January 1, 2020

Your update link – The Next Best Thing – Part 4

Thanks so much for joining me this holiday season by returning to Bittersweet and The Best Thing. I hope you guys enjoyed the stories! For now, this is the last content I’m promising until May when I publish For the Broken Girl, Book 1. There may be some flash fiction and short stories, but I’ll be concentrating primarily on novels this year.

You can find YouTube content on my channel where I’m still making videos about my stories — I’m working my way through all of my old stories and revisiting what it was like to write them. I’m also hoping to get some ebooks done, but Broken Girl is getting all of my energy.

Have a great 2020!

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series The Next Best Thing

Don’t read the last page
But I stay when it’s hard or it’s wrong or we’re making mistakes
I want your midnights
But I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day
Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you
Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you
Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you
And I will hold on to you
New Year’s Day, Taylor Swift


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Corinthos Villa: Living Room

Sonny adjusted the hem of his shirt, a bit nervous now and wishing he’d called the whole thing off a thousand times before he heard the car pull into the drive outside the house early the next afternoon.

“They’re nice pictures,” Neil said in the bland tone that Sonny loathed. He nodded towards the mantel over the fireplace that Sonny never lit. He’d found Sonny staring at the photos Elizabeth had left him and talked him into putting them somewhere Sonny could look at them all the time.

So, there they were — a trio of reminders of a man Sonny didn’t think he could ever be again, but he was smiling in all of them—standing with Jason and Elizabeth, standing with Elizabeth, and…

Holding his daughter.

That was the one that Sonny wasn’t sure about. Was it really a good idea for him to see that photo every day? A reminder of what he’d given up?

“Sonny?”

He turned as Anais, his housekeeper, opened the front door and Jason came in first, followed by Courtney. Behind him, Elizabeth had their children. Evie held one of her hand and little Jake clutched at her other hand—

And the third child–

Cameron stalked into the room, scanned it with his blue eyes, then locked on Sonny’s suspiciously. “You don’t have any toys.”

“Uh…” Sonny blinked. “No.”

Cameron turned the glare on Jason. “What am I supposed to do then? This is a dumb vacation. No snow. No tree. No toys. Sharing a room with a—”

And before Cameron could finish that statement, little Jake scowled and launched himself at his brother—as much as a toddler ever could. “NOT A BABY!” Jake screeched as he kicked and punched. With a grunt, Cameron fought back.

“Oh, God, I can’t take them anywhere,” Elizabeth moaned. She shoved Evie at Courtney as she and Jason waded in to separate their sons.

Courtney’s face, nervous and pale, relaxed into laughter as she swung Evie into her arms. “I only get to see them on holidays and birthdays,” she told Sonny. To Evie, she said, “Are they always like this?”

Evie sighed with the weariness of a girl much older than four. “It’s a constant trial,” she said in a confidential tone to Courtney and Sonny. “That’s what Mommy always tells Aunt Em.”

Sonny snickered and waited as Jason and Elizabeth finally managed to pry the boys away from each other—Cameron still kicking and swinging while Jake twisted and growled, trying to get Elizabeth to release her grip on his waist.

“Cameron Hardy Morgan,” Jason told Cameron sternly. “How many times have we told you not to call Jake a baby?”

“HE IS A BABY!” Cameron cried, stomping his foot. He turned, momentarily released from Jason’s grip and started for Jake again but Jason grabbed his collar and held him back. “HE HIT ME FIRST DADDY THIS ISN’T FAIR WHY IS IT ALWAYS MY FAULT!” the words came out in a desperate jumble as the wail climbed to pitching shriek.

“I am so sorry,” Elizabeth said—more grunted as Jake tried to break free of her grip. “They do this all the time now—”

“NOT A BABY!” Jake’s wail cut into her apology as he kicked Elizabeth hard in the shins and went for Cameron again.

“Son of—” Elizabeth winced as Jason’s face flushed with true irritation now. “Jacob Martin Morgan, you’re gonna get it now—”

“Oh, man. They’re in trouble now,” Evie told Sonny leaning over from Courtney’s arms. “Boys are so dumb.”

Jason tucked one boy under each arm and sighed at Sonny. “Excuse me. I need to go…duct tape them to chairs or something.”

“NOT A BABY!” Jake continued to repeat as Cameron continued to complain, their voices fading as Jason carried them out into the courtyard and towards stairs.

Still wincing from Jake’s kick, Elizabeth started to limp towards the sofa. Sonny hurried to take her arm and help her sit down.

“Well, that was a fantastic first impression,” she said with a bright smile as she sat down. “I’m sorry. I promise you we didn’t raise them like that on purpose.”

