind the desk and kissed her cheek. He gestured towards the oversize white leather sofa nestled in the corner of the office. “Everything okay with Jake?”
“Yeah. I guess.” Elizabeth bit her lip and set her purse on the floor, draped her coat over her lap. “I’m sorry to just—I mean, we haven’t—we haven’t really talked since—” She wiggled her fingers.
“Yeah. Well, they don’t really make a Hallmark card for this situation.” Drew leaned back, rubbed his mouth. “I’m trying not to think about it. Which probably isn’t the right way to deal with it, but hell, there’s no manual for this kind of thing.”
“No, I guess not.” Elizabeth hesitated. “I don’t even know why I’m here,” she admitted. “I guess…” She looked down at the ring on her finger. “You think I’m making a mistake.”
Drew hesitated. “Listen, there’s…” He cleared his throat. “The thing is, Elizabeth, that I still have Jason’s memories. Which means I’m pretty used to you making mistakes.”
“Oh, great. That’s what I needed—”
“You have a type,” Drew continued. “And don’t give me that look, Elizabeth. You do. You’re attracted to idiots—” He flashed her a quick grin. “Myself included. You keep trying to save us.”
“That’s not—” Elizabeth scowled. “That’s not exactly how it was—”
“Oh, yeah?” he raised his brows. “Why’d you stay with Lucky through the brainwashing?”
“Because he stuck with me after the rape, and I wanted to—” She narrowed her eyes at him. “Drew—”
“Ric? How many chances did you give that douche bag?”
“You know…I really don’t know what I’m doing here—”
“Hey—” Drew stuck out a hand stop her from standing. Elizabeth sighed and remained on the sofa. “Look, the way I feel about you is complicated, you know? Because I—”
“I didn’t lie to you because Nikolas told me you were Jason,” she cut in. “I didn’t keep the truth because of that. I mean, not entirely. I called you Jason when we thought that’s who you were, but that’s not who I agreed to marry. And it’s not who I lied to keep, okay?”
He frowned at her. “Are we still having the same conversation? I thought we were talking about you—”
“You have Jason’s memories, and that sucks,” she told him. “Because they should just belong to him. And you should have yours. But I just—I wanted you to know that I never saw you as someone I wanted to save.” She closed her eyes. “This is stupid—”
“Hey.” Drew touched her hand. “It’s not. It matters. Look, you can be honest with me. When you did you know I wasn’t Jason?”
Elizabeth opened her eyes and looked at those blue eyes that were so familiar to her. “The minute I walked into the jail at the police station, and he said my name. I lied. I told him I didn’t believe it. Because I blew up my entire life over that lie. People wouldn’t look at me for months, and I just—I felt so…” She sighed. “Alone. And Patrick was gone. I just didn’t have anyone left who was mine.”
“Which is why Franco is a mistake, Elizabeth.”
She exhaled slowly. “Griffin told me something at lunch earlier,” she admitted. “The brain tumor that set Franco free? It’s not…not as simple as I thought it was. A-and I went to the hospital. I pulled his medical records to be sure.”
Drew furrowed his brow. Leaned forward. “What do you mean? It was in the frontal lobe. We both know that kind of tumor can change a personality—I mean, look at me—at Jason,” he corrected. “I mean I hate the scumbag, but—”
“But that’s the thing,” Elizabeth said softly. “Because I think I just accepted what the courts said. What Carly believed. I didn’t think. I didn’t think about Jason. Jason had brain damage and it took away his memories, but it didn’t change who he was—”
“When you hear the stories about Jason Quartermaine, you can hear the way they’re the same. Jason has a different moral code now, yeah, and he had to relearn everything with the Quartermaines judging him and rejecting him constantly—but he still has the same fierce ridiculous loyalty that caused Jason Quartermaine to get into a car with his idiot drunk brother.”
Drew hesitated. “Yeah—”
“Manny Ruiz,” Drew repeated. “I haven’t thought about him—” He shook his head. “It’s not me,” he reminded himself quietly. “That’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time—”
“He had a brain tumor in the frontal lobe. And Alexis and Ric got him released,” Elizabeth said. “But that didn’t change who he was.” Pressure built behind her ears. “And then I just…I start to think about all the things I know about Franco. All the things I’ve known since the surgery, and I just—”
“Look.” Drew dragged a hand over his face. “Christ. I have the memories, so I’m going to use them, okay? You have spent your life looking for the good in people. And that’s an incredible gift, Elizabeth. But I think sometimes…you make it up in your head. You create good where it doesn’t exist.”
“I did that for Ric,” she murmured. “He did unforgiveable things. Not just to Carly, but to me. And then he lied to you—” She closed her eyes, the shame building again. “And then I did the exact same thing to you—”
“I hate what you did to me,” Drew said plainly. “But Jason’s memories and time…” He paused. “It’s given me perspective. You lie. It’s part of who you are.”
“God, I know—”
“But you used to lie to protect other people,” Drew told her. “You lied about loving Lucky because you wanted to save him. You lied about Jake because you didn’t want to ruin Jason’s life. You lied when you went back to Lucky. But these last few years, Elizabeth? You’ve lied to protect yourself. I’m not mad that you did it. I’m just worried.”
“I don’t know how to stop,” she admitted. “Because I’ve been telling myself for months that I’m happy. I agreed to marry Franco. And…when Griffin told me that the personality changes with brain tumors aren’t usually so stark—that you don’t become a sociopathic serial killer without some kind of underlying darkness—I denied it. But it’s the truth. And I knew it, Drew. I knew Franco was troubled, but I kept telling myself that I loved him. That he loved me, but—”
“I think Franco loves himself the most,” Drew said when she stopped speaking. “I don’t know if there’s room for you. I hate the idea of him with you. With the boys. I know we had this fight last year—that you had some valid reasons for being irritated about Sam but—”
“I’m sorry to come here and dump my problems on you. You’re dealing with so much—”
“Hey.” Drew said as Elizabeth rose to her feet. “We’re family. Jake may not be my son—” The pain of that statement twisted his face. “But he’s still mine. And you took me in when the rest of the world forgot about me. You believed in me when everyone else thought I was a violent monster—” Drew scowled. “Damn it, Elizabeth. You have got to stop believing everyone can be saved.”
Elizabeth sniffled but embraced her ex-fiancee with a bit of a lighter heart. “Yeah, but I was right about you and your brother, so you don’t get to complain about it now.”