“No, I didn’t think you did.” But oddly, Sonny felt better now having witnessed the Morgan family drama. He couldn’t really explain it, but now when he looked at Evie, still in his sister’s arms, he didn’t feel the crushing pressure anymore.

“You must be Evie.”

“Can I gets down now, Aunt Court?” Evie asked her. “I have to meet Birth Daddy and tell him stories. He should see my new dress.”

“Of course.” Courtney set Evie on her feet. The little girl carefully smoothed down the organza purple dress she’d insisted on wearing today.

“Mommy taught me all about meeting new people,” Evie told Sonny. She stuck out her tiny hand. “I’m Evangeline Grace Morgan. Mommy said you called Michael Corinthos, Jr, but you don’t like that name.”

“Everyone calls me Sonny,” he said as he sat on the sofa, so he’d be eye level with his daughter and shook Evie’s hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“I gots a nickname—” She wrinkled her nose. “I have a nickname, too. Evie. I like it. Do you like my name? How about my dress?”

She twirled around. “Mommy said I could wear whatever I wanted.”

“You look very pretty, and I like your name a lot.” Sonny took a deep breath. “It’s a very nice dress.”

Pleased with that, Evie climbed onto the sofa between him and Elizabeth while Courtney drifted over to the corner to stand with Neil who had been quietly watching it the scene unfold.

“Mommy told me you were very sick. She tells me my special story every time I want it,” Evie said. “She said that my Birth Mommy held me tight and made lots of wishes for me. She said Birth Mommy loved me a lot. That she picked Daddy to keep me, and that you picked Daddy, too. Because you were sick and couldn’t take care of me.”

“That’s…” Sonny looked at Elizabeth with a grateful smile before looking back at Evie. “Yes. I was sick for a long time. And your…birth mother loved you a whole lot, Evie. She always wanted to make sure you were loved and taken care of.” There were days when Sonny still resented Sam for what she’d done, but looking at Evie—

At the beautiful little girl with her pretty dress, her poise, and sunny smile—how could Sonny think Sam had been wrong to put Evie first? No matter what her methods, Sam had always been thinking of her daughter.

“Your birth mommy picked your daddy because he was the best man she knew. And I said okay because he’s the best man I know,” Sonny told her. “Is that part of Mommy’s story?”

Evie nodded. “She tells good stories, don’t she? My favorite part is next because then Daddy and Mommy fell in love and I got to have Mommy. Sometimes I like my brothers. Not today, because today they are very dumb.”

“Boys can be that way sometimes,” Sonny said.

“I hope you’re feeling better,” Evie told him. “But if it’s okay, can I stay with Mommy and Daddy? At least until I’m older. Maybe when I’m ten I can come live with you.”

Sonny’s breath caught and he looked at Elizabeth who looked as surprised as he felt. “I—” He struggled to form words before looking at Evie again. “You can stay with your mommy and daddy forever. I—would never take you away.”

“Good.” Evie nodded, then pursed her lips, considering him. After a moment she climbed into his lap and put her arms around his neck and hugged him. “Thank you. Daddy said we all choosed each other, but I’m not dumb. I know you had to say okay. And you said okay. So, thank you.”

Sonny gingerly wrapped his arms around Evie, around his daughter, and closed his eyes. “You’re welcome.”

Evie pulled away and settled more comfortable in his lap before looking at her mother. “Mommy, you should go get my Barbies. I spent all morning making up a story to tell Birth Daddy.” She fluttered those pretty lashes at him, looking so much like her mother, Sonny’s heart skipped a beat. “Mommy said you wanted to hear my stories.”

“There is nothing I want more in the world than to hear your stories. As many as you want to tell me.”

Corinthos Villa: Hallway

Leaving Evie to tell Sonny the elaborate story she’d created for him and knowing she’d be safe with Neil and Courtney in the room, Elizabeth went to track down the rest of her family.

She found Jason leaning against a closed door, his hand wrapped around a knob holding it closed. She could still hear Jake and Cameron inside, screaming at each other.

“You locked them in there together?” she asked with a raised brow. “Bold strategy. Either they figure it out or we’re down a kid.”

“Still solves our problem.” Jason sighed, but most of his irritation had faded. “How is it going?”

“She’s telling Sonny her story now, and I think he’s actually impressed by it.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “It’s going well. She hugged him and told him her special story. He told her she can live with us forever.”

“I wish I’d been down there, but you…” Jason shook his head. “You’ve been doing better with Sonny all along on this.”

“Yeah, well, you know, some of my damage matches his.” Elizabeth smirked as one of the boys tried to open the door. Jason just pulled it shut again. “How many times have they tried that?”

Now she heard maniacal giggling from inside as they pulled the door again. Jason let it open a few inches before pulling it closed again. The giggling continued.

“This is our third time—I think this time they might actually stop yelling at each other.” Jason looked at her, his brow furrowed. “You’re not damaged.”

“What? Oh.” Elizabeth leaned against the wall, looked out over the railing that led to the courtyard. She loved the open way this house was designed—that she could see the ocean from literally any spot. “Sure I am. I’m okay now, but I wasn’t always. You know that. It’s how I could talk to him before. We just…we’ve hit some of the same dark moments. I know what worked to get me out of the hole, so I’m just hoping it…helps him.”

“Daddy?” Cameron’s tiny voice interrupted whatever Jason was going to say. “I’m sorry. Can we come out now?”

Jason sighed, then released the doorknob. Cameron pulled it open and stared out of them, his t-shirt pulled out of his jeans and his hair was askew. Beside him, Jake had a red line on his face that looked like—possibly—someone had painted him with lipstick.

“I don’t know. Can you stop fighting?” Elizabeth asked with a roll of her eyes. “Jake, what happened to your face? Where did you even get make up—Never mind.”

Cameron sniffled as Jason and Elizabeth entered the guest room where pillows and blankets had been strewn all over in apparent battle to the death. While Elizabeth took Jake into the bathroom to clean up, Jason put Cam on the bed and sat next to him.

“You’ve been fighting a lot with Evie and Jake lately,” Jason said as he watched Elizabeth wash Jake’s face and frown when the lipstick just smeared. “What’s going on?”

“Dunno,” Cameron muttered.

“Cam.”

Cameron looked up at Jason, his blue eyes suspicious. “How come you never telled me I was adopted? You telled Evie all the time.”

“I—” Jason frowned as Elizabeth paused, looking at them with worry. She switched off the faucet. “I don’t know. We don’t—I don’t think about it a lot, Cameron.”

“Kid at school tolded me before,” Cameron finally muttered. “He telled—said you not my real daddy. My real daddy was a bad guy who got killed by the police.”

“What?” Elizabeth demanded, striding forward, her face pale. “What? Who? When?” She looked at Jason, distressed, matching how he felt. Cameron was only four and really not ready for this conversation.

“I don’t gots a birth daddy like Evie who was sick or a mommy who died and loveded me. That’s why I don’t gots a real story like her.” Cameron sniffed, but tears were already sliding down his face. “You pickeded her for real. And Jake is really yours.”

You’re really mine,” Jason said roughly. He slid off the bed and knelt in front of him. “I chose you—”

“You chose Mommy and got stuck with me.” Cameron swiped at his tears. “That’s what Michael—” He closed his mouth, pressing lips together as Elizabeth scowled.

“Michael who?” she demanded but Jason just looked at her and shook his head.

“Michael telled me I’m not really his cousin. Evie’s his real sister, and Jake is his real cousin because his birth daddy and you are really brothers. But I’m not a real Morgan.” Cameron frowned at them. “So, you’re not really my daddy—”

“I am your father.” Jason took a deep breath, fighting back the irritation for Carly’s son, wondering what the hell the kid had been thinking. He’d loved Michael like his own—how could he say such things to a little boy? “Cameron—”

Jake climbed onto the bed and put his arms around his brother. “Brother,” he said, clearly distressed, but not really having the words to help. “No cry.”

“Look at me, Cameron—” Jason took Cameron’s chin in his hand so that the boy met his eyes. “I chose you, too. Of course I did. The day you came to live with me…” He took Cameron’s hand and wrapped it around his thumb. “You took my hand like this and wouldn’t let go. And I knew I wouldn’t let you go either. We chose each other.” “

Cameron frowned down at their hand. “But I’m still not a real Morgan. Michael said—”

“Michael is wrong,” Jason said firmly. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about because I’m not a real Morgan, either. It’s just a name. I picked it when I moved out because I wanted to start over. It didn’t even mean anything to me then.”

“But it’s a name that matters now,” Elizabeth said, sitting on Jake’s other side. “Because your daddy picked it to make his own family. Did you know you were a Morgan before I was?”

“What?” Cameron sniffled. “How?”

“We started the adoption process for you two days after your father asked me to marry him. And that’s the first Christmas present I got him.”

“She had your Grandpa Edward make all kinds of phone calls so that we could have it by Christmas,” Jason told him. “The first present I opened was the papers that said you were my son. That your name was Cameron Morgan. You were my son before I married your mother. Your adoption was final before your mother even adopted Evie.”

He swept Cameron into his arms and hugged him with all the breath in his body, relieved when the little boy returned his embrace, hugging him back. “You are my son. Blood doesn’t matter in this family. Only choice. I would choose you, your mother, and your brother and sister every day if I could. I will always choose you.”

Cameron pulled back, his lip trembling again. He searched Jason’s eyes as if looking for a lie. Then his eyes cleared, and he grinned.  “Can we choose a dog then?”

Jason laughed and hugged him again. “Let’s talk about that back home.”

Corinthos Villa: Living Room

While Jason and Elizabeth were packing up their kids, Neil asked if Jason and Courtney would stay behind while Elizabeth took the kids home. Sonny was confused and a bit irritated by his request, but Jason and Courtney both agreed.

“I just thought it would be nice if Jason could clarify the reason Courtney hasn’t visited before now,” Neil said to Sonny as he took a seat. “And it might easier for you and Jason to talk if the kids aren’t here.”

Sonny glared at his doctor, then looked at his sister. “Jason doesn’t need to do anything.” He looked at his sister and took a deep breath.  “I’m sorry I was rude last night. You didn’t deserve that.”

“Sonny—”

Jason held up a hand to hold off Courtney’s protest. “No, Neil’s right. Courtney wanted to come. She asked me a thousand times, Sonny. If she could have gotten on the island without me, she would have. She wanted to be here with you. I didn’t let her.”

“I—” Sonny exhaled slowly, looked at Courtney. “I believed you last night. I just…don’t know why you’d bother. We’re not…we were never close.”

“No, but that doesn’t mean we’re not family.” Courtney folded her arms. “You’re not alone, Sonny. And it’s important that you know that.” She lifted her chin in Jason’s direction. “And I hope I have free reign to travel here as often as I want now.”

“I…” Jason hesitated, looked at Sonny, bowed his head.

“I think you’d probably still want to check in with Jason,” Sonny said after a long moment. “Because sometimes I’m…not pleasant to be around.”

Courtney scowled. “But—”

“I should have let you come before this,” Jason told her. “So yes, you’ll have clearance. But sometimes I’ll shut it down, and you have to trust me.”

“Fine.” Courtney nodded. “Okay. I’ll…I’m going to walk back to the villa. I’ll be back tomorrow,” she told Sonny with a jab of her finger. “We’re going to celebrate New Year’s together if it kills you.”

He accepted a light hug from her, then Courtney left. Neil got to his feet. “I’ll walk her over. I think the two of you will do better if I’m not in the room.”

“Neil—” Sonny stood in a rush. “Wait—”

“Good night,” the doctor called over his shoulder as he left. Sonny scowled. He turned back to Jason who was also standing, his hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans.

Sonny cleared his throat. “Thank you,” he said finally. “For bringing Evie. For bringing all of them. It was…you’ve got great kids.”

“Most of the time,” Jason agreed, but he was smiling as he said it. “And thank Elizabeth. This was…she made the decision. It was her idea.”

“She told me that, but if either of one of you had said no, you wouldn’t be here. I’m glad…” Sonny waited a moment, trying to formulate what he was thinking and make sure it came out right. “I’m glad you and her worked out this time. I…see you with the kids, with her, and I just…it used to make me angry to know you were going to be so happy. Because I wanted that. I wanted it for me. For me and my boys.”

“I know you did, Sonny. I understood that.”

“It used to make me angry,” Sonny repeated. “And maybe there will still be days when it does, but man, you know, today, it just makes me proud.” He looked at Jason, remembering the boy he’d been that night in the parking lot at Luke’s. The angry man without a past. “I know how far you had to climb to get where you are. I know how hard you—and Elizabeth—worked. So, I’m happy for you. Proud of you.”

Jason swallowed hard. “Thank you.”

“I don’t know what my future is going to look like,” Sonny said after another moment. “But, you know, Elizabeth told me I had to find a reason to get through each day. So today, I wanted to meet Evie. And tomorrow…I think I just want to see your kids again, and watch Cameron take on the world.”

He managed a grin at the thought. “Yeah, I kind of think it might be fun to see that one grow up and see where he goes. He’s a great kid, Jason.”

“He is,” Jason agreed. “I want you there to see them grow up. To see who Evie and Cam turn out to be. And Jake.”

“Maybe I don’t ever get another chance with Michael or Morgan. I…I don’t know how that’s going to feel later,” Sonny admitted. “But…I don’t know, I think maybe you and Elizabeth might let me be part of your life. Even just a few times a year. That…I could make that enough. For now.”

He crossed over the mantel, took down the photo of the three of them at the engagement party. “Maybe I don’t ever get to be this guy again, but…maybe that’s okay.” He looked at Jason. “Maybe I get to be someone better. I’ll…take my meds, Jase. I won’t stop again.”

Sonny sighed when Jason said nothing. “At least, I won’t stop taking them on purpose. I can’t really promise more than that.”

“It’s enough, Sonny.” Sonny looked at him, met Jason’s gaze. “Today, that can be enough. It’s more than I thought we’d get before. I’m glad you met Evie. That we came here.”

“I’m glad, too. You…you made the right decision three years ago, Jase. I think…maybe it would still be easier for all of us if you’d…just let me end it.” Sonny paused, then added, “But I’m glad you don’t have to live with that. It’s not fair to ask you to take that on. So, thank you. For being stronger than me.”

He put the photo back on the mantel. “I’m proud of you, and the man you grew into. I hope one day…you’ll be proud of me, too.”

Morgan Villa: Bedroom

Jason found all three kids asleep when he returned home—even though Cameron’s favorite movie was still playing as he sprawled out over his bed, one of his Ghostbusters figures clutched in his hand. He tucked in all three of them, then went to find Elizabeth out on the balcony.

“Hey.”

She turned to smile at him. “Hey. How did it go?”

“Okay, I think.” He wrapped his arm around her waist and drew her back against him, so they were both facing the water. “I don’t know what happens next, but I think it’ll be better than before.”

“I hope so. I want to come down again in a few months. And I want to get Sonny a cell phone so he can talk to Evie or we can send him pictures more. We can make videos—I want him to be a part of all of this, Jason.” She sighed. “I don’t want him to be alone again.”

“He won’t be. He had a good day today, and I ran into Neil on the way back. He thinks we’re making progress. But I’m not going to shut him out again.” Jason exhaled slowly. “He told me he was glad I didn’t…let him kill himself. That I don’t have to live with that. He didn’t say he was glad to be alive.”

“But it’s something,” Elizabeth said. She twisted in his arms so that they were face to face. “He just needs to find one thing every day to get him through it. Maybe I’ll call him every day for a while. Or you will. We can do a schedule with Courtney—”

He cut off her words with a kiss. “I love you,” he murmured against her mouth.

“I love you, too. We’re going to get through this, Jason. As long as we’re together, there’s nothing you and I can’t do.” She framed his face with her hands, looking into his eyes.

“What did you tell Cameron? Morgans stick.” He kissed her forehead. “You know, that name didn’t mean anything to me when I picked it. I just didn’t want to be Jason Quartermaine anymore. I gave it to Michael for a little while, but I always knew that wouldn’t last. But Cameron—it meant something to see his name and mine together on the adoption papers. For us to get married. To share that name. I don’t know why.”

“Because we got to choose our family,” she murmured. “I chose you. And I would choose you every day for the rest of my life.”

Jason kissed her, lingering over her mouth as the waves crashed around them. She smiled at him. “It’s another perfect moment,” she told him. “With our babies safe and sound, sleeping over there. Sonny taking another step towards recovery, and the world back in Port Charles waiting for us…” She linked her fingers at the nape of his neck. “Maybe this time it’ll stick.”

“Even if it doesn’t,” he told her, leaning down for another kiss. “We will. What did we tell Cam? Morgans stick.”

She grinned. “Cameron’s going to make that his motto, and the next time he sees Michael, he’s probably going to shove in the mud. I think our kid can take Carly’s even if Michael is six years older.”

“I think our kid can take anyone,” Jason told her with a laugh. “He gets that from you.” He stepped back, took her hand, and led her back into the house, towards their bedroom.

Elizabeth rolled her eyes as she followed him. “Yeah, because you’re known for being a pushover.”

“I am when it comes to you.”

She laughed, closed the bedroom door, and gave him a light push onto the bed. “Smooth. Nice recovery.”

 

THE END (again)


 

Thank you for joining me on this return to Jason & Elizabeth from The Best Thing. It was fun to return to these characters and this world, particularly to get a glimpse of the Morgan family as it grows. A lot of the Cam, Evie, and Jake stuff was taken directly from my own nieces and nephews.

The argument that Cam and Jake have in Part 3 is literally the same argument that my nephews had on Christmas Eve. Also, my middle nephew is obsessed with Ghostbusters, so I thought it’d be fun to bring that into the story. He loves the “girls” Ghostbusters though, Abby being his favorite, and gets very angry if you suggest girls can’t be Ghostbusters.

I don’t think we’ll return to this family again unless I have a solid plan for a sequel but it was nice to put Sonny on a better road to recovery than we left in 2016 with the end of The Best Thing. I’ll see you guys in mid-May with Book One of For the Broken Girl!